Tag Archive | "Gio Gonzalez"

The Purity Of The Pastime

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The Purity Of The Pastime

Posted on 01 March 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

The game of baseball is something that is near and dear to me. It has been passed down from family members and played since a young age. The game, along with the eventual bride to be, is two things that I am absolutely crazy about with the hopes of making baseball a career some day. Growing up, if the uniform was not dirty, everything was not left out on the field. Playing the game hard and the right way were core values given to me by some great coaches. The beauty of baseball can also be turned into life lessons as well.

RetroBaseball

Steroids are a delicate subject currently in baseball. It is a line in the dirt that has affected the game for the wrong reasons. However, it has not ruined the game entirely. Despite all of the reports, congressional hearings, PED’s, HGH, and any other abbreviations there is still much to be celebrated.

This past offseason, the latest report naming players that allegedly took substances was released with more high profile names included such as Ryan Braun again and Gio Gonzalez. The latest report appears to have a common factor of ties to the Miami area and university. The university has already had its fair share of troubles and this is seemingly being added to the list of dark clouds.

Since the mid 90’s, the game as been viewed as the “steroid era” and the image and commissioner have both taken a hit for that facing the questions of just how clean is the game? While the commissioner has implemented great things that have improved the game such as the Wild Card and instant replay, many believe the stance on drug use was turned the other way.

Some may even forget that these talks and questions really began to take shape in 2005 and 2006 when Jose Canseco released the book Juiced. The information published in that book caused a serious stir around the game. Denials of any and all claims mentioned became the thing to do and Canseco became an outcast. Fast forward nearly a decade and now many of the things written have been discovered as truths rather than fiction.

In baseball, much like the other sports has some bad that comes with the good. For someone that loves the true meaning of sports that is hard to accept. The beauty of sports should be that for those two or three hours that the game is being played nothing else should matter. The game should be the story, the heart, and hustle. There should be no back drop of steroids, or criminal allegations to clutter things. It is sad when the games fans love are taken advantage of, because who would not give anything to trade places with a professional athlete? We should take notice of the clubs and players doing things the right way as opposed to the select few that do not.

Inner circles use the terms like dirt bags or grinders. Guys that seemingly give every ounce they have for their team and leave it all on the field. Guys like Dustin Pedroia, Chipper Jones, and Derek Jeter often have uniforms where dirt is the primary color and earn that respect from their peers. Steroids are never brought up about guys like this. Rather, the effort and hustle are praised. They are just a few players that do not take the game for granted.

This year, for the first time in a long time no players were elected into the Hall of Fame. The question is what does that mean for future players? Will a few bad apples ruin it for the rest? I do not believe so. During the era, some players still did it the right way and will be honored. Upcoming Hall of Fame eligible players include Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, and Ken Griffey Jr. who should all be first ballot inductees.

No question, my favorite player is The Kid. Along with the on field talent, he brought that energy, that purity, and that smile to the game. He was a human highlight show and role model with the purest swing in the game. For the saber metrics, Griffey’s 1997 MVP season reads as a .304 batting average, 56 home runs, 147 RBI’s, and the most important number, 0. Zero being the number of steroid reports, PED’s, and accusations leaked.

The use of steroids should never be condoned, however the era should never be completely ignored or have an asterisk next to it either. It should be treated and accepted as apart of the game and just another chapter as good still emerged during the same period as well. The same time frame brought us stories such as the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks and Cal Ripken becoming the new iron man. History does not discount the dead ball era and in today’s game this should be no different. No asterisks are found on pitchers stats such as the great Bob Gibson prior to 1969 when the pitching mound was different and clean players today should not be discredited with accomplishments either.

The purpose of the Baseball Hall of Fame committee is to vote and elect the best players from the sport and enshrine them in Cooperstown. They are to be impartial and select only the few worthy players. As the game hopefully moves away from the PED’s and gets cleaned up, those players will still rise above the rest and become enshrined.

As Opening Day approaches, here is to the steroid cloud hopefully fading away. The game still has and will always have many things to cherish about it. The core is still pure. To borrow a line from a movie, “The game does not stink, it is a great game.”

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Ryan Braun – Here we go…again?

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Ryan Braun – Here we go…again?

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Trish Vignola

Major League Baseball’s investigation into the widening Biogenesis scandal has become more complicated. Tuesday, four more players, including Brewers superstar Ryan Braun, were linked to the now-defunct Florida clinic alleged to have distributed performance-enhancing substances.

RyanBraun2

Here we go again.

Yahoo Sports named Braun, Orioles’ third baseman – Danny Valencia and Yankees’ catcher – Francisco Cervelli in a report as being included in handwritten logs of clinic operator Anthony Bosch. Mariners’ catcher (and former Yankees’ farm hand) Jesus Montero also appears in the clinic’s records as the New York Daily News reported.

At the rate the Yankees are going, I’ll be behind the dish this year.

Is it me or is inclusion of Braun, the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player, on this list as frustrating as Alex Rodriguez? Braun won last season an appeal of a positive test. An arbitrator ruled his urine sample had not been handled properly. Although it may or may not be significant that, unlike the previous names surfaced, there were no specific illegal substances listed next to Braun’s name. Nonetheless, can’t these guys stay home and stay out of trouble? There was a number next to his name which many have interpreted as dollar amounts he might have paid or been billed for undisclosed reasons.

I don’t want someone to be guilty until proven innocent, but come on.

The Miami New Times had previously named Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez and Cesar Carrillo, as well as three players who have previously been suspended for use of illegal substances: Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal.

At that time, MLB confirmed that it had been independently investigating Biogenesis and that it planned to attempt to interview any player whose name surfaced in connection with the lab. The Commissioner’s Office released a statement Tuesday night, saying: “We have an active ongoing investigation in Florida. Until that is completed we can’t comment on any of the details or information that has surfaced.”

Yahoo reported that it had been given three documents by a former Biogenesis employee with Braun’s name attached. One matchef a list the New Times posted online with Braun’s name redacted and Cervelli and Valencia cut off. Another showed Braun on a line connected to the notation “RB 20-30K.” That is similar to how Bosch listed the amounts owed by other players, although, in this case, the number was markedly higher than most.

Added by Yahoo, “Later in the document are multiple mentions of Chris Lyons, one of Braun’s attorneys during the 2011-12 offseason when he fought a positive drug test. While Braun never contested the findings of the test, which found elevated testosterone levels in his urine, a 50-game suspension was overturned after chain-of-custody issues arose from the test-taker keeping the specimen in his basement over the weekend instead of immediately shipping it to a testing lab. Braun denied use of testosterone publicly. … When reached by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday evening, Lyons declined comment.

The third record is a letter from Bosch that appears to be Juan Nunez, a former runner for the ACES sports agency that represents Cabrera, Cruz and Gonzalez. Though undated, it congratulates ‘Juan’ on ‘the MVP award’ – a possible reference to Cabrera’s All-Star Game MVP – and continues: ‘This smells like the ‘Braun’ advantage.’”

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R.A. Dickey, National League Cy Young award winner, is the Toast of the Town

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R.A. Dickey, National League Cy Young award winner, is the Toast of the Town

Posted on 19 November 2012 by Trish Vignola

R.A. Dickey will deservedly be accepting the Cy Young Award at the BBWAA’s annual awards dinner this January. The 38-year-old knuckleballer for the Mets, found a fitting epilogue to his storybook season tonight, when he was named winner of the 2012 National League Cy Young Award.

Dickey earned 27 of 32 first-place votes, finishing ahead of Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals. The awards are voted on every year by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA).

Dickey amazed baseball fans and beyond this season, harnessing the previously unruly knuckleball to devastating ends – something even the greatest knuckballers have claimed to not be able to do. He was 20-6, becoming the Mets’ first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990, and led the league in innings pitched (233 2/3), strikeouts (230), complete games (5) and shutouts (3). He finished with the lowest earned run average of his 10-year career (2.73) and was named to the All-Star team for the first time.

Regardless, the New York baseball writers were still planning to honor the Mets knuckleballer whether he won the award or not.

This week, Dickey was named the winner of the Toast of the Town Award, presented by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. It is an award given to the player who captivated the city over the season, and boy, did he. Let’s face it. At some point this season, R.A. Dickey was the only reason to keep watching the New York Mets.

The awards dinner will be held Saturday, Jan. 19 at the New York Hilton. It will feature the BBWAA presentation of the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie and Manager of the Year awards. It will also feature the Toast of the Town as well as eight other local honors. R.A. Dickey will not be the only local to be honored though. CC Sabathia will also be honored, as he is awarded the Joan Payson Award for community service. Current/Former/Future Yankee (who knows what the off-season will bring) Nick Swisher was named this year’s Ben Epstein/Dan Castellano Good Guy Award winner for his professionalism with the media. Jim Abbott will receive the You Can Look It Up Award to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his no-hitter. The chapter will honor the 1973 Mets on their 40th anniversary with the Willie, Mickey and the Duke Award award.

The chapter will also name two winners of its Arthur and Milton Richman “You Gotta Have Heart Award,” honoring both MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner, former Mets GM Jim Duquette and his daughter, Lindsey. Weiner was treated for a brain tumor, while Duquette donated a kidney to his own 10-year-old daughter.

Miguel Cabrera, the front-runner for AL MVP honors, was named the chapter’s Sid Mercer/Dick Young Player of the Year. Pablo Sandoval, who led the Giants to the World Series title with his three-homer Game 1 against the Tigers, won the Babe Ruth Award for postseason excellence. Chipper Jones, the long-time Mets nemesis, was voted the winner of the William Slocum-Jack Lang Long and Meritorious Service Award upon his retirement.

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buy_sell_hold

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Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch – Sold In Hindsight

Posted on 11 September 2012 by Patrick Hayes

After taking a look last week on the undecided’s, this evening I’ll hopefully be finding out that I sold at the perfect time on six players over the course of two months. These three hitters and three pitchers are all players that I did not have the luxury of having on any of my teams this year, probably helped aid my decision making in cutting ties. Same format as last week (for the most part), here are the players and when I said sayonora.

So it may seem as though I didn’t take too many big risks in determining who I selected, and although that could be a fair-ish argument, these players all have had solid years (for the most part). They were probably bargains when you drafted them, so that played into my criteria on maximizing payout for your investment.

Time to rank them in order of how the selection played out. Just like golf, the lower the number the better and whoever ends up number six, well, you probably missed your window of opportunity by a few weeks. Here we go!

  1. Drew Stubbs – When I visited him on August 6 he was riding a very nice hot streak. Talking to the likes of .362/.415/.660 in the 14 days prior with 4 homers and 5 stolen bases. Since that deciding day I have looked like I know what I’m doing. In the past 30 days from now, Drew is batting .169 in 89 at-bats with 0 homeruns, 2 stolen bases and only five walks. This pick makes me feel good inside.
  2. Starlin Castro – I wrote about Starlin just a few days after he signed a mega contract extension and I predicted gloom for the rest of the year (his slash was .280/.311/.428). Since then, he has been proving me wrong, but only slightly. Castro has started seeing the ball a lot better and has had his average bounce back up to where he normally hits. He hasn’t provided much fantasy stats, other than average, even with hitting .350 for the month of September thus far.
  3. R. A. Dickey – The knuckleballer who stole the attention of the first half of the season. When I decided to push sell, Dickey was in a stretch where he allowed 20 earned runs in his last five appearances. In his last 30 days R.A. has thrown just under 36 innings while allowing 9 earned runs and accumulating 29 strikeouts. Good enough for a 2.27 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Needless to say, he has been back on track for the most part. Check swinging strike for my decision here.
  4. Ian Desmond – This shortstop, who is having a career year, was in the midst of getting injured and missed some games after I sold on July 16th. Ian was riding a hot streak where he smacked four homers, knocked in nine and had five swipes in his last 15 games. In his last 30 games he is batting .329 with four more homers, 11 RBI and two swipes. Yup, I clearly missed here. And he was a free agent in my league but I passed. I regret both decisions.
  5. Gio Gonzalez – Before I sold on the 27th of August his K/9 was returning to his career average, almost as an indication that the NL has caught on to him. Well, that doesn’t appear to be the case. In his three starts since he has thrown 22 innings, allowed one run and struck out 23. All three of his starts have resulted in wins. He has been clutch down the stretch for the NL East leading Washington Nationals. I whiffed here.
  6. Ryan Dempster – Selling on August 13, just a few starts into his AL stint, I felt real good about this call. His ERA was a low 2.65 but his SIERRA had him at 1.18 higher. Playing in the heat of Texas, I thought this was a no brainer. Well, since then, Ryan has thrown 26 innings in four starts (all leading to wins), struck out 28 and has allowed five earned runs. Dempster is my worst case scenario because of how confident I was, especially after the way he get all pissy when news of being traded to the Braves leaked early. Ugh.

So there you have it. I was actually pretty awful in figuring out who to sell. I hope you didn’t take my advice for all of them, but if you did, hopefully you got some good value in return!

Reactions and opinions are always welcomed. Find me on twitter: @pf_hayes

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dickey3

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Who’s Hot: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets’ Ace

Posted on 04 September 2012 by Chris Caylor

Clint Eastwood has been a popular topic of discussion the past several days. Must be because of that new “baseball” movie he has coming out soon. That’s got to be it. Otherwise, he sure has kept a low profile lately. Speaking of Eastwood, doesn’t it seem far more realistic for him to be playing a crusty old football coach? Leather helmets, three yards and a cloud of dust, and all that? Even at 82, he could probably whoop Mark Sanchez with one arm tied behind his back. What’s that? Oh, right, sorry. Back to the topic at hand: for this week’s edition of Who’s Hot, Who’s Not, I feel inclined to do a “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” theme. Off we go:

The Good: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets – The Last Knuckleballer is back in a groove again. He crafted a complete-game shutout of the Miami Marlins in his most recent start. For the season, Dickey sits in the top three in the following categories: wins (17; first), innings (191 1/3; second), strikeouts (190; second), ERA (2.63; third), WHIP (1.01; first) and complete games (4; first). The strikeouts and WHIP stats illustrate just how dominant Dickey has been while throwing the game’s most unpredictable pitch. Here are two more: 1) in so-called “high leverage” situations, opposing batters are hitting just .184 against Dickey in 2012; 2) in those same situations, he is generating ground balls over 51% of the time. Batters simply have not been able to make good contact against Dickey when it counts the most. As an aside, if you haven’t R.A. Dickey’s book (Wherever I Wind Up), get on it. Compelling read, as well as a perfect example of a man who knows his limitations and learned to thrive anyway. He’s just one of many Cy Young candidates in the National League, but he is far and away the sentimental favorite. What a great story it would be for a 37-year-old knuckleballer to win the award over younger power pitchers like Johnny Cueto, Matt Cain, AJ Burnett or Gio Gonzalez. Dickey has been a gift for his fantasy owners as well. If you drafted him or scooped him up off the waiver wire, you’ve been feeling lucky all season long.

The Good: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers – The Rangers’ third baseman has been tearing the rawhide off the baseball, going 23 for his last 54, with an eye-popping OPS of 1.633. In the past two weeks, Beltre has bashed 8 homers, driven in 16, and scored 12 runs. That’s a good MONTH for a lot of players. Mixed in this scorched-earth streak (“hot” just doesn’t seem to do it justice), Beltre enjoyed his first career three-homer game and hit for the cycle for the second time in his career. He does have a tendency to cluster his hits together: four hits one night, none the next, three more hits the day after that. In the “neat, but does it really matter?” department, Beltre became the first player in MLB history to hit for the cycle in the same ballpark as a visiting player and a home player. For the season, Beltre has 28 HR, 85 RBI and 79 runs scored, making him one of the top five fantasy performers at the position. He’s been worth 5.0 WAR so far in 2012. He doesn’t steal bases any more, but when he’s racking up stats like this in the other four categories, that’s a small nit to pick.

The Bad: Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals – Zimmermann endured the worst outing of his career Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals. Worse, he’s in a slump at the worst possible time for the Nationals. After 21 consecutive starts of at least six innings, Zimmermann has been unable to go six innings in 5 of his past 6 starts. With the Strasburg Shutdown now in sight, Washington can’t afford to have one of their remaining starters getting knocked around every five days. In the past two weeks, Zimmermann’s K/BB ratio is at a season-worst 1.50 with a 1.96 WHIP. Worst of all for the Nats (and fantasy owners), Zimmermann was pushed back in the rotation a few weeks ago due to shoulder tightness. There haven’t been any other issues reported, but Zimmermann has a history of injuries in his short career. The Nats need need him to stay healthy and get back on track. They have John Lannan to plug into the rotation in Strasburg’s place, and a man with no name after that. If they have to go into October without two of their top three starters, it may be a short trip to the playoffs.

The Ugly: Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland Indians – I didn’t just pick Ubaldo for the Ugly category for the alliteration; his pitching has been an eyesore, particularly since the All-Star break. In 52 innings pitched since the break (which is awful in itself, since he has made 10 starts), the former Rockies ace has been surrendered 72 hits and 26 walks. Fantasy owners can point to the 10.5 K/9 ratio he compiled in August, but it is completely canceled out by the atrocious 1.80 WHIP and 7.67 ERA. Both of those numbers are roto pitching-staff killers. Jimenez’s home run to fly ball ratio is the worst of his career (13.1%; worst at Coors Field was 11.5% in 2007) and his fastball velocity is the lowest it has ever been (92.7 mph). You have to believe the Indians would like a do-over with this trade. Regardless of how bad Drew Pomeranz and Alex White might struggle, it would have to be more pleasant than watching Jimenez deteriorate into a right-handed Oliver Perez.

Follow me on Twitter @chriscaylor….and get off my lawn.

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