Welcome to the first of hopefully many MLB Week in Reviews coming to you every Monday here at Sportstalkbuzz.com. The plan is every Monday I will review all the top stories, stats and games from the past week, giving you plenty of links to help ease you through your Monday morning and lots of statistical analysis to turn you to the darkside known as sabermetrics.
Just to give anyone new to the site a little background on myself, I had been covering the New York Yankees beat for the past year here at sportstalkbuzz, and although I loved covering them exclusively, I simply couldn't contain myself to enjoying just one team over the extremely long MLB season. My goal is to bring to your attention all of the top stories and players for each MLB team, which hopefully pushes you to dig even deeper into your favorite team by checking out all of the other many talented writers we have here at sportstalkbuzz. And I promise I will try and keep my Yankee bias to a minimum, but no guarantees.
I can say for sure that this weekly blog will evolve over the next few months, as I get a feel for what you want to hear and read about. So if you have any suggestions for topics you want me to cover, feel free to email me at any time, as my email address will be posted at the end of each blog. Also while this will mainly be a weekly column for the next few weeks, as we near playoff time it likely will expand to encompass all the excitment of the pennant races and eventually postseason baseball.
Going forward I hope to start out each blog with a write up of the weeks top story or whatever I find to be the most interesting aspect of the past week, however since I've already rambled on for far too long with my introduction, lets skip ahead to a segment called Around the Majors:
Around the Majors
-> I just want to get this out of the way right now for anyone who hasn't read my material before….I don't care about steroids (I mean of course I don't, I'm a Yankee fan right), I'm tired of hearing about them, I'm tired of debating people on them, and I'm tired of watching boring press conferences where players are interrogated like they just committed a homicide. The media can continue to act all superior and cry out “but what about the children!” but the truth is nothing can be done now. We can't change the past, and that's fine by me. I mean we can't hide the fact that the game of baseball was at an inferior level prior to 1947 when African Americans were barred from playing in the majors. Or that prominent players in baseball history such as Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron used amphetamines to give them that extra edge in order to play on a daily basis. Or that 80s stars like Keith Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry did more blow during that decade than Gary Busey & Michael Irvin combined.
Sure it's weird seeing all the records, which had previously stood for multiple decades, shattered year and year, but I think fans get too caught up in records to begin with. Sure they are nice to reflect upon, but there are still other ways to celebrate the players of the past. And until we actually get concrete evidence on the statistical advantage steroids give players, there's no way to measure the lasting effects steroids had on the game. Just take solace in the fact that currently MLB has one of the toughest drug testing programs on the planet, and let's move on.
Now all that said, I couldn't help but laugh that David Ortiz had a representative from the MLB players union with him on Saturday to declare that the list of 104 players whom tested positive in 2003 may be incorrect. My question is, where was the union crying foul when Sammy Sosa's name was leaked? Or Arod or even Barry Bonds? Yet Ortiz (who may or may not have done steroids) gets the red carpet treatment.
-> I finally had the opportunity to watch San Diego rookie pitcher Matt Latos pitch the other day. Barring injury this kid is going to be a force in the NL West for a long long time. I love his perfect pitchers frame of 6'6and 225 lbs, which he uses to his full advantage by pitching on a downward plane. His fastball, which routinely sits at 92-93 has plenty of movement low in the zone, and he can reach back and throw 95-96 when he needs to. His slider has a nice tight, late break to it and it will be devestating on right handed batters in the long run. Add in that he gets to pitch in San Diego, an extreme pitchers ballpark for the next 6 years and the sky is the limit for Latos. Between him and Adrian Gonzalez, there is some reason for Padre fans to show up to the ballpark despite the rough times ahead.
-> Speaking of rookie pitchers, Derek Holland of the Texas Rangers threw a complete game shutout against The Los Angles Angels of Anaheim, California and the United States of America last night. The Rangers are opening plenty of eyes this season, and a lot of credit has to go to their manager, Mr. Nice Guy Ron Washington. Look for recently called up CF prospect Julio Borbon to add a spark to this team with his speed and CF defense.
–> If you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance in Arizona, you haven't, 3B Mark Reynolds is putting up MVP type numbers out in the desert. It's tough for me to ever cheer for Arizona because they once employeed fellow blogger Curt Schilling aka Douchebag but they're a team that with a little luck and a healthy Brandon webb (and that's a big if now) can turn it around in 2010. Danny Haren is arguably the best pitcher in the National League (sorry but its true Lincecum fans) and Justin Upton is on the verge of superstardom. But back to Reynolds, the knock on him was always despite the huge raw power, the guy couldn't take a pitch to save his life, posting an OBP of .320 in 2008. However this year, at just 25 years old his slash line stands at .290/.377/.633 with an OPS+ of 149. He also leads the majors with 36 homeruns. Okay sure he may strike out a lot and could probably play 3rd base just as well if he put his glove on his right hand, but you just can't ignore his bat.
-> Not going to get too much into the Yankees-Sox blood bath from this past week. I was surprised that the Yankees took all 4, but it's not a total shock. The Yankees and Sox play each other pretty evenly every season, so obviously the 8-0 advantage wasn't going to last. Just on the law of averages the Yankees were bound to have a few bounces and breaks go their way. I happened to be at the game Sunday night, and it was definitely a playoff atmosphere. It was nice to see the Yankees big money players step up for a change, and hopefully people will get off Arods back for awhile now about being “unclutch”.
Boston is far from dead in my opinion, although they are obviously hurting now. The positive sign for them is Beckett, Buchholz and Lester were fantastic this week. Eventually they'll hit, but it better come soon as Tampa or even Texas will pass them.
One comment though on the series….it might be a good idea if John Sterling, the Yankees readio play by play announcer, held back on his signature Arod homerun call when he hits one off of a Japanese pitcher. Maybe it's just me, but screaming “IT'S AN A-BOMB, FROM A-ROD” while Junichi Tazawa is on the mound and thousands of Japanese fans are tuning in is kind of in poor taste. But hey maybe that's just me.
-> I'm not a big Ozzie Guill
en fan, but his rant this weekend about retaliating if his hitters get beaned again was classic. If you missed it you can find it here. Ozzie is just protecting his players, and I can't fault him for that. I'm sure he'll get fined, suspended, what have you by MLB, but if it keeps an opposing pitcher from injuring one of his players in the future, then it was worth it.
-> Aroldis Chapman….if you aren't familiar with this name, do so now. You will be hearing a lot about him this winter. However when you do see his name, it will probably have the number 50, as in $50 million dollars following closely behind it. I'll touch on him more later on.
-> You probably missed this trade over the weekend, but RHP David Weathers was traded from Cincinnati to Milwukee over the weekend. I found it to be intersting for two reasons…..1) Cincinnati claimed at the trade deadline they were “going for it” by trading for Scott Rolen, and then they turn around and deal away one of their better relievers & 2) it's one of the minor moves which can really end up helping a ballclub, in this case Milwaukee. Sure Weathers isn't great, and relievers have a very minimal impact on pennant races as it is, but Milwaukee is always in need of pitching, and if they can somehow sneak into the playoffs, it will be by a close win here or there. As of now they are 6 games out, but of all the wild card teams they have arguably the best offense and aside from the Giants (and maybe even Atlanta) the pitching staffs of every other team (Colorado, Florida, Chicago) is suspect.
Two quick reminders:
1) The deadline for MLB teams to sign their 2009 draft picks (and that includes phenom Stephen Strasburg) is next Monday, August 17th. I plan to cover that in great depth next week.
2) Keep an eye on the waiver claims and deals that will go through this week. Look for the Redsox to acquire a shortstop, perhaps Cristian Guzman or maybe even JJ Hardy. At this point anyone is an upgrade over Nick Green. Also Toronto OF Alex “don't call me Alexis” Rios was claimed, and rumors are it was by the Chicago Whitesox. Question is will the Jays happily pass him and his huge salary over to Chicago, or pull him back and demand a player in return and risk keeping him? Expect to see some big names move over the next week or so.
And just in case you don't know how the waiver wire works, you click here.
So that's it from me today, hope you got something out of this. Like I said earlier, it will evolve over the next few weeks and I'll be sure to get more info on links on every team going forward. Any thoughts, comments, quesitons, etc can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your Monday.
About the Author
Written by Joseph Gallo