Billy-Ball Daily: 2009-4-3

4/3/2009
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

Friday, April 3, 2009

Top of the 1st
THE PREDICTIONS

I take second place to no one when it comes to making bad predictions and when you look at my picks this year, I’m sure you will agree that I’m everybody’s fool.

I start by sharing last year’s records and my general outlook and I finish by giving you my peak at this coming season.

Cutting to the chase, the season ends with Chicago facing New York twice.

American League 2008
EAST W L PCT GB 2009?
Tampa Bay 97 65 .599 – Bullish
Boston 95 67 .586 2 Bearish
NY Yankees 89 73 .549 8 Bullish
Toronto 86 76 .531 11 Bearish
Baltimore 68 93 .422 28.5 Bearish

CENTRAL W L PCT GB 2009?
Chicago Sox 89 74 .546 – Bearish
Minnesota 88 75 .540 1 Bearish
Cleveland 81 81 .500 7.5 Bullish
Kansas City 75 87 .463 13.5 Bullish
Detroit 74 88 .457 14.5 Bearish

WEST W L PCT GB 2009?
LA Angels 100 62 .617 – Bearish
Texas 79 83 .488 21 Bullish
Oakland 75 86 .466 24.5 Bullish
Seattle 61 101 .377 39 Bullish

National League 2008
EAST W L PCT GB 2009?
Philadelphia 92 70 .568 – Bullish
NY Mets 89 73 .549 3 Bullish
Florida 84 77 .522 7.5 Bullish
Atlanta 72 90 .444 20 Bullish
Washington 59 102 .366 32.5 Bullish

CENTRAL W L PCT GB 2009?
Chicago Cubs 97 64 .602 – Bullish
Milwaukee 90 72 .556 7.5 Bearish
Houston 86 75 .534 11 Bearish
St. Louis 86 76 .531 11.5 Bullish
Cincinnati 74 88 .457 23.5 Bullish
Pittsburgh 67 95 .414 30.5 Bearish

WEST W L PCT GB 2009?
x-LA Dodgers 84 78 .519 – Bullish
Arizona 82 80 .506 2 Bullish
Colorado 74 88 .457 10 Bearish
San Francisco 72 90 .444 12 Bullish
San Diego 63 99 .389 21 Bearish

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
American League
EAST
NY Yankees New ballpark, new pitching staff, new first baseman, new pennant to hang.
* Tampa Bay Their biggest disadvantage is that they won’t be surprising anyone this year, but with additions of Pat Burrell and Matt Joyce and still more young pitching, this team will be back in the hunt.
Boston Best bullpen in baseball, great starting staff, reigning AL MVP; so why do concerns about offense and team chemistry worry me so much? One thing that wouldn’t surprise me is if the team is struggling on offense around the Break that they make a deal for Magglio Ordonez and then they could win it all.
Toronto Everything about this club indicates a .500 season. Now if they were in another division, they would be competitive, but in the AL East its as if they are from a different country.
Baltimore Next year, O’s fans, next year.

CENTRAL
Minnesota Simply equation here: Joe Mauer healthy = Division title; No healthy = oblivion.
Cleveland Vastly improved bullpen and with their starters they will need to be able to go to it often
Chicago Sox I just don’t see this team having the balance it needs to repeat and I think Ozzie may be Manny.
Kansas City One of two teams that could be this year’s Rays, but with Hochevar already hurting, .500 seems like a good goal.
Detroit A lot of good gloves, some good bats, but their pitching is less than mediocre and already injured. Curtis Granderson may be the finest human in the game and should be cheered by fans at every ballpark.

WEST
LA Angels I like Brian Fuentes maybe even more than K-Rod, but I have my doubts about Abreu, Morales and how much Guerrero and Hunter brings to the table. They won’t see 90 wins this year
Oakland The A’s will most likely be either two games up or two games down as we approach the trading deadline and Billy Beane will inexplicably start dumping players. Then again, this team could be the Rays of 2009.
Texas They will hit, but will they pitch? Good chance they are the division winner in 2010.
Seattle I have friends in Seattle who I like very much and I wish I could tell them something good but the only thing I can think of is that this team won’t be quite as bad as last year’s.

National League
EAST
NY Mets Delgado is in his free-agency year and he should be on fire all season. David Wright may be the MVP and one of the biggest pick-ups of the off-season was J.J. Putz. The Mets bullpen immediately makes their soft rotation look stronger.
* Philadelphia Hamel’s elbow has me already concerned and I don’t expect perfection from Lidge again, but I love the addition of Raul Ibanez.
Atlanta Derek Lowe should thrive, I expect Francoeur to have a big season, Larry should be Chipper and the bullpen will be awful.
Florida I’m not a huge fan of this team in part because they seem to be a bunch of young, talented players who seem more like a pick-up team than a cohesive team. Their defense is questionable and they know they won’t get any help from the front-office in trades if it means more payroll.
Washington It’s not easy for the worst team in baseball to not improve. Let me put it this way, they won’t lose 100 games this year, but 99 sounds about right.

CENTRAL
Chicago Cubs They are good now and will be better when they pick up Jake Peavy, which I remain convinced will happen. If Milton Bradley can stay healthy, this is a very, very good team.
St. Louis If Chris Carpenter continues to show in the regular season what he has shown in spring training, the Cards will be tough. I’m a little concerned with the DP combo of Khalil Greene, and Skip Schumaker but I have faith in Tony to figure things out.
Cincinnati The Reds used to have an ace pitcher by the name of Joey Jay. This year it’s Joey Votto and Jay Bruce who will lead the team out of mediocrity. They will be this year’s Brewers.
Milwaukee C what’s wrong with this team? C them lose a lot of games this season. I can already CC the difference from last year.
Houston Thank you Pittsburgh because in any other division this is a last place team
Pittsburgh 17 straight seasons of not reaching .500 awaits them and their future looks bleak.

WEST
LA Dodgers There is not a soft spot in the ineup and Manny has the perfect contract, he’s playing for himself. He does well and he’s a free-agent, he doesn’t do well and he’s got Dodger bucks awaiting him. Chad better not turn into Barbara Billingsley because all the pitchers need to be good.
Arizona The race should be exciting in the West because the D-Backs have Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Doug Davis and Jon Garland. They have a lot of good young hitters who strikeout way too often.
San Francisco I love the entire Giants pitching staff but their offense is less Giant and more Little Person. Edgar Renteria?!?!
Colorado It’s getting harder to remember that this team had a great September/October a couple of years ago. It will indeed be a rocky season.
San Diego A lousy team. Period.

* Wild Card Pick

ALDS
Yanks over Minnesota
Rays over Angels

NLDS
Cubs over Phillies
Mets over Dodgers

ALCS
Yanks over Rays

NLCS
Cubs over Mets

World Series
Yanks over Cubs

Top of the 2nd
100 RANDOM THINGS ABOUT THE RED SOX , RAYS AND YANKEES
http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/100_random_things_2009/

By yours truly.

Top of the 3rd
FROM THE BILL CHUCK FILES…
By Baseball Newstalgist, Bill Chuck
April 3, 2009

1. Adrian Gonzalez was the only player from the NL West who drove home over 100 runs in 2008. Playing in difficult Petco Park, Gonzalez drove home 49 runs at home and had 70 RBI on the road.
2. Last season amongst the undefeated, Ron Mahay and Scott Eyer each went 5-0. The Tribes’ Scott Lewis, Yankees’ David Robertson and ChiSox’ Adam Russell are each 4-0 lifetime making them the active undefeated pitchers with the most wins.
3. Last season, playing for Minnesota Joe Mauer hit nine homers and four triples, as did Adam Lind playing for Toronto. Since 2004, playing for Pittsburgh, Oakland, the Cubs and the Brewers, Jason Kendall has hit nine homers and four triples.
4. Over the last two seasons, Manny Parra has thrown 18 wild pitches in 192.2 innings; Dustin McGowan has also thrown 18 wild pitches but in 281 innings.
5. Since 2005, new Cubs closer Kevin Gregg’s ERA has dropped each year going from 5.04 to 3.41 last year. However, he still can’t buy a break with wins and losses going 1-2, 3-4, 0-5, and 7-8 over the last four seasons.
6. Rico Carty and Wally Joyner, who each spent some time in an Atlanta uniform, each finished their careers with 204 homers, which combined, equals the 408 homers that Chipper Jones has accrued solely in an Atlanta uniform.
7. Nolan Ryan played for original four expansion franchises: the Mets, Angels, Astros, and Rangers (who were once the Washington Senators. In his last season, he pitched with rookie Darren Oliver who has joined Ryan as the only players to hold the distinction of playing for those four clubs. BTW: From 1972-74 when Ryan played for the Angels, his teammate was Bob Oliver, Darren’s dad.
8. On the subject of expansion players, forty years ago Ron Fairly played for the 1969 Expos and the 1977 Blue Jays, the first year for each team.
9. Albert Pujols is tied with Prince Fielder’s dad for 98th on the all-time home run list with 319. Prince Fielder is tied for 602nd with Brad Fullmer and Whitey Lockman with 114 homers.
10. I know that got you thinking so: the Fielders have 433 homers, Ken Griffey Sr. hit 152 homers and Junior has hit 611 for a 763 total, and Barry hit 762 and Bobby Bonds hit 332 for a total of 1,094 dingers.
11. Wandy Rodriguez is an interesting pitcher to watch this season; both his ERA and WHIP has gone down each of the last three years, while his K’s have risen as has strikeout to walks ratio.
12. J.T. Snow ends his career having struck out 1,142 times the same number as Chipper Jones and Bert Campaneris.
13. Not only does Matt Stairs have the same number of doubles lifetime as Rocky Colavito (283), they each have .266 lifetime batting averages.
14. Last season, lefties hit Will Ohman at .200 clip, raising their lifetime against him to .197.
15. How important is John Lackey to the Angels? Well, his .591 W-L% is about the same as Josh Beckett’s .589 with a lot less publicity.
16. Pudge chasing Pudge: Ivan Rodriguez needs to score 23 runs to tie Carlton Fisk’s record of 1,276 runs for a catcher.
17. Luke Scott had 34 RBI last season at home and 34 in the first half of the season. He had 31 RBI on the road and 31 in the second. Just something I would expect from a player who hit for the reverse cycle — that is, a home run, triple, double and single in that order.
18. The Mendoza Line refers to Mario Mendoza’s .198 batting average in 1979. Perhaps a Mendoza Line for pitchers was created last year when Texas pitcher Luis Mendoza appeared in 25 games with an 8.67 ERA.
19. Talk about “money ballplayers,” how can you not love the fact that Asdrubal Cabrera has a lifetime .343 avg. with runners in scoring position and two outs.
20. Here’s your MLB players Final Four: from UNC – B.J. Surhoff; from Villanova – Mickey Vernon; from Michigan State – Steve Garvey (Kirk Gibson coming off the bench in the final minute of play anyone?); and from UConn – Walt Dropo.

Top of the 4th
FREE SUBSCRIPTIONS TO THE BILL JAMES DAILY
This year ACTA Sports is offering free subscriptions to the Bill James Daily Matchups. Since you received them last year, you need do nothing to remain on the list. If you would like to receive this free service, send an email with the name of their favorite team (one team per person, please) to matchups@actasports.com.

Top of the 5th
SIMON SAYS, “REDHAWKS”
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks have signed former big league first baseman Randall Simon. Simon, 33, is best known for “Sausage-gate” in which he whacked a sausage mascot with his bat during costumed races between innings of a game in 2003 at Miller Park in Milwaukee. After the game, Simon was arrested and booked for misdemeanor battery. He wasn’t charged with a crime, but was cited for disorderly conduct and fined $432 by the sheriff’s department. Simon, the starting first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the time, was suspended three games and fined $2,000 by Major League Baseball.

Simon played parts of eight seasons with Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs and is a .282 career hitter with 49 home runs and 237 RBI in 537 big league games.

Simon recently finished a successful stint with The Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic and if nothing else can take the place of numerous sandbags in case the Red River crests again.

Top of the 6th
BILLY-BALL-COLUMN-OF-THE-DAY
Former major leaguer Doug Glanville does an incredible job as an op-ed columnist for the NY Times. In his latest piece he opens with, “When people ask me what I miss the most about playing professional baseball, my answer usually surprises them. Fame, fortune, performing and world travel had its perks, but what I really miss is the diversity.”

Read the rest of “The World in One Game” here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/opinion/02glanville-diversity.html

Top of the 7th
PROBABLE PITCHERS
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Atlanta at Philadelphia 8:00 PM Derek Lowe vs. Brett Myers

Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Last season for the fourth time in his 13-year career, Bobby Abreu hit exactly 20 homers.

Top of the 9th
THANK YOU
From the bottom of my heart (and the heart of my bottom) thank you for all the warm, gracious and supportive best wishes from so many of you in response to my email yesterday.

It’s time for baseball…finally.

See you next week.

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.