This year?

26 08 2008

MLB Weekly Review 8-25-08

Is this “next year” for the Cubs?
If you’re a fan of the Chicago Cubs or just a fan of baseball, you’ve certainly heard the phrase, “there’s always next year.” With the Cubs currently owning the best record in baseball, this really could be their year.
Not only do the 80 wins by the Cubs top all of baseball, their 49-19 home record makes the friendly confines of Wrigley Field someplace that opponents don’t want to be in October. They are also one of only six teams that do not have a losing record on the road.
The Cubs could very well be facing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the World Series.

The Angels still hold a commanding 17 game lead in the division despite losing 7 of 9 games recently. They’re starting to look vulnerable losing 2 against Tampa Bay, 2 against Minnesota, 2 against Cleveland and even dropping a game to the lowly Mariners. They will still make the playoffs with ease and their magic number is only 16.
With the Angels, Cubs and Rays looking to hold onto their division leads, 3 other races are a little bit closer.

The Dodgers trail the Diamondbacks by 3 games and the division will be decided very shortly. LA heads to the desert for a 3 games set this weekend, followed by a 3 game series with San Diego and then they play host to Arizona for 3 more games.

The Phillies will also decide a lot in the next couple of weeks. They currently trail the Mets by 0.5 games and host them for 2 games this week. Philadelphia then heads out on a tough road trip, which includes 4 games at Chicago, 3 at Washington and 3 more at New York.

The only race closer than New York and Philadelphia is Minnesota and Chicago, who are tied for the American League Central lead. The Twins are in the middle of a brutal 14 game road trip that started off with a split vs. the Angels. The race will likely come down to the last week of the season when Minnesota hosts Chicago for a 3 game series.
Denard Span has been a spark plug at the plate for the Twins, but no one has been as hot as Grady Sizemore and Matt Holliday.
Sizemore is batting .333 over the past week with 6 runs scored, 1 triple, 2 homeruns, 10 RBI and 4 stolen bases.
Holliday is hitting .417 during the same span with 7 runs, 3 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBI and 3 stolen bases.
On the other side of the field, Rich Harden and Ricky Nolasco have been lights out.
Harden pitched the Cubs past the Reds and Nationals this week. He picked up 2 wins, going 7 innings in each outing. He scattered 4 hits while allowing only 1 run. He didn’t walk a single batter and struck out 21.
Nolasco was equally impressive with 2 wins on the road vs. the Giants and Diamondbacks. He went 7.1 innings vs. Arizona and logged a complete game against San Francisco. He gave up 5 hits and 2 runs. He recorded 21 strikeouts and 2 walks.

the Baseball Consigliere





Former Yankee arrested post restaurant mayhem!

20 08 2008

BREAKING NEWS – Earlier this morning, former Yankees pitcher, Hideki Irabu (yes, he of the “Fat Toad” claim to fame) was arrested in Osaka for being drunk and disorderly.

At a restaurant with a friend, Irabu tried to pay for the evening’s frivolities with a credit card.  To any who have lived in Japan, not all credit cards are welcome in every restaurant.  Irabu’s initial card was rejected by the manager of the restaurant, which pleased Mr Toad not at all.  Irabu grabbed the offending manager, by the hair and pushed him into the wall, and violence ensued.

The 39 year old former major leaguer, who now lives with his mother, was arrested at approximately 3:30am.  Irabu retired from pro-baseball in 2005 (he played with the Hanshin Tigers), then he ran an Udon restaurant… which was shut down around 6 months ago.

Oh yes, Irabu ended up paying his tab with a different credit card.





Hot finish… MLB Weekly Review 8-17-08

19 08 2008

As we get closer and closer to playoff time, the races do the same.

Despite losing Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, the Minnesota Twins are tied for first place in the American League Central. Neither the Twins nor the White Sox can seem to get any separation and the division race looks like it will go down to the wire.

Things are no different in the National League West, as the Los Angeles Dodgers have pulled even with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks are doing their best to hang on, as they acquired Adam Dunn from the Reds. Time will tell if it will be enough to hold off Manny and the hard charging Dodgers.

While the Dodgers offense has been hot since Manny Ramirez arrived, the Boston Red Sox have been very up and down. On Tuesday night, they were definitely up.

The Red Sox came out a posted a 10 spot in the bottom of the first. David Ortiz hit a 3-run homerun, not once, but twice in the inning. After leading 10-0 and 12-2, Boston needed a run in the 7th and 4 runs in the 8th to hold off the Rangers in a wild 19-17 shootout.

That game was a sample of what was going to happen Sunday as an explosion of offense capped off the weekend. Twelve teams scored at least 7 runs on the day with 5 teams piling up 11+ runs.

The White Sox made quick work of Oakland via a 13-1 win, but it was just the 5th highest scoring game of the day. The Seattle-Minnesota and Toronto-Boston games both featured 19 runs, but in very different games. The Blue Jays topped the Red Sox in a 15-4 rout, while Minnesota edged Seattle by an 11-8 score.

The Yankees and Royals combined to post 21 runs with New York winning 15-6, but the offensive game of the day went to Baltimore and Detroit. It was a game that Detroit would rather forget as they were on the wrong end of a 16-8 decision.

It’s not surprising to see the Yankees and White Sox mentioned in highly offensive games, but the top 2 hitters of the week are big shockers.

Ty Wigginton and Melvin Mora have absolutely been on fire over the last 7 days.

Wigginton recorded 16 hits in just 28 at-bats, which is good for an incredible .571 batting average. He compiled 9 Runs, 9 Singles, 2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 4 HR and 11 RBI.

Mora was equally as good recording a .562 average with 9 Runs, 10 Singles, 4 Doubles, 1 Triple, 3 HR and 13 RBI.

The most impressive single game pitching performance of the week goes to Matt Garza. Garza took a no-hitter into the 7th inning, en route to a complete game shutout. He allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9 batters.
Javier Vazquez was just as impressive, but over the course of 2 games. Vazquez picked up 2 wins for the White Sox this week while going 8 innings in each outing. He gave up 9 hits and walked only 1 batter. He allowed 1 ER and struck out 18.

The Baseball Consigliere





Hey, remember baseball season?

12 08 2008
Petco Park Empty
Baseball doesn’t draw crowds like it used to.

August is the low point for all of sports, worse even than February, where each day is nearly as bad as that one day after the All Star Games in terms of absolute paucity of sports. But it’s also the low point for the only major American sport still going strong: major league baseball. On one level, that seems like crazy talk. Baseball has a monopoly on the sports market this time of year, why would it be a low point? You fool! Haven’t you witnessed enough Terrell Owens contract disputes, ESPYs coverage, and Brett Favre trade talks to learn your lesson?

By, August the thrill of a new baseball season is long gone, but before the chase for the postseason really begins. It’s like the sophomore year of the baseball season, absolutely purposeless. This is the time of year when we are so parched for sports, we turn to watching 12-year-olds play baseball just because it’s something different. It’s also when the sports media and fans alike get desperate for the onslaught of sports to come in the upcoming months.

NFL training camp, crap preseason NFL games, the MLS, the PGA Championship, and Little Leaguers is no substitute for real sports. MLB still has the strongest level of competition going for it. But with the trade deadline past, there’s nothing but a record being chased to keep us going. And it can’t be your standard 500 HR, 3,000 hit plateau either. It’s either 300 wins, being #1 all time in a category or bust.

But this year is the rare occurrence when the August sports lull is alleviated by a massive sportstumor known as the Olympics. Or as sports fans better know them: sports for non-sports fans. With all the talks of the “stories” going into the games, you’d think it’s like a soap opera or a fan fiction convention rather than an example of athletic abilities. Compare flailing over a Pommel Horse to Josh Hamilton hitting a ball 500 feet, and try to tell me the former is more impressive?

But we still harp on Little Leaguers who can hit a ball 250 feet, or can throw a ball 65 mph. We follow the Brett Favre saga till no one wants to hear it because what else will we follow, just like with Roger Clemens in February . Seriously, Clemens should send Brett a dozen roses. Not only is he not in the news, but there’s a more prominent and significantly crappier athlete named Clemens getting more press.

Of course, once November comes, we’ll be desperate and longing for baseball, even with the NFL season in full gear. Why can’t we just appreciate baseball when we have more of it than we know what to do with?





MLB Weekly Update

5 08 2008

Don’t look now but the Tampa Bays Rays are streaking again.
After finishing out the Toronto series with 2 wins, the Rays swept the Detroit Tigers on their way to an MLB best 5-game winning streak. The Rays have now won 7 of the last 10 and lead the Red Sox by 3 games.

Speaking of teams that are 7-3 over the past 10, the Minnesota Twins are leading the American League Central.
The Twins took 3 of 4 from the White Sox to narrow the margin and with a victory over the Indians on Sunday; they’ve taken over the division lead.
The biggest story for the Twins leading up to Sunday’s game was the much-anticipated return of one time ace, Francisco Liriano. After dominated his last 11 starts at Triple-A, Liriano was impressive in his first start since April. He picked up the win by going 6 innings while giving up 3 hits and striking out 5 batters. He walked 3, but did not allow a run.

The Twins weren’t the only team to do well in a huge divisional matchup.
The Chicago Cubs have won 7 of their last 8 games including a 4 game sweep over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs not only took all 4 games at “Wrigley North”, but also did so by outscored the Brew Crew by a 31-11 margin. Chicago now holds a 5 game lead in the National League Central.
The Cubs and Brewers made a commotion a few weeks ago by acquiring Rich Harden and C.C. Sabathia. The non-waiver trade deadline has now come and gone and it provided a little bit more of a shake up.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were able to deal Casey Kotchman to the Atlanta Braves for slugger Mark Teixeira.
The Angels add Teixeira to an already potent lineup that includes Torii Hunter and Vladimir Geurrero. They own the best record in baseball and this only solidifies their chances to reach the World Series.

The last minute blockbuster stole the day as the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers got together and worked out a deal that including Manny relocating.
The Red Sox had to give up 2 prospects and pay Manny’s remaining 7 million dollars on his contract, but they rid the team of a clubhouse cancer.
When the smoke had cleared, the Red Sox ended up with Jason Bay, the Dodgers got Manny Ramirez and the Pirates received 4 prospects including Andy LaRoche.
Manny has won over Dodger fans after just 3 games in California by starting out with an 8 for 13 stretch that included 4 Runs, 1 Double, 2 HR and 5 RBI.

Xavier Nady is also settling in quite well in New York after a hot week at the plate. Nady hit .526 this week with 7 Runs, 3 Doubles, 3 HR and 10 RBI.

Zach Greinke was the ace of the week with wins over the Athletics and White Sox. Greinke went 13.2 innings, giving up 13 hits, allowing 4 runs, issuing 1 walk and striking out 17 batters.

Injury Report 8-3-08

Vernon Wells
Wells may be returning earlier than expected and be back in about a week.

Joe Crede
Crede continues to have issues with his back during his minor league rehab. No word if this will affect his return timeline.

Ryan Zimmerman
Zimmerman has been out of the lineup recently after being hit in the hand by a pitch.

Justin Upton
Upton is still about a week away from his return.

Chris Duncan
Duncan will have season-ending surgery on a herniated disk in his back. The injury could be career threatening.

Khalil Greene
Greene could miss the rest of the season with a fractured hand.

The Consigliere





How the A.D.D. generation led to the best trade deadline ever

5 08 2008

Anyone who was following the blogosphere at around 4:30 Thursday afternoon was overwhelmed with information, snap judgments, and arguments over winners and losers. Andrew Johnson at FanHouse put it best:

Take a deep breath, baseball fans. The dust has settled after another trading deadline, and what a deadline it was. Three future Hall of Famers were moved. So was a reigning Cy Young winner and two former All-Stars. And we haven’t talked about Rich Harden yet. Undoubtedly, 2008 was the most entertaining trading season in recent memory for baseball fans.

Baseball trade deadlines are notorious buzzkills. While hockey usually sees dozens of moves at this time of year, and basketball is not immune to some major names switching hand both at the deadline and in the offseason. But baseball is always more conservative. Just two years ago the Nationals couldn’t even trade Alfonso Soriano while he was having his career year in a pitcher’s park. So why did this year nearly give Peter Gammons another aneurysm?

As weird as it may sound, the same forces may be in play that explained why this past year was the the worst year for quarterbacks in recent memory in the NFL. When a sport gets parity, as baseball has of late, the pressure is on to compete as soon as possible. Combine that with a cultural that has undeniably developed a shorter attention span, and you’ve got players being traded from losing teams even when they have multiple years left on their contract.

To understand how topsy-turvey this year’s trade deadline was, consider this: the Pirates may have had the best deadline of anyone. They certainly acquired the greatest quantity of talent, and with top prospects like Jose Tabata and Andy LaRoche, they may have gotten quality as well. Or consider how the Red Sox, in making without a doubt the biggest headlines by trading the second greatest right-handed hitter of a generation, may have just broken even at the deadline. It seems that losing is not an option for anyone anymore, even for the Pirates, who haven’t had a winning season since Barry Bonds had a mustache.

It used to be that when a quarterback was drafted, he had a good 3-4 years to prove himself. The team was built around him and pieces were brought in to make the quarterback better. But considering that Alex Smith has had four offensive coordinators in four years, or that the Texans refused to improve their offensive line after drafting David Carr, and suddenly the quarterbacks to blame, and they’re out of a job. Could similar forces be behind why just about every quality player on a losing team became available, from Matt Holliday to Joe Blanton? Is there any way Mark Teixeira has helped anyone by being on 3 teams in 1 year?

This argument is a dangerous one to make on a blog. It sounds like its dangerously close to Ted Stevens or—dare I say it—Buzz Bissinger territory. But it’s possible to make an argument that we’re more distractable and less patient without calling it the downfall of Western Civilization. Yes, we’re less likely to focus on a single subject, and that has effects on how we watch sports. That can just be a description—no judgment call judgment call necessary.

In this case, it has actually led to an awesome story. For the first time in years, the MLB trade deadline transcended the sports world, as the slew of moves and the trade of Manny Ramirez made international headlines in addition to just the sports section. Baseball has gotten as crazed and fast-moving as everything else in the media world. Don’t think of it as something special.





MLB Weekly Review 7-27-08

29 07 2008

Don’t look now but the defending National League Champions are well on their way to teaching the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers a very important lesson.
The Colorado Rockies are blazing a trail to the top on the NL West and the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are kicking themselves for letting them hang around.

The Rockies have won 9 of their last 10 games, including 5 in a row. Colorado is averaging 7.6 runs per game during that stretch and they scored 10 in their lone loss. In a 16-10 loss to the Dodgers, Kip Wells was tagged for 8 runs in one-third of an inning and the Rockies couldn’t overcome an 11 run deficit.
Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe and Troy Tulowitzki were all visitors to the DL this season and Tulowitzki just returned from his 2nd stint. He has provided the team with a spark since his return going 13 for 26.

The Rockies aren’t the only streaking team, as the New York Yankees have also been playing inspired ball since the All-Star Break.
New York was riding as 8-game winning streak before suffering a 9-2 setback on Sunday in the series finale at Boston.
During the winning streak, the Yankees held their opponents to just 15 runs and used their defense to lead them to 2-1 and 1-0 victories. They now sit just 3 games back in the division.

Players like Matt Holliday(.565 average), Jeff Baker(.579), Alex Rodriguez(.476) and Robinson Cano(.480) have contributed to their teams success recently, but they aren’t the hottest hitters of the past week.
Alex Rios takes top honors as the best hitter of the week with his .344 average, 7 Runs, 4 HR, 8 RBI and 4 SB. Ryan Braun is a close 2nd with a .414 average, 4 Runs, 4 HR and 12 RBI.

Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee turned in the top pitching performances this week as they each collected 2 wins.
Pettitte went 14 innings while scattering 9 hits, allowing 2 ER and striking out 16. He won a 10-3 blowout and a 2-1 pitchers duel.
Lee pitched 17 innings while giving up 17 hits, 4 ER and struck out 14 batters.
Rich Harden was also lights out this week, but has an 0-1 record to show for it because the Cubs provided just 2 runs of support in 2 games.
Harden pitched 12 solid innings while giving up just 3 hits. Two of the 3 hits were solo homeruns and the only runs he allowed. He struck out 10 in each outing, giving him 30 in 3 games as a Cub.

We haven’t seen any major deals since Harden joined the Cubs, but there were a couple trades of interest this week.
The New York Yankees added Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady from the Pirates in exchange for prospects and Casey Blake was sent from Cleveland to the Dodgers.
With only a few days remaining before the deadline, things could get interesting.
Will the Rockies be buyers or sellers? Will the Yankees add Jared Washburn or Adam Dunn? Will Mark Teixeira remain in Atlanta? Will Manny keep being Manny in Boston?

Some many questions and so little time remaining to answer them…

The Baseball Consigliere