Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend Review

So who else is going to miss Travis Busch? Remember that one time when he fell on the floor? Or that other time when he ended up on the ground? Or the way he always fell down at every opportunity? Man, what a bummer. That Travis Busch, he do be hustlin.


1. Evan Longoria. The 2008 rookie of the year hasn't exactly slowed down, leading the majors after the first week of play with five home runs after hitting twenty-seven last year. He is also second with 10 rbi, and has blistered the ball at a .481/.481/1.185 clip - yes that slugging percentage is accurate and is also tops in the majors. In an era where it seems like more prospects flame out than produce (I'm looking your way Delmon), it's rare to see a kid like this shoot to the top of the league's best. When the Rays signed him to a lucrative five year deal when he was still in the minors it raised some eyebrows, but now it looks genius since they are only going to have to pay him $17 million over the next seven freaking years (assuming they don't re-work the deal). Seriously, he's only making $550,000 this year for that kind of production. Nice.

2. Roy Halladay. The first pitcher to get to two wins this year, Halladay shut down the Indians on Saturday, giving up just one run and five hits while striking out seven or seven innings. He was hurt by the long ball in his first start, giving up a couple of solo shots to the Tigers, which is why he has a less than impressive 3.86 ERA right now, but his 1.00 WHIP, .212 OBA, and 3-to-1 K/BB ratio says he is still a top pitcher again this year. And why not? The guy has been lights out every year he’s been healthy, finishing in the top five in the Cy Young voting the past three years and winning it in 2003 – and he had nine complete games last year, just to prove he’s a man’s man – all while playing for the crappy Blue Jays. I’m a big Halladay fan. It sickens me that he’s going to make $14 million this year and A.J. Burnett is going to make $16.5. So wrong.

3. Emilio Bonifacio & Josh Johnson. It’s ok if you haven’t heard of either of these guys, but they are pretty much the biggest two reasons the Marlins are currently 5-1 and sitting on top of the NL East. Bonifacio, who came over in a weird ass trade that the Nationals made for Josh Willingham, who is now their fourth outfielder, has absolutely been on fire and has really been a catalyst for the team. He's second in the NL in average, batting .500, and leads the league in steals with four already. He's also shown a bit of pop, with a double, triple, and inside-the-park home run mixed in there. He obviously can't keep up this pace, but if he can manage a three hundred average that trade is going to look worse than it already does.

As good as Bonifacio has been, Johnson has been even better on the hill for the Marlins. He's 2-0, and has posted an ERA of 0.57 (leading all two start pitchers) and a WHIP of 0.83. His last time out he out-dueled Johan Santana, pitching a complete game against the Mets, striking out seven while giving up just five hits and one run. Johnson returned in the middle of last season from Tommy John surgery and pitched well, coming into this season as kind of a sleeper in fantasy circles. I don't think anybody expected him to look this dominating though. With these two joining the group Florida put together, the Marlins are suddenly a threat to win the division.

4. Nick Swisher. Good with the A's, horrible with the Sox, and now suddenly Swisher looks reborn in pinstripes. He started the season as a backup for the Yanks, but after getting a start in the third game and killing the ball, he's started every game since and looks like an all-star, hitting .471/.550/1.118 with two home runs and 9 rbi. One of Swisher's best skills has always been his ability to work a count and take a walk (he's had more than 80 walks the past three years) and to hit for power, but he's never hit for a particularly high average - especially last year when he struggled to get over .200, finishing at .219 and leading the Sox to trade him. If he can add a high average to the power and the walks, look out.

5. Adam Lind. I’ve been pimping Travis Snider, who has been good at .286/.286/.643, but the real story for the Jays offense has been Lind, who is off to tremendous start in his third major league season. He leads the league in RBI with 12, and has crushed opponents' pitching to the tune of .400/.419/.767 with 3 home runs. If you hadn't heard of him that's ok, I had barely heard of. He was considered an elite prospect at one time, but failed to live up to that promise his first two years, failing to break a .760 OPS in either season. Is he now living up to the hype, or is this nothing more than a hot start that we can expect to fade? I don't know, but now he gets to come to the cozy Metrodome and face home run giving up machines Slowey, Perkins, and Baker and hit balls over the baggy, so his hot start will probably continue for at least another week.


1. Minnesota Twins Offense. Uh oh, folks. You can’t explain all the team’s offensive troubles away by saying Mauer is missing, and it’s been ugly. Span has been awesome as a leadoff hitter (.419 OBP with 5 walks) and Nick Punto has been good (.353 BA with a .476 OBP), but that's pretty much it other than a couple of nice Morneau home runs. Delmon is hitting .133, Gomez is at .136, and Crede is at .160 as the team has more regulars hitting under .200 than over .300. Also I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but getting shut out twice in your first six games is not good. Once again, it doesn't seem to matter who is on the mound, good young pitchers (Felix Hernandez), old washed up pitchers (Bartolo Colon), injured pitchers (Erik Bedard), mediocre pitchers (Jarrod Washburn), or long-time nemesises (Mark Buehrle) they are getting shut down far too often already. Currently ranking in the bottom five in the league in average, OBP, and slugging, they will get a boost when (if?) Mauer returns, but some of these other guys need to turn it around in a hurry.

Lastly, if you saw Delmon's homerun yesterday it was a thing of beauty and a little preview into what he could become with a little more patience. He took two close pitches that were off the plate to get to a 2-0 count, and then hit the next meaty fastball over the middle out of the yard. If he can do that more often, maybe he can live up to his alleged tremendous potential.

2. Cliff Lee. Well it’s official, Cliff Lee sucks and I’m a moron – or even more of a moron than usual, I guess I should say. Lee lost again to drop to 0-2, and lost again in blowout fashion against Toronto on Saturday. Last year’s fluke pitched just five innings, giving up 7 hits and 4 walks on the way to giving up 4 earned runs. This now leaves Lee at 0-2, with a WHIP of 2.20 and an ERA of 9.90. I still don’t get it. How can a pitcher completely dominate for a full year, like Cliffy last season, and suddenly complete lose it just one year later? There’s nothing that says Lee should suck now, both his BABIP and LOB % last year weren’t fluky, completely weird numbers that deflated his ERA, but watching him pitch this year all of a sudden who the hell knows what’s going on. Glad I have him on two fantasy teams (actually, on one team my three top starters are Lee, Liriano, and Roy Oswalt – all 0-2 after this weekend). This also keeps the Indians in a bad way, sitting at 0-5 to start the year (they did win on Sunday to get to 1-5).

3. Tim Lincecum. The other Cy Young award winner from last season hasn’t had much success either. Unlike Lee, there weren't many questions about Lincecum. The only real issue was how many wins he would be able to pick up, considering the Giants are awful, but that his other stats should still be pretty good. Not the case thus far. The little guy lasted just three innings (a career low) in his opening day start against Milwaukee, giving up 3 runs, 4 hits, and 3 walks before getting pulled and looking generally unimpressive, and then followed that up on Saturday by giving up a career high 10 hits to go with three walks and four runs in just 5 and 1/3. Something is very much off right now, as he is fifth in the league with 14 hits allowed in just 8.1 innings, and has walked to many guys resulting in a 2.40 WHIP, the second worst number in the league amongst pitchers with two starts. I would expect him to rebound more than I would Lee, but neither have looked anywhere near their 2008 form thus far.

4. Cole Hamels. He’s still my boyfriend and all, but he certainly didn’t impress me in his first start since winning the World Series MVP, getting lit up by the Rockies to the tune of 11 hits and 7 earned runs allowed in just 3 and 2/3 innings pitched. He had a bit of an injury scare in Spring Training with a sore elbow, but it was supposed to be nothing more than elbow inflammation. Does this mean he’s hurt more than we think? It could be, especially since his fastball averaged just 87 mph in that game compared to his career average of 90. It’s something to keep an eye on, especially with Hamels poor history with injuries. If he’s hurt I might have to kill myself. Or just find a new obsession. Halladay looking pretty good these days.

5. Everyone in contention at the Masters. I could I suppose put Angel Cabrera in the awesome column for winning, but it really didn’t feel like anybody won the tournament as much as everybody lost it and Cabrera won by everyone else screwing up worse. The top two, Cabrera and Perry, both played half-assed throughout the tournament until Perry birdied 15 and hit an incredible tee shot at 16 to birdie again and get to -14 and a two stroke lead. He then proceeded to pull an Albany and shat all down his leg, bogeying the final two holes to drop into a three-way tie with Cabrera and Chad Campbell (who actually played at -3 on the day and based on his four days in Augusta probably should have ended up winning).

The playoff was even more of a choke-fest, with Cabrera in the woods, Campbell in the sand, and Perry chunking his approach shot. Perry and Cabrera saved par, but Campbell missed a short par putt to eliminate himself. On the final hole, Cabrera played well and Perry doinked his approach way off to the left of the green, giving Cabrera an easy win. It was pretty lame. Like watching Greg Norman and Steve Stricker battle down the stretch.

The most exciting part of the final round was watching Mickelson and Woods, who were grouped together, make a run up the leaderboard to get back into contention. Mickelson tied a Masters record with a 30 on the front side to get to -10 and just two shots back, but lost his mojo with a double bogey after hitting into the water at twelve, and ended up at +1 on the back to finish three shots back in fifth. Woods started more slowly, but turned it on after the turn, going three under on holes 13-16, also getting to -10. He then bogeyed the final two holes, however, to finish in a tie for sixth with John Merrick and Steve Flesch, and Steve Stricker.

So yeah, congrats Angel Cabrera on your second major win. It wasn’t the most impressive, but winning a war of attrition is still winning.

And that'll do it. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to attempt to do Daily Updates rather than weekly. Don't worry your pretty little head, they'll still be additional posts sprinkled throughout the week, hopefully with a little bit of Sidler Nerd Baseball talk, Dawger movie reviews and Gopher updates, and Snake hockey bits.