*Sorry I forgot to post this a few days ago.
After 1,648 hits, 326 home runs,
1,090 runs batted in, 1,592 games, and parts of twelve seasons, Lance “The Big
Puma” Berkman is leaving Houston to play with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez,
Mariano Rivera and the rest of the New York Yankees in the Big Apple.
It’s a bittersweet day in Houston.
On one side, the team is starting over and getting younger. On the other side,
you are losing a franchise player who played his college career (with the Rice
Owls) and pro career in Houston. Berkman has given the city of Houston so many
memories, good ones and bad ones.
Personally, I have two distinct
memories about Lance Berkman. The first autographed baseball I ever got was
Lance Berkman’s on my ninth birthday. However, In spring training of 2008,
while I was trying to get autographs, he went off the field, in a golf cart,
into the clubhouse, (the Astros clubhouse at their spring training park,
Osceola County Stadium, is on the other side of the left field fence) totally
ignoring the fans.
That day, Miguel Tejada, Jose
Valverde, Hunter Pence, and Wesley Wright, among others came a signed for the
me and the rest of the fans. I understand that fans do get a little crazy
sometimes. Ex-Astro Roy Oswalt use to only sign to small groups of fans while
with the Astros but spring training is different. Which, I understand.
Anyway, it has been a gradual
decline in power since 2006 when “Fat Elvis” hit 45 home runs. Since then, he
has hit 34, 29, 25 and 13 (in 85 games this year). And with the exception of
2008 when he drove in 106 runs his RBI totals have gone done every year since
2006 when he had 136 of them.
Now, I expect his power numbers to
increase with the dimensions of Yankees stadium and not having to face Josh
Johnson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Hallady, or Mat Latos (who has a 0.99 WHIP) along
with the rest of the National League pitchers. However, the one thing that
could make his disappointing season even more disappointing would be if he
can’t play ball in the spotlight of New York City.
I thought the Red Sox where having a hard time scoring runs! Well how does eight runs sound along with a pitcher who struck out twelve! Unless your a Blue Jays fan that is awesome. Why did we score eight runs because of this.
Congrats again to Wezz over at Major League Baseball: Through the Eyes of a UK Red Sox Fan for getting the answer right to yesterday’s trivia. The question was, “Who is credited with being the first fielder to wear sunglasses at his position.” This is Wezz’s second time in a row to getting the trivia right. I would also like to congrats and thank everyone. Wezz posted my 500th comment ever! Thanks to every one I could not have done it without all of you guys.
All right there are some major position battles right now going on. I am sure at least one of you want to draft someone who is in a battle for the starting spot. So I thought I would look at five major battles.
Jed Lowrie versus Julio Lugo
In 2008 Lowrie played 81 games and Lugo played 82 so it is fair to compare their stats. Lugo hit .268 with one home run, 22 RBI’s, and twelve stolen bases. Lowrie hit .258 with two home runs, 46 RBI’s, and one stolen base. Lowrie became the starting shortstop after Lugo went to the disabled list. Lowrie is the better shortstop but has two big I guess you could say disadvantages. I first one is Lowrie can play third, second, shortstop, and if needed first. Lowrie is the perfect infield utility man. Second is the fact that Julio Lugo gets paid a ton of wasted money. It is likely that the Red Sox will not waste money and start Lugo. If this was the Yankees managing then they would start Lowrie because he is the better player but thankfully this is not the Yankees. I am not saying that I want Lugo to start at all. I hope Lowrie wins the battle but I just do not think he will since Boston left their old utility man, Alex Cora, go. Letting Cora go kind of shows that they want Lowrie as the utility man. Lugo does have a little bit of an injury history so that could put Lowrie right back where he started from. Lowrie’s Odds- 7-1 Lugo’s Odds- 4-1. The facts just point towards Lugo. What else can I say.
Carlos Marmol versus Kevin Gregg
In 2008 Marmol pitched in 82 games. Gregg pitched in 72 games. Marmol had a 2.68 ERA with a two and four record, seven saves, and 114 strikeouts. Gregg who was the closer for the Florida Marlins at the time went seven and eight with a 3.14 ERA, 29 saves, and 58 strikeouts. The two pitchers will replace Kerry Wood who signed with the Indians this offseason. Marmol has one advantage over Gregg. Marmol is a strikeout pitcher with a great fastball. Marmol pitched 87.1 innings and had 114 strikeouts! That is over one strikeout an inning. Gregg is not a strikeout pitcher and relies more on his defense behind him. The Cubs have a decent defense led by Golden Glover, Derek Lee at first base. At the hot corner they have Aramis Ramirez. Up the middle they have Aaron Miles at second and Ryan Theroit at shortstop. They do not have they best fielding outfield with Kosuke Fukudome in center, Alfonso Soriano in left, and Milton Bradley in right who is mostly a D.H. but there are no D.H.’s in the National League. At catcher they have Geovany Sotto. Marmol’s Odds- 4-1 Gregg’s Odds 8-1 Gregg would be the closer on most teams just not this one.
Huston Street versus Manuel Corpas
This is just one of the Rockies problems. They need to figure out who will be the fifth starter and who will be the catcher. In 2008 while with the Oakland A’s Huston Street pitched 70 innings. Manuel Corpas pitched in 79.2 innings. Street had an ERA of 3.73 with a seven and five record, eighteen saves, and 69 strikeouts. Corpas had an ERA of 4.52 with a three and four record, four saves, and 50 strikeouts. This offseason Street was brought over from Oakland in the Matt Holiday deal. This job may sound wide open but it is not. Street is clearly better the Manuel Corpas and will be the closer in Denver. I mean why would they have traded for him if they wanted to use Corpas as the closer. Corpas’ only chance to be the closer would be if Clint Hurdle did a “Joe Torre” and had two closers like Torre did late last year with Takashi Saito and Jonathan Broxton. Street lost the job as Oakland’s closer after Brad Ziegler was called up last year and this is his chance to say I should have been closer. Street has one disadvantage. Pitching in Denver. Corpas has done it before and I am not sure but Street might have to make an adjustment. Still though Street will win the job. Street’s Odds- 2-1 Corpas’ Odds- 9-1 Corpas is just not a “true” closer just yet.
Victor Martinez versus Travis Hafner
In 2007 Victor Martinez had 25 home runs. In 2008 he had two. While Martinez is a catcher it looks like Kelly Shoppach has that one. Last season Martinez had a .278 batting average, 35 RBI’s, two home runs, and 74 hits in 73 games. That is hit a game and then some. Okay all that means is he got 1.01369863 . . . hits per game but still. Hafner had a .197 batting average with five home runs, 24 RBI’s, and 39 hits in 57 games. Just a few years ago in 2006 he hit 42 home runs. This battle is really the best of the getting worst if that make since. This is really shocking. It was not long ago that my friend, an Indians fan, had posters of these two guys in his room. A few years ago people thought these guys were the next David Ortiz and Ivan Rodriguez. Now they look like the next Trot Nixon and Andruw Jones but those posters still hang on his wall. Know I do not think this will be settled in Spring Training. This could go on the whole season. I think though that they could just switch off. Hafner though will probably win the job in the end making Martinez the backup D.H. and catcher. Martinez’s Odds 6-1 Hafner’s Odds 4-1 I hope both guys have a comeback season like I hope Andruw Jones and Trot Nixon do.
Garret Anderson versus Matt Diaz
I really do not think this is a battle but the guys at MLB Network insisted it was so here it is. Last year with the Angels Anderson played in 145 games where he hit .293 with fifteen home runs, 84 RBI’s, and seven stolen bases. In 43 games with the Braves Diaz hit .244 with two home runs, fourteen RBI’s, and four stolen bases.Diaz’s only chance to get the starting spot would be if Anderson got hurt and guess what he did. On March sixth Anderson strained his right calf in warmups. Anderson said it would be a few days till he finds out how many days he will be out if any. This really is not a big deal but maybe something else happened like he torn something. I do not know. I just do not get why MLB Network thinks this is a battle. I mean how can it be a battle because the Braves signed Anderson this offseason. Know this would never have been a battle if Atlanta signed Ken Griffey Jr. Anderson’s Odds- 3-1 Diaz’s Odds 12-1 I am sorry Matt Diaz but you will never outplay Garret Anderson. You will be a strong fourth outfielder.
All right today’s trivia is going to be hard for you guys yet I have know the answer my whole life. Who pitched the first no-hitter in baseball history under lights. By baseball history I mean the whole history of baseball. Any country, league, anything.
Hint- This player does not have a wikipedia page
I’m having really bad writers block so I’m sorry if you don’t want to read this.
Today, Friday the 13th was the first full day of pitchers and catchers camp. It came just in time although it could have been earlier. Today there are two college basketball games, seven hockey games, a golf tournament, four women’s basketball games, and the 2009 Rookie Challenge. Some could argue that today is the loneliest day in the history of sports. It would be the loneliest day in sports if the NBA Rookie Challenge wasn’t today at nine P.M. eastern. I’m getting off track though. I know that all the first few days of pitchers and catchers camp is just conditioning, stretching, and throwing the ball around. The real work doesn’t start until Monday when position players report to camp. The only problem is Kevin Youkillis and Chris Carter will not arrive at camp . . . because they are already there. I think it would be kind of boring to be the only two position players (besides catchers) to be there. Like all of the drills would be mostly related to the pitchers and catchers. I’m sure they have someone else training Youk and Carter though. Everyone seems healthy or better. It looks like Brad Penny and Jon Smoltz or doing great but Mike Lowell might need a little extra time maybe till the end of spring training but he should be able to practice Monday. Josh Beckett is also looking great. When he threw yesterday he seemed like when he had his 2007 form according to reports. Jed Lowrie who got a left wrist sprain and an unknown fracture should also be ready to compete for the starting spot at shortstop. Julio Lugo also will be after recovering from a torn right quad. David Ortiz looks healed and should have a Big Papi type season smacking 40 homers out of the yard. Mark Kotsay looks to be the only Red Sox position player not ready for spring training. He underwent back surgery and looks like he will be ready in May. Another big question for the Red Sox in spring training is will Josh Bard be able to catcher knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield? I think he will. There will be a few rough spots, most of them coming in spring training but I think he will. Sure he stunk last time he tried t catch him but he saw a guy catch a knuckleballer in San Diego with the Padres and that must count for something. Spring Training is where champions are made. Prospects get called up, players meet new teammates, and baseball starts again.
First- I know I said I would blog about Cole Hamels, but I decided not to.