Archives for: 2009, week 28

07/19/09

Baseball's Second Half National League Forecast

Permalink 05:30:39 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

All World All Sports Blogs

-Digger's Daily-

National League 2009 races aren't packing the same punch as their AL counterparts (current standings). Philadelphia and Los Angeles appear to be locks in their respective divisions. NL Central is up for grabs as only 8.5 games separate six teams. Here's how I see NL play shaping up:

EAST
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES - World Champs have begun distancing themselves from the pack. Pitching is their weak spot and could be readily exposed in playoff competition. Philly would like to believe they're front runners for Toronto's ace Halladay. They'll need a closer as last seasons success story (Lidge) has been erratic. Phillies can put up runs in bunches. Rollins finally woke up after a miserable first half. East leaders by six games will finish the season ahead by no less than 10.

FLORIDA MARLINS - Marlins continue to churn out great young talent. Low budget squad proves year after year organizations do not need to spend hundreds of millions to win. Hanley Ramirez is one of MLB's best even when battling nagging minor injuries all year long. Plenty of talent to make a run at the wild card. It's been one month on then one month off thus far (April 14-8, May 9-20, June 17-11). They're not expected to win and this makes for one dangerous sleeper team. Keep an eye on these guys.

ATLANTA BRAVES - Bobby Cox has proven he's one of the games best field generals. Braves will probably finish somewhere around .500 unless they enter the trade market for instant upgrades as they fight for a wild card birth. Even if they do manage landing a gem it'll be tough trying to leapfrog stronger Central teams. Chipper Jones continues to be the heart and soul of this franchise.

NEW YORK METS - Everything has gone wrong in New York. First, their new ballpark has been absolutely panned by local media/fans for failing to recognize past and current heroes of Mets baseball. Second, their major stars (Beltran, Delgado, Reyes, Maine) have been lost to the disabled list. Third, ownership lost hundreds of millions in Madoff scandal. Fourth, replacement players have performed miserably. Mets are absolutely embarrassing to watch. The good news... Mets can't finish last while playing in same division with Washington.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS - On pace for back to back 100+ loss seasons. Only 3 bright spots for this team (Zimmerman, Johnson & Dunn). Pitching is pathetic. Already 25 games behind division leading Philadelphia. I'd bet they'll end the year out by 40. One of baseball's worst front offices for evaluating talent. Little to no future hopes in sight unless they were to play all remaining games vs Mets.

CENTRAL
ST LOUIS CARDINALS - Tony LaRussa has done a masterful job this season in the dugout. On the field, it's been the Albert Pujols show. Pujols should be a lock to win NL MVP. Cards are showing other teams how to win when regulars miss time or underperform. Pitching has been the key so far. Franklin has been great as team closer behind gutsy performances from starting rotation. Central might not be decided until game 162. Cards prevail.

CHICAGO CUBS - Central's best team on paper. Most experts picked Piniella's squad to runaway with division. It's been anything but a smooth ride. Not bringing back 2B Mark DeRosa has been the difference. Up the middle defense hasn't been good (they can't hit either). Soriano & Bradley haven't done their share. Soto struggling through sophmore jinx is now disabled. 3B Ramirez return from DL might have come just at the right time as Cubs are beginning to show some life (July 10-5) after barely surviving first three months. Don't count them out from winning the division.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS - Hit or miss Brewers loaded with powerful bats. Huge problem is alarming strikeout totals. If this lineup was able to put baseball's in play on a regular basis ... ? Six players on pace to wiff more than 100 times each. Terrible baserunning team with no speed. Brewers short changing themselves from a ton of runs. Starting pitchers extremely erratic. Not a good combination. Halladay rumors beginning to take hold in Milwaukee. Talented team outclassed by St. Louis and Chicago. If Milwaukee finally realizes fundamentals of baseball win games regularly then they're the team to beat. It hasn't happened yet.

HOUSTON ASTROS - Look out Central. Left for dead Astros have been playing very well lately after starting out 20-29. Winners in 26 of 42 since June 1st. Bats are starting to wake up after sleepwalking much of the first half. They're one starting pitcher and one middle reliever away from making a serious 2nd half challenge. Don't count them out... but, don't go placing any bets either.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES - Current roster is more than miffed at front office for trading key players yet again. Bucs are only 8.5 games out of first place. Not too shabby for a last place team. Solid up the middle defense. Very good young talented lineup. OF Garrett Jones has been on fire since becoming a starter (7 HR in 13 games). Take away Snell's terrible season (2-8, 5.36) and closer Capps (5.81 ERA), add some pop at 3B, and they'd be challenging. Instead, it's been a disappointing season for Pittsburgh fans. Good news... Steelers set to defend NFL title in September.

CINCINNATI REDS - I was hoping Cincy would make a serious run. Injuries have sucked the life out of the Reds. Starting pitchers might surrender 30 round trippers each. Terrible ballpark offers no home field advantages especially when sporting a punchless lineup. Back to the drawing board. They slip into cellar by end of July.

WEST
LOS ANGELES DODGERS - Joe Torre's team has played strong all season long (NL best 57-34). They hit, pitch, run, play defense and win. Patient hitters keep opposing pitchers on the ropes. Manny Ramirez is back from 50 game bonehead suspension. Rotation is a bit banged up right now. Adding a quality starter will make these guys tough to beat in short playoff series. Dodgers control their own destiny and are hungry for a World Series crown. Tinseltown's best team in ages.

COLORADO ROCKIES - Rockies are back from the dead after winning 21 of 28 in June. Can they keep it up long enough to win a wild card birth? Never say never with these guys especially after their incredible run to close out 2007. Middle relief has been their achillies heel. Rotation has begun to gell and nearly everyone is hitting these days. Mile High baseball has become exciting to watch. Central division teams killing each other off in a wild pennant race offers Rockies chance to finish a few games ahead of next closest wild card challenger.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS - Giants have been baseball's surprise team. Not many figured this squad would put up enough runs to win games. Lincecum and Cain have been a superb 1-2 rotation punch. Both are Cy Young candidates. 3-5 in rotation is very erratic. Bullpen has been excellent. .309 team on base percentage is not good at all. Lack of punch will result in Giants falling off the pace quickly as LA & Colorado remain hot.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS - It's over in Arizona. A few bright spots (Haren, Reynolds, Upton). Snakes will have to shake up this roster before returning to respectability. Dismal bullpen blowing late leads has been the difference. Look out below! Lowly Padres only 2 games behind.

SAN DIEGO PADRES - 1B Adrian Gonzalez was one hot hitter in April and May smacking 20 homers in 49 games. Seems like a distant memory now after hitting only 4 in past 41 and batting only .132 in July. Team batting average of .233 sums up their season. Padres have solidified themselves as cellar dwellar challengers for at least the next five seasons. Future looks mighty dim.

Projected Award Winners:
MVP - Albert Pujols (STL)
CY YOUNG - Dan Haren (AZ)
ROOKIE - J.A. Happ (PHA)
MANAGER - Joe Torre (LA)

(www.allworldallsports.com)

SportsRagePage.com

07/17/09

Baseball's Second Half Forecast

Permalink 06:25:55 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

All World All Sports Blogs

-Digger's Daily-

Today's segment features the American League.

2009 has been a wild ride for many Major League teams (current standings). A couple of teams began this season on fire (Kansas City, Texas) while others hit road bumps early on (Angels, Yankees). MLB's 2nd half promises to be filled with action packed rivalries as teams jockey for playoff contention. Lets get right to my 2nd half AL forecast:

EAST
BOSTON RED SOX - Boston, like so many teams this year, has battled injuries all season long to key players. Their resiliency to play through tough times is a testament to how well these guys pick up the slack when key players are missing or underperforming. Perennial slugger David Ortiz was horrendous for most of the first half. Injuries to Dice K, Smoltz, Lugo and Lowell threatened to derail their playoff chances in a very tough division. Manager Terry Francona has been masterful filling the holes and motivating players. Red Sox have completely dominated arch rival Yankees (9-0). "The Curse" is long gone.

NEW YORK YANKEES - Baseball's biggest payroll had a very tough April. New Yankee Stadium has given up home runs at an alarming rate and is no longer a home field advantage. The billion dollar taxpayer funded spectacle has been ridiculed all season long by local press and fans. New star pitchers Sabathia & Burnett were shelled early on and have yet to live up to their billing. Fan favorite Andy Pettitte has been getting shelled in home games. Defense was suspect and star home run hitter Alex Rodriguez was demonized after the public found out he was a one time steroid junkie. Yankees seem to have overcome these obstacles and are now coming on strong thanks to powerful hitting. The only difference between 1st & 2nd place has been their inability to beat Boston. It's going to be a real dog fight to the finish for both teams trying to capture the AL East. Experience should net Yanks a wild card birth... unless Texas Rangers finally figure out how to win in summer months.

TAMPA BAY RAYS - They stunned the baseball world in '08. Rough road in '09 until recent times. They're now in a position to challenge for AL East crown. Very balanced and talented team could stun the world again if they're able to successfully trade for Toronto's ace Roy Halladay. Tampa's name has not been mentioned in rumors. Pitching inconsistency, a strength last year, will doom them unless a deal or second half surge comes to light.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES - Young players and improved pitching finally shed a glimmer of hope for future success. Baltimore was one of the better franchises until Angelos took over. A perennial challenging team quickly hit rock bottom. They're finally on the verge of rising if young talent continues to improve. O's can play spoilers against teams taking them for granted. Key players to watch: Bergeren, Scott, Roberts, Huff (trade bait), Markakis & Wieters.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS - Cito Gaston's club was 15-9 in April. They haven't had a winning month since. Jays seem willing to ditch their season by announcing readiness to trade ace Halladay. Once they do, last place is guaranteed. If he remains, Toronto has a shot at 4th place. Lack of game to game clutch hitting has sucked life from East's early season leaders.

CENTRAL
DETROIT TIGERS - Leyland is a no nonsence manager. He has no problems benching underperformering million dollar stars (Ordonez, Willis) which is a trait seldom seen anymore. Kudos to Leyland. Tigers play great at home (27-13) but haven't been as fortunate on the road (21-26). Verlander, Jackson and Porcello have been steady hurlers. Finding another starting pitcher would distance Detroit from challengers Chicago & Minnesota. If ownership financial status is sound then they should do whatever they can to get Halladay or another bonified starting pitcher or proven reliever. These guys can hit, run & field. They're most balanced team in Central. How far they go in playoffs boils down to how hot they are when post-season play begins.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX - Sox fans are waiting for a hot streak. Guillen's team looks good one day, horrific the next. Starting pitching hasn't been up to snuff. Hitters not coming through in clutch situations. Combined, this is a bad formula. Star slugger Quentin should be coming off of DL soon which should help energize their attack even though he had a miserable first half. Difference between winning and losing has been a terrible team on base percentage. Hitters wild swings and lack of plate discipline allows opposing starters to be well rested deep into games. Their best move might be to find a new hitting coach.

MINNESOTA TWINS - Twins only shot is if starting rotation turns it around. Alarming ERA's and home run rates produced thus far would've had most teams clawing to get out of the cellar. Timely hitting and one of baseball's best managers has kept this team afloat. For how long? Final year in Metrodome. Twins would like to go out in style. Sometimes, we don't always get what we want. Twins should never be underestimated... however, this particular squad can't be counted on either. In my book, their only shot at Central crown is if Detroit falls apart.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS - Came out of spring training ready to rumble racing to the division lead through 29 games (18-11). Injuries to key hot players sent these guys on a tailspin (Soria, Crisp). KC is another lacking plate discipline. I had hoped they were to become 2009's version of Tampa's 2008 success story. Close the book, these guys are cooked.

CLEVELAND INDIANS - Many predicted '09 was to be Cleveland's year. Not quite. Indians pitching staff is one of baseball's worst from top to bottom showing no signs of hope for remaining games. Cleveland's lone highlight was a 22-4 demolition of New York in Yankee Stadium.

WEST
LOS ANGELES ANGELS - Patience has been key for LA. Scoscia is one of games best field generals. Early season injuries to key players might have led to many teams imploding. Not these guys. 20-8 in last 28 after treading water in seasons first month. Angels will be a force to be reckoned with in playoffs. These guys are good. Very deep and talented in all facets of the game. Rumored to be in the Halladay sweepstakes. Could be unstoppable if they get their man.

TEXAS RANGERS - Texas can slug it out with any team. Heavy hitting lineup with power from top to bottom. Deep bench. One key fundamental element which has never been preached and needs to be now if Rangers want to play in post-season. Patience at the plate during scorching 100+ degree home games in Arlington. Rangers have baseball's best home field advantage. Heat! It's quite simple. Make opposing pitchers throw pitches and they'll wilt in the Texas oven. No question about it. Work the count. Create hitters counts, wear down hurlers and win. It's a recipe for success. For the most part, their bullpen has been very effective. Starters strikingly more consistent than recent past campaigns. Texas has dominated division foes so far. Rangers have a very good shot at a wild card birth if they can stay hot. If LA slips, these guys might surprise. As the saying goes... "Don't mess with Texas"

SEATTLE MARINERS - Rollercoaster season. Win a few, lose a few. Starting pitchers rebounded from a disasterous '08 keeping M's in games. Ichiro continues to get on base batting .360 but has only scored 45 runs. A clear sign clutch hitting is still lacking. They're in the spoilers seat for key September matchups vs LA & Texas. If they can stay close, which I seriously doubt, then perhaps they can sneak into the playoffs. I have them pegged for a distant third.

OAKLAND A's - At one point in time, during spring training, I thought Oakland had a legit shot at winning this division. Unfortunately for Bay area fans, these guys have been flat all season long. They'll probably look to unload high salary players. However, since very few have played up to their price tag coupled with most MLB teams in spending lockdown modes.. this will become a difficult task.

Projected Award Winners:
MVP - Kevin Youkilis (BOS)
CY YOUNG - Josh Beckett (BOS)
ROOKIE - Andrew Bailey (OAK)
MANAGER - Jim Leyland (DET)

Stay tuned for NL 2nd half forecast.......

All World All Sports - (http://www.allworldallsports.com)

SportsRagePage.com

07/15/09

Baseball Owners Colluding Against Players?

Permalink 05:04:44 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

All World All Sports

-Digger's Daily-

It might not be long before the Major League Baseball Players Association files a formal grievance against baseball owners. Once again, the union is expected to claim owners collectively conspired against free agents after last season.

Former Milwaukee Brewers owner turned Commissioner Bud Selig responded. "That's fine. They're entitled to their opinion," Selig said Tuesday at a meeting of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "Given the world we live in and what's happened in the last 18 months, I think this is one sport where I can't even fathom that anybody could think that."

Who is he kidding? Selig has been an embarassment. Scandal after scandal has emerged throughout Selig's tenure as commissioner. Owners colluding is something Selig knows all too well. It's not the first time MLBPA has accused owners of conspiring against players. It won't be the last either.

Owners paid MLBPA a $280 million settlement after an independant arbitrator ruled in favor of the players following the 1985-87 seasons. Selig was the current Brewers owner at the time. The union filed again after 2002-03 seasons and owners settled with no admission of guilt for $12 million.

Drug abuse, gambling charges, steroids, conspiracy, collusion, juiced baseballs, taxpayer funded billion dollar stadiums and umpires. Pick your topic, they've all disgraced America's greatest pastime.. Selig is nothing more than a talking head for baseball's greed driven boys club, formally called baseball owners. These guys have operated free and clear to do just about anything they've wanted in absence of an impartial commissioner. Common sense dictates a former owner turned commissioner cannot be impartial.

New union chief Michael Weiner is gearing up to take the helm at one of our nations strongest unions (MLBPA) replacing retiring Don Fehr. According to various reports, players agents are pushing the union to take action based on owners lack of offering contracts to big name free agents. In addition, with the current season at the halfway point, NO players eligible to file for free agency at seasons end has received contract extensions. Uh-oh, something smells pretty fishy again. No players offered extensions is a clear indicator owners are in a lock down mode financially. Oddly curious since Selig often boasts of record revenues and receipts. Can anyone name the last time baseball owners, specifically in NY, LA or Boston, failed to extend contracts for their top players?

"The investigation is ongoing but not complete because of things to review," Weiner said Monday before the All-Star Home Run Derby. "We've had some discussions with the commissioner's office. I'll know more I think by the end of the month."

Let there be no mistake, our current economic downturn will or has hit owners hard. Texas is rumored to have borrowed $15 million to cover current payroll requirements. Mets owner Fred Wilpon lost hundreds of millions in the Madoff scandal. Teams will be taking lumps due to decreasing attendance figures. The days of wild spending on free agents could be, or should be, dwindling downwards. No one being offered extensions is an entirely different scenario.

What I'm waiting to finally hear is MLBPA demanding Selig's resignation as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. After the 1919 Chicago Black Sox betting scandal baseball owner's selected Federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to restore confidence to the integrity of baseball jeopardized by scandal. Isn't it high time another independent commish is named to bring back public confidence?

(www.allworldallsports.com)

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07/13/09

MLB Top 1st Half Performers of 2009

Permalink 05:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

All World All Sports

-Digger's Daily-

Major League Baseball's All Star week is here. Get ready for a couple of days of All Star fun. Futures game, home run hitting contest, celebrity softball and the Mid Summer Classic. St. Louis will play host to this years game.

Every season fan voting determines the All Star starters. The American League has dominated play in recent years. They've won every game since 1997 except for a 7-7 tie game in 2002. Here's my list of most deserving All Star starters top 1st half performers of 2009):

American League
1B - Justin Morneau (MIN)
2B - Aaron Hill (TOR)
3B - Evan Longoria (TB)
SS - Derek Jeter (NYY)
OF - Ichiro Suzuki (SEA)
OF - Carl Crawford (TB)
OF - Torii Hunter (LAA)
C - Joe Mauer (MIN)
DH - Adam Lind (TOR)
SP - Zack Greinke (KC)
CL - Joe Nathan (MIN)
MGR- Don Wakamatsu (SEA)

National League
1B - Albert Pujols (STL)
2B - Chase Utley (PHI)
3B - Pablo Sandoval (SF)
SS - Hanley Ramirez (FLA)
OF - Raul Ibanez (PHI)
OF - Ryan Braun (MIL)
OF - Adam Dunn (WAS)
C - Benji Molina (SF)
SP - Tim Lincecum (SF)
CL - Ryan Franklin (STL)
MGR- Joe Torre (LAD)

(www.allworldallsports.com)

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