Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trade Deadline is here...

As I mentioned in this blog, Tampa Bay is in a unique situation this season. They are a small market club that has never competed for the post-season. Add in the fact that they play in a division with the Yankees and Rex Sox, the Rays need to do all they can to make a run this season. However, for some reason, it is looking like they will stand pat.

Why? Adding any of available player regardless of position (Lohse, Bay, Dunn, Fuentes, Ohman, etc) would improve their team. Boston was just swept by LA and Tampa's lead is now at 3 games heading into August. Don't hang on to every prospect just because you don't think the deal is fair. Go get somebody and try and get to the playoffs for once. I would be so ticked if I was a Rays fan. Just ask Indian fans if you can count on your young, talented team to compete year in and year out.

The Griffey trade doesn't make Chicago that much better. He and Konerko have both struggled this year and Griff doesn't cover ground in center like he used to.

The Manny Ramirez rumored trade certainly doesn't make Boston better, but they HAVE to get rid of him. He is a cancer right now and is taking longer to get to 1st base than somebody on a chess team.

I really hate this trade for Florida. Why trade Hermida for a 2 month rental? He is only 24 and has yet to peak. The Marlins must realize the NL is up for grabs and with 2 titles the last dozen years, why not take another shot.

On the Braves front, Minnesota is apparently willing to part with a starting pitcher for help at relief pitcher, 2nd base, and 3rd base. How about this deal? Omar Infante, Kelly Johnson, and Will Ohman for Nick Blackburn. Blackburn is a 26 year old rookie that is 7-6 this year with a 3.69 ERA. Then, the Twins could bring up Liriano to fill Blackburn's spot in the rotation while getting help at all their positions of need. Atlanta gets a starter as they try and build for next season...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The time is finally here! It is about to be football central here until MLK Day. We are coming up on our 1st weekend with real football since Eli Manning to David Tyree shocked the world! I will get to some college stuff in a few weeks as I am still compiling my pre-season Top 30. For those of you out there that wager a buck or two on pro or college football, I will go ahead and give you the LOCK futures bet for this season.

University of Tennessee - Over 7.5 Wins

The reason this is such a great futures bet is you will have a decent idea of their season after Game #1 on September 1st (you can even hedge and take UCLA). If they beat UCLA, they are certain to get to 8 wins and still might get there with a loss. Take a look at UT's home games this year: Florida, Wyoming, UAB, Alabama, Northern Illinois, Kentucky, and Mississippi State. I would guess UT goes 6-1 in those games, but lets say they go 5-2 and the Tide pull an upset. If the UCLA game is a win, that means only 2 more wins are needed to get to 8. Road games this year are South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn, and Vanderbilt. Splitting these 4 would do the trick.

This is a team with 5 returning starters on the O-line and a All-Conference running back. The QB is a new starter, but he will have a good receiving core and maybe the top secondary in the nation helping him out.

Lets get to some pro stuff...

I think the top 4 teams in the NFC are the 4 Eastern division teams. Washington is the sleeper here after acquiring Jason Taylor. The Skins have a decent line, and Jason Campbell will have some receiving targets this year that are taller than 5'9. The defense should be pretty good now that the D-line has been upgraded. We will know a lot about Washington pretty early in the season - 3 of their 1st 5 games are on the road against the other 3 teams in the East.

I wish there was another team I liked to win the NFC besides Dallas. They still don't have a #2 receiver that will scare anyone, but Jason Witten takes some pressure off Owens. That defense looks like it could be the best in the league after locking up their secondary and adding Zach Thomas. Marion Barber will have to carry more of the load this year and I believe Dallas will use Felix Jones in different ways to get him the ball.

Don't but the New Orleans hype - they are still a bottom tier defensive team and while they might get to 10 wins playing in the NFC South, they won't get far in the playoffs.

I really believe the Falcons can win 6 games. They have more talent than people think and could sneak up on people with their running game and play-making linebacker core. This would also keep them out of the top 5 in the draft and having to spend a ridiculous amount of cash on another pick. I want Michael Oher (OL - Ole Miss) in next year's draft...

There is no reason to think New England will go away and other recent powers Indy, Pitt, SD, and Jax will also be pretty good again. I don't really like anyone of the 5 over another, but NE looks to have the easiest schedule and the best chance at home-field...

Least intriguing non-Brett Favre story this pre-season? The Bears QB race between Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman. Can't wait to see what happens there...

Most intriguing non-Fantasy Football story this pre-season? The development of Matt Ryan. I haven't been this excited about pre-season since 2001.

Finally, lets take a shot at the final division standings...





Green Bay


New Orleans
Tampa Bay


San Fran
St Louis



New England







Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Texeira Trade Thoughts...

Well, as predicted here, Big Tex is gone to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Braves weren't able to get any stud pitching prospects, landing Kotchman was the key to the deal. Now, instead of losing Tex for a couple picks this winter, they have a good 1st baseman at an affordable price. Kotchman is under Braves control until 2012 and will probably command just 4-5 million a year the next 2 years in arbitration. The only way this deal turns out to be good for LAA is if they resign Tex or win the World Series this year.

However, this does not solve all of Atlanta's problems. They are still without a right handed power hitter in the outfield and suddenly have a gaping hole in the rotation. Published reports have Wren actively pursuing Jason Bay and I am still holding out hope a Bay for Francoeur/Lillbridge/Prospect deal can go through by Thursday. Locking up 1st base for 2009 at an affordable rate and acquiring Bay at his 09 salary (7.5 million) would go a long way toward fielding a competitive team next season. I also am not opposed to shopping Kelly Johnson and Mark Kotsay - Ohman is all but gone for prospects.

The reason the rotation is scary now is because it looks like Tim Hudson will miss all of 2009. This puts a lot of pressure on Smoltz to come back healthy to anchor the rotation. In the scenario proposed above, all off-season spending can be on starting pitching. The Braves may even have to sign two pitchers to fill out the 09 starting staff.

Could this team compete for a title next season? If both free agent starting pitchers listed sign for around 10 million per season, the team payroll will be similar to the past 3 seasons.

C - McCann
1B - Kotchman
2B - K. Johnson/Lillbridge
SS - Escobar
3B - Chipper
RF - Bay
CF - Shafer
LF - B. Jones

SP - Smoltz
SP - Jurrjens
SP - D. Lowe
SP - Garland
SP - Campillo

RP - Soriano
RP - Gonzo

The problem here is you are again counting on Smoltz and Chipper to stay healthy and carry the load. There are also 2 rookies in the starting lineup and too many left handed hitters.

At least there is now another guy to throw into the group of current players you are comfortable building your team around:


Back to the trade - I was convinced last weekend that there wasn't any way Atlanta got C.Jackson, Loney, Youkilis, etc. Kotchman is by far the best MLB ready 1st baseman that was available so I certainly am happy about the deal. He has never shown great power or patience at the plate, but is a good hitter nonetheless. And, the deal is WAAAY better than the Chad Tracy/Micah Owings deal I read about last night - what a disaster that would have been. Unless Owings pulls a Rick Ankiel in 3 years...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Trade Deadline Thoughts...

I have always been a big fan of the trade deadline in baseball. This week is certainly shaping up to be an interesting one for the Braves. After yesterday's debacle, it is quite obvious Teixeira needs to go now. I speculated last week that the Dodgers made a lot of sense as a trade partner because they have the cash to re-sign Tex and a young 1st baseman to send back as a replacement. However, it looks like Loney is not going to be available and other rumors (Youkilis, Conor Jackson) have died down and appear dead.

The one team that I think makes the most sense now is the Angels. They need bats and would be scary good if they got Tex. If they gave us one of their 2 stud pitchers at AA (O'Sullivan or Mendoza) along with first baseman Casey Kotchman (.290-11-52 and not FA eligible until 2012) I would pull the trigger immediately.

I don't think the Braves need to sell everybody that is an upcoming free agent - they can do some re-building now for next season by acquiring major league talent that comes at an affordable price. I am still on the Francoeur + prospects for Jason Bay train. Bay would give us the right handed power hitter we have missed since Sheff left. The Braves desperately need a big time hitter in the outfield. This group Cox is throwing out there now (Francoeur, Kotsay, Blanco, Infante, Norton, etc) is pathetic.

It also makes no sense to hang on to Kotsay and Ohman. They better be gone by Thursday as well.

Whatever happened to Matt Diaz? He was playing in Mississippi when Frenchy was down there.

The one thing I am scared about is speculation that if Atl doesn't get top prospects for Tex, they will just let him walk and take the 2 draft picks. Those could be good picks - if the Dodgers sign him, we could get something like the #18th pick #35th picks along with our 1st rounder. But, if he decides to go somewhere like his hometown Orioles, the picks might be #35 and #62. The top 15 picks in the draft are protected so we would have to take Baltimore's 2nd rounder. Not exactly fair compensation for an all-star. Move Tex to LA and focus on developing some young guys and preparing for next season.

This Manny Ramirez thing sure did escalate quickly. After pulling himself out of the lineup the other day, Epstein and company are ready to put him on waivers and maybe even release him and eat the remainder of his contract. He is still productive (on pace for .300-30-100) in a town where he is beloved and the team is a WS favorite. Unbelievable.

It looks like the Mets will end up with Raul Ibanez and Philly was done trading after getting Joe Blanton. Neither move will help either team that much - unless one of those 2 gets Manny I don't think they can get to the NLCS. Look for Milwaukee and the Wild Card winner Chicago to fight it out for the pennant.

How can Tampa stand pat? Reports are that they don't want to give up a ton of prospects for a hitter? You have been terrible for 10 years and don't expect to compete year in and year out with NYY and Boston in your division. Give up some players and go get somebody. Nady and Blake are gone and you are running out of options. How cool would it be if Tampa got Manny and he hit a walk-off in late September to knock Boston out of the post season?

How could Steve Bartman turn down $25,000 to sign a photo of his unfortunate incident? Cash in on your mistake! Those fans forced you to sell your house - at least get rich off of this.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Random Nuggets...

According to, Francoeur is available and is being shopped around. I brought this up a few weeks ago and now the idea that we may be ready to part ways. Considering the contract extension that Frenchy turned down, this may not be for the better.

Leave it to the WNBA to come up with "worst gimmick" of the year to get attention off the recent brawl. Anyone excited to see how Nancy Leiberman performs tonight in her comeback? I am about excited about this as I was when I read that Mike Hampton "felt great" during a bullpen session.

The only way the Brett Favre story ends well is if he stays retired. Each day I become more and more convinced he is going to find a way to play again - and it doesn't look like that will be Green Bay. Wow.

Former Dawg Phillip Daniels tearing a knee ligament in the 1st drill of the 1st practice goes to show you that guys like Devin Hester and Ryan Grant are smart in getting all they can when they are healthy, valuable assets.

There was a very weak free agent class of pitchers last off-season in baseball, but that didn't mean the decisions were less important. Take Seattle and St. Louis for example. Both needed to sign a starter - Seattle gave Carlos Silva 4 years and 48 million and St Louis gave Kyle Lohse 1 year and 4.25 million. Through Wednesday...

Lohse - 12-2 / 3.35 ERA
Silva - 4-12 / 5.62 ERA

How good is CC Sabathia right now??

A few non-stories ESPN is throwing at us today...
- Iraq will not compete in the Olympics
- A bunch of WNBA players are suspended
- Two buddies of Tim Donaghy are headed to jail
- Apparently there is a bike race going on in France

Speaking of ESPN, I watched the SEC media days on ESPNU today and found myself screaming in exuberance as they showed UGA highlights. The one downside to the CFB season? Mark May bashing UGA any chance he can (still bitter about finishing #2 in 1980) and Kirk Herbstreit downplaying UGA as a threat to Florida and LSU (still bitter about losing 1993 Citrus Bowl).

Ra'Sean Dickey is now off to Europe, leaving GT with only 9 scholarship players for this season. Next years recruiting class looks good and that is good news for Hewitt's job status.

Prediction: Bobby Bowdon and Joe Paterno will never retire. One will die, then the other will either
a) retire at the end of current season if leader in all-time wins
b) coach until either dead or leader in all-time wins

First overall pick in the MLB Draft Tim Beckham has gotten off to a rough start. He is 13 for 72 so far with only 2 extra base hits (both doubles). Good for a .181 average.

The AL is setting up a great post-season similar to what we had in the NBA's Western Conference this year (but not quite that good). The Yanks surge could put them in the playoffs with Boston, Chicago, and LA. All four teams have won World Series titles this decade.

How good could Oakland be if Billy Beane wasn't forced to trade away everyone that approaches arbitration? In the past 5 years he has traded Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Dan Haren, Rich Harden, etc. - and, Huston Street is currently on the block.

16 Days until Falcons pre-season football!

Make sure you read below and comment on the Hawks situation. Just watched their summer league game on NBA TV against the D-League all-stars. Don't forget about Acie Law IV - he may break out this year.

Where does this leave the Hawks?

Well, Childress did it. The ASG (Arrogant Spirit Group) dared him to go find a better deal than what they were offering (roughly 5 yrs 33 million) and he went and did it. Josh just wanted to get paid - and the Hawks thought they had all the leverage. And, as usual, they blew it. With no draft picks and little cap space, there wasn't much to do this summer besides resign Chillz and J-Smoove. Leave it to the Hawks to blow such a simple task.

However, this is not at all the worst situation in the world. Atlanta keeps Josh's rights for a few years and can still deal him for something or bring him back to play for the Hawks as soon as next season. As for 2008-2009, the Hawks HAVE to win 40+ games and improve off last season. Any step back will probably lead to several more steps back. Joe is up for free agency soon and we do not (especially after what Chillz did) have a good reputation around the league dealing with players.

So, since Rick Sund has done nothing since taking over, lets look at what has to be done before camp starts. Right now Smoove wants 12 million per year and we are offering 9, so lets assume we don't go 0 for 2 right off the bat and compromise with our young star. This would be what the team would look like with 08-09 salaries...


With a Bench of


That is 10 roster spots with a total salary of $62,103,904. The cap for this year is $58,680,000, so we have no cap room for free agents. What we do have is the Mid-Level Exception (MLE) worth $5,850,000 and the Bi-Annual Exception (LLE) worth $1,910,000. We could split up the MLE to sign 2 players, but may have to overpay to get one of the remaining free agents. No one will take equal or less money to come here.

The Hawks really need another wing player and another center. If they can sign Kwame Brown to the LLE, there are several wing players still available that may come here for all or part of the MLE.

Kareem Rush - I wouldn't use the entire MLE on Rush, but he can really shoot. Probably not a good fit because he isn't a forward and would remind Woodson of Salim.

Quentin Ross - Ross is a decent defender and it may be worth the MLE to sign him and Rush.

Maurice Evans - Evans would be a great choice as he was a starter on Orlando's division winning team last season. He is 30, but shoots the 3 pretty well and is a decent rebounder. He was offered 3 years and 6.4 million by GS, so we may have a shot at this guy.

Fred Jones - Jones withered away in New York the past few years but still does some good things. Probably not a good enough shooter to fit with the Hawks.

Bonzi Wells - Bonzi is getting up there in age, but if healthy can still be a productive player.

Lets say we can entice Evans and Rush to come and split the MLE between them. That way, when Claxton gets injured, we won't have a roster spot to fill. In fact, lets sign one or two of the summer league free agents that are playing pretty well (Luke Jackson or Othello Hunter) and Mario West to the minimum just to be safe.

So, going into camp we would have the following depth chart...


I think that roster would have decent flexibility and would pose a threat in the East. Probably not a 50 win team, but they could approach that number if Bibby is healthy. This roster would have a total payroll right at the luxury tax of $71,115,000. The ASG would not have any luxury tax to pay, but they would have to dish out some cash to fill out this roster. Will they do it or will they do all they can to keep the payroll around 58-60 million? You can never trust them to do the right thing.

As for the future, Bibby's salary comes off the books after this season and Claxton will turn into a trading chip as next season will be the last of his contract. The Hawks will have cap space to be a major player next off-season while still having Johnson, Williams, Smith, and Horford under contract. Hopefully, Williams will accept a modest extension this fall and we won't have to worry about him signing with FC Barcelona next summer...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

People in Sports I love...

After the "worst" list, what better to discuss than a "best" list? We all have our man crushes, so lets hear 'em.

10) Chipper Jones – Was drafted #1 overall out of high school the year before the Braves became yearly World Series contenders. He is as good as they come at the plate and has become an above average defensive 3rd baseman. It gets overlooked that he volunteered to move to LF when Vinny Castilla was signed while it is equally overlooked that Derek Jeter complained when A-Rod was brought in that he wouldn’t give up SS.

9) Charles Barkley – The reason Charles is so great is because he is at the point in his life where he doesn’t care what he says or who hears it. I watch TNT because I want to know what he thinks about NBA players and coaches and he will tell you without worrying about any consequences. His quotes on gambling, being rich, becoming old, etc are classic. Chuck is the man. Plus, he can always make you laugh by doing this…

8) Joe Johnson - Joe came to the Hawks when nobody else wanted to - And, he did this as he was entering his prime as a player. You gotta love and respect a guy that wanted to be "the man" on a bad team and was willing to take a few years of getting drilled by everybody in hopes it would pay off in the end. Joe isn't a superstar, but making all-star games is starting to become the norm and after making the playoffs, the Hawks are on the up-and-up. Unless ASG screws it up...

7) Ron Franklin - Since I had a few announcers on the "worst" blog, I had to put my favorite on this list. You know it is fall when you turn on ESPN Saturday night and hear Ron Franklin's voice calling a marquee match-up. His voice is awesome, he is always prepared, and never tries to do anything more than set up the action.

6) Tim Howard - One of the best 5 goalkeepers in the world is American - and plays for Everton FC. This makes you a lock on this list for me. Timmy is good enough right now to be captain of his club and for his country. He is brilliant in net and has world class reflexes and instincts.

5) Mark Richt - This one may be a little long. Coach Richt is taking some heat his off-season because naysayers think he "only recruits thugs" and like to make jokes about arrests. The truth is, 3 of the 7 charges from this off-season have been dropped and 3 more are underage drinking/DUI. Not that those offenses are minor, just not acts of what I think would be "thuggish." One guy, Michael Lemon, has a serious charge against him. His girlfriend cheated on him and he saw the guy at a party and picked a fight with him. That's the worst of it. It is waaaaay better in Athens than in a LOT of college towns. Even Vanderbilt had a player kick out a window of a squad car after being arrested. A Florida player stole a credit card off a dead woman and used it to buy gas. An Alabama linebacker had a cocaine operation going through 4 states. Much worse charges of drunk gun waving (Mizzou), pouring beer on cops (Wazzu), and Grand larceny (UVA), are happening all over the country. It is just a case of having 100+ college kids with little supervision away from the practice field/weight room. You know what that equals? Shenanigans.

Richt is a great coach and an even better human. To say he puts on a "front" and is a cursing psycho that only cares about winning behind the scenes is ridiculous. All he does is put my Dawgs in the mix every year by doing some outstanding recruiting/coaching/hiring/retaining.

4) Jessie Tuggle - Jessie had a very under appreciated career with the Falcons but was great on the field and in the community. He was the type of guy I could look up to as a pro athlete when I was growing up. He never left the Falcons and saw them reach an unimaginable Super Bowl as his career was ending. Just a good 'ol Georgia boy that went from Griffin to Valdosta to Atlanta to local sports hero.

3) Herschel Walker - Another great Georgia boy that, although a bit nuts now, will always be the greatest college football player of all-time to me. Quotes like "The ball ain't heavy" and his dominant career in Athens that started with an undisputed National Title make Herschel a lock top 3 on this list. He also has highlights like this…

2) Dominique Wilkins - 'Nique spent many years at #1 on this list and was only recently passed for the top spot. Somehow left off the NBA 50 greatest list, 'Nique had a hall-of-fame career playing for the Hawks. Growing up and attending his basketball camps were awesome. Further, he is the greatest dunker of all time (was robbed in Chicago) and lit up the Omni when I used to be at most games. Oh, and he also was a Dawg!

1)John Smoltz - I freakin' love this guy. He is great with the media, speaks what is on his mind, is a big game performer, great leader, great teammate, etc. If the Braves are 7 games behind the Mets and are entering a 4 game series at Shea in July, Smoltzie will tell anyone who will listen that they need to take at least 2 of 3. No cliche/Tom Glavine answers from this guy. He may go down as the greatest post-season pitchers of all time, won a Cy Young, and is still gutting out his career with 1/3 an arm. I think the reason he moved to #1 is I truly believe he wants the Braves to win another World Series as much as I do. There are a lot of athletes in this town that you can't say that about...

Friday, July 18, 2008

People in Sports you hate…

We’ve all got a list. Those guys in sports that make you cringe every time you see them. Let’s get a good list going here – give me the guys that make you to want to throw stuff at your TV. Pardon me if I sound bitter when commenting on some of these guys.

10) Steve Spurrier

-- I think this one started with that smirk he gets whenever his QB throws a TD pass. It could have been when he ran a double reverse pass with a 4 TD lead against UGA. But, nothing makes me happier when watching a football game then seeing the “Evil Genius” slam that visor to the ground.

9) Jon Gruden

-- “Chucky” doesn’t have a smirk – just a stupid, I-promise-I-am-a-mean-guy look. It is so bootleg that he always looks that dumb on the sideline. Does Derrick Brooks get intimidated by the Gruden stare? I don’t think so. Oh yea, your 36-44 since that fluke Super Bowl in ’02 you won off Dungy and then decided to revamp your roster. Go get another DUI.

8) Billy Packer

-- What is this guy’s problem? Thank God he was finally relieved of his Final Four duties. He loves to complain about the NCAA tournament and how there are too many mid-majors. Guess what Billy? You know those millions of dollars CBS has given you over the years for doing your “analysis?” They make that money because EVERYONE watches the first two days of the tourney to see the mid-majors pull upsets. No one wants to see a 7-9 Big 12 team as a #11 seed. Go complain about Dick Vitale some more.

7) Curt Schilling

-- Curt’s always got something to say, doesn’t he? Constantly calling up sports talk radio show to “chat.” I won’t even comment on the so-called “bloody” sock.

6) Colin Montgomerie

-- Monty just hates America and lives for the Ryder Cup and the British Open. Too bad he always chokes in The Open, especially when it is in Scotland. He loves to take shots at the American team during the Ryder Cup when he is just riding the coattails of Westwood, Sergio, and Harrington. He would skyrocket on this list if he ever actually wins a tournament in America.

5) Roger Clemens

-- It keeps getting worse for “The Rocket” and I couldn’t be happier. He is probably 8-22 months away from a perjury trial and it will be thrilling to watch him go down in flames. Should of just ‘fessed up like your buddy Pettitte did and we would have forgotten by now. Worried about your legacy? How about no Hall of Fame. Good riddance.

4) Chad Johnson

-- Always looking to be in the spotlight – I want to be traded, I want the ball, blah, blah. How dumb was that Ocho-Cinco move he pulled? Was that supposed to be funny? Then, he holds an auction for a free Lexus at a comedy club but gives the car to one of his female “acquaintances” instead. Nice move Chad. And on top of all this, he isn’t even a great player. Laveranues Coles has more career catches. Terry Glenn has more career yards. Darrell Jackson has more career TD catches. Catch 100 balls in a season and we’ll talk.

3) Chris Berman

-- Where do I start with this guy? Is there anyone with a bigger ego? People don’t watch ESPN to hear you yell “Whooop” fourteen times during a kickoff return. The back-back-back-back thing ran its course in 1993. The home run derby is unwatchable now because “Boomer” spends too much time calling out suburbs the ball just landed in – “That one landed in Franklin!” Not funny.

2) Lou Holtz

-- Lou held the #1 spot on this list for a while, but recently has slipped to #2. The Lou hatred started when he got on his USC will beat UGA kick right after being hired by ESPN. He has predicted it every year! And, when UGA does win, he explains how USC outplayed them and should have won. He also is the king of mispronouncing player’s names. JD Stokely at QB for UGA today. He also has that annoying lisp and those creepy pre-game talks.

1) Chip Carey

-- Oh, Chip, how bad have you become? At first it was just irritating to hear you talk about the Cubs all the time during Braves telecasts, but you have elevated your game lately! You didn’t know Rickey Henderson was right-handed? Wow! You think Braves scouts log “millions of miles” on the road each year? He makes so many mistakes during a broadcast, I am confident he either is the worst prepared announcer in the business or he drinks more than his Dad and Granddad combined.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How Uggla was it?

I don't know how many of you made it to 1:40 am this morning to see the end of another American League victory, but I am sure you heard about Dan Uggla and his embarrassing performance. ESPN is running best All-Star performances this morning, but I was hoping to see the worst All-Star performances compared to Uggla. Rather than wait for someone else to do it, I came up with my top 5 worst performances by pitchers and position players.


#5 - 2004 - Roger Clemens - 1 IP 5 Hits 6 Runs 3 ER 0 BB 2 K's and the loss. Rocket got lit up in the 1st inning, giving up homers to Alfonso Soriano and Manny Ramirez. Insert HGH/Debby Clemens joke here.

#4 - 1969 - Blue Moon Odom - 0.1 IP 5 Hits 5 Runs 4 ER 0 BB 0 K's. Odom entered the game for Mel Stottlemyre in the 3rd down 3-1 and made it 8-1 in a hurry. Players who collected hits off Odom? Aaron, McCovey (HR), Bench, and Millan. Topping off Blue Moon's embarrassment, the last batter he faced was Steve Carlton - who doubled.

#3 - 1954 - Sandy Consuegra - 0.1 IP 5 Hits 5 Runs 5 ER 0 BB 0 K's. The AL had roughed up Robin Roberts for 4 runs and held a 4-0 lead behind Whitey Ford when Consuegra took over in the 4th. After getting Alvin Dark to fly out, Sandy then surrendered 4 straight singles followed by a Jackie Robinson double.

#2 - 1992 - Tom Glavine - 1.2 IP 9 Hits 5 Runs 5 ER 0 BB 2 K's and the loss. Tommy started off OK, getting Roberto Alomar to start the game. However, he then gave up 7 straight singles before getting opposing starting pitcher Kevin Brown to strikeout. Glavine was bailed out by Tony Gwynn, who threw Cal Ripken out at 2nd for out #2. For some reason, Glavine was sent back to the mound for the 2nd, but was finally pulled after allowing hits to Alomar and Joe Carter.

#1 - 1983 - Atlee Hammaker - 0.2 IP 6 Hits 7 Runs 7 ER 1 BB 0 K's. The AL led 2-1 when Hammaker replaced Mario Soto in the 3rd. The game was soon over after Jim Rice led off the inning with a homer, followed by 4 more hits and an intentional walk. Fred Lynn then hit his famous Grand Slam which mercifully ended Atlee's day.


#5 - 1967 - Tie-Tony Conigliaro/Harmon Killebrew - Both went 0-6 with a pair of strikeouts as the AL lost 2-1 in 15 innings. The pair played the entire game hitting in the 4 and 5 spots in the order with Juan Marichal, Fergie Jenkins, Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver doing most of the damage.

#4 - 1963 - Bobby Richardson - A notoriously bad All-Star game hitter (.091 career), the 1963 game was Bobby's worst. Just 3 years after his WS MVP, Richardson went 0-2 by hitting into 2 double plays and making an error at second. He would go on to win the gold glove this year.

#3 - 1941 - Pete Reiser - Our 3rd worst performance coincides with one of the best, Ted Williams 4 RBI/Walk off homer game. Reiser started the game in CF, batting 3rd, but ended up going 0-4 with 2 K's and grounded into a double play. His errors in center led to runs in the 6th and 8th, allowing Williams homer in the 9th to be the game-winner.
#2 - 1961 - Ken Boyer - Kenny entered the '61 game in the 5th inning and started with strikeouts in the 5th and 7th inning. Then, with the NL leading 3-1 in the top of the 9th, a Stu Miller balk put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Rocky Calavito then smacked a ball to third that Boyer misplayed, allowing the tying run to score. In the bottom of the 9th, with the score now 3-3, Boyer draws a 2 out walk but is picked off. On to the top of the 10th - it can't get worse, right? Well, another Boyer error allows Nellie Fox to score what turns out to be the winning run. AL wins 4-3, Boyer is the goat.

#1 - 2008 - Dan Uggla - It was pretty brutal last night. Uggla went 0-4 with 3 K's and grounded into a double play. He made errors on back-to-back plays in the bottom of the 9th in a tie game. Uggla also tried to give the AL a run in the 13th with a 3rd error and left 6 runners on base, including 1st and 3rd one out in the 10th and a bases loaded K in the 12th. Uggla's miscues gave the AL ample time to come up with a run, which they finally did in the 15th to extend the AL's unbeaten streak to 12 games.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Best Sporting Events I've Attended...

This will be an interactive blog - post the top 5 sporting events you have attended. They can be for historical reasons, personal rooting interest, etc. Whatever you consider the best stuff you have seen. Here's mine...

5) 2008 NBA Playoffs - May 2, 2008 Boston Celtics (100) @ Atlanta Hawks (103) Game 6, Phillips Arena - The Hawks force a Game 7 back in Boston by winning their 3rd home game of the series. Down 32-20 after the 1st quarter, Atlanta comes back by becoming the aggressor and shooting an astounding 47 free throws. The Hawks beat the eventual World Champs that night with Boston shooting 46.3% from the field and committing only 9 turnovers. This game was the beginning of the Ray Allen shooting slump.

4) Men's Olympic Track and Field - July 1996 - Turner Field, Atlanta, GA. Watched 200m qualifying for men - saw Michael Johnson run at the Olympics he set the world record with a 19.32 (record still stands).

3) Master's Golf Tournament - April 8, 1995 (Saturday) - Augusta National - Tiger Woods made the cut in his 1st major tournament while playing as an amateur. Watched Tiger in the morning and then made it over to Amen Corner to watch the leaders (Crenshaw won that year, Love III was 2nd).

2) World Series - October 23, 1991 - Minnesota Twins @ Atlanta Braves - John Smoltz was lights out and for once in the early 90's the Braves won a World Series game that Jack Morris started. Final was 3-2 with Jerry Willard hitting a walk-off sac fly scoring Mark Lemke, who tripled with 1 out in the 9th.

1) November 16, 2002 - Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn AL - UGA 24 AU 21- With the SEC East title on the line, David Greene found Michael Johnson in the corner of the end zone on a 4th and 16 prayer to send the Dawgs to the GA Dome for their 1st appearance in the SEC Championship Game.

Just missed the cut:

- May 8 1994 - NBA Playoffs Atlanta Hawks 102 Miami Heat 91 - Game 5 clincher at the Omni - Kevin Willis had 24 Pts and 12 rbs and Mookie Blaylock dished out 18 assists.

- September 22, 2002 - Atlanta Falcons 30 Cincinnati Bengals 3 - Sunday Night Football - Pat Kerney recovered a fumble in the end zone and Mike Vick put on quite a show.

- September 2, 1998 - Houston Astros @ Atlanta Braves - Dad and I watched Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux duel with both pitchers in the middle of their prime. We were able to follow McGwire's chase too as he hit 2 that night to give him 58.

- March 11, 2001 - Duke 79 UNC 53 - ACC Tournament Final, GA Dome - Wasn't much of a game, but it was still Duke vs UNC and I am not waiting in line/paying to watch them play in their home arena's.

- December 2003 - Campbell 94 McEachern 92 - Campbell High School, Smyrna, GA - Yes, I do have a HS basketball game on my list. Josh Smith had 40 points and fellow future 1st round pick Morris Almond had 20+ as well in the best played HS game I have ever seen. Along with the 2 future NBA players, at least 10 players on the court that night went on to play college ball. Justin Gwyn was fouled with just less than 2 seconds left in the 4th quarter and hit 2 free throws to ice the victory. Almond's potential game winning 3 rimmed out at the buzzer.

- September 6, 1992 - Atlanta Falcons 20 NY Jets 17 - The 1st game ever played in the GA Dome was won by the home team. Michael Haynes caught 2 TD passes from Chris Miller.

- March 28, 2004 - Duke 66 Xavier 63 - Elite 8/Regional Final - Georgia Dome - Wasn't even planning on going to this one - was downtown watching GT beat Kansas to get to San Antonio and ran into a Texas fan that thought the Horns would be in this game and bought a ticket from him for $10 to sit right behind the Duke band.

- September 21-23 1999 - Atlanta Braves sweep NY Mets, Turner Field - Chipper had 4 hits in the series - 2 in Game 1 and 1 each in Games 2 and 3. Every hit was a HR and Chip locked up the MVP that series (yes, I did go to each game).

Finally, I also have a top 5 (excluding the game listed above) of just UGA football games.

5) August 30, 2003 - UGA 30 Clemson 0 - Hottest day ever with a few key linemen suspended was never in doubt. Cries for Tommy Bowden's head filled Death Valley and UGA emptied the bench early in the 2nd half.

4) December, 2002 - SEC Championship Game - UGA 30 Arkansas 3 - Musa Smith scored early and this one was never close as Mark Richt won a SEC title in his 2nd year on the job.

3) January 1, 2003 - Sugar Bowl - UGA 26 Florida St 13 - Capped off a 13-1 season and #3 final ranking by destroying the ACC Champions. Bruce Thornton had a 73 yard INT return for a TD. Noles fans complained they lost because they didn't have Chris Rix, but whenever he played they always talked about how bad he was????

2) October 30, 2004 - UGA 31 Florida 24 - Ended a 6 game winning streak UF had in the series - Danny Ware ran for 103 yards and Leonard Pope had 2 TD catches.

1) 2006 Chick-Fil-A Bowl - UGA 31 Virginia Tech 24 - After getting man-handled in the 1st half and falling behind 21-3, everything went right for UGA in the 2nd half as they dominated both sides of the ball and got the win. Capped off a season that ended with 3 straight victories over ranked opponents (Auburn, GT, VT).

Post away!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Good ole Josh Hamilton is still on his 160+ RBI pace after his walk-off homer last night and his 21st tonight. He certainly deserved being voted All-Star starter. I also liked the Evan Longoria fans choice, he was the right guy there. However, as much as I like Corey Hart, and I really do, Pat Burrell deserved the final spot for the NL. Howard started off slow and now is hot - Utley started hot and now is cold, but Burrell has been consistent (for once) all year and should have been the last guy on the NL team. It would have been his first ASG appearance...

An interesting stat that I have been looking at some the past week or two is At Bats per strike out. The career leader is Joe Sewell and his ridiculous number of 62.56 at bats per strike out. A more modern day example of excellence in this category is Tony Gywnn's career number of 21.40. If you look at just active players, the leader is Juan Pierre with 16.7. But this only includes players with 3000 career at bats. There is a player who doesn't yet qualify that has an eye-popping 18.72 - UGA and Parkview High's own Jeff Keppinger. Kepp's number for 2008 is an even more impressive 25.12. Just an example of a guy that stuck with it after getting drafted in 2001 and jumping from team to team in the minor leagues that finally made it. And, with Kepp now approaching 200 career games played and a .303 career average, I think he will be in the bigs for a while.

Another guy I played with growing up that has stuck around really paid his dues - Robby Hammock. Robby was a 66th round pick out of South Cobb HS and then a 89th round pick 2 years later out of GA Perimeter. After deciding to play at UGA, Robby finally made it up to the 23rd round and signed with the D-Backs in 1998. He finally made it to the big leagues in 2003 and has been up and down ever since, never appearing in more than 65 games. But, he has been around long enough to earn right around a million bucks in his 10 years in pro ball, which is pretty impressive.

What about the Brandon Jennings saga. Worried all the top high school hoops stars are now gonna bolt to Israel? Don't. The only reason Jennings listed Europe as an option was because he couldn't make standardized test scores. Most high school kids know they get much more exposure playing in college on ESPN's Big Monday, Super Tuesday, Wipeout Wednesday, T-Bone Thursday, etc.

That 19 year old age limit in the NBA isn't going away soon. In fact, rumors are David Stern wants to raise it to 20. Look for him to get his way on this one because the players representative Billy Hunter isn't employed by these high school and college kids trying to get to the pros. More than likely Hunter will allow Stern to raise the age to 20 in return for benefits for current players.

Jennings could play in the D-League because he graduated from high school, but what fun is that. No NBA team could sign him, he would barely make any money, and no fans attend or watch any games. Might as well go to Belgium and team up with Andre Emmett to win some bootleg Euro title and eat free Waffles every time you visit Brussels.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Art of the Complete Game...

Baseball analysts have said for years that the art of the complete game was gone in baseball and the league was now full of relief specialists. The fear that your stud starter will undergo Tommy John, Rotator Cuff, or elbow surgery is felt around the league. I always believed what the analysts said to be true, but what I have missed over the last few years is how the complete game (let alone the shutout) is even more dead.

Check out these numbers: When Tom Glavine won the NL Cy Young award in 1991, he was the 1st pitcher in MLB history with fewer than 10 complete games (9) to lead his league in complete games. While the numbers of complete games continued to drop a bit after that, we still saw big years like Curt Schilling's 15 CG's in 1998 and Pedro Martinez's 13 in 1997. Philly didn't have much choice on that dreadful '98 team though, with bootleg brother Mark Leiter as their closer. By the turn of the century, the new king of fewest-complete-games-to-actually-lead-your-respective-league was David Wells with 7 in 1999.

In that same 1999 season, Randy Johnson went the distance 12 times in winning another Cy Young Award. Why is this significant? This is the last time any pitcher compiled double digit complete games in a season. The numbers dropped even more and just about bottomed out last year with our NL leader Brandon Webb and his 4 CG's.

So, why the drop in CG's? Most likely the reason is the fear of injury. Not too many teams have studs up and down their bullpen and don't want a starter to hurt themselves by (gasp!) throwing more than 100 pitches. Managers want their starters to go 7 innings and then turn it over to their "8th inning guy" and then to their closer.

Another interesting number when it comes to complete games is the league leaders in shutouts. The only guy to reach double digits the past 20 years? Tim Belcher in 1989. Look at some of the guys that have led the league in shutouts the past 20 years. If you don't believe me, look it up.

90-Bruce Hurst
93-Pete Harnisch
94-Ramon Martinez
96-Ken Hill/Rich Robertson (MIN)???
97-Carlos Perez
99-Andy Ashby
03-Joel Pineiro
04-RIP Cory Lidle
06-Jeremy Sowers
07-Jeff Weaver

Nobody even wants Weaver this year. He is as washed up as Dina Lohan. Goes to show you bootleg pitchers can blow up 1 or 2 outings and lead the league in shutouts these days. When I write this blog again in 10 years, look for Hiroki Kuroda's name to be added to this list.

Who is Rich Robertson??????

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lots of Moving and Shaking...

Many athletes are getting a new change of scenery this week in both MLB and the NBA. The NL Central and NL Wild Card titles seem to be locked up now with Milwaukee getting CC Sabathia and the Cubs acquiring Rich Harden. Harden will get hurt at some point, but the Cubs have been the best in the NL before today's trade. The only way the Braves can make the post-season is if they win the East. This means the Braves are going to have to make some decisions soon after next week's All-Star Game. Rumors are that the Teixeira market is not very good - probably because most teams aren't interested in giving up a ton of prospects and then have to deal with Scott Boras demanding $22 million a year for his client his winter.

If the Braves do decide to become a seller this July, don't be surprised if Jeff Francoeur's name is mentioned. While Frank Wren is now officially the GM, Mr. Schuerholz is still lurking and after saying he felt "betrayed", Francoeur may have one foot out the door. All the guys that rubbed management the wrong way the past 15+ years were quickly dismissed: Rocker, Justice, Sheffield, Spooneybarger, Lofton, and Wickman just to name a few. Wren and company are all saying the right things now like "We love Jeff" and "We still think he has a great future" but you never know what they are really saying off the record.

The way the Braves have played on the road this season tells us they will likely have a record around 45-50 when the AS Game gets here. Lets say at 8 games out of 1st, Teixeira and Francoeur are shopped around before the deadline. Wren has said we will want a 1st baseman back in a trade for Teixeira. I think a likely trade partner for Tex would be the Dodgers. They just creeped into 1st place and already missed out on their initial target Sabathia. LA has a young 1st baseman in James Loney and if they threw in a young starting pitcher like Jon Meloan, I think the Braves would be interested. Francoeur could then be sent to a club looking to get younger so maybe Frenchy and Brent Lillbridge could net Jason Bay. Bay is the power hitting corner outfielder we thought Francoeur was and is currently .289-17-45.

How about this for a 2009 starting lineup?

Schafer CF
Escobar SS
C. Jones 3B
Bay RF
McCann C
Loney 1B
Johnson 2B
B. Jones LF
Hudson SP

Just some food for thought - we will probably end up keeping both - like Beezbo said, we can't pull those commercials...

As for the NBA shenanigans that just went down. Elton Brand pulled a Carlos Boozer and chose Philly over the Clippers, giving them a legit shot to compete in the east with a starting lineup of A.Miller, Iggy, Young, Brand, Dally. Maggette took the Warriors cap space no one wanted (and they will regret investing $50 million into him) and the Josh Smith saga took a big turn.

Now it appears the Clippers are the only team with the cap space to pursue J-Smoove. Hopefully, they won't front load a deal like Philly was trying to do in hopes we wouldn't match. I am convinced that if Smith signs a front loaded deal, say $14 million in year one, the Atlanta Spirit Group will not approve us matching the contract. They just aren't in the business of winning.

Did anyone watch Monday Night Football last night in the Neither-City-Ever-Wins-Anything-Can-We-Really-Get-Excited-About-The-Arena-Bowl match-up between Atlanta and Cleveland?

You knew the Force would choke - they play their home games in Phillips Arena.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Did Frenchy need to go down?

Was it time for Jeff Francoeur to head back to the minor leagues to work on his swing and plate approach. No question. His overall game was out of control and the Braves front office had to do something. Braves fans need to realize that Francoeur's 1st summer in Atlanta, when he hit .300-14-45 will never again be realized. While Jeff may (and should) still believe he can be that good again or even better, his potential as a player needs to be reconsidered.

Francoeur most certainly has the skills to be an everyday right fielder on a championship caliber team. He played in all 162 games in 2006 and 2007 and won a Gold Glove Award last season. After hitting .260-29-103 with a .293 OBP, Francoeur decided during that off-season that he needed to improve the average and OBP numbers.

He almost doubled his walks in 2007, going from 23 to 42 which helped the OBP rise all the way to .338 - a very respectable number - for a guy that hits close to 30 HR's. However, even though Jeff's average in 2007 was .293, his HR number dropped to 19.

Could the Braves live with this from their right fielder? A season of .293-19-105 with 40 doubles and 88 runs scored along with a Gold Glove? You're darn right they could. That's a solid season which showed marked improvement in the areas where Jeff needed to improve.

This takes us to this past off-season. Francoeur decides that he is going to put on a bunch of weight in hopes of getting his HR numbers back up near 30. Well, as we all painfully witnessed, his swing fell apart trying to up those power numbers. Rather than being the player he was in 2007 that played pretty well most of the season, he wasn't even good enough to remain on the team.

Jeff's walk, strikeout, double, and runs scored numbers remained close to what they have been in the past. It was the average and OBP drop coupled with the sustained lack of power that made him a minor leaguer. Not to mention that of his 49 career assists, only 5 are this season.

I think it is very likely that his potential as a hitter is not a .300-30-110 guy, but
as a .280-20-105 guy that plays top-notch defense. There is no question to me that his defense has been seriously affected by his struggles at the plate. While in AA, Francoeur needs to focus on driving the ball to all fields and recognizing pitches better rather than upping his power numbers.

He will always be a 120 strikeout guy and a sub-50 walk guy, so without the threat of 30 HR's a season and being a right fielder, Jeff must get the average close to .300 and the OBP above .330. Hit 40 doubles like he did last year and play great defense while coming up with some big hits and there will be no complaints.

You can get away with average and OBP numbers like Francoeur has in 85 games this year is if you A) Are a slick fielding shortstop. B) Are a career .300 hitter and still young (Cano). C) Hit for a ton of power (Mike Jacobs). D) Run like the wind (Bourn).

Michael Bourn is actually the only major league outfielder with a lower OBP than Francoeur. However, his 31 SB's and solid defense has kept him in the lineup most nights. The only outfielder having a season as bad as Francoeur's? Emil Brown of the Oakland A's, who has recently been benched.

Maybe getting some confidence in the minors will give Francoeur a boost when he is re-called in a week or two. Those that watch these Braves most nights know that they need all the offensive help they can get.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

More CBB Nuggets...

I am sure everyone appreciated the love-fest I had recently over UNC and their potential for 2008-2009 basketball season. If the Heels don’t win it this year, every one of their fans will turn into Joey from Real World Hollywood immediately. They are going to be ridiculous. However, other teams are going to play out their seasons, even defending SEC Tournament Champions Georgia. They are losing Billy Humphrey and maybe Jeremy Jacob, but Dennis Felton losing 2 players in the off-season is about as predictable as a Brett Favre comeback in 2008.

I have listed below 12 teams that could challenge UNC this upcoming season in no particular order:

Louisville – When Earl Clark decided to return the Cards went from top 20 team to top 5. McDonald’s All-American Samardo Samuels (6’9) will team with Clark to form one of the nation’s best frontcourts. Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith are back at guard along with Mississippi State transfer Reginald Delk.

UCLA – Darren Collison returns but will have a new backcourt mate in Jrue Holiday. Josh Shipp is also back at the wing spot and 6’10 freshman J’Mison Morgan should also start at center.

3) Connecticut – Having a point guard as good as AJ Price and a big guy as dominant as Hasheem Thabeet is a good way to build a great team. Jeff Adrian somehow got a 11th year of eligibility and will help on the boards.

4) Oklahoma – Very intriguing team and the best bet to end the Texas-Kansas supremacy in the Big 12. Blake Griffin will challenge Tyler Hansbrough for player of the year honors and is a likely top 3 pick in next year’s NBA Draft. Sharp-shooting guard Tony Crocker will be joined in the backcourt by blue chip recruit Willie Warren.

5) Pittsburgh – Pitt just won’t go away from the national scene. They were nearly unbeatable towards the end of the year last season when Levance Fields played. Sam Young is also back and Dejuan Blair is a lock 1st Team All Big East.

6) Purdue – The Boilers went 25-9 last year with their top 3 players being 2 freshmen and a sophomore. That trio and excellent coaching makes them the class of the once again terrible Big 10.

7) Notre Dame – The Big East is going to be incredible this year. Returning Conference POY Luke Harangody returns along with Kyle McAlarney and Tory Jackson.

8) Arizona St – James Harden is an All-Conference player at guard and should have a huge sophomore season. Herb Sendek has done a great job rebuilding. Nice job NC State!

9) Florida – The loss of Maurice Speights won’t hurt as much after Billy Donovan got two 6’10 freshmen to join the Gators (Eloy Vargas and Kenny Kadji). The backcourt will be the strength with Nick Calathes and Jai Lucas.

10) Georgetown – Don’t write off the Hoyas after losing Pat Ewing, Roy Hibbert, and Jonathan Wallace. There is still a lot of talent in DC with Austin Freeman, Jessie Sapp, and DaJuan Summers all coming back. Incoming freshman Greg Monroe is a monster at 6’10 and will be more of a scoring threat than Hibbert.

11) Memphis – Landing Tyreke Evans will keep Memphis on the national stage. Having Evans available to run the point is huge because they lost so much talent to the NBA. Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggert are experienced forwards and Antonio Anderson returns as Evans backcourt mate.

12) Arizona – If Brandon Jennings makes it to campus, Arizona will be a Pac-10 title contender. Chase Budinger wised up and returned to school and Nic Wise and Jordan Hill also are back. Losing Bayless will hurt, but the arrival of Jennings is the key to their chances of contending.

How beastly will the Big East be? Not included on this list are Syracuse which returns a ton of players, Villanova and Scottie Reynolds, and a very talented West Virginia team. Marquette still has Dominic James too. They should get at least 9 teams into the 2009 Big Dance.

My early pick for the Final Four? UNC, Louisville, UConn, and Memphis

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

MLB Surprises...

Josh Hamilton's emergence last season was quite a story. The guy went from #1 overall pick in 1999, to drug addict, to being out of baseball from 2002-2006. After being given a 2nd chance by the Reds last year, he responded by going .292-19-47. A remarkable comeback from a guy that was all but done in baseball.

But did anyone think that he could be this much better in 2008? The guy is absolutely out of control, picking up his 80th RBI last night in game #81. Hamilton currently leads the AL in RBI by 17 and is on pace for 35+ homers and 200 hits.

However, the most impressive stat are those RBI. After 81 games, or half the season, Hamilton is on pace for 160 RBI. How impressive is this? Only 12 guys in major league history have ever had seasons with 160+ RBI (Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Greenberg, Wilson, Klein, DiMaggio, Thompson, Simmons, Trosky, Ramirez, and Sosa). Only Ramirez and Sosa accomplished the feat during the Steroids Era.

If Hamilton keeps up his pace, his potential final numbers would be .310-38-160. In an era now with rampant steroid testing, this offensive season would rank as one of the best of the last 25 years. Maybe more guys need to take 5 years off in their prime??

How are the Rays doing it? They have the best record in baseball and one of the top farm systems in baseball. Tampa is in position to acquire a player or two before the trade deadline as well as call up future phenom David Price (currently 5-0 1.99 at AA). So far, great pitching and timely hitting has been the formula. The only Ray regular hitting over .300 is catcher Dionar Navarro. Former top picks BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, and Evan Longoria are playing well but only hitting between .265-.285. Jason Bartlett, Eric Hinske, Gabe Gross, and Carlos Pena are all below .265. They have been clutch, though, coming up with big hit after big hit as the Rays continue to win.

The pitching has really been the Rays strength as well as their most surprising asset. Scott Kazmir is as legit an ace as you can have and James Shields puts out quality start after quality start. Their leader in wins is Andy Sonnanstine and they also have Matt Garza and Edwin Jackson in their rotation. Pretty stout. As for the bullpen, Troy Percival has revived his career as a top notch closer and JP Howell and Dan Wheeler have been lights out in set up roles.

Can they make the playoffs? Sure. How dangerous are they if they reach the post-season? Depends. If they make a push for another pitcher, like CC Sabathia, the Rays could be a World Series contender. Imagine having a post-season rotation that sets up like this:


This also allows for Sonnanstine and Jackson to be available in the bullpen. The team with the best pitching usually wins in October, so don't expect the story of the Rays to go away any time soon. Now, if only some locals would come out and support them...