April 2010


Many preseason prognostications had the Atlanta Braves as the team that would challenge the Phillies in the NL East, and this blog wasn’t an exception. Well, almost a month into the season and Bobby Cox’s final season isn’t going as he had hoped. The Braves are in the middle of a nine-game skid, are dead last in the division and at 8-14 are actually the worst team record-wise in the National League.

So what’s wrong with this team? Well for starters they aren’t hitting at all. They are last in the National League with a putrid .228 team batting average and third to last in runs scored. What’s even worse is the production or lack thereof from the top of the order. Through 17 games, the leadoff hitters were a combined .081. That is beyond bad. Nate McLouth originally started the season as the leadoff hitter, but now they are trying Melky Cabrera at the spot. Neither have worked to this date as McLouth owns a .148 average and Cabrera’s sporting a .189 average. Another big disappointment has been Yunel Escobar, who was also batting under .200 until his two hits tonight. Escobar is in his fourth season and had high hopes going into this year as he’s improved his average and home run total each year. Not only is he hurting the Braves, but he’s killing my fantasy team!

The Jason Heyward show has also cooled off since his storybook start to his career. Despite hitting in the .230 range, Heyward still leads the team in homers with five. Heyward is good, but relying on a rookie to lead your team in production is not a great sign for Atlanta. The sluggers that should be leading this team, Chipper Jones, Troy Glaus and Brian McCann, are not getting the job done. Chipper looks like his down year last year wasn’t a fluke and age might have finally caught up to him. McCann is hitting just .250, but still is getting on-base at a .405 clip, and the Glaus pickup is just looking like a bad signing.

Pitching has been middle of the pack with a 4.34 ERA, good for 10th in the NL, but the defense has been atrocious. With an error tonight, the Braves have made 21 errors with a .974 fielding percentage. Both are tied for last in the National League. McCann had 12 errors last year and nine the year before, but already has made four errors this year.

No hitting and bad defense is a quick recipe for not being successful. The Braves definitely still have time to turn things around with 140 games and five months remaining, but they sure have not looked good throughout April. They need to shore up the defense and hitting needs to come around soon or Cox will start wishing he called it quits after last season.

Thank goodness it’s almost Friday signaling the end of the work week. Let’s take a look at some links around the internet and various blogs on this Thursday night.

MLB Trade Rumors does a nice piece on the significant remaining free agents that still hope to play again this season. Probably the biggest surprise to me was one Boston Globe writer that believes Gary Sheffield will sign with a team soon. I thought Sheff would be on his way to retirement, but that could be put on hold this year. Jermaine Dye is also still available as well as Elijah Dukes, who was dumped by the Nationals a few days prior to the season. As we head farther into the season, teams who are hurting with injuries or a struggling young player will break down and sign these free agents eventually.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Chris Perez is a baby. Perez obviously didn’t think too highly of the way the Angels beat his Indians the other day on a walkoff bunt, but didn’t it work if it caught the Tribe by surprise? Move on, Chris, and worry about your not so effective pitching one month into the year.

So who’s this Ike Davis fellow that was called up by the Mets and is raking through his first 10 games? Well BR’s Stat of the Day breaks down his game logs through 10 games as the Mets have gone 9-1 since Ike Davis arrived in New York. Not a bad way to start a career—hit .355 and help your team roll to a 9-1 homestand. Mets will cheer anyone who helps to turn around a stretch of miserable recent seasons.

Adam LaRoche has apparently figured out how to hit in April. He hit another two home runs in today’s afternoon win over the Cubs. Of course LaRoche would leave Pittsburgh and then suddenly start raking the ball in April. The knock on LaRoche was always the slow start before he really turned it on midseason and would end would solid numbers all around. So he could be on his way to a huge season with no slow start to haunt him. Maybe Mark Teixeira can call Adam up and see what he’s doing differently this month because Teixeira is struuuuuggggling at the plate (.133/.293/.253).

Just wanted to put up a quick post here for Bob Uecker, who will leave the Brewers broadcast booth to undergo heart surgery. Uecker expects to return to the team after a couple of months so hopefully everything will go as planned. Uecker’s been calling games for the Brewers for 40 years and while he’s enjoyable to listen to during Brewers games, I will continue to toss out his one liners as Harry Doyle in the movie Major League. Check out the video below for one of many favorites from that movie. Get well soon, Bob!

I know I just did a post on the Pirates a few days ago, but I can’t overlook their performance in the past week. It’s unbelievable how horrible/pathetic/awful/depressing/horrendous/embarrassing the Pirates are playing right now. Here are some ridiculous numbers courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that should seriously shock any baseball fan and the Pirates organization…

  • Overall, the Pirates have been outscored, 147-65. The Baltimore Orioles are next-worst in run differential at a not-even-close minus-36.
  • During this losing streak, the Pirates have been outscored, 72-12.
  • The Pirates have dropped 22 straight games to the Brewers at Miller Park.
  • The Brewers have outscored the Pirates by 49 runs through these four games, 53-4.
  • The starting rotation has an 8.72 ERA that is more than two full runs higher than any other rotation in the majors.

In 20-plus years of watching and attending Pirate games, I seriously can’t recall a time when I was more disgusting with the play on the field.

While they don’t have the greatest talent ever in history, these are still Major League baseball players and having a pitching staff that continue to get ignited every time out should never happen. You would think the ERA would have to balance out, but they are current a minus 82 run differential! That is mindboggling.

I’m pretty sure that I’m finished talking about the Pirates for the 2010 season. That is all.

Three weeks into the season and things are starting to pick up—some teams are starting to distance themselves from the pack at the top and at the bottom and Roy Halladay (4-0, 0.82) is still a monster on the mound.

Let’s start off talking about rainouts! If you haven’t noticed many postponed games before this weekend well that’s because there weren’t any until Friday night’s rainout between Colorado and Florida. That’s the longest we’ve gone into a season with no postponements since 1985. That year the first rainout didn’t occur until May 20, the 43rd day of the season, whoa. Of course, as soon as ESPN ran a story regarding the lack of rainouts, a game that night was PPD. ESPN screwing things up again!

There was an interesting decision/play in the Yankees-Angels game yesterday afternoon. With the Yankees trailing 5-4 in the seventh inning and two men on base, Joe Girardi decided to intentionally walk Kendry Morales, but changed his mind after one pitch and decided to go after him. With the count 3-0, Morales got the green light and promptly smoked a three-run homer to sink New York. Whoops. You can second guess all you want and obviously Girardi did that after the game, but they’ll with it. Though I’m not sure I can recall the last time I saw a team go for the IBB and then switch and pitch to him in the middle of the at-bat. Also to throw him a strike a 3-0 probably wasn’t a stellar decision either.

It’s getting real close to that time of the year when you can bury the Pittsburgh Pirates. After a decent 7-5 start, the Pirates have dropped six straight including being swept by the Astros as they fall into last place of the NL Central. How bad has it been? Well they were humiliated by the Brewers 20-0 at home this week and they have been outscored in their 11 losses by a total of 102-23. That’s pathetic. Is there an end in sight? Well the Bucs travel to Milwaukee next for a three-game series with the Brewers, who pretty much own the Bucs in the past five years. Oh and did I mention that the Pirates have lost 21 straight in Milwaukee. This is brutal.

Most of my preseason predictions are looking decent at this point in the early season. The Rays have been on fire and off to the best start (14-5) in their history, Phillies and Cardinals are rolling, Red Sox are struggling, but I immediately am regretting my decision to put the Twins (13-6) in second after Joe Nathan was lost to injury. It’s still early, but the Twins sure look like a solid team. The loss of Nathan has not hurt them one bit as Jon Rauch has picked up the ninth inning duties and hasn’t looked back. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are probably one of the toughest two guys you will face in the middle of any lineup and the guys like Span, Kubel and their young pitching staff are doing all the little things to win.

How about the top of the leader board in home runs—Paul Konerko is on top with eight bombs, but the comeback seasons of Jose Guillen and Vernon Wells are next tied with seven homers. The Jays needed Wells to bounce back from a couple disappointing seasons, but I don’t even think they thought he would be doing this well. The question is—can he keep this up?

When a franchise is amidst 17 consecutive losing seasons, you tend to think it can’t get any worse. Well, once the Pittsburgh Pirates went above and beyond to prove how terrible they are by being annihilated by the Brewers 20-0 at HOME.

My vocabulary seriously isn’t that extensive to describe this atrocious performance by the Bucs. Some facts from the game: it was the worst loss in 124 years of the Pittsburgh Baseball Club and they were outscored 36-1 in the three-game series. Outscored 36 to 1…that’s embarrassing. Twenty to nothing—that is embarrassing.

I heard some people comparing this loss to a 42-0 loss in football. That is not the correct equivalent at all because you see 42-0 games in the NFL more often than a 20-0 loss in baseball. A 20-0 loss in  baseball is more equivalent to 100-0 loss in football, and that’s horrendous.

At the end of the day in a 162-game season, it is just one game and today’s a new game. But yesterday’s game (scrimmage?) just adds another joke to the punchline that are the Pittsburgh Pirates. I can’t write anymore about this. I long for the day this losing ends.

Here’s something you don’t see very often—nine stolen bases by one team in a game. That’s exactly what the Texas Rangers did last night in their loss to the Red Sox at Fenway. Nine stolen bases, that’s ridiculous. It takes some teams a month to reach nine stolen bases. The running feat was a franchise record for Texas as well as allowing nine steals a franchise record for Boston. They actually stole eight bases in a span of three innings before Nelson Cruz added the ninth swipe in the fifth inning. Cruz had three steals, Elvis Andrus stole three, Vladimir Guerrero picked up two and Julio Borbon stole one.

So what happened exactly to Boston, why couldn’t they stop the Rangers running at will? Victor Martinez’s arm isn’t that bad to not be able to throw anyone out. Well, ol’ knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was on the mound. He doesn’t exactly throw heat or have the fastest delivery so this makes sense. Obviously the Rangers saw something early with his delivery and went wild. Wakefield and Martinez were helpless to stop it.

I don’t remember teams being this successful against Wakefield, so it’ll be interesting to see if teams continue to run at will against Wakefield.

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