Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
Monthly archives: March 2008


Coming Home to Roost
2008-03-31 22:34
by Mike Carminati

Home? I have no home. Hunted, despised, living like an animal. The jungle is my home. But I will show the world that I can be its master. I will perfect my own race of people, a race of atomic supermen, which will conquer the world.

—Edward D. Wood's "Bride of the Monster"

The Phils opened the season in a rather microcosmic fashion today. The big bats connected, and the pitching coughed up a lead and then the game.

One the positive side, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley connected for prodigious shots to rally the Phils back from a 6-2 deficit.

On the negative side Rollins committed a costly error in the fifth to put the Nats ahead 4-2.

Brett Myers' much ballyhooed return to the mound as a starter was less than spectacular. He lasted just five innings and allowed four runs (three earned). People seemed to forget that his short stint in the rotation last season was abysmal. And one of the reasons that he was moved to the pen was that he became less effective after the first few innings. In 2006, his last full season as a starter, he saw homers skyrocket after three innings (20 in 418 at bats as opposed to 9 in 338 in the first three innings) along opponents' OPS (.678 through three, .785 innings 4-6, and .835 thereafter). I guess that's what you get when you go with a number three starter cum closer in opening day.

What was even worse was how the bullpen bungled a close game and then led a tie ballgame be eviscerated after the offense rallied. First, Ryan Madson in his first appearance since July 29 grooved a pitch to Lastings Milledge for a two-run shot to put the Nationals up, 6-2 in the sixth.

The coup de grace, however, was Tom Gordon's most untriumphant return to the closer role. With the game tied 6-6 in the top of the ninth, Gordon allowed a single, a walk, and three doubles (to go with a Carlos Ruiz throwing error) to give up five runs in one-third of an inning for a mind-bottling (god bless you, Chazz Michael Michaels) 135.01 ERA.

So where are we? Just about where we knew we were. The bullpen is a bust. The new third baseman went 0-for-4 with 2 Ks while leaving three men on—how Wes Helms-ian! Maybe we are even worse off since the makeshift rotation wasn't supposed to spring a leak until after the top two guys. But really, we were just giving Myers too much credit all along. Another poor start and more Tom Gordon and we will hear calls for him to return to the bullpen. Of course, with a depleted rotation that is not even possible at this point.

To sum up…

Countdown to 100 wins. Current win total: 0. Wins to go: 100.

Fearless Predictions That Are Invariably Wrong (2008 Ed.)
2008-03-30 22:32
by Mike Carminati

Well, the season is upon us. After a false start in Japan last week, the season began in earnest in Washington tonight with the Nationals winning the opener at their new park, the eponymously Nationals Park. So the team with the best record in the majors as of today is Washington!?!

And I'll tell, George Bush might very well be our worst president—sorry, Millard Filmore—, but he looks great on a ball field. Witness this:

Thank god this will be the last home opener for which we will have to suffer his presence.

Enough of my proselytizing, here come the predictions (never mind the bullocks):

NL East
1) Mets—Too much talent to lose it two straight years, Santana or no
2) Phils—Still dealing with last year's mistakes, too much talent to fade but not enough pitching to be taken that seriously. And there front office is DOA—witness Myers #1, Hamels #2, and Kendrick #4 meanwhile Tom Gordon is the closer.
3) Braves—Mediocrity is setting in
4) Nationals—At least they will be interesting
5) Marlins—A franchise steeped in Triple-A-ness

NL Central
1) Cubs—Why not?
2) Brewers—Too much talent in a poor division
3) Reds—Good young pitching
4) Cards—They're Yadier!
5) Astros—Michael Bourne leading off?
6) Pirates—Not even a fish can save them, though they will continue to produce #3 pitchers for other organizations.

NL West
1) Rockies—How can you not like this team? Then again Clint Hurdle may be the dumbest man I have ever seen.
2) D-Backs—Could these two young teams become the class of the NL over the next few years?
3) Dodgers—Torre will make it interesting, but they are not there yet, too much of a mixed bag
4) Padres—Remember when they were a young up-and-coming team? Yeah, me neither.
5) Giants—This is a team that eliminated any trace of Barry Bonds for this season. Hopefully, will be the worst team in baseball.

AL East
1) Yankees—Young pitching and aging though still potent lineup
2) Red Sox—Too many players coming off career years and too many aging too quickly
3) Blue Jays—If this team were in the West
4) Rays (You doesn't have to call me Ray)—Hey, they'll be interesting and would probably be .500 in the NL Central
5) Orioles—Biggest question will be whether they lose 100 games

AL Central
1) Tigers—Hard not to like them even in a tough division
2) Indians—Should be close
3) White Sox—Joe Crede at third, really?
4) Royals/Twins—Who really cares any more?

AL West
1) Angels—Too much talent not to win this weak division'
2) Mariners—When will this team come together? Could surprise
3) A's—Oh, Billy Billy Billy Billy
4) Rangers—Ran out of Phillies castoffs for the pitching staff

AL—Red Sox


D-Backs over Mets
Rockies over Cubs
Yankees over Angels
Tigers over Red Sox


D-Backs over Rockies
Tigers over Yanks


Tigers over D-Backs

The Winter of My Discontent
2008-03-26 22:02
by Mike Carminati

I have to admit that after the Mitchell Report, I started to dread baseball news. Not that baseball news was that easy to acquire this offseason, what with ESPN becoming the football network. Whenever I did try to get baseball news, I would turn on SportsCenter and be informed of the probable fourth-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions.

Most of the offseason baseball news consisted of Britney Spears-esque coverage of Roger Clemens—his potential steroid use, his Hall of Fame chances, his appeal to the left and right wing, his alleged perjury, his imminent arrival in Astros camp that went unfulfilled, his partying with Jose Canseco, etc.

And Canseco who was once viewed as a whackjob, albeit it a very talented one, and who had to be indulged by being allowed to pitch, let balls bounce of his head in the outfield, and once got so low that he auctioned off his a day with him, this Jose Canseco is now lionized as the whistle blower, who blew the lid off the whole steroid scandal. His first tell-all was such a bellwether that he now has to top it with his second book by accusing squeaky clean Alex Rodriguez of (near) steroid use and hounding his (Canseco's) wife.

And my Phils wasted another offseason. Their biggest deal was to pick up a mercurial and oft-injured closer, Brad Lidge, who has remained mercurial and oft-injured, and who will start (at least) the season on the DL. So the net sum may be that Brett Myers moves back to the rotation (a plus), Tom Gordon back in the closer's role (a huge minus), and a weakened bullpen all around (a minus, but this pen is so bad, who is counting?). Their other big deals were picking up Pedro Feliz, the serviceable third baseman they lacked last season, and Kris Benson off the scrap heap, who is not yet ready to pitch.

Feliz was signed the day before the Mets picked up the best pitcher in the game in Johan Santana. The historic skid that did in the Mets last season and allowed the Phils to squeak into the playoffs last year takes on a much different complexion with Santana in the Mets rotation. Basically, the Mets are getting one of the game's premier players while the Phils are still trying to correct Pat Gillick's mistakes from last offseason.

Speaking of which, Wes Helms is still inexplicably hanging onto a roster spot even though he has no conceivable role, either offensively or defensively, on this team. The only reason he is still around is that he is owed one more year from the ludicrous two-year, $5.5 M contract he signed last year.

And speaking of ludicrous contracts and mistakes from last offseason, the fifth spot in the rotations devolves to the ever execrable Adam Eaton, to whom the Phils still owe $16 M over the next two seasons.

All this wasteful, unproductive spending has helped to alienate two of the team's better players, their best pitcher in Cole Hammels and arguably their best hitter in Ryan Howard. While the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Kinsler signed megadeals with less that two years of experience, the Phils were ignoring two key members of their core. I expect one or both of them to be in New York or Boston once they become eligible for free agency.

And MLB again decides to start the "season" with a two-game money-grab series in Japan that ignores its true fans with a false start to the season. What ever happened to kicking off the year with a Sunday night game in Cincinnati?

But the offseason is ending on a high note. Hall of Fame prez Dale Petroskey was let go for failing "to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility." You may remember that Petroskey was the grinch who canceled the Bull Durham celebration at the Hall a few years back because the movie's stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon had anti-war positions back when it was inappropriate to do so back in the stultifying early days of the war. Even a dullard like Kevin Costner could see the hypocrisy of the move: "I think Tim and Susan's courage is the type of courage that makes our democracy work... Pulling back this invite is against the whole principle about what we fight for and profess to be about."

Now let's play some baseball already.

This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
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