Shutting down Strasburg is. . .STUPID

Stepehen Strasburg

Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg has certainly lived up to all the hype surrounding him when he became the #1 pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft. Despite his elbow injury during his rookie season, which required Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has bounced back to nearly 100% health and strength. But a lot has been made on the Nationals decision to shut Strasburg down, no matter what, when he reaches 160-165 innings this season. With a legitimate shot to go all the way, is this really smart by the Nationals?

[Read more…]

Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp Are Threats For The Triple Crown

Matt Kemp and Josh Hamilton

It’s still “early” in baseball terms, but Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp have done nothing but put on shows. Their superb play has gotten more attention than Philip Humber’s perfect game. Hamilton and Kemp are going for the Triple Crown in their respective leagues. The Triple Crown is revered, by many, to be the greatest single-season accomplishment in all of baseball.

[Read more…]

How BAD are the Minnesota Twins?

Minnesota-Twins-logo

I know that the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. But already in the early stages of the season there is cause for concern if you are a Minnesota Twins fan, like me.

Coming off a 99-loss season in 2011, Twins management did almost nothing to improve an offense that was near the bottom in runs scored or a bullpen that was absolutely God-awful.

They added Jason Marquis to the starting rotation when pitchers like Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson were on the market. But we (fans and management) thought we would be OK. Having contended for the division title every year since 2002, we became arrogant, as every pro Minnesota sports team does when it experiences a bit of success. Here’s my opinion. [Read more…]

Milwaukee Brewers Weekly Check-In (4-18-11)


If you’re not one of those baseball nerds who follows every single thing going on in the Milwaukee Brewers Organization, don’t worry, because The Sports Bank’s Nick Grays has you covered with what happened in the past week and what’s going on in the future.

And if you are one of those nerds, feel free to join in on some good old analysis of America’s pastime in the Brew City.

This week we talk about the Brewers’ pair of Mexican hurlers, rain-outs and much much more.

By: Nick Grays

[Read more…]

Wide strike zone a trend in MLB playoffs

Maddon Tossed

As another MLB postseason gets underway, we welcome back some of the game’s great traditions: sprawling sellout crowds, three-man rotations, and elimination games.  Even the cable networks step up their game for the playoffs, introducing strike zone radars like TBS’s “Pitch Trax.” The idea is that everyone is held to a higher standard in the playoffs – even the umpires.

But are the umpires meeting those high standards?  If you believe TBS’s often unreliable Pitch Trax, you’d have to say no.

By Josh Weinstock

[Read more…]

World Cup Group E Preview: Is this the year Holland makes a run?

van persie

Group E is made up of the offensive-minded Netherlands, the physical Cameroon, attacking Denmark and Japan.

The Netherlands (also refereed to as Holland) have dominated in qualifying and friendlies leading up to the World Cup, but none of that matters until they can win on the big stage. They have a history of under-performing against quality opponents. The talent is always there, but they just never live up to expectations. As a matter of fact, they just may be the most talented nation to have never won the World Cup.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

[Read more…]

Jim Joyce Steals MLB History From Armando Galarraga, Tigers and Fans


Maybe it was never meant to be. It’s all about destiny in terms of a perfect game. So maybe, for Armando Galarraga, destiny was not in his cards on June 2nd, 2010.

Still, it was a pretty terrible call and that’s probably an understatement.

Umpire Jim Joyce inserted himself squarely and firmly into the debates of an umpire’s role in a game and about whether or not Major League Baseball should enact sweeping changes to its instant replay rules by ruling the Indians’ Jason Donald safe at first base — when he was out by a step — in what should have been the 27th out of Galarraga’s perfect game. [Read more…]

2010 MLB Mock Draft (Picks 17-32)

Grandal

While the first 16 picks mostly feature teams with much work to be done, the second half of the 2010 MLB draft is where the 2009 playoff organizations just add on to their success.

For picks 1-16 of the 2010 MLB mock draft, click here.

By Jake McCormick [Read more…]

Cubs must equal Holliday trade with internal improvements

Aramis Ramirez

By Anthony Zilis

The acquisition of Matt Holliday seems to make the St. Louis Cardinals the popular favorites in the National League Central.

But after an extremely disappointing first half, where seemingly everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Cubs, they find themselves in first place today, half a game ahead of St. Louis.

And while it seems that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is tied up by the pending sale of the team as the trading deadline approaches, the Cubs have managed to improve without any major trades.

Aramis Ramirez is showing resemblance to his pre-injury form, (the third baseman is 9-for-16 in his last four games after struggling since coming back from a shoulder injury) which is equal to adding a frontline player like Holliday. Alfonso Soriano could have easily been replaced by an outfielder from the Tennessee Smokies in May and June without a dip in production, but he’s now swinging a hot bat. The left fielder raised his average 28 points in the last 15 games.

The Cubs also hope Rich Harden’s post All-Star break resurgence isn’t a mirage, as he’s allowed only two runs in his last three starts. His Sunday win over the Reds was his first at home since May 12 and his first during the day since April 21.

Couple these major additions with the solid pitching from rookies Randy Wells and Kevin Hart, who has had two solid starts filling in for Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly, and the Cubs have managed to scrape themselves back to the top of the division.

But this resurgence isn’t merely a coup for the Cubs – it’s a must. In a year that should be labeled “World Series or bust,” the time is right for a long-awaited championship. Hendry has immobilized, if not handcuffed, this franchise for a few years by throwing around huge amounts of money to players like Soriano, Milton Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome, Ryan Dempster, and Carlos Zambrano.

So while it would be nice to trade for a Jake Peavy or a Roy Halladay, the Cubs are going to have to win with what they have. Their improvements have had to come internally and that looks like the case.

Cubs Bradley Baseball

Look next for a comeback by Milton Bradley, who has struggled mightily from the left side of the plate. If you remember, one reason Hendry insisted on signing the switch-hitting right fielder was to make his lineup more left-handed. Piniella has personally worked with Bradley over the last several days, so look for him to return to his 2008 form, when he was third in the American League in batting average.

If everything comes together for the Cubs like it has the last few weeks, look for all of the criticism from what was looking like a possible lost season to be washed away.

A fan base that has long been frustrated has tasted success over the last few years, and a World Series victory is expected.

If they can’t win a championship, look for heads to roll as new ownership comes in.

Think the Cardinals acquisition of Holliday puts them above the Cubs? Do the Cubs have what it takes to win in the playoffs if they get there? Does Jim Hendry have a job with the Cubs if they don’t win the World Series?

The Father, The Son, Aramis Ramirez, Amen.

cubslogo

By Paul Schmidt

The moment that the Cubs and their fans have waited for is finally here. The second coming of Jesus Christ himself, Aramis Ramirez, has returned to the Cubs lineup. Now they will start hitting!
He’ll fix the budget crisis too!  And heal all the election tension in Iran!  I also heard he knows where Osama bin Laden is hiding and is, on his next off day, leading a team of Special Forces soldiers to bring him to justice!

I love Aramis, and I think that he is probably the most underrated superstar in the National League – At least, outside the city of Chicago.  For those on the North Side, at least during his injury, you would think that he is Babe Ruth, Ichiro and Brooks Robinson all rolled into one.

rami

They won their first game back with Rami, but he went 0-for-4.  His mere presence in the lineup must have frightened my favorite Dutch pitcher, Jair Jurrjens, right?

I can’t stand idly by and listen any longer about how, with Ramirez back in the lineup, suddenly the Cubs will hit again.

For the first time since early 2007, the Cubs posting a losing record for a calendar month of the season by going 12-16.  They managed to do this while posting the best ERA for starting pitching in all of baseball.  Think about that for a moment.

Their starters, in June, were the best in all of baseball.  And yet, they lost 4 more games than they won.

Obviously, the offense is a big problem.

Injuries, however, were not the biggest issue.

We have two main cogs in the lineup – Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano – who are apparently statistically punting the 2009 season.  We have a second baseman in Mike Fontenot who should either be a platoon player or a sub off the bench – and is playing like it by only hitting .220.  We have a right fielder in Milton Bradley who has been on a pretty big offensive tear as of late – to bring his average all the way into the .240s.

Setting aside Fontenot (who, honestly has no business starting), if Soto, Soriano and Bradley were all putting up the seasons they had last year, prorated, as of right now, you’d be looking at a first place ball club.  And yes, I mean that, even with Aramis Ramirez, he who stands in the white robes and blesses us all, on the disabled list.

For anyone who thinks you can’t lose your best player and still win games, well, all you need to do is look at the team that eliminated us in the playoffs last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  They’ve been missing some Manny guy for the last 50 games.  While he was suspended, the Dodgers went 29-21, good for a .580 winning percentage.  Now, granted, that was far less than the nearly .700 clip they were winning at prior to his suspension, but it does prove that a team doesn’t need to fold up shop when their best player disappears from the lineup card.

In earlier times, Ramirez tamed Falcor and saved the Princess from The Nothing.

In earlier times, Ramirez tamed Falcor and saved the Princess from The Nothing.

Which is, essentially, what happened with the Cubs. They just let the snowball start rolling down the hill, gathering speed and momentum, and once it had they couldn’t stop the slump – or the excuses.

Now, with Rami the Great and Benevolent back, the excuses have all run out.

It’s time to prove to your fans and the city what you’re made of, gentlemen. Because if you aren’t good enough, come this winter, we’ll be looking for real answers.

And, just so we’re clear, ‘Aramis Ramirez was hurt’ won’t be good enough.

Is Sammy Sosa Hall of Fame worthy?

Sammy Sosa: Then and now

By Jake McCormick

Sammy Sosa and Brett Favre have more in common than you think. Both road drugs through their highest peaks of success, and enjoyed unanimous admiration by their respective leagues and fans while building themselves into living legends. But in the words of Harvey Dent, they lived long enough to see themselves become the villain.

Everyone knows of the neverending Days of Favre’s Lives episodes carried on by ESPN. Sosa’s career went from hoppin’ happy to corked frustration almost overnight.

Injuries, steroid allegations and declining production turned an icon into someone who had convinced himself that there actually is an “i” in team (another Favre trait, incidentally). After two years denying that no MLB team had a spot for a rapidly aging player that only hit home runs or struck out (currently see: David Ortiz), Sosa will officially retire and “calmly wait for (his) induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.” Can anyone really be that confident when they won’t answer questions about their success?

Sosa and McGwire in 1998In 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire single-handedly resurrected nation-wide interest in baseball. It would be hard to say that every game of a 162-game season was as consistently popular as 16 NFL games, but that year came closer than ever because let’s face it – everybody digs the long ball. Now Sosa and McGwire are retired with statistics, as Sosa puts it, worthy of the Hall of Fame.

But both players have seen tarnished legacies result from allegations of steroid abuse that will affect voters. In his first year on the ballot, McGwire acquired as many votes needed for his cause as Ralph Nader did in the 2004 election. This begs the question: is Sammy Sosa a Hall of Famer? Based on precedent, I would argue that Sosa is crazier than Darren Daulton if he thinks he deserves a spot in baseball’s Vatican City.

Dave ChappelleMcGwire’s Dave Chappelle-like Fifth Amendment performance in front of Congress has been used as a strong case against his credibility, which ultimately affects his karma within the baseball universe. But what did Sammy Sosa’s testimony look like? We don’t know because he apparently couldn’t understand English enough to answer Congress’ questions. If my memory serves me correctly, he had no problem answering English-speaking reporters in 1998 or at any other point in his career. This should be scrutinized as much as McGwire’s waffling, yet somehow it takes a back seat.

Throughout the past four years, one man has a perfect bJose Cansecoatting average pointing out baseball’s steroid abusers: Jose Canseco. Canseco is the Nostradamus of baseball and has accused McGwire, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and surprise! Sammy Sosa of steroid use. If he’s been on the money with the most famous users, why would Sosa be any different? If McGwire and Rafael Palmerio have/will been denied entry while posting virtually identical numbers to Sosa’s, the precedent has been set that any negative association with the steroid era means Pete Rose has company down the street in Cooperstown.

During his announcement that he was going to make an announcement (you read that right), Sosa refused to discuss anything pertaining to his possible steroid use and said it would not hurt what he has done on the diamond. Considering Sosa’s legacy at this point is 1998 and juice, and he’s so confident in his chances for the Hall of Fame, it would only make sense to answer any questions about his past if he has nothing to hide and believes his body of work will trump any other concern. But Sosa continues to brush any mention of steroid use off, which only keeps suspicions and rumors swirling.

The next 15 to 20 years-worth of Baseball Hall of Fame inductees and candidates will undoubtedly be entertaining. Sosa still has five years before this topic is brought up seriously again, and a lot can happen in that time period. However, baseball prides itself in being a relevant piece of American society through some of the country’s darkest times in the past 100 years. If Sammy Sosa is allowed entry, then anyone Hall of Fame-worthy mentioned in the same breath as steroids should be given a plaque as well.