Friday, July 31, 2009

Overage City

Sometimes we have to exercise a little patience in this wacky world of sports betting, and that's just what the Roundup advised yesterday. After winning a Brewers Run-Line wager in the afternoon, the evening card was all screwball, and a 1-0 day sounded just fine.

As it turned out, our evening "leans" would have gone 2-1, with the Dodgers winning, the White Sox staying Under the total, and the Mets losing to snap their win streak. Still, no regrets, as I wasn't fully confident in the plays. No afternoon games today, finally, so we can go back to the norm -- all the notes now, all the plays later!

NL
Doug Davis
- The Mets loss in the nightcap of their doubleheader snapped a nice little win streak, and we all know to fade a team coming off a streak. Doug Davis got his pitching back on track in his last start despite continuing command issues. He should fare well against a weak Mets lineup, including David Wright (1-for-11 career), Jeff Francoeur (3-for-14), and Luis Castillo (0-for-7).
Jonny Gomes - 3-for-3 off Aaron Cook, with 2 of those hits leaving the yard -- small sample size, but big time noise.
Albert Pujols - 6-for-11 career numbers against Moehler, though he went 0-for-2 earlier this season.
Skip Schumaker - Batting .500 against Moehler, though strangely, Moehler has never lost to the Cards
Adrian Gonzalez - Gonzalez faced a few pitchers in a row in Cincy that he enjoyed, now gets another in San Diego, as he's 6-for-12, with 2 home runs, lifetime off Braden Looper.

TO SEE THE AL FANTASY MATCHUPS, CHECK OUT THE PREGAME.COM THREAD BY CLICKING HERE!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Brew Crew Takes Tew

Rocketed out of the gates yesterday with a 3-0 start, then sputtered to the finish, missing the final 2 bets. Still, managed to stay above water with a +0.67 unit day, going 3-2, and moving the Fantasy Roundup 1 more game above .500. Unfortunately, Detroit's string of Unders/Pushes also came to an end last night, so we'll have to find another "sure thing" to ride. Can't say it'll happen today, with the very short slate, but we'll figure something out. Same as yesterday, some afternoon notes, then afternoon plays, followed later by evening notes and much, much later, evening plays.

NL
Yovani Gallardo
- The Nats don't have much experience against Gallardo, but the one guy that does, Nyjer Morgan, is 1-for-11. Brewers got a nice little comeback win last night, and Gallardo is in a nice spot to pick up another one at home and salvage a series split.
Cubs starting 8 - Individually, the Cubs don't have a ton of experience against Russ Ortiz, but collectively, things look alright -- Mike Fontenot (2-for-5, homer), Kosuke Fukudome (2-for-3), Koyie Hill (4-for-7), Reed Johnson (4-for-4, homer), Aramis Ramirez (2-for-6), Ryan Theriot (2-for-5). Alfonso Soriano hasn't done much, but he's been white-hot lately, so...
Ross Gload - Gload may or may not get into the starting lineup, but he faced Vasquez 20 times during their time in the AL, and Gload has 10 hits to show for it.
Manny Ramirez - Manny may very well get the day off, though the Dodgers have lost 4 straight, and now doesn't seem like the time to rest anyone -- Manny is 5-for-9 with 2 home runs against Kyle Lohse.
Juan Pierre - In case one of the regulars sits, we got Juan batting .500 in 12 AB against Lohse.
Orlando Hudson - Another Dodger with an average against Lohse that should scare St. Louis fans, at .357.
A few other Dodgers - Furcal is 3-for-5, Russ Martin is 2-for-6, Andre Ethier is 2-for-5, James Loney is 2-for-6, and Casey Blake is batting only .280 against Lohse, but has homered twice.
Matt Holliday - Dodgers killer found his way to a team that kills the Dodgers; it seems like a perfect Dodger-stopping combo, and St Louis has won 3 straight -- Holliday is the only Card with any real experience against Hiroki Kuroda, and he's 5-for-11.
Juan Uribe - With the arrival of Freddy Sanchez, things may change a bit on the SF infield, though Uribe is 3-for-8 off Rodrigo Lopez.

AL
Felix Pie
- Pie has only 4 career AB against Luke Hochevar, but he's picked up hits in 3, including a home run.
Orlando Cabrera - Cabrera is 6-for-13 career off Jon Lester, including a 2-for-3 performance earlier this year. Don't expect his teammates to do much; they got lucky in Lester's 2nd start of the season.
Jon Lester - You could see this one coming. Lester is on a brilliant stretch of pitching, going 6-2 since May 31 with an ERA of 1.83.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Padres Might Win One

A big fat 1-1-1 on yesterday's card, with the Braves blowing a ninth-inning lead (like so many teams yesterday), and ruining what could have been a perfectly fine 2-0-1 day. But, losing a couple pennies is not that awful, and assuming all is back to normal in the world tonight, we should be in good position to pick up a few more wins. Fantasy roundup is now 21-10-1, and still up approximately 10 units since the All Star break (1-unit on every play).

NL
Matt Cain
- Yes, he's darn good, but he should perform well for a few other reasons, too. The "country hardballer", as the Giants call him, Cain already shut the Pirates down once this year, so we know he can do it. He is, historically, a very good second half pitcher, so his solid work this year should continue, and Freddy Sanchez is the only Pirate with at least 10AB and a lifetime average over .300 against him.
Randy Winn - Winn is 5-for-15 against Zach Duke, and should help set the table nicely for Bengie Molina and co. against Zach Duke's poor road record.
Freddy Sanchez - Sanchez will probably get a few singles off Cain, as he's currently posting a 7-for-16 mark against the Giants righty.
Josh Johnson - Still sporting a home ERA under 2, Johnson will tackle the Braves, a team he's posted a 3-1, 2.45 ERA mark lifetime. At the very least, Johnson will keep the Marlins close, as he's given up over 3 runs in only 1 start all season long.
Kelly Johnson - If he's in the lineup...Johnson is batting .400 against Marlins starter Josh Johnson, but he might not even get a chance to swing the bat. Check before putting him in your fantasy lineup.
Johan Santana - Coming off a terrible start against the Astros, Santana will face the Rockies for the first time in his career, at home, where his ERA is under 2.
Jason Hammel - Supremely underrated due to his awful work at Coors Field, Hammel has a sub-2.00 ERA away from home, and he's in spacious Citi Field tonight against the suddenly fighting Mets.
David Eckstein - Recently off the DL, and just in time: the "Ecks"-factor is hitting .351 in his career off Aaron Harang, in 37 AB.
Adrian Gonzalez - 2 homers in 14 AB for Gonzalez against Harang, the Padres have had some sneaky success against the struggling Cincy starter.
Kevin Kouzmanoff - Another Padre with success against Harang, Kouzmanoff is 3-for-9.
Casey Blake - 6-for-13 against Pineiro, but those at-bats came pre-Dave Duncan, so it's tough to know how batters will perform against the newer, improved Pineiro.
Manny Ramirez - 3 homers in 17 AB against Pineiro, even the new Joel probably can't slow him down.

AL
Victor Martinez
- One of two Indians with mild success against John Lackey, Martinez holds a near-.500 batting average against Lackey in 19 AB. No homers, and no RBI, though.
Jhonny Peralta - In 21 AB, Peralta has picked up 9 hits, and driven in 3.
Roy Halladay - Facing a weak-hitting Mariners lineup, Halladay should have very little trouble going deep in the game and putting his Jays in a position to win. Kenji Johjima is hitting .333 against him, but Halladay has had great success against most of the other Mariners regulars.
Zack Greinke - Greinke already crushed the O's once this year; of course, he needs run support to get a win.
Nick Swisher - Swisher homered twice off Garza earlier this year, and another hit or two isn't out of the question...or maybe just a few walks?
Brett Anderson - "Droops" seems to get up for the Red Sox, having pitched very well against them twice already this year. He has shut down a very scary lineup top to bottom.
Marlon Byrd - 5-for-8 against Verlander, he is the ONLY threat in the Texas lineup against a pitcher that has shut down the rest of the Rangers.
Justin Verlander - This isn't as much of a sure thing as those of you shaking your heads are thinking. Verlander has had some issues on the road this year, but not today -- he has held the top of Texas's lineup to sub-.200 averages, which should severely limit their scoring chances.
Jason Kubel - .429 average against Jose Contreras, including a dinger and 3 knocked in.
Joe Mauer - Roughly his season average against Contreras, which is pretty damn impressive, at .368 in 19 AB.
Nick Punto - .355 against Contreras, a guy the Twins have put up some decent offensive numbers in his career.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Right Jurr

A huge disappointment that we had to skip a couple days after a 4-0 chim-chimney sweep sweep sweep sweep on Saturday, but hopefully we can pick right up where we left off...20-9 since the All Star break, and easily the best 1.5-week stretch of the season thus far. We have the Fantasy Roundup to thank for finally turning on the handicapping afterburners. Okay, now that I've tooted my horn sufficiently, let's try to find some top performers for the night:

NL
Jair Jurrjens
- Smashed the Marlins earlier this year, giving up just 2 runs (both Hanley Ramirez solo shots) over 7 and change. Jurrjens keeps rolling, and with the Braves bats heating up, this looks like a potential W.
Chipper Jones - Chipper is 9-for-16 career off Ricky Nolasco with 3 homers. Duck and cover.
Hanley Ramirez - Really, the only Marlin with any success against Jurrjens, he's hitting .333 with 3 homers. Jurrjens may want to consider just putting him on base.
David Wright - .333 average in 24 AB against Jason Marquis with 2 long balls - the suddenly hot Mets have a shot to win another.
Kevin Kouzmanoff - A new name for the fantasy roundup, the Kouz is hitting .692 in 13 AB off Bronson Arroyo with 2 homers and 6 RBI. If the Padres can get anyone at all on base, they've got a nice shot of scoring 3-4 off Bronson.
Hunter Pence - Batting a cool .400 in 20 AB against Dempster with 2 dingers.
Jeff Keppinger - I'm trying to dig up some more interesting names, and Keppinger is 6-for-15 off the Dumpster...no power numbers, though.
Derrek Lee - 46 at-bats against Roy Oswalt have produced a .348 average and 3 homers.
Russ Martin - Suddenly powerless, Martin is still 5-for-8 off big, tough righty Adam Wainwright, and his buddy at shortstop...
Rafael Furcal - is 5-for-9, so the Dodgers might get a few scoring chances - can they capitalize?

AL
Jorge Posada
- Posada is 10-for-22 lifetime against Scott Kazmir.
Scott Ka....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's a Halo Weekend

A 3-3 Friday was decent, but not impressive. A winning day is not only necessary, but I think imminent. Let's get started with the day games (up to and including the 4pm eastern start times), then at some point tomorrow we'll take a peek at the evening affairs.

NL
Derrek Lee
- Well, we were SORT OF right about Lee making an impact yesterday with a homer. He hit one, but it put the game out of reach. In game 2 of the series, Lee is going against Johnny Cueto, a pitcher he's 6-for-15 against in his career.
Ryan Theriot - Theriot has been even better at 7-for-16, but very few power numbers
Alfonso Soriano - The third Cubbie with solid numbers against Cueto (though, to be fair, it didn't help earlier this year when Cueto shut the Cubs down for 7 innings), Soriano is 4-for-12 with 2 homers. Maybe he will break out of a slump tomorrow, but I wouln't put all my marbles on it.
Ryan Howard - Howard gets to face Kyle Lohse in his 3rd start off the DL, and is already 4-for-9 with a homer off Lohse prior to this game.
David Wright - Wright is 6-for-11 lifetime against Russ Ortiz with a homer, so the Mets will probably score a run today.
Freddy Sanchez - Sanchez is a ridiculous 17-for-34 career against Doug Davis, who has been struggling of late.
Bengie Molina - Molina is 5-for-12 against Jorge de la Rosa, but his teammates have struggled against the southpaw.
Rockies Righthanded Bats - Tulowitzki, Iannetta, Barmes, Spilborghs and Garrett Atkins are all hitting over .300 against Jonathan Sanchez.

AL
Kurt Suzuki
- Suzuki went 3-for-3 off Pettitte earlier this season, and is 4-for-7 overall, so the success should continue in a better hitters' park.
The Tampa Bay Rays - Some sickening numbers against prospective Jays starter Brian Tallet, so let's try to go top to bottom of the order -- Upton (.300), Crawford (.444), Longoria (.333), Pena (nope, one of the few who doesn't smash Tallet), Zobrist (.400), Burrell (.500), Navarro (.444), Bartlett (.375), and potentially Gabe Kapler, who is 1-for-2.
Ichiro Suzuki - Mariners laid an egg yesterday, but Ichiro will get a piece of Sowers today and build upon his career .385 number.
Jhonny Peralta - A robust .333 average against Eric Bedard should be easy to top tomorrow with Bedard still getting his form together.
Chone Figgins - Another day, another dollar, Figgins is hitting .600 against Blackburn
Howie Kendrick and Bobby Abreu - Both gentlemen are 4-for-8 against Blackburn, and the Angels just keep winning.
Jim Thome - Bombs Away! Thome is 7-for-10 career against Edwin Jackson with 2 homers and 6 RBI. Jackson may want to just walk him a few times.
Tigers Usual Suspects - Granderson is batting .323 against Gavin Floyd with a homer, and Placido Polanco (surging of late) is 8-for-24 off Floyd.
Tigers Unusual Suspects - Carlos Guillen is 7-for-20, Ryan Raburn is 10-for-28, Ramon Santiago is 5-for-15.
J.D. Drew - Drew has hit Jeremy Guthrie hard, batting in the mid-300's with a homer.
Dustin Pedroia - Another plus-300 hitter against Guthrie.
Jon Lester - Lester has been untouchable against the O's this year, tossing 14 shutout innings thus far in 2 Red Sox victories.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Crawford's Prescription for the Doc

Well, a miracle Angels comeback left us 1-1 yesterday as the Tigers took another tough loss. That moves the Fantasy Plays to 1-1, 4-0, 3-2, 3-2, and 1-1, while making a profit of over 5 units at 1 unit on every play. An extremely busy day for yours truly on the horizon tomorrow, so I thought I'd pop out the AFTERNOON fantasy notes tonight before bed, then cover the evening games while the afternoon affairs are active tomorrow! Let's rock:

NL
FOR NL NOTES, CLICK HERE!!

AL
Miguel Cabrera
- Just a ton of history in the early game, and we'll list 'em all! Cabrera is 8-for-16 lifetime off Contreras, so some awfully nice numbers there.
Placido Polanco - Polanco has logged 42 AB off Contreras; that's an MLB career for some pinch-hitters. In any case, Polanco has a respectable .357 average in all those trips.
Jermaine Dye - Still one of the most underrated power hitters in the game, Dye is hitting .318 off Justin Verlander, with 4 homers in 44 head-to-heads.
A.J. Pierzynski - Similar average to Dye (.316), 3 homers, 12 driven in.
Contreras and Verlander - We mentioned the batters with some good history, well, the rest of the lineups have been pretty awful against these guys. Some examples: Konerko (4-for-30!), Alexei Ramirez (3-for-15), Josh Fields (0-for-8), Inge (.224 in 49 AB), Magglio (.217 in 46 AB, and he was juicing then...), Thames (goose-egg), Granderson (near his career numbers at .262, but just 1 home run).
Carl Crawford - Crawford, believe it or not, has eaten Roy Halladay alive. He's faced him 56 times, and is batting well over .300 with 2 homers and 7 RBI.
Matt Garza - Garza has been a bit up and down this year, but he's been excellent against the Jays. Looking at Toronto's lineup, the only batters with any notable success are the guys who have faced him just a couple times and, seemingly, got lucky.
Michael Cuddyer - Strange to see a righthanded bat with marked success against John Lackey, but Cuddyer is 4-for-11 with THREE longballs
Joe Mauer - Not too shocking, I know, Mauer's hitting .412 off Lackey.
Ichiro Suzuki - 5-for-11 against Aaron Laffey, and yes, I'm flabbergasted he's had that many AB against him, too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

De-troit Deja Vu

Never fear, Tigers fans, your team will score in their next game. A shutout is simply not an option. Of course, neither is 2 runs, 3 or 4 runs, 5, 6, even 7...you see where this is going.

The closest thing to a sure bet these days (besides maybe that the D'backs infield will kick at least one grounder) is that the Detroit Tigers will lose by the final score of 2 to 1. Since the All Star break, the Tigers are a pitiful 1-5, and of the 5 losses, 4 of them have been the 2-1 variety, and 2 of those have been in the new bandbox in the Bronx.

To read the remainder of this article, CLICK HERE!

Crash and Washburn

NL
Shane Victorino

Shane is a career .500 batter off Correia, including a home run. But, like the Tigers, he's not the only one doing damage against his opposition
Some other Phils - In LIMITED experience, Ibanez is 3-for-4, Utley is 3-for-6, and Carlos Ruiz is 2-for-4, but again, not too many AB for those 3 guys against the Padres starter.
Ryan Zimmerman - The big third baseman is batting .417 off Wainwright, though the power numbers haven't quite been there in this matchup.
Ronnie Belliard - Belliard has been struggling mightily, so the odds of him waking up are not that outstanding. Still, he's 4-for-10 off stud Adam Wainwright, with a home run, so maybe this challenge will wake him up.
Dan Haren - Only because it'd be ridiculous if I left him off this list. The best pitcher in the Majors, going against one of the most punchless lineups.

To see AL notes, visit the Pregame.com blog/forum!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

LA Pitchers, Rock & Roll

Yesterday, due to air travel, we had to skip the Fantasy Roundup, but now, on this fine Wednesday, we're back with some notes. Time constraints make the afternoon games a wash, so we'll start with the 3pm card and move forward from there:

NL
Ubaldo Jimenez
- Jimenez has held the D'backs to a .174 BAA in 2 starts this year, so believe it or not, his ERA against them could actually be better than its current post at 2.70. That being said, the D'backs have a knack for late comebacks at Coors, so this doesn't necessarily mean a Rockies win.
Tim Lincecum - A no-brainer, Lincecum is perfect against the Braves in his career, and shut them out earlier this season in San Francisco.
Christian Guzman - A .357 hitter against Mike Pelfrey, I expect Guzman to get on base twice and score at least one run in this contest.
Lance Berkman - Not a mind-blowing average of .279 against Chris Carpenter, but Berkman does have 6 home runs in only 29 AB, which is pretty darn impressive.
Albert Pujols - After last night against Wandy, Albert will be looking to get back on track against a guy he has had more success off, Roy Oswalt. Albert has 4 homers against the righty, and an average over .300.
Mark DeRosa - DeRosa is 10-for-21 off Oswalt, amazingly.
Chad Billingsley - How about an 0.92 ERA against Cincinnati in his career? How about that.
The Dodgers Offense - This looks like a rousing beat-down in the making, with starters Ethier, Blake, Kemp, and Loney, and reserves Pierre, Ausmus, and Loretta all hitting over .300 lifetime against Bronson Arroyo. Even if Manny misses a few games, this one looks rough for Cincy.

AL
J.D. Drew
- 4-for-12 lifetime off Padilla with a homer, Drew may be batting near the top of the Sox lineup.
Mark Kotsay - Kotsay might sneak his way into the starting lineup for the Sox tonight thanks to his 7-for-16 mark against Vicente Padilla>
Big Papi and Kevin Youkilis - I grouped these two names because they're the more 'obvious' choices on the Sox. Papi is 5-for-15 against the Rangers' starter with 2 homers, and Youk is 5-for-12.
Joe Saunders - Saunders has been downright awful lately, but like Livan Hernandez, there's always a team out there that can get a pitcher back on track; that team for Saunders is Kansas City. Joe is 2-0 with an 0.56 ERA against the Royals, including a complete game shutout earlier this year, and has held Bloomquist, DeJesus and Butler hitless in 17 combined AB.
Jermaine Dye - Batting a cool .500 off James Shields with a homer.
Jim Thome - Not quite as resounding success as Dye, but Thome is still swinging that big stick, with a .333 average off Shields and a homer.

Key Questions - Will the Tigers continue to give Felix Hernandez a semi-rough time? Will either team score in the first 9 innings in Braves/Giants? Will the Dodgers matchup look so good that it will turn out awful? Can Arizona find a way to win at Coors...again? Who is Carlos Torres?

For more, visit THE PREGAME FORUMS!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Fantasy Roundup

Friday's Roundup was a smashing success, leading to a 4-0 sweep, and some happy fantasy gamers. After taking the weekend to catch our collective breath, it's time to dive back in and hope the fantasy fun leads to more sweet, sweet money. Today's game card has a crazy number of young pitchers going against new competition, but we'll do our best to point out some trends.

NL
Livan Hernandez
- It's not often I'd put "It shall be" Livan on this list, but he's 2-0 against the Nats this year, with an ERA of 0.56. He has allowed baserunners, but always seemed to come through with a big pitch. Livan's been struggling, but the Nats are on a 4-game losing streak, so he's catching them at a good time.
Austin Kearns - A career .407 hitter against Livan Hernandez, you'd figure the Nats would give Kearns (and his 2 homers, 10RBI versus Livan) a chance to hit tonight.
Nyjer Morgan and Christian Guzman - Two more Nats that have decent averages against Hernandez, but these two have only 2 combined RBI and no runs scored. Deploy if you want a few singles in your fantasy lineup tonight.
Albert Pujols - 6-for-9 against Moehler...bring your mitt if you're sitting in Minute Maid's short porch in left.

To read the rest of tonight's key notes, check out my Pregame Forum Thread! Sorry for all the linking - just trying to kill a few birds with one stone!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Big Z Headlines List of Predictions

The newest feature of FS, OaD - the FANTASY ROUNDUP! The only site with the balls to tell you who is going to dominate BEFORE it happens!

NL
Carlos Zambrano
- 4-0, 1.63 ERA are the key numbers here, and Big Z has posted those exact values in his last 4 starts against the Nats. The key will be keeping Adam Dunn in the yard.
Josh Willingham - The one Nationals position player with career success against Zambrano, Willingham is 5-for-7 in his brief looks at the large, angry one.
Lincecum and Maholm - Smells like a pitchers' duel, with Lincecum on one side, and a home-dominant Maholm (2.96 home ERA) on the other.
Prince Fielder - 3 homers, 7 RBI, and a .310 average against Bronson Arroyo should look mighty fine alongside...
J.J. Hardy - 4 homers, 6 RBI, .304 numbers versus Bronson.
Joey Votto - 2 homers, 7 RBI, .400 average against Suppan.
Jair Jurrjens - Only David Wright, of the current healthy Mets, has given Jurrjens any kinds of issues. The rest of those punchless New Yorkers are going to have issues just getting off the ground.
Heart of the Braves Lineup - McCann's a .400 hitter off Pelfrey, and Chipper's taken him deep twice (hitting .308 in the process).
Ubaldo Jimenez - The Padres haven't faced Jimenez this year, and Ubaldo has held Adrian Gonzalez to a .222 BAA; that's about all you need against this Padres lineup. Be wary if making a wager on this, though, as Josh Geer, for all his struggles, has pitched relatively well against the Rockies this year. Not well enough to get his own fantasy note, but decent enough.

AL
Tigers Role-Players
- Amazingly, A.J. Burnett has held Granderson and Miggy in check, but has been burned by everyone else on Detroit, e.g. Inge (.444), Laird (.800), Polanco (.556), Magglio (.333), Adam Everett (.333), Clete Thomas (.400).
Felix Hernandez - 'Nuff said.
The Red Sox - Ricky Romero has been outstanding, but Boston has hit him very, very hard, almost from top to bottom. If you're debating about starting one of your Red Sox position players, do it.
Glen Perkins - Perkins has been nothing short of luminescent against the Rangers; the best numbers anyone on Texas has against him is a 2-for-6, courtesy of Marlon Byrd.
Vicente Padilla - Padilla has done the impossible, and shut down both Mauer and Morneau, and that, my friends, is a recipe for success.
James Shields - Almost any starter going against the Royals is a fantasy green-light, but Shields has already posted an 8-inning, 2-run outing against them this year, as well as a 2-0, 2.63 mark at Kaufman Stadium, and a career 5-0, 2.50 set of numbers against the Royals at all venues.
B.J. Upton - 5-for-12 in his career against Brian Bannister, he can be a catalyst in the Rays second half opener.
John Danks - After one bad inning that snapped a scoreless streak of over 19 frames, Danks settled back down in his last start. Markakis, Roberts and Luke Scott have given Danks minor trouble (300's average, minimal power numbers), but the rest of the Baltimore lineup is batting in the mid-100's against Danks.
Orlando Cabrera - 6-for-12 lifetime off Joe Saunders, though don't expect much in the way of runs/RBI, since Saunders seems to be locked in against the rest of the A's this year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Future of Giant Proportions

The All-Star break gives us all a time to reflect on the first half of the season, but reflection is boring.

That's why this fine Wednesday, before action gets back under way, it's time to take a peek at some MLB futures. Here are the top 10 for World Series winner:
  1. New York Yankees +300
  2. Boston Red Sox +350
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers +400
  4. Detroit Tigers +725
  5. Philadelphia Phillies +900
  6. Los Angeles Angels +900
  7. Milwaukee Brewers +1000
  8. St. Louis Cardinals +1000
  9. Chicago Cubs +1100
  10. San Francisco Giants +1500
Some of the teams up there are no-brainers. The Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers are going to be around when the postseason fires up its engines, and at the current odds, you wouldn't be getting much of a deal. Wait until one of these teams goes on a short losing streak, and re-check to see if there's any movement in your favor.

The team that jumps out at me as the big-time value is the one that barely slipped into the top 10 - the San Francisco Giants. To read more, CLICK HERE!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hollywood Ron

I've spent the last week pouring over articles about the flurry of trades and free agent acquisitions at the start of the NBA offseason, and the consensus seems to be that both the Lakers and Rockets lost out by swapping small forwards Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest (through simultaneous free agent signings).

Pundits (and bloggers) argue that Artest is a ball-stopper on offense, that he'll bog down the triangle and take shots away from Kobe and Pau; they argue Trevor Ariza isn't a shot creator, and without Tracy McGrady and Yao healthy, Houston will watch Ariza haphazardly hoist guarded shots, or worse, dribble. I think these pundits are batting .500.

To read the rest of this story, visit me at Pregame.com!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Please Shane, Don't Hurt Em

After yesterday's All-Star round-up, getting to talk about an actual game is a nice change. We had a few pretty darn good games yesterday from teams that might have surprised you. Kansas City pulled out the late victory in Detroit, Arizona managed a rare win with a comeback victory over San Diego, Toronto salvaged 1 out of 4 games in New York with a 1-run win, and the Giants hung on to beat Florida despite a valiant Marlin comeback effort.

One contest in particular stood out, if for no other reason than crooked numbers appeared in the box score in all the wrong places. The Philadelphia Phillies, suddenly winning (4 straight is a nice start) took advantage of Johnny Cueto's stiff back, and rattled off the 3rd biggest win in franchise history, 22-1. The Phils put up 10 runs in the first inning, and chased Cueto after just 2 outs were recorded in a frame that included 3 home runs (2, 2-run shots and a 3-run blast), and the pitcher Cole Hamels doubling in 2 more. In all, the Phillies pounded out 22 runs on 21 hits (10 for extra bases), accepted 7 walks, had one man reach on an error, and Pedro Feliz got plunked.

Bonus credit should be given to the two Phillies pitchers that managed to get through a few innings without giving up a run. So, I present the July 6th Trophy of Aptitude to Carlos Fisher and Josh Roenicke. When the Phillies were busy scoring 10, 1, 1 and 4 runs over the first 4 innings, Fisher and Roenicke got the ball to the back end of the pen and kept the game within the strikable distance of 15 runs (16-1). Then, in a horrible twist of fate, just when it looked like the momentum was turning, Dusty Baker handed the ball not to his closer, but to his backup shortstop.

Paul Janish came on to pitch the 9th, his low 80's 4-seamer ready to fly, and his 45.00 ERA on the cusp of falling precipitously to 22.50. The Phils wouldn't have it. Janish wanted so badly to cut that ERA in half, to make his Major League pitching stats look presentable, but it was not to be. A Jayson Werth grand slam later, Janish had given up 6 runs, the Phillies pushed their lead up to 21, and Janish saw his ERA climb to 49.50. Rough times.

We all knew the Phillies could hit, so there isn't a ton to glean from this game, at least not offensively. Lost in the shuffle is the fine work of Cole Hamels, who, despite getting 30-40 minute breaks between innings, worked 7 strong innings. Hamels is struggling through a very tough, partially injury-plagued season, and getting a 10-run cushion early may have given the ace (and postseason MVP) the confidence he needed to work through some control issues that dated back a few weeks. I'll be very curious to see if Cole builds on this start, or if the monster offensive output of his teammates was a one-time confidence boost, and Hamels will slip back into his funk.

Also worth monitoring, from a betting standpoint, is how the Phillies back up that effort tonight. Rarely do you see a team score 22 runs, then come right back with 9-12 more. The mind is easily the biggest reason behind a huge win or a slump, and my guess is that the Phils collective mindset is that this game is too easy, and they'll probably struggle to score runs, at least early in the game. Tough to say how it will all turn out, but a score close to tied after the first 5 innings is not at all out of the question. Aaron Harang should be able to get a few outs for Cincinnati, and J.A. Happ, a nice surprise for Philadelphia, will keep Cincy to just a few runs. I wouldn't bet the house, but just take note. With the way the Phillies have been playing over the last half week, I'd still think they'll pull this one out in the end.

Tonight, Manny in New York. Yikes.

Monday, July 06, 2009

All-Star Roster Thoughts

Here are the rosters, for those who haven't had a chance to check them out yet:


Pretty good stuff, in general. I spent the last few weeks gearing up to launch head-first into a diatribe about how fans have no idea how to pick an All-Star team, but for the most part, the baseball populous impressed me. The only glaring misfire is Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, whose numbers last year, and his showing in the 2008 Home Run Derby seemed to buy him a free pass this year. Of the Rangers 80 games thus far this year, Hamilton has been healthy for 35 -- not exactly All-Star material. All in all, though, this cast fairly well reflects the best in the game.

I'm not sure if it's a marketing issue, but it seems like the NBA has the most trouble getting the right guys into the All-Star game. NBA fans had been voting Vince Carter into the February weekend showcase for years, though Carter had admitted to doggin' it in his time with the Raptors. I'm less than tempted to go back through the archives and find all the injured players that have been voted into the NBA All-Star game over the last 10 years. And not just guys with sore toes; we're talking about players that hadn't suited up all year!

But I digress. With the way that baseball has handled all of its other problems lately, I wouldn't be surprised if the entire All-Star system was fabricated. Josh Hamilton was inserted to give the public the impression that the "foolish fans" had voted him in despite his health issues -- you know, throw us off the scent. I said the voting was impressive, but it is awfully close to TOO impressive for the general public. Derek Jeter is just about the only "old fart" to make either team. Hm.

In any case, this should shape up to be an entertaining matchup. Some of the game's top young talent will gather in a TOP baseball city and strut their stuff. Guys like Matt Cain that never got any run support finally have the W/L record to earn a trip. Josh Johnson from the Marlins has been a marvelous surprise. Zack Greinke and his ridiculous ERA. I'm excited.

I still have no idea why the All-Star game is being played for home field in the World Series, but so it goes. Well, that's a lie. We had a tie, the people revolted, the All-Star game was given "importance", different people revolted, and now we're here. I won't pretend to know a good solution to that little pickle, but I, personally, don't feel like the All-Star game needs to determine anything. I just finished ragging on the NBA above, so here I'll give credit where credit's due. Other than a sham of a Rookie-Sophomore game every year, the NBA All-Star weekend is pretty perfect. Specialist contests (dunks, 3's, handles), tons of fanfare, player parties, Shaq slithering across platforms, it's ALL THERE. The Home Run Derby has the potential to be incredible, but the rest of the games are pretty pathetic.

Why not come up with some sort of Control Pitcher competition? Maybe a Fielding Contest? There are certainly other impressive baseball acts that don't get any coverage at the All-Star game. I know chicks dig the long ball, but I wager everyone else would suffer Jawdroppery if they saw a pitcher sling a sinker through a grapefruit-sized target from 150 feet away. Tell me that wouldn't be awesome!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wig Sales, Up 300%

Care to guess what today is?

That's right, the last day without Manny. I, for one, am ready for that dreadlocked lug to slowly trot back out to left.

A lot has been made lately of how successful the Dodgers have been WITHOUT Manny, and to their credit, the rest of the squad stayed well above water. Make no mistake, this team is FAR better with him than without.

It was only 50 games back, but try to remember just how incredible the Dodgers were with Manny batting third. This team was undefeated at home. Undefeated! The day Manny went down, so did the winning streak. They bounced back well, and guys like Orlando Hudson and Juan Pierre got on base so darn often that the team was able to score runs in great enough quantity to get some wins. But just about every offensive category is weaker without the pregnant wonder, and the #2 and #4 spots in the batting order have suffered, as well.

Hudson was hitting near .400 in front of Manny. His average is in the .290's now. Yes, it was going to level off on its own, but he should be able to expect a steady diet of fastballs once Manny gets his timing back. And the cleanup man, which has been just about everyone other than Juan Pierre this year, should get a chance to bat with runners in scoring position almost constantly.

The Dodgers have been slumping pretty hard offensively over the last couple weeks. It wasn't given an abundance of attention because the team continued to play near .500 baseball, but just about every win was the result of outstanding pitching. Hiroki Kuroda's return has helped immeasurably, and if Eric Stults could get fully healthy and take over the #5 starter spot, Jeff Weaver can go back to long relief and everyone can get settled into their roles. I could go on and on about roles and success, but the back end of the bullpen deserves as much credit for the Dodgers record as anyone. Ronald Bellisario and Ramon Troncoso have been solid getting the ball to Jon Broxton, and he's just been unreal. Displaying pinpoint control, and sporting a frame that looks, well, like Eric Gagne did when he was pumping steroids into his neck, Broxton is effortlessly throwing 99 and dominating the League.

It was almost like the Dodgers offense could feel that Manny was near. They seemed to be running on adrenaline and fumes, and over the last few games have let some of the air out. My guess is that the Dodgers will lose a few games while the rest of the team takes a deep breath. The All-Star break should give the regulars a nice chance to rest up, then look out!

A fantasy note. The Giants have been playing much better ball, as we mentioned a few days back on this site. Besides an incredible top of the rotation, a big reason San Francisco is turning up the heat in the NL is Catcher/Corner Infielder Pablo Sandoval. I had the rare pleasure of watching Pablo when he played in the California League (for FAR too long, mind you), and could tell pretty early on he was going to be dangerous. He's now starting to face pitchers for a second and third time, and making the necessary adjustments. Perhaps the second-hottest hitter in baseball (to Albert Pujols), you are MISSING OUT if you haven't seen one of his at-bats. He has the plate coverage of Vlad Guerrero, but he switch-hits, and for a portly youngster, has decent quicks. Pablo would be a colossal trade piece in Keeper Leagues, and a nice grab in all others, if you can get him. This hot streak is NOT a fluke - the kid can hit.
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