Get to know Charlie Blackmon

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Published on : June 5, 2017

 

We are living in a new era of the MLB. Stars can be found all over the league and they are really impacting the game. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are already household fixtures but it’s time to get to know some of the less-famous studs who are making a name for themselves. Today’s spotlight falls on a mountain of man they call Charlie Blackmon.

 

Blackmon plays center field for the Colorado Rockies, who are one of the best squads in baseball. They currently sit atop the National League West Division with a record of 36-23. The Rockies are rolling and Charlie’s elevated play has a lot to do with it. His defense and more importantly, his bat, have been excellent of late. So far this season, Blackmon has 47 RBI’s and 13 HR’s with a .328 batting average. If he can keep this power hitting up, he will have the Rockies in the postseason for the first time since 2009.

 

 

Charlie Blackmon is listed as 6’3″ and 210 lbs but his beard and flowing mullet give him an aura of 6’7″ and 265 lbs. This grand stature leads the talking heads of ESPN to make the same Game of Thrones joke about Charlie day after day. Turn on SportsCenter, wait for the baseball highlights and you’ll see two things: Blackmon batting in a few runs and the pundits calling him a wildling (a group of nomadic barbarians in Game of Thrones). A decent comparison but come on ESPN, brew up some other references. The Brawny paper towel guy, the son of ZZ Top, Rasputin, something.

 

Watch out Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Giants, the Rockies are legit contenders at this point and should be in the mix for the NL West crown come end of the year. This is no fluke either. We all know it’s easy to hit in the thin air of the Mile High city but this crew is getting it done on the road, as proven by their 21-10 record away from Coors Field. This team is clicking and the overall future is very bright in Denver right now thanks in part to the man-beast they have patrolling the center field lawn.

 

 

We need more athletes with epic facial hair. Nice shades too. Hopefully Charlie Blackmon can lead a whole new generation of bushy beards and manly mustaches to join the ranks of our already great roster of hairy sports heroes. Keep it up Charlie!

 

Beardo.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XXIV: Wake Me Up When September Ends)

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Published on : September 2, 2016

 

 

The Royals might be going back the World Series again this year, after all.

 

 

At the beginning of the week, the Blue Jays, the Red Sox and the Orioles were all postseason-bound teams coming out of the AL East. Unfortunately for one or (probably) two of them, there’s still a month left of baseball. And in that month, all three of those teams (plus rookie phenom, Gary Sanchez, and the Yankees) will play each other enough times and beat up on each other enough times that it will leave the door wide open for a team or two from the Central (the Tigers and/or the Royals) or the West (the Astros and maybe even the Mariners) to sneak into October. Let’s just take a look at how many times the Eastern contenders play each other the rest of the way.

 

– Blue Jays vs. Orioles. 3 games.
– Blue Jays vs. Yankees. 7 games.
– Blue Jays vs. Red Sox. 6 games.
– Red Sox vs. Orioles. 7 games.
– Red Sox vs. Yankees. 7 games.
– Orioles vs. Yankees. 6 games.

 

And that’s not even taking into consideration that the AL East doormat Rays have the best ERA in the league since the All-Star break. They’re also good for 6-7 games against the Blue Jays, Orioles and Yankees (and three more with the Red Sox). It’s going to be brutal. On the other hand, that amount of intra-divisional games that will take place for the Royals and Tigers with the mediocre White Sox and the lowly Twins, who have lost 13 straight. And the Astros and Mariners get to play the A’s and the Angels, who also suck. The East is going to fade. And it’s already starting to happen, as the Tigers have tied the Orioles for the second Wild Card slot after the O’s lost two-out-of-three to the Jays.

 

 

The only difference between the other Wild Card contenders and the Royals is that the Royals happen to be the hottest team in the American League over the past month. Since we last spoke, the World Champs rattled off 9 wins in a row, took two-out-of-three from the Red Sox and have won 18 of their last 24 games. And I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but they’ve managed to go to the World Series the past two years. They know how to get there. And they just won’t die. They are Grigori Rasputin holding a plate of slow-cooked ribs, Steven Seagal bebopping to Charlie Parker. I hate to tell you this, but the Royals will probably be back, projections be damned. And we’re just gonna have to get used to it. We’re gonna have to get used to that stupid rally mantis too.

 

Let’s go around the league.

 

The AL East

So who’s in and who’s out? Well, I think  the Blue Jays are going to win this division. Jose Bautista is back. Aaron Sanchez is rested. And Josh Donaldson is red hot. If you’re betting on anybody in the AL East, that’s your pick. The easiest team to dismiss has always been the Orioles. All along we’ve wondered how long their home run hitting offense could outpace their pitching problems. And that was before Chris Tillman went down with a shoulder injury. They’ve been proving people wrong all year, but I think they’re done. Not that anybody shows up at Camden Yards to care.

 

So the biggest question mark in the East is Boston. People talk about their bullpen like the sky is falling. 70% of their September schedule is on the road. Steven Wright has given up 9 runs his last 10 innings. And Adam Benintendi’s season might be over. On the bright side, Dustin Pedroia is healthy for the first time in years and got 11 hits in a row at one point last week. Mookie Betts is probably the 4th-best player in the league and also became the third player in Red Sox history to hit 30 home runs in a season before his 24th birthday (after Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro). And David Price has a 2.14 ERA in his last four starts. Not to mention that he’s actually 6th in the league in WAR and also 6th in FIP. Your guess is as good as mine. That road schedule though…

 

The AL Central

 

With the Tigers and Royals hot on their heels, the only consistency for the Indians has been Corey Kluber. Their lauded starting rotation had a 5.68 ERA in August, which is second-worst to the Twins in the American League. Kluber’s August ERA was 2.43 and has been 2.04 since the break. On the season, he leads the league in FIP is (barely) second in WAR and is 5th in ERA. That’s your Cy Young, folks. I don’t know why it’s so hard for people. Here’s you: “The American League Cy Young race is a jumble!” Here’s me: “Why don’t you just look at the stats and pick the best guy?” It’s Kluber.

 

Also, I’d be remiss not to mention GUARANTEED RATE FIELD coming soon to the South Side of Chicago. “Hey, youz guys wanna catch a Sox game over at GUARANTEED RATE FIELD?” Just rolls right off the tongue, you know?

 

The AL West

I just want to remind everyone that the first week of the season, I picked the Blue Jays, Royals and Rangers to win their divisions and took the Indians and Astros in the Wild Card. And right now I feel pretty good about my picks, give or take the Tigers. The Rangers just took three-out-of-four from the Indians and swept the Mariners, effectively ending Seattle’s playoff hopes yet again. The Rangers also have a surprisingly-good record against teams above .500, which bodes well for them in October. Because I’m also going to will that Rangers-Jays rematch series to happen. Come on!

 

The NL East

Want to know who my opening week NL picks were? I took the Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers in the divisions. And I took the Mets and Giants in the Wild Card. And maybe since the Royals decided to get back in to the discussion, the Mets decided to get hot too. I know Jacob deGrom’s last two starts have been awful. And Steven Matz might get shut down for the season. But nobody should want to face Thor in the Wild Card. That team’s best-case-scenario staff is still horrifying.

 

 

And just in case any Nationals fans starts to freak out about Stephen Strasburg’s elbow, they should just direct their attention to what Max Scherzer has done his past two outings (5 hits, 1 walk, 21 K’s, 0.12 ERA over 16 innings) and feel a little better. Also, unless last year was a freakish anomaly, don’t we have to assume Bryce Harper is a sleeping giant right now? Just don’t look at his career stat line. Because this year looks pretty similar to the Harper of 2012-2014. And not at all like 2015.

 

The NL Central

Kris Bryant is the NL MVP. He leads the Majors in WAR. And he leads the league in wOBA. Plus, that home run in the 10th inning at Dodger Stadium led the Cubs to another win in a month where they went 22-6. Kyle Hendricks also leads the Majors in ERA with a 2.09. It’s been 1.34 in the second half, 1.28 in August and 1.21 at home on the year. This is a guy that throws 87 miles-per-hour. He’s a pleasant surprise on a staff that also includes Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, who have also been top 10 pitchers in the league. Oh, and did you see Addison Russell’s catch against the Pirates on Wednesday? Wow. The Cubs are gonna shore this division up in the next week or two.

 

The Cardinals still hold the second Wild Card slot, which I hate. But they also don’t win at home (30-37) and don’t have a clear starter for the Wild Card game (I’d go with Carlos Martinez, but I’d guess Mike Matheny picks the struggling Adam Wainwright). Sure, they’re high up on rookies Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver. And Jedd Gyorko leads the league in home runs since the All-Star break. Actually, the Cardinals are tied with the Orioles for the most home runs in the Majors since the break. We’ll just have to wait and see if that’ll be good enough to hold off the Mets, Pirates and Marlins over the last month.

 

 The NL West

 

Well, the Dodgers have stayed in first place, despite every pitcher on their team (including the best pitcher on the planet) being hurt. If you’re counting at home, they’ve had 27 guys on the DL this year, which ties a Major League record set by the last place Boston Red Sox in 2012. But I’m guessing they lost a lot of sympathy when they traded away Clayton Kershaw’s personal catcher, A.J. Ellis (and his .194 batting average) for Carlos Ruiz. Why they would you create any drama or make Kershaw cry when their team is playing well is beyond me. I don’t care how much they struggle against lefties. You keep Kershaw happy. Or however happy a guy can be watching from the sidelines with a herniated disc.

 

Believe it or not, the Giants still have the worst record in baseball since the break. The Twins have lost 13 in a row and the Giants would still be a game back in the loss column since July 12th. They’re not scoring runs. They have problems at the back of their rotation. And Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto had ERA’s in the 4’s in the month of August. Matt Moore (and his 133 pitches) came within a Corey Seager bloop of no-hitting the Dodgers last week, and holy shit was that a pleasure to watch with Vin Scully making the call. But they’d better hope MadBum and Cueto can figure this out. Or that Kershaw stays on the sideline. Or that they also don’t get passed by one of the other Wild Card hopefuls in the league. Maybe they only win in even years that end in 0, 2 or 4. You ever think of that?

 

Okay. That’ll do it for this week. Next week, I’m sure we’ll have some mathematical eliminations from the standings (looking at you, Braves, Twins, Brewers and Reds). And if you need more baseball, you can always check me out on “Comedians Talking Sports” with Joe Kilgallon on all the podcast things. Until then, the Cubs’ magic number is 16.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XXII: Tex, Prince and A-Rod)

Written by :
Published on : August 12, 2016

 

 

 

This week Ichiro got his 3,000th career hit. Manny Machado hit three home runs in the first three innings of a game. Brandon Crawford had seven hits in a game. Yasiel Puig Snapchatted a sausage party in Des Moines. And Tim Tebow idiotically thinks he can play professional baseball. But I think the week will best be remembered for the emotional departures of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder. Well, we’ll just see about A-Rod being done.

 

Of the three, Teixeira was the first to announce his retirement. He leaves the game with 404 career home runs. He won a ring in 2009 with the Yankees. He was an excellent fielding switch-hitter. But the injuries kept piling on and Teixeira had to end a career that would fall pretty far short of Hall of Fame caliber. Not that that’s all that matters. But since the question has been asked this week in the media, Tex’s career numbers look less like Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera (1-2 in his era) and more like Tino Martinez, Norm Cash and Gil Hodges. He’s even behind Keith Hernandez, John Olerud and Will Clark in his JAWS ranking (which averages career WAR and seven-year peak WAR). That and the fact that he endorsed Marco Rubio for President makes me say no. But I guess since Rubio finished a distant third, it’s only appropriate.

 

 So long, boys.

 

I could pour over the controversial and illustrious career of A-Rod. But with a guy that competitive and that historically self-important, you have to assume sitting on 696 career home runs will drive him even more insane and he’ll wind up on a Major League roster next year. If a Miami or a Tampa Bay will take him. If this is indeed the end for Alex (and his .203 batting average suggests it actually could be), then he retires as the second-greatest shortstop of all-time to Honus Wagner. He won three MVP awards. He was the first overall pick in the 1993 Draft. He’s the all-time leader in grand slams. He’s got over 3,000 hits. He’s a member of the 40/40 club. The youngest player to 300, 400, 500 and 600 home runs. Seven All-Star Games at short. And seven All-Star Games at 3rd.

 

But mostly I’ll remember his career for the huge contracts, the lying about PEDs and the stories of general personal shitty-ness that made Brian Cashman publicly tell him to shut the fuck up, even though he’s one of the inner-circle greatest players of all time. Didn’t he sue his own team and then not pay his lawyers? Doesn’t he have a painting of himself as a centaur over his bed? This fuckin’ guy. A-Rod plays his last game with the Yankees today. But whenever he’s actually done, he’s banished to Bonds-Clemens Island. Or more likely a fancy strip club/whorehouse made of cocaine and HGH.

 

 Prince doesn’t deserve this.

 

Let’s move on to Prince Fielder, who was easily the most likable of the three, but also happened to have the weakest career. Which isn’t really a knock when you’re being compared to Centaur Steroid Monster and the guy selling vanilla ice cream at the Hall of Very Good. Fielder has been a batting practice legend since he was 12-years-old when he hit one into the upper deck of Tiger Stadium. And he won the Home Run Derby twice. As an adult, not when he was 12. But his lousy defense probably knocked him down a few pegs and he’s retiring as the 94th-best first baseman of all-time (according to JAWS), behind guys like Kevin Youkilis, Derrek Lee and Carlos Pena. The eerie thing is, he’s also retiring with the exact same number of career home runs (319) as his estranged father – the one he didn’t like being compared to. Of the three players, I’ll miss Fielder the most. And we’ve lost too many Princes in 2016.

 

Let’s go around the league.

 

The AL East

I don’t understand why the Yankees are pretending they can still go to the postseason this year. They’re 7 back in the division. They’re 4.5 back in the Wild Card. And three other teams in their own division are ahead of them. They have a 2.9% chance of making the playoffs. Also, they kinda traded away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran. That’s waving the white flag on 2016. So all that being said, why is Joe Girardi being such a bitch about A-Rod?

 

 Why are you being such a dick, Joe?

 

I know I said all of the things I said about A-Rod earlier. But there is such a thing as taking the high road and not creating a pity party soap opera so dramatic that it makes someone like me who doesn’t even like the guy actually consider him a victim. Even Fenway Park chanted his name, Joe. You’re a dick.

 

If pitcher Wins are your thing, Wade Miley is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA since being acquired by the Orioles. But that’s somehow still an upgrade for the club. That’s how bad Ubaldo Jimenez (6.83 ERA) has been this season. Also, if pitcher Wins are your thing (and we have to talk about this because they really shouldn’t be), J.A. Happ leads the Majors with 16. I’m feeling pretty good about the Blue Jays.

 

I know I’ve bashed the Red Sox a lot this season. But I think that racist David Ortiz bobble head might end up being their own Brady Bunch bad luck tiki. They’ve had injury scares with Steven Wright, Mookie Betts and Big Papi, himself, after that hideous mini-statue was made public. And they like, can’t lose any of those guys. Not that the Tigers and/or Mariners would mind. But the bobblehead also kind of reminds me of something famed character actor, Chelcie Ross, would look at and say, “Up yer butt, Jobu,” before getting hit in the head with a flying bat. Just putting that out there. I feel like this entire paragraph was totally reasonable and valid.

 

The AL Central

Think being a manager isn’t stressful? This week, Indians’ manager, Terry Francona, as well as Giants’ skipper, Bruce Bochy, had to miss games with chest pain and/or rumored chest pain. That being said, Joe Girardi is still a dick.

 

 Terry needs to relax.

 

The AL West

I think this Jonathan Lucroy thing is working out in Texas. So is Beltran, for that matter. And they’d be the hottest team in the league (and 11-2 against the Astros this season) if not for the Seattle Mariners playing peek-a-boo with relevance once again. And I’m not going to say that Mike Trout could end up being the greatest player of all time. But he turned 25 this week and just look at some fun numbers of players Trout’s age.

 

 ABSOLUTE BEAST.

 

All-Time WAR Through Age 21

1. Mike Trout               21.5
2. Mel Ott                    19.3
3. Ty Cobb                   16.1
4. Al Kaline                  15.0
5. Rogers Hornsby      14.6

 

All-Time WAR Through Age 22

1. Mike Trout        29.5
2. Ty Cobb           25.9
3. Mel Ott             25.1
4. Ted Williams     24.8
5. Jimmie Foxx     21.0

 

All-Time WAR Through Age 23

1. Mike Trout            38.5
2. Ted Williams        36.4
3. Ty Cobb               36.2
4. Mel Ott                33.2
5. Mickey Mantle    29.5

 

All-Time WAR Through Age 24

1. Ty Cobb            47.2
2. Mike Trout        45.0
3. Mickey Mantle  41.1
4. Mel Ott              38.6
5. Jimmie Foxx     37.4

 

The NL East

Why would Bryce Harper need a working bat or neck when you have that rotation? This thing is turning in to a bloodbath. And I mentioned Ichiro becoming the 30th member of the 3,000 hit club earlier. But the best part about it is that he told ESPN he plans on playing until he’s 50. So I guess that first ballot induction in Cooperstown is gonna have to wait a while.

 

 3,000 is a big number.

 

The NL Central

The Cubs are in first place on my birthday? Why, that’s only happened in 1984, 1989, 2001 and 2008. Cubs with the best record in baseball on my birthday? This is a first. And since they’ve won 9 in a row and are up 12 games on the Cardinals, I almost don’t care that Tommy La Stella is embarrassing himself by not reporting to Des Moines. I’m sure the Puig videos didn’t make it any more enticing, but still.

 

 It’s a happy birthday for Brido.

 

The NL West

When Clayton Kershaw went down on June 26, the Dodgers were 8 games back of the Giants. So I can’t really downplay how amazing and improbable it is that they climbed back within a game of first place. And that’s why you might actually see Corey Seager walk away with the Rookie of the Year and the NL MVP this year. Right now, I’d give it to Kris Bryant or Daniel Murphy. But enough people are bringing his name up to make me think he’d actually win if the voting was held today.

 

Give Seager all the awards.

 

I will say that I’m not sure whether or not Puig will play for the Dodgers ever again. Even though Josh Reddick has hit .125 since joining the team. Puig may be lighting up the PCL, but apparently everybody hates him about as much as Joe Girardi hates A-Rod.

 

Oh, and the Giants are still the worst team in the Majors since the All-Star break. Jeff Samardzija has come back to Earth. So has Johnny Cueto. And Will Smith has a fucking 13.50 ERA since being dealt from Milwaukee. And that’s without me even mentioning that only one team (Pittsburgh) has scored fewer runs in the second half.

 

And since the Rockies have fallen off their wasn’t-gonna-happen-anyway Wild Card run, it’s only really worth mentioning David Dahl, who is their new Trevor Story. I almost wish his last name was ‘Chapter’ or some shit, so idiots on TV could stumble all over themselves to make that fuck-awful joke again. But Dahl has yet to go O-fer in his young career, starting with a 17-game hitting streak, while hitting .365 with a 1.013 OPS. Looks like the STORY has a new CHAPTER!

 

 How I looked when I heard Tim Tebow wanted to play baseball.

 

Okay. Should I even waste my time on Tebow? Because he played high school baseball and looked muscle-y in a cage? Just know that he didn’t get drafted. Even Michael Vick got drafted. And he hadn’t played baseball since 8th grade. Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Dan Marino, John Elway, Daunte Culpepper… all drafted. And it’s not like there weren’t baseball scouts in Florida. He also hasn’t played baseball in 11 years. Michael Jordan hadn’t played in 13 years, was a much better athlete and only hit .202 in the minors. Plus, Tebow is 29. You know who else is 29? Andrew McCutchen. That guy is usually awesome. This year he’s hitting 50 points below his career average. Because baseball is hard. And Tebow has absolutely no chance.

 

That’ll do it for this week. If you need more baseball, check me out on “Comedians Talking Sports” with Joe Kilgallon in all the podcast places. Until then, Adrian Beltre needs 117 hits. And the Cubs’ Magic Number is 38.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XXI: Crazy Trade Deadline. Crazier Cubs Game)

Written by :
Published on : August 5, 2016

 

 

Well, the trade deadline has come and gone. And it was a wild one. Maybe the craziest one ever. Since we last spoke, the Rangers got Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran. The Indians got Andrew Miller. And they didn’t get Lucroy. The Giants got Matt Moore and Will Smith. The Dodgers got Rich Hill and Josh Reddick. And they couldn’t unload Yasiel Puig. The Nationals got Mark Melancon. The Mets got Jay Bruce. The Marlins got Andrew Cashner. Chris Sale’s scissors stayed in Chicago. And now we can finally talk about what’s actually going on on the field. Yay!

 

On Sunday, the Cubs and Mariners played in one of the wackiest, most amazing games I’ve ever seen in my life. First of all, it’s best that we don’t speak Brian Matusz’ name ever again. The first three innings were essentially batting practice for Seattle and they went up 6-0 on homers before Theo Epstein shipped Matusz off to Siberia, or wherever starters with 14.00 ERAs go to repent. Maybe Baltimore?

 

Anyway, Carl Edwards Jr. came in in the 4th and 5th to stop the bleeding for the Cubs, striking out five of the six batters he faced. At this point, I was getting text messages from my brother-in-law as if the Cubs were somehow back in the game. I’d already received multiple texts on the disaster Siberia Boy had caused. But now I started hearing some optimism from my multiple Cubs text messaging groups. You read that correctly. Anyway, the Cubs did manage to get on the board in the bottom of the 5th when Felix Hernandez walked Ben Zobrist with the bases loaded and then plunked Addison Russell while they were still loaded, making it 6-2.

 

 

In the 6th, it looked like the Mariners were going to tack on to their lead after Joe Nathan came in and decided he was too old to be of any use. So Travis Wood replaced him on the mound and, after walking Seth Smith to load the bases, he promptly struck out Shawn O’Malley and Leonys Martin and got Robinson Cano to pop out. It was still 6-2 and Wood was out of a jam. The fun part was, in the 7th, Pedro Strop came in to relieve Wood, but Joe Maddon didn’t take Wood out of the game. He sent him out to play left field. And that same inning, he happened to make a spectacular catch into the ivy on a Franklin Gutierrez line drive. And that’s when Wrigley Field went nuts and my phone started to blow up. Oh, and apparently, when Wood came back to the dugout, Cubs’ catcher, David Ross, jokingly gave Wood some guff for not hitting the cutoff man after his catch. To which Wood just replied, “Fuck you.” Amazing.

 

In the bottom of the 7th, Zobrist tripled in Dexter Fowler, making it 6-3. And then in the 8th, Wood came back in from left to pitch. Because Maddon is apparently a tortured artistic genius. And was just getting started. Wood then picked off O’Malley as he tried to steal second for the 3rd out in the inning. Out of left field, indeed. Fuck you, indeed.

 

In the bottom of the 9th, with one out, the Cubs rallied with a double by Anthony Rizzo and singles by Zobrist and Russell, making it 6-4. Jason Heyward was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases. And then Wilson Contreras beat a throw to first on a bases-loaded double play attempt, making it 6-5. At this point, my wife did not want to watch the game. But when Seattle reliever, Steve Cishek, unloaded a wild pitch to the backstop, scoring Russell to tie the game, even she was like, “Oh my god!” as Wrigley, my phone and my mouth started screaming in unison. I guess Seattle was screaming too, since Cishek has since lost his job as closer. But that’s not my problem.

 

 

Fast forward to the bottom of the 12th, still tied 6-6. And say what you want about Jason Heyward’s season at the plate. He’s still the best defensive outfielder in the National League this year (and probably 3rd overall, after Kevin Pillar and Adam Eaton). And yes, he’s hitting .231, with an OPS+ of 73 (jesus). But he still has a 1.4 WAR and he was about to show some offensive value. With an 0-2 count, Heyward cranked a double off the top of the wall in right-center that came about a foot away from ending the game. Then he made his way to 3rd on a Contreras sac fly. And I don’t think a majority of Major Leaguers are beating that throw.

 

What happened next was full-on bizarre. With Hector Rondon’s spot in the order up next, the only pinch hitter Maddon could use was a starting pitcher. And instead of going with Jake Arrieta (who is hitting .279 with 2 home runs, but also strikes out half of the time), Maddon went with Jon Lester, who has a whopping seven career hits, but also only strikes out 30% of the time. I really don’t know. I just stopped questioning Maddon.

 

 

With two strikes on him, Lester actually laid down a perfect safety squeeze, scoring Heyward with the perfect head-first slide and the winning run. And nothing will ever be the same again. Lester got mobbed. Maddon kept doing his Beautiful Mind baseball math equations in the dugout. Everybody else lost their own minds. And it’s probably going to be a game I revisit for years to come.

 

Hey, you might not like the Cubs as much as I do. But at least that’s not trade talk. Let’s go around the league.

 

The AL East

Dylan Bundy might be the savior of the pitching-starved Orioles this season, as well as the most exciting American League rookie not born in Germany. And with the addition of Wade Miley, they might actually have a real 5th starter for the first time. I still think the Blue Jays are going to win the division. Especially if Troy Tulowitzki’s thumb doesn’t fall off. Aaron Sanchez is a legit Cy Young candidate. And it turns out they’re not moving him to the pen, after all. The Red Sox are waiting for any of Dave Dombrowski’s moves to pay off. And just when you thought we could finally stop talking about the Yankees now that they dealt Miller and Beltran and Aroldis Chapman, they have to figure out how to break up with Alex Rodriguez.

 

The AL Central 

One of the most interesting playoff scenarios (besides Texas-Toronto) is probably going to be between Cleveland and Texas, since Lucroy shut down the trade that would have made him battery mates with Miller and Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco and Jeff Tomlin and Trevor Bauer and whatever other awesome arm he didn’t feel like catching. Until he went to Texas, I just assumed that Lucroy was an idiot. Either that or he saw the RNC and pictured Cleveland as a dystopian wasteland. But as of now, he might be getting the last laugh because Salazar is on the DL and Cleveland might not even win their division.

 

 

That’s because the Tigers are creeping. They’ve won eight of their last ten and are only 3 back of the Indians. Because while the Indians are 26-8 against the rest of their division (including 11-1 against the Tigers), they just cannot beat the Twins. So maybe if the Eastern teams beat up on each other down the stretch and Cleveland goes on another cold streak, the Motor City Kitties can slide in to the playoffs. 1908 World Series rematch, baby!

 

The AL West

A few weeks ago I was SURE the Astros were going to overtake the Rangers in the standings or at least move in to a Wild Card slot. But they got swept by the Tigers and now it looks like the Rangers are running away with this thing once again. I know AJ Griffin and Cole Hamels were their only starters to win in July. But with Lucroy and Beltran and a returning Shin-Soo Choo, that lineup is sick. The baseball pundits keep trying to sell me on the Mariners as a team to watch. And I’ll buy it as long as every game is as good as Sunday’s against the Cubs.

 

The NL East

The Nationals are viewed as trade deadline losers because they couldn’t land Chapman or Miller, but if that’s the case, why aren’t 27 other teams deadline losers? Mark Melancon is still a strong reliever. And they didn’t have to give up Lucas Giolito to get him. Then again, I’ve waited all season for Daniel Murphy to cool off. And now it’s August and he’s still hitting .358. The second best batting average in the league belongs to Wilson Ramos at .331. All that has to make them feel better about Bryce Harper hitting .234. What happened, breh?

 

The NL Central

 

Clayton Kershaw hasn’t pitched since June 26th, so he’s about to fall off all the NL leader boards due to inactivity. When that happens, Kyle Hendricks might actually have the best ERA of any starter in baseball. We can hold off with any Hendricks Cy Young talk for the time being. But these are the types of things I can talk about while the Cubs are hot. The Cubs were 11-17 without Fowler in the lineup. Now he’s back. The bullpen is upgraded. And John Lackey didn’t come here for a haircut. He came here for jewelry.

 

The NL West

The Giants have only won 5 games since the All-Star break. But with Hunter Pence and Joe Panik back in the lineup, as well as the additions of Eduardo Nunez, Moore and Smith, they might start to look like that Even Year team everyone seems to want. I don’t want it. But like, people who say words on TV seem to. But man, the Dodgers really need to take advantage of the Giants’ skid. I know they went 15-9 in July. And that they scored a lot of runs during that stretch. But only the Dodgers, who have seemingly had every single one of their starters on the DL this year, would actually go out to acquire another injured starter. But mostly everybody wants to talk about Yasiel Puig’s demotion from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Oklahoma City Dodgers. And then if he’s not careful, to the Tulsa Drillers, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and then the Great Lake Loons. Then maybe on a flight back to Cienfuegos. Remember 2013? Sigh.

 

The Rockies also got hot and were creeping up the division standings, as well as the Wild Card, but then Trevor Story went out for the season, destroying the worldview of every baseball fan who also loves shit-awful puns. I’m just thankful Jose Reyes went to the Mets and not Story, because of all the new lows the New York Post‘s headlines haven’t had to sink to yet.

 

 

Okay! That does it for this week. If you need more baseball, be sure to check me out on “Comedians Talking Sports” MLB recaps with Joe Kilgallon, available at all the podcast places. Until then, Ichiro needs 2 hits and the Cubs’ magic number is 46.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XVIII: The First Half in Review)

Written by :
Published on : July 16, 2016

 

 

Can you believe we made it all the way through the first half? We’ve already seen epic brawls, surprise teams, a 20-strikeout game, debilitating injuries, returns from debilitating injuries, historic starts, historic rookies and individual performances that range from career years to retiring veterans to perhaps the greatest pitcher we’ve ever seen in the prime of his career. And also, we saw a home run from big sloppy fatso, Bartolo Colon. So let’s look at the first half that was.

 

The AL East

 

Playoff Teams: Baltimore, Boston, Toronto.

 Big Papi looks to be headed for the playoffs in his final season.

 

The Orioles are the surprise team of the first half, and I dismissed them outright until they became the last remaining undefeated team in the Majors. Everyone thought their pitching was going to be terrible. And it hasn’t been good (ask your Orioles fan friends their thoughts on Ubaldo Jimenez). But they lead the Majors in home runs (as does Mark Trumbo), they also have Manny Machado and while their division lead might not be sustainable, it’s not like the rest of the division hasn’t been extremely flawed thus far either.

 

The biggest story in the division is probably the fact that the 40-year-old, David Ortiz – in his final season –  is the best hitter on a Red Sox offense that leads the Majors in Runs, Hits, Total Bases, RBI, Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, Slugging and Baby Powder Walk-Off Parties. The only problem is that, despite some pretty good individual performances from Steven Wright and Rick Porcello, the Red Sox are an even more extreme version of the Orioles (1st in Runs, 19th in ERA). Ask a Red Sox fan about Clay Bucholz. Or possibly, they’re just the Orioles with national media attention.

 

Update: I’ll probably have a lot to say about Drew Pomeranz next week.

 

After two last place finishes in a row, I just didn’t see how adding David Price and Craig Kimbrel (who have both disappointed) would be enough to justify their pre-season projections. And because I felt the baseball media was too giddy to anoint Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts as the heirs to the Big Papi iron throne, I took the Killer B trio as overblown media hype and focused my attention on Pablo Sandoval’s exploding belt. And boy was I wrong.

 

My pick to win the division was the Toronto Blue Jays, who might still be the best team in the East, overall. Josh Donaldson is quite possibly the first half MVP. I’d say they have the second-best pitching in the league, with a standout first-half performance by Aaron Sanchez. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic north of the border, even though Toronto’s first half will probably be best remembered for the strong jaw of Jose Bautista.

 

The Yankees and Rays have mainly been discussed in trade rumors, with Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller being the prized possessions before the deadline. I feel like a lot more attention should be given to Masahiro Tanaka, who might have pitched better than anybody in the league in the first half, despite nobody giving a shit. And C.C. Sabathia wasn’t too shabby, either. On the other hand, the previously-lauded Rays’ staff is about as bad as it gets. And I’d look for a lot of their struggling starters to get a change of scenery after July.

 

The AL Central

 

Playoff Team: Cleveland.

 Kluber & Co have got the Tribe cruising.

 

I picked the Indians to win the Wild Card because of their staff, and yeah, it’s been the best in the American League this season. Danny Salazar is probably the first half Cy Young Award winner, Corey Kluber is right up there and Trevor Bauer could also be in the conversation. All of that pitching, along with a better-than-expected offense (without Michael Brantley), lead Believeland to a 14-game winning streak on the heels of the Cavs winning the city’s first world title in 52 years. And they’re the AL favorites going forward.

 

And yet, prior to the season, I picked the Royals. Because how could I not pick the Royals after they’d gone to the World Series the past two seasons? Sure, they had bad projections. But they always had bad projections. Then they’d just do whatever it is that they do to win. Did you watch the All-Star Game? Eric Hosmer and his faux-hawk might have been annoying as he yelled about the Royals performing on big stages before. But he’s pretty much right. The main difference is that the 2014 and 2015 Royals were relatively injury-free. That totally has not been the case this year, with Wade Davis and Lorenzo Cain currently on the 15-day DL and Mike Moustakas out for the season.

 

With apologies to my editors, other than the Indians, the entire Central has been mediocre. Except for the Twins, I guess, who are fucking terrible. Except, you know, right before the break for some reason. The Tigers are 1-11 against Cleveland. The White Sox have Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, but don’t score any runs (somebody call Drake LaRoche!). And it’s like a bizarro version of the American League East, where very few teams hit and nobody has a positive run differential, except for the Indians.

 

The AL West

 

Playoff Team: Texas.

 We are all hoping that the Rangers and Blue Jays meet up in the playoffs.

 

The Rangers were my pick in the AL West, solely because they won the division last year and they’d be getting a full season from Cole Hamels and the return of Yu Darvish. And when they were good, they were very good. But the Rangers limped into the All-Star break with Darvish and Derek Holland on the 15-day DL and Colby Lewis on the 60. But that’s not what we want to talk about, is it? We don’t even want to talk about the hot start of Nomar Mazara or the first half of Ian Desmond. We want to talk Roogie.

 

I’d say the most memorable moment of the first half of baseball this season was the Rougned Odor overhand right to the bat-flipping face of Jose Bautista. And, holy shit, do I want a Rangers-Jays rematch in the post-season. And you should too. So we should all pray to the baseball gods (Bill James and Peter Gammons?) that the Blue Jays stay hot and the Rangers can pick up an arm or two before the deadline.

 

Another reason the Rangers need help is because the Astros are creeping. And they were my pick for a Wild Card before the season. But I also took Carlos Correa as my AL MVP, so shows what I know (I meant to say Jose Altuve, I swear). After an awful start, the Astros turned things around. And they actually have better World Series odds than the Rangers currently.

 

Okay. Here are my Top 5’s of the AL first half.

 

Top 5 AL Position Players.

1. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays.          5.4 WAR    .424 wOBA
2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels.                5.5 WAR    .415 wOBA
3. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros.                     4.3 WAR    .400 wOBA
4. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles.          4.3 WAR    .392 wOBA
5. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox.                     3.3 WAR    .451 wOBA

 

Honorable Mention: Ian Desmond, Robinson Cano, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Kyle Seager.

 

Top 5 AL Pitchers.

1. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees.       3.0 WAR    3.31 FIP    3.23 ERA
2. Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians.             2.4 WAR    3.39 FIP    2.75 ERA
3. Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox.          2.9 WAR    3.48 FIP    3.21 ERA
4. Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays.           2.5 WAR    3.52 FIP    2.97 ERA
5. Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians.               3.3 WAR    2.95 FIP    3.61 ERA

 

Honorable Mention: Steven Wright, Chris Sale, Trevor Bauer, Jordan Zimmermann, C.C. Sabathia, J.A. Happ, Rick Porcello.

 

Now for the National League.

 

The NL East

 

Playoff Teams: Washington, New York, Miami.

 Syndergaard has me eating crow.

 

If you’ve read this column for a while, you may remember something I wrote back in March saying to call me when the Mets’ front four approaches a 19-20 combined WAR. Even earlier than that, I said that the Nationals’ front four might be even better than the Mets’. Well, here’s how it looked at the All-Star break.

 

Mets (Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz, Harvey)             10.0 WAR

Nationals (Strasburg, Scherzer, Roark, Ross)             9.6 WAR

 

So, I’m an idiot sometimes. Noah Syndergaard has been amazing, bone spur or not. And Jacob deGrom is quietly having a good year. So if not for a few health scares with Jason Matz and, I don’t know, the fact that they’re losing Matt Harvey for the rest of the season, this staff really could have approached 90’s Braves-level awesomeness. And that’s all without mentioning America’s sweetheart, Bartolo Colon.

 

I picked the Nationals because everyone was so jacked up about them last year and I figured that there was no way their luck would be as bad as it was in 2015. What I couldn’t have predicted was just how good Daniel Murphy was going to be. I really thought October was a fluke. The 14 home runs he hit last season were a career-high. And yes, I still hate him.

 

Despite an underwhelming first half from Bryce Harper (although he started on a goddamn tear), Wilson Ramos has also picked up some offensive slack. Stephen Strasburg (with his new contract) is the only qualified starter in the Majors without a loss. As well as the first NL starter since Rube Marquard in 1912 to win his first 12 decisions of the year. Max Scherzer struck out 20 Tigers in a game, throwing 80% strikes and making Brad Ausmus a 20K victim for the third time. And all that adds up for the most franchise wins at the break, along with the infamous ’94 Expos.

 

The Mets have been plagued by so many injuries, that the only way to make this fun is to remind you of the things Bartolo Colon has already done this season. That Mays-esque catch off the mound. That home run in San Diego. The reaction of the Mets’ dugout. That time he promised the catcher he wouldn’t swing. Any of the times he runs the bases. And I repeat; that home run he hit in San Diego. It’s almost hard to believe Big Sexy exists sometimes.

 

All that being said, the door is probably wide open for the Miami Marlins to make a run in the second half. They’re getting Dee Gordon back soon. They have Jose Fernandez. And if the Home Run Derby is any indication, Giancarlo Stanton could round out an outfield so good, that Ichiro might have to wait a while before getting 10 more hits.

 

The NL Central

 

Playoff Team: Chicago.

 Looks for the Cubs to get it back together in the second half.

 

From the start, the Cubs were my pick to win it all. And they started so hot and so fun (wacky suits, mariachi bands) that a semi-epic collapse at the end of the first half still had them up 7 on the Cardinals in the division. Of course, there was the season-ending injury of Kyle Schwarber. And the past month of awful pitching. But overall, it’s been amazing. Dexter Fowler was Mr. April. Ben Zobrist was Mr. May. Jon Lester was Mr. June. Somewhere in there, Jake Arrieta threw another no-hitter. And Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo could arguably 1-2 in first-half MVP voting. Not that that’s a thing.

 

There was also the Javier Baez walk-off on Mother’s Day. The Travis Wood Game. The first Wilson Contreras at-bat. The game where Bryant had three bombs and two doubles. I just hope that the All-Star break was a reset button for a team that played 24 games in 24 days, that Arrieta can resemble his second-half performance from last year, that they get the help they need in the bullpen and all of their troubles are behind them. Then I can finally get to see the ending to what Sports Illustrated dubbed ‘the last great American sports story’. Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease.

 

You know, either that, or they could keep tanking and watch the Cardinals and Pirates pass them.

 

The NL West

 

Playoff Teams: San Francisco, Los Angeles.

 MadBum: Killin’ it.

 

All of the ‘Even Year’ dipshits can rejoice. The Giants are the best team in baseball at the half. Not that they were in 2010, 2012 or 2014. Uh oh, you fucking idiots. But Jeff Samardzija and especially Johnny Cueto were great pick-ups for San Francisco. Their front four has a 9.5 WAR, if you’re keeping score at home. And as good as the 20 K game by Scherzer and no-no from Arrieta were, the single best pitching performance in the first half was Madison Bumgarner’s from last week where he allowed 1 hit, 1 walk and struck out 14 in a complete-game shutout (98 Game Score). That would make me the only person on the planet actually talking about MadBum’s pitching.

 

In Vin Scully’s final season with the Dodgers, he might be witnessing the greatest pitcher in team history. Or maybe all-time. Or he could be hurt for a while. I don’t know. But Clayton Kershaw’s first half was so good, that I’d be willing to say he was the National League MVP, Cy Young and then Corey Seager could also let him hold his Rookie of the Year trophy while we’re at it (oh man, remember Trevor Story?). Anyway, the Dodgers’ staff was plagued by injuries. And I still can’t stand their fans. But I’d really love to see Kershaw come back soon and overtake San Fran in the Wins column.

 

Also, I was right about the Diamondbacks.

 

Now for the NL’s Top 5’s.

 

Top 5 NL Position Players.

1. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs.                        5.0 WAR    .403 wOBA
2. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs.                   3.5 WAR    .419 wOBA
3. Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals.       3.7 WAR    .410 wOBA
4. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals.           3.1 WAR    .414 wOBA
5. Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks.          3.1 WAR    .407 wOBA

 

Honorable Mention: Nolan Arenado, Brandon Belt, Corey Seager, Marcell Ozuna, Paul Goldschmidt, Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Wilson Ramos, Freddie Freeman, Christian Yelich.

 

Top 5 NL Pitchers.

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers.          5.5 WAR    1.70 FIP    1.79 ERA
2. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets.                 4.0 WAR    2.06 FIP    2.56 ERA
3. Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins                        3.9 WAR    2.13 FIP    2.52 ERA
4. Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants.              3.7 WAR    2.70 FIP    2.47 ERA
5. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants.    3.3 WAR    2.96 FIP    1.94 ERA

 

Honorable Mention: Stephen Strasburg, Drew Pomeranz, Jake Arrieta, Jacob deGrom, Tanner Roark, Kenta Maeda, Kyle Hendricks, Max Scherzer, Jaime Martinez, Steven Matz.

 

 

Alright. That’ll do it. See you in the outfield for the second half. Check me out on Comedians Talking Baseball with Joe Kilgallon, available on iTunes. Until then, Ichiro needs 10 hits and the Cubs’ magic number is 68.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XVII: All-Star Selections)

Written by :
Published on : July 8, 2016

 

With the All-Star Game approaching, the big talk this week was who got snubbed (which is probably unfair to Ned Yost and Terry Collins, since every team, no matter how awful they are, has to be represented) and also who should actually be starting. So let’s take a look at that. First up, the American League.

 

AL Starting Pitcher: ????

Should Start: Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians

 Will it be Salazar?

 

I think it should go to Salazar, especially since Jose Quintana didn’t even make the team. And neither did Masahiro Tanaka, who I honestly haven’t heard one person talk about all year, despite some fantastic stats. Anyway, Salazar is the AL leader in ERA. His FIP is better than Chris Sale’s and Steven Wright’s. And I’d guess those two are his only real competition for the start. Sale does have 14 wins and leads in ESPN’s Cy Young predictor. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he was given the nod. But with all the injuries to the Rangers’ rotation, Cleveland is probably the best team in the American League right now. And the main reason they’re so good is because of their staff. They had a 1.83 ERA during their franchise-best 14-game winning streak and Salazar has been the best of all of them. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re up 7.5 games on Sale and the White Sox.

 

AL Starting Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

Should Start: Perez

 

Good job, fans. It’s not a strong pool, but Perez leads AL catchers in WAR and wOBA.

 

AL Starting First Baseman: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

Should Start: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

 It should be Miggy.

 

You would think that with all these AL Central players I’ve mentioned so far, the division would be a little more competitive. And it probably would be if the Tigers weren’t 1-11 against the Indians. But I digress. If we go ahead and say that Edwin Encarnacion is a DH (which he is), then Cabrera edges out Chris Davis of the Orioles (who didn’t make the team) with slightly better hitting.

 

AL Starting Second Baseman: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

Should Start: Altuve

 

After a horrible start, the Astros actually look like they’re gonna make a run at the postseason, after all. And Altuve is a legit MVP candidate. Too bad he can’t also pitch for them.

 

AL Starting Third Baseman: Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

Should Start: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

 There’s no doubt Manny should be in the game, but maybe not at third base.

 

This race is about as close as it gets (as is the AL East, itself) and Machado and Donaldson are also both MVP candidates. As good as Machado has been so far, Donaldson has been even better. But don’t worry, I have a way to fix this.

 

AL Starting Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

Should Start: Machado

 

Machado has actually played eight more games at short than at third this season. So that technically makes him the best shortstop in the league. And don’t cry, Red Sox fans. There’s plenty more room on the roster for your offense. And also, you’re a third place team with 6 All-Stars.

 

AL Starting Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels. Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

Should Start: Trout. Bradley. Ian Desmond, Texas Rangers

 

Trout is still the best player in the league. Bradley and Desmond are right up there. But that starting lineup isn’t bad for a Boston team that has fed-up fans calling for their manager to be fired. It’s not like adding David Price (who didn’t make the All-Star team) and Craig Kimbrel (who somehow did) were going to fix the rest of the team’s pitching woes, even if they weren’t both underperforming.

 

AL DH Selection: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

Should DH: Ortiz

Papi should continue to praise whichever gods are giving him such power at such an age.

 

We don’t have to talk about the Red Sox pitching for the time being. Ortiz just passed Ted Williams on the all-time home run list. And since Williams died the year before Ortiz got to Boston, we can assume that all of his frozen powers were transferred over to Big Papi in 2003. Just kidding, he totally did ‘roids.

 

Okay, here are the Top 5 AL snubs this year, according to WAR.

 

1. Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox. (3.1)
2. Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees. (3.0)
3. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays. (2.9)
4. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners. (2.9)
5. Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers. (2.8)

 

Let’s move on to the National League.

 

NL Starting Pitcher: ????

Should Start: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

 They say with great hair comes great pitching.

 

With Clayton Kershaw on the DL (and from this point forward, nobody can complain about pitching injuries unless they’re the 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers), Collins needs to go with his ace. I can see the argument for starting San Diego native, Stephen Strasburg, but unless the Mets are freaked out about potentially losing Matt Harvey for the season, the clear #2 choice (and the best available pitcher) is still Thor.

 

NL Starting Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

Should Start: Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals

 

This one is close, but Ramos edges Posey out with slightly better hitting. I suppose that since the Giants now have the best record in baseball (RIP Cubs SuperTeam), they should have somebody in the starting lineup. But since they also denied Madison Bumgarner a slot in the Home Run Derby, they also deserve nothing.

 

NL Starting First Baseman: Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

Should Start: Rizzo

 Rizzo deserves this one.

 

Maybe with the Cubs sucking so bad the past two weeks, their entire infield shouldn’t be starting the All-Star Game. These guys need rest, not more games. But Rizzo is actually deserving of this, edging out Wil Myers and Paul Goldschmidt by a hair. And since I always seem to make fun of the Red Sox pitching on here, let me just cop to the fact that the Cubs arms are no longer setting the world on fire. Yeah, yeah. They had to regress at some point. But “The Body Issue” of ESPN the Magazine isn’t the only place the Cubs’ pitching has been showing their asses lately.

 

NL Starting Second Baseman: Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs

Should Start: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals

Zobrist was great in like, May. But Murphy has been great the entire first half. Plus, I consider the recently-injured Matt Carpenter a third baseman.

 

NL Starting Third Baseman: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

Should Start: Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks

 Bryant may be getting the start but it’s Lamb who deserves it.

 

Lost in this whole Bryant vs. Nolan Arenado debate is that fact that nobody in the National League has had a better season than Jake Lamb and/or Matt Carpenter thus far. You know, other than the Carpenter injury. And for all of the complaining I hear from Team Arenado, they need to realize that he’s 4th among NL 3rd basemen in WAR and also 4th in wOBA. And Jake Lamb didn’t even make the team. But I guess since Bryant has already equaled his home run total from all of last season, I’ll figure out a way to get him on the starting lineup.

 

NL Starting Shortstop: Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs

Should Start: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

 

If the Dodgers are going to survive without Kershaw this season, it’s going to be because of Seager. He’s got the longest hitting streak in the National League so far. He’s 1st in WAR and second in wOBA among NL shortstops. And I’d actually say, at this point at least, that Seager, Brandon Crawford, Danny Espinosa, Zack Cozart, Aledmys Diaz, Jonathan Villar and Trevor Story would actually be more deserving of a start than Russell. Ouch, Mike.

 

NL Starting Outfielders: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets. Dexter Fowler, Chicago Cubs

Should Start: Bryant. Cespedes. Marcell Ozuna, Miami Marlins

 Ozuna should be out there for the NL.

 

Listen, Bryant plays a lot of outfield. And he’d actually lead in WAR and be second in wOBA among all NL outfielders. He could replace Fowler, who I don’t want to play if he’s not healthy. And it might not even screw up the All-Theo Epstein Game (9 of the 17 starters are Theo acquisitions) too badly. Also, Marcell Ozuna is a sleeper choice for the NL MVP this year. Especially if mounting injuries can move the Marlins past the Mets in the standings. You know by now I’m rooting for that.

 

Okay. Finally, here are the Top 5 NL Snubs, according to WAR.

 

1. Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks. (3.5)
2. Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants. (3.3)
3. Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates. (2.8)
4. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals. (2.5)
5. Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds. (2.4)
5. Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals. (2.4)

 

Okay. See you next week, where I will give a recap of the first half of the season. If you need more baseball, you can check me out on Comedians Talking Sports with Joe Kilgallon, available on iTunes. Until then, Ichiro needs 10 hits and the Cubs’ magic number is 70.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XVI: Kyle Schwarber and the Trade Deadline)

Written by :
Published on : July 2, 2016

 

 

August 1st. Put it in your calendar, circle it, smack it, flip it, rub it down, oh no. That’s the MLB trade deadline and, until then, we don’t really know anything about the remainder of the season. So as every baseball pundit in North America ramps up their speculations on who will be buyers and who will be sellers, one potential blockbuster deal seems to be on everyone’s mind.

 

And I absolutely hate it.

 

After the Cubs lost four games in a row (a season high), everyone seemed to be freaking out, declaring the Cubs’ run at a historic season over and even saying it was the Giants and/or the Rangers who were actually the best team in baseball. It also didn’t hurt that the Warriors lost the NBA Finals to the Cavs after a historic season of their own. So with that parallel in mind, it became pretty evident that if the Cubs want to win a World Series this year, they’d need big-time help in the bullpen.

 

 The future.

 

Also during that losing spell, it became pretty evident that Wilson Contreras is the Cubs’ catcher of the future. Contreras unloaded on the first pitch he saw in his Major League debut, driving Wrigley Field insane with giddy thoughts of potential dominance going forward. Then after the standing O, the pinch-hit homer and the curtain call, he had to go back to the bullpen and warm up relievers.

 

Contreras represents yet another rookie and another impossibly-young player to be plugged in to the Cubs’ lineup. But he also represents a giant roadblock for the injured Kyle Schwarber to find a spot on the field when he returns next season. A knee injury basically eliminated his chance at being the Cubs’ everyday catcher, anyway. And he was already a defensive question mark in left field. So I don’t know where you put the guy. And as much as I hate to say it, he’s a DH playing in the wrong league.

 

 This can’t be the final image of Kyle Schwarber as a Cub.

 

So that got everyone thinking. The Yankees aren’t going to the playoffs. They need to rebuild for next year. They also have two amazing relievers they could unload for huge returns. And they have that short porch in right, which could turn Schwarber into trash-goateed Babe Ruth 2.0. So Kyle-Schwarber-for-Andrew-Miller rumors have been swirling around baseball universe, making a nation of Cubs fans, who see a light at the end of a 108-year tunnel, decide if they want to think with their heads or with their hearts.

 

And like I said, I absolutely hate it.

 

Luckily for my heart, my head tells me it’s not going to happen. I mean, I understand it. Especially if it means World Series hardware. But I don’t think the Cubs would trade a beloved and injured young player (the guy who cranked a ball into the Allegheny in the Wild Card game and dropped another on top of the right field scoreboard in the NLDS) for a middle reliever. Want to send Chris Sale or Jose Quintana up north? I can deal with that. But I just think something inside me would die if I had to picture a pouty-lipped Kyle Schwarber getting on a plane to New York with his crutches and walking boot. My heart just couldn’t take it.

 

(UPDATE: Theo Epstein, basically just said a trade involving Schwarber ain’t gonna happen and that the Hulk will be back in a Cubs uniform on Opening Day 2017.)

 

Okay, let’s go around the league and see how everything else is shaping up before August 1st.

 

 

AL East

 

Name me any team over .500 in the division and I’ll tell you they need pitching. And nobody more so than the Boston Red Sox. I have to assume David Price’s ERA will be closer to his FIP in the second half. And Steven Wright has been great when there isn’t any humidity. But having to keep starting Clay Bucholz isn’t any fun for anybody. His baseball card should just be a picture of John Farrell on the bullpen phone.

 

The Orioles, Red Sox and Blue Jays are all projected at around 86-89 wins. But you can’t just out-hit your own pitching forever. Ask the ice-cold Red Sox, whose offense finally came back down to earth the past two weeks. And, sure, the Blue Jays gave up SEVEN home runs against the White Sox this week and still won the game. But that’s fucking stupid.

 

I don’t think the Orioles have the farm system to do a big trade. So they might have to just keep swinging for the fences for the time being (56 home runs in the month of June is an all-time MLB record for the month). But you have to assume Red Sox’ GM, Dave Dombrowski, is going to try to pull off something big (Julio Teheran? Sonny Gray? Gerrit Cole?), because if they don’t, Papi isn’t going to end his career in the postseason. And Dustin Pedroia is going to spend a lot more time on the mound screaming at whoever sucked most recently.

 

 

AL Central

 

You know who doesn’t need pitching – the Cleveland Indians, who have won a franchise record-tying 13 games in a row. June was the best month in their team history. And they are the first team to win this many games in a row since the A’s won 20 in 2002. And no, they haven’t lost since the Cavs ended the city’s 52-year championship drought. Looks like Believeland might have to get ready for another parade.

 

To do that, they probably need another bat. Although they’ve certainly been hitting lately. I don’t think they can count on Michael Brantley doing much, but this dilemma essentially makes the Indians this year’s New York Mets. If I recall correctly, the Mets went to the World Series last year. Great pitching wins in October, after all. And that staff of Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco is pretty great.

 

 

AL West

 

The Astros are actually relevant again. But it might be too late to catch the Rangers, who still have the best record in the league. I don’t know how long that lead will hold with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis on the DL. And the fact that a team who needed help in the pen as much as the Cubs do could now prefer to go after another starting pitcher. But they do have the depth to make some big moves.

 

 

NL East

 How’s he going to mess this up?

 

Let me get this straight, when the Cubs lose four in a row and are only on pace to win 106 games, everybody thinks they’re falling apart. But when the Nationals lose seven in a row, put Stephen Strasburg and Jonathan Papelbon on the DL and have a slumping Bryce Harper, everything is totally chill?

 

I guess it didn’t hurt that the Mets are also having major problems with injuries, need to replace David Wright at third, signed domestic abuser, Jose Reyes and probably have people all over Queens Googling ‘bone spur’ because of Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard. This could be a disaster waiting to happen. Even Zack Wheeler, who is probably trade bait at this point, had a setback in his Tommy John recovery. To say that this team can’t afford any more injuries is like saying Bartolo Colon is entertaining whilst running the bases.

 

For a brief moment, it looked like the best team in the division was actually the Miami Marlins. And picking up Fernando Rodney shows that they’re actually going for it. But everyone is still pretty far back of the Nationals, who ended up sweeping the Mets and have won five straight after their seven-game skid. Daniel Murphy still leads the league in hitting. Lucas Giolito could be a huge addition to the rotation. And they could end up putting Trea Turner in center. The Nats are going to win the division. But I guess I’m just excited to see how Dusty Baker ruins it.

 

 

NL Central

 What will the Cubs do?

 

I can’t really stress enough how much I’d love the Cubs to get help in the bullpen. And they probably miss Dexter Fowler. And they could stand to play a little better defense. And they’ve had some general injury problems, overall. But the good news is, despite going 1-6 last week (the worst stretch in the Maddon Era), the Cubs still have the best record in baseball. And they still have the lowest ERA in the Majors, despite Jake Arrieta proving he’s human in the first half.

 

Maybe they won’t win 116 games. I can accept that. But it’s not like the 2001 Mariners had much to show for doing that either. They’re still up 11 games on the Cardinals. Kris Bryant hit three home runs and two doubles on Monday, for 16 total bases. And he denied the Cubs fans a curtain call on the road. They also played three pitchers in left field and saw Javier Baez hit a grand slam in the 15th inning on Tuesday. Listen, most of the rest of the division is thinking about which players to dump for their rebuild. So things could be worse.

 

One of the most-talked-about teams in the trade market has been the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are tanking at a rapid rate. In their perfect scenario, Gerrit Cole and Francisco Cervelli would be healthy and Andrew McCutchen would be hitting. But since none of those things are true, there haven’t been many players on the team who aren’t being discussed in trade rumors. The thing is, the Pirates have a pretty soft schedule at the end of the season. But they’re still 13.5 back in the Central, 3 games under .500 and 3.5 back in the Wild Card. So basically, we have until August 1st to picture how good Cole, McCutchen, Mark Melancon and Francisco Liriano would look in other uniforms.

 

 

NL West

 World’s Greatest Hitter.

 

I don’t know what I hate more, the ‘even year’ thing, or everybody acting like Madison Bumgarner is hillbilly Ted Williams. He’s hitting .182 for fuck sake. Shouldn’t we be discussing the 1-2 pitching combination of Johnny Cueto and MadBum potentially mixing it up with Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the playoffs? Instead, this guy is DHing for himself in Oakland (he hit a double, raising his average from .175) while everyone runs to the nearest bathroom stall to jack their dick off. Michael Jordan hit upper deck shots in batting practice, everybody. 12-year-old Prince Fielder did too. I saw a clip of JJ Watt hitting a bomb in Houston last year. So, yes, Michael Jordan, 12-year-old Prince Fielder and JJ Watt are also the best hitters of all time. Shut up.

 

While this week’s post seems to be littered with injuries and team needs at the trade deadline, what better place to close than the Los Angeles Dodgers? That’s a team that already had major rotation problems and then Clayton Kershaw went down on the DL in the middle of a historic season. I know Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu will be back soon, but the Dodgers probably need to make a big move. And I don’t think Bud Norris is the answer.

 

 

Alright. That’s it for this week. If you need more from me, tune in to Comedians Talking Baseball with Joe Kilgallon and me on iTunes. And in the meantime, Ichiro needs 12 hits and the Cubs’ magic number is 74.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XV: Ichiro and the hit record)

Written by :
Published on : June 17, 2016

 

This week, Ichiro Suzuki of the Miami Marlins got his 4,257th career hit, passing Pete Rose for the all-time lead… if you combine his MLB hits with the 1,278 he got in Japan. So the manufactured debate this week was whether or not Ichiro was the true hit king. You might be thinking, “Who would even make that argument?” But trust me, I’ve had it. Nerds find each other.

 

My short answer is, I love Ichiro. But Pete Rose is still the hit king. He got all 4,256 hits in the Majors and we don’t even have to bring the 427 hits he got in the minors in to the equation. What you do in the Majors should be the only thing that matters. Granted, what Ichiro has done in the Majors is also remarkable. I think he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer (something Pete Rose definitely can’t say) without any of his Japanese stats. I could give you a long list of all of his accomplishments in baseball since 2001, but it’s not like he’s dying, so we can probably save those for another day. Just know Ichiro is an all-time great and I’m taking nothing away from him. Besides, you know, about 1,300 Japanese hits.

 

My longer answer would include an analysis of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization, where the final answer always ends up being, “Dude. Matt Murton was awesome there. It’s not as good as the Majors.” But I’ll go a little further. Ichiro broke into the NBP when he was 18. And he was a 4th-round pick in Japan because he only weighed 124 pounds. 124 POUNDS!!!  Nomar Mazara is the youngest position player in the Majors right now. And he’s three years older, with 90 pounds on young Ichi. No MLB team would bring up (or even draft) an 18-year-old outfielder with a weird swing who weighed 124 pounds. Hardly any teams bring up teenagers now. Julio Urias is the first teenager to play in the bigs since 2012. So I think we can rest assured that Ichiro (although very good) would not have come to the Majors in 1992, 1993 or 1994 as the first Japanese position player in MLB history and been plugged in right away. Scouts weren’t even sure about him after he’d gotten seven consecutive batting titles in Japan. So the answer is still no.

 

 

The fun part, for me is when you do go down that slippery slope of including every other professional league to see what kind of hit totals some other players would have gotten. Ichiro might actually be the 6th, 7th or 10th professional player to reach 4,000 hits. Nobody is really sure. Besides Rose and Ty Cobb, there’s also a guy named Arnold John “Jigger” Statz (whose name’s ironic value is not lost on me) who played 18 seasons in the minors between 1920 and 1942. There’s Minnie Minoso (of Bill Veeck publicity stunt fame), who also played in the Cuban, Mexican and Negro Leagues. Julio Franco (yes, THAT Julio Franco) played in the US, Japan, South Korea and Mexico. He’d be at around 4,000 too. Then you could add in the minor league stats of Stan Musial, as well as the Cuban League, Puerto Rican Winter League and all the exhibition stats for Cobb and Hank Aaron. And then the lost minor league stats for Jake Beckley and Sam Crawford, which would also bring them in around 4,000. It’s basically a disaster.

 

Ichiro was a great player who happened to play in a AAAA league for 9 years. Yes, their schedule is 32 games shorter than the Majors. Yes, Ichiro has been facing flame-throwing relief specialists that Rose never had to face. But Pete Rose did it all in the Majors. And, if anything, all this Ichiro talk has to make you appreciate what Rose did over 24 seasons even more than you already did. Forget the gambling and the lying for just one second. And just think about 4,256. It’s amazing. Then think about how Shoeless Joe Jackson was on the Hall of Fame ballot in 1936. Think about what an absolute piece of trash Ty Cobb was. And consider that, while we’re all congratulating Ichiro on his accomplishment, if it might be time to finally honor somebody else as well. And no, I’m not talking about Jigger Statz.

 

Okay. Let’s go around the league.

 

AL East

 

The East Cost media bias is hilarious to me. Because instead of talking about how the Orioles keep sticking around and mashing home runs, or how the Blue Jays keep gaining ground, or even how Evan Longoria and the Rays got red-hot this week, they’re mostly picking their favorite Red Sock of the week (Steven Wright) and deciding on which reliever the Yankees have to give up if, and when, they become sellers.

 

Sure, both of those things are probably important in the long run. Wright (a knuckleballer) didn’t even know if he was going to be a starter at the beginning of the season. Now he’s the best pitcher in the division. And that’s got to be a pleasant surprise for a team that’s paying $30 million to David Price. I’m just saying that since they can’t really call the Red Sox the best team in the league any more, they’ll figure out a way to talk about whatever bright spot they can. And Wright fills that position for the time being. Next week, we’ll probably be back to Xander Bogaerts, David Price and Jackie Bradley Jr.

 

As far as the Yankees go, there are plenty of teams in contention who would love a bat like Carlos Beltran’s or the bullpen help of Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman. But, until the trade deadline, maybe I have to be the voice of reason here to say that Yankees are done and the Red Sox are are a slump or two away from being in third place.

 

AL Central

 

Does anybody want this thing? I’m not so sure. After a great month from the Indians, the streaky Royals decided they wanted to win again. Maybe they were feeling lucky after Yordano Ventura’s bullshit suspension. Maybe the whole division is mediocre. I don’t know. But I guess one interesting thing came out of the Central this week…

 

The White Sox designated Jimmy Rollins for assignment and I heard a few people discussing whether or not J-Roll is a Hall of Famer. The answer is a solid no, but it’s always fun to argue. And in case you were wondering, his career stats just aren’t there (231 HR, .264 AVG, 2,455 H), he’s not as good as Alan Trammell, who isn’t in the Hall of Fame, and he’s essentially a middle-of-the-pack shortstop with a handful of good seasons. That does include an MVP award and a ring. But he was the second-best player on his own team in both of those years. The guy has had a great career. He also had a 38-game hitting streak from 2005-2006. He was on a great Phillies team, and is the all-time leader in hits for the franchise. And he’s in the MC Hammer “Adams Groove” music video. That’s got to be worth something. He’s just not worthy of Cooperstown.

 

AL West

The Rangers are the best team in the American League. That’s become pretty clear. And that’s with Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre fighting injuries. When you’re hot, you’re hot. And the Rangers are off to the best start in their franchise history.

 

NL East

 

The Nationals are also scorching hot. And everyone decided that their series with the Cubs, where they took 2-out-of-3, had a playoff feel to it. Even though Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester (with their sub-2 ERAs) didn’t pitch. And even though, when the Cubs destroyed them earlier in the season, nobody seemed to think it mattered. Daniel Murphy might end up being better than Bryce Harper this season. Stephen Strasburg is being hailed as the new Walter Johnson. Max Scherzer struck out 9 of the first 10 Cubs he faced on Monday. And they should just hope that Dusty Baker sending them out there to throw over 100 pitches an outing doesn’t come back and bite them. The Mets, with all their injuries and general lack of hitting, probably should though.

 

NL Central 

There hasn’t been a lot of good news for the Pirates lately, other than the emergence of Jameson Taillon, who was drafted between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in 2010. That’s a first round that also included Matt Harvey (7), Chris Sale (13) and Noah Syndergaard (38), by the way. So like, WOW. With Gerrit Cole out, the Pirates might need to call up Tyler Glasnow and hope Taillon can keep up his hot start. Because the only way they can really avoid another Wild Card this year is by not making the playoffs.

 

The team that replaced Pittsburgh for the second Wild Card spot was the Cardinals, who are finally almost playing like the St. Louis Cardinals are supposed to play. I mean, they’re still 9.5 back of the Cubs. And the Dodgers will probably pass them eventually, but I’m letting them have their moment. Even though complimenting anything about them makes me feel so gross that I might need to take a shower.

 

As for the Cubs, they still have the best record in baseball. But the bullpen seems to be a glaring weakness that is feeding the rumor mill that they’d be willing to give up one of their young stars to the Yankees for Miller or Chapman. I just hope that young star is not Kyle Schwarber. Thankfully, Albert Almora came up recently and reminded everybody just how many young position players these Cubs can afford to give up to make a run at October.

 

Speaking of trades, also keep your eye on the Brewers, who could unload Ryan Braun and/or Jonathan Lucroy. Besides the Yankees’ Nasty Boys (or No-Run-DMC for Dellin, Miller and Chapman), the Brewers are the most talked-about trade deadline team in the Majors.

 

NL West

 

If there’s any pitcher in the National League who everyone should be talking about, it’s Clayton Kershaw. And yet all of the noise is being made about Madison Bumgarner. Just so we’re clear, MadBum has only had one 5+ WAR season in his career and Kershaw has a 4.8 RIGHT NOW. In mid-June. And isn’t Johnny Cueto having a better season on the mound than Bumgarner, anyway? I guess I’ve just never experienced anything quite like a guy hitting two homers and everyone acting like that makes him the greatest pitcher in the world.

 

Well, that’s gonna do it for this week in the outfield. Next week, I’ll be off in Iowa, where there are no outfields. If you need more, check me out on the MLB Recaps on “Comedians Talking Sports” with Joe Kilgallon. Til next time, Ichiro needs 21 hits and the Cubs’ Magic Number is 89.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XIV)

Written by :
Published on : June 10, 2016

 

 

Apparently, I’ve been away for way too long. Last time I posted, Jackie Bradley Jr. was the red hot hitter on the Red Sox everyone was talking about and, the next thing I know, he’s yesterday’s newspaper and everyone had moved on to Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts. And then seemingly overnight, after one long home run, all of the baseball talking heads have deemed that Madison Bumgarner is the next Babe Ruth. So let’s get caught up on what’s going on around the league. I know I needed to.

 

AL East

 

We know that the Red Sox can hit. I’ve already talked about it too much. But their horrific pitching has been the main reason why I still don’t think this team should be the favorite in the division, let alone the league. Sure, they can try to get another arm, but it’s not like there’s an abundance of available guys out there on the trade market. And who knows if the 40-year-old, Big Papi, can keep up his maddening pace. Like, is this team really the ’27 Murderers Row Yankees? Also, if you look at their own division, the Sawx have losing records against both the Orioles and the Blue Jays.

 

I’ve already cast aside the Yankees and Rays, but if you look at the Orioles, they’re pretty much in the same boat as the Red Sox. Except they’re currently playing better baseball. And you have to assume that, at some point, the Blue Jays (who have the best pitching in the division) are going to start hitting. Michael Saunders should probably not be the best hitter on that loaded team. I do think the Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays will be battling it out in the end. And the big problem for the Red Sox is that any one of those teams can expose their 4-man disaster of a rotation. They don’t stop anybody now. So I don’t see how they’ll stop the Jays or Orioles down the stretch. You know, either that or they’ll just keep scoring 15 runs a game. Whichever sounds more logical to you.

 

Also, I could spend time talking about Manny Machado and the Orioles-Royals brawl, but I guess I’m sick of pitchers who don’t have to hit throwing 99 miles-per-hour at essentially defenseless dudes at the plate. I don’t know why any kid thinking of playing baseball would look at that and think, “Yeah. Sign me up for that shit.” All that being said, I still want to see Jays-Rangers in the playoffs because I’m still totally okay with fisticuffs between position players. Moving on…

 

AL Central

 

When Mike Moustakas went down for the season and the White Sox decided to absolutely tank their season (James Shields?!), the door finally opened for the Indians. That four-game sweep of the Royals was a real momentum changer. And if the Indians can get a big bat in July, it should be their division for the taking. Then again, who knows if they’re in a position to go after anybody on the market. And then this division could just keep on shuffling around aimlessly.

 

AL West

Ken Giles thinks the Astros have a more talented team than the Rangers. Uh, no. Right now, the Rangers have the best record in the American League and their biggest problem is where to put all of their young talent. Look at Nomar Mazara replacing Shin-Soo Choo in the outfield. Look at Jurickson Profar replacing Rougned Odor in the infield. Look at how they’ve absolutely pounded the Astros. Other than Prince Fielder sucking and a few injury scares, there’s really no reason not to think this one is coming down to the Rangers and Mariners.

 

NL East

 

I gotta say, I think the Mets might be screwed. Only the Phillies and Braves have scored fewer runs this season, and their string of injuries isn’t going to help. The pitching staff is still really good (especially since Matt Harvey decided he was done being lousy), but they might have to pray they hang on to that Wild Card spot, because the Nationals are going to win the division and the Cardinals and/or Dodgers seem poised to pass them by. Oh, and remember when the Phillies were above .500? Yeah. That didn’t last long.

 

NL Central

This is where I get to talk about the Cubs. They have five guys leading in All-Star Game balloting. And they have the best team ERA in the Majors. How many of those five guys deserve to start the All-Star Game? I’d say probably three or four. Ben Zobrist was Mr. May and has exceeded all expectations from when he signed with the club. I’d also say he’s having the second-best all-around season of any National League position player, after Dexter Fowler. And then no third baseman is more worthy of a start than Kris Bryant. That includes Nolan Arenado. You could also argue for Anthony Rizzo at first, if not for what Wil Myers and Paul Goldschmidt are doing. But Addison Russell at short is a bit of a stretch.

 

And just for a full disclosure, I did a write-in vote for David Ross at catcher even though I know full well it should be given to Jonathan Lucroy. It’s Ross’ swan song in the big leagues and he’s never been selected to the Midsummer Classic before. I don’t know if I got more joy out of watching Grandpa Rossy hit his 100th career home run, or seeing video of him hitting his first in 2002 off of Mark Grace.

 

As far as the Cubs’ staff goes, just take a look at a few ERAs.

2.     Jake Arrieta         1.80
5.     Jon Lester            2.06
6.     Jason Hammel    2.14
10.   John Lackey         2.63
19.   Kyle Hendricks    2.90

 

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s all five starters with a sub-three ERA. I know Arrieta’s winning streak just ended at 20. But he’s still Jake Fucking Arrieta. And Lester is pitching the best games he’s had since coming to Chicago, a month ahead of when he usually heats up. Plus, he also has those sick NBA-style tracksuits. The bullpen might become an issue for the team down the road, but the starters might be the main reason why the Cubs are the fastest team to 40 wins since the 2001 Mariners, are still on pace for 114 wins and are up 10 games on the Cardinals and Pirates.

 

NL West

 

Well, everybody wants Madison Bumgarner in the Home Run Derby. And I’m fine with that. But I’d actually love a pitchers-only derby with MadBum, Noah Syndergaard, Adam Wainwright, Jake Arrieta, Gerrit Cole, Robbie Ray, Kenta Maeda and (obviously) Bartolo Colon. You could probably also throw in Mike Leake, Zack Greinke and Travis Wood, just for old times sake. I know MadBum would win easily, but I’d still enjoy the freak show.

 

Actually, Bumgarner is about the only player on the Giants hitting anything right now. Even though they have the best record in the Majors since May 11. I just don’t know if they can maintain that pace with all their mounting injuries. Not that the Dodgers (other than Corey Seager) are hitting much either. And I’m sad that the Julio Urias project wasn’t ready for prime time. As an LA resident, part of me wanted to see Fernandomania Part Dos. And I’d talk about the Rockies, D-Backs and Padres, but I don’t want to MadBum you out. That pun was worth it.

 

Okay. See you in the next Angelino in the Outfield. If you need more, you can always check me out on the MLB recap episodes on Comedians Talking Sports with Joe Kilgallon. Until next time, Ichiro needs 29 hits. And the Cubs’ Magic Number is 94.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode VI: Opening Week)

Written by :
Published on : April 10, 2016

 

I love opening week. Everything is possible. Every team has a chance. And we’re already speaking hyperbolically about everybody we’ve seen, even though there are like, 159 games left. “The Red Sox need pitching! They have nothing after David Price!” That was the consensus around baseball this past week. And at that point Boston was 1-1. “The Cardinals have no hitting! Their pitching will have to carry them all season!” That was another one. At that point St. Louis was 0-1. And so forth and so on. I mean, both are probably true. But it’s April. You didn’t even know who Trevor Story was a week ago. You might forget all about him by June. And by the time I write this next week, the Padres might have more RBI than Kenta Maeda. We don’t really know. All that being said, I think it’s about time I put out my official predictions for the season to come for the very last time and also look at the Opening Week that was.

 

AL East

Stroman

 

I’m going with the Toronto Blue Jays. But mainly because I’m buying in on Marcus Stroman. I like the swag. I like that he beat Chris Archer head-to-head on opening day. And he looks like he’s going to help an otherwise so-so rotation (except for Aaron Sanchez, apparently) from ruining that great offensive output. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are playing for contracts. Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki are also going to hit. And Kevin Pillar is trying to out-Kiermaier Kevin Kiermaier in center field. I think they’ll repeat as the division champions.

The Orioles and Yankees may lead after a few games (and I have no idea what’s going on with Starlin Castro, other than he likes to make huge debuts and then slowly let you down over time), but I’m still not sold on the Orioles’ pitching (even though, WOW! so far) or the Yankees’ collective age. Didi Gregorius and Castro may only be 26. But they also both hit .265 last year, so let’s not act like this is Derek Jeter and Tony Lazzeri quite yet. And I love the Rays’ pitching. I just don’t think Steven Souza Jr. is going to head up that offense. And I’ve never been sold on the Red Sox. We honestly didn’t need Clay Bucholz to suck to know that rotation has no depth past Price. At least Papi seems to be hitting. And maybe Mookie Betts will eventually warrant all the overblown hype. We’ll see.

 

AL Central  

Volquez

 

I’m picking the Royals to win the division, even though I really don’t want to. And I’ve got the Indians in the Wild Card. Edinson Volquez looked great in his debut. And we know that the Royals just do whatever it is that they do to win. I do feel like they’ve been extremely lucky with their lack of injuries the past two seasons and that the whole thing could be derailed. Because honestly, I think this division should be wide open.

I’m taking Cleveland because of their pitching. But the White Sox have that in spades too. And if they keep hitting with Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier in that lineup, I’ll completely forget about Drake LaRoche’s shitty homeschooling. I already gave my picks on a podcast before the season started, or I might go back and retroactively pick them. And as I type this, the Tigers are also 3-1, beating Jose Fernandez in their second game. And the 0-5 Twins need to show me something. Other than that they can lose to the Orioles.

 

AL West

Correa

 

I’m taking the Rangers to win the division and the Astros to win the Wild Card. Even though right now, it looks like Robinson Cano is going to hit 200 home runs and the Mariners will walk away with this thing. Hey, everybody seemed to pick the Mariners for the World Series last year until Cano had his worst season since 2008. He hit three bombs (one to each field) in the spring training game I saw on Easter, so who knows?

I just feel like the Rangers have too many weapons. And people are already arguing whether or not Carlos Correa is the best player in baseball. Because a rookie season and three games in 2016 trump everything Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have ever done. It’s April, like I said. This is what we do. So let’s already give awards while we’re at it…

 

Opening Week A.L. MVP: Starlin Castro, New York Yankees
In Castro’s debut with the Cubs in 2010, he became the first Major League player born in the 90’s. Then he homered in his first at bat. Then he set a record with 6 RBI in his debut game. Long story short, he made a lot of errors and wasn’t very good after 2011. Cut to 2016, and Castro is making the most of his Yankees debut, where he leads the league in RBI, SLG , OPS and WAR. And I don’t know if he still has the same walk-up song as he did with the Cubs, but that was THE jam.

 

Opening Week AL Cy Young: , Toronto Blue Jays

 

Advanced stats tell me it’s Jake Odorizzi of the Rays or Chris Tillman of the Orioles for striking out almost everybody he saw in those two innings, but I like the story of a guy who fought for the 5th spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation in spring training and emerged big in his first start of the season with the club. I don’t even know if he’ll end up in that rotation or in the bullpen, but whatever, man. Dude was good in the first go-round.

 

Opening Week A.L. Rookie of the Year: Tyler White, Houston Astros
I don’t know anything about this guy other than that he’s 25, he was a 33rd round draft pick and that he currently leads the American League in batting average and OBP. You know, after those three games.

 

Let’s do the National League.

 

NL East

Harper

 

I’m picking the Nationals with the Mets in the Wild Card. And that’s about exactly how things look as I type this. I’ve already written way too much about both teams. But what I didn’t know was that new acquisition and known homophobe, Daniel Murphy, would look every bit as good as Bryce Harper through the first three games for the Nationals. Also, I hate him.

 

NL Central

Arrieta

 

I’m picking the Cubs to win it all. You already knew that. I’m not changing my mind. And after a lot of internal debate, I decided not to take the Cardinals or the Pirates in the Wild Card. And I think I might be regretting that after Pittsburgh’s three game sweep of St. Louis to start the season. If Juan Nicasio can be that #3 starter after Cole and Liriano, they’re going to be hard to put away. Not to mention Tyler Glasnow showing up in July. Plus, didn’t they start off slow last year? Ugh. The good news for me is that the Cubs are fucking ridiculous.

I was there opening day in Anaheim. There is no Jake Arrieta regression to speak of. Then Lester looked great the next game. And he seems to be getting more comfortable in the National League, pickoff moves or not. Then there’s the fact that the Cubs have scored 29 runs in three games, which is somehow second to the Dodgers, who’ve played four. The only damper was the Schwarber injury which is a sobering reminder that, while embracing the bullseye, anything can happen. As I knock on wood nervously. But the sky really is the limit for that team. And the Reds are also 4-1, but somebody does have to play the Phillies after all.

 

NL West  

Seager

 

I like the Dodgers to win the division and the Giants in the Wild Card. And I said that before the Dodgers destroyed San Diego in the first three games. I expect a lot from Corey Seager and just assume they’ll buy away whatever their weaknesses are by the trade deadline. Conveniently for my choice, Clayton Kershaw (obvs), Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda looked great in their first starts. And Yasiel Puig could have finally decided he wants to be awesome. Inconveniently for my choice, the Giants might be even better.

They’re really deep and that park is only going to help Johnny Cueto. Who I never liked was the Arizona Diamondbacks, and they’re trying desperately to prove me right. It’s a shame AJ Pollock is out. And while Jean Segura and David Peralta seem like they’re trying to pick up the slack, it looks like that pitching staff is a dud. You know, four games in.

 

Opening Week N.L. MVP: Dexter Fowler, Chicago Cubs.    
You may think I’m still high from Fowler’s surprise return to the Cubs in spring training. But he’s also been killing it in the first three games (and almost killing Kyle Schwarber in the process) going 7 for 12 with a double, a triple and a home run. And with that tiny sample size, he’s tied for the Major League lead in WAR and 4th in the Majors in wOBA. And Schwarber really had no chance at that ball.

 

Opening Week N.L. Cy Young: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets.

 

Of all the great one game pitching performances in the past week, Syndergaard’s was probably the best. The Royals can play “American Woman” when he takes the mound all they want. Thor doesn’t care. And either does that nasty slider.

 

Opening Week N.L. Rookie of the Year: Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies.
Eventually we’ll all get over his last name. But in the past week, Story became the first player in Major League history to hit home runs in his first three games. Including two off of Zack Greinke in the opener. His first four big league hits were also home runs. And he hasn’t even played in Denver yet. He may not be the best hitter on his team thus far (that would be DJ LeMahieu), but if you want to forget all about Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes, he’s your man.

 

Okay, we did it. One week in the books. And there’s a long way to go. Check back next week, where everything will be thrown out the window and we’ll start all over. You gotta love April.

 

 


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