Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Out with the old in with the new

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Houston’s long time ace Roy Oswalt has finally been traded as he will be packing his bags heading to Philadelphia. Houston in turn got a great deal as they were handed pitcher J.A. Happ, OF Anthony Gose and SS Jonathan Villar. The Astros then immediately traded Gose to the Blue Jays to receive top hitting prospect Brett Wallace. Despite one of my favorite players leaving, the trade was much-needed as this was definitely a huge boost as the Astros are now in the rebuilding phase of their organization. J.A. Happ has been in the majors for four years but has been hurt majority of this season. Last year he finished with a 12-4 record and an ERA of 2.93. He is still young and should become of the new faces of this team. There are obviously much more that is needed in the rotation but this is a great start. Houston doesn’t have a deep pool in the farm system as far as pitchers so there will be much more trading in the future. Jonathan Villar is a fast short stop and is pretty decent at hitting. He would be a top of the line up guy for his ability to get on base. The only knock on this kid is he makes a lot of fielding errors. In fact this season he has made already 42 which is way unacceptable to claim any starting job in the majors. The biggest thing Houston may of gotten out of this was the trade to the Blue Jays. Brett Wallace may have been the best hitting prospect in the Jays organization. Wallace has the ability to hit for power which is much needed and he also has the ability to knock in a lot of runs. Throughout his whole career in the minors, he has had a batting average over .280. Right now Lance Berkman is Houston’s first baseman. There have been rumors though that he may be traded for more pitching. In this case, Wallace will be Berkman’s next replacement and will be one of the main pieces of this team. Overall I am really pleased with this trade and even though we lost a hero we gained so much more. I am excited to see what happens down the road and if bigger trades will become more prevalent.


Astros 4-0 victory vs Reds avoids series Sweep

In Houston Astros 2010 Season on July 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Even though the second half of the season has started off better than the first, Houston’s overall play is still as bad as ever. Despite being 3-3 heading into their home series with the Reds, the Astros offense is still dormant and their only ace wants out-of-town. I am always optimistic about Houston turning things around and making those late season runs like they did in the mid 2000 years. This year shows no sign of this promising turn around. Though Houston is now 40-58, I am honestly surprised they have 40 wins considering their overall of inconsistent play. Houston has brought in a few new faces to help revamp this season with players as Chris Johnson, Kevin Cash, Jason Bourgeois and Angel Sanchez. Kevin Cash is now gone as he was traded to the Red Sox for Angel Sanchez. Chris Johnson has been pretty solid since his call up from Round Rock. He is currently on a nine game hitting streak while is overall batting average is .315. He has seem to be performing than season starter Pedro Feliz.

Bud Norris took game one of the series and once again struggled to keep earned run down to a minimal. Even though Red’s starter Travis Wood also struggled, Houston’s bullpen once again failed to keep runs off the board as the Reds scored two runs after a 4-4 tie to win the game 6-4. It seems of lately there are only about one or two players in the lineup that do any significant damage per game. It is always a different player and it is very rare when all the players are able to come through. Chris Johnson has been one of the more consistent players as of lately but it was Hunter Pence in this game that help Houston get on the scored board. One of the new arrivals Angel Sanchez performed well too but when your main bats in Berkman and Lee are incapable of producing, the rest of this team isn’t talented enough to win ball games late. Of course this has been a repeating story all year long and once in awhile you will see the bats clicking. Houston does have the capabilities to knock in runs but even with that  baseball clubs heavily rely on pitching.

Oswalt who has been in the media for the past week took game two and probably had his worst outing of the season giving up six runs in a mere five innings. Things seem to being going downhill for Oswalt as he just wants to get out of town. The fans of Houston have always loved The Wizard but majority of them understand why he wants to leave. We cannot be mad at him and knew this was coming at the beginning of this season and probably part through last. Houston’s total of four hits in this game just solidifies why Oswalt is just getting tired of trying to be perfect out there every time when the offense cannot muster more hits than the Hanson Brothers. Once again Chris Johnson was the only one able to record more than one hit in this game and has pretty much claimed the starting roll at third. It is a good thing that the Astros only signed Pedro Feliz to a one year contract and didn’t lose much when he becomes a FA.

Game three is always a must win when you are already down 0-2 in any series. Just becomes more a of a pride issue. Even though the Reds are in first in the division, losing three straight in a series especially at home is never a good feeling.  With Wandy Rodriguez on the mound, I am sure many people chalked this up as a loss but surprisingly Wandy pitched well and usually does at home. He does have eight wins which is only 6 less than his 2009 total but is one loss from matching 2009 too. He is probably one of the biggest disappointments this year as many people believed that he is finally become a reliable starter. You can always blame lack of offense but remember, Houston has been shooting blanks for a while. I am not really sure why Wandy cannot perform well on the road. We all know it is tougher but eventually you will figure it out. Could be a mentality ordeal just what Brad Lidge went through but not as worse.This game the Astros line up was more productive top to bottom. Bourn had a good game going 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs while Johnson and Pence both hit solo shots. There have been rumors that closer Matt Lindstrom could be traded but as of now he is still in an Astros uniform where he was able to come close the game out but not in a save situation.

The Chicago Cubs who the Astros recently took the series from in Chicago come rolling into town for a three game set then they will play the Brewers following. To come out of this 3-3 would be nice and a success. I can see them going 2-4 in the next six games and Oswalt trade negotiations should be really heating up more.

Series win, Astros even second half record

In Houston Astros 2010 Season on July 22, 2010 at 11:54 am

Starting off the second half season with back to back road series is something any team hates to do. It is something that the Astros would have loved to avoid considering that they started off the beginning of the season 0-8. After notching a win to start the second half, Houston at least knew that they had at least one win under their belt and could probably breathe a little easier. Unfortunately Houston dropped the next two as they were outscored 23-6. Bud Norris pitched game two and was rocked early sending him back to the showers after only 4.2 innings pitched. By then the score was 5-4 but the bullpen couldn’t manage to stop the bleeding. Roy Oswalt took the mound game three and pitched well before leaving the game after being hit in the ankle by a ball. After that the bullpen fell apart again and the offense was only able to manage three hits to Pittsburgh suddenly potent offense which finished with 19.

Then Houston went to Chicago to face their division rival Cubs. After looking terrible against the basement dweller Pirates, another poor outing by this club look inevitable. I was proven wrong as Houston took again the first game of the series winning 11-5 and Wandy looked good on the road which is extremely rare. Third basemen Chris Johnson was a double away from reaching the cycle has he finished the day going 3 for 5 with three RBIs. Every starting player in the lineup was able to notch out a hit as the Astros finished with 17.

Game two was a completely different story as the Cubs brought out the bats and pounded the Stros 14-7. Houston was able to jump on top of the Cubs 6-0 but then the bullpen once again failed to not give up runs. Wesley Wright who has been coming out of the bullpen started his first game of his career and pitched well until the 5th inning rolled around where he gave up six runs. Chris Johnson had another huge game going 2 for 4 with 2 RBis.

Game three the bats finally cooled off as it became a pitching showdown as Brett Myers took the mound for the Astros while Ted Lilly was he counterpart. The game last twelve innings and with the help of two home runs by Jason Michaels, the Astros won 4-3. Acquired from the Red Sox this year, SS Angel Sanchez went 3 of 6 and has hit well while being in an Astros uniform.

Brett Myers, whose name has been thrown around in trade talks, has pitched well his last 5 of 6 outings. Out of those five outings, Myers once only lasted six innings, otherwise it was 7 or more. Also he was able to notch three wins amongst those outings and would probably have more if Houston could score earlier for him.

Another pitching that has been in the news again is Roy Oswalt. He has openly said that he wants to be traded but the club that picks him up also needs to pick up his $16 million option. According to sources, the Philadelphia Phillies are highly interested in acquiring the 32 year old righthander. Oswalt who has been with the Astros his whole career since 2001, has now maybe scared off any big time contenders going after him. He hasn’t been as dominate the past couple of season but many reasons could factor into that. The Phillies are looking for a solid arm to add to their top heavy rotation to help them win the NL East. The price tag might be too much and the Phillies could be shopping else where for another arm at a cheaper price. With the Braves already making a big splash in the trade market, this trade talk could come to an dead end pretty soon.

Second Half Predictions

In Around The League on July 18, 2010 at 1:50 pm

The NL finally won an All-Star game that will finally secure home field advantage when the World Series rolls around. This might be really important considering out of the top ten teams so far that half of them are AL squads but the Yankees and Rays are 1 and 2 while Boston, Texas, Chicago WS are 5,6, and 7. Now with the second half underway I don’t think there will be a lot of changes to the top of each division leader boards.

The American League East current has the New York Yankees sitting atop with the Rays and Red Sox not too far behind. I think the Yankees should walk away with this division unless some major catastrophe occurs. They are just on a different level of playing field when it comes to the rest of baseball. This being said, they Rays and Red Sox will be battling it out for the wild card spot. The Rays currently hold a 3.5 game lead and have been playing ball down the stretch. They are younger and I think more talented than the Red Sox. In my seasoning predictions, I had the Rays finishing behind the Red Sox and that still could be true. Veterans over youth is always important but the Rays youth seems to be finally understanding how to handle pressure. As far as the rest of the division, the Blue Jays should be extremely positive for how well they have played this season. They are one game above .500 which I wouldn’t have bet and for awhile actually ahead of the Red Sox. The Orioles are just a mess. They might not even win 65 games this year and probably would end up finishing behind the leader by 40 games.

American League Central for awhile look like the Minnesota Twins division. They to me just seem to have the superior staff but with the loss of Joe Nathan, their back end became pretty weak. now they are sitting in third place and 2.5 games out while the White Sox are in the lead. This might be one of the closest division races in baseball because the Twins, White Sox and Tigers will all be contending for first. They all have had great seasons so far and two of them will walk away extremely disappointed come season end. I am still going with my gut instinct and saying that the Twins will pull this out but who ever wins will be much deserving. Also watch for Miguel Cabrera as will be contending for the 30-30-30 club. Unfortunately the AL East is still too strong and the second place team in the Central won’t have a good enough record to snatch the wild card spot away.

The American League West is a two team race. The Texas Rangers keep getting better as the season progresses but the Angels do too. The way the Rangers have been playing the last month and half, you would think they would hold a bigger lead than 3.5 games. With the acquisition of Cliff Lee, Texas has made sure they have a strong enough starting rotation to maintain their lead. I could really see the Rangers make a deep run in the playoff. If Texas can avoid the up and down roller coaster they tend to go on at bad times, they might end up with the best record in baseball. The biggest disappointment here is the Seattle Mariners. They made ton of off-season moves that seemed really positive but now sit in dead last and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The Angels will need to make two big moves soon to add more talent to their line up and rotation. They have given up a lot of runs for a team contending and they will need to fix that or the Rangers will just keep adding to their lead.

The National League East could be the second most entertaining division to watch. Atlanta, Philadelphia and NY Mets are all trying to win this division. This division mirrors the AL East as there are three teams also trying to make a playoff spot also one of these teams might walk away with the wild card too. I had the Phillies winning this and I still think they will. Atlanta has been playing great though which is shocking too me. I didn’t think they were as talented as they are. The Braves traded with Toronto and the two big pieces that were switch were short stops. Yunel Escobar was sent to the Blue Jays while the Braves added Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been much more productive than the Brave’s previous short stop Escobar. Gonzalez average is 20 points better and has double the amount of RBIs. This will add even more depth to the club which should keep them in the hunt as they will expect the Mets and Phillies to make some moves. I could see the Mets slipping away in the race but they are a very scrappy club. Since this isn’t their division to lose, they might play better from behind.

The National League Central has been a two team races for majority of this season. Cardinals and the Reds have switch back and forth taking the division lead and should continue this progress until the end of the season. I honestly didn’t think they Reds would even be contending for first as I though the Cubs would have finally figured out how to play better as a team. Instead the Cubs are ten games out and in fourth. The Reds do have a few studs on their team but it isn’t filled with an all-star caliber lineup. Instead they all mesh really well together and great chemistry can make you a very promising club. They like to play in a lot of close games which I am sure Reds fans hate but they win them. The Cardinals despite being only .5 game out of first should be pretty disappointed. Outside of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, they rest of their lineup hasn’t been as dominating as Cardinal fans hoped for. Colby Rasmus is having a decent year but Ludwick, Schumaker and Molina are all struggling which has kept the Red Birds from really busting this thing wide open. Carpenter and Wainwright are both having great season while Jamie Garcia is showing that he can be a solid third pitcher.

The National League West has been run by the most surprising club of the year, San Deigo Padres. They are one of they worst offensive production clubs in the league but yet have one of the most solid pitching staff. Not filled up with All-Stars, they some how manages to keep on winning. I have mention this before, solid pitching will win you games and they are the perfect definition of that. Their rotation majority of people outside of San Diego wouldn’t have heard of but they know how to win. Outside of Mat Latos who has a 10-4 record, the rest of them record wise are not overly impressive. They just know how to keep runs off the board and then the Padres lack luster offense knows how to score at the right time to win games. Eventually I would think the stress the lack of offensive would build up on the pitchers but that has been yet to be seen. The Giants are in second and Rockies and Dodgers are not too far behind. If the Padres start to struggling, this could become a four team race. It is hard to say who will walk away with this as each club is has been dominating in certain categories.

2010 First Half Top Position Players

In Around The League on July 11, 2010 at 2:38 pm

With a few games left there have been some players that are having a their best seasons of their career. Some will be your typical All-Star list but it is always nice to see the future stars finally rising to their potential. Majority of these players on this years list will be seen in the 2010 All-Star game held in Anaheim, California.

Catcher- Joe Mauer ( Minnesota Twins ) : It looks like the new eight year $ 184 million dollar contract is paying off as Joe Mauer leads all catchers in the majors in overall hitting. He has the highest batting average of all starting catchers are .301, has the most doubles, and second highest OBP. He in reality is one of the best hitters in all of baseball and would be the best player on the Twins if it wasn’t for Justin Morneau outstanding season.

First Base- Miguel Cabrera ( Detroit Tigers) : Right now Miguel is the MLB MVP. He is just not leading all first basemen in hitting but leading baseball. He is on pace to have over 150 RBIs which if reached would be the most in his career. His 21 home-runs ties him for the second most while he is leading the majors with an SLG percentage .647. Of the top 25 first basemen, Cabrera is second overall in runs scored with 63.

Second Base- Robinson Cano ( New York Yankees) : No real surprise here that Cano is a top of this list. One of those future stars has now become a star amongst baseball elites. If his trend continues, he is on pace to break all his career numbers by significant amounts.

Third Base- David Wright ( New York Mets) : Despite Wright being third overall for a third baseman in hitting, his numbers are more impressive than the top two contenders. He already has surpassed his 2009 home-run total, eight away from tying his RBI total and is on pace to have over 200 hits which would be a first in his career. He does have a significant higher strikeout ratio than most third basemen. When he does get on base, Wright is a threat to steal which is why he has a high run total.

Short Stop – Hanley Ramirez ( Florida Marlins) : Once again Ramirez is having another outstanding season and making his third All-Star appearance. Hanley has 53 RBI which is significantly more than majority of the top-tier short stops. Outside of teammate Dan Ugly, Hanley leads the Marlins in most categories. Hanley pretty much has the whole package as a complete player and should be putting up even bigger numbers the second half.

Left Field- Josh Hamilton ( Texas Rangers) : After a slow start to the season, Hamilton has turned in on the past five weeks to become one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. Josh was currently on a 23 game hitting streak before it was snapped against the Angles. During the streak, Hamilton was about to bring his batting average up by .48 %. He is currently tied for second overall in home-runs with 22.

Center Field- Carlos Gonzalez ( Colorado Rockies ) : Just like David Wright, Carlos isn’t atop of of the leaderboard in his current position. Carlos does have better numbers in majority of the stats including home-runs, rbis, runs and SB. He does have more strikeouts than the Rockies would like but still managed to reach 100 hits which is 30 more than his closest teammate Miguel Olivio.

Right Field- Andre Ethier ( Los Angeles Dodgers) : Ethier is definitely having his best year of his career. He should break all his numbers after only being in the majors for five years. His .324 batting average isn’t the highest but his overall consistency to produce runs is more impressive. Andre isn’t a speedster has he only has one stolen base but he won’t strikeout a lot. He has the highest OPS for starting right fielders.

Designated Hitter – Vladimir Guerrero ( Texas Rangers ) : The Rangers look smart for picking up Vlad as the Angels were not able to willing to give him more money. This has paid off significantly for the Rangers has he has been one of the best players on the team and in baseball. His 55 runs, 103 hits, 20 home-runs, 75 rbi, 3o strikeouts, and .322 batting average leads all major DH players.

Pitcher – Ubaldo Jimenez ( Colorado Rockies) : There are ton of pitchers that have performed outstanding this first half but Ubaldo’s 15-1 record just puts him over the top. He ranks in the top 15 for total strikeouts and has the fifth best ERA 2.20 for starting pitchers. He doesn’t give up many hits either which is why he has such a low WHIP at 1.05.

Closer -Joakim Soria ( Kansas City Royals ) : It is always nice to find a player from the Royals that makes any All-Star list but Soria has been one of the most impressive players so far this season. HIs 25 saves leads the majors and he has only blown two games. He doesn’t get as many innings as the rest of the top closers which is why his ERA isn’t the lowest, 2.34. Joakim has only given up nine runs and is in the top ten for strikeouts as a closer.

All-Star Game Thoughts

In Around The League on July 7, 2010 at 5:42 pm

The Astros have begun their series against the Pittsburgh Pirates by winning 6-2. With this being said, Houston has five more games before All-Star week. This will be much-needed considering how of a disappointing of a first half they have had. With bunch of positive anticipation going into the season with the new manager and players looking to continue their 2009 run, the 0-8 start looked to already write their season off. Michael Bourn will be making his first all-star trip as a reserve. If you look at his numbers, they are definitely not worthy of any type of trip but they look pretty memorable compared to the rest of the team. His .262 batting average, 1 HR, 20 RBI and 26 steals are his current credentials. I wouldn’t lose any sleep pondering if he will start or even enter the game. With thirteen other plays in the reserve spot, the only way I can see Bourn entering the game would be as a base-runner due to his beneficial speed on the base pads. He has been relatively strong as a defender as a centerfield but with multiple players providing more spark in the batting order, his speed alone isn’t enough to render any opening in the lineup. There are a couple of other Houston candidates that I could have seen make the cut, Pence and Keppinger. Pence does have more home-runs but both of these players do have a lower batting average. Outside of the City of Houston, most people do not even recognize these players names nor even consider any player an all-star. If Roy Oswalt were able to get significant run support, than he could have made the roster. Lance Berkman has been disappointing and Carlos Lee looks like his days a feared batter are over.

With ideas floating about Stephen Strasburg making the all-star roster, his last two starts should have ending any of those conversations. His debut was outstanding as he struck out 14 and only allowed one run. Since then he has had quality starts giving up one run per game in his next three starts. Just like Oswalt, Strasburg is in the same predicament as he will need to be perfect every start. Washington’s batting is slighty better than Houston but not enough where Strasburg will feel confident going into every game. His last two starts have been decent but notched a loss and a no decision. In the loss, Strasburg allowed 3 earned runs while the Nationals were able to get zero across the plate. In the no decision, two runs were earned but the Nationals couldn’t score soon enough for Stephen to notch the win. He currenlty has a 2-2 record with a 2.45 era and will have one more start before the break.