Archive for the ‘In The Show’ Category

Now Batting For The Baltimore Orioles…

As Extra P told us yesterday in the latest installment of his award-winning Z-Meter, Matt Wieters is now a Baltimore Oriole.  He was called up earlier this week and will make his major league debut tomorrow, Friday, against the Detroit Tigers.  Birds Watcher is PUMPED about this.

I could tell you all about his stats last year, when he was Baseball America’s Player of the Year, or how he was rated as the number one prospect in all of baseball by that same publication, but you know all that already.  What don’t you know about?

How about Matt Wieters Facts?

Praise Jesus for Google, is all I can say, because that’s what led me to this magnificent corner of the web.  Some may accuse this site of basically ripping off the “Chuck Norris Facts” phenomenom, and while the concept is the same, some of the content is amazingly, extraordinarily different.

  • Matt Wieters Went The Wrong Way After Bunting, Ran 26,000 Miles, And Beat The Throw To First.
  • Matt Wieters Broke A Bat Last Night. Nobody Knows What Happened To The Ball.
  • Matt Wieters Hit A Homerun Into McCovey Cove In San Francisco. From New York.

That’s just a taste.  Oh, and they’ve also created his Hall of Fame postcard:

matt-wieters-hof-postcard

You have no idea how tempted I am to buy one of these.

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That Was Fun While It Lasted

Sunday afternoon, I discovered an interesting fact: Iowa Cubs jack-of-all-trades Jake Fox was tearing up the Pacific Coast League.  Batting average over .400, 17 homeruns, 50 runs batted in – he was easily leading the league in all three categories, making him a prime candidate for one of my favorite feats, the Triple Crown.

As near as I can tell, the last player to win the PCL Triple Crown was Albuquerque’s Mike Marshall in 1981 (.373, 34, 137).  Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1956, when Steve Bilko hit .360 with 55 homeruns and 164 RBI for Los Angeles.  A different era, that was.

The season was about 1/3 gone, which still felt kind of early, so I ultimately set myself a limitation: on June 1, if Fox was still in the lead in all three categories, I would write something about it (yes, I was going to wait a whole week.  This demonstrates considerable restraint on my part).

So what happens?  Fox gets the call to the majors, of course.  You know, sometimes I get the sense that these organizations just don’t care about MY feelings at all.

Fox is no stranger to success.  Last season, he hit 31 homers and drove in 105 runs between AA and AAA, his third straight season with 20+ roundtrippers.  He is also valuable for his defensive flexibility: most of his professional experience is as a catcher and first baseman, but he has also played shortstop, third base, and multiple outfield positions.

One of the players sent down to make room for Fox and two other call-ups was Bobby Scales, the feel-good story who made his major league debut this month after a decade in the minors.  It’s nice that Fox gets another shot at the majors (he appeared in seven games in 2007), but here’s hoping that Scales receives his own second chance before long.

Now Pitching For The Tampa Bay Rays…

Right now, as we speak, David Price, Baseball America’s second-ranked preseason prospect, is making his much awaited 2009 debut for the Tampa Bay Rays.  He’s through three innings thus far, with three walks, two hits, and five strikeouts to his credit.  The offense has given him some breathing room, touching up Fausto Carmona and Jensen Lewis for seven runs.

This game features three players on Baseball America’s Top 100: Price, Reid Brignac, and Matt LaPorta (not to mention Evan Longoria, who was on last year’s list).  LaPorta is 0-1 with a strikeout, Brignac 1-2 with a run scored and two batted in.  In fact, let’s just go ahead and make this a “Now Batting For…” post for ol’ Reid as well (I think this officially makes him the first prospect to be so honored twice – I gave him a much better welcome last year).  He was called up on Friday to replace Scott Kazmir and could be around for awhile now that Akinori Iwamura is out for the season with a knee injury.  He better be good – he’s on my fantasy team, and we could use the points.

Update: It’s now 10-0 in the top of the fourth.  Price has thrown 77 pitches through his three innings, so it’s pretty much a race against the pitch count at this point to decide if he gets his first win of the year.

Update #2: The pitch count wins.  Price struggles to start the fourth and is pulled when he hits the century mark.  His final line: 3.1 innings, 2 runs, 4 hits, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts.

Now Batting For The Milwaukee Brewers…

Former Brewers prospect Matt LaPorta was recently called up by his current team, the Cleveland Indians, which meant that it was only a matter of time before Milwaukee dug deep and recalled their remaining Wonder Mat(t).  Because if one WM is in the majors, the other one must be there as well.  Don’t ask me to explain why.  It’s science.

As noted by Extra P in the Z-Meter, Mat Gamel was promoted from AAA Nashville last week.  He was off to an okay start with the Sounds, which somehow belong to the Pacific Coast League, hitting .336 with eight homers and 31 RBI in 33 games.  His OPS was 1.075.  Eh, not bad, if guys who hit for both average and power are your “thing”.

The plan for Gamel is to get him some at-bats and a few starts to keep him fresh before interleague play starts.  His Brewers will visit LaPorta’s Indians from June 15-17, with the first game scheduled to appear on ESPN.

Now Pitching For The Boston Red Sox…

A few weeks ago, my wife’s uncle and I were talking about the Red Sox when he mentioned that Jonathan Papelbon might not stay with the team when he hits free agency.  As a fan, the thought of Paps leaving is a little scary – say all you want about closers being a dime a dozen, the fact of the matter is that ninth inning worries have been few and far between for the last several seasons.

Upon hearing the news, however, I was strangely unconcerned, because I had recently heard news of the big flamethrowing righthander romping through the minor league system.  Drafted in the first round in 2006 as a starter, moved to the bullpen in 2007, and then

Forty-three strikeouts in 28 innings for Single A Greenville in 2008.  A 1.99 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 49.2 innings following a promotion to Double A Portland later that year.  Triple digits on the radar gun in 2009 spring training.  A 1.13 ERA, six saves in eleven games, and 29 strikeouts in 16 innings for Triple A Pawtucket this season.

Yes, when Papelbon is gone, I will feel completely comfortable watching Daniel Bard step into the closer role.  For right now, he’s hanging in the bullpen and waiting to make his major league debut, which ought to come any day now.  And suddenly, I find myself longing for the days when Josh Bard was also in a Red Sox uniform, and lamenting that we may never see a Bard-Bard battery.

Oh, and he needs a nickname.  I don’t know why.  He just does.

Now Pitching For The Toronto Blue Jays…

Don’t ask me how it happened, but at some point last winter I heard that Toronto farmhand Brett Cecil was one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.  With that in mind, I took a flyer on the 22-year-old Maryland native in the annual Lozoball draft, figuring it was a keeper league and I could afford to wait a year or two for him to reach The Show.

It didn’t take quite as long as I expected.

Cecil made his major league debut on Tuesday, pitching six innings for the first-place Blue Jays against the Cleveland Indians.  He allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out six.  Only one of the hits was for extra bases (a Jhonny Peralta double, the next-to-last hitter he faced) and he didn’t walk a batter (although he did hit Matt LaPorta once and Kelly Shoppach twice).  Perhaps most impressively, he retired the leadoff man in each of his first four innings, three of them on strikeouts.

The 6’3″, 220 lb. lefty was a supplemental pick by the Blue Jays in the first round of the 2007 draft.  After making his professional debut with short-season Auburn later that year, he took the fast track through the Toronto system in 2008, seeing action at Dunedin, New Hampshire, and Syracuse.  Regrettably, I did not see him pitch for the Fisher Cats, where he was 6-2 with a 2.55 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 18 games.  While he was an a member of the North All-Star team, if memory serves, he did not appear in the game because he had just been promoted to Syracuse.

Cecil started 2009 in AAA before being promoted last weekend.

One of my favorite things is when a young player comes up and acts like he belongs in the major leagues.  Cecil fits the bill.  Speaking about the batters he hit, he said,

“I made a couple guys mad today, but it’s part of the game…It’s definitely a good thing to establish the inside part of the plate. You’ve got to keep them uncomfortable in there.”

Now Batting For The Cleveland Indians…

Highly touted prospect Matt LaPorta was called up by the Indians on Friday.  He made his major league debut on Sunday, batting eighth and playing rightfield in Cleveland’s 3-1 loss to the Tigers.

It did not go exceptionally well.  LaPorta, the seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against Justin Verlander.  He stranded four runners, leaving the bases loaded in the seventh, and popped out to end the game.

LaPorta struggled after coming to the Indians organization in the C.C. Sabathia trade last season, but was off to an excellent start with AAA Columbus in 2009, hitting .333 with 5 homeruns, 14 RBI, and a 1.054 OPS in 21 games for the Clippers.  According to Baseball America, scouts graded his power at a 70 on a scale of 20-80.

As luck would have it, two of the E-migos with whom I correspond most often are Andrew of The Grand National Championships and Myth of the Next and Jacob of Vegas Watch and FanHouse.  They are fans of the Brewers and Indians, respectively, so naturally I asked their opinions on him.

Though both noted that LaPorta was the centerpiece of the Sabathia deal, they arrived at different conclusions about his longterm impact.  Jacob noted that he is a “good hit, no field” type of player who will probably see time at first base and leftfield and whose minor league success this year has probably caused expectations to be unreasonably high.  Andrew, on the other hand, pointed out that LaPorta is replacing the 2009 version of Travis Hafner and thinks he will soon prove that long-term, the Brewers were on the losing end of the Sabathia deal.  He figures LaPorta will “get out of bed and go .285/30/100.”

As always, it will be interesting to see who comes closer to the truth: is LaPorta overhyped, or will he make Tribe fans forget about Pronk?