Ernie Banks 2004 Fleer Greats At first glance, I did not think that it was Ernie Banks that was featured on this card from the 2004 Fleer Greats set. The picture, and style, the uniform – it all just seems … Continue reading →
Read The Full Article:
Do you remember Brian Mazone? Chances are, you never even heard of him, because he never pitched in the major leagues. A longtime independent leaguer, Mazone struggled to stick on affiliated minor league teams until he was 27. He didn’t reach[...]
Read The Full Article:
Monday Rounds 31-40
Friday Shadow Draft
Coaches and scout interviews along with pictures and video.
Fantasy Baseball Week 10 was a good week to own Astros Hitters. Fantasy Baseball Week 10 was a bad week to own Astros Pitchers.
For yet another week, the Astros proved that they hold one of the top fantasy middle infields in all of baseball, as Lowrie and Altuve again ranked among the league's best at their positions. Both had an OPS over 1.000 along with the counting stats that usually come with such. Lowrie's three home runs led all major league shortstops last week. That kind of production from a typically power-less position is gold to fantasy managers. Had there been more players on base for Lowrie to drive in, he would have ranked as one of the very top players in the game last week. Altuve continues to provide managers with a boost to their Batting Average stat.
The big surprise last week came from a 6-2-4-.364-1.235 line from Brett Wallace. He has been able to translate his AAA success into big-league production since being called up to replace injured Carlos Lee. His fantasy value will be directly tied to his playing time as Lee comes back, but as long as Wallace is in the lineup, he is an interesting risk/upside play. As a bonus, if he can grab 9 more appearances or 5 starts at 3B, he would add even more value in fantasy leagues.
A big week was also provided by Justin Maxwell, who made the most of his piddling .238 batting average. If his playing time continues, don't expect many 5-2-5 weeks from him so he still looks like a handy bench player, but not a fantasy regular. Continue to bench J.D. Martinez until his slump is over and Schafer until he proves healthy. Chris Johnson had an atypical bad week, but he is still a great 3B in deeper leagues.
More after the jump...
Nothing good to say here, please look away.
It has gotten increasingly difficult to recommend any Astros pitcher to a fantasy manager. Myers saves come at the expense of a huge hit to K/9 (not a trade I'm willing to make on my fantasy teams), and none of the other "Regulators" are "regular" enough to provide consistent good performance. Wilton Lopez is rosterable if you are looking for a middle-reliever, but that's it.
All of the Astros starters have earned their way onto my "DNP" list except for Bud Norris, who still can provide good WHIP and K/9. If you are looking for a 5th starter to fill innings, he'd be a good pick. Wandy Rodriguez needs to figure out what's gone wrong before I'll trust him on my rosters again.
It should be an interesting week. The Astros pitchers will probably rebound at San Francisco (great park for pitchers, plus an anemic opponent offense). Play Bud Norris with only a little trepidation. But then the Astros go to Arlington. Perhaps the hitters can duplicate their success from Chicago when they visit another hitter's park, but the Rangers' pitching staff is much stronger than the White Sox'. Continue with the regulars - Altuve, Lowrie, Johnson, plus whichever is in the lineup between Lee and Wallace.
The Crawfish Boxes - I'm still in first, but my lead has shrunk to only 5 games. Nobody in the league had a blowout win last week. The biggest margin was HMC Wrecking Crew (2nd place) winning 8-3 over Tu Many Altooves (great name). BustaPozee's BOMBERS is winning my favorite category, most moves made, with a whopping 53. The Ed Wade Project is a distant second with "only" 27.
TCB Baseball Madness - Joe Morgan's a Fool broke the tie for 1st place (with me) and now leads by only one game. The Beers beat Killer Bee Boppers 9-1 for the largest margin of victory for the week. Nobody in this league has more than 23 moves made. Waiver claims are already being set aside for Carlos Correa.
Boxes O' Crawfish - Astros don't suck is still in first place by six games, but the win of the week goes to Riddle's Reavers, who demolished last-place WildHaze 12-0. Speaking of last place, that win raises my team out of the cellar. I am now ranked up where the air is thin, at an awe-inspiring fifteenth place. I'm 40.5 games out of first place, but I'm about to go on a run. Watch out!
As you saw yesterday afternoon, Gaby Sanchez has returned to the Miami Marlins after a decently long stint in Triple-A. The Fish initially demoted him to work on his swing, as he started his season hitting .197/.244/.295 (.237 wOBA). Presumably, Sanchez did work a little on his hitting while he was down in Triple-A for three weeks, but he certainly did not reveal much about the specifics.
"I figured out a couple little things, nothing too major," Sanchez said. "Just going down there and playing and getting repetition and playing. That's it."
It actually makes sense that there was not much to add to his game. Sanchez, at 28 years of age, is more or less as complete a product as he is ever going to be. The team really just wanted to see him succeed in the minors to possibly see if he could return to the bigs to help the team. But there are a few things he could do better from his early 2012 start.Plate Approach
Last season, Sanchez got more patient and earned himself more walks, which helped to compensate for a slight decrease in BABIP and power. But this year a few differences showed up in the numbers.
The problem so far this season is that Sanchez's selectivity that he has shown in his career has fallen off a little bit. He has swung at a few more pitches outside the zone and few less inside the zone, which is not a very good trade-off. He also has made less contact in the zone and more out of it, so that his overall contact and swing rates are not changed drastically. Of course, contact in the zone is likely to yield better results, and that may have something to do with why Sanchez is popping up balls so often; in 2012, his infield fly ball rate is up to 17.6 percent of his fly balls as opposed to a career 10 percent rate.
The good news is that Sanchez's Triple-A work at least shows a modicum of the patience we are expecting from a polished hitter. Sanchez hit .310/.494/.483 in 79 Triple-A PA, and the important number there is the .494 OBP. Sanchez drew 16 walks in those 79 trips to the plate, translating into a walk rate of 20.3 percent. He only struck out in 13.9 percent of those PA (11 strikeouts), so he at least was able to handle pitches from Triple-A starters. Obviously the level of competition is much higher in the big leagues, but hopefully Sanchez has worked out some of the kinks in his approach and he can get back to at least being a hitter slightly better than league average in 2012.
How well Sanchez does this season may affect his future with the team, as it seems the Fish are now ready to admit that Logan Morrison is better served at first base. If Sanchez cannot improve on this season, it seems difficult to imagine the team keeping him along as he heads into his first arbitration year. If his struggles continue, the team will have a difficult decision heading into next season regarding finding value for Sanchez to accommodate a move for Morrison.
Despite having the best record in all of baseball in the month of May, the Miami Marlins have been having trouble scoring runs, which was evident in each of the three home games against the Braves, who swept the Marlins. The Marlins hadn't lost or tied a series since April when they split a four game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
While the starting pitchers are still getting deep into games, they are not getting wins to show for it. The bottom of the order, featuring catcher John Buck, left fielder Chris Coghlan, and outfielder Bryan Petersen are all slumping. Manager Ozzie Guillen has given both Donovan Solano and Justin Ruggiano playing time, and they have taken advantage of it. Both have been consistent at the plate while proving to be weapons off the bench.
If the Marlins want to prevent another disastrous June, they will need to turn things around quickly. They host the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox at home, before traveling to Tampa and Boston to take on two American League East contenders.
-The Atlanta Braves completed a three game sweep of the Marlins on Thursday night, after defeating them 8-2. Mark Buehrle turned in a quality start, and Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes both homered for the Marlins, who struggled against the Braves pitching staff throughout the series.-Ozzie Guillen was impressed with the way Josh Johnson pitched throughout Wednesday night's 2-1 loss to the Braves. "Thats the first time I see him throw the ball like that in two or three months. I loved the way he threw the ball," Guillen said.
-Even though they were pursuing Yoesnis Cespedes during the offseason, multiple sources claim that the Marlins will not go after Jorge Soler, another Cuban slugger.
-Braves' pitcher Livan Hernandez, who helped the Marlins win their 1997 World Series title and followed with the classic line "I love you Miami!", says he still loves the city. "We converted this city," Hernandez said. "People love baseball more now because we won that year." Hernandez also added that Marlins Park is "perfect for the city and something that the fans deserve."
-Matt Kemp was recently named captain of the National League's Home Run Derby team, and said that one of the first two names that comes to his mind is Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton wasn't among the top 15 outfielders in the National League when the first set of All-Star voting results were released. "Hopefully I make it and it will take care of itself," Stanton said. "[The Derby] would be fun. It's something I watched growing up."
-Giancarlo Stanton was the National League's player of the month in May, after hitting a franchise record 12 home runs while batting .343 throughout the month.
-Following Thursday's game, the Marlins activated outfielder Austin Kearns from the disabled list and sent both Bryan Petersen and Dan Jennings to AAA New Orleans. Since that only leaves one lefty (Randy Choate) in the bullpen, the Marlins will likely call up Mike Dunn, who pitched well in several outings after the Marlins sent him down.
-Scott Cousins, who is commonly associated with ending catcher Buster Posey's season after a collision at home plate in San Francisco, is playing well in New Orleans, and may see some major league action if the Marlins continue to struggle scoring runs.
-Ricky Nolasco will pitch the first game of a three game series against the Rays on Friday night at Marlins Park. Nolasco has not been successful at home this year, as he has a 5.79 home ERA and opposing batters are hitting .304 against him in Miami.
-Justin Ruggiano and Donovan Solano both have been seeing time in the outfield when the Marlins face a left handed pitcher, and are taking advantage of their opportunities.
-Manager Ozzie Guillen wishes that the game of baseball today was more "hard-nosed". Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman slid into second base to prevent Jose Reyes from turning a double play on Wednesday. Reyes' throw hit Freeman in the hand, and the umpire called interference. "You throw inside, people get mad. You get hit, people get mad. The game has changed. But I think the umpire did a tremendous call because that’s the rule," Guillen said.
-Miami is 9-13 against teams in the National League East this year, a figure that needs to be better if the Marlins hope to stay in the race throughout the season.
Around The League
-After a 7-3 victory over the New York Yankees on Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Rays find themselves atop the American League East.
-Reds closer Aroldis Chapman gave up a run on Thursday, as the Pirates walked off with a 5-4 win. Chapman's ERA is still 0.30 after giving up an earned run.
-Mets pitcher R.A.Dickey, currently the only pitcher in baseball that throws a knuckleball, defeated the Washington Nationals and earned his ninth win of the season on Thursday.
-The Dodgers swept a four game series against the Phillies for the first time in the history of the franchise. Aaron Harang earned his 100th career win.
-Interleague play, which has some fans and some wishing to do away with it, begins this weekend, and has some key matchups, such as the well-known Subway series, and for the Marlins, the Citrus series.
At Fish Stripes
-The Marlins have had several key moments throughout their history. Here are a few.
-On June 8, 2010 Giancarlo Stanton, then Mike Stanton, collected his first major league hit off of Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay.
-Should the Marlins worry about protecting Stanton in the lineup? Morrison has typically been the guy to bat behind the slugger.
I came across this article on Sean Gilmartin, the Atlanta Braves 2011 first round draft pick. It's the usual local sports interview article, but in it there is an interesting point made about how Gilmartin is adjusting to pitching every fifth day:
Gilmartin is still adjusting to the pro game.
Giving his best on the mound after five days rest instead of seven is something his body has yet to acclimate to doing. He's also been extremely conscious of his health and avoids anything that could slow his development.
That means no pick-up basketball games, no skateboards and definitely no motorcycles.
"I'm not going to do anything that hinders my chances at getting to the big leagues," Gilmartin said. "If something happens where I'm out there doing something stupid, I wouldn't have anybody to blame but myself.
"I want to play 15-plus years in the big leagues and that's all on me."
We often want these guys to come right out of college and be Major League ready, and while their stuff in any given start may be able to challenge Major League hitters, there is a lot more that goes into being ready to endure a long professional baseball season.
I like his candor here about his body catching up, and his acknowledgement that he needs to take care of it. Everything I've read about Gilmartin seems to point to him being a very smart player.
We as fans need to keep this physical curve in mind when projecting a player's progress through the system.
Despite having their six-game winning streak broken, the Braves have won eight of their last 10 games. If they want to start another streak, though, it'll have to be done against the visiting New York Yankees, winners of 13 of their last 17 and within a half-game of first place in the AL East.
The Empire has fared quite well without some key contributors, most notably Mariano Rivera who is out for the season recovering from right knee surgery, and those leading the way are the ones you'd expect. Curtis Granderson (.367 wOBA, 130 wRC+), Robinson Cano (.376 wOBA, 136 wRC+) and Alex Rodriguez (.358 wOBA, 124 wRC+) solidify a lineup hitting .263, good for third in the AL and led by Derek Jeter and his .317 avg. Jeter's 78 hits lead all AL hitters. The team is second only to Texas in OBP and averages about five runs per game.
As for their pitching, New York's 3.87 team ERA is pretty good considering they play half their games in a hitter's park, and their home ERA (3.50) is lower than that on the road (4.28). The bullpen has been very good, posting the AL's second-best relief ERA at 2.81 and the team's overall strikeout rate is third in the league at 8.11. Fomer Brave Rafael Soriano has been filling in as closer in Rivera's absence and although he has nine saves, his 1.55 WHIP means he usually makes the end of the game interesting.
New York's pitching the past week has been dominant, allowing only 16 total runs (14 earned) for a 2.01 ERA.
Pitching matchups after the jump.
Monday June 11, 7:10 p.m. ET
Feb 09, 1990
Jan 12, 1987
Tuesday June 12, 7:10 p.m. ET
Dec 26, 1987
Jul 21, 1980
Wednesday June 13, 7:00 p.m. ET
Jul 14, 1975
Feb 10, 1975
Yankees in Atlanta The Braves took two of three from the Blue Jays but suffered a 12-4 loss in the series finale as Julio Teheran got through four scoreless innings before hitting a wall in the fifth, and Livan Hernandez did nothing useful to help bail him out. Despite the ugly loss, the Braves finished [...]
Read The Full Article:
AAA Colorado Springs: L 8-2 (29-34, 3rd, 8.5 GB)
Rob Scahill's perplexing season continued last night in the Springs, as he allowed five runs on five hits and five walks while pitching into the fifth inning. Keeping with the theme, he struck out five. Scahill has struck out 75 batters in 63.2 innings this season (which is third in the PCL), and has maintained a GO/AO ratio of nearly 2-to-1. On the flip side, his 34 walks are tied for third-highest in the PCL, and he is allowing better than a hit per inning. He's now 3-8 with a 5.94 ERA despite the pretty good peripherals.
Offensively, the Sky Sox were held to three hits, with two of those coming off the bat of Tim Wheeler, who also drove in one of his club's two runs.
AA Tulsa: W 4-2 (33-28, t-1st)
Parker Frazier rebounded from a tough outing in his last start by lasting 6.2 innings and allowing one run on only two hits. He walked three and struck out four. Zach Simons earned the win in relief by pitching a scoreless seventh, striking out a batter in the process. Coty Woods tossed a perfect ninth for his tenth save of the year.
Nolan Arenado and Ben Paulsen each had two hits to pace the Drillers' offense, whose eight hits were all singles. Arenado and Paulsen scored the winning runs via an error committed by NW Arkansas shortstop Rey Navarro on a groundball off the bat of Kiel Roling.
A-ball recaps after the jump.
High-A Modesto: L 9-4 (31-33, 3rd, 6.5 GB)
The Nuts were held to just four hits, but still had four runners cross the plate, due in large part to the ten walks that they drew against Bakersfield pitching. Still, getting outhit 15 to 4 will cause a team to lose more often than not, and yesterday was no exception.
Brandon Hynick got roughed up, as he allowed six runs on nine hits in six innings. Kurt Yacko wasn't much better out of the pen, as he proceeded to give up three runs on six hits in two innings of work. Kyle Parker went hitless but walked twice, while Jared Clark's sixth inning double represented Modesto's lone extra-base hit.
Low-A Asheville: W 13-3 (43-20, 1st)
Will Swanner and Tyler Massey led the Tourists with three hits apiece, while Harold Riggins and Taylor Featherston each tacked on two. Riggins (11) and Samuel Mende (8) homered off of West Virginia starter Matt Benedict. Trevor Story singled, walked twice, and scored three times.
Asheville starter Chris Jensen picked up the victory, as he went six innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits while walking three and striking out two. Kenneth Roberts pitched in two innings of scoreless relief, and Geoff Parker struck out the side in the ninth inning while working around a walk.