May 7, 2009 at 8:56 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Draft, Monthly Awards (fake), Philadelphia Philthies, Series Preview, Tim Hudson, Transactions
Break out the brooms. Well, not really. We did take both of the games, but sweeping a 2-game series is hardly broom-worthy. Especially against the Marlins’ (who are currently in a 4 for 17 skid) 2 worst starters. In the first game, we scored 8 runs off Florida’s Andrew Miller replacement, Graham Taylor, then failed to get a hit off of their bullpen for the final 6 and 1/3 innings. During that period, we only got 4 runners on the basepaths. Garret Anderson, Omar Infante, and David Ross all drew walks while Chipper was intentionally passed. Complacency is greatness’s biggest enemy, and it is currently the Braves’ biggest enemy. The Braves haven’t put a game away with their bats all season. The inability to put pressure on the opposition after the 3rd inning is giving the opposition lots of hope, something they don’t need to have. Once again, our pitching staff bails us out. Derek Lowe kind of sucked in that first game. He gave up 6 runs, all earned, in 5 innings while allowing 7 hits (3 doubles, 1 HR) and 3 walks with 5 strikeouts. This performance wasn’t on the defense, you can’t allow 4 extra base hits and walk 3 batters and expect to have a good outing. Jorge Cantu was responsible for most of the damage against Lowe, smacking 2 of the doubles, the home run, driving in 5 of the runs, and scoring 2 of them, playing some role in all 6. Anyway, allowing 6 in 5 innings usually results in an automatic loss, but since we scored 8 early runs, Lowe put another one in the W column after Carlyle, Moylan, Soriano, and Gonzalez all pitched scoreless innings (in that order) to finish the game. Gonzalez was especially sharp, striking out 2 in his perfect 9th for a save.
The second game was much closer to what was advertised, 2 run-prevention minded teams playing in a pitchers’ park. Funny how there were 4 HR in this game, though. Kotchman pulled a pitch down the RF line that beamed into the seats on a rope, David Ross Hit a no-doubter to left-center, and Hanley Ramirez hit 2 solo shots off of Jurrjens. Jurrjens was very, very good despite giving up 2 home runs. He only gave up 1 additional hit and walked 2. He struck out 4 and allowed only 2 runs, both earned, in 7 innings. Garret Anderson drew the team’s only walk of the afternoon, but we had 12 hits, 3 for extra bases. 2 of those XBH belonged to Kotchman who finished the game 3/4 and a triple shy of the cycle. Kelly Johnson was 2/4 and stole a base, maybe he’s out of his funk, but I don’t support putting him back in the lead-off spot. I’ve never thought it mattered all that much, but even if Bobby refuses to put Schafer in that spot Kelly Johnson isn’t the next most logical choice. That’d be Yunel Escobar, Omar Infante, or maybe even Casey Kotchman. The bullpen picked up where Jurrjens left off, and Soriano pitched a scoreless 8th, though he got into some trouble and at one point we had Moylan warming up in case Soriano faltered anymore. He successfully got the ball to Gonzalez who finished the game by pitching another perfect 9th. The Braves had scored 4 runs by the 5th before they started their afternoon nap, which proved to be enough.
Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano have been used 3 days in a row while Peter Moylan has been used twice in the past 4 days and warmed up today. I’d say Peter Moylan is the only one of our late innings guys that will be available tomorrow night and if he’s used tomorrow night he probably won’t be available the following day. Bobby needs to slow the eff down with our late innings group. I know they’re great and he feels very comfortable using them in late and close situations, but you’re talking about our best 3 relievers and we can’t afford to lose one. Also keep in mind they’re ALL coming off surgery. I would have rested one of Soriano and Gonzalez and used Moylan, Carlyle, or Bennett in the 8th just to keep one of them fresh for the upcoming series. Then again, this team needed that win and you take it any way you can get it.
Right now seems like a prime time to call up Medlen to piggyback with a starter and give the bullpen a rest. His line so far at Class AAA Gwinnett: 30 and 2/3 innings pitched, 17 hits, 7 walks, 4 runs (all earned), 0.78 WHIP, 1.17 ERA. I’d say he’s handling International League hitters just fine.
But that isn’t likely to happen, so we’ll head to Citizens’ Bank Park for Repeat Tour #1 with a pretty tapped bullpen. This especially doesn’t bode well since we’re using 2 starters that are pretty incapable of going the distance, Jo Jo Reyes and Kenshin Kawakami. Vazquez will pitch the game between the two of those guys, which also doesn’t bode well, because he’s a fly-ball pitcher and that’s one heck of a home run park. They’ll be opposed by Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Brett Myers. Myers, the least crappy of the 3, is sporting a 5.35 ERA, Joe Blanton a 6.84, and Cole Hamels a 7.27. Those should be jet names, not ERA’s. We seem to have Myers and Blanton figured out as we jumped on them pretty well in the first series. Cole Hamels was a few outs away from shutting us out twice last year, but he’s been off to an awful start. He’s had injury troubles all season and can’t seem to put it together. Hopefully he doesn’t put it together for at least 1 more start.
The Phillies have hit 39 home runs entering tonight’s game. They’ve allowed even more though, more than 45 (fuzzy on the exact figure). Any time you play in Citizens’ Bank Park you want to do 3 things: 1) keep Rollins and Victorino off the base-paths at all costs, if they’re running wild you’re going to pay, 2) keep the ball down in the zone and away from hitters when possible, limit those home runs, and 3) pitch to Ryan Howard with the bases empty, because he’ll make you pay if you make a mistake in front of him. We have GOT to take advantage of the mistakes their pitchers make (and they will make them, especially when Hamels isn’t pitching) EVERY TIME, not just in the first 3 innings. Someone named Dusty (and I don’t know who Dusty is) posted this at Braves Journal, it deserves a re-post:
OPS+ by inning:
Complacency. Bad, bad thing.
The good news is McCann is eligible to return to the club tomorrow and he very well may. No official word yet, but he’s 1-3 with a double, a walk, threw out a baserunner, and tagged someone out at the plate today for Gwinnett so far. I’m praying he’ll be back. That’d be the boost we need. And we’re going to need some comfortable leads to win this series considering how cashed our bullpen is.
Lets go get them. Another road series win in Philthy would be a huge confidence boost. There’s no reason we can’t do it, either. Their starters are crap so we’ve got a decent chance to score a bunch of runs. May complacency not rear its’ ugly head.
Edit: P.S. I won’t be discussing Manny Ramirez on this site. Not until I know more, at least.
May 1, 2009 at 2:05 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Monthly Awards (fake), Player Analysis
I’ll keep this short and to the point without much rambling.
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana.
I didn’t really even have to look this up or even think about it. He was simply the best. Others put up great showings, but Santana currently leads the league in ERA (1.10), Strikeouts (44), and is 3rd in WHIP (0.95) in 32 and 2/3 innings pitched.
Runner up: Dan Haren.
I’ve always thought Haren was one of the most underrated (and I hate the word underrated) pitchers in the game. I love pointing out to people that he’s actually a better pitcher than Brandon Webb even though everyone thinks Webb is the D-Backs’ ace (note: don’t get me wrong, Webb is an outstanding pitcher that any staff would benefit from having. Having either one of these guys at the top of your rotation is a good thing). Anyway, in Webb’s absence he’s 2nd in the league in ERA (1.54), 4th in strikeouts (36), 1st in WHIP (0.74) (another note: he constantly is near the top of the league in Quality Starts and WHIP), and 1st in IP (35). He’s averaging 7 innings a start. He’s given his team a chance to win every time he’s pitched, but even in a hitters’ park, the Diamondbacks’ offense has been anemic and he’s been held to a 2-3 record.
NL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez.
MVP is a much more difficult award to choose than Cy Young, but Adrian Gonzalez is the pretty clear-cut winner here. Adrian Gonzalez is currently leading the NL in Home Runs (9), he’s 3rd in SLG (.705), he’s 8th in OBP (.441), and he leads the league in OPS+ (207). Considering the fact that he plays in the most difficult park to hit in (Petco Park), these statistics, especially the HR, are extremely impressive. He’s pretty much single-handedly lead the Padres’ offense to an 11-10 record. The rest of their team hasn’t been very good offensively and Jake Peavy hasn’t even been good.
Runner Up: Raul Ibanez.
If voters were voting, they’d probably vote Ibanez 1st. Not because he’s tied for 3rd in HR (7), 12th in OBP (.433), 2nd in SLG (.718), or 3rd in OPS+ (188) (keep in mind this is a park-adjusted metric, so the argument that he’s benefiting from Citizens Bank Park doesn’t hold water), but because he’s had about half a dozen game-tying or game-winning home runs. He’s amassed his monster numbers in pretty dramatic fashion.
NL RoY: Brian Barden.
I’d never heard of this utility guy before the Cardinals came to town this week. In addition to putting on a defensive clinic everywhere he’s been (including Atlanta where he was nothing short of an impact player in the field), he’s hit .385/.442/.641 with 3 HR in 43 PA’s. I’m not convinced he’s for real, but he is very good defensively and he was really fun to watch.
Runner Up: Jordan Schafer.
Not a homer pick, he really has been one of the best 2 rookies in the NL. He’s hitting .273/.415/.439 with 2 HR, 5 2B, and 1 SB in 82 PA’s. He has struck out 23 times, but he’s drawn 16 walks. Through Grady Sizemore’s first 21 games he was hitting .278/.384/.443 with 2 HR, 4 2B, 1 SB, 15 K’s and 7 BB’s in 73 PA’s. Not to put any pressure on our kid.
NL Rolaids Award: Jonathan Broxton.
A pretty irrelevant category, but Broxton is the winner. 0.82 ERA, 16 K’s, 2 hits, 4 walks in 11 innings pitched. 6 saves in 7 opportunities. Having a good bullpen is key to overachieving. Broxton’s helping the Dodgers do just that. I’m not doing a runner up in this category because I don’t really care.
AL Cy Young: Zach Grienke.
And it’s not even close. Let’s see. 1st in the league in ERA (0.50), Wins (5), Strikeouts (44), Shutouts (1), and WHIP (0.89). I’m not done. He’s tied for first in CG (2) and he’s 2nd in IP (36). If you haven’t watched him yet, he’s even better than last year. I watched 1 of his starts last year and he was throwing 95 MPH and it didn’t even look like he wasn’t even trying. This year, he’s even more effortless. He’s going to keep it up all year. I thought the AL Cy Young would be a 5-way race, but 3 of the guys I had down in that 5 man race aren’t preforming (Liriano, Verlander, and Lester), so it’s pretty much a 2-man race between Grienke and……
Runner Up: Felix Hernandez.
He’s the only pitcher that actually LOOKS better than Grienke, though his results haven’t been as good. He’s 7th in ERA (2.38), 2nd in strikeouts (36), tied for second in Wins (4), and 4th in innings pitched (34). The Mariners, a terrible team last year, have won every game King Felix has pitched. Did I mention he’s only 23 years old.
AL MVP: Kevin Youkilis.
He’s 1st in average (.395), 1st in OBP (.516), 4th in SLG % (.697), and 1st in OPS+ (209) (and he’s only hit 5 HR, so it isn’t Fenway, a park that inflates home runs but suppresses doubles and triples). It isn’t very close here. Voters would agree with me, which is pretty rare.
Runner Up: Jason Bay.
I know, it’s pretty gay that my top 2 are on the same team, but I don’t like the Red Sox, at all (I’m not a fan of people from the Northeast, especially Boston), so it isn’t bias. It’s closer here, with Victor Martinez a close 3rd, but Bay is the clear runner-up. He’s 2nd in the league in OBP (.505), 8th in SLG (.634), 2nd in OPS+ (194), and tied for 5th in runs scored with 19. He’s also got the drama factor going for him and he’s also had about 20,000 late-innings game-tying or game-winning hits. Mostly home runs.
AL RoY: Ricky Romero.
In addition to having a hilarious baseball name, he’s 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, 13 K’s, and only 4 BB’s in 21 innings pitched filling in for one of the 28 starting pitchers on Toronto’s DL. I predicted Travis Snider to win AL RoY, but none of the position players have really done squat so far.
Runner up: Scott Richmond.
Again, pretty gay of me to pick 2 players on the same team. And again, there’s no bias here. Richmond is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP, 20 K’s, and 10 BB’s in 23 and 1/3 innings pitched. Toronto’s making a lot of rookie buzz this year.
AL Rolaids Award: Frank Francisco.
I know you’ve never heard of him, and I’ve heard of him very infrequently. But he’s been THE relief ace of the American league thus far. He’s pitched 10 and 2/3 innings allowing 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 9 and hasn’t allowed a run yet. He’s 6 for 6 in save opportunities for the Rangers and is tied for the league lead in saves.
Looking back, I didn’t really minimize the rambling.