Tagged: phillies

Perfection Again

Roy Halladay

What is it with Florida teams and perfect games?

For the twentieth time in the history of this amazing game, a perfect game has been thrown. 

For the third time in two seasons, a perfect game has been thrown against a team from the great state of Florida. 

Sheesh. 

Roy Halladay put together what is tantamount to absolute perfection tonight when he took down the Florida Marlins in 27-up-27-down fashion.  I know that my friend at Phillies Outside must still be celebrating, as well he should.

But why does this keep happening to us?  And by “us” I mean the baseball denizens of Florida?

The Rays went through it against Mark Buehrle and the White Sox last season before enduring the pain of another perfect at the hands of the Oakland A’s and Dallas Braden.  And now the Florida Marlins know what we “northerners” felt each time.

Of course, when the Rays took the field each time there was no real thought that a perfect game could be thrown at them, all due respect to Buehrle and Braden.

Halladay, though, is one of those rare pitchers who has no-hit stuff almost every night he toes the mound.  A perfect game isn’t as earth shattering in that case.

But that takes NOTHING away from the amazing feat of the Doc. 

Thank goodness he’s on my fantasy team.

And hopefully the teams from Florida have paid their dues with regards to perfect games…

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April’s Showers Not So Bad

Of course, all that was raining on the Rays during the month of April were W’s.

17 of ’em to be exact.

The Rays came out of April with a 17-6 record. 

Wow.

Not only is that the best in the American League, it is the best record in the MAJORS. 

Now,let’s recap.

Who doesn’t have the best record in the league?

        Yankees

        Red Sox

        Phillies

(I just wanted to make sure that was clear.)

Sure, this season is just one month old, but you have to start somewhere, right?  Last year, the Rays got off to a 9-14 start and, in the competitive AL East, pretty much sealed their doom early.  They made a run near the end of the season to put themselves in contention for a wildcard spot, but injuries and bad baseball–and the aforementioned poor start–gave them no wiggle room for mistakes. 

This kind of a start means that when that inevitable slump comes for the Rays, they WILL have some room for error.

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Amazin’ Pena

Sure, the Rays lost to the Kansas City Royals last night.  But not for lack of effort by one Carlos Pena.

He made a great play to take away an extra bases hit down the line early in the game.  Then he turned in an incredible “falling-into-the-dugout” grab of a foul ball in a 1-0 game to support his pitcher.

  First Baseman Carlos Pena #23 Of The Tampa Bay Rays Falls

That level of effort is why the Rays are not only the best team in the league right now, but also because watching them (in person or on tv) is one of the most entertaining 2-3 hours you can spend in your day.

Obligatory (and fun) 2010 MLB Predictions: National League

Pretty much every blog in the universe remotely related to baseball has been making its predictions for what will happen in the majors in 2010.  Some have done it division by division, and some have done it in one big shot. 

I’ll be subscribing to a combination of both as I go league by league.

I will not be including records because, well, I’m just not that smart. 

I see 2010 as a season that will have more than just a few surprises.  Sure, teams such as the Phillies and Yankees will be right there until the end, but there are other squads that I think possess much intrigue because of their offseason moves and the emergence of their younger players.

More than likely this is an effort in futility, but it sure is fun.

Today I will break down the National League.  Tomorrow the American League.  Tuesday I’ll put out my playoff predictions.

NL East

Phillies                        Nobody’s better in the NL.  They would be better with Cliff Lee AND Roy Halladay, but they are pretty darn strong as they stand.

Braves                        I like their mix of youth and experience.  Their pitching will be a strength for them, especially if Tim Hudson can turn in a strong season.

Marlins                       How can you pick against them?  Nobody knows how they do it, but they win every year.  Ricky Nolasco is back and Josh Johnson is solid. 

Mets               How can you pick FOR them?  The addition of Jason Bay would seem to bode well for the offense, but the recent injury to Daniel Murphy won’t help.  Neither will the fact that they seem to have given up on their pitching.

Nationals         I don’t want to pile on.  They are not a good team.  But their offseason moves and slow dedication to a youth movement points them in the right direction.

Playoff team:

 

NL Central

Cardinals         Makes me sick to say it, but they are darn good.  Their offense will more than make up for any pitching deficiencies.  They have the potential for closer problems this year, though.

Cubs                I love this team, but it seems no matter how much talent they get on the squad they do not win.  Sure, they won the division for three straight years, but that was about it.  Last year was an abomination.  Marlon Byrd, and a healthy Aramis Ramirez, will really help the offense.

Reds                They could be the surprise of the division in 2010.  I like their staff (and the addition of Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, even though he is in the minors now) and their bats.  Might sound crazy, but I think these guys could push for a playoff spot this year.

Astros             Sure Lance Berkman is hurt, but this team has some talent.  They are getting older at some positions (Carlos Lee, Berkman, Oswalt) and injuries could derail their season.

Brewers          Their pitching is horrendous.  Yovani Gallardo can’t stay healthy and one of their starters, Jeff Suppan, is already out.  Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are not enough.

Pirates             Andrew McCutcheon will be fun for the entire league to watch and will more than likely represent the Bucs in the All-Star Game.  That’s about it.

Playoff teams:  

 

NL West

Giants              As fans of the Tampa Bay Rays know, pitching wins.  And there are few staffs (provided Barry Zito is actually good this year) as strong as the Giants’.  “Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval will really shine this year.

Dodgers          Why won’t they win the division?  Health.  I just think that they are going to have some big injuries this year and that Manny will do all he can to distract the team from winning baseball games.  I like their young starting pitching, but it won’t gel enough this year. 

Rockies                       Coors Field seems like a great place to watch a baseball game.  Its offensive stats seem to have calmed down a bit.  The rise of Ubaldo Jimenez and his ability to induce ground balls will help this team have a solid season.

Padres             I love their youth.  Everth Cabrera, Mat Latos, Chase Headley.  I like ’em.  This will be a big surprise if they don’t finish in the basement of the division again.  I think they have some surprises in them.

Diamondbacks            It will be a surprise if these guys DO finish in the basement.  I like Dan Haren and their emerging catcher, Miguel Montero (he’s on my fantasy team!).  But I don’t see a lot to get excited about in the desert.

Playoff team:

 

Well, that was fun.  No doubt, some of my picks might be debatable. 

 

And, if they are debatable, feel free to tear me apart.

 

Let’s play some baseball!

 

Gradin’ the Tradin’: Part II

The first post I put out a few days ago was only to rate the trades that occurred on Friday, the trading deadline day. 

However, I got a few e-mails asking me why I left out one trade or the other.  They got me to thinking….why NOT go through the notable trades from the trading deadline and just before? 

I enjoyed arguing with some of you through comments and e-mail about what you thought of some of the trades.  Good times…

This post might be more for me than anybody since I LOVE trades and how they affect teams.  I think they are something that is utilized by baseball better than any other sport and is part of the reason why this game is so grand.

Again, I’m primarily looking at the team that is the bigger part of the deal, though in some cases I grade both teams.

So without further adieu….here is part deux. 

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Deal:  Reds trade Edwin Encarcion et al to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen

Analysis:  It seemed that Encarnacion never really got it going in Cincinnati.  He hit a load of dingers last year, but the average the last few years was never really what Dusty Baker wanted (.209 in 2009).  I don’t see him being the 3B of the future for the Jays, unfortunately.  However, from what I’ve read about the two young pitchers who were also sent to the Jays, the real value might be there.  These two pitchers might make an impact on Toronto this season, which would make the Jays winners here.  The Reds get an aging 3B who might be able to help out a little next year.  While the Reds play in a strong offensive park, the fact is that Rolen is 34 and has seen his best years pass him by.

Grade:  Reds–C+   Jays–B+

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Deal:  Jerry Hairston, Jr. to the Yankees for a Single-A catcher

Analysis:  This just doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.  Of course, the Rays are notorious for making the “not a big deal” trades that end up getting them a bunch of wins.  Maybe the Yankees have been taking notes.  They already went into the Rays’ playbook to make a deal for Eric Hinske earlier in the year, after all.  Hairston, Jr. has speed and versatility.  For those reasons he might be a nice guy to have on a team.  A National League team.  I don’t see him helping the Yanks out too much.  Then again, New York didn’t give up much, either.

Grade:  B-

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Deal:  Brewers deal to get Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers

Analysis:  The Brewers needed a starter.  A good starter.  They needed somebody to help them contend with the Cubs, Cardinals, and, suddenly, the Astros.  Instead they dealt for a bullpen guy in LA who they actually had not that long ago and dumped because of his ineffectiveness.  They didn’t give up much, but they didn’t get much, either.

Grade:  D-

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Deal:  Cubs get John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from Pirates

Analysis:  This is a case where I think both teams won out.  The Pirates got a young hurler in Kevin Hart and a strong piece of the bullpen in Jose Ascanio.  The Cubs needed a starter in Gorzelanny (he’ll start this week) to fill in for Ted Lilly and they needed a strong lefty in the ‘pen in Grabow who will take the place of the Tommy John-bit Neal Cotts.  Grabow will complement Sean Marshall in the bullpen and add some stability to a shakey group.

Grade:  A for both teams (especially because of the mad kung fu skills of Gorzelanny)

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Deal:  Royals get Josh Anderson from the Tigers

Analysis:  This guy was got for cash.  That’s it.  Typically these deals are non-issues.  This one fits in with that characterization.  So why are we talking about it?

Grade:  Who cares?

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Deal:  The Giants get Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates

Analysis:  The Pirates are becoming to be old hat in these trade discussions.  With that said, the Bucs are doing the right thing.  Sanchez was scheduled to make $8 mill next year.  That’s too rich for a team with so many holes.  I was hoping that the Rays would get this guy–he’s one of my faves–so that they could move Ben Zobrist’s rocket arm and huge bat to right field.  Alas, not to be.  This move will probably lead to the Giants releasing Rich Aurelia and his salary.  Sanchez will help the Giants.  The Pirates got a pitcher in Tim Alderson who will help them–in the future.

Grade: B+

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Deal:  Phillies land Cliff Lee from Indians 

Analysis:  C’mon, do we have to talk about this one?  I was hoping the Rays might get active here, and they were, but not as active as the Series champs.  They got Lee, gave up some guys they’ll miss, and promptly saw him throw a complete game shutout.  ‘Nuff said.

Grade:  A

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Deal:  Mariners get Jack Wilson from Pirates for a bunch o’ guys

Analysis:  The M’s got the shortstop they had hoped they had in Yuniesky Betancourt.  When they realized Betancourt was a flop defensively, they shipped him to Kansas City–where he’s struggled.  Wilson is a solid piece of the future puzzle for the M’s and will get them some wins in the future.  The guys the Pirates got will be helpful, but not too helpful right away.  Ronny Cedeno is flopping right now and catcher Jeff Clement was not sparking the way the Mariners wanted.  I thought that the addition of Clement might lead to the Bucs moving Ryan Doumit–to the Rays.  Not so.  Oh well.

Grade:  Mariners–B+    Pirates–B

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Deal:  White Sox get Mark Kotsay, Red Sox get Brian Anderson

 

Analysis:  No doubt, the White Sox won this trade–right now.  The White Stockings got a premiere pinch hitter who can play almost any corner position.  He is a veteran who can fit in immediately with is new team and pay dividends as they push for October.  The Red Stockings got a supreme underachiever in Anderson.  He might develop, though, into a guy who might be the utility outfielder Rocco Baldelli is supposed to be.  With JD Drew on his way out (c’mon, folks, he’s hurt, like, ALL THE TIME) this might be a good add–next year.

Grade:  White Sox–B+    Red Sox–B+ (potentially)

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Deal:  Giants get Ryan Garko for Single-A pitcher

Analysis:  Garko was a fan fave in Cleveland, but he was going to be up for big money in the off season.  So he was shipped.  He was taking playing time away from guys the Indians really wanted to see and they did not view him as a piece of the future.  He has a gift for being offensive–in a good way–and should help the Giants offense get going.  The guy Cleveland got will be good two years from now.  That’s something to be happy about in Clevelend–and there isn’t much these days.  However, the move will give more AB’s to superstar-in-the-making Matt LaPorta

Grade:  B

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Deal:  Matt Holliday goes to St. Louis

Analysis:  Waste of time to talk about.  He’s hitting .529!!! 

Grade: A+ (and it sickens me to say that)

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Sorry if the pics got a little weird there at times.  I’m as distracted by the strange moments of our favorite sport as anybody.

I think that runs down most of the more notable trades that have occurred the last few weeks (and a couple of not-so-notable trades). 

I think that this time of year is the most captivating of any sport out there.  Teams are fighting for division titles.  Others are scrambling for wildcard berths.  Franchises are deciding whether to buy or sell.  Squads are scouting for both this and next year–and with a do-or-die attitude.

It’s just great.

And the waiver-wire trades are going to get going soon too.  Teams have to make waiver deals before August 30th if they want that guy to be eligible for the post season.

And the countdown begins.

 

And if anybody asks me about the Julio Lugo deal……..

CC Is Your MVP!! Rays Represent at the All-Star Game! My ASG Recap…

Carlos Pena showed the country last night that we can hit the ball out of the park. 

Carl Crawford showed viewers that we can also bring the ball back in.

 

I was hoping.  I was hoping that CC’s 1-3 night and amazing game saving catch would be enough. 

It was.

Our own Carl Crawford took home the MVP trophy for tonight’s All-Star Game–the first Ray ever to do so.  It was an amazing feat that shows exactly how far this franchise has come the last few years. 

I was excited that tonight’s game was going to showcase 5 Rays and help get the nation more acquainted with our squad of hard workers.  Our guys helped to show the naysayers that this team has alot that will be said before this season is over, playing solid enough defense to lead the AL squad to a 4-3 victory over the NL.

It is no coincidence that fielding has been a hallmark of Joe Maddon’s teams the last few seasons, and to emphasize the point Crawford went blazonly at the fence after Rockie Brad Hawpe launched a long ball towards left center field.  CC did what CC does best–he took away a hit.

 

Only this time, the “hit” he stole was going to be a game-tying home run.

Hawpe hit it to the wrong side of the ballpark.

Crawford exhibited his typical humble personality in his postgame interview.  In fact, he seemed happier to have gotten an autographed baseball from our nation’s president than he did to be the winner of the MVP of the All-Star Game.  He told Chris Rose of FOX that it was his teammates, his Rays coaches, and manager Joe Maddon who helped him to be comfortable enough to go out there and play well. 

Lucky for the AL, he did play well.  In fact, the American League team that makes the World Series (ahem, the Rays) owes Carl a debt of gratitude for giving them home field advantage.

What a great night. 

Congrats to CC on being named the AL’s All-Star Game MVP. 

Congrats to the Rays on demonstrating the “Ray Way” of playing the game.

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ALL STAR RECAP

Overall I would say that the game was a success.  I enjoyed it MUCH more than the Home Run Derby the night before.  There was alot more drama and more excitement.

Plus, I would say the pitchers last night fared much better than the pitchers at the derby….

Here are some things I noticed about last night’s game:

 

PITCHING

Wow.  Somebody get out a stopwatch because those pitchers were trying for some kind of speed record out there.  They got the ball and threw, no hesitation.  Of course, it didn’t help that many of the hitters were swinging away at the first or second pitch. 

 

I felt especially bad for Raul Ibanez.  The guy gets his first All-Star Game nod and swings at the first pitch he ever seeing in an ASG and fouls out to third.  Ouch.  Not many good memories there.

 

FIELDING

Aside from CC’s amazing catch, I thought the fielding was adequate. 

The game was punctuated by great catches in the outfield, one for the AL (Crawford) and one for the NL (Jayson Werth’s snag in the 8th to stop an AL potential rally).

Albert Pujols booted one early in the game, but came back to make a few good plays after that. 

 

Jason Bartlett almost made an amazing play diving for a grounder up the middle. That would really have shown everybody how we play defense at the Trop.

(It was kind of cool in the 9th when Bartlett threw out an Upton–Justin Upton)

 

SUBSTITUTIONS

I know that does not sound exciting, but I felt like the managers were not making a big effort to get guys in during the game.  Especially the pitchers.  It seemed like Maddon and Manuel were managing to actually win the game.  That is great, but doesn’t that detract from the FUN aspect of the game?

 

People tune in to see their guys get in.  The Pirates are not going to have alot of success this season, but seeing Freddy Sanchez and Zach Duke get into the game is kind of neat.  Neither made it. 

I know that I was looking forward to seeing Ted Lilly throw an inning–or part of an inning.  Unfortunately, the only guy who got booed by the always hospitalbe fans of St. Louis did not make an appearance.

In all, the AL used 25 guys and the NL used 26.  That means 7-8 guys on each team made the trip to St. Louis, and that was all.  The fans who bought the All Star jerseys never got to see their favorite players wear them on the field. 

Of course, the job of a manager in a game such as this is tough.  But trying to add more significance to the game (home field advantage in the WS) might just be the thing that is taking away some of its sparkle.

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In all, I had a great time watching the game.  The Rays did well (they got the MVP of the game, duh) and the game moved quickly.  The competition was high and there was a level of fun involved. 

Now it will be time to get back to the business of real baseball.  Something that, I am sure, every player and fan has been itching for since Ben Zobrist caught the final All Star out.

All Star Update

The injury bug has hit a few of the players in this year’s All-Star Game. 

For the AL, Torii Hunter has been forced to miss the game with an abductor strain (whatever that is), allowing one of my favorite players to make the game: Nelson Cruz.  One of the top sluggers in the AL right now (who is somehow being platooned by Rangers Manager Ron Washington) with 20 homers and 50 RBIs, I found it very surprising that he was left off the roster the first time around.

What is especially cool about Cruz’s move to the roster is that he has said he will participate in the Home Run Derby.  It is going to be lots of fun seeing him park balls over the fence in St. Louis.

I am still hoping that something happens so that Carlos Pena will be able to slide into the game.  The chances are getting slimmer, though.  And you have to feel doubly bad now for Ian Kinsler, a guy who should have made the team, then should have won the final vote, and then should have been put on the squad after Hunter’s injury.  Poor guy.

What really bugs me, though, is how Jayson Werth was able to secure a spot on the roster in place of the injured Carlos Beltran.  Don’t we have enough Phillies outfielders on the team!? 

It is surprising to see Werth get the nod, although he has fine enough stats, when you consider that a perfectly acceptable outfielder was up for the final vote and did not get in: Matt Kemp.  I would certainly rather see Kemp on the team than Werth.  I would like to know the reasoning behind that selection, Charlie Manuel.

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On a side note, the no hitter last night by Johnathan Sanchez was just classic.  He missed a perfect game because of an error by his third baseman late in the game, but his no hitter was saved by an amazing play by Aaron Rowand on a huge drive to center field.  I’m sure A Diatribe from a Journalism Student would be thrilled to find that one of her fave players helped to save a no hitter by playing the fearless defense he is known for.  She is right about how hard-nosed that guy is.  Well done Aaron Rowand.

But what makes this whole night perfect is the fact that Sanchez’s dad was in the stands to see him pitch for the first time.  Seeing the father and son hug after the game was a little <sniff, sniff> touching.

I’m not crying.  There is something in my eye.  DOES SOMEBODY HAVE A TISSUE!?