Monday, August 31, 2009

This Just In: Defense Wins Championships

As if there weren't enough stats in baseball already, I am proposing that another one be created. If it doesn't exist already, I would like to see baseball institute some sort of a crude plus/minus system for players. In my opinion, defense is one of the most underrated skills in baseball. The amount of runs a players saves from scoring is far less valued than the amount of runs that he can produce. This is where the plus/minus system would come in. It could determine a player's true value both at bat and in the field.

This stat might actually already exist somewhere, but I promise I have never seen it. If it does exist I would be very interested in seeing it. The thought came to me when I was watching Adam Dunn patrolling right field for the Nats this year. Several misplays and an error on his part had staked the Phillies to a pretty big lead in one particular game. I thought to myself, "My god, they are paying this guy $10 million a year for this?". Obviously Adam Dunn was signed for his bat, and he hasn't disappointed hitting 35 homers and driving in 91 so far. However, he made 13 errors in right field and I don't want to know how many balls fell in front of him or went over his head. When you take into account all of that, I wonder just how much he has helped the Nats this year. Something to think about for sure.

Since that game, the Nats have traded Nick Johnson and moved Dunn to first base, so I'm sure they realized just how much he was hurting them in the outfield. If this stat could be calculated (or is already) there are a group of guys in my mind who would jump to the front of the line as the most valuable all around players in baseball. In no particular order, here they are:

C: Joe Mauer
1B: Albert Pujols, Big Tex, Justin Morneau
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Hanley Ramirez, Jimmy Rollins
3B: David Wright, Evan Longoria, Kevin Youkilis
OF: Carlos Beltran, Torii Hunter, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Grady Sizemore

And as for some of the guys who would be the worst, or at least would be considered overrated:

C: Brian McCann
1B: Ryan Howard (not as much anymore), Adam Dunn
2B: Dan Uggla, Alexei Ramirez
SS: Miguel Tejada, Christian Guzman
3B: Mark Reynolds, Chipper Jones, Aramis Ramirez
OF: Manny Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Hideki Matsui

Basically, if you have a big, old, slow dude playing in the field somewhere, that player might not be helping your team as much as you think. A plus/minus for players would give a pretty good indication of how strong that player is on both offense and defense. Obviously, some things would come down to judgement calls, but I think it would be a really interesting stat to keep in baseball. Holler if you hear me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What A Goofball

I'm flying high over Denver, Colorado with one of the hottest coaches in America, and we're all about to die. At least Denver has got the boys from Blake Street on a hot streak right now because it seems like Josh McDaniels has burned down the franchise that was the Denver Broncos and pissed on the ashes (two movie references in one paragraph, not bad). McDaniels was supposed to be one of Bill Belichick's heir apparents, but instead has proven that he is too young to be a head coach and has re-affirmed that plucking coaches away from Bill Billabill is not a recipe for success.

Bill Billabill may be a mad genius, but he has certainly had some bozos for coaches under him. Let's take a look at a few of them. Romeo Crennel was a successful defensive coordinator for several years before the Browns stole him away like so many teams did from the great 1996 Packers coaching staff. A few disappointing years later, the Browns fired him and replaced him with the Mangenius. Good thinking: replace a Belichick lackey with another Belichick lackey who couldn't get it done with the Jets. What about Charlie Weis? He has only made Notre Dame a laughingstock in college football and somehow managed to gain weight after gastric bypass surgery. Yikes. Now we have Josh McDaniels taking the Broncos to new lows before the regular season has even started. Franchises take note: hiring Bill Billabill's assistants away is not a recipe for success.

So far McDaniels has alienated the teams franchise quarterback to the point where he had to be traded, and just today suspended their best receiver for the rest of the pre-season. This does not bode well for the Broncos this year. McDaniels does not seem to be respected by his team, probably because he is younger than some of the players even. I'm not saying that I support Cutler or Marshall, they are both primadonnas, but it is a coaches job to gain the respect of the players and to massage big egos like those of Cutler and Marshall. So far McDaniels has failed to do both. Now they have traded a franchise QB for John Denver wannabe Kyle Orton, and are on the brink of losing their best receiver. If this continues to be the case, look for the McDaniels era in Denver to be short lived.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

That's What I'm Talking About With This Favre Thing

First of all, this is a BIG story dude, read the papes. This thing is HUGE. Basically what happened, I told you Brett Favre was ruin the Vikings and so far it looks like I'm right. I may not have been right about Manny, I may not have been right about the A's, the D'Backs, the Indians, or the Cubs, but I knew that Favre would not mesh well with the Vikings. Just when it seemed that the Vikings were on the brink of being Super Bowl contenders, I foresee the Favre fiasco destroying their season.

Tarvaris Jackson is probably feeling like Steve Pinner (aka "Hambone") right now. He knows the playbook, he has the support of his teammates, and he has been the best Vikings QB in the pre-season. But somehow, this BITCH Brett Favre totally cockblocked him. Favre does not know the playbook, he has created a "schism" in the locker room already, and he has looked like garbage in his limited snaps. This doesn't look like it is headed anywhere positive for Minnesota.

Favre is owed around $25 million for the next two years, and they can't just bench him. Tarvaris Jackson is now unhappy and is probably headed out of town so as to avoid a dreaded "quarterback controversy", and Sage Rosenfels is just terrible. The Vikings have really screwed the pooch here.

Brett Favre is not capable of focusing for an entire season. He can't even summon the strength and effort to participate in training camp. He may look like a good signing for a little while, but sooner or later he will become the interception king of old. Moreover, he has already alienated half of his teammates. Do you think they will have his back when it is crunch time?

The Vikings have argued that with Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, they don't need Brett Favre to do that much. If that is the case, why not stick with Tarvaris Jackson for $25 million less? I really have to criticize the Vikings owners for making this decision. Come January, instead of celebrating a possible Super Bowl championship out on the party porch, they will probably be getting Brett Favre a fan that he can drive with his teeth after his teammates push him out of a 3rd story building. Oh, and if you have no idea what I am alluding to, please watch this video.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mets Fans Rejoice

Mets fans may not be happy with the way the past few seasons have gone, but there is reason for them to take hope in the future. Now that Billy Wagner is gone, the Mets have nowhere to go but up.

I for one have never liked Billy Wagner. Even back to his days on the Phillies I always referred to him as Billy Wanger. I always thought he was a smug little bastard who only looked out for himself, and constantly aired his dirty laundry in public. This is not the kind of player you want on your team. The fact that he and Jon Papelbon have already called each other out before they have even met does not bode well for the clubhouse in Boston.

Not only is Billy Wanger a bad guy in terms of character, but I don't think he is even that good of a pitcher. Sure he can throw the ball 99mph, but it is about the flattest pitch I have ever seen. Pat Burrell made a living off of victimizing Billy Wagner fastballs for late home runs when he was with Philly and Wanger was in New York. I bet he smiled down in Tampa when he heard the Sox picked up Wagner.

Now that the Mets are free of Wagner, they should notice increased success over the next few years. Think about this: a Billy Wagner team has never made the World Series, but in the next few years after he has left both the Astros and the Phillies they both made it to the World Series. Chin up Mets fans, I have reason to believe good things are on their way for you. Red Sox fans, I would prepare for the worst.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jail Bird

I wish I had time to write about this last week, but at least now I have had time to organize my thoughts on the subject. Michael Vick will make his debut for the Eagles on Thursday, though he is not eligible to play in the regular season until week 7. I for one love this addition by the Eagles. With the sour taste of T.O. still in the collective mouths of Eagles fans, I thought this signing would never ever happen. But now I welcome Michael Vick as an offensive weapon, and yes, as the quarterback of the future for the Eagles.

It has been no secret over the last 10 years that Eagles fans have never been quite sold on Donovan McNabb. On draft day he was booed, since then he has been consistently injured, and has never been able to take the Eagles to the promised land. When McNabb indicated that he wanted to retire as an Eagle, the front office simply gave him a raise and not a contract extension. It is safe to say that it is now or never for Donovan McNabb. That is why I love the Vick signing so much.

Michael Vick puts serious pressure on McNabb. No longer is Kevin Kolb or A.J. Feeley his only competition. Behind him now is a younger, faster and stronger quarterback. If anything will motivate him to be the best he can be, it will be Michael Vick waiting in the wings behind him.

Moreover, the Eagles got a steal of a deal for Michael Vick. They have him signed for the next two years for a total of about $6.5 million. If he doesn't workout it is ok because they didn't give a lot up for him. If he does work out, they have signed a top flight athlete for pennies on the dollar. Plus, he would probably be more likely to re-sign with the Eagles after those two years since they gave him a second chance in the NFL. Everything seems to add up here.

While Michael Vick might be used in a wildcat type role this year, this is really an investment for the future in Philadelphia. Talents like Michael Vick don't come along too often, and the Eagles were willing to take a chance on him. I'm glad that the Philadelphia brass, which usually only takes "character guys", decided to roll the dice here. I think Michael Vick has turned over a new leaf and wouldn't ever act as stupidly as he previously did. Otherwise it would be all over for him and I think he knows that.

The last time the Eagles had a high profile like this on their team was when they had T.O. That year they went to the Super Bowl. Hopefully Michael Vick can propel the Eagles that those heights again soon. LESSGOEEEEGULLLLLLSSS!!!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Born in the USA

After what seemed like an endless vacation, I have returned. I apologize for the communication breakdown, but I had no internet where I was. With a whole lot to talk about in the past week, I am going to stray from the norm here. You might think that I am dying to talk about Favre, or Vick, or Eric Bruntlett's amazing triple play, but no. I am going to talk about women's golf today.

I couldn't believe it yesterday, but I was actually glued to the screen for the 2009 Solheim Cup. In case you missed it (which you probably did) the Solheim Cup is the women's version of the Ryder Cup in which a team of golfer's from the USA take on a team of Europe's best. The USA won after a spirited round of match play with a final score of 16-12. Usually, women's sports are considered to be extremely lousy product in my mind, but women's golf is different. This sport could develop a strong fan base I think.

There is a recipe for success in women's sports. The sport has to be entertaining, the women have to show some physical prowess, and some of the girls have to be hot. Forget Title IX and all that baloney, this is how to make women's sports popular. Lets look at a few of the most popular women's sports and see if they fit the bill. Tennis is one of the most watched women's sports: it is very fast paced and keeps you on your toes watching, girls like Venus and Serena Williams are very physically talented (and could probably beat all of us up), and there are many hot female tennis players. Check.

What about when female soccer was popular? USA was dominating so the games were entertaining for our purposes, the players were definitely skilled, and some of them were pretty good looking. Swimming? I need only throw Amanda Beard's name out there for that one. You can never have one without the others. This is the formula for making women's sports last.

It used to be that the LPGA didn't adhere to this formula. Like the WNBA, the LPGA used to trot out some serious beasts, creatures, man goblins and uggos as their stars. That has all changed now though. With girls like Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie now fixtures on the LPGA tour, let's just say it has become far more enriching to watch. All I could think to myself yesterday while watching the Solheim Cup was "god I want to be at that after party".

As far as women's sports go, you have to give the fans what they want. You need a quality product with a high level of skill, and athletes that people want to watch. After watching the Solheim Cup yesterday, I would argue that women's golf has come a long way from its dark ages and is here to stay as a quality women's sport. I know the Donk would agree with me after his work at the US Women's Open. By the way, did anyone see that triple play yesterday?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

PGA Championship Preview

After teasing us with three wins right before the last three majors, this time will be no tease. Mark my words, Tiger Woods will win the PGA Championship this weekend at Hazeltine National Golf Club. He has won back to back tournaments coming into the final major of the year and looks to be at the top of his game. It just wouldn't seem right if a year passed without a Tiger Woods major championship.

Hazeltine National is similar to Turnberry in that the fairways are fairly narrow, but the course itself is about 700 yards longer and has much smaller greens. Winning at Hazeltine will require precision from tee to green. The total package. A few weeks ago I would have said Tiger has no chance, but now he appears to be dissecting golf courses with laser precision. Based on how he has played the past few weeks, I don't see anyone beating Tiger this week. I have said this before each major already, but this time I am giving you a guarantee. As always though, I will throw out some other names that I think will do well this weekend.

Hunter Mahan- Mahan has 6 top tens this year and usually drives the ball pretty far, with pretty good accuracy. He is also among the best in hitting greens in regulation on the PGA Tour. This kid will win a major someday.

Padraig Harrington- Paddy finally showed some signs of life last week and looks like he might be ready to defend his PGA Championship.

Angel Cabrera
- The Master's Champ always seems to be in the running for majors.

David Toms
- A blast from the past here. The former PGA Champ drives the ball very accurately and can hit greens. Plus it would be sweet to see "Major Toms" as the headline on sports websites again.

These are some guys who might stand a chance this weekend, but as I said this tournament is going to be Tiger's. He is too much of a competitor to go 0 fer on majors in a year. I gotta run though, I have a tee time in 20 minutes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Never Too Early

With those god damn college punks returning to school in a few weeks now, I thought it prudent to take a look at this year's top flight college football matchups. Florida is the clear favorite to win this year's national title, but there are several other teams that are in the running as well. Leave it to TPLIYP to give you a weekly matchup guide of games that should have the biggest effect on the BCS forecast. Moreover, for those down weeks we will provide you with some of the games that will be the most exciting to watch.

BYU @ Oklahoma- While they are ranked #3 in the nation to start the season, I can't see Oklahoma being in the national title picture by year's end solely because they have one of the toughest schedules in college football this year. While other teams are playing tune up games, OU is inviting top 25 opponent BYU into Norman for a possible upset game.

Oregon @ Boise St.- #14 Oregon probably has the second toughest schedule and could play a major role in the Pac-10 this year. In week 1 they travel to the always dangerous blue turf of Boise St. for a real litmus test to see if they are for real or not.

USC @ Ohio State- USC and Ohio St. are both in the top 10 to start the season this year. This game will probably end the hopes either team to have a shot at the BCS Title.

Utah @ Oregon- This promises to be a very exciting game. With both teams evenly ranked, I expect a real shootout here. If Oregon can get past Boise St. and Utah by week 3, then they should be considered a real threat.

Texas Tech @ Texas- We all remember what happened in the Battle for the Silver Spurs last year. While Crabtree and Harrell are both gone from Texas Tech, this game should be a good test for Texas early in the year.

Cal @ Oregon- I spoke too soon. It doesn't get any easier for Oregon in week 4 as they go up against another top 20 opponent.

Miami @ Va Tech- A little ACC love here. Miami has re-surfaced after a few terrible years, and Virginia Tech is in the top 10 in the preseason. Should be a good test for both teams.

Iowa @ Penn St.- Now a little Big Ten love. Penn State is in the top 10 and Iowa is in the top 25 to start the season. This game should be for the right to #1 in the Big Ten after Ohio State gets throttled by USC in week 2.

USC @ Cal- Another big road game for USC and possible upset city.

LSU @ Georgia- This one promises to be a slobberknocker. I still regard the SEC as the best conference in college football and this should LSU's first real test to see if they belong in the Top 10.

Alabama @ Ole Miss- A tough in conference away game for Nick Saban and the Tide. I can see Alabama shuffling towards the top of the BCS standings this year.

Florida @ LSU- This might be one of the biggest games of the year. Florida has a fairly easy schedule this season, but this trip to Death Valley could make or break their run for an undefeated season and another championship.

Oklahoma vs. Texas- The Red River Shootout er...Rivalry is always one of the best games of the year. This year it could be for a spot in the BCS Championship. That is, if Oklahoma can survive their schedule.

USC @ ND- For some reason, Notre Dame is ranked again this year. In my opinion they are the most overrated team in any sport. Look for USC to annihilate them as always.

Oklahoma @ Kansas- As if OU's schedule hadn't been tough enough already, they face a real let down game here a week after the Red River Shootout. Kansas could surprise a lot of teams this year.

TCU @ BYU- Not many big name matchups this week. This one should be pretty exciting though.

Georgia vs. Florida- The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party promises to be another good test for Florida this year. Though it is at a "neutral site", this is really a home game for Florida and I see them taking care of the Georgia Dornes. But you know what happens if you beat the Georgia Bulldogs.

USC @ Oregon- This game should decide this year's Pac 10 Champion.

Texas @ Oklahoma St.- Another good test to see if Texas is for real.

WEEK 10:
LSU @ Alabama- The Saban Bowl could be a battle for the second spot in the BCS Championship game.

Ohio St. @ Penn State- This game could decide the Big Ten, and whoever wins will take the all time lead in the deadlocked rivalry.

Oklahoma @ Nebraska- Another potential pothole for Oklahoma. Nebraska is on its way back to prominence after several dark years.

WEEK 11:
Nebraska @ Kansas- While this game probably won't decide anything major, it should be an exciting one to watch.

Florida @ South Carolina- The Spurrier Bowl is always an intriguing matchup in a season of less than intriguing matchups for the defending champs.

Utah @ TCU- Another high powered offensive matchup. This could be one of those classic 5 overtime games.

WEEK 12:
Boise State @ Utah State- See "Utah @ TCU"

LSU @ Ole Miss- A tough road game for LSU that could potentially be the difference between BCS Bowl or bust.

Lafayette @ Lehigh- Lehigh looks to build momentum from last year's win over Lafayette and put together a winning streak of their own. I'm here to get drunk.

WEEK 13:
Texas @ Texas A&M- The Lone Star Showdown is a classic Thanksgiving day game. Let's hope we can all stay awake for it, our bellies bloated and sluggish with turkey.

Florida State @ Florida- This is the last possible speed bump for Florida on its road to repeating. Florida State is back in the top 25 and could challenge to Gators.

Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma- Bedlam.

Mizzou @ Kansas- The Border War should be a good matchup again this year, though not as good as 2 years ago.

WEEK 14:
Oregon State @ Oregon- In the waning weeks of the season, the Civil War promises to be a good game. After all, there is a re-surfaced wooden platypus on the line.

West Virginia @ Rutgers- I mention this game because at this point in time Noel Devine could be putting the finishing touches on a brilliant Heisman campaign.

WEEK 15:
Army vs. Navy- Always a classic. Keep your eye out for the youngest brother of Wesley Tameo in the crowd. He will be rooting for the Midshipmen.

When all is said and done, I see Florida taking on USC in the BCS Title game in Pasadena. However, with USC's questions at QB it could just as easily be Alabama taking on Florida in the Rose Bowl. We will find out in January I guess. Also, Look for either Tim Tebow or Noel Devine to take home the Heisman Trophy. Regardless, if you keep an eye on all of these games, everything will become clear to you and you will receive total consciousness. Stay tuned for the PGA Championship preview tomorrow!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Boston Massacre: Redux

Is it 2006? Because I have the strangest feeling of Deja vu. The Yankees 4 game sweep of the Red Sox this weekend hearkened back to the magical summer before senior year at Lehigh when the Yanks did the exact same thing. It was injuries that again spelled doom for Boston, and unfortunately I'm afraid that they will suffer the same fate of missing the playoffs this year.

They say that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Apparently the Red Sox learned nothing from the 4 game sweep at the hands of the Yanks 3 years ago. I'll never forget that wonderful summer. Me and the Donk were living off campus, taking pills with Schwab because we were in pain, and puking in the middle of Main street before Musikfest (that was just me). I remember betting the Donk a six pack of icy cold Bohemia style beer that the Sox would take the series 3-1. He countered that the Yankees would sweep. He was a wiser man than me that weekend. However, I am the real winner because I never bought him the beer.

That weekend in 2006, the Sox were reeling from the injury to catcher, captain, and then good player Jason Varitek. Their pitching and hitting both suffered immensely. This weekend was no different. Injuries to Jason Bay, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield had taken a toll on the entire roster and the Sox could not compete with the surging Yankees. A-Rod's 15th inning A-Bomb pretty much sealed the sweep in my mind after only two games.

Much like 2006, I now think the Sox have squandered any chance they had to make the playoffs. With the bats not cooking, they can no longer expect to win when trotting out pitchers like Clay Buttholes, recently sent down John Smoltz, Paul Byrd, Junichi Tazawa, Fernando Cabrera or whoever their 5th starter is. They couldn't even win with Lester and Beckett pitching lights out this weekend. The Sox have been on a real down turn since the All-Star break, and I only see it getting worse with the competition they have remaining.

While the future does not bode well for the Sox, it doesn't necessarily mean great things for the Yankees. They had all the momentum in the world going into the playoffs in 2006, but lost to the Tigers in the first round. Yes sir, if history tells us anything, then this is the year for the National League. Glenn might want to get his Beuchel jersey out, or I my Hamels or Stairs jersey. Then again, the sweep of the Sox could provide just the opportunity that those pesky Rays needed to take the AL by storm and win the World Series. Who knows? My hat's off to the Yankees though for snapping the neck of the injured fawn that was the Red Sox. Sorry, Dill.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Big Poopy

I didn't watch the David Ortiz press conference yesterday, but it seemed to me what came out of it was they same old rigmarole that we have been hearing from every other superstar guilty of using performance enhancing drugs. I for one would like to see somebody stand up for their actions and admit to using performance enhancing drugs before they are even caught.

Big Poopy's press conference yesterday was a little bit guarded due to the fact that he was speaking in conjunction with a member of the player's union, and because the information he was talking about is supposedly classified. Therefore, he could not give us all the details on his positive test. However, I would have liked to see him at least own up to it. Not only are these players that are coming out from this list cheaters, but they are also liars now too. These people are supposed to be considered role models for the younger generation, but instead they just continue to look more and more like scumbags.

I was hoping that Big Papi would just own up to what he could yesterday. Admit that he used something, but obviously not give out anymore information than he was allowed to. Instead, we got the usual "I never bought or used steroids.". There are an awful lot of steroids getting into player's systems without their knowledge these days. It's pretty ridiculous to expect anyone to believe this ever present excuse. Insulting in fact. If Big Papi had just admitted that he knowingly and willingly took steroids and shown remorse for his actions, then I would have much more respect for him. But instead he hid behind the old bullshit line.

Usually, the players that have been honest about their PED use have garnered a lot more support and respect from the fans. Brian Roberts and Andy Pettite are two fellas that stand out in my mind as honest and remorseful and have my respect. We need more players to come clean, even before they are caught. However, most are still going down the road of the Bonds's, Clemens's and Big Poopy's. I guess Charles Barkley was right when he said athletes are not role models.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Here Comes Trouble

It might have fallen on deaf ears to some because basketball is not a very great product these days, but yesterday Rashard Lewis was suspended 10 games next season for testing positive for a banned supplement during the playoffs this spring. This might just be the tip of the iceberg for the NBA, and will probably lead to questions about other sports as well.

The NBA is not necessarily a league where you need to be the strongest person in the world. Speed and shooting accuracy supplant strength in terms of importance for a lot of players. Guys like Allen Iverson, Earl Boykins, Mugsey Bogues and Spud Webb have been able to make their mark on the NBA without having size or strength. Because of this I think it has always been assumed that steroids were not really necessary in the NBA.

However, there have been 9 positive PED tests in the NBA in the past 20 years or so. Therefore, some players are benefiting from the use of these drugs. Moreover, I think that the use of these is probably more rampant than we think, as was the case in baseball. Personally, several players stand out to me as guys who EASILY could have been taking performance enhancing drugs. The appearances of Karl Malone, Alonzo Mourning, Ben Wallace, Dwight Howard leave a lot of questions to be answered to me.

Basketball may just be the beginning too. If people are taking drugs in basketball, then for all we know they could be in other sports like tennis, golf, hockey, etc. We may never know just how rampant steroid use has been since it appears to be on the decline. But with positive tests appearing in a sport like basketball, my guess is that there is a lot out there that we don't know about.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rays of Light

Hello ladies and germs (pause for laughter), I'd like to start off by announcing that my postings might become a little erratic time-wise in the future. I won't be working so I won't be trying to kill time during the day. I will try to maintain posts regularly though. That being said, today I would like to talk about the Tampa Bay Rays. They may be sitting in 3rd in the AL East right now, but I wouldn't expect that to last for much longer. In my opinion, the Rays are one of the best teams in the American League and I think that a World Series championship is in the very near future for them.

Many years ago, in a baseball stadium not too far away I watched the Angels take on the Red Sox in a midsummer night's game. I remember being captivated by how strong the Angels looked defensively and at the plate. "I could see them winning the World Series" I remarked to one of my cohorts. Sure enough, in the fall of that year the Angels hoisted the World Series trophy by beating the San Francisco Giants.

When watching the Rays, I get this same feeling. Moreover, they remind me a lot of the World Champion Phillies. A big slugger at first (Howard/Pena) , a couple players that play great defense and can fly around the bases(Rollins, Victorino/Upton, Crawford), young pitching that is ready to take the next step(Hamels/ Price, Shields), and a player who is the best at his position (Utley/Longoria). Yes sir, unlike Shania Twain the Rays really do impress me much.

While the Rays are in third place for the time being, I can easily see them taking the wild card or even winning the division. Boston and New York better be on red alert because the Rays are for real. I like what I see from their whole club and I can honestly see them winning the World Series this year or next. Remember I said that.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Breaking Down the Deals

To my left you will find a picture of Ken Phelps. During his career with the Yankees he played in 131 games, batted about .240, hit 17 jack jobs and had 51 rib eye steaks. He was acquired from the Mariners in 1988 for a little known outfielder by the name of Jay Buhner. 307 home runs, 950 rbis, and one cannon for an arm later, the Yankees looked like fools in this deal. The trading deadline is a time of big risks and big rewards for all teams involved. Let's take a look at this year's winners and losers.

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals really bolstered their lineup at the deadline. Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa are two guys with proven success in the NL and in the playoffs, and will help protect El Hombre. Moreover, don't sleep on Julio Lugo. As much as I think he sucks, he has terrorized the Phillies in every game he has played against them and could possibly do the same against other NL teams. The Cardinals gave up some good talent for Holliday, who is essentially a rental player, but I think they have a good chance of signing him in the offseason. DeRosa and Lugo were acquired for a song and could provide many happy returns.

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phils are already reaping the dividends of the Cliff Lee trade. He dazzled against the Giants and looks to benefit from the trade to the NL. He will also get plenty of run support whenever the Phillies decide to wake their bats up again. As for the pieces they gave up to get Lee, I was not really impressed with any of them. Carlos Carrasco has been pretty bad in AAA ball, and Lou Marson did not look big league ready in his cup of coffee with the Phils this spring. Jason Donald and Jason Knapp appear to be promising players but both have struggled with injuries. Ruben Amaro looks like a genius after balking at the Roy Halladay demands and giving up much less to get Cliff Lee.

Boston Red Sox: I would have liked to see the Sox go after a shortstop too, but Victor Martinez is a huge upgrade behind the plate. Jason Varitek's act had worn pretty thin even by last year, and it was clear a change was needed offensively at catcher. The quesiton remains whether Martinez will be as good of a game caller behind the plate though. For what they gave up though (Justin Masterson and two minor leaguers) Martinez was a steal and will greatly improve that lineup.

Detroit Tigers: Jarrod Washburn was a great pickup for the Tigers. He will excel in cavernous Comerica Park and gives them the pitching necessary to take the AL Central crown. Luke French is a promising young pitcher but probably hates America, and Mauricio Robles has a funny name, so it seems that the Tigers got a pretty good deal here.

Pittsburgh Pirates: I don't think anybody knows what the Pirates are doing. Not even the Pirates organization. They have been in a "rebuilding mode" for about 20 years now, and just imploded their team again. If anyone from Pittsburgh tries to gloat about the Steelers or the Penguins, just mention that they don't have a pro basketball or baseball team.

LA Dodgers: This is one of those trades that can REALLY come back to burn a team. It seems that teams trading for middle relief always give up more than what they get. I cite two trades involving the Red Sox as examples; Jeff Bagwell (whose batting stance looked like he was taking a dump) to the Astros for Larry Anderson, and Heathcliff Slocumb (pronounced "Slow Cum") to the Mariners for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe. The Dodgers gave up a highly regarded 3rd baseman and pitcher for George Sherrill. These two players will almost certainly benefit the O's more than Sherrill will help the Dodgers. When teams know they need relief help though, they get desperate. Borst might like this factoid about Sherrill though:

"During the 2008 season, some of Sherrill's Baltimore teammates would flip up the brims of their hats every time he successfully closed out a game. Orioles fans nicknamed this move the Flat Breezy, and the Orioles television announcers would sometimes announce an Orioles win after a Sherrill save as "flat breezy time.""

Chicago Pale Hose: Jake Peavy is not going to help Chicago as much as anyone hopes. First of all there is the fact that he is returning for a serious ankle injury. Secondly, he is switching to the AL which is always tougher for a pitcher it seems. Finally, he is going from luxurious and spacious (can anyone catch the reference?) Petco Park to homer friendly U.S. Cellular Field. All signs point to trouble here.

All trades are risky, but some of these could really come back to bite some teams right in the behind. Chicago, LA and Pittsburgh could have some real Ken Phelps' on their hands after this trading deadline. Meanwhile, Boston, Philly, St. Louis and Detroit might have gotten some Jay Buhner's to push their team over the hump.