Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Clinch This! Fantasy Wednesday

Mixed reviews on Tuesday, as Cincinnati was a splendid doggy that let out a 7-run woof and Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants slapped the Diamondbacks in the mug for the second time in a week, but Clay Buccholz was pedestrian and the Marlins woke up to beat the Braves, both losses coming in 1-run games. But, a win's a win and a loss is a loss, and there's really no such thing as a bearable loss, so today we'll work extra hard for a sweep!

NL
Brandon Moss
- If the Pirates have any chance of knocking off Ted Lilly, Moss needs to keep up his 5-for-8 career mark against him (with a homer and 2 RBI).
NOT Charlie Morton - Well, it can't possibly be any worse than his last start against the Cubs, but Morton's inconsistency leaves us with little confidence - his last time against Chicago, Morton allowed 9 runs in an inning, giving up 7 hits, 3 walks, and a homer to Kosuke Fukudome.
Jeff Francoeur - We all know he enjoys facing lefties, and John Lannan is no exception, as Francoeur is 10-for-19 off Lannan with a dinger and 6 RBI.
Josh Willingham - He's 0-for-2 off Tim Redding this year, but 5-for-15 lifetime with 2 homers
Ross Gload, Ronny Paulino - Javier Vazquez has been pretty dominant in his return to the NL, but the Marlins have seemed to get his goat, with Gload going 5-for-9 this year and batting .469 off Vazquez, while Paulino is 4-for-9 overall.
Matt Diaz, Yunel Escobar, Chipper Jones, Martin Prado - Ricky Nolasco hates the Braves just as much as Vazquez hates the Marlins...Diaz is 7-for-13 off Nolasco, Escobar is 8-for-19 with a HR, Chipper is 11-for-23 with 4 homers and Prado is 5-for-12.
Darin Erstad Erstad is 4-for-8 lifetime off Pedro Martinez, though my guess is he won't be playing.
Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley - Howard has 10 hits in 20 AB against Brian Moehler with 3 homers, Victorino is 7-for-14, and Utley is 7-for-20.
Mark DeRosa, Albert Pujols, Brendan Ryan - I almost could have put Colby Rasmus in here, too, but he only had 6 AB against Bronson Arroyo; DeRosa is 10-for-22 off him with a homer, Pujols has homered 3 times, and is 13-of-40, and Ryan is 4-for-9.
Ryan Doumit - Here in game 2, we're left with a difficult matchup to predict, though Doumit is a decent 5-for-14 off Zambrano...
Luis Rodriguez - 4-for-11 off Jon Garland is right on the cusp of Roundup-worthy.

AL
Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski
- They have not faced Carmona this year, but in the past, Dye is 6-for-17 with a homer, Konerko 3-for-7 with one longball, and Pierzynski 6-for-16.
Trevor Crowe - Same deal as yesterday, 4-for-8 with a homer off Carlos Torres
Shin-Soo Choo, Kelly Shoppach - Mark Buerhle has been anything but impressive against Cleveland this year, with Choo posting a 4-for-9 season of work (with a HR), and Shoppach 5-for-11 in his career off Buerhle with 3 homers.
Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez - Neither has seen a ton of Robinson Tejeda, but Matsui is 4-for-8 with a homer and A-Rod is 4-for-6.
Carl Pavano - The Tigers-killer returns to Detroit trying to improve on his 4-0 record against the felines this year. He has a 1.69 ERA against Detroit over 37 innings, and has not allowed a home run against them with 22 K's and only 1 walk.
Nick Markakis - The only Oriole with success against James Shields, Markakis is batting .340 in 47AB off the Rays battling righty.
James Shields - How about an 0.71 ERA against Baltimore in 2 starts this year, holding them to a .204 average. Somehow, he's just 1-1 for his efforts, but today faces a pitcher the Rays scored 5 runs off in 3 innings last time.
Kevin Millar - He's hot lately, and is a .370 hitter with 4 homers off Wakefield.
Kevin Youkilis - In 54 matchups with Doc Halladay, Youkilis is a .352 hitter with a homer and 7 RBI
Erick Aybar - 4-for-9 off Derek Holland is decent, including a homer, but this game will be very tough to get a read on.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Big Red Cash Machine

Over the last 2+ weeks, no team has been a bigger cash cow than Dusty Baker's rambunctious youngsters.

This team is finally starting to swing the lumber, but more than anything, the starters are learning to put up a ZERO in the first inning. It didn't help that Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang and Johnny Cueto were all in the bottom-5 in the National League in opponents' batting average the first time through the order. Still, Cueto seems to finally be healthy, at long last, after battling lower back issues for the bulk of Summer, Aaron Harang is out for the year, so that takes care of him, and Bronson Arroyo seems to be sharing eyedrops with Big Papi.

The Reds are an incredible 11-4 in their last 15 games, with their biggest loss coming as a -115 favorite. If it wasn't immediately evident, that means they've been dogs in a heck of a lot of those games, and for good reason! This was a team that was getting stepped on, and I really thought Dusty was staring down the barrel of unemployment when he suddenly got things going. Dusty has a few names he's adding to his Christmas list, headed by tonight's starter, Homer Bailey.
Homer Bailey is finally starting to put the pieces together, after being heralded as the biggest cheese in the Reds' Minor League system for years. Bailey had given up 5 runs in 3 of 4 starts in early August, then the afterburners turned on. Since an 8-5 loss to Tim Lincecum on August 18, Bailey has gone 4-1, including 8 shutout innings against the Dodgers (a team that has absolutely annihilated the Reds in recent years) and 7 shutout frames against the offensive machine in Florida.

New outfielder Drew Stubbs has been solid, if not spectacular, coming up with a walkoff homer in only his second Major League game; Joey Votto, a model of consistency all year, lost his stroke in August but found it in September; Scott Rolen has 20 RBI in 36 games with his new team, and how about the marginal pitching of Kip Wells?

When all is said and done, if you had played a single unit on the Reds over their recent 11-4 stretch, you would be rolling in a money bin of 8.90 units. Yes, that's 7 games over .500 for almost 9 units. That just tells you how many underdog winners this team has been posting, and tonight they open against an apathetic, playoff-bound Cardinals squad that should, thanks to sheer popularity, make the Reds underdogs in all 3 games of this series.

Is it smart to blindly back a team? Absolutely not. But is it smart to take calculated gambles on a team that is winning over two-thirds of their games? It just might be. Let's see how Cincy does over this final week, and re-evaluate!

Who'll Stop the Rain

First Beckett skips the game, then a 6.5-inning affair voids all other bets. What a load of manure! 16 runs, and nobody can win. So it goes, though, and that's just one of the reasons it's so hard to maintain focus every day in baseball. Some days you spend 5 hours grinding out numbers, make a pick you think is a great value, watch a starting pitcher go down, then the total soar over by the 3rd inning, only to see a sure thing voided by rain. Hah, but back to it, and that's how we do it! It's late here on Eastern Time, but I wanted to get the thread up and going so folks can vent here overnight if they like, or tell me I'm handsome, whichever works, then in the morning, I can just quickly add some sweet, sweet statistics, post something like "Statistics up!" and you all can enjoy!

NL
Jorge Cantu
- There are a few Marlins on the verge of making this list, but Cantu is the only one that cracks it today, as he is 5-for-11 off Braves' starter Tim Hudson.
Kelly Johnson - 4-for-10 off Josh Johnson lifetime makes Kelly a solid option, plus Josh is fighting the flu.
Jeff Francoeur, Daniel Murphy - Not only has Francoeur been hot lately, but he's 4-for-5 off J.D. Martin; Murphy is 4-for-10, still a nice set of results.
Elijah Dukes, Josh Willingham - Not sure if the powder keg known as Dukes has been on this Roundup before, so welcome him with open arms -- Elijah is 6-for-9 career against Mike Pelfrey with a homer, and Willingham is 7-for-17 with 2 homers and 6 RBI
Skip Schumaker - It's hard to predict who's going to start in this game, as the Cards have clinched a postseason berth, but Schumaker is 3-for-7 off Homer Bailey, so you'd figure he'd get a look even if the regulars are resting.
Willy Taveras - Easily the best hitter on the Reds against Joel Pineiro, Taveras is 5-for-8 lifetime.
A MacroBrew - Yeah, I'm trying to get cute with it, what of it? Ryan Braun, Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell, J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart all have career averages over .300 against Jason Marquis.
Jason Repko - He probably won't see the light of day, but Repko is 4-for-9 in his Minor League career against Padres' starter Cesar Ramos
Edgar Gonzalez, Chase Headley, Tony Gwynn Jr. - Gonzalez is 5-for-12 lifetime off Chad Billingsley with a dinger, Headley is 4-for-11 with a homer, and Gwynn is 7-for-18, including 4-for-7 this year.
Justin Upton - Really, the only D'back with any success against Jonathan Sanchez, Upton is 6-for-18 with 2 homers lifetime.
Jonathan Sanchez, and his Buddies - Listing all the names would get old, quick. Sanchez has dominated the D'backs this year, picking up another win against them in the previous meeting -- on the year, he is 2-1 against them with a 2.10 ERA and holds the D'backs to a team BA of just .189. His teammates have excelled against Doug Davis, too, with Kevin Frandsen, Ryan Garko, Freddy Lewis, Bengie Molina, Edgar Renteria, Freddy Sanchez, Pablo Sandoval, Andres Torres and Eugenio Velez all batting over .300 against Davis.

AL
Jason Kubel
- Porcello Schmorcello, Kubel is 7-for-8 off the promising rook in their first year of face-offs.
Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Clete Thomas - Three Tigers with strong numbers against Nick Blackburn, can they send him back into a tailspin? Blackburn has been very good in his last couple starts, but Cabrera is 5-for-13 with a homer against him, Ordonez is 4-for-10, and Clete Thomas is 6-for-12 with a longball, as well.
Trevor Crowe - Had to try to get someone on the Indians in this Roundup, considering they're facing Carlos Torres and his "HIT ME!" arsenal of pitches; Crowe is 4-for-8 against him.
John Buck - Buck is 3-for-9 off A.J. Burnett with 2 homers...if he plays, that is.
Joe Mauer, Denard Span - Mauer has really given Verlander fits, batting .394 against him in 33 AB with 3 homers and 8 RBI; Denard Span is 6-for-10 this year against Verlander and 9-for-19 overall
Michael Aubrey - Aubrey gets to face Wade Davis again, and despite Davis throwing a CG shutout against the O's earlier this year, Aubrey hits him hard, to the tune of 6-for-15 with 4 homers
Gabe Gross, B.J. Upton - Jeremy Guthrie pitched well against the Rays this year, amazingly, though Gross is 5-for-13 off him, and Upton is 9-for-25 with 2 homers.
Lyle Overbay - Overbay is 4-for-8 off Clay Buccholz.
Boston, Top to Bottom - The starter, Clay Buccholz, is 3-0 against the Jays with a 1.35 ERA, and rolling down the stretch. The offense, against Ricky Romero, has been amazing, with J.D. Drew 3-for-8, Ellsbury 6-for-11, Lowell 3-for-9, Martinez 3-for-8, Papi 5-for-10, Pedroia 4-for-8 and Youkilis 4-for-7.
Scott Kazmir, Howie Kendrick, Gary Matthews, Mike Napoli - Kazmir has roasted, straight toasted the Rangers throughout his career, and while Scott Feldman has beaten the Angels 3 times, he still has his work cut out for him; Kendrick is 5-for-12 off him, Matthews is 4-for-10, and Napoli is 9-for-19.
Daric Barton, Trevor Cahill - Barton hasn't faced King Felix this year, but he's 5-for-12 in the past; Cahill has pitched well against the M's 3 times this year, holding them to a .227 batting average and posting a 1.89 ERA against them, but is 0-2. He's due.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Forget Friday

Friday was a totally WHACK baseball day, but at least we were able to post a 3-1 football weekend to make up for the utter disappointment that was baseball on Friday. It's tough to stay focused day in and day out in baseball, but I'll do my best to stay on point. A positive week is the goal here, and I think we can do it!

NL
Matt Kemp, Russ Martin
- Zach Duke actually pitched pretty well against the Dodgers, but he has had some issues with two of these Dodgers righties: Kemp is 6-for-12 lifetime off Duke, and Martin is 7-for-15 with a homer and 4 driven in.
Hanley Ramirez - Yeah, this kid is good. Ramirez has homered twice off Jurrjens this season, and lifetime, he's 5-for-14 with 3 homers and 5 RBI
Ryan Church, Martin Prado - Anibal Sanchez is almost impossible to figure out these days, but it's a safe bet that two Bravos will hit him hard: Church is 9-for-19 with a homer and 4 RBI, and Prado is 6-for-13 against him.
Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada - We'll work in reverse order, with Tejada facing off against Cole Hamels just 4 times, but he's 3-of-4 (3-for-3 this year); Berkman has seen a bit more of Hamels, and he's 6-for-17.

AL
Alexei Ramirez
- Let the showdown begin; the White Sox and Indians, the matchup we've all been waiting for...or, wait...in any case, Ramirez is 4-for-9 career off Aaron har-de-har-har Laffey.
Shin-Soo Choo - This guy is quietly one of the best hitters in the AL, buried on an awful team - Choo is 4-for-9 against John Danks.
David DeJesus, Yuny Betancourt, Mark Teahen - It seems like there are 2-3 guys on every team that have slapped Chad Gaudin around; DeJesus is 4-for-10, Betancourt is 5-for-15 with a homer, and Teahen is 4-for-11.
Jason Kubel - Porcello Schmorcello, Kubel is 7-for-8 off the promising rook in their first year of face-offs.
Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Clete Thomas - Three Tigers with strong numbers against Nick Blackburn, can they send him back into a tailspin? Blackburn has been very good in his last couple starts, but Cabrera is 5-for-13 with a homer against him, Ordonez is 4-for-10, and Clete Thomas is 6-for-12 with a longball, as well.
Brian Roberts, Matt Wieters, Ty Wigginton - Roberts, the doubles machine, gets another crack at Jeff Niemann, though this one is in Tampa, where Niemann is doubly tough - Roberts is 7-for-15 off him with a homer. Wieters, meanwhile, is 4-for-5, and Wigginton is 3-for-6.
Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria - It's tough to pick just a couple names in this game, with Mark Hendrickson trying to become a starter again. Crawford is 5-for-11 off the giant lefty, and Longoria is 6-for-12 with 2 homers.
Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Other - Can't really list all the names, but suffice it to say that Beckett does not like facing the Jays. Leading the charge for Toronto are their two young studs, as Hill is 12-for-30 with a homer, and Lind is 5-for-11 with a homer of his own. Beckett has allowed the Jays to bat .318 against him overall.
Jacoby Ellsbury - How about a perfect 5-for-5 off Scott Richmond?
Hank Blalock, Chris Davis, Ian Kinsler - The Rangers have, historically, given Ervin Santana fits, but it's tough to see them with the gusto to fight here at the end of the season. In any case, Blalock is 12-for-30 with 3 homers, Davis is 3-for-8 with 2 homers, and Kinsler is batting .364 off Santana with a homer of his own.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bronson Was There

Cincinnati, how I love thee. The Reds, and Bronson Arroyo, made us a sweet chunk of change yesterday, then after giving some of it back on a Detroit Under that looked pretty promising until the last inning, we took most of THAT loss back on a fantastic underdog play on the Padres. In all, we netted a 3-1 day for a profit of roughly 2 units, and with a solid Friday, we can make this a winning week -- not bad, considering we blew Tuesday's card on some antihistamines.

NL
Ryan Church, Matt Diaz, Kelly Johnson, Nate McLouth
- While the Braves haven't scored a ton of runs against John Lannan, it has mostly been due to a lack of the big hit; as a team they've hit .299 off Lannan this year, led by Church's 5-for-13 (2 HR, 6 RBI), Diaz's 6-for-15, Kelly Johnson's 6-for-15 (HR), and McLouth's 4-for-9.
NOT the Pirates - I couldn't think of a clever way to include this note, but with the Pirates setting Ohlendorf down for the season, they're going to a game by committee, and that does not bode well.
Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy, David Wright - Ricky Nolasco has been a shining beacon of pitching since his return from the Minors, but he has had issues with the Mets, posting an ERA of 6.06 against them this year, as Castillo is 6-for-11 off him, Murphy is 6-for-15, and David Wright is 13-for-33 with 3 homers.
Jeremy Hermida, Hanley Ramirez - Hermida is 11-for-20 off Tim Redding, and Hanley is 10-for-22, though in fairness, Redding has been better lately.
Troy Glaus, Rick Ankiel - Glaus, if he plays, brings to the table a 5-for-11 career mark against Aaron Cook with 2 homers; Ankiel, in just 5 at-bats, has 2 dingers among 4 hits.
Gerardo Parra - The D'backs rookie (and a guy I had to drive to his host family's house a few times in Visalia) is 4-for-9 off Kevin Correia.
Randy Winn, Tim Lincecum - A matchup of aces in San Francisco pits Lincecum against Big Z; Randy Winn is 6-for-11 off Zambrano in his career with a homer. Lincecum is pitching to keep the Giants alive, and has already topped the Cubs once this year, holding Chicago to a .167 team BA.

AL
Luke Scott
- It's been a struggle for Scott the second half, but perhaps Fausto Carmona will be just what the doctor ordered - he's 4-for-8 against Carmona with a homer.
Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Jason Bay - I can't get over these ridiculous Joba rules; that crap is the reason a lot of people can't stand baseball these days. In any case, Pedroia is clobbering Joba at an 8-for-15 clip, Lowell is 7-for-15 career, and Jason Bay is 4-for-7 -- the three have combined for 3 homers and 8 RBI.
Melky Cabrera, Jose Molina - Cabrera is 8-for-19 off Jon Lester, and Molina is 5-for-11, though just 3 RBI between them.
Michael Young - Young is 4-for-9 against James Shields with 2 homers and 4 RBI.
Billy Butler, Alberto Callaspo, David DeJesus - Carl Pavano beat the Royals in his last start against them, but that doesn't change that they've had success against him: Butler is 6-for-15, Callaspo is 5-for-13 with a homer, and DeJesus is 7-for-18.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Carlos Guillen Burns Indians, Our Wallets

The recap paragraph strikes again! Yesterday was a 1-1 performance, nailing the Under in the afternoon Angels-Yankees tilt, then giving back the winnings when the Tigers decided to erupt for 11 runs off the normally reliable-at-home Justin Masterson. Not a great many games today, but we'll do our best to find a value or two among the small pile of options. Thursdays mark the time we should really be digging up all the sweet footbally goodness, so the extra time afforded to us will be spent as such.

NL
Bronson Arroyo
- Talk about on a roll! Arroyo has made 11 consecutive quality starts, and has already shut Pittsburgh out for 8 innings once this year.
Adam Dunn - Dunn is 4-for-8 off Vicente Padilla in his career, with, of course, one of those hits being a home run.
Chase Utley, Jayson Werth - Utley is a powerhouse 8-for-15 off Jeff Suppan with a homer, and Werth, in slightly more limited action, is 4-for-7, also with a homer
Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez - Both of these guys have 6 hits against Brad Penny, Lee in 13 at-bats, Ramirez in 14. Question is, is Brad Penny hitting a wall with his new team?

AL
Hank Blalock, Julio Borbon, Michael Young
- Well, Young is hurt, so he's out, but Blalock is 5-for-7 off Brett Anderson with a homer and 2 driven in; Borbon faced Anderson a handful of times in the Minors and he's 4-of-10.
Joe Inglett - Inglett is 5-for-9 off King Felix, who is facing the team that gave him the most trouble all season.
Brian Anderson - Had to get someone in here on the Red Sox, considering they're facing, um, Anthony Lerew? Anderson probably won't play, but he's 4-for-8 against him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Benadryl, Bad for Gambling

Hahaha, well, what can I say about yesterday? I was loopy, trying to reason my way through a series of bets, haplessly eliminating winners and foolishly playing losers, and finally coming out 1-2, which I guess could have been worse. Still, on my morning card, which I prepared BEFORE taking some medication, I had Atlanta RL, Toronto, Philly, D'backs, and Angels, which would have been a 3-2 day. Instead, I canceled the Toronto and Atlanta bets for reasons I can't remember, and floated through those other ones. Today, no meds until games are picked!

NL
Drew Sutton, Homer Bailey
- Sutton has faced Pirates starter Kevin Hart in the Minors a few times, and has gone 6-for-11 in his career against him. Bailey has been rock solid over his last 6 starts, going 3-1 with an ERA under 2; in addition, he's 2-0 against the Pirates this year with a 2.70 ERA.
Elijah Dukes - Dukes hasn't faced Billingsley this year, but in the past, he's gone 5-for-9 off the struggling righty.
Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Adam Laroche, Martin Prado - Chipper is 3-for-5 this year off Pelfrey, 6-for-15 overall with 2 homers; McCann is 5-for-6 this year, and batting near .500 in over 20 AB against Pelfrey lifetime; Laroche is a perfect 4-for-4 lifetime, and Prado is 4-for-9 with a homer.
Jeremy Reed, Carlos Beltan - Reed is 4-for-9, and Beltran is batting .314 with 3 homers lifetime against Tim Hudson, though Hudson's done a nice job on some of the other Mets.
Chris Coghlan - Coghlan has only faced Hamels 3 times, but he's homered in 2 of those at-bats...of course, that version of Cole Hamels may now be a distant memory, so buyers beware
Mat Gamel - I'm not sure what's got into parents these days, eliminating a "t" in the name Matt, but here we are - Gamel has faced Samardzija 11 times in the Minors, and has collected 6 hits.
Kaz Matsui - Matsui has faced Smoltz his fair share from their time in the NL East, and he's batting .458 in 24 AB against him.
Tony Gwynn Jr. - 4-for-9 off Jason Marquis highlights a Padres lineup that has picked up some singles off Marquis, but rarely scores any runs.
Clint Barmes - 7-for-12 off Tim Stauffer, likely seeing one another in the Minors.
Jonathan Sanchez - Sanchez has found marked success against the Diamondbacks, going just 1-1 against them this year, but posting an ERA of 1.77 and an opponent's BA of just .164 over three starts.
Justin Upton - While the rest of the D'backs are flailing away at Sanchez's stuff, Upton has gone 6-for-15 with 2 homers and 6 RBI; maybe walk Upton?

AL
Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira
- Scott Kazmir has been very good against the Yankees in his career, but Tex is a blistering 6-for-9 against him, and Posada is 11-for-25 with a homer.
Scott Kazmir - Figured I ought to back up my claims about Kazmir with some numbers; the former All-Star has held Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, A-Rod and Hideki Matsui all to career averages under .200 against.
Rick Porcello - Porcello has been on a nice run late in the season, even managing a quality start in Minnesota, a place where he had been knocked around previously. Today he faces the Indians, a team he's beaten twice with a 1.80 ERA.
Vernon Wells - Playing a total in this game is a possibility, where Vernon has posted a 7-for-16 mark against Jeremy Guthrie with 2 homers and 6 RBI.
Wade Davis - The Wade Davis Tour continues, and aside from melting down under the pressures of Fenway, he has been a monster since coming to the Bigs, throwing 7 innings of 1-run ball and a complete game shutout in his other two starts. The Mariners weak offense may be hard-pressed to score in this one.
Carlos Gomez, Mike Redmond, Denard Span, Delmon Young - Gomez is 8-for-20 with 2 homers lifetime off Buerhle, and the fun doesn't stop there; Redmond, just 2-of-9 overall, is batting .432 since 2004 against Buehrle. Span is 10-for-20 with 2 homers and 5 RBI, and Young, like Gomez, is 8-for-20 too.
Carlos Quentin - The only White Sox player doing anything against the surging Duensing, Quentin is 3-for-5 off him with 2 homers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Do Not Pass Go

Do not collect two hundred dollars. Or, really, you can collect two hundred, I don't care, just get your ass out of my clubhouse.

Such was the concept behind a visit to jail in the famous board game Monopoly, and such is the fate of one rage-fueled, insanity-driven Cubs outfielder so unfortunate as to claim the infamous name Milton Bradley.

Earlier this week, Bradley became such a cancer to the Cubs morale that owner Jim Hendry decided that his $10 million annual salary was not reason enough to keep Bradley among the rest of the Cubs players. He was sent home, suspended indefinitely for, basically, throwing one too many straws on the struggling camel's back we call the Chicago Cubs.

What was that straw, you ask? Well, Bradley apparently felt the need to drop a quote on a suburban Chicago newspaper describing the atmosphere among the team as negative and postulating that the poor attitude was the reason the Cubs hadn't won a World Series in over a century. Pretty stupid, but by no means his only infraction.

In a season that has seen Bradley throw a baseball into the stands with 2 outs in an inning, bat under or around .250 for most of the season (though his OBP is still decent), and the coup de gras, call Chicago fans racist, Bradley earned himself an early shower, and he best get comfortable. Andre Dawson and Shawon Dunston were unavailable for comment...

Obviously, Milton will be shopped this offseason, but just like in the board game, no one really wants Baltic Ave. Heading back to Texas seems like the only pairing that won't explode in a fiery blaze, but Texas already has a surplus of outfielders. Maybe the Royals will take on Bradley just to get some attention? I have almost zero clue where he ends up, but wherever it is, get ready for some mayhem.

It really makes you wonder how Bradley will one-up himself. Will he get traded to the Astros and go fisticuffs with Lance Berkman? Will he make a triumphant return to the Athletics (he is a moneyball-type player), only to find out Billy Beane just wanted to have a "Free Parking" night at Oakland-Alameda Colisseum and couldn't get the naming rights? Or will Bradley stay in Chicago, doomed to pinch hit against those who have wronged him in the past?

What does this mean for bettors? I'd say it's a safe bet that the Cubs will play better without him. Ryan Dempster told the media that Bradley needed to, roughly, "start with the man in the mirror" (grabbing his crotch in a clear homage to Michael Jackson) in reference to the negativity, and the mood in the clubhouse should improve dramatically for the final 2 weeks of the season. The Cubs already rattled off a merciless beating of Braden Looper and the Brewers in game one sans-Milton, and the future would seemingly hold a few more visits to Community Chest. We'll keep an eye on the Cubs the rest of the season; hell, there may be some money to be made on "The Milton Effect."

On a ranch somewhere, Jeff Kent is laughing.

Can't Trust a Guy Named Wandy

Well, yesterday was a dud - we eliminated what turned out to be a winning play on the Colts for MNF, then got burned when Wandy Rodriguez turned in his poorest home start of the season. But, that's all ancient history now, as we turn the page to Tuesday and try to line up some successful fantasy options, and then some even better wagers.

NL
Joe Blanton
- Blanton had himself a nice bounceback performance his last time out, silencing the Nationals for 6 innings after they had roughed him up in his previous start. Blanton is 1-1 against the Marlins, but has posted an ERA of 1.98 in 2 starts against them, with 15K's and 3BB's in just under 14 innings of work.
Nick Johnson, Josh Johnson - The last name has it. Nick Johnson is the one Marlin with outstanding career numbers against Blanton, having gone 7-for-13 against him with 1 homer and 4 RBI; Josh Johnson, a bonafide ace having his coming out party this year, is 1-0 against Philly, giving up just 1 run in 13 innings, striking out 14, walking 3, and holding the Phils to a ridiculous .159 BAA.
Jamie Moyer - The game 2 starter for Philadelphia, this is the old "Moyer in Florida" routine.
Scott Rolen - The Reds, playing a little bit better here at the end of the season, face Zach Duke tonight in Pittsburgh, and Rolen is 5-for-11 off him.
The Dodgers - The Dodgers can sniff the postseason, and start a rather easy (on paper) road trip with a contest in Washington facing Livan Hernandez - excluding the O-dog and Russ Martin, here are the prospective Dodgers starters' numbers off Livan: Furcal (20-for-50, 3 HR, 7 RBI), Ethier (7-for-18, HR, 3 RBI), Manny (7-for-10, HR, 7 RBI), Kemp (3-for-4), Blake (5-for-13, RBI), Loney (4-for-12).
Jair Jurrjens, most of the Braves position players - Jurrjens is 3-0 against the Mets this year with an ERA of just 1.69; I can't go through every name, but suffice it to say that ballplayers named Diaz, Escobar, McLouth, Laroche, McCann, Prado and Sammons are all hitting Nelson Figueroa very hard in limited action.
David Wright - Wright is 4-for-9 off Jurrjens this season, and 6-for-17 overall, with a homer
Kosuke Fukudome - Fukudome is a solid 6-for-15 off Dave Bush with a home run and 2 driven in.
Ryan Braun - Much like the Cubs, the Brewers have one "thorn in the side" batter for the opposing pitcher; Braun is 5-for-10 off Randy Wells, also with 1 homer and 2 RBI
Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee - Berkman is 3-for-6 off Pineiro this season, to go along with a career mark of 5-for-14, which includes 2 dingers and 5 RBI; Lee is even more frightening, going 4-for-6 this year and 11-for-21 overall, for mad "ownage" with 2 homers and 7 RBI.
Matt Cain, Bengie Molina, Edgar Renteria, Freddy Sanchez - As far as the batters are concerned, you can look at yesterday's list, since Doug Davis got pushed back a day (Molina is 11-for-28 with 2 homers and 8 RBI, Renteria is 8-for-18, also with 2 homers, and Sanchez is 17-of-37 with 1 homer).
Stephen Drew - Drew seems to enjoy batting in the NL West, as he's 6-for-16 off one of the best pitchers in the West, with 2 homers and 5 RBI.

AL
Shin-Soo Choo
- A struggling Edwin Jackson has to face Choo, who has knocked him around 8-of-15 times, including 3 RBI.
Victor Martinez - Martinez is 5-for-9 off Greinke this year, and batting in the mid-300's against him, overall.
David DeJesus, Mark Teahen - DeJesus is 11-for-23 off Paul Byrd, and Mark Teahen is 6-for-15.
Michael Cuddyer, Brendan Harris - We'll start with Harris, who's batting .393 against Jon Danks in almost 30 AB, pretty good. Not as good as Cuddyer, who is 13-for-27 with 4 homers and 10 RBI, bombs away!
Derek Jeter - Jeter is a brilliant 9-for-19 with 2 homers off Angels' starter Ervin Santana, though Ervin is 5-2 in his career against the Spankees.
NOT Chad Gaudin - Gaudin gave up 8 runs in 3 innings in a start earlier this year against LAA, and for good reason -- Figgins is 4-for-10 against him, Vladdy's 7-for-18, Izturis is 8-for-18, Napoli is 5-for-14 with 3 homers, Rivera is 2-for-4, and Willits is 4-for-9.
Marlon Byrd - Aside from Michael Young, who may or may not play, Byrd is the only other Ranger with decent values against Trevor Cahill, going 4-for-8 this year.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back to Business on 9/21

Last week was a DOMINANT one in baseball, as our newfound selectivity has paid off in spades. We took it to the books Monday through Friday, winning 4/5 days and pushing on the other.

Over the weekend, we had a run-of-the-mill 1-1 NFL Sunday after a watch-and-enjoy College Saturday. A Monday Night Football play is coming later this afternoon in the NFL thread, but here, we must continue to dominate the ol' throw and catch!

NL
Wade Leblanc
- Leblanc is a "hot" pitcher right now, allowing just 3 runs in his last 19 innings over 3 starts, and with his newfound aggressiveness, faces a team that has never seen his changeup.
Adam Laroche - Laroche is a perfect 3-for-3 in his career against Pat Misch, with a homer and 2 RBI.
Luis Castillo, Gary Sheffield, David Wright - Castillo is 5-for-9 off Derek Lowe this season, and 6-for-13 overall; Sheffield is 7-for-15 with a homer and 9 RBI, and Wright is 6-for-13 with 3 RBI.
Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy - Braun has absolutely killed Tom Gorzelanny, going 8-for-17 with 3 homers and 9 RBI, while Hardy, if he gets a look, which he won't, would bring to the table an 8-for-21 history against Gorzelanny.
Khalil Greene - You know you're in for a long night when your lone representative on the Roundup is Khalil Greene (4-for-11 off Wandy Rodriguez); Lohse would have made it to the list (1.69 ERA in 16 IP against the Astros this year), but his struggles with injury make him a question mark.
Hunter Pence, Wandy Rodriguez - Pence is the only Astro that has consistently delivered strong performances against Kyle Lohse, going 9-for-23 in the past; Wandy, just 1-2 against the Cardinals this year, has been a tough luck pitcher in this season series, posting a 2.25 ERA with a .174 BAA, and 19 strikeouts in 24 innings.
Bengie Molina, Edgar Renteria, Freddy Sanchez - Doug Davis will be facing the Giants, and may have to do his customary tight-rope act, with Molina batting .393 against him with 2 homers and 8 RBI in 28 AB, Renteria 8-for-18 with 2 homers, and Sanchez batting .459 in almost 40 faceoffs.
Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds - Drew, going lefty v. lefty with Barry Zito, is batting .391 in his career against Barry with 8 driven in; Reynolds is 6-for-14 with a homer.

AL
Chris Tillman
- Tillman seems like a solid young pitcher, and today he'll try to show his first effort against the Jays wasn't a fluke - I don't think it was, as he held them to a .174 team average in a no-decision.
Yuniesky Betancourt - This pathetic excuse for a shortstop is somehow 4-for-10 off Wakefield in his career with a homer.
A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez - Nick Blackburn has had great success against the White Sox, but needs to work around these 2 bats, as Pierzynski is 10-for-23 against him, and Ramirez is 7-for-16.
Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez - Not three names you want to see in a row, especially if you're Joe Saunders, who has been whacked around to a 4-for-10 tune by Damon, a 5-for-11 tune by Jeter, and a 5-for-10 tune by A-Rod - Saunders has a career ERA of 8 against the Yanks.
Erick Aybar, Mike Napoli - Aybar is 6-for-13 off Andy Pettitte, and Napoli is 5-for-9, but perhaps more than the two Angels, Pettitte has an ERA of almost 10 against LA in 2 starts this year.
David Murphy - Murphy has limited exposure to Edgar Gonzalez, but he's 4-for-5 with a homer, which bodes quite well for tonight.
Mark Ellis, Ryan Sweeney - Millwood has been just terrible in the 2nd half of the season, and Mark Ellis and Ryan Sweeney should be able to capitalize; Ellis is 11-for-26 off Millwood, and Sweeney is 4-for-9 with a homer.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Vandenwhat?

Boom went the dynamite! The Roundup produced another solid card yesterday, taking the afternoon pick when the Royals emerged victorious, 9-2, then doubling up on profits with the evening Phillies RL play, as Lidge somehow held on to a 4-2 win. We've been on a nice little roll the last week or so -- posting winning days last Thursday, Friday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and yesterday, and pushing on Tuesday for a record 8-2-1. Congrats to anyone that tailed! Hopefully, we can keep the good vibes flowin'!

NL
Be Careful of Rick Vandenhurk
- He missed his last start with back stiffness, generally a very bad sign for a starting pitcher; expect Vandy to get lit up early before his back loosens, or just avoid altogether, like me.
Josh Willingham, Elijah Dukes - The Nationals are going to be happy to be anywhere besides Philadelphia, and these two have solid numbers off Mike Pelfrey: Willingham is 3-for-4 off him this year, and 6-for-14 overall with 2 homers and 6 RBI. Dukes, in limited action, is 4-for-6 with a homer and 3 RBI.
Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino - Tim Hudson has looked good in his return from surgery, but here faces a test, as Howard is batting over .320 against him with 3 homers, Ibanez is 7-for-15 since 2004, and Victorino is 8-for-25 with 2 homers.
Bud Norris - Norris allowed 2 runs in 6 innings earlier this year against the Brewers, with both coming on a Jason Kendall home run - what are the odds of that happening again?
Ted Lilly - There are a handful of playoff teams that could use Ted Lilly and his dynamic numbers against the Cardinals, who are batting just .160 against him, and if not for a Colby Rasmus 2-run homer, his 2.40 ERA against St. Louis could be reduced to 1.20.
Mark Reynolds - Reynolds is 4-for-8 lifetime off Jason Marquis with a homer with 3 RBI
Edgar Renteria - Renteria went 0-for-3 against Padilla a week ago, but the aging shortstop is 5-for-10 against him since 2004.
Matt Kemp, Manny Ramirez, Russ Martin - Jonathan Sanchez has had all kinds of issues with the Dodgers, and some of that can be attributed to Kemp's 6-for-17, some to Manny's 4-for-8 with a homer, and a chunk to Martin's 6-for-13 with a dinger; some can also be attributed to his wildness, but hey...

AL
The Boston Red Sox
- Home or road, Jeremy Guthrie is not going to slow these guys down; alphabetically, Jason Bay (5-for-10, 2 HR), J.D. Drew (6-for-18, HR), Jacoby Ellsbury (9-for-24, HR), David Ortiz (7-for-21, 2 HR), Dustin Pedroia (12-for-37), then even some of the younger guys are batting near .300, as well.
Brian Roberts, Ty Wigginton - Roberts is 6-for-14 career off Clay Buccholz, and Wigginton is 2-for-4 with a homer this year against the surging youngster.
Adam Lind - Prior to this season, Lind wasn't a force against James Shields, but he seems to have figured him out, going 5-for-14 this year with 2 homers.
Carl Crawford - Scott Richmond is slumping, and you'd figure that Crawford's 4-for-7 against him might just get better.
Scott Kazmir - Kazmir has been lights out against Texas in his career, and some of that might be the result of Blalock being 1-for-11, Kinsler is 2-for-19, Cruz is 1-for-7, Pudge is 2-for-16, so on and so on.
Jason Kubel - Kubel is a perfect 5-for-5 off Rick Porcello, but the rest of this game screams "swing-and-a-miss"
Willie Bloomquist, Mark Teahen, Mitch Maier - Bloomquist has hit Mark Buerhle hard, to the tune of .462 in 26 AB; Teahen is batting .453 in over 50 AB since 2004, and Maier, the young gun, is 6-for-13 off Buerhle.
Robinson Cano, Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira - One might be surprised how many Yankees have hit King Felix hard in the past, with Cano 4-for-9 with a homer, Damon 5-for-9, also with a homer, Jeter 4-for-11 and Tex 11-for-33 with 3 homers.
Adrian Beltre - Burnett hasn't faced the Mariners since 2007, but he's 5-for-14 with a home run off A.J. Burnett.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rick Reed, Meet Tim Donaghy

I posted a forum note late last night (well, late for those of us trapped on Eastern time), but I wanted to try to analyze the repercussions of yesterday's "thrilling" conclusion of the Angels-Red Sox slugfest.

First, the rant. I don't know how anyone outside of Boston could call last night's game a good one. It was poorly pitched by the starters, poorly pitched by the bullpens, and very poorly umpired. I didn't get to see the entire contest, but I watched the innings that mattered most, and the umpiring crew in this one made my stomach turn. It was almost as though the umpires felt the game should have ended (or at least become tied) on Jed Lowrie's sharp grounder down the 3rd base line. But wait! Chone Figgins kept it on the infield, preventing the tying run from scoring. "How can we get Boston back into this thing?" they must have thought, only to decide on a newer, better strike zone for the subsequent Red Sox hitter, Nick Green.

A controversial check-swing and a knee high fastball down broadway later, the Red Sox were tied, and it was only a matter of moments before the Angels collapsed and gave up the winning run.

A couple years ago, the idea that a game's outcome could be decided, or at least influenced by its officials would seem nuts, but not any more. Now, we have an NBA official in prison, some mobsters searching wildly for another scam, and some pretty frightening missed calls in a lot of our nation's highest profile games.

As far as the checked swing is concerned, what the majority of the world does not know is that the umpire CANNOT be wrong. The rule is written such that the umpire is merely asked to determine if the batter was making an effort to hit the ball. It doesn't matter if the offensive player's bat crossed a virtual "line" extended vertically from home plate. How far the bat traveled is just one of the many criteria an umpire has to weigh when evaluating a checked swing. All that being said, it sure looked like Nick Green was trying to hit that 0-2 fastball. Even the look on his face said so, as a slow-motion replay showed Green cringing, outwardly annoyed that he would attempt to hit a pitch around his letters.

A handful of foul balls later, Green watched a fastball whiz by, right down the heart of the plate, at his knees, and was rewarded for it! Honestly, it's an at-bat like Green's that makes me want to tune baseball off my television. How can a player earn himself an RBI taking a borderline 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the 9th? This is where the NBA generally has it right. With a few ticks left on the clock in the 4th quarter, 19 times out of 20 the refs are going to swallow their whistle and let the players decide the outcome. Here, the umpires need to make the players earn it, too.

So, while my feelings towards that crap mean something to me, they're thoroughly unimportant to the rest of the world unless I can figure out a way to make them relevant, and I think I can.

My suggestion is a 2-step program. Step 1, watch tonight's game. See if THIS umpiring crew makes any adjustments after the controversy yesterday. My guess is that someone is getting punched out on strikes, today. Maybe moreso, will the outbursts from Scioscia and Fuentes have any impact on future umpiring crews coming into Fenway? It's extremely possible, as every crew is scrutinized by an oversight committee.

Step 2, adjust to what you see. If the umpires seem trigger-happy, look for some Unders. If they seem even more gunshy than usual, watch for a ton of walks and extra runs. Let's see how this goes, and play it from there!

Cy Greinke

Another day, another dollar, that's the story of this week! We won 1 unit on Monday, pushed on Tuesday, and won 1 unit again yesterday, so the slow growth model continues to hold steady. We're back up roughly 13 units on the season, which won't blow anyone's mind EXCEPT THAT we've been playing every game at 1 unit. So for those who want to play 3 units on everything, we'd be up closer to 40 units, but that's just not how the Roundup believes in gambling. If you're playing 3 units on EVERY game, then your 3-unit bet should really be your 1-unit bet. It's just simple math. Ah well, onward and upward!

NL
Kosuke Fukudome
- Fuk-u-do-me is 3-for-6 with a homer off Dave Bush this season, and 5-for-12 lifetime.
David Wright - Seems like he's on here every day, despite the clown helmet: Wright is truly the only Met with good career numbers against Jair Jurrjens as he's 3-for-6 this year and 5-for-14 overall with a homer and 3 RBI.
Jair Jurrjens - Jurrjens is having one of the best seasons of anyone in the Bigs, and he takes aim at a Mets team that he's faced 3 times this year with a 1.83 ERA and a 2-0 record against.
Alberto Gonzalez - He was 0-for-3 against Hamels coming into this season, but in 2009 Alberto is a perfect 4-for-4, and you get the feeling he has figured out how to hit against Hamels.
The Phils, Hamels Included - In Ross Detwiler's one previous start against Philly, he allowed 5 runs in 4 innings, as the Phils hit him for a .455 average. Hamels is on a bit of a role, and he's getting more grounders, which, combined with his dominance of Adam Dunn, should make for good results.

AL
David DeJesus, Mitch Maier, Zack Greinke
- The two Royals position players have put up some decent numbers against Edwin Jackson, with DeJesus 2-for-5 this year and 4-for-11 overall, and Maier 3-for-4 this season with 2 runs batted in. Greinke should continue his Cy Young campaign, as he's 2-1 against Detroit this year, having thrown 31 innings and allowing the Tigers to bat an absurd .176 against him. He has 39 K's and only 7 BB's, and his ERA against Detroit is a microscopic 1.16.
Gerald Laird, Placido Polanco - These two Tigers have collected a few base hits against Greinke, but little else: Laird is 5-for-12 off him this year, while Polanco is 5-for-14 in 2009.
Jose Lopez - Coming off a solid win last night, Lopez gets to face another Bleached Sox pitcher he eats up, John Danks; Lopez is a beefy 7-for-13 in his career against Danks...his teammates? Not so much.
Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria - Crawford, after getting out some aggression screaming at Pat Burrell (probably deserved it...) takes aim at spot-starter Mark Hendrickson, against whom Crawford is 4-for-9. Longoria is 5-for-10 with 2 homers and 3 RBI lifetime off the tall lefty.
Michael Aubrey - I have a sneaking suspicion this lesser-known Oriole will get some playing time tonight, given his career 4-for-12 (4 HR) off young Rays starter Wade Davis.
Torii Hunter, Howie Kendrick, Maicer Izturis - Hunter is the real damage-dealer against Josh Beckett, posting a 5-for-11 mark over the last 5 years. Kendrick and Izturis are both batting in the mid-300's off Beckett over 16 and 26 at-bats, respectively.
Victor Martinez, David Ortiz - V-Mart's still out, so his .500 career average against Ervin Santana be damned, but Papi's with the team, so he can put his 5-for-12 to the test.
Justin Masterson - Masterson tossed 7 scoreless frames against the A's earlier this year, and if he can throw strikes, there's very little reason to think he can't do it again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

5 Days Til Fall Humpday Roundup

Last night's modified Run Line play on Minnesota looked pretty sweet until closer Joe Nathan allowed a meaningless solo homer to youngster Matt Laporta that cut the Twins advantage to just 1. We had to settle for the push, but at least we look smart for taking the modified RL. Saved us over a unit last night, and we only risked an additional 15 cents to get that slight advantage. On a night of strange matchups and bad lines, a push just ain't half bad - let's keep it going!!

NL
Rick Ankiel
- It seems as though Ankiel can see Josh Johnson alright, though with only little experience in this contest, we're going out on a limb just a bit; Ankiel is 2-for-2 this year and 3-for-4 overall with a pair of RBI.
Doug Davis - Davis is pitching for a contract, so you know he wants it, and earlier this season, Davis compiled a 2-0 record against the Padres with a 1.83 ERA, working in an out of some trouble, as usual
Chase Headley - The single Padre that has had some success against Davis, Headley is batting .353 overall, and is 3-for-8 this year.
Luis Castillo, Gary Sheffield, David Wright - Derek Lowe has been just plain horrible against the Mets, with Castillo going 5-for-8 against him this year, 6-for-12 overall with 4 RBI; Sheffield is 7-for-15 lifetime against Lowe with a homer and 9 RBI, and Wright is 5-for-11 with 2 driven in.
A Handful of Tomahawks - Bobby Parnell won't have it much easier, if his work against Atlanta earlier this year is any indication -- he gave up 9 runs in 3 innings to Atlanta in his only start against them, with McCann homering and driving in 3.
Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman - A rematch, Joe Blanton against the one team that hits him hard, with Adam Dunn going 4-for-9 this season with 2 homers and 5 RBI, and Ryan Zimmerman going 5-for-12 this year, also with 2 dingers.
Chase Utley, Shane Victorino - Utley is 3-for-5 against Livan Hernandez this season, and is batting .385 against him since 2004, while his teammate Victorino is 4-for-9 in his career against Livan.
Adam Rosales - Rosales faced Astros' starter Yorman Bazardo in the Minors over the last few seasons, and picked up 5 hits in 8 at-bats, not bad, and we'll see if it carries over into the Bigs.
Milton Bradley - Bradley is 2-for-4 off Braden Looper this season, with both of those hits leaving the yard to drive in 3 of his teammates.
Ryan Spilborghs, Garrett Atkins - Cain is 2-1 against Colorado, but not without event; Spilborghs has homered off him twice this season in 10 AB, and Atkins is a career 13-for-40 with 2 homers, as well.
Freddy Sanchez - Sanchez, if healthy, is 6-for-11 lifetime off De La Rosa with a homer an 4 RBI.

AL
Asdrubal Cabrera, Kelly Shoppach, Luis Valbuena
- Nick Blackburn has not been without trouble against the Indians, with Cabrera putting up a solid 5-for-9 against him this year (8-for-20 lifetime), Shoppach posting a career 5-for-10 with 2 homers, and Valbuena, this year and always, 3-for-6 with a homer.
Orlando Cabrera, Jose Morales - A few Twinkies have generally hit Aaron Laffey pretty hard, with Cabrera 3-for-7 this year and 6-for-14 overall, and Morales 3-for-3 this year and 4-for-9 lifetime.
Melvin Mora - Make no mistake, Sonnanstine is not an expert at Camden Yards, posting a career ERA there of nearly 8. Melvin Mora is 4-for-5 against him this year with 4 RBI, as one of a few O's that could cause some damage tonight.
Aaron Hill, Raul Chavez - Hill is just 1-for-4 this year off Chad Gaudin, but is 4-for-10 lifetime against him with a homer and 3 RBI; his teammate, Chavez, is a perfect 3-for-3.
Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, Mark Teixeira - If you're Brian Tallet, you don't want 4 Yankees with .350+ lifetime numbers, but so it goes: Damon is 7-for-20 against him, Jeter 6-for-15, Matsui 9-for-17, and Tex 5-for-11, with the 4 combining for 3 homers and 12 RBI.
Vladimir Guerrero, Kendry Morales - Solid numbers against Paul Byrd bode well for the Halos, as The Impaler is 5-for-11 lifetime, and Morales is 5-for-9 with a homer.
Jason Bay Joe Saunders, amazingly, is the one Angel with a good history against the Red Sox, but Jason Bay has given him some issues - Bay is 2-for-5 lifetime with both hits saying "byebye" to the stadium.
Jack Cust, Kurt Suzuki - Cust is 7-for-16 lifetime off Dustin Nippert, though 0-for-2 this year, while Suzuki is 4-for-7 (1-for-2 this year).
Marlon Byrd, Julio Borbon - Byrd is 3-for-5 off Trevor Cahill, seeing him twice this year, while Borbon brings his Minor League 4-for-9 numbers to the Bigs in this matchup...maybe.
Jose Lopez, Ichiro Suzuki - Both of these players are 6-for-14 against Gavin Floyd, who really seems to hate pitching in Seattle (hint, hint).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Haven't I Seen You Before?

Yesterday's lines weren't terribly impressive, but we did manage to find an easy winner with the UNDER between Cincinnati and Houston for a net gain of 1.00 unit. The "action" play on Toronto looked like a sweet +260 winner until errors led to 2 unearned Tigers runs and the Jays blew a 5-2 lead in the 9th. Not a big deal, since that play was not a TOP PLAY, but still would have been nice for the bankroll. Whatever the case, we started the new week off the right way with a winner, and now we're back with some key info today!!

NL
Atlanta bats
- As a team, the Braves are batting over .580 against Pat Misch this season, though it's over just 3 innings. One would figure it's not a fluke, and that at least a few of the Braves see Misch's pitches very, very well.
Alberto Gonzalez - We won't know until after the 3rd inning which Cliff Lee will show up, but it seems either way, Gonzalez will be alright: he's 3-for-3 off Lee this year, and 5-for-8 overall.
Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino - The Phils have faced Garrett Mock twice now, so you start to get an idea of who can hit him, and Ibanez is a solid 3-for-5, while Victorino is 2-for-6 this year, 3-for-8 overall, and has knocked in a pair.
Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt - Facing a resurgent Kip Wells, we'll see if Pence's 4-for-9 lifetime numbers bode well or not; Berkman has 2 homers and 10 RBI in his last 22 AB against Wells, and IF IF IF Roy Oswalt is truly healthy, he's facing a team that he has gone 23-1 against in his career. But that's a big "IF!"
Prince Fielder, Felipe Lopez - Big Z has shut down Ryan Braun, but a few other Brewers have given him trouble in the past, namely, these two. Fielder is 3-for-4 off Z this year, with a homer, and a .375 batter off him lifetime; Lopez is 2-for-4 this year, and a .382 lifetime hitter off him.
Micah Hoffpauir - One would hope Piniella would give the kid a chance against Gallardo, as he's 3-for-6 off Yovani with a homer and 2 RBI. A few other Cubs have faced Gallardo 2 to 4 times and have picked up a couple hits, but it's not a large enough sample size to draw conclusions.
Jeremy Hermida - Adam Wainwright's arch nemesis, one might think, given Hermida's 3-for-4 (with a homer) off him this year, and 5-for-12 overall.
Brandon Allen, Trent Oeltjen - Some new names on the Roundup, and it's because these two fellows saw Wade LeBlanc in the Minors: Allen is 2-for-3 with 2 homers and 4 RBI, while Oeltjen is a solid 5-for-9, though it's unclear who will start, if either.
Nick Hundley, Kevin Kouzmanoff - Dan Haren has just a 2.77 ERA against the Padres this year, but Hundley is 5-for-12 against him in his career, and Kouz has homered twice in 22 AB
Andre Ethier, Orlando Hudson, Matt Kemp, Russ Martin - The Dodgers have absolutely teed off on Zach Duke in his few appearances against them, with Ethier 5-for-11 with 5 RBI, Hudson 4-for-10 with 2 RBI, Kemp 5-for-9, and Martin 5-for-10 with a homer and 4 RBI.
Barry Zito - Zito has been a little off in his last 2 starts, but has just dominated the Rockies in his career, and you know he'll bring his A-game for this one: he has allowed just 1 run to Colorado in over 20 innings this year spanning 3 starts, and has held the Rockies potent bats to a team average of just .181. Clint Barmes is batting .158 against Zito, Hawpe .190, Tulo .154, Torrealba .100, Iannetta .100 and Fowler .143.
Ubaldo Jimenez - Not quite as absurd as Zito's numbers, but Ubaldo is a bonafide ace, and after giving his sore hammy some extra time to heal, he takes aim at the Giants, a team he's faced a handful of times this year, has an ERA of 2.48 against, while holding all Giants regulars other than Pablo Sandoval to career averages against him of .250 or lower.

AL
Willie Bloomquist
- Willie is a solid 7-for-17 off Jarrod Washburn, who has been battling a sore knee and isn't likely to make too many quality pitches.
B.J. Upton, Gabe Gross, Pat Burrell - All 3 of these Rays have faced Jason Berken 3 times, and all 3 have homered. Upton is a perfect 3-for-3 with 2 RBI, while Gross and Burrell are both 2-for-3, with a combined 3 RBI.
Brian Roberts, Matt Wieters, Ty Wigginton - Jeff Niemann has been hit very hard at Camden Yards, and these three O's are responsible for most of the damage: Roberts is 4-for-9 against Niemann this year with a homer, Wieters is 2-for-2 since his call-up against Niemann, and Wigginton is 3-for-6 with a home run, as well.
Joe Inglett, Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay - There's a lot to like about the Jays tonight, with Inglett's and Overbay's 4-for-6 career marks against Sergio Mitre, Vernon Wells' 4-for-8 2009 numbers, and, of course, Doc's long term success against the Yankees. He has gone 34 innings in 4 starts against them this season, has held the juggernauts to a team batting average of just .203, has posted 22 K's to just 6 BB's, and is coming off a complete game shutout of NY the last time he faced 'em.
Johnny Damon - The one bat that has given Halladay a tough time, Damon is 5-for-14 off Hallday this year with 2 homers and has consistently hit him in the mid-.350's throughout his career.
Victor Martinez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia - John Lackey has been downright bad against the BoSox in his career, and with the addition of Victor Martinez's career .476 average against Lackey, things may only get worse. Big Papi is 7-for-21 with 2 homers and 8 RBI against Lackey since 2004, while Pedroia is 5-for-12.
Jack Cust, Kurt Suzuki - The A's are Brandon McCarthy's most hated opponent, with his career 8.15 ERA against them, and Cust's .500 average combined with Suzuki's 3-for-6 this year lead the charge.
The Twins - This isn't the first time we've had to list all the Twinkies that have bashed Fausto Carmona...deep breath...Brian Buscher (4-for-11, HR, 5RBI), Orlando Cabrera (2-for-2 this year), Brendan Harris (2-for-4), Jason Kubel (.385, 2HR, 9RBI), Joe Mauer (.309), Jose Morales (2-for-3, RBI), Delmon Young (3-for-8, 2RBI), Scott Baker (4-0 against the Indians this year, 0.93 ERA, .139 BAA, 23 K, 6 BB).
Ichiro Suzuki, Mike Sweeney - Freddy Garcia has a poor history with the Mariners, though a lot of those names have moved on...not Ichiro, though, who is 8-for-19 with a homer off Garcia; transplant Mike Sweeney is 9-for-21 with 2 homers and 7 RBI.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Night F...

..antasy Roundup.

FOOLED YOUUUU!

It's baseball time, and Mondays are a great day to cash in on the short card. A lot of teams with momentum swings over the weekend generally carry into Monday evening play, though at this point in the season there are a handful of additional factors to ponder. Friday was a 2-1 night with the Yankees finally losing to the Orioles to cost us a sweep. Still, another profitable day, a profitable week, and baseball remains a solid 11 units up on the season (as all of you know, playing almost ALL 1-unit plays). Just think, if we played 50 unit games every night, we'd be up 550 units right now, hahahaha!

NL
Kaz Matsui, Hunter Pence, Wandy Rodriguez
- Matsui is a solid 5-for-11 off Bronson Arroyo, but overall is having a down year so don't expect much; Pence, on the other hand, is having a nice season for a bad team, and is 3-for-6 off Wandy this year, and batting .381 against him in his career. More impressive than the hitting is the pitching -- Wandy is 2-1 against the Reds this year, allowing just 1 run over 18 innings against the Reds, with 18 K's and only 6 BB's.
Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee - Theriot has been decent against Jeff Suppan, batting .364 in his career, but Derrek Lee's .415 average against suppan since 2004, with 3 homers and 5 RBI in 41 AB.
Dan Uggly, Ross Gload - The Marlins touched up Wellemeyer for 5 runs in 6 innings earlier this year, led by Uggla's 2-for-3 this year, and 4-for-7 lifetime numbers, including a homer. Gload is a remarkable 2-for-3 this season, with both hits homers and 3 driven in.
Troy Glaus, Albert Pujols, Skip Schumaker, Matt Holliday - Ricky Nolasco has not been good against the Cardinals, and with Holliday's career 6-for-8 against him (2 homers) on top o Glaus' 4-for-6, Pujols' 4-for-10, and Schumaker's 4-for-9, this one has 'sneaky over' written all upon it.
Todd Helton, Chris Iannetta, Omar Quintanilla - It's too bad only one of these guys will be in the starting lineup tomorrow, which means Helton's gonna have to do it himself. For the record, Helton is 9-for-17 off Lincecum with a homer, Iannetta is an impressive 6-for-12 with a homer and 4 RBI, and Quintanilla is 7-for-17, but the rest of the team is a fat goose-egg.
Ryan Garko, Edgar Renteria, Fred Lewis - If Bruce Bochy is so attached to Aaron f'in Rowand that he STILL won't play Fred Lewis in this one, the Giants deserve to lose. Garko is 5-for-13 off Jason Hammel from their time in the AL, including a homer; Renteria is a solid 3-of-7, and Lewis has "ownage" on his side, batting a robust 6-for-7 (.857) off Hammel.

AL
Kendry Morales
- Morales, and the Angels, have enjoyed success against Joba, with Kendry at a nice 3-for-4 mark with a homer and 3 RBI.
Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez - Cano is 2-for-5 off Jered Weaver this season, and 5-for-12 lifetime; not bad, but A-Rod is 5-for-13 career off Weaver, with FOUR of those hits leaving the yard for a simply ridiculous slugging percentage.
Nolan Reimold - A solid rookie, Reimold gets to face another rook (David Price) that he's enjoyed crushing to the tune of 3-for-7 with two homers.
Adam Lind, Travis Snider - I suppose only time will tell if Snider gets a start for the Jays, but he is already 2-for-2 off Verlander this year, with a homer; Lind is a solid 5-for-9 off Verlander with 4 RBI.
Jack Cust - Cust is 5-for-13 off Rangers' starter Scott Feldman with 2 long balls.
Jamey Carroll - He should see the starting lineup tonight if Eric Wedge sees the same numbers we do - Carroll is 5-for-8 lifetime off Carl Pavano
Orlando Cabrera, Jose Morales - Jeremy Sowers has actually been decent against the Twins, but Cabera is a solid 7-for-17 off him, and Morales is 6-for-11.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Fantasy Roundup

Trying to get a bit of an early start on this guy, with a busy day ahead and a crap-ton of games to look at! Also worth noting today's date, so please do take a moment to at least remember the tragedy that befell the good people of NY.

Last night's ONLY top play, the Florida Marlins, were easy winners over the hapless Mets, netting us a cool 1.25 beefy units on the slightly larger than average (by 25%) wager. I may not have been perfectly clear earlier this week -- I do NOT recommend playing my action plays unless you, like me, want to have a few plays going as the baseball season nears its end. If you're looking to GRIND out winning weeks/months/etc., follow the top plays and exercise patience!!

NL
Rich Harden
- Yes, he lost his last start to the Reds, but only because his opponent pitched a complete game shutout. Harden has held the Reds to a team BA of just .133 over 3 starts. He has struck out 25 and walked 6 in 18 innings.
Justin Lehr - He missed a start with a groin injury, so that IS INDEED a concern, but if he's healthy, he's facing a Cubs team that he blanked over 9 innings while holding to, yes, the very same .133 opposing BA.
Luis Castillo, David Wright - Castillo is 4-for-6 off Hamels this year, but was 0-for-3 against him previously, so he has to hope the "lesser" Hamels shows up once again; David Wright has good numbers against a lot of lefties, and he's 8-for-20 off Hamels in his career, with a homer, and 3-for-3 against him this year.
Pete Orr - This is pretty interesting, with Orr just moving his way onto the Nationals roster, he has been quite good against Josh Johnson in his career, posting a solid 6-for-11 overall.
The Astros, with a Chuckle - Allow me to paste an excerpt from the MLB.com writeup on Charlie Morton -- "Morton was pushed back three days in order to give his tender groin a little more time to heal." He gave up 5 runs in 4 innings against the Astros earlier this year, and only Hunter Pence went without a hit in that one.
Kelly Johnson - The Braves haven't done much against Pineiro, at least not the ones that usually start, except K-Johns, who is 6-for-12 lifetime with 2 homers and 4 RBI.
Matt Holliday - St. Louis counters with one big bopper of their own against the opposing starter, and this time it's the new guy; Holliday is 6-for-10 career off Jair Jurrjens, but like the Braves, the rest of the Cards haven't done much.
Prince Fielder, Jason Kendall - Well, you know Kendall ain't on here for his sock, but he is a solid 6-for-16 off soft-tosser Doug Davis. Fielder supplies the pop, he's 5-for-9 with a homer and 2 RBI.
Justin Upton - This one may be a bit of a stretch, but with very little experience on the D'backs against Braden Looper, Upton is 2-for-3 with a homer, which leads me to believe he sees Looper alright.
Andre Ethier, Rafael Furcal - This is the series where I think the Dodgers will be forced to rouse themselves from a second half slumber, and it better start quick with Cain on the hill; luckily for LA, Ethier is a career .567 hitter against Cain in over 30 AB, and Furcal is batting a robust .409.

AL
Melvin Mora
- Mora is about the only Oriole batter who has consistently done damage to Andy Pettitte, as he's batting .391 over the last 5 years against Pettitte with 2 homers and 6 RBI.
Andy Pettitte - Pettitte is an absurd 26-6 in his career against Baltimore, 1-0 this year, holding the Orioles to just 2 runs over 15.1 innings with 16 Ks and 2 walks.
Mike Jacobs, Zack Greinke - Jacobs has faced Justin Masterson only 4 times, but he's 3-for-4 with a bomb and 4 RBI, while Greinke's Cy Young campaign continues against the Indians, a team he has beaten twice, striking out 38 and walking 8 in 26.1 innings.
Aaron Hill, Kevin Millar - The status of Aaron Hill could make or break the Jays' chances to take a game in Detroit, as he's 9-for-17 lifetime off Nate Robertson with 2 homers, and Millar is batting .346 in over 20 AB the last 5 years.
Jason Bartlett, Evan Longoria - Bartlett is batting .435 in 23 AB against Jon Lester, and we all know about Longoria's RBI numbers against the Sox; he's 4-for-12 off Lester this year with a homer and 4 RBI.
Jason Bay, David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, Dustin Pedroia - Five Red Sox that have all hit James Shields pretty hard, especially at Fenway. Bay is 3-for-8 with a homer and 4 RBI, Papi is 8-for-21 with 2 homers, Lowell is 8-for-22, Drew is 9-for-23 with 2 dingers with 6 RBI, and Pedroia is 10-for-22 with 1 HR.
Ichiro, Franklin Gutierrez - In reverse order, Gutierrez is 2-for-6 off Millwood this year, with a homer, and 3-for-8 overall, while Ichiro is batting a robust .413 over 60+ AB in the last 5 years against Millwood.
Hank Blalock - Brandon Morrow may just want to walk Hank; he's 4-for-6 against him lifetime with 2 homers and 4 RBI
Jack Cust, Adam Kennedy, Mark Ellis - Nick Blackburn has had very little success against the A's no matter who's on the team, and here he faces Ellis and Kennedy, who are both 3-for-6 against him with a homer apiece, and Cust, who brings a 5-for-12 mark with him.
Jayson Nix, Mark Kotsay, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin - Nix hadn't done much against Saunders before this year, but in 2009 he's 2-for-3 with 2 homers, Kotsay is 4-for-9 against Saunders, Konerko is 4-for-10 with a homer, and Quentin is also 4-for-10, but no pop...yet.
Juan Rivera, Bobby Abreu - Both of these Angels are 5-for-14 against Gavin Floyd.

Day-to-Day, The Worst Words on the Planet

I honestly can't think of a reasonable expression I would want to hear LESS than John Doe is "day to day." John is healthy enough to get up, shower, shave, take some batting practice, but there's a gaping question mark next to his status for the game. John's a Big Leaguer and a consummate pro, so he'll likely be in that starting lineup, if he's a position player, or down in that bullpen, or taking his warmup tosses on the mound here in the first inning.

But John's not quite right. He sure is proud, though; strong of will, but creaky of lumbar; his mechanics altered so subtly, but enough to put stress on other, less sore parts of his frame. John is trying to keep that fastball at the knees, or keep his left knee from barking when he swings, or that darn blister from bursting.

So it goes with the professional athlete -- he is weak if he takes a day off, foolhardy if he plays through the pain. Hanley Ramirez was called out by his teammate (All Star stone-fisted 2nd-baseman Dan Uggla) earlier this week for "not playing with enough fire" because he missed a game and doesn't grit his teeth when he swings the bat. Brandon Inge is insulted, maybe even villified as he tries to play through blinding knee pain and his batting average suffers. It isn't fair, everybody knows it, and it's not going to change.

I'm not here to tell you to give these guys a break. This is what they do for a living, so if you want to call them babies or arrogant pricks, be my guest. I'll be doing it right alongside you, because it's fun, and because it's part of what comes with making 7 or 8-figure salaries. I'm here to tell you that, while betting is hugely enjoyable, it's NEVER worth the risk to put your money on a guy that feels the burden of that damn phrase: "day to day."

I suppose examples are better proof than just me prattling on, and fortunately, we only have to turn the clock back about 15 hours to last night's Braves-Astros game. All day long, we hunted for word on Roy Oswalt's lower back. He was still listed as the starting pitcher, so he MUST be okay, right? Finally, word comes out around 5pm that Oswalt was pulled from his previous start not because of his lower back, but because of a persistent cough. Something seems fishy. Roy proceeds to surrender 6 runs in 2 innings to the punchless Braves. Try as you might, you will not convince me that a healthy Roy Oswalt gives up 6 runs in 2 innings to anybody.

How about Johnny Cueto's series of miserable starts from mid-June through the beginning of August. The report every week was that Cueto had recovered from stiffness in his back, and every week he got shellacked in the first inning, loosened up over his first 30-40 pitches, then, if he could last until the 3rd, generally pitched to an acceptable level after that point.

But I ramble.

Be very careful when relying on a player with a nagging injury. Believe me, IF the player is in the starting lineup, the report from the team will ALWAYS say that he's healthy. Think of it mathetmatically. You're already wagering on a game that only 1 of 2 teams can win. It's almost as if you're parlaying that wager with a bet on the health of the starting pitcher, effectively cutting your chances of winning in half without any added payout!

For my peace of mind, if you're "day to day," you're not on my card until tomorrow.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Loud House

The physics of mechanical sound are truly amazing. Sinusoidal waves, existing in a timeline of four parameters.

First, the "attack", the sound is created, it's amplitude rising to a set value depending on, well, what made the sound, the frequency, and how much power is behind it (somewhere, Tim "The Toolman" Taylor just let out a faint grunt).

Next, the "decay", a period of time when the sound fades just slightly, losing roughly half of its initial kick.

The third zone is called "the sustain," the meat of the noise's life. At just about a half of the sound's maximum volume, it exists in a state of normalcy, bouncing about, and if you're in a stadium, hopefully creating absolute havoc for your enemy.

The final phase of a sound's life is the "release", as the sound dissipates when the source stops creating the original sound.

These parameters are applicable to sounds created by instruments (or synthesizers), since the human vocal chord makes noises in groups of frequencies and whose volume can vary depending on the whims of the creator, but the key points are the same when it comes to stadium noise. If the collective "sustain" of every foot-stomp, hand-clap, victorious whistle and disruptive tuba is LOUD, it makes home field advantage stronger. Such is the insanity of just about every football stadium in the SEC, which often house 90,000 fans (or more!).

But let's go one step further. Sounds, as noted above, are sinusoidal, which means sounds of the same frequency can actually effect one another. This is known as "phase." Simplifying things just a bit, let's assume that in a one-dimensional a particular sound wave is 2 meters long (this would be a very, very low-pitched noise). If this sound is created at two origins 1 meter apart, these sound waves will exist "out of phase", and actually cancel each other out, as the positive part of one wave will SUM with the negative part of the other.

But that's enough High School Science for now, this is a sports page, and clearly Dan must have fallen asleep last night watching an information for a graphing calculator. What does this all mean, baby?

Take a look at Qwest Field in Seattle. That stadium is designed to contain sound, and actually create louder noises through clever physics. It's not a coincidence that the one stadium in the NFL that looks like Pacman with a broken jaw is also the one that makes the most efficient use of crowd noise. It's also not a coincidence that, up until a week ago, The Big House in Ann Arbor could seat over 100,000 fans and sound like a cemetery. The wide, shallow bowl allowed sound to escape as it traveled across the stadium, terrifying birds that chose to fly directly over the massive structure, but confusing the fans within.

This past offseason, though, the University of Michigan poured millions into a renovation of The Big House designed to add a handful of suites to the upper reaches of the stadium. As a new resident of Ann Arbor that has just now begun to learn how things operate around here, it's safe to say that these suites weren't just lobbed on top of the preexisting beast. They were expertly designed to combat the stadium's Achilles' heal, with the suites actually leaning over the box seats and creating a scene that a handful of locals described as "the loudest they had ever heard the place." Hah! And this was for a game against Western Michigan, coming off a 3-9 season.

Just something to think about the next time you scream at your television, or the next time you consider wagering on a Wolverines home game.

Is Anyone Watching Baseball Today?

Yesterday's top plays went 1-1 (all plays 1-unit and over), while the action plays (not recommended, sub-1-unit plays) went a dismal 1-3. Two days in a row the top plays perform significantly better than the "Dan wants action" plays, and once again I repeat that those plays are posted here so people can see what I'm messing with. If you want to tail, play the TOP plays only! Short MLB card tonight so everyone can watch the inevitable 9-7 NFL kickoff game! Yes, I'm predicting a "win-by-safety."

NL
Brandon Phillips
- He had been hot heading into this series with Colorado, and already has a 2-run homer off Jose Contreras this year.
Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe - In limited action against former teammate Kip Wells, both of these Rockies are batting .400 or above with 4 combined RBI.
Chase Utley - Utley is 2-for-2 off Livan Hernandez this season, and is batting .391 against him over the last 5 seasons.
Ryan Zimmerman - Joe Blanton's arch nemesis, Zimmerman is 5-for-9 against him this season, with 2 homers and 4 RBI, and is batting .500 against him in his career with 2 additional runs knocked in.
The Marlins - As a team, they have hit .353 against Bobby Parnell when he pitched as a reliever this year, with Hanley Ramirez going 2-for-3 and knocking in a pair.
Sean West - The Marlins young starter has had an inconsistent MLB experience, but he's pitched well against the Mets, giving up just 2 runs in 13 innings of work over 2 starts.
Nate McLouth - He has not faced Oswalt this season, but is batting over .300 career against him with a homer and 3 RBI.
Darin Erstad, Michael Bourn, Kaz Matsui, Carlos Lee - With Hunter Pence just 1-for-4 off Derek Lowe, today wouldn't be a bad time to give Erstad some game action as he's 5-for-12 against Lowe, while Bourn is 3-for-7, Matsui is 6-for-15 and Lee is a colossal 8-for-18 with 2 homers and 5 RBI.

AL
Aaron Hill
- Hill is the one Jay that has really given Scott Baker trouble, but he likely will miss another game for personal reasons; if he mysterious returns, put a play on the Jays, as Hill is 7-for-15 against Baker with a homer and 3 RBI.
Jarrod Washburn - Washburn has been bad since coming to Detroit, but make no mistake, while this game may mean little for the Tigers with their large AL Central lead, it means something to Jarrod -- he missed his last start with knee soreness, but comes back today on 9 days' rest looking to prove he belongs in the Tigers playoff rotation. Expect another solid outing vs. KC.
The M's - The Mariners do not fear the Lackey -- Griffey is 4-for-10 off him, Johjima is 9-for-25, Jose Lopez is batting .324 in over 30 AB, Ichiro is batting .355, and Mike Sweeney is 3-for-6 with a homer.
The Halos - The Angels do not fear the Rowly; in limited action, Abreu is 2-for-4 with a homer off Rowland-Smith, Vladdy is 4-for-7 with a homer, Mighty Maicer is 2-for-4, and Reggie Willits is 3-for-7.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

NFL Week 1 Sneaky QB Play

Don't be so quick to pick a QB for week 1.

With a handful of teams squaring off against great (if not violent) defenses, it's always important to try to squeeze those extra 2-3 points out of the QB spot, since you never know when your week might come down to just that.

Sure, there are some must-starts, and we won't bother getting into those, but when you venture in the middle and lower tiered QBs of the League, a lot can be said for benching a guy like Jason Campbell if a QB of lesser namesake has a more lenient matchup.

For week number one, I'm going to go WAY out on a limb and tell owners of Matt Stafford to give him a long, hard look. The Lions, realizing full well they have no place to go but up, will be looking to their top pick to give the team a little electricity, though expectations for the team are extremely low.

The Lions travel to the Bayou for their first game and tackle the Saints and, arguably, the best offense in the NFL. Anyone who doesn't think New Orleans won't be up by 14 midway through the second quarter has a decidedly pro-Detroit take on life. And anyone who doesn't think Stafford will throw at least 20 passes in the second half is assuming the Lions turn the ball over in 1st down in each of their possessions. The Saints defense is certainly better this year, but with the speed and efficiency that Drew Brees can orchestrate an offensive score, Stafford will have plenty of time on the field, and plenty of opportunities to hit Megatron in stride.

Make no mistake, I'm not saying the Lions are going to keep this game close, and I'm not saying that Stafford will outperform any of the big-time QBs in fantasy value, but I do think he will at least give the Flaccos and Campbells a severe run for their money, and will likely outscore guys like Tyler Thigpen (who appears to be the starter with Cassell still ailing), Trent Edwards, and anything the Bucs and Raiders might toss out there. Expect Stafford to hit under 50% of his throws, get picked at least once (maybe twice), but also throw for a TD or two: something in the neighborhood of 10-12 points.

Evaluation Wednesday

I WANT TO KNOW WHAT EVERYONE THINKS I SHOULD IMPROVE UPON - PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TODAY TO WRITE A NOTE TELLING ME IF THIS IS FINE THE WAY IT IS, OR WHAT YOU'D LIKE TO ADD/SUBTRACT! THANKS!!

The unit selection process is really rounding into form. On yesterday's top plays, we won both 1.25-unit selections, with the 1-unit play on the Astros falling just short of a 9th-inning comeback. The top plays posting a meaty profit of 1.5 units. The action plays, as in, the ones I played but did not suggest unless you wanted a ton of action, went 2-3-1, so it was probably wise of you to ride along on my TOP selections. A similar standard will be used throughout the remainder of the baseball season!

NL
Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday & Troy Glaus
- Wainwright has made 3 starts against the Brewers this year, has held them to a .167 average and has an ERA against them of 0.77. If Glaus is in the lineup, he'll bring with him a 5-for-10 lifetime mark against Jeff Suppan, which is good, but it's nothing compared to Holliday's 7-for-11 off Suppan with 3 homers.
Felipe Lopez - Lopez is 5-for-12 off Wainwright, but no power numbers thus far.
Christian Guzman - Guzman is 4-for-10 against Cliff Lee in the past, and you just wonder which Lee will show up for this contest.
Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, Jeff Francoeur, Daniel Murphy, David Wright - Beltran is a career .321 hitter off Ricky Nolasco with 1 homer, Castillo is 6-for-9, Francoeur is batting .346 with a homer, Murphy is 5-for-12, and David Wright is the king of the group with a .419 career average off Nolasco in 31 AB with 3 homers and 8 RBI.
Yunel Escobar, Chipper Jones, Adam Laroche - The Braves aren't hitting, so it's nuts to think they'll put up crooked numbers on Wandy Rodriguez pitching in Houston, but Escobar is 4-for-8 off Wandy, Chipper is 4-for-9, and Laroche is 6-for-15, so a few runners may get on base.
Andre Ethier, Manny Ramirez - Dan Haren has shut down the Dodgers this year, though Ethier is a .391 career hitter against him with 2 homers, and Manny is batting over .500 against Haren in 24 AB with 2 homers as well.

AL
Nelson Cruz & Jarrod Saltalamacchia
- Both of these guys are 4-for-11 off Fausto Carmona with 3 combined homers, though the injury to Josh Hamilton may be the biggest falling point, as he was 6-for-10 off Carmona.
Kelly Shoppach & Grady Sizemore - These two are a combined 8-for-17 off Scott Feldman.
Roy Halladay - Doc is 8-0 against the Twins lifetime. Doc is 1-0 against them this year, allowing just a single run in 7 innings. Joe Mauer is 1-for-10 off Doc. Doc is coming off a complete game 1-hit shutout of the Yankees and looks to be pitching for offseason trade value.
Ty Wigginton - Wigginton is 5-for-7 lifetime off Paul Byrd, though one might figure they haven't seen each other in a little bit.
The Red Sox - The Sox are still dealing with Texas in the Wild Card, but strong play has pushed away all the other competition. Coming off last night's crushing off the O's, the Red Sox get to face Jason Berken, against whom they've hit .455 as a team and defeated twice.
Billy Butler - Butler is batting .435 against Justin Verlander with 2 homers, though Verlander is 9-1 in his career against KC.
Franklin Gutierrez, Kenji Johjima - Gutierrez is 4-for-8 career off Jered Weaver, and Johjima, in 29 AB, is batting .414 against Weaver.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dodgers Flip the Switch

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It's happened a million times in sports: a dominant team storms out to a gargatuan lead (in a game, the standings, etc.), then turns the motor off, or maybe just idles, under the assumption that they can "flip a switch" and start playing championship caliber ball at a moment's notice. This year is no exception.

It's currently happening in the NL East, where the Phillies watched the Marlins and Braves "win a few, lose a few" all the way to a nearly insurmountable deficit. Then, after the Cliff Lee shine came off, the Phillies' excitement seems to have waned into a bit of an apathy. This race is over, though, and not the one we're looking at today.

Put a pin in this country's meaty core, and spin 'er 180 degrees from Philly and we land at the intersection of highways 5 and 110 in the concrete monster known as Dodger Stadium, where the NL West's top dog has sputtered to a .500 record since the All Star break.

It's pretty clear what happened in LA, but we'll rehash the timeline for posterity's sake. The Dodgers opened the season by steamrolling the rest of the NL West, winning their first 13 home games before, on the same night, losing Manny Ramirez to a 50-game suspension and their home win streak to a Washington Nationals late-game comeback.

A brief 1-4 stretch brought the Dodgers together, with Juan Pierre partially winning over what had been a rather anti-Juan fanbase, and pushing the Dodgers to a respectable 50-game record, sans-ManRam. In fact, if you eliminate the last couple weeks before Manny's return, Pierre and the Dodgers exceeded expectations by a great deal. When the team sensed the return of their dreadlocked leader, they seemed to heave a sigh and lose a few games.

Manny came back, rusty and slow, but gave the team an emotional shot in the arm (and the Cincinnati Reds a nauseating pinch-hit grand slam), but the rust never came off. Call it what you will (lack of PEDs, poor timing, subpar fitness), but Manny isn't Manny, and the Dodgers have taken almost 2 months to swallow that 25-million dollar pill.

This team, made up largely of outstanding young talent, badly needed an experienced veteran to lead them into the playoffs, but this is not 2008. The onus this year is on those very youngsters, with the Dodgers going only as far as outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and starting hurlers Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw can throw them. And right now, talent or no, those young guys (along with some patchwork veterans like Orlando Hudson and Casey Blake), are roughly loose enough to play .500 baseball.

Here's where we have to make our call. From a betting standpoint, will the Dodgers wake up, and realize THEY must lead Manny into the playoffs this year? Will Joe Torre pull his veterans aside, tell them they need to prop the kids up and let them grab the reins? Can we legitimately back the Dodgers in September as they start to get less lopsided money lines and with their NL West lead trimmed to just 3.5 games?

My answer, as a long-time disappointed Dodger fan, is a surprising YES. This is a team that, thanks to some wheeling and dealing after the non-waiver deadline, has an extra starter (good thing, considering Kershaw hurt his shoulder banging into the outfield wall during BP), and when the offense is patient, can put as many runners on base as any team in the League. Maybe the most important note, we have seen FIRSTHAND how the Dodgers play when they're pushed, taking 2 of 3 in a series with the Rockies (at Coors, no less) that could have moved the two teams into a tie if Colorado had swept.

It's not perfectly clear when the Dodgers will feel adequately threatened to the point that they will once again start playing like they mean business, but bettors that can identify that point may be in line for 5 or 6 straight wins. The Diamondbacks don't figure to be the team that snaps LA out of their 60-day haze; neither were the Padres, who, for all their losses this year, always give the Dodgers fits. But after this 3-game set in Arizona, the Dodgers play 6 of 9 against the Giants. The fresh scent of AT&T Park and some toy syringes should get the job done.

I'm playing Dodgers hard in those series, perhaps skipping a game or two against Lincecum...
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