Monday, July 20, 2009

Newsy Notes

-Jimmy Rollins has a .484 on-base percentage since July 3rd. The Phillies are 12-1 over that stretch. As I said a few weeks ago, when Rollins gets on base and scores runs, the Phillies win. Simple as that.

-The Nationals recently fired Manny Acta after two and a half years. Acta posted a record of 158-252, for a winning percentage of .385. He was replaced by Jim Riggleman, who has a .443 career winning percentage in 10 seasons as a manager, on an interim basis. Let's face it though: no manager could help the Nationals right now. They're just a bad baseball team on many levels. Manny Acta may turn out to be a great manager (see: Terry Francona with the Phillies and then Red Sox), but as Philadelphia sports writer Dick Jerardi said of Francona's time in Philadelphia after he won his first World Series with Boston, "You can be the greatest jockey in the world, but if you've got a horse that can't run, it doesn't matter." Same thing applies to Acta.

-It is not a good sign that the Nats have yet to talk to No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg.

-In a classic my-problem-for-your-problem move, the Mets and Braves swapped disappointing outfielders with Ryan Church going to Atlanta in exchange for Jeff Francouer. Has anyone's star fallen further than Francouer? He burst onto the baseball scene in 2005, even appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated under the heading 'The Natural.' He then struggled, was demoted to the minors in 2008 and finally had to be moved, despite being popular with the hometown fans because of his local upbringing. To watch Francouer, everyone knows he's a first-pitch hacker and that he can't touch a breaking ball. That's nothing new though. Now his front hip flies open and his butt falls out, meaning he can't cover the outter half and can't drive the ball anywhere. Just a mechanical mess all over.

-I'd expect Church to benefit from the steady influences on the Braves and be a solid, yet unspectacular contributor.

-It's turning out to be 'just one of those years' for the Mets, the type where anything and everything that can go wrong does. Injuries are a significant factor, true, but the expectations and the payroll for that team are far too high for 'just one of those years' to cut it. With the ownership a bit hamstrung by big losses in the Bernard Madoff scam, and a lack of viable prospects in the pipeline, it's hard to envision things getting much better for the Mets anytime soon.

-Matt Holiday picked a bad time to have a down year at the plate. The free agent to be has gone throught awful power slumps (going a month without a home run) and continues to struggle outside the friendly confines of Coors Field. I don't think he's a thin air wonder, though, and I'd wouldn't be surprised at all if he signed a one-year deal somewhere (Mets? Cardinals? Angels?) with a decent team in an effort to put up better numbers and then cash in after the 2010 season. Coors Field or not, he's too good a player to be having a season like this.

-I don't know if Sunday was Roy Halladay's last start with the Blue Jays, but everyone there sure acted like it was.

-Pirates middle infielders Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson both said no to the Bucs overtures towards signing them up to long-term extensions. Can you blame them? Pittsburgh is a disaster of an organization, and a clear sign that two of their better players are looking to leave doesn't inspire the dozens of Pirate fans that remain. Sad really.

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