Ignoring the irony in front of my face as I chastise The Sporting News for giving in and reducing its publication to bi-weekly status, all while in the comforts of my all-digital, paper free website, the latest Hot Corner unveils the problems with the magazine's new format and wonders what happened to the actual journalists. If you are tired of seeing the quiet decay of true journalism at the expense of immediate news bites, then the Hot Corner is a must read!
Two Places at Once?
Baltimore and Chicago have an interesting matchup tonight. Before their scheduled game for tonight, the Orioles and White Sox are continuing a suspended game from earlier in the year (April 28), originally played in U.S. Cellular Field.
What makes it interesting is that the White Sox will be the home team for the remainder of that game in Camden Yards, and any player currently on a roster that was not already removed from the game is eligible to participate. That means that if Ken Griffey Jr. gets on base and scores the winning run, he will have scored a run for two different teams (here's the Reds' box score from 4/28/08) in two different games in two different leagues that started on the same day in two different cities and finished in a third city.
A reader asks if the Brewers are abusing their rent-a-pitcher, CC Sabathia, throwing him to the wolves (and letting him throw 130 pitches) just to sap every ounce out of him now, only to leave his arm dangling like a wet noodle for the team willing to fork over the bucks for him this offseason. The latest Hot Corner explains why Milwaukee is doing nothing wrong, but perhaps they may want to reign the leash in a bit...
Refreshed and back from a short vacation, it's time to talk about baseball again - specifically, the stretch run in the National League. Arizona's acquisition of Adam Dunn didn't receive quite the same fanfare as several of the deadline deals, but it may be the one with the most impact. With Webb, Haren, and a still effective Randy Johnson in the rotation, the Diamondbacks are set at pitching (1st in NL in quality starts) but still lacked the "fearful" hitter in the middle of the lineup.
Mark Reynolds is a solid run producer but hardly strikes fear in opposing pitchers, and Conor Jackson has become the professional hitter everyone hoped but doesn't supply the power to change a game with one swing very often. Adam Dunn, despite the low (.234) batting average, still posts a high OBP of .375 and, by the way, is tied for the league lead in home runs. If you throw him strikes, there's a good chance the ball will be in the seats (if he doesn't strike out). Keep the ball away and Dunn will be on base.
If the playoffs started today, the Cubs would match up with Arizona and, despite the talent on Chicago's roster, the Diamondbacks would match up very well. Zambrano and Webb would be a battle in Game 1, but with Harden's restricted pitching limits of late, Game 2 would likely be turned over to Chicago's bullpen sooner than wanted while Dan Haren could capably throw 7 or 8 innings. That gives the Game 2 advantage to Arizona. Johnson and Dempster would be a good matchup, and the series as a whole would shape up to be very close - odd, considering the Cubs have dominated the regular season while the D-Backs are still struggling just to get in.
The other series would pit Philly against Milwaukee, two teams capable of solid baseball but with holes to fill. The Phillies need some answers from the starting staff, and the Brewers could use some help on offense while Ryan Braun is out.
Obviously, the Dodgers, Mets, Marlins, and even the Cardinals are still very much in the playoff hunt, so the matchups are likely to change. In the meantime, Arizona has constructed a playoff-built team that will have to fight to the end just to get a chance to use it as such.
Before this post begins, aren't you glad I'm not talking about Brett Favre?
Anyway, I have questioned the franchise in this website several times in the past (for trading away pitching, signing Chan Ho Park for ridiculous money, etc.), but it's time to give a little credit to the Texas Rangers right now. After rotating through a myriad a outfielders who were able to put up decent stats simply because they played in Texas' home park, the Rangers have finally settled in on an outfield worthy of starting in any lineup, namely Josh Hamilton, Milton Bradley, and David Murphy. The middle infield is one of the best with Ian Kinsler and Michael Young taking care of the middle of the diamond on a daily basis. The catching is adequate and the corners could use some upgrading, but the lineup as a whole is fierce thanks to the ability of Kinsler and Young to slug the ball when necessary.
Unfortunately, the pitching still stinks. A team ERA of 5.26 and a team WHIP of 1.57 simply won't carry the team when the offense struggles. Fortunately for Texas, the offense rarely struggles. Injuries haven't helped the cause, with DL stints for Millwood, Wilson, McCarthy, Gabbard, Jennings, and several others along the way. Somehow, Texas has managed to stay afloat, and while it may not happen until next year, if the injured arms get healthy again, the pitching may be halfway decent thanks to the abundance of hurlers that will have had major league experience, not to mention experience in winning.
Currently, the Rangers stand at 5 games above .500 and are unlikely to catch the loaded Angels. Just 6 games behind Boston for the Wild Card, however, there is still hope in Arlington, even if it is a pipe dream.