Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Shiver my timbers: The Pirates are taking no prisoners.

April 27, 2009

It might be early in the season, but there can be no bigger shock in the ranks of Major League Baseball than the overall success of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Currently 11-7, and sitting in second place in what should end up being a hotly contested NL Central, the Bucs have been the talk of analysts and fans alike, displaying a determination that can only be described as inspiring.

Pitchers Zach Duke and Paul Maholm both have three wins so far, with Duke already pitching a complete game (a four hit shutout of Houston on April 13th). Closer Matt Capps’ five saves rank him fourth in MLB.

Offensively, the Pirates have several players getting the job done, day in and day out.

Second baseman Freddy Sanchez leads the team with 26 hits, trailed just barely by Nyjer Morgan who has 25. those stats place the 14th and 15th respectively in the league. In addition, Sanchez leads the team with a .351 batting average. His nine doubles tie him with two other players for the major league lead.

Adam LaRoche and Nate McLouth lead the team in power numbers with five and four homers respectively. Both players have 14 RBIs, which leads the team.

Playing a true team, Pittsburgh first garnered real attention this season when they swept the now-sliding Marlins, before taking two of three from San Diego. The last game, a 8-3 victory, was at the expense of stud pitcher Jake Peavy.

However, the news is not all good for Pittsburgh and their long suffering fans.

Catcher Ryan Doumit and “Captain” Jack Wilson are currently on the disabled list, while budding superstar McLouth is currently out of action as well, but has not been placed on the DL.

Doumit had surgery to repair a fractured bone in his wrist last Thursday, and isn’t expected to be back in action until at least mid-June.

Wilson was placed on the 15 day-DL on Saturday because of a sprained left middle finger which occurred in the Pirates home opener on April 13. The injury has gotten worse since then, prompting his being sidelined.

McLouth sustained an oblique injury on Friday during batting practice, and sat out the Bucs weekend series with the Padres. It is unclear when he will return.

So, Bucs fans, batten down the hatches. The immediate future doesn’t seem to promising offensively.

However, you’re in good shape when it comes to the guys on the mound, and that could carry your team until the big bats return.

Either way, a lot more eyes than normal will be focused on the Pirates. Let’s see if they can weather the storm and continue their hot play.

MLB Status Report- 4/27/09

April 27, 2009

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

East:

Toronto Blue Jays (14-6): The Jays just keep winning, I’m not entirely sure how.

I mean, Roy Halladay is being his normal dominant self (4-0, 32 strikeouts), but the rest of the staff is also doing well, and that makes the Jays dangerous.

Second baseman Aaron Hill has already eclipsed his homerun total from last season (two last year versus five thus far) and is two RBIs away from equaling last seasons total. He is also hitting .367.

In addition, shortstop Marco Scutaro is on pace to eclipse all of his career bests, hitting four homers and driving in 13 runs as of press time (his career highs are 9 and 60).

Boston Red Sox (11-6): The Sox have now won ten games in a row (yes, that’s right), and have to be considered the team to beat in this division.

Kevin Youkilis is leading MLB in batting average, hitting .444. There is not an aspect of his game that I can honestly find fault with. He does it all, offensively and defensively, and is also an excellent clubhouse presence I’m told.

The pitching staff needs to get completely on track to make this team truly great, but they are doing a good job thus far.

New York Yankees (9-8): The team spent about a quarter of a billion dollars to bring in AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia, and that’s paid of to a point. They are a combined 3-1, but have a combined ERA of 5.14. Something tells me Yankee fans won’t like that.

Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher have all been pounding the ball, and that’s good news for the Bronx Bombers. The bad news is that bonus baby Mark Texiera is hitting .218.

Baltimore Orioles (9-10): There’s a few guys hitting in Maryland (Aubrey Huff, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis), but the pitching staff is flat. That is the reason Baltimore will reside near or at the bottom of the division for the remainder of the season.

Tampa Bay Rays (7-12): The defending AL champs gotta get it together, plain and simple.

Noteworthy however, is 1B Carlos Pena leading MLB in home runs with eight.

CENTRAL:

Detroit Tigers (10-8) : No one expected the tigers to be here. Yes, they have a lot of young hungry pitchers, but this was to be a rebuilding year in my eyes. A year to get those guys on track to make a big run next year.

Curtis Granderson (6 homers 12 RBIs) and Brandon Inge (.323, 7 homers, 17 RBIs) have eclipsed Miguel Cabrera as the offensive spark plugs of this team, which is pretty shocking to say the least.

On the hill, Armando Galarraga has been a revelation, going 3-0 over 24.1 innings with an enemic 1.85 ERA. Things are looking up for this Tigers staff, and that bodes badly for the rest of the Central.

Chicago White Sox (9-9): The Pale Hosers are holding onto this spot by the skin of their teeth at the moment, They did not have a good week, going 2-4, and really need to get back on track.

Carlos Questin and Jermaine Dye are having good seasons thus far, and that will need to continue. Quentin will need to put together a 35 HR, 130 RBI season for his effort to be considered worthwhile.

Mark Buerhle (3-0) and John Danks (2-0, 0.95 ERA) have looked excellent, and that is a great sign for the Sox. If those two can put together decent seasons, then Chicago has a legitimate shot at winning this division.

Kansas City Royals (9-9): I stand by last week’s assertion that the Royals would be serious contenders. Zack Greinke is flat out the best pitcher in MLB right now, and he is showing everyone that the Royals are for real, and not to be taken lightly.

Greinke, currently 4-0 with a 0.00 (yes, that’s right) ERA is dominating opposing batters, leading the Al in strikeouts with 36.

First baseman and DH Mike Jacobs is contributing a lot offensiely, hitting four homers and driving in 12 runs. however, like his former Marlins teammate Dan Uggla, Jacobs has a low batting average (.246) and needs to get that on track before he can be considered an elite player.

Minnesota Twins (9-10): Oh, the Twins. What will Minnesota do with them?

As usual, Justin Morneau is putting together an excellent campaign, but it has been the play of OF Jason Kubel (.328, 4 homers, 15 RBIs) that has people talking positively about the Twins. And any talk about the Twins isn’t usually positive these days, so that’s a huge plus.

Everyone expected Francisco Liriano to be a stud pitcher this season. So far he’s 0-4, and doesn’t seem that way. Conversely, young Kevin Slowey is 3-0 and is looking pretty good.

Cleveland Indians (7-12): I really counted on the Indians to be dominant this season. I’m not entirely sure what’s gone wrong.

Grazy Sizemore and Victor Martinez are killing the ball, but the Tribe’s pitching staff just can’t seem to get it together enough to aid in the Indians winning games.

They’re not too far out of it yet, but do need to put together a couple of good weeks in order to gain some ground on Detroit and Chicago, who I believe will fall off eventually.

However, the schedule does not favor the Indians, who play Boston, Detroit and Toronto over the course of the next week and a half.

WEST:

Seattle Mariners (12-7): A good week for the Mariners as they go 4-2 to stay atop the West. Ichiro has been magnificent since returning from the DL, hitting .333, and is putting up decent power numbers thus far, already hitting two dingers. Second baseman Jose Lopez leads the team with 12 RBIs, while Russell Branyan is tops with four homers.

The Mariners pitching staff has been a revelation thus far, with Felix Hernandez and Jarrod Washburn both racking up three wins apiece, while Erik Bedard is currently ranked second in the AL with 29 strikeouts, two more than Hernandez.

Texas Rangers (8-10): The Rangers are staying afloat so far, but just barely. After leading the league in runs scored last season, the Rangers have scored three or more runs in all but three games this season. Second baseman Ian Kinsler has been a big reason why.

Currently batting .559, and ranked second in the AL with seven homers, and ranked third in RBIs, with 20, Kinsler is off to the hot start that Rangers fans had hoped he would be. If he keeps up these numbers, he alone makes the Rangers competitive. Add in the way that Nelson Cruz, Michael Young and Hank Blaylock have been hitting, and Texas could be very dangerous.

Oakland Athletics (7-10): No offense to A’s fans, but this is not gonna be your year. Sure, Oakland can put together a good game or two everyone once and awhile, but they will likely finish in the cellar come season’s end.

Only one everyday position player is hitting above .500 (C Kurt Suzuki, .333), and no player has more than two homers. The offense on this team is non-existent, and they have been lucky to pull off seven wins, especially with no help coming from their pitching staff, which is currently a disaster.

Los Angeles Angels (7-11): There’s is still a ton of hope for the Angels, and no one should give up on them yet. Vlad’s still hurt, and though the pitching situation seems dire, it should right itself shortly with Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders shaking off the rust, and ace Ervin Santana returning from the DL soon.

Torii Hunter has put up great numbers thus far, hitting .338 with seven homers and 14 RBIs, which in Guerrero’s absence, is a complete necessity. Second baseman Howie Kendrick is coming along slowly, but should break out within the next couple of weeks with a major surge.

————————————————————————————————————————-

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

EAST:

Florida Marlins (11-7): It was bound to happen, at it has already begun. The Marlins, who started the season blisteringly hot, have begun their steady fall to the middle, losing six straight, being swept by the Pirates and Phillies. Sure, they’re atop the NL East, but for how long? Philly have been hot lately, and the Mets aren’t going to stay down forever.

I chalk this up to inexperience, especially among the young pitchers. I expected a fall around mid-season, but it seems to be happening far earlier than that.

Second baseman Dan Uggla could be an elite player in MLB, since his offensive numbers (4 homers and 16 RBIs) are very impressive. However, what’s really offensive is his .231 batting average.

Philadelphia Phillies (9-8): This team had a good week, going 4-2 overall. Offensively, it’s surprising free agent Raul Ibanez leading the way for the Phillies, batting .324 with 5 homers and 12 RBIs. The usual suspects (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Shane Victorino) have 40 RBIs between them. However, superstar SS Jimmy Rollins is batting .162 thus far, which should be a major concern for Philadelphia.

Forget Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton, guys who are known to have pretty big numbers, it’s all about seemingly 77-year old Jamie Moyer (he’s really 46) and reliever Clay Condrey. Moyer is currently 3-1 while Condrey is 3-0 in 10 appearances for Philly.

Atlanta Braves (9-9): Atlanta is holding on right now, but can they keep it up?

No one has been very impressive at the plate for the Braves, and the same can be said about their pitching staff. Derrick Lowe was brought in to save this team, but he’s only human. He’ll need help from Javier Vasquez and Jair Jurrgens if this team has any hopes of making a real run.

New York Mets (8-10): A perennial disappointment it seems. the Mets are hardly out of it at this point, but seriously, weren’t they supposed to be far better than this?

Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo are first and second respectively in the NL in batting average, but that has not translated to success for New York. This teams gets a lot of hits, but also leaves a small army on the bases each and every inning. That needs to change, and quickly.

As usual, Johan Santana has been brilliant, but he can’t carry this pitching staff alone. he needs help, so the Mets arms had better wake up.

Washington Nationals (4-13): What else can really be said about the Nationals at this point? They’re an absolutely abysmal team. I don’t think that I’ve ever advocated a fire-sale before, but I’d recommend one now….but what does Washington have that’s worth buying?

CENTRAL:

St. Louis Cardinals (13-6): The Cards have been on fire this week, finishing it 5-1. This division will likely come down to the Cards and Cubs, and right now it certainly seems like St. Louis has the huge advantage.

Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick have combined to sock 12 dingers and 44 runs batted in while hitting .338. They are first and third respectively in the NL in RBIs.

The pitching staff has been excellent, led by the rejuvenated Kyle Lohse and Joel Pineiro, who are a combined 6-0.

Pittsburgh Pirates (11-7): Wow is all that I can say here. The Bucs have gone 5-1 this week, and have put a look of disbelief on the faces of opponents and fans alike.

Adam LaRoche and Nate McLouth have looked fantastic at the plate, while Pat Maholm is 3-0 with an ERA just over two. Zach Duke is 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA. Shocking, absolutely shocking.

Cincinnati Reds (10-8): The Reds have been turning some heads of late, and with the young pitching staff that they boast, could be doing that for years to come.

Jay Bruce and Joey Votto are two young talented position players that could be All-Stars for many years to come.

Cincy will win a whole lot more games than people think that they will, but still don’t have even a remote shot to win this division.

Chicago Cubs (9-8): They might be a game above .500, but the Cubs are probably one of the biggest disappointments thus far short of the Mets. The Cubs pitching staff, excellent on paper, has been simply mediocre.

Aaron Heilman has been ok so far, but Met fans are salivating awaiting what they hope to be his eventual unraveling, justifying their team trading him away.

Milwaukee Brewers (8-10): The Brewers looked good this week, but when you really look at them, they, like most of the teams in this division, have no realistic shot at beating the Cardinals or Cubs down the stretch.

Ryan Braun is a quality player, and is a real threat to any team tha the Brewers play. Trade bait perhaps?

Houston Astros (7-12): I’m a little bit surprised that the ‘Tros are in the cellar. They have a very talented batting order, and a decent pitching staff.

The key thus far has been the sub-par play of Lance Berkman, who is hitting just .167.

The pitching staff, supposedly led by Roy Oswalt (0-2, 4.68 ERA), struggles on a nightly basis, and has no real bright spot at the moment (maybe the 2-0 Russ Ortiz, who hasn’t been successful since 2005). That could change once Oswalt and Co. get on track, which for Houston, I hope that they do.

WEST:

Los Angeles Dodgers (13-6): The Dodgers on on top again this week, due in large part to the surprising play of OF Andre Either, who is near the top of NL leaderboard in homers and RBIs. Matt Kemp and Manny Ramirez have put together respectable numbers so far, and that should continue.

The pitching staff is lacking an explosive number one guy, but is serviceable, and gets the job done on a regular basis. Chad Billingsley is excellent, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not ready to label him a dominant ace just yet. If he continues his current level of play for a few more weeks, and I might be forced to change my mind.

San Diego Padres (10-8): The Padres had a bad week, going 1-4, but should still be able to hang with the Dodgers for the remainder of the season. This is really anyone’s division, and probably will be the colsest contested come season’s end.

Reliever Cla Meredith ha been a bright spot, earning three victories in only 6.1 innings of work. Jake Peavy has been less than thrilling, but he’ll turn that around. Aces always do.

San Francisco Giants (8-9): With a stellar week, the Giants moved out of the West Cellar, and into the middle of the pack.

The main thing keeping the Giants afloat right now is their pitching, and even that isn’t too great.

Matt Cain has looked pretty good, going 2-0 so far, while Tim Lincecum and Randy Johnson have looked decent. People discount Johnson, saying he can no longer be dominant, but I still say that he could win 10 games and make a huge impact with this team.

Arizona Diamondbacks (7-11): The Dbacks have been a bit of a disappointment this season, but that can be attributed to ace Brandon Webb spending time on the DL and some of the young payers still trying to find their offensive legs.

Third baseman Mark Reynolds is a hot hitter, but still needs to put the ball in play a good deal more in order to really start punishing the other teams in the division. He could be a true superstar if that happens.

Colorado Rockies (6-11): The Rockies aren’t fooling anyone, and I don’t mean that to be complimentary. More than likely, they will sit in the NL West basement collecting dust for the remainder of the season.

Pitcher Jason Marquis has been a bright spot for the Rockies though, going 3-1 while pitching a team high 26.1 innings.

Top of the heap? Not a chance Marlins.

April 22, 2009

I’ve heard a lot of talk about how incredible the Florida Marlins look this year. And I”ll agree, they look pretty good.

Their pitching staff is young and hungry, and their offense has put together some great efforts.

Other than that, I ‘ll say one more thing:

Call me when they learn how to play the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Until that time, keep the World Series talk to yourselves.

-a special shout out goes to Tim Walker, the most loyal Bucs fan that I know. Keep living the dream buddy!

MLB Status Report- 4/19/09

April 20, 2009

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

East:

Toronto Blue Jays (10-4): The Jays are in first place Puckheads! The Leafs might not have made the NHL playoffs, but Canadians have their baseball team to follow now. Roy Halladay has been his normal dominant self, but the rest of the pitching staff has performed beautifully. Offensively, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Marco Scutaro are outdoing any stats that anyone had them pegged for at this point.

New York Yankees (7-6): Everyone had the Yankees in first place from the outset of this season. they’re opening a new stadium, and spent close to half a billion dollars on free agents in the offseason. Those guys haven’t looked especially sharp and neither have the Bronx Bombers as a whole. Nick Swisher, in addition to being the team’s ERA leader, is dominating opposing pitchers and currently leading the Yankees in home runs and RBIs.

Baltimore Orioles (7-6): Who expected the Orioles to be above .500 even at this point? I did. Nick Markakis is flat out raking, and leads MLB in RBIs (16). Once Rich Hill comes back from the DL, and assuming Adam Eaton, Jeremy Guthrie and Mark Hendrickson can get on track, the O’s pitching staff could really turn some heads.

Boston Red Sox (6-6): Kevin Youkilis is second in the AL in batting average, and shows no signs of letting up. The team as a whole has underperformed thus far, but that will not continue for much longer, especially once Josh Beckett has served his 5-game suspension for throwing at Anaheim’s Bobby Abreu.

Tampa Bay Rays (5-8): Last year’s AL champs are in the AL East cellar, which they were no strangers to up until last season. This young club will climb out of the basement soon, and attempt to prove that 2008 was no fluke.

CENTRAL:

Kansas City Royals (7-5): Mark it down now, the Royals will be contenders this seasons.

I know, that sounds insane, but it will happen. The pitching staff is anchored by Gil Meche, who has been severely underrated for his entire career. Zack Greinke is currently 3-0, and has yet to allow a single run this season. Coco Crisp gives the team a legitimate base-stealing threat, and a genuine athlete to patrol center field. if catcher John Buck keeps up his hot hitting, the Royals will be extremely tough to beat.

Detroit Tigers (7-5) : The Tigers are done. They have a wealth of talent, namely Miguel Cabrera. However, they lack the stamina to put together a full season of good ball, and will drop off shortly, and stay dropped off.

Chicago White Sox (7-5): The Sox have the potential to win this division outright if several things happen; One, Mark Buehrle will need to put together a great season (I’m thinking 17-5ish, 3.30 ERA). Second, John Danks will need to be a decent option to follow Buerhle. An 11-6 campaign would be admirable. And finally, Carlos Quentin will need to prove that his 2008 performance was no fluke, and he’s off to a great start so far (6 homers, 11 RBIs).

Minnesota Twins (7-7): I kind of root for the Twins every season, simply because I was always a Kirby Puckett fan growing up. Even with Francisco Liriano healthy and Justin Morneau crushing the ball, this team has no shot of winning the divison.

Cleveland Indians (4-9): This might be one of the biggest shockers so far for me. I figured that the Indians, having competed last season, and signing a seemingly dominant closer on Kerry Wood, would completely dominate the competition so far. Grady Sizemore and Mark DeRosa have looked excellent thus far, but the rest of the Indian offense has been fairly flat. Reigning AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee has looked merely “ok,” and will need to step it up like crazy if the Tribe want to win this division from KC or Chicago. Will they? My guess is absolutely.

WEST:

Seattle Mariners (8-5): The case here? Great pitching staff and not much else. Felix Hernandez, should he stay healthy, is among the elite pitchers in the AL. Erik Bedard, Carlos Silva and Jarrod Washburn round out a pitching staff that could be one of the best in the AL if everything goes well.

Texas Rangers (5-7): Texas scores a slew of runs. The issue is that their pitching staff can’t keep the opposition from doing the same. Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz are killing the ball though, and that could lead to a lot of W’s for the Rangers.

Oakland Athletics (5-7): We’ll see how things go for the A’s for the remainder of the season. Matt Holliday is expected to drastically pick up the offense, but hasn’t been explosive yet. The pitching staff is pieced together, and has no real dominant player. Truly, I would be shocked if this team did not finish in last place in this division, maybe even the AL.

Los Angeles Angels (4-8): The entire team seems flat, but that’s fine. Vlad Guerrero is hurt at the moment, and the rest of the squad is dealing with the death of a teammate (Nick Adenhart). Overall, none of this can be easy. The Angels will come back from this slump and be at the top of this division at season’s end.

————————————————————————————————————————-

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

EAST:

Florida Marlins (11-1): The Marlins have looked incredible thus far, I’ll admit it. I’m told that their pitching staff is vastly underrated, but I refuse to buy into it. Josh Johnson and Matt Lindstrom could one day be great starting pitchers. Johnson might get there this season, none of the other hurlers will. Luck eventually runs out, and that will happen here. When will they begin their slide? My guess is just prior to the All-Star break, when these young guys will begin to wear down. Elsewhere, Hanley Ramirez is a dynamic player, and could very well be the NL MVP by the end of 2009.

Atlanta Braves (6-6):The Braves are one of the teams in the league that I’m very anxious to watch. Derrick Lowe made their pitching staff legit the moment that he signed. Javier Vasquez will also add a bunch of wins…if he’s the Javier Vasquez of 2007, not 2008. However, Chipper Jones is aging, and often injured, and is no longer the dynamo that he once was. My guess, the Braves will finish third in the division at the end of things this season.

New York Mets (6-6):Mets fans don’t fret. Not yet at least. Johan’s looked pretty good, so have most of the good position players (Carlos Delgado especially). Wait a few weeks and let John Maine and Ollie Perez shake off the rust. Mike Pelfrey has looked merely ok, but should turn things around. I’d expect the Mets to win this division if the pitching staff can get it togehter, which chronically has been their Achilles’ heel. Offensively, I truly expected Daniel Murphy to be the one to get his playing time cut by the Gary Sheffield deal. Instead, Murphy is proving he belongs in the big leagues, leading the team in runs scored, while batting .286.

Philadelphia Phillies (5-6):The defending champs are playing possum, trust me. This team is for real. Very little has changed since I saw them play last season, and they will be a true threat come playoff time, where they will likely win the wild card. The pitching staff has what it takes to hang with anyone, and the offense boasts Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, certainly three players that NO team wants to face.

Washington Nationals (1-10): The Nats are horrendous. Manny Acta has no business being in charge of a professional sorts franchise after what he pulled concerning Elijah Dukes (https://haastilesports.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/the-ridiculous-ity-has-reached-a-limit/).

CENTRAL:

Chicago Cubs (7-4): This is my pick to win the Central, if they can keep the Cardinals and Astros at bay. On paper, this is the strongest team in the Central, and a top club in the MLB overall. The offense is led by Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Theriot, and Derrick Lee. The pitching staff is completely stacked, boasting Rich Harden, Carlos Zambrano, 17-game winner (2008) Ryan Dempster, and the improving Ted Lilly. The bullpen is also strong, and completely capable of holding down a Cubs lead.

St. Louis Cardinals (8-5): A perennial contender, the Cards might not have it this year. Albert Pujols is always electric, and Ryan Lutwick is severely underrated, and an excellent player. Lutwick is currently top three in the NL in batting average, hitting over .400, and tied with Soriano for the NL lead in homers (5). If the pitching staff can hold it together, the Cards could be pretty dangerous down the stretch.

Cincinnati Reds (6-5): Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are a season or so away from being superstars. The Reds pitching staff is among the best on paper in the majors. However, they have a tendency to get mired down, and hitting slumps. If the Reds can get their pitchers on track, this team could be a whole lot of trouble for the other teams in the Central.

Pittsburgh Pirates (6-6): The Bucs are at .500! Stop the presses. No, forget it, that won’t stay the case for very long. Apologies to my buddy Tim, but this year ain’t their year. However, Nate McLouth is a special kind of player, and will be excellent trade bait quite soon.

Milwaukee Brewers (4-8): The Brew Crew have what it takes to be a real thorn in a teams’ side. However, they rarely do so. Sorry Milwaukee, this won’t be your year.

Houston Astros (4-8): This lingering in the basement will not continue for the ‘Stros.There is far too much talent (Berkman, Tejada, Bourn, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence) here for them to remain mired in the muck. In fact, this team has a great shot of winning the Central…if they play well against Chicago and St. Louis.

WEST:

Los Angeles Dodgers (10-3): The Dodgers have a real shot at not only winning this division, but of aking a deep run into the playoffs. Any team with Joe Torre at the helm is automatically credible. Add Manny Ramirez to the mix, and you’re in truly good shape. With the exception of Manny, the remiander of the teams has no superstar players. Just a ton of really good ones.

San Diego Padres (9-4): If Jake Peavy can win 20 games, this team will be in good shape. However, the Dodgers and Dbacks are going to make it real fight in this division. I always find this division to be a real firefight, and that won’t change this season.

Colorado Rockies (4-7): There’s a ton of talent on this squad, but I can’t see them coming anywhere near the top of this division this season. Maybe with another top flight starter, but not the staff that they currently have. Brad Hawpe is a true talent, and could put up excellent numbers for the remainder of the season.

Arizona Diamondbacks (4-8): This is a team with endless potential, but little drive. They are young, but not hungry. Brandon Webb (though he’s hurt), Dan Haren, and Jon Garland are as good a trio of hurlers s any team can boast. Offensively, Felipe Lopez is a jack-of-all-trades, and Mark Reynolds is going to be a huge power guy in the future. If he can get his batting average up, we’ll be talking about him for years to come.

San Francisco Giants (4-8): I won’t write off the Giants entirely, because they do have a pitching staff with limitless potential. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum could win 20-plus games, no problem. If Barry Zito can dial in his 12-to-6 curveball again, he’ll be practically unhittable. Randy Johnson adds a nearly 7-foot tall intimidation factor, and is still a very good pitcher, though no longer an ace. It will be certainly be interesting to see how things shape up by the bay.

The ridiculous-ity has reached a limit

April 20, 2009

This post will be brief, simply because it is so ridiculous that it warrants very little writing on my part, but a lot of soul searching on a major league baseball skipper’s part.

On Sunday, Washington Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes was benched and fined by manager Manny Acta for reporting to practice a mere five minutes late. Acta insists rules are rules, and he could not make exceptions, even for a short span of tardiness.

But what was Dukes up to that caused him to be late?

Was he at the strip club? No.

Was he purchasing drugs? Negative.

Perhaps he was involved in a high speed chase with the police?

Strike three.

Dukes, who has had off the field problems throughout his career, was doing charity work with a local little league…on the Nationals behalf.

Instead of being applauded for his efforts to straighten himself out, and in addition gain some much needed good publicity for his team (which as of this writing are 1-10, good enough (by far) for the worst record in MLB), Dukes has become the epicenter of a media field day, due in large part to the asinine antics of Acta.

As if benching Dukes was not enough, Acta has upped the ante, threatening his best player at the moment with a demotion to the minors, and fining him $500.

Ok Manny, I understand that you’re going to be fired any day because you clearly have no right being a major league baseball manager. But to penalize Dukes for trying to earn a place in people’s hearts instead of their punchlines is downright disgusting.

Rarely do I really get this animated about a situation, but this truly struck a nerve with me.

Shame on you Manny Acta, you have no business being at the helm of a professional sports team.

-Haas

Sheffield to the Mets; huh?

April 4, 2009

“The New York Mets sign outfielder Gary Sheffield.”

Those are eight words I never thought I would hear in my lifetime, and they have been slowly eating away at my brain since I first read them this afternoon, as I tried to rationalize the deal.

I was driving on Route 17, heading south towards New York City. My phone rang loudly, signaling an incoming text message. Lo and behold, it was my inside man, A.B. Sack, informing me of, in my opinion, the Mets’ blunder.

Though contingent upon Sheffield passing a physical, all signs point toward him occupying space in rightfield for the Mets, as they begin their inaugural season of play at the newly built Citi Field.

Putting aside Sheffield’s sometimes cantankerous nature, this move makes no sense whatsoever for the Mets, other than to put paying behinds in seats with the hope that Sheffield will soon hit his 500th dinger (which he will certainly do quite soon, I would imagine).

But other than the name recognition, I can’t for the life of me understand this move by GM Omar Minaya.

Yes, Sheffield was once among the greatest players in the name. He’s a nine-time All-Star, and has led the league in batting average and total bases…17 years ago.

The Mets already had two-thirds of a stellar outfield set, with Carlos Beltran patrolling centerfield and the severely underrated Ryan Church assuming duties in right.

More than likely, young Dan Murphy would have played leftfield, and personally, I’m perplexed as to why the Mets would waste the money signing Sheffield, knowing they have a seemingly excellent option already in house.

I’ve seen Murphy play (last season at Double-A Binghamton), and was impressed then, much as I was impressed watching him play at the major league level in 49 games in 2008.

Sure, Sheff is a draw, but at 40 years of age, he’s no longer even close to the same player he once was, which is obvious, since the Detroit Tigers released him only three days ago, citing that they wanted versatility at the DH position.

Translation? Sheff doesn’t have it anymore. And furthermore, if Detroit wanted him to DH, they had obviously deemed that he was not athletic enough to monitor the outfield at Comerica Park.

How can the Mets expect him to attempt to thrive in the National League, where he will actually need to play the field, in very similar dimensions to that of Comerica.

Hopefully, this doesn’t prove to be a huge bust for the Metropolitans.

The old adage has always been “only time will tell.”

Though in fairness, time has told the story on Sheffield, and the final chapter is about to be written.

How ‘Bout Those Mets

March 9, 2009

Here it is, my long awaited season preview of my beloved New York Mets.

It is upon us, another season of NY Mets baseball. I won’t even begin to complain about last season, it’s an exercise in futility.

Here we go kids.

Catcher:

The Mets have Brian Schneider. I like him.

I also like Ramon Castro. Who should start? Who cares? It makes no difference, you won’t see huge numbers from either guy.

First base:

Carlos Delgado is there again. He’s a big power guy, but let’s face it, a little kid could play better defense. Supposedly, Marlon Anderson will back him up. Personally, I’d love to see Nick Evans penciled into that spot on a regular basis eventually. He won’t give you homers like Delgado will, but he’s a line drive hitter, who is a doubles machine. I saw him last season in AA-Binghamton, and he is a special kind of player, and a class act to boot.

Second base:

Luis Castillo. Enough said.

Ok, I’ll say more. It’s hard to steal bases when you have no knees. Somehow Castillo does it. I don’t even want to know how. Alex Cora was signed as a back-up. He might see some significant time once Castillo break both legs trying to steal second.

Shortstop:

Jose Reyes is there. And hopefully for Met fans, he will be forever. He does it all. Steals bases, hits for power, smiles a lot. What can’t he do? Well, lead the Mets to a title…but there’s time.

Third base:

David Wright occupies that spot. He’s a special kind of player, and will conservatively hit 30 homers and drive in 120 runs this season.

Yahoo! Sports has Daniel Murphy listed as a third baseman as well. Let me tell you where he will see no time at all this season; third base. Murphy is a guy like Evans, a young guy who I sincerely hope will see a lot of time this season. More than likely though, it will be in left field.  He has a great throwing arm, and an even better bat.

Outfield:

The Mets killed my buzz when they traded human highlight reel Endy Chavez in the JJ Putz deal, as I loved seeing his acrobatics patrolling the Shea Stadium outfield. I looked forward to seeing what he’d do at Citi Field. Oh well, c’est la vie.

Carlos Beltran is a monster, and can do it all. He’ll have a great season. How great? He might just win the MVP award.

Ryan Church exceeded everyone’s expectations last season, but battled a lot of concussion issues. Hopefully he’s 100% healthy this season, and he can make a big impact.

Evans and Murphy could see a decent amount of time in the outfield, along with Angel Pagan and newly acquired Jeremy Reed. Fernando Tatis factors in here too, and may start the season in left if Anderson or Murphy don’t.

Pitchers:

This is where everyone cringes, right? This has been the Achilles’ heel of the Metropolitans game for awhile now.

Pedro’s gone, as is Tommy Glavine. Fine, I’m not worried.

The rotation will probably shape up as follows (in order): Johan Santana (possibly the best pitcher in baseball), John Maine (vastly underrated), Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey (who will turn a lot of heads this season), and Tim Redding (an innings eater, if nothing else).

I would expect Redding to give way to rookie Jonathon Niese by midseason, especially if Niese can put together some decent stats out of the bullpen or in AAA.

Now onto the bullpen, and here’s where the tears normally start for most Met fans. However, in the mold of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, there will be “No More Tears” this season.

Francisco Rodriguez is a good acquisition, but I question his durability. However, if he’s anywhere near the same player he was last season, when he racked up 62 saves for Anaheim, this is a genuis signing by Omar Minaya.

Speaking of Minaya, he made a great move picking up Putz from Seattle. He’s a great closer, and will serve as a setup man for K-Rod, at least until the latter’s arm falls off from trying to throw the ball 400 miles per hour on every pitch, and at that point, Putz will close.

Pedro Feliciano and rookie Eddie Kunz look to be a decent middle of the game reliever unit, and I”ll take that.

Overall, it’s a good time to be a Mets fan. New stadium, new start.

I won’t jinx it and say that this is the year that they win it all, but it looks pretty good from where I’m standing.

-Haas