Saturday, June 26, 2010
The biggest issue is that the Indians now lose their starting first baseman and home run leader. This move means Matt LaPorta will get another chance at the big leagues after a very impressive rebound in Columbus. LaPorta was batting .353 with five homers and 16 RBI in 17 games with the Clippers.
Well, it doesn't look like Aaron Laffey was the right choice to start that game. I never was a fan of him personally, I always felt he was a bit overrated. It would have given him confidence if we could have scored runs, but we didn't. Carlos Santana had another home run, his power is continuing to blossom. A nice game for Aaron Harang. Seven innings, 3 earned runs. Nothing spectacular, but it helps his stock if they do plan on trading him.
Player of the Game: Drew Stubbs
A very solid game for the young outfielder. Drew Stubbs had two hits on the night, including a two run homer in the 2nd, and four RBI. Although this was a team effort, Stubbs started the run production and deserves to be player of the game.
Friday, June 25, 2010
The injured man, Theodore Zeman III, told police that a group of ballplayers were taunting him while he was at the bar, then assaulted him after he raised his hand in a gesture to stop them, according to a police report. Zeman, 25, of Seven Hills, spent at least two days in the hospital after sustaining a punctured lung and rib fractures in the brawl, Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards said.
Well, I guess we have to wait and see how this turns out. Hopefully they are found not guilty. These guys need to realize that playing professional baseball is a privilege and not a right. If I hear more I will keep you updated.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
That game was just pitiful. They played better than us at every aspect of the game. The most interesting stat I've found though is that every one of there starters scored at least one run. Including Joe Blanton. When run production is that spread out, there is no player of the game. There was no catalyst. We were beaten by the Phillies as a team. If I had to choose a player of the game, it would probably be Placido Polanco; he had four hits and two RBI.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jimmy Rollins
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
To take his spot on the roster, the Indians called up Joe Smith. Smith struggled in his first stint with the Tribe this year, compiling a 7.71 ERA and walking 6. Smith has worked hard and had a 1.96 ERA with the Clippers in 20 appearances. Smith looks to improve during his second stint and I hope he can help fortify our bullpen.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
-Lastings Milledge is batting .444 with 2 outs and runners in scoring position. That is an incredible achievement for him and he showed why that is so high. In his first at bat he hustled down the line to beat out that infield single. Even better play by Andrew McCutchen. That is heads up baseball. Also, it proves my point about Jason Donald. He doesn't have the arm to be a shortstop. When Asdrubal gets back he will make a solid 2nd baseman.
-David Huff isn't good, 'Nuff said.
-What a play by Walker at 2nd to rob Jhonny
-A terrific night at the plate for Milledge, as of now only a homer away from the cycle. 4 RBI also and they're only in the 5th!
-RBI double and first major league hit for Alvarez, congrats.
-What a clutch homer by Branyan; that was a laser shot.
-A match-up guy for Luis Valbuena? Really? Not really sure why...
-Peralta got a hit!?! No way!
-Another full count walk for Carlos Santana, very nice.
FINAL SCORE: CLE 4 PIT 6
Well, that was a solid game by both teams. Pitching was a bit lack luster but defense and batting were solid. My players of the game: Andrew McCutchen, Lastings Milledge, and Russell Branyan. McCutchen was on base every single at bat including the big triple in the 8th inning. Milledge was only a home run away from the cycle and had a big 4 RBI game. Russell Branyan kept the Tribe in it with his big 3-run homer.
Current Record: 23-44 (6th NL Central)
Manager: John Russell
Team Outlook: They're the Pirates. If you are reading a MLB blog, you know all about them. They aren't good, they haven't been good in the past, and chances are they aren't going to get much better. I hope they do, and with so many high draft picks, they should.
When only one of your starters has an ERA under 5.00, Paul Maholm, you have some issues. The Pirates have the second highest team ERA in the majors. You cannot expect to win games if your pitchers don't even give you a shot. The only bright spot is that all five starters are age 27 or younger, so in theory there is room for improvement. Malholm is also the club leader in wins with four. Four? Really? This starting core really needs to improve if the Pirates believe they can ever win.
Luckily for the Pirates, the bullpen is actually not that bad. Evan Meek has a .70 ERA in 38.2 innings pitched to go along with 35 strike outs. That's a pretty good line. Javier Lopez's 2.22 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched is decent as well. On the down side, he only has 12 strike outs. Joel Hanrahan, D.J. Carrasco, and Brendan Donnelly don't have that impressive stat lines, but they aren't awful either. One stat that does stand out is Hanrahan's 44 strike outs in only 28.2 innings pitched; that is quite impressive. That turns out to be an unbelievable 13.81 K/9. Octavio Dotel's 5.61 ERA is not acceptable if he is to keep the closer role. Meek and Hanrahan could be used as trade bait for contenders in need of bullpen help and that might be the best part of their success this year.
Pittsburgh's pitching isn't the only part of their game struggling; their position players aren't helping either. Fielding wise, they are tied for the third worst fielding percentage in the league with .979%. To go along with that, they also have the third most errors in the league with 53. Bad pitching + Bad fielding = a lot of runs scored by the opposing team. A lot of errors come from lack of focus or lack of drive from continuous losing.
Starting to sense a pattern? The Pirates are near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories. 29th in team batting average, 29th in total RBI, and last in hits; this team struggles in all aspects of hitting. One of the few bright spots on the team is Garret Jones. While 10 home runs and a .278 batting average aren't spectacular, the 42 RBI is decent, especially for a struggling team. Ryan Church is batting .180 in 120 at bats; he should be either released or sent down to AAA because that is just unacceptable. Ronny Cedeno is struggling with a .232 average, not a surprise. Lastings Milledge isn't having the greatest year, but through 12 June games he is batting .342. If Milledge could find some power, which he hasn't had throughout his career, he could be a dangerous middle of the order player. Since suffering concussion-like symptoms last week, Ryan Doumit has been struggling more than usual. Neil Walker and Jose Tabata are both young players who are still getting used to playing in the big leagues and only time will tell how well they can adjust to major league pitching. The Pirates need Pedro Alvarez to show why he was one of the top prospects in all of baseball. At this point, Alvarez still doesn't have a hit; a bit surprising even though he has only played 3 games. At 6-3, 223 pounds, he has a ton of power potential. Alvarez needs to play well if the Pirates want to win games.
Key Player to Watch: Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen is a beast in center field. He is one of the more athletic players in the game and can routinely be seen diving his way into Baseball Tonight's Web Gems segment. At age 23 and only his second year in the majors, McCutchen is establishing himself as one of the best overall players in the game. Due to his explosive speed, McCutchen is batting .319 with 17 stolen bases. While he won't challenge Albert Pujols or Ryan Howard for the home run title, his 7 home runs are solid for a speed player. One might be concerned that he only has 21 RBI, but I'm not. When no one around him is getting on base, there aren't opportunities. Also, he plays for Pittsburgh, cut him some slack.
Prospect Watch: Chase D'Arnaud, Argenis Diaz, Tony Sanchez, Gorkys Hernandez, Starling Marte
Wrap-Up: 2010 is another long year for Pirates fans. Luckily Andrew McCutchen is there for your enjoyment, but there really isn't that much else to look forward to right now. Hopefully Pedro Alvarez pans out and the pitching staff settles down a little bit. Look for another last place finish by the Pirates this year.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Current Record: 38-28 (2nd NL East)
Manager: Jerry Manuel
Team Outlook: The Mets are playing better than I had expected this year, but it is still early. Knowing them, as we get near the end of the season, they will choke and not make the playoffs. There is a lot of talent on this team, especially their position players. The injury bug always seems to plague this team and if they can avoid it then they could challenge for a spot in the playoffs.
As far as the pitching staff goes, there are a few guys to look at. Johan Santana is not what he used to be; the days of pitching dominance are over. Santana is still a great pitcher but injuries and age seem to be taking a toll on the former Cy Young winner. Hopefully he can figure out why his K/9 is down and BB/9 is up or it might be a long season for Santana. While there are no 20 win seasons left in his tank, expect mid to low teens victories for him this year. The surprise of the staff is Mike Pelfrey. While improvement was expected, I doubt anyone saw him becoming this good, this fast. He is tied, with nine victories, for third most in the majors. His 2.39 ERA is remarkable. Unfortunately, these two guys cannot pitch every game, all game. Jonathon Niese has been pitching well recently, and if he can stay consistent then he should be a solid middle of the rotation guy. Of course John Maine and Oliver Perez are on the DL; where else would they be? The Mets need another starter and are looking at the likes of Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook, and Kevin Millwood. I would love to trade Westbrook and he would fit well, especially since the Mets can afford his big contract. The Mets don't need an ace, just someone who will go out there and pitch an above average game. Westbrook does that (some days).
The bullpen is nothing special either. K-rod is not the shutdown closer of his record-breaking season, but he is still one of the better closers in the league. Elmer Dessens has pitched well and seems to be settling into the set-up role with Pedro Feliciano, also pitching well. But you also have players like Jenrry Mejia who are not good. Although Mejia is only 20, I really don't think he has the stuff to be a great pitcher. Baseball America ranked him as the Mets' best prospect before the season; but after seeing the way he has played, I have my doubts. I hope I'm wrong and wish him the best; but I just don't see it. The bullpen is only average and may need an upgrade if the Mets plan on making a playoff run.
On paper, the Mets have very good position players. You know what David Wright will give you, an all-star caliber season. Jose Reyes played well in the series against the Tribe and hopefully will make his return as one of the better shortstops in the game. I don't expect it, but if he does, it will be fun to watch. Jason Bay is overrated in my opinion. He did play well for Boston last year, but I really don't think he was the best fit for this team. His numbers are significantly down this year and I don't think he will catch fire. With Mets fans becoming increasingly impatient for a title, will they turn on him if he doesn't improve? Rod Barajas is having an excellent season. While he is no star, he is a solid catcher and has a nice approach at the plate. I am not a Jeff Francoeur fan and I could see him being traded in a deal for a middle of the rotation pitcher. Angel Pagan is having a decent season but nothing special. Alex Cora is expendable. The Mets have a surprisingly young team as well, and their continued improvement is crucial to the success of the team. Overall, a solid but not spectacular team.
Key Player To Watch: Ike Davis
The rookie phenom is the most important part of this team. Davis has emerged as both a solid first-baseman and big league clean-up hitter. Every single game he goes out there and gives everything he has because he loves his job. He even showed his ability as a clutch hitter when he hit that game winning home run in extras against the Padres. He looked like a kid out there with as much fun as he was having. At 23, he has a lot of time to get experience and improve, which he will. While the RBI are not where they should be, you must remember that he is only a rookie. If Davis can continue to play as he is and improve as he gets used to the majors, expect great things out of this young man.
Prospect Watch: Wilmer Flores, Fernando Martinez, Brad Holt, Reese Havens, Josh Thole
Wrap-Up: The Mets have a chance to be a contender if they avoid the injury bug and their young players continue to improve. Davis, Tejada, and Mejia need to show why they were so highly regarded by the organization and need to prove that they deserve to stay on the major league roster. With young talented players, veterans like Santana and Wright need to keep keep them on track to their ultimate goal of winning a championship. Unfortunately for them, I don't see it. With an inspired Atlanta team in front of them and a Philadelphia team that will play better as the season progresses, the Mets need to play well if they expect to make the playoffs.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The Cleveland Indians
Current Record: 25-39 (5th AL Central)
Manager: Manny Acta
Team Outlook: This year is playing out as it was supposed to: awful. This was the year where there really were no expectations. The past couple of years this team was supposed to make a run into the playoffs only to run into adversity and see it all crash down. In a rebuilding year, the Indians are last in the Majors in attendance. As one of the few dedicated Tribe fans left, it disappoints me. This fan base was one of the best in the Majors, (the number 455 was actually retired as "The Fans") but now going to games is almost depressing.
The pitching staff is not good. There really isn’t another way to say it. While a lot of the starters have shown a flash of brilliance, there is no consistency. Westbrook is going to give you some shutout innings, but the very next inning will be terrible. Carmona seems to be improving, but his confidence is still shot. He was sent down to rookie ball last season. Rookie. At one point he was considered to be our future ace of the staff. Don’t expect another year like 2007 out of him. Talbot seems serviceable, but he is at best a number 4 starter on another staff; add that to the fact that we traded Kelly Shoppach for him seems to indicate it was a solid trade. David Huff does not have it. I was at the game on Sunday when he pitched against Stephen Strasburg, (who looked absolutely amazing by the way) and he just does not have the stuff. It could be argued that this was the biggest game of his career and that he had to bring his A-game. ESPN said it was the second highest attendance the Indians would have all season, the game was nationally televised, and he was going head-to-head with one of the most hyped players of all time. Huff pitched well for the first couple of innings but you could tell that he was trying harder than he ever had before. By about the fifth inning, he was wiped. He had nothing left in the tank. You have to expect more out of your starters than five innings if you expect to win, and he just couldn’t do it. Our crop of starting pitchers really just is not that talented and I really do not see any of these guys becoming head of the staff pitchers.
Our starters are not good but I do think our bullpen has a chance to be good in the future. Tony Sipp started the year looking very good but he has struggled as of late. Rafael Perez was one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the game in 2007 and I hope he returns to form. Chris Perez gives up a few too many hits for my liking to be a shut-down closer, but he is still young and has time to improve. Joe Smith is a serviceable set-up man if he can stay healthy. I really like the move of calling up Frank Herrmann, he seems to really be finding his own as a solid middle relief man. Don’t expect him to be an All-star but I can see him continuing to help our staff or someone else’s for a long time. I really wish Acta would move Masterson back to the bullpen. He has solid stuff, he really does, but he hasn’t given a legitimate reason to stay in the rotation. In Boston he was really good in the bullpen and I think it would really help secure ours if we moved him back.
Pitchers can only do so much; they need offensive and defensive help from the position players. Right now, our pitchers are not getting any help. Our defense is awful. The Indians have the fourth most errors in the Majors with 48 and are ranked 23rd in fielding percentage. Our problems start at third base. Jhonny Peralta cannot handle the hot corner, he can’t. The Tribe will not succeed as long as he is our starting third baseman. It is just disgusting as a fan to see him there. It isn’t like he was a solid fielding shortstop either; we kept him there because he was a solid hitter. Right now, the bat isn’t there either. Unfortunately, there is no solid major league replacement ready to take his place. Andy Marte showed his inability to play the position with his 3 errors in an inning last week. Jason Donald seems to have the range to play in the middle infield but I’m not sure if he has the arm to play shortstop. I say put Donald at 2nd and send Luis Valbuena down to AAA; why is he still on the club when he is batting .174? Shin-Soo Choo is not a good fielder, that’s why he is in right field, but the former pitcher has, in my opinion, the best arm of any outfielder. Choo is also one of our more consistent batters, especially home at Progressive Field. Travis Hafner seems to be heating up lately, but I still am not a fan. If you look at him, he just isn’t as big as he was during his powerful 2004 days. Our two best position players, Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore, are both injured right now and hopefully recover fully from their injuries. He has batted well this year, but I really question Acta’s decision to put 6-4, 240 lb Austin Kearns in center field; he does not run well. I like Trevor Crowe’s athleticism and ability to make big catches, keep him there for now.
Key Player to Watch: Carlos Santana
This kid is absolutely amazing. Barring injuries, I expect this kid to become a perennial all-star. Santana has all of the skills to become an eventual MVP candidate. As a catcher, his arm strength is ridiculous. Every single throw has been on target and on time. In last night’s game I saw him gun multiple runners down but unfortunately Valbuena missed the tag on one of them. As a hitter, I expect multiple Silver Slugger awards out of him. He has the power to hit homeruns, he is a switch hitter capable of making contact, he can hit for power to opposite field, it is all there. I saw him play against the Nationals, and he was just amazing. I think his best and most underrated skill is his poise and patience. At the plate, he never swings at bad pitches; his eye is as good now as most veteran players. Even when he does not get a hit, he goes up there and takes multiple pitches. Throughout the game, all of these long at bats will affect the pitcher and make him vulnerable for a big hit; whether from Santana or someone else. At the plate or in the field, Santana keeps his cool. He never lets his emotions get the best of him. On Sunday when Adam Dunn ran him over at the plate, Santana was not fazed; he kept his cool and continued the game. Not many players can just shake off a blow from one of the biggest players in the MLB; especially when there was no reason for him to get it in the first place. Santana has a bright future and with more experience, his play calling ability will improve. Look for Santana to become the face of this franchise.
Prospect Watch: Lonnie Chisenhall, Michael Brantley, Alex White, Carlos Carrasco, Matt Laporta
Wrap-up: The future does look bright for the Tribe but just not this year. Hopefully the big deals of the past couple years will pan-out and we can contend in 2011 and on. Cleveland sports fans know this well but; maybe next year.