Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Great DH Debate

Last week two American League pitchers were injured while either swinging a bat or running the bases in National League parks. The Yankees' owner, Hank Steinbrenner, had this to say after his team lost its top pitcher due to an injury while running the base paths:
"It's time the National League joins the 21st century."
Hank wants the NL to switch to the AL-style DH rule so pitchers don't have to bat. Is he right?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Switch pitcher

My guess is that there are about 30 switch hitters in the MLB at any given time. However, I've often wondered why I hadn't even heard of a single switch pitcher. Furthermore, I've been curious as to how that would work. Would the pitcher be allowed to have two gloves with him on the mound? What about switching hands during an at-bat? The questions went on and on.

Well, it looks like I'm finally going to get the answers to my questions.

The Yankees recently drafted Pat Venditte, a switch pitcher, in the 20th round. He made his professional debut in Single A on Thursday during the 9th inning. He started out pretty well, giving up a hit and getting two batters out. But, according to this AP story, the plot then thickened...

Things got a tad dizzying when designated hitter Ralph Henriquez, who had taken his on-deck circle swings as a lefty, entered the batter's box from the right side.

Venditte put his specially made glove (it has six fingers, two webs and fits on both hands) on his left hand, and got ready to pitch right-handed.

Henriquez then changed his mind and switched sides of the plate, because a batter sees the ball sooner when it is thrown by a pitcher using the opposite hand.

So Venditte shifted his glove to the other hand.

Then it happened again.

And again.

And again.

Apparently unsure of how the rules handle such an oddity, the umpires didn't stop the cat-and-mouse game until Venditte walked toward the plate and said something while pointing at Henriquez. Umpires and both managers then huddled and the umps decided the batter and pitcher can both change sides one time per at-bat, and that the batter must declare first.

The ruling favored the pitcher, since he gets to declare last.

About seven minutes after he first stepped in, Henriquez struck out on four pitches as a righty against a right-handed Venditte and slammed his bat in frustration.

As it turns out, the MLB is currently trying to decide exactly what the official rules should be for this situation. So stay tuned...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Text buddies: A-Rod and Rose

According to Tom Friend's article "Unlikely BFFs," Alex Rodriguez has been getting hitting advice from Pete Rose for two-plus years. While I was a bit surprised (and entertained) to learn of A-Rod's choice for a hitting mentor, I must admit that Rose made a great point in the article when he said, "Well, if I wanted to talk to somebody about hitting, I'd talk to me, too."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Citizen Papi

Big Papi has found a new nation to call home. David Ortiz, the pride of Red Sox Nation, became a U.S. citizen Wednesday with 220 other immigrants from 57 countries at a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.
The 32-year-old slugger from the Dominican Republic posed for photographs and shook the hands of many other new citizens and their families before the ceremony.
"It's a great country. I'm proud to be here," said Ortiz, who wore a pinstriped suit and his signature dark sunglasses. He said he was eager "to be part of the American family."

So does this mean that Big Papi can now switch over to the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic next year? I sure hope so. (We need all the help we can get.)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hangin' tough

Do you remember that New Kids on the Block song, Hangin' Tough? It's the one that had the chorus that went something like this:

Ohh ohh ohhh ohhhhhh oh oh... Hangin' tough!

Well, my fantasy team is hangin' tough in a New Kids on the Block sort of way. That is to say that even though we suck, with the noise we're makin' we could still defy all logic and shoot to number one.

Here's my current roster:

C - Dioner Navarro
1B - Prince Fielder
2B - B.J. Upton
SS - Stephen Drew
3B - Chipper Jones
OF - Hideki Matsui
OF - Hunter Pence
OF - Ryan Ludwick
Util - Fred Lewis
Util - Randy Winn
Bench - Mark DeRosa
Bench - Carlos Pena (hurt)

SP - Dan Haren
SP - James Shields
SP - Ted Lilly
SP - John Maine
SP - Wandy Rodriguez
RP - Joakim Soria
RP - Jon Rauch
RP - Matt Capps
RP - Todd Jones
RP - Dan Wheeler
DL - Chris Young
DL - Chad Cordero

Note: I traded away Edwin Encarnacion for Stephen Drew, which so far has been a blah trade. I need Drew to get back to his .350/.500 ways.

Here's how my team is doing in each category through Saturday, June 7:

Runs -317 (T-9th, 47 off category leader)
HR -83 (6th, 12 off)
RBI -313 (T-7th, 37 off)
SB -43 (8th, 34 off)
OBP - .362 (2nd, .034 off)
SLG - .456 (3rd, .041 off)

W - 33 (T-3rd, 5 off)
L - 28 (T-5th, 9 off)
SV - 48 (5th, 9 off)
K - 442 (4th, 24 off)
ERA - 3.72 (4th, 0.72 off)
WHIP - 1.25 (2nd, 0.15 off)

Here's a snapshot of the UPL's overall standings through Saturday, June 7:

Some things have changed quite a bit from my previous UPL standings update. First off, you'll note that Westy's Slugs have sunk like a rock (about one month ahead of schedule). Also, you'll see that UPL rookie Black Sox has surged 33.5 points to put himself back in contention.

But other things haven't changed, such as the fact that six weeks later I'm still sitting on 94.5 points. The good news is that my team isn't completely inept at runs and steals anymore. Although, in all honesty, this is mainly due to the fact that some of my original guys have finally started hitting and stealing (B.J. Upton to name one).

About a week ago Westy's Slugs offered me Josh Hamilton for Prince Fielder straight up. I actually liked the offer, but I couldn't quite pull the trigger because I felt Fielder was starting to come around and Hamilton has yet to put an entire season together. In the end, Westy managed to move Hamilton to the Jabrones for Manny Ramirez. We'll see how that goes.

I'm glad that I took this time to go through my league's stats. It's already given me some ideas going forward. My next league update will be during the All-Star break. We'll see if the '90 Reds at that point are still hangin' tough.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stat check...

Okay, so I've been wondering about something. In the MLB, it's rather common to hear of a player getting two steals in a game (probably happens nearly every day somewhere). Two homers in a game is less common, but still probably happens about once a week. A player with one homer and one steal is also fairly common, although I'm not sure if that happens every week.

However, when was the last time a player had two steals and two homers in the same game?

I tried searching for this answer online but couldn't find it. I'm sure that it has happened, but now I'm curious as to the last time it happened--and how rare is this feat?

Any suggestions out there?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bye bye

Some of you might remember my frustration post from last month. At the time, I didn't really go into too many details, but yes, something very specific--a single event--had set me off; and only now am I able to directly confront the pain and talk about it.

Let's revisit my post from April 19:
After the Big Hurt's second consecutive 0-for-4 outing on Friday, I took a good look at his season stats and decided that I could do better. After perusing the waiver wire, I picked up Carlos Quentin (instead of Ryan Ludwick whom I also considered).
Well, well, well. Who was the manager with the foresight, intuition, and guts to pick up Carlos Quentin on April 19? That's right. Me.

What made my Quentin pick-up even better was that he played for the White Sox, a team that I naturally cheer for, and furthermore, the main road by my apartment that I drive on every single day is Quentin Road. It's like Quentin and my team were made for each other.

The only problem is that a few days later I dropped him for a player who shall remain nameless on this blog.

Granted, I didn't view the Quentin demotion as permanent. I just wanted to juggle my roster around a bit... and I figured nobody else would pick him up before I re-acquired him. But of course, somebody did snag him off waivers before I could (apparently Yahoo doesn't let you put a waiver request in for a player you just dropped).

But that's not even what I'm upset about. As it so happened, at the time I was really trying to figure out how to increase steals and runs for my team; and as the month of May neared, I ramped up my efforts to swing a deal. One player that I really targeted was Hanley Ramirez.

Then one night I finally put together my best offer for Hanley. I forget the exact details, but it was an aggressive offer. When I checked the league the next day, I saw a "Protest" message on the board. I figured the trade had gone through (although I didn't understand how it could be protested). With excitement, I went to verify that I would be receiving Hanley Ramirez, the man who would lead my team to the promised land...

But what I found instead was that the dreaded Thugs had traded for Carlos Quentin.

That was enough to spark my Lee Elia-style tirade; and honestly, I think the recurring thought of Quentin slipping through my fingers into the Thugs' clutches has been affecting my play. A few weeks ago I erred by dropping Shane Victorino for Fred Lewis. Just the other day I thought (and thought) about dropping Mark DeRosa for Jerry Hairston, but I wasn't quick enough with the trigger. My string of mental lapses seems to know no end.

However, last week I heard Mariah Carey's new "Bye Bye" song on the radio, and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was as though she knew what I was going through, and that she had written the song just for me and my loss of Carlos Quentin.

So I decided that the only way I could move on from this incident was to bring in Mariah and have her perform "Bye Bye" for my team (the '90 Reds are a big-market team in the UPL so we've got the resources).

Even though I'll always have the depressing Quentin Road reminder at least twice a day for the rest of the summer, I have to start the process of putting this behind me. It's a new month and time for a clean slate.

For all you fantasy baseball players out there who have lost someone to another team, come on, don't be ashamed, put your hand to the sky and sing...