Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Weekend Review


1. Ty Lawson. I could just put the whole UNC team here after an incredible run through the NCAA tournament where they were never really challenged, but I want to recognize Lawson because I've dogged him pretty good in the past. He's really made a huge leap in his point guard play from last year. He's still not the best shooter, although he's getting better (shot 50% from three in the tournament) but he's figured out how to completely take over a game from the point position without having to score, and he did it again last night, culminating in the Final Four MVP award (I assume, I didn't look it up). Lawson really elevated his game in the tournament, outdoing his season averages in scoring, rebounding, stealing, and assisting while turning it over less. I don't usually change my mind about a player - ever - but this is a rare exception. Congrats to the Heels, and thank god we don't have watch/hear about Hansbrough anymore.

2. Derek Lowe. I think I described Lowe signing with the Braves using words like retread and patchwork, and might even have thrown a washed up in there, I don’t remember for sure. In any case, Lowe proved me wrong in the Braves’ 4-1 opening day win over the defending champion Phillies (who trotted out Greg Myers instead of Cole Hamels for some reason that I don’t want to look up). Lowe was masterful, going 8 innings and only allowing 2 hits, naturally walking nobody and striking out four. When Lowe is on, he does exactly what he did on Sunday night – doesn’t strike out many, but walks zero and gets a lot of ground balls (the Phillies hit 13 ground balls compared to 7 in the air). I’m not quite ready to start believing in Atlanta, because I still think Javier Vazquez sucks, but it looks like Lowe might have at least one quality season left in him.

3. NY Mets Bullpen. The biggest reason for the Met collapses the past two years have een their shitty bullpen, culminating last year in the most blown leads in the entire major leagues. Instead of standing pat and signing some journeyman and pretending like it’s going to help (cough, cough) they went out and did something about it. They signed single-season save record holder Francisco Rodriguez away from the Angels to close, and then helped their middle relief by making a trade for Seattle closer J.J. Putz, also getting set up man Sean Green in the deal. On Monday, that paid off, as the three new acquisitions combined to toss 3 and 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, giving up just one baserunner and striking out two, giving Johan Santana the win. It is probably pretty awesome to have a GM who actually will do something.

4. Travis Snider. As bad as my call on Cliff Lee looks right now (more on that later), my call on Snider as AL ROY looks just as brilliant. Snider was one of the top prospects in baseball for the last couple of years, and looked the part when he was called up by Toronto at the end of last season, hitting .301/.338/.466 with 2 homers in 79 at bats. Yesterday, he started his ROY campaign with a bang, going 2-4 with a solo homerun off Tiger ace Justin Verlander. Keep an eye on this kid.

5. Felix Hernandez. I could just have easily put the Twins' offense in the who sucked column instead, and specifically Mike Cuddyer who struck out three times against Hernandez and pretty much looked overmatched (yes he had a hit and an rbi, but it was not pretty and leaving three guys on base negates that). Instead, I'll let the optimism flow for a bit longer, and credit The King with an excellent outing. He's been a bit of an enigma in his short career, bursting on the scene as a rookie in 2005 and looking awesome, then regressing a bit the last three years, being a good pitcher, but not living up to the promise he showed that first half season. That being said, he's as talented as anybody throwing the ball, and maybe this is the start of the year he puts it all together. Or maybe the Twins' offense is as bad without Mauer as I feared. If they can't get anything going against Bedard tonight, it's time to worry.


1. A.J. Price. Before the MSU/UCONN game tipped off, Bogart, Snake, and myself were at the Dayton bar and were discussing who would be on our all-tournament team so far. I picked A.J. Price as one of my guards, which I suppose doomed him to his horrid performance against the Spartans. Price’s numbers were bad enough, 5-20 shooting, 2 turnovers and just one assist, but watching him play was even worse. Adrien and Thabeet were really able to dominate the Spartan big guys inside, but Price continually decided not to get them the ball, and instead insisted on trying to bull his way into the lane and kept forcing up some brutally bad shots. I think he was just trying to draw fouls and get to the line, but the refs were calling the game Big Ten style and he just looked like a fool. When he wasn’t busy looking like an idiot, he was lazily walking around the three point line – I seriously watching him an entire UCONN possession where he never even moved as fast as a jog. Just a really horrible game and effort from a guy who was having a good tournament that cost his team the game – yes, I am blaming the UCONN loss entirely on Price.

2. Cliff Lee. A lot of people looked at Cliff Lee’s incredible numbers last year and decided he had to have been a fluke. A lot of people figured a mediocre pitcher couldn’t suddenly make the leap Lee made to win the AL Cy Young award last year and then keep it up, and he’d come crashing back to earth. They saw his 1.10 WHIP (vs career of 1.31) and 2.54 ERA (career = 4.1) and his 5.0 K/BB ratio (career = 2.5) and figured it was an aberration. Not me. I was convinced his pin point control and cerebral approach was more Greg Maddux-like, and he’d sustain this success. Once again, I’m an idiot. Lee got completely rocked by Texas yesterday, barely getting himself out of the fifth and finishing with a line of 5ip, 10 hits, 1 walk, and 7 earned runs given up, including a three-run homer by Hank Blalock. I drafted him in two fantasy leagues where people were avoiding taking him, assuming he would suck this year. Looks like they were right and now I’m screwed.

3. C.C. Sabathia. The Yankees' big, fat, offseason pickup, Sabathia got rocked yesterday by the lowly Orioles to the tune of 4 and 1/3 innings, 8 hits, and 6 earned runs. It wasn't so much those numbers that are scary, although they are, but even worse, Sabathia walked 5 and struck out nobody. Not a single one. For a pretty good strikeout pitcher throughout his career, that's warning sign number 1. Warning sign number 2 was the way the game unfolded, if you watched. The problem was that he couldn't get his fastball by anybody. The batters he faced were always able to at least foul it off, and once they realized they didn't need to be scared of the heater, they were able to lay off his slop slider he usually uses to get batters to chase, leading to the five walks. It's early, obviously, but after one game this is a bad sign for the Yanks.

4. Jason Motte. If you play fantasy baseball, you know that one of the toughest categories to figure out is saves. Not only are you never really sure when to draft the closers, but only a handful of teams have a real, established guy who you know will be in the role all year, so you're always looking for someone you can draft late. When Motte dominated his way through spring training and was anointed the Cardinals closer, it was a boon to those who pay attention to these kind of things. Most people don't know who he is, so he was available pretty late and it sounded like not only was he basically given the closer role for the year, but that he would dominate. Oops. Motte came into yesterday's game against the Pirates looking to shut the door with a 4-2 lead. By the time he finally got out of the top of the ninth, the Pirates led 6-4, and Motte had given up four hits and four earned runs to earn the loss and blown save. Perhaps he wasn't as huge a late steal as I (and many others) anticipated. Sorry Bogart.

5. Chris Allen. I can't bring myself to put the Spartans here as a whole, since they beat two #1 seeds just to get to this position, even though they turned it over 21 times and generally gave themselves no chance to win last night, but I can single out one player who had an awful final four, and that's the most dangerous player in the Big Ten, Chris Allen. Allen, who can usually score ten points in about 30 seconds if you aren't paying attention, couldn't hit anything in the final two games, going a combined 1-14 from the floor in the two games, including 0-9 from three, wrapping up a tournament where he shot just over 25% from the field. Of course, this will probably just make him angrier and he will end up being the runner-up for Big Ten Player of the Year next season (JaJuan Johnson has that one in the bag).

Finally, in case you missed it, I'll leave you with One Shining Moment from last night. Yes, it's already on line.

God I love that.


Lefty Snake said...

That girl is younger than braces girl. Does Moma W know you look at child porn?

Dawg said...

WWWW - Why do you hate the Twins so much this year? The season has begun and you have barely managed to mention them?

I was expecting to hear some chatter about Gardy's late game brilliance. He pinch hit for Morales in the 9th leaving his team with no catcher should the game go into extra innings. It was my understanding that Naked Guy was unavailable yesterday. I heard he injured himself while taking some naked bp.

Maybe a little chatter on Da-Man Span's outfield awesomeness.

Get it together man.

WWWWWW said...

You still have posting privileges, go right ahead.

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