Baseball’s Opening Week

April 4, 2013

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After a long off-season, players finally took to the field for baseball’s opening week. Good storylines were all over the place.
Yu Darvish of the Rangers had a perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning. The next batter lined a single through Darvish’s legs and past shortstop Elvis Andrus for a clean base hit. There have been a total of 23 perfect games in the long history of Major League Baseball. While they are never predictable, the matchup of a good young pitcher facing a young and very bad Astros team definitely created a good environment for one.

The Rangers starters in the three game series against Houston all set or tied their career high for strikeouts in a game. The Astros could make a strong run at 120 losses this year, and are a lock for 100 losses.

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus himself made history earlier by signing an eight year contract extension worth $120 million. That’s a ton of money for a 24 year old, especially one whose game is predicated on defense and speed. However, teams now seem to be valuing up the middle defense, and Andrus is a good fielder. Also, as his body matures, he may add a bit more power. How long he will stay at shortstop, however, is an open question. He is currently blocking Jurickson Profar, the top prospect in baseball. At some point, second baseman Ian Kinsler is going to be forced to a different position and Profar and Andrus are going to be at second and short.

(What is this, A Rangers blog?)

On Wednesday night, Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay struck out 9 batters in 3 ½ innings. However, Halladay also gave up six hits, three walks, five runs, and threw 95 pitches. The Braves continued to whiff against the Philadelphia bullpen, striking out a total of sixteen times … in a game they WON 9-2. Halladay’s fastball velocity was down significantly during spring training, and it doesn’t seem that he has regained that velocity yet. Is this a bump in the road – or time for the Doc to hang up his stethoscope?

The Yankees have stumbled out of the block. This isn’t surprisingly, with Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson all on the DL. Oh, and did I mention that Sabathia, like Halladay, has lost a few mph from his fastball? As the veterans line up for their AARP cards, the window for the Yankees is closing … and if they allow second baseball Robinson Cano to leave as a free agent, the window will slam shut on Joe Girardi’s finger.

The low budget Marlins made new by adding 20 year old Cuban exile (and pitcher) Jose Fernandez to their roster. Fernandez is a bona fide top prospects, and he has maturity beyond his years, but many observers question the wisdom of bring him up, consider his lack of high level minor league experience.

This Week Sucks

December 15, 2009

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This is the worst week for sports this time of year. No college football….does anyone else feel the same way.

So with nothing really FUN to talk about here are a few quick hits this week in the world of sports.

Roy Halladay vs Cliff Lee. The baseball pundits are already spinning their webs on this one. I like Halladay more, much much more. He has been in the brutal American League East for years pitching on bad teams and dominating the competition. He will go to the National League and be totally dominating, even more so than he has been. Cliff Lee …. two seasons does not a career make.

Jake Locker – What are you doing? You have the chance to be the number one overall pick in the NFL draft according to some of the experts. Come back for your senior year for the Huskies? It is not like your team is going to contend for the National Title or even Rose Bowl for that matter. Take the money and run kid. Even if you have a good year in 2010 you are STILL going to get drafted high by a crappy team in the NFL, and the money won’t be near as good one Goodell restructures the rookie contracts this off-season.

Tiger Woods – Just when you thought you had heard it all, now possible ties to doctors that have prescribed steroids and HGH to the likes of Marion Jones and A-Rod. Could it get any worse for Eldrick? Can’t wait to see what transpires with this story in the next couple of days.

Toby Gerhart once again proves the East and Southeast bias in the media is alive and well. We have too many folks voting for the Heisman. How you can have Colt McCoy ahead of Gerhard on ANY ballot is a crime. I am still not convinced Ingram is the best candidate but I do think the person that should have won the award got jobbed.

And now the all obvious NFL comments of the week

Will everyone on ESPN quit talking about the Dallas Cowboys? We get it already, they don’t win in December. We can watch our Plasma big screens and figure that one out by ourselves.

Here is another news flash, Randy Moss appears frustrated and played like a pouting four year old on this past Sunday. Have we heard this story before.

And while we are at it … Will the Colts sit their players? Will the Saints sit their players? Who freaking cares? They are both going to the playoffs. Just as long as I don’t have to listen to another crappy 1972 Dolphins and drinking Champagne reference over the next couple of weeks.

Here is hoping next week has better “and fresher” stories to talk about

Bah Humbug!

Cameron Delivers Titanic Blow to Bay, Holliday

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Red Sox sign Mike Cameron, John Lackey

The Red Sox snuck one past me yesterday by signing Mike Cameron to patrol their outfield.  I had been under the assumption that the Red Sox would sign either Jason Bay or Matt Holliday to patrol left field, and was a bit stunned to hear of the signing.  Cameron is a fine defensive player (a three time gold glove winner), but is a big step down from Bay or Holliday offensively. 

Cameron, who will turn 37 in January, is also considerably older than Holliday (who will be 30 in January) or Bay (32 in September).  Players tend to lose a step as they age, and their offensive skills tend to erode.  So it is pretty likely (almost a certainty) that the Red Sox will get less offense from Cameron than they would from Bay or Holliday.  Cameron is a better defender, although defensive range is less important in Fenway Park than in other ballparks because the left field wall is very shallow.  The ability to gauge where balls will ricochet off the 37 foot high Green Monster is more important than foot speed.

On the flip side, the two year deal, worth a total of $15.5 million, is a lot less money than Bay or Holliday will command (easily twice that much, and for five or more years.)  The Red Sox may have simply decided that it would be more cost effective to upgrade a corner infield sport (with either 3B Adrian Beltre or 1b Adrian Gonzalez).  Gonzalez has come into the spotlight a bit in recent years, but Mr. Eyebrows still doesn’t get the respect he deserves.  His raw numbers (3 straight 30+ homer season, 40 homers and a .958 OPS in 2009) are impressive.  When you stop to think that he plays in a park (Petco) that greatly depresses offense, the numbers are even more amazing.  Put him in Fenway, and he’ll win a couple of MVP awards.

The signing is bad news for Bay and Holliday, as it takes a rich suitor off the table. Bay and Holliday will certainly get some serious coin in their deals, but the Cameron deal may end up costing them a couple of million dollars per year. 

The Red Sox also shored up their rotation by signing right handed starting pitcher John Lackey.  This move makes sense on a number of levels.  Other than the cash given to Lackey ($85 million over five years), the marginal acquisition cost was merely a second round pick.  The Red Sox had signed Marco Scutaro (another type A free agent) earlier in the offseason, and were thus bound to lose their 2010 1st round pick.  Signing Lackey merely means that their 2010 first rounder will go to Anaheim as compensation for losing Lackey, while reducing Oakland’s compensation for Scutaro to a 2nd rounder.  Additionally, taking Lackey away from the Angels makes it a bit easier for Boston to get past the Angels, if they were to face them in the playoffs.  While Lackey isn’t as flashy as some of the other top pitchers, he’s definitely an ace-caliber guy.

Phillies Acquire Ace, Trade Away Ace

The Phillies made waves by finally ending Roy Halladay’s long twist in the wind by acquiring Doc from the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Phillies then turned around and traded their existing ace, Cliff Lee, to the Seattle Mariners.  Prospects were the counterweight in both trades.  Halladay is a year older than Lee, but has been a more consistent performer over the course of their careers.  Additionally, Halladay is righthanded (Lee was a lefty), allowing the Phillies to pair him with Cole Hamels for a righty/lefty combination at the top of their rotation.  While the Phillies were able to neutralize teams that were heavily left handed (the Rockies in the NLDS for example) because of the lefty-dominant rotation, having a balance of righty/lefty makes them a bit less susceptible to teams that lean heavily one way or the other.