Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Resurgent Seattle Mariners

Arguably this season biggest disappointment has to be the Seattle Mariners. Coming off a 101-loss season (61-101) in 2008, the Mariners went 85-77 in 2009 and entered the 2010 season with high expectations. The free-agent moves made by Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik only added to the high expectations. But as things are in the game of Baseball, often expectations are often unfulfilled. As of today, table setter Chone Figgins is batting .232 with only 32 runs scored and 22 stolen bases, cleanup hitter Milton Bradley is batting .207 with 7 Hrs, 27 RBI and 23 runs scored. These numbers are hardly what the Mariners expected for their investment. Not only that, I doubt anyone in Baseball (including myself) thought that the Seattle Mariners would have a record of 33-44 and be 14 games behind the first place Texas Rangers. But thanks to the team's strength, things are finally looking up for the Mariners.

Thanks to the one-two punch of Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez, the Mariners are currently 10-5 in the last 15 games. In those 15 games, Lee and Hernandez are a combined 6-1 with 6 complete games (Lee is 3-0 in those games and Hernandez is 2-1). In a combined 62.2 innings, Lee and Hernandez have given up a total of 37 hits (6Hrs), 11 runs (10 Earned), 4 Walks and 44K's for an ERA of 1.45 and a WHIP of 0.59. This is what Seattle imagined as their pitching being like when they traded for Cliff Lee in the off-season.

The bats are slowly starting to wake up as well. In those last 15 games the Mariners have scored 52 runs including 7 runs in each of the last two wins against the Yankees. This was the first time this season that the Mariners have scored 7 runs in consecutive games.

Am I saying that here comes the big comeback in the A.L. West? Who knows. Remember in 2002 when the Oakland A's won 20-straight games, causing them to overtake the 1st place Mariners and win the division by 4-games with a 103-59 record? I'm not saying that this year's Seattle Mariners will win 20-straight games, catch the Rangers and win the division. What I am saying is that anything is possible, especially with two studs on the mound pitching in the manner that they are. An interesting question is, can the Mariners right the ship before the trading deadline? Cliff Lee is drawing a tremendous amount of interest throughout Baseball. Guess time will tell.


Monday, June 28, 2010

This Past Weekend's Performances June 27, 2010

For the second weekend in a row, pitching proved powerful against the bats. Here's a rundown of some of those performances

Edwin Jackson
Jackson threw a complete game no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays. He needed 149 pitches to become the 2nd player in Arizona Diamonbacks history to throw a no-hitter (Randy Johnson threw a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves on May 17, 2004.) Jackson walked 8 and struck out 6 in the victory. He is the 4th pitcher to throw a no-no against his former team since 1950 and the first since 1990.

Jeff Niemann
Niemann was on the losing end of Edwin Jackson's no-hitter. Niemann pitched 7.1 innings giving up 6 hits , 1 Run (1 Earned), 2 walks and 8K's for only his 2nd loss of the season. The Rays are the first team to be no-hit three times in 12 months. Also, the Rays are the first team since the '01 Padres to be no-hit twice in one season, and they are the first American League team since the 1977 California Angels.

C.C. Sabathia
8.0IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 7K's against the Dodgers

Vincent Padilla
7.0IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 7K's against the Yankees

Carl Pavano
CG 3H, 0R, 1BB, 4K's. 2nd straight complete game victory (Phillies and Mets)

Trevor Cahill
7.2IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 3BB, 10K's, against the Pirates to improve to 7-2 with a 2.88ERA

Josh Johnson
8.0IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 9K's, 1.83ERA in loss to the Padres

Aaron Cook
CG 8.0IP, 4H, 4R, 3ER, 1BB, 3K's in loss to the Angels

Joe Saunders
7.0IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 8K's against the Rockies

Chris Narveson
8.0IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 7K's against Seattle

Jon Lester
9.0IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 9K's, 2.86ERA against the Giants

Clayton Kershaw
7.0IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 5K's in a No-Decision against the Yankees.

Let's see if the trend continues next weekend.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

How To Call A Teammate Out

This weekend there were two different examples on how to call a teammate out.

First was the Chicago Cubs Carlos Zambrano profanity laced tirade towards Derreck Lee and the rest of the Cubs. That led to wet and alienated teammates (courtesy of Gatorade) and an indefinite suspension of Zambrano. Plus the released statement by a "source" close to Zambrano that his tirade was meant to motivate and wasn't personal has not gone over well with his teammates. Not so good.

Second was Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria calling out B.J. Upton face to face in the dugout for Upton's lack of hustle in Center chasing a ball down that led to a triple. Upton has been in trouble before for not hustling down the line and on the field. The resulting confrontation was short with teammates holding Upton back as Longoria said his peace and walked off. As the leader of the team, Longoria did what he was supposed to do, in an even manner instead of ranting and raving.

I'm ok with teammates taking each other to task. It is a team effort after all and if your teammate can do it then who can. But Longoria showed how it is done by stepping to Upton directly instead of blowing his top as a petulant child.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Curious Trivia Questions from Last Night

There weren't many game on last night and I saw two trivia questions that I found real curious and interesting. Here goes.

1. Which pitcher has the most wins for one franchise
The answer is Walter Perry "Big Train" Johnson. In 20 seasons with the Washington Senators (1907-1927), Johnson compiled a 417-279 record with a 2.17 ERA (WOW!!!!!!), 4913 Hits, 1363 BB, 3509 K's and a WHIP of 1.061. To make his numbers look even more astonishing, Johnson appeared in 802 games of which he started 666 and completed 531 of those games with 110 of those games being shutouts. Johnson had 10 consecutive seasons of 20 or more win seasons with his best being in 1913 when he was 36-7 with a 1.14 ERA with 232 Hits in 346 innings pitched. Johnson walked only 38 with 243 K's. Johnson started 48 games, completed 29 and threw 11 shutouts. Not surprisingly, Johnson won the first of his two MVP awards (1913 and 1924). Johnson is second in total wins just being Cy Young. Johnson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the inaugural class of 1936. His performance was truly amazing since in the 20 years he played in Washington, the Senators finished in 1st twice (1924/1925), in 2nd twice (1912/1913) and won only one World Series in two attempts (1924 against the New York Giants). Truly amazing.

2. Aside from the Arizona Diamonbacks, there are 4 other franchises that have not had a player win the regular season MVP award, who are they.

Myron and I sat there trying to guess who the teams were. I had guessed that at least two of the remaining four had to be part of the recent expansion teams. I chose the Florida Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays. I also figured the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals have never had an MVP and then I was stumped. I thought maybe San Diego or maybe the Milwaukee Brewers didn't have an MVP, but the answer truly surprised me: The New York Mets. The Mets have never had a regular season MVP.

Now I was a bit taken aback at that since I was sure that at the very least, the Mets would have had an MVP either in 1969 or 1986. But researching the MVP winners list, Willie McCovey won the award in 1969 and Mike Schmidt had won the award in 1986. Truly surprising indeed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This Weekend's Pitching Performances

The impressive year of the pitcher 2010 keeps getting better with some real good performances this weekend.

Ubaldo Jimenez
Colorado pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez beat the Minnesota Twins to improve to 13-1 which is the best start by a pitcher since Roger Clemens started 14-0 in 1986. In doing so, Jimenez lowered his ERA to 1.15.

Jimenez became only the second pitcher in the last 80 years to win at least 13 of his first 14 starts. Besides Clemens, Lefty Gomez went 13-1 for the Yankees in 1932

Stephen Strasburg
Stephen Straburg pitched 7 innings giving up 4 hits, 1 ER striking out 10 with no walks in a no decision against the Chicago White Sox. Strasburg lowered his ERA to 1.86 for the season in a much more impressive performance against a much more potent lineup than the Pirates and the Indians.

Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee beat the Cincinnati Reds on a complete game 1-0 shutout. In doing so, Lee earned his fifth career shutout and his 16th career complete game. Lee struck out seven in a six-hitter hurling just 110 pitches while lowering his ERA to 2.55. Lee has pitched at least seven innings in 10 of his 11 starts this season.

Phil Hughes/Mike Pelfrey
When Hughes and Pelfrey faced each other Saturday, they each had nine wins and a winning percentage of .900 or better. The only time in baseball history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, that two starters entered with better credentials was in 1900. Philadelphia's Bill Bernhard played host to Brooklyn's Joe McGinnity at the Baker Bowl. Both starters were 12-1.

Both pitchers played well with Hughes beating Pelfrey 5-3. Hughes held the Mets to three runs in seven innings Saturday to improve to 10-1 this season.

This victory leaves Hughes tied with David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays for most wins in the AL (David Price after Sunday's loss to the Florida Marlins is 10-3).

Jake Peavy
CG 2H. 2BB 7K's 1-0 against the Nationals

Colby Lewis

CG, 2H, 0 BB, 9K's 5-1 against the Astros

Jered Weaver
7.0IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 11K's against the Cubs

Hisanori Takahashi
6.0IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 3K's Yanks (12 shutout innings against the Yankees in two starts)

Felix Hernandez
CG, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 9K's against the Reds.

Josh Johnson
8.0IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 9K's against David Price and the Rays. This was Johnson's 8th straight start where he allowed 1 run or less. During that time, Johnson has allowed 5 runs, 4 earned in 57 innings for an ERA of 0.63. Overall, his ERA for the season is 1.80.

C.C. Sabathia
8.0IP, 4 H, 0R, 2 BB, 6K's against Johan Santana and the Mets

Carl Pavano
CG, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 2K's against Roy Halladay and the Phillies

Talk about an impressive weekend for the pitchers. Wow.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

You Know Its Bad For the Pittsburgh Pirates When...

Even the mascots start criticizing the Pirates. Now I normally wouldn’t comment on this but I think that it is indicative of how things are going with the Pirates organization and how their fans feel about the team. Christina Boyle of the New York Daily News reports in her article named Pittsburgh Pirate pierogi mascot fired for bashing team on Facebook page that Pittsburgh Pirates pierogi mascot Andrew Kurtz was dismissed for making disparaging comments against the team. Here are the comments that were attributed to Kurtz:

"Coonelly extended the contracts of Russell and Huntington through the 2011 season. That means a 19-straight losing streak. Way to go Pirates."

Frank Coonelly is the team President for the Pirates while Neal Huntington is the team’s General Manager and John Miller is Manager. This is a hierarchy that recently designated second baseman Akinori Iwamura for assignment after signing him to a $4.8 Million dollar deal in the offseason without subjecting him to a physical even though he came off of a major knee injury while with the Tampa Bay Rays. Not to mention, that the Pirates have an unenviable streak of 18 straight losing seasons.

I see how Kurtz and many Pirates fans feel. It seems as if the team wanted to get themselves a brand new stadium (which they did) and they just pocket the revenues instead of putting it back where it belongs: The Team. Look at last season, the Pirates started the fire sale around the same time of the year that we are in now even though the team was within striking distance of the N.L. Wild Card. The trades of Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Adam LaRoche (and later Jack Wilson, Ian Snell and Freddy Sanchez) to the chagrin of both players and fans. I think the comments made by fan Brian Korval on June 4, 2009 hits the nail on the head:

"It's disappointing," Pirates fan Brian Koval told WTAE Channel 4's Aaron Saykin outside the ballpark Thursday. "It's just another case of the Pirates dealing someone really, really good for what looks like an unknown quantity. It's just another case of them putting the dollar in front of the fan, in front of a winning team."

Maybe MLB should step in with the union in the same way they did with the Florida Marlins and “nudge” the Pirates to spend some more money (The Marlins signed starter Josh Johnson to a 4-year $39 Million dollar deal this past offseason). Their intervention would be pivotal since it is believed that the Pirates are not utilizing the Luxury Tax money to its proper usage. For more information on the Pirates and the Luxury Tax, click on this article named Pittsburgh Pirates: Luxury Tax lies and broken promises.

So what do you guys and gals think. Let me know.

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Christina Boyle's article in the
- Click Here for the article from the Pittsburgh Channel describing the trades made by the Pirates in 2009
- Click here for the article from the Pittsburgh Channel highlighting fan views on the trades made by the Pirates in 2009
- Click Here to access the Forbes Magazine article on the value of the Pirates

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Update on the Sanford Little League Team Navy Seals

I'm waiting to hear from Dan on how the team is currently doing but here is the update on the team from the end of May in Dan's own words:

My boys are currently 1-5, but that is due to lack of experienced pitching. We went 0-5 to start the season, but after a team meeting on focus and intensity where I emphasized the importance of lifting your teammates up and paying attention to the game even when on the bench, it was an entirely different ballgame. At any time you can ask my boys what the count is and they will not only tell you that but also how many outs and where the the next play should be. The parents couldn't be happier with my style of coaching. A few of the parents actually requested not to be on certain teams this year because of their previous coach and the focus on win at all costs baseball. The impact of my fundamentals first is already apparent and it feels good to know that I can count on true baseball heads such as yourself to preserve the honor of the game we love so much. Play ball!

For those of you who didn't read my last post that introduced the Sanford Little League Navy Seals philosophy towards playing Baseball, click on the link The Return of Sportsmanship: One Child at a Time. Keep up the good work Dan, look forward to hearing more about the Navy Seals.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

To Keep Him In or Take Him Out

Stephen Strasburg made his anticipated second start in front of 32,876 spectators including Indians legend and Hall of Famer Bob Feller (I'll get back to him in a bit). The second time around resulted in a victory as with the first, leaving Strasberg 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched. Stasburg has struck out 22 while only walking 5. The line looks good but I have a little issue with how Strasburg is being handled.

Let me paint you a scene (as the artist that I am, LOL). Your young rookie pitcher is on the mound with 1 out in the bottom of the 6th, he loads up the bases with a walk, the 2nd walk of the inning and 5th walk of the game. Moment of truth for you as the manager: Do you keep him in to see what he's made of or do you take him out. Well, in the case of Strasburg, Nats manager Jim Riggleman adheres to the company rules regarding Strasburg and pulls him out with 91 pitches thrown.

I guess its a pressure situation that some pitchers get taken out of the game. But you know what, leave the kid in and let's see what he's made of. What's the worst that can happen, OMG...A Grand Slam? Strasburg wouldn't be the first pitcher to give up a Grand Slam and survive. It won't always be easy for him so why not let him test his mettle in the fire. But don't blame Riggleman for it. It is how the system is being run for pitchers these days. Nolan Ryan may be the only administrator who is trying to rebuild starters from what they've become: 6 inning quality pitchers. Ryan must have been shaking his head when Strasburg was taken out.

So while Strasburg was in the midst of walking the 5 batters, he complained about the mound at the Jake (sorry folks, hate to call Jacobs Field Progressive Field in the same manner I refuse to call Comiskey Park anything but Comiskey Park) requiring 2 trips by the field crew. At the point that Strasburg was removed, he was extremely frustrated. Was it with the mound or was it his performance? Maybe he should have stayed in to work through the frustration, for good or bad. Just saying folks.

Getting back to Hall of Famer Bob Feller. As I stated earlier, Feller was in attendance at the game and made some comments towards Strasburg and the mound. As the season progresses, there will undoubtedly be some comparisons between Feller and Strasburg. Feller came up as a fireballer at the age of 19 with the Indians in 1936 and finished with a 266-162 record with a 3.25 ERA and 2581 strikeouts. So when asked about Strasburg, Feller commented that:

He (referring to himself) asked the grounds crew to repair the mound maybe one or twice in his career, never in mid-inning, and suggested that Strasburg, "Should bring a bucket of clay with him (to the mound).He also said "Call me when he wins his first 100,"

Ah, you've got to love the old school players. LOL. But Feller was also complimentary towards Strasburg by saying that:

"He has a good career coming up," Feller said. "I understand he's very affable, but very quiet and is very conscientious. He'll be probably tougher for right-hand hitters than left-hand hitters. He loses about two or three miles per hour on his fastball with men on base, I noticed that on the radar. But that's typical. That's not unusual at all." Feller also said that "[Strasburg] has a good changeup," Feller said. "I never used my changeup to anybody, only left-hand hitters. But he has a decent changeup. His curveball breaks more than the average curveball. His slider is part of his repertoire, which is a good pitch to left-hand hitters, keep it on their fists.

"But he'll have a half-dozen or so hitters he won't be able to get out. Like me. We all have half-a-dozen or a dozen hitters who, no matter what you do, seem like they know what you're going to do and get their base hits. He'll have good days and bad days. "I think he's done very well; of course this is not the 1927 Yankees either," he said, nodding to the home dugout. "Or the Cleveland Indians of 1948."
True enough Mr. Feller, true enough.

Hey guys, let the kid pitch. Enough with the Strasburg rules, the Joba rules and the Hughes rules. If Strasburg is as good as the hype makes him to be, he'll be able to get out of situations like bases loaded and one out. Just let him do so. Like any situation, sometimes we have to take our lumps. Its is only natural to do so. The lineups with get harder, especially this upcoming Friday. Strasburg will make his 3rd start against the Chicago White Sox. We'll see how he does then.


For Further Reading
- Click Here for Pat McManamon's article on Strasburg and Feller's comments on MLB Fanhouse
- Click Here for the USA Today's Daily Pitch describing Feller's other comments and Strasburg's day

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mr. Strasburg Goes to Washington

Stephen Strasburg made his anticipated debut yesterday at a sold out Nationals Park in Washington D.C. against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Strasburg gave an impressive performance in his debut against the Pirates.

Pitching 7 innings, Strasburg gave up 2 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits striking out 14 while walking none. His control of the variety of pitches that he commands was amazing and showed amazing poise and resilience after giving up his first major league homerun.

Keep in mind folks that before we proclaim this kid a Hall of Famer, he did it against the young Pittsburgh Pirates. Let's see how he does against the big boys of the National League over the length of the entire season before we hand him the mantle that was held by such Hall of Famers as Koufax, Gibson and Ryan. For all we know he could be the next Kerry Wood and Brien Taylor as opposed to the next Nolan Ryan.

What I do find amazing is that the balance of power of Baseball has shifted from Baltimore to Washington D.C. to the chagrin of Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Maybe he should sell the team to Cal Ripken and put the Orioles back on the road to success. As it looks, with the drafting of Bryce Harper by the Nationals with the 1st pick, the arrival of Stephen Strasburg and the further development of a young team the Nationals look to be a beacon of hope for Baseball in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Final Impressions on the Botched Perfecto

After a number of days after the botched call by Jim joyce during the potential perfect game by Armando Galarraga and answering questions by many of my friends, here are my final impressions.

Jim Joyce
I stated in my prior post that after his bad call at first Jim Joyce shouldn't umpire a T-Ball game. I have to admit it, I was wrong. Sure he made a bad call, but give him credit for making that call and sticking by it "IF" the runner had been safe. Sure he could have called the runner out automatically and the game would have been perfect, but "IF" the runner was truly safe and he'd call him out then it would have been a bad call. He swore it was safe until he saw the replay. To further give Joyce credit, once he saw the replay and realized he made the wrong call he was man enough to step to the forefront and apologize personally to both Jim Leyland and Galarraga. In all my years of watching baseball I have never seen an umpire apologize for making a bad call. Granted, the situation wasn't a routine grounder during an ordinary game, but Joyce's apology shows that he is a class act. Plus, firing him for his mistake is easier that his having to live with his mistake for the rest of his life just like Leon Durham and Bill Buckner have because of their on the field error.

Armando Galarraga
I have to admit that I was really surprised at how Galarraga took the loss of his perfect game. If he got mad and cursed and kicked the dirt for losing the perfecto, no one would blame him. I would actually expect it. But his stance that no one is perfect and accepting it for what it was has gained many new fans for Galarraga.

Commissioner Bud Selig
Commissioner Selig has taken some heat from people who disagree with his decision to not overturn the call and give Galarraga the perfect game. I agree with Selig. How many bad calls have been made throughout baseball history including those that cost teams championships and were not overturned. Granted, this was a perfect game, of which only 20 have ever been thrown in over 130 years but if you overturn that bad call, then why can't a call during the World Series which is worth 10 times more than the 27th out of a potential perfect game be overturned. When I mean that it is worth more during the World Series its because that decision can alter championships and affect the whole team while perfect games though celebrated by the entire team, tends to be a personal achievement. In addition, the human element to the game is something that differentiates Baseball from other sports that overturns decisions by methods of bureacratic decisions and/or instant replay. Before I go into instant replay, I don't think any pitcher would accept being given a perfect game due to an overturning of the call by Selig. It wouldn't be the same as actually winning the Perfecto on the field.

Instant Replay
I'm already hearing the calls for expanded instant replay, which I think would be a major mistake. Why? Sure, as it is there is instant replay for homeruns. Then if you add instant replay to decisions made by umpires, when will it end. Balls and strikes? Foul balls? Balks? Check Swings? Fan Interference? Runner Interference? See what I mean. If you open instant replay to certain scenarios then you may have to open it to all scenarios, then at that point, Baseball loses its human aspect. Why bother having human players, you can just simulate games on a computer or play it with robots.

So there, what do you guys think. Agree, disagree. Let me know.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2, 2010 A Historic Day in Baseball

Today's activities in the Baseball world sounds like something my daughter would say: "Daddy, I have good news and bad news. Which one would you like to hear first". Well, I'll take the choice out of your hands. Here's the bad.

Armando Galarraga has a Perfect Game Stolen From Him
Let me paint you a little picture (and it ain't pretty), the score is 3-0 Tigers against the Indians on the top of the Ninth inning. The crowd of over 17,000 are rocking after an amazing catch that was made by Center-fielder Austin Jackson for the first out. The second out comes on a groundout to short. The next batter grounds the ball between first and second which First baseman Miguel Cabrera fields and throws to Galarraga who is fielding the base and catches the ball while reaches the base before the runner. The call? Safe! Umpire Jim Joyce makes the wrong call on the potential 3rd out of a potential perfect game. Amazing.

We had the chance to witness something that has never been seen in over 130 years of the history of MLB: 3 perfect games during one season. There have been two perfectos thrown 5 days apart in 1880 and 2 perfectos as recent as last month (Dallas Braden and Roy Halladay threw one each), let alone 3 (In a future post, I'll expand on a few tidbits I came up with about perfect games).

To Galarraga's credit he was gracious in his on the field interview with the MLB network. The best game of his career was ruined on an obvious play. It wasn't even close enough to be considered "Bang-Bang". Jim Joyce shouldn't even be allowed to umpire in T-Ball. The calls for expanded instant replay will grow louder since all the angles shown prove that the Joyce's call was grossly wrong. We'll see what happens next

Ken Griffey Jr. Announces His Retirement During his 22nd MLB Season
Before I get into this story, it is amazing to me that Ken Griffey Jr., had been playing Baseball in the majors for 21 years. 21 years? It seems like yesterday that I saw him debut with the Seattle Mariners in 1989, play the outfield with his father, hit back to back homers with Griffey Sr and breaking the hearts of Yankees fans at the end Game 5 of the AL Wild Card by sliding in safe with the winning run.

This first ballot Hall of Famer has decided to retire today putting an end to an impressive career. In a later post, I'll go into detail about the Hall of Famer career of Ken Grifey Jr. Thanks for the highlights Junior. They were amazing.