Bizarro World: Where’s Panda?

June 7, 2010

We’re a third of the way through what has been a historically crazy season of baseball. From extremes of perfection and incompetence to umpires gone wild and a new crop of fantastic rookie pitchers, I dare even the games most knowledgeable experts to try and predict what will happen in the remaining four months of the season. I double dog dare you! Grady Sizemore worthless. Jose Bautista leading the bigs in bombs. Jaime Garcia staking a claim to NL ROY honors. Cries of “replay!” from every mountain top, seas boiling, rain of toads, dogs and cats living together as Yogi would say, “Who’d have thunk it?” Here’s a little round up of what’s been going down are the diamond…

Ken Griffey Jr. had a fantastic career that came to an end 23 years to the day from when the Seattle Mariners first drafted him. Whether at the plate or gliding across the outfield, Griffey was as close to a fucking rock star as baseball had in the 90’s. Injuries cut short his claim to the all-time homer crown, but in an age of ‘roided out freaks, Junior took the high road and accepted his body’s natural limitations. Had he been so deranged as to jack himself up like The Hulk, he probably would have out-banged Bonds. Thanks for the memories Griff, we’ll see you in Cooperstown.

Props to Bruce Bochey from putting his best hitter in the eight hole on Saturday night. It stands to reason that a guy like Panda, who swings at everything, would prosper with the pitcher hitting behind him. That’s sarcasm. Sandoval was back hitting third today and went 2-5 with an RBI and a run scored in todays 6 – 5 Giants win over the Pirates. Sandoval’s been scuffling lately, largely due to a .306 BABIP, handcuffed to a paltry 15.5% LD rate. Last year those numbers were .350 and 18.6% respectively. His power has dropped as well, from a .226 ISO last season to a pedestrian .145 ISO coming into Sunday. While that sounds grim, his .59 BB/K rate isn’t far off of the .63 he posted in ’09 and his contact rate remains high at 82.4% versus 82.6% in the last campaign. While he may not reach 25 homers, like last season, his average should pick up with runs and RBI to go with it. If I could do it again, would I have kept Sandoval? No. However I’m not looking to dump him as he should still prove to be a solid contributor in the remaining two thirds of the season.

Kevin Correia isn’t right. Padre manager, Bud Black isn’t worried, but I am. His latest debacle in Philly cost me dearly in my H2H league. Little surprise here actually. How could he be right after the recent death of his brother? I can’t imagine being able to maintain the focus needed to perform at the major league level, while dealing with such a catastrophic loss. After the 2008 season, much was written about how the death of his father affected Pedro Martinez‘ pitching perhaps more than the injuries he was recovering from. Having lost people close to me, I know how hard it can be to put on a mask of sanity and go out one’s business. Since returning to the mound after the tragedy, Correia’s only had one Quality Start and he walked six in that game. I’m giving Correia one more start, next week against a soft Mariners lineup. We’ll see where we go from there.

Buster Posey is good at hitting baseballs. Not this good however. I see him as a .290 hitter at season’s end and that may be generous. Drawing only his first walk as a 2010 Giant today doesn’t bode well. If I owned Posey in a redraft league, I’d sell while his value is at it’s peak.

Hey Tex, it’s June. You can start hitting now…

I’m really really happy that I traded Nelson Cruz for Kevin Youkilis in the Big Ballers League.

I’m shocked that Armando Galarraga is still on waivers in the BBL. Does a guy have to throw a perfect game to get some respect? I was pretty surprised to pick up Dallas Braden off of waivers this week too after he was dropped. I’m thinking of taking Galarraga over Hisanori Takahashi, who’s been dreadful in his last two starts against the less than intimidating Padres and Fighting Fish. The gracious Galarraga isn’t as good as he was last week against Cleveland, but he showed some positive signs in 2008. Gotta be worth a flyer in a league so deep!

Mike Stanton will bring his minor league leading HR power to The Show this week, showing either Cody Ross or Cameron Maybin to the pine. Maybin’s been a disappointment and it’s easy to see why he’d be benched. After being the centerpiece of the deal that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis (who made his presence felt in his D-Backs premiere this weekend) to Detroit however, I feel the Marlins have to give Maybin every shot to succeed. Hopefully for The Harlem Hangovers, I’m right, but Ross has definitely been the one deserving of playing time.

Jaime Garcia continues to throw Quality Starts as he dances between raindrops. I’m not looking forward to his crash back to Earth.

Kevin Gregg’s best chance to keep his closer job involves not pitching. Nobody in the Blue Jay pen seems to want the gig, so Gregg keeps it by default.

Harlem Hangovers fall to 92 points, down to 5th place. Lima Time Forever loses 7 – 4 and finishes the week 15 games under .500, tied for second to last place. It’s not looking good. Changes are in the wind.

Share

Advertisements

Hawk Reads Hanley The Riot Act

May 20, 2010

“I’m not going to say a lot, because if you say the wrong the thing to me, then you might wind up on the floor on your rear end,” Andre Dawson said to Hanley Ramirez, with Tony Perez standing by his side in a coach’s office at Sun Life Stadium.

That about sums up what the Florida Marlins brass think of their star shortstop, Hanley Ramirez‘ antics, stemming from his costly non-play that got him yanked from Monday’s game. His galling, non-apology to manager Fredi Gonzalez and his teammates only made matters worse as he rode the bench the following day. I hope The Hawk’s coming out to the media further humiliated Ramirez, as he should fully understand that a lot of ordinary people actually spend their limited funds watching guys like him play a game. Well according to Rob Neyer at ESPN, The Marlins shouldn’t have gone there and should have let the whole thing blow over. I don’t agree. It’s not too much to ask for a little hustle from a guy getting paid $70 million to play baseball, is it? If he doesn’t perform like a professional and he wasn’t embarrassed enough (which apparently he wasn’t) by the awful play, than he should be held accountable by his superiors in some way. You’re not going to keep your best player on the bench and you have to continue to pay him, so what better way than to let everyone one know what kind of an immature prick the guy is? Sorry Rob. Numbers only go so far. I gotta cry bullshit on this.

Alex Remington at Fangraphs asks if Dawson’s doings were counterproductive as well. What do you think?

Other interesting happenings around the league…

Angel Pagan hit an inside the park home run and started off a triple play in the same game, the first time anyone’s accomplished the strange feat since Ted Kazanski pulled it off for The Phils back in 1955. The Mets still found a way to lose in D.C. last night 5-3. Pagan is an interesting speedy outfielder play in deep leagues.

The Braves completed the largest comeback in franchise history today, overcoming an 8-0 deficit on their way to defeating the Reds 10-9. The winning blow came in one of strangest ways you’ll ever see a game end: Journeyman infielder Brooks Conrad hit a pinch-hit, walk-off grand salami that bounced out of the extended glove of left fielder Laynce Nix, only to have it deflect over the wall for the game winning homer. My sympathies to Mike Leake owners who changed the channel thinking they had a W in the bag.

Speaking of comebacks, Kevin Gregg blew a Save today in horribly spectacular fashion today and in the process, inflated the pitching ratios on my Head To Head team like Macy’s Thanksgiving float. That was three hits and two walks, while only retiring one Mariners bat in the 4-3 loss. Thanks asshole. Grey at Razzball rubs it in telling everyone he just grabbed Jason Frasor. I subsequently ask how all the fantasy writers always have these empty roster spots with which to grab setup guys for speculative saves. It’s something you always read from the experts if you follow fantasy baseball. “Pick up middle man X in case slumping closer Y fails,” but with my hitting categories close and this being a keeper league, I can’t bring myself to grab Frasor at the expense of young stud catching prospect, Carlos Santana or back-up outfielder Andres Torres. It was only Gregg’s second blown save, so I wouldn’t hit the ‘drop’ button yet.

Share


…It Was The Worst Of Times

May 15, 2010

So while I’ve been busy pursuing gainful employment of various sorts, The Uptown Ham Fighters have been busy sucking it up over in my 12 team mixed head-to-head keeper league. While we entered this week the only team to have won four out of five weeks, we were also one game below .500, due to a Week 3 1-10-1 ass-kicking at the hands of My Boomstick. As we enter the weekend stretch for Week 6 things have really gone south however, as we now trail The Mountain Cats 12 zip! I can take a beat down or two, but a sweep might just push this manager over the edge into Billy Martin punching out his pitcher nutzo territory! Now before I do anything rash and before it’s a dead corpse, lets bring this patient to the roster doctor and try to figure out a course of treatment.

Here’s the team as it’s presently composed. We’ll first look at the frosty bats:

The first major issue of course was Nelson Cruz landing on the DL with a bum hammy. He was absolutely raking when he was injured and it’s not easy to make up for the loss of such a big bat. Filling the hole over the past week, I had Corey Hart and then Nate Schierholtz. Hart did little aside from a lone HR in Boomstick’s absence. Nate The Ok provided me with a Run Scored on Sunday, which gave me a win in the category, but other than that he had little impact over the past week. Now mind you, this is isn’t to say that neither of these guys will be decent fantasy contributors, but in head-to-head, it’s often necessary to play a guy with a hot hand or tailor your lineup to fit your teams immediate needs.

What are some other culprits of our recent woes? Well for one, my team is pretty damn slow overall. Like mummy slow. I had to change that.

The one recent addition I made to the lineup is Alcides Escobar, who was acquired off of waivers, while Reid Brignac was dropped. Considering Brignac was sitting against lefties, this small lateral move made to address The Ham Fighters lack of team speed. While Escobar has been off to a slow start, a lot of that is due to an abnormally low BABIP of .253 entering play today. With his speed, he’s projected to have a BABIP of around .320 to .330, so I expect correction in that department as the season progresses. Leading me to more optimism is Esco’s 6.6%/13.5% BB/K rate. While this needs to improve for him to really blossom at the Major League level, it’s actually an improvement over the BB/K numbers he posted (3%/14.4%) in his limited time last season. What has really been missing from his game is his speed. The highly touted speedster has yet to swipe a bag, being caught once. This obviously alarmed his previous owners enough for them to let him go. I see Alcides picking up the SB pace however, as he gets more comfortable in the bigs. It doesn’t help that he’s hitting in the 8th hole, with a pitcher behind him, in Milwaukee. I can see him moving down up in the order as his bat heats up though, and I’m still hopeful that he can end the season with over 20 steals, while not killing me with his bat.

Aaron “Benny” Hill and Carlos “Live In San” Quentin have both been disasters so far, but I’m not pressing the panic button on those two yet. Both have slumped hard, but still can provide a lot of pop and it doesn’t take a power hitter long to snap out. I learned that lesson with Derrek Lee, last season, as he may have been my most valuable player in the 2nd half. I also learned this the hard way, by dropping a somewhat slow starting Kendry Morales. That obviously didn’t work out well. Quentin’s still walking and making hard outs, so it’s just a matter of time until he snaps out as he currently has a .180 BABIP, which is better than only Aramis Ramirez in all of baseball. The entire White Sox team has been hitting poorly, so there’s nowhere to go but up on the South Side, which should lead to nice counting numbers for Quentinsity. Hill has been a little more troublesome, due to another balky hamstring. Perhaps I should change my name to the Hamstring Fighters! He’s another guy with a ridiculously low BABIP and solid (in fact career high) BB rate, so I’m not going to get nuts. His power has certainly come down from those heady ’09 numbers, but I’m hoping that should improve as long as he stays healthy.

Derek Jeter and Pablo Sandoval are two guys who’ve hit hard time recently, but both are outstanding hitters and I’m sure they’ll perform at or around their career norms as we progress into the season. With .259/.306 and .238/.291 BA/OBP lines respectively over the past month, needless to say that both of those guys are a lot better. Jeter went 3 for 29 over the last Yankee road-trip. While his walks are down, I don’t expect this kind of lousy hitting to continue. In the case of the Kung-Fu Panda, we have a player who’s yet to reach his potential I believe. His counting numbers are hampered only by his home park and the dubious supporting cast around him, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t exceed 20 HR and at least match the 90 RBI he knocked in last season. His biggest asset is his BA, which of course is a result of him hitting just about everything hard. With a contact rate of 83.8%, that BA will definitely improve.

As for players who’ve outperformed their projections, Austin Jackson has to top that list. You can’t throw a rock without hitting his gigantic .481 BABIP, which has caused every fantasy writer in the blogosphere to simultaneously hit the “Sell!” button, tearing a rip in the space-time continuum. That number leads all of baseball now, so Jackson will undoubtedly slow down his Cobb-ian pace. He’s going to need to continue to adjust in order to maintain success as his luck evens out. I’m pretty confident that he can do that but not so much to be a .300 hitter at year’s end. Maybe .290 though, which would make me very happy.

Another guy who’s been absolutely mashing is Casey McGehee. I picked Ty Wiggy Jr. off of the scrap heap when I first saw him producing in The Brewers 5 slot, shortly after the start of the season. Figuring he should be knocking in runs in his sleep, he’s done a lot more than that though as he’s currently leading my team in RBI and tied in the lead for HR. Pretty nice numbers for a guy who everyone (myself included) pegged for schmo on draft day. I don’t see him sustaining his .323 BA but he’s walking at a career high 11.9% clip, so he should continue to get on base. It’s hard not to like that .245 ISO, hitting behind The Hebrew Hammer and Prince, so it’s easy to see him cracking 100 RBI at years end, even with some regression factored in. There may in fact not be much regression in order for McGehee. His .333 BABIP matches the number he posted AAA back in ’08, so I feel that this guy might be capable of sustaining a pace, not far off from his current one.

The X-Factor here of course is Carlos Santana, who hasn’t been great since fouling a ball off of his knee back a few weeks ago. With a little luck, the young catcher will feel alright by the time he’s called up, which should be within the next month or so. That frozen roster spot has cost me some numbers and it would be nice to have another solid bat in the lineup.

On the other side of the ball I have a pitching staff with a a few issues and a lot of question marks. Check it out.

Lead by Adam Wainwright and his devastating curve, I’ve got a couple of guys in Gavin Floyd and Kevin Slowey, who have really underperformed. Floyd’s peripherals suggest major improvement’s on the way as his numbers are just not nearly this bad. A 4.16 FIP, along with .371 BABIP against and sorry 57.7% LOB rate tell us he’s been seriously unlucky. Combine that with a BB/K rate of 3.69/7.38, an improved GB rate of 47.6% (up from 44.3% last season) and a .92 HR rate, down from .98 and you see a pitcher who is doing things right but getting poor results. With a tough schedule and little run support from the ChiSox lineup, we’re bound to see Floyd get much better results before long.

Kevin Slowey on the other hand has been an enigma, seemingly incapable of getting past the 5th inning. His increased walk rate has been alarming and he’s getting hit hard, so those guys are scoring, leading to some early knock outs for the Minnesota starter. While I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, I would have to think that Slowey’s still recovering from the complex wrist surgery that he endured last September.

While Cole Hamels may never be a fantasy ace, he’s striking out batters at a career high pace. The bad news is he’s also walking more batters (3.30 per 9) and allowing more dingers (1.44 per 9) than ever before. Hopefully he can get that HR rate down, because his BABIP of .372 tells us that better days are ahead for Hamels.

Mark Buerhle has been less than stellar, also giving up more walks than usual. He’s had to endure some awful offensive support as well as a brutal run of games against the AL East, so I’m on the fence as to whether or not to keep sending Buerhle out there. The five straight hits he gave up to the hopeless Royals this evening give me even more reason to worry.

On the positive side, we have Jaime Garcia and Wade LeBlanc, two young lefties who’ve seen tremendous success in the early going of 2010. Garcia has just been magnificent and has shown little signs of slowing down. LeBlanc, like the rest of his Padre cohorts, has been doing a lot of LeBlanking of opposition hitters. While he’s left a very high, 87.8% of baserunners on, he’s also been the victim of an inflated .356 BABIP.

Kevin Correia has been pitching pretty well in spite of only throwing one quality start so far. We can only wish for the best for the Correia family in light of the tragic loss of his younger brother, Trevor Brent Correia. He goes against The Dodgers tomorrow in his first start since returning from the bereavement list.

2/3 of my budget bullpen has been effective with surprisingly stellar performances by Jon Rausch and Kevin Gregg. Brian Fuentes on the other hand has been pretty shaky, but I knew that he’d be trouble when I drafted him. Hopefully he can save enough games to keep his job. If he doesn’t, I’ll be back playing that familiar game of closer musical chairs.

So that’s it for this exhaustive recap of The Uptown Hamfighters season to date. If you’ve made it this far, kudos. I know there is little less exciting than hearing someone bitch about their fantasy teams but perhaps you have some of these guys and you’re wondering what to do with them. I obviously need some guys to play the way they are capable of playing, but I do feel that if they do, I may only be an arm away from turning this thing around. In fact, I may already have that arm in Kris Medlen, who’s been moved into the Braves rotation in place of the injured Jair Jurrjens. I can also use another speedy guy and have been actively going after Brett Gardner. If I can’t get Gardy, I’m confident that I can find someone else off of waivers or via trade. In the mean time I’ll call this week a wash, hope that I can just avoid a sweep and look forward to getting it together next week.

Share


Bloops and Bleeders

April 13, 2010

Random notes from around the MLB for April 13, 2010.

Chris Snyder might not be such a bad substitution for the recently shelved Miguel Montero after all. While showing decent pop with a career .167 ISO, the ‘Zona catcher’s shown surprising (to me at least) patience with a 12% career BB rate.

I was pretty heart broken when Montero went down with a busted knee this weekend, since I spent $12 on him in the Big Ballers League and was hoping for big things. With Webb on ice and Kazmir’s start delayed, I didn’t have a DL spot, so I was in a bind. I didn’t want to chance another owner grabbing Snyder in this deep, 2C league that counts OBP, so I dropped Montero for Snyder on Sunday afternoon. Not realizing that the waiver claim goes into effect immediately, Snyder was not in my lineup for his 1HR, 5RBI day. Sonavabench! It’ll take bold moves to win this league and dropping Montero for Snyder was one. Hopefully Snyder will suitably replace Montero’s pop. Picking up Cleveland catching prospect Carlos Santana in expectation of May call up was another bold move that I made today, but I’ll get into that later…

The other catcher on The Harlem Hangovers is The Cracka You Love To Hate, A. J. Pierzynski. AJP was involved in a strange call tonight that may have led to the break up of Toronto lefty, Ricky Romero‘s no hitter bid against the ChiSox. AJP was awarded first on a hit by pitch that did not seem to actually hit him. Upon replay it looked as if Romero’s breaking ball, that dove into the dirt, bounced up and missed the left handed AJP before going to the backstop. Pierzynski’s got crazy acting chops, because he immediately reacted as if he had been hit in his left foot, limping to first doing his best Daniel Day Lewis. He was not immediately awarded the base (I’ll give him an Oscar though) until an umpire pow wow cleared things up and despite the protests of Jay’s manager, Cito Gaston, AJP was finally given first. Pitching from the stretch, Slick Rick (not quite The Ruler yet) subsequently threw up a meatball to Alex Rios, who jacked it over the left field wall. No no-no for RR but he looked dy-no-mite tonight. Romero’s arsenal of off-speed pitches had Sox bats flailing to the tune of 12 K before his night was over. Kevin Gregg came on to finish it up in a 1-2-3 9th, with 2 K of his own – as if the Sox weren’t embarrassed enough tonight. Gregg is 3 for 3 in Save Ops in the young season since taking over for Side Show Bob.

I’ve been down this road before with Gregg, but SAGNOF bitches! Gregg looks for real this time. I know I’ve said that before. He’s like that ex hook up with for a one night stand and then instantly regret calling. I dumped Jason Hammel, who has a tough match-up in Atlanta this week for Gregg. I figure if Madson loses the closer job in Philly when Lidge comes back, I’ll need Saves. If he doesn’t, I’ll have an extra closer to use as a trade chip. If Gregg sucks it up as he is prone to do, I’ll dump him.

I guess Nate Robertson just looked good last week because he faced The Mets.

Clayton Kershaw went deep today. 5 1/3 for the W today against ‘Zona. Kershaw needs to pitch more efficiently or he won’t be touching double digit wins for the second season in a row.

Nice scheduling move by the MLB big wigs today. Seeing Godzilla come back to The Bronx to get his ring, at the home opener was pretty cool. The love the fans and his former teammates showed was really touching and Matsui could hardly contain his emotions when his name was called on the PA. The Yanks mobbed him and he was given a what was apparently a fake ring, before Girardi later copped and gave him the real one. Andy Pettite made a class move in Matsui’s first AB. With the fans screaming in adoration for last year’s World Series MVP, Pettite stepped off the mound to let the slugger acknowledge the praise. Matsui stepped out of the box, tipped his cap to the fans and went on to K against Pettite, who was in vintage form, going 6 scoreless. It’s easy to understand how the butterflies could have gotten to Matsui today. He ultimately went 0 – 5, ending the game by popping up a Mariano cutter. Yanks go to 12-1 in their last 13 home openers.

John Maine got predictably shelled tonight in Denver. He’s looked awful so far for my beloved Mets. Thank God for fantasy baseball because it’s going to be a long year for us Flushing faithful. This organization is in a complete state of Minayal. By the way Dave Trembley heard my cries of outrage last night and promptly yanked the venerable Miguel Tejeda from the clean up spot in Baltimore for the G-O-D. In the first of what will hopefully be many years of appearances in the 4 hole, Wieters went 0 – 4 with a BB and an RBI in the loss to the Rays.

Share