Without looking, try to guess who leads the National League in complete games. If your answer was someone with seven starts (CC Sabathia), you’d be correct. Has there ever been a more valuable midseason addition to NL-only leagues? Chances are his 1.58 ERA and 0.91 WHIP are only going to lower after his next start against the Padres. Still, all this Cy Young talk seems off base, given that it’s a league-split award. Of course, I may change my tune by the end of September.
Kosuke Fukudome has been solid during his first year in the U.S., posting a .372 OBP. However, his .403 slugging percentage is unacceptable, and he’s been dreadful since June, with a .239/.321/.380 line after the All-Star break. The league has made an adjustment, and now it’s time for him to do the same.
Speaking of slumps, David Ortiz currently looks like a shell of his former self. Since returning from the wrist injury, Big Papi has just one homer and four extra-base hits over 59 at-bats. He has struck out in seven consecutive games. Ortiz’s swing doesn’t look noticeably slower, and it stands to reason it may take a while to get back into a groove after missing two months, but the loss of Manny Ramirez has led to far fewer pitches to hit. Wrist injuries can also linger for a long time, and the recent “click” sound he heard can’t be good news either.
Alfonso Soriano has missed 49 of the Cubs’ 117 games this season yet still leads the team in home runs with 21. If you prorated his stats over a full 162 game season, you’d get: .296 BA, 50 HRs, 26 SBs, 133 RBI, 119 runs. He’s 32 years old and increasingly injury-prone, but his bat currently looks as good as ever.
Brett Myers has a 2.10 ERA and 0.90 WHIP during his four starts since returning from the minors, but there’s still little to be encouraged about. It’s nice that he’s allowed just one homer after previously acting as a human launching pad, but the 4.64 K/9 IP mark suggests he’s hardly all the way back to old form. A start in Washington and another at home against the Pirates probably has more to do with the success than any tinkering in the minors did. If anyone believes otherwise, I’d sell.
Hanley Ramirez is having a rather odd season. He’s already set a career-high in walks, yet he’s also striking out more than ever. His on-base percentage remains strong, but he’s going to fall well short of his normal SB totals, thanks largely to a career-worst success rate (71 percent). Ramirez is also on pace to shatter his personal best in home runs with 25 already, yet his slugging percentage is 33 points lower than last season.
Not that I expected him to become a star, but Melky Cabrera has been a huge disappointment in 2008. He’s a terrific center fielder, and because he more than held his own as a 21-year-old in the majors a couple of seasons back, there was reason for optimism. However, he’s regressed badly since, and his current .640 OPS won’t cut it. His trade value has plummeted, and Cabrera has basically become a fourth outfielder of late.
Speaking of sinking trade value, what’s up with Huston Street? Brought in during the fifth inning Sunday, Street allowed three more runs, raising his ERA to 4.65. His peripherals remain fine, but he has walked eight batters over his last five outings, so maybe he’s not right physically. He currently looks no better than the third best reliever in his own pen. I’m not sure what’s more amazing, Brad Ziegler’s MLB record setting 37 straight scoreless innings, or the fact he was able to do so with a weak 17:11 K:BB ratio. Joey Devine is Oakland’s best reliever.
Adam Wainwright may very well return and be a dominant closer, but I personally wouldn’t count on it. Well on his way to becoming one of the game’s better starting pitchers, Wainwright’s finger injury is one that can often be felt up to a year later, and because his best pitch (curveball) is also the one the injury affects most, his return may come with some inconsistency.
Could it be? My main man Rocco Baldelli is back in action, folks, and hitting cleanup no less. The odds are greater he won’t be able to get out of bed tomorrow than he’ll be back in the lineup, but because Carl Crawford’s mess of a 2008 season got even worse with what looks like a season-ending injury, Baldelli could be looking at all the at-bats his fragile body can handle, making him someone to gamble on. Still, there’s a better chance Tim Lincecum accepts my hand in marriage than Baldelli staying healthy.
Bill Belichick is no dummy. He fully plans on using the “Madden” strategy in regards to the new coin toss rule, meaning he’ll always defer to the second half if he wins the flip. While the rest of the herd figures to stay the course, Belichick acts like you’d be insane not to, and rightfully so.
It was great to see Barry Bonds back at AT&T Park for the first time since retiring – err, being blackballed – Saturday, and the crowd properly treated him like the great man he is. It got even better when he later joined Kruk and Kuip in the TV booth for a couple of innings, referring to Aaron as “Scott” Rowand. Barry! Barry! Barry!