Your Saturday Baseball Open Thread

Last night was a crummy Friday night as far as the baseball world went. Jay Bruce and Jason Heyward went deep for the fourth and seventh times respectively, but both the Reds and Braves lost games that they nearly could have had the “W”.

Today is a Saturday, a glorious and finally warm Saturday. We’re headed to Cincinnati to see Josh Johnson mow down about a dozen of our Redlegs in a probable 8 or 9 innings of work. If the Reds don’t find a way tonight, they’ll be under .500 on the season. Something just doesn’t ‘feel’ right so far.

Full detailed write-up and pictures from the park upcoming. Enjoy your Saturday, it’s the best day of the week.

Jason Heyward: The New ‘Swingman’ of Nike

When I was a kid, Ken Griffey Jr. was Nike’s ‘Swingman’.

They were the shoes to have. The kids in little league that had the Griffey baseball kicks were the ones I always envied. And if Nike devotes their time to creating a baseball shoe, you know a guy is the real deal.

Jason Heyward is gonna be that guy for your kids and my kids. Every once in a blue moon, we’re blessed with one of these great, generational talents that is a likable figure and has that sweet stroke. Right now, Heyward is that guy.

Nike capitalized on the opportunity by making Heyward the new ‘Swingman’. After the jump, the pics that J-Hey posted on twitter of his shiny new shoes. Continue reading

Drivin’ with Derek!

Derek Lowe’s absolutely gross season continues.

I don’t know what’s more dangerous, racing another driver in your souped up vehicle while you’re half in the bag, or starting Lowe at any point in a fantasy baseball league where money on the line.

I’m only guilty of one of those (this month), and the night I decided I was going to out-smart everyone else in the league who didn’t want Lowe and his sinking shit that doesn’t sink anymore, he gave up about a month’s worth of earned runs in an inning out in Los Angeles. So maybe that’s why he’s out boozing and then racing people, I don’t know and who am I to judge anyways.

That said, it would be nice if Lowe could stay out of the bottle and get it together so that the Braves can make a run at things in the NL East.

“I’m just trying to hit for average and they keep throwing it in my wheelhouse”

That’s what Ben Zobrist had to say yesterday after his 8 RBI ballgame via text message to our buddy Dave at Next Level Ballplayer. Oh, and then he took a 10 minute power nap, had a cup of coffee, played a game of spades in the clubhouse with teammates and went out and drove in 2 more runs and homered again in the nightcap of the doubleheader.

Here is the thing, you drive in 10 RBI in a day, and you’re going to make Diamond Hoggers every single time. We don’t care how we have to fit it in. Then you start texting a buddy of ours with a humble mentality about it and you’re a real lock for the site. Honestly, I went home and decided I’m trading for him in MLB the Show 11 in every single franchise. What a precious player Ben Zobrist is. And yes, I was lucky enough to have him in the lineup for one of my fantasy teams yesterday.

What a day for Ben Zobrist. Diamond Hoggers salutes you–and you’re going to make us look like geniuses when you win comeback player of the year in the AL!

We interrupt your precious baseball season for the NFL Draft

The Reds have the day off. It’s one of those dreaded lightly-scheduled ‘travel days’ for the sport we call our favorite (and the only sport we truly know like we know ourselves).

Is it coincidental that the NFL Draft happens to fall on this night? We think not.

Last year we were flipping back and forth between baseball and the draft and then pretty much skipped watching the entire draft. The Reds were locked up with the Dodgers in a tight one and that took precedence. This year, we guess it will be nice to give one night in the spring to football.

I made my debut over at Monkeys Throwing Darts today, with a Mock Draft that’s sure to be further off than Kiper and Mcshay’s yearly mess. If you need a little primer, head over there and tell me how brutal my picks are. And if you’re planning on enjoying a few big boy pops for tonight’s main event, here’s an NFL Draft Drinking Game that will get you drunk.

All-Star Voting is in Session

Somehow we didn’t see this anywhere, but we feel it’s newsworthy.

All-Star Voting has opened up at MLB.com, and you’ve got the chance to send the big leaguer of your choice to Arizona’s Chase Field for the mid-summer’s classic in July.

So today on the clock at work, we pushed across about 10 odd votes for our favorite guys. It’s all in vain, but it’s neat to think that we could account for 1,000 or so odd votes for guys like Heyward, Brandon Phillips, and Joey Votto if we do this right by the time voting closes.

So vote early, vote often. Because every vote counts. And we don’t want the Cardinals fans sending any turds like Nick Punto to the All-Star Game. So vote with your head and not your heart.

Sergio Santos, a star is born

Because the Jay Bruce problem really is a problem, I feel I deserved this fantasy miracle that is Sergio Santos. Special hat tip goes out to @closernews on this one.

Every now and then you just get the feeling that someone is going to do the job at the Major League level and do it well. For me, this is going to be one of those guys. The guy is a stud. The stuff is good (14 K’s/5 walks), and the moxy is better. He went into Yankee Stadium and earned two clutch saves in ballgames that the Sox needed badly. That’s the kind of performances that put a stranglehold on the closer job in a city.

Santos said that he wanted to be the closer. Ozzie Guillen ranted like a proud papa, almost to the point of gushing, about his confidence.

In this challenging fantasy season that has been filled with a fun-house of injuries, slumps, and disappointments; Sergio Santos will remain a gleaming gift of the fantasy baseball lords.

Wind him up, and watch him save 40.

HT: Holy Lillibridge.

Throwing it around

Happy Monday. We hope you didn’t have too many hard-boiled eggs yesterday, resulting in a nasty stomach ache. One time we went on a protein diet and had like 4 or 5 in an evening. That night, we were sure that we were being ravaged by the effects of appendicitis. Doubled over and nearly on the verge of tears, we were talked out of calling an ambulance by our fiance. The next morning, we woke up and saw the egg shells in the trashcan. They were the culprit. It was awful. Here are the best baseball links money can buy for the day:

-Jose Bautista the best hitter in the AL? Before you laugh, the post is by Dave Cameron. [FanGraphs]
-The Golden Sombreros are racking up fast and furious. Brett Gardner was the latest victim. [The Golden Sombrero]
-Is Mariano Rivera finally fading? [ESPN SweetSpot]
-The Mariners will limit Micheal Pineda’s workload. [Hardball Talk]
-Major League Debuts from the last week in baseball action. [Bus Leagues Baseball]
-Vintage Nolan Ryan YouTube. ‘Nuff said. [Big League Stew]
-A good write-up from last night’s Easter stinker the Reds laid in St. Louis. [The Real McCoy]
-The bottom line for MLB is that TV is a bigger money maker than the gate. [Deadspin]
-Drew Stubbs leads the league with four ‘just enough’ home runs. I think he’ll take them. [Hit Tracker]

Monday Rant: Hanley Ramirez is Sabotaging my Fantasy Squad

Hanley Ramirez is now concerned about his slump to begin the season.

“I know I’m going to get out of it,” he said. “At the end of the year, the numbers are going to be there.

“So I’ve just got to go through it right now and try to get out of it soon, get back on track.”

Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later. If you remember, I used the #3 overall pick in the draft on Hanley Ramirez. He’s burying me, along with the likes of Adam Dunn of course. But Hanley is a guy you need the production from. Especially when you leave a guy like Troy Tulowitzki on the board. Especially when I knew better, when I had talked with colleagues the week earlier and said that I know I needed to take Tulo over Hanley because something like this scared me about Hanley. Tulo seemed hungrier to me.

People want to keep preaching patience. They want to tell you that it’s early. But in  a money fantasy baseball league, teams aren’t easy to jump. You get the stats early and you take them and don’t look back. You don’t win leagues on what is supposed to happen in the future.

Right now, the numbers that Hanley has given me are meager at best. No longballs and 7 RBI’s. A .182/.299/.242 slash line in a league that counts all of those categories and walks. He’s scored four runs.

Tulo on the other hand, has provided his owner (well ahead of me in the standings) with 7 home runs, 16 RBI’s, and a .333/.430/.705 slash line. That’ll work from a shortstop.

So lets say I decide on the argument against Tulo. After all, I stupidly bought into the fact that he gets hurt; which I’m growing fairly certain this is the prime year of his that he plays in 158 games and is fine all year. The other guy I had my eye on was Ryan Braun. The only thing the Hebrew Hammer has done is go out and prove that he’s adequate competition to take home an MVP award over Tulo.

Braun has the 7 homers, 18 RBI’s, he’s stolen two bags and scored a league leading 21 runs. His slash line is gorgeous at .377/.479/.688 for the year and he hasn’t really gotten hot yet, he’s just working at the yeoman’s pace that he will probably toot along at all year.

Jeffrey Loria needs to have a wine and seafood sit-down with his shortstop and let him know that it’s time to get his shit together. Buy him another diamond pendant, kiss his ass, extend him until 2032 if you have to. Whatever it’s going to take to get this emotionally fragile player to start hitting his weight again and then some.

If I have to field one more trade offer for Hanley that amounts to a 4th tier outfielder and a 3rd starter for a last place club, I might have to shoot someone.

Monday’s are awful, and they’re even worse when your first round pick in a money league is killing you with his remedial 0 for 4 performances that amount to my team as a whole hitting around .221 collectively.

Dear Hanley, please get your shit together soon or I’m parking your ass on my bench daring you to spite me and replacing you with a slap hitter like Erick Aybar. No matter what you do for the rest of the year and the next two dreadful years after this one in which I am subjected to your moodiness and lack of hustle; I will never forgive you for April 2011, you goon.

Jason Heyward is a Weekend Giant in the Bay Area

[Box Score]

[AJC Braves]

Jason Heyward had a big, big weekend. After a day on Saturday in which he went 2 for 3 with two walks with Tim Lincecum on the bump, he had a big hand in getting the Braves the sweep on the road in San Francisco. Heyward hit a bomb that was well over 450 feet to give the Braves a 5-2 lead. He hit this off Jeremy Affeldt, a tough lefthander.

The Giants didn’t go down without a fight, scoring three runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to take a 6-5 lead. Like clockwork, Dan Uggla hit his 5th home run of the year to tie the game at 6-6 in the top of the 8th. The Braves waited out the Giants for a few more innings and in the top of the 10th inning they picked up three runs–two of the runs plated coming on a Nate Mclouth single.

The more I think about it, I see Jason Heyward as the next 50 home run guy in baseball. I know some might think I’m getting ahead of myself in saying that, but I think it’s coming. I think he’ll find his way to about 35 this season, and next year or the year after he’ll hit over 50 home runs.

Sunday Night Baseball Liveblog

We’ll be doing this every week along with The Golden Sombrero and Off-Base Percentage. So if you find yourself not doing much on Sunday Nights except watching the crew at ESPN (I’m loving Orel Hershiser) and whoever is playing the final game of the week–why not join us?

And what better night to roll it out then when the Reds are trying to take 2 of 3 from the Cardinals in St. Louis? By the way, Happy Easter everyone.

Your Saturday Baseball Open Thread

Saturdays when I was a kid meant that it was a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to get to watch some team that was out of market. If you were lucky when I was a kid, The Straw might have been on FOX 28 Columbus.

With today being the best day of the week, we’ve got a full slate of games to take in. Make sure your fantasy lineup is updated, because everyone’s in play today.

And if you look for him hard enough–maybe, just maybe; you’ll see Straw with that big beautiful sweeping left handed swing pound one into the upper deck orange seats at Shea Stadium. Was there anything better than late 80’s and early 90’s baseball if you grew up in the era that I did?

The Ride May be Over for Derek Jeter

My fiance might not like that I am making this post, but it needs to be done. Even more scary about it is I wasn’t crazy enough to take a flier Derek Jeter on any of my 6 various fantasy baseball teams and I’m still writing the post.

I saw a stat today that is somewhat concerning for Jetes and Yankee faithful. For every fly ball he hits, Jeter is grounding out 2.93 times. It is concerning more because it’s a regression even from when he led baseball with a 1.96/1 groundout-to-flyout ratio last season. His line drive rate is 13.6%, which is considerably lower than his 19.6% career average and down from his career low of 16.1% last year.

You have to hand it to Jeter and his agent trying to squeeze one last premiere contract out of the Yankees in the off-season before his hand was completely shown.

Jeter is hitting .219 on the season with no home runs and 4 RBI.

Indeed, the ride may be over. Whether or not Mrs. Diamond Hoggers wants to admit it.

MLB looking at expanding playoffs for 2012

Yesterday Bud Selig indicated that the madmen who run our great game are looking at expanding the postseason.

“I would say we’re moving to expanding the playoffs, but there’s a myriad of details to work out,” Commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday at his annual meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors. “Ten is a fair number.

What does this mean to you and I and the great game that we love so much? It’s likely that the addition of a Wild Card team in each league be a greater opportunity for big-market teams to reach the playoffs. Thus, ratings will see a boost; and there will be less and less moments like the one pictured above that your kids will tell their grand-kids about.

Most people probably think that with more teams in the playoffs, there will be more big time moments and maybe it will even be their team! The fact is, it dilutes the quality of postseason baseball, making new era postseason statistics a watered down misnomer of their former self.