Monday, August 31, 2015

Everybody (on the Dodgers) Hurts

You have to feel bad for the Dodgers. They've been no-hit by the Astros and the Cubs in successive weeks. They're lucky that this is a season where both of those teams are good, so it isn't as embarrassing.

It's a shame that a team this high up in the rankings can be rendered hitless twice in a row. People like Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Andre Ethier play for this team. Those guys can definitely hit. Only problem is none of them were for two nights this season.

And that's sadly the problem with this team. They can have enough young players to be trendy, enough pitching to be fearsome, and enough strong hitting guys to be in first, but if there's a moment where nobody is on, they suffer. And even though the Dodgers are in first right now, the Giants, who ARE hitting, are coming in fast.

This is kind of sad, because this is a fun Dodgers team, and when they're good, they're amazing. But if they have more of the same stuff they've been dealing with recently, they could be screwed. Besides, I'm really not in the mood for another Giants Championship. At least not yet.

So, hopefully the Dodgers can rebound and continue to play like, well, the Dodgers.

Coming Tonight- The Red Sox may be down for the count, but at least they've gotten their star attraction to start hitting again.

Okay, Cubs. We're Listening.

Not even a week after Mike Fiers shut down the Dodgers, Jake Arrieta took a bigger stage, and a bigger team, to take them down at a bigger moment. Now the Cubs look even scarier than they did before, all because they have a team where the #2 starter can pitch a no-hitter and still have it be his 2nd-biggest accomplishment.

Congrats Cubs, and Jake Arrieta. And Dodgers fans, you have my condolences. (Again.)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Custom Card of the Night: Burns Edition

I feel bad for the Athletics. Every once and a while, like in 2012 or 2013, the Moneyball strategy works, but when it doesn't, they purge big time and wind up starting from anew. They've had so many purges that it's become almost routine.

This season we've seen people like Stephen Vogt, Marcus Semien, Mark Canha and Max Muncy. Other than Semien, who was starting in Chicago last year, you haven't really heard of these guys before. They're brand new, young, spiffy, and Billy Beane is intent on bridging the team around them so that if this fails again, he can just throw new ones in there.

Billy Burns is the one guy, other than Vogt, who's been making second-half progress, making some definite strides in some unlikely categories, like defense, stolen bases, and triples. This is the kind of fringe player that Oakland needs. Billy Burns isn't gonna set the American League afire with his home run ability. He's gonna be a fun little hits guy. Unfortunately, fun little hits guys aren't really going to get the A's anywhere. And the guys they're paying to hit...aren't hitting.

Hopefully Billy Burns will eventually become a bright spot in this lineup, because there are too many things wrong with it right now.

(EXTRA- WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE FOOTBALL CUSTOMS ON THIS BLOG THIS SEASON? There is a poll on the sidebar that will decide the fate of football customs. Vote now and you'll make a decision for me. How fun!)

Coming Tomorrow- A strong, tatted pitcher for a strong-looking NL East team.

Custom Card of the Day: Segura Edition

I'd like to use this incredibly cool and blue custom of a fairly irrelevant baseball player to say that I, Jordan of Mint Condition, am officially back at Purchase College for the year.

I'm officially moved in, unpacked, and ready for a couple months away from home, where I can continue to do things that can work towards getting up off my ass for a living.

Only thing about this year is I'm gonna be up for an internship on campus, so if I get it, my free time might be a tad limited. I can definitely try pre-programming posts out the wazoo, like I have been doing lately, so that it won't really matter.

Bottom line is I'm back at college, and will continue making awesome customs.

Coming Tonight: The speedy new outfield prospect for a struggling A's team.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A ChiSox Coming Attraction

(The Following Preview has been deemed appropriate for All Baseball Audiences by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball)

(Dark, mysterious music plays)

Underneath the shadows on the South Side of Chicago, a threat looms in the distance.

It may look may look harmless...and it may not get a ton of attendance...but here lies the ground roots for the most powerful threat in the country.

This was a team that didn't get any respect. A team that spent too many years being ridiculed for what they didn't have. A team...that had been watching...waiting...formulating the perfect comeback...retooling the roster...patiently awaiting the right time. A time which is coming very soon.

Oh, they could be beat now. They could be ripped apart. Why? To make those other teams think they had a chance.

From the people who brought you the 2005 White Sox, and from the same people who won't stop talking about the 2005 White Sox, even if it's ten years later...comes the most shocking thing your mind will ever fathom.

Starring Jose Abreu! Alexei Ramirez! Chris Sale! Avisail Garcia! Robin Ventura! Jose Quintana! And many, many more.

It's growing stronger by the second! It's taking over everything you love! And it's closer than you might think!


Coming Next Summer...or the Summer after that...or a summer season that occurs sometime soon after that one...To a Ballpark Near You!

Custom Card of the Day: Familia Edition

You know, it's gotta be nice being a closer for a winning team.

I don't know how the Mets did it, but they pulled away from the Nationals and sped ahead of the competition in the NL East, using a July-August boost of power on their side. And Jeurys Familia has been absolutely stellar closing games, making the fans forget about Jenrry Mejia. So it's gotta be nice to be Familia right now, because he's been untouchable in the ninth, and he's got the support of the fans.

Heck, this team has got to be doing something for the fan base, who've been pretty nonchalant since around 2007, and they've been waiting for a good squad. I feel bad for them, because they've had a lot of close calls, and a lot of crappy teams, and now, when that team is absolutely killing it, they've got to feel good. I was at CitiField for a game this year, and I saw what the fans were saying, and the optimism mixed in with the cynicism. People knew that there was something going on, that people were getting hot at the right time. People were getting behind the pitching staff.

Even better, David Wright's back, and that's gotta be great for the fan morale. He's the hero, he's the captain, and the fact that he gets back and hits a home run in his first at bat has gotta be amazing. I know those fans have been through a lot, and the fact that Wright and everybody is back to hitting has gotta be great on them.

I just hope the Mets' winning train keeps going a bit longer, because they're a pretty fun team to root for.

Coming Tonight: The shortstop for a struggling AL central team.

The Perpetually Fearsome David Price

I may talk a lot about how I want the Blue Jays to just stop it with all of these 'we're really good at baseball' things, but I can still appreciate David Price. Why? Because somehow he's managed to have an even better 2nd half than his first, and his first half was pretty nice.

He's had a number of very nice, strikeout heavy starts for Toronto, and is the ace that the Jays definitely needed this year. Like, he even kills the Yankees and still has my respect. Why? Because he's David Price. He's a tough, tough pitcher. He's been one a few postseason teams before, but none that have gotten farther than one or two rungs in (except the 2008 Rays). I'm not saying that the Blue Jays' postseason run will be that deep, but it has the potential to be, if they stay this hot.

No matter what happens to the Blue Jays, I do feel like David Price has been worthy of his amazing season.

Coming Today- The closer for a still-red-hot Mets team.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Custom Card of the Night: CarGo Edition

Carlos Gonzalez is a great example of how a great second half can completely turn someone's season around. Because before the All Star break, CarGo was on nobody's radar. Now, the guy's got 30 home runs, and is two away from taking the HR throne from Bryce Harper.

It's funny how many great stories are coming out of Denver this year. CarGo. Nolan Arenado. DJ LeMahieu. The miraculous return of John Axford. Yet, despite all of these breakouts, the team is doing an atrocious job in the NL West, and Walt Weiss is hanging by the seat of his pants. It's partially because they have the shittiest pitching staff in baseball. The only one I've heard of is Jorge de la Rosa, and he's only doing "okay" this season. The pitching is failing, and because of that the offense can't really succeed.

So it's nice that CarGo's having a nice comeback season, because he hasn't really been on anybody's radar in a few years, thanks to a few DL stints. And I think he can take on the Tulo role of the leadership position, being a role model for all the younger players. I just hope that something actually comes of it, because he deserves a lot.

Coming Tomorrow- The most fearsome pitcher in the AL. And of course, he has to be pitching in my division again.

Middle-Aged Guitar Player Behind Home Plate in a Small City

SAO #13- Pearl Jam Guitarist Mike McCready
Yeah, it's not the same oomph as Eddie Vedder throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game, but it's still a member of Pearl Jam, and he's still playing the national anthem in the city where his band made it huge. Mike McCready is far from the most well known member of Pearl Jam, but he's definitely respected, and can definitely play some good guitar.

Nice one for any Pearl Jam fans.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Post-Sweepage Assessment

So the Yankees just got swept by the Astros, one of the more difficult teams in the AL to beat, only getting in one win, and even that one was a squeaker. Game 2 we got absolutely crushed, getting 15 runs scored against us. And Game 3, the offense pounded on Big Mike and we only got a run or so.

I honestly don't blame the Yankees. I mean, I wish they could have scored a few more points, but this is a really, really strong Astros team right now. To put it into perspective, even Colby Rasmus is playing really well this season. Even Evan Gattis is hitting 30+ homers. The offense is thriving, especially with the addition of Carlos Gomez. And the people who were hitting already are still hitting, especially Jose Altuve. This is a strong, cohesive unit, and they are a threat for the postseason, so it's no wonder the piled on the Yanks so much.

Best part for the Astros is that the Angels, their only threat, is slowly getting further and further from the wild card spot. People keep beating them, the injuries keep piling up, and their only midseason moves were for 30's utility guys. The Astros are taking complete advantage of this, and continuing to beat the pants off them, even if people like Albert Pujols and Mike Trout are still playing really well.

I'm happy about the whole 'Astros being contenders' thing, and I'm even happier that the Yankees don't have to play them anymore.

Coming Tomorrow- an outfielder for a last place team who unexpectedly shot to the top of the NL Home Run list this week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Who Are the Best Closers in Baseball Right Now?

Back in July, I was worried that this guy would be traded. Because the Reds were putting damn near everybody else on the trading block, I was worried that they'd throw Chapman on there too. But, thankfully, Aroldis Chapman stayed in Cincinnati, and one of the best closers in baseball stayed exactly where he needed to be.

So far this has been a big year for closers, especially in the NL, as Mark Melancon is already having a huge season with a month left to go. So, for no reason whatsoever, I'm going to count down the ten best closers in baseball right now.

Honorable Mentions: Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, David Robertson, Jason Grilli, Jeurys Familia, Ken Giles (basically #11)

10. Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers. We were all worried for a while when K-Rod had a few subpar seasons in Queens, but he's been back on track, having some really nice saves for the Brewers, and acting as the #7 spot on the All-Time Saves list, just 12 away from tying Dennis Eckersley. Even if he's nowhere near where he was in 2008, he's still an all-time great, and deserves a ton of recognition.

9. Glen Perkins, Twins. A number of years as a middle reliever prepared Perkins for a few stellar years in Minnesota, having some great, save-heavy seasons, and bringing the team back from the depths of the AL Central. He's gotten some All Star nods out of the deal. He's also the current saves leader for the AL. However, he's this low because he's blown a lot of saves lately, including a few against the Yankees.

8. Jonathan Papelbon, Nationals. Up here mostly because of his reputation, not because of his current gameplay, as it's definitely slipped. Papelbon made All Star teams with Boston and Philly, and led the league in saves a few times. He is, however, a horse's ass.

7. Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals. Keep this up for a few more years and you're looking at a potential #1 spot. Seriously. This guy has been ferocious for St. Louis, with a 45-save season last year, and something that's beginning to resemble a 45+ save season this year. I swear, this guy is lucky to be on this kind of Cardinals team. The only thing is that it's uncertain whether or not Rosenthal would be this good on any other team. Still, can't help but admire the guy's stuff.

6. Zach Britton, Orioles. Another guy who's had a couple of great seasons lately, this guy started in the rotation but came into his own as a closer, taking over for Jim Johnson. He's dominant in the ninth, beloved by fans, and definitely headed for another nice season.

5. Greg Holland, Royals. If anyone in the AL can handle a mega-save season, it's this guy. Last two seasons he's had 45+ saves. That takes skill to have that kind of consistency. It's helping so much that the Royals are so unstoppable this season, but it's not helping that the Royals are lacking save opportunities. Still, Holland is definitely one to watch, one of my favorites.

4. Mark Melancon, Pirates. Well, with what he's been doing this season, he kind of has to be up this high, if not higher. Melancon has gone from a Yankee farmhand, to a trade thrown-in, to a guy who throws some nasty stuff in the ninth. The guy has 40 saves already...and there's still a month left in the season. I think it's just been a great place for closers, Pittsburgh, because Jason Grilli had that amazing season in 2013. But Melancon, I think, has a lot better form than Grilli, and can be more consistent.

3. Huston Street, Angels. Another guy who's refused to disappoint, no matter where he's pitching. This guy's not had a down season in years, whether pitching for the A's, Rockies, Padres or Angels. Plus, this is the first time in a while that he's closing games for a competitive team, one who'll be making a serious postseason bid. He's a veteran in the ninth, and a trustworthy arm.

2. Craig Kimbrel, Padres. Was worried for a little bit earlier this season when he wasn't immediately throwing absolute fire, but after a while my worries disappeared. Right now he's third on the NL saves list, with four straight 40+ save seasons, which is pretty damn tough to do, especially for someone on a team like the Braves. He's been keeping the Padres afloat two, at 35 saves currently, which is actually pretty tame by Kimbrel standards. I feel like he's gonna have even more huge seasons to come.

1. Aroldis Chapman, Reds. Yeah, this was pretty predictable. This guy has some of the nastiest stuff in the major leagues, with a four seamer that has gone to 110 in the past. This guy's arm was so dangerous that having him close games, rather than start, was applauded by the management. He's had four straight All Star appearances, and three straight 35+ save seasons, plus he's on his way to even more. But the intimidation factor puts him above Kimbrel. I don't think anybody wants to go against Chapman in the ninth. Therefore he gets #1, fair and square.

The Kansas City Behemoth (!?!?!?!)

Hey...remember when the Royals were terrible?

I mean, back in 2010, Sports Illustrated put out an article about the Royals farm system, and talked about how they had people like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas warming up in the minors, and that eventually, this team would be a major contender. I remember reading that and going 'yeah, right'.

Well...right now the Royals are, far and away, the best team in the American League. I'll give you a stat. The Twins, right now, are the second best team in the AL Central. AND THEY ARE THIRTEEN GAMES BEHIND!!!!

Nobody in the AL is anywhere close to where the Royals are right now. I have no idea how the Royals were able to do it, but they have become a powerhouse, with a combination of homegrown guys, guys they landed when they were rookies, and guys they've picked up in the last few seasons. Somehow they got Kendrys Morales to play better than he has his entire career. Somehow they traded away one of the best pitchers in baseball, Zack Greinke, and landed two outstanding pieces to their offense, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar. Somehow they almost made Omar Infante an All Star Starter.

This Royals team is doing outstanding things, and it's all thanks to people like Eric Hosmer, the guy who became the unofficial leader the second Alex Gordon landed on the DL, and was already becoming one of the gold standards for this team. Hosmer is a great first baseman, a great hitter, and a great overall player. He's a great guy to base a team around, and the fact that he's having a nice season is pretty great.

For the record, what makes this team amazing is its depth. Any other team would be screwed at the loss of somebody like Alex Gordon. The Royals, not only do they have Jarrod Dyson, but they have Paulo Orlando. That makes TWO really nice backup outfielders. Plus, their pitching has been doing better as the season's progressed. I didn't expect this team to get so far with Edinson Volquez as their top pitcher. But with everything Johnny Cueto's been doing for the team, I'm not worried. Plus, they have one of the best bullpens in baseball. Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar, Ryan Madson and Greg the same fricking rotation. That should be illegal.

So the Royals are going to waltz to the playoffs, but hopefully they're going to get further than one rung in, because they deserve so much. I'd personally love to see them back in the World Series, if this whole Yankees thing doesn't pan out. Really, anything this season is a success. This team has come so far in just a few short years, and I love that.

The Vampire Slayers are Out

SAO #12- Actress, Improviser and Former Vampire Slayer Kristy Swanson
Best part of doing these cards is that I can cater to very, very specific audiences. Like, I can do a Carrie Brownstein one and appeal to Portlandia fans, and I can do a Jeff Tweedy custom and Wilco fans can get it.

So with this custom of Kristy Swanson, I can get people who have seen the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer to come on the blog and say 'huh. I remember her.' You know, even if it wasn't as good as the show.

Plus, the next one of these I post is gonna be another one of those 'specific fan base' ones.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Just Looks Unnatural

I mean, I thought seeing Jimmy Rollins as a Dodger was bad.

This...this is freaky. This just shouldn't be. I hope that, in some way, he winds up with the Phillies sometime soon. Because seeing him in blue is just the wrong kind of weird.

Not a ton of time for thoughtful posts today. Just...the picture says it all.

Cinderella Story...Outta Nowhere...

SAO #11- Pro-Golfer Jordan Spieth
...yeah, I don't know anything about golf, so I just threw in a Caddyshack reference.

I thought it was cool that Jordan Spieth, who apparently did pretty nice in the Masters this year, because he got to throw out the first pitch at a Rangers game.

Not much else to say. Just thought it was kinda cool and all.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Werth Edition

(I made this custom quite early in the season. Like, around the May-June zone. And because of Werth's DL stint, it took this long for me to actually post it. Which is a shame, because this is an amazing custom.)

The Nationals' rise and fall has been an especially sad story, because in the middle of this season this team was so hot, and them half the team got injured and since then they've been in the shit.

I mean, you have Bryce Harper, a guy who's likely gonna be in the Top 5 for MVP voting, Max Scherzer, a guy who's likely gonna be in the Top 5 for Cy Young voting, and performances from people like Yunel Escobar, Ryan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez. Yet the problem with this team is that once people got injured, they didn't have enough to supplement. People like Michael Taylor and Clint Robinson can be good for a game or two, but when they're starting on a regular basis?

Plus, the only real deadline move they made was to get Jonathan Papelbon, which was the wrong choice for them, and he's blown 4 out of 7 of his save opportunities. The opportunity to improve the team passed, and now the Nats are suffering for it.

This season's gonna be a huge reality check for the Nats, because after this season I imagine they're going to drastically change their roster, and make sure the guys that are starting work well enough. I don't think they're gonna do anything else this season, unless something astounding happens. But now that the root of the problems have been revealed, the offseason is going to be about solving them.

Coming Tomorrow- The unofficial leader of the best team in the AL.

Why the Yankees Still Have a Chance

Leave it to a deadline-dealing team to kill the Yankees' momentum.

The Yankees were having a really nice season, with some great performances from even some bench players, and a lot of nice stuff from rookies, most of which are back in the farm system (kind of like the Rangers.) They're at a point where basically everyone is hitting, and the pitching staff is cohesive enough that there aren't too many bad eggs.

Only problem is they started coasting the second the Blue Jays picked up a ton of speed.

The sad part about this whole Toronto thing is that once those new guys started playing well, everybody started playing well. Even the guys who were shit. And it's becoming really, really hard to stop these guys for more than a second. The Phillies, last week, managed to take a win away from them, but they proceeded to win a few more easy series'. Right now they're headed to Anaheim for a few games, which is a lot easier than the Yankees' series against the world-conquering Houston Astros.

However, the tide is beginning to turn for the Yankees. In two days Michael Pineda comes off the DL. Which means there'll be a rotation of Eovaldi-Tanaka-Pineda-Nova-Severino. Imagine if they're all hot. Imagine facing any three of those. The Jays have pitchers you can hit. But these guys? Unless you get really lucky, forget it.

Plus, if your choice at first is Greg Bird or Mark Teixeira, you're doing something really right. I know Tex is injured right now, but the fact that Bird is up there hitting big and giving everyone a taste of the next few years or so? That's pretty classy by the Yanks.

So I'm saying the Yankees aren't out of it yet, because the rest of their schedule is looking pretty bright, and if the players who are hot can stay blazing...we'll be in for a hell of a ride.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Somebody Tell the Giants it's an Odd Year

I already talked, today, about a team who really can't decide whether or not they're gonna have a down year. The Giants have the same schtick. This is clearly not a World Series team. There are too many injuries, the pitching staff's not together, half the outfield is on-and-off the DL. Yet that infield just keeps pushing them further and further. Belt-Crawford-Panik-Duffy is pretty perfect, even if Panik's currently on the DL. Rivals Rizzo-Russell-Castro-Bryant as one of the best in the NL. That is where all the momentum is coming from.

Especially Matt Duffy. Wanna talk about a rookie year that's come from absolutely nowhere? The starting third baseman for the Giants this year was Casey McGehee, and people were riding on him to be the guy to replace Panda. Well, McGehee's back in Miami, and Matt Duffy's been playing beautifully, filling the shoes nicely, and being a better fit for that infield-combo than Panda was.

And because the infield is doing so well, the Giants seem to think that they can turn the rest of the team around, and make a WC team out of it. So at the trade deadline, they got Mike Leake. And, two days ago, they got...


Byrd did the right thing and hit a home run in his first game as Giant, and helped out with the drive, because, he's Marlon Byrd, he does that around this time of year.

Problem is that, unless the Dodgers completely fall apart, this might be all for naught. Right now the Cubs and Pirates have those Wild Card spots pretty tightly locked up, and the only NL West team that goes on is gonna be the one standing at the top at the end of next month. So, either the Giants or Dodgers need to pull ahead quickly.

The Giants probably have less of a chance for a success this October, but I'm not necessarily gonna count them out. I made the mistake of doing that last year, and I'm not doing it again.

Are The Rangers Dead, Alive, or Somewhere in Between?

The Rangers this year have become one of the more vexing teams in the AL. They've been a third-place team for most of the season, and are up against two other teams for the Wild Card, yet they've been doing more campaigning than anybody to get into the playoff race, even if they don't have enough in terms of numbers.

So far, the Rangers have packed Cole Hamels, Mike Napoli, Will Venable, and, of course, Josh Hamilton into their slim roster, and are thinking that retooling the roster now is going to amount to something. So far, Hamels has disappointed, Napoli has shown his age, Hamilton's on the DL, and Venable hasn't done enough to prove himself.

Plus, the injuries are continuing to pile up. Robinson Chirinos is hurt, so they're bringing in a new guy who's been doing alright. Leonys Martin, Nick Martinez, Joey Gallo and Chi Chi Gonzalez were all doing pretty well this season, but all had to be demoted to make room for all the new roster additions. Derek Holland is trying to return from his injury, but the team is so scattered that he might as well wind up back in the DL again.

This team is an absolute mess, which is why it makes so little sense that some of the main core of the offense is doing well. Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland, Rougned Odor, Delino DeShields, Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo are all playing really well. Fielder is becoming the anchor that the Rangers front office was hoping for when they signed him. Colby Lewis is having his best season in years. Yovani Gallardo is doing alright, but he's keeping his ERA low.

Bottom line is this is a team that can be really great, and a lot of their core is really on right now. However, that is literally all that is working. The roster additions are tanking, the pitching is a mess, and the farm system is in waiting due to all these trades, so nobody that came up can really *stay* up.

I'm not sure if the Rangers are going to make the playoffs, because most of this damage is self-inflicted, sad to say. They could make it, but I don't think they'll get especially far. This is a team that needs to seriously rebuild itself this winter, and maybe emphasize its farm system a bit more.

Coming Tonight: Yeah, the big Giants infield bat that everyone's been absolutely raving about.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Frankie Goes to Bucco-Wood

I always felt bad for Francisco Cervelli. The man was brought up as a backup for Jorge Posada, and got a lot of gameplay in the 2010 season, and bits and pieces in other seasons. Once Posada retired, in 2010, the natural inclination was that Cervelli would get the starting job...and then the Yanks signed Russell Martin, rendering the job taken for two years. Once Martin left, the job looked like it was Cervelli's again...until the Yanks signed Brian McCann. And once McCann got good enough that it didn't look like he needed a backup very often, at least not one that wasn't a rookie, Cervelli was traded to Pittsburgh for a reliever.

You'd think the story would get worse. However, it got a hell of a lot better. Because the Pirates needed a starting catcher, and Cervelli was still young, and experienced, enough to outweigh the other options. so Francisco Cervelli became a starting catcher on one of the most formidable rosters in the NL. Plus, he became one of their biggest assets, hitting for average and keeping his reign as a defensive catcher.

So, I could not be happier for Frankie Cervelli, because he's being used, he's having a great season, and so are the Pirates. It's looking like they're a definite for the playoffs, because whether or not they catch up to St. Louis, they're in. Cervelli will get some playing time in October, in some capacity, and maybe his legend, and his staying power, will grow further. A Yankee fan certainly hopes so.

Coming Tomorrow- the first baseman/DH for a team still fighting to stay in the AL Wild Card race.

Custom Card of the Day: Gibson Edition

The Twins, right now, are at exactly .500.

What's weird as that, for a brief moment, everyone thought they'd be way under. And at another brief moment, everyone thought they'd be way over.

Weird season for them, I guess.

They've had support from people like Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe, but also from people like Torii Hunter, guys that are one or two years away from retirement. Plus, they don't have a ton of definites in the pitching staff, save for one or two like Kyle Gibson who've been pitching well enough.

It's a weird year for the Twins, as I'm surprised that they got as far as they did with what little they had. But now they're bobbing up and under .500, and it's not looking like they're gonna get anywhere.

Not too much substance in this one, but there you go.

Coming Tonight (?)- For five seasons he toiled as a backup in one of the most legendary ballparks in the country. Now, under less pressure, he's finally starting games on one of the hottest teams in the NL.

Never Count out those Astros

Even when you're not looking, they can still manage to throw an amazing game at you.

Congrats to Mike Fiers and the 'Stros. It's not everyday that a first place team gets no-hit.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Custom Card of the Night: Cespedes Edition

I saw the Mets at Citifield riiiight when they got good. I am confident in saying that.

Because right after that game, last week of July, they grab Yoenis Cespedes and they go on a tear. Pretty soon they're on top of the NL East, and hitting up a storm. If they hadn't had gotten people like Juan Uribe, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson, and, of course, Cespedes, this would not be a potential playoff team.

Yoenis Cespedes, meanwhile, is the perfect outfield bat for the Mets. He hits home runs, he can still play the field, and he's still young enough to be a force in the MLB without getting too winded. He's hitting pretty well, and though he's only hit a few homers, he's gonna be a pretty nice asset if they get to the playoffs. No major league pitcher wants to go against a professional hitter like Cespedes.

I'm just very happy for the Mets, and I hope their good luck continues to sweeten.

UPDATE- I think I picked the exact right night to post this custom. 3 Homers on the far. Way to go Yoenis. Keep it up.

Coming Tomorrow- A pitcher for a team that is 'desperately clinging onto the fight to remain dead', to quote Chevy Chase.

Custom Card of the Day: Crush Edition

In 2013, need I remind you, Chris Davis had one of the most impressive starts to a season since Matt Williams' in 1994. The man had 30+ home runs by the time the All Star Break came around. He was unstoppable in that quarter, and ever since then, he's been alright at best, hitting a decent amount of home runs, but never to that earth-shattering amount.

Until, however, now.

I don't know how, and I don't know why, but since the ASG, Crush Davis' bat has come to life, mashing home runs left and right, and becoming one of the main run-producers of the team. Out of absolutely nowhere, Davis has risen to second on the RBI and Home Runs leaders, second to Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz, respectively. And again, this is a team that really works when all their big stars are healthy, and for once we have a year where Machado AND Davis are on, so good things are happening.

Only thing is the O's aren't especially a sure thing for the playoffs yet. Right now they're currently entangled in an arms race with the Angels for that last playoff spot, which is getting closer as the days go by. Both teams will trade off being hot, and then they'll lose some games. Plus, neither team has enough materials to truly speed ahead, at least not yet.

I'm personally pulling for the O's, because they have people like Davis, Gerardo Parra, Machado and the surprising return of Nolan Reimold, who have gotten pretty good lately. They also have some pitching depth, and have people like Wei-Yin Chen and Ubaldo Jimenez, as well as countless others, pitching pretty damn well this year.

This is a team that can do really well if they can get lucky, just like last year. Will the rest of the season be as good to them as it was last year? Well, I guess we're gonna find out.

Coming Tonight: Speaking of home-run hitters, the guy who's been fueling the massive power surge in Queens.

Sprinkling a Little Beauty into The Stars are Out

SAO #10- Model/Actress/Whose Line Guest Star Nina Agdal

This is Nina Agdal. She's very pretty. She totally killed in an episode of Whose Line this past week. She's a model from Denmark. And she just threw a first pitch for the Angels, hence the card.

Not too much more to it than that. I do dig the little throwback logo on her shirt. Very classy.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Best. Around. (and nothing's ever gonna keep him down, either)

It must feel good to be 27 years old, and be considered one of the best pitchers in baseball, if not the best. It must be really good to be Clayton Kershaw.

I mean, we were all worried back there, when he started his season poorly, with some control issues and injuries, that he would end up having his first less-than-spectacular season this decade. But then, around July, the old Clayton Kershaw showed up and started mowing down batters like no time had elapsed at all.

So far Kershaw's leading the league in strikeouts and innings pitched, which is pretty nice, considering the fact that Zack Greinke had more time to reign supreme as a great pitcher with a hugely low ERA. I'm not trying to diminish Greinke's efforts- the Cy Young award is probably his this year, and I am fine with that. It all gave Kershaw time to slowly return to his dominant form in the background. Before the background became the foreground.

I am absolutely overjoyed that Kershaw is back in the spotlight, and I hope that, now they have an active second baseman, he can help lead his team back to the postseason, and maybe get a little further than the last time.

Coming Tomorrow- Meanwhile, back in (where else?) the AL East, a strong first baseman suddenly becomes his first-quarter 2013 self, and starts hitting the ever-loving crap out of the ball.

Custom Card of the Day: Calhoun Edition

The Angels were the team that was touted to do great things this season, and people thought they'd end up at the top of the division. While they have been having a pretty nice season, the Angels are currently vying for the second wild card spot. Not the outcome they were expecting, but still not bad.

However, what's put them out of contention has been their lack of definite answers at starting positions. Howie Kendrick's gone, so Johnny Giavotella's been playing second, but he's only doing alright. Matt Joyce and David Freese are injured, so there goes two important starters. The three guys they got at the trade deadline are doing alright, but aren't moving mountains.

The real sell for this team is the pitching. Aside from just-injured CJ Wilson, people like Jered Weaver, Hector Santiago, Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney have been doing pretty well this season, keeping the team afloat. Plus, the guys who are playing well on the lineup, like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun, are doing commendable jobs.

The problem is that it's an unfinished team, eaten up by injury and inexperience. And that's pretty sad for a team that everyone thought would be huge in 2015.

They're still trucking along as a Wild Card favorite, but they're gonna need to stay hot to keep the Orioles at bay.

Coming Today, or Tonight: The Best Pitcher in Baseball. Period.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Miracle (of Jeff Francoeur)

When you go to see a team that's basically the worst in the NL play a team that people are saying is one false Yankee move away from playoff berth, you don't expect walking away with a win. I mean, I certainly didn't. Very first play of the game- Troy Tulowitzki hit a bomb to right, the cut-off man overshoots the first baseman, barely keeping Tulo at first.

I turned to the crowd and said "your 2015 Philadelphia Phillies, everyone."

However, that, plus giving up a few runs here and there, was the extent of the Phillies' ineptitude during their 7-4 win over the Blue Jays. Because the very first inning they chased Mark Buehrle and had three runs driven in by a succession of batters, including Darin Ruf and Aaron Altherr.

That was the thing about this game. Jeff Francoeur and Odubel Herrera were the only really starters playing tonight, Galvis aside. People like Cesar Hernandez, Andres Blanco, Cameron Rupp and the aforementioned Ruf were playing tonight, and they all did a commendable job, save for Hernandez. Altherr was in charge of hitting in a huge home run later in the game, as well as having a great game in terms of hits. This was a guy who hadn't made a ton of damage as a rookie this year, and he made a case for legitimacy in Citizens Bank Park.

Jeff Francoeur, as usual, was the real hero. In the third, with two outs, he hit a solo shot that lengthened the lead, and made the case for Frenchy to stay a Phillie a little bit longer. This guy has been keeping the team fresh this year, as well as being one of the few fun players left on the squad.

Mark Buehrle was chased off the mound early. Josh Donaldson didn't do much. The only home run came from Edwin Encarnacion. the red-hot Blue Jays were deemed cold by the Phillies of all people. And it was nice to see Ken Giles shut them down one by one in the ninth, securing the win, and making this game one that I unexpectedly enjoyed.

It helps the Yankees too, giving them another game up in the standings. Always helps.

So that was my Phillies game, my first in a few years. Can't say enough good things about the stadium, and while the team isn't great, they made it a point to drive in a win for me. Can't ask for more than that.

Fitting, I guess.

I remember, in 2012, I went to Chase Utley's first game after being on the DL for most of the season. He got up to a standing ovation and had a monster hit that redeemed him from all those games with Freddy Galvis at second.

And now, tonight, I'll be at the first Phillies game after Chase Utley's departure for Los Angeles. It all sort of fits, in a way.

I mean, of course I'm gonna miss Utley. I'm gonna miss him more than I miss Rollins. He was a perfect fit for the Phillies for all of those twelve seasons he was here. And it's gonna suck seeing somebody like Cesar Hernandez playing second for the Phils.

I guess we'll just have to move on. And so, sadly, will the Phillies.

Rooting for the Underdog: Toronto vs. Philly preview

Tonight, I will be attending my fourth and (probably) final baseball game of the season. And it is probably the furthest thing from a stretch of the four. For the Sox and Cubs, I had to fly to Chicago and take numerous train stops. For the Mets, I had to be up in North Jersey already, and then take the train into New York, and take even more subway stops.

Tonight, I literally have to drive a few miles to the local train station, take that into Philly, and take a few subway stops to Citizen Bank Park. It's the simplest stadium for me to get to, and it's one of the cheaper tickets, mainly because the Phillies are doing pretty badly this year.

Tonight, the game will be against the Blue Jays, which is pretty frightening, because the Blue Jays are one of the hottest teams in baseball, and it only takes one or two slip-ups from the Yankees for them to get back into the lead in the AL East. Which means right now, this is one of the worst times for the Blue Jays to be playing the Phillies. They're getting easy wins. We do not want the Blue Jays to be getting wins this easily, especially against the Phillies.

Which is why, tonight, it would make me very, very happy indeed if the Phillies found a way to win the game tonight. Right now I am 3-0 in terms of watching the home team win, and I wouldn't want any Blue Jays to break that. Tonight, Mark Buehrle is pitching against Adam Morgan, and while that may look like a lopsided matchup, and it is, something could happen tonight that could turn the game in our favor. Frenchy could hit three homers. Utley could become 26 again. Howard could hit. I'm gonna be there with my girlfriend, and I doubt she'd want the Phillies to lose.

So please. Regardless of how hot Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, and practically the entire rest of the team is, I'm hoping that somehow the Phillies break out of this one. It may be unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Arrieta Edition

Jon Lester. Dan Haren. Jason Hammel. Three guys who have had some really nice seasons over the past decade or so. Yet the guy who's been leading the charge in the rotation is a guy that the Orioles gave up three years ago, because he couldn't keep control.

Jake Arrieta has been a standout for the Cubs for the past few seasons, increasing in power every year since, and becoming more and more of a force as the Cubs got better and better. And that is something that makes me very happy, especially considering how wild Arrieta was in his first few years with the Orioles.

Right now Arrieta has the best record, best ERA and most strikeouts of anybody on the Cubs, which is outstanding, as even as Jon Lester was poised to be the ace, somebody like Arrieta is commanding the rotation, and becoming the one guy that everybody else looks to.

I'm gonna guess that is Arrieta pitches into the playoffs, it'll be a big story, and he will definitely not let the Cubs down. This a guy who can be as tricky as Bumgarner or Wainwright in October.

Coming Tomorrow- A Blue Jays pitcher (who isn't David Price), who is still having a really nice season well into his borderline-HOF career.

Custom Card of the Day: Quintana Edition

I did in fact see Jose Quintana pitch when I was in Chicago. The Sox did win, but Quintana didn't put on an outstanding performance. He's very slow in his delivery, and he's definitely a strikeout artist more than anything. He's definitely not an ace, which is why I'm glad that the Sox have someone like Chris Sale or Jeff Samardzija to be that sort of anchor.

I think that the White Sox are an unfinished team. Sure, they have players who can hit, but they have a lot of roster holes. And yeah, their pitching staff is alright, albeit, again, unfinished. It can't just be the Chris Sale show.There's more to it than that.

I don't know if they deserve last in the division, but they're certainly not playing too well. And they need to figure something out for 2016 unless they want to stay in last, because there are a lot of nice pieces.

This year they're emphasizing their 2005 World Series win a bit, making a ton of stadium giveaways reminding people that ten years ago, this team was good enough to win a world series. I just hope they can eventually get the right kind of materials to get back there.

Coming Tonight: The powerful ace on the other side of Chicago.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Madness of the NL Central

When even the third place team has a better record than the first place teams of the other two divisions...yeah, you know you've got something to talk about.

I'd like to talk about the three teams that are on everybody's mind right now, because they're all excruciatingly close in standings, all likely on their way to the postseason, and all in the NL Central.

I'll talk about the Cardinals first, because they've won 75 games, and are being pretty obnoxious about it.

So, this is a team that, like I've said a few hundred times on this blog, is nowhere near as good as it was in 2011, or even 2013, but is still nonetheless winning tons of games. I think it's mostly due to the pitching, which has been lights-out this season, led by Jaime Garcia of all people, who was the fourth-or-fifth starter through all of these huge World Series teams. Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and John Lackey are all pitching brilliantly, which is probably why this team is doing so well.

Offensively wise, the team shouldn't be doing this well. Their starting first baseman is Mark Reynolds, which is never a good sign. Brandon Moss has been starting a few games since, but they've been relying mostly on Reynolds, who is way past his prime. Plus, Peter Bourjos is a starter in center, and he shouldn't be starting either. Matt Holliday, Matt Adams and Jon Jay are all on the DL, as well as Adam Wainwright. So, if it weren't for Randal Grichuk having a spectacular rookie season, the Cards would be a lot more screwed in the outfield.

Bottom line- I don't know how they're doing it, but the Cards are winning games. Are they a postseason team? It's hard to tell. With the right matchup, they could be taken down very easily. I just don't see them going all the way this season.

Meanwhile, the Pirates are only 5 games out of second, and have a ton of momentum riding on a really nice starting nine.

The Pirates, if anything, have the opposite problem as St. Louis. They have a lot of hitting, but their pitching rotation leaves a bit to be desired. Don't get me wrong, they're winning games, and they're all really nice. Liriano's pitching well, Gerrit Cole is having a landmark season, and AJ Burnett was having a renaissance until he landed on the DL. But people like Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton are bringing the collective skill levels down, as they're only so-so, as opposed to the Cardinals rotation where they're all amazing.

The only saving grace is that they just went and got Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ, two ex-Phillies, because the last time they got an ex-Phillie this time of year (Vance Worley) it went really well for them in the postseason. Blanton and Happ could bring up the dynamic in this rotation, so that the hitting doesn't have to do all the work.

Which isn't the worst thing in the world. Andrew McCutchen has returned to his usual numbers, on the RBI leaderboards, as well as being the team's definite leader. People like Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Neil Walker are all hitting well too. Plus, Jung Ho Kang, a rookie they got before the season started, is making a case to be the everyday shortstop, as Jordy Mercer is on the DL.

Now, the guys they got at the deadline to hit, like Aramis Ramirez and Mike Morse, haven't necessarily showed their stuff yet, but I have a feeling this team will explode once they get to the postseason, and make a serious case for the Series.

And then...there's the Cubs.

If there is any team, out of both leagues, that I want to succeed in great numbers, more than any other team, it is the Chicago Cubs.

Why? Because this is a fun squad, with an impressive core, and they DESERVE IT.

The infield combo of Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Starlin Castro and Kris Bryant, is one that could go down in history. I'm getting serious Garvey-Cey-Russell-Lopes vibes from these guys. If they stay together for a bunch of seasons, this team will be HUGE.

The amount of youth packed into this team is making me think they're gonna go far. Jorge Soler can hit for distance, Kyle Hendricks can pitch great games, and Kyle Schwarber is freaking intense. He could be one of the most powerful hitting catchers since Mike Piazza. Plus, they've gotten Chris Coghlan and Dexter Fowler to hit better than they did in the seasons that garnered them all that attention in the first place.

Their pitching staff doesn't show it in the wins category, but these guys are some of the most strikeout-heavy, formidable pitchers in the league. Aside from Jake Arrieta, who has showed his beast-status in the last few seasons, they have Jon Lester, who has had a number of unhittable starts, Kyle Hendricks, who has already gotten himself a fan following in Chicago, thanks to his stuff. Plus, Jason Hammel's been having a great season as well, nearly eclipsing his Cubs numbers from last year.

This team has been hotter than they've been in years lately, and I feel like they could go on a serious tear if they get to the postseason. Like, the Cubs and Mets could be pretty scary in October.

So yeah. That is the NL Central. Three teams that are playing amazingly right now, and could all end up in the postseason, which could lead to one of the most ferocious fights to the finish in years.

I'm just interested to see how it all goes down. I'll have popcorn ready and everything. Because this is gonna be good.

Custom Card of the Day: Markakis Edition

Nick Markakis' 2015 season was one of those where things didn't happen right at the start, but as it went along, things got very big.

Marky has had a really nice couple of months in Atlanta, having a couple hitting streaks and reclaiming some of the numbers he had in Baltimore. While the Braves team is a bit cluttered and injury-prone this year, Marky is very quickly taking a leadership role, in and out of Freeman's DL stays, and is becoming one of the main offensive forces for this team, which needs some sources of offense since losing Jason Heyward and Justin Upton.

Also, aside from Markakis having a nice season, a surprising part of the 2015 has been the fact that the Braves have stayed afloat, instead of dropping like a brick without a lot of their stars. People thought they'd end up in last this season, but since the Marlins and Phillies have underwhelmed this season, the Braves are holding strong in third.

And that's the thing. They're winning games, and the youth they're bringing up, including Adonis Garcia and Jace Peterson, is working. Only problem is, like I said, injuries have been seriously hurting what could have been a borderline-wild-card team. Freddie Freeman and Jason Grilli have been sidelined once or twice, and those two pieces have been carrying this team, too.

Hopefully things will get a little better as the season ends, as well as in 2016.

Coming Tonight- The guy who the Braves gave up this season, who's been having an awesome season, playing for one of the best teams in baseball.

Off to the Races in the AL East

Like it did in 2012, the AL East race has boiled down to a two-team hunt. Like in 2012, one of these teams is the Yankees. However, unlike in 2012, the Orioles are not wedged into the race, though they're certainly not out of it yet. It is New York vs. Toronto, the team that gained all of its momentum the second 4 PM hit on July 31st. And it is getting ugly.

The Yankees just took 2 of the recent series with Toronto, but the Jays took a win away from them tonight. Still, this new rivalry with the Jays is bringing the most out of people like Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, who've been hitting tons of homers recently, and energizing the once-dead roster.

The problem with this race is that it's dead even, both teams racing for the upper hand, and it's not looking like it's gonna break wide open anytime soon. The Blue Jays are going to be playing the Phillies for the next few games, and unless something absolutely miraculous happens, that's gonna amount to at least two more wins for Toronto. The Yankees, however, will be playing the Twins, and I say this with a 'however' because the last time they played the Twins, A-Rod's bat went wild, as did most of the rest of the team. So they are capable of defeating Minnesota. Whether they're able to do it now will definitely be important.

From the looks of both schedules, the only times this Yankee-Jay rivalry can break open is if they play each other, which may not happen too often down the road. So, unless the bottom falls out for one of these teams, we could be looking at a fight to the finish here, and whoever ends up on top is going to have to fight to stay in the playoffs. It's going to be pretty bloodthirsty, I can tell you that.

I'm just hoping that the Yankees can figure something out to stay on top, because I don't want a season as nice as this one to end horribly.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Phillips Edition

I love character transformations like this. In 2003, when Brandon Phillips came up with Cleveland, he was an inexperienced, unreliable, bad-averaging second baseman, who nobody really thought anything of. It was only when he landed in Cincinnati that he would become one of the most consistent second basemen of the decade so far, and one of the few constants to a rising and falling Reds team.

Brandon Phillips was there in the Ken Griffey-Adam Dunn years, and he's here now, when the lineup mainstays are all the Reds have left, save for Rasiel Iglesias and one or two younger players.

Phillips has done a lot of nice stuff this season, without making too much of a name for himself. He's stuck with the team, doing some nice stuff in terms of average and RBIs, and giving fans something to hope for, other than fourth place.

Only trouble is Phillips is getting older, and the Reds may not know what to do with him in the next few years. So, hopefully when he begins to slow down, hopefully they'll keep him on the roster, and just have him be a Brett Butler type, a veteran who can give the youth something to go by.

Coming Tonight: The Yankees are not to be counted out yet. Here's their hard-hitting catcher.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Day in the Life of the Last Place Sox

Today, the Red Sox did the unthinkable.

Up against the mighty Felix Hernandez, undeniably one of the most formidable pitchers in the AL, the Red Sox, and by that I mean the 2015, shittier-than-Philly Red Sox, proceeded to beat Felix Hernandez and the Mariners down, and scored 22 points.

Now, being that these are the 2015 Red Sox, where pitching takes a backseat to over bloated batting, you won't be surprised when I tell you that even with a 22 run game, they still gave up ten to the Mariners.

But still, it's not everyday that the 2015 Red Sox actually score points in a baseball game. You know, and actually win said baseball game. Even in a season where someone like Brock Holt can become a star, and people like Steven Wright and Henry Owens can make strong debuts, the Sox are still one of the worst teams in the AL, and have been a huge disappointment, especially after luring in bats like Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, and stringing together a band of misfit pitchers, neither of whom are actually doing especially well this season.

So I find it kind of cool that the Red Sox pulled a huge victory today over King Felix and the Mariners. They haven't had a lot of those this season, huge or no. And while things may get better for the Sox, I'm taking it in stride. I'm allowed to be a Yankee fan, and bask in the glory of a last-place Sox team. I'm allowed my indulgences.

Coming Tomorrow- The second baseman who's trying to keep the tent raised in a slowly sinking Cincinnati squad.

In Honor of the Surging Mets...

Here's yet another Stars are Out custom, this one of one of the stars of the US World Cup Champion Women's Soccer Team, Abby Wambach, who Sue Hawk from Survivor should be suing right about now.

I feel it's appropriate, as it's a Mets one, and the Mets are the team to watch right now in the NL. So yeah.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Grandal Edition

The Dodgers have had some ups and downs this seasons, having some droughts and then getting back up again, and have had some great breakout stars, like Joc Pederson, Justin Turner, and All-Star backstop Yasmani Grandal.

However, the main concern is that they're headed into the bottom half of the season, in a very close race with the San Francisco Giants. We all remember how well this went the last time.

I feel really bad for the Dodgers, because this is a team that has been consistently hot for the past four or five years, and yet has had consistently crappy postseason luck. No matter what kind of season Clayton Kershaw is having, he is most vulnerable in October, and that is the main weakness. The hitters can only do so much when the other team is always hotter.

Which is why the Dodgers need to strike up some MAJOR momentum. Yasiel Puig has the right idea, as he's been smoking the ball since the AS break. Pederson, A-Gon, Ethier and even Grandal need to hop back on their streaks and get going, because I do not want another year of a Giants World Series, especially if it's a Giants-Jays one, which is just as bad as a Cardinals-Jays one.

It would be nice if the Dodgers went on an unstoppable streak that culminates in an explosive postseason for them, for once. I just wish they'd follow through.

Coming Tonight (?): A charter member of one of the worst teams in the AL right now.

Custom Card of the Night: Gomez Edition

(This Custom is Brought to you by Sandy Alderson's ineptitude)

I think the biggest takeaway from the Astros' deal for Carlos Gomez was the fact that, for the first time since, I'd say 2004, the Astros were receiving something at the deadline, rather than giving something away. Back in 2004, the Astros got Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline, trading away John Buck and Octavio Dotel (so, all in all, a good trade). Granted, that trade really didn't help long-term, but in terms of the 2004 postseason bid in Houston, it was a helpful grab, as Beltran helped them get to the NLCS, and ALMOST get to the World Series, where they might have been able to beat those 2004 Boston Red Sox.

Now, the Astros got another Carlos, Carlos Gomez, a speedier, younger, and hipper Carlos, one who was already moving mountains in Milwaukee. Now that Gomez is somewhere where the rest of the lineup has a lot of momentum, he can really be expected to perform as well as them.

I'm really hoping Gomez-in-Houston will work, because I would like the Astros to go far into the postseason, and win some tough matches, if only because it's not everyday that a perennial 5th-place squad makes it to the postseason. Plus, the amount of homegrown talent on this squad is pretty nice, especially with Keuchel, Correa and Springer. Gomez, so far, hasn't been a major player, but has the potential to drive this team further than it'd go without him.

I'm not 100% sure, but I'd like to see Gomez do huge things in Houston.

Coming Tomorrow- I've got, like, 50 Dodgers on the bench, so tomorrow, expect their newly-reinvigorated catcher.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Custom Card of the Day: Kimbrel Edition

Had the Braves known before the season that things would turn out pretty alright for them in the long run, I don't think they would have traded away Craig Kimbrel. Yeah, they still would have landed Cameron Maybin, but if they knew, they would have thrown Chris Johnson or somebody in instead of Craig Kimbrel. Because Craig Kimbrel landed on the Padres for basically no reason, and is closing games like a pro...for the wrong team.

The Padres made the mistake of stocking up on all these players at the beginning of the season, and not having a good enough foundation to begin with. Plus, the dynamic between the new players and the returning players was definitely off, and there was a large disconnect. the guys they hired to hit weren't hitting, and James Shields is having a modest season, if flawed.

So Craig Kimbrel seems to be the only guy who's doing exactly what they got him for: closing games like an absolute pro.

Right now Kimbrel has 32 saves, tied for 2nd-most in the NL with Jeurys Familia, the breakout closer for the Mets. The two guys tied for first are closers for those ultra-hot NL Central teams. Plus, the only guy who's been closing games since the start of the season with more strikeouts than Kimbrel is Aroldis Chapman (Ken Giles has more too, but he's DQ'd, as he was a middle-reliever before Papelbon left)

Kimbrel is still putting up some nice numbers, and he's still one of the best closers in the game. He just might have to do it for a third-or-fourth place team for a little while, which, granted, he should be used to by now. I don't know if the Padres are going to hold onto Kimbrel, but I imagine he's gonna stay as hot as he has been since his debut.

Coming Tonight: The newly-acquired outfielder for the hotter-than-Houston Astros.

Customs, Etc.

In honor of my return from a wifi-less vacation at the beach, here is a custom card of the lead singer of Wilco, a band based mainly out of Chicago, throwing the first pitch for a team that is the sworn enemy of the team he should be throwing out the first pitch for.

I don't blame him. He's got a new album out. He can do whatever the hell he wants. Including throw out the first pitch for the Cardinals. Hell, go for Pittsburgh while you're at it, Jeff. Your indie following won't mind. They're still basking in the greatness that is that Star Wars album. As they should.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

It's August. Anything Can Happen.

A fourth place team can no-hit a playoff-chasing third place team. Hisashi Iwakuma can throw nine innings of no-hit ball.

It may not matter in a month, but I don't care. It's baseball. It's cool enough that a no-hitter happened in the first place. I'm content with it.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I didn't think that would work: Braves Edition

Sometimes a salary dump is just a salary dump.

Other times, it's a way of getting the said dump-ees to a place where they can perform a whole lot better than where they were dumped from. And this way of bringing Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to Atlanta certainly qualifies as one of those kinds of salary dumps, even if it wasn't the intended result.

Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher were sent to the Indians to rejuvenate the team, and be the forerunners for a potential playoff team. The playoff team did nearly happen, but Bourn and Swisher weren't the cause of it. Homegrown people like Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley, as well as Carlos Santana (when he was hitting) paved the way for the playoff run they had back in 2013 (if you can call it that; they lost a wild card and that was their playoff run)

However, since said 2013 season, Swisher's been on-and-off the DL, and Bourn has been the shell of the player he was back with Atlanta and Houston. However, this can't work for very long because we already have a Carl Crawford to fit that category. So something was bound to happen.

The trade that sent Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to the Braves was a smart one, as it rid the team of Chris Johnson, the guy who'd basically become the team's goat ever since the start of his torrid 2015 season. He's Cleveland's problem now (and God knows they have enough).

So the fact that Nick Swisher managed to drive in a couple hits last night, and helped the Braves get a win over Miami, was a nice sign for a player that the Indians have basically written off. I don't know what this means for the rest of Swisher's tenure in Atlanta, or what it means for Bourn, but I think that it's going to go well for both of them. Right now they're out of the pressure, and they have a lot less to work towards, so if they can just work on having a nice enough end to the season, it'll be nice.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Jays of Future Half-Assed

Okay. We get it. You want to be a playoff threat, Blue Jays. You've made this ABUNDANTLY CLEAR. Now...please. Before somebody gets seriously hurt. Stop this.

In case you haven't noticed, the Blue Jays, making as much noise as your average ferret-haired RNC candidate (and that's the closest thing to a political joke you'll ever see me make), are inching their way to the top, and are looking to overtake the Yankees to lead the AL East. They've done a fairly nice job of bashing the living shit out of us over the last few games, and turning a decent start by Ivan Nova into a bat-reeling circus today.

And this strategy is working, as all of the contracts the Jays have overtaken have led to an increasing hold on one of the Wild Card spots. Now, this would be a valiant effort by them if their team wasn't so unfinished.

People are focusing on everybody that's doing their jobs on this team, and there are a lot of them, but the team is still flawed as all hell. Their starting lineup is flawed, and they have a lot of guys, like Ryan Goins and Kevin Pillar, who are too underdeveloped to be playing on a team this cutthroat.

Even worse is the emphasis on people like Dioner Navarro, Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak, neither of which should be starting, and only are because the Jays' only other options are currently back in the minors. This is a messy, unfinished mess of a team, and it's only being carried by the players who are doing extraordinarily well, which is quite a few of them. Mostly guys that have literally just joined the team.

Their pitching staff, while solid, gives up a lot of runs, and doesn't have the lowest average ERA. David Price can only attempt to remedy this. Drew Hutchison has a 10-2 record, but has made a lot of  mistakes, and is not performing the way he was in 2014. Buehrle and Dickey work, but they're aging. Again, all these guys have winning records, but Hutchison is the only strikeout artist here.

The team is flawed, and I don't think anybody on it fully realizes it. So while it's nice that they're hot right now, and beating down on my Yankees 24/7, in no way does it mean they're for real. Sometime soon, everything's gonna come crashing down for the Blue Jays. Just you wait.

Friday, August 7, 2015

And Now The Rangers Want to Contend...

The Rangers needed a first baseman. Mike Napoli needed to get the hell out of Boston. It worked out.

Mike Napoli's arrival back in Arlington marks a significant change in priorities. Now more than ever, the Rangers are playing to get to the playoffs. They have an ace, they have a restructured infield, they have players that can hit, and they have a strong enough outfield. They have a team that can theoretically make it.

However, this wild card race is a tough one. They're up against the Angels, Twins and Blue Jays, and all three of those teams want one of those two spots BADLY. So it's gonna be really tough for the Rangers to stand out, especially given the fact that their pitching staff is still underdeveloped, and a lot of the youth movement is still unreliable.

However, getting Mike Napoli back certainly helps. If him, Hamilton, Fielder, Choo and Beltre are all hitting, you have a postseason nightmare for anybody willing to play them. Given the right circumstances, this team could get hot, REAL SOON. So the Sox handing Napoli over may have been the right move for both teams, ridding one team of a contract, and giving the other a chance.

This is good stuff. The plot keeps thickening.