This time, it's for realsies.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Through the magic of Twitter, we've learned that, it is likely, in fact, that the Indians are about to deal 1B/C Victor Martinez to the Red Sox, waiting the confirmation of, well, anything really.
- Twins acquire Orlando Cabrera from the A's for SS Tyler Ladendorf, a young, cheap, talented Billy Beane special.
- Musical chairs continues for Adam LaRoche, who just finished filling out his change of address forms. LaRoche is headed back to Atlanta, as Boston now has a logjam at first with Martinez. LaRoche broke into the bigs with the Braves in 2004 before being traded to Pittsburgh before the 2007 season.
- The Padres have been listening to offers for 1B Adrian Gonzalez, but appear to be holding onto their only real offensive weapon. Rumor has it, had they traded Gonzalez, Selig was going to ship them to the Pacific Coast League.
- Tigers get resurgent starter Jarrod Washburn from the M's for pitcher Luke French and pitching prospect Mauricio Robles. I still like the Twins or White Sox chances better to win the AL Central.
- Roy Halladay appears to be staying in Toronto. This isn't news, but it's worth repeating. Toronto's price was just too high.
- Mariners had six teams trying to pry Felix Hernandez loose, and like a stubborn fantasy owner in a keeper league, Seattle has wisely said no thanks.
- After snapping up LHP George Sherrill yesterday, the Dodgers sent Claudio Vargas to Milwaukee for C Vinny Rottino. As a side note for those of you in dynasty leagues, it might be time to go out and grab 3B Josh Bell, the main piece in the Sherrill trade. I'm hearing Bell has the talent to be manning the O's hot corner for the next decade. And they've got quite an impressive young offense brewing in Baltimore.
We're all sick of this 2003 steroid test.
Now, Ortiz and Manny.
Well, we've known Manny Ramirez hasn't been clean for awhile, but David Ortiz?
This, after just a few months ago, he came out and drew a hard line in the sand, saying if someone tested positive, "Ban 'em for a year."
Hypocrisy? You be the judge.
Was he the only one doing it? Not hardly. We've beat this drum before and most people think 70 percent or higher of all baseball players were using. And we've long had the discussion on whether it should taint the all-time records.
We've all thought about the Barry Bonds asterisks. The Great Home Run Chase of 1998? We're all still wondering if we got one pulled over on us during that great Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa theatre.
We've debated on whether or not steroid users should be allowed in baseball's Hall of Fame. Some think they should have a separate category.
But we haven't talked about team accomplishments.
When the Red Sox won in 2004, it was such a huge story in baseball. The curse was broken. Boston fans could finally die happy. And then they won it again in 2007.
But are these championships legit?
Technically, sure. But what will public opinion say?
Ortiz and Ramirez were the Red Sox offense that year. They combined for 88 home runs and 269 RBI that season. That's over half the entire Pittsburgh Pirates team last season (153).
But it was Big Papi's clutch hitting, night after night, that people look back on and for the first time are starting to see how much it has affected baseball, and to a degree, how much we were all duped.
Great theatre? Or great acting?
Ortiz hit .400 that postseason with 5 HR and 19 RBI in 14 games.
I'll give Papi credit for facing the media, although he did so without actually saying anything:
Is there any wonder why Ortiz only hit 38 career HR in about 1,200 at-bats before signing with the Red Sox, then ripped off seasons of 31, 41, 47 and 54.
Oh, and since baseball's testing and penalties have ratcheted up? He hit 23 HR last year and has 14 this season, hitting .225.
Know what the difference between a 20-HR guy and a 40-HR guy is?
About $15 million a year.
Longtime Twins teammate and good friend Torii Hunter said it best.
"This hurts, this really hurts," Hunter told ESPN.com. "I don't know what to think about this. I guess you just never know what people do in the dark.
"I still love him but at the same time it's tough to hear that. I know it's going to be tough on him and tough on his family once this gets out. It's Big Papi, man, it's the Big Dog of Boston and he helped win two World Series with those guys, with the clutch hits. And now all those things are going to be tainted.
Pretty strong language.
And after about 8 hours to digest the situation, I can't disagree.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
"I was so pumped when I caught it," Wise said. "It was an unbelievable feeling."
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Is it ever too late to amend for a bad season?
Scott Kazmir and Alfonso Soriano are trying to make up quickly for lost time. But is it enough to make owners forget about an awful first half?
Actually, it's Rays and Cubs fans that probably need the most convincing, but Saturday night showed promise for both.
Kazmir: The Rays struggling lefty had lost velocity on his fastball this year. From 95 to 90, Kazmir had regained a couple ticks recently, back up to 92 and tonight, while walking four Royals, the lefty did pitch six solid innings, giving up just 4 hits and 1 ER.
No, you probably can't go out and swap him straight-up for Javier Vazquez, but his stock did raise a bit. Still concerning is the low K total (3 Ks) and is more reminiscent of lefty Joe Saunders than Clayton Kershaw.
Kazmir did leave the game early, in the 7th, but mlb.com is reporting it was just mild cramping and he should be OK.
Soriano: The bad news is he struck out three times tonight. The good news is he jacked a 3-run home run in his old stomping grounds, and lifted the Cubs to a 6-5 win over the Nationals. It also gave hard-luck starter Randy Wells a makeup victory from several he should've won back in May.
Probably most encouraging wasn't so much that Soriano went yard, it was how he did it -- opposite field. And even impressive was that the $136 million man even played, as he jammed his pinkie finger on Thursday and was possibly going to miss the entire series as of Friday night.
My professional advice, as a Soriano owner, is to just be patient. Dropping him, or selling him for pennies will not end well for you. Soriano still has 15 jacks, despite not hitting a HR since June 7.
Is he the 40-HR Soriano of old? I wouldn't take that bet, even on 10-1 odds. But he could still smack a dozen HR the rest of the way and steal 6-8 so don't cut your losses now, especially when he's been moved into a prime RBI spot in the Cubs order.
Remember, Soriano has always been streaky. If his knee was really bothering him the past month-plus, you have to hope the under-reported injury of the year has healed enough and that Soriano goes on one of his patented tears like September of 2007 when he carried the Cubs with 14 September homers.
Monday, July 13, 2009
"It was kind of funny to watch Heilman pitch because he was throwing so many pitches inside because if he does hit it will it will be right at me and hopefully I can make a play and throw someone out,” said Marshall.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Revivals have been started in less obvious places.
But Arlington's hot summer air has been known to defribillate some of baseball's least likely suspects.
Andruw Jones is the latest hitter-left-for-dead, taken off the scrapheap, propped up at home plate and turned into a reliable fantasy player.
In 2007, Sammy Sosa was able to smack 21 HR and drive in 92 runs, albeit while hitting .252, but still finishing higher than anyone thought possible after his swift demise from Wrigley to Camden to the Dominican.
But longtime Braves slugger Andruw Jones is experiencing a stunning turnaround from a 2008 season where he .158 with 3 HR in 209 ABs.
“He’s having a terrific season for them,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s obviously much more comfortable in the batter’s box than he was last year when we saw him with the Dodgers.”On Wednesday night, Jones matched his total in the span of 5 innings, launching 3 HR in Anaheim, giving him 14 HR and 34 RBI, along with a respectable .250 average in 160 ABs.
“Andruw put us on his back and everyone followed,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Now, the question is will you put Andruw back on your team, after secretly vowing to never trust him again?My official advice: Be careful.
It's clear Andruw has regained some of his power stroke that led to 368 home runs with the Braves.
The real question: playing time.
Josh Hamilton is back and Nelson Cruz is a fixture in the lineup. That leaves one OF spot for David Murphy, who's been raking lately, and Marlon Byrd.
Fortunately for Jones, the Rangers have grown tired of the K machine Chris Davis and sent him to AAA despite 15 HR in the first half.
Hank Blalock has moved to 1B, opening up the DH spot for Jones, but Davis is bound to come back as soon as he regained his stroke (ala Howie Kendrick), creating a logjam, where Jones may be back to half-time status (he's only on pace for 320 ABs).
Fantasy Spin: If you're starved for power, in an NL or a shallow mixed league, I could endorse the Andruw ticket. As for mixed league pedigree, the RBI and run totals, not to mention the dragging average, should probably be left alone in 10-team leagues or smaller.
If it's any indication, it's been 24 hours since Jones' 3-HR outburst and nobody has taken a flier on Jones in our ultra-competitive 10-team Observer league.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Fourth of July and baseball. It really doesn't get much better than this.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
He was dangerously close to becoming the face of the young Rays.
As flashy as Carl Crawford? Well, no? As electric as Scott Kazmir? Not exactly?
As much hype as Evan Longoria? Not even close.
But after James Shields silenced the red-hot Phillies for Tampa Bay's only World Series win last October and finished with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP, both the Rays and fantasy nation were taking note.
His specialty, was somehow keeping runners off base in a loaded AL East, posting back-to-back whips of 1.11 and 1.15. That's what happens when you only walk 36 and 40 runners in consecutive seasons.
But it was Shields' moxie, his big-game reputation, the 1-hitter against the Angles, the beam ball to the Red Sox's Coco Crisp that has endeared him to Tampa fans.
They marketing team was even building campaigns around Big Game, who will gladly pose for a photo with fans.
And while Shields hasn't been near the disappointment of teammate Kazmir or World Series hero Cole Hamels, the WHIP has been very normal.
Shields is now 6-6 after giving up 5 runs (4 earned) against Toronto, with a WHIP of 1.27.
"Once May started, everything started clicking," Shields said after a rare gem on May 19 against the offensively-challenged A's, where he retired 17 in a row.
Shields retired the first eight batters he faced on Thursday, but lost focus as he dropped to 1-4 on the road.
And since the end of April, Big Game has given up 7 or more hits nine times in 13 appearances, including double digits on four occasions. That's more than all of 2008.
“I felt great, I thought I batted today,” said a frustrated Shields.
Fantasy spin: The walk and HR rate are about what they were last year and the K projections have crept back to the 150 neighborhood, so there's no real cause for alarm. And this might be the perfect buy-low opportunity, as Shields may get two more home starts before the break (Toronto and Oakland) and then start off the second half at Kansas City. The Rays, 5 games back of the Red Sox, need him to be the staff horse as most of their rotation has been inconsistent at best.