New York State of Mind

Don’t look now, but the New York Yankees have climbed to within three games of the AL East co-leaders Sox and Rays and are in Boston for a three-game set at Fenway Park that starts tonight. Like a bad case of athlete’s foot, New York refuses to go away. These guys have been decimated this season with injuries to Chien-Ming Wang, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Add to that the disappointing pitching from Ian Kennedy and Philip Hughes, plus the media circus of the A-Rod/Madonna/Cynthia Rodriguez/Lenny Kravitz Quadangle, and it is a miracle that these guys are still in contention. What is Hank Steinbrenner pumping through the air conditioning ducts to keep these guys motivated?

I’m not sure that the Yankees have enough pitching to make a long run at the playoffs, but you can be certain that Hank Steinbrenner will mortgage the future at next week’s trade deadline to at least make it interesting.

Objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits

  • I don’t know what Joba Chamberlain’s problem with Kevin Youkilis is, but if he hits Youk again tonight, I hope he gets his face smashed in with a Louisville Slugger.
  • You can tell that autumn is here when the leaves change color, and you can tell it’s almost August when Manny Ramirez starts faking another injury. This season it’s his sore knee. It never fails.
  • The attendance at Tropicana Field for the last two games for the Rays was about 12,000 and 16,000. That equates to 30.1% and 40% of total capacity. I know that it’s not the temperature in Florida that’s keeping them away. It’s always fair-weathered in the dome.
  • Big Papi David Ortiz rejoins the Sox tonight after a long layoff. This might be the big move at the trade deadline that everyone has been hoping for.
  • Speaking of the trading deadline… I really hope that Boston deals Manny to the Mets for prospects, takes those prospects and adds a top-line Red Sox prospect to the mix, and makes a deal for Matt Holliday. He would make people forget about Manny pretty damn quick.
  • Playoff atmosphere at Fenway tonight, and there is no one better to have on the mound than the best big game pitcher in baseball, Josh Beckett.

Go Sox!

All Star

Baseball has some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in all of sports, but for some reason, when the fans have the chance to select the starters for the mid-summer classic, they have the tendency to pick with their hearts instead of their brains. As much as I like players like Jason Varitek and Ken Griffey Jr., they are not deserving of an All Star nod. With the All Star selections being announced at 2:00 p.m. today, I’m going to jump the gun and give you the players that have truly played like an All Star during the first half of the season.

Although I’d like to make the team entirely of Red Sox players, I’m going to try to be as impartial as possible, which means there may be a Ray or a Yankee on the team. Ugh!

American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer
Pencil him in for the next ten years.

First Base: Justin Morneau
This was a close race between Youkilis and Morneau. Both players have similar numbers. I just think Morneau is better.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
This guy is a great hitter and an under-appreciated defender. His defense gives him a slight edge over Ian Kinsler.

Third base: Alex Rodriguez
After a controversial week in the tabloids, this selection should soothe the Material Girl’s pain.

Shortstop: Michael Young
Sorry, Jeter. I know that this is the last year in Yankee Stadium, but Young is better than you.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Quinton
There have been some great performances by AL outfielders during the first half of the season. These three have been the best.

Designated Hitter: Milton Bradley
Even with one arm, I think Big Papi should be the DH. But I’m afraid that Bradley will hunt me down and beat me to a pulp if he’s not picked.

Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee
11-1, 2.26 ERA. Lee has been the biggest pitching surprise in the league.

Reserves:
Dioner Navarro C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Ian Kinsler 2B
Brian Roberts 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Derek Jeter SS
B.J. Upton OF
Nick Markakis OF
Ichiro Suzuki OF
J.D. Drew OF
Roy Halladay SP
Ervin Santana SP
James Shields SP
Justin Duchscherer SP
Joe Saunders SP
Gavin Floyd SP
Jon Lester SP
Jonathan Papelbon RP
Francisco Rodriguez RP
Mariano Rivera RP

National League

Catcher: Russell Martin
Martin is in a class by himself. Easily the best catcher in baseball.

First Base: Lance Berkman
After an amazing first half, Berkman is the NL MVP.

Second Base: Chase Utley
24 ding-dongs on the season so far. He has carried the Phillies.

Third base: Larry Jones
Grown men shouldn’t be called Chipper, even when they hit close to .400.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez
This guy makes the game look easy. He’s a lock for the next ten years.

Designated Hitter: Ryan Howard
I like that this guy will either strikeout or go yard. There is no in-between.

Outfield: Nate McLouth, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun
These three aren’t the biggest names in the National League, but they’ve been carrying their respective teams.

Starting Pitcher: Tim Lincecum
This kid weighs 120 pounds and throws 98 MPH. The fact that he’s 10-1 and is the lone bright spot on the Giants also helps.

Reserves:
Geovany Soto C
Brian McCann C
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Derrek Lee 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
David Wright 3B
Jose Reyes SS
Miguel Tejada SS
Carlos Lee OF
Pat Burrell OF
Matt Holliday OF
Edinson Volquez SP
Brandon Webb SP
Dan Haren SP
Cole Hamels SP
Ben Sheets SP
Ryan Dempster SP
Kerry Wood RP
Jose Valverde RP
Brad Lidge RP

So there you have it, the official thefoulline.com 2008 All Star Team.

Fighting Temptations

Baseball fights are stupid. It’s essentially a pig pile of grown men. No one ever lands a clean punch, and all it does is increase the hostility between the two teams. Players’ egos are getting out of control.

With that being said, 3rd base coach DeMarlo Hale body slamming James Shields was awesome.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits:

  • I would trade Coco Crisp for James Shields/Jonny Gomes any day of the week.
  • The Red Sox are a close-knit team, but you have to figure if anyone is going to fight in the Sox dugout, it’s going to be Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez. Youk is an intense, hardworking, blue-collar player. Manny is a naturally talented, lazy idiot. I’d be surprised if this was the first fight between the two.
  • With Manny’s contract up at the end of this season, I think Boston should make a serious run at Colorado Rockies Matt Holliday. He’s younger than Manny, would have a comparable salary, can play left field, and would absolutely destroy Fenway Park.
  • Please, please, please…. let’s hope Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t break his wrist in last night’s game. If he did, the Sox are in big trouble. Ellsbury has been doing a great job as Boston’s table-setter.
  • After last night’s basebrawl game, the Rays are now neck-and-neck with the Yankees as public enemy number one at thefoulline.com
  • Jonny Gomes, Carl Crawford, and Akinori Iwamura are a bunch of punks. These three are the biggest cheap-shot artists I have ever seen. Punching Coco when he was being he held down by Dioner Navarro was cowardly. These three should receive longer suspensions than both Coco and Shields.
  • I have to mention Joba Chamberlain’s performance the other night at Yankee stadium: 2.1 innings, 148 pitches, 4 walks, 55,000 dejected fans, one foolish looking owner. Question: If a guy is playing great in the set-up role, why mess with that? Answer: Hank Steinbrenner is a friggin moron.
  • I hope the Rays enjoyed their 22 days in first place of the American League East. It will be the last time they sniff first for the rest of the year.

The Winner Takes It All, Week 1

Well boys and girl, we have the first week of the inaugural thefoulline.com fantasy baseball league in the books. The competition is fierce so far with several teams putting up some solid numbers. Since this is an off day for the Red Sox, here is a brief synopsis of what I saw from each of the fantasy teams this week. In no particular order:

  • My Best Efforts: This is a pretty well-rounded team from top to bottom. They had the best individual performance from any pitcher so far with Jake Peavy and his whopping 63.5 points. If they add a catcher that is actually in the major leagues, they could be a force this year.
  • Lessthanzero: An up-and-down week from our neighbor to the north. He had a big week from Derek Lee, Alex Gordon, and Corey “I wear my sunglasses at night” Hart. LTZ is going to need first-round fantasy pick Erik Bedard to rebound from his minor hip injury, and for Jose Reyes to play to his potential for this team to make a serious run.
  • SarasotaRedRays: Featuring Prince Fielder, David Ortiz, and Kenji Johjima, team SRR has probably the most out of shape team in the league. He was able to get good fantasy numbers from Carlos Zambrano and Bobby Jenks. Even with J.J. Putz missing time this week and a bench in need of some work, SarasotaRedRays still performed well enough to earn 316.83 points and a third place finish.
  • Bostonbad boys: This team may have the best pitching staff in the league featuring Johan Santana, Brandon Webb, and Dice K. Unfortunately, this team may stay unchanged all season because my dad forgot how to log in to the site. It’s tough getting old.
  • Boston Braves: This team had a mediocre week from its big three, Ryan Howard, Russell Martin, and Aramis Ramirez. This team’s saving grace was a good week from its closers. I expect a big week for these guys next week after a blockbuster trade with the YankeeHaters (pending league approval).
  • The Showstoppers: Theo Epstein’s prodigy Matt McLaughlin’s team is the league leader in points for the first week, with good numbers from every position. If he can upgrade his catcher, I don’t see anyone beating him any time soon.
  • Rogers Syringe: This team is in trouble. Although it may look good on paper to have seven shortstops, pitching is also important. Dylan threw caution to the wind this week, fielding only 13 out of a possible 16 positions. He’s either the most confidant G.M., or the craziest. This team needs to be blown up and reassembled. Does anyone need a shortstop?
  • Chickenheads: This team had the second most points this week and will be a serious contender if he keeps his team intact. With A-Rod and Pujols in the lineup, and an above-average pitching staff, this team won’t be laying any eggs anytime soon.
  • Yankeehaters: I like the look of my team. After a blockbuster trade with the Chickenheads, the additions of Fausto Carmona and Josh Hamilton paid immediate dividends. My impatience with my players and the desire to make at least one mega-deal a week may be my downfall. I may regret dealing Manny Ramirez.
  • Love Boat Captains: After a strong draft from our only woman in the league, Team LBC had an up-and-down week. Placido Polanco was a huge disappointment, going from 2007 All-Star to a two-point benchwarmer for week 2. It took a few games for stars Matt Holliday, Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter to regain their stroke from last year. A solid 35.5 points from Pirate Ian Snell (who??) made this a respectable week for LBC. This is a good team that will play better in weeks to come.

What do you think of the season so far?