Wednesday, September 14, 2005

King Felix vs. King Francisco

If you're a baseball rube, like you should be if you're reading baseball blogs, you'd know that Francisco Liriano, arguably the best pitching prospect in baseball not named Felix Hernandez, made his first major league start today against the Detroit Tigers. Liriano went 5 innings, giving up 2 ER on 2 hits while walking 1 and striking out 6. Liriano left the game on the hook, and to my surprise, the Twins actually managed to score a run after his departure to take him off the hook. The 2 run that Liriano gave up were via the HR, which seems to be the only way he's giving up runs since being called up. Since being called up, Liriano has thrown 7 innings, giving up 3 hits, 2 ER, walked 1 and struck out 11. If you're doing the math at home, that equates to a 0.57 WHIP, 3.86 ERA, and a whoppin' 14.14 K/9 rate. Hernandez on the other hand has thrown 58 innings, allowing 38 hits, 13 walks and 55 strikeouts. His ERA currently stands at 2.33, which took a bit of inflation after his first bad start against the Orioles 3 days ago.

But enough about that. I thought that with both Hernandez and Liriano making their ML debuts in the same year, and with both being touted as the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, that'd I'd do a little comparison between the two. Granted that Hernandez has had more MLB experience than Liriano, I'm going to compare their numbers at AAA, and which one looks to have more success at the Major League level.

At AAA Rochester, Liriano was 9-2, with a 1.78 ERA in 91 innings pitched. He gave up 56 hits, 24 walks, and 112 strikeouts. Between AA and AAA, Liriano led the minor leagues in strikeouts, which is a pretty impressive feat. Hernandez was 9-4 for Tacoma with a 2.25 ERA in 88 innings pitched. He surrended 62 hits, 48 walks, and 100 strikeouts. Granted that the Pacific Coast League, which Hernandez pitched in, is considered more of a hitter's park than the International League that Liriano pitched in. But both had very impressive numbers at AAA.

Liriano, 21 and Hernandez, 19 both look to be on their way to very impressive and successful Major League careers. Both the Twins and Mariners organizations have done a very good job protecting these two from possible injury, which in my mind, would be the only thing that would derail any success that either has at this level. If the Mariners can sign another young arm, or develop another young arm, they could have a very potent 1-2 punch with King Felix. The Twins starting rotation however looks to be headed in the right direction already with Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano both anchoring the rotation for years to come. Two power lefties possibly back to back...Wow, what a combination.

Both Felix and Francisco have proven their share that they shall be known as the "Kings" of the young pitchers in all of baseball.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Delmon Young Situation

This story was written by Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times in today's edition, and it brings up a very intriguing situation.

First off, what are the Devil Rays thinking? What logical reasons are there as to why Delmon Young isn't currently on the Tampa Bay major league roster...? One day after being selected as Baseball America's 2005 Minor League Player of the year, an award previously won by the likes of Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Frank Thomas, & Manny Ramirez, Delmon Young absolutely blasted Chuck Lamar and the Tampa Bay organization.

"I did the best I could," Young said. "Tampa's going nowhere this year. They could at least call up guys that are going to be there in the future."

He also mentioned that "as soon as he gets his time up there, he'll bounce right out of there." To me, this sounds like a very disgruntled and frustrated young man, and rightfully so. You can call Delmon Young selfish for making comments like the one above, but he is 100% correct in his acquisitions of the Tampa Bay organization. The only legit reason that the D-Rays could be looking at is saving money, but even that is a little far fetched. Young has been touted as the best prospect in all of baseball, so why isn't he up with the big club? It's obvious that he is big league ready, it's just a matter of when he'll get a chance. Young hit .336 with 20 HR's, 71 RBI's, and 25 stolen bases in 84 games for Montgomery, and won the Southern League MVP despite being promoted to AAA in mid July.

Chuck Lamar was quoted saying that "by sometime next season believe that he will begin to establish himself as an outstanding major league player." Why wait till next year Chuck? In my opinion, and obviously Young's, next year is now. Next year has been the current year for the D-Rays for quite some time now.

Tampa Bay is cheap and Lamar obviously has no idea as to when a prospect is "big league ready." The D-Rays currently have two of the top prospects in all of baseball in Young and B.J. Upton, but they'd rather guys like Julio Lugo, and Damon Hollins holding down positions on the big league roster.

For the sake of baseball, let's atleast hope Delmon Young isn't dawning pinstripes in 6 years.

For the rest of this article in today's St. Petersburg Times, go here:

New Feature: Game of the Day

Since I just recently started this blog, I thought I'd add a few features along the way. The first one, as you can probably tell by the name and need no explanation, is going to be a "Game of the Day" post. For every day, I am going to select a Game of the Day, a game that has the most behind it. Now I could pull out my biased side and do Mets and Twins games on a constant basis, but I'd prefer to hit up random games.

Today's game could be a pretty obvious Game of the Day, with the Houston Astros hosting the Florida Marlins. Josh Beckett (13-8, 3.58 ERA) takes the hill for the Marlins against Wandy Rodriguez (9-7, 5.80 ERA). Before I get in-depth with the matchup, I want to get something off my chest first...Can you believe that a guy of Beckett's potential and hype has never had a 10+ win season before 2005? I guess all those injuries, mainly blisters, were the cause of those.

The Marlins currently hold a 1/2 game lead over the Astros after Dontrelle Willis' wonderful performance, both on the mound and at the plate, in last night's game. Willis, one of the front runners for the NL Cy Young, threw his 7th CG of the year last night, and also went "yahtzee" off of Astros reliever Scott Strickland. However, Dontrelle and his campaign for the NL Cy Young is reserved for another day on this site.

As the numbers will tell you, Wandy Rodriguez has a below average ERA along with a below average WHIP of 1.53. Beckett on the other hand can be one of the best pitchers in the league, but has struggled in his last 4 starts. In his last 4 starts, consisting of 21 innings, Beckett's ERA is 6.43. So to say that the Marlins have a distinct edge in tonight's matchup would be a little absurd, but not too unintelligent based on the careers and overall numbers of tonight's starters.

Houston's offense is one of the worst in the NL, with Florida's pitching staff being one of the best, young staff's in all of baseball. However, Florida's run differential is only +25 compared to Houston's +53. Both teams are built on their pitching staffs, with Houston having the distinct advantage in that area with a 3.59 team ERA, compared to Florida's 4.02 team ERA. Florida is currently tied for 1st in team BA with the Cubs at .273, with Houston being one of the bottom dwellers in offensive categories in the NL.

Florida is an average road team at best with a .500 record of 36-36 while Houston has been very good at home with a 46-25 record. With this being a huge 4 game series between the two Wild Card contenders, it's almost certain that the Marlins have to win tonight's game with the Astros sending out Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte in the following 2 games. This series could have a very bright and/or dark outcome in the NL Wild Card picture, depending on who you root for.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Are These Indians For Real?

Are these Indians for real? Who are the guys currently playing in the Tribe uniforms? What has all of a sudden jump started this team to not only the AL Wild Card lead, but also only 5.5 games out of 1st place in the AL Central with 6 games left against the first place Chicago White Sox?

Well to start, their pitching staff has emerged to be one of the top in the American League. They are currently tied by 4th in team ERA, led by starters Kevin Millwood & Cliff Lee along with closer Bob Wickman who currently has 39 saves. Millwood is currently the ERA leader in the American League, which shouldn't come as a surprise since Millwood has a very good lifetime ERA of 3.81. C.C. Sabathia, the proclaimed "ace" of the Indians pitching staff has had an average year by his standards, along with Jake Westbrook who has a 4.59 ERA after having a very good 2004 season winning 14 games and a 3.38 ERA. However, maybe the biggest surprise of this pitching staff would have to be the bullpen. Led by Bob Wickman with 39 saves, along with an MLB leading 2.87 team bullpen ERA. Is the bullpen for real? Will they hold up late into September and into October? Will Sauerbeck, Betancourt, Riske, Rhodes, & Miller be able to consistenly get the ball to Wickman? If the 2005 season up until this point has any indication of the answer, all signs would assume so.

The success of the Indians can obviously be related to the pitching staff, but the offense has also done their share of helping. Mixed with a blend of young and veteran hitters, this offense has scored the 6th most runs in all of baseball. Perhaps the biggest and most important ingredient in the Cleveland lineup would be leadoff hitter, Grady Sizemore. Sizemore, acquired in the Bartolo Colon to the Expos trade, has been nothing but superb for the Indians this year. As a leadoff hitter, he is second on the team in RBI's with 76 behind Hafner's 88.

A lot of these young hitters, like Sizemore, have grown into some solid everyday ballplayers, and that could be credited to the patience exerted by the GM of the Indians, Mark Shapiro. When the Indians went into the rebuilding mode, Shapiro knew it needed to happen. He realized the market was changing, and it was time to get some young talent. Sizemore & Crisp are obviously the catalysts of this offense, but a lot of the Indians 2nd half offensive success can be attributed to the 2nd half of Victor Martinez. This guy has done nothing but tear the cover off the ball in the 2nd half of the season posting a .447 OBP, a .589 SLG%, & an absurd 1.036 OPS. Right next to Jason Varitek and Joe Mauer, this guy is the best offensive catcher in the AL.

Shapiro said that 2006 was supposed to be the year the Indians got into major contention in the American League, but it looks like this team has arrived a year earlier than expected. While watching the Indians continue to piledrive the Minnesota Twins this past weekend at Jacobs Field, you could tell that baseball is back in the city of Cleveland. This team doesn't just want a Wild Card berth, they feel has though the major contention that was supposedly going to happen in 2006 could happen in 2005.

And by looking at the numbers and the kind of production they are getting from their pitching staff and their lineup, that might not be too far out of the question.

Welcome to Baseball Wonderworld

I have decided to start a blog of my own after reading numerous blogs. I thought I'd join the fast growing blog community, and try sharing some of my baseball knowledge with everyone.

I will have my first blog posted sometime tonight or tomorrow. I am currently a college student, but I will be posting a new blog, or numerous blogs, daily. Once again, welcome and I hope you all enjoy.