Around the World of Baseball

February 16, 2011

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Once again, Albert Pujols is front and center in the world of baseball.  As I write this, we’re closing in on the deadline Albert set for striking a deal.  It seems increasingly unlikely that Pujols will sign a deal prior to the deadline – setting the stage for his possible departure from St. Louis.  While there are a lot of teams that would love to have Pujols in their lineup, are there any willing and able to pony up $30 million per year?  The Yankees and Red Sox have a franchise 1B locked up, and those are usually the two teams with the most cash.

Of course, Pujols played third base earlier in his career.  The Yankees would play him at 3B, move A-Rod back to SS, and turn their aging SS into a utility player.  (I kid, John, I kid.)

Speaking of Yankees … CC Sabathia showed up at camp considerably lighter.  That’s a relative concept for a guy who lugs around 300 pounds on his 6’7″ frame, but he claims to be down 25 pounds from last year.  Based on the photos, I can believe it.  The one concern I always had with CC was his weight.  I always thought that it would eventually cause him to wear down at the end of the year.  It hasn’t happened yet – with Sabathia winning at least 17 games, pitching at least 230 innings, and posting an ERA of 3.37 or better in each of the past 4 seasons – and the weight loss might make him even more durable.  With 157 wins on his resume at age 30, Sabathia remains a solid candidate to be come the next 300 game winner – especially if he can maximize his wins the next few years, before the Yankee core declines too much.  There’s also the possibility that Sabathia could opt out of his deal, but I don’t see that happening.

Off the field …

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama recognized former Cardinal Stan “The Man” Musial with the presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.  The greatest Cardinal of them all was a 24 time All-Star (note that there were two All Star games each year between 1959 and 1962, with one game benefitting the players’ pension fund).

The ownership of the New York Mets is in flux.  The owners are looking into the possibility of selling a 25% share of the team.  The owners are being sued by Irving Picard (no relation to Jean-Luc), the trustee for victims of Bernie Madoff.  Picard alleges that team ownership withdrew large amounts of false profits from their accounts with Madoff, and should have know that fraud was occurring.  This is the latest in a recent string of off-field issue affecting teams.  The McCourt divorce is still casting uncertainly on the future of the Dodgers.

Spring Training has begun, meaning that winter is officially over.  This means that any subsequent snowfalls will be in violation of federal law.

My picks for the World Series?  As much as I’d like to pick the Rockies, any team with Cole Hamels as their #4 starter  is going to make some noise – so I pick the Phillies from the NL.  In the AL, I’ll give the nod to the Red Sox, who added an extremely good player in Adrian Gonzalez.  My player to watch this season is Homer Bailey.  Although many have already given up on him as a bust, the kid won’t turn 25 until May.  I think he has enough experience under his belt to put together a breakout season in 2011.

Update From the First Week of Baseball

April 13, 2010

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Kosmo is filling in for Johnny Goodman on the sports beat this week.

The Masters

To call me a golf fan would be an absurd exaggeration. In general, I check to see home local boy Zach Johnson is doing and see who wins. This week – even with the return of Tiger Woods – it was the same drill here. Tiger fell a bit short and Phil Mickelson picked up another green jacket. I can’t help but cheer for Mickelson, who faced the dual adversity of his wife and his mother being diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

Country Joe Sings the Wrong Tune

Baseball umpire Joe West – also a country music singer – ruffled some feathers on both sides of the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry by saying the two teams were pathetic because of the length of the games they played.

This annoyed me for a couple of reasons. First of all, the umpire is supposed to be an impartial observer. When he made these comments, West crossed a line. If these sorts of statements are to be made, they should come from the commissioner’s office (which later did make a comment about the length of games).

Even more annoying, though, is the continued emphasis on the length of games. One of the beauties of baseball is the fact that it is untimed. You can typically estimate the length of football of basketball games. Baseball is an entirely different beast. You can get a two hour game if the pitchers are working quickly and the batters are swinging at everything. On the flip side, you can have a four hour game if the pitchers are working slowly and the batters are patient.

In baseball, a team is never eliminated until the last out is made. This isn’t the case in other sports. You can’t make up a twenty eight point deficit in fifteen seconds in football. It’s a technical impossibility – you wouldn’t have enough time to execute the necessary players. In baseball, though, you can rally from a 10-0 deficit with two outs in the ninth. As long as you keep getting hits, the game will continues.

Have you ever been to a great rock concert and later, complained about the length? Of course not. If the experience is of poor quality, this is a problem. If it’s merely excess quantity, this really isn’t a problem.

The Resin Bag

Nationals prospect Stephen Strasburg and Reds farmhand Aroldis Chapman both began their minor league careers with strong performances. Don’t expect either of these guys to stay down very long. Once the teams are assured of having their free agency (and possibly arbitration) delayed, these guys will pop up to the majors.

Meanwhile, Mike Leake jumped into the Reds rotation without any minor league experience. If Chappy is indeed being kept down for financial reasons, then why did the Reds keep Leake with the big club to start the season? They could have delayed Leake’s free agency in a similar fashion. Any chance that the Reds will demote Leake when Chappy is promoted – for just enough time to delay his free agency?

CC Sabathia put up a strong performance on Saturday night, taking a no-hit big into the eighth inning. I love the anticipation of a no-hitter in progress and always pull for the pitcher.

On the Rockies beat, Jorge de la Rosa started off his 2010 campaign strong, tossing seven innings of one hit ball. Keep an eye on George of the Rose. He started last year 0-6 with a 5.43 ERA before rallying to finish 16-9 with a 4.38 ERA. For those of you keeping score at home, that means he went 16-3 with a 3.94 ERA from June 5th through the end of the season. The ERA might not seem dominant … but bear in mind that his home park is Coors Field.

Matt Holliday of the Cardinals is off to a hot start, with three homers in seven games (he is, of course, playing second fiddle to Albert Pujols, who has five).  I have always contended that Holliday’s bat would play anywhere.  Clearly Coors Field boosted his numbers … but not by as much as the raw home/road splits would make you think.  If you compare Holliday’s differential to those of other Rockies, you’d quickly noticed that his differential dwarfed those of the teammates.  Either the park was exceptionally well suited for him … or he’s simply the sort of player who thrives in front of a home crowd.  Hey, guess what – his home OPS was 150 points high than his road OPS last year … despite being in Oakland (bad hitter’s park) at the beginning of the year.  As a point of comparison, across baseball, the typical player has an OPS 30 points higher at home.  I’m expecting a strong season from Happy this year as well.

I made a rookie goof in fantasy baseball and neglected to pay attention to my starting lineup.  As a result, I had a sub-standard lineup in place for week 1.  My Yura Peeins fell to Johnny Goodman’s team 6-4.  I lost two pitching categories and four of the five hitting categories – nabbing the only win in steals.  Honestly, though, even with my A lineup, I would probably have lost by the same score.

Sports Medley

August 25, 2009

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An exciting week in sports this week. I am still resting up from my trip to the Solheim Cup, and I am sure you are all ready to read something other than another golf article, so I will just touch on some golf briefly and move on.

Golf

A real win for the LPGA this week with a win for the United States Team in the Solheim Cup. It might have well spelled a coming out party for Michelle Wie, who along with Paula Creamer were clearly the stars of the US team. Wie went an impressive 3-0-1 in her four matches played. It is too easy to forget she is still very young has it seems like she has already been playing forever.

Sergio Garcia sees another opportunity slip by as he extinguishes a late lead on Sunday in yet another tournament. And what is up with the rugged bearded look Sergio? Go back to the clean shaven Michelob Poster Boy look, it is much better for you and I am sure your many sponsors would agree with that assessment.

Baseball

C.C. Sabathia became the majors first 15 game winner of 2009 as the Yankees continued to dominate over the Boston Red Sox. No love in Beantown right now as the Yanks have built an impressive lead and seem to be firing on all cylinders. The Yankees now have a huge 7 ½ game in the division … just a few months ago it seemed like this was totally out of the question for this year.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball. What I have always found fascinating about the Rose lifetime ban is that very few people are on the fence with an opinion. You either think Pete Rose should or should not be in the Hall of Fame. Even current Hall members are on different sides of the issue. There is no disputing however that the all time hit leader has some statistical support in many categories that warrant a spot in Cooperstown, only time will tell if the decision of Bart Giamatti is ever overturned.

Football

Brett Favre is back …. again …. I think I would un-retire for a cool twenty five million dollars over two years. The Vikings have the running game, they have the defense, I am not sure they have the receivers. All the Vikings really need to do is to manage the game offensively. This could be a huge year for Adrian Peterson if he stays healthy.

Latest line from Vegas….over/under for number of times the new “JerryTron” 60 yard long High Definition Jumbo screen gets hit by punts at the new Dallas Cowboy stadium this year….14 ½.

And finally …

The crazy comment of the week:

Lou Holtz makes a bold post season prediction for the BCS Title game. “ I personally believe, if you ask me, ‘Who’s going to play in the national championship game?’ I’d say it’s going to be Florida and the University of Notre Dame. They return 11 starters on offense. They return all three running backs, the two best wide receivers, they have a great defense coming back.”

And to think …. ESPN pays this guy …. wow.

Until next week … Good Luck with your last minute Fantasy Football drafts!