Obviously the big news of the weekend was Cory Joseph signing on with the Texas Longhorns for next season. I'm disappointed, of course, but not surprised. When every article discussing him and his possibilities only talked about Villanova and Texas, I started to think that maybe Gopher fans were fooling themselves, much the way Iowa State fans acted about Harrison Barnes - the rest of the world knew they were just in as a finalist as a courtesy. I don't know if that is the case with Joseph and the Gophers or not, but he's going to Texas and should do well. Of course, the delusions are already coming, as I read from one Gopher fan that "Cory isn't as good as Devoe" and expect a lot more to come, as well as quite a bit of reveling in any Texas misery that may come their way this year.
I say good luck to Cory, and I have no real issue with his decision. Texas is a far better program than Minnesota, and I don't know how anybody could argue otherwise. Despite cries that Rick Barnes underachieves with the talent he gets, and he probably does, he still makes the tournament every single year and puts players in the NBA. Really the only thing the Gophers had going for them were that Cory's friend and his brother were here, but Texas had two of his former teammates as well - one of which who was a pretty good friend. I'm pretty sure if I were in the same spot (and didn't have my homegrown Gopher bias) I would have made the same decision. It would have been a hell of a get if Tubby could have pulled this one off. It's time to close up shop and go into next year with what's already in the holster - I don't really like anything that's still out there for 2010. This team should be around a 6-7 seed this year, and hopefully good enough to finally win a first round game.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Justin Morneau. I'm guessing you haven't realized this because you really aren't all that bright, but guess who leads the major league in on-base percentage; yep, the giant-headed Canadian. He's currently reaching base at a .511 clip (including .607 this week), which combined with his .368 average and .647 slugging means he is straight up mashing the ball right now. Even when he's not lacing base hits he's walking like crazy - 20 times already this year, leading the major leagues. That actually brings me to another point, which is that the Twins are actually leading the majors in walks as a team. They're leading the league. Doesn't that just seem bizarre? Did you ever think you'd see the day? Morneau obviously leads at his position, while Mauer is fourth, Hudson fifth, Hardy 7th, Brendan Harris is 12th in limited playing time, and amongst outfielders Span is second and Kubel is fourth. Really out of the important batters only Cuddyer and Delmon don't walk (Thome has more than either of them), and it's just fun to watch a bunch of guys on the same time who know how to get the pitch they want and know how to work the pitcher to get it - and it's effective to, as seen by them having the AL Central basically locked up already.
2. Mike Leake. He didn't have two wins this week and wasn't especially dominant, but he did pick up his first career win so it's time to recognize him a bit. Snake is the one who tipped me off to the Cincinnati rookie, so of course he's on our fantasy team, and he's looking really solid this year - just one year removed from Arizona State. He was picked by the Reds ninth overall last season, and made his debut this season with no minor league ball in between - something the Nationals are too stupid or too cheap to due with Strasburg. He's gone at least 6 and 2/3 innings in each of his three starts this year, and his overall numbers are a 1.55 WHIP, 3.92 ERA, and a 13/13 K/BB ratio. None of those are especially impressive, but remember those are through just three professional starts at any level. Once this kid makes the adjustment he's going to be very, very good. Think Mike Mussina-like.
3. San Diego Padres. I suppose it's time to recognize that the Padres have a good team. There's still a chance it's all a fluke, and a good chance at that, but with a - record it's time to at least consider the possibility that the Padres have turned it around and are a quality team again. They're 11-7 now after losing to the Reds on Sunday, but before that they had won 8 in a row, and still sit atop the NL West, ahead of the Giants, Rockies, and Dodgers. And, as you would probably guess, they are doing it with pitching. Their team ERA is just 2.73 - tops in the majors - and both the starters and the bullpen and having great years thus far. They'll most likely fade by the all-star break, but there are enough good young arms here that if they get any offense at all they might be able to play the spoiler. In any case, it's a lot of fun having the Padres be a good team.
4. Ike Davis. The Mets promoted Ike to the majors a bit early in order to jump start their offense and fan interest, and so far Mr. Davis has responded well and done exactly what they needed him to. He has hit .318 since he was called up on Monday, has reached base in every game except last night's shortened game, and the Mets have gone 6-1. They're still a crappy team, but they are playing quite a bit better in the last week. Clearly, it's all because of Ike Davis. This guy must be the next David Eckstein - you know, how he makes everybody else on the team better. Or he's the Mets answer to Jeter, but far less gay and annoying. Looking like a Twins vs. Mets World Series. Book your tickets now.
5. Doug Fister. You've probably never heard of this guy, I know I certainly hadn't, but he's a second-year starter for the Mariners and he's putting up some pretty impressive numbers so far this year. He'd be sitting at 3-1 right now if the world's worst closer other than Bobby Jenks, David Aardsma, hadn't blown his win on Saturday. Fister went 8 strong innings, giving up just 2 runs on 8 hits, which followed up his earlier outing on Monday, when he went seven solid against the Orioles, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits. He's currently at just a 1.67 ERA with a WHIP of 0.93. His lack of strikeouts (just 4.5 per 9) and a sickly-low BABIP against (.212) say that he's not the kind of ace who is going to be able to keep this up, but for now at least he's looking like a pretty solid middle-of-the-rotation type starter. And also "Fister? I hardly knew 'er!"
1. Royals' Bullpen. Seriously, how many games of Greinke's are these guys going to blow? Zach's struggled a bit out of the gate, but on Wednesday he left the game after the 7th with a lead after giving up just two hits (of course, one of the was a 2-run home run) and then people named Josh Rupe and John Parrish take just three batters to blow the lead. And I guess I just answered my own question. Look at these names before you get to Soria: Josh Rupe, John Parrish, Dusty Hughes, Robinson Tejeda, Juan Cruz, and Kyle Farnsworth (and we saw most of these guys melt-down to varying degrees in the Twins series over the weekend). Pretty much all these guys have already failed elsewhere, and I don't mean failed as starters I mean they've already failed at being middle relievers. The only guy who was every good was Farnsworth, but along with the weird perm and nerd glasses he's lost the ability to pitch as well. Just brutal. And I know you don't care about mine and Snake's fantasy team, except that really you do if you just admit it to yourself, but we need those wins from Greinke. It looks like he's going to have to go 8 innings to get to Soria or just finish it out himself if he's ever going to win again. And if he keeps not throwing enough strikes he's never going to get there. Nobody can hit you Zacky, just toss that pill over the plate. And win, baby. Win.
2. Carlos Zambrano. There really isn't a good way to spin getting demoted from #1 starter to bullpen set-up guy into a positive. So, uh. I guess that's it then.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates. So much for the great Pirate resurgence. They started out pretty well, but unlike the Padres have been unable to sustain it, going - this week, and man, the fall has been spectacular. They started the week 7-6 and are finishing it 7-12 after getting swept by the Brewers and the piss-poor Astros. And that Brewer series was especially horrible, with the Pirates losing 8-1, 8-0, and 20-0. Overall for the week they were outscored 55-9. Special shout-out to their pathetic offense, by the way. Akinori Iwamura 1-18. Ronny Cedeno 2-17. Lastings Milledge 2-14. Delwyn Young 1-14. Just a really spectacular effort all around.
4. Seattle Seahawks. I suppose on the weekend of the NFL draft it's inevitable that I'd have to comment on something football related, and the Seahawks are the lucky team to draw my considerable wrath. This is about their draft, which based on my limited knowledge actually looks like a really good one, but it's based on their brand new stable of running backs. The returners are Julius Jones and someone named Justin Forsett, and they actually traded for LenDale White and Leon Washington this weekend. Like, actually traded for them, not just signed them to a minor-league deal or whatever. Look at those four running backs. You know, you can keep throwing turds in a bowl, it doesn't make it a salad. And, more importantly, you don't win friends with salad.
5. Jason Kubel. You know I frickin' love the guy, but what in the holy hell is going on? This week was just a complete nightmare (1-19, 1 single, 8 Ks), which dropped his season average to .169 and his slugging to a Punto-esque .288. He's still walking (13 this year) so even when he isn't hitting he brings value to the team, but he needs to stop being so crappy or I will totally break up with him. I still have faith, but I'm pretty sure he's getting benched for this fantasy week.
I feel like I should have had some kind of NBA playoffs thing in here somewhere, but so far they've been pretty boring. Also, in my defense,
"FISTER? I damn near killed 'er!"