I know that the NFL is ramping up to a fever pitch, and that NCAA football is also up and running, but that doesn’t mean I can turn my back on the game of baseball that I love. I will certainly touch on football in the coming weeks, though I promise to only touch on the NFL game (something about the atmosphere of college football just rubs me the wrong way – perhaps it has something to do with the fact that there are about 39 college football games on television from sunrise to sunset on Saturday’s while I only get one baseball game because of MLB’s stupid contract with the networks). With that, here are some of my thoughts as we head into the opening weekend of the NFL season with tons of baseball to still be played.
Gordon Beckham is a pretty darn good hitter with an opposite field stroke that reminds me of Derek Jeter. If we remove his first 23 games this season Beckham is hitting .277 with 39 RBI and 34 runs scored in 61 games, a pace that would net him a season of 96 RBI and 84 runs over 150 contests. That’s pretty good when you toss in something like 15 steals.
Josh Hamilton had yet another cortisone shot on Friday, this one in his back. As a result, he will likely miss another week of action. Not to make light of a serious situation, but Hamilton might be able to get a bit of a high off of all the drugs he has been forced to take for his bumps and bruises this year (so yes, I did make light of the situation with my snarky comment). Still, through it all Hamilton has put up a pace that would lead to 18 home runs, 88 RBI, 77 runs and 14 steals if he maintained his current work over the 156 games he played last year. That is a far cry from the 32 HR, 130 RBI, 98 run effort he posted last year, but with all the starts and stops it certainly isn’t an awful pace (though that likely isn’t a sentiment shared by those who took him with their first or second pick this season). Look for Julio Borbon to continue to be in the starting lineup in Hamilton’s absence.
J.A. Happ, who by the way pronounces his first name “Jay” and not “J – A,” may miss a third straight start because of continuing issues with his right oblique. Jamie Moyer will continue to fill in proving once again that you can never have enough starting pitcher. As for Happ, it remains to be seen if missing this time late in the year will cause voters to turn in another direction when it comes time to vote on the NL Rookie of the Year award. After all, Happ has posted the sixth best ERA in the NL (2.77), while his 1.18 WHIP is good enough for 10th in the Senior Circuit, so he certainly has a pretty good case to be in the mix for the award.
Rich Harden needed 104 pitches to make it through just four innings on Friday against the Reds. He allowed but a single run and just two hits, but he walked five while striking out six and the Cubs were forced to remove him from the game. I watched the game and I tell you what – that guy can fling the baseball. If he could simply stay healthy there is no way he wouldn’t be a top-10 SP, but injuries and frequent bouts with controlling the strike zone continue to hinder what could be an extremely impressive career.
Since I obviously have a love of “H’s” today, I should direct everyone to a recent article I wrote titled What’s Wrong With Me? where I break down why Cole Hamels has struggled this season compared to the level of production he offered last season. As a lay it out in the piece there hasn’t been near as much difference this year as you likely think.
So that’s it. I’m gonna get ready to get my groove on tonight. Yeah you know what I mean. I’m gonna fire up the microwave, pop in a Jane Monheit CD, and crawl under a blanket on the couch. What, you thought I was going to leave my house and go trolling for single ladies on Friday night?
By Ray Flowers