Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-6-29

6/29/2006
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Billy-Ball – From the diamond to your desktop…

Subscribe to Billy-Ball – it’s free – www.billy-ball.com

Get well soon, Peter!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Top of the 1st
ELECTION DAY
According to the folks over at MLB.com, the online voting for the Monster.com 2006 All-Star Game Balloting ends at 11:59 PM ET tonight, which means that today is the day you should be casting your All-Star votes. For those of you who have been voting since the voting began (early February?), I’m sure Chris Shelton appreciated your votes.

Before I get to my votes, I want to make sure everyone appreciates the irony of Monster.com sponsoring this farce, err, voting. For those of you in other countries, Monster.com is a job seekers data base. Individuals post their resumes and prospective employers search the site to find the employee of their dreams.

All-Stars are obviously the last folks who need Monster.com. It would be much more appropriate for Monster.com to sponsor the waiver wire or “This free agent list is brought to you by Monster.com. If you are a free agent, Monster.com is where your resume should be.”

Back to the voting. Here’s where we currently stand and here are my selections:
American League
First Base
1 David Ortiz, Red Sox 1,666,940
2 Jason Giambi, Yankees 1,016,991
3 Paul Konerko, White Sox 755,096
4 Travis Hafner, Indians 674,048
5 Mark Teixeira, Rangers 448,977

Obviously, I have no problem with the clutchest human on Earth being an All-Star, I do have a problem with David Ortiz being the first baseman. I’m a strong believer that the only time that should be a mandatory Designated Hitter is at the All-Star Game. Why we even pretend to have pitchers come to the plate, no matter what the venue, is beyond my comprehension.

Be that as it may, David Ortiz has played five games at first this season, which in my book makes him ineligible to be an All-Star at that position. Travis Hafner, who by the way is having a better season than Big Papi at DH, has only played four games at first. He’s out as well.

Amongst those listed, I love Konerko and Tex, but the combination of power and OBP, my vote goes by a sliver to Giambi over Konerko with Kevin Youkilis third on my ballot.

Second Base
1 Robinson Cano, Yankees 1,045,221
2 Mark Loretta, Red Sox 966,652
3 Tadahito Iguchi, White Sox 849,149
4 Jose Lopez, Mariners 516,501
5 Placido Polanco, Tigers 456,930

There is a very good crop of AL second basemen this season and for me two stand out and one is a close third. Mark Loretta has been as steady as can be both at the plate and in the field. He ranks third in my voting. Once again, I am torn, but my vote goes to mariner Jose Lopez over Iguchi.

Third Base
1 Alex Rodriguez, Yankees 1,751,939
2 Mike Lowell, Red Sox 876,520
3 Troy Glaus, Blue Jays 630,421
4 Joe Crede, White Sox 599,885
5 Eric Chavez, Athletics 511,264

The best third basemen this season are in the NL. Troy Glaus, doesn’t have a great average, but he has been an impact player and gets my vote over Joe Crede and Hank Blalock.

Shortstop
1 Derek Jeter, Yankees 1,867,418
2 Miguel Tejada, Orioles 1,401,157
3 Michael Young, Rangers 541,202
4 Alex Gonzalez, Red Sox 482,901
5 Juan Uribe, White Sox 403,111

You say Tejada, I say Jeter. You say Jeter, I say Tejada. Tejada? Jeter? Let’s call the whole thing off. I’m voting for Miggy.

Catcher
1 Jason Varitek, Red Sox 1,090,102
2 Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers 1,047,987
3 Joe Mauer, Twins 769,284
4 Jorge Posada, Yankees 768,280
5 A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox 622,351

There’s no discussion here. Joe Mauer is your All-Star. No question. Ramon Hernandez deserves to go, so does Victor Martinez and Jojima and Pudge. If you don’t vote for Mauer, you don’t deserve a vote.
Outfield
1 Manny Ramirez, Red Sox 1,936,373
2 Vladimir Guerrero, Angels 1,932,366
3 Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners 1,393,462
4 Johnny Damon, Yankees 1,221,891
5 Vernon Wells, Blue Jays 980,502
6 Jermaine Dye, White Sox 801,941
7 Torii Hunter, Twins 737,014
8 Coco Crisp, Red Sox 643,437
9 Scott Podsednik, White Sox 642,385
10 Gary Sheffield, Yankees 634,708
11 Trot Nixon, Red Sox 590,766
12 Magglio Ordonez, Tigers 559,722
13 Hideki Matsui, Yankees 512,222
14 Grady Sizemore, Indians 509,152
15 Carl Crawford, Devil Rays 339,518

Picking three here my first vote goes to Vernon Wells and my second vote goes to Alex Rios.Manny, Jermaine Dye, Magglio Ordonez are having quality seasons, but Ichiro is hitting over .350, if you don’t choose someone with those numbers there is something wrong with the system.

National League
First Base
1 Albert Pujols, Cardinals 2,206,409
2 Carlos Delgado, Mets 946,093
3 Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers 694,489
4 Sean Casey, Pirates 675,477
5 Lance Berkman, Astros 665,882

There really is no discussion here. If you want to be a multiple voter, you can vote up to 25 times, vote 23 times for Albert and throw a couple of votes to Nomar.

Second Base
1 Chase Utley, Phillies 1,236,143
2 Craig Biggio, Astros 1,097,119
3 Jose Castillo, Pirates 1,051,990
4 Jeff Kent, Dodgers 483,513
5 Marcus Giles, Braves 417,997

This is another easy vote for me. The best second baseman in baseball is Chase Utley. Utley deserves every vote.

Third Base
1 David Wright, Mets 1,386,584
2 Scott Rolen, Cardinals 1,041,250
3 Morgan Ensberg, Astros 687,229
4 Freddy Sanchez, Pirates 597,249
5 Miguel Cabrera, Marlins 561,601

The National League is blessed with third basemen. Here’s how I would cast my 25 ballots. Eight each for Scott Rolen and Miguel Cabrera and nine to my pick, and I believe I am making the Wright choice, choosing the Mets third baseman David Wright.

Shortstop
1 Jose Reyes, Mets 1,068,105
2 Jack Wilson, Pirates 986,117
3 David Eckstein, Cardinals 875,209
4 Edgar Renteria, Braves 784,030
5 Jimmy Rollins, Phillies 624,538

I pity the Mets because if Jose Reyes has as good contract year before he is free agent eligible as he has had these last few weeks leading up to the All-Star game, Reyes will cost a lot of money. The Sox have cooled Jose and if you think he is on a downward spiral, then join me in voting for Edgar Renteria.

Catcher
1 Paul Lo Duca, Mets 1,281,767
2 Mike Piazza, Padres 880,948
3 Brad Ausmus, Astros 724,172
4 Yadier Molina, Cardinals 692,302
5 Brian McCann, Braves 516,659

Johnny Estrada is having a very good season, but I’m voting for Michael barret because he has shown good punch at the plate.

Outfield
1 Jason Bay, Pirates 1,706,105
2 Carlos Beltran, Mets 1,537,849
3 Alfonso Soriano, Nationals 1,484,845
4 Ken Griffey Jr., Reds 1,366,906
5 Andruw Jones, Braves 1,250,129
6 Jim Edmonds, Cardinals 863,775
7 Bobby Abreu, Phillies 780,960
8 Carlos Lee, Brewers 668,581
9 Barry Bonds, Giants 639,755
10 Aaron Rowand, Phillies 602,813
11 Adam Dunn, Reds 479,532
12 Cliff Floyd, Mets 461,058
13 Xavier Nady, Mets 459,315
14 Willy Taveras, Astros 432,914
15 Matt Holliday, Rockies 416,230

My first of three votes goes to Matt Holliday; his season is a celebration, not just a holiday. then I have to pick two out of the following three: Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay and Carlos Lee. Begrudgingly, I’ll go with the two Carlos, but all four of these guys deserve to be All-Stars.

That wasn’t so difficult – write to me bill@billy-ball.com and share your ballot.

Top of the 2nd
I DON’T WANT TO SPOIL THE PARTY
Lyrics by Lennon and McCartney

“I don’t want to spoil the party so I’ll go
I would hate my disappointment to show
There’s nothing for me here so I will disappear
If she turns up while I’m gone please let me know

Though tonight she’s made me sad
I still love her
If I find her I’ll be glad
I still love her”

The pitching line last night at Fenway Park:
New York Mets
Pitchers IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Pedro Martinez (L,7-4) 3 7 8 6 2 1 1 3.45

Top of the 3rd
“FIGHT CLUB” NIGHT
Looking for a great minor league promotion? How about “Fight Club” Night? You might recall that “Fight Club” was a 1999 movie in which ordinary men channeled their primal male aggression by participating in underground “fight clubs.”

I even have a suggestion for the first match-up: the Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Brett Myers, who was arrested last Friday in Boston and accused of striking his wife on a street not far from Fenway Park, and yesterday was placed on the temporary inactive list. In order for the Phillies to fill out their 25-man major-league roster while Myers is away, they optioned the pitcher to Class A Clearwater. While he’s not expected to pitch, there’s no reason why he can’t fight.

His opponent would be Tigers designated hitter Dmitri Young, who pleaded no contest this week to a domestic violence charge in Michigan, and is also headed to Florida for a workout and conditioning program. Young traveled yesterday to Lakeland, Fla., and at some point is scheduled to play for Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, Ohio.

Young was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 22 with a quadriceps injury and was granted permission to leave the team to deal with personal issues relating to an arrest warrant that was issued after he was accused of choking a 21-year-old woman from Toledo on April 14 at a suburban Detroit hotel.

Young is 6’2″, 245 and Myers is 6’4″, and weighs in at 238, so this would finally be a fair fight for these gentlemen.

Top of the 4th
GRAND CENTRAL
Justin Verlander of the Tigers became the first rookie in four years to have at least 10 wins before the All-Star break. Verlander pitched three-hit ball for eight innings and the Detroit Tigers topped the Houston Astros, 5-0. Verlander (10-4) struck out seven and walked none, winning his third straight start and joined Kazuhisa Ishii, who won 11 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers before the 2002 All-Star game, as the only major league rookies to get off to such strong starts in the past four years.

Last season was the first in major-league history in which complete games accounted for fewer than 25 percent of all shutouts (24.1 percent); this season, that percentage is even lower (22.1 percent). Verlander was the 12th starting pitcher this season to be removed from a game after eight shutout innings despite throwing fewer than 100 pitches.

The Tigers have won six straight and 17 of their last 20 games, maintaining the best record in baseball. Detroit swept a six-game homestand against Houston and the St. Louis Cardinals, the past two NL champions. Detroit’s seven-game winning streak at home is the longest in the seven-season history of Comerica Park. Their 54-25 record is one game behind the 79-game mark of the 1984 World Series champions and the Ty Cobb-led 1911 team in franchise history.

Houston has lost six of seven, its worst slump since dropping six in a row from May 5-10, and has not scored in its last 20 innings.

The Chicago White Sox came from three down in the 7th inning to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3. The World Series champions won their 11th in 12 games and 13th in 15 games. They are 12-2 in interleague play and have won their last eight series since dropping two of three to the Rangers from June 2-4.

The Pirates set a team record with their 13th consecutive defeat. The Pirates, winless for more than two weeks, their last victory was 9-7 over St. Louis on June 14, broke the modern-era (since 1900) club record of 12 straight losses set in 1939. The only longer losing streak in Pittsburgh’s major league history was a 23-game slide by the Alleghenies in 1890. Until the current streak, the Pirates had not lost more than 10 in a row in 38 years or more than 11 in a row in 51 years. Actually, it’s their longest since 14 straight losses that spanned the 1954 and 1955 seasons. Their current 13-year streak of losing seasons is the longest in the majors and three short of the Phillies’ major league record. They have lost 14 of 15.

Johan Santana pitched seven shutout innings and Torii Hunter hit a grand slam to lead the Twins to their seventh straight victory, 6-3 over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Minnesota has won 17 of 19 but gained only a half-game on first-place Detroit in the AL Central during that stretch.

Santana (9-4) allowed two hits and struck out nine to increase his big league-leading total to 124. The left-hander finished June 5-0 in six starts with a 1.05 ERA. Santana hasn’t lost any of his last 15 starts at the Metrodome (since Aug. 6, 2005), posting a 9-0 with a 1.91 ERA in home games over that span. Santana’s 15 consecutive home starts without a loss is the longest current streak of its kind for any pitcher; Josh Beckett and Jason Schmidt are both undefeated in their last 12 starts at home. Santana’s streak is the longest for a Twins pitcher since Frank Viola set the franchise record by going 19-0 over a span of 24 regular-season home starts from 1987-88.

Serving as Minnesota’s designated hitter yesterday, Joe Mauer went 2-for-3 with a walk to improve his major league-best batting average to .392. He went 11-for-13 in the three-game sweep and had hits in eight consecutive at-bats before grounding out in the second inning. He is batting .484 (46-for-95) in June.

Bottom of the 4th
ALSO
By defeating the Mets, 10-2, the Red Sox extended its winning streak to 11 games, all against NL teams and its longest in 11 years. The Red Sox extended their club record to 15 consecutive errorless games.

Felix Hernandez pitched seven strong innings to lead the Seattle Mariners over the Arizona Diamondbacks, 10-3. Seattle moved one game over .500 for the first time since they were 3-2 on April 7.

The Diamondbacks have lost 19 of their last 22. The Diamondbacks, who led the NL West by 2 1/2 games on June 6, now trail the first-place Padres by 4 1/2 games.

American League teams won seven of the eight interleague games that were played at AL ballparks; the Angels’ loss to the Rockies was the only defeat. During the month of June, American League teams are 60-21 (.741) in home games against National League opponents.

Top of the 5th
IF I HELP SELL IT – DO I GET A COMMISSION?
The Giants’ Steve Finley has put his Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., estate on the market for $10 million. The property, about 25 miles north of San Diego, sits on just over four acres with five bedroom suites and seven baths. Finley and his wife, Amy, had the 10,000-square-foot home built in 2003 on land they bought in 2000 for about $2 million, records show. Mrs. Finley, who owns and runs a furniture and interior-design firm in nearby Del Mar, designed the home with the help of local architect Larry Case in what the listing broker describes as an authentic Tuscan Farmhouse style.

The two-story home includes antique terra-cotta floors and a one-bedroom detached guest house. The couple is building a new home nearby, according to their listing broker, Laura Barry, of Barry Estates Inc., in Rancho Santa Fe.

If you plan on buying it, mention my name.

Top of the 6th
BASEBALL TERMINOLOGY – LEGALLY CAUGHT PITCH
There are several conditions under which a pitch is legally caught:
* The catcher catches the pitch in his glove before the ball touches the ground
* The catcher smothers the ball against his body after it has first struck his hand or glove
* A foul tip glances off the catcher’s glove and is then caught by the catcher using both hands against his body.

A pitch is not legally caught if the ball gets stuck in the catcher’s clothing or paraphernalia or if the pitch touches the umpire before the catcher catches it on the rebound.

Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 6/29/2006
Happy birthday to this flaky pitcher from the `60s.
BASH BOW

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 6/29/2006
Who are only two batting champions who hit under .250 the year before winning their batting titles?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com

Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 6/29/06
Happy birthday, Groove
BOND ROYAL – DON BAYLOR

BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 6/29/06
Last year, Carl Crawford became the fifth player since World War II with 30 doubles, 15 triples and 15 home runs in a season. Name the other four. Two of them did it in 1984.
George Brett (1979), Stan Musial (1946 and ’48), Juan Samuel (1984, ’87) and Ryne Sandberg (1984).

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Here’s a neat one to talk about with your friends. On April 24, 1974, the White Sox beat the Brewers, 7-2. All thirteen Sox hits were singles. If that were not enough, the Brewers, had eight hits and they were all singles.

In that same game, Terry “Big Fat Tub of Goo” Forster’s pitching line: 3 IP, 1H, 0 R, 1BB, 8 K.

Top of the 9th
JULIO FRANCO’S TEAMMATES
We’re tracking Julio Franco’s career, year by year, using his teammates as a frame of reference.

In 2003, with the Atlanta Braves, Franco’s teammates included Marcus Giles, Mike Hampton, Russ Ortiz, Jason Marquis and Andruw Jones.

Bottom of the 9th
VISIT-BILLY-BALL-WORLD
* Share your thoughts with the rest of Billy-Ball-World at the Forum – www.billy-ball-forum.com
* There’s always something new going on in the Billy-Ball-Bullpen, where blown saves are just a pitch away – http://billy-ball.com/bullpen.asp
* Catch up with Billy-Ball: http://billy-ball.seo-blog.org
* Add Billy-Ball to your Yahoo: http://add.my.yahoo.com/rss?url=http://www.seo-blog.org/5998_billy-ball/feeds/rss20
* Trivia questions are often from the creative minds of T. Scott Brandon
t_scott_brandon@msn.com and D. Bruce Brown bbrown8870@aol.com and you are always encouraged to get their e-mailings.

Have a great day!

Support Billy-Ball via PayPal (on the home page) or Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/paypage/PBANN9XCMMFSH. The donations are anonymous to protect those of you who are too embarrassed to be seen giving to such a seedy enterprise.

Your Amazon purchases support Billy-Ball – www.billy-ball.com

Do you want to snail mail?
Billy-Ball
258 Harvard Street, #145
Brookline, MA 02446

Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.