Tag Archives: Baseball

MLB’s Meanest Players

Last week Sports Illustrated released this list of baseball’s meanest players voted on, by 215 of the players. Some guy decided to make a spoof of it, so I thought I’d share since it was mildly funny, and I couldn’t think of anything to write about when I sat down to write a post today. My favorite was probably the Jason Kendall impression. I was highly disappointed we didn’t get to see an impression on the #3 meanest player, Milton Bradley, it seems like he’d be one of the easiest guys to make fun of!

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Moneyball Movie Premiere Recap

Unfortunately my invitation got lost in the mail somewhere, surely, so I wasn’t in attendance for the movie premiere of “Moneyball” in Oakland tonight. Therefore, I couldn’t really recap it any better than the San Francisco Chronicle. Here’s some highlights…

Brad Pitt, Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman and Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin were among those on the red carpet at the Paramount Theater in Oakland on Monday evening as “Moneyball,” the movie based on A’s general manager Billy Beane and the 2002 Oakland team, made its national premiere.

“It’s very cool,” Pitt said as he paused on the carpet to speak to two Bay Area papers. “We’ve been gearing up for this viewing for a long time. This is a special screening for us.

“The people of Oakland gave such a great response. They stayed up with us for hours on end to tape the baseball scenes and never lost energy. We see a lot of fans from the ’02 season. It’s just special.”

Having played Beane in a movie, Pitt disclosed that he now follows Oakland, and he said, “I feel a bit romantic about the A’s.”

Another of the major actors, Chris Pratt, has a less than storied baseball background. Pratt, who plays first baseman Scott Hatteberg, said he has not hit a home run at any level, including T-ball, and in the movie, Pratt, a right-handed hitter, must bat lefty. Through the magic of cinema, his homer gives the A’s their record 20th consecutive victory.

Pratt nails Hatteberg’s preparations at the plate, and he accurately captures Hatteberg’s joyous trip around the bases on the game-winning homer.

“None of it was spontaneous,” Pratt said. “That was the one physicality that I really spent a ton of time trying to mimic exactly.”

High-powered baseball agent Scott Boras walked the red carpet, and though he’s called a bad name in “Moneyball,” he described the movie as “great for baseball.”

*Other observations from the Moneyball premiere: Jonah Hill is HELLA skinny. Philip Seymour Hoffman looks like Sandy Lyle again.


Detroit’s Delmon Deserves Some Love

Over the past couple weeks there’s been a lot of buzz on how good the Detroit Tigers are, and I agree with the sentiment that they are a very good team. Usually the conversation goes something like Verlander is amazing, Cabrera is a great hitter, and Valverde hasn’t blown a save all season, but that doesn’t explain this recent 11 win hot streak at all because those three have been on the team all year. Could you point to Doug Fister’s addition to the rotation? Probably a little, but since they were still playing just .500 ball since he was acquired to when they got the real piece that has had them on an offensive tear, I’d say no. That piece offensive piece was Delmon Young.

Delmon had a terrible year in Minnesota. I was one of those fantasy owners that held onto him way too long hoping he’d show some glimpse of what he did last year. On August 15th the best thing that could’ve happened to him did happen when he was traded to Detroit. He was instantly inserted into the 3 hole in the lineup, just in front of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. His bat has reeked of burnt wood since the move. After making that lineup adjustment, they are an impressive 22-6. While Young was playing in Minnesota he had no protection with Mauer and Morneau always being hurt and out of the lineup, now he has a ton of protection, and is not only getting good pitches to hit, but isn’t missing many of them. Since the trade  on August 15th Delmon has hit .313 with 5 homers, 20 RBI’s, and 19 runs scored over 28 games. Is it a coincidence that Detroit has scored the most runs in the league since he joined their team? Not in my opinion since this offense was average at best before he arrived, and now it seems like everyone is hitting in thier lineup, even Miguel Cabrera has picked it up after his arrival as hard as that may be to believe. With Delmon on this team they’ve also increased their division lead from 2.5 games all the way up to their now 12.5 game lead in just a month of his presence. I just wanted to give Delmon some love since it seems like he got lost in the media when they talk about Detroit and the Verlander for CY and MVP…


Moscoso Def

You wanna dance? Guillermo Moscoso’ll make you dance. Well, half the time. Like Chappy and I determined earlier today, he’s either lights out, or gets lit up. Today he was on fire though. Neither of us caught the game, since it was a weekday day game, but we both certainly kept up on it. Oakland A’s pitcher, Guillermo Moscoso carried a perfect game into the 6th, and a no-hitter deep into the 8th. Apparently today’s start, coupled with his last start against Seattle, set an Oakland record with 30 consecutive batters retired. On paper, he didn’t appear to be particularly dominating. He struck out just four and had a ground ball to fly ball ratio of 3 : 19. But an outstanding performance is outstanding regardless of how it looks. And while the game itself doesn’t have much significance for the A’s for this season, Moscoso is looking more like yet another Oakland young player that, with a full season’s work, can help carry the team back into contention next year.

Highlights….

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2011_09_07_kcamlb_oakmlb_1&mode=video

 


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….


A’s Get Robbed In Bugtown USA

I guess it doesn’t really matter, so I shouldn’t be crying over spilled milk, but the A’s got robbed in Cleveland tonight. For a while I thought the bugs were going to dictate the outcome of the game, and we’d be able to blame it on the insects, like the Yankees did in the playoffs a few years back. Instead, we can blame it on BRUCE DRECKMAN.  YOU blew a call tonight Dreckman, all because you wanted to go home. The A’s and Indians were deadlocked in a 3-3 tie in the 16th inning. A run hadn’t been scored in 10 innings, but it was just passed midnight in Cleveland, and you wanted to hit the hay. Well I’m not gonna stand for this. This aggression will not stand, man. Kurt Suzuki clearly made the tag on the ass no less than 6 inches ahead of the plate. I know the bugs must be a pain in the ass, but let’s at least let the players on the field determine the outcome of the game. This was the biggest blown call since Jim Joyce ruined Armando Galarraga’s career. There was only one out, so it’s not like the Indians probably wouldn’t have scored. But to send a team home on that play, is no doubt a low point in the season. It may not seem like a big deal now, but for all you fans of playoff teams, just hope that you don’t get dealt Bruce Dreckman for one of your series. His blown call will sail under the radar, but it won’t go without notice on Doin Work. F*** YOU BRUCE DRECKMAN.


You Don’t Want It With Yu

A couple weeks back I saw something about all the pitchers who will be free agents this offseason. On that list was Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish. You may have heard of Yu, but for me personally, it’s been a while since I’ve heard about him. Something tells me though, if he comes to the United States next year, we’ll be hearing A LOT about him. I’m sure he’ll get plenty of attention on Doin Work, since he’s half-Asian (other half is Iranian). Some will have their doubts about his potential for success, citing examples like Hideki Irabu or Dice-K. I, however, will NOT be among those doubters. The kid is straight NASTY. Check out this video clip. He looks to me like he’s pitching a wiffle ball. The movement is like no other pitcher currently in Major League Baseball. The closest comparison to his stuff I can think of is Tim Lincecum – except he’s not half-Asian. Oh wait that’s right, he IS! Imagine if next year, the two best pitchers in baseball are half-Asian, AND, the two best bloggers on the web are as well. Maybe the latter is a bit of a stretch….


Knee Jerk Reactions To Knee Jerk Reactions

Man, were there a lot of knee jerk reactions this weekend. I had my share of knee jerk reactions to those knee jerk reactions. I had no other choice since I spent the majority of the weekend off the grid in spectacular Yosemite National Park. I had some spotty reception, and there was a TV in the tavern, but for the most part, I spent the weekend oblivious to what was going on in the world. The 20 minutes of sports I did catch was the SF Giants getting beat by the Astros, 5-0. I had no idea, until Sunday afternoon, once I touched back down in the California Central Valley, where there was reception again, that the 49ers – Raiders game was riddled with brawls and shootings. Well, you can’t say the Niners didn’t overreact to the incidents. So here’s my feelings on that, along with some other things….

49ers – Raiders Violence:  Why wouldn’t these two fan bases wanna brawl? Both their teams sucks donkey balls, despite plenty of means to be a contender. They’ve both been deep in the postseason numerous times, but these times are hard for Bay Area football teams. It’s no surprise that fans would want to distract themselves from the garbage going on the field. But it doesn’t take a CSI cast member to see that the fights in the stand weren’t merely Raiders vs. 49ers fans. It was one group of dudes against another group of dudes. There was plenty of red on gold violence, and silver and black evil (which we call crime). For the 49ers to subliminally claim that Raider fans were to blame is ridiculous – much like their management of the franchise over the last decade. I’m the #1 apologist for Raider fans… I won’t claim responsibility for any of them, but it’s not that serious. The incidents that occurred at Candlestick Point this past weekend had very little to do with football. Yet, the 49ers’ brass wants to suspend all future preseason games against the Raiders. Alright man, if you’d rather fork over the cash for a charter flight and 50 hotel rooms in San Diego, go right ahead. I’m pretty sure a few extra security guards would be cheaper.

Raiders Grab Terrelle Pryor: Of course they did. Everyone knew the Raiders would go after Pryor, but it almost seemed too obvious. Now the naysayers are bantering about how soon he’ll be moved to wide receiver. Yet Pryor, along with agent Drew Rosenhaus, and according to them, Raiders management, all insist that Terrelle will remain a quarterback. Whether or not that comes to fruition, it’s a low risk – high reward move for Oakland. Because let me put it this way… IF TERRELLE PRYOR PLAYED NEXT YEAR AT OHIO STATE, WOULD YOU SAY THAT HE WOULD GO LOWER THAN THE SECOND ROUND?! ….DIDN’T THINK SO. So to give up a third round pick next year for a flier on Pryor, I’m with it. Especially when I think about how they would burn the pick next year. The Raiders have become a team that takes who they want, when they want. They reached on guys like Mike Mitchell and Demarcus Van Dyke, but that’s who they wanted, so it didn’t matter what pick it was.

Earthquakes Give A’s Home Field Advantage In Yankee Stadium: A 5.9 earthquake struck the East Coast yesterday, and so did the Oakland Athletics. Two violent aftershocks were reported, but were later discovered to be Brandon Allen home runs. The first baseman, acquired from Arizona for Brad Ziegler at the trade deadline, has immediately stepped into the starting first baseman role. Though he was expected to hold down the corner until Conor Jackson came back, Allen has remained at first – while Jackson has found his playing time in the outfield. The A’s have played as good of baseball as any team since the all-star break – unfortunately they’ve been too far out of the race – but a few newcomers have of all 90 of us fans excited for the future. There’s not a lot left to play for… but a sweep, or even just a series win, in the Bronx would do wonders for this team. The Yanks were clearly shaken by the earthquake earlier in the day, but that’s just business as usual for the Northern California A’s squad.

Matt Holliday Gets Earf*cked By A Moth: I had a giant moth land on my forehead today at the office, so I can relate. This story would have never caught my attention if I didn’t have a moth run in this morning. But my moth was way bigger than Matt Holliday’s. He had one burrow into his year. That’s some horror movie type stuff. I caught the interview with Holliday on ESPN radio this afternoon. He sad he felt a bug going crazy inside his ear. The doctors couldn’t see anything, but finally they broke out the light and were able to see something moving around in there. They tried to pull it out with tweezers, but kept only getting pieces of the wings. Holliday described the wings as basically flaking off. After some time, the doctor was able to grab the insect by the body and pull him out of Holliday’s ear. Nucking futs.


A’s Stuck in Purgatory…

Over the past five years, the A’s have been in a state of regression as they struggle with just about everything from facilities, to players, to attendance. They can’t get players to sign with them even when they do put out the best offer on the table, because they have crappy facilities. Players like Beltre and Furcal just use them as leverage for other teams who are offering them smaller or nearly the same contracts. The A’s want a new stadium yet Lew Wolff refuses to negotiate with the Oakland officials anymore than he already has, and they have been pushed to the back-burners by the MLB committee looking into their situation of moving. Their lineup is scattered with quadruple-A players, and there’s probably only a dozen A’s fans left (judging by attendance). I figured I’d break down the key issues with the team, and help get the word out on how dire our situation is. I know I’ve ranted about these issues a few times, but I figured I should put them all together to let everyone know what is what and draw your own conclusion on who is to blame. It’ll be my last post about it for awhile, I swear!

The Facilities

It’s strange how you come to different conclusions as time passes. Personally I enjoy the coliseum, and feel it has a little charm left even after they built the funny looking Mt. Davis for the Raiders games. It’s not a problem that they share the stadium with a football team, the problem is that the coliseum is in the ghetto, and there’s not much around the stadium. Jack London Square is cool and all, but it’s not the city. Many residents would rather go to a Giants game and talk about garlic fries while sending out e-mails on their blackberries. Can I blame them? Not really since they don’t care about the game anyways. Seriously, would you rather sit at PacBell or O.co Coliseum if you don’t care about the game? Easy answer. A’s fans at the games are great fans. The problem is there’s barely any fans going, and there’s nothing to do in that area, except maybe unload a few freight containers. In a time where your stadium needs to be connected to a mall and be in a thriving downtown-like area, the A’s don’t stand a chance in increasing attendance. Will the A’s move to San Jose to get a stadium built? After reading this brilliant piece by Howard Bryant on ESPN, I doubt it will happen anytime soon, and may never happen with the Giants trying to force the A’s into contraction (that’s what it feels like at least).

Pre-Mount Davis Coliseum

Nowadays players want to be treated like Mark Cuban treats the Mavs (state of the art training equipment and state of the art electronics everywhere). The coliseum was built back when players were allowed to smoke during the game in the dugouts. That should say everything about how dated the facilities are. Maybe that’s a reason why we seem to set records yearly for DL usage. As I said, I don’t dislike the coliseum, but if we need a new stadium to get our guys healthy and help us attract offensive players in free agency, I’m 100% for it.

About three years ago we thought we were heading to Freemont in what seemed like a done deal. I wasn’t excited, but wasn’t totally against it since we didn’t seem to have any other options. The deal fell apart for a few reasons, and from what I heard it was because there wasn’t solid BART access which put the A’s back to square one. This was probably the only time I really felt bad for Wolff during the process, because he spent around $30M of his own money getting that proposal in the works.

The Giants and Media Marketing

With the World Series win last year the Bay Area is owned by the Giants at the moment. They’ve always had more fans than the A’s, but now it’s ridiculously lopsided as all the sort of fans have jumped on their bandwagon. It’s almost impossible to find info on the A’s in the papers or on TV. The Giants are dominating the market as much as you can in a two team market. Hell, at the beginning of the year I could barely find a radio station that even talks about the A’s. Is this Lew Wolff’s plan to slowly make everyone not care about this team by spending $1 on advertising for every $100,000 the Giants spend? Seems like the strategy is working as attendance keeps dipping. It’s not like Lew Wolff is poor, I hear him and Fishcer have a net worth over a billion, but they don’t seem to put a dime of that into marketing this team. I’m not sure what I hate more about this fact that the Giants are the Bay Area team or that Lew Wolff isn’t really putting up a fight.

It’s no secret Lew Wolff desperately wants to move out of Oakland and preferably to San Jose, but the Giants own the territorial rights. A little over a decade ago when Pac Bell park was in the works, the A’s then owner gave them the rights to the south as a gentlemen’s agreement to give them some leverage to get their stadium built. Unfortunately the same situation has come up for the A’s, yet the Giants refuse to relinquish those rights back to the A’s. How does moving from 15 miles away from the Giants to 60 miles away from them hurt their market more? Tough for me to answer that as I’m no financial guru. I do know that the Giants want to be big spenders like the Yankees and Red Sox, which at this point seems like it could happen if Wolff keeps tightening his wallet and the Giants keep the A’s out of San Jose. Seems like the Giants could return the favor, and maybe that would even open Oakland back up to the point where they negotiate again. Right now with no real ability to threaten to leave, the city of Oakland doesn’t have to scramble and put together a good stadium deal…

Billy Beane

I’ve found it comical how people are blaming Billy Beane for the A’s lack of success on the field. Maybe it’s because the movie Moneyball is coming out, and people want to knock him off the proverbial pedestal, but it’s got to be tough to build a team when you’re constantly in limbo. Sure we could’ve kept Ethier and Cargo, but almost all Beane’s moves at the time made sense to me, so he gets a pass for those two. In any kind of business you need a plan, and as of right now there are no long term plans with this team, so it makes his job nearly impossible to succeed at, which is why I’ll give Beane a pass until we know more than a year into the future. Hell our contract with the coliseum agreement is up after this season, so we might not even have a stadium next year! Hopefully they don’t play in the parking lot… When you’re a GM and have no idea what the future holds, it’s impossible to map a team strategy out. We’ve always done a lot of one year contracts, but we usually lock up a couple guys, and that hasn’t been happening. Personally, I blame the unstable future. Based on some of the contracts that Beane has offered to top free agents, he is serious about fielding a good team. Unfortunately, we end up with a lot of new guys or castoffs, because the “premium” free agents don’t come here because they can get paid the same elsewhere where they have better facilities. Even with all the Dodgers problems, at least they know they’re staying in LA. The A’s have relatively no idea when or where this team will be in three to five years. Hopefully it’s not still at square one where they are today or I might be forced to give up on baseball all together.

Side rant: The only thing I’m still pissed about with BB is the fact he let Ron Washington go. I said a couple years ago before Texas started being the class of the AL West, losing Washington might curse us. He was a players coach and instead we got a non-players coach in Geren. How could he let go of the coach that EVERYONE in the locker room loved? He made the players want to play, and kept the locker room relaxed and loose, you can’t put a price on that. If I could only ask Billy one question, it would be why we let Wash go instead of giving him the keys to the car.

The MLB

I guess this is who I blame at the moment for our purgatory status. The MLB made a three man committee that Bud Selig appointed to sort out this whole mess over two years ago. According to Selig, it might take awhile longer to make sense of all the options in this dispute. I’ve already vented about it, so I won’t tell you how ridiculous it is that it’s taken over two years since he appointed the committee. Yes, there’s tons of issues, involved in crunching the numbers and projecting the effects on each community, but they’re building Farmer’s Field in LA without even having a team here! You’d think he could give everyone in the A’s front office an update or two on the progress at least. If you needed another reason to hate Selig here it is. 75 CEO’s in San Jose wrote up a letter telling him why he should approve the A’s move to San Jose, and how it would work financially. They are currently the 10th largest city in the US (surprising to me), and seem to want to help fund the building of the stadium. So what does Selig do when he recieves this letter from some of the richest men in the US? He ignores it, and doesn’t respond. Is it because they aren’t Jewish? Is it because he loves the Giants? Is it because he’s senile and doesn’t even remember reading the petition/letter showing where and how they would acquire land and funds to build the park? Only Selig could answer that, and based on how he’s treated us the past couple years, I doubt we’ll ever hear an answer to that petition.

Conclusion

It feels like there’s a lot of people to blame for this mess. Again, I wrote this more to inform everyone out there of our situation rather than blame a certain person or people, it’s been a group effort to ruin this proud franchise. The A’s have some great fans, but unfortunately I’ve heard more than a few recently say “it’s just easier to follow the Giants”. I don’t like bringing up the movie Major League when it’s referencing my team, but it feels like all the forces in the league are against us, and one or more of these crooks is trying to get rid of the A’s in Oakland at least. We can’t attract free agents because our facilities suck, our owner doesn’t want to stay in Oakland or negotiate with the city for a new stadium, Selig and his merry men don’t seem to give two craps about us, and the Giants would rather see the A’s die a slow death than give them the territorial rights that the A’s gave them for nothing less than two decades ago. Talk about the odds being stacked against you! It will be a Billy Beane led miracle if this team makes the playoffs anytime soon.


Elephants and Seals

It’s been a little while since we did our A’s and Giants updates. As always, By is covering the World Champs and Chappy is covering the A’s.

San Francisco Giants (66-56, 2nd) Oakland A’s (53-68, 4th place)

Three Up

Oakland A’s – The A’s won back to back road series for the first time since April. Upon coming home, they were promptly swept by the Rangers. The A’s bats have come alive since the All-Star break scoring the 5th most runs post AS break. Josh Willingham is one home run shy of giving us a 20 home run hitter for the first time since Cust did it in 2009. Is it a positive that we are already calling up prospects like Brandon Allen to see what they got? I guess so, but that just means we are way out of it. At least yesterday he went 6 for 8 over his last two games. Since all of our outfield will be free agents this year I’m not sure why we haven’t seen more youngsters. The Willingham, Matsui, Dejesus, and Conor Jackson projects should come to an end soon, and maybe we’ll see how Choice, Carter, or Taylor does.

SF Giants – As bad as the offensive woes have been for the Giants, they’re still only 2.5 back from Arizona, when they could and should very well be out of the division race by now.  They’ve lost 12 of their last 17 all the while the D’Backs seem to never lose.  Our starting pitching has been superb and consistent, and all Giants fans know that our chances at repeating hinge on our staff.  That’s not, and never has been the problem.  The good news is, Sunday’s game against the Marlins, and Monday’s game at Atlanta showed a bit of inclination that our offense has started to turn a corner.  Unfortunately Brian Wilson blew the game against the Braves.  Easily the most painful loss of the season for the Giants.  If the bats can produce 3-4 runs a game going forward, I have much confidence that the Giants make the post season and do some serious damage towards claiming another title.

Three Down

Oakland A’s – Where to start. Oh yeah, our defense. What was thought to be a strength coming into the season has been a glaring weakness. We continually shoot ourselves in the foot committing errors every game, and thankfully Melvin is pissed about it. There’s no way this team should be third in the league in errors backing up a great pitching staff. This also got me thinking, is our team ERA just good because they give up a lot of unearned runs? Even Trevor and Gio look pretty average as of late. CJ Wilson talked crap about how the A’s suck and so do their fans before Texas came to Oakland, and kinda backed it up after one of the most disappointing series of the year for the A’s.

SF Giants – Well, the fact that at one point last month we looked to be smooth sailing towards winning the division, then added perhaps the best free agent bat to help bolster our lineup, and now, we are slipping out of contention and that big bat we added can’t even suit up for us.  Yeah that’s pretty lame.  Losing the series to the Pirates hurt.  Losing 3-4 at home against the Phil’s stung.  Letting Arizona take the last series against us at home wasn’t helpful.  Getting swept by the Reds flat out sucked.  I can’t even write a reasonable “Three Down” segment for this post, I’m just a little upset, but by no means have I lost faith in the Giants.  But I won’t lie, I’m very nervous right now.


Stairway To Retirement

Dominating headlines today was the retirement of 43 MLB journeyman Matt Stairs. I know the only reason I even care is because he’s a former Athletic. But apparently he’s played for thirteen different teams in his career, so there’s a good chance you might care as well. Stairs’ legacy will be as the all-time leader in pinch hit home runs with 23. I could’ve sworn he had quite a postseason legacy as well, but looking back at his stats, he’s just 3-24 in the postseason lifetime. He does have one postseason home run, and I KNOW that was a big one for the Phillies.

It’s been 11 years since Stairs wore an A’s uniform, so it was easy for me to not realize that he spent more years in the green and gold than any other team. He hit 122 of his 265 career home runs in Oakland. Get this, in 98 and 99, he even had back to back 100+ RBI seasons. In that 99 campaign, he finished 17th in the MVP voting after a monstrous 38 HR, 102 RBI season. Fun fact: he got one more vote (2) than teammate John Jaha (1). To the A’s credit, Jason Giambi finished 8th in the voting. Don’t go thinking Stairs and Jaha were the best hitters on the team.

The Washington Nationals released Stairs today on account of his .154 batting average with just 2 rbi in 65 at-bats. Check out this list of teams he’s played for….

Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, Oakland A’s, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals.   Impressive.


Let’s Make Some Deals!

It seems now that football is rolling along, it’s now harder to find baseball information during one of the most important times in the baseball season, the week leading up to the trade deadline. If I wasn’t into fantasy sports, I probably wouldn’t even know what trades had gone down since they’ve been trumped by NFL signings and trade coverage. Here’s all the major trades since Tuesday in case you missed some, along with some quick thoughts on each. I’ll update it as the day goes along…

July 26th

OF Johnny Gomes traded from the Reds to the Nationals for LHP Chris Manno and OF Bill Rhinehart. It seems like a weird move for the Nationals. Yeah I get they lost Adam Dunn last year and are missing power, but adding a 30-year-old that wasn’t hitting in the friendly Cincinnati settings seems like a head scratcher. Aren’t they supposed to be building for the future when Strasburg and Harper are on the team? Seems like they’d hang onto their prospects instead of adding a bat, especially when your team is hanging out in last place…

July 27th

Mets trade OF Carlos Beltran and cash to the Giants for RHP Zack Wheeler. A win-win situation here for both teams. The Giants didn’t add payroll, and got the bat they were desperately seeking. The Mets got a potential ace of the future with Wheeler, the 2009 6th overall pick in the draft. It was funny to hear some of the Giants fan reactions to giving up Wheeler for a chance to win it all again. I never understood why a fan base would reject the idea of trying to win this year. How can you be mad!?! Sure, Beltran might not work out towards getting you another ring, but it’s worse to not be trying at all.

Blue Jays trade RHP Jason Frasor and RHP Zach Stewart to the White Sox for RHP Edwin Jackson and INF Mark Teahen. Toronto trades RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Octavio Dotel, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, OF Corey Patterson, and three PTBNL or cash to the Cardinals for OF Colby Rasmus, LHP Brian Tallet, LHP Trever Miller and RHP P.J. Walters. This one was a handful of so-so players mixed in with some prospects. The biggest names are obviously Jackson and Rasmus. Edwin the constant journeyman will probably fair better back in the NL under Duncan. The Cards needed a pitcher after all the injuries they’ve suffered this year, and Edwin might be able to fill that void. The Cards also set themselves up to get some draft picks aka prospects out of the trades. Dotel, Jackson, and Patterson all have the potential to garner draft picks should they not resign with them this offseason. Colby Rasmus might be a big loss, but it sounds like he already wore out his welcome in St. Louis (or his dad did). The White Sox meanwhile got a solid reliver, and we all know they need bullpen help. Toronto got another bat and some possible prospects down the road. Maybe Bautista can teach Colby how to be a professional, then again, he didn’t seem to learn much from Pujols or McGwire.

July 28th

Cubs OF Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians for RHP Carlton Smith and OF Abner Abreu. Probably one of the least exciting trades, but it was the headliner on the 28th. Kosuke hasn’t really lived up to the hype he brought across the pacific, but the Indians really need some help in the OF with Choo and Sizemore chillin on the DL. The prospects the Cubs got don’t seem all that exciting either. Probably didn’t even need to put this trade on the post, but it happened, so here it is.

Brewers acquire utility IF Felipe Lopez from the Rays for cash. I guess with Rickie Weeks on the DL, they needed a competent 2nd basemen. Maybe the A’s should’ve hung onto Ellis a little longer, and they could’ve gotten money instead of a PTBNL.

July 29th

Phillies get OF Hunter Pence and cash, the Astros get 1B Jonathan Singleton, RHP Jarred Cosart, RHP Josh Zeid and a PTBNL. The Phillies always make a big deal at or close to the deadline. Two years ago, they got Cliff Lee, last year they got Roy Oswalt, and this year they grab Pence. Honestly, Pence is one of my favorite players, I might even have a little mancrush on him. There’s nothing pretty about his game, but you know he’s giving you 110% Eckstein style. He’s the perfect fit in Philly, and is the right handed bat they truly needed since Werth left. I was surprised that Philly gave up two great prospects since Pence is an unrestricted free agent after the season, and could walk. Houston boosted possibly one of the worst farm systems in baseball by adding two top 50 prospects.

Diamondbacks get OF Ryan Langerhans from the Mariners for cash. The ol’ cash for poo trick. Not sure what the D’backs need for Langerhans is. If this is their big move to match the Giants and Phillies moves (Pence and Beltran), it was fun while it lasted AZ. I think they could’ve got Cust from the M’s for free if they wanted!

July 30th

Diamondbacks acquired RHP Jason Marquis from the Nationals for SS Zack Walters. Not a bad move, but not that exciting either. Marquis is at best an end of the rotation guy. I’m kinda puzzled by Arizona’s moves, Langerhans, then Marquis. Two guys you could replace on your team with AAA players isn’t going to help them challenge the Giants for first in the NL West. I’m booing this trade from my Doin Work headquarters.

Texas trades RHP Tommy Hunter and INF Chris Davis to the Orioles for RHP Koji Uehara. There’s nothing I hate more than a team in the A’s division acquiring a player I like, because I instantly can’t root for them anymore. Koji is going to add some nice Asian spice to the bullpen. Losing Tommy Hunter won’t lose anyone sleep in Texas. I was a little surprised to see Chris Davis in the deal, but Young and Moreland are more than adequate at 1B. I wish they traded for Bell, so I could still like Uehara.

Boston acquires INF Mike Aviles from Kansas City for INF Yamaico Navarro and RHP Kendal Volz. Another meh, kinda move. I guess he’s good to throw in the lineup when someone needs a day off. Aviles has had an awful year at the plate, so I don’t really see why they wanted him. Maybe to bring off the bench to pinch run?

Brewers acquire INF-OF Jerry Hairston Jr. from Washington for OF Erik Komatsu. Ummm, didn’t they just trade for Felipe Lopez to replace Rickie Weeks a couple days ago?!? This move kinda confuses me, so I don’t have a lot to say about it. I guess he’s a good utility guy. K-Rod is still their biggest trade acquisition, but at least it looks like they’re trying to do something.

Mariners trade RHP Doug Fister and RHP David Pauley to the Tigers for OF Casper Wells, INF Francisco Martinez and LHP Charlie Furbush. I’m actually a little disappointed in Detroit. It sounded like they were pushing hard for Ubaldo, but maybe the Rockies were asking too much. Fister is an underrated pitcher, probably more so because he’s on the Mariners. Despite his 3-12 record, he’s had a good year and recieves the lowest run support of any starter in the MLB. What I like about this trade for Detroit is they have control over him for next year too, so it’s not a rental situation. Does this keep Detroit in first? I won’t hurt. David Pauley will also give them a little extra bullpen help, and every team can use help in the pen. Francisco Martinez seems like the prospect this deal was built around. We’ll see if he can be the heir to Chone Figgins at third.

Colorado acquired RHP Alex White, RHP Joseph Gardner, UT Matt McBride and a PTBNL (Drew Pomeranz) from the Cleveland for RHP Ubaldo Jimenez. The headliner of the day sent Colorado’s ace to the Tribe. I feel like the Indians gave up too much in this deal, but then again if they contend and take the AL Central it will all be worth it. P0meranz and White were both first round selections, and it feels like the Indians might have had the next Ubaldo in one of the two guys they traded. We’ll see how it pans out. If the Indians make the playoffs, it will no doubt help them forget what they gave up.

Giants acquire Orlando Cabrera for IF Thomas Neal. Guess the Indians are already trying to restock the farm. They must be sold on Kipnis starting everyday, because it seems like you’d want to hang onto a vetran like O-Cab down the stretch to keep everyone focused. The Giants made a great deal here as they added where they needed to as they have Sanchez, Tejada, and Derosa on the DL. The Giants seem to be pushing the right buttons so far.

Pirates acquire Derek Lee from the Cubs for 1B Aaron Baker. I’d like this move a lot more for the Buccos if D-Lee was a little younger and having a better year. He has been heating up, and maybe being in the playoff hunt will re-charge him. The Pirates haven’t been buyers in two decades. It might be tough to flip that switch and remember what it’s like to be buying.

July 31st

Braves acquire Michael Bourn from the Astros for OF Jordan Schaffer, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, RHP Paul Clemens, and RHP Juan Abreau. Bourn is having a great season this year, and this trade could go under the radar. I was waiting for the Braves to do something, and here it is. I thought they’d maybe go for a SS with someone like Furcal, but getting that top of the order guy is going to help this team a lot. Another good thing about trading for Bourn is they have him for next year as well as this one.

Cardinals acquire Rafael Furcal from the Dodgers for OF Alex Castellanos. I’m sure the Dodgers are happy about cutting some payroll. I’m actually surprised that they haven’t traded some more players straight up for cash. I like the move for the Cardinals even though Furcal hasn’t been that good this year (.197 BA). He’s a big upgrade over Theriot at SS, and I think being in a place where the front office cares about baseball he should make him try harder.

Diamondbacks acquire Brad Ziegler from the A’s for 1B Brandon Allen and LHP Jordan Noberto. Woohoo! The A’s finally made a trade that didn’t fall through. The Dbacks got some really good help for their pen in Ziegler. He has a career ERA of 2.45 over four seasons. Hell, I think he’s more reliable than JJ Putz. The A’s got a MLB ready 1B in Allen, and a pitcher that might be a reliever in the future. Seems like a good move for both teams.

Rangers acquire Mike Adams from the Padres for RHP Joe Wieland LHP Robbie Erlin. For awhile we all thought it would be tough for the Rangers to compete in the postseason without adding another starter, but their second glaring weakness was the bullpen. Yesterday they added Koji, and today they added one of the best set up men in the game in Adams. The Rangers were already the favorite to take the AL west, not it just seems like it’s a given that will happen with the Angels making no moves to strengthen their squad. The Padres on the other hand have added yet more quality pitchers. They have three guys now that they’ve received through trades that could be starting in their rotation by next year.

Pirates acquire Ryan Ludwick from the Padres for cash and a PTBNL. Not bad, not that exciting either. Seems like the Pirates are trying a little with adding Derrick Lee and Ludwick to the mix, but neither of them seem like they’d really put this team over the top. Maybe next year they’ll be better at this whole buying at the trade deadline thing.

Red Sox acquire Erik Bedard and RHP Joshua Fields, the Dodgers acquire C Tim Federowicz, Juan Rodriguez, and Steven Fife, and the Mariners recieve OF Chih-Hsien Chiang and OF Trayvon Robinson. This is kinda of a big deal. Lots of prospects moving around in this one. I guess Boston isn’t sold on Andrew Miller in their rotation or they wouldn’t have made this move. The reliever Fields I heard is decent. My gut reaction is that Seattle got the best of this deal, and naturally I’ve heard of the Asian kid (Chih) before. He sounds like he has some power and should be a good hitter one day. Same goes for Robinson being a solid power hitting switch hitter. I don’t really follow Boston’s prospects much so I’m not really too sure on the guys the Dodgers ended up with…


Best Brew In Baseball

Over the weekend I wrote about the best breweries in America. Now I’m thinking about the best Brewers in Major League Baseball. The reason for that is I recently caught myself thinking about how stacked the Brewers roster is, and then I started to realize how the majority of them were homegrown (drafted by Milwaukee). It’s amazing not only how many of their draftees they managed to keep, but how many became major contributors….

Prince Fielder – 1st round, 2002

Rickie Weeks – 1st round, 2003

Ryan Braun – 1st round, 2005

Corey Hart – 11th round, 2000

Yovani Gallardo – 2nd round, 2004

Jonathan Lucroy – 3rd round, 2007

Add to that, former draft picks Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley were used to acquire CC Sabathia, and 2008 1st round pick Jake Odorizzi was used to get Zack Greinke. Talk about rebuilding through the draft. I challenge you to find a better draft record then the Brew Crew in all of baseball!

 


For Real? MLB Contenders Or Pretenders…?

Let’s play a little game called, “Just the Tip.”  Just for a second, just to see how it feels. Now let’s see which MLB teams can hang over the course of an entire season. Every year, someone comes out of nowhere and contends longer than they were supposed to. It then becomes a game of “will they or won’t they.” This year there are two teams that have come out of nowhere to lead their respective divisions at the time of this post. There are also two honorable mention teams that just so happened to meet in the World Series last year, but still, they don’t necessarily look like the best teams in their divisions.

The Giants, defending World Champions, don’t look like a championship team, but their pitching has kept them atop the NL West. Not sure if that’s so much a credit to the Giants, when you consider the division just seems pretty bad top to bottom. The Rockies have underachieved, and the Dodgers and Padres are pretty much irrelevant. Arizona has been a surprise, but no one really believes they can hang around and contend for the NL West crown. For that we say, the Giants will.

The Rangers, on the other hand, came into this season more or less as favorites to win the AL West. But, a lot of people saw either the Angels reclaiming the division, or the A’s making the jump and riding their pitching to a postseason berth. Instead, the Rangers have played just well enough to hold a 5 game lead over the Angels in the division. Their offense was never in question, but they’ve had surprisingly strong pitching that has kept them perched atop the AL West.

On to the real surprise teams of the 2011 campaign. I’ll start with the Indians because I sort of saw this coming. To be honest though, I’m sort of waiting for the team to fall off, as part of me doesn’t really believe they are for real. I at least thought that Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner could manage to stay healthy, and combine that with two guys who I knew would be solid this year, Asdrubal Cabrea and Shin Soo Choo, and it seemed the Indians were poised for an improbable run at the trophy this year. Unfortunately, Sizemore and Hafner have been sidelined often, Choo’s blood-alcohol level has exceeded his batting average, and Asdrubal Cabrera is left with few RBI opportunies costing him much deserved MVP attention. I’m also questioning whether that starting rotation can hold their ground for the remainder of the season.

Finally we come to the Pirates. I don’t think anyone saw this coming, but if they did, post a link showing off your premonition like I am once again HERE. Like many good teams, they’ve ridden their pitching to a division lead in late July. I honestly don’t remember the last time I saw this. I believe the statistics say it was 1992. That’s a long time. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Pirates have the longest streak of futility in ALL of professional sports. Is that right? Either way, I’m a big time Pirates fan this summer and fall. I wonder how many players I can name on that team….? Let’s count. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens, Ryan Doumit, Joel Hanrahan ….that’s all I’ve got. But I’m on board. Will they hang on? Not a chance. With Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Cincinnati (my other World Series pick)  all chasing them, they’d be lucky to finish third this year.


Getting Back To Work

It’s Monday, which pretty much explains itself. I made the smart move of putting some work off on Friday in the name of leaving early, and in turn, set myself up for a pretty impossible Monday. I feel like I’m not the only one having a hard time getting back to work though. There’s a few baseball teams out there that didn’t look like they were ready to get back at it after the All-Star break. Sounds like the NFL and its players will soon be getting back to work. And while the NBA seems like an afterthought now, some of its players have begun to look for work overseas – a trend we’re likely to see continue as the beginning of the season fast approaches. So, while it’s been a dreadful past month in sports if you don’t watch soccer, it starting to feel to me like the calm before the storm. Pretty soon, we’re likely to see flurry of player movement in all sports. The Major League Baseball trade deadline is looming, and it sounds like nearly every team is exploring options. Once the NFL lockout is officially over, it figures to be one active offseason since teams will be scrambling to get their rosters set and into camp. In the NBA, hearing about guys like Avery Bradley and Pooh Jeter looking to sign overseas doesn’t get me jazzed up, but who knows, maybe the dominoes will fall faster – and bigger.

Baseball Trades I Expect To See – No Explanations (or prospects) – Toronto trades SS Yunel Escobar to San Francisco for SP Jonathan Sanchez. Anaheim trades C Hank Conger to New York Mets for OF Scott Hairston. New York trades OF Carlos Beltran to Texas for OF Julio Borbon and C Taylor Teagarden. Seattle trades 3B Chone Figgins and SP Doug Fister to Detroit for OF Ryan Raburn and P Phil Coke. Pittsburgh trades 3B Pedro Alvarez to Oakland for OF Josh Willingham and OF Hideki Matsui. Los Angeles trade OF Andre Ethier to Philadelphia for RP Antonio Bastardo.

Football Signings I Expect To See – No Explanations – Nnamdi Asomugha to Dallas. Cedric Benson to Jacksonville. Terrell Owens to Tampa Bay. Braylon Edwards to Kansas City. Antonio Cromartie to San Diego. Tamba Hali to Chicago. Santonio Holmes to Oakland.

Basketball Players I Expect To See Sign Overseas –  As if the previous predictions weren’t asinine enough, how could I possibly know who’s going to play in what country? Instead, I’m just going to visualize what it could be like if more guys like Deron Williams, who just made his deal to Turkey official on Friday, made the jump to an international location. All of a sudden, Dwight Howard is hinting at going international and specifically mentions China. I just hope he doesn’t take his talents to Foshan to team up with Stephon Marbury. Howard would be a perfect fit on the Shanghai Sharks. It’s Yao’s former team (and I think he even owns it), and Shanghai is really the only city that’s big enough for Dwight. Even though he could join a Flying Tigers team that featured MVP Quincy Douby and went 31-1 last year, I can’t imagine Howard moving to Xinjiang. Seriously, look it up. It’d be like if Alaska had an NBA team. Instead, he could turn the 12-20 Sharks into instant contenders, and quite possibly be the Dirk to Yao’s Cuban.