Tag Archive | "Espn"

MLB Trade Rumors Center Around St. Louis Cardinals Shortstop Pete Kozma

Trade rumors begin to swirl as spring training nears completion in Major League Baseball.  As Opening Day draws near, teams begin to identify their needs as well as their surpluses.  The St. Louis Cardinals, who have found themselves actively involved in the market for shortstops around the league over the last few seasons, suddenly find themselves with a player to offer to the market.

PeteKozma2

Pete Kozma is the odd man out in St. Louis, and general manager John Mozeliak hopes to benefit from that.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, the Cardinals have been shopping Kozma around the league, letting other teams know that the young shortstop is available:

The reasons for trade rumors surrounding Kozma are obvious.  The Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta during the offseason, Daniel Descalso offers a backup option who can play multiple positions and the team needs the room on the 40-man roster.

All of this could lead to a trade for a low-level prospect in exchange for the man who played 143 games for the Cardinals last season.

Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out another need that the Cardinals may wish to address with the rumored trade of Kozma based on the recent reassignment of relief pitcher Tyler Lyons.

“The Cardinals can option Kozma or keep him as Peralta’s backup. Having optioned Tyler Lyons to Memphis on Wednesday, the club could survey the market for long relief. No obvious internal candidate currently exists,” according to Strauss.

That option would not alleviate the roster restriction that exists but is a fair trade rumor as it fulfills both the team’s need and surplus at the same time.  The argument against a long reliever in return is based more on the value that Kozma holds.

Ben Humphrey of Viva El Birdos breaks down the value of Kozma on the market and what fans should expect in return.  Ultimately, Humphrey comes to the conclusion that a trade involving Kozmawould likely resemble the trade of Brendan Ryan in December of 2010.  In that trade, the Cardinals received relief pitcher Maikel Cleto, a low-level prospect with a lively arm.

The Cardinals will do their due diligence in shopping Kozma around to see if there is a trade that makes sense.  If the past can tell us anything, it is that Mozeliak will only move Kozma if he feels that the Cardinals will clearly benefit from the return.

Meanwhile, the trade rumors will continue to circulate.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com.
Follow him on Twitter to discuss all things baseball throughout the season.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

Could the Royals make the playoffs?

Perhaps it’s the Royals fan in me, but I’m waiting for the Kansas City Royals to go on another losing streak and fall out of the Wild Card race. Or totally collapse and not even finish at or above .500. Sure, the Royals are 77-69 as of September 12 and it’s almost certain they’ll finish above .500 for the first time since 2003. But if any baseball team can have an epic collapse, it’s the Kansas City Royals.

JamesShields3

Yet the Royals are playing well and winning games. In the last 44 games over 44 days, the Royals went 26-18. They have one of the best post All-Star Game records in baseball. After a seven game losing streak around three weeks ago, their season appeared to be over. Since then, they’ve gone 13-5. Last Friday the Tigers, arguably the best team in the American League, beat the Royals 16-2, handing them their worst loss of the season. If anything would sink this young Royals team, it was that game. But the Royals shrugged it off and won the next two games, then took two of three games against the Cleveland Indians. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Royals being 8.5 games back of Detroit and seven games back in the Wild Card, with little chance of making the playoffs. Now they’re seven games back of Detroit and only two games back of the final Wild Card playoff spot.

As a Royals fan, I’ve discovered this phenomenon called September scoreboard watching and checking the standings. I keep checking the baseball scores and MLB division and wild card standings on my ESPN Scorecenter app. I start rooting for teams like the Boston Red Sox to win their games against the Orioles, Rays and Yankees, the teams ahead of the Royals in the Wild Card race. Every time the Red Sox beat them and the Royals win, the chances of a Royals Wild Card spot improves. I root for the Chicago White Sox, a team I don’t really care for, to win their nine games between the Tigers and Indians. If the Royals win and the Tigers and Indians lose, the Royals have a chance to move up in the A. L. Central standings.

In a way, this Royals playoff run is surreal. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, expecting the Royals to go on another losing streak or a team ahead of them in the Wild Card gets hot. There’s so much recent historical disappointment and losing, I expect things to go bad. Until the Royals make the playoffs, I’ll still be skeptical. But if the Royals go on a 14-2 winning tear similar to what the Colorado Rockies did late in 2007… well, a guy can dream, can’t he?

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Bird’s Eye View: The Showdowns Begin

For the first time in almost a month, the St. Louis Cardinals will enter a series as the division leader in the National League Central.  They are currently tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates and sit 2.5 games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds.

Birds Eye View Headeri70

As if the schedule makers of Major League Baseball knew ahead of time what would be happening, the next few weeks will test the three teams at the top of the National League Central division like no other.  The Cardinals open a three-game series with the Reds tonight in St. Louis before heading on a road trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.  They will then return home to face the Pirates once again, completing a 13-game, 14-day stretch that could very well decide the division.

Over the last ten games, the Cardinals are the hottest of the three teams, winning seven of their contests while the Pirates and Reds have both won five.  It has given the Cards a little cushion over the Reds and allowed them to catch the Pirates after chasing them for 23 days.

The series: Cincinnati Reds (74-57) at St. Louis Cardinals (76-54)
Standings: The Reds trail the Cardinals by 2.5 games in the NL Central.  The Reds hold a seven game lead in the Wild Card.
National Coverage: ESPN will carry the Monday night game while MLB Network is scheduled to carry the game on Tuesday night.

Game 1 – Mike Leake (11-5, 3.12 era) vs Tyler Lyons (2-4, 5.09 era)

The Cardinals head into this week in somewhat familiar territory this season, missing a pitcher.  Jake Westbrook found his way to the disabled list and his turn in the rotation marks the start of the series with the Reds.  Tyler Lyons will take the ball for the spot-start against Reds’ hurler Mike Leake.  Lyons has been under-whelming on the mound as a starter this season, posting an earned run average over five and only earning a victory twice.  The first game is the biggest challenge from a pitching standpoint for the Cardinals and they will need Lyons to return to his early-season production on the mound.  The first two starts of the season for Lyons were victories that seen the southpaw go seven innings and yield only one run in each contest.  On June 8th, Lyons took the mound against the Reds and lasted just over five innings and gave up four runs, earning his second loss of the season.

Mike Leake has not done well against St. Louis this season, though he does enjoy some moderate success over a few of their hitters.  In two starts this season against his division rival, Leake taken a loss in both games, lasting just five innings in each.  He gave up three runs on June 7th and seven runs on August 4th while allowing a total of 14 hits over both contests.  Leake looked impressive in his most recent outing, at least he did until the fifth inning when he surrendered four runs.  He managed a win and six innings pitched before the day was through and now looks to change his luck against the Redbirds when his team needs him most.

Game 2 – Mat Latos (13-4, 2.93 era) vs Joe Kelly (5-3, 3.09 era)

The biggest concern with Joe Kelly is how deep he will go into the game.  The Cardinals win when Kelly pitches, having won seven of the eight contests that Kelly has started, but the starter seldom sees action past six innings.  He keeps the team in position to win, though he tends to play with fire a bit and has to work his way out of jams often.  We have seen before in St. Louis that you cannot keep putting runners on base and expect to always find your way out of trouble.  If Kelly can keep the base runners to a minimum, you may see seven or eight innings out of him in the process.  For now, the team keeps winning when he takes the mound and the Cardinals will hope to continue that streak on Tuesday night.

The Reds counter with their most successful pitcher this year, sending Mat Latos to the mound to try and get the team rolling in the series.  Latos is riding a hot streak of going late into ballgames and defying the odds to do so.  His most recent start in Arizona saw him go eight innings while battling the flu and reportedly throwing up three different times over the course of the game.  Latos has taken the mound three times this season against the Cardinals and the Reds hold wins in all three of those games, Latos himself earning the victory in two of them.

Game 3 – Homer Bailey (8-10, 3.71 era) vs Adam Wainwright (15-7, 2.58 era)

It is hard for a team to arrange the starting rotation well when you play two divisional opponents for two straight weeks.  That puts staff ace Adam Wainwright on the mound in the final game against Cincinnati and missing the entire series against the Pirates this coming weekend.  Wainwright takes the mound on the heels of his major-league-leading fifth complete game of the season.  During his last outing, fans were witness to his rise in the rankings of all-time Cardinal pitchers.  Meanwhile, he won his 15th game of the season and improved his K/BB rate to a league leading 7.28.  He has currently walked fewer hitters than games he has pitched in and continues to develop into a more dangerous pitcher.  During Wednesday night’s game, he will pass the 200 inning mark for the season.

Homer Bailey will line up to take on the Cardinals for the third time this season where he will also be looking for his first win against the team.  His April 10th start against the Cardinals resulted in Bailey allowing seven runs, one of two times this season that he has allowed that many runs in a game.  Bailey has won four of his last five contests and continues to put together impressive numbers from time-to-time.  Consistency is what the Reds are hoping to start gaining from Bailey and he will look to build on his recent success in the Wednesday game with the Cardinals.

Final Notes

The Pirates will enter a three game series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.  The Brewers, who took two games in a three game set with the Reds this past weekend, are in a unique position to play spoiler in this division race.

Don’t be surprised if Carlos Beltran sits in the Monday game due to the matchup with the starting pitching.  He hist Latos and Bailey much better than he does Leake.

Kolten Wong continues to earn playing time despite leadership insisting that he is not here to shake things up.  His speed and defense have been impressive to this point, here’s to hoping we see his bat come around into the discussion soon.

Jon Jay is silencing his critics lately and helping lead the Cardinals back into the hunt.

My name is Bill Ivie and you can find my work at Yahoo! as well as on i70baseball, which is a member blog of the United Cardinal Bloggers.
Give me a follow on Twitter and talk some baseball with me from time to time.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

Triple Play: Jake Peavy, Michael Young, Joe Nathan

The non-waiver trade deadline is less than a week away. In this week’s Triple Play, we look at some of the players who are being bandied about in trade rumors, plus a few players who SHOULD be traded, along with our weekly Wainwright Walk Watch.

JakePeavy2

Who’s Hot?

Jake Peavy, ???

It’s not his pitching that has Peavy in the “hot” category – it’s all the trade rumors. With Matt Garza already traded and Cliff Lee not being made available by the Phillies, Peavy has been considered the top starter on the trade market. MLB Trade Rumors reported over the weekend that Peavy packed his bags and it’s highly unlikely he will make another start for the White Sox. ESPN’s Buster Olney is predicting that Peavy will end up with Oakland, which actually makes that scenario most unlikely. Rumors also have the Cardinals and Orioles in pursuit, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that nothing is imminent, while the O’s are “tapped out” financially, according to Jon Heyman. Peavy hasn’t been dominant since being activated from the disabled list after the All-Star break, but he has a 10-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has held opponents to a .229 batting average. The most logical destination remains Atlanta, regardless of what some national writers are reporting. After Tim Hudson’s horrific injury last week, the Braves need another starter. I think they can get a deal done with the White Sox that does not include top pitching prospect Alex Wood. Boston is another team that could use a starter, thanks to Clay Buchholz’s absence. The Red Sox are fairly deep in young players who could (should) interest the prospect-poor White Sox.

Who’s Not?

Michael Young, Philadelphia

As mentioned in last week’s column, I do not understand the infatuation with Young. There are plenty of players who can put up the following batting line: .277/.342/.402, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 38 runs, 1 SB. Here are some examples: Drew Stubbs (not a full-time outfielder), Luke Scott, Stephen Drew (both injured for part of the season), John Mayberry (reserve outfielder), Eric Chavez (reserve infielder), and David DeJesus (platoon outfielder). Yet several teams, including Young’s former team (Texas), have shown interest in him, despite his lackluster July performance (.236/.333/.375 batting line). If deployed as part of a strict platoon, Young could have some value as a designated hitter for a contender, but players like that should not require much in trade. This seems a case where Young’s past hitting success will result in the Phillies being able to obtain a couple of prospects from a team. That being the case, this should a no-brainer situation for the Phillies, who are in dire need of an infusion of young talent. Then again, GM Ruben Amaro hasn’t always shown in inclination to do what’s in the best interest of his team’s future. I’d say the chances of Young actually being traded are about 60-40, at best.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: 6-6, 3.06 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 3.57 K/BB, 134 ERA+

Player B: .278/.366/.500, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 42 runs, 146 OPS+

Player A is Kansas City’s Ervin Santana. Player B is the Padres’ Carlos Quentin. Both are players who should be traded by Wednesday’s deadline. Given the Angels’ terrible pitching this season, they would probably like to have Santana back. He has been up-and-down this year, but his two starts since the All-Star break have been terrific (both wins): 15 1/3 IP, 0.59 ERA, nine hits, one run allowed, nine strikeouts, three walks. He’s younger than Peavy, much less of a health risk, and has the capability to dominate. Kansas City is hovering around .500, honestly not much of a threat to the Tigers or Indians in the AL Central (the current six-game win streak notwithstanding). Considering the return package the Cubs received for Matt Garza, who will be a free agent at season’s end, the Royals should be able to match that for Santana.

Quentin, meanwhile, would be a perfect fit for a team looking for an outfield bat or DH upgrade (Rangers, Pirates, Orioles, Athletics). When he isn’t starting brawls with opposing pitchers, Quentin offers plenty of power (.866 OPS) that would boost several contenders’ lineups. Once the Padres get Cameron Maybin and Kyle Blanks back from the disabled list, they will have a glut of outfielders who should play most every day. Quentin’s contract, which pays him a combined $17.5 million in 2014-15, is quite reasonable, making him an even more attractive commodity. Trading Quentin for some young pitching would help San Diego on two fronts. Failing to trade him would be a mistake.

Player A: 1-2, 33 Sv, 1.69 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.7 K/9

Player B: 1-1, 32 Sv, 1.73 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 9.5 K/9

Player A is Mariano Rivera. Player B is the Rangers’ Joe Nathan, who could be on the block. At first blush, this would appear to drastically change the trade market. One of the premier closers in baseball suddenly being available would have contenders lining up, right? Teams like Detroit, Boston, and the L.A. Dodgers have dealt with bullpens in flux the entire season. But why would Texas trade Nathan to an AL contender? The Dodgers seem like a possibility, what with their bottomless wallets, but what do they have to offer the Rangers in exchange? The Pirates might have a need due to Jason Grilli’s injury, and they have the prospects to entice Texas, but if they are looking for hitters, not pitchers. With the Rangers chasing the Oakland Athletics in the NL West and several other teams in the wild-card hunt, it would seem like the Rangers would be better served to keep their closer. On the other hand, if they are determined to not exercise the $9 million team option for 2014 on the 38-year-old Nathan, that may be driving the decision to entertain trade offers.

Random Thoughts

  • Wainwright Walk Watch: Adam Wainwright went 37 innings before walking his first batter, so we are keeping track of how few free passes the Cardinals’ ace issues throughout the remainder of the season. After a fine start last Friday against the Braves (7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER) which resulted in a loss, Wainwright’s strikeout-to-walk ratio sits at 145-to-18 (8.06-to-1). That ratio is still the best in the majors. Wainwright’s main competition in the fewest-walks competition remains Oakland’s Bartolo Colon (also with 18 walks, but only 77 strikeouts). The next-best K/BB ratio belongs to Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma (5.86-to-1).
  • If Pittsburgh truly is considering a trade for Justin Morneau, I applaud the creative thinking. Garrett Jones can move to right field. Morneau’s experience might be just what the young, hungry Pirates need.
  • Another name that offense-starved teams should keep in mind: Kendrys Morales. Seattle seems to have about a half-team of first-base/DH types on the team; fan favorite Raul Ibanez probably isn’t going anywhere and Michael Morse wouldn’t bring as much in value. Morales, once an anchor for the Angels’ lineup, has belted 16 homers and driven in 58 runs this season. He would fit in well at first base in Pittsburgh, or at DH in Texas, Baltimore, Oakland, and Tampa Bay.
  • An ugly weekend for the Cardinals (getting broomed by the Braves in Atlanta) has some fans clamoring for a trade to either boost the rotation or replace shortstop Pete Kozma. If GM John Mozeliak can let Albert Pujols walk away after winning a World Series, I highly doubt one bad series is going to cause him to make a panic move.
  • Speaking of Pujols, the sight of him leaving the game Saturday night due to his plantar fasciitis was difficult to watch. Cardinals fans know how long that foot malady plagued Pujols in St. Louis, but he was able to play through it most of the time. If the condition is bad enough to force him to the disabled list, then the pain must be excruciating. His pain tolerance is one of the reasons he earned the nickname “The Machine.”
  • Beginning in 2014, the Angels have eight years and $212 left on his contract. Yikes.
  • News: Yahoo reported over the weekend that the Angels are “open for business.” Views: they really don’t have many marketable pieces; their middle infielders (Howard Kendrick, Erick Aybar) could attract some interest, but since they aren’t trading guys like Mike Trout or Mark Trumbo, they probably won’t be making very many deals.
  • Let’s see here: Jeter and Soriano homer, Rivera picks up win as Yankees rally to win. Is it 2013 or 2001?
  • A first-person review of Miami’s 20-year-old phenom Jose Fernandez as he shut down the Rockies at Coors Field last Tuesday night: he might not throw quite as hard as Justin Verlander or Aroldis Chapman, but Fernandez’s fastball absolutely explodes out of his hand. He is a much better pitcher already than Jeffrey Loria deserves.
  • Tino Martinez, fired over the weekend for alleged abusive conduct involving Marlins’ players, says he is “unsure” whether he will coach again. I think the rest of us are sure, Tino. You’re done. I wouldn’t count on a TV job anytime soon, either.
  • Series of the week: St. Louis at Pittsburgh. The Cardinals come to town with a one-game lead over the Pirates, who lost two of three to the Marlins. St. Louis is 2-3 against the Pirates this season. Pittsburgh is 32-18 at home in 2013.
  • Trade deadline prediction #1: the Orioles will find that they aren’t actually “tapped out” after all and make another deal for a pitcher.
  • Trade deadline prediction #2: Pittsburgh will find the additional hitter they need, along with another reliever to help cover the loss of Grilli.
  • Trade deadline prediction #3: Oakland, emboldened by their continued success without a big-name superstar, will make a big splash to bolster the team.
  • I guarantee at least a .333 average on these predictions. That, and 99 cents, will get you a Big Gulp.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

Posted in Cardinals, MLB, RoyalsComments (0)

The Hall Of Very Good Adds Two Members

On Monday, July 29, The Hall of Very Good™ opened its proverbial doors to two new members…two-time National League MVP, Atlanta Braves legend Dale Murphy and former Pittburgh Pirates World Series hero Steve Blass.
DaleMurphy
“Thank you for the honor of being selected to The Hall of Very Good!” Murphy said.  “It’s great going into this the second class of inductees and also fun to go in with a great person like Steve Blass.”
“I am flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Dale Murphy.  I think he epitomizes everything a Major Leaguer should be,” Blass added.  “I’m very flattered to be involved with something that has Dale Murphy’s name on it.”
Murphy is considered one of the nicest, most even tempered men ever to play Major League baseball.
Armed with both size and speed, the right-handed slugger was a five-tool outfielder who has the distinction of being one of the most productive and decorated players of the 1980s, having led the Majors in both home runs and RBI during the decade.
“The way I remember it, Dale Murphy’s opposite-field power was a big part of his MVP seasons of 1982 and 1983, when he hit 36 home runs both years. This was back before nearly every hitter crowded the plate and had muscled up and could easily hit one out the other way,” ESPN.com’s SweetSpot blogger Dave Schoenfield said.  “Baseball in the ‘80s will be remembered in part for the drug scandals, but Murphy represents the best of the decade: A class act and a great player.”
At the time of his retirement, Murphy’s 398 home runs ranked 19th all-time.  His back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and 1983 made him one of only four outfielders to win in consecutive years and, at the time, the youngest.
Blass is one of the great mysteries in the history of Major League Baseball.
After his first eight seasons in the bigs, the right-hander put up an impressive 100-67 record with a 3.24 ERA and an amazing 56 complete games.  During the 1971 World Series, he made history with a spectacular Game Seven performance.  Now the Pittsburgh Pirates undisputed ace, he finished second to Steve Carlton for the 1972 Cy Young Award.  By the time 1973 rolled around, Blass had, plain and simple, lost the ability to throw strikes.  He was out of the league a year later.
“It may be said that (Steve Blass) was like the girl with the curl: when he was good, he was very, very good, and when he was bad he was horrid,” John Thorn, Official Baseball Historian for Major League Baseball said.  “But Blass was a national hero for a moment, and how many ballplayers can say that?”
Today, he is an inspiration to many, has garnered the respect of many of his former peers on the diamond and one of the game’s best color commentators.
Murphy and Blass join the inaugural member of The Hall of Very Good™, 2012 inductee, former pitcher Tommy John.
“Murphy should be in Cooperstown,” John said.  “Blass was a very good pitcher.”
********************
You can read more about the induction of Dale Murphy and Steve Blass into The Hall of Very Good™ by visiting http://hallofverygood.com or by following The Hall on Facebook (http://facebook.com/hallofverygood) or Twitter (http://twitter.com/hovg).
ABOUT DALE MURPHY
PLAYING CAREER:  Atlanta Braves (1976–1990), Philadelphia Phillies (1990–1992) and Colorado Rockies (1993).
ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .265 with 2111 hits, 398 home runs and 1266 RBI.  Back-to-back National League MVP in 1982 and 1983.  Hit 20-plus home runs 12 times, 30-plus six times and 40 or more…once.  Knocked in 100 runs five times and scored 100 runs four times.  From 1982 to 1985…hit .293, averaging 36 home runs and 110 RBI.  Shares Major League record for most seasons leading the league in games played by an outfielder with six.  Five-time Gold Glove Award winner (1982-1986) and seven-time All-Star (1980 and 1982-1987).  Had his number retired by the Atlanta Braves in 1994. 
ABOUT STEVE BLASS
PLAYING CAREER:  Pittsburgh Pirates (1964, 1966-1974).
ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career win-loss record of 103-76 with 57 complete games, an ERA of 3.63 and 896 strikeouts.  Went 18-6 in 1968 with a 2.12 ERA with seven shutouts.  In 1969, won 16 with a career-high 147 strikeouts.  From 1969 to 1972, he won 60 games.  Notched a career-high 19 victories in 1972 and finished second in Cy Young Award voting.  1971 World Series Champion.  Member of 1972 National League All-Star team.

Posted in Classic, Featured, MLBComments (0)

Triple Play: Carlos Gomez, Jeff Keppinger, Yadier Molina

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Triple Play. This week, we name our picks for the hottest and, um, not hottest players as we head into the All-Star break, plus a breakdown of one player’s Jekyll-and-Hyde season, and other random thoughts, including our weekly Wainwright Walk Watch. Let’s dive in:

Molina r1

Who’s Hot?

Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers

While Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis have, justifiably, gotten the lion’s share of the headlines for their performances this season, Gomez has quietly turned into one of the top 10 all-around players in baseball this season. In fact, Baseball-Reference lists Gomez as its number one player in Wins Above Replacement (5.7), ahead of Cabrera, Davis, Clayton Kershaw and Manny Machado. Much of his value is placed on his Defensive WAR figure of 2.9 (second only to Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons), but Gomez has been an offensive force as well. With a hitting line of .295/.337/.533, 14 HR, 45 RBI, 21 SB, and 51 runs scored, Gomez has been one of two bright spots for an abysmal Brewers team (Jean Segura is the other). While Gomez’s breakout (in his age 27 season) has been largely unnoticed by places like ESPN and Fox Sports, fantasy owners certainly have taken notice. He is on pace for a 25-75-40-90 season, which would put him right on the fringe of the top tier of outfielders. Gomez also leads the league with nine triples. And that game-ending catch a few days ago to rob Joey Votto of a home run is one of the best catches you will see this year (or any other). The Brewers may be having a down season, but between Gomez and Segura, at least their fans have two reasons for optimism.

Runner-up: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

I’m running out of superlatives to describe Davis’ hitting prowess through the first 4½ months of 2013, so I’ll just list his statistics here: 37 HR, 93 RBI, 70 runs, .717 slugging pct, 193 OPS+. He is now tied with Reggie Jackson for most long balls hit at the All-Star break (only Barry Bonds hit more). He is on pace to club 62 home runs, knock in 153, and score 117 runs. Incidentally, Davis is also in his age-27 season. Obviously, the 62 home runs would surpass Roger Maris in the record book, which is sure to draw even more idiots like Rick Reilly out to cast suspicion on Davis without a shred of evidence. That’s the truly sobering effect of the Steroid Era: today’s players are being punished for the actions of others in the previous generation.

Who’s Not?

Jeff Keppinger, Chicago White Sox

According to Fangraphs, Keppinger has been the worst everyday player in the majors this season, with a -1.2 Wins Above Replacement player rating. That’s just a year removed from putting together a career-best year with the Tampa Bay Rays (2.7 WAR). Keppinger has two home runs, 25 RBI, 21 runs scored, and a cringe-inducing batting line of .246/.274/.294 in 303 plate appearances. His park-adjusted OPS+ is just 53, meaning that he has barely been worth HALF of a replacement player. Ugh. And hey, White Sox fans (all eight of you), the Jeff Keppinger Experience runs through 2015, thanks to that three-year, $12 million dollar “bargain” contract your team offered after the fluke 2012 season. My condolences.

Runner-up: Joe Blanton, Los Angeles Angels

By any measure, the former Phillie has been terrible for the Angels this season. He “leads” the American League in hits (148) and home runs (23) allowed and sports a 5.53 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. Other stats (including WAR) indicate that pitchers like San Diego’s Jason Marquis, Houston’s Lucas Harrell and Kansas City’s Jeremy Guthrie have been worse this season, but all of those pitchers have been credited with at least five wins. That gives them at least a shred of value in fantasy baseball. Blanton is 2-12, giving him no value whatsoever in any context. He is the first Angels pitcher to have a dozen losses at the All-Star break since 1974. This is what happens when a team blows all its big dollars on hitting and has to settle for third-tier free agents to fill out a pitching staff. By the way, Joe, don’t be blaming your catcher (Chris Iannetta) or your pitching coach (Mike Butcher). If you want to know who to blame for being such a rotten pitcher, just take a gander in the mirror.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: .259/.342/.512, 12 HR, 40 RBI, 27 runs, 2 SB, .854 OPS

Player B: .167/.263/.232, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 11 runs, 1 SB, .495 OPS

Player A is what Mark Reynolds did between Opening Day and Memorial Day. Player B is the version from Memorial Day till now. Egads. You knew Reynolds wouldn’t stay as hot as he was in April, when he batted .301 with 8 HR and 22 RBI, but this slump is beyond ghastly. Thus far in July, Reynolds has limp-noodled his way to a .091 average with one lone RBI. With Lonnie Chisenhall showing some flashes of potential at third base, Reynolds might find himself on the bench more and more frequently. The way he is hitting right now, that’s exactly where he belongs.

Player A: 6-1 W-L, 3.16 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 62 strikeouts

Player B: 6-4 W-L, 4.29 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 66 strikeouts

Player A is Matt Garza, likely the most coveted starter in this year’s trade market. He has fully convinced teams that he is healthy and the numbers back that up. At least five teams have been rumored to have interest in the right-hander; that number figures to go up as the Cubs notified him over the weekend that he is being shopped. Player B is the White Sox’ Jake Peavy, currently on a rehab assignment. This rehab assignment is critical for player and team. Neither Chicago team is going anywhere this year, so it would make sense for the White Sox to deal Peavy for prospects. You have to figure, though, that he needs to get back to the majors and turn in a quality start or two before the July 31 non-waiver deadline before any team will part with any talent for the 32-year-old. It would be a risk, but Peavy could prove to be a decent consolation prize for teams that don’t end up acquiring Garza.

Random Thoughts

  • Wainwright Walk Watch: Adam Wainwright pitched 37 innings this season before walking his first batter, so we are keeping track of how few free passes the Cardinals’ ace issues throughout the season. At the All-Star break, Wainwright has walked just 15 hitters while fanning 130, good for a major-league best 8.67-to-1 K/BB ratio. He definitely wasn’t at his best Sunday night versus the Cubs (8 hits, 4 ER allowed, 111 pitches in six innings), but he still only walked one batter.
  • Speaking of the Sunday night game, what a deflating loss for the Cubs. They rallied against Wainwright in the 6th inning to take the lead, only to give it right back in the 7th. Then they tied the game in the bottom of the 8th against closer Edward Mujica and coughed up four runs in the 9th to lose the game. Ouch.
  • Yadier Molina, despite the sore knee and what appeared to be a split fingernail, went 4-6 on Sunday with a home run, two doubles, four RBI and three runs scored. He leads the NL with a .337 average. He also has 34 multi-hit games this season and has thrown out 45% of would-be base stealers.
  • If there is a more complete player in baseball right now, I don’t know who it is.
  • Why yes, Jordany Valdespin, throwing a hissy fit and calling your manager a filthy word right after getting sent down to Triple-A is a BRILLIANT career move. Well done. I suspect it may take him a little longer to get recalled from the minors than it did for Ike Davis.
  • News: CBS Sports is reporting that the Padres may make Chase Headley available in trade. Views: they should have done that last year.
  • The Phillies will be an interesting team to watch the next several weeks. Oh, not because they are serious contenders or anything, but because every ball hit to the outfield will be an adventure without speedy Ben Revere patrolling center field. Domonic Brown and Delmon Young are, um, not strong defenders, so Revere had a huge responsibility covering for them. John Mayberry is not a long-term solution.
  • Going into the All-Star break, here are the major-league leaders in some categories and who SHOULD be the leader in those categories:
    • Grounded into double plays: Matt Holliday, St. Louis (22). Who should lead this category:  Yuniesky Betancourt, Milwaukee. Just on general principle.
    • Hit by pitch: Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati, 20. Who should lead: Miguel Montero, Arizona. Is there anyone in baseball he hasn’t whined about yet? Just shut up already.
    • Errors committed: Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh (16). Who should lead: Starlin Castro, Chicago. Every time I watch him play, he does at least one boneheaded thing. I don’t envy Dale Sveum.
    • Wild pitches: (tie) Edwin Jackson, Chicago and Trevor Cahill, Arizona (11). Who should lead: Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay. The pitches would be straighter if he would wear his hat properly.
  • Did you see that Indians fan who caught FOUR foul balls during Sunday afternoon’s game? Just ridiculous. That’s four more than I’ve caught in my life. Not that I’m envious or anything.
  • So, the Twins won a game started by CC Sabathia for the first time in six years yesterday. That’s a completely useless bit of trivia, yet it’s one of those statistics that makes me absolutely love baseball.
  • Glad to see the Giants use the momentum from Tim Lincecum‘s no-hitter Saturday and whip the Padres again Sunday. Oh, wait…
  • I’m more of a National League guy, so I am rooting for the NL All-Stars to win and gain home-field advantage in the World Series. But I would be lying if I said it wouldn’t be kinda neat for Mariano Rivera to close out the game in his final appearance.
  • Well, that whole Freddie Freeman fan-vote thing was much ado about nothing, wasn’t it? Can we put Yasiel Puig in the game now?

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

Promising Careers

Another month has gone, the calendar has flipped to June, and Major League Baseball is already seeing its share of injuries. Injuries are never good for any team, but it does give an opportunity to promising minor leaguers who are itching for a chance to prove their worth on a big league club.

Top Rookies Baseball

Jurickson Profar – Texas Rangers
I am not sure what it is about Profar, but I have a feeling that he is going to be a huge asset once he has been in the majors for a while. I drafted him for my fantasy team this year and he sat on my bench for months until he was finally called up to play for the Rangers. Obviously his minor league stats did nothing for me, but I knew he would get the call soon so I did not want to let him go. Now, since Ian Kinsler has been injured, Profar will get his chance to prove he can play ball with the big boys. According to ESPN, he will be splitting time at second base with Leury Garcia while Kinsler’s ribs heal. The 20 year old has been in 10 games so far with 6 RBIs and a .324 average. He has been on the major league radar since a young age when he pitched for the Dominican Republic in the Little League World Series. Most teams wanted him as a pitcher, but he signed with the Rangers because they gave him the freedom to play where he wanted.

Kevin Gausman – Baltimore Orioles
Some calls ups are good and some do not turn out quite as planned. The Baltimore Orioles called up starting pitcher Kevin Gausman recently and his debut did not go well. Not that Gausman will have a bad career, but his first opportunity to play in a big league club rattled him pretty severely. On the road with the Orioles, he pitched 9 innings and allowed 11 earned runs. That was 11. Earned. Sometimes even the most talented prospects cannot handle the intensity and skill of big league hitters. Once the team was on home turf, Gausman was able to relax and get more into a grove. During his last start, he allowed only 1 earned run over 6 innings which brought his ERA down to 7.20 with a 0-2 win-loss record. He still has a lot to learn, but hopefully it will not be at the expense of the Orioles.

Michael Wacha – St Louis Cardinals
When the St Louis Cardinals called up starting pitcher Michael Wacha he pitched 7 innings with only one earned run. After pitching a gem for his major league debut he ended up with a no-decision as the Cardinals bullpen could not keep it together. They lost after a 4 1/2 hour rain delay toward the end of the game, but Wacha certainly proved his ability to take on big league hitters. At least for now.

Fans everywhere get nervous and excited when suddenly a new player is added to their team’s active roster. Maybe the fans have no idea who these new players are, or maybe they have heard all about their bright futures, but either way every one watches closely to see how much they will either damage or help their club.

Posted in Cardinals, MLBComments (0)

Kansas City Royals – Contenders Or Pretenders?

As a baseball fan watching Kansas City suffer for years, I have to wonder if they are actually a good contender this season for the playoffs, or if this is just their 15 minutes of fame.

Kauffman Cover Photo

There is certainly something for Royals’ fans to get excited about right now. At this point in the year, Kansas City is 17-10, when last season at this time they were only 10-20. A dramatic difference. Pitching, in particular, seems to be carrying most of the team, but their offense is not far behind.

Royal Pitching

Veterans like Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie are having stellar seasons. They have combined for 7 Wins to date, both with having an ERA under 2.50 and WHIP just above 1.00. According to ESPN, while Santana is owned in 97% of fantasy leagues, Guthrie is only owned in 50%. Guthrie brings a commendable work ethic to the team and I think would be a valuable pick-up if he is still available in your league. The right-hander excels at mixing all of his pitches to keep hitters off balance, and he recently threw his first major league shut-out.

The Royals’ starting rotation has been rounded out with the new additions of Wade Davis and James Shields. While Davis is has been struggling since joining Kansas City with a 4.75 ERA, he hopefully can get back down to that 2.43 ERA he finished with in 2012. And Shields may soon become the ace of the team, filling the void that Zack Greinke left. Both Davis and Shields are 2-2 this season.

The Royals’ bullpen has been strengthened with former-starting-pitchers-now-relievers, Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar. Chen has not allowed an earned run yet this year in 5 appearances, and Hochevar has only given up 1 earned run in 7 appearances. Greg Holland is settling in nicely as a solid anchor for the bullpen. He has 7 saves so far this year and only 1 blown.

Royal Batting

Kansas City’s pitching has started off hot, but the fans are still waiting to see the promise the line-up showed during Spring Training this year. There are only three batters with an average above .300 right now, Jarrod Dyson is one of them and he only has 20 plate appearances so far.

The power is not quite there yet from their top hitters. It somehow got lost in the transition between Spring Training and the regular season. If this team can get their bats going and keep the pitching consistent, they can be a force for the entire summer.

Fantasy owners might want to watch players like Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, and Mike Moustakas. They have all been showing signs of improving in their last 15 games, and might just break out of their slumps soon. Moustakas is only 39% owned in fantasy leagues which is obviously due to his struggle at the plate. If he can start making solid contact again, he will prove he deserves a position on your fantasy roster.

Even though the Kansas City line-up is not producing the way they are capable of, they can still be tough to beat in the American League Central. But if history is any indication, this poor team does not have a chance. If someone were to walk into the baseball world right now and not know anything about the Royals’ past, they would never know that they are usually toward the bottom of the AL Central division.

First place Detroit Tigers better take notice that Kansas City is only a half game back. Can they keep this up? Is this just a flash in the pan? If the starting pitching can continue eating up innings, their bullpen will be able to stay fresh for the long season. And if their bats start producing, then I would say that the Royals can shed the pretender branding and will be a contender in 2013.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Wild Card Game Times Announced

Thursday’s Potential Yankees @ Orioles A.L. East Tiebreaker Game Would Be at 7:10 P.M. (ET) If Necessary

Major League Baseball today announced game times for a potential A.L. East Tiebreaker game on Thursday, the inaugural Wild Card Games presented by Budweiser on Friday and the pair of Division Series-opening Game Ones, involving the Detroit Tigers in the American League and the Cincinnati Reds against the San Francisco Giants in the National League.

DAY

DATE

GAME

TIME

Thurs.

Oct. 4th

*NYY @ BAL (If Necessary)

7:10 p.m. (ET)

Fri.

Oct. 5th

N.L. Wild Card Game, STL @ ATL

5:07 p.m. (ET)

Fri.

Oct. 5th

A.L. Wild Card Game

8:37 p.m. (ET)

Sat.

Oct. 6th

ALDS Game 1 @ DET

6:07 p.m. (ET)

Sat.

Oct. 6th

NLDS Game 1, CIN @ SF

9:37 p.m. (ET)/6:37 p.m. (PT)

 Please note that the schedule above is tentative and subject to change based on postponed and/or suspended games.

TBS would provide exclusive coverage of the potential A.L. East Tiebreaker Game.  TBS will air up to 18 of the potential Division Series games, while MLB Network will air a Division Series game on Sunday, October 7th and Wednesday, October 10th.  ESPN Radio will provide live national coverage of all 2012 MLB Postseason games, as well as the potential Tiebreaker Game.

Posted in Cardinals, FeaturedComments (0)

Shelby Miller righting the ship

St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller has bounced back from two sub par outings and has now fanned 15 batters in his last 10 innings after tossing five shutout frames Tuesday.

 

Miller did not appear to be a strong consideration to make the Cards’ rotation out of spring training but it wasn’t completely ruled out until he was shipped to minor league camp in March. He’s the No. 2 starting pitching prospect in Keith Law’s Top 100 and the No. 1 arm remaining in the minors (Tampa’s Matt Moore already is in the Rays’ rotation).

Miller’s ETA could depend largely on the club’s workload plan for the right-hander, as he’s not likely to be allowed to approach 200 innings after throwing 139 2/3 last season at age 19.

Here’s what ESPN’s Keith Law had to say about Miller just prior to the start of the season:

“He will sit in the low- to mid-90s and touch 97 mph as a starter with a sharp breaking ball in the upper-70s/low-80s with good depth that misses right-handed hitters’ bats. He continued to make progress this year with his changeup, a pitch he rarely needed or used as an amateur, and the pitch has good tailing action that has helped him gets some swinging strikes against lefties. He is very receptive to coaches’ suggestions and has proved a quick study so far. He often lands on the third-base side of the rubber and comes slightly across his body, creating deception but also potentially putting stress on his shoulder. If the Cardinals can keep him more on line, and he sees more improvement in the changeup and command of the fastball, he’s a potential No. 1 starter for the Cardinals in two or three years.

Posted in Cardinals, MinorsComments (0)

Fantasy Sports Machine