Billy-Ball Daily: 2008-6-30

6/30/2008
Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

Billy-Ball – From the diamond to your desktop…
By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck

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The only spin here is on my screwball

Monday, June 30, 2008

Top of the 1st
MID SEASON AWARDS
We’re half way home – here are my selections for a half an award:

First Half AL MVP – This one is difficult, but I’m going with the magnificent season that Josh Hamilton is experiencing. The trade that brought Hamilton to the Rangers is resulting in an MVP candidate in one league and a Cy Young candidate in the other. It is great to see that Hamilton has overcome his demons and is achieving the potential that had been imposed on him.

First Half NL MVP – It’s hard to be wrong if you choose Chase Utley or Lance Berkman to be your MVP, but I went with the guy with the numbers in the AL and I’m going with Utley in the NL because of what he brings to his team. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite content if you disagree with me on this one and I’m willing to change my mind as often as the last email. It’s insane to think that Chipper Jones is as far down as third in my voting considering the season that he is having.

First Half AL Cy Young – Cliff Lee whose numbers look even better as the Indians sink precipitously in the AL Central. Lee has a 2.34 ERA, 90 Ks, and a WHIP of 1.04 to go along with his 11 wins. Joe Saunders is having a great season as well, but not like Lee and it’s not likely he will catch Lee in the second half either.

First Half NL Cy Young – Edinson Volquez, reminds me so much of a young Pedro Martinez and that is good thing. A Very Good Thing. I liked the first quarter of Brandon Webb’s season and Ryan Dempster is pitching mighty fine as is Aaron Cook and Ben Sheets.

First Half AL Closer – Francisco Rodriguez is going to break Bobby Thigpen’s all-time save record, but if the game is on the line this season, I’ll take Mariano Rivera who is simply remarkable. I have Paplebon concerns and they should be watched as the season progresses. George Sherril scares me way too much.

First Half NL Closer – If Kerry Wood stay healthy, how many saves would Kerry get? Let’s hope a lot.

First Half AL Rookie of the Year – Evan Langoria is doing great but it really does appear that Jacoby Ellsbury is the engine that makes the Red Sox run. As he has slumped recently the Sox offense has as well and it’s the first time that they have felt the absence of Big Papi. A special nod also goes to David Murphy.

First Half NL Rookie of the Year – Geovany Soto is hands down one of the most exciting additions behind the plate since Joe Mauer. He is an offensive and defensive force and seems to handles pitchers like a veteran. Lots of love to Kosuke Fukudome and the Reds’ Joey Votto.

Most Surprising AL team – Tampa Bay is in first place. Tampa Bay is in first place. Tampa Bay is in first place. No matter how many times I write it I still can’t believe it. I thought this team had potential which meant reaching .500. This team is the bomb. Runners-up – the Oakland A’s. Let me see if I understand how this works – you trade away your stars and your team improves. Nope, I just don’t get it. The Minnesota Twins should build a monument to honor Ron Gardenhire.

Most Surprising NL team – The Florida Marlins have been an incredible surprise, but my choice is the St. Louis Cardinals. How does LaRussa do it? They have spent one day below .500 and 30 days with at least a share of first place. They have a +28 run differential and they win with pitchers like Kyle Lohse, who nobody else wants. Their bullpen is a disaster and yet they get great performances from players like Ryan Ludwick, Skip Schumaker, and Rick Ankiel. They are very impressive.

Most Disappointing AL team – The Cleveland Indians are contenders for this but there is no question in my mind the pitiful performance of the Seattle Mariners makes them the most disappointing team. The Tigers are disappointing but coming back, the Indians are disappointing but may end of on the upside of .500. The Mariners, on the other hand, have fired their GM and manager and are on their way to becoming the first $100 million, 100 loss team.

Most Disappointing NL team – The New York Mets have to be contenders here, but I think they are still in position to make a run for the post-season. San Diego is miserable, Colorado is miserable, the Giants are miserable, the Dodgers are not quite mediocre and the Diamondbacks are simply mediocre. Bottom line? The NL West is one big disappointment.

AL Manager of the Year – I would love to give this Joe Maddon of the Rays, but clearly that is his secret identity. Hiding behind his Clark Kent glasses, this Super Man(ager) has been sending out Rays of success and watch out if they nab Sabathia.

NL Manager of the Year – As much as I would like to give it to Freddi Gonzalez in Florida, I think that this has been a remarkable job of motivation by Tony LaRussa this season with the Cardinals. Here is a guy who is using the players he has, battling injuries, and creating a dangerously winning squad.

First half AL Team to beat – The Boston Red Sox. They have more depth than an Olympic diving pool

First half NL Team to beat – The Chicago Cubs. But be warned Zambrano may be more damaged than you think.

Underachieving AL First Half Team to Watch Out For in the Second Half – Don’t ignore the Tigers. Don’t.

Underachieving NL First Half Team to Watch Out For in the Second Half – Jerry Manuel may end up as Manager of the Year if the Mets come back…and they might.

AL First Half Whacko – Milton Bradley, need I say more?

NL First Half Whacko – Shawn Chacon, with an assist from Ed Wade.

First Half AL Team to root for in the second half – The Rays can be the story of the season.

First Half NL Team to root for in the second half – The Cubbies can be the story of the century.

Feel free to comment, dispute and agree to disagree – send me your thoughts – Bill@Billy-Ball.com.

Top of the 2nd
NO NO-NO
Here’s the rule: An official no-hit game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings. In a no-hit game, a batter may reach base via a walk, an error, a hit by pitch, a passed ball or wild pitch on strike three, or catcher’s interference.

This is why despite the fact that Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night — and it still wasn’t good enough to be counted as a no-hitter or as a win for the Los Angeles Angels.

The Dodgers became the fifth team in modern major league history to win a game in which they didn’t get a hit, defeating the Angels 1-0. Weaver’s error on a slow roller led to an unearned run by the Dodgers. Because the game was at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers didn’t have to bat in the 9th.

Here’s all you need for future discussion on the matter:
Allowed No Hits, Lost Game
Year Pitcher(s) Team
2008 J. Weaver, J. Arredondo Angels
1992 Matt Young Red Sox
1990 Andy Hawkins Yankees
1967 S. Barber, S. Miller Orioles
1964 Ken Johnson Colt .45’s

Top of the 3rd
MANNY BEING CHACON
Manny Ramirez has apologized for pushing the team’s traveling secretary to the ground in the visitors clubhouse during a confrontation Saturday in Houston, according to a report in The Providence Journal. Ramirez had requested 16 tickets from Jack McCormick for Saturday’s game against the Astros, the report said. After McCormick said that it might not be possible, Ramirez replied by yelling “just do your job,” according to Monday’s report.

Ramirez and McCormick later discussed the incident in a private meeting, during which the left fielder made amends.

“That’s over,” Ramirez said Sunday, according to the report. “We’re fine now.”

Top of the 4th
PINELLA ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY
“”You know, the fans like it, and what it all boils down to is what the fans like and don’t like,” he said. “That’s what you play for. They’re the ones who support this. So if the fans are for it, I’m for it. Doesn’t bother me. The interleague thing, it breaks up the NL schedule a little bit.”

Pinella hates interleague play.

Top of the 5th
NO TIPPING ALLOWED
Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran watched video and Beltran detected where Pedro might be tipping his pitches.

Martinez, roughed up by the Rockies and Yankees in his past two starts, has a 7.12 ERA. When the Yankees drew five walks Friday night, he suspected they might be identifying his pitches and taking ones they’d usually chase.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-SITE-OF-THE-DAY
I never feel like I give enough love to the Angels, these folks do:
http://www.halosheaven.com/

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
AL
Royals (Zack Greinke) at Orioles (Brian Burres), 7:05
Rangers (Scott Feldman) at Yankees (Mike Mussina), 7:05
Red Sox (Justin Masterson) at Rays (Jamie Shields), 7:10
Tigers (Armando Galarraga) at Twins (Glen Perkins), 8:10
Indians (Jeremy Sowers) at White Sox (Gavin Floyd), 8:11
A’s (Greg Smith) at Angels (Jon Garland), 10:05
Blue Jays (Roy Halladay) at Mariners (R.A. Dickey), 10:10

NL
Mets (John Maine) at Cardinals (Kyle Lohse), 7:05
Pirates (Paul Maholm) at Reds (Aaron Harang), 7:10
Nationals (Tim Redding) at Marlins (Ryan Tucker), 7:10
Dodgers (Eric Stults) at Astros (Roy Oswalt), 8:05
Padres (Greg Maddux) at Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa), 9:05
Brewers (David Bush) at Diamondbacks (Doug Davis), 9:40
Cubs (Ted Lilly) at Giants (Barry Zito), 10:15

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Of the Phillies’ 15 interleague games, only six were on the road.

Top of the 9th
RIOS CAUGHT NIPPING
Daniel Rios of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows became the third player to get suspended for a doping violation since Nippon Professional Baseball instituted its drug policy last season. Rios, who played briefly with the Yankees in 1997 and the Kansas City Royals in 1998, was hit with a one-year suspension, and the Swallows that same day terminated his contract. The 35-year-old right-hander tested positive for the banned substance hydroxystanozorol, a metabolite of the anabolic steroid stanozolol.

Rios follows Luis Gonzalez of the Yomiuri Giants, who was suspended for a year on May 26 for using amphetamines, and Rick Guttormson of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks was the first player to be suspended (for 20 games) when he tested positive for the masking agent finasteride last August.

Rios had posted double-digit wins over six consecutive seasons with Kia and Doosan in South Korea. He was 2-7 with a 5.46 ERA this season before being dropped to the farm team on June 2.

Bottom of the 9th
BUY THE BOOK
Bill Chuck is the creator of Billy-Ball.com and, with Jim Kaplan, is the author of the book, “Walk-Offs, Last Licks, and Final Outs – Baseball’s Grand (and not so Grand) Finales,” with a Foreword by Jon Miller available now from ACTA Sports.

Autographed first editions are available by contacting, Bill@billy-ball.com or order directly from Acta Sports, http://www.actasports.com/detail.html?&id=3427 or from your favorite bookstore worldwide.

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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.