Saturday, May 30, 2009

2009 Stache All Star: Jason Marquis

The key to Jason Marquis's success in 2009: the mustache.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Time to Sell High: Luke Scott?

Even though the Orioles are currently in last place in the AL East, there is plenty to be excited about for Orioles fans. Adam Jones is a stud, Nick Markakis is developing into one of the best players in the American League, and Matt Wieters is scheduled to make his debut later today. Slowly but surely, the pieces are starting to come into place for the Orioles.

But make no mistake about it, there is still lots of work to be done before the Orioles can be thought of as legitimate contenders. The starting rotation is a mess and the bullpen is one of the worst in baseball. While the offense has been stellar this season, there is no doubt that the Orioles need more quality young arms, even with Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz rapidly advancing through the system.

That's where Luke Scott comes in. The Orioles DH is putting together his finest season to date by hitting .311 with 7 HRs, 19 RBI, and an impressive .397 on base percentage. The 30 year old Scott is under the Orioles control until 2013 and comes at a relatively inexpensive price (for now), but there are several compelling reasons why GM Andy McPhail should look into trading Scott.

1. His value has never been higher

-Outside of a brief stretch in 2006, Scott has never been this good of a player. If McPhail wants to maximize return on Scott, now is the time to do it.

2. The future

-Even though Scott is playing well right now, he is likely not the Orioles future plans. Scott is almost 31 years old, , which is not old, but probably too old for Scott to be considered a building block for the future. Moving him now would bring back some potential building blocks.

3. Salary

-If Scott keeps up this pace, then there is no doubt that his price tag will go up. Scott is arbitration eligible and there is no doubt that he will get a raise. The Orioles would be better off saving that money and using those funds on pitching-whether it be in the free agent market or in the draft.

McPhail should be praying to his lucky stars that Scott keeps up this pace at the plate. If so, I can definitely see a scenario where multiple teams jockey for Scott in the coming months. Because he's under contract for the next few seasons, he is an attractive player for teams with both high and low payrolls.

And while Scott's age is a good reason for the O's to trade him, Scott is in his "prime" right now, which is another positive for prospective teams.

So when it comes down to it, the Orioles need to remain focused on the future. If they can parlay Scott into a few potentially valuable pieces, then that is a move that Andy McPhail has to make.

Carlos Zambrano: 6 Game Suspension A Joke

Considering how poorly Carlos Zambrano acted during Wednesday's game, I find it hard to believe that a 6 game suspension does the job here. For a position player, sure, a 6 game suspension would be mighty fair. But Carlos Zambrano is a starting pitcher. The suspension that MLB imposed on him means that he will simply miss one start. That's all. One start.

What kind of message does that send? Does MLB really think that's a harsh punishment? If they really want to send a message to the Carlos Zambranos of the world, then they would have suspended Zambrano for at least 2 or 3 starts, not just one.

When you take into account that Josh Beckett was initially suspended 6 games earlier in the season for firing a pitch close to Bobby Abreu's head, it's embarrassing that Zambrano only got 6 games for acting like a baffoon. Chucking the baseball, "ejecting the umpire", and beating the innocent Gatorade cooler are all actions that are childish and stupid.

Six games does not do it. The punishment does not fit the act(s). The six game suspension is merely a slap on the wrist to Zambrano and fails to send the right message.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Time to Sell High: Cristian Guzman?

The Nationals do not have much going for them right now. Their bullpen is atrocious. Lastings Milledge is in AAA. Elijah Dukes is hurt. Their starting rotation is young and inexperienced. And let's not forget to mention that the Nationals are already 20 games under .500. And it's not even June yet.


Even though the team has struggled mightily, Crisitian Guzman has performed very well so far for the Nationals. Signed to a 2 year/$16 million dollar extension last July, Guzman is hitting a robust .340 this season, which is seventh best in the National League. Despite the fact that Guzman almost never walks, he has established himself as an above average shortstop at the dish.

But the reality is this: the Nationals do not need Guzman. They are a terrible team with Guzman and I'm sure they would be a terrible team without him. Sure Guzman is having a career season, but those numbers have done nothing to turn around the disaster that is the Washington Nationals.

So while GM Mike Rizzo has officially put Nick Johnson, Josh Willingham, and Austin Kearns on the trading block; Guzman is the guy who the Nationals should look into moving. Guzman would be an attractive option to teams for a few reasons:

1. He is under contract through 2010

2. He is signed for a reasonable amount ($8 mil in 2010)

3. He is only 31 years old

4. He is one of the few quality SS, who could be available at the deadline

So with that in mind, if GM Mike Rizzo can move Guzman for a couple of prospects, then he should absolutely do it. The Nationals are not going to be competitive for at least another couple seasons, long after Guzman is gone. Rizzo should be focusing solely on building for the future, even if it means moving one of his best players.

There are two main issues with moving Guzman.

1. Firstly, who would the Nationals have to replace Guzman in the short term? Even though the Nationals will not compete, it's still important to have a capable defensive SS for the rest of the season in order to aid the development of the young pitchers.

2. And how would Nats fans react to such a move? It cannot be easy for a fan to watch the last place team trade away one of their best players.

But in my eyes, the pros outweigh the cons. The Nationals need to focus on the future even if it means moving a guy who is hitting .340. Sometimes the best moves are the ones that are tough to swallow in the present, but the Nationals are so far from competing that the present needs to be on the back burner.

So what do you think? Should the Nationals move Guzman?

Morning Photo(s): Carlos Zambrano, The Evolution of a Meltdown

Not a good day for Carlos Zambrano. Even though the Cubbies won the game yesterday, Zambrano was ejected as he argued with home plate umpire Mark Carlson. I believe meltdown is the opperative word here.

Thanks to technology and the good folks at yahoo baseball photos and youtube, we have both the video and still shots to see just how heated and emotional this exchange became. For Zambrano, there is no doubt this incident is embarrasing. But for baseball fans, this clip will undoubtably rank as one of the best meltdowns...even though we did not see Zambrano v. water cooler!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Queen Latifah and the Atlantic League: A Match Made In Heaven?

I dunno about you, but I'm pretty pumped for the Atlantic League All-Star Game festivities. You heard right, festivities.

Before the Atlantic League All-Star Game on June 23rd, the Newark Bears are hosting a celebrity softball game. You read that correctly, celebrity softball.


And guess what? It gets better!

The Newark Bears are proud to host the 2009 Atlantic League All-Star Game at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium June 23. The All-Star Game celebration will begin with a pre-game celebrity softball showdown led by Queen Latifah! Tickets available now through the Bears Box Office by calling 1-888-85-BEARS (1-888-852-3277).
Who knows how they decided on Queen Latifah as the headliner, but either way, the combination of Queen Latifah and softball should be fantastic. The mere fact that the Atlantic League can pull off a celebrity softball game is impressive and frightening at the same time...all those C and D list celebrities in the same place!

Any guesses on who the other celebrities will be? I got my money down on Flavor Flav and Frank Stallone...

Time to Sell High: Juan Pierre?

When Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for violating the substance abuse policy, many thought that the Dodgers offense would take a hit without the imposing slugger. There was seemingly no way that the Dodgers could replace Ramirez's power in the middle of the order or the impact his bat has on the rest of the Dodgers lineup, especially with the light hitting Juan Pierre taking over for Ramirez.

But to the surprise of many, Juan Pierre has been absolutely fantastic for the Dodgers in Ramirez's absence. In 97 ABs in May, Pierre is hitting .381 with 18 runs scored and 14 RBI. Simply put, Juan Pierre has been playing out of his mind and is one of the main reasons why the Dodgers still own a commanding lead in the NL West despite Manny's absence.

With all that said, what I'm about to say next is going to shock some of you:

The Dodgers should look into trading Juan Pierre.

You see, it's a backwards concept. Because Juan Pierre has been so good, now is the best time for the Dodgers to shop Pierre. There are several reasons for this.

1. The Contract
Despite his fantastic performance, Juan Pierre is signed through 2011 and will be owed $18.5 million after this season, a total that makes Dodger fans sick to their stomach. Even if Pierre continues to perform at this level, there will be no place for him to play consistently in the near future with Kemp, Ethier, and Manny (assuming he picks up his player option) roaming the outfield. Juan Pierre is nothing more than an expensive fourth outfielder on the Dodgers.

2. Eat the money!
Entering this season, there was not a team in the league that would have taken back all of Pierre's contract in a trade. The numbers were just too excessive. Make no mistake about it: this is probably still the case right now. If the Dodgers want to move Pierre they will have to eat some salary. But because of Pierre's performance over the past few weeks, the Dodgers likely will not have to eat as much of Pierre's contract.

3. The Future
It's all about financial flexibility, folks. If the Dodgers are able to move Pierre's contract, they will gain both payroll flexibility and roster flexibility. With Jason Schmidt, Randy Wolf, and Orlando Hudson's contracts all coming off the books this winter, the Dodgers would have the ability to do a number of things with these funds:

a. re-sign players (Hudson, Wolf)
b. lock up young players
c. go after big free agent

To me, moving Pierre now would make the Dodgers more competitive in the future. I know it's difficult to trade away such a valuable piece to a contending team right now, but my logic is two fold:

1. Pierre's value will never be higher
2. Once Ramirez returns, Pierre's impact will be significantly mitigated

Admittedly, I doubt that the Dodgers will be able to move Pierre, but it'd be fascinating if Ned Colletti did decide to move Pierre.

(Note: Pierre has a limited no trade, which complicates things. But I bet if Pierre got the opportunity to start on a somewhat competitive team (Reds?), he would jump at the chance. Pierre does not want to be a fourth outfielder, which is his role with the Dodgers in the future.)

Eventually, Pierre will come back down to Earth. He is not this good of a player. Eventually, Manny Ramirez will return to the Dodgers and play everyday, which will force Pierre back to the bench. Once that happens, Pierre's value will be shot. A golden opportunity to try to move a seemingly immovable contract would have been wasted.

What's your thoughts on Pierre's contract? Can the Dodgers even move Pierre?

Matt Wieters: Good Timing

On the same day where the Orioles had their smallest crowd EVER at Camden Yards, GM Andy McPhail announced that the Orioles were finally calling up top prospect Matt Wieters. Wieters will play his first game on Friday at Camden Yards.

Rejoice, Orioles fans. A reason to be excited about the last place Orioles!

As the Orioles continue to build for the future, there is no doubt that Wieters will play a major role in that. If Wieters is as good as advertised, the O's could be very, very good by 2011 or 2012. Between Wieters, Markakis, Adam Jones, and Brian Roberts; the Orioles are quietly building a solid core for the future. There is plenty of reason for Orioles fans to be excited and get out to the ballpark (even on a crappy night!).

Now comes the tough part for Andy McPhail...GET SOME PITCHING!

Morning Photo: Run Max, Run!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Finally! A Baseball Game For the Klumps

I never thought I would see the day where gluttonywas used as a promotional term. However, this past Tuesday, the Reading Phillies sponsored "Gluttony Night."

You may be asking yourself, what is "Gluttony Night?" Luckily for you, has all the details:
Before getting into the gory details of the evening, let's review the guidelines
-- for $12, fans received admission to the ballpark and a wristband entitling
them to unlimited concessions from the time the gates opened at 5:30 p.m.
through the seventh-inning stretch. This translated to nearly four hours of
unlimited hot dogs, french fries, pizza, funnel cake, ice cream and soda. The
only caveat was that fans could get just one item at a time. This guarded
against those with eyes bigger than their stomachs.
And we all love baseball statisics, but get a glimpse of these impressive concession statistics from Gluttony Night.

This commitment to overindulgence helps account for some of the following
statistics. The ballpark's 2,576 gluttons consumed 2,857 orders of fries, 1,432
funnel cakes, 1,394 slices of pizza and a stadium-record 4,549 hot dogs
(breaking the previous mark of 4,275, set on Father's Day 2008).
Eat your hearts out, Cecil Fielder and Chili Davis.

Morning Photo II: Darth Vader Does Not Throw Like A Girl

Apparently, the Rangers thought it was a good idea to comemorate Memorial Day by having Darth Vader throw out the first pitch. Nice touch, guys.

Bonus points to the Rangers for having a Storm Trooper looking on as Lord Vader threw out the first pitch. Very legit. I wonder if they played baseball on the Death Star?

"Hoooooooooo Birrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr"

The funniest part about this photo is that this scenario looks less ridiculous then Mr. T throwing out the first pitch at the Cubs game. Not even Darth Vader can top Mr. T.

(h/t: Fack Youk)

(photo: NY TIMES)

Morning Photo: Mr. T. Looking Patriotic And Ridiculous At Cubs Game

This picture is too good for words. Might I add that the American Flag pants and bandanna are very much in style these days.

If anyone has a copy of Mr. T singing the 7th inning stretch at yesterday's game, please email it to: Harry Carey would be very proud.

Mr. T needs to work on his throwing technique. Everything about this picture is awkward and the same time. All that's missing are the chains and the mohawk.

Oh yeah...I PITY THE FOOL!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Random Video of the Week: Big Richie!

"They're sunflower seeds!"

I'm shocked to see that Richie isn't giving it another go in the Independent Leagues right can dream, right?

2009 'Stache All Star: Clay Zavada

Clay Zavada's mustache=ridiculous (ROLLIE FINGERS!)

Some newspaper actually writing a story about his mustache=very ridiculous
(screen shot via

Friday, May 22, 2009

Morning Photo: Derek Holland Loves Pretty Princesses

Oh the joys of being a rookie in major league baseball.

Gotta love hazing...the kind that involves pink backpacks anyway.

Should the Brewers Trade For Jake Peavy?

Back in December, I penned this piece on why I thought Jake Peavy and the Milwaukee Brewers were the "perfect fit". At the time, the Padres were looking to move Peavy because John Moores, the Padres owner at the time, was going through a messy divorce and needed to slash payroll. Peavy became the subject of trade rumors all over the baseball world because of his high salary and new contract extension that was set to kick in.

Even though most people focused solely on the Cubs and Braves as suitors for Peavy at the time, I thought the Brewers would have been a great landing spot for Peavy. Here were my reasons why:

1. NL team
2. ace to replace Sabathia and Sheets
3. "affordable" ace
4. quality Brewers prospects

As we all know, the Brewers and Padres never came close to making a trade for Jake Peavy during the offseason, but I absolutely believe that the Brewers should consider making a deal for Peavy in the upcoming months, assuming that GM Kevin Towers is still willing to move him.

The following are my reasons why the Brewers are STILL are great fit for Jake Peavy.

1. NL team
-After rejecting a trade to the White Sox, Towers knows that if he wants to move Peavy, it MUST be to a NL team. The Brewers obviously fit the bill.
(Note: Is Wisconsin "middle of America"?)

2. Ace
-Even without Sabathia and Sheets, the Brewers starting rotation has pitched very well this season. Led by Yovani Gallardo, David Bush, Trevor Hoffman, and Mark DiFelice, the Brewers pitching staff ranks fifth in the NL in ERA at 3.88. But there is no doubt that Peavy would be a substantial upgrade over Jeff Suppan or Manny Parra in the starting rotation and give the Brewers a dominant 1-2 punch with Peavy and Gallardo.

Not too mention that the Brewers bullpen has been very good so far. Unlike last season, the Brewers have a quality closer and a long list of guys, who are pitching very well. A pitcher like Peavy could win lots of games with a quality bullpen pitching behind him.

3. Peavy is no Sabathia (and that's a good thing!)
-Unlike CC Sabathia a year ago, Jake Peavy has a long term contract through 2012, which means that the Brewers would have their ace under contract during the prime of his career (at a very good price!). With Peavy and Gallardo in the fold long term, the Brewers really could be building something special.

4. Prince Fielder Effect
-After 2011, Prince Fielder, the face of the Brewers, will be a free agent and will probably go elsewhere. The window on this team is closing and if they want to win now, adding Peavy will only help their cause.

5. Strength of the NL Central
-There is no doubt that the NL Central is one of the strongest divisions in baseball right now. The Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, and perhaps even the Reds all have a shot at the playoffs this season. Adding Peavy to the roster would give the Brewers a dramatic push forward as the Brewers try to spring board past these three teams.

6. Brewers have lots to offer
-Between Mat Gamel, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, Brett Lawrie, Angel Solome, and more; the Padres should have no problem identifying prospects, who they like. It remains to be seen if the Brewers would include a young player like Manny Parra or Carlos Villanueva in the deal, but the options are there. (Note: how does the loss of Rickie Weeks affect the Brewers ability to make a big trade?)

Of course, there are several flaws in the argument and questions that need to be answered.

Can the Brewers add Peavy's salary? Will Peavy even accept a trade to Milwaukee? Is Milwaukee "middle America" enough for Peavy? Can Jake Peavy get over his love for San Diego? Will the Brewers be able to part with their top prospects after losing Rickie Weeks for the season? Do the Padres even want to trade Peavy anymore?

Many of the same reasons why I thought the Brewers should go after Peavy in December have remained almost identical to now. But the major difference is that the Brewers have played very good ball so far this season and have proved to the rest of the league that they are for real. The goal is no longer to replace Sabathia and Sheets, but instead, to make a major push towards the playoffs in 2009.

When it comes down to it, the opportunity to add a top flight starting pitcher rarely presents itself nowadays. The Brewers need to at least explore the market for Peavy and see if there is any chance of making this a reality.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jake Peavy Says No!

And after all the hoopla, rumors, and hysteria; Jake Peavy is still a San Diego Padre. The White Sox, led by GM Kenny Williams, made a strong push for the Padres ace, but they were unable to convince Peavy to come to Chicago.

No surprise there: it's been well documented that Peavy wants to remain in the National League and is comfortable in San Diego and is hesitant to move.

There is no doubt that Peavy's rejection hurts the White Sox in 2009. Peavy is a legitimate front line starter, who would have been a fine fit in front of John Danks and Gavin Floyd in the starting rotation. Peavy would have elevated the White Sox from an average team to a legitimate contender in the AL Central.

But all that's for naught now. For the time being, the White Sox will need to get by with the starting pitchers they have; no matter how badly they are struggling.

As for the Padres, I am a firm believer that the Padres inability to trade Peavy is severely hurting the franchise. Even though Peavy is one of the Padres best players, the team will struggle to rebuild with Peavy's contract on the books. When Peavy's contract extension kicks in next season, his contract takes up a good chunk (1/4-1/5) of the Padres total payroll. For a struggling team like the Padres, that's far too much for any player.

Keep this in mind: because the Padres play in the spacious PETCO Park, finding quality starting pitching is not nearly as difficult as it is for the rest of the league. There are many pitchers,Peavy included, who benefit greatly by pitching in PETCO. So the idea that Peavy is irreplaceable for the Padres is silly in my mind. If anything, he is probably somewhat overrated because he pitches half his games at PETCO.

And ask yourself, do the Padres have a legitimate chance to compete this season? Probably not. They have played better than expected so far, but their offense simply does not put enough runs on the board for the Padres to compete. Moving Peavy now would have enabled the Padres to jump start the rebuilding process and given management flexibility to improve the team in other areas (OFFENSE, OFFENSE, OFFENSE).

I would love to see the Padres build around Peavy. This guy is a stud and his ability and attitude make him a tremendous asset. But unfortunately for the Padres, the economics of baseball make retaining Jake Peavy detrimental to the future of the franchise.

Cleveland Indians: Don't Panic

The 2009 season has been a disaster for the Indians so far. Outside of Asdrubal Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Cliff Lee; nothing has gone right for the Indians so far this season.

It's not suprising that just 40 games into the season, there are murmurs of a firesale on the horizon. Cliff Lee, Mark DeRosa, and even Victor Martinez have been mentioned as viable trade candidates as the Indians poor play has continued.

While the Indians poor start is certainly disappointing, the thought of a firesale is simply ludacris right now. Everyone wants to break up the Indians right away even though there are plenty of reasons why the Indians should hold steady.

1. It's only 40 games into the season
-We're only 1/4 of the way through the season. There is still plenty of baseball to be played and lots can change over the course of the next 4 months.

2. The Indians are only 9 games out of the division

-As bad as the Indians have played, I can still see them making a run for the division. Sure, lots of things would have to go their way, but right now, there is no domiant team in the division that is going to run away with the AL Central crown. One good hot streak will put the Indians right back into the thick of it in the Central.

3. Grady Sizemore, Mark DeRosa, Fausto Carmona, Kerry Wood, Rafael Perez, and Jhonny Peralta are not this bad.

-It's quite the contrary actually. All of these guys are VERY good players, who have struggled badly so far in 2009. Is this simply a collectively bad start or are all these guys having bad seasons? Indians management needs more time to evaluate this.

4. For the love of God, it can't get any worse. Right?

-This is what I want to think. Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong so far. There is no where to go, but up for the Indians at this point...right?

Can the Indians still make the playoffs? I'll admit, it's not looking too good.
But it's still too early for the Indians to wave the white flag and throw away the season. A baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Just remember that, Indians management, the next time Kerry Wood mercifully blows a save...I'm sure these words will be very comforting.

Morning Photo: Shockingly, the Marlins Stadium Is Empty

Not. (Ironic title, I know)

From the looks of this picture, about 50 fans decided to show up for the Marlins-Diamondbacks doubleheader yesterday. That's about 20 more than I expected.
In all seriousness, let's hope and pray that the fans flock to the new Marlins stadium because pictures like this have become far too common in Florida.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jeff Pearlman: The Bad Guys Won!

I am currently in the middle of reading a Jeff Pearlman's fantastic look into the 1986 Mets called The Bad Guys Won. The book goes into great detail into the wild times and charismatic characters on the 86 Mets, a group that eventually wound up winning the World Series. In the words of Pearlman, "they played hard, and partied harder."

Obviously, partying is not exactly the ideal recipe for success in baseball. But the '86 Mets were so talented that they were able to play well in spite of their wild ways and run through most of the competition.

On top of it all, the '86 Mets team loved baseball. Need proof? Just look at what some of the members of the '86 team are up to now:

Randy Niemann: Mets bullpen coach

Bob Ojeda: SNY Mets pregame analyst

Ron Darling: SNY Mets TV announcer

Keith Hernandez: SNY Mets TV announcer

Darryl Strawberry: SNY Mets TV analyst

Gary Carter: Long Island Ducks manager

Wally Backman: Joliet Jackhammers manager

Howard Johnson: Mets batting coach

Ray Knight: MASN Nationals TV analyst

Tim Teufel: St Lucie Mets manager

Danny Heep: University of Incarnate Ward manager

Roger McDowell: Atlanta Braves pitching coach

Rick Anderson: Minnesota Twins pitching coach

Lenny Dykstra: nutjob.

As you can see, a large portion of the roster is directly involved in baseball in some capacity and a number of guys (Gooden, Mazzilli and Santana), were involved in baseball in previous seasons.

I highly recommend this book for all Mets fans and baseball fans simply because it's a fun, witty, and insightful read. And plus, there is plenty of George Foster to go around...for now!

Jerry Manuel Is A Violent Fellow

Last season, Mets manager Jerry Manuel jokingly threatened to pull a knife on Jose Reyes in the media because Reyes showed up Manuel during a game.

“I told him the next time he does that, I’m going to get my blade out and
cut him, right on the field. Hey, I’m a gangsta now. You go
gangsta on me, I’m gonna have to get you now.”

And now, after Mets OF Ryan Church faied to touch third base during last night's game, Manuel again pulled out the imaginary joke threat. This time though, Manuel decided to take care of business without a weapon.

"You're doggone right I was mad at him," Manuel said, smiling. "If he was my
son, I would have strangled him."
So there you have it. Mets players: don't make Jerry Manuel mad, or else!

Morning Photo: Coco Crisp Looks Strangely Like A Turtle

Is it me or did Coco Crisp's head get smaller during this dive?

Gotta love wind.

(photo: AP)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Will the Real Russell Branyan Please Stand Up?

When the Mariners signed Russell Branyan in Decemeber, the initial plan was to give Branyan a substantial amount of playing time at first base. Everyone knew that Branyan could hit for power, but he was never able to hit for enough average to justify playing everyday. And at 33 years old, there were very few people in the baseball world, who actually believed that Branyan could be a successful major league regular. After 10 years in the majors, Branyan failed to prove the critics wrong and seemed to be a pinch hitter at best.

There was very little reason to think that the Mariners were going to get an extraordinary performance from Branyan.

But baseball is a funny game sometimes. Branyan got an opportunity to play from the Mariners and has been fantastic at the dish, leading the Mariners with 10 home runs. Branyan has been able to cut down on his strike outs while getting on base at a respectable .369 clip. Even more impressive is that Branyan is hitting .282 against left handed pitching, albeit in just 39 at bats.

Branyan's improvement is obvious and impressive, but can he keep it up?

Conventional wisdom says that Branyan should not be able to keep up this pace. He has never performed this well in his entire career and at 33, Branyan is no spring chicken. Perhaps Branyan was simply playing over his head for the first six weeks...

Or maybe, just maybe, this is the Russell Branyan scouts have been drooling over for years. Branyan strengthened his eyes over the offseason with the help of a computer program, a change that has dramatically altered how Branyan sees the ball. If this program truly helps Branyan, then maybe, just maybe, 2009 will officially be the year Branyan puts it all together.

Mario Lopez: Throw It From the Mound!

At last night's Mets v. Dodgers game, Mario Lopez threw out the first pitch.

Turns out AC Slater wasn't much of a baseball player. Unwritten rule for any male celebrity, who is throwing out the first pitch and is trying to look athletic and knowledgeable about baseball: throw it from the mound.

On a side note, how 90s is the "jersey tucked into jeans look?" AC SLATER!

(photo: AP)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hey Look! The Rangers Can Pitch!

I was wrong. Dead wrong, actually. Thirty seven games into the season, the Texas Rangers pitching staff has been, dare I say it, quite good. The pitching staff has a collective 4.54 ERA, which is good enough for sixth in the American League and a vast improvement from 2008, when the pitching staff finished with a 5.38 ERA.

So what changed from 2008 to 2009?

For starters, the quick answer is Mike Maddux. For years Maddux has been one of the top pitching coaches in baseball, routinely resurrecting the careers of struggling pitchers in the Brewers organization. But few, including myself, actually thought that Maddux could work his magic with the Rangers pitchers, who have been notoriously bad over the years. But so far, the results have been very good for Maddux.

Just take a look at some of Maddux's success so far:

-Kevin Millwood is actually pitching like a top of the rotation stud that the Rangers paid him to be instead of an overpaid and underachieving scrub.

-Former chair thrower Frank Francisco has turned his career around and is a pretty damn good closer, currently sporting a 0 ERA.

-Matt Harrison is looking like a quality starting pitcher, who the Rangers can build around instead of a fringe pitcher, who gave up too many hits and could not strike out hitters.
(Let's give credit where credit is due here: Teagarden)

-CJ Wilson is a useful relief pitcher again.

-Jason Jennings has regained his old form, albeit out of the bullpen.

-And wow, Scott Feldman might actually be a pretty good pitcher.

Considering that we're not even two months into the season, these have to be very encouraging signs for Rangers fans. When you take into account just how good their offense is, if the Rangers can somehow get decent starting pitching like this for an extended period of time, they might be able to make things interesting out West. Because in reality, if the Rangers staff holds teams to 4.5 runs per game, this team will win lots of games.

For now, we'll see how long the Rangers pitchers can keep up this kind of performance and which pitcher Mike Maddux is able to wave his magic wand onto next.

Seriously, What The Hell Happened to Odalis Perez?

By now, we all know what happened with Odalis Perez this offseason with the Nationals (if you need a refresher, click here), but what I cannot figure out is what happened to Odalis Perez. Here is a guy who went 7-12 with a 4.34 ERA with the last place Washington Nationals last season, numbers that should have him pitching in the majors this season.

But for some reason, no one has taken a chance on Perez.

Well actually, that's not 100% true. As I mentioned before, the Nationals did sign Perez to a minor league contract in February, but Perez refused to report to camp because he thought that he could do better on the open market. It was reported in November that Perez had offers on the table from the Yankees, White Sox, and Nationals.

Are teams trying to make a statement against Perez that going against contracts (including minor league deals) is not acceptable and therefore, no one has seriously looked to sign him? Doubtful, but cannot be ruled out.

Did Perez's antics with the Nationals scare off potential suitors? Perhaps.

Or maybe, teams are wary of giving Perez a major league contract even though his performance last season was certainly worthy of at least an offer. Likely.

I dunno what's going on, but since the WBC began, I have not heard anything on the Perez front. Shouldn't the Indians, White Sox, or Astros at least take a look at Perez? All I know is that if Livan Hernandez, Sidney Ponson, Russ Ortiz, Adam Eaton, and Mike Hampton can find work, then there is no reason why Odalis Perez should not at least get the opportunity to strut his stuff with another team, even if he is nothing more than a fourth starter.

And who knows, maybe in a month or two Perez will have a job and make an impact for a team down the stretch. But for now, the lack of information or even whispers is strange, don't cha' think?

Morning Photo: Johnny Damon+Walkoff Homerun=Pie In The Face

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hall of Fame Shots #4: Walter Johnson Jersey

Not too sure about you, but Cy Young's jersey was much, much better than Johnson's. This jersey is far too bland for my taste.

Hall of Fame Shots #3: Luis Aparacio Blue White Sox Jersey!

Hands down, my favorite jersey of all time. I have no idea how the concept of a blue White Sox jersey came to be, but it's fantastic and strange at the same time.

Anymore information on the bue White Sox jersey would be great.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Time to Panic?

(The season is still young, but there are a few teams who have underperformed and played below expectations. Is it time to worry? Or is this just a bad stretch? That's up for debate.)

Record: (13-22) Last place in the NL West

What's Wrong?
-team batting average is horribly low
-hitters can't get on base
-no Brandon Webb


-Last in NL in team batting average (.232)
-Last in NL in team OBP (.307)
-15th in NL in runs (129)

-Chris Young: (.185, 2 HR, 8 RBI)
-Conor Jackson: (.182, 1 HR, 14 RBI)
-Eric Byrnes: (.200, 4 HR, 12 RBI)

-Bottom Line: Three words for ya. Team. Wide. Slump. Outside of Felipe Lopez and Justin Upton, the D-Backs have been about as bad as it gets. Some of the young players (Young, Jackson, Drew, Snyder) that were supposed to be the foundation for years to come have instead started off terribly this season. However, this should not be too much of surprise considering that the Diamondbacks offense finished 15 in the NL in hits last season, 15th in the NL in strikeouts, and 14th in the NL in batting average. Obviously, the young players have not improved at the rate that Diamondbacks management hoped they would.


-11th in NL in ERA (4.60)
-14th in NL in runs allowed (160)
-3rd in home runs allowed (39)

-Jon Garland: (3-2, 5.18 ERA)
-Jon Rauch: (7.07 ERA in 17 games)
-Brandon Webb: Only 1 start

Bottom Line: Pitching is not the issue here. Even though some guys have struggled, the pitching has actually been alright this season. But the pitching would have to be miraculous/amazing/spectacular/out of this world in order to off set the offensive struggles. Also, the loss of Brandon Webb has deprived the Diamondbacks of their ace and the team has struggled to fill his void in the rotation.

Time to Panic?

For the Diamondbacks, the results so far this season are especially concerning. The players that management believed would form the core of the franchise for the next decade are struggling badly. The Diamondbacks' struggles are not just about 2009, they have future implications attached to them.

Is Chris Young the center fielder of the future?
Can Conor Jackson hit for enough power?
What to do with Eric Byrnes?
Is Stephen Drew regressing? Or was he just hurt?

I don't doubt that the Diamondbacks can turn it around, but there are a number of things that need to turn around in a hurry. If I'm a Diamondbacks fan, I'd be more concerned about the 2010 and beyond instead of 2009.

Morning Photo: Chris Davis And The Rangers Are Flying High

Yet another dramatic victory for the first place Texas Rangers. I repeat-first place Texas Rangers.

How great does that sound!

But here's the real question: can the Rangers remain competitive for the entire season?

I say no, but I'd love to see the Rangers surprise me.

(photo: AP)

Koji Uehara: The Best Free Agent Signing?

When people discuss the best 2008 free agent signing, the name Koji Uehara is usually never mentioned in the conversation. And why should he be? Uehara is playing on one of the worst teams in the American League and is a relative unknown considering that this is his first season in the MLB.

But instead of focusing solely on the Dodgers signing Orlando Hudson, Adam Dunn signing with the Nationals, or Bobby Abreu signing with the Angels; we need to consider just how good of a signing Uehara has been thus far for the Orioles.

The Orioles signed Uehara to a 2 year/$10 million dollar contract, hoping that he would be able to give the Orioles some quality innings. Outside of Jeremy Guthrie, the Orioles starting rotation was an absolute mess entering the season and Uehara was instantly penciled in as the Orioles #2 starter.

And so far this season, Uehara has been both consistent and very good for the Orioles. In 6 of his 7 starts this season, Uehara has given up 3 runs or less and has a very impressive WHIP of 1.13.

Also, Uehara's control has been absolutely fantastic so far this season. Take a look at some of these tidbits:

-only walked 7 hitters this season
-in 3 starts, Uehara has walked 0 batters
-in 3 starts this season, Uehara has only walked 1 batter

Those are some masterful control numbers, especially for a "rookie." Anyone who has watched Uehara pitch this season knows just how good his control is and how much fun he is to watch.

Furthermore, Uehara's ERA stands at 4.01, which would be much lower if not for a poor second start against the Rangers where Uehara surrendered 7 ER in 5 IP. Keep in mind that Uehara has already faced the Yankees twice, the Rangers twice, the Rays, and the Red Sox. Those are some of the best offenses in baseball and for the most part, Uehara has held his own and gone above and beyond.

It's far too early for anyone to be declared as the best free agent signing. But at the same time, Uehara's name belongs in the conversation, or at least a mention. Uehara has been the Orioles best pitcher so far and if he keeps up this level of performance, he probably will become the Orioles ace. While that might not be saying much considering how poor their starting rotation is, the fact that the Orioles were able to sign a quality starting pitcher and a very cheap rate should earn GM Andy McPhail a world of praise.

For $10 million bucks, McPhail might have found the Orioles a front end starter, a future building block, and a guy who can give the Orioles plenty of quality innings. For that price, I'm sure Mets GM Omar Minaya, Indians GM Mark Shapiro, White Sox GM Kenny Williams, and many others and kicking themselves for not going after Uehara this offseason.

I expect big things from Uehara in the upcoming months considering how good he has been against some of the best offenses in baseball. Even though the Orioles have no chance at making the playoffs, Uehara's name needs to be in the discussion as the best free agent signing...until he proves otherwise.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cooperstown Shots #2: Tom Seaver or Barry Zito?

I swear to God, I saw this portrait and noted, "why did someone paint Barry Zito with a glove on his left hand?"

Yeah, that's Tom Seaver.

Is there a resemblance at least?

Cooperstown Shots #1: Cy Young Jersey

Joe Mauer Power

Coming into the season, Joe Mauer was thought of as one of the best catchers in baseball. Mauer has a variety of skills, which include hitting for average, getting on base, playing great defense behind the plate, and call a fantastic game. His skill set is obviously impressive and well rounded.

But the only knock on Mauer to date has been his lack of home run power. Mauer has never hit more than 13 home runs in a season, and from 2004-2008, Mauer averaged almost 9 home runs per season. Those numbers do not reflect the kind of pop that baseball personnel believed Mauer would have at the big league level.

However, so far in 2009, Mauer's power has been on display. Through 41 at bats this season, Mauer already has 4 home runs (and 3 doubles), which is impressive considering that Mauer only hit 9 home runs in 536 ABs last season. Perhaps Mauer's power is finally starting to shine through.

It remains to be seen if Mauer can keep this pace up, but these have to be encouraging signs for Twins fans. If Mauer can increase his power output in 2009, he will firmly cement himself as the best catcher in baseball.

Lineup Chaos: New York Mets

Here is the Mets lineup from yesterday's game against the Braves:

When I saw the Mets lineup from yesterday's game, a few things surprised me. I knew the lineup would be different without Carlos Delgado, but Mets Manager Jerry Manuel made a few interesting decisions.

DECISION #1: Ryan Church batting 8th
There is no denying it: Ryan Church has been awful in May. He is hitting only .154 this month with no extra base hits and only 1 walk. But on the other hand, Church is a very good offensive player when he is on, far superior to Ramon Castro, who hit above him yesterday. True, Castro has been very good of late, but I never expected to see him hitting above Church.

I can think of a few justifications for this move:

1. play the hot hand
-Castro is obviously playing better than Church right now so he should be hitting higher in the order

2. lack of confidence in Church
-Instead of giving Church ample opportunities to right himself, Manuel has relegated him to the bottom of the order. Considering that Church is currently platooning with Gary Sheffield, it does not look like the Mets are as high on Church as I initially thought.

3. speed
-Ramon Castro is one of the slowest players in baseball and having him bat eitgth is counter productive. Castro cannot score on a single to the outfield from second base, which in effect, takes away the effectiveness of the sacrifice bunt from the pitcher.

DECISION #2: Gary Sheffield batting fourth
Manuel obviously has lots of confidence in Sheffield, but entering yesterday's game, Sheffield was only hitting .178 with 1 home run. There is litte justification for hitting Sheffield above David Wright, who has struck out far too many times this season and does not look 100% comfortable at the plate. Simply put, Wright is a MUCH better hitter than Sheffield right now even when he's struggling.

These are the only justifications I can think of:

1. Manuel has tons of confidence in Sheffield

2. Manuel wants to limit pressure on Wright until he comes out of his funk

3. Manuel wants to see what Sheffield can do in the middle of the order

Sheffield actually played very well yesterday by going 2-6 with a home run. So who knows, maybe Jerry Manue knows something I don't.

Morning Photo: Yankee Cow Says Hi

I dunno about you, but this Cow is pretty hip if you ask me.

Where did I find this fantastic work of art?

At the Baseball Hall of Fame, of course!

For the first time in my life, I visited the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown and needless to say, I loved it. The Hall is absolutely beautiful and every baseball fan needs to visit.

Some pictures from my Hall of Fame trip should be up later today. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

2009 Golden League All Stars

After examining some of the ex-MLBers in the Atlantic League, I was feeling rather unfulfilled. Even though the list was extensive, I knew that I had not yet covered the full spectrum of the Independent Leagues. The Atlantic League generally maintains a strong monopoly on ex-MLB players, but there are plenty of gems still muddling around the various professional baseball leagues.

-Check out the Atlantic League all
-Check out the Northern League all stars...
-Check out the American Association all

The fourth independent league that I will be covering will be the Golden League. Based in California, the Golden League is best known for being home to Rickey Henderson and Jose Canseco in 2005 and 2006, respectively Interestingly enough, the Golden League was all set to expand into Mexico this season before the Swine Flu outbreak canceled those plans. The Golden League offers an impressive list of managers, most of whom were major league players (as you will see below).


So without further ado, Jorge Says No! proudly presents:

Oh my God! He's Still Around!

2009 Golden League All Stars

Jose Lima, SP, Long Beach Armada:

What a strange, but entertaining dude. Hard to believe that at one time, Lima was one of the premier pitchers in baseball. By 2002, Lima was released by the 106 loss Tigers and then came up with this gem of a quote:

"If I can't pitch on this team--the worst or second-worst team in baseball--where am I going to pitch?"

Lima Time alone is well worth the price of admission.

Hideki Irabu, SP, Long Beach Armada: A rotation of Jose Lima and Hideki Irabu in 2009? This must be heaven!

Nope. Just the Golden League.

Even though Irabu did set the precedent for the Japanese posting system, won two world championships with the Yankees, and set a new standard for "hyped up Japanese players entering the majors"; we all remember Irabu for one thing.

Fat. Pussy. Toad.

Yes, with these three words uttered by Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, Irabu became both a legend and a joke. The funniest thing about the "fat toad" incident is that Steinbrenner lashed out at Irabu for not covering first base during a PRESEASON GAME.

During his prime, Steinbrenner was in mid season form at all times. Poor Hideki.

Mac Suzuki, SP, Calgary Vipers: Some interesting notes on Suzuki:

1. He was the first Japanese player to play in the American League
2. He was the third Japanese player ever to play in the MLB
3. He was the first Japanese player to play in the majors without playing in the Japanese League first. (he played in Japan after his MLB career ended)
4. His career line is fascinating: a 5.72 ERA in the MLB; a 7.53 ERA in Japan. Weird.

Alexis Gomez, OF, St. George Roadrunners: At one time, Gomez was one of the Royals top prospects before he flamed out in AAA in 2004. Even though Gomez would never become a starting player in the majors, he did have his moment in the sun. In 2006, Gomez somehow managed to make the Tigers ALCS roster and in a curious decision, Manager Jim Leyland decided to start Gomez in game 2 of the ALCS. Gomez responded by hitting a two run home run and driving in four, which helped lead the Tigers to victory (not to mention this nifty write up in the New York Times)

Gomez actually got 3 at bats for the Tigers in World Series, but has been out of the major leagues ever since. But unlike most of these guys, Gomez got his shining moment in the majors in a big spot and no one can take that away from him.

Damian Jackson, SS, Orange County Flyers: WATCH OUT FOR JOHNNY DAMON!!!


Jackson actually had a pretty good career in the big leagues as a utility player, but there is no doubt that this play is ultimately what he is remembered for.

Robert Fick, 1B, Orange County Flyers: The most amazing, and underreported aspect of baseball that I find fascinating is how quickly careers go downhill. Fick is a great example. He was an all-star in 2002 with the Tigers (TERRIBLE TEAM though), but by 2004, he was nothing more than a struggling platoon player, who could not hit above the Mendoza line (.199 for the season). Perhaps it was the infamous slap of Eric Karros that caused teams to sour on Fick and his antics.

And by the way, some guy actually wrote a song about Robert Fick. I kid you not.

Jason Jacome, P, Tuscon Toros: Talk about playing for the love of the game. Jacome last full season in the majors came all the way back in 1997, when he went 2-0 with a 5.84 ERA for the Royals and Indians. So why does Jacome want to pitch for Toros?

"I am not out here to try to get back to the big leagues," Jacome, 38, said. "I am here to pitch a little and help the team win, and help some of the younger guys learn some things from me. If I get the opportunity to go somewhere else, I will take it.''
Hey, if you could play baseball for a living, wouldn't you?

Garry Tempelton, MANAGER, Long Beach Armada: Templeton was the man who the Cardinals dealt to the Padres for a light hitting shortstop named Ozzie Smith. Even though Templeton never made it to the hall of fame like Smith, he had a very good career in his own right by producing over 2,000 hits and making 3 all star teams.

Phil Nevin, MANAGER, Orange County Flyers: In his heyday, Phil Nevin was a great player and an absolute joy to watch. Nevin could absolutely crush the ball and when Nevin hit homeruns, the ball seemed to go into another stratosphere. Nevin was stuck on some pretty bad Padres teams, but he was one of the principle reasons why those teams remained entertaining in my mind.

Tim Johnson, MANAGER, Tuscon Toros: Yes, this is the same Tim Johnson, who garnered headlines in 1999 for falsifying stories to his players and coaches on the Blue Jays about his "experiences" in Vietnam. Even though Johnson lead the Jays to a third place finish in 1998, he was ultimately fired in March of 1999 because his lies became such a distraction.

Darrell Evans, MANAGER, Victoria Seals: According to Bill James, Darrell Evans is the most underrated player in baseball history. This piece is a must read for all baseball fans.

Cory Snyder, MANAGER, St. George Roadrunners: Snyder's bio straight from the Roadrunners' website:

Cory Snyder played for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1986 to 1994. Snyder's best season came in 1987 with the Indians when he hit 33 home runs, and had 82 Runs Batted In. He was well known for his powerful throwing arm, home run power, and a high tendency to strike out. Snyder's overall career numbers were hurt due to injuries.
Is it me, or is the last part awkward and unnecessary?

Should the Indians Fire Eric Wedge?

At 12-21, the Indians are one of the biggest disappointments in baseball so far. As we highlighted yesterday, there are plenty of reasons why the Indians should be concerned about their slow start. Obviously, there are going to be many that call for Manager Eric Wedge's job until the Indians turn it around.

But for now, Wedge is not concerned about his job status.

CLEVELAND -- Rather than spend time worrying about his job status, Cleveland Indians
manager Eric Wedge is thinking about tinkering with the lineup.

The Indians went into Monday night's game against the Chicago White Sox at
11-21, the worst record in the majors.

"It is my fault," Wedge said. "I'm not playing, but I take full
responsibility when things are not going well. And we are a better team than we
have shown.

"My situation is not something I spend time on. My entire energy is on
getting guys back on track," he said.

But the question remains, should the Indians fire Eric Wedge?

My answer, for now, is no.

The Indians were expected to be one of the better teams in the AL Central this season, but that has not happened so far. On the surface, that would seem to be a good enough reason for Indians management to pull the plug on Wedge.

But here is why I think the answer is no. If you look up and down the Indians roster, you will see tons of guys having down seasons and underperforming, especially on the pitching side. People can blame the manager all they want for the Indians struggles, but management must be aware that the pieces they supplied the manager have been pretty bad so far. Could another manager have done a better job than Wedge 33 games into the season. I don't think so. With that in mind, management should give Wedge every opportunity to succeed with this team.

On the other hand, I'm sure some will call for Wedge's head in order to "motivate" the team and "salvage" the season. We have seen a "motivational managerial switch" work before, the 2003 Marlins come to mind, but the fact remains: when you stink, you stink. I don't care who the manager is, there is only so much a manager can do when a team is struggling.

However, the reality is that if the Indians lose 5-6 in a row, Wedge will likely lose his job.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Russ Ortiz Experiment Refuses to End

The last time Russ Ortiz had a good season in the major leagues was all the way back in 2004 with the Braves. So it should not come as much of a surprise that only 4 starts into the 2009 Russ Ortiz experience in Houston, the Astros have moved Ortiz out of the rotation and into the bullpen. So far this season, Ortiz has a 5.82 ERA as a starter with a horrid 1.882 WHIP. Even with the Astros limited pitching depth, this move was obvious.

With that said, Russ Ortiz is not happy about the move.

“He’s not totally happy, but that’s to be expected from a veteran guy,” Cooper said. “He’s going to go do some things in the pen and try and earn a spot back.”

First of all, Ortiz should be thrilled just to have a job right now; he has performed very poorly so far and is a shell of his former self on the mound.

It comes down to this: can Ortiz actually win a spot back? No.

Here's why: This season, Ortiz has struggled massively the first time through the order as hitters in the first inning are hitting .471 against him. Furthermore, during innings 1-3, hitters are still teeing off against Ortiz to the tune of a cool .333 BAA. It's not until the second time through the order until Ortiz settles down.

The likelihood of Russ Ortiz finding success in the bullpen pitching only an inning or two is very unlikely given his performance so far this season. Can Ortiz develop into a successful long relief pitcher? That remains to be seen.

But make no mistake about it, there is no upside to having Ortiz on the roster right now for the Astros and if they had any pitching depth at all, I'm sure Ortiz would have been given the boot by now. Under no circumstances should Ortiz start another game for the Astros this season.

Morning Photo: Rock On, Yankees

Are those wanna be rock stars, or Yankees?

Lemme just say this: the Evil Empire is a little less evil with Nick Swisher aboard. He represents everything baseball should be about: having fun.

Cleveland Indians: Time to Panic?

(The season is still young, but there are a few teams who have underperformed and played below expectations. Is it time to worry? Or is this just a bad stretch? That's up for debate.)

Record: (11-21)
Last place in the AL Central; Worst record in baseball

What's Wrong?:
Where do we begin with this team?
-Can't pitch
-No relief pitching
-Key hitters struggling


-9th in AL in batting average
-2nd in AL in strikeouts
-.238 batting average with RISP

-Grady Sizemore:
(.227, 6 HR, 23 RBI)
-Mark DeRosa:
(.238, 6 HR, 21 RBI)
-Jhonny Peralta:
(.229, 1 HR, 10 RBI)
-Travis Hafner:
DL already!

-Bottom Line:
The Indians offense is simply not getting the job done as the big guns (Sizemore, DeRosa, Peralta, etc.) have struggled to produce thus far. Outside of Victor Martinez and Asdrubal Cabrera, the lineup has dramatically underperformed. Everything that could go wrong, just about has gone wrong. In their defense, there has been a great deal of pressure for the offense to produce with the pitching staff struggling to mightily.


-Last in AL in ERA (5.83 ERA)
-Last in AL in Walks allowed (128)
-Last in AL in earned runs allowed (182)
-13th in AL in hits allowed (321)

-Fausto Carmona:
(1-4, 5.57 ERA)
-Carl Pavano:
(2-3, 6.61 ERA)
-Anthony Reyes: (1-1, 7.20 ERA)
-Rafael Perez:
(0-1, 15.19 ERA)
-Masa Kobayashi: (0-0, 8.38 ERA)

Bottom Line:
This pitching staff sucks. Outside of Cliff Lee, this group has been absolutely terrible. The starting pitching has been downright disgraceful as Fausto Carmona has struggled to find the plate, Anthony Reyes has not looked like a competent major league pitcher, and Carl Pavano is Carl Pavano.

As for the bullpen, there is not one guy out there, who is having a good season. From Rafael Betancourt to Rafael Perez to Kerry Wood, this group has been horrible and inconsistent. The guys, who Indians management thought they could count on this season have underperformed.

Time to Panic?

The first 32 games have gone about as poorly as they possibly could have for the Indians. It remains to be seen if the Indians have hit rock bottom yet. You have to wonder just how long guys like Sizemore, DeRosa, and Carmona can underperform for. Is this just a bad couple of weeks? Or are the Indians simply a bad baseball team built around players, who they had higher expectations for?

For Indians fans, I do believe that it's time to worry about this team. I understand it's early and that there is so much baseball to be played, but it's alarming to see so many crucial players playing so badly. We all look for bright spots and signs of hope in every bad situation, but the only comfort I can give to Indians fans is this:

It can't get any worse, right?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Morning Photo: Better Get Used To This, Alex Rodriguez

Now those are some conveniently placed syringes...right behind the Yankee dugout!

I'm sure this showing is nothing compared to what A-Rod will face in Boston from the fans...I'm guessing large dudes in Madonna masks carrying large syringes and pink lips....any other suggestions...?

And to all the mothers out there, have a fantastic mother's day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Can the Rangers Play Andruw Jones Regularly?

One of the most under reported stories so far this season is the rapid improvement of Andruw Jones. Sure, Jones has only played part time. But in 47 at bats, Jones is hitting .340 with 3 home runs, 8 RBI, and a .500 on base percentage! Not to mention that Jones has walked 14 times already and is mashing both lefties and righties! While the sample size is very, very small; those numbers are mighty impressive and show how far Jones has come.

In 2008, Jones hit an anemic .158 and seemed to be on rapid decline. But 29 games into the season, Jones is showing that he still has something left and that the vast potential and talent he displayed is still present.

A potential problem lies ahead for Jones and the Rangers. Having too much depth is never a bad thing, but at what point will the Rangers decide to play Jones more? If he keeps up this pace or something similar, it will be tough to justify having Jones as a part time player.

However, is there any playing time out there for Jones? Sure he is a great option against left handed pitching as a DH, but it's going to be very hard for Ron Washington to guarantee any additional playing time for Jones given the Rangers outfield depth.

-David Murphy
-Marlon Byrd

-Josh Hamilton (coming off DL)

-Nelson Cruz
-Marlon Byrd

As you can see, there is just no room for Jones to get any playing time unless a injury occurs or if somebody struggles massively. David Murphy is not exactly tearing the cover off the ball, but I doubt the Rangers would give up on him in favor of Jones.

And that's a shame because I would love to see what Jones can do if he's given the full opportunity. For the Rangers sake, hopefully Andruw can keep this up for a number of reasons:

1. depth
2. production
3. trade bait

If the Rangers can somehow parlay Jones into some young pitching, I'm sure Jon Daniels would jump at the opportunity.

2009 Atlantic League All Stars (UPDATED!)

(UPDATE #5: Mack.Wack. Mackowiak. Yes indeed, Rob Mackowiak is a Newark Bear. Rejoice, Pirates fans)

(UPDATE #4: Shawn Chacon is in the building. The Newark Bears are building a very, very entertaining (and emotional!) team. h/t

(UPDATE #3: Ryan Drese, you might have a suitor. ALREADY! h/t

(UPDATE #2: Two words: ARMANDO BENITEZ. More on this after Felix Rodriguez at the bottom.)

(UPDATE: I am proud to report that the Independent League rosters are filled with recognizable names and hilarious spare parts. The updated list begins after Brian Lawrence and features an array of names from past MLB seasons. If this list doesn't get you fired up for Independent League baseball, then nothing will)

The first week of major league baseball is all about hope. There is hope that your team will perform fabulously this season. There is hope that your favorite player will put up big numbers this season. There is hope that the struggling prospect will finally put it all together and become a useful major league baseball player. And finally, there is hope that a player who no one has any idea actually exists will work his way through the system, up the depth charts, and into the minds of baseball fans all over the country.

Why yes, in April, hope does spring eternal.

But how about for those players, who are just searching for a way back into the major leagues? Where's the hope for them? The Atlantic League, of course. Every season, former major league players, former minor league players, and countless others play ball in the Atlantic League, hoping for one last chance to play in the majors. The hope is if you play well enough, a major league team will come calling and just like that, opportunity knocks.

With two weeks to go before the Atlantic League gets underway, rosters are still in the process of being finalized. But luckily for us, some big names have already signed on with Atlantic League clubs!

Back in 2008, we examined the Atlantic League and several of the more well known players still playing. As we look forward to 2009, it's interesting to note how many of those guys are still around in the Atlantic League.

So without further ado, Jorge Says No! proudly presents:

Oh My God! He's still around!

2009 Stars of the Atlantic League

Preston Wilson, OF, Long Island Ducks: Yes, this is the nephew of Mookie and the guy who was the centerpiece of the Mike Piazza trade in 1998. Wilson was an all star in 2003 and a world champion in 2006, but injuries and prevented Wilson from catching on with another club. In the early 2000s, Preston looked like he was on his way to becoming one of the best outfielders in baseball, but that was not to be.

Carl Everett, DH, Newark Bears: Oh, Carl Everett. Where do we begin?

Over the course of his 14 year career, Everett was a very productive player. He was a two time all star, a world series champion, and he mashed over 200 home runs for his career. That's the good.

And now for the ridiculous and borderline insane character that is Carl Everett: click here.

What a character.

Tony Batista, 3B, Newark Bears:
Need I say more? This guy is a legend.

Ruben Mateo, OF, Newark Bears: At one time, people were sky high on Mateo. Just look at the Baseball America's top 100 prospects list in 2000:

1. Rick Ankiel, lhp, Cardinals
2. Pat Burrell, 1b/of, Phillies
3. Corey Patterson, of, Cubs
4. Vernon Wells, of, Blue Jays
5. Nick Johnson, 1b, Yankees
6. Ruben Mateo, of, Rangers

7. Sean Burroughs, 3b, Padres
8. Rafael Furcal, ss, Braves
9. Ryan Anderson, lhp, Mariners
10. John Patterson, rhp, Diamondbacks

It's a shame that Mateo never made it big in the majors because by all indications, he had all the tools in the world. A horrific broken leg in 2000 seemed to sap Mateo of his enormous gifts and after the injury, he was never the same.

Dan Reichert, P, Bridgeport Bluefish :
At one time, Reichert was one of the Royals best prospects. However, like many other Royals pitching prospects, Reichert flamed out in large part because of his terrible control. In his major league career, Reichert walked 223 and struck out 240....yikes.

Brian Lawrence, P, Camden Riversharks:
Back in 2006, Brain Lawrence seemed to have established himself within baseball circles as a back of the rotation innings eater. He was unspectacular, yet productive, which made him quite an asset for the Padres in the early 2000s. But during spring training with the Nationals in 2006, it was discovered that Lawrence had a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff. Lawrence has not been the same pitcher since. What a shame.
Lew Ford, OF, Long Island Ducks: LEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! Back from a stint playing baseball in Japan, one of the Twins most lovable players is finally back playing ball in the Long Island this time. The fan favorite had a few good seasons with the Twins before bottoming out in 2006 and 2007.

Fun fact: Lew Ford finished 24th in the MVP voting in 2004 by garnering a whopping two votes.

Amusing, eh?

Brad Halsey, SP, Long Island Ducks: Yes, this was the guy, who the Yankees included in the deal for Randy Johnson. Just 4 years later, he's out of the majors. That's what a "alleged torn labrum" can do.

Fun fact #1: Brad Halsey gave up Barry Bonds' 714th home run
Fun fact #2: Brad Halsey started the game in 2004 against the Red Sox where Derek Jeter dove into the stands. Yankee fans remember that one, I'm sure.

Dan Miceli, RP, Long Island Ducks: Dan Miceli is no Mike Morgan, but hell, he's still traveled quite a bit over his major league career. Miceli has played for 10 different teams in 14 seasons including 4 different organizations in 2003 (Rockies, Indians, Yankees, Astros). That has to be a record.

Daryle Ward, 1B, Newark Bears: Pinch hitter extraordinaire. A guy that I would love to have on my bench, even if he is past his prime (ok, maybe not). But Ward has his moments in the sun as a pinch hitter over the past few seasons, especially with the Cubs in 2007.

Jay Gibbons, OF, Newark Bears: Direct quote from Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez after releasing Jay Gibbons this spring:

"You don't want to keep a guy like that too long where he doesn't get an opportunity to get a job someplace else," Gonzalez said. "He's got some years left. He showed the bat skill a little bit. He swung the bat well. I think if somebody gives him an opportunity in the right situation, he could help."

And whatdya know, nobody gave Gibbons another chance. I wonder why??? (past steroid use?)

As a result, Gibbons is off to Newark, praying to God that some he catches the attention of some MLB team.

Keith Foulke, RP, Newark Bears: Yes, this is indeed the Keith Foulke, who just five years ago helped lead the Red Sox to their first World Championship in 86 years. Strange, isn't it?

How did Foulke not get a job this offseason? When he wasn't hurt, he pitched well for the Athletics and served as a useful setup man. Why did no team give Foulke a look at least?

On the plus side, for Yankees fans, having Foulke in Newark provides ample opportunity to boo the former Red Sox great.

Michael Tucker, OF, Newark Bears: I completely forgot that Michael Tucker was on the 2006 Mets before I looked at his baseball reference page. It's hard to believe that Tucker has not played in the majors since, but I imagine that his .196 batting average with the Mets has alot to do with that.

Tucker had a long and successful career in the majors that was high(low)lighted by two things:

1. The Giants inexplicably giving up a first round draft pick to sign him in 2004

And no, Michael Tucker is not infected with least to my knowledge.

Dewon Brazelton, SP, Camden Riversharks : The flameout of all flameouts. The former third overall pick never could put it all together for the Devil Rays and was an absolute disaster. He famously was placed on the suspended list for not reporting to AAA. Brazelton had all the talent in the world, but was never able to perform on the big league stage.

Felix Rodriguez, RP, Camden Riversharks: Here's a timeline of Felix Rodriguez's career for ya:

2001: dominant set up man
2002: gives up huge home run to Scott Spiezio in game 6 of the 2002 World Series
2003-2004: pretty good
2005-2006: WASHOUT
2007: out of MLB

Wow, that was quick.

Armando Benitez, RP, Newark Bears: My heart is still broken because of Armando's failures in the clutch with the Mets. I can honestly say that Armando Benitez added a great deal of misery to my childhood.

With that said, a bullpen of Keith Foulke and Benitez in Newark will be very entertaining.

Shawn Chacon, SP, Newark Bears:
Further proof that choking out a GM does not completely kill all future job opportunities.

Other Notables:
Bret Prinz, Rick Asadoorian, Kenny Baugh, Wayne Franklin, Bill Simas, Alberto Castillo (that one's for you, Evan), Abraham Nunez, Ryan Drese, John Halama, Esteban Yan

Junior(s) Division: Pete Rose Jr, Tim Raines Jr., Junior Spivey

As more players are added to rosters, I'm sure this list will continue to grow. I hope that a few of these guys actually do make it back to the majors because well, I'm a sucker for a good story.

(Note: This list will not be complete until Rich Garces and/or Randall Simon join a Atlantic League squad.)