Wednesday, July 13, 2011

MLB 2011 Mid-Year Check-In, Part 2

Part 1 was yesterday (scroll down, genius) where I talked about the good things so far this year in MLB.  Now here are the bad:

1.  Joe Mauer.  I just recently let lose with a little Mauer diatribe, so instead of simply rehashing what I already said you can read it by clicking here.  Of note:  since I wrote that he's gone 6-17 and raised his average 20 points and, if you can believe this, even hit a double.  That's two bases with one swing.  I couldn't believe it either.

2.  Derek Jeter.  Apparently being "too tired" to play when you're "star" is getting to be an epidemic because Derek Jeter, arguably the biggest "star" in baseball depending on how you want to define that, begged out of tonight's all-star game due to "exhaustion."  I personally don't really care who plays and who doesn't because the whole thing is really kind of stupid, but the most idiotic thing I've heard in a long time came from a caller on the radio today who tried to explain, "You people did nothing but complain that he didn't deserve to be voted into the game, and now, because he's such a class act, he decides not to play so Asdrubel Cabrera can start, and you rip him for that." 

Seriously, dumbass?  I'm sorry and I know you love him, but captain intangiibles isn't a shining greek god of virtue and I don't care how many barbecues he invites his teammates too or how often he has Robinson Cano sleep over at his house and they tag-team Minka Kelly.  Look, I get it - he's a decent looking, non-threatening dude who plays the game well, isn't overly cocky, doesn't show up opponents, and bangs lots of chicks.  But there's a guy like him on every team except the fucking evil White Sox, and nobody knows what he (they) are like off the field.  Jeter could very well be a serial killer rapist arsonist litterbug for all we know, but because that shit I wrote earlier plus he plays in the biggest market for the most famous team and people can't stop making love to excuses for anything he does.

It's like that dude who caught Jeter's 3,000th hit and gave it away for some autographed shit and box seats.  Noble?  Moral?  How the hell is that noble or moral when the guy has over $100k in debt?  You owe it to yourself to get your life in order (and yes I know it's student loans not credit card bills, which kind of makes this more depressing) with your once in a lifetime lottery winning baseball and you toss it away to make an empty gesture to a guy who will make more this year than you'll make in ten lifetimes, will bring in nearly $300 million total by the time his career his over in just salary (not counting endorsements) and likely wouldn't cross the street to piss on your face if it was about to be run over by a car?  Guess what?  He's already forgotten about you.  And that $100k you owe?  That's what he makes in a day.

You know how they say that the lottery is really just a tax on stupidity?  Well, it's now being reported that this guy might have to pay something like $14k in taxes on the "gifts" he got from the Yankees.  Now that's really a tax on stupidity. 

3.  Florida Marlins.  The Marlins were looking like they were going to be a very nice story this year.  Smallest payroll on the team at $35 million, a team that had to trade Dan freaking Uggla because he was too expensive, and suddenly they ripped out of the box with a 30-20 start, and behind Josh Johnson were looking like a nice NL East sleeper team.  Then Johnson got hurt, they couldn't sustain their early momentum, they lost 19 out of 20, Hanley Ramirez proved he's more lazy than leader, they fired their manager, and are now 43-48 and 14 games out of first (and it's only that good thanks to a 5-game winning streak going into the break).  Now all they're good for is laughing at any highlights of their home games because there are about 16 people there.

4.  The entire Twins' bullpen.  Honest to god, is it really that hard to have one guy who you can trust to get three outs?  Perkins is the only full-time reliever with an ERA under 4.40 and if you trust him you're dumber that got into my van the other night.  Cappsie's WHIP looks respectable, but unfortunately it's accompanied by one of the worst HR allowed rates on the team and he seems to be on a rapidly accelerating slide from mediocre to pathetic.  Nathan can be excused, at least mostly, but there's no real reason for Jose Mijares to be putting up career worst numbers (he has more walks than strikeouts for christ's sake) and Phil Dumatrait and Alex Burnett may as well just put the ball on a tee.  And if anybody does pitch well (Chuck James and Anthony Slama have thrown 7 combined innings of 1-hit ball) they're immediately shipped out.  I mean is it time to make Anthony Swarzak your #1 set-up guy now?  Has it really come to this? 

5.  Adam Dunn.  Another guy I've talked about here before, but it's impossible to ignore how bad he's been.  Dunn has always done three things:  strike out like crazy, walk constantly, and hit a ton of home runs.  Well this year he's striking out at an all-time high rate, walking far less than normal (second lowest of his career), and is well on pace to hit the fewest homers he's ever had in a season.  Even the hits he always got accidentally aren't falling this year, and he's also hitting nearly 100 points below his career mark at just .160.  He's on pace for just 15 homers with 204 strikeouts, which would be the fewest home runs (by 9) by a batter with 180 or more Ks.  His .160 would be the worst batting average by a player with over 180 Ks by 38 points, and his (on pace for) 59 RBI would be the lowest ever by 11.  We are talking a truly, epically, pathetically putrid season, and the Sox just signed him for four years and $56 million.  Awesome.  

6.  Royals starting pitching.  Kansas City seems to be going the right way on the offensive side of the ball - Hosmer looks good, Butler is solid, Gordon seems to be figuring it out, and they got all those other prospects on the way.  On the hill, however, they have some of the worst arms in history, and that's why they couldn't sustain their semi-hot start.  Three of the five worst WHIPs among starting pitchers with at least 50 innings belong to Royals:  Kyle Davies (1.92), Sean O'Sullivan (1.78), and Danny Duffy (1.64).  Duffy, at least, is clearly part of their future (assuming he develops) but if that's the strategy then retreads who suck like Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen don't make much sense either.   

7.  Twins' injuries.  You guys ever wonder what's going on with the Twins and how many games they miss due to injury?  Doesn't it seem pretty ridiculous, like something must be wrong?  Morneau missed the entire second half of last year with a concussion and Denard Span is chasing his games missed record.  Meanwhile 1-2 weeks seems pretty standard.  Mauer has missed 2-months this year with some bizarre, mysterious injuries and it's not the first time he's done that.  Then you have Kubel, who has now missed a month and a half with an injured foot, and is expected to miss another 1-2 weeks post all-streak, and I'm pretty sure Delmon Young has missed a couple weeks on two separate occasions this year - once due to being cold and once due to being tired.  I just don't get it, man.  Either this team has the worst trainers in the world or is the biggest collection of babies outside of a lactation convention.

8.  Ubaldo Jimenez.  It's always kind of tough to trust one-year wonders, especially starting pitchers, and Ubaldo is showing you why.  After maybe one of the most impressive first halves of a season in recent baseball history he started to fade late last year and has continued that slide right into a mediocre, irrelevant, mid-rotation pitcher.  His numbers this year (4.14 ERA/1.30 WHIP) are nearly identical to Carl Pavano's (albeit with far more Ks and BBs).  This from the same dude who finished 3rd last year NL Cy Young voting, so consider if Johan Santana was here in his prime and suddenly turned into Carl Pavano.  You know, like Scott Erickson.

9.  Jim Riggleman.  I dig this because it's one of the most awesome examples of someone not nearly understanding how much value and leverage (or lack thereof) they actually have.  He's always been a terrible manager (career:  662-824) with just two winning seasons and one playoff appearance out of 10 tries.  He was signed as the Nationals manager, and appropriate match of awful to awful, and in this, the third year of his contract, he managed to get them to win 11 of 12 games and was pushing for management to sign off on his extension for next year (despite their overall record of 27-36 before that streak).  Management, wisely, chose not to do so at that point and so Riggleman resigned.  Full on jackassery, all the way around. 

10.  Clay Buchholz.  If you're sitting there still waiting for Buchholz to put it all together and become the stud he's seemed destined to become, get in line.  I swear I've drafted this hippie every year in fantasy baseball, and every year he turns out to be as brittle as Ralph Sampson's confidence.  Last year he looked like he might finally have done it, making 28 starts and registering a 2.33 ERA (2nd in the league), but after a rough start this year where he was allowing homers at a Matt Cappsian rate he's once again out with a back injury.  He's supposed to be ready soon after the break, but for those of us who have followed his career way too closely we know that's a dirty lie.

Finally, this is where I'd tell you to expect Grandslam to come in with his British Open preview at some point this week but I just asked him if he was going to do one and he said, "No, the Open is stupid played on stupid courses and you can't predict anything."

Nice expert.  As such, I'll at least try to get up some thoughts on this Wednesday night, but I have a pretty big work function that's expected to go from 6-10pm (at the earliest) so the odds aren't great.  I promise I'll try.  Unlike most of the Twins.

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