When a pitcher is throwing at a batter, there’s usually good reason to it. Throwing at batters is part of the game (just not at the head, i.e. Hiroki Kuroda to Shane Victorino). But really, anything below the shoulders is fair game.
So why is Bobby Jenks being penalized? No, not because of his weird bleached blonde gotee. Jenks is being fined x dollars for throwing behind Ian Kinsler the other night. Now, of course, I don’t want Kinsler injured because he’s on my fantasy team, but throwing at batters is just part of the game. If a pitch doesn’t even hit the batter, then why even penalize the pitcher? Why even penalize the pitcher anyways?
I can’t say it enough, It is part of the game.
For further words on my opinion of this, I have post on this a ways back about the nonsense Josh Beckett incident in LA a few weeks back. But all of you are most likely too lazy to look that up. So here are some of my former words from that post:
Throughout baseball history, there have been many players that return the “favor” to the teams and players that deserve it. Roger Clemens is one of the most recent to throw up and in. When he nailed Mike Piazza once he said after the game, “I pitch the way I pitch.” Clemens has plunked 159 batters in his career. Ironically enough, Beckett’s idol growing up was Roger Clemens.
The most notable pitcher to drill batters is Bob Gibson. The hall of famer was fiery pitcher who loved to knock down batters. Hitting 102 batters in his career, it’s said that they lowered the height of the mound for Gibson.
A current pitcher that has been known to to brushback hitters in his presumable hall of fame career is southpaw Randy Johnson. The Big Unit leads all active players with hit by pitches with 188 and is in third place all-time, trailing HOFers Eddie Plank (196) and Walter Johnson (203).
It’s part of the game, and some of the best pitchers of all-time are on the leaderboard for career hit batsmen. So even if it was intentional, it’s justifiable by the unwritten rules of the game.
In hopes of ending a string of bad play, the Phils beat out the Manny-less Dodgers tonight. Jayson Werth stole home, after stealing second once and third twice! Wow, wish I could have seen it live. Me and a couple of my buddies went down to The Park tonight for dollar dogs in hopes that we would be able to get some standing room only tickets (because all the seats were sold out).
Well, as we’re driving down I-95, I call the ticket office (for the second time, because they couldn’t answer my question the first time). I ask (again) if they still have standing room only tickets left (which go on sale at 4pm before the game). This time, the person on the other side of the line says “We are completely sold out.” I reiterate the question, hoping he heard me wrong. He didn’t. “We are completely sold out.”
So we’re in South Philly and we’re hungry. We ended up going to Chickie’s and Pete’s to watch the game and we had some amazing crab fries and awesome cheesesteaks. It was Werth it. Ha.
I’m going to Thursday’s game (already have tickets for it, so there will be no dilemma).
It’s finals week here and I find myself studying a bunch, but currently I’m procrastinating. Took the first final early this morning and now I have three more to go. I cannot wait to get back home for the summer. I have tickets to one of the Dodgers/Phils games at The Park next week. I’ll get to see Manny come to town along with that solid Dodgers team. But anyways…
While I’m on my study “break” (I call it a break because I plan on doing this post, and then watching the Sox/Yanks game tonight, so really it’s a four or so hour break), I’ll give you the team of my favorite players that I’ve watched during my lifetime. I’m in the team forming mode so here it goes.
– Team consists of a player at each position, five starting pitchers, and two relievers, and a manager
– Each player is my favorite at that position
– Each player will have played since 1990 (my year of birth) but I don’t remember the early 90’s so most likely a little later than that
– No DH (since the Phils are in the NL and pitchers should hit anyways)
– And other rules that I can’t think of right now
THE “MY FAVORITE PLAYERS” TEAM
Catcher Joe Mauer
This guy can catch and hit for average? Sign him up. A career .319 hitter, Mauer has a great approach at the plate and a career OBP over .400 and he’s back from injury now (which is good, he’s on my fantasy team). He beat out Mike Lieberthal and Charles Johnson here.
Firstbase Jim Thome
In an era where all the players reaching the 500 homerun club are accused of performance-enhancers, we have the players like Thome who are just pure power. My dad was a fan of Thome when he was still with the Tribe, so I followed his liking and then he ended up coming to Philly for three or so years. He’s slugged 545 total homers in his career and keeps on going with the White Sox today. The runner up here is Todd Helton.
Secondbase Chase Utley
When there are so many great secondbasemen in the game today, Utley is called by many, the best of them all, and I agree. He’s been all the hype since he came up to the big leagues with the Phils in 2003 and hasn’t dissapointed. With the quick swing and a great approach to the plate, I’ll have Utley over any secondbaseman on my team. Luis Castillo and Brian Roberts were also considered–but it was really no contest.
Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra
He was my second ever “most favorite player” while playing short for the Sox. I’ve followed him as far back as I can remember. With the Red Sox, he hit .323 and was the batting champion twice. He’s the reason my favorite number is five. From ’96 Rookie of the Year to today, Nomar’s the man.
Thirdbase Cal Ripken Jr.
The only current Hall of Famer on this team, is Ripken. I know he was a shortstop for most of his career, but as far as I can remember, he’s a thirdbaseman. One of my most favorite baseball moments ever is when he hit a homerun in his last All Star Game in 2001. Mike Lowell is the runner-up here.
Leftfield Jeff Conine
He was my very first “favorite player.” As far as I know, I’ve been a Conine fan since I’ve been a baseball fan. Supposively when I was five or six, my dad took me to a Marlins/Phils game at The Vet and Jeff Conine hit a homerun that game and I decided he was my favorite player. It is only fitting that he was with the Marlins both times they won the World Series. There was no way Pat Burrell would top Conine here, but he’s also up there.
Centerfield Shane Victorino
I’ll say it over and over and over again, Victorino is a winner. I love the way he plays the outfield. He gets one of the best jumps on the ball in the entire league. He’s also always coming up big when we need him most, he’s clutch. Juan Pierre was also in contention in center.
Rightfield Brad Hawpe
This former pitcher-turned-outfielder has a cannon from right field. He can hit the ball real well too, its not just the thin air in Denver that carries the ball because he hits just as well on the road as he does at home. Hawpe’s a hitter.
Starting Pitcher Josh Beckett
My current “favorite major leaguer” is Beckett. He played a huge role in the 2003 Championship in Florida and everytime he was on the mound, I knew the Marlins were going to win. When healthy, he has some of the nastiest stuff in the league and isn’t afraid to knock anyone back with a fastball.
Starting Pitcher Curt Schilling
Pitched a while for Phils and I got his autograph at a Commerce Bank opening. Then we traded him to Arizona where he went on to win a World Series with the Dbacks. Then he went on to Boston where he was a clutch pitcher in the playoffs, season, bloody sock, bogged by injuries, and so on. He’s a Hall of Famer to me.
Starting Pitcher Roy Halladay
This guy is one of my favorite pitchers in baseball. In an age where complete games are far a few between, Halladay goes the distance like its in his contract. I wish I could have been alive during the days where pitchers were expected to throw complete games, because I feel like that’s the way it was supposed to be. I respect Halladay because he pitches the right way.
Starting Pitcher Randy Wolf
How can you not love Randy Wolf and the Wolf Pack? A Phillie for most of his career, Wolf has become one of those players that I like to always check up on and find out how he’s doing.
Starting Pitcher Cole Hamels
Young King Cole and his dirty changeup lead the Phils through the playoffs last season. He has great tempo on the mound and has solid mechanics. This year, he has just been the unluckiest pitcher in baseball. I’m looking for him to have a great career (knock on wood).
Other Starters that were up there are Greg Maddux, Brett Myers, and Josh Johnson.
Relief Pitcher Brad Lidge
After what he did last season, how could he not be my most favorite reliever in the entire game. He was perfect, echoing the Phillies perfect season. When he fell to his knees after striking out Eric Hinske to end the World Series, it instantly became my favorite baseball moment, ever.
Relief Pitcher Jonathan Papelbon
This guy is such a character. He has the perfect mentality for the closer role. He’s crazy. Sometimes you have to be to be a closer. Papelbonfire.
Manager Charlie Manuel
Come to me before last postseason and I would have told you Jack McKeon. But Charlie proved to Philly and all its fans that he cares about and loves the fans. He knows a heck of a lot about hitting. Charlie brought a Championship back to the city. Lets do it again!
There’s my favorites of my MLB memory.
It may be too early to vote, but I got to show appreciation to the guys off to the hot starts so I voted. Here are my all stars as of today. I’ll just give you the starters and then I’ll do a complete all star roster (my opinion) when the full rosters are revealed.
1B Kevin Youkilis
.395 5 HR 15 RBI 1 SB
2B Ian Kinsler
.322 7 HR 20 RBI 7 SB
SS Marco Scutaro
.281 5 HR 15 RBI 1 SB
3B Evan Longoria
.369 6 HR 24 RBI 1 SB
C Victor Martinez
.386 5 HR 11 RBI
OF Jason Bay
.324 5 HR 19 RBI 2 SB
OF Torii Hunter
.325 8 HR 16 RBI 1 SB
OF Nick Markakis
.381 2 HR 22 RBI
1B Albert Pujols
.337 8 HR 28 RBI 4 SB
2B Chase Utley
.342 7 HR 20 RBI 2 SB
SS Hanley Ramirez
.289 2 HR 12 RBI 3 SB
3B Ryan Zimmerman
.289 5 HR 16 RBI
C Bengie Molina
.329 4 HR 18 RBI
OF Andre Ethier
.306 5 HR 22 RBI 1 SB
OF Raul Ibanez
.359 7 HR 17 RBI 3 SB
OF Manny Ramirez
.372 5 HR 15 RBI
The MLB scene changes a lot in a week during its beginnings and with it, changes my “Monday Ten.” Here’s this week’s power rankings.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (10-3) (last week: 4)
Only team with an average over .300, they’ve won eight straight, and now Manny’s hit a few out.
2. Florida Marlins (11-1) (2)
They just win ballgames and the bullpen’s been unreal thus far. But, six of those wins have come against the Nats, who have won just once. That’s the only thing kept them from the one spot.
3. Toronto Blue Jays (10-4) (5)
The starting pitching is doing a great job so far this year, something unexpected. The Jays are also scoring runs too, something else unexpected. They also boast the highest batting average in the AL.
4. St. Louis Cardinals (8-5) (1)
Carpenter going down for a while will certainly hurt this squad. But the offense is doing a great job manufacturing runs.
5. Seattle Mariners (8-5) (3)
Lead the entire league in team ERA. King Felix and Bedard are a nasty combo.
6. San Diego Padres (8-5) (NR)
I didn’t include them last week because I still thought they were terrible but after watching them play hard against the Phillies all weekend, this team can play small ball and win close games. Once teams figure out their young guys, things may start to go downhill. But for now, Heath Bell is a monster.
7. Kansas City Royals (7-5) (Pushing)
Kyle Davies is 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in three starts with 21 strikeouts in about 18 innings. He’s the x-factor here.
8. Chicago Cubs (7-4) (6)
As a team, they’re striking out more than a batter per inning.
9. Detroit Tigers (7-5) (NR)
Miguel Cabrera is a monster and if Armando Galarraga can pick up this staff and lead it this season, they could turn out alright.
10. Boston Red Sox (6-6) (NR)
A four game winning streak and a dominating start by Jon Lester only leads me to believe that the best is yet to come. This team is on the up.
Pushing the Ten: Cincinnati Reds (6-5)
Colorado Rockies (4-7)
Los Angeles Angels (4-8)
Atlanta Braves (6-6)
New York Yankees (7-6)
Still to early (hence all the teams that dropped out), but I’ll continue to do this.
Here are my power rankings after week one. I’ll try to give my “Monday Ten” every Monday weekly. So here they are:
1. St. Louis Cardinals (5-2)
Lead by strong pitching and some nice offensive production thus far, the Cards have jumped out to lead the Central. It appears that Chris Carpenter is back.
2. Florida Marlins (5-1)
How exciting is this young team. Josh Johnson is the true ace of this staff and he’s showed it so far. Bullpen is still suspect.
3. Seattle Mariners (5-2)
They’re winning close ballgames and they have the lowest ERA in the AL through seven games. I’ve mentioned before, I love seen Junior in the uni again.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (4-3)
Lowest WHIP in the NL but Manny may start stirring up some problems.
5. Toronto Blue Jays (5-2)
Scoring the most runs per game this year and how about Adam Lind? Called it.
6. Chicago Cubs (4-3)
Soriano has gotten off to a good start for once.
7. Colorado Rockies (3-3)
Offense is looking really good. Whether or not they can keep carrying this production–time will tell.
8. Los Angeles Angels (3-3)
The Angels, with the death of a fellow teammate on their hearts, are playing hard baseball. The cleared benches may have sparked something as well.
9. Atlanta Barves (5-1)
Took advantage of the Phils starters not locating pitches and then the played the Nationals? The bullpen absolutely imploded in Philly though.
10. New York Yankees (3-3)
Not sure where they would be after two road series to start the season. But now we know CC does have his stuff.
Pushing the Ten: Kansas City Royals (3-3)
It’s still the first week though, so take all of this lightly.
So now that I’m completely done my team previews and you have all seen how I predict it will pan out, here’s the playoff and award predictions.
Cubs over Mets
I feel like everyone jumped on me having the Cubs finish with the best record. Well I got them going a step further. A playoff rotation like there’s shouldn’t have failed last season. Some of their offensive guys are getting older, but they recognize this may be their last hurrah as they are all probably near the end of the primes of their careers. As for the Mets, their bullpen is nice, but you don’t get to them unless you have the lead.
Red Sox over Indians
The Red Sox are just a playoff team. They’re built with the intangibles and I’m big on that. A deep rotation with an unbelievable bullpen gets the easy nod over Cleveland here.
Yankees over Angels
Come on, a playoff rotation that could potentially be CC, AJ, Wang, then Pettite or Joba. You have to at least win the first series. The Angels counter with a solid rotation but I think the close series goes to the Yanks.
Dodgers over Phillies
As much as it hurts me to say this, I think the Dodgers get the best of the Phils this time. Manny is a force and the rest of the offense can hit. They have some good young arms and a solid bullpen. Close series, but no cigar for my Fightins.
Dodgers over Cubs
I’m all about the Dodgers this year, they have a heck of an offense. This is where the Cubs magic ends this season. In the rematch of last year’s NLDS, this result is the same.
Red Sox over Yankees
Of course, I love this rivalry and I think they meet once again in the ALCS. Sox move on simply because I hate the Yankees. Just kidding. Well Sox do move on, but my reasoning isn’t because I hate the Yankees. Intangibles move them on.
Red Sox over Dodgers
With Josh Beckett in October, you can’t go wrong. Sox win their third in six years.
American League MVP
He’ll be the most valuable player for his team this season as I expect him to have a higher batting average than last year. He does it all; steals, scores, drives home runs, hits homeruns, and plays a great centerfield.
Other Possibilities: Mark Teixeira, Dustin Pedrioa
Wild Card: Evan Longoria
National League MVP
He was robbed last year. Lead the entire league in homeruns and RBIs and he struggled. It’s scary to think that he can do better, and then when you look at the fact that he could increase his average, he can definately increase his 146 RBIs.
Other Possibilities: Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez
Wild Card: Pablo Sandoval
American League Cy Young
He throws complete games like it’s his job. If he has a year like his last, he’s bound to win this award.
Other Possibilities: Cliff Lee,
Ervin Santana (my pick prior to injury), Jon Lester
Wild Card: John Danks
National League Cy Young
I think this kid is bound to break out. I think this is the year Billingsley steps up and becomes the Dodgers ace. He definately has potential for 20 wins, 200+ strikeouts, and a sub-3.00 ERA.
Other Possibilities: Brandon Webb, Tim Lincecum
Wild Card: Ricky Nolasco
American League ROTY
The reason I like him for this award is because he has a definate job. He will definately get his chances to move up in this lineup as well. I got two Jays winning awards.
Other Possibilities: Matt Wieters, Either Athletics 21-year-old
Wild Card: Elvis Andrus
National League ROTY
He has so much potential and he had an awesome performance when called up in September last year.
Other Possibilities: Colby Rasmus, Tommy Hanson
Wild Card: Jason Donald
Now that that’s over with, let the Phils raise the championship banner and play ball. Brett Myers, you may now throw the first pitch of the 2009 MLB season.
Season Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers
Projected MLB Rank: 4th — NL Rank: 3rd — NL West Rank: 1st — Record: (94-68)
National League West Champions
They won’t be singing the Dodger Blues this year in LA. Bringing Manny Ramirez back wins the division for this team in my mind. The make up of this team is solid young players who showed they can compete last year along with a bunch of veterans that can still play the game.
We’ll begin with the veterans and none other than probably the best righthanded hitter in the game–Manny Ramirez. Manny became inhuman last season after being dealt to the Dodgers as he picked up the 24 other guys on this team, put them on his back, and carried them to the division crown and the playoffs. Manny obliterated baseballs last season posting a 37 homeruns, a .332 batting average, 121 RBIs, a .430 OBP, and a .601 slugging percentage while with the Red Sox and Dodgers. He’s a monster and as long as he’s happy, I don’t see anyone beating out the Dodgers in the NL West.
Another veteran, at shortstop, and back for a full season, is Rafael Furcal. He showed some signs of rustiness in the playoffs after not playing for a while. He’s out to play the full season now which provides the Dodgers with an everyday leadoff man. Perhaps going unnoticed, Orlando Hudson has joined this team as well. The O-Dawg brings a .305 average, a .367 OBP, and an amazing glove to second base. I guess Blake DeWitt doesn’t cut it? Because he won’t be playing at third either. Casey Blake returns to the position after a great season in which he hit 21 homeruns and drove in 81 runs. Juan Pierre, Mark Loretta, and Brad Ausmus are also nice veteran options off the bench.
Continuing with the veteran theme, we move to the rotation where Hiroki Kuroda, who has one year of MLB experience under his belt, is 34 years old and has been around the game a while, so I’ll consider him a vet. He’s recieved the opening day nod for this team as he posted a 3.73 ERA last season with a 9-10 record. Another veteran in the rotation is southpaw Randy Wolf. Wolf stayed healthy last season compiling a 4.30 ERA and going 12-12 for the Astros while striking out hitters at a nice rate. Staying on the pitching staff, but moving to the bullpen, Guillermo Mota should assume a setup role for this season (how did he get to be 35 so quickly?).
Moving on to the young guns. Russell Martin is 26 years of age and is becoming one of the best catchers currently in the game. Last season he posted a .280 batting average to go along with a .385 OBP. Oh yea, he can steal bases too. Firstbaseman James Loney hit .289 with 90 RBIs last season and turns 25 this season. Think those numbers can improve? I do. Same goes for outfielder Andre Ethier. The 26 year old is probably entering his prime this year after he hit .305 last year with 20 homeruns and 77 RBIs. Is there room for one more on the improvement boat because Matt Kemp will be getting on as well. Despite the strikeouts last season, Kemp still posted a .290 average with 18 homeruns and 76 RBIs. He also stole 35 bases.
The rotation’s youngsters have huge potential. I believe we have yet to see how good Chad Billingsley is going to be. Which is scary since he posted a 3.14 ERA with 16 wins and over nine strikeouts per nine innings, what’s scarier is that he’s just 24. Let’s get younger as we move on to 21 year old Clayton Kershaw. His rookie campaign was decent but nothing eyepopping when you look at the numbers, but he will develop and become a top tier pitcher. Then there’s James McDonald. He has a great curve and a great changeup but has shown tendancies to give up the homerun here and there.
Concerning the rest of the pitching staff. Cory Wade had a great season in the bullpen last year with a 2.27 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. Hong-Chih Kuo also shined last season with a 2.14 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Kuo also had 96 strikeouts in 80 innings. The Dodgers also brought in Will Ohman who had a nice year with the Braves in 2008 and is a nice lefty option. Then there’s the closer. The big man. Jonathan Broxton is a shutdown closer. He struck out 88 hitters in 69 innings and posted a 3.13 ERA while compiling 14 saves for the Dodgers.
What is not to like about this team? They are so good. Then Joe Torre is their manager, which makes me like this team even more. In the words of Manny Ramirez,
And so are the Dodgers, atop the division and into the playoffs.