A Quick Guide To: #SpringTraining

mlb.team_.logos_.version.3.small_-672x372

Spring Questions For All 30 Teams:

Will the Cubs live up to the rampant World Series expectations? Are the D-backs for real? Can David Price make his contract worth it? Are the Royals a dynasty in the making? Do the Blue Jays, Astros and Mets have staying power?

Spring Training preview materials will be loaded with these questions and more, but the obvious truth is that Spring Training itself can’t answer those questions. So the goal in this particular preview, mere days away from pitchers and catchers report dates, is to pose an actual, spring-specific question each Major League club is facing on the cusp of camp.

I’m dedicating this column to the memory of my friend and teammate Tom Singer, who suddenly passed away earlier this week. Tom was one of the more inquisitive and creative minds in the business, and I know he was looking forward to showing up at Spring Training camps and asking unique questions of his own.

Here we go….

NL East

Mets: How carefully should the young starters be eased into the season?

For the Mets, it will be a delicate balance between overworking and underworking Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard after they all saw significant innings increases due to the postseason run. Syndergaard jumped 65 2/3 innings from his 2014 total in the Minors, while deGrom and Harvey jumped 37 2/3 apiece. Because of injury, Steven Matz (15 2/3) didn’t see quite as big an increase, though he, like Syndergaard, is entering his first full Major League season, an adjustment in and of itself. These guys need to be properly prepared for the every-five-day grind, but they should also probably see a less rigorous spring workload than the typical big league starter.

Nationals: Is Trea Turner ready for the big leagues?

The Grapefruit League will be a great test of the Nats’ new-look infield. Anthony Rendon is moving back to his natural position at third base — a fine move in isolation (he grades out better defensively there than at second base). But some scouts believe Daniel Murphy would be far better suited at third than at second base and that Rendon is the better defensive option at second. And then, of course, there’s the big question at short, where the Nats’ options come down to a utility guy (Danny Espinosa) who has spent far more of his career at second, a light-hitting free-agent signee (Stephen Drew) and the top prospect (Turner), who has only played 212 games in what has already been a whirlwind pro career (including 27 with the Nats down the stretch in 2015). Lots of questions in this infield.

Marlins: Can Barry Bonds help Marcell Ozuna’s swing?

New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Bonds pleaded with the front office to keep Ozuna despite the rampant trade rumblings and the disconnect between player and organization last season. Ozuna was one of eight players identified as above-average in each of the five-tool categories by Statcast™, so the potential is off the charts. But his decline in production last season — leading to a controversial stay in Triple-A — was as swift as it was stunning, and spring is an important time for Ozuna and Bonds to develop a positive working relationship.

Braves: Will Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn open any eyes with their spring at-bats?

It’s no secret the Braves would love to move one or both of these guys. So they are destined to receive a steady dose of Grapefruit League at-bats as the Braves try to garner enough interest for a salary dump swap. With Freddie Freeman working his way back from a wrist injury, perhaps Swisher will see some time at first base.

Phillies: Is Tyler Goeddel the next Odubel Herrera?

Last year, Herrera arrived as a Rule 5 Draft pickup and wound up leading the Phillies in WAR (and yes, that says as much about the Phils as it does Herrera). Now, Goeddel is the marquee Rule 5 Draft addition (the first overall pick). That he’ll make the big league club is a foregone conclusion, because the Phillies have nothing to lose by keeping him. The question is how much the athletic but unpolished Goeddel will separate himself from Aaron Altherr, Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche in the battle for playing time in Pete Mackanin’s lineup.

AL East

Blue Jays: Will Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion agree to extensions?

In the lead-up to Opening Day, the new-look front office will have to weigh the attraction of satiating the fan base and ensuring stability in the long-term lineup against the obvious risks that come with power hitters in their mid-to-late-30s. These discussions will take place when all parties arrive in Dunedin, Fla., later this month.

Yankees: CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova?

The last rotation spot is the lone source of genuine positional intrigue in Yankees camp. (That said, Starlin Castro’s continued immersion at second base and first-ever trial at third base, where the Yanks might need him as a Chase Headley backup, is interesting). Sabathia is the former Cy Young Award winner coming off a homer-prone year that ended in alcohol rehab. Nova is the Tommy John alum the Yanks tried to trade. General manager Brian Cashman has said Sabathia’s $25 million salary wouldn’t preclude the Yanks from sticking CC in the bullpen if somebody else (Nova is the obvious candidate, though Bryan Mitchell is another) wins the job outright.

Orioles: What’s the outlook for the outfield?

They’re reportedly making progress with Yovani Gallardo to fill a big hole in the rotation, so let’s focus on the outfield here. Big-bodied Hyun-soo Kim, fresh off signing a two-year contract with the O’s, will arrive from South Korea and try to prove he has the range and athleticism to handle the everyday left-field assignment. Adam Jones was tasked with covering a ton of outfield ground last year, and his performance tailed off in the last two months of the season. At the moment, right field likely belongs to Nolan Reimold, though an O’s team familiar with in-spring splashes could still sign somebody to support or replace him.

Rays: Will James Loney, Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer be moved?

It’s a question that presumes a healthy camp, of course, but it would solve a logjam. Dealing Loney would allow Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce to share first, Corey Dickerson to spend the bulk of his time at DH and Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. to provide dependable defense in the outfield, with Guyer as a bench option vs. lefties. Or the Rays could move Jennings or Guyer and open up more at-bats for Pearce and Morrison. Whatever the case, one presumes the Rays would be seeking relief help in any deal involving their position player depth.

Red Sox: Can Hanley Ramirez handle first base?

The Red Sox don’t have any position battles, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have position issues. Hanley’s position switch last year — from shortstop to left field — wasn’t subjected to any truly challenging plays during the spring schedule, but obviously the ball is going to find him at first. Because they’re paying Ramirez a ton of money, the Red Sox have no choice but to hope this works — and the same goes for Pablo Sandoval at third. The Panda’s physical condition will, naturally, be a spring storyline all its own.

NL Central

Cardinals: What is Yadier Molina’s timetable?

Molina will spend camp’s early days not swinging the bat or catching bullpen sessions, but building strength back up in his left thumb after having a second surgery this winter. Because there’s no telling how long that process will take and how much it will affect his season preparation, it’s hard to know if Molina will be ready by Opening Day. To say getting him back in a timely matter is important for the Cards is, of course, an understatement.

Pirates: How well is Jung Ho Kang progressing?

Because of the division’s demands, the decisions to deal Neil Walker and non-tender Pedro Alvarez, and the lack of additions of bankable depth options, the Pirates can ill-afford any medical setbacks for Kang, who suffered a fractured tibial plateau and torn lateral meniscus on an ugly takeout slide by Chris Coghlan last September. The move to third base (with Jordy Mercer at short and Josh Harrison replacing Walker at second) will limit Kang’s lateral movement when he returns. As of now, the Pirates are expecting him back in April, with Sean Rodriguez (last seen assaulting a water cooler) filling in and Minor League free agent Cole Figueroa competing for a bench job.

Cubs: Can Kyle Schwarber improve in left field?

As much as we love this Cubs lineup, there’s no denying there are defensive concerns in the outfield, where Jorge Soler had some surprising struggles in ’15, Jason Heyward is moving from right to center and, most importantly, Schwarber was a mess during the NLCS. Schwarber has been working on his first step and flexibility this winter, and that work will be put to the test in Arizona. But his efforts in left coincide with his work behind the plate, where he still hopes to remain an option long-term. Combine all of this with Schwarber’s bid for more at-bats against left-handed pitching, and the kid’s got a lot on his plate.

Brewers: How’s Ryan Braun feeling?

Not that the Brewers are making an earnest effort to contend in 2016, but Braun could stillpotentially play himself into a viable trade chip (provided the Brew Crew is willing to eat some cash, of course) if he’s healthy and producing the way he did for much of ’15. Braun had surgery for a herniated disc in the offseason, but he won’t have a clear idea of how well his back is responding until the regular swings that come in the Cactus League.

Reds: Will a market develop for Jay Bruce?

He only remains in Cincinnati as a function of the unusually deep and late-developing free-agent outfield market this winter, because the Reds, now in full-on rebuild mode, were motivated to move him. Most likely, Bruce will start the season with the Reds and try to piece together enough of a bounce-back campaign to become July trade bait. But all it takes is one spring injury elsewhere to suddenly make the idea of dealing for Bruce more palatable for a contending club. The Reds also have to hope Zack Cozart’s grisly knee injury last year hasn’t affected his defense at short, because he, too, could play himself into trade-chip status.

AL Central

Royals: Can Christian Colon steal playing time from Omar Infante?

In the third year of a four-year deal, Infante will make $7.75 million, and there was a time when that fact alone would settle him into a starting spot for this small-market club. But you might have noticed things are a little different in the realm of the Royals these days, and they’re calling this a legitimate position battle between Infante and Colon, who drove in the winning run in the World Series Game 5 clincher. (Top prospect Raul A. Mondesi will also get consideration but is far more likely to start the season in the Minors). Sure, the Royals are paying Infante a good amount of money, but, hey, they took Colon ahead of Matt Harvey in the 2010 Draft! One way or another, they’ll look for better returns on both of these investments.

Twins: Will Miguel Sano stick in right?

Byung Ho Park’s transition to the bigs is also a major matter in Minnesota, but Sano’s defensive work — directly related to Park’s arrival — will be a more pressing spring concern. Torii Hunter will be in camp as a special assistant to work with the 6-foot-4 Sano in the outfield, and the Twins’ lineup alignment demands that this experiment be successful. Sano was tasked with dropping 20 pounds this winter. Citing a desire to maintain his power, he dropped just five. He’s agile for his size, but this is undoubtedly a big test for him.

Indians: Will Michael Brantley continue his rapid recovery?

He’s the key to the whole darn thing for an Indians team projected by FanGraphs to have the best record in the division despite a less-than-dynamic winter. Brantley didn’t have surgery on his lead shoulder until early November, which means you can count him out for Opening Day and likely all or most of April. But because his recovery has progressed so well so far, Brantley must avoid the temptation to do too much too soon, lest he suffer a setback that crushes a Tribe club already prone toward slow starts.

White Sox: What’s up at short?

Tyler Saladino played terrific defense at third base for the Sox down the stretch last season, but his 68 OPS+ detracted from his value. So it’s an open question whether he’s ready for prime time at a prime spot, and he could be pushed in camp by top prospect Tim Anderson. The other, still-lingering question here is whether the Sox will wind up too tempted by Ian Desmond’s reduced price tag to pass him up. With a protected top-10 Draft pick, the White Sox are better positioned to sign Desmond than many others in the market.

Tigers: Can Bruce Rondon work his way into the bullpen plans?

Well, obviously we’ll be playing close attention to the statuses of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But they’ve both had a healthy offseason, so, at this point, there’s little reason to doubt they’ll be in the Opening Day lineup and, hopefully, ready to produce. But Rondon’s dismissal from the club due to a lack of effort makes him an interesting figure in camp. The Tigers’ bullpen has a new closer in Francisco Rodriguez and better balance overall, but there’s always room for a motivated flamethrower. We’ll soon learn for sure if Rondon is committed to winning the respect of his teammates.

NL West

Dodgers: Will Hyun-Jin Ryu be ready by Opening Day?

And if so, what does that mean for fellow lefty Alex Wood? The Dodgers have assembled rotation depth to allow Ryu to ease into action, rather than rush back from labrum surgery. So the most likely outcome is that he starts the season in extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment. But the Dodgers could also be tempted to take advantage of Wood’s ability to be optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Giants: How is Joe Panik’s back?

He’s 25 years old and coming off an All-Star season. But that season was cut short by back woes. Doctors have not discovered any structural damage, so Panik did not have surgery. But only time and performance will dictate whether this will be a persistent problem for a club all too familiar with back issues involving their second basemen (see: Sanchez, Freddy and Scutaro, Marco).

D-backs: Can Yasmany Tomas acquit himself in the outfield?

In their bold bid to take a major competitive step forward, there’s no denying the D-backs sacrificed defense by involving Ender Inciarte in the Shelby Miller swap. The question is how much. Tomas enters the year as an everyday corner outfielder (Arizona is still unsure whether he’ll remain in right or swap spots with left fielder David Peralta) after proving he can’t handle the hot corner. Tomas has indicated he’s more comfortable in right field, though the D-backs might prefer to have the better defender there and use this spring to get Tomas acclimated to left. And oh by the way, Tomas, who had a .707 OPS last season, needs to hit, too.

Padres: Can Andrew Cashner limit walks and neutralize lefties?

Yeah, yeah, the spring results don’t matter. But scouts are in the stands for a reason. Cashner is a guy with ace-quality potential when he’s right — and that’s a big deal for a Padres team either hoping to surprise some people in the NL West or use Cashner as a valuable trade piece midseason (or even sooner). Last year, Cashner’s effectiveness against left-handed hitters spiraled (.383 wOBA vs. a .294 mark a year earlier), and his overall walk rate jumped to 8.2 percent.

Rockies: What will Jose Reyes’ punishment be?

In invoking punishments under the sports’ domestic violence policy for the first time, Commissioner Rob Manfred has big decisions to make with Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman. But Reyes is the only member of that group who is facing a criminal procedure. He has pleaded not guilty to domestic abuse charges, and his trial is slated to begin April 4 (Opening Day, of course). Manfred can make his decision independent of those proceedings, and there’s no telling how stiff the penalty will be. Reyes is the Rockies’ highest-paid player and a guy they hoped would rebuild his offensive value (and, ergo, his trade value) at Coors Field. Right now, there’s no way of knowing when or if he’ll be on the field in 2016.

AL West

Rangers: Can Jurickson Profar get back in baseball shape?

We’ll venture away from the obvious intrigue surrounding Yu Darvish’s timetable, because, by all accounts, he’s still on track for a May return. Profar provides intrigue of his own. This is a guy who was once considered the top prospect in the game, but hasn’t played a single inning in the field the last two years because of shoulder issues that eventually required surgery. Profar’s bat action as a designated hitter in the Arizona Fall League caught the attention of scouts, and several teams contacted the Rangers in an attempt to buy low on the middle infielder. The Rangers wisely held onto him, and they’ll ease him back into action in the field this spring. His odds of making the big league club are slim to none, barring injury to somebody else. But the Rangers are about to see if Profar can emerge as an important depth piece in their bid to win the AL West again.

Astros: Will Evan Gattis be ready for Opening Day?

It was revealed this week that Gattis required surgery for a sports hernia, sidelining him for four to six weeks. That’s going to hurt his ability to get his timing back before the end of Grapefruit League play, so the Astros will dole out more playing time to Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy, A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Preston Tucker. While the Astros, in letting Chris Carter walk, might generally be trying to get away from the all-or-nothing approach that was one of their calling cards in ’15, Gattis is still clearly a key cog in this offense. He was also hopeful of increasing his value to the team beyond his DH duties, losing weight and doing catching drills in the offseason.

Angels: What’s Albert Pujols’ timetable?

The Angels are getting crushed in many corners for not doing more to improve their production potential around Mike Trout, opting instead for a more contact-heavy approach. Maybe the Halos have it right, but there’s little denying that their lineup look demands healthy and productivity from Pujols, who is working his way back from November surgery on the plantar plate of his right foot. Pujols is already hitting off a tee but is not expected to resume full baseball activities until March, putting Opening Day in jeopardy. Pujols rushed back to action too quickly in 2013, to the point that it affected his performance, and the Angels don’t want that to happen again.

Mariners: Can James Paxton win a rotation spot?

Technically, it’s Taijuan Walker, Nate Karns and Paxton for two spots, though you’d have to imagine the 29 starts and the progress Walker made as ’15 evolved give him the inside edge on one of those. Karns was Dipoto’s first addition in a busy offseason, but Paxton is the guy who was long lauded as one of the M’s prominent prospects. Injury issues have limited Paxton to 30 career starts over parts of three Major League seasons, but the left-hander has dropped some pounds and will come to camp intent on proving he’s ready to turn his potential into production. Other guys potentially in the mix for that last spot are Mike Montgomery, Joe Wieland and Vidal Nuno. Paxton seemingly has the most upside of those options, but he’s got to earn it.

Athletics: What is the rotation beyond Sonny Gray?

Oakland has probably one of the most — if not the most — unsettled rotation situations in the big leagues. The A’s signed Rich Hill with the intent of inserting him into the rotation, though he hasn’t been a regular starter at this level since 2009. After Gray and Hill, it’s a wide-open competition involving Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and possibly even Jarrod Parker (who is attempting to come back from two elbow surgeries) and Sean Manaea (a promising trade acquisition who hasn’t pitched above Double-A but who manager Bob Melvin has called a “wild card” in the rotation battle). Should be fun to watch this evolve.

Source: A Spring Training question for all 30 MLB teams.

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training:

SchwarberPanikRamirez

 

Rejoice! Spring training is almost upon us, bringing to an end what has been a hectic offseason, one that saw a slew of starting pitchers change uniforms, whether via free agency or trade. Keeping up with what your favorite team’s rotation looks like, much less the competition’s, has been challenging at times.

Read: Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training

What You Need to Know for Tuesday Night #Baseball

Clemente

Today would have been Roberto Clemente’s 81st birthday – so let’s all toast a legend of the game while we watch StrikeZone!

Heavy Favorites – according to Vegas

Clayton Kershaw vs. Oakland A’s (-221) – Ànother fifth day, another start for Kershaw as the favorite on the night. It’s becoming  routine, so surely on Sunday, Kershaw will be here. Tonight, Kershaw gets the Oakland Athletics, a team that is really struggling to find their groove – ask Stella. Since the second half of the season, the A’s have the lowest wOBA out of ANY team in the league. Think about that for a moment, worse than Atlanta, Miami, crazy to think about, right? So other than the fact that the A’s can’t hit, they’re at least a tough team to strikeout. They maintained that in the second half, as their strikeout percentage stands at 18%, one of the best in both leagues. But truly, with Kershaw entering tonight with a K/9 of 11.3, what does that mean? Maybe he ends up with eight strikeouts on the night? Kershaw has just been that good. Since the All Star break, Kerhsaw owns a 0.92 ERA giving up only four runs in 39 innings and striking out 45. As usual though, he’s going to cost you a fortune to roster. Priced at $15,000, you better get damn creative building the rest of your roster – thankfully I can help with that.
cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.png

Francisco Liriano vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (-215)- We were arguing recently, if the Diamondbacks were getting the respect they deserve when it comes to being a good offensive club. They gave Gerrit Cole a run for his money last night. Tonight, Liriano is the second highest favored pitcher of the night. Like Cole, Liriano hasn’t exactly had a stellar month of August. He’s pitched nine innings giving up seven runs on 13 hits with a 9:6 K:BB ratio. Not exactly great numbers when you’re going to face a team that owns the ninth highest wOBA on the month at .331. Overall, Liriano comes into tonight with a 3.19 ERA with a 1.13WHIP and a K/9 of 9.9. Once again, we’re not sure we’re all giddy to throw Liriano on a roster tonight against this D-Backs team. Are they as good as we’re making them out to be? Maybe not, but I can’t feel great about putting pitcher in tonight that hasn’t exactly shown much as of late. At $10,300, it certainly is risky.

RA Dickey vs. Philadelphia Phillies (-190) – We’ll give credit when it’s due, Dickey has been solid as of late. Dickey has given up only four runs in his last three starts on 14 hits and a K:BB ratio of 13:6. For a knuckleballer, that’s pretty good. Tonight, he gets those Phillies that Vegas loves to hate on. After starting off the second half on fire, the Phillies have seen their wOBA slip to the middle of the league at .312, good for 16th. Dickey is of course, one of the toughest pitchers to predict because, quite frankly, even he doesn’t know what the knuckler will do on a particular day, Dickey has had his struggles on the road this season, with his wOBA against is over 60 points higher compared to at home. His price tonight just might make him a serious consideration, as he’s only going to run you for $7000.

Top Overall Game per O/U

Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies (Coors Field) – 11 Over/Under- Vegas is expecting some fireworks in this one. Jordan Zimmermann takes on David Hale in this one. Zimmermann has looked like his old self lately in his past two starts, scoring 22.6 and 30 points against the Rockies and Dodgers. However, of course, pitching in Coors Field adds a whole different dynamic to the equation. As for Hale, he’s coming off the disabled list to return to the rotation, proving how bad their rotation really is. Hale owns a 5.69 ERA on the season with a 1.39 WHIPand a K/9 of 6.6. The Nationals have really been struggling at the plate, owning a .296 wOBA this month, good for 24th in the league. Nothing a little Coors Field can’t fix, right? As always, find a way to work a couple of these hitters into your lineup tonight.

Toughest Pitcher L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Felix Doubront OAK (LwOBA .218)
    • CC Sabathia NYY (LwOBA .222)
    • John Danks CWS (LwOBA .253)
  • Right handed batters
    • Jacob DeGrom NYM (RwOBA .197)
    • Clayton Kershaw LAD (RwOBA .238)
    • Jordan Zimmermann WAS (RwOBA .256)

Easiest L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Matt Wisler ATL (LwOBA .436)
    • Tyler Cravy MIL (LwOBA .424)
  • Right handed batters
    • CC Sabathia NYY (RwOBA .385)
    • Felix Dubront OAK (RwOBA .373)

All Pitcher Stats

81815_pitch

Hottest Hitters – last 7 days

  • Chase Utley PHI – DiRT Canon Value 106.66
  • Carl Crawford LADDiRT Canon Value – 101.06
  • Pedro Alvarez PITDiRT Canon Value – 98.37
  • Jackie Bradley Jr BOS  – DiRT Canon Value – 93.63
  • Alejandro De Aza BOSDiRT Canon Value – 90.90
  • Matt Kemp SDP – DiRT Canon Value – 88.86

Other notables:  Joey Votto is 11-for-23 with 2 HR’s, 7 RBI and 6 runs scored.  Miguel Sano is 10-for-24 with 3 HR’s, 9 RBI, a stolen base and 4 runs scored.

Best BvP matchup Tonight

Brian McCann vs. Mike Pelfrey – All is right in the world once again! McCann is 19-40 against Pelfrey with 10 extra base hits, two of them going for home runs, and a 1.368 OPS.

Adrian Beltre vs. Hisashi Iwakuma- If Iwakuma is thinking he’s going to pull out another no hitter, Beltre is here to stop him dead in his tracks. Beltre is 11-33 against Iwakuma with four extra base hits, three of those going for home runs and a 1.008 OPS.

Nick Markakis vs. James Shields- These two have seen a lot of each other back in their AL East days. Tonight, they matchup once again with Markakis 23-74 against Shields with seven extra base hits, two of them being home runs and a .859 OPS.


Weather

Looks like it might be a clear night of baseball!


Top 4 by Position – in no partciular order

81815_pos

A Pitcher To Consider

Garrett Richards ($9,800) –Raise your hand if you made a weird face when you saw Richards here. I’ll admit, I did, and I’m the one writing this. I have a few reasons to go this route so hear me about before you close this article in disgust and un follow me on Twitter. First off, Kershaw is just too expensive. $15,000. Putting Kershaw on your roster leaves you with $35,000 to work with, or $3,888 on average for each remaining player. Even if you went with Adam Conley, who’s the cheapest pitcher on the night, that leaves you with an average of $3,862 per player. Doable, but tough for sure. Then we have deGrom. Do I like the matchup against Baltimore? I don’t love it. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t hate if you draft deGrom tonight. His WHIP is a ridiculous 0.83 and he doesn’t give up a lot of home runs, only 11 on the year, but at Camden Yards scares me a bit. I have no doubt that deGrom will most likely have a solid start, but at $11,600, I’d at least want to like the matchup a bit more. Baltimore does own the best wOBA against RHP this season. So, with all that being said, here we are with Richards.

After starting off the month hitting way more to the potential people thought the White Sox have, they’ve fallen all the way down to 15th in wOBA in the month of August. Their power is decent, as they’re 10th in ISO this month, but a matchup in LA makes me feel a lot better about dealing with that. The White Sox are also in the middle of the pack in terms of strikeout % sitting at 20.5 on the month, or 14th in the league. I’m ok with that since Richards has a K/9 of 7.1, which I feel as if that’s obtainable tonight or close to it. Overall, for his price tag of $9800, it gives you a good chunk of flexibility that you wouldn’t necessarily get with deGrom and certainly not with Kershaw. Richards certainly isn’t the same caliber pitcher as those two, but matchup wise, I’m feeling good about this one.

Worth Considering

Anthony Rizzo($4900) – Rizzo gets a matchup tonight with the home run happy Anibal Sanchez. The majority of the home runs Sanchez has let up as come from RHB, but Rizzo does such a good job against righties, I like this chances tonight. Rizzo owns a .392 wOBA against righties this season with an ISO of .262. Big numbers for sure against someone who struggles to keep the ball on the park. Sanchez is given up an astonishing 28 home runs on the season. If someone can take him deep, Rizzo is certainly fitting the mold tonight.

Save $$$…

Abraham Almonte ($2000) – Honestly, I’m riding the hot streak right now. Almonte doesn’t have impressive overall numbers, but he’s been hitting well since taking over the every day outfield role in Cleveland. In the month of August, Almonte is batting .286 with two home runs, and eight RBIs. Again, nothing overly impressive, but at just $2000, you have nothing to lose here. Tonight he faces Eduardo Rodriguez, who has an wOBA over .300 against both RHBand LHB. Almonte, being a switch hitter, can take advantage of either side. He’s not a great hitter and don’t expect a ton, but even a 5-7 point night exceeds what you could ask for from someone who’s an everyday starter costing you the minimum price possible.


The Rest by Position

81815_catch
81815_1st
81815_2nd
81815_3rd
81815_ss
81815_out

Randomly Generated Lineup Combinations – Ideas

81815_lineup

Abstract Sand Trap

Chambers Bay

One time, I bet the director of a local country club $1,000 that he would slice into the woods. In a very snobby tone, he informed me that gambling was not permitted at their establishment. He followed that up by declaring that he never sliced. Predictably , he then sliced into the woods, which clearly upset him. Despite my amusement, I informed him that he could pay me the money some other time. He then informed me that he did not in fact owe me the sum of money I proposed in my bet.  So I went off and played my round – then this happened.

 

So get the 6 golfers you think will have a chance to win America’s National Professional Tournament, and secure YOUR chance at winning a $1,000,000, playing Draft Kings’ FANTASY GOLF MILLIONAIRE MAKER – starting Thursday.  Here are some guys on the “value-meal” side of things:

  • Danny Willet
  • Robert Streb
  • Tommy Fleetwood
  • Ben Martin
  • Retief Goosen
  • Erik Compton

 


 

11393029_1126585384036651_1062103763044236080_o

LeBron James scored 40 points as part of his triple-double in the Cavs’ loss (14 rebounds, 11 assists). Only three other players scored 40 points in a playoff triple-double: Oscar Robertson (twice in 1963), Jerry West (1969), and Charles Barkley(1993). West was the only player other than James to do so in an NBA Finals, famously doing so with 42 points with 13 rebounds and 12 assists in a Game 7 loss to the Celtics.

James is the first player to produce two triple-doubles with 30 or more points in one Finals series. And including a 32-point triple-double with the Heat in the 2013 Finals, he now has three triple-doubles with 30-plus points in Finals competition, matching the total for all other players in the shot-clock era. (West, James Worthy, and Barkley had one each.)

James has been responsible for the last six triple-doubles in NBA Finals games. That ties the record set by Magic Johnson, who turned in six consecutive Finals triple-doubles from 1980 to 1985.

Stephen Curry scored 17 of his team-high 37 points in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 104-91 win over the Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. That matched the highest fourth-quarter output in any Finals game over the last 40 years. The other players with a 17-point fourth quarter during that time all did so in this century: Shaquille O’Neal (2000), Dwyane Wade (2006), and Kevin Durant andRussell Westbrook (both in 2012).


10455962_655482271219306_3463095868752109635_nCubs go walking with Castro on 2 straight nights

Starlin Castro‘s single in the bottom of the 11th gave the Cubs a 2-1 win over the Reds on Sunday night after Castro singled in the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory on Saturday. Castro was the first player since 2011 to deliver walkoff RBIs in consecutive team games. The last player to do so was Jacoby Ellsbury for the Red Sox. Even better for the historians out there, the last Cubs player to do so was Ron Santo in May 1966 and Santo did it in style with a pair of walkoff homers.

Scherzer is Ryan-like in his masterpiece

Max Scherzer struck out 16 batters and allowed only one hit-a broken-bat single byCarlos Gomez in the seventh inning-as the Nationals defeated the Brewers, 4-0. If you never saw Nolan Ryan pitch, Scherzer’s outing on Sunday was reminiscent of a signature Ryan performance.

In 1972, Ryan became the first pitcher in modern major-league history with more than 15 strikeouts in a game in which he allowed no more than one hit. He did that three more times-in 1973, 1990, and 1991. Scherzer was only the seventh pitcher since Ryan to compile such a game, and none of them did it more than once. The others were Kerry Wood(1998), Pedro Martinez (1999), Randy Johnson (2001), Curt Schilling (2002), Brandon Morrow(2010), and Corey Kluber (last month).

Pirates & Phillies reprise their series-for-the-ages from 57 years ago

Josh Harrison drove in the game’s only run with a single in the 11th inning as the Pirates defeated the Phillies, 1-0, on Sunday. Pittsburgh topped Philadelphia by the same score in 13 innings on Friday night. Prior to this series, the Pirates had faced the Phillies 2,266 times, and only six of those games were scoreless through 10 innings.

But here’s an amazing kicker: The last major-league series in which two games reached the 11th inning with the score 0-0 was also played at Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia was the visiting team. That was in 1958 and the games were played at Forbes Field; as they did this weekend, the Pirates won both games. There were no relief pitchers used in either of the games: Ron Kline defeated Robin Roberts in 12 innings on May 9; Bob Porterfield, making his debut for the Bucs, pitched an eight-hit shutout to top Curt Simmons on May 11.

Cabrera steals a win from Sale

Asdrubal Cabrera‘s two-run seventh-inning home run gave the Rays a 2-1 win over the White Sox. It was the latest go-ahead home run off Chris Sale in the last three seasons, and it marked the first time this season that Sale failed to win a game in which the Sox staked him to a lead (6-0 prior to Sunday). The only starting pitchers to be given a lead at least six times this season and win every one of those games are Gerrit Cole (9-0), Carlos Carrasco (7-0), and Michael Pineda (7-0).

Sale sets Sox strikeout mark

Chris Sale did achieve one noteworthy milestone on Sunday: With 12 strikeouts, he raised his total to 51 over his last four starts, resetting his own team record in the process. No other active pitcher has ever fanned more than 50 batters over a span of four consecutive appearances; the last pitcher to do so was Randy Johnson in 2004.

Prior to the 2013 season, only two White Sox pitchers struck out even 40 batters over four games: Juan Pizarro (40 in 1961) and Javier Vazquez in 2007 (42). Sale has done it in each of the last three seasons.

What’s better than triple-double? How about a triple-triple.

Eduardo Nunez, Shane Robinson, and Eduardo Escobar all tripled in the sixth inning for the Twins on Sunday. And if that doesn’t seem unusual enough for you consider this: Minnesota scored only one run in the inning, with Robinson getting picked off and Escobar getting stranded.

It was the first time since the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota in 1961 that the Twins had three triples in one inning. And it was the first instance in the expansion era of a team scoring only once despite three triples in an inning. The other 20 teams to do so averaged 4.6 runs in those innings.

10514539_655526474548219_1261643000188449357_n

Clear as Mud

Yesterday, Adrian Peterson had a question for us on Twitter – he asked if “a contract is two-sided or one?”.  Before I could answer him, he went on an epic rant – clearly he had too many Pina Coladas and I thought it might be better for him to sleep it off and wait until the morning.

Someone answer him so he can continue.

Yo, Adrian! Remember that time last year when you still got paid $11.75m for beating your kid and played one game?!  Do you remember that your contract says you get $12.75m this year, $5m more than any other RB in the NFL?!  It seems more like you are arguing that YOU should not have to honor your contract?  While I agree with him in principle, He’s still an asshole – but if you want something different, then help change the collective bargaining agreement your Union agreed to!  Currently, a NFL team gives a player a contract and then can decide later, for a variety of reasons, if they want to cut him – it’s the ol’Switch-A-Roo (see what I did there? Sick burn, I know) – My point is this: NFL contracts are contracts, but they’re not guaranteed, (they do have guaranteed money) and there are certain things the team can and cannot do with them, and you would know this if you read the contract. And the fact the team can whack you after one year of your supposed five-year deal, or franchise you, or cut you at a date that is most advantageous for them, but not for you has been agreed to in collective bargaining. NFL players were hell-bent on getting free agency back in the 90’s, and they got it, while giving up a whole bunch of other stuff – and they lost the last go-round of near-work stoppage because management always wins in football and always loses in baseball. Because there’s always another football player out there who will play, while nobody but Pedro Borbon would cross a baseball picket line.

Sure, it’s draconian. But the facts that baseball teams stay on the hook for guys who have long since declined below their level of compensation (yes, no one forces teams to sign players to stupid contracts) and the “expiring contract” is often as big an asset in the NBA as an actual player who can play, are also messed up.

So, let him retire, let him force his way out, there will still be some-team who wants a child-abusing running back on the north-side of his career with over 10,000 yards on the odometer, (we’re looking at you Jerr-uh).  But instead of trumpeting your own horn about contract inequities, Adrian – why are you not addressing the obvious blackball of Ray Rice?!  While I don’t think Ray Rice has the physical ability to be an NFL back at this point (he didn’t look very good two years ago), why is it Rice hasn’t gotten a tryout with anyone, when Ray McDonald was able to land a deal with the Bears – and we all know how that turned out.  Adrian pleaded out, Rice has been acquitted, and one is trying to get work and the other won’t because of his ego – if only he thought about any of his sons as much as he thinks of himself.


 

MLB

nullNice debut for Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez may be here to stay – the 22-year-old lefty tallied seven strikeouts over 7.2 scoreless innings in his major-league debut, leading the Red Sox to a 5-1 victory over the Rangers. Rodriguez is the first Red Sox pitcher in 48 years to throw at least seven shutout innings while recording a win in his MLB debut. On April 14, 1967, Billy Rohr threw a complete-game one-hit shutout against the Yankees in his first major-league appearance. In fact, Rohr had a no-hitter intact with two outs in the ninth inning before Elston Howard’s single ended the rookie’s chance at history. Despite the auspicious start, Rohr recorded just two more wins in his major-league career.

Prior to Rodriguez on Thursday, 95 pitchers had made their major-league debut at Globe Life Park in Arlington since the stadium opened in 1994. Rodriguez is the second pitcher of that group to throw at least seven innings without surrendering a run. On August 16, 2000, Brian Sikorskistarted for Texas and blanked the Yankees for seven innings in his major-league debut. That would be the only ‘W’ that Sikorski would record as a starting pitcher – he earned three more wins pitching in relief in 2006, his final season in the majors.

Giants post another squa-doosh at home

Including Thursday’s 7-0 whitewashing of the Braves, the Giants have recorded eight shutouts in May, all of which have come at AT&T Park. San Francisco is the only NL team in the last 99 seasons (1917-2015) to tally at least eight shutouts at home in a calendar month. The Giants themselves were the last NL team to achieve that feat – in September 1916, the New York Giants won an incredible 27 games at the Polo Grounds, including 10 shutout victories. Both the 27 wins at home and 10 shutout victories at home are major-league records for any team in a month.

nullBeckwith’s favorite pitcher still buzzing for Miller despite loss

Shelby Miller, who took the hard-luck loss in San Francisco after allowing one run in seven innings, owns an earned run average of 1.48 after his first 10 starts with the Braves. That’s the second-lowest ERA through ten starts for any pitcher who joined the Braves since 1966, when the franchise relocated to Atlanta. Buzz Capra, who began the 1974 season in the bullpen for the Braves, moved into the starting rotation in mid-May and allowed just nine earned runs in 78? innings over his first 10 starts with the team, good for a 1.03 ERA.

null50 K’s in four starts? Really?!

Corey Kluber rang up another 13 strikeouts on Thursday against the Mariners, increasing his total to 50 K’s over his last four starts. Kluber is the first pitcher in Indians history to record at least 50 strikeouts over a span of four starts within a single season, though Bob Feller achieved that feat for Cleveland in a multi-season span of four starts (the Hall-of-Famer struck out 18 in his final start of 1938 and 32 over his first three starts of 1939). The last pitcher in the majors before Kluber with at least 50 K’s over a span of four starts was Randy Johnson, who punched out 54 batters over four games in August 2004.

nullOrioles on Sale

Chris Sale racked up 12 K’s over 7.2 scoreless innings, helping the White Sox win the opener of their doubleheader with the Orioles. The lanky lefty has reached double-digits in K’s in 21 of his 94 starts in the majors, making him the fourth left-handed pitcher that has debuted in the modern era (since 1900) and has struck out 10 or more batters at least 20 times within his first 100 career starts. The other three southpaws to accomplish that feat are Sam McDowell (28 times, 1961-66 Indians), Herb Score (26 times, 1955-59 Indians), and Johan Santana (21 times, 2000-05 Twins).

O’s take split

Adam Eaton hit a leadoff homer to start the second game of the doubleheader for the White Sox, but the Orioles responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first to take the lead, helping Baltimore earn a split against Chicago on Thursday. The Orioles are now 10-0 this season when they hold a lead at the end of the first inning. The only other team that is undefeated in that scenario this season is the Cardinals, who are 14-0 when outscoring their opponents in the opening frame.

nullSabathia blows lead

After starting his night with four shutout innings, CC Sabathia allowed five runs over the next three frames, squandering the Yankees’ 3-0 lead in the A’s 5-4 victory. Since joining the Yankees in 2009, CC Sabathia is now 70-2 in 81 starts in which he was staked to a lead of at least three runs. Sabathia’s only loss in that scenario prior to Thursday was on June 28, 2013 against the Orioles – he allowed four runs in that start after the Yankees took a 3-0 lead.

New-Angel in the outfield scores twice in blowout

Nine Angels players scored at least one run in their 12-2 romp over the Tigers. The flock of run-scoring Angels included Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who scored two runs in his debut for Los Angeles despite no official at-bats in the game. The former Mets outfielder scored a run in the sixth inning after pinch-running for Matt Joyce, then he scored another on Chris Iannetta‘s grand slam in the seventh after drawing a walk. Only two players before Nieuwenhuis scored multiple runs in their Angels debut without recording a hit – Joe Lahoud (April 1974) and Jack Howell (May 1985). Both players scored exactly two runs, and Lahoud, like Nieuwenhuis, had no official at-bats in his debut with the team.

nullMcCutchen keeps proving Beckwith wrong, Pirates keep winning

Andrew McCutchen went 3-for-5 at the plate with a pair of RBI doubles, helping the Pirates defeat the Padres, 11-5. McCutchen’s cold start to the season looks far behind him now – the former MVP had recorded a subpar .188 batting average after 26 games along with 13 RBIs and just five extra-base hits. In 20 games since then, McCutchen is batting .384 with 16 RBIs and 14 extra-base hits; his 28 hits over that span are tied for the most in the National League.

Game 7’s are DiRTy

NHL

Two Game 7s in the NHL Conference Finals

The Blackhawks forced a decisive seventh game in the Western Conference Final with their 5-2 win over the Ducks in Game 6 on Wednesday, after the Rangers did the same in the Eastern Conference Final with their Game 6 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. This will be the third time in NHL history that both Semi-Final or Conference Final series in one playoff year went seven games, It happened first in 1964, when Toronto beat Montreal and Detroit topped Chicago in seven-game Semi-Finals, and again in 2000 when New Jersey edged Philadelphia and Dallas got by Colorado in the Conference Finals.

nullKeith notches three assists in the second period

Duncan Keith assisted on all three of the Blackhawks’ second-period goals in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final. Keith is the fourth player in Blackhawks history to register three assists in one period of a playoff game. The other Chicago players to do that are Pat Stapleton in 1973 (Game 1 of the Stanly Cup Final at Montreal, first period), Chris Chelios in 1992 (Game 2 of Conference Final vs. Edmonton, third period) and Patrick Kane in 2014 (Game 5 of Conference Final vs. Los Angeles, first period). Kane was the last player on any NHL team to accomplish that feat before Keith.


 

NBA

40 year Drought is over

Stephen Curry registered 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals in the Warriors’ series clinching win over the Rockets on Wednesday night. The only other players to produce at least 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals in a playoff series clinching win are Michael Jordan (1990 vs. Philadelphia),Hersey Hawkins (1991 vs. Milwaukee) and Scottie Pippen (1991 vs. the Lakers).

Both NBA Conference Finals end in five or less

The Warriors ended the Western Conference Final series in five games with a win over the Rockets on Wednesday night, a day after the Cavaliers completed a sweep of the Eastern Conference Finals with a victory over the Hawks. This marks only the second time in the last 29 years that both NBA Conference Finals series ended in five or fewer games. The only other time that happened over that span was in 2011.


 

MLB

nullThor and the Mets

Noah Syndergaard did not allow a run while pitching one out into the eighth inning and had a big day at the plate going 3-for-3 with a home run in the Mets’ 7-0 blanking of the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon. The only other rookies to hurl at least seven shutout innings while lashing out three or more hits including a home run are Colorado’s Jason Jennings, who pitched a shutout and had three hits and a homer against the Mets on August 23, 2001 and the Dodgers’ Larry Sherry, who did not allow a run over 8.2 innings and recorded three hits and a long ball against the Cardinals on August 15, 1959.

nullThe Yankee nightmare continues as A-Rod passes Gehrig…..and Thome

Alex Rodriguez hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the fourth inning in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Royals on Wednesday afternoon. Rodriguez’s blast, the 50th of his career against Kansas City, not only allowed him to break Lou Gehrig’s American League record for career RBIs, it also set the mark for most career home runs hit against the Royals, a record he shared with Jim Thome entering Wednesday’s action.

nullCruz goes the dynamite

Nelson Cruz broke a scoreless tie with a two-out, three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning in Seattle’s 3-0 win over the Rays in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon. Cruz became only the second player in Mariners’ history to break a scoreless with a two-out home run in the ninth inning or later, joining Logan Morrison who went deep with two out and two-men on in the top of the ninth against the Angels in a 3-1 Seattle win on September 18, 2014.

Pirate pitching stifle another opponent

The Pirates defeated the Marlins by a score of 5-2 on Wednesday extending their winning streak to six games. Pittsburgh has allowed two or fewer runs in each of the six wins during its streak. The only other time the Pirates have won six consecutive games, while allowing two or fewer runs in each game, over the last 38 seasons was in 1992, when Pittsburgh had a nine-game streak of that kind.

nullKipnis loves batting first

Jason Kipnis went 3-for-5 in the Indians’ 12-3 win over the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the eighth time that Kipnis has had three hits in a game in this month. Prior to Kipnis, the last Indians player to record at least eight three-hit games in a calendar month was Kenny Lofton, who had eight in August of 1995. It is also the highest total in a calendar month by a second baseman since San Francisco’s Jeff Kent had eight games with at least three hits in June 2002.

nullLaRoche in extra innings

Adam LaRoche singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning leading the White Sox to a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon. LaRoche’s 855 career RBIs ranks 20th among active major league players, but his 26 RBIs in extra-innings are tied with Carlos Beltran for the fifth most among current players behind Albert Pujols (35), Alex Rodriguez (33), Ryan Howard (29) and Matt Kemp(27).

nullAnother Arenado

Nolan Arenado drove in three runs in the Rockies’ 6-4 win over the Reds on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the sixth time that Arenado has had at least three RBIs in a game this season, tied with Paul Goldschmidt for the major-league lead in that category. Prior to this season, Arenado drove in at least three runs in a game only five times in the 244 major-league games he had played in during his career.

nullPanik at the Disco

Joe Panik hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning giving the Giants a 2-1 lead in a game they would go on to win 3-1 on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the first time Panik had multiple RBIs in a game this season. He entered Wednesday’s action with the most games played (44) among players that did not have a multiple-RBI game this season.

nullFinally Hicks

Aaron Hicks hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning in the Twins’ 6-4 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon. Hicks entered the contest on a streak of 71 consecutive plate appearances without driving in a run, which was the third longest current streak for any major-league position player entering Wednesday’s action, behind Mike Baxter (103) and Coco Crisp (72).

A’s struggle in close game again at home

The A’s dropped a 3-2 decision to the Tigers in Oakland on Wednesday afternoon. Oakland has now lost each of its last 12 home games that were decided by one run dating back to last season. It’s the longest such streak since 1894, when the Cubs had a 12-game streak of that kind and the National League Louisville club (spanning 1893-1894) had a 13-game streak.

nullScherzer loves the Nat’l League

Max Scherzer hurled seven shutout innings and struck out 13 in the Nationals’ 3-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Wednesday. The only other visiting pitchers to not allow a run while registering at least 13 strikeouts at Wrigley Field are Cincinnati’s Ewell Blackwell (1948), the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax (1961), Cincinnati’s Jim Maloney (1963), Atlanta’s John Smoltz (1996), San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt(2004) and Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers (2014).

nullHeyward homers

Jason Heyward led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a game-tying home run and the Cardinals scored another run later in the inning to defeat the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. It was Heyward’s 89th career home run but only the third of which came in the ninth inning or later with his team trailing and either tied the game or put his team ahead. The only other times he did that were on April 20, 2010 and August 17, 2013.

Greased Lightning Round 1

With the upcoming super-cala-whimisical-fantasia of sports arriving by feeding-tube the next few days – we are going to bring you lightning round editions of the DiRT Canon – as there is too much work with all the playoff games for the NBA and NHL, baseball, The ‘Tucky Derby and some sorta superbowly-fight…stay tuned

1. Won’t someone think of the players… For the first time in baseball history a game will be played in front of, no one…It finally answers the question if a bear sh*# in the…no, it’s if a tree falls…or is it if a Oriole game broke out and no one was there to see it…I don’t remember.  In all it’s weirdness, it could be made into a drinking game, example: drink every time you hear someone say surreal, or weird, or empty, etc…We know the “why” and it gives off an eerie feeling like a storm is coming – the likes we haven’t seen in this country, since the summers of ’68/’69.

2. Just the tip… The Clippers are not disciplined enough to beat the Spurs and would someone please drug test Tim Duncan right now – I’ll have what he’s having.  I saw him make plays and ballet around the court last night in a way, that I didn’t think he had it in him anymore.  That block on Blake Griffith in the 4th, then strip him of the ball was classic!  The Lion of Oz needed courage and the Clippers can’t find the yellow-brick road with metal detector.  Need proof?  Missing 16 free-shots from the charity stripe is the difference the game – maybe the series – and when one of your best players, who looked unstoppable, disappears in the 4th Qtr, you’re done – O Blake where art thou.  Instead the Clippers are down 3-2 in the series and head back to the Alamo to be treated like Davy Crockett.

archie-bradley-face

3. I’m fine…it’s fine…s’fine…This is what 115mph of cork+cowhide looks like when it hits your face.  As Archie Bradley of Arizona found out last night when the ball Carlos Gonzales hit, struck Bradley in the mug.  No word yet on how bad the damage may be – but the sound was terrifying, heard all the way, deep down in the DiRT Canon Bunker – like when firewood pops at a campsite.  It wasn’t enough to stop Kyle Kendrick serving meatballs however – he was serving them all night, as the D-Bags won 12-5 over the Rockies.

4. The stars at night…In the worst kept secret in all of sports – Adrian Peterson just wanted to remind people, again, how great it wold be if he could play for Dallas.  Peterson wants it.  Jer-ruh wants it.  In a vortex of irony, the Vikes should rob the Cowboys in a Shakespearean reversal of the Herschel Walker trade.  If anyone needs help piecing together the particulars, I’m available – also for children’s parties.

5. Revenge is a dish best served cold, but Dan Uggla will take warm too…In all to classic Atlanta fashion, the Braves choked a 9-1 lead to lose to the Nationals on Uggla’s 3-run bomb, 13-12.  Uggla went 3-5 with 5 RBI, all while still generating a paycheck for most of his salary from the Braves – they cut him earlier.  It’s just another long-line of stories of Atlanta being burned and last night was just another chapter.

6. All a Twitter…In other news of irony – yesterday Twitter (TWTR) was all set to report their quarterly earnings after the bell rang on the Stock Market.  Word is, it was because the report was to be underwhelming.  The twist is, a software company found the report and released it an hour early – social media wins again!  As you’d expect, Twitter lost 18% of it’s value before trading closed – upended by their very own Frankenstein monster.  It’s like ray-ee-ain, on your wedding day…

Dishin’ DiRT

This game was bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!  If you turned this game off when the Warriors were down 20 in the 4th, then shame on you – because we might be watching a season of legendary proportions with this smiling assassin, Steph Curry.  He salsas, he drains threes and each week does something that has us forgetting that basketball was ever played before him – it has, I’m just slathering hyperbole like extra-mayonnaise on a sandwich.  Just think about what we watched for a second last night, with under 6 minutes left, the Pelicans had a 99.8% probability of winning by INPREDICTABLE.

The Pelicans dominated the #1 seed, as if they had switched places for the first 42 minutes.  In the first three quarters, Anthony Davis was 10-17 with 13 rebounds and all night the wings for the Pelicans lived in the paint or had wide open shots – New Orleans made Norris Cole look like an all star last night – it was that kind of domination, for 42 minutes.  This is why the Warriors likely will win the West, there is no substitute for this kind of offensive explosion at any time and cold-blooded-ness.

You must consider the Warriors motivation; instead of giving the game away down 17 early in the 4th – as most coaches would have done – Steve Kerr put Steph Curry back into the game.  Probably because Ryan Anderson hit a few shots and talked trash to the bench.  From then on Draymond Green and the rest of the Warriors grabbed 10 offensive rebounds – Green 4 of them – repeatedly beat the Pelicans to the glass – making up for their poor shooting.  The biggest of the 10 was the last one.  But before that, look at the 3 Steph made to give the Warriors a shot at OT:

In every other instance with how games are ref’d in the NBA, how is that not a foul on Curry?!  That and-1, could have sealed it for the Warriors and no overtime – Curry gets crushed after the shot.  But to back up a bit – how do the Pelicans not foul before Curry shoots the ball – either the one that got them to within two – or the last one BEFORE he gets the ball?  Of course Monty Williams, the Pelicans HC, said he told his players to foul, they just didn’t execute his plan – but let’s be serious – Monty Williams has trouble telling anyone anything – anyone hear if he had a problem with the crowd tonight be too loud and illegal?

What should concern Monty more is, where was Davis in the 4th and especially in OT?  A talented kid like that, has to stop starting strong and tiring late.  If he ever wants to be a serious contender, he’s got to something other than what he has been doing.  Someone like Davis and that skill-set should dominate for all four quarters, not just 3 – remember he had 13 rebounds in 3 qtrs, only got two more the rest of the night.

So what did we learn?  We learned that coming back from 20 is a dubious distinction – no other team can give you that kind of magic, and yet it leaves you wondering how the best team puts itself in that position.  The Warriors have yet to play a full 48 minutes and as the playoffs go on, other teams will not make the same noob mistakes as the Pelicans have.  As a fan though, do we care?


 

On April 12th, this was Yordano Ventura having some words with the Millville Meteor after a line drive single, that Trout later scored on.  Yordano never thanked Catcher Salvador Perez for saving his life, thus keeping his Napoleon complex in tact – because on his next start he started another brawl with the Athletics for throwing at Brett Lawrie.  Ventura was not suspended, only fined, and so was available for his third start last night against the White Sox when he ignited this melee:

Five players were ejected: Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Lorenzo Cain, Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija.  I love the spunk Yordano has, but when your first three starts empty the benches, you have to wonder if it’s you – it is.  For the Royals, we get it – no one took you seriously and you’re out to prove last year was no fluke – April hasn’t finished yet and you guys are acting like a bunch of Jersey Shore goomba’s who feel slighted because someone is making fun of your uneven-spray-tan and height – like: what did more damage, SuperStorm Sandy or your fake tan and chlamydia, what, are you still upset your mom had to buy two car seats when she drove you to the store?  If we are going to assign blame, than it goes all the way back to 1973, and the Designated Hitter.  Ventura would have less Macho-Man if he had to swing a bat.  Or maybe it’s revenge for this in 2002, after-all it is the Chicago way.


 

Some strange facts for the 2015 season:

  • It is the first time ever that a team that won the World Series (SF Giants) had a 7 game losing streak in April and the team that lost the World Series (KC Royals) had a 7 game winning streak in April.
  • When the RedSox and the Yankees played a 19 inning game, it was the longest ever for the RedSox – but it was also the first time that a team had won (Yankees) after blowing multiple leads after the 15th inning.
  • Bernie Williams retires today after not playing since 2006 – he never filed the paperwork.  After hearing about that Paul O’Neil also announced his retirement, after not playing since 2001 – same reason.
  • Trevor Bauer (Indians) is the only man in a 100 years to start a season of 9 innings of hitless baseball and not throw a no hitter.
  • Every game Tampa Bay has played this year, the team that scored first, won the game.
  • Last Tuesday the A’s became the first team to win shutouts in 4 of their first 9 games since 1910!  Then on Wednesday, the Tigers became the first team to do it since Tuesday.

 

April 26th, 1995 – was the first official game at Coors Field (’94 strike being the reason for the late start) and was a 14 inning gem that saw the Rockies beat the Mets, 11-9, on Dante Bichette’s game winning HR – starting the magic that would continue that season, earning the first wild-card, post-season berth.  The Rockies would lose to the Braves 3-1 in their first playoff appearance.  But that Opening Day was a long cold one that was phenomenal to witness.  Besides my memories of that game and of that moment, I still have the ticket from that day, signed by Pete Coors – how cool is that.  It is also the moment I asked the man upstairs to make sure that every Opening Day from then on is at least 60 degrees and partly sunny.  That ’95 team was something special – Walker, Gallaraga, Burks, Castilla, Bichette, Leskanic, etc…and that Home Run was the beginning of the Blake Street Bombers – we’ve had other memories since – but this was the beginning of the love affair.  Here’s a look back…