Tagged: Ryan Howard

Who says there’s no baseball in winter?

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
Rogers Hornsby


No baseball in winter? Yeah, right!
Alright, maybe no actual MLB games. And trips to the ballpark for me are reserved for meals at Friday’s Front Row or sales at the Brewers Team Store. And I suppose my TV schedule is freed up quite a bit. But there is plenty of baseball in the winter.
True, I wish I didn’t have to go through this period of cold, blustery days of shoveling the driveway (although I do love wearing cute cold weather accessories), worrying about getting in car accidents (which happened for the first time last winter and now I’ve developed a slight phobia of driving in the snow) and waiting for snowman snow (it’s the only kind of snow I actually enjoy). But without those days, what would there be to look forward to except for spring and baseball?
Okay, so winter doesn’t technically start for 25 more days, but for all intents and purposes, it’s already here. And I’ve had lots of baseball to occupy myself with. For starters, shortly after the World Series wrapped, the free agency buzz began. There were a bevy of awards to be given away and the Hot Stove has only begun to cook.
I’ve kept myself busy so far wondering if the Baseball Writer’s Association got everything right. For the most part, I think they did alright. Top 10 Hottie Joe Mauer most definitely deserved the AL’s MVP with just an incredible season for the Twins. But I do have to say that the award is Most Valuable Player, not hitter. To be fair, Albert Pujols had a great year offensively. Again. But as far as all-around players go, how the H did Prince Fielder finish fourth?
Of the top 4 (Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Howard and Fielder), Prince was the only one to start all 162 games, had only 7 errors, giving him the highest fielding percentage at .995 and, if you ask me, he’s come a long way at first base as a defensive player. And that all goes along with his league leading 141 RBIs (albeit tied with Howard) and he only trailed Pujols in homeruns by one with 46, not to mention his career high .299 AVG. So what if the Brewers finished out of contention and below .500? If it weren’t for Fielder, they would’ve done considerably worse. 
Tim Lincecum of the Giants won the NL Cy Young for the second year in a row, although that’s been a sore subject for some. There were quite a few pitchers in the NL that could’ve won and with the way votes are tabulated, there was bound to be some controversy. Zack Greinke completely deserved his Cy Young and both Rookies of the Year were right on (sorry, Casey). The Marlins’ Chris Coghlan hit the ground running and led all NL rookies in batting average and runs and Oakland’s closer Andrew Bailey had an amazing first season with 26 saves in 30 opportunities, not to mention the crazy low ERA and WHIP, 1.84 and .88, respectively. 
As for managers, I couldn’t agree more. I voted for Jim Tracy in TYIB and he did a great job taking over a slumping team in the Rockies and leading them to the National League Wild Card. Mike Scioscia overcame the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart and kept the Angels’ heads up, all the way to the ALCS where they eventually lost to the Yankees in 6, but not without putting up a damn good fight. 
I’ve already touched briefly on Milwaukee’s free agent situation in an earlier post, but since the market officially opened last Friday, I’ve become a Hot Stove junkie. Well, a Brewers junkie, at least. Now, I know I can’t believe everything I read, but can I please have John Lackey, Carl Pavano, Roy Halladay, Derek Lowe and Jarrod Washburn and just start with a clean slate in 2010? Please? That would be super. Oh, wait… stupid Jeff Suppan still has another year on his contract. And I am okay with Yovani Gallardo in the Brewers rotation. And I wouldn’t be totally opposed to giving Dave Bush and Manny Parra another shot (because I do love them so). Okay, fine. I’ll settle for any one of the aforementioned free agent pitchers. Although we all know there are quite a few teams that are going to be contending for starting pitching and that can afford WAY more than Milwaukee can. I guess I’ll hold out a bit longer and see what happens. Hopefully Doug Melvin makes some smarter decisions this off-season…
So anyway, Mr. Hornsby, whoever said there’s no baseball in winter was clearly wrong. There’s a ton. But you’re right. I can’t wait for spring, either. 

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This Year in Baseball

It’s been awhile. I know. Bear with me.

I’ve decided to forego talking about the World Series because I’ve been reading The Yankee Years and my disdain for that team is doing nothing but growing. Needless to say, I was disappointed in the outcome.

I’ve also decided to save my thoughts on the JJ Hardy-Carlos Gomez trade for another entry, as I’m getting kind of sick of people asking me about it and have far too much to say. Let’s leave it at this for now: excellent move for the Brewers. Mike Cameron, I’ll miss you.

Instead of all that, I’ve decided to let you all in on my votes for the This Year in Baseball Awards. I’ve literally been on that website for at least the last hour mulling over the choices. And instead of just voting for all the Brewers nominees and whomever else I liked the most throughtout the season, as I have in the past, I think I’ve actually made some very well thought out decisions this year.

 

Hitter

My team did have 2 nominees this year in Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. Looking at everyone’s numbers, Braun probably could’ve been bumped off the list, but needless to say, I was happy to see his name.

Naturally, I voted for Fielder. True, his average was kept just shy of .300, but he had held it quite near that mark the majority of the season. Ending at .299 was probably a bit of a disappointment, but his other numbers made up for it. Fielder led the league for RBIs, tied at 141 with Ryan Howard, went 2nd to Albert Pujols with 46 HRs, led in OPS with 1.014 and capped out with 103 runs.

If it weren’t for Prince, I was leaning towards Minnesota’s Joe Mauer and his league-leading .365 AVG and 28 HRs or the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez’s .342 AVG coupled with 106 RBIs and 27 stolen bases.

 

Starter

Of course, with the Brewers’ abysmal starting rotation, there were none of my own boys to choose from, so I went with Zach Greinke of the Kansas City Royals. I’m sure he’ll walk away with this honor given his 16-8 record and 2.16 ERA, which led all other pitchers in the category. Not to mention he struck out 242 batters.

I picked Greinke over St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright, whom I do think is a strong contender for Cy Young this year with his 19-8 record (the Brewers spoiled his 20th win. Ha!) and 212 Ks. I also was considering Detroit’s Justin Verlander because of his 19-win season and 269 Ks, leading in that category.

 

Rookie of the Year

Picking a single winner is going to be tough. As far as batting goes, it’s a tough call. But so is pitching.

You must know that I voted for Casey McGehee, not only because of his strong offensive numbers, but because I was able to watch him on the field all season, too. Sure he led the rooks in RBIs with 66 and was 2nd in just about every other major batting category (.301 AVG, .859 OPS, 58 R and 16 HRs), but he battled his way to an everyday spot starting for the Brewers at third base and did a pretty damn good job at it, too.

If it weren’t for Casey’s name on the list, I more than likely would’ve voted for Chris Coghlan of the Florida Marlins. Coghlan led with a .321 AVG and 84 R, while knocking in 47 runs, stealing 8 bases and hitting 9 out of ballparks across the country.

As far as pitching, I just find it really hard to compare to everyday players at any other position. Tommy Hanson of the Braves went 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA, struck out 116 batters and had a WHIP of 1.18. Oakland’s Andrew Bailey went 26/30 in save opportunities while striking out 91 batters, keeping his ERA well under 2.0 and had a mere .88 WHIP. (But I still finding batting stats way more impressive. Sorry.)

 

Manager

Although the winner will most likely be the Yankees’ Joe Girardi, who led his team to the best record in the MLB at 103-59, my vote goes to Jim Tracy. Tracy took over the sagging Colorado Rockies partway through the season and led them to a NL Wildcard victory with a 92-70 record.

 

Closer

Milwaukee’s own Trevor Hoffman was 37/41 with a 1.83 ERA, 48 Ks and a WHIP of .91.  Not the greatest, but he gets my vote because, well, he’s Trevor Hoffman. Jonathan Broxton of the LA Dodgers had a crazy-high 114 Ks and the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera did only blow 2 saves. He also had the lowest ERA with 1.76. But, as I’ve previously stated, I don’t like the Yankees. Therefore, I vote for NO YANKEES!

 

Set-Up

Who to choose? The Giants’ Jeremy Affeldt had the lowest ERA (1.73) and tied Matt Guerrier of the Minnesota Twins with 33 holds. Oakland’s Michael Wuertz led in strikeouts with 102 and with .95, had the lowest WHIP.

Even though there was a Brewer on this list, I just can’t vote for Todd Coffey with guys like Wuertz and Affeldt sharing the nomination. My vote foes to Jeremy Affeldt.

 

Defense

I can’t quite get a grip on what’s better: putouts or assists? Fielding percentage is one thing, but what should I be more impressed with–the number of outs you make, or the number of outs you help make? My vote is for the Angels’ Torii Hunter. He only made 1 error, giving him a fielding percentage of .997, while also having 286 putouts. Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies was also pretty impressive with .986 fielding percetage and 433 assists. But I based my decision solely on fielding percentage and went with Hunter.

 

Performance

Yovani Gallardo offered a stellar game vs. Pittsburgh in late April, taking the win entirely into his own hands. Gallardo went 8 innings, struck out 11 with no ERs and smacked a solo homerun, accounting for the only run the Brewers would need to secure a victory. But I didn’t vote for Yo.

White Sox starter Mark Buhrle gets a lot of praise for his perfect game against the Rays, but with only 6 strikeouts, I think a lot of the credit should really go to his teammates. So I didn’t vote for him, either.

Troy Tulowitzki impressed me the most hitting for the cycle, going 5-5 with 7 RBIs and scoring 2 runs. Why was this feat more impressive than the rest? Welllllllll, it was against the Cubs!

 

Play

I watched evey play, waiting for the best reaction. I needed to be impressed. Making a leaping catch at the wall to rob someone of a homerun? Big deal.

The winner? The flip from Angels’ Maicer Izturis to Erick Aybar. Izturis flipped the ball from his glove directly to the waiting bare hand of the human projectile that was Aybar in time to throw Kurt Suzuki out at first. I watched that clip twice just to be sure I was actually impressed. I was.

 

Moment

Hands down, the Angels’ tribute to fallen pitcher Nick Adenhart after winning the AL West. No other moment put a bigger smile on my face.

 

Oddity

This is the one that I vote on purely because of what makes me laugh the hardest.

I still get a kick out of Milton Bradley’s stupidity, but the absolute take-down of Racing President Teddy Roosevelt had tears in my eyes. That Peirogi was brutal!

 

Executive

Tag-teaming with my vote for Jim Tracy, I picked Rockies’ GM Dan O’Dowd for being the man with the plan. Who knows where Colorado would’ve finished in ’09 if O’Dowd hadn’t had a hand in firing Clint Hurdle, but kudos for making the move. It certainly paid off.

 

Unsung Star

With numbers all over the place, it was hard to decide on this one. I went with Jayson Werth of the Phillies. His .268 AVG, 36 HRs and 99 RBIs helped get his team to the post season yet again. But with names like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, then adding Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez, a name like Werth gets lost in the mix. (Although, after this post season, it probably won’t be lost for long.) Ben Zobrist of Tampa Bay was a very, very, very close second.

 

Post Season Moment

After Dexter Fowler leapfrogged Chase Utley in the 8th inning of Game 4 of the NLDS between the Rockies and Phillies, Colorado stirred up an eventual 4-2 lead going into the 9th. But, Ryan Howard smacked a 2-run double off of Rockies closer Huston Street to tie the game, giving the Phils enough momentum to eventually take the series. Since I’m a bit of a sucker for the Phillies (only after the Brewers, of course!), I chose that moment of Game 4 over Fowler’s gymnastics.

 

So there you have it. My picks. It’ll be interesting to see how many of my choices are actually winners. I’m guessing probably not many, but that’s alright. I have my reasons for voting the way I do and I’m quite impressed with myself for not just outright voting for the Brewers and Phillies like I’ve done in years past.

So that’s all I have in me after not posting for I don’t even know how long. But I promise I’ll keep it up a bit more, especially with all the free angents that will be floating around soon. And with the Brewers mounting need to pick up some key players. There will be much to write about soon enough.

 

 

Ugh, ballhawks

I’ve been going back and forth on topics for a few entries lately, for fear of upsetting some people on mlblogs and elsewhere, but then I came across this article about that damn little girl that sued the Phillies for Ryan Howard’s 200th homerun ball and it really got me thinking.

Of course, this girl managed to get the ball by pure chance. At 12 years old, she could very well be a ballhawk, but I didn’t necessarily get that impression. She seemed to have just been in the right place at the right time. Sorry, girl, but you and your family were completely in the wrong to sue the Phillies organization for that ball. If you wanted to keep the ball, you should’ve kept the ball when the original deal was struck, whether or not you knew the monetary value of said ball. Apparently, it was only after her mother heard what had happened and heard the significance of the ball her daughter had unwittingly traded back to Howard that the lawyer was hired and the suit was filed. I’m sure it’s an amazing feeling to get a game-hit homerun ball. I’ve never gotten one, so I wouldn’t know. However, if it were me, knowing the importance of that ball, I’d give it back to Howard for whatever was offered. And quite honestly, baseballs like that one aren’t really worth all that much when you consider the kind of career Ryan Howard is likely to have. He’s going to hit far more valuable balls than that one in the years to come. It was greedy of that young girl and her family to sue for the ownership of that ball. Whatever sentimental value she may have of having caught it is nothing compared to the sentiment Ryan Howard has of achieving that personal career milestone.

That being said, I’ve been toying with writing about my disdain for ballhawks. Adult ballhawks, in particular. Having read that article, it got me thinking about it even more than I already have and I decided to just write it, no matter how many people may be offended.

Ballhawks are people that go to as many games in a season as possible, their favorite team’s, games of teams with ballparks in close proximity, games in cities in which they happen to be on vacation–whatever the circumstance, if there’s a baseball game going on, chances are, the ballhawks are there. These people, often times grown men from what I can discern from the many blogs they write on this fine website, enter the parks hours early to attend batting practice to catch fly balls in the stands. Basically, what this amounts to is running up and down rows of seats and loading up their backpacks with as many balls as they possibly can. They often change apparel and hats to accomodate for both teams so players think they’re actual fans of the team, thus getting balls tossed up to them during warm-ups and bullpen sessions. Sometimes they’ll steal balls out of the bullpen by lowering their gloves on a rope and pulling the balls back up. Then, during the game, no matter where their actual tickets are located, these ballhawks will saunter all over the outfield seats, depending on which field a batter favors, to attempt to catch homerun balls. In some cases, they linger in aisles or at tops of stairs in order to get a leg up on the people that actually paid for those seats just to load up their bags with more baseballs.

Here are my many problems with people like them.

How many baseballs does one actually need? There are actually tallying systems out there that these people use to assign points to each ball caught. Seriously? Get a life. Some of these guys have thousands. For what reason, other than unimpressive bragging rights? There are young kids that eagerly bring their gloves to games, hoping for any chance that a foul ball or homerun might be hit their way and then these douchers come barreling out of the concourse, 2 levels down and 46 sections away from where their actual seats are, only to take that chance away. Oh sure, sometimes they give balls away to these little kids, but apparently they bring decoys and switch out “important” game-used balls so as not to lose points in their precious ballhawking league.

Do they have any sort of team loyalty or is it more important to decieve the guys warming up for the opposing team just to get a couple extra balls in that backpack? I mean, I know people that like more than one team. I like teams other than the Brewers, but I don’t own any Phillies tshirts or Twins hats. And I certainly wouldn’t be caught wearing anything other than Brewers attire while attending a Brewers game. If I were watching, say, the Pirates warming up and I saw Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen tossing a ball around and I thought it would be cool if they threw it up my way when they were done, I’d just yell their names. I wouldn’t pretend to be a Pirates fan for 2 minutes so they’d pay more attention to me. That’s just dumb.

And do these people have jobs??? That’s my biggest qualm with ballhawks. Where the eff do they find the time to go to all these games? And not only that, but go early enough to catch batting practice? And not only go early enough to catch batting practice, but go to so many games on the road? We know they’re not selling these balls they catch, so where does all this money come from? Going to baseball games isn’t all that cheap, especially when you consider the amount of travelling they do and the sheer amount of apparel they have to buy for every team they see.

And what about families? If I personally knew a ballhawk, I would probably feel the need to hold an intervention. Baseball takes up a lot of any true fans time, sure, but a ballhawk? Man alive, that’s a lot of time to be spending at the ballpark! If my boyfriend or cousin or friend came home with a single ball, I’d be impressed, no doubt. If my boyfriend or cousin or friend came home with a backpack full of balls after every game, I’d say, “Dude, take it easy. You’ve got a problem.”

What bothers me the most is that it seems most of these people have this feeling of righteousness, like catching an inordinate amount of baseballs by way of deception, stealing (because, face it, that’s what the ‘glove trick’ really is) or diving in front of deserving young children is some sort of god-given talent. Anyone can do what they do, but it’s almost as if they choose not to realize that. I could get up and run halfway down my section for a chance to catch a ball, but I don’t because the ball doesn’t mean anything to me. I’d rather scream Ryan Braun’s name from the bleachers until I’m hoarse and finally have him half-heartedly wave at me than catch a foul ball.

But then again, I guess being a fan means different things to different people.

(Sorry about your ball, Ryan Howard.) 

 

 

I wish fancy hats were required for this Derby, too

I have very little to say regarding this weekend’s wrap-up of the first half. The Brewers continued to fall further behind in both the NL Central and Wildcard races and, aside from RB, no one really had too much to say about it. I think I’ll remain mum on the subject and instead focus my bloggin energy on tonight’s Homerun Derby.

 

AL Contenders

Carlos Peña, Tampa Bay Rays

Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers

Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers

(Top 10 Hottie) Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

These 4 hitters combined so far for 82 homeruns, 24 coming off of Peña’s bat alone. Mauer has already surpassed his career high with 16 longballs so far in 2009 and leads the AL in hitting.

 

NL Contenders

Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers

Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals

Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies

Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres

NL skipper Charlie Manuel was smart enough to bolster his roster with power-hitting firstbasemen and all 4 are competing in the derby this year. Pujols leads the NL with 32 homers, but add in the other 3 bats, and there are 100 longballs represented so far this season.

 

So who’s gonna win? Well, based on last year, it’s clearly anyone’s game. Josh Hamilton certainly outslugged eventual winner Justin Morneau, but playing by the rules sometimes has a tendency to turn the tables. The obvious favorite to win is Pujols. He’s clearly got that homefield advantage working for him. I’m gonna hope that this year Fielder will hit more than 3 and make it at least to the 2nd round. I also think that Mauer has a chance to make it pretty far, even though of the 8 contenders, he has the least HRs going into it.

But no matter who wins, it always turns out to be a pretty exciting event. I look forward to it every year, mostly to see the comraderie of all the players and their families out on the field. I always look forward to seeing a Brewer get his turn to take some hacks and there’s always a good cause attached to the Derby.

Go Baseball!