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The MLB Season is (Essentially) Over For Me [WMQ]
Oct 4th, 2011 by Dan

Dan at the Marlins v Orioles Game in a Marlins Cap

I'm not actually as happy as I look in this photograph at all. Actually, I'm kind of bummed about the end of the Rays season (Photo courtesy DJOtaku)

It’s not completely over, since I will still watch games in the playoffs and the World Series, but for the teams that I truly care about the season is over.

The Rays lost to Texas 4-3 this afternoon, but I’m not gonna mope. Instead I’m gonna talk about what this season meant to me.

As the last season for the Florida Marlins, my hopes were high in April. The Fish were the edgy pick to sneak into the playoffs and dominate. Then things got kind of bad quick. Chris Coghlan was supposedly better, but then he wasn’t performing, got hurt again, and was sent down to the minors. Our third base prospect, Matt Dominguez, had his elbow shattered by a pitch and hit the DL as well. Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez both had extended DL stints and, worst of all, Florida went 5-23 for the month of June. Five wins in the entire month.

I don’t quite know what I was expecting, but I didn’t want Florida to limp into the gate in dead last, four games behind the Mets. Before June, Florida flirted with first place! Now that’s over. The Florida Marlins, as I knew them, are no more. Two World Series wins (1997 and 2003), countless frustrating, but fun seasons and, despite how great the stadium looks, I’m supposed to be getting excited to see this godawful logo representing the team next year?

Florida has always been a controversial team. Their attendance is low, their budget is low, they pocket revenue sharing, and they sell off their talent when it gets old and expensive. Owner Jeffrey Loria plans to change a lot of that now that the new stadium is secured. The Marlins were never Florida’s team. Despite their success and a population that adores baseball everywhere but in Florida, they just didn’t capture the state’s imagination. I hope that narrowing the focus to Miami can fix that. I hope that the Miami Marlins are not the black sheep of the National League because they are my team, I love them, and they have shaped me as a person and a sports fan.

As for my AL team, the Rays had themselves quite the season. Started out 1-8 and finished the season with 91 wins. 91 wins! Their fairy tale win against the Yankees propelled them into a killer first game against Texas, but they just couldn’t get those bats going hard enough from Game 2 onward. These guys have money issues, but they are so intelligently run that it’s truly impressive. If Tampa Bay can keep this up they will have a World Series title one day. I just hope they know that if they end up challenging Miami for it I will hope that they get swept.

The 2010 Season in Review [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Oct 6th, 2010 by Dan

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Chicago Cubs 19 June 2010 Wrigley Field

Time to check out my prediction score

Another season is now behind us and the playoffs begin this afternoon at 1330 EST in Tampa Bay. How did I do in my projections? Who do I predict for the World Series? Let’s check it out!

AL East

My guess:

Yankees
Rays
Red Sox
Orioles
Blue Jays

Actual Results:

Rays
Yankees
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Orioles

Way off on Baltimore, perfect with Boston, and I got the top two mixed up.

After a (glorious) season where the Yankees didn’t make it to the playoffs for once, the Bronx Bombers came back with a vengeance and took it all. The Yanks may have lost Damon and Matsui, but they’re still in a strong position in the AL East and look poised to make the playoffs in the division. Players are getting older on that team and the pitching isn’t as strong as they’d like, but, barring some kind of major injury, I stand by that prediction.

The Red Sox also made a few big moves, getting rid of Jason Bay and adding in Adrián Beltré, and they’re projected to have a solid season with strong defense and slightly weakened bat strength. I think a lot of how well they do this year depends on whether or not they’re able to produce runs at the plate with David Ortiz, who did not perform to standards last year.

My favorite in the East, the Tampa Bay Rays, have had a super strong spring. With the best spring record of the AL, they could upset the Yankees or Red Sox if and only if their rotation and bullpen return to 2008 form. The offense is there, the defense on the field is there, it’s just a matter of making outs. Will Rafael Soriano be enough to solve their closer woes? That alone will tell you what this team will do this year.

I’m excited to see what the Orioles put together this year. Their investment in youth is starting to bear fruit as prospects make their way onto the field, but this young, inexperienced team is up against juggernauts in the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. I’m going to call this a building year for the Orioles, even if that’s selling them a bit short. They would have a good chance in any other division, but not the East.

There are few teams in baseball that bore me more than the Blue Jays (:cough: Royals, Pirates, and Padres :cough:). This is a team that acknowledged that they have no chance to make a run of it by trading Roy Halladay to the Phillies.

When I try and underestimate my team for the sake of avoiding bias all I end up doing is getting their position in the standings wrong. As predicted, the ascent of Rafael Soriano was a real blessing to the team, allowing the bullpen to focus on being awesome and the rotation on turning in a fine season. David Price was Cy Young caliber all season, Matt Garza threw a no-hitter, and the rookies Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann made a solid statement in the rotation. Add in Jeremy “Hellboy” Hellickson to the bullpen and Tampa had great numbers off the mound. On the field, defense and small ball continued to be key. Carlos Peña had a rough season at the plate, but the rest of the team was able to pick him up. Jettisoning Pat Burrell was also a fantastic idea. Longoria continued to be amazing.

Seems I was right on the perennial favorite Yankees. Their squad got it done all year long behind a Cy Young caliber season by C.C. Sabathia. Unfortunately for the Yanks, it seems I was also right about their aging lineup. Pettitte started ten fewer games than the rest of the rotation due to injury and his ability to pitch in this postseason remains a question mark. The rest of the rotation has been pretty shaky too with Javier Vasquez putting in a poor performance and AJ Burnett getting progressively worse, but Phil Hughes looks okay while the rookie Ivan Nova was pretty good in the opening innings. Jeter and Posada have started to show their age, but, overall, this is a top tier team that has feasted on its opponents all year long.

I was way off about David Ortiz, who put in a solid season, but there’s no way I could have predicted the injury-fest that was the 2010 season for Boston. They were remarkably able to stay somewhat competitive to the end, but they just couldn’t overcome Tampa or New York.

Maybe Toronto would have put together a third place finish had they kept Halladay, but his loss did not prevent the Jays from looking mighty dangerous in the East. Their 85 wins would be hyper-competitive in plenty of other divisions and the ascent of Jose Bautista as the only 50 HR hitter this season was remarkable.

The funny thing about the Orioles is that they’ve played their best baseball when it mattered least. Replacing their manager with Buck Showalter seems to have done the trick, but it remains to be seen if they can win in situations where they play meaningful games.

AL Central

My Guess:

Twins
White Sox
Tigers
Indians
Royals

Actual Results:

Twins
White Sox
Tigers
Indians
Royals

Whoa, I was scarily on the money with this one.

For a while there, this division was the Twins’ to lose. Then the second best closer in the game, Joe Nathan, went down for the season, muddying up the waters. Add in that the team is moving to a brand new ballpark and things could get interesting. Gone are the super-competitive advantages of the Metrodome, replaced by what will be a SUPER frigid open-air ballpark that will take some getting used to. When it comes to Joe Mauer, I’m reminded of the fictional words of Michael Bluth, “You gotta lock that down.” Lucky for the Twins, they managed to get that done with an eight-year, 184 M$ contract. It should help.

I hear a lot about Chicago’s rotation being so vastly improved, but it’s almost always followed by the caveat that Peavy needs to pitch well. It’s been a long while since his 2007 Cy Young campaign and he hasn’t been able to remain healthy. Despite how much Obama loves this team, I can’t stand A. J. Pierzynski and, by extension, the team.

Detroit has a team that I want to love. Those poor guys live in a third world city that is on the verge of absolute collapse. They keep giving Dontrelle Willis chances to succeed (and he might be in the rotation this year), but I’m not sure that they will be able to keep up with the Twins this year thanks to weak pitching. I’ll be keeping an eye on these guys.

The Indians may be on the upswing and ready to bounce back, but I’m not ready to believe that yet. I don’t see much happening for this team.

Kansas City has an awful team aside from Zack Greinke.

Well, Minnesota went and won this division, like I thought. They didn’t have to worry too much about closers and they picked up Matt Capps just to make sure that they’d be fine in the stretch. Target Field seems solid and the team just played well.

Chicago had a chance to make this division closer, but they just couldn’t lock it down. Jake Peavy barely pitched and the team was just middling almost all season long. They’ll be remembered best this year for Mark Buehrle’s amazing play to first in the first game of the season.

Detroit was so close to doing something with the division! Miguel Cabrera was playing MVP-caliber baseball, but the rest of the team just wasn’t on board. Sidenote: Willis was traded to Arizona.

Cleveland still doesn’t have it. I’m skeptical that they’ll have it next year either.

Kansas City has an awful team aside from Zack Greinke (and even he was mediocre).

AL West

My Guess:

Mariners
Angels
Rangers
Athletics

Actual Results:

Rangers
Athletics
Angels
Mariners

So very wrong here. Wow…

Despite their stupid long name, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have had one of the most consistent teams of the century. They contend every year and make it to the playoffs almost every year. It’s hard to ignore how solid this team is. Unfortunately, they’ve been fighting a war of attrition these past two years with Texas and Seattle getting closer and closer to robbing AL West dominance away from them. They gained Matsui, but lost vital starter Lackey. Will it be enough?

Seattle wants it this year. They went and signed Cliff Lee and even took the risk of signing the volatile Milton Bradley to bolster their bats. Things were looking great for Seattle until Cliff Lee ended up on the DL and Milton Bradley got himself ejected from two straight spring training games. Will they be able to keep it all together and make a real run for the West?

The Rangers are solid, but they have a lot of reliance on players like Josh Hamilton who are very injury prone. They’ve been just short of the playoffs for several years now and they’re real hungry for it.

I have so much apathy for the Athletics. I’m sure their team is pretty good and has a chance this year, but it never seems to pan out for Oakland.

Texas is looking the best they have in a long time. Josh Hamilton is looking like the favorite for MVP and the boys from Arlington have a phenom on their hands with Neftali Feliz. Will they finally make it to the World Series?

Where did Oakland come from this year? Maybe it’s the east coast bias, but I had no idea these guys were doing better than the other two teams in the division. Maybe the dynasty is reemerging.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. What did you do this year? At least you made the Rays look brilliant thanks to Scott Kazmir sucking it up all year long.

Seatlle. I drank your kool-aid. All I got in return was the most anemic offense since the introduction of the Designated Hitter. Your season was historically bad. At least Ichiro continues to dominate and I got to see Griffey before he retired.

NL East:

My Guess:

Phillies
Marlins
Braves
Mets
Nationals

Actual Results:

Phillies
Braves
Marlins
Mets
Nationals

If I hadn’t let bias toward the Marlins blind me I would have had another perfect pick.

My favorite division also contains two of my least favorite teams in baseball, both of which are set to have great seasons. Last year’s NL Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, are still just as good with Roy Halladay instead of Cliff Lee. They’ve still got a great lineup with good pitching and, even without their closer, they should still have a solid season. They are The Team To Beat (TM) in the East.

Atlanta, my least favorite team, has got stars in their eyes for Jason Heyward, a top-prospect who made the team this spring. Heyward’s bat, combined with Hanson and Kawakami’s arms, could be very formidable in the East. This is a team that worries me.

The Mets have had such terrible luck recently that it’s almost bound to start swinging back in the other direction…right? With an adjusted outfield to help home runs, their offense might perform a little better, but that injury-riddled team is not looking all that much better this year. If they outperform the Marlins, I’ll be surprised.

Speaking of teams that won’t outperform the Marlins, Washington is almost guaranteed to make marginal improvements this year. Their rotation is still a mess, but veterans like Chien-Ming Wang and Liván Hernández can combine with the brilliance of Stephen Strasburg and the promising performance of Drew Storen and produce what might actually be a major league rotation. The lineup needs some work to score runs, but pitching is infinitely more important for a team that wants to win.

Speaking of a team that emphasizes pitching, we’ve finally arrived at my favorite team, the Florida Marlins. Over the off-season they finalized a strong contract for Josh Johnson and kept Dan Uggla, keeping the rotation and lineups strong. Combined with Hanley Ramirez and Chris Coghlan destroying NL pitching and Ricky Nolasco’s brilliant performance on the mound, this is a solid team with only a few holes that need filling. If Cameron Maybin and Gaby Sanchez live up to their potential, I don’t see much standing in this team’s way. There’s always a question of pitching with the back end of the rotation, but Chris Volstad has been looking good of late and Anibal Sanchez fluctuates, but trends on the better side most times. The real question is in the bullpen where the Fish will be relying on Leo Núñez to close games. I’m not confident in Núñez yet.

The Phils were the best. Blah blah blah. They made it to the postseason as the national favorite to win it all, despite stupidly trading Cliff Lee away. Their starting three, Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels were solid all year long, Halladay should win the Cy Young, and…I hate this team. If the Rays don’t make it in the East, I’d love to see Texas get there and stomp on the Phils thanks to the amazing leadership of Cliff Lee

Atlanta barely scraped by to take the NL Wild Card. They came this close to making me happy and not making it to the playoffs. Despite losing Chipper Jones, they were able to hold on to their spot in the final eight thanks to fantastic performances by Jason Heyward and Tim Hudson. Bobby Cox should be proud of this team in his final year. Sidenote: Kenshin Kawakami was terrible this year.

I really thought that Florida could be a second place team this year. JJ pitched fantastically for most of the season as did Nolasco and Sanchez, but they just couldn’t hold it together long enough for the bullpen to not screw it up. That’s where the most offseason work should be focused, IMHO. Nuñez did his best as the closer, but they might need someone new next season. Losing Cogz to a season-ending knee injury on a shaving cream pie was also super ridiculous.

Everyone’s favorite Metropolitans continued to be the worst run team in the league. Thankfully for all of us, ownership has fired the GM and manager so hopefully the team can go in a new direction next year, assuming its contracts don’t weigh it down too much to make many changes.

The Nats were looking primed to be reasonably competitive this year from the getgo. Their record was solid, Strasburg was coming up, things were optimistic. Then the bottom fell out. Starting pitching failed completely before June, Strasburg got injured in August (sidelining him until 2012), and everyone’s hopes and dreams died. The simple fact is that the Nats have no starting pitching. You can’t run a team without starting pitching.

NL Central:

My Guess:

Cardinals
Cubs
Reds
Brewers
Astros
Pirates

Actual Results:

Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Astros
Cubs
Pirates

Wrong, wrong, wrong. All I placed accurately were 4th and 5th

The Central has a chance to be interesting this year with strong squads being fielded by St. Louis, Cincinnati, and “this is our last chance for a while” Chicago. St. Louis has the best chance here thanks to strong pitchers Carpenter and Wainwright and their strong offense in Pujols and Holliday. Cincinnati has been a dark horse so many years in a row now that they’d better start performing. The promise of Aroldis Chapman could push them ahead if the offense follows, but otherwise the team has a strong uphill climb. The Cubbies don’t have much time left before they have to start “rebuilding”. If they don’t put together a playoff season this year, it might be a while before we see one happen again. I still love Fukudome, even if the Cubs don’t. He’s a consistent and solid player.

I don’t know much about Milwaukee’s squad this year, but they’re usually a solid team, but I didn’t hear much in the offseason that would convince me they were ready to push ahead of last year’s performance.

The rest of the Central, the Pirates and the Astros, really don’t make an impact in baseball nowadays. Pittsburgh is really a AAAA team and Houston has failed to make any kind of splash in a long while.

Cincinnati was the surprise here for me as they put together their best performance in something like 15 years or so. Votto might be NL MVP. Their success can be mostly attributed to Votto and the late-season call-up Aroldis Chapman’s stellar stuff in the home stretch. They get to face Philadelphia right off the bat and if they can’t hit Halladay and Oswalt right away, they could have problems.

St. Louis just gave this division away. It was theirs to win at one point in August, but they just squandered their lead proving that Pujols, Carpenter, and Wainwright a complete team does not make. Will they fire La Russa now?

What’s there to say about Milwaukee? Just not enough there at all to win. Maybe next year guys. Braun can’t carry a whole team.

Houston and Pittsburgh. You guys are terrible. The ‘Stros picked it up later in the season, but it was far too late for that to matter.

NL West:

My Guess:

Rockies
Giants
Dodgers
Padres

Actual Results:

Giants
Padres
Rockies
Dodgers
Diamondbacks

Arizona was so forgettable to me that I left them off of the list completely. The Rockies looked like they might make a run, but it fell apart and I was way off on LA and San Diego.

Colorado made the biggest turnaround I’ve seen since the last time they did it in 2007 to win the wild card last year and make the playoffs. After that strong finish and with LA’s messy divorce keeping them from making significant progress on their team, I see Colorado as the frontrunners in this division.

A messy divorce has been draining Dodger ownership of cash and the ability to run their team. At best, the Dodgers remain as good as they were last year. Realistically, they fall behind the Rockies and maybe even the Giants too.

Solid pitching, but not much offense. It’s been the same story for years now. A strong team only because it keeps the run count down on the opposing team.

What about the Padres?

San Francisco is my favorite team in the playoffs right now. Solid starting pitching (Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez) make for a potent postseason combo as well as great anchors for the 5-man rotation. Somehow this team managed to score runs despite Pablo Sandoval’s season-wide slump. I guess that the solid pitching was enough to hold off the West competition.

The Friars (Padres) had a real chance of turning this into the NL West Wild Card, but they squandered it in the last few weeks and couldn’t complete. If this team can be this good next year they’re bound to win the West.

Colorado really fell off from last season. For a while in September Tulowitzki made it look like the Rockies would repeat their ridiculous last minute run for the third year in a row making me look like a genius. Ah well…maybe next year.

The McCourt divorce really sapped this team a lot more than I thought it would. Manny didn’t hit and the pitching wasn’t there. Torre will probably leave this year and I predict this team will not perform much better next year.

Oh god the Diamondbacks are awful. They need a lot of work.

Stupid Injuries [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 28th, 2010 by Dan

Sliding Back to First

This is actually dangerous. Pies to the face are not.

So last night I went to Nationals Park explicitly to see Strasburg face off against Heyward and the Braves. Mere minutes before his start, they announce that Miguel Batista will make the start instead. This is as thousands of fans were still flowing into the park being duped into thinking the tickets they were buying were still for Strasburg. In this case, it wasn’t a injury whose genesis was stupid, just shoulder inflammation that Strasburg also battled when he pitched for San Diego State, but it was still a huge bummer.

An actual stupid injury came to my favorite Marlins player, Chris Coghlan, when he was celebrating a walk-off hit by Wes Helms. Cogz landed badly on his leg after jumping to shaving cream pie Helms in the face and managed a meniscus tear in his knee. We’re going to end up losing him 6-8 weeks and he may need surgery. Coghlan is a fantastic player and a key part of the Marlins team and this stupid freak accident caused us to lose him. It’s really frustrating.

Just Barely Squeezed In A Win: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter and Some Light World Cup Notes [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jun 30th, 2010 by Dan

Sliding Back to First

It's from the Baltimore series, but there was no way I could make it to Puerto Rico for this one.

Leo Nuñez likes giving everyone near heart attacks. He blew the save last night, but Florida still managed a win thanks to Dan Uggla.

29 June (David’s Birthday!)

NPB
Yomiuri Giants (12) at Hiroshima Carp (9). Six Giants homered (Ramirez homered three times) to put the Giants way ahead of Hiroshima who managed quite an offense themselves. An ugly game that puts them at 27-40-2. At this rate Yakult might pass them.

Rakuten Eagles (0) at Orix Buffaloes (3). Few teams play more erratically than the Orix Buffaloes, but they’re doing consistently well against the Eagles this year. Tanaka’s Tuesday role is not doing the Eagles any favors as he gives up three over eight and the team moves to 32-38-2, good for last in the PL.

MLB
Oakland Athletics (4) at Baltimore Orioles (2). A pretty solid start for Brian Matusz, but it just wasn’t enough to keep the Athletics at bay. I’m a little bitter that I’ll be missing Matt Wieters bobblehead night today, so that’s all I’ve got for Baltimore. They are 23-53.

New York Mets (6) at Florida Marlins (7). The Marlins were lucky to win this one in the ninth thanks to a walk-off single by Dan Uggla. The game also featured a Hanley Ramirez grand slam, but far fewer homers than the night before. Florida remains in fourth, but now holds a 37-40 record.

Tampa Bay Rays (5) at Boston Red Sox (8). The pitching just wasn’t there for Jamie Shields who gave up a few too many to an ailing Boston team. Tampa needs to take two out of three in this series to regain second and the wild card. The Rays now sit at 44-32 in third.

Washington Nationals (7) at Atlanta Braves (2). The Nats do everyone in the East a favor by knocking down the Braves and winning their first in ages. It’s a good thing, because Washington starters whose names don’t contain Strasburg have been seriously struggling of late. Their last place record improves to 34-44.

Fredi’s Gone: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Jun 24th, 2010 by Dan

037

A lot of this happened last night.

Florida inexplicably went and replaced their manager, Fredi Gonzalez, yesterday and Edwin Rodriguez stepped in as interim manager. I still don’t understand why this happened, but I guess we’ll have a new manager next year.

23 June

NPB
Hanshin Tigers (9) at Hiroshima Carp (4). I was really hoping that Hiroshima would have a better showing coming off of some relatively solid interleague play. He’s on the wrong team, but Toritani had himself quite the night (4 H, 2 RBI). Go Toritani! The Carp record drops to 26-37-2, still in fourth.

Saitama Seibu Lions (8) at Rakuten Eagles (10). Remember when Rakuten had no offense to speak of? They’re lucky to have won this considering that Darrell Rasner only went 3.2 innings and gave up five. The Golden Eagles are now 31-35-1 and they’re closing in on fourth.

MLB
Kansas City Royals (1) at Washington Nationals (0). I hope Strasburg doesn’t end up one of those pitchers who never gets any run support from his team. Washington has been seriously struggling offensively of late, so I’m not too surprised, but it’s a waste of a quality start. Strasburg K-Kount (see what I did there?) is up to 41. The Nationals record is down to 33-40.

Florida Marlins (7) at Baltimore Orioles (5). Even though their winningest manager in franchise history was fired, the Marlins were still able to show up, offensively, and dominate the birds. Gaby Sanchez has been quietly making a case for Rookie of the Year with his offense while Chris Coghlan is definitely back to his old self, hitting 0.317 since his season low of 0.146 in April. That’s good enough to put his average at 0.280 now. The Marlins record improves to 35-36 while Baltimore drops to 19-52.

San Diego Padres (5) at Tampa Bay Rays (4). So frustrating. They’re still tied for second, but Shields’ loss to San Diego extends their losing streak to three. Maddon needs to sit down with his players, hash this out, and get them back on course, pronto. The Rays are now 42-29 on the season.

Everyone Loses: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
Jun 17th, 2010 by Dan

Sad panda cookie

It may be blurry, but it's sad like I am.

The sad panda is sad like me because every team I follow lost last night.

16 June

NPB
Still chillin’

MLB
Baltimore Orioles (3) at San Francisco Giants (6). Lincecum only strikes out ten, which is a statement I heard one of my softball teammates utter yesterday. Guess what, buddy. 10 is GOOD. 10 > 1 K / Inning. The Orioles drop to 18-48.

Washington Nationals (3) at Detroit Tigers (8). The Tigers are a team no one seems to give much credit, but even I wouldn’t have expected them to crush Liván Hernández for eight runs in this game. The Nats drop to 31-35 in last.

Texas Rangers (6) at Florida Marlins (3). The Fish are killing me with their play. What’s wrong with the Marlins bullpen?! At least Cogz and Gaby are hitting well. Where’s Stanton’s power? The kid needs to relax, be patient, and start hitting! 31-34 in fourth.

Tampa Bay Rays (2) at Atlanta Braves (6). Tommy Hanson is an absolute stud. Wade Davis has been struggling. A lot. Thank god the Yankees lost too because the Rays are still tied for first at 41-24.

Late Inning Heroics: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter + Strasburg Start [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jun 2nd, 2010 by Dan

Peanuts!

Three of my teams managed to notch wins in the final innings of their respective games. It takes a lot of luck and skill to take a game in the 9th. Bravo, teams.

1 June

NPB
Hiroshima Carp (5) at Nippon-Ham Fighters (4). Eishin Soyogi gets the walk-off RBI single in the 9th to push the Carp ahead while Ryuji Yokoyama holds on for the save. Hiroshima’s record rises to 21-31-0 after the tilt.

Hanshin Tigers (2) at Rakuten Eagles (3). TEPPEI! Ok, so his cheer isn’t really conveyed with that text, but Teppei Tsuchiya made himself known with a single up the middle to win the game in the bottom of the 9th. Rakuten’s record improves to 25-28-1, tying them for fourth.

MLB
Baltimore Orioles (1) at New York Yankees (3). Last night was Baltimore’s big chance. The starters get harder from here. Tough break for Brian Matusz whose rookie season is not going how he anticipated it would. Baltimore drops to 15-37.

Tampa Bay Rays (7) at Toronto Blue Jays (6). Former Marlins closer Kevin Gregg blows the save in the 9th, allowing the Rays to pull ahead in a dramatic fashion thanks to a Sean Rodriguez bases-loaded double. This wild game also got Joe Maddon and Kevin Gregg ejected in the 9th. It was a fun one to watch. Tampa’s record improves to 25-18, putting them only 2.5 ahead of those accursed Yankees.

Milwaukee Brewers (4) at Florida Marlins (6). Nolasco has another night where he’s not super sharp, but the bats that awoke last night remain clubbing. Cogz (Chris Coghlan) managed three hits last night, including a home run, which is so reassuring to those of us who were worried about his huge slump. Sure, .237 isn’t .321, but there’s a lot of season left. Florida’s record improves to 27-26, good for third. When did the Phillies drop to second?

Washington Nationals (7) at Houston Astros (8). You can’t lose to Houston if you want to compete, Nats. Storen is still a little wild, Capps blows another save, and the Nats just can’t hold on in this wild one. Their record falls to 26-27 in last.

Stephen Strasburg

With that out of the way, the Nationals have finally announced the official first start of rookie Stephen Strasburg. He will get his first chance to strut his stuff on 8 June against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a home game that shouldn’t provide too much of a challenge. I’m gonna try to get tickets myself, but we’ll see if I can afford them.

Mike Stanton

In other prospect news, the Marlins are very close to calling up Mike Stanton, who has already hit 20 homers in the minors this year. Where he will go is anyone’s guess, but it’ll have to be Coghlan, Maybin, or Ross who is replaced.

Mar27/2009 CLE@SF  Buster Posey

San Francisco also finally called up Buster Posey whose bat presence will help the offensively struggling team. Will it help to propel them past the Friars? We shall see.

I’m With Teddy: The Weekend Scores That Matter [WMQ]
May 17th, 2010 by Dan

Me and Teddy at Nationals Park

Let Teddy Win!

No, I didn’t go see the Nats this weekend, but I did finally upload this picture.

14 May

NPB
Rakuten Eagles (8) at Hiroshima Carp (7). Knowing how badly the Eagles have been so far this season makes this worse. I want the Carp to win!

MLB
Cleveland Indians (1) at Baltimore Orioles (8). My friend went to this game to see the fireworks and watch with an out-of-town friend of his. I’m glad he saw a win.

New York Mets (2) at Florida Marlins (7). I watched every game in this series. Spoiler alert: it ends well for me.

Seattle Mariners (4) at Tampa Bay Rays (3). I was shocked by this, but I guess you can’t sweep all your opponents.

15 May

NPB
Nippon-Ham Fighters (0) at Carp (1). I knew this was a Maeda game the second I started writing the score. It’s great that Hiroshima’s got such a solid part of the rotation, but they need a lot more arms.

Eagles (2) at Hanshin Tigers (3). Not too surprised that one of the top teams in the CL could beat the Eagles. I’ll be surprised if Rakuten splits the series.

MLB
Washington Nationals (2) at Colorado Rockies (6). Inclement weather has ruined the past two series for Colorado, but still allowed them to rack up wins. They notch one in this first part of the doubleheader.

Mariners (2) at Rays (3). Now that’s more like it. Nothing puts a bigger smile on my face than a walk-off jack. Willy Aybar earns himself the job with one swing of the bat, sending Pat Burrell down for assignment. Good riddance, Pat. Never buy a player from Philly again, Tampa Bay.

Indians (8) at Orioles (2). Now that my friend’s not in the ballpark, we can resume the usual win schedule.

Mets (5) at Marlins (7). This game should not have been this close, but the Marlins bullpen likes to make things interesting. Note that this series has seen remarkable hitting from both Chris Coghlan and Gaby Sanchez so far. Dan Uggla has done well for himself, too.

Nationals (3) at Rockies (4). The doubleheader just doesn’t go in Washington’s favor. Tough break for the previously surging Nats.

16 May

NPB
Fighters (6) at Carp (2). Knowing how terrible the Fighters are makes this a thousand times worse. The Carp close the first weekend of interleague play out with their record standing at 16-25-0, good for fifth in the Central League.

Eagles (7) at Tigers (3). A fair split for Rakuten allows them to end the weekend on a high note with only one loss in interleagues so far. Their record at the end of the weekend: 19-24-0, good for FOURTH!

MLB
Mets (8) at Marlins (10). Another game that should not have been this close. Ricky Nolasco almost watched his bullpen lose him a game again, but they managed to pull together at the last minute to secure the series sweep. It was the first time Florida ever swept the Mets at home in a four-game series in the team’s existence. That’s good enough to raise the Marlins record to 20-18, putting them four games back, tied for second with the Nats.

Indians (5) at Orioles (1). The losing ways continue. Baltimore falls to 12-26 in last. My friend’s got a bet going that the Orioles record will be better than the Pirates, but they’ve got to start performing if he wants his money.

Mariners (1) at Rays (2). A pitching duel between Cliff Lee and Matt Garza decided in late innings. Way to go TB. The Rays now have a 26-11 record good for first.

Nationals (1) at Rockies (2). An ugly sweep, but at least Washington seemed to be making a real contest of it. They close the weekend at 20-18 in second place with the Marlins.

Exhausted: Yesterday’s Scores That Matter [WMQ]
May 10th, 2010 by Dan

Naples beach with Dave

Dave doesn't care much for baseball, but he loves the beach as much as the next guy.

The beach was a success, but I’m dead tired after my travels last weekend. Did I forget to mention that there was also a PERFECT GAME?! Too bad it was against the wrong team…

7 May

NPB
Hiroshima Carp (6) at Hanshin Tigers (10). Not the ideal start to a short series, but not terrible either. At least they’re scoring runs.

MLB
Florida Marlins (4) at Washington Nationals (2). The Marlins start the series off on the right foot with a strong outing by Volstad.

Tampa Bay Rays (4) at Oakland Athletics (1). Another series that started strong, but didn’t end quite how I’d like it to.

8 May

NPB
Rakuten Eagles (0) at Nippon-Ham Fighters (1). Darvish pitches a gem that’s won in extra innings. Is this Rakuten’s first loss to the Fighters?

Carp (11) at Tigers (8). Nothing like smacking the Tigers back down to feel better about the night before. Just gotta keep the momentum going into Sunday.

MLB
Marlins (4) at Nationals (5). Now it starts to get ugly for Florida. Close game blown by the bullpen. I mean, come on Pinto! Don’t blow the game by beaning a run in!

Baltimore Orioles (7) at Minnesota Twins (3). I’m always shocked when Baltimore wins. Taking at least one in three may not be great for the Birds in the long run, but it’s a start.

Rays (2) at Athletics (4). This road trip kind of spiraled out of control for Tampa Bay. The bats diminished in this game and couldn’t quite put it together.

Orioles (1) at Twins (6). Doubleheader thanks to a postponed game on Friday. Baltimore doesn’t take this one.

9 May

NPB
Golden Eagles (3) at Fighters (7). Wow, I wouldn’t expect two straight losses to the Fighters. Rakuten closes out the weekend in fifth with their 16-23-0 record.

Carp (3) at Tigers (4). A heartbreaking loss, but the Carp do seem to be improving to me. Regardless, their record drops to 15-22-0 in fifth at the end of the weekend. I take consolation in the fact that it’s better than the Swallows, but it needs to improve!

MLB
Marlins (2) at Nationals (3). The Fish tie it up against Livo’s relief only to give up the go-ahead home run. I can live with this game only because Chris Coghlan finally pushed his batting average above 0.200 by going 3-4. If we can get Maybin’s strikeouts down now too, we might actually have a team going. The Fish are in fourth with their 14-17 record while the Nats are tied for second with their 17-14 record.

Orioles (0) at Twins (6). The Birds get shut out, but it’s not as bad as the next game I’m gonna mention. Not by a long shot. Last place, 9-23.

Rays (0) at Athletics (4). Look, a perfect game is a fantastic achievement and Dallas Braden deserves ridiculous praise for this. I just wish it wasn’t the second perfect game thrown against the Rays in back-to-back years. Congratulations Mr. Braden, you’ve done something so special only 18 other men have done it. Tampa Bay remains in first by half a game with their 22-9 record. I hope they move forward and win a few to make up for this.

MLB 2010 Season Projections [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Mar 31st, 2010 by Dan

Another year, another season! 2010 looks to be another good one. The Marlins don’t look like they’re about to run away with their division, but the Rays have a fighting chance this year. I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s back up and go through this division by division like we do every year.

AL East

After a (glorious) season where the Yankees didn’t make it to the playoffs for once, the Bronx Bombers came back with a vengeance and took it all. The Yanks may have lost Damon and Matsui, but they’re still in a strong position in the AL East and look poised to make the playoffs in the division. Players are getting older on that team and the pitching isn’t as strong as they’d like, but, barring some kind of major injury, I stand by that prediction.

The Red Sox also made a few big moves, getting rid of Jason Bay and adding in Adrián Beltré, and they’re projected to have a solid season with strong defense and slightly weakened bat strength. I think a lot of how well they do this year depends on whether or not they’re able to produce runs at the plate with David Ortiz, who did not perform to standards last year.

My favorite in the East, the Tampa Bay Rays, have had a super strong spring. With the best spring record of the AL, they could upset the Yankees or Red Sox if and only if their rotation and bullpen return to 2008 form. The offense is there, the defense on the field is there, it’s just a matter of making outs. Will Rafael Soriano be enough to solve their closer woes? That alone will tell you what this team will do this year.

I’m excited to see what the Orioles put together this year. Their investment in youth is starting to bear fruit as prospects make their way onto the field, but this young, inexperienced team is up against juggernauts in the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. I’m going to call this a building year for the Orioles, even if that’s selling them a bit short. They would have a good chance in any other division, but not the East.

There are few teams in baseball that bore me more than the Blue Jays (:cough: Royals, Pirates, and Padres :cough:). This is a team that acknowledged that they have no chance to make a run of it by trading Roy Halladay to the Phillies.

Projected Standings:
Yankees
Rays
Red Sox
Orioles
Blue Jays

Remember that I’m a Rays fanboy and my positioning makes sense. I think the Rays have a strong chance to take the AL wild card this year.

AL Central

For a while there, this division was the Twins’ to lose. Then the second best closer in the game, Joe Nathan, went down for the season, muddying up the waters. Add in that the team is moving to a brand new ballpark and things could get interesting. Gone are the super-competitive advantages of the Metrodome, replaced by what will be a SUPER frigid open-air ballpark that will take some getting used to. When it comes to Joe Mauer, I’m reminded of the fictional words of Michael Bluth, “You gotta lock that down.” Lucky for the Twins, they managed to get that done with an eight-year, 184 M$ contract. It should help.

I hear a lot about Chicago’s rotation being so vastly improved, but it’s almost always followed by the caveat that Peavy needs to pitch well. It’s been a long while since his 2007 Cy Young campaign and he hasn’t been able to remain healthy. Despite how much Obama loves this team, I can’t stand A. J. Pierzynski and, by extension, the team.

Detroit has a team that I want to love. Those poor guys live in a third world city that is on the verge of absolute collapse. They keep giving Dontrelle Willis chances to succeed (and he might be in the rotation this year), but I’m not sure that they will be able to keep up with the Twins this year thanks to weak pitching. I’ll be keeping an eye on these guys.

The Indians may be on the upswing and ready to bounce back, but I’m not ready to believe that yet. I don’t see much happening for this team.

Kansas City has an awful team aside from Zack Greinke.

Projected Standings:
Twins
White Sox
Tigers
Indians
Royals

AL West

Despite their stupid long name, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have had one of the most consistent teams of the century. They contend every year and make it to the playoffs almost every year. It’s hard to ignore how solid this team is. Unfortunately, they’ve been fighting a war of attrition these past two years with Texas and Seattle getting closer and closer to robbing AL West dominance away from them. They gained Matsui, but lost vital starter Lackey. Will it be enough?

Seattle wants it this year. They went and signed Cliff Lee and even took the risk of signing the volatile Milton Bradley to bolster their bats. Things were looking great for Seattle until Cliff Lee ended up on the DL and Milton Bradley got himself ejected from two straight spring training games. Will they be able to keep it all together and make a real run for the West?

The Rangers are solid, but they have a lot of reliance on players like Josh Hamilton who are very injury prone. They’ve been just short of the playoffs for several years now and they’re real hungry for it.

I have so much apathy for the Athletics. I’m sure their team is pretty good and has a chance this year, but it never seems to pan out for Oakland.

Projected Standings
Mariners
Angels
Rangers
Athletics

I’m going out on a major limb there. I could be dead wrong.

NL East

My favorite division also contains two of my least favorite teams in baseball, both of which are set to have great seasons. Last year’s NL Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, are still just as good with Roy Halladay instead of Cliff Lee. They’ve still got a great lineup with good pitching and, even without their closer, they should still have a solid season. They are The Team To Beat (TM) in the East.

Atlanta, my least favorite team, has got stars in their eyes for Jason Heyward, a top-prospect who made the team this spring. Heyward’s bat, combined with Hanson and Kawakami’s arms, could be very formidable in the East. This is a team that worries me.

The Mets have had such terrible luck recently that it’s almost bound to start swinging back in the other direction…right? With an adjusted outfield to help home runs, their offense might perform a little better, but that injury-riddled team is not looking all that much better this year. If they outperform the Marlins, I’ll be surprised.

Speaking of teams that won’t outperform the Marlins, Washington is almost guaranteed to make marginal improvements this year. Their rotation is still a mess, but veterans like Chien-Ming Wang and Liván Hernández can combine with the brilliance of Stephen Strasburg and the promising performance of Drew Storen and produce what might actually be a major league rotation. The lineup needs some work to score runs, but pitching is infinitely more important for a team that wants to win.

Speaking of a team that emphasizes pitching, we’ve finally arrived at my favorite team, the Florida Marlins. Over the off-season they finalized a strong contract for Josh Johnson and kept Dan Uggla, keeping the rotation and lineups strong. Combined with Hanley Ramirez and Chris Coghlan destroying NL pitching and Ricky Nolasco’s brilliant performance on the mound, this is a solid team with only a few holes that need filling. If Cameron Maybin and Gaby Sanchez live up to their potential, I don’t see much standing in this team’s way. There’s always a question of pitching with the back end of the rotation, but Chris Volstad has been looking good of late and Anibal Sanchez fluctuates, but trends on the better side most times. The real question is in the bullpen where the Fish will be relying on Leo Núñez to close games. I’m not confident in Núñez yet.

Projected Standings:
Phillies
Marlins
Braves
Mets
Nationals

NL Central

The Central has a chance to be interesting this year with strong squads being fielded by St. Louis, Cincinnati, and “this is our last chance for a while” Chicago. St. Louis has the best chance here thanks to strong pitchers Carpenter and Wainwright and their strong offense in Pujols and Holliday. Cincinnati has been a dark horse so many years in a row now that they’d better start performing. The promise of Aroldis Chapman could push them ahead if the offense follows, but otherwise the team has a strong uphill climb. The Cubbies don’t have much time left before they have to start “rebuilding”. If they don’t put together a playoff season this year, it might be a while before we see one happen again. I still love Fukudome, even if the Cubs don’t. He’s a consistent and solid player.

I don’t know much about Milwaukee’s squad this year, but they’re usually a solid team, but I didn’t hear much in the offseason that would convince me they were ready to push ahead of last year’s performance.

The rest of the Central, the Pirates and the Astros, really don’t make an impact in baseball nowadays. Pittsburgh is really a AAAA team and Houston has failed to make any kind of splash in a long while.

Projected Standings:
Cardinals
Cubs
Reds
Brewers
Astros
Pirates

NL West

Colorado made the biggest turnaround I’ve seen since the last time they did it in 2007 to win the wild card last year and make the playoffs. After that strong finish and with LA’s messy divorce keeping them from making significant progress on their team, I see Colorado as the frontrunners in this division.

A messy divorce has been draining Dodger ownership of cash and the ability to run their team. At best, the Dodgers remain as good as they were last year. Realistically, they fall behind the Rockies and maybe even the Giants too.

Solid pitching, but not much offense. It’s been the same story for years now. A strong team only because it keeps the run count down on the opposing team.

What about the Padres?

Projected Standings
Rockies
Giants
Dodgers
Padres

I’m bound to be dead wrong, per usual, but we’ll see how I’m doing in July and again in September. I can’t wait for Sunday/Monday!

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