Arizona Diamondbacks Strengths: While the Diamondbacks welcome back the power numbers of 1B Adam LaRoche (25 HR, 100 RBI) and OF Chris Young (27 HR, 91 RBI), they will need to improve their sub .265 AVGs. Closer J.J. Putz is a great addition to the bullpen, and SP Armando Galarraga, along with youngster SP Daniel Hudson, look to improve a starting rotation that struggled last year.
Weaknesses: 3B Mark Reynolds is gone. He took with him his 32 HRs from last season but also a .198 AVG. Veteran Melvin Mora will try to fill Reynolds’s shoes, but his career has been in decline for a few years now. This young team needs a leader and will remain at the bottom of the NL until someone emerges.
Analysis: Manager Kirk Gibson will begin his first year as a manager and will need to take control from the start. It’s going to be another long year in Arizona for a team that has a lot of talent but are not too sure how to use it.
After dominating the Los Angeles Dodgers out of the NLCS, the Philadelphia Phillies are headed back to the World Series, with thoughts of repeating on their minds. Naturally, when something good happens in the City of Brotherly Love sports-wise, Philadelphia fans celebrated in style — if, by “in style” you mean getting thrown off of moving taxis. More than likely, the Phillies will be presenting their repeat bid to the New York Yankees, who hold a 3-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, which is located in California. Granted, the Angels could prolong the inevitable make things interesting tonight, but smart money has the Yankees trying to dethrone the current Kings of Baseball when the Fall Classic starts next week.
They say a picture says 1000 words, and this picture taken the split-second after Matt Holliday committed the error heard round the baseball world says more than I ever could. You could say it cost the St Louis Cardinals the game, although, at some point, doesn’t the Cardinals bullpen deserve some scorn too? It’s not like the winning runs were scored on that play. Yes, the error would’ve been out number three, and yes it gave the Dodgers another chance, but if the Cardinals bullpen would’ve been better… In fact, here’s the play-by-play following Holliday’s error:
Blake walked on a full count. Belliard singled to center, Pierre scored, Blake to second. On Molina’s passed ball, Blake to third, Belliard to second. Martin walked on four pitches. Loretta pinch-hitting for Sherrill. Loretta singled to center, Blake scored, Belliard to third, Martin to second.
As you can see, the Cardinals faced four more Dodgers’ batters before the winning run was scored. Is it Holliday’s fault his pitcher couldn’t pick his error up? Or is everyone so fixated on a dropped third out, the stuff that followed — that is, the winning runs — is insignificant? Before we put the dunce cap completely on Holliday’s dome, consider the fact his pitching staff wasn’t much help after the error was committed.
A passed ball, coupled with a four-pitch walk is every bit the culprit Holliday’s beefed catch is.
Manny Ramirez has tested positive for a performance enhancers and faces a 50-game suspension, and it’s quickly shaping up to be the story that could potentially get us through summer, depending on what happens with Brett Favre and Alex Rodriguez. The story is shaping up quite rapidly, as we’ve already had the news break, a response from Scott Boras, Manny’s agent, and a response from Ramirez himself. Essentially, the buck is being passed from steroids to a prescription that accidentally triggered the positive result — although, it looks like the drugs Ramirez used were to combat steroid side-effects. One thing, however, that’s stood out to me is how much better the British vocabulary is as compared to American sports writers and bloggers.
Is it just me, or does the word “match” change the level of sophistication of the report? While the word “game” is just as correct, it’s certainly not nearly as effective. Unfortunately, if American writers use it, we come off sounding obtuse and elitist. Knowing it’s from a British source, however, changes the reaction to the word “match” — at least it does for me. The article, because of one word, now comes across as an academic approach to the Manny Ramirez situation.
I don’t know, maybe the word “match” makes the news easier to stomach.
The never-ending “will he or won’t he” saga surrounding Manny Ramirez came to an end today after he agreed to rejoin the Dodgers for two years at $45 million. How very upstanding and selfless of him. In what the LA Times call “The Great Compromise of 2009,” both sides finally got this re-signing out of public’s eye after months and months of “is Manny going to stay in LA?” The deal pays him $25 million for this season — second highest behind A-Rod — and if he decides to exercise his player option in 2010, Ramirez will get $20 million.
The City of Brotherly Love is a mere four games away from their first World Series title in 28 years, thanks to the pitching of Cole Hamels, the bat of Jimmy Rollins, and the shoddy fifth inning of infield play from Rafael Furcal. Hamels was masterful as he struck out five while giving up only five hits in seven innings. His two-game performance against the Dodgers earned him the NLCS MVP award.
Now the Phillies can rest, wait and set their pitching rotation while the run-up to the World Series continues. They will, of course, be facing the Boston Red Sox or the Tampa Bay Rays when the Fall Classic begins on October 22.
I was recently taken to task for suggesting Ryan Howard was every bit as valuable as the other National League MVP candidates. While I still feel he deserves consideration for his regular season contributions, Howard has been anything but valuable during the Phillies postseason run. In 27 at-bats, the Phillies clean-up man has only five hits, zero home runs and just two RBI. He’s also struck out seven times, something that shouldn’t surprise considering his lack of discipline at the plate.
Obama’s on the Phillies bandwagon, so make room. The Presidential hopeful announced his fanhood’s candidacy for Philadelphia last Saturday, while maintaining his White Sox fan standing. Obama’s move is similar to Sarah Palin’s puck-dropping ceremony as the candidates try to attract voters using Philadelphia sports.