Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia Phillies’

Case for A.J. Ellis

May 20, 2012

I’ll admit it (raises hand shamefully). I was NOT on the A.J. Ellis bandwagon when the season started. I figured he was the ultimate, lifetime backup catcher and that his pleas for playing time was a bunch of malarkey (I actually used to know someone with the last name Mularkey, so that word always weirds me out).

Watching Spring Training, I’d rue the day we ever set Russell Martin free to the Yankees. And then the 2012 regular season rolled around.

Did anyone in their right minds have A.J. Ellis as one of the best all-around catchers in baseball? If you said “Yes” just now, you are an evil and a heathen and you shall burn in Hellllllllsinki.

Yikes, that was harsh. I hear it’s cold there.

Anyway, as of the day this post is published (I say it that way, because technically I’m FINISHING it on Tuesday, May 22nd. Shhhhhh. But it’s posted as May 20th. Shut up.), Ellis is hitting .321 with a .446 on-base percentage.

Those numbers are good for third and first, respectively, among a loaded class of National League catchers. And the OBP isn’t even remotely close. We Dodger fans have gotten used to Ellis getting on base, one way or another. And he’s a major reason why we are holding the best record in baseball.

Having your number seven hitter getting on base nearly half the time he comes to the plate is an invaluable tool to a successful lineup. It’s a luxury most teams can’t claim, and never will. And despite the gaudy offensive numbers, and the fact that he has almost flawlessly handled the second-best pitching staff in the Majors…nobody knows who the hell A.J. is.

And we’ve all seen it a million times; that’s going to extend to the All-Star voting. With names like Yadier Molina, Brian McCann and Buster Posey, along with breakout seasons from Carlos Ruiz and Jonathan Lucroy, finding a spot on the National League team would be tough for Ellis.

But he absolutely deserves to go. And not in the “please let him in, he’s such a nice guy and he really wants it” type of way. He has played his way into a backup role on that team, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better role player to have on a squad that determines home-field advantage for the World Series.

I’ll tell you what – as a Dodger fan, with my team now a legitimate postseason threat, I feel a hell of a lot more comfortable with Ellis pinch-hitting in the eighth inning of a tie game in the All-Star Game with that home-field advantage on the line than McCann of the Braves and his .254 average.

But history and popularity says, McCann will be in Kansas City in July. Ellis will be at home, enjoying his days off.

Here’s my take on it:

Based on all-around game, Molina is the hands-down starter for the National League. He’s a four-time Gold Glover and now the best hitting catcher in the league (apologies to Ruiz, who is having a great season, but everyone outside of Philly knows this won’t last). McCann and Posey are the big names who should be left out because, though they are having solid seasons, have not been as good all-around as the other four. If three catchers go to the All-Star Game on the N.L. roster, I’m left with Molina, backed up by Ruiz, then Ellis.

If it’s two, I’m torn. Props to Lucroy for stepping up this season, but your 7-RBI game skews the power stats a bit. And you can’t handle the glove as well as my man A.J. While I’d love to see Ruiz earn that All-Star bid, how are you going to ignore a guy who has such a high OBP?

While it’s an unloved stat still, getting on base is the most important part of an offense. Here’s a simple formula for all you math duds out there like me: get on base, move to the next base, score more runs than the other team. That’s the basic idea behind baseball, and nobody is doing it better this year than Ellis.

I know this is a big ol’ waste of time, considering it’s going to be Molina, McCann and Posey in the All-Star Game. But these things must be blogged about, even if just so my poor little head doesn’t explode all over my laptop’s screen.

Just keep the numbers in mind when voting, and cast your vote for the Dodgers’ A.J. Ellis for the 2012 All-Star Game! Our team’s World Series home field depends on it!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman

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Wrigley and Wrivalries

May 7, 2012

Like that impressive spelling? Let’s just call it klever. So this weekend I was in Chicago (that’s why Jam Shots took Saturday and Sunday off). Among bars, pizza, sightseeing and all that jazz, I went to the Dodgers vs. Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

This was a milestone for me. First of all, it was the tenth ball park I’ve visited. That puts me in double digits! Just 20 more to go. Besides Wrigley Field, I’ve gone to games in Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, New York (Yankees), Boston, Tampa Bay and St. Louis.

And let me tell you, Wrigley was one of the best so far. It’s a classic stadium with wide open seating, and one of the better post-game atmospheres. I guess if you’ve lost for 103 and a half years (and counting), every day better be a party.

Way to be optimistic, Cubs fans. Anyway, the game was absolutely fantastic, especially because the Dodgers won 5-1. There isn’t a ton to see at the actual stadium, but the bleacher boys in left field sure put on a drinking show, and I felt like I was sitting in a ball park for a game in the 1950’s.

And yes, the ivy is exceptionally luscious.

Now on to a little more baseball news. I hear there were a couple little tiffs? I’ll give my take on the two young guys and the two old guys feuding and who is in the wrong.

So apparently Chipper Jones, he of the 2012 victory lap, and 49-year-0ld Colorado staff ace Jamie Moyer (now that Jeremy Guthrie went down) are upset at each other. Apparently, Chipper cheated at shuffleboard the other day and Jamie is not happy about it.

Or something to that effect. More like Chipper was accused of stealing signs by Moyer. Well, I hate to break it to the old(er) man, but that’s part of the game. It’s not like he was in center field with binoculars, picking off the catcher’s signals. This is something everyone tries to do, and rarely succeeds at. When the runner IS successful, it’s often the catcher’s fault.Winner: Chipper

And then there are a couple of guys who don’t even combine to equal Moyer’s age. Cole Hamels beaned teen phenom Bryce Harper the other day, and then admitted he did it on purpose. He said it was “old school” and welcomed the rook to the bigs. Hamels wins this argument (five-game suspension resulting be damned) for multiple reasons.

First of all, he’s right. It IS old school. When a young kid like Harper comes up and displays over-swaggage, he is taught a lesson by opposing pitchers. Bud Selig is a huge, wet, sopping…nevermind. Because a five-game suspension hardly affects a starting pitcher. But suspending him anyway was just stupid. Two decades ago, it was accepted. No. Expected, for Harper to get beaned. I’m surprised it took that long. Winner: Hamels

Thanks for reading, and tune in again tomorrow! Follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman.

 

 

1st-Place Teams So Far

April 20, 2012

Well, folks…we’re 13 games into the 2012 regular season. If you didn’t notice, some crazy things are happening. For example, the Orioles are doing it again – leading the AL East early. And there’s anarchy in L.A. – The Dodgers are in first by three games and the Angels…well, the Angels are paying Albert Pujols nine figures; one for each loss.

There are six divisions, so six first place teams, so six things for me to talk about:

AL East:

Really? The Baltimore Orioles? One of four teams I figured would have a legitimate shot at losing 95 games this year?

I know what you’re thinking. Is it for real? Well, put simply, no. Expect this division to be flipped by next month. It’s just one of those random hot streaks paired with some poor play by division favorites. Four of the five teams are within 1.5 games already, and the Red Sox being in dead last will change soon.

The A.L. East will still finish Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles.

AL Central:

Detroit Tigers…obviously, bro. They haven’t disappointed, coming out of the gates hot and laying the smack down on the Red Sox to open the season.

One team I’m disappointed with so far is the Kansas City Royals. I am very bromantic about guys like Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer and Luke Hochevar. I’m not too worried about the Royals climbing back into contention, but will it be too late?

The Tigers are leading the Central and that won’t change anytime soon. The order will be: Tigers, Royals, Indians, Twins, White Sox.

AL West:

The Rangers are 11-2, have a 4.5 game lead in the division and the best record in baseball. Where have we seen this story before? Texas might be even better than the last two seasons. That’s terrifying.

The A’s and Mariners are both 7-7 and have played each other about 14 times in 2012. Or so it seems. How about the poor A’s having to face Felix Hernandez THRICE already? Ouch. Am I worried about the Angels? No, but thanks for asking. Let them figure it out and talk to me in a month when they are alone in second place, hot on the Rangers trail.

Despite how incredible Bartolo Colon is, the A’s are still a last-place team. They could lose 100 games. So, the division order will still be Angels, Rangers, Mariners, A’s.

NL East:

Told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, told ya so, TOLD YA SO. Suck it. The Nationals are in first place with a 10-4 record. And Mike Morse hasn’t even played one game yet.

You have to love seeing the Phillies in last place, a game under .500, despite the ridiculous pitching staff. They are really hurting for offense. When are Ryan Howard and Chase Utley coming back again? The Braves have bounced back impressively from an opening weekend sweep at the hands of the Mets. Speaking of the other New York team, they have started to fall back down to Earth a little bit.

Expect the result to stick: Nationals in first, then Philly, Miami, Atlanta, and New York.

NL Central:

Isn’t it cliche these days to say the Cardinals are in first? Well the word “cliche” makes me feel fancy. And I like that. So, the Cardinals are in first. Again.

They have a three-game lead and have by far looked like the most complete team in the division. I still think it’s going to be Cincinnati at the end, but the more I see Milwaukee and Pittsburgh play, the less impressed I’ve been. Ryan Braun just went 0-12 with a ton of strikeouts in three games against the Dodgers. But one guy who IS having success if Carlos Beltran in St. Louis. He has five more home runs than Albert Pujols in L.A. Oh, and Beltran has five homers total. Sooo…do the math.

This division will eventually be: Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, Cubs, Astros

NL West:

*Coughs*. *Makes throat sounds suggesting “hey look at this”*. *Winks*. Allllll that nonsense can only mean one thing. My Los Angeles Dodgers are sitting pretty atop the NL West. And it feels so good.

Is it real? Well, biases aside…this is one of the greatest rosters ever assembled in any sport in the history of the universe. And yes, they can continue this success into the postseason. It’s not just Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw this season. In fact, Kershaw hasn’t even gotten warmed up yet. But Andre Ethier is raking, Juan Rivera is driving in runs like nobody’s business, and the rest of the rotation has done wonders. Oh, right. There are four other teams in the West. But…whatever.

The only division I’ll change my order in: Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Rockies, Padres

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman!

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!

April 15, 2012

Ugh. What I would give for one of those “42” jerseys. Needless to say, Jackie Robinson is one of the most important people in the history of…well…anything. But especially baseball.

I’ve been watching baseball all day (I know, rough life), and I was thinking how we would not be seeing certain things today if not for Robinson breaking the color barrier.

Here’s a few of those things:

Matt Kemp might not have slugged his SIXTH home run of the young 2012 season.

Adam Jones might not have continued his rise to stardom with another long ball.

Jimmy Rollins might not have gotten two hits, an RBI and a stolen base.

Dee Gordon might not have hit a walk-off single.

Jason Heyward might not have continued his resurgence with a solo homer.

Prince Fielder might not have raised his average to .353.

Chris Young might not have had three hits, a homer and a stolen base.

And then today would have been really, really boring. Happy Jackie Robinson Day, and don’t forget why some of your favorite players are in the game today.

Follow me on Twitter @Jamblinman

Opening Day Predictions

April 4, 2012

Okay, okay. I know the A’s and Mariners played in Japan and the defending-champion Cardinals already defeated the Marlins at the new stadium earlier tonight. But a big slate of games is finally set for tomorrow, and I couldn’t be more excited. 

We’ve got seven games lined up for tomorrow, capped off with reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and my Dodger squaring off against the Padres in San Diego. Without further adieu, here are my predictions for tomorrow’s games:

Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers: This is the first of the great pitching matchups we’ll see over the first weekend of play, but it might just be the best one. Jon Lester will take the hill against last year’s Cy Young and MVP winner, Justin Verlander. Normally, I’d expect a pitcher’s duel, but Lester is a notorious slow starter, so look for a big game from Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and the Tigers to take the home opener 5-2. (Side note: Jose Valverde will get his 51st straight save, creeping slowly towards the record of 84)

Atlanta Braves at New York Mets: I like this pitching matchup for a number of different reasons. First of all, I really enjoy watching Tommy Hanson pitch. If he’s healthy for Atlanta this year, it’s going to be huge for their playoff aspirations. But the real story here is Johan Santana’s return to the hill after a multitude of injuries have crippled the former Cy Young winner. I’m going to take my first upset, but don’t expect the Mets’ winning streak to last long. Give me the Mets 3-2.

Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates: Another former ace takes the hill on Opening Day, hoping to rebound. Erik Bedard won’t have as much success as Johan does in New York, although I do expect an above average season out of the lefty in 2012. Roy Halladay is going to be too much for the young Pirates offense, and the Phils take it on the road 5-0.

Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs: Raise your hand if you’re as excited to see Stephen Strasburg on the mound tomorrow as I am! He takes on the re-tooled Cubs and Ryan Dempster at Wrigley. And I’m sorry Cubbie fans, but the curse will continue, starting with an ugly loss at the hands of the Nats. I’m going to enjoy watching Strasburg go 8 innings with 10 strikeouts in a 7-1 win.

Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Indians: This might be the most underrated pitching matchup of the day. If you like young, up-and-coming stars on the bump, this is the game for you. Ricky Romero is my dark horse candidate for A.L. Cy Young this year, and Justin Masterson for Cleveland isn’t far behind. I think this is going to be the best pitching duel of the day. Toronto takes it 1-0 on a late solo homer by Jose Bautista.

Miami Marlins at Cincinnati Reds: One of the Marlins’ big free agent acquisitions is opening this series, and Mark Buerhle can certainly be trusted to give a quality outing. Johnny Cueto gets the ball for Cincy and two very strong offenses will have their respective hands full. Give me the wily veteran for the new-look Marlins’ first win in a 4-3 game.

Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres: You know this is the one I’ve been waiting to talk about. You’ve gotta like the young lefty Kershaw to start defending his Cy Young title with a pretty dominant win at Petco Park. I think the Dodgers put up a five spot on Edinson Volquez early and chase him from the game. I want to give the Padres a pity run to sound unbiased, but they just aren’t a good enough team to score against Kershaw. Final score: 6-0 Dodgers.

That’s all folks! Call in sick tomorrow, ditch school, and watch MLB Network all day to see my picks put into motion. Happy baseball! Peace.

Wednesday Top Ten!

March 7, 2012

Like how I throw that title up there as if this is a regular thing? I’m not going to lie…it’s because I’m wholly unmotivated to be creative today. Instead, I’ll just blow you away with insight and analysis. So ladies and gentlemen, put on your best snuggies and let’s get rollin’.

Today’s top ten will be all about baseball. Because it’s the best sport. Feel free to argue with me on that point, just don’t complain when this happens. You’ve been warned.

I want to discuss the ten best pitchers in baseball. There’s a helluva lot of them. The San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies could probably make a top ten list by themselves. But we’re going to do it anyway. I’m feelin’ crazy. By the way, I’m a Dodgers fan. So you can guess who number one will be. Muahaha!

10. Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels – Oh boy that rotation in Anaheim is going to be scary in 2012, ain’t it? Haren is the best of the bunch, and the first pitcher on the list who doesn’t have a Cy Young to his name. He should, he could and he might before his time is done, but time will tell. Six seasons of 14 + wins ain’t too shabby though.

9. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals – Okay, really? If Carp is ninth on this list, you know it’s gonna rock your socks off. This big righty has dominated for the Cards and has two rings and a shiny Cy Young (2005) to show for it. He’s got one of the best curveballs in the game and is possibly the most dominant postseason pitcher on this entire list.

8. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners – It’s tough to NOT feel bad for King Felix. Stuck on the Mariners his whole career, he hasn’t racked up huge numbers. Just imagine what the 2010 Cy Young winner’s numbers would look like on a team that could actually score runs.

7. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants – How can a two-time Cy Young winner (2008-2009) only be eighth on this list? Easy – he’s on the Giants and he went to University of Washington and I’m a spiteful, Dodger and Washington State-lovin’ bastard. So that says something that I felt compelled to still include The Freak on this list at all.

6. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies – Hamels is the first of a trio of Phillies to appear on my list (how is that even fair?) and the second who doesn’t have a Cy to his name. Yet. He’s still got plenty of time. What Hamels does have is a mean fastball, some filthy control and a World Series MVP. Not too shabby.

5. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies – Hamels’ southpawtner in crime DOES have that Cy Young award (2008) but less postseason success. Lee dominated last year, going a cool 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA for Philly. And his awesome birth name (Clifton Phifer Lee) boosted him at least three spots alone.

4. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees – The lefties just keep on comin’. I have a special appreciation for Sabathia, because he hails from the Bay Area like me. That’s not the end of our similarities though. I’m ALSO a 6’7″, 290-pound black man with a Cy Young (2007) and World Series ring…By the way, C.C. has 176 wins at age 31. Don’t tell me 300 isn’t viable for him.

3. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies – Finally, the Philadelphia onslaught comes to a merciful end. But there is no doubt in my mind that Doc Halladay is the best of the bunch. The 8-time all-star and 2-time Cy Young winner (2003 and 2010) has been so dominant for so long that it’s just a foregone conclusion he’ll put up 15+ wins every season. Oh, did I mention that no-hitter in the playoffs? That’s impressive I guess.

2. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers – Last year’s Cy Young and MVP winner in the American League has finally reached the height of his potential. And I don’t think he’s planning on regressing anytime soon. Verlander’s 24-5, 2.40, 250 strikeout 2011 was far and away one of the best individual pitching seasons I’ve ever seen. And the scary thing is he’s only 28.

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers – You want to talk about incredible seasons at a young age? How about the next coming of Sandy Koufax (I think I just heard you gasp from here…)? Kershaw cruised to the pitching Triple Crown in the National League last year, and won the Cy Young as a result. Here’s the thing though. Kershaw is 23 years old. Like, my age. What the HELL!

That’s my list. Thanks for helping me kill time. Comment below and tell me why I’m absolutely right-on with all my picks. Or if you must, disagree and make suggestions. I’ll probably ignore you, but hey, it’s worth a shot!

And I ammmmmmm outta here!

National Treasure

March 1, 2012

I hate myself for that title. Cool movie, but anything with Nicolas Cage in it is going to piss me off. Anyway, it has nothing to do with the actual film. This is more a matter of sports, as a post of mine should be. If you missed it, I’ve already locked in my predictions for the 2012 Major League Baseball season. This isn’t what I think will happen, this IS what will happen. Wait and see.

My boldest prediction is that the annual N.L. East doormats in D.C. are going to win the division this year, after getting healthy and stacking their rotation with the likes of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson this winter. Call me crazy, but they are the overall most talented team in the division. Yes, better than the new-look Miami Marlins, the powerhouse Phillies and the consistent Atlanta Braves.

You’ve got to love this offense – young guys at shortstop, second base and catcher that can absolutely rake. They’ve got Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman to beef up the middle of the order, and potential game-changing guys in AAA in Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon. And if Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche or Rick Ankiel put it together for a full season…watch out.

So the news today is this: Nationals manager Davey Johnson says ‘Fire me’ if Washington misses the playoffs. And I love it.

Swag is a good thing. You want your players to have confidence on the diamond, why not the guy directing them? And why not say it? First of all, Davey Johnson isn’t getting fired no matter what happens. So it’s an empty offer. But secondly, this team has a legitimate chance to contend.

The fact that these young Nationals are so set on making the playoffs and their manager is so confident in their abilities is setting the table for a special season in the nation’s capital, methinks. Looking at the National League, I see nine serious contenders: Arizona, San Francisco, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Philly, Miami, Atlanta and Washington.

By a mile, the Nats would be the biggest surprise team out of those nine to make the playoffs. But beating four of them should be very do-able for such a talented roster. Their pitching is as good or better than the D’Backs, Reds and Marlins. And their offense definitely matches up or dominates teams like the Giants, Phillies and Brewers.

All I’m saying is this team has the makings of something special in 2012. I think people underestimate how good their rotation will be with Stephen Strasburg, Gonzalez, Jackson, Jordan Zimmerman and John Lannan. It’s going to be young and they will have their struggles, but if the Nats aren’t at LEAST in Wild Card contention in the last week of the season, I will be shocked.

And apparently, so will Davey Johnson. Long live the dark horse!

While We’re Young, Wild and Free

February 2, 2012

Well, we can officially put the “Blake Griffin is a God” talk to rest. As I pointed out yesterday, his dunk over Kendrick Perkins was significantly overrated and not even close to one of his ten personal best. Then, some doopster (dude hoopster) laid this beauty down in a college game. And suddenly, rightfully, Griffin is old news.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you finish a dunk.

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen some footage of the Egyptian stampede that took place after a soccer match yesterday. The death toll right now is at 74. I’m sure most people here don’t care because 1) it’s soccer, 2) it’s Egypt, but everyone needs to take notice. The United States essentially explodes from within when a streaker so much as tweets that he or she will storm the Phillies’ outfield.

Real fan violence takes place overseas, where soccer is king and passion falls like rain in Seattle (that’s a LOT, if you’ve never been). Take that into account next time you complain about that meany pants with the spiky face at the Raiders game yelled you suck to your family at the game. And if you go to a soccer game abroad, please be careful.

I finally have some baseball news! First, this. Because it’s the Yankees and they get too much pub to begin with, I’ll just hand you the link and tell you to read the first line and sit back in shock. And then you can think about it and realize how much sense Brian Cashman’s assertion makes. That’s all.

But even cooler, we have a Nyjer Morgan sighting! If you don’t like Nyjer, you must be either a commie or a Cardinals fan. But T-Plush is as bad ass a ballplayer as you’ll ever see. He’s the T.O. of baseball, minus the baby mama drama. So get a load of this guy taking on another sport! I love it.

Lastly, I have some punishment to dole out. Let me explain first. I have a raging bromance with Aldon Smith. He single-handedly gave me hope that the 49ers’ pass rush has a prayer in the next few years of returning to form. By the way, what’s the female version of bromance? I suggested homance and heavy flowmance, but my female friends didn’t take kindly to it. If you’re willing to risk public verbal flogging, comment below and tell me what the answer to that timeless question is.

Oh, right. Back to Aldon. He got a DUI the other day. The kid is barely old enough to drink. And as one of his fans, I wish I could just tell him this and let him walk. But he needs to be docked some serious pay by the NFL and a timeout from Coach Harbaugh. If he can make Alex Smith a respectable NFL quarterback, I’m sure he can help crank a few common sense life lessons through the younger Smith’s dense skull.

And it wouldn’t be Thursday without my P.T.Z.D.I.T.H.W.A! (Same title, but shorter. Whatever, just look.)


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