Monday, June 22, 2009

Case of the Mondays

It's a slow day around Major League Baseball, as there are only four games on the docket.

Cubs @ Atlanta
Ryan Dempster vs Javier Vazquez
This is a makeup game, due to a rain out.  So, the Cubs had to fly from Chicago to Atlanta last night, and they're going flying up to Detroit tonight.  The schedule looked a lot better at the beginning of the year, when today was supposed to be an off day, with an easy hour-long flight to Detroit.

St Louis @ NY Mets
Todd Wellmeyer vs Tim Redding
Tim Redding hasn't been ungodly horrible in recent starts, but he still welcomes Tony LaRussa's club with an 0-2 record and 6.27 ERA.  His ERA in his three May starts was above 9, and his ERA in his three June starts has been below 4. 

I'm not sure if six starts is a small sample size for Tim Redding.  For most players it is, but I think Redding is on a short leash.  I think he's been fortunate to have "only" given up three home runs.

Redding has been throwing fewer curveballs and a career high percentage of changeups (12%).  The changeups could be a problem, as Pitch Type Values only rate his slider and curveball as above average.

San Francisco @ Oakland
Jonathan Sanchez vs Trevor Cahill
This game is very simple.  Here are two devastatingly talented pitchers, who struggle with control between sometimes and often.  Trends may suggest that the young sinkerballer, Cahill, has a slightly greater likelihood to improve than the more seasoned Jonathan Sanchez.

Colorado @ LA Angels
Aaron Cook vs Matt Palmer
This contest reminds me of my first idea for a post today, more on that later.  Garrett Atkins will likely be afforded an opportunity to resuscitate his career with six straight games in an AL park.  The Rockies will have a DH spot this week, and I'd guess this could be Atkins' last chance before being taken off the 25-man roster.  Ian Stewart surpassed him on the depth chart, and Todd Helton has remained healthy.  Given that Stewart is able to play more positions, the Rockies still want to see Atkins return to his .300 batting average and 100 RBI production levels we've all seen.

The original thought for my post was not about Garrett Atkins, but rather about Jake Fox and what other NL players might have a solid run as a DH for a few games in AL parks.

For you fantasy players out there, here are a handful of guys who may be fun to take a flier on and see what they can do this week.  Remember, taking a flier on a guy doesn't mean you have to start him, but at least he's not going to do any damage for another team.

1.  The aforementioned Garrett Atkins, who turned 29 1/2 ten days ago, is battling through a mid-career crisis.  He's probably not available in a lot of leagues, but if he's there in yours, he's potentially worth a roster spot.

2. Kyle Blanks, of the San Diego Padres, is a big kid, listed at 6'6" - 270 lbs.  He was called up a few days ago just to play DH in the AL parks.  It would be great fun to start him and watch him get around the bases like Cecil Fielder.

3. Jake Fox is an interesting option.  The guy has absolutely hit the bajeezus out of the ball in Triple-A this season.  His slash number of batting avereage / on-base percentage / slugging percentage for the Iowa Cubs this year have been: .409/.495/.841.  He has 17 HR's and 53 RBI's in 45 games.

Despite his Ruthian Triple-A numbers, Jake Fox hasn't been good enough defensively to crack a starting lineup that has at times featured Aaron Miles, Mike Fontenot, Bobby Scales, and Andres Blanco.

I am a little suspect about what the Cubs are doing with two guys who can clobber Triple-A pitching, but can't play defense in the Major Leagues.  Maybe that's unfair.  Maybe Micah Hoffpauir is an adequate first baseman, but Derek Lee is blocking him.  At the very least, I'd like to see the Cubs get something of use from an AL trading partner, in exchange for Jake Fox, after he pops a few homers in Detroit and new Comiskey this week.

4. John Mayberry, Jr. of the Philadelphia Phillies is a different story.  This guy will more than likely play as long as Raul Ibanez is on the DL, and he's not eligible to come off until July 3rd.  Mayberry is a tall, strong, anthletic kid with power who was drafted in the first round, out of Stanford, four years ago.  He already has two home runs in his first nineteen Major League at bats.

5. I have no idea what Dusty Baker is going to do with his DH position, and frankly it would be a lot of fun to see Joey Votto get activated and placed there to ease him back into action.  Alas, I think Dusty will be going with Jonny Gomes.  Gomes has a decent OBP and just looking at his midsection, you'd hope he can still hit for some power.

As an end of post treat, to help get everyone through monday afternoon, here are a few hits from around the web...

Up in Seattle, Larry Stone writes about how we are in the Golden Age of Managers.  He mentions that the 3rd, 4th, and 5th all time winningest managers are active: Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre.  That is interesting to think about for about two seconds, but what I loved about this piece was the writer's personal choice for "a record that will never be broken".  He chooses Will White's 75 complete games in 1879.

Peter Abraham's recent attempt at being sagacious makes complete sense to me.  I think he nailed it.  I must include the opening passage:

When Alex Rodriguez returned from his hip surgery, the Yankees spoke glowingly about the work his surgeon and rehab specialist were doing. To listen to them talk, Dr. Marc Philippon and Dr. Mark Lindsay are the two best at what they do.

Based on all available information, that seems to be exactly the case. They are the best.

According to Rodriguez, the plan put in place by Philippon and Lindsay was for him to take 5-8 games off during his first 45 games back with the team. Not 45 days, 45 games.

But over the first 38 games he was back, A-Rod sat out zero games. He started every one of them, 35 of them at third base. Day games after night games, rain-delayed games, every single game.

A-Rod said he fought to stay in games, which is what he supposed to do. Knowing him, I’m sure that’s exactly what he did. But why didn’t the Yankees stick with the plan their doctors drew up? All of a sudden a third baseman with a high school education knew better than the two best doctors in their respective fields?

Seriously, what are the Yankees doing?  Why wouldn't they rest him the way the doctors advise?  On top of everything, it sure seemed dirty to give him his first rest in the form of a two-game benching in him hometown (Miami) that he never gets to visit because it's an interleague matchup.  Did Joe Girardi forget the doctors' advice?  I'm sure Hal Steinbrenner hasn't forgetten that the Yanks owe Alex 258 million dollars through 2017.

The final stop on the BAseball Reality Tour takes us again to the friendly confines of Joe Posnanski's blog.  This is a fun read, and it isn't even about baseball, except during the juicy discussion showcasing recent Royals' futility.  It's also worth staying to the end of his post, if only to hear his wife's million dollar idea, evoking mention of the "Flintstone-Rubble type of relationship".

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