June 2011

Glad I Could Help…

Today, June 30th, ESPN posted an article by Steve Berthiaume: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/13026/where-did-you-go-mike-schmidt

This article discusses the lack of decent 3B in Major League Baseball right now.

On June 28th, I wrote this article:

http://thebaseballhaven.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/how-to-get-to-third-base/

This article discussed the lack of decent 3B in Major League Baseball right now.

It would be nice to have a job at ESPN.  Maybe one day I can write on a site to get paid for it, as I clearly have the stones to write my own stuff.  Nice job Berthiaume.  If only more people went to sites like thebaseballhaven.wordpress.com for all of their baseball information needs, they would have information like “How to Get to Third Base” before the Mothership.

 

 

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Guess Who Doesn’t Suck…June Hitting Stars

These are guys who may still fly under the radar who showed plenty of promise in the month of June.  Keep an eye on them or see if you can get them cheap, as they are heating up along with the summer.

Brennan Boesch: .380/.437/.620, 8 2B, 6 HR, 13 RBI – You may have been burned by his drastic 2nd half decline last season, but Boesch started his decline in May (.186/.226/.326) only to have his best month of the season in June.  He will continue to be a solid player over the rest of the season.

J.J. Hardy: .370/.418/.710, 7 2B, 9 HR, 18 RBI – Think the Twins could use a guy like this right about now?  Hardy went from an All Star SS hitting 50 HR between 2007 and 2008, to getting traded twice since November of 2009.  Baltimore is taking advantage of his current outburst and he is a very good SS option again.

Michael Cuddyer: .323/.402/.602, 11 2B, 5 HR, 17 RBI – Cuddyer hit 32 HR and had 94 RBI in 2009, and the Twins need him to do that again, especially with Mauer, Young, Kubel, and Morneau spending time being on the DL or unproductive.  Cuddyer is on pace to finish with 33 2B, 21 HR, 62 RBI, and 14 SB, which is solid, especially if he has 2B eligibility in your league.

Carlos Pena: .229/.330/.594, 5 2B, 10 HR, 20 RBI – Pena is doing his typical production with an ugly average, but you can’t ignore the power.  He posted a .924 OPS while hitting .229 and striking out in 30% of his AB in June.  He is now on pace for 34 HR and 87 RBI.

Alex Avila: .346/.409/.551, 6 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 17 RBI – It’s probably too late to get this young catcher on the cheap, but if you can, do it.  Avila had a rough May, hitting just .246/.346/.522, but even hitting just .246, he posted his worst OPS, .868.  Avila has a great home park for his game.  He can really drive the ball, as his 17 XBH show, but he has been just as reliable on the road, 12 XBH.  His .303/.371/.538 line should hold over the season, as he moves into elite catcher status.

Watch out for the next Brennan Boesch this season as we head into the later months of the season.  Hopefully these guys will continue to rake and be useful fantasy options that you can pick up on the cheap from some moronic owner.

Guess Who Doesn’t Suck…June Star Pitchers

These guys have done an amazing job so far in June.  Keep an eye on them from here on out, hoping they don’t hit a wall, as they are good buy options right now.  I have excluded guys you would know to look for, such as Justin Verlander and Cliff Lee.

Jordan Zimmerman: 3-1, 0.85 ERA, 42 1/3 IP, 27/7 K/BB, .216 BAA

Carlos Carrasco: 4-2, 1.90 ERA, 42 2/3 IP, 28/7 K/BB, .196 BAA

Tim Stauffer: 3-2, 1.98 ERA, 41 IP, 37/8 K/BB, .209 BAA

Joakim Soria: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 IP, 10 G, 12/2 K/BB, 6 SV, .098 BAA – Remember when he lost his job?  He’s an elite closer again.

Johnny Cueto: 3-0, 1.51 ERA, 35 2/3 IP, 28/8 K/BB, .168 BAA

Scott Baker: 4-2, 2.45 ERA, 44 IP, 40/9 K/BB, .236 BAA

Try to grab these guys cheap while you can.

 

Amazing Column – Read the Link, Too.

Joe Mauer…officially called out: http://www.startribune.com/sports/twins/124575378.html

This is a great read.  Jim Souhan is a columnist for the Star Tribune in Minnesota.  He may not be welcomed into the Twins locker room after this, but it needed to be said.  Great job!  Mauer has been a total bust since signing his contract.  He had 28 HR in 2009 and then had his power zapped by Target Field, which isn’t his fault, but this year is a sign of things to come.  At 28, he has knee issues and back issues.  This is exactly why you don’t pay catchers, why you don’t go all in with your fantasy teams at catcher, and why the Twins will not matter in the next couple of seasons when half of their payroll is going to a guy who can play about 120 games.  Souhan calls on Mauer to play 1B or DH and how he hasn’t forced himself into the lineup.  That is what a leader does.  Mauer isn’t what the Twins thought he was.  He was the type of player that should have gone to the highest bidders, not to a small market team like the Twins.  Carlos Santana and Victor Martinez are playing the catching postion right – catching and DHing or playing 1B when they aren’t behind the plate.  He is needed in the lineup.  Catching is a tough position and the players tend to age poorly, but this is ridiculous.  He was #1 when he was picked in 2001, but he is losing his luster quickly.  He is an All Star in popularity only.  He needs to make sure his cup is covering anything down there and get in the lineup.

 

Hangin’ on Cliff

Cliff Lee had an amazing stretch in 2008 from April 6th to May 12, covering 7 starts.  He allowed just 4 ER, posting a 0.67 ERA over 53 2/3 IP that year.  Today, Cliff Lee can be celebrated due to his 5 June starts, where he allowed 1 ER over 42 IP, good for a 0.21 ERA.  Dominance clearly isn’t new to Lee, but there was one time when his career was hanging by a thread.

Cliff Lee was demoted to Triple-A by Cleveland in July of 2007 after he went 5-8 with a 6.38 ERA in 16 starts.  He wasn’t re-called until the rosters expanded in September, and, even upon his return, he made just 4 relief appearances.  Then, 2008 happened.  While Lee finished 4th in the Cy Young voting in 2005 after going 18-5 with a 3.79 ERA, he became a different pitcher.  He was 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 2008 and won the AL Cy Young.  An amazing turnaround which catapulted Lee into the elite starting pitching class.  Since the beginning of the 2008 season, Lee is 57-30 with a 2.93 ERA over 789 1/3 IP.

At 32, Cliff Lee has overcome his demotion and hasn’t had to deal with a significant injury to this point (knock on wood Philly fans).  He has a long-term commitment to the Phillies, a surprising signing this winter, where he will continue this type of dominance with a weak NL East.  He should battle his teammate, Roy Halladay, for the next several NL Cy Young Awards, joining Halladay as the 6th pitcher to win the Cy Young in both leagues (Halladay, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Gaylord Perry).

The Ray of Hope in Tampa

Maybe Carl Crawford is worth $142 million to the Red Sox.  Maybe he truly was an elite LF, even while posting just a .294/.334/.441 slash over his nine years in Tampa, showcasing speed with mediocre plate discipline, yet, plenty of production.  His typical season would include 28 2B, 14 3B, 14 HR, 78 RBI, and 52 SB.  That is a far cry from what they are getting right now all over the field.

Take a look at the Rays roster.  They have had production from Casey Kotchman (.338/.395/.464), Ben Zobrist (.268/.347/.475, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 52 Runs), Matt Joyce (.309/.371/.534, 10 HR, 38 RBI), B.J. Upton (.222/.308/.385, 11 HR, 41 RBI, Johnny Damon (.273/.321/.423, 9 HR, 37 RBI), and Evan Longoria (.249/.341/.481, 10 HR, 34 RBI in just 52 games).  Upton’s strikeout rate is just slightly higher than his career average (28.7 v. 28.4), but his BABIP is just .267, while his career BABIP is .327.  Joyce has bombed in June, hitting just .169/.235/.296.  Longoria has been on a heating up, posting a .324/.439/.853 with 5 HR and 15 RBI in just 8 games since June 20th.

Even with solid production from six of their nine regulars, the Rays are 11th in the AL in AVG and OBP, 7th in SLG, 7th in Runs, and having the 4th most strikeouts in the AL.  The issue seems to be that three positions are a platoon.  These platoons have been awful:

Catcher: John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach – These two are a combined .207/.280/.326 with 12 2B, 7 HR, 29 RBI, and 27 R.

Short: Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson – The three have struggled to a .202/.261/.328 with 18 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 45 R, and 11 SB

Left Field: Sam Fuld and Justin Ruggiano – At times productive, these two have combined to hit .253/.307/.391 with 17 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 34 R, and 17 SB.

The funny thing about the LF issue is that, though Fuld started hot and Ruggiano has done the same, Desmond Jennings is rotting in Triple-A for Service Time concerns.  He’s 24, turns 25 in October, and they need to get him up to produce now.  He is hitting .280/.373/.459 with 14 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 54 R, and 15 SB.  They need his right handed bat: Damon, Jaso, Elliot, Brignac, Fuld, Kotchman, Zobrist, and Joyce are all left handed hitters.  The team NEEDS Desmond Jennings.  The Rays are 2 1/2 games out in the AL East because their starting pitchers have an ERA of 3.44 between David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, Alex Cobb, and Jeff Niemann over their 76 starts.  The six have a 34-26 record to show for it.  While no platoon can make up for the production lost by Crawford’s departure, there is a young man in Durham who could make a difference.  While he isn’t guaranteed to do so, the experiments at catcher, short, and left leave a trial for Jennings as the right move right now.

How to Get to Third Base…

Someone needs to point this out to Major League teams because suddenly, there aren’t any reliable hot corner players in the world of fantasy baseball.  If you were lucky enough to snag Alex Rodriguez, congratulations, maybe Cameron Diaz will feed you popcorn when you win your league title.  Unfortunately, there is an interesting fall off from there.  A-Rod has done a nice job with his .300/.377/.513 slash with his 13 HR and 51 RBI.  The only 3B outperforming him, at least in run production, is Adrian Beltre, who is sporting a .263/.308/.461 slash with  14 HR and 56 RBI.  Kevin Youkilis is right behind with a .272/.394/.490 slash with 11 HR and 55 RBI.  Rounding out the top producers are Aramis “Contract Year” Ramirez (.291/.338/.446, 8 HR, 37 RBI), Mark “Homer or Strikeout” Reynolds (.227/.356/.463, 14 HR, 38 RBI), Chipper Jones (.257/.342/.444, 7 HR, 43 RBI), and Placido “I Slap the Ball” Polanco (.289/.341/.366, 4 HR, 39 RBI).

Once the familiar, somewhat, productive names disappear, you see Chase Headley, Ryan Roberts, and Ty Wigginton in the fantasy top 10.  Ty Wigginton?  Are you kidding me!?  Scott Rolen is old, Evan Longoria is finally coming around after battling an injury, David Wright broke his back after carrying Jose Reyes’ hype for three years, Pablo Sandoval had a broken wrist and has come back looking like the rest of the league’s 3B, Ryan Zimmerman has been hurt, and if someone finds the Chone Figgins who used to be useful on the Angels, let the Seattle P.D. know where he is, as his contract has been a larceny.

The future hasn’t really worked out either.  Mike Moustakas has driven himself in on a solo homer, then, stopped.  He still hasn’t had an RBI since June 11th when he hit his first and only homer.  Brett Lawrie had his wrist broken, Ian Stewart has been a total bust since he “broke out” with his 25 HR, .225 AVG 2009 campaign, and Pedro Alvarez is hurt, leaving behind a .208/.283/.304 slash with 10 HR and 38 RBI in his 36 games played (truly making his “when he makes contact” moments count).

So what happens from here…Sit back and wait for Lonnie Chisenhall, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, Zack Cox, Todd Frazier, Alex Liddi, Matt Dominguez, Nolan Arenado, Jefry Marte, and James Darnell?  Hope for rebounds from the injuries and slow starts?  Go all in on David Freese or Casey McGehee.  Just hope that your pitching is stronger than your offense?  Ouch…Getting to third base is a lot harder these days.

Should the Brewers Gamble on Gamel?

Mat Gamel was re-called from Triple-A by Milwaukee to DH during some interleague games this week.  He certainly deserves the opportunity, hitting a robust .321/.380/.577 with 21 2B, 18 HR, and 58 RBI in 76 games.  Gamel has been around for what seems like forever, yet, he is still just 25-years-old (he turns 26 in July).  He has struggled in his small sample in the Bigs, receiving just 145 AB since 2008, going .241/.329/.413 with 8 2B, 5 HR, and a 63/19 K/BB.

Certainly, Gamel has had his struggles in his small sample, but what do the Brewers have to lose in moving Gamel to 3B to platoon with Casey McGehee?  He came up as a 3B, though it was ugly at times (just an .887 fielding percentage), but McGehee has been awful this season, posting a .227/.280/.316 line; however, from 2008-2010, Casey was mighty against lefties, hitting .306/.368/.533 against lefties.  He has struggled against them this season (.188/.232/.188), but the Brewers need to see what they have in Gamel beyond DH at bats in case he ends up at 1B when Prince Fielder leaves after the season.

Gamel has been punishing Minor League pitching since he began full-season ball in 2006.  He has an overall line of .304/.376/.501 while mashing 166 2B and 89 HR over 2413 AB.  Gamel is hitting just .225/.296/.382 versus left-handers this season, so this is why I am calling for a platoon.  He turns 26 in about a month, he has been killing pitching in the Minors for years, he hasn’t been given a shot at an everyday job EVER, and you are going to be losing your star at a position that he has done quite well at in the Minors.  This is a way to figure out what you have without really losing a whole lot.  Can he be much worse than McGehee has been this year?  Maybe he can, but he needs to have a chance to fail.  The guy is still a rookie since he hasn’t had 150 at bats yet, so he needs to get rid of that, if nothing else.  The Brewers went all in when the traded for Marcum and Greinke, and they need to go all in with Gamel, even with his potential defensive short-comings, just to get his bat in the lineup.

Talking Baseball

Today I spent about a half hour talking to my dad about the Reds.  We live in Hamilton, Ohio, about 30 minutes north of Cincinnati, where the Reds are the hometown team.  I was never a die-hard fan, I just fell in love with certain players: Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, and, now, Joey Votto.  I’d pick games based on who was in town and who I wanted to see, never taking into account who was in Cincinnati 81 games per season.  It brought back some of the moments from earlier in life about the games.  I still remember my first game, 11-2 win over the Mets where Jose Rijo (who I called Josey Ree-jo) homered off of Dwight Gooden.

We talked about what the Reds should do…could do…won’t do…We determined that Walt Jocketty seems to be about as stubborn as Dusty Baker, working with who he has, satisfied with the status quo, favoring experience more than possibilities.  We discussed how we appreciate what is going on in Pittsburgh right now, amazed at how young guys are coming around and given chances there.  We then became disgusted with Paul Janish, Edgar Renteria, and Ramon Hernandez, focusing on how nice it would be to see Yonder Alonso and Devon Mesoraco up in Cincinnati.  We’re willing to deal Hernandez and Janish or Renteria to San Francisco for a bag of balls to make room for Alonso, Mesoraco, and Zack Cozart from Louisville.

For all of the heat that baseball takes for the boredom it creates, the sluggish nature of the game, and the issues that it has had to overcome in recent years, it is still a game that allows you to focus on the experience.  It is a game with a history, a present, and a future, each with a quality that provides hope and possibilities for teams that you follow.  Those moments between pitches allow you to clamor over just how amazing Aroldis Chapman’s fastball is, it allows you to critique the absurd strike-zone of the blind umpire, and it allows for moments to be created and remembered.  Baseball is “America’s Game” because Peyton Manning’s hurry-up offense doesn’t allow for discussion, you get attached to the “throw-me-the-damn-ball” personalities instead of the team and the goal, and if you are 0-6 at the beginning of the season, you still have a shot, right Boston?  Talking with your father, watching Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary, discussing the Indians with a lost soul of a fiancee…it makes the passion for the game that much more special and meaningful.

Quitters: The Way to Prove Your Point

Thanks to Jim Riggleman for showing the world that, in these tough economic times, there is no job security worth giving up your livelihood for.  Why make $600,000 a year filling out lineup cards and watching 25 men play a game when you can sit at home and see how slim Drew Carey has gotten on “The Price is Right?”  Good call.  This is about greed and wants, not about the love of the game.  Riggleman is still young, especially when people as old as Yoda, yes I’m talking about McKeon, are managing in the Majors now, and he just committed career suicide.  Maybe someone will give him a three-year deal for going 662-824, including 140-172 for the Nationals, but he has to take over as interim manager for someone who gets fired before that happens again.  Does “interim” mean permanent now?  I didn’t think so.

Jim Riggleman had some valid points, but his track record wasn’t one of them.  A .445 career winning percentage is just not good enough to take this type of hard-nosed stand.  Winning 11 of 12 games is fantastic, getting production out of talented youngsters like Danny Espinosa is also great, but it isn’t enough.  The Nationals could have been considered an expansion team, that’s how bad they were at some points since their move from Montreal.  This is their best run since moving to Washington.  Time to cash in?

This is like the Mortgage Specialist saying the housing crisis is over after one good month.  This is like George Dubya saying “Mission Accomplished” May 1st EIGHT YEARS ago when there are still troops overseas.  This is like the Yankees having a youth movement when they only  have two position playing starters are making less than $4 million this season.  This is like the time the manager quit because his teams had a combined ONE WHOLE SEASON, 162 games, of under .500 baseball under his watch, but he still wanted a long-term deal.  Congrats Riggs, you just joined some pretty elite idiots.

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