Archive for MLB

Manny Ramirez – Help or Hurt the White Sox?

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2010 by nathanelwell

What’s certain is that 38 year-old slugger Manny Ramirez is heading to the Chicago White Sox.  What’s uncertain is how effective Manny will be.  Will it be “Manny being Manny” or will he help them reach the playoffs?  Jayson Stark had a compelling article on Manny, which would place Ramirez in the “Manny being Manny” camp.  And he has some valid points.   Not to mention all of Manny’s past woes: With the Red Sox, Manny’s knees were sore, but we never knew which one.  The water-bottle-in-the-back-pocket-syndrome.  The dropped-catch-and-then-sitting-on-the-ball-disorder.  With the Dodgers, his calf and hamstring seemed to be the problem.  The positive PEDs.  The one-pitch ejections.  The impending divorce of the McCourts, the owners of the Dodgers (there is an entire web-site dedicated to their demise).

But in baseball, what ultimately matters?  In 2008 (pre-PED suspension) Manny ONLY hit .396 with 17 HR, .743 slugging percentage, and .489 on-base percentage.  This was over the next two months after he was traded from the Red Sox to the Dodgers.  Can Manny duplicate these numbers with the White Sox?  He hasn’t exactly provided his “A game” over the last year and a half.  He has only played in about half of the last 260 games.  .269 batting avg.  Slugging and on-base percentages took a royal dive.  So what can make things work for Manny on the South Side?

If you ask me, Chicago is the perfect match for Manny, specifically with the antics of Ozzie Guillen.  In his usual banter-in-broken-English, Ozzie had some entertaining things to say about Manny becoming a South-sider: “I think its funny how people tell people ‘Manny being Manny’.  Hey, Manny be real…To me he’s a great guy.  He don’t have any problem with anybody…It’s two rules I have: You gotta be straight with the team and be there for the national anthem…If the guys can go there butt naked, they don’t have to wear a uniform.  They win game for me?  I’m only happy for them.”  Fair enough, Ozzie.  Essentially we’re looking at a one-month hire.  During Manny’s career, his September hitting has produced a .313 avg, 93 HR, .412 OBP, and a .604 SLG.  Why wouldn’t GM Ken Williams go after this guy?  So what if he left the Dodgers high and dry.  If I were Manny, I wouldn’t want to play for a team who has been caught in the middle of the royal McDivorce.

Pitcher Perfect!

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , , on July 23, 2009 by nathanelwell

070418_whiteSox_vmed_8p_widecMark Buehrle notched the 18th perfect game in MLB history today, in front of a frenzied crowd at U.S. Cellular Field.  Probably the most amazing part of the game did not come from the last out, but from the first out in the 9th inning.  Gabe Kapler came to the plate and hit a deep fly ball to left center field.  To the naked eye, it appeared to be a home run, before Center Fielder Dwayne Wise leaped up over the wall and made an unbelievable snow-cone catch, the ball popping out of the glove, and then catching with his bare hand.  There is not much to say about this feat.  Congratulations Mark Buerhle, I am excited for you, even if I am a North-sider!

Jonathan “No-No” Sanchez

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , , , , on July 11, 2009 by nathanelwell

APTOPIX Padres Giants Baseball On Friday evening, San Francisco Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez shocked the sports world by throwing 2009’s first no-hitter.  Just one evening after the phenom Tim Lincecum took a no-hitter into the 7th, Sanchez mimicked the feat except held the Padres hitless for all 9 innings.  As Yogi Berra once quipped, “Its like deja vu all over again”.  Jonathan Sanchez was probably the least likely candidate to toss a no-hitter.  On a night where other starters included Dan Haren, Derek Lowe, Chris Carpenter, and Roy Oswalt, it seemed ironic that the 2-8 Sanchez, who was just recently demoted to the bullpen, would get the no-no.  And did I mention that he was starting because Randy Johnson was injured?

One of the most touching parts of the whole evening was when Jonathan revealed that this was the first time that his father had ever seen him pitch in person.  His whole family had flown in from Puerto Rico the night before.  After Sanchez struck out the last batter to complete his no-hitter, the camera showed him hugging manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti.  If we crack open the history books, we find that Sanchez’ no-no was the first by a left handed Giants pitcher since 1929, back when Carl Hubbell accomplished the feat with the New York Giants.  The last no-hitter thrown by a Giant was in 1976 by John Montefusco.

Perhaps the most nail-biting part of the game came with 1 out in the 9th, when Aaron Rowand saved a deep fly ball by Edgar Gonzalez for the 2nd out.  In the words of Harry Caray, Edgar needed one more biscuit for breakfast and that ball would have been gone.  Sanchez then struck out Everth Cabrera to end the game.  Besides this being Sanchez’ first no-hitter, it was also his first complete game and shut-out.  There is no doubt that Sanchez has re-solidified his spot in the starting rotation after a night like that.  Congratulations, Jonathan, our hats go off to you!

Wrighting the ship – Team U.S.A. stuns Puerto Rico in WBC nail-biter

Posted in MLB with tags , , on March 18, 2009 by nathanelwell

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Baseball fever is here.  Team U.S.A. defeated Puerto Rico on Tuesday night, and knocked them out of the World Baseball Classic.  Next up for Team U.S.A. is the semi-final round at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.  After being humiliated by a slaughter-rule defeat against Puerto Rico last Saturday, U.S.A. came back with a vengeance and had their way with Puerto Rico by overcoming a 5-3 deficit in the 9th inning.  It was brought to you by Mets star David Wright, as he golfed a 2 run single down the right field line.  “That situation is what you dream about when you’re a kid” said Wright of his hit.

The U.S. will determine their seed for the semi-final based on the result of a match-up with Venezuela on Wednesday.  The U.S. team has now eliminated two different teams while being on the brink of elimination themselves.  “If you are a baseball fan, you had to enjoy this game,” Jeter said. “Regardless of what country you’re from , which I’m sure if you are from Puerto Rico you were a little bit disappointed, but it was still an exciting game to watch”.  This is what the great American past-time is all about – and hopefully it’ll spur more viewer ship for the regular season which is quickly approaching us!

Just picture it now – a front row seat in the left field of Turner Field.  A foot-long Hebrew National hot dog with all the fixen’s and a nice tall Coke.  What more could a guy ask for?  And multiply that times 160 and you’ve got yourself a season full of excitement.  For those of you who have little to no interest in baseball, please take a quick inventory of what baseball has to offer you:

1) All you can eat seats: A new concept, in which you are given a bracelet in the stadium, and you can eat 1,2,5, or 10 hot dogs during a 9 inning game, plus all the popcorn, fries, and Coke that you want.

2) Free entertainment by fan-watching: We’ve all seen the 300 pound man sitting next to us in the bleachers who has consumed 7 beers and criticizes the players on the field for their efforts.

3) 2 words – shirt gun: Its fun to watch the group of entertainers run out on the field with the t-shirt guns, only to shoot them directly into the face of an innocent 6 year old kid.

4) Home run balls: There is no better feeling then catching a ball bare-handed that was hit 400 feet to you compliments of Chipper Jones (or insert your favorite star here).

5) Seat upgrades: We’ve all done it.  When we are sitting up in the nosebleeds during the 1st inning, we somehow manage to get ourselves down to the seats behind the dugout by the 5th inning.

March Madness is here.  But for some people it isn’t a college basketball thing, it is all about the long ball! (chicks dig it, ya know?)

Time For Another Top Ten

Posted in MLB with tags , , on November 17, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Well here we are.  Another Monday.  is it just me, or are Mondays remarkably less depressing during football season? I mean when football isn’t on Monday is just a cruel reminder that you’re as far away from the weekend as you can get.  Even during baseball season your team has a good chance of having the night off on Monday.  So thanks football – we appreciate your presence on Monday nights.

Anyways, I’m heading out on another trip tomorrow so I’ll be absent for the rest of the week. But thought I’d write up a fresh Top Ten list to leave you with.  In honor of the free agency period starting in MLB last Friday, I thought I’d do the top ten ways to tell if you’re Scott Boras.

1.  The only recession you see is in A-Rod’s hairline.

2.  You’re number 3 on the American Public’s most wanted list, behind Osama Bin Laden and Steve Bartman.

3.  When you have people over for dinner, you present them with a thick binder explaining all the various reasons that the cheeseburger you have just made for them is the greatest cheeseburger in history.

4.  Then you charge them to eat that cheeseburger.

5.  You think Obi-Wan Kenobe’s Jedi mind tricks were amateur at best.

6.  When you get a speeding ticket, you somehow convince the policeman to give you $200.

7.  Instead of cereal, you eat small market teams for breakfast.

8.  You think the $52 million extension that Jake Peavy signed last year is “cute.”

9.  You believe AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac should have held out for more from the government.

10.  During your neighbor’s wedding ceremony, you held a press conference in the church lobby to announce that your daughter is single and ready to accept dating offers.

Trading Intangibles

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , on November 14, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

You just gotta love the trade rumors.

The Braves are close to acquiring Peavy.

Oh wait, no they’re not.

The Cubs are now the favorite.

Ok maybe they’re just talking.

The Padres are going to keep Peavy.

But that would be tough to do considering he would take up more than a quarter of their 2009 payroll.

Makes you wonder if we just can’t completely trust the media anymore. Weird.

With all that in mind, I’d like to piggyback on one of the other Nate’s posts a few days ago.  He and Jen had a great discussion about the importance of character and if or why it should be considered when a team makes a personnel decision.  By the way, appreciated the great feedback on that post, Jen, so thanks for the input.  Hope you all will feel free to do that anytime you have some thoughts on a post.

Now that’s not the first time we’ve discussed the character issue and so I don’t want to beat a dead horse but…..I’m going to anyways. That’s completely a figure of speech. Don’t want PETA banging on my door for horse abuse. Or maybe it would be hate speech towards horses. Anyways…

I’m going to try and approach the issue from another angle, though.  The one we’ve already talked about is how an athlete’s character effects the fan.  If they’re perceived as role models, whether they want to be or not, then shouldn’t that be considered when they’re given a public platform?

But the question I want to cover is one that was raised to me today by someone who’s very much in the know about such things: does character it effect the team?  The answer I got was a resounding “yes.” And it’s something that needs to be thought through very carefully.

Look, I don’t think there’s any denying that what happens in the clubhouse has a huge impact on how the team performs on the field.  I’ve heard players from various sports at various levels say the same thing.  Time after time we hear individuals from a successful team say that one of the huge keys to success is the clubhouse chemistry.  That’s why the Sox unloaded Manny.  He was becoming such a distraction that it was disrupting the clubhouse and having a negative effect on the team.

No, good chemistry doesn’t guarantee a winning season,  just like bad chemistry doesn’t guarantee a losing one.  But most players and management will admit it’s a huge factor.

So with the trade winds blowing stronger every day, I got to thinking: is this something that GM’s should be taking into consideration?  Gaining a star player can help your team immensely on paper.  But giving up a popular clubhouse presence can take away from the statistical advantage.

That’s why as a fan, I’d like to see the Braves tread carefully with the Peavy deal. in terms of who they give up in return.  Most will say I’m crazy because Peavy is one of the best in the game. And I’m not saying he’s not a good clubhouse presence at all.  I don’t know anything of the guy but I have no reason to think he’s not a great teammate.  The question comes in what they give up in return.  The latest rumors have the Braves possibly giving up Blaine Boyer in the 4-5 player package they would need to get Peavy.  And from what I know and what I’ve observed, Boyer would be a huge loss to that team.  He’s a solid guy and a great teammate.

Another disclaimer – I’m not saying that’s not true of any of the other players involved.  You can have a team full of great guys, but that doesn’t mean that they all have an equal impact on the clubhouse.  Some personalities just play that role more than others.  So I’m just highlighting Boyer’s place with the team, and and I believe losing him would be a big loss for the team.

Yeah, you have to give up a lot to get a lot.  But I do believe that character counts when you’re building a team of guys who will spend most of their time together.  So all I’m saying is it’s an intangible detail that GM’s need to keep in mind.  When you have the camaraderie, guys are more likely to play as a team.  They’re less likely to go up there and think of how they can pad their own stats.  They’re going to go up there and do whatever it takes to make the team AND the teammate a success.

I’m Not Dead Yet

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , , , , on October 17, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Just when baseball fans across the country were figuratively walking through the streets of Boston crying, “Bring out your dead,” the Red Sox responded by letting everyone know that they’re not dead yet.  

The Sox made an improbable comeback last night, winning the game after being down 7-0 at one point.  Could this comeback lead to a comeback in the series?  

This team has shown several times in recent years that they apparently work best under pressure in the first two rounds of the playoffs.  After all, why make things easier by winning a couple games early on in the series when you just have more fun by winning after you’re on the brink of elimination?  

Game 6 has a lot of promise to it for either team with Boston sending Beckett to the mound and Tampa responding with James Shields.  If this were the Josh Beckett of 2007, you’d think the Sox would have the edge, even with Shields’ impressive season.  But Beckett hasn’t been the same this year and especially in these playoffs.  

I think the Rays have to treat this next game as a must win.  They don’t want to take this to 7 games and have the series come down to a win against Lester.  He may have gotten rocked in his first start in the series, but the chances of him doing that again don’t seem likely.  

Do the Rays still have the advantage? Of course.  But Boston’s win last night changed the look of this series dramatically.