I wrote my weekly National League breakdown piece today. Here are a few of the tidbits that really stuck out for me.
* Daniel Hudson leads the NL with 79.2 innings pitched since August 1st.
* Tommy Hanson has a 2.77 ERA and 0.97 WHIP over his last 14 starts. He is 2-6 in that time.
* Carlos Zambrano is 6-0 with a 1.63 ERA over his last 12 appearances.
* Scott Rolen has 20 homers on the year but only three in his last 50 games.
* Melvin Mora is hitting .325 with 17 RBI in the month of September.
* Clay Hensley has a 2.25 ERA and a K per inning over 72 frames.
* Bud Norris has 152 Ks over 147.2 innings.
* Rod Barajas has five homers in 59 at-bats with the Dodgers.
* Randy Wolf has a 2.56 ERA over his last 10 starts.
* Carlos Beltran is hitting .329 with a .991 OPS in the month of September.
* Ryan Madson has made 42 appearances since the All-Star break with a 1.32 ERA and 0.89 WHIP.
* The Pirates have only only player who is hitting above .250 while qualifying for the batting title (502 plate appearances). It’s Andrew McCutchen at .284.
* Jon Jay is hitting a mere .214 over his last 25 games.
* Will Venable is batting an insane .529 over his last nine starts.
*Aubrey Huff is leading the Giants in the Triple Crown categories (.291-26-85).
* Adam Dunn has at least 37 homers and 92 RBI in 7-straight years. There has only been one longer streak in the annals of the game; Rafael Palmeiro had a stretch of 9-straight years from 1995-2003.
To read the entire article click on the link to National League Breakdown.
Anyone out there notice that Mark Ellis is hitting .400 in September? His season has been a disappointment with only four homers and six steals after back-to-back 10/10 efforts the past two years, but his .281 batting would be his best mark since a career best effort of .316 in 2005.
What the heck is wrong with Jonathan Papelbon? It’s always hard to judge relievers on the fly given how small of a sample size we have to deal with, but his work of late has been awful – and that is with a capital “A.” He has made nine appearances in September during which time he has a 10.61 ERA, a 2.14 WHIP and a .372 BAA. At the same time he has a rather amazing total of 18 punchouts in just 9.1 innings. His late push in the K category has upped his season long K/9 mark to 10.11, his fourth straight year above ten, though his BB/9 mark is a career worst of 3.69 (more than a run above his 2.55 career mark). I tend to think he is just missing his spots right now, though this late season run of putrid production clearly won’t lock him into the 9th inning next season, not when Daniel Bard continues to deal. Bard has more than a K per inning this season (73 in 72.1 IP), owns a 1.87 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP, and has been amazingly effective in his two season big league career (2.59 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 10.06 K/9, .199 BAA).
Justin Upton’s season is likely over because of that shoulder injury of his. He is visiting Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion today, but with a week left there is zero reason for him to return to game action even if he gets a positive report. That means he will finish the year with a .273 average, 17 homers, 69 RBI, 73 runs and 17 steals in 132 games. Every one of those numbers is smaller than his effort from 2009 (.300-26-86-84-20 in 138 games). In fact, his OPS dropped exactly .100 points down to .799 as he racked up 15 more punchouts (152). Still, he could be undervalued on draft day next season as he clearly has 30 homer, 20 steal potential.
By Ray Flowers
There’s no theme to my madness today. I’m just going with a stream of consciousness vibe here as I get ready to run around the block, lift some weights, and watch the Sharks hopefully move to a 3-0 lead over the Red Wings.
* Rick Ankiel was placed on the DL today, retroactive to May 3rd, with a strained right quadriceps muscle. He will be replaced on the active roster by Kila Ka’aihue. Of course, the Royals blew this one by giving Ankiel two pinch hitting at-bats on Saturday and Sunday after holding him out of the starting lineup since April 24th. This is yet another reason why the Royals fail to ever win (poor roster management). If you don’t know who KK is, he is a slugging first basemen who has an OPS over 1.000 this year in Triple-A. What position did the Royals just say they wanted Alex Gordon to learn? They also said they wanted Gordon to pick up an outfielder’s glove, so I won’t lambast them for that decision.
Since I’m on a role I might as well keep going with Royals talk. Mike Aviles has been called up from the minors and will start in place of Yuniesky Betancourt on Tuesday. Aviles hit .284 in some limited work at Triple-A this year, and the dude can flat out hit (he owns a .293 career mark in 540 at-bats with the Royals). Betancourt started out hot but he’s hit only .240 over his last 50 at-bats, and his defense has slipped in recent years as well. Aviles certainly could lock down the starting job at short if he starts out hot, so make sure he isn’t floating on waivers in your AL-only league.
* Kyle Blanks update: he still can’t hit. He has 18 strikeouts in his last 29 at-bats leading to an inconcionable K-rate of 44.4 percent on the year. He is so lost that it’s to the point that the team must send him to Triple-A since he is a walking disaster right now.
* Watching Tim Lincecum vs. the Marlins right now. He just struck out Cameron Maybin on a poor swing before getting Chris Coghlan to swing over a pitch by about 18 inches. He then gave up a hit to Hanley Ramirez before punching out Jorge Cantu for three Ks in the first inning. Dude is just amazing.
* Vin Mazzaro will replace Justin Duchscherer for one start. That is if you believe that Duke’s hip will respond quickly to the cortisone shot he just got. Don’t consider me to be one of those that believes that will happen. That means Mazzaro is a must add in AL-only leagues. He didn’t look great after a hot start last year, but a spot it the rotation is a spot in the rotation.
* Two pitchers going in opposite directions with health. Jair Jurrjens probably won’t make his start on Saturday because of a strained hamstring. He injured the hammy last Thursday and still isn’t ready to thrown in the pen (Kris Medlen could pick up the start). Carlos Silva, dealing with a wrist issue, didn’t need a cortisone shot in his wrist so he will make a start for the Cubs on Friday instead of needing another day of rest. I still want Jurrjens every time over Silva despite these health revelations – and I don’t even love Jurrjens which tells you all you need to know about my thoughts on Silva.
* Lincecum started the second inning punching out Dan Uggla on a 94 mph at the knees. He didn’t even get a swing off. Same thing just happened to John Baker.
For more of my thoughts on some things that shook out on Tuesday give Around the Horn a read where I discuss Jeff Clement, Austin Jackson, Chris Davis, Juan Pierre and the Phillies’ bullpen (Ryan Madson will miss at least eight weeks after having surgery to repair the toe he broke kicking a chair last week).
By Ray Flowers
(1) A lot of star level players are returning this weekend: Ian Kinsler, Brad Lidge and Cliff Lee. Oh, and Ryan Madson is on DL with broken toe from kicking something.
(2) A’s get bad news with Justin Duchscherer and Kurt Suzuki.
(3) Jacoby Ellsbury takes swings off tee.
(4) Lance Berkman tweaks groin.
(5) Justin Morneau returns from back injury.
(6) Chris Getz returns for Royals forcing Alex Gordon to bench.
By Ray Flowers
(1) Kurt Suzuki continues to miss time with sore side. Jake Fox nearing catcher eligibility.
(2) Brett Anderson’s elbow flexor strain is really a muscle strain.
(3) Blown saves everywhere – Octavio Dotel, Trevor Hoffman, Ryan Madson.
(4) Frank Francisco closing gap on Neftali Feliz?
(5) Matt Capps first to 10 saves.
(6) Justin Morneau could miss rest of the week with back issue.
(7) The world of numbers and hitting broken down at By The Numbers – Hitters including the lack of power from Joe Mauer.
By Ray Flowers
(1) Brad Lidge progressing, will throw in a minor league game on Saturday.
(2) Mike Gonzalez really struggling in Baltimore.
(3) Chris Young’s shoulder barking again.
(4) Jose Reyes back on Saturday.
(5) Carlos Beltran suffers minor hiccup in knee rehab.
(6) Brian Roberts injures abdomen joining Ian Kinsler and Aaron Hill as injured second basemen.
(7) Chris Perez trying to take over 9th inning role for Indians.
By Ray Flowers
It’s my birthday today. I know, I know, those of you that know me knew I was a fool without need of the support of the day of my birth being April Fool’s Day, but there certainly is some nice symmetry here is there not?
With that, I thought I would move on to some actually baseball talk. Dave Gawron organized what we hope will be the first annual MIC WARS. What is MIC WARS? Simply it’s a 12-team mixed league, using 5×5 scoring, that includes 12 shows that talk baseball on Blog Talk Radio (you can find my show, which I do each day with Kyle Elrink, at 8-9 AM PST, Mon. – Fri., or you can check out the archive at The Fantasy Buffet). Before moving on to my team, here is a link to Dave’s review of the entire draft so you can see how it played out. And here is Team Fantasy Buffet (I have the #4 pick in the snake draft that starts 14 hitters, and nine pitchers).
C: Kurt Suzuki (14), Carlos Santana (25), Adam Moore (26)
1B: Derrek Lee (7), Lance Berkman (10)
2B: Jose Lopez (8), Howie Kendrick (9)
3B: Pablo Sandoval (3), Casey Blake (24)
SS: Alexei Ramirez (11), Ian Desmond (23)
OF: Ryan Braun (1), Jacoby Ellsbury (2), Jason Bay (5), Andrew McCutchen (6), Corey Hart (16), David DeJesus (28), Desmond Jennings (29)
SP: CC Sabathia (4), James Shields (12), Jonathan Sanchez (13), Jered Weaver (15), Aaron Harang (21), Brett Myers (30)
RP: Brad Lidge (17), Octavio Dotel (18), Ryan Madson (19), Chris Perez (20), Matt Thornton (22), Joba Chamberlain (27)
C: Suzuki is s top-5 option, and while Santana and Moore may not have starting spots, I bet the duo combines for at least 400 highly effective at-bats.
1B: Two grey beards, but both are capable of 25 homers, 100 RBI and 90 runs scored. I’ll take that all day.
2B: Lopez will likely also qualify at third, which is why I took him over Dan Uggla. As for Kendrick, I was tempted to wait and try and target Rickie Weeks later in the draft, but I just couldn’t pass on Kendrick who could hit .300 while going 15/15.
3B: Sandoval is money, plus he’s the Kung Fu Panda and plays for my favorite team. Casey Blake is boring yet highly efficient, and he is a more than adequate backup at third.
SS: Alexei Ramirez may never have that 20/20 season, but I’ll take a repeat of last year (.277-15-68-71-14). Desmond is a bit of a wildcard, but it looks like he will open the year as the Nationals starter at short and could very well surprise given his draft position.
OF: Braun and Ellsbury is a dynamic duo. Bay is as steady as they come as the only OF who in four of the last five seasons has hit 30 homers with 100 RBI, 100 runs and 10 steals. McCutchen could blow up and is a wonderful 4th OF, better than a few teams #2 option, and don’t believe the Hart will be platooned talk out of Milwaukee, it ain’t gonna happen. DeJesus is boring but a fine 6th outfielder, and though Jennings has little value at this point, he could be a beast on the base paths if the Rays gave him a shot at playing time.
SP: I normally never take a starter early, but when Sabathia was still there at pick 45 – his ADP is 29 – I thought it was a nice value play. Shields and Weaver are steady, and Sanchez, well, I have high hopes for that kid which you can read about at Taking Sides – Starters. Harang and Myers may not be exciting, but if every breaks right I could get 300 Ks and an ERA below 4.00 from the duo – really.
RP: If you have ever seen a better group of bullpen arms assembled on one team, I would be flabbergasted. If all of these arms are healthy, the unit could sport a K/9 rate of about 10, a massive mark. Lidge is certainly an open question at the start of the year, but I handcuffed that selection by taking Madson who should fill in until Lidge is healthy. Perez will get some saves with Kerry Wood out, Dotel appears locked in the 9th for the Pirates, Thornton may be the best middle reliever in baseball, and you watch Joba dominate in the pen.
This team has some electric arms, a few grizzled vets on offense, and a boat load of talented youngsters. Who knows how the team will end up at the season’s conclusion, but I really love the mix at this point.
By Ray Flowers
In my last two posts, I discussed the team I rostered in the K-BAD experts league. In Part III of my review, I’ll give my thoughts on how the draft played out after quickly running through my final few selections.
Note: If you want to read my review of picks 1-10, click on the link to K-BAD: Part I.
If you want to read my review of picks 11-28, click on the link to K-BAD: Part II.
ROUND 21: Matt Thornton, RP, White Sox
I may not have saves in abundance, but Thornton and my last pick, Ryan Madson, give me arguably two most talented setup men in the game.
ROUND 22: Chris Young, OF, Diamondbacks
Once upon a time he went 30/25. Hell, it was just the other day really (2007). If he comes through in ’09 he could be a cheap, vastly underrated, 20/20 option.
ROUND 23: Elijah Dukes, OF, Nationals
Seems refocused knowing his career might be on the line. Too bad the Nationals didn’t buy it as they let him go. This is what happens when you do a draft far in advance of any meaningful games.
ROUND 24: Delmon Young, OF, Twins
My third straight young outfielder. All three have a ton of potential, and each could be a terrific fifth outfield option this year.
ROUND 25: Rod Barajas, C, Mets
This late you can throw a dart. Hopefully Rod will hit 15 long balls and bat .250. If he does, I’ll be ecstatic. If not, I’ll hit the waiver-wire.
ROUND 26: Brandon Lyon, RP, Astros
There were certainly better relievers still available, but being that I’m weak in saves I had to take a chance on this inferior relief option.
ROUND 27: Casey Blake
He has no upside, but I had him as 15th best third basemen so no harm in taking him this late. See Breaking Down: Casey Blake.
ROUND 28: Brett Myers, SP, Astros
Not a bad last pick. Seriously. If he can control the homers, in tough park for pitchers, he could return 15th round value.
Here is my team (number is round selected).
C Russell Martin 11
C Rod Barajas 25
1B Miguel Cabrera 1
2B Brian Roberts 3
3B Casey Blake 27
SS Miguel Tejada 9
MI Dan Uggla 6
CI Lance Berkman 5
OF Carl Crawford 2
OF Ichiro Suzuki 4
OF Andrew McCutchen 7
OF Ryan Ludwick 15
OF Chris Young 22
UT David Ortiz 18
P Yovani Gallardo 8
P Scott Baker 10
P James Shields 12
P Trevor Hoffman 13
P Ryan Dempster 14
P Brad Lidge 17
P Aaron Harang 19
P Ryan Madson 20
P Matt Thornton 21
Bench Rafael Furcal 16
Bench Elijah Dukes 23
Bench Delmon Young 24
Bench Brandon Lyon 26
Bench Brett Myers 28
* I already have my fingers crossed. When the draft took place Roberts, Berkman and Martin where totally healthy, and Dukes still had a big league job. So are the breaks of the game.
* Blake in the 27th round was a nice grab, and I’ll have Tejada as an option at the hot corner as well once season gets underway.
* Crawford and Ichiro are a dynamic duo in the OF. If McCutchen does what many expect, that is one potentially fantastic threesome. The group is light on power though, so I added Ludwick who should be a fine 5th hitter for the Cardinals. My final outfield spot will go to one of two men who could be a terrific 5th option – D. Young, C. Young (Dukes hosed me).
* My offense might be a bit light on pop but you can’t have everything when picking against astute owners in an experts league.
* My staff has as good a 5-some of hurlers as any in the league: Gallardo, Baker, Shields, Dempster and Harang. Not a “superstar” amongst them, but that is a fantastic group of arms.
* My bullpen is thin. Every time I went to grab a closer someone else did. In fact, I had only one closer heading into the 17th round. At the end of the round I had two (gulp with Lidge), but another team had three and one grabbed a 4th in 18th. Closers went way too early in this league if you ask me. I didn’t want to roster a flunky just cause they were going, so I ended up passing and grabbed two of the best set up men in the game in Madson and Thornton. In the 26th round I then grabbed Lyon who could be the full-time closer in Houston, a part time option, or a total failure. Still, in the 26th, it was a risk worth taking.
* My staff is really strong top to bottom. I’ll need some help in the saves category, hopefully I’ll be able to snag one of those guys off waivers since there are always at least a handful of guys who emerge, but I should be sitting pretty in wins, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.
* Surprised to see these power arms not drafted: Luke Gregerson, Daniel Bard, Mike Adams, C.J. Wilson and George Sherrill.
* No one took the steady Andy Pettitte, or last year’s ground ball star Joel Pineiro.
* Three Cubs outfielders were left on waivers: Xavier Nady, Kosuke Fukudome and Marlon Byrd.
* Youngsters Carlos Gomez and Cameron Maybin also went teamless. Each offers some upside and should have been rostered in my opinion.
* At second, Kelly Johnson and Mark Ellis are free agents. I would be shocked if both don’t end up as top-20 options at second, and both have a chance to sneak into the top-15.
* No one bought into Russell Branyan repeating his effort from last season now that he is with the Indians, so he was left undrafted. Across the diamond, here are a few of the third basemen that went undrafted as well: Mark Teahen, Mike Lowell, Brandon Inge, Juan Uribe and Adam Kennedy.
I’ll keep you posted throughout the year as to how my team stacks up. Let’s just hope there aren’t more injuries prior to the season starting – there is nothing more frustrating that losing because your guys are on the shelf.
By Ray Flowers
For the second straight year, I was invited to play in an expert’s league by the folks over at KFFL. Nicknamed K-BAD, for Baseball Analysis Draft, the league pits 11 of the top minds in the game against one flunky (that would be me). I thought I would give my analysis of the team I was able to roster in the 12-team, 5×5 mixed league with 28 rounds (I had the ninth pick in the draft which was completed near the start of March).
Note: If you want to read my review of picks 1-10, click on the link to K-BAD – Part I.
ROUND 11: Russell Martin, C, Dodgers
Maybe the extra 20 lbs will allow him to drive the ball deep again. He wasn’t as bad as it looked last year, and is still a top-7 option in my mind – or at least he was until he was injured (this pick was made before his ill health hit). Martin is progressing well and may not miss more than a handful of games to start the year.
ROUND 12: James Shields, SP, Rays
Shields was the last, reliable, top shelf option left on my draft board amongst starting pitchers, so I’m very comfortable with him as my third starter.
ROUND 13: Trevor Hoffman, RP, Brewers
Safe, old and boring, all Hoffman does is rack up 30-saves year after year. In each of his last 14 healthy seasons he has hit that level, so there is no reason to think he will produce anything less this season.
ROUND 14: Ryan Dempster, SP, Cubs
The most skilled starting pitcher left on my board or a middling OF? I decided to roster a fourth solid starter since no one stood out in the outfield.
ROUND 15: Ryan Ludwick
Immediately after making the pick, I slightly regretted it. Not because Ludwick will fail in 2010, he’ll hit behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday in the center of a powerful Cardinals’ lineup, but because Mike Gonzalez was taken with the next pick and I need save help.
ROUND 16: Rafael Furcal
A risk since he stopped running last season. Still he is a decent starting option at short, and he will allow me to use Tejada at third base once the season gets underway.
ROUND 17: Brad Lidge, RP, Phillies
What, you think he won’t rebound in 2010? I’m not sure either, but I had only one reliever at this point so I had to take a chance that his elbow and knee will be healthy enough for him to return to a high level of effectiveness if his BABIP returns to normal.
ROUND 18: David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox
I agonized a bit here, but at this point a 25+HR, 90+RBI guy isn’t all that bad, and I needed the pop based on the rest of my lineup.
ROUND 19: Aaron Harang, SP, Reds
The results weren’t there last season for Harang, but he isn’t that far off his 2006-07 form that he should be getting this little respect. He’s a great 5th starter for my club.
ROUND 20: Ryan Madson, RP, Phillies
As talented as any reliever left on the board, he is my handcuff in case Lidge isn’t ready to go because I only had two closers at this point of the draft in Lidge and Hoffman.
By Ray Flowers
(1) Carl Crawford is no longer negotiating with Rays meaning this is almost assuredly his last season with the club.
(2) Octavio Dotel and Joel Hanrahan receive positive news in regards to their injuries
(3) Adam Dunn working on defense at 1B for Nationals.
(4) Alfonso Soriano reporting that his knee is improving.
(5) Brad Lidge throwing – showing improvement. Still hopes to make opening day.
(6) Francisco Liriano has Twins excited with the return of his “stuff.”
(7) Jose Batista to bat leadoff for Blue Jays – uh oh.
By Ray Flowers