Monday, September 25, 2006

All 3,079 final - 1 week down (f)

Well after a week of the M v H final, it is still all to play for - I am ahead 7-6*, but have very little confidence that this will hold up through the final week of the season. To show how close our game is, we went into today with the score at 7-6, and while we are still there, the lead in 4 categories changed completely!

As has been the case all year in a head to head league you need a bit of luck - and in the final week you also have to cope with the effects of teams whose seasons are effectively finished resting key players to try out young guys for next year, or those teams with seasons are now shaped by the need to get players ready for rather more important games starting next week.

Both of us have more players in the former category, but the biggest problem for me is the end of season form of two guys who have carried me pretty much all season - Dan Uggla (an in-season pick up after another finalist... no names required... dropped him!) and Miguel Cabrera - who have combined to go 6/50 with 1 RBI and 2 errors over the last week. Cabrera reportedly has a sore shoulder which will likely impact him in the second week, while with Uggla, it may simply be the season has lasted a couple of weeks too many.

While this is a H2H league, the keeper element, and particulalry our minor league keepers, makes things more interesting, In a straightforward H2H you can start to dump players as these end of season effects become apparent, particulary as pitchers make their last starts of the season over the next couple of days - if you look at the FA list in our league, there are a number of names that you would snap up in an instant, but pretty much are all young guys that are minor league owned.

Given how close the BA / OPS and ERA / WHIP categories are, taking a chance on a spot starter, or a position pick up at this stage carries as much risk as it does reward... game (still!) on...

* For some reason Yahoo's StatTracker doesn't update one of our scoring categories (errors) live, so 7-6 could change if our teams have continued their defensive frailties...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

the art of Noise

This off-season could be an ugly hatchet job by the Boston media - it is not difficult to imagine that loud noises will be made as decisions are made over the future a number of players - ones they have to deal with (because they are out of contract):
  • Doug Mirabelli - who I guess we give one more year to allow Kotteras a year in the system, and to put off the 'Wake' question for another year
  • Mark Loretta - who you presume they will let go - Pedroia has presumably shown enough to be worth the promotion
  • Alex Gonzalez - who it really is difficult to know about - dazzling defense, but a season beginning and ending offensive slump
  • Trot Nixon - who the Sox shouldn't retain, but will likely see a slew of criticism over the dumping of a Red Sox 'dirt dog'
  • Wily Mo Pena - who the Sox have to keep, but will likely draw criticism over the implications... see Nixon, Trot above
  • Mike Timlin - who may or may not be done, but surely is done as the 8th inning guy... but then Francona doesn't even seem to have come to the view that he is done as the emergency 9th inning guy...
And ones that they might try to deal with:
  • Coco Crisp - who the national media seem to have decided has to go (and for some bizarre reason think that his deal is so out of line with his talent that the Sox will have to pay someone to take), but who I hope the Sox don't give up on after one year where the Sox saw one week of the player many of us think he can be
  • Matt Clement ... ... basically untradeable without us paying all of his salary given his inability to return after 3 months out with a strained shoulder
But the noise has started in earnest regarding one member of the Sox - Manny Ramirez. Manny has largely been missing in action since those 5 games that need not be mentioned, and the second clean MRI has allowed the gossip to grow. Gordon Edes case for the prosecution is damning, but it is one of those that leaves you wanting more as a reader - if players are bitching behind his back, but genuinely believe that he is dogging it, put your name to it, if Terry thinks that Manny is dogging it, call him on it, otherwise let's stop trying to kid ourselves that replacing this talent will be easy.

In Buster Olney's blog (behind the Insider wall) today he endorses the ditch Manny noise, but adds the rider...
But at some point, the Red Sox have to get comfortable with the notion that they'll probably only get something close to 40 cents on the dollar in value on Ramirez. Teams are going to tell the Red Sox: OK, we'll take Ramirez and the last two years of his contract, but you guys are going to have to eat at least half of the $38 million still owed to him, because, let's face it, he's not the most reliable guy ever.
And you have to agree, he is not the most reliable guy ever...










































No, he is he never there when you need him...


Edit: Thankfully, I am not the only Sox fan that thinks this way -

Friday, September 22, 2006

18 months for doing a fine job

If your boss gives you a job to do and you do such a good job you win industry awards and the President himself congratulates you on a fine job what does that earn you? 18 months in prison apparently. The two journalists were sentenced to serve jail time for not revealing their sources about who leaked the Grand Jury testimony yesterday pending appeal in what was a distinctly sad day for all involved.

Remember they themselves have not broken any law, whoever leaked them the testimony has but because they had given them a promise of anonymity they felt (correctly) that they couldn't go back on that even if they themselves spent time in jail for doing so. Any journalist would go to jail to protect their sources, it is a cornerstone of the profession and when you see stories such as these you can't help but feel disheartened.

It is a sad, sad day.

For more information Read this.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yanks lose, Sox lose

Yanks clinch.

Boo Yah!

Be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bill Miller is a bum

I call too many people bums, I think it's losing its edge.

Last night I informed Neil H that Damon had been ejected, I was sure what for as I had the game on mute whilst watching a classic episode of the British sitcom Bottom (if you've never seen it, look it up, just too funny) so I refrained from my usual kneejerk, 'The ump is a bum' blog, however I've now seen the replay and you can clearly hear what the ump is saying, and he is a bum.

Is he a bum for tossing Damon for arguing balls and strikes? No he's not, he's a bum for one word, and thanks to some excellent mic work, here's what the home plate ump had to say.

'Johnny, Shut-up, Johnny do you wanna get in my business, do you wanna get in my business, do you wanna argue balls and strike, is that what you wanna do?' so far I have no problem but there's one more word left, 'Good' and he's tossed.

It might not seem like a lot but when an umpire is saying that in the context, he is effectively saying, 'I am the big man and I want to throw you out to show off that I'm the boss' and that pees me right off, he could've said 'ok' and tossed Damon and I have no problem, but saying 'good' is like he relishes the limelight and having the spotlight on him for a change. I did have a cracking line about Miller actually being a big man and that he could do to lose a few pounds and cut down on the fried chicken, but alas he didn't look that bulky, oh well, I'll save that for when an overweight ump annoys me next.

The Yanks got a couple of gift calls over at 1st from 1st base up Eric Cooper, but calls like them will even themselves out over the season. I know that but I do get annoyed when an ump, or anyone in life for that matter, tries to do the big 'I am', its just one of my pet peeves.

I apologise.

Edinburgh Red Sox make first loud noise (f)

A. Ramirez homered to deep left center, J. Pierre and R. Theriot scored.

It is going to be a long fortnight.


A. Ramirez homered to deep center, R. Theriot and S. Marshall scored

Oh Crap.

Monday, September 18, 2006

An all 3,079 Miles final...

Like most baseball fans, both Neil H and I are fantasy baseball guys, it is actually where we both came across each other on a now defunct keeper league. Several years on and again we find ourselves in the same league, 16 teams with both US and UK teams and after all is said and done the Championship match is between the #2 seed Edinburgh Red Sox (Neil H) and my #4 seed Fratton Yankees.

We are both looking forward to the next fortnight and will be updating the blog regularly with how things are progressing.

After the way our teams respective season's have gone, here's hoping it'll be competitive!

For the record, all fantasy posts will have (f) in the title so you can skip them should you not want to read these posts.

So is Jeter MVP worthy?


Well that was a fun update but maybe we'll delve further into my answer.

As Neil H as already stated, it has been reported that David Ortiz didn't actually say the following to ESPN:

"I'll tell you one thing, If I get 50 home runs and 10 more RBI [which would give him 137], that's going to be a round number that no one else in the American League will have.

"But they'll vote for a position player, use that as an excuse. They're talking about [Derek] Jeter a lot, right? He's done a great job, he's having a great season, but Jeter is not a 40-homer hitter or an RBI guy. It doesn't matter how much you've done for your ball club, the bottom line is, the guy who hits 40 home runs and knocks in 100, that's the guy you know helped your team win games.

"Don't get me wrong, he's a great player, having a great season, but he's got a lot of guys in that line-up, top to bottom, you've got a guy who can hurt you. Come hit in this line-up, see how good you can be."

I think he said it, I don't think there's any doubt he said it, whether or not he said it out of frustration is another matter entirely but despite the Boston Globe article Neil H linked to in his piece, I'm fully of the belief that he made those comments.

Now are they fair?

Possibly, I think Ortiz got hosed out of the MVP last year, I maybe the Yanks half of the blog but I thought Ortiz was a bigger part of the Sox than A-Rod was of the Yanks. He has exceptional numbers this year but as Neil H knows, I am a guy who thinks the award isn't the 'Best Player' award, it is an award for the Most Valuable Player, that Valuable part knocks Ortiz out of the debate this year, as his team isn't in the hunt for the postseason going down the stretch.

So who are Jeter's rivals for MVP? Well Neil H picked a couple of players and I'll add a couple of my own. The Big Hurt is getting hot at the right time and is leading the A's into October baseball and take Johan Santana away from the Twinkies and they are just playing out time at the moment, and not trying to haul in the Tigers.

If Jeter wins the batting title then maybe he gets it legit, but my personal feeling is the quality of his team mates harms his chances. Mariano Rivera is the Yankees MVP for me, always has been throughout my NYY watching fandom. I love Jeter and think he got hosed in 1999, he deserves to be in the mix this time around with Dye and Big Hurt for me (Big Hurt has single handedly taken my fantasy team to the brink of an all 3,079 Miles... final).

So is he MVP worthy?

No doubt.

Should he win it?

Still got two weeks left to play...

[Posted by Neil H on behalf of Neil M... silly Blogspot!]

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A feel good win

It seems a while since we last had one of these - 2-1 down going into the bottom of the 9th, and having 1/2 of the most feared 3/4 punch in baseball back in the lineup paid dividends (and yes I am going for the most fractions in a blog world record... keep counting).

In the bottom of the 9th Manny walked, went to second as Trot grounded out on a 3/2 pitch (ok I admit it, I am making up fractions now), then came home easily as Mike Lowell knocked out his 40th double of the season, levelling the game at 2.

Then in the bottom of the 10th, Carlos Pena, (insert whichever reference to local you think the papers will overuse tomorrow morning here (Haverhill is the early winner)) hit a shot to deep right - or at least deep enough right in these parts - to get the walk off treatment, with helmet in place - as Neil M said, that was a pretty enthusiastic celebration at home plate for a team that is 8 1/2 out - but given all that has happened to this team over the last month, and given the contribution of a (insert that same local reference here) new guy, I think it was an understandable release - besides if V'Tek and Tavarez still believe that the Sox are still in the W/C hunt (as mentioned by V'Tek in his in game interview spot), who am I to doubt?

And so on to the real hero of the game - Julian Tavarez - what an outing! Despite the eventual outcome, I still think that Francona left him in too long. If Tavarez had given us 5 scoreless innings it would have been heroic, 6 was way more than we should have reasonably prayed for.

During the game, the Rem-Dawg said he didn't have a problem with Tavarez being left in there as he had cruised through 6, but given he hasn't been stretched out like this in 4 years, the quick drop off as he tired is exactly what Francona should have expected - I always prefer letting a reliever have a clean start when a situation allows for it, and this game allowed for it. Regardless - a fantastic outing from a guy who hasn't really performed as would have been hoped, and given the reports are now saying that Schilling will miss his next start as well, a much needed boost.

Greg Gibson, you are on ze list

The list of idiots that is.

I am a Yankee fan, I also have Wang going in my keeper league playoffs today and instead of being out of the 6th with 1 ER and possibly going another one, two or three innings, your decision to be an idiot who needs an eye examination has cost not only the Yankees, but also the Fratton Yankees.

For those who haven't seen the play, David DeJesus coming to the plate, slides around JoPo but in doing so misses the plate, JoPo walks over and tags him out and Gibson calls the runner safe, claiming he got the bag. Best part though was the KC announcers, 'and he juuuuuuuuuuust got the front edge of the plate,' whilst we are watching a replay that shows him missing it by the proverbial country mile, you couldn't script the home bias up.

As the Queen would say, 'One is not amused'.

Greg Gibson - Twat.

Oh and can I add that I also have Garland going so Jenks you too are an idiot for costing me a W, thanks.

In addition (wow my third edit of the post) Lanny Vanover ringing up Bobby Abreu on the checked swing in the seventh, that's just pathetic, even the homer anouncers had to choke down their laughter on that one. I sound far too moany for a team so far up but really, it just isn't on. All you need for being an ump is a working brain, working eyes and knowledge of the rules, something isn't adding up with this crew...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Two is a winning streak

Well the Sox AAAa lineup ekes out another win behind a sterling effort by Kyle Snyder, but at what cost to the Red Sox today...

The most serious news clearly concerns Jon Lester - the link to the official press release is here, but it is difficult to grasp what this might mean to a 22 year old guy. I have an older friend who was diagnosed with exactly the same type of cancer, who was told by his doctor that if they had to have any kind of cancer, this was the 'best' to get - he is doing ok at his treatment progresses - but, for me anyway, cancer is still such a scary word.

When 'things' happen to baseball players it is sometimes difficult to separate the impact from the baseball impact... but twice in the space of the week, first with Ortiz and now with Lester, you have to say who cares about the baseball impact, just get well guys.

(For more information, Feeding the Monster has a link to a factsheet on the particular cancer)

The pitch after making a throwing error to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, Jonathan Papelbon clutched at his upper right (throwing) shoulder. You have to hope this is a muscle issue rather than a more serious problem in his arm, but given the way this season is going, does anyone really want to make that bet tonight?


Something lighter to finish off tonight's post - anyone visiting the States has to look at the W Hotels chain as their first choice - and when I say anyone, I mean anyone who has a hankering for baseball - but you can easily make the argument to your partner that you just want to stay at a 'hip' hotel chain.

I was looking at the services menu on the flat screen, HD TV when up pops an ad for... MLB Extra Innings package - $6.95 for the night. So I was able to watch the end of the Sox game, am watching to see whether the Mets can make the late lead stand up in Houston and will switch over to the Dodgers or Athletics when this game is done! A pleasant way to finish off my vacation.

Friday, September 01, 2006

One will do today

Remind me, how do these go again?

Well the David Wells in Boston era is over, as Boomer was traded to the Padres for a PTBNL or cash - the most often quoted PTBNL is catcher George Kottaras - a 23 year old prospect rated B+ by John Sickels in his pre-season review of the Padres farm system - that would seem a remarkable return for a 43 year-old pitcher who has stated his desire to retire at the end of the season (though who would be surprised if he went one more year for a reasonable contract?), even if that prospect has struggled in a short stint at AAA this year.

However, at least one Padres fan is hoping that this is just East Coast smoke without a fire. Clearly a reasonably rated catcher would help the Sox after the strange catcher moves they have made in the last 18 months - the trade away of Mirabelli, the trade away of Shoppach and the acquisition of Bard, the trade away of Bard and the re-acquisition of Mirabelli, the acquisition of Lopez...

Given the Sox had to start Tavarez today as Wells was scratched, it almost seemed inevitable that Cy Young candidate Roy Halladay would lose to the Sox AAAa lineup - and how many people would have the winning hit coming off a 'HR' from the bat of Alex Cora? As I am still on the West Coast I didn't get the chance to see how Alex Rios helped us out, but if the Yahoo Gametracker described the hit as "deep right" that will do for me!