Tag Archives: arizona diamondbacks

Kershaw, The Diamondbacks, and Milwaukee’s Best

I have to admit, I haven’t been watching a ton of baseball lately. Maybe having the A’s out of the picture before summer was in full swing is to blame. I have however, seemed to catch all of Clayton Kershaw’s starts over the past month and a half, and the scruffy faced kid has won me over, and for the record he can blow one helluva bubble. He reminds me of Lincecum a little, but bigger and more imposing on the hill. He’s gone 9-1 with a 1.18 ERA since the All-Star Break, and has looked filthy every time he takes the hill. Not even Cliff Lee’s dominant August can help him match what Kershaw has done over the past two months. Maybe he hasn’t gotten that much hype, because there’s only 10 people showing up to Chavez Ravine these days. Some argue that when you’re pitching on a losing team in meaningless games it makes it so much easier to put up great numbers. Personally, I think it’s probably harder, because you get less run support, but that’s a whole other argument. Plus let’s face it, nobody wants to lose anywhere in life, most players are competitive and aren’t simply mailing in these games, they just have inferior talent. Kershaw currently outpaces Halladay (the yearly Cy Young favorite), in wins, K’s, WHIP, IP, and ERA. Sure, Kershaw has had one more start than Doc, but it’s a lot closer race than you might think. Kershaw is starting to be the Jered Weaver of the NL. Great pitcher, but for some reason not considered the best by many, yet that is…

The Diamondbacks have been a HUGE surprise this year. I’ve heard people trying to decipher whether Kevin Towers or Kirk Gibson deserves the credit for their success. I’d say it’s Towers hands down, and not because I’m still bitter from the homer Gibson hit off Eckersly in the 88 World Series, ok so maybe I am, I’m sure you’d hold onto the grudge too if it happened to your team. Anyways, if it weren’t for Towers, Gibson would never have had the “interim” tag taken off his “coach” title. A lot of newly appointed GM’s like hand pick their own manager, but he’s being rewarded for sticking with the guy he saw had some passion for this team. Also in his first week in the office, he sent strikeout/home run king Mark Reynolds to Baltimore for David Hernandez and Cam Mikolio. Winning trade right there for the D’backs adding their setup man in Hernandez, for the overpaid Reynolds. Shortly after that trade, he signed JJ Putz. Not many people outside Seattle really knew much about Putz or his skills, but he has always been a good option out of the pen, and came pretty cheap considering he was injured almost all last year. I’m not sure he knew at the time, but in two quick moves he secured the 8th and 9th innings of games. Sound familiar? He did the same thing with the Padres for many years, believing in having a strong bullpen, and making the game a little shorter. What’s the result? Last year their bullpen ERA was 5.75, this year you ask? 3.19 ERA. He went on to sign Joe Saunders, Miguel Montero, Kelly Johnson, and Micah Owings to one year deals. What was his best move this year you may ask? NOT moving Justin Upton. It sounded like his phone was ringing off the hook with multiple offers for him, and to his credit he stood pat, which looks like a wise choice since he’s now an MVP candidate.

I think I’ve been a closet Brewers fan since CC was going on three days rest every start for their playoff push in 2008. Or maybe it was the Prince walk-off bowling pin celebration that did it. I’m always drawn to those loose creative type teams that seem like they want to have fun. Maybe those images from that year were ingrained in my mind, so that’s why I picked them the last couple years in our pre-season MLB predictions to win the Central. Whatever the reason for the sudden infatuation with them, they played some great baseball in August going 20-7. It’s been amazing that they’ve kept building a lead in the division when they were without All-Star 2nd baseman Rickie Weeks. They’ve pretty much done it all with pitching now that Greinke is finally showing them his Cy Young form, and is giving them what they hoped they’d get out of him when they sent a lot of prospects to KC. Is it just me or does this team feel a little like the Giants last year? Not necessarily how the cast was built, but more so in the timely hitting department backed by solid starting pitching every night. I guess this offense is a little more intimidating than the Giants O was last year, especially with Hart finding his stroke lately they truly are starting to resemble an AL lineup. With Weeks coming off the DL within a week this could be the team to beat! Even if they happen to get a little tight down the stretch, they always have Nyjer (Bryant Gumble) Morgan to loosen up the locker room. For some reason I feel so confident in them at the moment I just put a futures bet in at 20/1 odds to win it all. I’m sure I’ll celebrate a $400 win with a post if it all works out….

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Byrnes Baby Byrnes

One of my favorite former A’s outfielders, Eric Byrnes, always came to the plate with Burn Baby Burn playing on the PA with Roy Steele announcing his name while he strolled to the plate. Looks like he’s decided to hang up the fast pitch spikes after being cut by the Mariners, and is going to join some of his buddies in some good ol’ beer drinking, and softball. Screw taking a step backwards like our good buddy Jack Cust accepting the demotion to AAA, and being pissed he has to commute. At 34 years young, Byrnes has decided to join the Menlo Park softball team sponsored by the Dutch Goose, and will be the biggest ringer in the Bay Area rec leagues, since Vernon Davis joined the curling squad. I wonder if he can convince old buddy Jermaine Dye to join the league too that would be one solid 3-4 combo in the slowpitch league. I’m also wondering if Byrnes would want to double as a security guard at the Oakland Coliseum. Back in 2005, he didn’t need a security guard with a taser to take down a fan that ran wild on the field. Instead he chased the fan down, and tackled the guy against the left field wall! I can’t find the footage, but here’s a great picture of the incident.

Said Byrnes on returning to the Bay Area to play softball: “This is going to be a blast. Playing with my buddies. I can’t wait for my first hit. I’m going to ask for the ball.” One of my favorite things about Byrnes was that he always hustled. He’d sprint to the outfield every inning, and he’d sprint to first on infield pop ups. I think his major contribution is keeping guys loose, and demonstrating how to give 110%. I do wonder if he will be Mr. Hustle when his belly is full of beer…

Byrnes wasn’t setting the MLB on fire with his .094 average over 15 games this season in Seattle, but he will still make $11M this year, thanks to that awesome deal he got from the D-Backs a few years ago! At the time it was fair market value for his services. My how times have changed, and guys like Dye are rejecting $1.5M to play. I hope he has fun, and isn’t out of my baseball for good. His personality is just too good to keep away from the game. I’m sure we will see him behind the broadcast desk throwing some goofy analysis out there. I see him as the Charles Barkley type, funny, but never loses his true opinion on the subject.


(Not So) Early Predictions for the Cy Young – National League

About three weeks ago, I broke down the AL Cy Young race.   I’m not so sure about my prediction anymore, as Roy Halladay has had a lackluster last few outings.  What I would like to point out, however, is that I also mentioned that if Zack Greinke were to “regain his form, his final numbers might end up too good to ignore.”  Well, at this point, that’s looking like the case.  Greinke’s numbers are now so good across the board it looks like he may be a lock, at this time, for the award.  He leads in the AL in ERA, WHIP, and Shutouts, is second in Ks behind Justin Verlander, and third in Batting Average Against, behind Matt Garza and Felix Hernandez, respectively.  There’s still a month of baseball left to be played, but he looks like the clear front runner in that race and should bring a little bit of pride to what’s left of the Kansas City Royals’ fan base.

Now, on to the topic at hand – the National League Cy Young race.  Once again, I’ve narrowed it to a group of five: Chris Carpenter, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Adam Wainwright, and Dan Haren.  We’re going to do this one by process of elimination.  Haren is probably the longest shot at this point, given his team’s standing.  He has the least impressive record of the bunch and the highest ERA.  However, I put a lot of weight on WHIP when it comes to assessing a pitcher’s performance, and in that aspect he is the best, 0.95. Like I said, though, he’s a longshot, and would need to finish out strong to have a serious chance.

That leaves us with four.  Adam Wainwright has the most wins of the bunch, racking up an impressive 17-7 record.  But, he also has the highest WHIP and BAA, along with the next highest ERA behind Haren.  His record is due in part to his team’s success.  While he’s no doubt having a great year, his numbers just don’t stack up with this bunch.

Matt Cain is also having an outstanding year for a contending club.  Historically a hard luck pitcher, Cain boasts an impressive 13-4 record.  His 2.51 ERA and 1.16 WHIP are more than respectable.  Cain, though, is supposed to be a power pitcher, yet his strikeout numbers are low, and his K:BB ratio is easily the highest of the bunch. Next.

And then there were two.  Chris Carpenter (16-3) and Tim Lincecum (13-5) are the clear front runners for the award.  I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to choose between them.  Carpenter has the better record, ERA, and WHIP, but Lincecum has substantial advantages when it comes to Innings Pitched, BAA, and has 34 more strikeouts than the next guy, Javier Vazquez, in the NL, and 104 more than Carpenter.  Lincecum has thrown 34 more innings in 4 more starts than Carpenter.  Granted, a pitcher shouldn’t necessarily be punished for missing starts due to injury, but you have to look at the numbers as a whole, and overall, I think Lincecum’s numbers are slightly more impressive.  But, both guys have a few more starts to go, and that will be what separates the two.  Carpenter will have an opportunity to set himself apart, and I think he’ll need it.  Because, at this point, although unlikely, I’m predicting Tim Lincecum to be the first repeat Cy Young winner since 2002 when Randy Johnson won his fourth straight.


Chris Carter Has Arrived!

After being named Texas League Player of the Week for three of the last four weeks, IF Chris Carter finally has been bumped up to AAA-Sacramento.  You may remember Carter from the Carlos Quentin deal, where he was swapped straight up by Chicago.  Then, Arizona flipped him to Oakland in the Dan Haren deal.  Carter has been most impressive this year, hitting 24 HR and 101 RBI.  Perhaps most impressive, though, is his .337 batting average. 

No word yet if Carter is in the lineup, but if he is, I’ll have a full report on his AAA debut later tonight.


Doin MLB Power Rankings

mlb team logos

#1 Los Angeles Dodgers – In the 2nd edition of the Doin Work Power Rankings, the Dodgers are still in the #1 spot. We’ll see if Schmidt can do anything for them. manny bobbleheadI almost dropped them to #2 after seeing the new look Cardinals win their second in a row against them, but you can’t argue with the best record in the league!

#2 New York Yankees – The Yankees have won 23 of their past 29, and have seemed like the unstoppable machine that we had expected when they signed all those $100 million contracts this off season. They seem to be rolling full steam ahead and good luck to anyone playing them now. They are closing in on the Dodgers for the #1 spot.

#3 Boston Red Sox – You can’t go against a team with good pitching and depth! They are in the toughest division, and are surviving the worst team wide hitting slump of the season. I’m guessing they will make a run at Cliff Lee to sure up those holes in their starting rotation that injuries left behind.

#4 Los Angeles Angels – Yes, 2 Los Angeles teams in the top 4! And yes, I assure you there are plenty of fair weather fans roaming the streets of Southern California, I see them every day. ervin santanaThe Angels seem to be catching fire winning 3 out of 4 from the Twins, and winning 12 of their last 15. They need to get someone so they don’t have to rely on Santana, because he looks like a black hole in the rotation.

#5 Philadelphia Phillies – Looks like they keep getting denied on the Halladay offers. If that goes through they’ll be impossible to beat when he’s on the mound. They are averaging 5.49 runs per game second to only the Yankees. They look like they could wrap their division up by Labor Day if nobody gets hot.

#6 Texas Rangers – The Rangers look for real this year, keeping the Angels in check. They’ve won 7 of their last 8. Their offense struggled after the All-Star Break, but it looks like they found their swings again putting up 12 runs in their last two games.

#7 Tampa Bay Rays – It might be a good thing for them to be somewhat “under the radar”. Scott KazmirMaybe not to the extent they were last year, but if they can figure out a way to get Kazmir and Price functioning properly they should make a push at the wild card spot.

#8 Chicago Cubs – They are on fire winning their last 5 games and 12 of their last 14. Although it’s been weak competition, they still have overtaken the Cardinals for the top spot in the division. We’ll see if this winning lasts when the competition gets better.

#9 Detroit Tigers – The Tigers have a plethora of pitching and a ballpark that caters to pitchers, which probably explains their 31-16 home record. Rick Porcello has been a nice surprise, but it’s been Fernando Rodney’s 21 saves in 21 opportunities that has stabilized the 9th inning all year.

#10 St. Louis Cardinals – With Holliday and Derosa in the lineup, they looked really good against the top ranked Dodgers. You could even say they have a lineup that’s scary! I think they look poised to battle with the Cubs in the NL Central.Matt Holliday

#11 Colorado Rockies – The Rockies have gone 34-13 since June 4th which has them in the lead for the NL Wild Card at the moment. Surprisingly, their pitching has been the part of the team that has shined over that stretch. We’ll see if that keeps up in the thin air.

#12 San Francisco Giants – If the Giants make a trade for a hitter, they could make the jump into playoff contender. As it stands they may win the Wild Card, but I don’t see them making it very far if they do make it. Their pitching can only get them so far.

#13 Chicago White Sox – Their bright spot was Buehrle’s perfection. Their bad spot, is the middle of their order where they are getting no production in the home run department from Dye, Thome, or Konerko. If they are going to go anywhere, they need these guys to start hitting.

#14 Atlanta Braves – They’ve been playing well, but they aren’t going to even get a whiff of the Phillies in the division race. Say what you want about Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur, but it seems like there’s a change in the clubhouse attitude.  Their starting pitchers have a combined 3 loses in the month of July.

#15 Seattle Mariners – King Felix finally looked human tonight giving up more than one earned run for the first time in his last 13 starts! Felix HernandezSeattle seems to be fading behind the Rangers and Angels, but look much improved over the past few teams they put out there.

#16 Florida Marlins – Han Ram is hitting a eye-popping .427 with runners in scoring position. He is also the league leader in BA. They are so up and down, I’m not sure what to make of them. I think they’ll finish out the season around the .500 mark.

#17 Houston Astros – Nobody could figure out how they were doing as well as they were, but it looks like they are falling back to earth as the wins aren’t coming as easily as they were. A rough series against the Cubs pushed them backwards in their quest for a division title.

#18 Milwakee Brewers – The Brewers, just like the Astros have hit a rough patch going 3-7 in their last 10 games. prince fielderIf they don’t make a move at the trade deadline, Prince and company may have to slug their way into the playoffs. I don’t like the odds of that happening.

#19 Minnesota Twins – Minnesota looked bad on their westcoast swing losing games to the A’s and the Angels in every way possible. They should have a shot at the division if they can straighten out that rotation, and stop letting other teams put up those crooked numbers on a nightly basis. Their offense has been good, but that means nothing when you can’t stop the other team.

#20 New York Mets – They haven’t looked like a playoff team, and the injuries have piled up over the season. It may have been too much to overcome. Since no New York team is ever a seller, look for them to try to make a move that will give their fans at least a little hope.

#21 Toronto Blue Jays – We’ve all been wondering where Halladay will go or if he’ll even go. It’s starting to remind me of the Favre saga. The Blue Jays have had a nice run lately with all their players trying to showcase their skills in hopes of being traded out of the Canadian black hole to a contender.

#22 Cincinnati Reds – At least they stopped their losing streak against San Diego. Brandon PhillipsThey haven’t shown signs of anything good or consistent. The emergence of Brandon Phillips bat has helped fantasy teams out though. They seem to be stuck in the same situation year after year, and yup, it’s a bad one.

#23 Oakland Athletics – Possibly too high for a bottom dweller, but their pitching continues to mold towards next year as some of the rookie starters have shown promise. The question now is, when will they throw Brett Wallace into the mix!?!

#24 Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates have been shut out a league leading 11 times this season. I thought they may add to that total, but Lincecum settled for striking out 15 of them and going the distance.  The Pirates should be sellers at the deadline, but they really don’t have much to sell…

#25 Cleveland Indians – Cliff Lee has regained his Cy Young form after a rocky start. It seems like everyone on their team is on the trading block. We’ll see if any deals get done, as they have some players that could be very valuable to a contender.

#26 Arizona Diamondbacks – Mark Reynolds and Dan Haren have been the only two bright spots to their season so far. Maybe they gave up too much a couple years ago to get Haren, so they have no options behind him. Maybe the fans have something to look forward to other than every Haren start, but I’m not sure what that is.

#27 Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles are letting the young guys take over, and the young guys aren’t winning. They need to move some guys like Mora to shake it up and get some pitching.

#28 Kansas City Royals – The Royals are good at one thing, and they keep doing it well. Being in last place is a staple for this team, and they are making a push to stay there losing 80% of the time over their last two weeks.

#29 San Diego Padres – They have Adrian Gonzalez, so at least it’s worth it to go to the park to watch him bat a few times. He has played in 308 consecutive games, which is a club record and the longest current streak in the MLB.

#30 Washington Nationals – Willingham got them in the news with his 2 grand slams. They might even be able to trade him for something now!