Tag Archive | "Nl West"

Triple Play: Matt Moore, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Wainwright

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Triple Play: Matt Moore, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Wainwright

Posted on 29 April 2013 by Chris Caylor

MattMoore2

Who’s Hot?

Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays’ 23-year-old lefty is off to a sensational start in 2013, going 5-0 with a 1.12 ERA and a WHIP of 0.87. If you’re lucky enough to have him on your fantasy team, chances are it is off to a good start as well. He does need to limit his walks (4.2 per 9 inn.), but he is permitting a league-best 3.7 hits per 9 innings. Expecting Moore to sustain that (and his ERA and WHIP by extension) would be foolish; however, there is reason for hope that he will be able to keep them in the 3.30/1.20 range: his swinging strike rate is BELOW the league average. Moore was fifth in the AL with 175 strikeouts in 177 innings pitched in 2012, so he has the ability to whiff hitters. If his swinging strike rate goes up, then he could be even more dominating than he’s been. That should be a scary thought for major-league hitters (and a dream for fantasy owners).

Who’s Not?

Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

CarGo is the poster child for the Rockies’ slump. Although Gonzalez has 4 HR, 12 RBI and 4 SB in the season’s first four weeks, Gonzalez is hitting a paltry .111 with three singles in his past six games. He has not hit a home run in his past 10 games. The slump is severe enough that Rockies manager Walt Weiss gave Gonzalez the day off Sunday. While it’s obviously too early to get too concerned about the kind of season CarGo will have, it may not be too early to wonder if the Rockies’ hold on first place in the NL West is already slippling away. With Gonzalez slumping, the timing of Troy Tulowitzki’s shoulder injury might be enough to push the Rockies out of first place in the division. And once they’re out of first, the chances of them getting back there aren’t good. If you own Gonzalez, you really have no choice other than to ride out this slump.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: .271/.326/.365, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 11 runs, 4 SB
Player B: .286/.307/.514, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 10 runs, 0 SB

Both of the players listed here batted cleanup for their teams on Saturday night. Player A is the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp. Player B is Yuniesky Betancourt. Yes, you read that correctly. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke actually did this. I know Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez are both on the disabled list. I know Rickie Weeks is slumping horribly. But, still, really? A guy with a career OPS+ of 83 hitting cleanup? Naturally, of course, Betancourt would go 2-for-5 with an RBI. This means it will likely happen again (although it didn’t repeat itself on Sunday). I can’t actually bring myself to suggest that a fantasy owner pick up Yuni, so I’ll just say this instead: all fantasy stats count, regardless of who accumulates them. He would be an easy drop once the inevitable regression back to his usual terrible self happens.

Player A: 0-0, 1.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 4 saves
Player B: 2-0, 0.81 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 6 saves

Player A is Edward Mujica, the Cardinals’ current closer. Player B is Jim Henderson, the closer for the Brewers after John Axford’s implosion. Mujica replaced Mitchell Boggs, who had replaced Jason Motte. A fellow owner in my NL-only league mentioned Mujica as soon as Motte’s elbow injury became public knowledge. He had the foresight to pick up him. I, on the other hand, figured that young flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal would become the closer. While that may still happen, Mujica has done an excellent job closing games. Henderson, meanwhile, may not give the job back at all. He is 6-for-6 in save chances and I would not put much stock in manager Ron Roenicke’s concern about Henderson throwing too many pitches as the closer. Axford may have had a few scoreless innings of late, but he has proven repeatedly that he cannot handle the ninth-inning pressure on a regular basis. Yanking Henderson from the job would be a terrible decision. Then again, Roenicke has shown a flair for terrible choices before (see Yuniesky Betancourt above).

Random Thoughts

  • Any questions about whether Adam Wainwright is “all the way back” from Tommy John surgery? Through five starts, the man they call “Waino” is averaging more than 7 innings per start, with a 37/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. One walk in five starts. Lots of pitchers can’t get through five innings without issuing a free pass.
  • Conversely, the Cardinals’ bullpen is a hot mess right now. While it’s so frustrating to watch the bullpen ruin two decent starts over the weekend from Jake Westbrook and Shelby Miller, it is still April. Here’s hoping that general manager John Mozeliak stays true to his history and does not make a knee-jerk trade in response. It would be easy to deal a useful player like Matt Carpenter for a fungible setup man or middle reliever.
  • Doug Fister has hit eight batters already in 2013. Good thing he didn’t plunk Carlos Quentin that night or it might be him on the DL.
  • Shin-Soo Choo has already been hit by pitches 10 times this season.
  • Nelson Cruz is on another one of his carry-the-team-on-his-back hot streaks: 3 HR, 13 RBI, 6 runs scored, along with a hitting line of .440/.533/.840 over the past week.
  • Hilarious on-pace stat of the year so far: Mike Napoli is on pace to drive in 190 runs for the Red Sox.
  • Seriously, though, I don’t think Boston misses Adrian Gonzalez so far this year.
  • In the same at-bat versus Albert Pujols last week, Yu Darvish threw a 97 mph heater and a 64 mph curveball. Proving that he is human, Pujols struck out.
  • Going into Sunday’s games, Justin Upton and Allen Craig had each driven in 18 runs for their teams. The difference? Upton has 12 home runs and Craig has none.
  • Most of the hype among the game’s youngest players goes to Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but don’t overlook 20-year-old Manny Machado in Baltimore. Machado is on a seven-game hitting streak, during which time he has compiled a .433 average, 5 RBI, 5 runs scored and two steals.
  •  Which one of these statements is true? Edinson Volquez pitched seven consecutive innings without walking a batter last week. Petco Park was sold out.
  • Believe it or not, it’s Volquez. Someone call Ripley.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Los-Angeles-Dodgers

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3 Up and 3 Down: Los Angeles Dodgers and more

Posted on 04 August 2012 by Gary Marchese

It is that time again for the weekly 3 Up and 3 Down column.  As always, thanks for reading and you can contact me through facebook, twitter @gmarchesej, email at gmarchesej@aol.com and under this article.

The three up for this week are the Los Angeles Dodgers, who flexed their financial might,  Matt Harvey, as he made his major league debut and one other successful start and Joba Chamberlain, who returned to the big leagues after 14 months away.

3 Up

Los Angeles Dodgers:The Dodgers were sold to a group led by former NBA player Magic Johnson earlier this year.  They are ½ a game out of first place in the NL West and they made several moves at Tuesdays trade deadline.  They acquired reliever Brandon League from the Mariners.  They also acquired Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins and Shane Victorino from the Phillies.  Things are looking up in Hollywood for Donnie Baseball and the Dodgers.

Matt Harvey has looked very impressive in his two major league starts with the Mets.  In his first start he struck out 11 batters.  He struck out seven in his second start, the 11 in his first start were the most by a Mets pitcher in his debut in franchise history.  He is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA.

Joba Chamberlain made his return on Wednesday coming into a blow out game.  He didn’t pitch particularly well but he did pitch 1 1/3 innings and get his feet wet.  He could be a huge factor down the stretch for the Yankees bullpen. He could become the seventh inning guy and really shorten the game as he, Dave Robertson and Rafael Soriano can close out the games.

3 Down

Josh Hamilton has been going through a tough stretch and finally came out and said he is attempting to quit tobacco and it is really affecting him right now.  His numbers have just been awful and it might be because he has struggled with quitting tobacco.

Ivan Nova has really been hit lately and he has been losing a lot more then he has in a long time.  Nova got knocked around the other night by the Baltimore Orioles.  He gave up nine runs and then said he just pitched in bad luck.  It looks like he may need to mature a little more and learn.  It may have come to easy to him in the beginning and this is what happens.  He is 10-5 with a 4.53 Era this season.

The Miami Marlins are down because they haven’t lived up to expectations and now traded away their team as the trade deadline came.  They traded their star Hanley Ramirez.  They traded Anibal Sanchez one of their pitchers, Gaby Sanchez and more.  They just got their new stadium and they are already tearing their team apart.  I don’t know how they expect to sustain a fan base in South Florida.

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Murphy’s Law…No, Daniel Murphy is not going back to Law School

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Murphy’s Law…No, Daniel Murphy is not going back to Law School

Posted on 19 July 2012 by Trish Vignola

New York Mets fans are quite familiar with “Murphy’s Law.” No, this has nothing to do with Daniel Murphy pursing a law degree. I’m talking about the notion that “anything that can go wrong… will go wrong,” especially when it comes to the New York Mets.

You can start your groaning …now.

On May 29, the Mets were six games over .500 and just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL East. By June 30th, they were still tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second Wild Card slot. When sports commentators across the country started to foresee the wheels falling off on the season in Flushing, I stuck my fingers in my ears and ran around the room screaming, “I’m not listening. I’m not listening.”

What?

Mets fans have suffered through three straight brutal seasons where the team was well under the .500 mark after the All-Star Break. Who can blame a fan base for looking at the glass from a half empty perspective?

I’m not listening!

The Mets went 28-47 after the All-Star Break in 2009. They went 31-43 in the second half of 2010 and 31-40 to wrap up the 2011 season. Christ.

This year, the Mets are off to a dreadful 0-4 start to the second half. After last night’s game against the first-place Washington Nationals, it looks like it could get even worse in the days to come. If Murphy’s Law holds true to form, when the Mets stroll into town to face NL West-leading San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum is going to wake up and remember that he’s Tim freaking Lincecum.

Groan.

While the Mets’ illusion that they are a contender might be slipping away (again) just as it did in the summers of recent past, this is not the Mets team of three years ago. Johan Santana is the last remaining piece of the Mets’ starting rotation from 2009. Daniel Murphy and David Wright are the only two position players.

Unlike other hard luck teams (Ahem! The Chicago Cubs), the team can’t (as well as shouldn’t) blame curses or hexes. The 2009 Mets were plagued by numerous injuries. That was the main reason why they suffered in the second half. In 2010, they were playing for a lame duck manager. As for last year, the team simply stunk. Several of the team’s most talented pieces were traded for prospects or monetary savings. The Mets shipped Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants and Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers. Wrapping up the season with a mark of 31-40 shouldn’t really be considered a shock.

You still though have the right to groan.

2012 is a different beast though. The starting rotation has been superb for the most part, and the team shows heart by fighting back when they are behind. Josh Thole came through in the clutch not once but twice yesterday. Then…the bullpen came in and the chances to place blame became abundant.

Finally! I thought I would have no where to place my misplaced aggression.

How can the New York Mets avoid another second-half collapse? I propose some ideas. (Real ones. Not just smarmy commentary.) First, the Mets need to invest in a closer who doesn’t look terrified to be out there. Bobby Parnell throws 100 miles an hour. He’s got to throw inside at some point. If he can’t, he simply has to go.

Getting rid of him does not include making R.A. Dickey the Mets’ closer. That was a laughably true suggestion from a caller to WFAN 660 in New York today. I understand that the trading deadline is two weeks away, but at that point the season might be irrevocably lost. There is no time to lose.

I’m not saying to the Mets that they should trade away their future. I am saying that they should attempt to get a journeyman at least. Try!

If the Mets look like they are giving up on this season, they are going to find themselves in a bigger hole next Opening Day. It will be a marketing fallout far worse than any Bernie Madoff mayhem ever imagined this year.

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Handicapping The NL West

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Handicapping The NL West

Posted on 03 May 2012 by Dennis Lawson

 

Dodgers

Consider for a moment that the Dodgers are sitting pretty at 17-7 with a 4 game lead in the National League West division.  That represents quite an improvement over what was barely a .500 team a year ago.  Is the fast start a fluke, a result of favorable scheduling match-ups, or is it sustainable?  Is it some combination of those 3?

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers – 17-7
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks – 13-11  (4.0 back)
  3. San Francisco Giants – 12-11  (4.5 back)
  4. Colorado Rockies – 11-12  (5.5 back)
  5. San Diego Padres – 8-17  (9.5 back)

The Dodgers currently have approximately a 63% chance of making the playoffs right now which means close to nothing.  After all the Padres have about a 6% chance of making the playoffs, and that is about 6% too high.  There are different ways of assessing “strength of schedule”, but I have a practical assessment that relies on a few criteria:

  • How many times a team has played the Astros
  • How many times a team has played the Padres
  • How many times a team has played division rivals expected to contend
  • How many series a team has played against opponents that made the playoffs the previous year

Of the 24 games played by the Dodgers, 7 have been against the Padres, and the Dodgers are 6-1 in those games.  The Dodgers also has taken 2 out of 3 from the Astros and swept the Pirates in a 3 game set.  While they have fared just fine against some quality opponents like Milwaukee, Atlanta, and the Nationals, it just seems like the Dodgers have built a lead on a house of cards that cannot stand for long.  Eventually they have to prove that they can beat Arizona and San Francisco.  If they can even play those 2 teams to a standstill, I’ll consider reserving a spot on the Dodgers bandwagon.  Until then, I am still not convinced that they are the class of the West.

At this stage, I am inclined to give the Diamondbacks the nod.  Why?  Well, the D-backs are 2 games above .500, and they have already played the Braves, Marlins, Phillies, and the Rockies.  Schedule similarities/differences alone are not enough to differentiate them from their rivals, but a 3-0 sweep of the Giants is.

Still, all 3 potential frontrunners have positive run differential numbers right now, and that means the NL West is the only division other than the AL East to have more than 2 teams with positive run differentials.  While statistical outliers can skew the data and limit the usefulness of run differential, it is worth recalling that only the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers finished 2011 with positive differentials.  The implication?  The Giants quietly floated around above .500 with a +6 differential and trail the Dodgers by only 7 runs scored with 1 fewer game played.

That bit of good news for the Giants may be a bit of bad news for the Dodgers.  Matt Kemp is currently in the top 2 in just about every statistical category except for wins, saves, and holds, and the Dodgers still do not have the look of world beaters.  Maybe Ethier can continue his torrid RBI pace, but that leaves them needing big years from A.J. Ellis and Mark Ellis in order to stay on top of the standings.

Maybe the Dodgers can do it, but I would put my money on the Diamondbacks and Giants to make a lot more noise as the season gets older.  The predicted NL West finish still stands as follows:

  1. Diamondbacks
  2. Giants
  3. Dodgers
  4. Rockies
  5. Padres

 

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Keeping The Experts Honest

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Keeping The Experts Honest

Posted on 05 April 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Predictions Are Dumb

Baseball’s spring training never lacks for unsolicited and solicited prognostications from nearly every baseball “expert” on the planet.  Some writers spend hours and hours carefully constructing logical arguments to support every possible angle they might cover in a debate.  The rest probably spend about 15 minutes slapping some names together based on ideas they have exchanged with colleagues, friends, family, and their neighbor’s best friend’s urologist.  I’m completely unconcerned with the method utilized to conceive of a person’s playoff predictions, but I find myself extremely interested in keeping track of who actually turns out to be right.  There has yet to be an organized method of aggregating experts’ playoff picks that helps facilitate a November review to pass judgment upon the experts themselves.

Until now.

This post will start with a minimal number of experts listed along with the picks the experts have gone on record as making.  If you, the reader, will kindly apprise me of additional “experts” along with a link to their picks, then the post will be updated to reflect new additions as they are submitted.

“Expert” Predictions:

MLB Trade Rumors – Tim Dierkes => AL East – Yankees, AL Central – Tigers, AL West – Angels, AL WC1 – Rays, AL WC2 – Rangers, ALCS – Tigers over Rays, NL East – Phillies, NL Central – Brewers, NL West – Giants, NL WC1 – Diamondbacks, NL WC2 – Marlins, NLCS – Phillies over Brewers, WS – Phillies over Tigers, AL MVP – Albert Pujols, NL MVP – Justin Upton, AL ROY – Yu Darvish, NL ROY – Trevor Bauer, AL CY – David Price, NL CY – Zach Greinke

MLB Trade Rumors – Mike Axisa => AL East – Yankees, AL Central – Tigers, AL West – Rangers, AL WC1 – Angels, AL WC2 – Rays, ALCS – Yankees over Rangers, NL East – Phillies, NL Central – Brewers, NL West – Diamondbacks, NL WC1 – Cardinals, NL WC2 – Dodgers, NLCS – Brewers over Cardinals, WS – Yankees over Brewers, AL MVP – Miguel Cabrera, NL MVP – Justin Upton, AL ROY – Jesus Montero, NL ROY – Devin Mesoraco, AL CY – David Price, NL CY – Stephen Strasburg

MLB Trade Rumors – Mark Polishuk => AL East – Yankees, AL Central – Tigers, AL West – Angels, AL WC1 – Rays, AL WC2 – Rangers, ALCS – Yankees over Angels, NL East – Phillies, NL Central – Brewers, NL West – Rockies, NL WC1 – Reds, NL WC2 – Cardinals, NLCS – Reds over Rockies, WS – Yankees over Reds, AL MVP – Jose Bautista, NL MVP – Troy Tulowitzki, AL ROY – Yu Darvish, NL ROY – Zach Cozart, AL CY – Felix Hernandez, NL CY – Clayton Kershaw

MLB Trade Rumors – Ben Nicholson-Smith => AL East – Yankees, AL Central – Tigers, AL West – Rangers, AL WC1 – Angels, AL WC2 – Rays, ALCS – Yankees over Rangers, NL East – Phillies, NL Central – Cardinals, NL West – Diamondbacks, NL WC1 – Marlins, NL WC2 – Reds, NLCS – Phillies over Marlins, WS – Yankees over Phillies, AL MVP – Evan Longoria, NL MVP – Justin Upton, AL ROY – Yu Darvish, NL ROY – Devin Mesoraco, AL CY – Felix Hernandez, NL CY – Roy Halladay

MLB Trade Rumors – Steve Adams => AL East – Rays, AL Central – Tigers, AL West – Angels, AL WC1 – Yankees, AL WC2 – Rangers, ALCS – Angels over Rays, NL East – Phillies, NL Central – Reds, NL West – Diamondbacks, NL WC1 – Nationals, NL WC2 – Marlins, NLCS – Phillies over Reds, WS – Angels over Phillies, AL MVP – Albert Pujols, NL MVP – Joey Votto, AL ROY – Matt Moore, NL ROY – Yonder Alonso, AL CY – Felix Hernandez, NL CY – Cliff Lee

Click here for the official MLBTR picks.

Not enough “expertise” there?  Then head over to ESPN where they are one idiot short of half-a-hundred.  Yes, ESPN had 49 different people provide picks.  I’m fine with some of the actual baseball people making picks, but do we really need to hear from the key dolly grip, the 2nd assistant sound guy, and the intern who brings sandwiches to John Kruk every 15 minutes?

Apparently so.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though.  Wear a helmet, and then click here.

Glutton for punishment?  Check out what the folks at YahooSports have to say.

Aside from the fact that predictions are monumental wastes of time, very few people really care enough to go back and check the predictions several months later.  The issue is not simply that people forget but that so many writers create plausible excuses for why they were wrong.  The farcical, almost-comedic attempts to cover their tracks deserve some kind of award.  Forget that.  All of it.

Almost all of the “experts” pick from a small pool of no more than 8 teams in each league to make the playoffs.  Anybody who does go off and make a crazy pick like say….the Astros gets absolutely mocked shamelessly.  Predictions are just meant to be fun.  Do not take them too seriously……unless I happen to be right.  If that happens, then feel free to congratulate me all you like.

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