Posted on: March 8, 2010 2:37 pm

Preseason Power Rankings


1.  Yankees

The best got better this off season, upgrading CF with the acquisition of Curtis Granderson and adding another solid pitcher to their rotation with Javier Vasquez.  The World Series is theirs to lose.


2.  Angels

The Angels have quietly been one of the best teams in all of baseball in recent years and this year should be no different with their core players returning along with new additions Joel Pineiro and Hideki Matsui.


3.  Phillies

The NL champs return largely in tact with a new ace Roy Halladay at the top of their rotation.  They should be one of the best offensive teams in 2010.


4.  Red Sox

The Red Sox upgrade at SS with Marco Scutaro and strengthen their rotation with John Lackey.  They are doing their best to keep up with the Yankees but it may not be enough.


5.  Dodgers

The Dodgers retained all of their arbitration eligible players keeping together a group of emerging stars that has gelled well since the 2007 season.  If Manny Ramirez can find his 2008 form the Dodgers should contend for the NL pennant.


6.  Cardinals

The Red Birds resigned the top free agent position player Matt Holliday, keeping protection in the lineup for Albert Pujols. 


7.  Mets

The Mets were one of the most disappointing teams in baseball last year, however with key players returning from injury and off season additions Jason Bay and Kelvim Escobar the Mets look like they should be back in good form. 


8. Rockies

The Rockies have been the little team that could over the past few seasons.  They have done more with less than most other teams.  They have one baseball’s best short stops in Troy Tulowitzki and a very consistent pitching staff.



9. Mariners

The Mariners enter the 2010 season with arguably the best pitching 1-2 punch in all of baseball with Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee, and off season free agent acquisition Chone Figgins, along with the incomparable Ichiro gives them a very speedy top of the lineup.  The Mariners could surprise a lot of people this season.


10. Rays

While the Rays feature some of the league’s best young talent with players such as Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, and Jason Bartlett, they will need their pitching to be stronger this season if they hope to compete.


11.  Twins

The Twins have one of the top three players in the game at a position that is the thinnest of any in the game.  They have five other batters that will hit above .280 and the amount of left handers in their lineup will give most team fits.  But none of that will matter if the pitching rotation cannot hold up their end of the bargain. 


12.  Braves

The Braves will again be relying on their pitchers to keep them competitive, as they don’t quite have the bats that their fellow NL East teams have.  Like the Rockies, the Braves don’t have a lot of household names in their rotation but they produce consistent outings and give the team a chance to win.


13.  Giants

Another team with a very strong 1-2 punch in their rotation, the 2009 wild card runner up has improved offensively with 1B Aubrey Huff and OF Mark DeRosa.


14.  Tigers

The Yankees got Curtis Granderson and the Tigers ended up spending $13 million on Johnny Damon for the last leg of his career.  That’s why the Yankees are the Yankees and the Tigers are the Tigers.


15.  White Sox

The South Siders lost a little power by letting Jermaine Dye go, but Juan Pierre should be a suitable replacement.  If Jake Peavy can stay healthy they should contend for the AL Central.


16. Rangers

A young team with a lot of talent the Rangers could find themselves contending for the AL West.


17.  Cubs

The Cubs suffered from a lot of injuries and underwhelming performances from key players.  With Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano healthy again the Cubs have reason for optimism.  But then again, Cubs fans are optimistic every year.


18.  Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks will need Brandon Webb to resemble his old self if they are to compete, but a few off season moves should help their offense.


19.  Marlins

The Marlins are unimpressive on paper, outside of a few players, but the perennial team of prospects always seems to keep themselves in the playoff hunt deep into the season even with one of baseball’s lowest payroll. 


20.  Brewers

The Brewers lost Ben Sheets but added a few reliable leftys with Doug Davis and Randy Wolf. Combined with the offensive upside of a lot of their young players the Brew Crew has the potential to make a run in 2010.


21.  Reds

The Reds probably won’t be winning the World Series this year, but with young players like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Johnny Cueto they should at least be fun to watch.


22. Indians

Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo will be the highlights on this team with low expectations.


23.  Blue Jays

The Blue Jays enter the 2010 season with Shaun Marcum as their ace, a far cry from Roy Halladay, who at least gave them a chance every fifth day.  The Jays are nothing more than a sparring partner for the Yankees and Red Sox.


24.  Orioles

Miguel Tejada will be one of the few veterans on a team that features youngsters Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis.  The Orioles should finish considerably better than the 64 wins they had in 2009.


25. A’s

The bright side for A’s fans is there are not a lot of players left that Billy Beane can trade away.  On the other hand, Rajai Davis better hope that he’s renting.


26. Astros

The Astros will need Roy Oswalt to pitch like he used to if they hope to compete.


27.  Padres

Look for Adrian Gonzalez to be wearing a Red Sox uniform by August.


28.  Nationals

This probably won’t be the year that the Nationals climb out of the NL East basement, and unfortunately like the AL East there are a few teams in the division that can spend far beyond the Nationals’ means, but with Ryan Zimmerman developing into one of the better third baseman in the game, Stephen Strasburg in the pipeline, and a few reliable veterans on the team don’t be surprised if the Nats make a run in the not too distant future.


29.  Royals

The Royals have Zack Greinke and uh...and uh…and uh…another long season ahead of them.


30.  Pirates

The Pirates have been one of the worst teams in baseball for nearly two decades.  They have not had a winning season in 17 years, the longest losing season streak of any team in the four major sports.  They have finished last in their division 10 times.  They trade away any and all of their top players and prospects at every trading deadline.  This year should be more of the same.  But Pittsburgh has won two Super Bowls and a Stanley Cup within the last five years so I guess there has to be some cosmic balance.

Posted on: February 10, 2010 11:29 am
Edited on: February 10, 2010 11:32 am

NL West Preview

The football season has been over for two days now, the Super Bowl has been rehashed and discussed to the point of nausea. Meanwhile, the baseball teams are checking the oil and tire pressure on the team buses and getting set to head out to Florida and Arizona.  That's right, pitchers and catchers report one week from today.  So how will this year play out?  Will it be the usual suspects contending for the World Series?  Probably.  But recently there have been a few dark horses that have found themselves in the mix.  Who will be this years Rays or Rockies, which team with a sub $100 million dollar payroll will find themselves toe to toe with the big boys? 

Below are snapshots of the 2010 versions of the five NL West teams, the much underrated division that has produced the NL wild card 3 of the past 4 years.  And looking at the make ups of these teams it looks like it will be another close division race and not surprising if the wild card team was again one of the five.

So here is the tylenol for your football hangover, the NL West preview.


The Dodgers lost a few key players this off season including 2B Orlando Hudson, OF Juan Pierre, and LHP Randy Wolf, while remaining relatively inactive in acquiring new players.  This could be in part that a number of their younger players were arbitration eligible and received huge pay raises.  While losing Juan Pierre shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the Dodgers crowded outfield the loss of Hudson and Wolf leaves them thin at 2B and in their starting rotation.

The infield of the Dodgers features James Loney, Blake DeWitt, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, and Russell Martin at catcher.  In 2009 Loney had the highest average of the five with .281; Casey Blake had the most home runs with 18.  They should see improved production from Blake DeWitt, who will put up decent power numbers but not a great batting average, and both Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin will probably increase their batting averages around 10-20 points.

The outfield is made up of Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier, three players who could all realistically hit 30 plus home runs.  Matt Kemp is an emerging star who hits for average, has 30 home run 30 stolen base potential, and is solid defensively.  Andre Ethier put up a respectable .272 batting average and equally respectable 31 home runs last year, and while he might not be the natural talent that Kemp is he is a very solid player and will probably improve his average slightly while retaining the same power numbers. 

Manny Ramirez was one of the leagues most feared hitters as recently as last April, but after serving a 50 game suspension for a banned substance he struggled to find his old form.  He began the season strong, hitting .372 in April, but in the following months he saw his average drop considerably, hitting only .255 with 10 home runs after the All Star break.  It remains to be seen if Manny will return to his old form or if last season was the beginning of the end. 

The starting rotation will consist of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, and Hiroki Kuroda.  All three had decent ERAs but none had more than 12 wins last season.  Chad Billingsley will probably improve his numbers some this season, most likely reaching 15 wins and lowering his ERA slightly. 

Relievers George Sherrill, Ronald Belisario, Jonathan Broxton, Ramon Troncoso all played a part in the Dodgers having one of the strongest bullpens in the league last season.  They will be hurt, however, by the loss of Guillermo Mota who pitched the fourth most innings in relief for the Dodgers in 2009 and posted a 3.44 ERA.


The under the radar Rockies have been the NL Wild Card team two of the past three years and will look to finally grab the division title in 2010.  The team lost 3B Garret Atkins and starter Jason Marquis while remaining relatively quite on both the trade and free agent fronts.

The infield is made up of Todd Helton, Clint Barmes, Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Stewart, and Chris Iannetta. at catcher.  Todd Helton remains one of the most reliable hitters in the game and

Tulowitzki is proving himself as an elite SS.  In 2009 he hit for a .297 average and 32 home runs, the most of any SS in baseball.  On top of his offensive prowess he also remains one of the better defense players at his position. Stewart, a high end prospect, should have a better batting average this season with similar power numbers.  Chris Iannetta has the potential to be a strong offensive catcher but hit only .228 last season.

Brad Hawpe, Carlos Gonzales, and Dexter Fowler will be chasing the balls in the rarified air of the Rockies outfield.  In 2009 Hawpe hit .285 with 23 home runs, Fowler hit .266 with 27 stolen bases, and highly touted prospect Carlos Gonzales appeared to be finding his pro form, hitting .284 with 13 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 278 at bats. The Rockies also have Seth Smith to fill the outfield, who is capable of posting respectable numbers.  Look for similar production from the Rockies outfield, with possibly some increased production from “CarGo.”

The Rockies starting rotation is probably the most consistent 1-5 in the division and will have most of the same faces returning with Ubaldo Jimenez, Aaron Cook, Jorge De La Rosa, Jeff Francis, and Jason Hammel.  The team will miss 15 game winner Jason Marquis, who followed the money to Washington, but it does have Jeff Francis returning from injury.  While the staff may not have any household names they do get the job done, with De La Rosa, Jimenez, Cook, and Hammel all posting sub 4.50 ERAs in 2009, and De La Rosa and Jimenez both winning 15 games.

The Rockies bullpen saw almost no movement this off season, which is an area they could have improved on as they finished the 2009 season with the fourth worst ERA of all NL teams.  They will again rely on closer Huston Street to come up big in the final inning while Manny Corpas, Rafael Betancourt, Matt Daley, and Franklin Morales will be used in middle relief.


The Giants are probably built more on pitching than any other team in the division.  In 2009 they had the second best ERA among relievers in the NL and tied for the second best ERA among starters.  Conversely on the offensive side they were fourth worst runs scored.  They did see some movement to try and bolster their offense with the signing of INF/OF Mark DeRosa and 1B Aubrey Huff.

The Infield sees the return of Pablo Sandoval, who had a great 2009 season, batting .330 with 25 HR.  Joining Sandoval will be SS Edgar Renteria, newly acquired Aubrey Huff at 1B, 2B Freddy Sanchez, who was acquired at last seasons trade deadline, and C Bengie Molina.  Huff and Renteria will look to bounce back this season and could potentially improve their averages between 20-30 points.  

The outfield will also look to improve offensively, with Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand, and Nate Schierholtz all producing very mediocre numbers in 2009.  DeRosa does give them versatility however, as he is capable of playing 1B, 2B, and 3B in addition to the OF. 

Regardless of any improvements seen offensively the Giants will be heavily leaning on their pitching staff, which includes Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez.  Lincecum and Cain were fantastic last season, posting a 2.48 and 2.89 ERA respectively.  Zito and Sanchez also contributed with sub 4.30 ERAs.

The dominant bullpen of the Giants suffered some losses with the departures of Justin Miller and Bob Howry.  Howry pitched the third most innings by a Giants reliever in 2009 and had a 3.39 ERA.  The bullpen retained notable pitchers Jeremy Affeldt, Brandon Medders and closer Brian Wilson.


Somewhat expectedly the Padres had a very quiet off season.  They traded Kevin Kouzmanoff and signed Jerry Hairston Jr, but other than that no notable moves.  The Padres are a team of players little known outside the San Diego area. 

The infield will be made of 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B David Eckstein, SS Everth Cabrera, 3B Chase Headley, and C Nick Hundley.  Adrian Gonzalez led the team in every major offensive category last year, including batting average with .277. No other infielder hit over .270 or more than 12 HR.  Although no one outside of Gonzalez has any power potential, Cabrera will look to have between 30-40 stolen bases.

The outfield has Kyle Blanks, Tony Gwynn Jr, and Will Venable.  None of the young players played a full season last year.  There is little power to speak of, but Kyle Blanks has the potential to hit 20 homers.

Chris Young, Kevin Correia, Mat Latos will make up the front end of the rotation. Latos could eventually be top starter but none figure to have any significant impact in 2010.

The Padres bullpen is most likely the strength of the team.  Closer Heath Bell had 42 saves in 2009 and Mike Adams, Luke Gregerson, Edward Mujica, and Joe Thatcher all had very respectable ERAs. The bullpen, which ranked sixth in the NL for ERA last season, is returning for the 2010 almost completely in tact.


The Diamondbacks were probably the busiest team in the NL West, and with good cause, they finished dead last in the division last year.  They made the biggest splash being part of a three team trade during the winter meetings and later signed a few notable free agents, resulting in one time fan favorite Eric Byrnes being designated for assignment. 

The Diamondbacks infield will welcome new acquisitions 1B Adam LaRoche and 2B Kelly Johnson as they join 3B Mark Reynolds, SS Stephen Drew, and C Miguel Montero.  This is a much improved infield from last season, both offensively and defensively, as LaRoche provides a solid glove and consistent bat at a position that has been a long time liability for the team.  Kelly Johnson is coming off a forgettable season in 2009 and the Diamondbacks will look for him to return to his 2008 form.

The outfield will remain somewhat similar to 2009, with Chris Young and Justin Upton returning to their spots.  Conor Jackson, who missed most of the 2009 season with illness, will return to LF where he played much of the time in 2008.  Jackson is a consistent .280 hitter when healthy and the team will need his reliable bat if they are to compete for the NL West title.  Filling in when the need arises will be Gerardo Parra, who is coming off a very nice rookie season where he hit .290.  If Chris Young continues to struggle like he has the past two seasons look for Parra to get a large chunk of the playing time. 

Their pitching staff will look considerably different after losing middle of the rotation man Doug Davis to free agency and trading former first round draft pick Max Scherzer.  Meanwhile, they acquired Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy to fill in the rotation and will have Brandon Webb back from a season long injury.  If Brandon Webb can pitch like he has for most of his career the Diamondbacks will have one of the strongest front ends of the rotation of any team with the one two battery of Dan Haren and Webb. 

The Diamondbacks bullpen is an area of concern for the team and one that cost them many games in 2009.  The bullpen’s collective ERA last season was 4.61, third worst in the National League behind only the Pirates and Nationals.  It may not be a coincidence that those teams, along with the Diamondbacks, made up the three last place teams in the three NL divisions.  The bullpen did add Bob Howry and Aaron Heilman to try and cure some of its woes, but if they get the same inconsistent performances from the rest of the pen as they did last year it will be of little help.

Posted on: January 21, 2010 12:37 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2010 12:40 pm

Diamondbacks By Comparison

Sure it's only January, but with the Cardinals season over and the date for players to start reporting to spring training only a month away I figured it was time to dust off the old blog and assess where the Diamondbacks might see themselves this season.

The Diamondbacks were the talk of baseball during the winter meetings when they traded Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth in a three team deal receiving Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy in return.  Many people felt they gave up too early on a couple young pitchers with very high potential, Max Scherzer in particular.

In reality they acquired two starters for one, including a very solid third man in the rotation with Jackson, who is probably ahead of Max Scherzer in terms of development and his ability to go deeper into games.  Edwin Jackson averaged better than 6.1 innings per start, Scherzer averaged about 5.2 innings per start. The Diamondbacks also received a high end prospect in Ian Kennedy to hopefully fill the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation.  Kennedy has had success in the minors but has experienced set backs in his major league progression due to injury.

In the following weeks they picked up 2B Kelly Johnson coming off a bad year for a bargain price and a solid, veteran, true 1B Adam LaRoche.  Certainly neither player has the flash or name recognition of a Jason Bay but they do solidify a lineup that was too reliant on utility players and rookies last year.  With the hopeful return to form from Conor Jackson and Brandon Webb the Diamondbacks are looking like they could be a respectable team next season…if things work out as planned.

To get a gauge on how the Diamondbacks stack up their starting position players and top three starters are compared to the NL champion Phillies, and NL West winning Dodgers.  Below are the players for each team ranked in terms of their 2009 season performance.  In some cases a few players had seasons that were far below what they had done in previous seasons so their career numbers were used rather than 2009 numbers.

1B Ryan Howard .279 45 HR 8 SB .360 OBP .571 SLG
1B Adam LaRoche .277 25 HR 2 SB .355 OBP .488 SLG
1B James Loney .281 13 HR 7 SB .357 OBP .399 SLG

At first base Ryan Howard clearly has the edge with his power, but Adam LaRoche is certainly comparable in batting average and has more power than James Loney.

2B Chase Utley .282 31 HR 23 SB .397 OBP .508 SLG
2B Kelly Johnson (career) .264 .346 OBP .460 SLG
2B Blake DeWitt (career) .257 11 HR 3 SB .333 OBP .384 SLG

Again at 2B the Phillies have the obvious better player, but Kelly Johnson’s .264 career batting average beats out Blake DeWitt and Johnson had a very respectable .281 average in 2008 prior to his injury hampered 2009 campaign.

3B Mark Reynolds .260 44 HR 24 SB .349 OBP .543 SLG
3B Placido Polanco .285 10 HR 7 SB .331 OBP .396 SLG
3B Casey Blake .280 18 HR 3 SB .363 OBP .468 SLG

The Diamondbacks have the advantage a 3B with Mark Reynolds emerging as one of the league’s young power hitters. In addition to his power he also has more speed than the other two.

SS Jimmy Rollins .250 21 HR 31 SB .296 OBP .423 SLG
SS Rafael Furcal .269 9 HR 12 SB .335 OBP .375 SLG
SS Stephen Drew .261 12 HR 5 SB .320 OBP .428 SLG

If Jimmy Rollins returns to his previous self then the Phillies will have the absolute advantage here too, and even if he doesn’t they still might due to Rollins’ home run and stolen base numbers, however his average and OBP definitely level the playing field some.

LF Manny Ramirez .290 19 HR 0 SB .418 OBP .531 SLG
LF Raul Ibanez .272 34 HR 4 SB .347 OBP .552 SLG
LF Conor Jackson (career) .281 12 HR 10 SB .361 OBP .431 SLG

Always a respectable player, Raul Ibanez catapulted himself to one of the leagues elite sluggers in the first half of the 2009 season.  However, after hitting 22 home runs prior to the All Star break he hit only 12 after the All Star break.  He’s 38 years old and prior to last season he had hit 30 or more home runs only once in his 13 year career.

You also have to wonder if Manny’s age and prior supplement usage are catching up with him, as he too saw a significant drop in is second half numbers, batting .355 pre All Star and .255 post All Star.  But this is about what the player did last season rather than speculation on what will happen this season, so with that in mind Manny and Ibanez have the advantage over Conor Jackson.

CF Matt Kemp .297 26 HR 34 SB .352 OBP .490 SLG
CF Shane Victorino .292 10 HR 25 SB .358 OBP .445 SLG
CF Gerado Parra .290 5 HR .324 OBP .404 SLG

This is the one position that the Dodgers have the clear advantage.  Matt Kemp has the potential to be one of the best players in the league and has a great combination of strength and speed. 

RF Justin Upton .300 26 HR 20 SB .366 OBP .532 SLG
RF Jason Werth .268 36 HR 20 SB .373 OBP .506 SLG
RF Andre Ethier .272 31 HR 6 SB .361 OBP .508 SLG

All three of these players would be welcomed on any team but Justin Upton beats out Werth and Ethier with a considerably higher average and SLG %. 

C Miguel Montero .294 16 HR 5 SB .355 OBP .478 SLG
C Carlos Ruiz .255 9 HR 3 SB .355 OBP .425 SLG
C Russell Martin .250 7 HR 11 SB .352 OBP .329 SLG

Miguel Montero leads the catchers group with a much better average, home run total, and SLG %.  His numbers not only beat Ruiz and Martin, but are also better than most catchers in MLB.

1P Roy Halladay 17 W 2.79 ERA
1P Dan Haren 14 W 3.14 ERA
1P Chad Billingsley 12 W 4.03 ERA

2P Brandon Webb (career) 3.27 ERA
2P Cole Hamels 10 W 4.32 ERA
2P Clayton Kershaw 8 W 2.79

3P Edwin Jackson 13 W 3.62 ERA
3P Hiroki Kuroda 8 W 3.76
3P Joe Blanton 12 W 4.05 ERA

The Phillies got the jewel of the off season with the acquisition of Roy Halladay, one of baseball’s best arms, but their second and third pitchers are a significant drop off.  The Dodgers pitchers are more level than the Phillies but the Diamondbacks are the only team with all of their top pitchers under a 4.00 ERA and the top two under 3.50 ERA.

When looking at the above figures, it is apparent that the Phillies have the best players, and they should considering that they have the sixth highest payroll of any MLB team and the third highest payroll of all NL teams, nearly $40 million higher than the Diamondbacks.  But the Diamondbacks have the best player at two of the eight positions and have the strongest front end pitching rotation. 

Want further proof that the Diamondbacks are ready to compete?  When the numbers of the players above are averaged the Diamondbacks have the highest batting average and only rank last in OBP.  There is definitely reason to believe that this year will be better than 2009 if for no other reason than it would be hard to be worse.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 1, 2009 12:46 pm

Jon Garland and Dbacks money to the Dodgers

Jon Garland was traded last night mid-game to the opposing Dodgers.  Depending on who you believe this was either a good move or a senseless once.  Garland was approached by the Dbacks a few weeks ago about his 2010 option and apparently the meeting did not go well.  It was looking like this would be Garland’s first and only season with the team.  He was a number four starter who was very inconsistent, didn’t pitch well at Chase Field, and often gave up four or more runs a game.  The team certainly should not have gone to any great expense in keeping him.


MLB.com reports that the Dbacks will pay the remainder of Garland’s 2009 salary, approximately $1 million, and his 2010 buyout which would be between $1 to 2.5 million. However, Josh Byrnes indicated in an interview this morning that the team would save around $1 million for the rest of the season with the move.  I’m all for the team saving money anyway they can, Garland only had six more starts this season and if they were able to move him it was smart to do so, but to pay someone to play for the Dodgers is unthinkable.


Byrnes also indicated that both the player to be named in the Garland deal and the player to be named in the Rauch deal would be expected to compete for roster spots for the 2010 Diamondbacks.  There is speculation that the player to be named in the Garland deal is Tony Abreu, a 25 year old infielder who has played in 6 games this season.  He has had a good season so far in AAA, batting .351.  With the Diamondbacks infield largely set for next season it appears that the only place that they would be able to use Abreu would be 2B, where Ryan Roberts has been making a case to be the full time starter next season with his .299 average.


I certainly hope that the Diamondbacks are not paying the Dodgers $2 million to help them in the postseason and only getting in return a player for a position where they have someone batting .299.  I know that the jury is still out on Roberts but there are other areas that really need to be addressed.  If the MLB.com reports are inaccurate and the Dodgers are paying the $2 million then it takes away some of the sting, but I still don’t like trading with the Dodgers.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 19, 2009 1:28 pm

Jamie Moyer Lights Out

The Diamondbacks were again dominated by a 46 year old pitcher who tops out in the low eighties. In 2009 Jamie Moyer has a 0.00 ERA, 2 wins in two games, and a total of 8 hits and 10 strike outs in the 12.2 innings he’s pitched against the Diamondbacks.  This utter and complete domination is juxtaposed to his 5.22 ERA against the rest of the league.  He pitched one game against the Diamondbacks in 2008, 7 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, and no walks.  With his complete and utter domination of the Dbacks the past two years it was no surprise that Moyer was called upon in the fourth inning to relieve Pedro Martinez. 

If not for a lead off homerun by Stephen Drew the Dbacks would have been shutout and managed only 3 hits.  Not that 1 run and 4 hits are much better.  This was the team’s third disappointing game in as many days, who also featured lackluster performances in their games against the Dodgers, Sunday, and Braves, Monday.  The post game press conference again showed a subdued AJ Hinch reclining in his chair casually dismissing the team’s poor play.

Maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised though.  Sunday’s loss against the Dodgers happened after they had won the first two games of the series.  For the past two years the Diamondbacks have consistently mailed in the third game of a series after winning the first two.  Monday’s game was a makeup game that took them across the country for a day game less than 24 hours after they finished their previous one.  Last nights game was picked up after an hour rain delay, and traditionally the Dbacks lose almost every game after a rain delay.  Or it could be the team is just wearing down, they’ve only had one day off since July 31. 

What ever it is, they’ll need to get over it.  Their remaining schedule doesn’t get any easier and includes multiple series against the Dodgers, Giants, and Rockies, all teams that will surely be making a post season push in the coming weeks.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 5, 2009 12:28 pm

The Steroid Band Aid

Hank Aaron has stated that all the names on the 2003 steroid list need to be released for baseball to move forward and I completely agree with him.  To have another name come out every six weeks or so only brings the issue to the forefront of people’s minds just as it was starting to subside.  We are at the point where everyone probably has a good idea of who will be on the list and short of a few names there will be little surprise.

There was an unconfirmed list floating around the internet a few weeks back.  Not only was every player on that list not a surprise, but there were connections between most of the players, such as confirmed names Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.  Most players had at least one or two teammates on the list.  There were a few Giants, a few Cubs, a few Blue Jays, a few Dodgers, etc.

With the exception of a handful of players everyone on the unconfirmed list was a notable or recognizable name.  Not necessarily all super stars like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, but players that most fans who follow the game somewhat closely would know. 

While that list may be unconfirmed, in my opinion it is probably pretty accurate.  When I read the list about a month ago both Manny and Ortiz were on it.  Now they are confirmed. There was also one player on the list who is an Arizona product that was a known user among Arizona community college players. The information is out there.  Baseball would behoove itself by taking care of the problem with one big blow.  There are no real surprises and only people benefiting from the gradual release of the names are the people who are selling that information piece mail to the media.  Just like in a twelve step program the first step to baseball’s rehabilitation is admitting they had a problem and condemning the guilty players.

If baseball was smart they would recognize that they have a great group of exciting and talented players who have come up in the last three years and can bring baseball out of the steroid era.  These players deserve to compete in an environment that is devoid of steroid suspicion.  Players like Ryan Braun, Jason Bay, and Tim Lincecum can give baseball the fresh start that they need.  Releasing the list could also relieve suspicion that is now surrounding its best hitter, Albert Pujols, who was not on the unconfirmed list, and allow him to pursue the Triple Crown with the genuine support of fans.

Posted on: August 3, 2009 11:09 am

The Real Moneyball

The trade deadline has passed, effectively ending the hopes of many teams for another year as they come to the realization that they are better off dumping their players than trying to compete.  The Pirates, as usual, traded anyone of any value.  The Orioles, Indians, and A’s were also again on the seller’s side of the ledger.  The rich continued to get richer, with the Dodgers acquiring George Sherill, the Phillies dealing for Cliff Lee, and the White Sox getting Jake Peavy.

It is obviously frustrating for fans of teams like the Pirates, who continually give away their players year after year, but it is also frustrating for fans of teams competing with the trade deadline gluttons.  If you are a fan of a mid or small market team that is in the division race but not necessarily a buyer, and a rival team gets an impact player at the deadline, it is very deflating.  Especially when they seem to do it every year, as is the case for the Red Sox and Dodgers.

In the AL Central the Twins are only two games behind the Tigers, who just obtained Jarrod Washburn, a great addition to their rotation.  Meanwhile teams like the Rockies, Rangers, and Twins are forced to stand pat and try and wedge their way into the playoffs with what they have.  They compete every night and battle all season only to have the teams around them get a giant shot in the arm with two months to go.

It is fortuitous that baseball has the wild card though, because it does give teams in secondary markets an opportunity to make the playoffs.  Right now there are no division leaders that are in mid or small markets, and no division leaders with a payroll below $100 million.  In 2008 there was only one smaller market team that won their division, the Tampa Rays; the other division winners were representing Chicago, Philadelphia, and LA. 

In addition to every division being led by a $100 million team, there is only one $100 million dollar that is even under .500, the Mets.  The $100 million dollar teams include the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Tigers, Mariners, Angels, Phillies, Astros, White Sox, and Dodgers.  The statement the rich got richer definitely rings true, as six of those teams made major acquisitions

If you don’t think that money equates to winning consider this.  Four of the past five World Series have been won by teams in the $100 million club.  It doesn’t mean that the team who has the highest payroll always wins, but it does mean that to win you do have to pay.

Posted on: July 27, 2009 6:08 pm

American League vs. National League: The Facts

The National League has been much maligned in recent years as being vastly inferior to the supposedly dominant American League. The All Star Game was over two weeks ago, however still the media is using the AL victory as justification of the American League’s dominance. The pitching is better, the hitting is better, and the American League trumps the National League in every possible aspect of the game.  Or does it?

The NL has lost every All Star game since 2002, when they were able to somehow match the incredible AL and tie it.  So the argument prevails that the AL is better based on the fact they have won those All Star games. However, since 2002 the game has been decided by only 1 run 5 times.  To say that because the AL has won the All Star games they are superior is putting a lot of stock into the once a year exhibition game. 

AL supporters also argue that the AL dominates inter-league play and therefore it is a better league.  Since 2002 the AL has won 53.5% of inter-league games.  Is it reasonable to think that because the AL teams have a professional hitter to hit for the pitcher while the NL team must use a bench player when they adhere to the DH rule that it may allow for the AL to win a slightly higher percentage of games?  

Despite the American League winning 53% of inter-league games it has not led to American League domination of the World Series.  Since 2000 the AL and the NL each have five wins.  Exactly equal.

When you look at the individual player stats for this season it shows equality between the leagues as well.  Both the AL and NL have 5 of the top 10 players in batting average ranks and 10 of the top 20.  The NL has 6 of the top 10 in HR, and 9 of the top 20, 5 of 10 in OPS and 11 of the top 20.  The consistency shows in pitchers as well.  The NL has 5 of the top 10 in ERA and 13 of the top 20.

Is there a great dominance by the American League?  Not really.   

Category: MLB
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