[MLB] Riding the Pine

“The only thing better than being cheered in Fenway is being booed in Yankee Stadium. When you come in here and you get booed like they boo me, you better get your i’s dotted and t’s crossed, because they’re waiting. This is an incredible environment to pitch in. The hostility, I’ve always enjoyed it, because I’ve never felt they boo players that [aren’t good]. When you come in here, there’s a different kind of adrenaline. It’s always helped me focus.”
–Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling on pitching at Yankee stadium (MLB.com).

One thing I have had a problem with for the last year is the fact that everyone blamed the Cardinals problems in the World Series on pitching. CBS Sportsline has a piece on the 10 players who need to help their teams for playoff runs. #7 is Matt Morris and leads with:

The Cardinals were blown out of last fall’s World Series because they didn’t have nearly the pitching they needed.

That’s not true. The Cardinals pitching actually had the best playoff ERA (4.42) and lowest batting average against (.235) of all 8 teams. The hitting in the World Series was the reason why they didn’t win. They were outscored 24-12 in the four games (with Boston winning game one 11-9). The Cardinals 2-5 hitters (Walker, Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen) went a combined 10-59. I hope the bats don’t fall asleep this year.

I want to do a quick follow up on last week’s roundtable. While everyone made convincing arguments, I still stand by my picks (even with Carpenter’s weak outing Tuesday). I think Derrek Lee should be closer to Pujols in the MVP race, since the stats are identical. Andruw Jones, while showing better power numbers and RBIs, doesn’t have the average (.275), the on-base percentage (.358), or the defensive numbers the other 2 have (don’t get me wrong, but Jones’ defense has been sub-par for him). The Cy Young thing is a touchy subject. The Clemens-Carpenter race (sorry Dontrelle) would be different if Clemens had run support. Say Clemens received Carpenter’s run support (5.23 runs per game), the Astros would have a 23-5 record (plus 1 game where the opponent scored five runs) in games Clemens started (currently, the Astros are 13-16 in his games). The Astros would have the wild card lead with that, and Clemens would have the Cy Young. The AL picture is open, but I still like Santana over Colon.

The Rumors
The Giants want a left handed bat for next year, with Lyle Overbay and Dave Dellucci in mind; both will be available for young pitching…The Angels think they may have a chance to sign Paul Konerko in the off season; the first baseman will also draw interest from the Red Sox…Angels starter Jarrod Washburn will test the free agent market this winter; many think he will end up with the Brewers, since he lives near Milwaukee…Ray Durham will pick up his player option for $7 million…Kenny Rogers’ days in Texas are numbered; they won’t offer him a huge contract and they expect him to walk…It’s believed that Boston will be shopping outfielder Manny Ramirez this off season; one target is New York for Carlos Beltran…Keith Foulke’s struggles may keep him off the postseason roster; if this were to happen, don’t expect to see him with the Sox next year…Kevin Millar’s chances to stay in Boston right now are 50-50…Frank Thomas will be bought out of his contract for next season; he thinks he has 3 seasons left in him…The Twins will let Joe Mays walk after the season…The Mets are looking to move Kaz Matsui and his $8 million salary…Torii Hunter could be traded in the offseason to unload his contract; he has recently

Manager Hot Seats: Jim Leyland’s name is circulating in Detroit, along with Pittsburgh; the Tigers are leaning towards letting Alan Trammell go after the season…Former Dodger Eric Karros said he wouldn’t be surprised if current Dodger Manager Jim Tracy opts out of his contract; Tracy wouldn’t confirm or deny this…Major changes are expected in Tampa Bay, including removing the president, general manager, and manager; one name for the GM position is Gerry Hunsicker, formerly of Houston…Everyone is still questioning if Brian Cashman will be the GM of the Yankees next year; no one will know for certain until the season is over…

The Week that Was:
The Good
Roger Clemens – Clemens did something this week that many couldn’t do: he pitched hours after his mother passed away. Clemens has always been close to his mother, and spent her last night with her. “She told me to go to work” Clemens said after the game. The Astros honored her after the game with a video tribute, including clips of Clemens talking about her, video of them together at games, and her words about her son. “It was great to see her look so pretty like I remember,” he said with tears in his eyes. Not only did he pitch well, he led the Astros in snapping their 3 game losing streak.

Greg Maddux may still have a chance at his 15 win of the season; Dusty Baker said if Maddux made it to 14 wins, he would adjust the rotation to get him 1 more start…David Ortiz has been having a huge week; he had 4 home runs in 3 games against Toronto.

The Bad
The Devil Rays – This time it isn’t about the management; the players have some issues too. This week, 2 prospects who should have been called up criticized the organization. First, Delmon Young, Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year, spoke badly about the organization since he wasn’t called up when rosters expanded. Young, who has dominated Triple A, doesn’t have anything to prove; that doesn’t give him the right to bash his bosses. I know people do it all the time, but being a sports star means the press will publish what you say. Also, the organization may have a rational reason for not calling him up, like preventing an injury or waiting to start him Major League service time (which are both completely ridiculous). BJ Upton’s agent said that if the organization asks him to change positions, his client might think about changing organizations. Upton has all the talent in the world, but he hasn’t proved he could play shortstop. Upton, in Triple A this year, had committed 53 errors. Many scouts believe he can play the position once he works on his fundamentals.

According to Baseball Prospectus, the 3 worst regular players in the Majors this season are: 1) Christian Guzman, 2) Corey Patterson, and 3) Steve Finley.

The Ugly
Ivan Rodriguez – Pudge is making waves in Detroit. He all but said that he doesn’t want to be with the Tigers next year. In a press conference at his locker this week, he said he doesn’t like losing; he really meant he doesn’t want too any more. I don’t see how this was different than much of his time in Texas. According to the Detroit press, his comments have put a riff between him and his teammates. Add in the fact that he hasn’t played up to his contract, Detroit would be better off moving him in the off season.

Jose Mesa has officially lost the closer job in Pittsburgh; look for Mike Gonzalez and Salomon Torres to get the saves…Indians reliever Arthur Rhodes has taken a leave from the team for the rest of the season to be with a sick family member.

The Rookies
Matt Cain last weekend threw a 2 hitter against the Cubs; Cain has been considered the Giants best prospect…Jeremy Hermida has been starting every other day, but is struggling at the big level; he is hitting .222 with 1 homer (in his first at bat)…Scott Baker has a 3.23 ERA in 30 2/3 innings…Francisco Liriano had his first start in the major with good results (5 innings, 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts); Liriano led the minors in strike outs and has 3 solid pitches…Ryan Zimmerman made his first start in the Majors last week, exactly 3 months after being the 4th overall pick in the draft; Zimmerman has been playing third base and shortstop since being drafted.

The Injuries
Jason Schmidt should be back next week, unless the Giants fall out of the race…Wade Miller is likely done for the season after a disastrous rehab appearance in Double A…Pirate Phenom Zack Duke is still not ready to return, but should have 1-2 more starts this year…Moises Alou says his groin is feeling better and should be back at the start of next week…Mike Hampton may have to have Tommy John surgery that could knock him out of next season; he is seeing a specialist in New York to find out…Damaso Marte was put on the DL (a strange move at this time of the season) with a shoulder strain; Marte is wearing out his welcome with the White Sox and is not expected to be back with the team next year…Dave Williams and Mark Redman may be done for the season; look for rookies to audition for next year in their places…Troy Percival will learn if he needs surgery that will keep him out of next season; he said that if he can’t pitch next season, he could retire…Bobby Crosby target date to return is Tuesday…JD Drew is done for the season; he is having his shoulder and wrist scoped.

Links
RotoChamps can take care of all your fantasy needs.
Aaron’s back with a 5-part feature on the worst fans in sports. Find them here: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Todd’s back; I wonder if there is a case of copyright infringement (j/k).
Dr. Jay talks about going to a Phillies game and Ryan Howard.
The Good Reverend talks Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC.
Slayer has sexy nurses and football, need I say more.
Phillip is back with his 5 breakout players in the NBA.
IP Radio brings us an interview with Slayer.
The Forums

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