The No-No Lotto

Since it’s apparent that any pitcher from a middle of the rotation innings eater to ace studs can throw a no-hitter this season, let’s look at who could be next.

1. Adam Wainwright (St. Louis). One of two Cardinal aces, Wainwright has a 1.94 ERA (2nd best in baseball), and he’s lights out at home. Odds of a no-hitter: 35%

2. C.C. Sabathia (New York). Big C.C. has motored along quietly in his second year in the Big Apple. He’s grown stronger with the season. Plus, 9 innings are common outings for Sabathia. Odds: 19%

3. Carl Pavano (Minnesota). Yankee fans cringe at his inclusion, but Pavano has experienced a career resurrection in the Twin Cities. The likelihood of him grabbing a no-no seems considerably greater than other. Odds: 7%

4. Josh Johnson (Florida). The best pitcher in baseball has to be on the list. His 1.61 ERA and 8 games of 1 run or less make him a very likely candidate for a no-no. Odds: 41%

5. Clay Buchholz (Boston). Buchholz has one no-hitter in a previous season, but 2010 is becoming his breakout year (and it also shows why the Red Sox were reluctant to trade him so many times). His only problem? The short porches in Fenway Park. Odds: 23%

6. Tim Hudson (Atlanta). The Braves ace is also having a very solid season. When he keeps his sinker ball down, as he has the majority of the season, then he’s very tough to hit. Odds: 16%

7. Matt Latos (San Diego). The All-Star snub has assumed the role of ace for the first place Padres during life without Jake Peavy. Can he continue the stellar season? Odds: 21%

8. John Danks (Chicago). It’s not easy to have a quiet season in the second biggest media market, but when you pitch behind Jake Peavy and Mark Buehrle, it’s a little easier. Odds: 11%

9. Roy Halladay (Philadelphia). He’s gotten a perfect game once this season against the Marlins, but he also has 3 shutouts and 7 complete games. Doc Halladay has the goods for a second no-no. Odds: 27%

**Disclaimer – The author of this article has very little knowledge of statistics. All odds were made up in his head.**

MLB Second Half

The second half of Major League Baseball’s season begins tonight. I’ve put together some questions for each contender.

American League

New York Yankees – Who do they target for starting pitching help after missing on the Cliff Lee deal? Javy Vazquez and A.J. Burnett have been disappointing to date.

Tampa Bay Rays – Can Tampa Bay regain its early season form and pass the Yankees? An 8-2 record in their last 10 seems to suggest so.

Boston Red Sox – Will Josh Beckett’s return spur the Sox to a late season run for the division crown or wild card? A healthy Red Sox team is a dangerous team.

Chicago White Sox – GM Ken Williams has expressed interest in pursuing Roy Oswalt. Will the South-siders put together enough pieces to grab Oswalt?

Detroit Tigers – The Tiger pitching staff is not overly impressive aside from Justin Verlander. Do they make a deal for another starter?

Minnesota Twins – The Twins looked to be building an insurmountable division lead before stumbling. Do the Twins change history and make a deadline deal, or do they remain as they are and hope for another late season run?

Texas Rangers – They played 12 more home games than road games in the first half. Can Cliff Lee keep them on their current pace, or do the Rangers experience some second half struggles?

National League

Atlanta Braves – The Braves need an outfield bat who can hit for power? Who does GM Frank Wren target after the Yunel Escobar trade?

New York Mets – Their mix-match pitching staff can’t possibly replicate it’s first half, can it? Johan Santana needs some help beside Mike Pelfrey.

Philadelphia Phillies – Will the once-vaunted Philly offense return as we all expect? Chase Utley’s injury is a big blow to the club’s chances.

Cincinnati Reds – Will Joey Votto continue his MVP season and carry the Reds to the division crown? Also, Aroldis Chapman is waiting in the minors for a September call-up a la David Price of the ’08 Rays.

St. Louis Cardinals – Despite not yet matching preseason expectations, the Cardinals are still in the race. Who steps up to help Pujols and Holliday?

San Diego Padres – The best pitching in baseball won’t let them down, will it? Can their youngsters hold on for 162 games?

Colorado Rockies – Can you feel the Rocktober air? Colorado residents can after the Rockies climb to second place before the break.

Los Angeles Dodgers – Cliff Lee is no longer available, but the Dodgers could still use some pitching help. Who do they target?

San Francisco Giants – Like the last few seasons, the pitching is there, but the offense isn’t. A blockbuster trade to look out for could be the Giants acquiring Prince Fielder from the Brewers.

Sometimes it just pays to be a homer

I try to maintain some semblance of fair and balance reporting, a la Fox News, but last night’s All Star game was the perfect example of when “Keeping It Real (Homerish)” would have been perfect.

I hate the Designated Hitter rule in baseball. Likewise, I hate the American League. I hate the New York Yankees, therefore I hate the American League.

I once hated George Steinbrenner (RIP), but I still hate the American League. A-Rod is a fraud and he’s a career AL player. Thus, the AL is a fraudulent league.

The years between 1996 and 2010 were painful for this baseball aficionado. Thankfully, the National League tired of its red-head step-brother claiming the glory and put those son of a guns back in their place as the inferior league.

Unfortunately, I did not have the bollocks to predict a NL victory yesterday. I do feel bad about it. I had faith we could win, but the game was in Anaheim (an AL park) and the NL relief pitchers usually choke the game away.

Sometimes it just pays to be a homer. Seriously, when did logic ever win any argument? From now on, I’ll go with my heart no matter what my brain says. As always, go National League!

Impact of the Cliff Lee trade

Hours after I posted a weekend preview series detailing the possible trade of Cliff Lee to the Bronx Bombers, it all fell through and Lee ended up with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers had been interested all along, but were reluctant to deal prospects and an MLB-ready first baseman within the division. However, they conquered their fears and pulled the trigger Russian roulette style.

The big question in the aftermath is the following: Does Cliff Lee make the Rangers a World Series team? They would not have made the deal if they did not think so. Let’s check it out Michael Street style, aka aspiring future GM.

Cliff Lee will now be wearing the blue and red of Texas

1. The Rangers record – Texas currently owns the third best record in the American League, trailing only the Yankees and Rays (arguably the two best teams in baseball to date). Texas also leads its division by 5.5 games and the perennial West winning Angels finally seem unable to replace what they lost in the off-season. The Rangers have a chance to win the division and play deep into October.

2. The Yankees (among other teams) wanted Lee – New York owns the best record in the majors and still felt the need to send a possible future catcher plus other prospects for a half-season rental. Keeping a player away from one of your chief competitors is always a good thing.

3. Lee is not an egomaniac – Cliff Lee proved last season that he can fit into a team in the middle of the season and become “one of the guys.” He ascended from a last place team to a first place team in a similar fashion. Lee assumed the ace role of the Philly staff without causing a ruckus. He will do the same thing in Texas.

4. Lee is an ace – He’s a bona fide top of the rotation pitcher. He’s easily the best thing to grace the mound in Arlington since Nolan Ryan. He has a 2.34 ERA, 5 complete games, and averages one walk EVERY eighteen innings pitched. For comparison, the rest of the Texas staff has a combined 4 complete games. Every five days, Lee will take pressure off of the bullpen and with the Texas offense behind him, he will feel less pressure himself.

With all of that said, does the acquisition make Texas better than New York, Tampa Bay, Boston, Minnesota, Detroit, or Chicago (the primary competitors in the AL as of now)? I’m not sure. I do know that it gives them a fighting chance. Lee gives them the one thing Texas has been needing for the last few years – an ace. Texas has what it needs, can they capitalize?

Weekend baseball

The All-Star break begins Monday which leaves us with a weekend left before the annual “festivities that don’t mean anything, but decided everything.” Some great weekend baseball is on the schedule. And if you’re looking for something on a Friday night before the final games of the World Cup begin, we got you covered.

Minnesota at Detroit

Detroit has ascended to first place in the AL Central and Minnesota is now a season-worst third place. However, the Twins are only two games behind the Tigers so a weekend sweep could return them to first place depending on the results of the South-side Sox.

Friday – Liriano v Verlander
Saturday – Blackburn v Bonderman
Sunday – Pavano v Oliver

Cincinnati at Philadelphia

This series actually started on Thursday, but it’s got three more to go so we can preview it. In last night’s game, original All-Star snub Joey Votto showed Charlie Manuel what’s up and went yard at Citizens Bank. The NL Central leading Reds looks to rebound from a loss however and earn their 50th win of the season.

Friday – Leake v Blanton
Saturday – Wood v Halladay
Sunday – Maloney v Hamels

Atlanta at New York

Three games separate the first place Braves from the hard-charging Mets, and a weekend series could see a shift in the standings if the Mets sweep. However, the Braves have lost exactly one series since May 10 (and own the major’s best record in that time frame), so a sweep seems unlikely. MVP candidate David Wright will need a big series.

Friday – Hanson v Dickey
Saturday – Hudson v Pelfrey
Sunday – Lowe v Santana

San Diego at Colorado

The Padres have been baseball’s best story this season, but despite their success, the Rockies have quietly close the first place gap. Colorado could make some serious damage on the Padres lead with this three game series at Coors Field.

Friday – Correia v De La Rosa
Saturday – LeBlanc v Hammel
Sunday – Richard v Francis

New York Yankees v Seattle Mariners

This series is included for one reason and one reason only: Cliff Lee. Despite reports yesterday at the Yankees were not heavy in the Lee trade talks, sources have confirmed today that the deal could be completed soon. And guess who is scheduled to pitch for the Mariners tonight? That’s right, Cliff Lee. If his start is canceled today, you know he’s been traded.

Stephen Strasburg to the All-Star game?

The buzz around Major League Baseball and sports talk radio has been about Stephen Strasburg, not surprisingly. His four starts at the big club have all been spectacular.

The other night, MLB Network poised the question though: Should Stephen Strasburg be an All-Star?

It’s a tough question to answer. You can probably tell from my previous baseball writings that I lean more to the traditionalist side of the game. I hate the DH and expanded use of instant replay. Yeah, I’m that guy ruining it for all of you 21st century folks.

But when it comes to Strasburg pitching in this years All-Star game, I’m surprisingly new age. Let him. In every sense of the word, he’s not an All-Star. Sure, his numbers are good enough, but the body of work isn’t there.

He’s pitched four games and should have about six by the Mid-Summer Classic. We can’t compare that to the pitchers that have been there all season. It’s not fair.

However, the All-Star game has become a popularity contest. Stats and great seasons no longer matter. It’s who the fans want to see. And if they want to see Strasburg, let him in.

Tony Romo started half a season in 2006 for the Cowboys, and he made the Pro Bowl squad. There wasn’t much outrage over that considering there were probably better options.

So, put him on the squad (if he’s voted in, of course). Let him pitch an inning, show the world what he’s got, and let the Nationals actually have some pride in their woeful franchise. Besides, what else does the National League have to lose besides another All-Star game?

MLB Round-Up 6/21 Edition

It’s Monday (unfortunately) which means it’s time for the weekly MLB Round-Up entry (fortunately).

Team of the Week

American League – Texas Rangers. The Chicago White Sox were also deserving of this award, but the Rangers win it. Texas was undefeated last week and own an eight game winning streak, best in the majors. In the process, they increased their first place lead over the hard-charging Angels to 3.5 games.

National League – Atlanta Braves. Can you say National League’s best team? Residents of Hotlanta can. The Braves have been on a hot streak since mid-May akin to the increasing temperatures of northern Georgia. They took two out of three against the Rays at home mid-week before sweeping the hapless Royals over the weekend.

Position Player of the Week

American League – Josh Hamilton (Texas). Want to know why the Rangers have suddenly taken off? Look no further than number 32. True, Texas has played well all season, but their recent burst can be attributed to an awakened Josh Hamilton. He had a .593 average over the past seven days and slugged .815. He also scored six runs and recorded six RBIs.

National League – Matt Holliday (St. Louis). After signing a big off-season contract, Holliday has played mediocre by his own standards. He’s alive now. A .435 batting average, 1.000 slugging percentage, 8 RBIs, and 4 home runs are just some of the highlights of his past seven days.

Pitcher of the Week

American League – Carl Pavano (Minnesota). Since he left the Florida Marlins following the 2003 championship season, Pavano has been a disappointment, especially under the bright lights of New York City. This past week, Pavano pitched 16 innings (including a complete game) with a 2.25 ERA and 2 wins.

National League – Adam Wainwright (Cardinals). Wainwright has steadily become one of the best pitchers in baseball since ascending to the rotation after the Cardinals 2006 championship in which he notably played the role of closer. Wainwright pitched 15 innings, struck out 10 batters, posted a 1.80 ERA, and recorded 2 wins.

Series to Watch

As Interleague play winds down before the All-Star push, we highlight some intriguing match-ups for the rest of this week.

Atlanta Braves vs Chicago White Sox (midweek)

Detroit Tigers vs New York Mets (midweek)

Minnesota vs New York Mets (weekend)

Detroit Tigers vs Atlanta Braves (weekend)

New York Yankees vs Los Angeles Dodgers (weekend)

Boston Red Sox vs San Francisco Giants (weekend)

MLB Two Month Edition – National League

Yesterday we looked at the American League and how teams have fared after roughly 50 games (or two months). And if you remember, the key to this exercise was summing up those seasons to date in one sentence or less. Today, we look at the Senior Circuit.

Braves rookie Jason Heyward

East

1. Atlanta (33-25) – The woes of a slow start have been erased by a fantastic month of May with rookie phenom Jason Heyward and veteran Troy Glaus leading the offense.

2. Philadelphia (30-26) – When it looked as if Philly was about to run away with the division, their offense sputtered and it has yet to return fully.

3. New York (30-27) – A make-shift pitching staff has been enough to keep the Mets afloat while they still struggle to score runs in the massive Citi Field.

4. Florida (28-30) – A disappointing record to date shows how manager Fredi Gonzalez’s team has been mediocre.

5. Washington (27-31) – Stephen Strasburg makes his debut tonight for a Nationals team that has to feel a bit more positive than in seasons past thanks to a near-.500 record.

Scott Rolen of the Reds

Central

1. Cincinnati (33-25) – Move over Strasburg, Mike Leake may be the best rookie pitcher and he’s been there all season with a resurgent Scott Rolen.

1. St. Louis (33-25) – Wainwright and Carpenter have been the anchor of a club that has yet to reach its full capabilities.

3. Chicago (26-31) – If Milton Bradley were still around when the eventual eruption of Mt. Lou occurs sometime before the All-Star break, then the fans at Wrigley would be treated to a real show.

4. Milwaukee (23-34) – Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers have proven they can beat teams worse than they are, but when it comes to the true competition, they have failed numerous times.

5. Pittsburgh (23-34) – They’re not in last place which is a step in the right direction, and prospect Pedro Alvarez should be called up sometime soon.

6. Houston (22-36) – Owner Drayton McLane doesn’t like to admit to “rebuilding mode,” but what else can the Astros do with a bunch of aging veterans and an ace pitcher that wants out?

San Diego superstar Adrian Gonzalez

West

1. San Diego (34-23) – The NL’s best team has still not made believer’s out of some despite splitting a four game series in Philadelphia this past weekend.

2. Los Angeles (34-24) – A slow start has been erased with their play in May under the pitching of Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, and the hitting of MVP-candidate Andre Ethier.

3. San Francisco (31-25) – Offensive woes continue for a team stacked with quality pitching.

4. Colorado (30-27) – Ubaldo Jimenez has been the bright spot in a so-so season to date.

5. Arizona (23-35) – They can hit, but their bullpen has been horrendous in blowing games for their starting pitching.