Friday, September 25, 2009

Museum Closing

This week will be a very short post. I’ll be back next week with a regular post.

Tom Hicks has decided to close the Legends of the Game Museum at the ballpark at the end of the season. I think that that is just wrong. Since Hicks is trying to sell the club, he should let the next owners decide what to do with it. But Hicks decided to close it himself. There is a petition website at, so if you want to go sign up for it, there it is. The Legends of the Game Museum is one of the things that makes the Ballpark unique and it’s one of the nicest baseball museums around.

Also, recently, I have gotten to go to the TV booth with Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve a couple of times. We won an ‘inning in the booth with Josh and Tom’ at the charity auction at Newberg Night in August. The first time I went was a rain-out game, but that was awesome, because my dad, my granddad, and I got to hang out in the press box through the whole delay (about three hours). While everyone was waiting out the rain delay, we got to talk with Josh, Tom, Evan Grant, TR Sullivan, Eric Nadel, Anthony Andro, etc. It was a blast. And then they invited us back (gave us a rain check), so I got to go up there again recently to watch them do an inning. I would like to thank Josh and Tom for letting me be up there for so long during the rain delay, and then inviting me back for another inning on top of that. It was very nice of them.

Come back next week for my playoff predictions (assuming that they are all clinched on Sunday) or my post-season All-Stars.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

AL Playoff Race Special

This week I will do an AL Playoff Race Special. I will cover every team that I think is still in contention for the playoffs.

AL East:

1. New York Yankees (94-54, +6): They have basically won the division. They only play the Red Sox three more times, and have three games against the Royals and three games against the Rays. The Yankees have scored the most runs in all of baseball (845) and are one of only two teams that have score 800 runs on the year. But they have allowed the 6th most runs in the AL and if the season ended right now, they would have allowed the 2nd most runs out of all the playoff teams (and have allowed only three less than the Angels). Their playoff rotation will be CC Sabathia at #1, who has a career 7.92 playoff ERA in five starts, in which he walked 22 batters in just 25 innings and has allowed four home runs. #2 is AJ Burnett, who has won only one game in his last 10 starts. He also had a 6.03 ERA in August, and has a 4.97 ERA so far in September. #3 will probably be Andy Pettitte, who not only has an ERA over 4.80 in all but two months this season, but three of his last five starts have been horrible. A lot of people are saying that they are the playoff favorite, but I disagree, because the playoffs aren’t about hitting, they’re about pitching, and that’s why I have them losing in the first round if they end up playing the Tigers.

2. Boston Red Sox (87-59, -6 of div., +7 of WC): The Red Sox have pretty much clinched the Wild Card. They are seven games up on the Rangers, and don’t play the Rangers anymore this season. But the Red Sox also have a major problem. They are only 35-37 on the road, and, as the Wild Card, that means they will not have home-field advantage. They will most likely be facing the Angels, who are 44-27 at home. Not a good combination for Boston. They do have a pretty good top two in their rotation, though, in Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. I just don’t see them getting by the Angels with that road record, though, and if they do get by them, I just don’t see them getting by the next team they play after that. They also have only a 28-21 record against lefties, and the Angels will have a lefty in their playoff rotation.

3. Tampa Bay Rays (75-73, E in div., -13 in WC)

4. Toronto Blue Jays (66-81, E in div., E in WC)

5. Baltimore Orioles (60-87, E in div., E in WC)

AL Central:

1. Detroit Tigers (78-69, +3): The Tigers are three games up on Minnesota, and play the Twins six more times this year, including four at home. Like the Yankees and Red Sox, though, the Tigers have a major fault. They have allowed more runs than they have scored. They have scored 670 runs (11th in the AL), and have allowed 673 runs (4th in the AL). But that can also be good, because that means that they have been successful in close games (26-20), which there seems to be a lot of in the playoffs. I think that they are a dangerous team in the AL for the playoffs because they have Justin Verlander (16-8, 3.34) who already has playoff experience, Jarrod Washburn (9-9, 3.78) who also has playoff experience, and Edwin Jackson (12-7, 3.37), who also has playoff experience. Two of those three pitchers were All-Stars this year (Verlander and Jackson), and one of them was a near miss (Washburn). If they decide to go with the four-man rotation, they also have Rick Porcello (13-9, 4.22). Even though they haven’t scored a whole lot of runs, Magglio Ordonez (playoff experience) has just started to turn it on, Miguel Cabrera (playoff experience) is hitting .330 with 30 home runs, Brandon Inge (playoff experience) has hit 27 home runs, Curtis Granderson (playoff experience) has hit 27 home runs, Carlos Guillen (playoff experience) has a .344 batting average in his three playoff years, Placido Polanco (playoff experience) has struck out only 38 times this year, Aubrey Huff has 83 RBI’s, and Adam Everett (playoff experience) is a great defensive shortstop.

2. Minnesota Twins (75-72, -3 of div., -12.5 of WC): I don’t think that the Twins will make the playoffs because of their pitching. If they do make the playoffs, I don’t think they’ll get out of the first round because of their pitching. If they do make it out of the first round, I don’t think they’ll get out of the second round because of their pitching. They won’t make it to the World Series. There is no way. Their number one pitcher has a 4.35 ERA (Scott Baker). Their number two pitcher has a 4.91 ERA (Carl Pavano). Their number three starter has a 4.34 ERA (Nick Blackburn). Their number four pitcher has a 5.71 ERA (Francisco Liriano). Their number five pitcher hasn’t thrown 75 innings yet this season (Brian Duensing). No matter how well Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau hit, you can’t make up for that kind of pitching when you make it into the postseason (if they do make it there).

3. Chicago White Sox (72-76, -6.5 of div., E in WC)

4. Cleveland Indians (61-86, E in div., E in WC)

5. Kansas City Royals (60-87, E in div., E in WC)

AL West:

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (more commonly known as the dumbest name in baseball) (88-59, +7.5): The Angels, unless they have a Mets-esque meltdown, will win the West and play Boston in the first round of the playoffs. But I don’t think they’ll make it all the way to the World Series, because of their pitching. Unless the Marlins win the NL Wild Card, the Angels will have allowed the most runs out of all the playoff teams. You can’t win many playoff games by scoring 5, 6, 7 runs, because you normally can’t do that since you’ll only be facing the best pitchers on the other team. I just don’t see them going very far in the playoffs with that kind of pitching.

2. Texas Rangers (80-66, -7.5 of div., -7 of WC): Unless the Rangers have a Rockie-like run and the Angels have a Met-like meltdown, the Rangers will not make the playoffs this year. But the Rangers have stayed in the race for this long due to going completely opposite from their usual selves. There are only two teams in the AL that have allowed less runs than the Rangers. But the Rangers are only 8th in runs scored, and have picked some of the most inopportune times to be shut out or to score only one or two runs. But unlike the other five teams in the AL playoff race, the Rangers don’t really have a big Achilles’ heel when it comes to the situational records. But the one the Rangers do have (besides runs scored) is on-base percentage (.319). The Royals and the Mariners are the only American League teams with worse on-base percentages.

3. Seattle Mariners (77-71, -11.5 of div., -11 of WC)

4. Oakland Athletics (69-78, E in div., E in WC)

Come back next week for my end-of-season All-Stars.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NL Playoff Race Special

This week I will do an NL Playoff Race Special. I will cover all the teams who would make the playoffs if the season stopped right now in the NL. I think those four teams are the only ones that are really in contention for the playoffs, as I believe all of the races are currently locked up, outside of finding out between the Dodgers and Rockies who will be the NL West winner and who will be the NL Wild Card winner.

NL East:

1. Philadelphia (80-59, +6): Philly is in 1st place in the East and 21 games over .500 because they can score runs in bunches, and their pitching is good enough to win with that kind of run support. They have scored 700 runs this year, which is 2nd in the NL (behind the Rockies), and 6th in all of baseball (behind the Rockies, Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, and Rays). But their pitching is why I don’t like them in the playoffs. They are 6th in the NL in runs allowed, which is sufficient to win you games in the regular season, but in the playoffs, they won’t be able to get that much run support, since they will only be facing the best pitchers. Also, Brad Lidge has blown 10 saves this season, and saved only 28, which means he blows the save 26.3% of the time that he gets the opportunity. That is just not a good playoff team, in my opinion.

2. Florida (75-66, -6 of div., -6.5 of WC)

3. Atlanta (73-68, -8 of div., -8.5 of WC)

4. New York (62-79, -19 of div., -19.5 of WC)

5. Washington (49-92, -32 of div., -32.5 of WC)

NL Central:

1. St. Louis (84-58, +10.5): St. Louis is like the exact opposite of Philadelphia (which is why I like them to do well in the playoffs). The Cardinals are 6th in the AL in runs scored, although it’s been much better than that since they traded for Matt Holliday. But then there is the fact that they’ve allowed the 3rd least amount of runs in the NL, behind only the Giants and the Dodgers (I don’t know how the Dodgers haven’t allowed more runs than that). And that will only get better in the playoffs with a 3-man rotation, when they throw out MLB ERA Leader Chris Carpenter, MLB Wins Leader (and also 4th in MLB ERA) Adam Wainwright, and 14-10, 3.21 ERA Joel Pineiro. That is going to be incredibly hard to beat. The three pitchers have a combined record of 48-20. That’s got to be the best playoff rotation in baseball. Another position where they are opposite from Philly is their closer. Ryan Franklin has converted 37 of 40 save opportunities, much unlike Brad Lidge of the Phillies. And if you need big hits in a close game (like a home run, maybe), they have Albert Pujols (47 HR’s), Matt Holliday (23 HR’s), Mark DeRosa (21 HR’s), Ryan Ludwick (20 HR’s), and Colby Rasmus (14 HR’s in only 406 AB’s). That’s a pretty good team.

2. Chicago (72-67, -10.5 of div., -8.5 of WC)

3. Houston (69-72, -14.5 of div., -12.5 of WC)

4. Milwaukee (67-73, -16 of div., -14 of WC)

5. Cincinnati (63-78, -20.5 of div., -18.5 of WC)

6. Pittsburgh (54-85, -28.5 of div., -26.5 of WC)

NL West:

1. Los Angeles (84-58, +2): Even though the Dodgers have allowed the 2nd least amount of runs in the NL, I’m going to say the same thing that I did at the beginning of the season. They don’t have enough pitching. Chad Billingsley is wearing down. He has seen his ERA go up in each of his last four starts. Randy Wolf has his first ERA under 4.20 since 2002, so you can’t count on him to keep it up. Hiroki Kuroda has an ERA of 4.00, and is just coming off a concussion from a line drive going off his head, so you don’t know how he’s going to recover. And, finally, Clayton Kershaw is 22 years old and in his 2nd major league season, so you don’t know how he’ll handle the playoff pressure. That’s their playoff rotation. There’s a question mark for all of them. That’s not a good rotation, in my opinion. I don’t care what the stats say, I just don’t see any way they can go deep in the playoffs with that rotation, no matter what the offense does (which probably won’t be much).

2. Colorado (82-60, -2 of div., +5.5 of WC): Colorado has been amazing since Clint Hurdle left and Jim Tracy took over as manager. They were so far out of it. Their season was pretty much over in mid-May. Then Tracy took over, and now they are five and a half games up on the Giants for the Wild Card, and have gotten all the way back to only two games back of the Dodgers in the division. That is incredible. They have scored the most runs in the National League, and are the hottest team in all of baseball. If they can keep their hot streak up (like they did in 2007), they have a chance to go all the way.

3. San Francisco (76-65, -7.5 of div., -5.5 of WC)

4. San Diego (63-79, -21 of div., -19 of WC)

5. Arizona (62-80, -22 of div., -20 of WC)

Come back next week for an AL Playoff Race Special.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Pina and Smith Traded

This week Thomas Diamond was DFA’d by the Rangers, and the Chicago Cubs picked him up off of waivers, which puts him on their 40-man roster. I’d like to wish him good luck, and say that I was sad to see him go since he was such a nice guy. I hope he does really well with the Cubs.

The Rangers also made a trade this week. They traded C Manny Pina and OF Tim Smith to the Kansas City Royals for P Danny Gutierrez.

Danny Gutierrez: Danny was a big Royals prospect. He was ranked as the 7th best prospect in the system by Baseball America. They also ranked his curveball the best in the Royals’ minor league system, and ranked his control the best in the Royals’ minor league system. In 2008, Gutierrez went 4-4 with a 2.70 ERA in 90 innings pitched. He struck out 104 batters, and walked only 25, which is 4.16 strikeouts per walk, a very good rate. His batting average against was .246, which is a pretty good number, but not great. This year he has only pitched 27.1 innings due to injury, but has pitched well, striking out 25, and is 1-0 with a 1.65 ERA. This year he has a .173 opponents batting average, which is terrific, especially for a guy just coming off an injury. Apparently, Danny had some off-field issues with the Royals that made him available to be traded, and otherwise, there’s no way this trade would have been made.

Manny Pina: Manny was a solid prospect for the Rangers. He was a very good fielder, but wasn’t too good a hitter or game-caller. This year with the Roughriders, he started off the year with an incredible April, as he hit .481, with a .518 on-base percentage, and a .731 slugging percentage. That was the highest April batting average in the minors. But since then, he is hitting just .216, with a .274 on-base percentage, and a .327 slugging percentage. He hit 8 home runs with 42 RBI’s as a ‘Rider in ’09. He also made the 2009 Texas League All-Star Team. He hit .267 with 3 home runs and 33 RBI’s combined between Bakersfield and Frisco in ’08. Manny will actually stay in the Texas league, as the Royals have the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in the Texas League. If the RoughRiders sweep the Rockhounds, and the Naturals hold up their 2-game lead, then Pina could actually play against Frisco in the Championship Series if both teams win the first playoff series.

Tim Smith: Tim was also a solid Rangers prospect, and he also plays at a position that is very deep for the Rangers. Just like Pina, he will play on the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Between Bakersfield, the Arizona League Rangers, and the Roughriders, Tim is hitting .321 this year, with 8 home runs and 53 RBI’s this year. He has a .392 on-base percentage, along with a .465 slugging percentage. In 2008, he hit .300, with a .359 on-base percentage, and a .450 slugging percentage. He had 13 home runs and 70 RBI’s last year, also. Due to the Rangers’ depth at the position, Tim was unlikely to play much of a role with the Rangers at the major league level.

Trade Evaluation: I think this is a very good trade. It seems like we are getting a lot more potential in return than we are giving up in this return. Plus, we are giving up players that play positions we are very deep at, so it isn’t too big a loss. The Rangers are doing exactly what you’re supposed to do with a deep farm system. As long as Danny Gutierrez gets his act together off the field, this trade should be a big W.
Grade: A

Come back next week for a playoff race special.