Archive for the ‘MLB’ category

NL East: The Five Reasons Why it Is the Best Division in Baseball

June 29th, 2010
Earlier, I was posed with the question: What is the toughest, most entertaining division in baseball? After shortly processing it, I came out with the answer—the NL East. There are many interesting and intense divisions out there, especially the AL east, but for many reasons the NL East is superior. So here it goes—the top five reasons why the NL East is the best.

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Manager Bruce Bochy Is Continually Handcuffing the Giants

June 29th, 2010

At this point, there should be no need for Giants fans to debate over whether or not Bruce Bochy is a quality big league manager.

Simply said, he isn't one.

Why? Because quality managers put the eight most useful position players on the field day in and day out and place them in the ideal spots in the lineup.

But San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy has done neither in every single game of the season since his bosses acquired Pat Burrell off the free agent wire back in late May.

In the 22 games since Burrell's arrival to the 25-man roster, the Giants have played with their best available offensive and defensive lineup a grand total of zero times.

Now those of you reading this might be gawking at my opinion and thinking to yourselves "who is this kid and why does he think he knows more about baseball than a big league manager? I mean he's not a paid writer, he's barely an adult who writes for Bleacher Report free of compensation."

But please, anyone with that mindset needs to realize you don't have to be a professional to understand baseball.

It is widely agreed upon by writers here, and the "professional" news outlets that the best eight position players the Giants could put on the field are as follows:

LF: Pat Burrell

CF: Andres Torres

RF: Nate Schierholtz

3B: Pablo Sandoval

SS: Juan Uribe

2B: Freddy Sanchez

1B: Aubrey Huff

C: Buster Posey

As for the batting lineup, these eight players should be arranged (based on current production and hitting style) in the following order:

1. Torres

2. Sanchez

3. Huff

4. Uribe

5. Burrell

6. Sandoval

7. Posey

8. Schierholtz

Now, if certain young stars like Sandoval and Posey were performing better at the plate, you could make the argument that they belong more so in the middle of the order.

Perhaps if Sandoval was building on his impressive marks from last year during 2010, hitting third or cleanup would be possible lineup spots.

Posey on the other hand has the talents of a three hitter or six hitter. When intelligent baseball minds discuss future offensive potential at the plate for Posey, they draw comparisons to Joe Mauer instead of, say, Justin Morneau.

But for the here and now, Sandoval and Posey belong lower in the lineup as Burrell, Uribe and Huff are carrying the load offensively.

The main point in all of this however, is that the aforementioned lineup gives San Francisco the best chance to win because it combines the maximum amount of offense they can put on the field with the maximum amount of defense on the field.

Baseball fans should understand that the likes of Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, and Bengie Molina are finished as everyday big league starters.

While it is unfortunate that the three combine to make $25.5 million dollars this season, that doesn't mean they should be held without scrutiny.

Recently, Rowand has started to ride the pine more often than he has seen the field. But it is time for Molina and Renteria to join him.

Despite solid numbers at the plate this season, (an .829 OPS thus far) Renteria should ride the pine for numerous reasons.

1) He can't seem to stay healthy when starting and keeping him fresh as a bench player and pinch hitter will be crucial in the second half.

2) Uribe plays a better shortstop and has been San Francisco's most lethal offensive weapon this season. The only possible option of getting both players in the lineup would be moving Uribe to third and bench the slumping Sandoval.

3)However, Sandoval is too much of a threat to break out of his slump to bench him for any extended length of time, and Uribe plays a much sharper shortstop than he does third base. The Giants would be much better off defensively with Uribe at short and Sandoval at third. Plus, offensively its only a matter of time before Sandoval gets his bat going.

As for Bengie Molina, the Giants are in a position where it is only a matter of time before Posey takes over at catcher. Posey is the catcher of the future, and Molina is certainly in his last season as a Giant.

The argument that Molina catches a better game and is more familiar with the staff is a pointless notion to make because Posey will have to learn the staff at some point in the future. The sooner he gets used to catching the better the Giants will be in years to come.

Plus, any hiccups that come from Posey not calling as good of a game can be easily overcome with the fact that Posey is a much better all-around athlete. Posey can turn all those should be doubles that are Molina singles into actual doubles, and he has more range on pop ups, bunts, and has a stronger arm.

All those intangibles make Posey at catcher the ideal position both offensively and defensively.

Now since Posey has been playing elsewhere in the field recently, the player taking Molina's lineup spot would be right-fielder Nate Schierhotlz. Even though the 26-year-old outfielder has struggled at the plate in a reserve role in recent weeks, he brings more offensive punch than Molina and is an all-star caliber defender in the outfield.

Schierholtz owns one of the best arms in baseball in terms of both strength and accuracy. But, the only way a team like the Giants can take advantage of these skills is by playing him everyday.

Getting him into the lineup is imperative for his defense alone and since he will be hitting eighth, any offense from him is a merely a bonus. And as his past as showed, Schierholtz has the ability to get red hot with consistent playing time, so with him in the lineup, the Giants should at some point receive significant offensive production from eight hole.

Unfortunately, this lineup has yet to see the light of day. As mentioned previously, Bochy has not put this starting lineup on the field for a single game since Burrell's arrival.

And without putting this lineup on the field the Giants are instead playing Molina more often than they should, which then causes them to have play either Rowand (who has been awful all season) or to move Huff (who would be the second limited range outfielder on the field) to right-field.

But when the Giants move Huff to right field, they then have two "water buffaloes" (aka slow runners) in the outfield. And having both Burrell and Huff man the outfield corners is not an ideal formula for preventing runs.

Putting one of them out there for offensive reasons makes sense but placing both of them out there (when it can easily be avoided) makes absolutely zero sense.

Yet this defensive set up seems to happen more often than not, which is what frustrates the Orange & Black faithful. Lineup decisions from Bochy often decrease the Giants' chances at winning because they don't make any sense.

Just like it makes zero sense for Posey to bat cleanup, Molina to bat cleanup, Renteria to bat fifth, and Rowand to bat leadoff as has happened thus far this season.

So why does Bochy continue to manage the Giants, or even in the big leagues at all?

Your guess is as good as mine.

If Bobby Valentine Won’t Manage the Florida Marlins, Who Will?

June 29th, 2010

The Marlins' recent decision to fire Fredi Gonzalez has not worked out so far. They were just swept by the Padres, and on top of that, Bobby Valentine, their primary managerial target, will probably not join the squad because of philosophical differences.

What does this mean to Marlins fans?

It means the Marlins will probably not land a top-notch manager for the rest of the season. Let's discuss two in-house candidates, including the current interim manager.

Edwin Rodriguez has been abysmal in his first four games. He has lacked authority while talking to umpires, and making hard decisions. It seems as if he isn't comfortable when having to fight for his team.

Bo Porter may just land the top job. He used to work with the Marlins as a third base coach, and he is the favorite now, I say this because of his experience with the players and the front office.

Porter and Rodriguez have already interviewed formally for the position, so if Valentine hasn't been formally contacted or interviewed in the next few days, I'd consider him permanently out of the running.

Right now, the Marlins are staying with Edwin Rodriguez, but if their play continues to be sloppy, I wouldn't be surprised if they demote him back to Triple-A, and call in Bo Porter.

Bobby Valentine may still end up managing the Marlins because he has a good relationship with owner, Jeffrey Loria.  You never know, they could sign him out of nowhere. 

A similar about-face happened during Josh Johnson's recent contract negotiations. There was an impasse, until surprisingly, the Marlins resigned him to a lucrative deal.

So keep an eye out! The Marlins front office is rather unpredictable, and we could be surprised yet.

Fantasy Baseball Scouting Report: Kris Medlen

June 29th, 2010

While the Braves have yet to decide who will be removed from the rotation to make room for Jair Jurrjens, Kris Medlen shouldn’t be on the chopping block given the way he’s produced.  All you have to do is look at his numbers over his first 22 appearances (nine starts) for proof:

5 Wins
74.1 Innings
3.15 ERA
1.13 WHIP
54 Strikeouts (6.5 K/9)
13 Walks (1.6 BB/9)
.288 BABIP

As a starting pitcher, he’s gone 4-0 with a 3.40 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a 6.0 K/9.  The real question is, can he maintain this success?

The BABIP is not unrealistic, and the number for the season is actually identical to his number as a starting pitcher.  So, if there is a reason not to believe, this isn’t it.

The strikeouts are a concern, but they are well below his minor league success.  Over his minor league career he posted a K/9 of 10.4, but then again he spent significant time coming out of the bullpen.  Of his 102 games, only 23 were starts. 

It’s much easier to let it loose in a one or two inning appearance, as opposed to when you want to go six or more.  Seeing the strikeouts decline both from the move to the rotation, as well as the move to the major leagues, make this number a lot more believable.  Could he add a few as he becomes more accustomed to the big leagues?  I would think so, but you really never know.

He has always been a great control pitcher, with a minor league career BB/9 of 2.0, so you cannot say that his number this year is unrealistic.  While he may regress here a little bit, he’s not likely to walk the ballpark, either.

To get an idea of his repertoire, here’s what Baseball America, who ranked Medlen has the Braves No. 9 prospect prior to 2009, had to say:

“Medlen features a 92-94 mph fastball and a plus curveball in the upper 90s. He also has a solid changeup and a slider he’ll throw to give hitters another pitch to think about. The additional innings as a starter allowed him to improve his command. ”

While his fastball has not quite been up that high as a starting pitcher (he’s averaging 90.3 mph this season), there’s nothing not to like about what we’ve seen.  He has excellent control, has upside in the strikeout department, and his success is not luck based.  Just how could the Braves remove him from the rotation?

For fantasy owners, as long as he has his spot in the rotation, he is worth owning in all formats.  Keep a close eye on the news, just in case, but for now get him active.

What are your thoughts on Medlen?  Is he worth owning?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out our recent Scouting Reports:


Carlos Zambrano On Unpaid Restricted List Through The All-Star Break

June 29th, 2010

Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry announced on Monday that pitcher Carlos Zambrano was placed on MLB's restricted list, and will not rejoin the team until the All-Star break is over.

According to Hendry, the negotiations were very amicable, with both Zambrano's agent Barry Praver and Hendry working with the player's union to come to a resolution without rancor.

When Zambrano does return, Hendry indicated that it will be up to Cubs manager Lou Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild when and where Big Z will pitch. Hendry did acknowledge that it would likely be the bullpen.

During Saturday's game against the cross-town rival White Sox, Zambrano stormed into the dugout shouting at anybody and everybody, with most of his visable anger directed at first baseman Derrek Lee, for failing to dive for a ball hit down the first base line.

The Cubs sent Zambrano home and Hendry immediately suspended him.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, teams cannot indefinitely suspend a player and must come to an agreed-upon resolution, which the parties did on Monday.

Last year's situation with Milton Bradley was different, because there were only two weeks to go in the season.

Hendry was asked by the media if at any time Zambrano indicated a desire to be traded, and Hendry said that this had not occurred.

The Cubs GM said that he believes Zambrano is remorseful, and that he had talked to some teammates. Earlier in the day, Alfonso Soriano said that Zambrano would need to apologize to the team, but that he had been unable to reach the Cubs right-hander on the phone.

Ryan Dempster has also previously indicated that Zambrano would need to apologize to his teammates.

As part of the deal, Zambrano will receive unspecified help to deal with anger and other issues he is going through.

Zambrano has clashed with teammates in the past, most notable when a fight occurred between he and catcher Michael Barrett in the middle of a 2007 game.

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