Lima Time Forever

May 23, 2010

Baseball lost a colorful and talented character today as Jose Lima died of a heart attack at the age of 37. “Lima time” took over Houston for a couple of years, marked by a scintillating 1999, which saw Lima win 21 games and go to the All-Star game for the Astros. Lima who made his home in Los Angeles, brought his fine, control pitching and joyful exuberance to the Dodgers in 2004, drawing top billing in Hollywood for one magical late summer run. As part of that division champion winning team, his solid season was ultimately capped by a five-hit complete game shutout of the Cardinals in the Nation League Divisional Series.

Lima’s celebrations on the mound were the stuff of legend and his persona was larger than life. He lit up clubhouses and made friends wherever he played, from his start with the Tigers in 1994 to stints in various independent leagues from his Native Dominican Republic to California’s Golden Baseball League. after last playing in the Majors as a Met in 2006. He loved to chat with reporters, fans or anyone else within ear shot, making him a fan favorite where ever he pitched and irritating hitters who didn’t care for his swagger. A talented Merengue singer from the Santiago region of The Dominican Republic, who would just as soon talk music as talk pitching, Lima even got to sing the national anthem at Dodger Stadium before a game in 2004. Lima was a man with a big heart, who lived life to the fullest and never lost sight of the fact that he was incredibly lucky to be able to make a great living playing a game.

According to ESPNDeportes, Frank McCourt, the owner of the Dodgers, released a statement saying that Lima had rejoined the organization in the last month as a member of their alumni organization. “He was committed to making appearances in the community on behalf of the team, including an upcoming musical performance at a Viva Los Dodgers event this summer,” McCourt said.

I never got a chance to see Lima pitch in person, but I enjoyed watching him pitch on TV plenty of times. He was the sort of pitcher that you weren’t quite sure how he got hitter out, but seemed to will his way out of trouble all the time. Seriously irritating to see him shut your team down, but always incredibly entertaining, I once named a fantasy baseball team, “Stop… Lima Time!”

Enjoy some videos of Jose off the mound. Here’s one of him hanging out in LAX, singing “Sweet Home Alabama” (to which he admittedly doesn’t know the lyrics) with his teammate, shot last year, while he was a member of the Long Beach Armada.

Lima Time back home in D.R.

We’ll miss you Jose.

“Everyone will remember Jose for his antics on the mound,” said former Astro Craig Biggio, a teammate of Lima’s, according to the team’s website. “But he was a tremendous teammate and a great competitor. It’s a big loss for the Astros baseball family.”

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Under The Weather

May 19, 2010

I seem to have been struck with the same stomach ailment that plagued Carlos Quentin over the weekend but like Quentinsity, I’m breaking out! With that in mind, I’ll turn to a few of the latest ballers to nursing injuries and how it might open up playing time and create some interesting fantasy options.

Ass-suck Cabrera fractured a wing the other day. Chief Wahoo calls up Jason Donald to fill in at short. Donald went 2-3 with a BB and a run scored last night in his MLB debut, while hitting in the nine-hole. Yeah that sounds dirty but with uninspired duo of Trevor Crowe and Mark Grudzielanek setting the table in Cleveland, it’s safe to imagine Donald leading off in the not too distant future. Donald is a cheap speed play if you’re in need of swipes and shouldn’t kill your ratios, as he has exhibited decent plate discipline in the minors.

Josh Beckett was sent to the DL with pain in his lower back. Fantasy owners trying to trade him (like my man JP) collectively bury their heads in their hands. I’m not sure what’s more painful, Red-State-Jeter’s bum back or having to watch him pitch. Tim Wakefield will take Beckett’s place in the Sawx rotation. I wouldn’t roster Wakefield with your team. Instead go grab some schmo who pitches in the NL West, like John Ely, Jason Hammel, Jon Garland or Jeff Francis for a safe play. You could also go with…

Atlanta Braves pitcher. Kris Medlen, who looked solid in his start against the Mets last night. Going in place of Jar Jar “I told you he’d end up on the DL” Jurrjens, Medlen cruised through five before giving up solo jacks to Ike and Frenchy and ultimately getting chased in the 7th.  He finished with a no-decision but a tidy 6K, 2BB, 4H and 2ER in 6 1/3IP. There’s a lot to like about the young righty who started the season in the bullpen and now holds a 26/5 K/BB rate in 29 1/3 IP through 2010. With a mix of plus fastballs and a very effective change, he’s sustained that 5-1 K/BB rate through his minor league career so those numbers are not a fluke. I’m looking forward to seeing him go deeper into games and raking up Quality Starts for the Uptown Ham Fighters, as he stretches out and gets more acclimated to starting.

Of course the biggest injury to hamper the hopes of Dodger fans and fantasy owners alike, is the fractured pinky that Andre Ethier suffered in batting practice a few days ago. The hottest hitter in baseball couldn’t swing through the pain, so he was placed on the DL yesterday for some R & R. In his place the Trolley Dodgers call up intriguing power-speed combo, Xavier Paul. Paul was raking for the AAA Isotopes over the last few weeks, before getting the call. He didn’t reach base in three plate appearances while hitting out of the two-hole last night for Los Angeles.

One of the surprise stars of my Ham Fighter squad is Yankee right fielder Nick Swisher. Swish has been a steady producer in 2010, hitting well from both sides of the plate on his way towards approaching the numbers he posted in his career year in 2005. Nagged by a strained left bicep for the past few weeks, the arm flared up last week during the Yanks-Tigers doubleheader split. Making it painful to swing from the left side, he’s been sitting the past two nights, after coming out of the game on Sunday against the Twins. Consider him day-to-day, but be ready to grab a bat if he hits the DL. That bat should not be Randy Winn or Marcus Thames, unless you’re playing in a deep AL-Only league or you hate yourself. Thames might give you a little pop against lefties or Jon Paplebon, but neither are really rosterable.

Back off of the DL is Cardinal infielder, Felipe Lopez. The versatile, if unspectacular utility man hit a two-run bomb in his second game leading off for St. Louis last night. Brendan Ryan will ride the pine as Lopez should see consistent playing time. The holder of a career .269/.338/.401 line has shown flashes of goodness through out his 10 seasons in the bigs but has had nagging injuries that have hampered him. If he could get hot, Lopez could be a good source of runs at with occasional speed and power, that won’t murder your ratios. Leading off for the Cards has its benefits and you could do worse as far as middle infielders go.

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