All posts by Taylor

Rank relief: Bold statement – Houston is a worse team than Seattle

Kyle Seager poses while Josh Fields watches his handiwork

Kyle Seager poses while Josh Fields watches his handiwork

In a game between two pretty bad teams, Josh Fields turned out to have the worst day.  Attempting to close the game and protect a one run lead for the Astros, he gave up three runs in walk off fashion.  Kyle Seager has been awful this season until his two home runs in this game.  I wouldn’t have minded having Seager and his .158 BA up to the plate plate with the game on the line, but he did 22 home runs in 2013 and should be expected to provide that kind of pop going forward.

So exactly how did the 9th inning go for Fields…let’s take a look.

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 8.38.08 PM

After a pair of singles, Field was able to strike out and a game ending double play was in play.  But Fields threw a fat 4 seamer that Seager deposited over the wall.  Game.

The Astros did take 2 of 3 from the Mariners on the road which is a nice accomplishment, but still lag a game behind for last place.  After a hot start, the Mariners have fallen flat on their faces.  Nobody really thinks either of these teams is going anywhere this year, but it could be an interesting race for last place.

Rank Relief: The pinnacle may have been reached

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 8.54.15 PM

We may have witnessed the worst relief performance possible.  Forget Aroldis Chapman, the Reds just need Jonathan Broxton back.  JJ Hoover has been good as a reliable bullpen arm an has worked out of plenty of jams.  Tonight he put himself in one and then decidedly did not work himself out of.  He came in to close with a one run lead after Brandon Phillips helped the Reds get the lead with a two run shot.

This was his line:

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 9.09.49 PM

I guess you could say that Joey Votto didn’t help him by going for the double play instead of taking the out at first, but the rest was very bad.  Lead off walk, bunt for hit, walk, grand salami.  What the f*ck?  That is very bad.  The Reds love Hoover…as a regular relief guy.  Not as the best arm in the bullpen.

Good luck to the Reds as they continue to chase their second win of the season.

2014 Season Predictions: Stone cold guesses

Predictions are predictably wrong.  But just in case we can get them right, it’s fun to go back and look at what you thought.  These are not based on simulations or modeling which is probably the best way to do things.  If you want those, there are plenty of places that do that.  The best thing about my predictions is that you know they came from the guy who picked the Angels to make the World Series…and the Blue Jays to win the AL East.  What can I say?  I guess I’m a sucker for the higher priced things in life.  (Side note:  No way can I get on board with paying a portly slugger $30M when he’s 41.)

Without further ado, here is what I think will happen during the 2014 season:

National League

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.56.55 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.57.03 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.57.32 PM

I have the Nationals and Reds meeting up in the Queen City for the wild card matchup with the Nationals throwing Stephen Strasburg and winning.

I have the Dodgers falling short again to the Cardinals in the NLCS to make their second World Series in a row.  These two staffs are really good, but I see the Cardinals as the better staff overall – and that will prove the difference.

American League

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.56.15 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.56.33 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.56.46 PM

I think the Red Sox and A’s match up in the wild card with Sonny Gray putting his big boy pants on and shutting down Boston.

The Yankees will somehow beat the Tigers in the ALCS and get back to the place they seemingly were every year.

World Series:

That trip will be short lived however as the Cardinals will win the World Series this year. I hate this as a Reds fan and hopefully I will jinx them by picking them (I won’t).  Let’s say it will take 7 games to add some drama in my life.

Other Predictions:

AL MVP – Mike Trout.  He’s the best player and he’ll finally get over the Miggy hump.

NL MVP - Ryan Braun Bryce Harper – The story becomes Harper vs. Trout.  He’s looked jacked this spring and has all the skills in the world.

AL Cy Young – Justin Verlander.  I know the trend is down, but with much of the top pitching in the NL I think he’s got a shot.

NL Cy Young – Stephen Strasburg.  If he’s healthy and dealing I think he is on Kershaw’s level.  Voters like new faces.

 

I almost had my son randomly pick teams for this as it might be as accurate.  That post might be coming up soon.

 

 

 

 

Seattle Mariners 2014 Team Preview

Robinson Cano looks on while the reigning king of the Mariners let’s the creepy camera man take a picture.

The 2014 previews continue onward, with today’s team being the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners preview is written by a Reds fan living in Seattle, Taylor Wolfe. Taylor has written for the site for a good long while. You can follow him on twitter here, or see some of his past work on MLB Beef or Diamond Hoggers.

The sun is just beginning to break through the gray of winter in the Pacific NW.  The sun is a rare sight in the winter unless you are skiing in the cascades or up high enough in the mountains.  But when the sun comes, it comes gloriously, bringing 70 degree days and baseball.  The quality of the summer days cannot be debated.  The quality of the team that trots out onto SafeCo field is another matter.

The Mariners made (maybe) the biggest splash in the offseason after several years of mediocrity – signing Robinson Cano as a free agent from the Yankees.  The signing has come with surprisingly little fan far in Seattle.  The biggest reason is likely that no one has been thinking about baseball while the Seahawks were winning the Super Bowl.  With two highly paid veterans and most of the young talent on the club or quickly approaching, it seems the Mariners might be poised to contend.  The biggest problem are 3 other teams in their division.  The Rangers, Angels, and A’s all have real sights on the postseason.

So we know the Mariners dropped a pot of gold in Cano’s lap, but what else did they do anything else to help out a team that finished 71-91 last year. Continue reading

Felix Hernandez is in for a (relatively) rough year

I wasn’t really surprised when the Mariners shelled out big money ($175M for 7 years) for Felix Hernandez.  Seattle loves him and he’s been by far the best player on the team since Ichiro began his decline.  He even brought Seattle a perfect game.

He’s thrown over 200 innings for 6 years straight and 190+ the two years before that – an absolute workhorse.  But allegedly the Mariners were worried enough about his health to put an injury clause in that mega contract.   His stats actually were very good in 2013, posting a career high in K/BB of 4.70 even as his GB% shrank to near career lows.  Fly balls aren’t really an issue in the cavernous SafeCo.  This prediction is less base on skill degradation and more based on my expectation of an injury or playing through one.

I think he will still be a top 10-15 pitcher on a nightly basis when he goes, but getting value means having home out there every five days. If this doesn’t happen, the Mariners aren’t going to be happy plunking down $25M a year for 20 starts.

And fantasy owners using a third round pick aren’t going to overly thrilled either.  Maybe take a shot at Carlos Gomez or Giancarlo Stanton instead.  Wait two rounds and grab David Price, Chris Sale or Zack Greinke as your first pitcher.

MLB.tv officially renewed

Officially renewed my MLB.tv premium account for 2014.  Especially during the summer when I usually dump cable, being able to watch the Reds, Mariners and all the great matchups is a serious bump to the summer enjoyment level.

I’m hoping to complete the back patio so that I can come home from work, turn on the Reds game in the 3rd inning on the iPad and watch the game whilst (yes…whilst) consuming an adult beverage in the sun.

MLB.tv as a product puts every other sports package to shame.  I’m assuming the others will catch up eventually but only time will tell.

Pro tip:  If you don’t have cable and want to watch your home team or a national ESPN game, you can spoof your IP to make it look like you’re logging in from somewhere else.  I’m sure this is breaking the terms of service so do so at your own risk.

Rank Relief: Two bad teams are still bad

Luis Garcia can't even look at the moonshot he just gave up.

Justin De Fratus can’t even look at the moonshot he just gave up.

The Cubs and the Phillies are both bad teams.  One was smart and sold excess assets at the trade deadline for a pile of young players and/or $ relief.  The other one kept all the pieces that could have helped them start to rebuild.  Maybe they are happy finishing 4th for a few more years.  The smart team did not give up a 3 run bomb in the 9th inning.  Tonight’s rank relief was a real tag team effort.  Luis Garcia set ‘em up and Justin De Fratus knocked ‘em down.  The saving grace here was a pick off throw that prevented a grand slam.  Generally, and let me emphasize, generally it is not a good idea to walk 3 batters in a row in the 9th inning.  If I had to pick one of these teams to be a fan of for the next five years, it would definitely not be the Phillies – who are holding on to Chase Utley and Cliff Lee like they are 3 games out of the wildcard.

RR 8.6 - 2

The combined damage:  3 walks, 1 home run.  the best part was who they gave the home run up to.  D. Murphy.  Daniel?  No.  David?  no.  Donnie.  Donnie Murphy.

Rank Relief: Joe Nathan loses, Mo gets another save

Putting that sassy hand on your hip isn't going to bring back that triple Joe.

Putting that sassy hand on your hip isn’t going to bring back that triple Joe.

It’s always bad news to walk players in the 9th when you are trying to close out the game.  Joe Nathan made that mistake today.  After walking Vernon Wells (who walks Vernon wells?) a wild pitch advanced Wells to second.  It didn’t really matter what base he was on because Eduardo Nunez crushed a ball to deep center field and ended up a third base (no throw).  That tied the game.  With only one out,  Brent Lillibridge was able to seal the deal with a single to score Nunez and the Yankees took the lead for good.  Full damage below:

RR 7.23 - 2

One walk, one wild pitch, two hits, two runs, and only two outs.  The Yankees lineup is so far from what we are used to seeing, but somehow they are getting it done and hanging around the standings.  It looks like they are getting Alfonso Soriano soon.  They could be primed to make a run.  And thanks to Joe Nathan blowing the save, the best closer ever got one instead.

What the hell is going to happen in the second half? A brief preview

These two will be slugging it out in the second half

The first half of the season has been a great one.  Highlighted by Chris Davis’s home run bonanza, no hitters by Homer Bailey and Tim Lincecum, two brawls in Los Angeles, the upstart Pirates claiming the 3rd best record in baseball, Miggy cementing himself as the most dominant hitter since Barry Bonds and other great moments.  The standing may not look very much like I thought they would at the beginning of the season but they are nonetheless interesting.  Here’s where we stand so far in both leagues:

AL standings 7.15NL standings 7.15

A few observations:

  • The Red Sox, the only team I said didn’t have a shot to win the AL east, are in first place in the toughest division in baseball (sorry NL Central).
  • The Pirates have had another great first half.  Can they avoid another second half dumpster fire?
  • Oakland has the best record in baseball over the last 162 games.  Look at the roster.  It’s incredible.
  • My NL World series pick, the Giants, are not making me look good.  I still feel a second half run.
  • The Houston Astros and Miami Marlins haven’t let anybody down by being the worst teams in baseball.

This isn’t really the mid point in the season.  Teams have played over 90 games.  They have less than 70 games to keep their lead or make up ground.  Buster Olney put together a list of the toughest schedules left among the contenders. (Insider)  Hint:  It’s the Royals, Braves have easiest.  I think the Red Sox and the A’s end up with the AL wild cards.  The Rays, Tigers, and Rangers will take the divisions.  In the NL, The Dodgers and Reds will manage to get the wild cards while the Braves, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks will win the divisions.http://diamondhoggers.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=14977&action=edit

Maybe the biggest question looming over the second half is whether Chris Davis can continue his torrid pace and get over the 60 HR mark and prevent Miguel Cabrera from winning his second straight Triple Crown in the process.  I’m pegging Davis to come up short of 60…somewhere around 55-57.  Which, clearly is still ridiculous and will be enough to stay ahead of Cabrera.

What about some of the smaller plots?  Let’s see:

  • Can Max Scherzer hold onto his sizable lead in the AL Cy Young race?  No.  I’m going to go with Yu Darvish.  Hopefully his injury issue is nothing and he’ll be right back.
  • Who will be the big buyer/seller at the trade deadline?  With team’s valuing their prospects more, the big deals are harder to come buy, but I think the Dodgers will make some moves now that they are within striking distance.  The White Sox will definitely be unloading and, despite the public saying to the contrary, the Phillies will figure out that they need to blow that thing up.
  • What will happen with the Biogenesis scandal?  Who will get suspended?  I’ve made it known I don’t agree with the MLB’s investigation tactics, but it looks more and more like they will suspend somewhere between a few and a bunch of players.  This is going to get ugly before it gets better.
  • When will Ryan Ludwick come back and help the anemic Reds offense?  Just kidding…nobody cares about this.

These questions and more will be on the mind of baseball fans for another few months.  We’ll get answers and most of us will have sarcastic things to say about it on Twitter.  Enjoy the second half.

This post was sponsored by The Sports Geek. If you like baseball, and you like to bet; we suggest you give them a click and check it out.

 

AL wins exhibition game and is rewarded with home field advantage in season’s most important series

I don’t really have to explain how it’s stupid to have an exhibition game between the two leagues determine for one team who gets home field advantage in the World Series, particularly given the way the rosters are put together….however.

For now I’ll enjoy the pitching show the AL put on tonight. They only gave up three hits to an all-star NL lineup.  Here is the pitching numbers from the night.

AL pitching 7.16

For the offensive side, Jose Bautista ended up with the game winning hit – a sacrifice fly in the 4th inning.  JJ Hardy and Jason Kipnis added the 2nd and 3rd RBIs.  The best offensive play on the night was clearly Prince Fielder legging out a triple.

Prince triple 7.16

Not the most graceful slide I’ve ever but kudos for the hustle

The NL didn’t fare well.  Never getting more than a hit in any inning and only advancing a man to 3rd base once.

It’s fun to see all these guys get together and play a game and mostly have a lot of fun doing it.  It was fun to see Mariano Rivera get the MVP in his last game (not sure why they didn’t use him for the save).

A few final thoughts:

  • Fantasy owners are pissed at Matt Harvey for knocking the knee of Robinson Cano.
  • Neil Diamond is old and its hard to get New York fans to sing a Boston song.  I’ve never seen more disinterested New York fans as I did during the first verse of “Sweet Caroline”.
  • Has there been a better player than Carlos Beltran who has played for 5 different teams and seemingly been written off several times.
  • I have no idea how Joe Mauer didn’t throw out Andrew McCutchen.  Perfect throw.
  • Manny Machado made another ridiculous play at 3rd.  When is this guy moving to shortstop?

Try to enjoy tomorrow.  It’s the only day in the year with out a game played by any major sport.  Maybe read a book or do something productive with your life.  You’ll only have one day to do it.

 

Francisco Liriano IcyHot Award: Zack Greinke

Greinke spun the ball well this week

So far this season, Zack Greinke has been known more for being in the center of brawls than for his pitching.  First there was this.  Then this.  He spent weeks on the DL after getting trucked by Carlos Quentin in the first brawl.  He’s been pitching well, but this week he was lights out.  He pitched 16 innings of 4 hit ball and only gave up 3 walks in the process.  Oh…and he also struck out 16.  He also pitched against two pretty good offenses in Arizona and Colorado.  The Dodgers paid a shit ton of money for Greinke to pitch like this and, for the moment, he is more than earning his keep.

FL 7.15

Hot runner’s up:  Tim Lincecum, Chris Archer

Icy runner’s up:  Edison Volquez, Ian Kennedy

Francisco Liriano IcyHot Award: David Price

Before we get started on Price, let me announce I’m back after a long journey the opposite side of the globe.  I was able to keep up on some baseball even though I took some bad losses in my fantasy league.  Baseball isn’t extremely popular over in India, but they have figured out that swinging a piece of wood at a ball can be fun.  I saw lots of this being played in the local Indian “sandlot”.

I was actually near this field. This enthusiastic young man wasn’t playing at the time though.

It was a great trip, but I was ready to get and just in time for the mid-summer classic.  I’m hoping to come back better than ever, just like our award winner this week.  David Price spent close to 2 months on the DL with a triceps injury, but came back with a bang this week.  In his first 2 starts back he went 2-0 , pitched 16 innings and only gave up 1 run while striking out 16.  Any worry than Price wouldn’t be quite right was quickly put to rest.  The Rays’ playoffs hopes are definitely given a huge boost by Rpice’s presence anchoring the rotation and probably eases the pressure a bit on youngster Matt Moore.

FL 7.8

 

Honorable Mentions:

Icy: Matt Cain, Jerome Williams

Hot:  Clayton Kershaw, Matt Moore

 

 

Rank Relief: Cleveland goes Cleveland

Shaw hides his face after Hosmer ties the game with a double

Shaw hides his face after Hosmer ties the game with a double

The Cleveland Indians had been having a fairly nice year compared to expectations.  After today they are trailing the Royals by a half game.  It looked like Cleveland was in line for a win after Carlos Carrasco worked 7 shutout innings.  The 8th inning proved to be a little trickier.  After putting a man on second, Carrasco exited, leaving Bryan Shaw to shut the door.  He did not.  An Eric Hosmer double tied the game.  And then in the 9th Cleveland goes Cleveland by giving up the winning run on a wild pitch – courtesy of Matt Albers.  Not a great way to leave the field.  Lets detail the mess.

RR 6.17 - 2

RR 6.17 - 3

 

Francisco Liriano IcyHot Award: Jon Lester

The pained look on Lester’s face is shared by Red Sox nation right now.

Jon Lester just isn’t the same guy anymore.  After starting the year on a decent streak, he’s been nothing but terrible over the past month. His previous six starts, he gave up earned runs of 5,4,4,3,7,5.  Yikes.  This week brought the 7 and 5 numbers.  He’s taken losses in 4 out is last six starts with no wins.  I know the Red Sox are in 1st place, but I don’t see how they hold on with Lester, supposedly the staff ace, pitching like this.  Lester gets the award this week for being Icy cold on the mound.  He racked up an 11.17 ERA and a 2.48 WHIP.  The amazing part is that he was striking guys out.  11 Ks in 9 innings.  Usually if your missing bats, you can manage to not give up 7 earned runs in a game.  Maybe next week.

FL 6.17