Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Baseball In The Daytime: 8-22-07

There are four pre-evening games on the slate today, and most of 'em suck. Your surprise AL wild card leaders, the Seattle Mariners, are in action, but other than that you're stuck with bottom-feeders. So, after the rundown and after the jump, we'll dissect the American League Cy Young race, which is pretty excellent.

Anybody catch a score from that Yankees-Angels game last night? It ended awful late, and I haven't been able to find it anywhere. Anyone?

Your leadoff contest today is at 10:37 Mountain time, from the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The A's and Blue Jays engage in a getaway game on XM 181 and DTV 734, which convert to Channel B in Canadian currency. These two teams both had postseason hopes at one point, but injuries and vastly superior divisional opponents have left them playing out the string. Esteban Loaiza, who looks like a frog, faces A.J. Burnett, who looks like an ostrich.

At 11:10, you can find those wily Mariners visiting the land of 10,000 lakes on XM 179 (no TV). Miguel Batista, who once bought my wife a drink, gets the start for Seattle, while Carlos Silva takes the ball for the Twins. The M's hold a 2-game lead on the Yankees for the wild card, pending the outcome of that game late last night. Anyone?

The House of Georges prides itself on being the 27th-best Kansas City Royals blog on the whole Internets. We employ a dedicated Royals reporter, the esteemed and inimitable Roy F. Almania. We've chronicled the respectable moves of new GM Dayton Moore, and we've complained about the hazy cameras utilized by RSTN that make Royals games look like Negro Leagues newsreels on my widescreen TV. But even though we pimp this club, in no way can we condone or justify a decision to watch or listen to the game today at U.S. Cellular. KC battles the White Sox at noon on XM 180 and DTV 735, and if I were you I'd avoid it like the rickets. Brian Bannister and Jose Contreras will be mentioned as important to this contest, but we won't explain why.

Finally, at the odd start time of 3:05, you get a stinker between the Rangers (represented by John Rheinecker) and the Orioles (behind Garrett Olson). Family, friends, and problem gamblers can tune in on XM 178 and DTV 737.

Now, for the Cy. With roughly 35 games to go, we're seeing an abnormally big pack of contenders. Someone needs to separate themselves from the pack by the end of September, but until then these are the specifics:

The following pitchers, while all pitching well, just miss the top 10: Fausto Carmona, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Javier Vazquez, Roy Halladay, Joe Blanton, Jonathan Papelbon, Bobby Jenks, Francisco Rodriguez.

At 10 I'll put Justin Verlander. Throwing a no-hitter gives you an edge over the guys I just listed. In ninth is Seattle closer J.J. Putz. He's been dominant and the leader of a Seattle bullpen that's the key to their success.

Tim Wakefield is, in my mind, the biggest shocker here. He's quietly shaken off several rough patches to fashion a reliable campaign. He's tied for the league lead in wins at 15 (and has gained a decision in all 25 of his starts), he's thrown a ton of innings, and his secondary numbers are not half bad.

John Lackey slides in at seven, with an identical 15 wins and a nice 3.32 ERA. Now I think the win stat is totally overrated and random, as it measures your team as much (or more) than it does your pitching. But in terms of Cy Young voting, the fact is that the guy who wins the most games generally takes the award. I don't make the rules, dude.

In sixth is Indians ace C.C. Sabathia, who's cooled a little but still posts a 14-6 record, 3.43 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 168 strikeouts (good for fourth in the AL). The No. 5 contender is Lackey's teammate Kelvim Escobar. Normally a candidate for the DL by this point in the season, Escobar has remained healthy and recorded some bitchin' stats: fourth in wins (14), second in ERA (2.35), 8th in batting average against (.235). Plus he's yielded only 8 homers, a rather preposterous number for a strikeout pitcher (131, 12th in the league) who's thrown 164 innings already.

Dan Haren is No. 4, and he leads the league in ERA at 2.66. His .778 winning percentage on a 14-4 record is the best in the league for pitchers with more than 10 decisions.

The Boston Red Sox have the best record in baseball, and the unquestioned ace of their staff is Josh Beckett. After a disappointing 2006 in which he signed a fat new contract and posted an ERA over 5 (mostly due to a league-worst 36 HR allowed), he's stormed back to a position among baseball's elite with a 15-5 record, 3.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 148 K's, .236 BAA and, best of all, only 9 HR allowed. One thing that will hurt Beckett in the voting is the fact that Boston has the league's best staff--his contributions will be seen as more of a luxury to his team than a vital contribution.

Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball and has won the Cy twice, but in my mind he's trailing this race. A couple more games like his 17-strikeout gem the other day, however, would easily swing the vote in his direction yet again. Everything about Santana is tremendous, he pisses excellence. He's in the top three in ERA (2.88), WHIP (1.01), strikeouts (191, versus 39 walks in 175 innings) and BAA (.214). He's won "only" 13 games, a result of two factors: the Twins aren't as good as usual, and he's given up 24 gopher balls.

When I spoke with a friend yesterday about this very topic, he was surprised that I named Erik Bedard as the AL's top pitcher of 2007. I'll admit that I'm biased, as Erik Bedard has led my fantasy pitching staff to greatness all season. But his season defies description. Watch one of his starts someday and see how uncomfortable hitters, even righthanders, are in the box against him. He leads baseball in strikeouts by a huge margin, with a sub-3 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and league-best .210 BAA. Like Santana, his win total is hampered by the HRs he yields (19), only Bedard's Orioles are even worse than the Twins and he still has 13 wins. There's a lot of baseball left, but this guy's my leader in the clubhouse.

In the event of a tie, however, Santana wins every time in my book, as Bedard is Canadian. Cheers!


Brian said...

I agree with the Bedard pick. I'm totally shocked you didn't list all Red Sox in the top 5 though.

Like you, I didn't catch that score... did the Halos end up pulling it out?

old no. 7 said...

Top 5? I could have gone 10 deep. Have you seen Delcarmen? Julian Tavarez was snubbed for the All-Star game. Okajima is only the best pitcher in the history of baseball. And Clay Buchholz, with a win in his ML debut last week, should get a few MVP votes.

And don't even get me started on Gagne. That guys is lights out.

Brian said...

Yeah, about as "lights out" as the Adams Apple has been for us.

bankmeister said...

Ha. Too bad Royals/Sox ended up being a heck of a game.