Monday, May 24, 2010

Back From Two Weeks Off For No Particular Reason

- Roy Oswalt is now evidently on the market, saying that he's willing to move to a contender. What I can't figure out is where he could go. Oswalt holds a full no-trade clause, so he can veto any deal. He's also owed $16 million next year. So where could he go? The Yankees and Red Sox are apparently not interested, which means everyone else has a chance. The Phillies didn't pay Cliff Lee $9 million this year, so with Jayson Werth up after this year and Oswalt making $15 mil this year and $16 mil in '11, you have to think they're out. The Mets have the money, but they stink and I can't imagine Oswalt would ever approve a deal there. Seattle has money, but also stinks, and has to be looking to unload Cliff Lee before too long, so they're out. Tampa can afford half a year of Lee, but they can't afford a year and a half of Oswalt. I don't think Houston wants to trade him in the division, and Atlanta needs sticks more than arms.
Texas? Why not? But to me, the wild cards are Minnesota and Washington. The Twins have new ballpark money and young, tradeable pieces, and Oswalt (paired with Stephen Strasburg?) could be enough to push the Nats into a real race this season or next.

- Wilson Valdez is back with the Phillies, thanks to Jimmy Rollins having to return to the DL with a recurrance of the calf problem that kept him out for close to a month. The Phils did fine without Jimmy once, but it remains to be seen how much longer they can sustain good baseball without its engine.

- Of course, that supposes the team is playing well now. Losing to Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Dice-K and Tim Wakefield in one week at home is not a good thing.

- Read an interesting article in Sports Illustrated about Nolan Ryan's philosophy on developing pitchers and stretching them out. Of course, if pitchers start getting hurt, Ryan will get flogged in the baseball world, and if the Ranger pitchers do well, everyone will copy him.

-The Mets tried hard to give away a game to the Yankees on Sunday night. The Jerry Manuel/ Omar Minaya watch has to stay in effect. Losing a home series to the Phils this week won't help their cause.

- Pat Burrell got DFA'd by the Rays. I'm not sure he catches on anywhere before August 1st.

- Carlos Zambrano has never been the same since that no-hitter in Milwaukee in late 2008.

- Carlos Marmol has a great arm, but he's got no idea at all where the ball is going.

- Lou Piniella must love having Marmol as his closer.

- Not.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wilson Valdez

How bad has Wilson Valdez been for the Phillies in 2010? Well, in 33 at-bats, he has accounted for 38 outs. He is hitting .152, with seven strikeouts, seven total bases, zero walks and five GDPs. His OPS+ is -5. Which brings to mind a phrase I never thought a Phillies fan would utter in 2010... when does Juan Castro get back?

Monday, May 10, 2010

What I've Seen Lateley

- Good for Dallas Braden, hurling the 19th perfect game in Major League history against the Rays on Mother's Day. Now he can be known for something other than yelling at A-Rod to stay off his mound.

- How have the Rays been perfect gamed twice in two seasons? They're too good offensively for that.

- One great sign that Cole Hamels is returning to his 2008 form is that he has been getting a good number of swing and misses at his fastball. The fastball has had good late explosion and ride, not the 'bang me' fastballs he was throwing in 2009.

- We'll find out more about Kyle Kendrick's recent renaissance tonight when he faces the Rockies in Coors Field. Can he succeed in Colorado against a lefty laden lineup including Todd Helton, Ian Stewart, and Carlos Gonzalez? We'll find out.

- Jamie Moyer. Are you serious? The Braves offense stinks, but still. Complete game shutout? At 47?

- Derek Lowe is struggling again after a below-average 2009.

- The more he gets up to hit, the more money Jayson Werth is making for himself. He's probably already in Jason Bay territory, with Matt Holliday in his sights.

- Are you telling me that with all the money they have, the best the Yankees and Red Sox could come up with on Sunday night included Marcus Thames and Darnell McDonald?

- Paging Mr. Werth...

- A.J. Burnett has to be better than that against the Red Sox. It doesn't matter how hard you throw or how much the other team is struggling early in a season, you have to do better than straight fastballs up in the zone to major league hitters. Otherwise, you get torched. Just ask A.J.

- The Mariners fired hitting coach Alan Cockrell and replaced him with Alonzo Powell over the weekend. To borrow a phrase from another sport of prominence in the spring time, you can be the greatest jockey in the world, but you're not going to win anything if you've got a horse that can't run. The Mariner offense is a horse that can't run.

- Is anyone in the AL West any good? I don't buy the Rangers, and I won't until they show that they won't fold down the stretch the way they have each of the last 159 years.

- I can't imagine this is what Bobby Cox had in mind for his farewell tour.

- Olive Perez walked seven in 3.1 bad innings for the Mets Sunday. Welcome home, OPP.

- With a one-run lead in the ninth Sunday, Brian Wilson gave up a leadoff double to Jason Bay. He then blew away David Wright, Ike Davis and Jeff Francoeur in succession to end the game. Just awesome.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mid-Week Edition

- Suddenly the Phillies pitching problems don't look nearly as dire as they did a week ago. Joe Blanton returned on Monday and threw well in a loss to St. Louis, Cole Hamels has had more good outings than bad this year, Kyle Kendrick threw seven shutout innings on Wednesday night, J.C. Romero is rounding back into form, Brad Lidge looked outstanding in his Tuesday outing, and Jose Contreras has been dominant in short relief thus far, reaching 98 on the radar gun with all kinds of movement.

- J.A. Happ and Ryan Madson are still expected to be out for quite awhile, however

- Albert Pujols doesn't look comfortable against Phillies pitching. He's been a little eager, and has even been fooled several times. He almost took a 96 mph fastball from Danys Baez in the chops on Wednesday night too, which can't help anyone feel more comfortable.

- The Cardinals have got something with this David Freese

- Turns out Barry Zito still is a good pitcher. Again, if the Giants ever score, look out.

- The Padres are still in first place in the NL West, but I doubt a team hitting .245 can hold that spot.

- Cliff Lee already is talking about how he'll be a free agent after this season. He's the crown jewel of the free agent market, and he knows it.

- Even free agent jewels can't give up five runs and 10 hits in eight innings and get paid like they envision, however

- Does Tampa ever lose?

- Does Baltimore ever win?

- Can Tampa afford two months of Cliff Lee if the Mariners fall out of the race? It says here they'll do it, whether they can afford it or not.

- Good for Milton Bradley, finally realizing that he needs help with the issues that have followed him from team to team for several years.

- Tough week for baseball, as longtime Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell and Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts passed away within a few days of one another. Two elegant men who were great embassadors for baseball.

- Congrats to Chris Heisey, my friend Phil's old college roommate. Heisey made his major league debut for the Reds on Monday night against the Mets, going 0-5 but making a nice catch in right field. Welcome to the show.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Week We Just Had

- The Mets were feeling pretty good on Friday night, riding an eight-game winning streak and having just beaten the Phillies to extend their NL East lead to a game and a half. Then the Phils unleashed their new toy, Roy Halladay, to the tune of 10-0 on Saturday, and torched Met ace Johan Santana for a nine run fourth inning on Sunday to take the weekend series.

- So far, Santana proclaiming himself the best pitcher in the NL East has been a perfect microcosm for the difference between the teams. The Met talks about it, the Phillie is about it. This weekend Halladay tossed a complete game shutout, while Santana gave up 10 earned in 3.2 innings.

- Santana's fastball isn't good enough to make his change up the devastating pitch it has been for awhile. There just isn't enough seperation in velocity between the two pitches. Also, as Joe Morgan pointed out (hate to point out decent Joe Morgan points) during the telecast Sunday, without a good breaking ball there is no reason for lefthanded hitters to be uncomfortable against him.

- Mike Pelfrey, welcome back to Earth.

- Either Jose Reyes wasn't trying, or he's turned into Alfonso Soriano in the three hole. He's far too aggressive and swinging early in the count too much right now.

- Joe Blanton returns to the mound tonight and it can't come soon enough for the Phillies. Kyle Kendrick just doesn't look like a major league pitcher, Jamie Moyer is giving up too many big innings, and J.A. Happ is still probably down for awhile.

- I can't kill Ryan Madson for breaking his toe kicking a chair in frustration. He knows he hasn't been getting the job done. But, he also knows how important he is to the Phils out of the pen.

- He's had detractors, myself included, but Robinson Cano is turning into a force for the Yankees. It seems like everytime I look up he's hitting another big homer for the Yankees.

- Javier Vasquez still can't handle being a Yankee. Could the Braves actually have gotten the better end of that deal?

- A.J. Pierzynski, Mark Teixiera, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Yuniel Escobar, Chipper Jones, Aramis Ramirez, Danys Baez, Ben Sheets, Aaron Harang and Edwin Jackson stink. Right now anyway.

- I think Ramirez is hurt, Jones is old, Lee is overweight, and Escobar is lazy.

- How many good young pitchers are out there right now? I can't remember a time with so many exciting young hurlers. Nevermind Tim Lincecum, who's obvious. How bout Wade Davis, Zach Greinke, Ubaldo Jimenez, C.J. Wilson and Ricky Romero, among others. All fun to watch.

- The Red Sox can't let this continue too much further. I don't care how bad things are going, if you're a team with legitimate aspirations (as the Red Sox always are), you can't get swept by the Orioles.

- My take? They're being too kind to David Ortiz, who's been an albatross and an automatic out in a weak lineup. That and Jonathan Papelbon has been too beatable.

- Great move by the Phils signing up Ryan Howard long term. Rob Neyer may not think so, but he had Corey Koskie as a better player in the 2000s than Howard. I digress. I'm more interested to see what happens to the rest of the 1b free agent class of 2011-12. If I'm Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez, I want everyone else to sign but me, thus driving up my value. I think both Fielder and Gonzalez leave their current teams.

- With Tampa, Minnesota and San Diego all leading their divisions, maybe it really isn't all about spending the most money, I really hope all three can keep it up all year, but I think San Diego is a bit of a mirage.

- Tampa and Minnesota are real though. As long as Joe Mauer's heel is not a long-term issue.