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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….

Wanamaker Yours?

Contrary to popular belief, Stevie Williams cannot win the Wanamaker Trophy this weekend. Yes, Adam Scott his player could, and if he does will his caddie be over shadowing the biggest win of his career? Maybe, but that’s up to the media to decide. Some say he’s the most famous caddie out there, but I’d counter that argument saying Danny Noonan is much more of a household name than Williams. It’s been an interesting week for Stevie and Adam regardless. Fortunately all of golf slowly turns thier attention to the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. I’ve been trying to focus on the tournament more than the catty fight. One main reason for caring about this week more than others is I’m back to playing fantasy golf. Yes, thanks to Barstool sports, and the Sportschump, I’ve been playing the daily fantasy sports league that is, Draftstreet. This is their inaugural week for PGA fantasy golf on their site. I must say I’m excited about this, maybe a little too much, because I’ve been out of the fantasy golf game for a couple of years. Anyways, here’s a few thoughts I had on some of the players in the mix this weekend and why I will or won’t be picking them.

The Irish major winners. Rory McIlroy looked pretty good last week. I’ve been somewhat puzzled by how few tournaments he’s been playing in, and feel like it’s a bad thing he hasn’t consistently been in competition. For some reason I’m not buying him winning his second major or really coming all that close at a course that isn’t favorable to the over the pond playing style. Darren Clarke is probably still drinking out of the Claret Jug, which makes me weary of picking him as well. That being said, some of my personal best rounds came under the influence!

The old farts. David Toms won this tournament the last time it was at the Atlanta Athletic Club, so why not again? Sure the course was about 270 yards shorter and the holes have changed A LOT, but he did set a course record for fewest strokes in a major that still stands today (265). Maybe that magic will all come back to him this weekend. Phil Mickelson might be in the hunt, but we all know he’ll take too many risks on a course where it’s necessary to stay in the fairway. Then there’s the 47 year old Davis Love III. His season hasn’t been exactly exciting so far, but he seems to step it up in the majors. DL3 finished 12th at the Players, 11th at the US Open, and 9th in the Brittish Open. He’s still got the tools to get it done, and get you some nice fantasy points for relatively cheap. Lee Westwood is the young gun of the old farts group at 38. From what I’ve read it sounds like he’s in a good state of mind. We all know he has the tools to win this major, but will that ever happen? The Magic 8 ball told me no, so I’m rolling with that scientific strategy.

The young guns. Dustin Johnson is no doubt my favorite current golfer at the moment. Aside from his run at the Brittish Open he hasn’t had nearly as good a year as he had last year in the majors, but that doesn’t mean he can’t come crazy this week and pull out a victory or come close. Jason Day is my favorite to win this event. He’s performed the best at majors out of any player on the tour (finishing 2nd at the US Open and Masters). An added bonus to him being in contention is getting to see his wife as the TV cameras can’t seem to help themselves, not that I’m complaining. Rickie Fowler is one of the American favorites, wearing 80’s neon colors everytime out. He’s done well in his last two tourney’s, so maybe he can parlay that success into another strong performance.

The Stevie Williams pair. Tiger Woods pretty much has to be mentioned in any golf post. I don’t see him doing much in this tourney. A moral victory for him and his fans would have him on the leaderboard Sunday, but I don’t expect that to happen in this tourney. Adam Scott is playing out of his mind since Stevie took over his bag. Maybe he knows people aren’t even paying attention to him so he’s in a no pressure situation. He’s already taken Tigers old swing coach, his caddie, now he needs to find a way to take the swagger that Tiger brings to the course.

The Asains. Ryo Ishikawa hasn’t even figured out what he can and can’t do at the age of 19. We all see his potential, and finishing 2nd at the US Open only showed us a tip of the proverbial iceberg of his talent. There’s one main reason to root for him though, and it’s because he’s giving all his earnings this year to the Japan relief. KJ Choi is often overlooked, but he’s always grinding away.  Ever since winning the Players Championship he hasn’t fared too well. I’m not picking him because he has struggled lately. Y.E. Yang is more known as the first guy to beat Tiger heads up on a Sunday, but he’s quietly put together a solid season. None of his stats stand out this year, but he’s not out of the top 30 in most tournaments.

My final lineup is; 

Dustin Johnson

Jason Day

Rickie Fowler

Adam Scott

Y.E. Yang

Steve Stricker

Things to Look Forward to in the 2010 MLB Season

Well, Mceezy did his tribute to the excitement of the upcoming baseball season, and I felt it was only fitting that I should write about sine if the storylines that will intrigue me during the 2010 season. Now that the teams have rounded third base in spring training, they are heading back home to the “real parks” for the last few preseason games. There’s a lot to look forward to that isn’t dealing with the Yankees and Red Sox (If you’re a hater like me), so here are ten things I want to watch develop.

Tim Lincecum – Can he win back to back to back Cy Young awards? If he stays healthy, I don’t see why not. He’d probably also solidify himself as one of the most dominating pitchers of all time (or at least this era) joining Gregg Maddux and Randy Johnson as the only other two pitchers to accomplish that feat. Thankfully Cy Young voters have gone away from counting wins as one of the biggest factors in handing the award out. It makes it much more likely, since he doesn’t get much help from the unfriendly Giants offense. The problem this time around is he will have to contend with Doc Halladay! Continue reading