Saturday, October 22, 2005


Mixed Bag

Where do I start?

Well, how about the World Series? Starts tonight. I believe it will come down to pitching and I take Clemens, Pettitte, Oswalt and Lidge over Garcia, Buerhle, Garland, Contreras and Jenks. Astros in 6.

Christine worked her first night shift in about two years last night. Just try keeping two kids quiet on a rainy Saturday morning while she sleeps. Not easy.

Got some big ideas brewing for Philpott's annual Super Bowl party. More details to come....

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Recap of the 2005 MLB Season

I was supposed to deliver this earlier. See the post below if you want to know why it's late.

I reviewed my pre-season predictions (see them here) against the final season standings (see them here) and feel pretty good about the results. Flip the Yanks and Red Sox and I got the AL East exactly right. Same is true is the Marlins and Mets are flipped in the NL East. I missed the Indians in the AL Central and (other than calling the Cards winners) whiffed badly on the NL Central. I expected more from Texas and less from Oakland in the AL West and didn't give the D-Backs near enough credit in the NL West. On the plus side, though, I called 7 of the 8 playoff teams, tagging the Cubs as the NL Wild Card instead of Houston.

VERY surprised by the playoffs this year, as the ChiSox are showing some real moxie and just what a great pithing staff they have. Three consecutive complete games by one staff is almost unheard of in the regular season, much less the postseason. I think LA wins tonight, but it's all over Tuesday back in ChiTown. And what a run by Houston, who seem to have learned from last year and are taking advantage of some horrible injury luck the Cardinals are experiencing. Houston and the White Sox in the World Series? I could get with that.

I'll get to the Yankees in a minute. First, my season awards:

AL MVP: Consensus seems to be A-Rod this year, and it's hard to disagree. David Ortiz is getting some love, but the knock on him is that he doesn't play defense, and I agree. Rodriguez played an outstanding third base as well as hit the lights out. Nobody's worth $25 million, but A-Rod sure played like he deserves to be the highest paid player in the game. Two dark horses to watch out for: Manny Ramirez (although he's such a hotdog I can't see him getting it) and Paul Konerko, whose .283-40-100 season is pretty good.

AL Cy Young: Mark Buerhle and Jon Garland had both made strong cases for themselves right up until the All-Star break. Their second halves may have taken them out of the running. However, there's not much else to choose from. Johan Santana had a great second half, but his first half was, by his standards, awful. Nobody in New York or Boston distinguished themselves, and I don't think closers should win the award, so I think the best choice just might be Bartolo Colon and his 21-8 record. Don't be surprised, though, if either Mariano Rivera or Frankie Rodriguez' name gets announced.

AL Rookie of the Year: Hmm, which second baseman will it be? Tadahito Iguchi of the White Sox and Robinson Cano of the Yankees both came out of nowhere to post almost mirror-image seasons (Iguchi: .278-15-71, 15 SB in 20 attempts and a .780 OPS. Cano: .297-14-62, only 1 SB and a .778 OPS). Nick Swisher did hit 21 jacks, but a .236 BA is way too ugly to forgive. I son't have a compelling reason to pick him, but I'm going with Iguchi.

NL MVP: Derrek Lee: Great numbers, but your team sucked and you aren't as beloved as Andre Dawson (last player to win an MVP for a sub-.500 team). Albert Pujols, yet another awesome season, but I think St. Louis would still win the Central without you. So, step up, Andruw Jones, as you and your glorious .263-51-128 carry-the-team-to-the-playoffs-on-your-shoulders season gets you props.

AL Cy Young: With a month to go, I was giving the Cy Young to Chris Carpenter, despite the otherworldly performance of Roger Clemens. Then Carpenter decided (for whatever reason) to take September off and Clemens carried Houston to the NL wild card in the face of a furious Philadephia run to the finish. Yep, Clemens again and the Cy Young just might be the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae served in the World Series trophy.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeff Francouer made such a strong case in July and August before wilting in September. Up to July, the award was Clint Barmes' to lose. But neither of them were around for the full season, like Colorado's Garrett Atkins (.287-13-89 with a .773 OPS) and Houston's Willy Taveras (.291-3-29, 34 SB in 45 attempts and a .666 OPS). However, Taveras gets the nod for stepping in as the leadoff spark the Astros desperately needed to make the playoffs.

Finallly, if anyone other than Eric Wedge or Ozzie Guillen wins AL Manager of the year, it's a travesty. Same thing if anyone other than Bobby Cox wins the NL.

Now, the Yankees.

Yes, they won the AL East. Only because Boston is as big a mess as they are. Yes, they made the playoffs, but look what happened when they got there. The mystique is, I'm afraid, gone. They have a great hitting lineup, but it's OLD. And the pitching is in complete disarray. Let's look at the situation. First, they HAVE to re-up with Matsui, because the need to upgrade from Bernie Williams in centre field is a higher priority and they won't find two outfielders in the free agent market (certainly not one of Matsui's caliber). I don't think Bubba Crosby is a long-term answer in centre and Jason Giambi is more fitting as the DH than as the everyday first baseman. The bench is ridiculously thin, too. The starting rotation should heal over the offseason. I expect a MUCH better Randy Johnson next year, now that he knows what to expect in New York. Combined with Chien-Ming Wang, Aaron Small and Carl Pavano, the Yankees could try to deal Mike Mussina to another team for some young talent. The Devil Rays have a wealth of outfield talent (Carl Crawford, Jonny Gomes, Delmon Young, the returning Rocco Baldelli) and they may be willing to part with an outfielder if they can a) get a pitcher of Mussina's caliber in return and b) the Yanks agree to eat part of the contract. They should be able to find some reasonable-priced pitching help for the bullpen in the free agent market and maybe even a serviceable first baseman. BUT....

The Yankees MUST start restocking the farm. Replacements will be needed in the next three to five years for many current mainstays (Jeter, Posada, Sheffield and Rivera for starters) and the Yankees have little to offer in trades. Besides which, it's inevitable that the Yankees will always be trade-deadline buyers (Steinbrenner wouldn't have it any other way). So, the scouts had better get cracking. 2006 and 2007 will be the last, best chance for a Yankees Series victory until possibly 2012. After 2007, things will get even thinner.

That's enough for tonight.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Please pray for me

I have not been to work in the last week. I started to have vertigo/nausea attacks last week and they intensified to a point on Tuesday where I could not lift my head without suffering extreme vertigo after a ridiculous vomiting attack. Things were so bad, Christine had to call an ambulance to the house so I could be taken to emergency. I'm now going to see a Ear-nose-throat specialist on Tuesday (which is EXTREMELY fast) to check whether or not I have an inner-ear disorder. I have not attempted to travel anywhere since the Tuesday attack and will do some short trips this weekend.

Your prayers for me and my family are appreciated. I will update as events warrant.

Update: Things have been pretty good since Tuesday. I had a minor spell Wednesday night, but was able to sleep it off. I have a hearing test scheduled for this Tuesday and my prayer is to go the whole week without a spell.

Update 2: I had another minor spell Monday at work. The hearing test went badly, as my left ear is perfect, but the right's a mess. I'm being scheduled for a head MRI in the next few weeks. I'm sure they'll find nothing.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Post Season Predictions

Well, the Indians coughed up a big hairball on the weekend and, as a result, are now planning their winter holidays. So, we get Yankees/Angels and Red Sox/White Sox in the ALDS and Astros/Braves and Padres/Cards in the NLDS. Let's break 'em down:

Yankees/Angels: By all rights, L.A. should win this series. The Yankees have major pitching issues, as Carl Pavano is on the shelf and Jaret Wright is pretty much useless. That means the Yanks will be using a rotation of Mussina, Chacon, Johnson and either Small or Wang in the DS with Mussina pitching either Game 4 or 5, depending on whether the Yanks are ahead or behind. The Angels set their rotation with Bartolo Colon going in Game 1, followed by John Lackey and Jarrod Washburn. If the Angels are up 2-1, I expect Ervin Santana will get the Game 4 nod, otherwise it'll be Colon. The Yankees are marginally better on offense and the bullpens are even. The Angels also know that they went through the Yankees to win the World Series a few years ago and they will likely believe they can do it again. One key is the fact that Francisco Rodriguez has never closed games in the playoffs before, so if he falters, the Angels are in trouble.

Yankee keys to success: A-Rod, Sheffield and Matsui must be hot. Johnson and Mussina must be healthy and able to get to the 8th inning (Gordon/Rivera time) and the bullpen needs to have their A-Game to bridge the gap from the starters to the 8th in the event the starters falter.

Angels keys to success: Chone Figgins must set the table for Vlad and the other big hitters, Steve Finley needs to produce, the bullpen must hold up and K-Rod needs to show he can handle playoff pressure.

The line: I just cannot see a way for the Yankees to come out ahead here, but I can't go against them either. So, I'll say Randy Johnson earns his money and pitches two wins and Chacon gets the third win, supported by Chien Ming Wang. Yankees in 5.

Red Sox/White Sox - This should be good. The Red Sox are the best-hitting team in the AL and the White Sox must win with pitching. Boston plans to start the series with the mercurial Matt Clement, which tells me they plan to use four pitchers (Tim Wakefield, Curt Schilling and David Wells along with Clement) because there's no way they use Clement on short rest. I would be surprised if Ozzie Guillen uses three pitchers, since he's got a pretty good starting 4 in Mark Buerhle, Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras and Jon Garland. A bigger question is the two bullpens, both of which are in tatters, and Chicago's offense, which simply cannot keep pace with Boston.

Red Sox keys to success: Johnny Damon's shoulder cannot keep him from producing and setting the table for Ramirez, Ortiz et al, Mike Timlin must be able to close when the pressure's on and Curt Schilling must be CURT SCHILLING.

White Sox keys to success: Consistent hitting up-and-down the order. Garland and Buerhle must get back to mid-season form and Bobby Jenks has to be able to close the door under the glare of the playoffs.

The line: Chichago's pitching has been going slowly south all through the second half. If this is the July White Sox, this is a close series. However, it isn't and these Red Sox now know how to win in the postseason. Red Sox in 4.

On to the NL.........

Braves/Astros: This should be a no-brainer, but the Astros can be scary in a short series. With Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt as the top three starters and Brad Lidge waiting in the 8th or 9th, the Astros can be on the good side of a lot of 2-1 and 3-2 games. Andruw Jones had an amazing season (51 jacks) but he has a history of vanishing in the playoffs. That puts the load on Chipper Jones, Macrus Giles, Rafael Furcal and a cast of kids. Plus, JORGE SOSA pitching the crucial game 3? Pretty brassy of Bobby Cox to make that call.

Braves keys to success: Hudson and Smoltz must win to take the pressure off Sosa. Kyle Farnsworth must step up when the money's on the line and Andruw Jones has got to be there.

Astros keys to success: Pettitte, Clemens, Oswalt and Lidge. If they don't bring it, the series is over.

The line: More often than not, good pitching beats good hitting in the postseason. Great pirching swamps good hitting 99% of the time. The Astros have great pitching. Astros in 4.

Cardinals/Padres: Ah, the great mismatch. After barely making it to .500, the Padres get fed to the best team in baseball in the DS. Just think, if Houston loses yesterday, this spot would belong to Philly while the Padres would get a much more favourable matchup with Atlanta. But it ain't that way. Having said that, this is not as cut and dry as you might think. Two of the Cards' top pitchers, Chris Carpenter and Matt Morris, have looked very ordinary in September and the Padres' top two, Jake Peavy and Adam Eaton, have served notice they're ready to go with great September outings. The big difference here is the Padres' lack of consistent offense, which will limit their chances.

Cardinals keys to success: Carpenter and Morris must bounce back. The big bats must adjust to Petco.

Padres keys to success: Eaton and Peavy need to be huge. The bullpen must bridge the gap to Hoffman. The offense has got to hit.

The line: Are you kidding? This sucker's over by the weekend. Cards in 3.

My LCS predictions: Yankees-Red Sox in an AL rematch and Astros-Cardinals in an NL rematch.

Post-Season awards to come.