September 2012

Homer Bailey: Pirates Had No-No Chance

Courtesy: ESPN.com

In 109 career starts heading into Friday night, Homer Bailey was 37-33 with a 4.59 ERA. In those 109 starts, he had one shutout, way back on May 12, 2010 against, who else, the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Friday night, Bailey earned his second career shutout while tossing the seventh no-hitter of the 2012 MLB season. It shouldn’t be too shocking that it came on the road, and, especially, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

First of all, over his career, Bailey had been much better on the road:

Home: 18-19, 5.13 ERA, 60 starts, 344 innings, 286:130 K:BB, 52 HR allowed, 1.49 WHIP

Road: 19-14, 3.95 ERA, 49 starts, 287 innings, 204:91 K:BB, 26 HR allowed, 1.29 WHIP

In five starts at PNC Park in his career, home of the Pirates, heading into Friday, Bailey was 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA, 36 innings, 21:11 K:BB, zero home runs allowed, and a 0.92 WHIP.

Now, Bailey is a ridiculous 5-0, with a 1.40 ERA in 45 innings, posting a 31:12 K:BB, still having allowed zero home runs, and a slick 0.76 WHIP in his six career starts in the Steel City.

Bailey’s absurd home and road splits will probably be a concern for Cincinnati Reds fans, who will have to wait and see what happens in the Queen City, during the NLDS, when Bailey foots the rubber at Great American Ballpark against the San Francisco Giants in a little over a week. If only they could move the game to Pittsburgh, the Reds may be better off.

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A Fairytale

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i29QqnZIzyE

Adam Greenberg received one at-bat with the Chicago Cubs in 2005. He was hit in the head by, then, Florida Marlins left-hander Valerio De Los Santos before crashing to the ground, along with his career. It was July 9, 2005, and Greenberg, at the age of 24, and seven years later, the Miami Marlins will be giving the now 31-year-old a one-day contract with the club, where he will receive a plate appearance in a major league uniform one more time.

Greenberg earned his way to the Windy City in 2005 after hitting .269/.386/.407 for Double-A West Tennessee in 2005. He had solid on-base skills and could handle all three outfield positions, so although his hitting skills weren’t all that impressive, Greenberg could do a little bit of everything.

After the beaning in July of 2005, Greenberg suffered from vertigo, headaches, blurred vision, and other post-concussion symptoms for a number of years. Greenberg never gave up on the game, even while battling his body for the skills necessary to achieve. He returned to play in the minors with the Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels, and the Kansas City Royals before playing for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Independent Atlantic League near his hometown of Guilford Connecticut.

Greenberg has had 2,365 at-bats at various levels since his last at-bat for the Chicago Cubs seven years ago, posting a .253/.359/.363 triple slash. When he steps to the plate next Tuesday against the New York Mets, he’ll attempt to get his first hit or maintain his 1.000 on-base percentage.

While the Miami Marlins are having a disappointing seasons after an offseason of spending and changes to succeed, they can still leave a tremendous stamp on your heart with their generosity and willingness to reach out Adam Greenberg. While many dream of having the opportunity to play baseball growing up, Greenberg received a chance and had it taken away by a fastball that got away from a pitcher.

There aren’t many other sports that are capable of transplanting someone from everyday life into their game. There was the football players who used to deliver beer, former New Orleans Saints kick returner Michael Lewis, but baseball seems to find a story like this easier. Just look at Jim Morris, the former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher who went 10 years between appearances in the minors, due to injuries, before arriving in the majors in 1999 at the age of 35, who had Disney make a movie about him.

Adam Greenberg will finally get his second plate appearance on Tuesday in Miami. Tune in and root for the heartwarming story of persistence, determination, and passion to fight for the chance to play a game that so many of us love. Greenberg finally gets to write the final chapter of his career.

Not Medlen Around on the Mound

Courtesy: USAToday.com

Kris Medlen turns 27 in October and it would be easy to say that the Atlanta Braves have not taken advantage of the talent that he clearly has to this point.

Drafted out of Santa Ana College in the 10th round of the 2006 MLB Draft, Medlen did not start a game in the minors with Atlanta until 2008, having compiled a 1.17 ERA over his first 58 appearances, 69 innings. In 2009, Medlen began his swing-starter role in Atlanta after beginning the transition in Double-A in 2008.

As a relief pitcher, Medlen is 4-6 in 90 appearances, covering 129.2 innings, while he has posted a 2.92 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and a 112:37 K:BB.

As a starting pitcher, Medlen is 14-2 in 28 starts, covering 173 innings, while he has posted a 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and a 153:36 K:BB.

The 2012 season for Medlen has been nothing short of amazing. In 10 starts, Medlen is now 8-0 with a 0.76 ERA and 0.82 WHIP, amassing a 72:9 K:BB in 70.2 innings.

Buster Olney tweeted on Wednesday night: “Braves won their 21st straight game started by Kris Medlen. Last time for this: 1950-53,when the Yankees won 22 straight Whitey Ford starts.”

Pretty remarkable company and a pretty incredible feat.

Considering how the Braves have treated him in the past, what are they going to do next season with their rotation?

Tim Hudson has an affordable team option for 2013 ($9 million), Jair Jurrjens is arbitration-eligible for the final time, Paul Maholm has an affordable team option for 2013 ($6.5 million), Tommy Hanson is under team-control until 2016, Mike Minor is under team-control until 2018, Brandon Beachy will be returning from Tommy John surgery at some point in the 2013 season, and this is not even considering the presence of Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran in the system.

Could Kris Medlen be displaced once again from Atlanta’s rotation considering the success he has had? He has been successful in whatever role he has been asked to fill, but it seems clear that he and his flat-billed cap deserve to be in the rotation until he reaches free agency in 2016.

Yunel Escobar Issues

Courtesy: Deadspin.com

At the end of 2009, Yunel Escobar was one of the top players in baseball, at least when it comes to potential. He was 26 years old and had just finished a season with a .299/.377/.436 line, 26 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs and 76 RBI for the Atlanta Braves. For some reason, though, Atlanta wasn’t fond of him.

Legendary Braves manager Bobby Cox was fed up with Escobar’s lack of hustle and disregard for the expectations that he had for all of his players. However, Escobar seemed to use the language barrier, he defected from Cuba, as a crutch. While others used translators on the team, as did Escobar, the expectations that Cox had were never met, as Escobar seemed lazy and lethargic with his day-to-day responsibilities in the game of baseball.

Mark Bradley, of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, said after the trade of Escobar in July of 2010 that this was “addition by subtraction” and added that:

This is a happier clubhouse than it has been in years, and not just because the team is in first place. Because these guys like and respect one another. The one guy who didn’t fit — and who was never going to fit, no matter how many chances the Braves offered — just got traded.

Whether it was a language barrier issue or a maturity issue, Yunel Escobar just bought himself some unneeded publicity. This publicity will reach well beyond the sports world and well beyond the diamond, just ask the owner of Chick-Fil-A.

On Saturday afternoon, Yunel Escobar wore eyeblack with the words “tu ere maricon”, which anyone who has seen the movie Scarface knows is Spanish for “you are a fag—.” Needless to say, this will lead to a suspension.

Earlier in the 2012 season, Major League Baseball suspended Detroit Tigers outfielder Delmon Young for anti-Semitic slurs thrown at a group of tourists outside of a hotel in New York, receiving a 7-day suspension. Prior to that suspension, John Rocker was suspended in 2000 for all of spring training and the first 14-days of the season after ranting to a Sports Illustrated reporter about gays, foreigners and minorities.

Bud Selig took this stance with Delmon Young’s suspension in 2012:

Those associated with our game should meet the responsibilities and standards that stem from our game’s stature as a social institution. An incident like this cannot and will not be tolerated.

Yunel Escobar plays in a city, Toronto, that is very liberal, in the liberal nation of Canada. His choice to wear the slur was a miserable idea, one that should and will have repercussions, not only on this season, but, possibly, Escobar’s 2014 and 2015 team options and the Toronto Blue Jays willingness to keep him beyond this season. Ultimately, Escobar’s entire future in the majors could be affected by this choice.

After having been traded for pennies on the dollar in talent from Atlanta to Toronto, little has changed in the man that Yunel Escobar has been or who he is going to become. He is still immature and a nuisance to his team. For someone who had to defect from Cuba to earn an opportunity at freedom and a chance to play the game that he loves, it is incredible that Yunel Escobar continues to make poor choices and doesn’t seem to think of how lucky he is to be making millions to be a complete moron, on and off the field.

Recent Material, 9/12

I’ve been writing for Bleacher Report and I’ve added another site, Wahoo’s on First. These are the most recent posts that I am responsible for, unless they offend anyone or violate copyright, then I will try to say I didn’t do them.

Bleacher Report:

Should the Indians Keep Ubaldo Jimenez?

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1331996-cleveland-indians-should-the-indians-keep-ubaldo-jimenez

Thoughts on the Indians Top 20 Prospects from MLB.com (Jonathan Mayo)

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1326022-mlb-thoughts-on-the-cleveland-indians-prospect-list-from-mlbcom

Six Reasons Why Indians Fans Should Watch Them Over the Browns

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1321965-6-reasons-cleveland-indians-fans-should-still-watch-them-over-the-browns

Five Things That Could Salvage the 2012 Indians’ Season

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1313883-5-things-that-can-salvage-the-cleveland-indians-2012-season

Wahoo’s On First:

Why the Indians Should Sign Brandon McCarthy (pre-injury, and they still should)

http://wahoosonfirst.com/2012/09/04/why-the-indians-should-sign-brandon-mccarthy/

Why the Indians Should Sign J.P. Howell

http://wahoosonfirst.com/2012/09/06/why-the-indians-should-sign-j-p-howell/

Why the Indians Should Sign Jeremy Guthrie

http://wahoosonfirst.com/2012/09/12/why-the-indians-should-sign-jeremy-guthrie/

How Jason Kipnis Became the Indians’ Clubhouse Leader

http://wahoosonfirst.com/2012/08/30/how-jason-kipnis-became-indians-clubhouse-leader/

Phillies Phighting to the Phinish

With pitching like this, who needs an offense?

While they will never catch the Washington Nationals in the National League East, who lead them by 17 games, the Philadelphia Phillies are fighting their way back into relevance in the 2012 season. Having traded outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the MLB trade deadline, it looked like a lost season. They were, after all 46-57 at that point, 15.5 games behind the Nationals.

Today, the Phillies are 71-71, 25-14 since the All-Star break and just four games back from St. Louis for the second NL Wild Card. They have won six in a row and 14 of their last 18 games. While the Phils were dangerous heading into this season, they seem even more dangerous now.

Certainly, they are without Pence and Victorino, but the Phillies have been getting production elsewhere since the All-Star break:

* Ryan Howard is back and he is still hitting a lot of home runs (10 in 56 games) and striking out way too much (78 K’s in 203 AB).

* Jimmy Rollins has 10 home runs since the All-Star break, but he is only hitting .234/.299/.440 out of the leadoff spot. While the OBP is weak, his surprising power, 12 steals, and 36 runs are solid.

* Erik Kratz has filled the shoes of Carlos Ruiz, who has missed significant time due to injury after an amazing breakout to start the season, posting a second half line of .261/.315/.523 with seven home runs and 21 RBI in 36 games.

* John Mayberry has provided power with his eight home runs, Juan Pierre has been fantastic (.313/.364/.357) after nearly being traded at the deadline, and Domonic Brown has been productive in his first real shot in the majors while forming the revamped outfield.

* The pitching has been fantastic, as it should have been, with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Kyle Kendrick have combined for a 20-8 record and a 3.03 ERA in 279 innings in the second half, with a 239:54 K:BB.

Needless to say, it is the pitching that is frightening for potential opponents in the playoffs. If the Philadelphia Phillies win a Wild Card spot, they can start Halladay, Lee, or Hamels in the one game playoff. Their rotation has the potential to dominate in the playoffs like Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling did for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, but they have a third ace that Arizona did not have.

The postseason is the reason why the Phillies loaded up their rotation. Ruben Amaro, Jr. and ownership may have thought they were cleaning house to ease payroll in hopes of rebuilding through free agency this coming offseason. Now, by riding that same rotation and a few surprisingly productive bats, the Philadelphia Phillies have created a legitimate claim for one of the National League Wild Cards.

With three games at home against Atlanta, six games (three at home and three on the road) against Washington, and some winnable games against Miami, Houston, and the New York Mets, the Phillies do seem to have a legitimate shot. Not many people would have thought that was the case a month ago.

National League Rookie of the Year

The Rookie of the Year award has been given each year since 1947, when Jackie Robinson won the award, with each league gaining a recipient in 1949. It was renamed for Robinson in July of 1987, a fitting tribute to the legendary game-changer.

The National League is, perhaps, in the middle of one of the greatest races for the award in it’s 65-year history. While one name has all of the hype, there are several players who should garner votes, potentially creating the closest vote in the history of the award.

Who Will Win:

Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

Resume:

.259/.330/.449, 20 2B, 6 3B, 17 HR, 47 RBI, 13 sB, 98:47 K:BB in 437 AB. 19 years old and playing on the first place team in the NL East.

Why He Should Win:

In order for the hype to reach where it is supposed to, Harper should win the NL ROY award. While he garners more attention than others, and deservedly so considering his age and numbers, Harper hasn’t even showed a portion of what his number will eventually become.

Harper is getting hot at the right moment, as well. Since August 29 the Nationals are 7-1 and Harper is hitting .400/.471/.967 with 2 2B, 5 HR, 10 RBI and a 4:4 K:BB in 30 AB. By finishing the season strong and posting ridiculous numbers, Harper could lead the Nationals through the final month of the season and into the playoffs like the elite player that he is going to be.

Who Should Win:

Todd Frazier, 1B/3B/OF, Cincinnati Reds

Resume:

.289/.347/.531, 23 2B, 6 3B, 18 HR, 62 RBI, 3 SB and a 91:32 K:BB in 367 AB. 26 years old and provides the Reds with great flexibililty to extend their current 8.5 game lead in the NL Central.

Why He Should Win:

33-14…that’s the record that the Reds had when Frazier was in the lineup and Joey Votto was on the disabled list. Frazier hit .321 in 165 AB with 9 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR and 32 RBI in those 47 games.

While he is older than Harper due to his experience playing college baseball, it doesn’t change the fact that his numbers are better across the board. In fact, you could say that Frazier has been more vital to the success of his club due to his play while Joey Votto, perhaps the best hitter in the National League, missed those 47 games with his two knee surgeries.

Sleeper Candidate #1:

Wade Miley, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Resume:

14-9, 27 games (24 starts), 2.90 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 117:30 K:BB in 164.2 IP. 25 years old.

Why He Should Win:

While Miley’s team is 9.5 games out in the NL West, you can’t blame the young left-hander for their struggles. On top of his total statistics (above), Miley has been even more impressive in his 10 starts since the All-Star break, compiling a 2.67 ERA with a 47:9 K:BB in 64 IP, allowing just two home runs with his 5.22 K:BB. Solid for a rookie.

With the addition of Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs from the Diamondbacks system, Miley could be the leader of the next group of “Baby Backs”.

Sleeper Candidate #2:

Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies

Resume:

.251/.296/.528, 15 2B, 23 HR, 58 RBI, 3 SB and a 78:30 K:BB in 303 AB. 23 years old.

Why He Should Win:

Rosario has played a solid catcher for the lowly, 20-games-out Colorado Rockies. While his on-base and contact skills are lacking, Rosario has insane amounts of pop in his bat. Beyond that, he guns down 39% of would-be base stealers (league average is 27%), and the Rockies could really improve in the next couple of seasons with Rosario’s power, a full season of Josh Rutledge, and a healthy Troy Tulowitzki to add to Carlos Gonzalez.

Honorable Mention:

Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs; Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee Brewers; Mike Fiers, Milwaukee Brewers; Lucas Harrell, Houston Astros;

While the vote will probably come down to the battle between Todd Frazier and Bryce Harper, there really are several players who are worthy of votes for the NL Rookie of the Year.

Who do you think should win?

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