The Art of Bat Flipping and Hit Pimping: Korean Swag

batflip

Earlier in the week LA Dodgers OF phenom Yasiel Puig visited the MLB Fan Cave and gave the hosts of “Off the Bat” a lesson on the finer points of bat flipping and hit pimping.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/yasiel-puig-shows-off-bat-flips-on-off-the-bat?ymd=20140520&content_id=76128798&vkey=news_mlb

That being said, earlier today a friend of mine posted this video on facebook:

It appears that Yasiel Puig and Wil Myers a’int got shit on these Korean bat flip pimps. On a side note, is there anything more hilarious than an a batter crushing a deep fly ball, flipping the bat, getting his pimp on, only for the ball to be a routine flyout?

All modern day bat flip pimps however have a LONG way to go before they can take the crown from the all time bat pimp king; Mr. Ricky Henderson.

After all, he is the self proclaimed G.O.A.T

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Three Games Above .500 and the Need For SP

edwin lawrie

Start planning the parade route!!

The Blue Jays are 3 games above .500 for the first time since June 2012 and they are tied for the division lead in the AL East. The Blue Jays will be looking to sweep the Red Sox at Fenway when they send the ageless lefty Mark Buehrle to the mound on Thursday afternoon. The Blue Jays potent offense has been led by the scorching hot bat of Edwin(g) Encarnacion who has hit 7 home runs in his last 6 games. He is also the first player to have 4 multi-homer games in a month since Troy Tulowitzki had 4 in September 2010. E5 has also feasted on the Red Sox thus far, knocking 4 home runs out of Fenway in 2 games.

edwin

What can go wrong from here?

Well for starters (no pun intended) the Jays are unsure of who will be starting their contest against the MLB best and AL West leading Oakland A’s. The Blue Jays have been using a 4 man rotation since they moved Dustin McGowan to the bullpen and will now need to replace his spot in the rotation. The two favourites in line for the start on Saturday are the beer league special (Todd Redmond) and 2014 scrap heap reclamation project (Liam Hendricks). Both options are poor ones at best and barely strike fear in a minor league lineup let alone the (current) best team in the MLB. In the world of baseball “sexiness,” the two of them exude the same amount of “sexiness” as Amy Madigan in Field of Dreams.

amy madigan

It’s nothing personal against Redmond and Hendricks, it’s just that they are more destined for AAAA status and the occasional spot start and the Blue Jays will most likely try to squeeze multiple starts from these grease fires in waiting. If it was just ONE start it wouldn’t be an issue. But you know the Blue Jays management would rather go to war with this discount rack of pitching than promote one of their young starters, or better yet, bring in another starting pitcher!

stroman

Look at Marcus Stroman for instance. Despite being hit often in AAA he was still proving to be an effective starter when he was called up by the Blue Jays. However the Jays pitched him exclusively out of the bullpen and he got lit up before he was hustled back down to AAA where he is back starting games for the Bisons. Why not give him the start? Could he possibly do any worse than Redmond or Hendricks?

What about Sean Nolin? Sure he got torched by the Orioles through 1.1 innings in his MLB debut last year but which (current) Jays pitcher hasn’t been torched at least once in the past year? Nolin has looked pretty decent in 40 innings with the Bisons this year (2 – 2 • 2.70 ERA • 1.27 WHIP) and should deserve a start at some point.

So why not now?

I know everyone would LOVE to see Tricky Ricky Romero make the spot start and resurrect his career. But poor Ricky is still struggling to find both himself and the strike zone, having posted 32 BB • 22 K and a 2.12 WHIP in just 29.2 innings.

stinky ricky

Another interesting option would be for the Blue Jays to acquire another SP via the trade market and I am not talking about the recently acquired Raul Valdes. The big “fish” on the market is the Chicago Cubs ace right hander Jeff Samardzjia and the rumours are that multiple teams are looking in on him, including the Blue Jays. Samardzj is currently the NL Era leader with a 1.46 ERA in 68 innings (10 starts) and has struck out 54 batters. Amazingly Samardzjia’s record stands at 0-4! Another argument for getting rid of the W stat. Why is Samardzjia winless you ask? Well he plays for the Cubs who can neither score runs or prevent them, as evident last night when the bullpen blew a 2 run lead against the Yankees. Who was in line for the win? Why Samardzjia of course.

samardzj

The Blue Jays were rumoured to have been “in” on Samardzj during the past offseason. The asking price however was far too steep, with the Cubs wanting BOTH Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. The mindset around baseball is that the Cubs asking price may have softened a bit and come down since the offseason. If it were possible to nab the 6’5 righty from the Cubs for a package built around Stroman and some other fringe prospects, who wouldn’t do it? If it appears that the Blue Jays are unsure of keeping Stroman as a starter long term then why not package him off for a legit starter who can help the team now?

Going into the 2013 season the Blue Jays went “all in” bolstering their lineup in the anticipation of a “weak” AL East and a chance to make the playoffs. We all know how that ended.

This season (so far) the AL East is a complete crap shoot. Fangraphs.com released their revised final standings for the 2014 season yesterday and they have the Blue Jays finishing atop the East with an 85-77 record; an astonishing 7 games up on the last place Rays. The Rays pitching staff and lineup have been ravaged by injuries. The O’s have been up and down all year. The Yankees are currently looking into the ghost of Lou Gehrig to round out their aging lineup. The Red Sox have been anything but Boston Strong.

So why not take a run at it this year?

AA has never been one to shy away from pulling the trigger on the big move before, so why not do it again? His legacy is going to be tied to what happens in his “three year window” anyway, so why not make the trade? It is no secret that the Jays need help in the rotation. McGowan didn’t cut it. Morrow is done for the near future and maybe longer and JA Happ is the epitome of the term “trick or treat.” Buehrle and Hutchison have been marvels in the early goings of the 2014 season and RA Dickey hasn’t been a complete nightmare (although his WestJet commercials sure are), so why not get another arm to make this rotation stronger?

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of “prospect porn” and am enamoured with the idea of what a player could potentially become. However if the player doesn’t seem to fit into the long term plans, than why not move him? I love Stro, I love his confidence and tenacity and I LOVE his slider. However, I hate the idea of drafting a guy in the 1st round to keep him in the bullpen. Maybe he becomes Tom Gordon 2.0 as a closer if we move him to the pen, maybe not. Me though, I would rather let the guy go out there and try and become the next Roy Oswalt or Sonny Gray.

If I am AA, I start with an offer of Stroman and Sean Nolin for Samardzjia. Clearly both pitchers aren’t factoring into the Toronto rotation anytime soon, so why not move them for a pitcher who can help us win now?

Thoughts?

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The Incessant Whining of J.P Arencibia

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays

It appears that former Blue Jays C JP Arencibia is still at odds with the Toronto media.

According to an article on sportsnet.ca, Arencibia told the Toronto Star that the media “made him out to be a villain” and that the media should have focused more on the Blue Jays need for starting pitching over their apparent need for a catcher. According to Arencibia, it was this alleged targeting that partially led to his release by the team.

As “harsh” as the media was on JP, he should own up to his own pitiful performance and stop blaming everyone but himself for his piss poor 2013 season. Perhaps it was his finger pointing that had him on a one way ticket out of T.O. Well that or his abysmal .194 batting average and historically bad .227 on base % – 4th worst since 1901.

It’s hard to feel bad for a guy who can’t take criticism and blames everyone else for his own poor performance. J.P should worry more about his own performance this season instead of dredging up old controversies. Especially with the potential of him being DFA’d when Geovany Soto returns. Don’t worry though J.P, there will always be a spot for an all or nothing HR hitter in Japan or Korea.

Link to the story: http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/arencibia-media-made-me-out-to-be-a-villain/

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Link of the Day – Sportsnet.ca: Lawrie to Play 2B Against RHP

sportsnet

It seems that the Blue Jays coaching staff has made a decision on what to do with their lineup with the return of the Raging Red Bull at hand. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca is reporting that the Jays will have Lawrie play 2B against RHP when he returns to the lineup on Monday. This will allow the hot bat of Juan Francisco to play 3B and get days off against LHP. Although playing 2B isn’t his first choice, Lawrie knows that the move to 2B will (potentially) allow for more offense; which in turn could lead to more W’s.

“He’s got no problem with it,” Gibbons said of Lawrie’s reaction. “He basically said, whatever the boys need. He’s here to win, that’s the name of the game, and like I said, I think it makes us better.”

Check out the article here:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/lawrie-to-play-2b-against-right-handed-pitchers/

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Link of the Day – Grantland: The Best, Most Devastating Pitches of the Year – GIF Roundup

grantland

If you haven’t already done it, you need to become acquainted with grantland.com. The brainchild from the almighty and powerful Bill Simmons has a little something for everybody, no matter what your pleasure is. Besides THE Simmons himself, there are numerous talented and gifted writers on staff. Personal faves include Jonah Keri, Andrew Sharp, Rembert Browne, Shaun McIndoe and Katie Baker. Shane Ryan is now on my radar too. Especially if he keeps rolling out gems like this:

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-best-most-devastating-pitches-of-the-year-a-gif-roundup/

Definitely worth the two minutes it will take you to read!

What to do with the Raging Red Bull?

Juan+Francisco+Boston+Red+Sox+v+Toronto+Blue+fiAFXOe874cl

With Brett (the Raging Red Bull) Lawrie slated to return to the lineup as early as Saturday, the Blue Jays have some decisions to make regarding their lineup. Recent scrap heap find Juan Francisco has filled in more than admirably in Lawrie’s absence. In the recent 4 game sweep of the Phillies, Francisco went 6 for 14, hit 2 homers and drove in 6 RBI. He is hitting .274/4/11 for the season. Now the “easy” solution would be to shift Francisco to DH which would allow Lawrie to return to the hot corner. The only issue is that with Adam Lind returning from the DL on Thursday night that no longer is a viable option. So the question remains, what to do?

Now I am usually against moving a player from position to position, but in the case of fielding the best possible (everyday) offensive lineup does it not make sense to move Lawrie to 2B?

The main concern here is losing Lawrie’s athleticism and stellar defense in favour of Francisco’s somewhat suspect glove and hands. For his career, Francisco has played 962.1 innings at 3B, made 17 errors and yielded a .937 fielding percent. Francisco also leaves something to desire at the 1B position where he made a 10 errors alone in 52 innings as a Brewer in 2013.

The other concern is that shifting Lawrie around (again) in his career could lead to further stalling in his development. Look at Travis Snyder for instance. The Jays tried him at all three OF positions and 1B before sending him to the Pirates. BJ Upton struggled for years as a SS and 2B before finding success as a CF. At the same time though, Lawrie was drafted out of HS as a catcher and moved to 2B early in his professional career as a Brewer. In fact he played his first couple seasons in the Blue Jays minor league system as a 2B before shifting to 3B. And why did he shift to 3B? To replace Jose Bautista who had moved from 3B to RF. Bautista also bounced from all three OF positions and 1B before finding a home at 3B and then again in RF. Lawrie also played 2B last season when he came off the DL to start the year.

This isn’t like giving Edwing the onebag mitt for the first time and have him learn how to scoop a ball out of the dirt. Hell it isn’t even like the ill fated attempt at having Edwing play a little LF. In the minors alone, Lawrie played 249 games at 2B, had 1156 chances, made 435 putouts, 680 assists and made 41 errors for a fielding percent of .965. Clearly the kid knows his way around the 2B position.

lawrie2

At the end of the day Chris Getz, Steve Tolleson, Johnathan Diaz and even fan favourite Muni Kawasaki leave a WHOLE lot to desire when it comes to being an everyday 2B. Don’t get me wrong, these guys are important utility guys to have off the bench or fill in for an inning or game, but they should not be in a position to get 350+ AB’s. Lawrie on the other hand is no slouch with the glove and has the ability to both lead and make the turn on a double play. Plus he brings a much more potent bat to the everyday lineup compared to the other candidates mentioned above.

For the moment the Blue Jays are one of the hotter teams in the MLB and look to extend their winning streak to 6 games as they welcome the Angels to town for a three game weekend set. I am not 100% sure what Gibby has in mind when Lawrie returns – remember this is a guy who currently has THREE catchers on the roster and sent our 4th OF (Gose) to the minors – but it will be hard to convince him not to talk Lawrie into making the move to 2B. At least for a couple games. After all, who knows if Juan Francisco will continue to mash the ball. He could be another scrap heap reclamation project in the mould of Joey Bats and E5. Then again he could turn back into a pumpkin. For the time being, I am just happy to enjoy the ride…

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The April Review: The Good, the Bad and the Gomez

brewcrew

The MLB season is less than thirty games old as we depart April and enter May. Despite the season still being in its infancy, numerous storylines have been created that could factor into the remaining 130+ games. While some teams jumped out to an early lead (Brewers) others have stumbled spectacularly out of the gate (Diamondbacks). From impressive rookie break outs (Abreu/Ventrua/Tanaka) to sophomores on the cusp of superstardom (Jose Fernandez) April has had a little bit of everything for baseball fans.

Braun Gomez

The Brew Crew Best in Baseball:

One of the biggest April story lines has been the incredible start by the Milwaukee Brewers. Heading into May the Brewers are the BEST team in baseball with a 20-8 record (.714%) including an astounding 11-2 on the road. What makes the Brewers early season success so surprising is that it comes on the heels of one of the franchise’s most disappointing seasons. Even with the breakouts by Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy and Jean Segura, the Brewers couldn’t get out of the shadow of Ryan Braun’s PED/Biogenesis scandal and eventual suspension. The Brewers were also plagued by injuries, errors and bullpen instability. When all was said and done, the Brewers were 74-88 and 4th in the NL Central.

The main reason for the Brewers early season success has been their ability to get production out of every facet of their roster. Not only are their big names producing – .288/6/14 for Gomez and .318/6/18 for Braun – but they are also getting run production from young players like Khris Davis and Scooter Gennett and veterans like Aramis Ramirez, Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds. Not to be outdone by their offense, the Brew Crew starters have been dominant, combining for 22 Quality Starts in 27 chances. Once their starters are out of the game the Brewers hand the ball over to their bulletproof bullpen. Last year the Brewers struggled to close out games and ended up going through THREE closers (John Axford, Jim Henderson and Francisco Rodriguez).

KROD

This year, the man known as ”K-Rod” has grabbed hold of the closers job and is not looking back. For a man who once had FOUR STRAIGHT 40 save seasons, including the MLB record for saves in a season with 62 in 2008, the past couple seasons have been a bit of a struggle. Between 2012 and 2013 Rodriguez only saved 13 games for both the Orioles and the Brewers. This month alone he has saved 13 games! Even if K-Rod struggles the Brewers have power arms like Jim Henderson, Tyler Thornburg and Will Smith waiting in the wings.

Personally I don’t think the Brewers hot start is a fluke by any means. The Brewers have a solid pitching staff and strong bullpen combined with a potent lineup that gets run production from every spot in their lineup. If the supporting cast can continue to help the Brewers star power and their starters continue to pitch deep into games then this is a team that could be playing meaningful baseball down the stretch.

dbacks

Struggles in the Desert:

The Arizona Diamondbacks and their fans have got to be thinking “what’s next?” Not only are the Diamondbacks last in the NL West but they are dead last in the entire MLB. Their 9-22 record (.290%) has them behind perennial cellar dwellers like the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros. What’s more pathetic than their overall record is their abysmal display at Chase Field so far. Through April, the Diamondbacks are 6-7 on the road and 3-15 playing in front of their own fans. As if their overall record wasn’t insulting enough, the Diamondbacks have faced a rash of injuries to their key players. 2013 breakout and staff ace Patrick Corbin was lost to Tommy John season before the season even started. The latest blow was the news that Mark Trumbo (one of the lone bright spots) will miss the next 6-8 weeks with a fractured foot. Trumbo was acquired in a three team trade from the Angels in exchange for SP Tyler Skaggs and OF Adam Eaton.

Sadly even the Diamondbacks farm system isn’t immune from the injury bug as the DBacks were forced to put top pitching prospect Archie Bradley on the 7 Day DL with a… wait for it… *cue dark and ominous music* a “mild” elbow sprain… I would be shocked if he avoids Tommy John. It’s also a matter of time before Manager Kirk Gibson gets shown the door. At least that will buy Towers a little more time before he too is (potentially) shown the door. At least DBacks fans can take solace in the play of Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Owings.

gomez

The Good, the Bad and the Gomez:

Last season Carlos Gomez enjoyed a huge coming out party that saw him get voted an All Star, win a Gold Glove and even finish 9th in NL MVP voting. Gomez hit.288/24/73 and swiped 40 bags in 536 AB’s during the 2013 season, and even managed to have a .338 OBP despite striking out 146 times compared to just 37 walks. The only negative moment of the season came during an altercation with pretty much the entire infield of the Atlanta Braves that led to a bench clearing brawl and ejections.

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/11493214/v30950699/must-c-clash-benches-clear-after-gomez-goes-deep/?query=carlos%2Bgomez%2Bbrian%2Bmccann

Flash forward to this season. Once again Gomez is enjoying a (very) nice start to the season having hit .288/6/14 though the first 27 games. He is also showing on a near nightly basis why he was a Gold Glove winner in 2013. Yet all his accolades and accomplishments are being overshadowed by his childish antics on the field. Once again Gomez was at the centre of ANOTHER bench clearing brawl that he instigated.

http://m.mlb.com/video/v32252525/must-c-confrontation-brewers-and-pirates-tussle/?query=carlos+gomez+pittsburgh+pirates

His performance is plain embarrassing. I also love how he “needs” to be held back by his teammates, real tough guy. The only guy who appears to be as tough as Gomez is backup C Martin Maldanado who sucker punches Travis Snider during the melee.

snides

So which is the real Carlos Gomez? Is it the Gold Glove defender at a premium position with elite speed that could see him be a perennial 25/25 or 30/30 player; not to mention an All Star? Or is it the showboating clown who pimps fly balls to the wall and runs his mouth knowing that his teammates will eventually “hold” him back? Seeing as how he is 28 years old it’s hard to imagine if he will completely clean up his act and mature which is a shame because his BS on the field could/will eventually overshadow his on field abilities. Let’s hope that he doesn’t turn out to be another Milton Bradley or Niger “Tony Plush” Morgan.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox

The “Feel Goods” of 2014:

The rich history of baseball is rife with stories of underdogs and unknowns making a lasting impact on the game, whether it is for a season, a playoff run, or even a single game. It is nothing new in baseball and it seems that every season has one or two “feel good” stories. Even Hollywood jumped in on the trend in 1984 when Robert Redford portrayed the mythical Roy Hobbs in “the Natural.” The 2014 season has been no different. In fact, there are two solid candidates for “feel good” story of the year.

Chris Colabello was signed as a free agent by the Minnesota Twins in 2012. Colabello was 28 years old. He was never drafted by an MLB team. And his only “professional” baseball had been played in the CAN-AM League. The CAN-AM is more known for signing wash ups and novelties like Eric Gagne and Jose Canseco than it is for churning out MLB calibre players – although Steve Delabar and Craig Breslow have both pitched in the league. In fact in Colabello’s last stint in the CAN-AM, his team’s jerseys were seized for an unpaid cleaning bill.

Where most players spend one season toiling in the CAN-AM before bouncing elsewhere, Colabello laboured for seven seasons before the Twins signed him prior to the 2012 season. Colabello went on to hit .284/19/98 in AA New Britain. 2013 would be a big year for Colabello as he would play in the World Baseball Classic and make his MLB debut. Colabello hit .333/2/7 in 5 games for team Italy. The Twins called him up in May and he made his debut against the Braves on the 22nd. Colabello would get 160 at bats for the Twins in 2013 and, despite hitting .194; he would show his power by hitting 7 home runs and adding 17 RBI.

2014 has been special to say the least. To date Colabello is hitting .308 with 3 HR’s and 27 RBI. He ranks among AL leaders in both Batting Average (BA) and RBI. In fact his 27 RBI in April broke Kirby Puckett’s club record for RBI in April. Statistics aside, the highlight for Chris Colabello’s 2014 season has to be this:

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/70087564/v32326113/mintb-colabello-hits-tworun-shot-on-moms-birthday/?query=chris%2Bcolabello

Yes that was Colabello hitting a home run on his mom’s birthday as she was being interviewed. It doesn’t get much better than that.

blackmon

Although his journey to the show wasn’t as arduous as Chris Colabello’s, Charlie Blackmon has earned his place as one of the early feel good stories. Unlike Colabello, Blackmon has had plenty of “professional” experience as he was drafted by the Rockies in the 2nd round of the 2008 MLB Draft and made his debut as a 24 year old in 2011. The knock against Blackmon was that he wasn’t a good enough defender to stay in CF and he didn’t have enough power to last as a corner OF. The other issue was that he was road blocked by Dexter Fowler in center and Carlos Gonzalez in LF. The offseason trade of Fowler to Houston opened up an open casting call for CF between Drew Stubbs, Corey Dickerson and Blackmon. Despite Stubbs and Dickerson having a better resume, Blackmon won the job outright and he has not disappointed.

Blackmon is currently hitting .379 to go along with 5 HR’s and 18 RBI in 95 AB’s – he’s also added 7 steals too. The highlights of Blackmon’s torrid April were a 6 for 6 showing against the Diamondbacks at Opening Day at Coors Field and a two home run game against the Giants. Going into the last weekend of the month Blackmon was hitting over .400.

It’s doubtful that both Colabello and Blackmon keep up their hot starts to the seasons given their limited experience and the grind that is the 162 game MLB season. Even with the odds stacked against them, it’s hard not to cheer for the two “feel goods.”

Honourable Mention: Grady Sizemore and Dustin McGowan.

The Rundown:

replay

I understand that the MLB is trying with their new replay system. It isn’t perfect, not by a long shot. The biggest complaints have been the stalling tactics used by MLB managers before deciding to challenge or not challenge a play… most times not challenge. Nothing is more painstaking than seeing John Gibbons waddle out of the dugout to go “discuss” the call with the umps before getting the “shake off” from the bench coach. This has to be changed. Baseball is SLOW enough. Managers should have a “shot clock” of sorts that gives them a certain amount of time to decide whether or not to throw their challenge flag… or challenge bat. It is baseball after all.

What is also lost in this replay nonsense is the fact that as fans we are missing out on the time honoured tradition of managers BLOWING UP on umpires.

I know and understand that the replay system was brought in to prevent a game changing error and to prevent these exact confrontations. But lets be honest… who doesn’t want to see more managers doing their best Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella impression?

piniella

donaldson

Josh Donaldson is giving the A’s something they haven’t had in a LONG time… a true star. Yes the A’s have turned out some absolute stud pitchers and yes they do have Yoenis Cespedes on their current roster but Donaldson trumps them. Donaldson enjoyed a HUGE coming out party in 2013 where he hit .301/24/93 in 579 AB. Those numbers were good enough for a 4th place finish in the AL MVP voting but NOT good enough for an All Star appearance. Donaldson has picked right up where he left off. Through 27 games Donaldson has hit for .274 and added 7 HR and 22 RBI in 117 AB; he also has 10 doubles to date. If Donaldson can keep up this kind of pace there is NO DOUBT that he will be an All Star in 2014 and perhaps be higher than 4th in MVP voting.

pinieda

Another chapter in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry was written in April when Yankees starter Michael Pineda was ejected from a game for using a foreign substance (pine tar) to doctor the baseball. What is astounding is that this was the SECOND time THIS MONTH that Pineda had used pine tar on a ball. But what is even more ASTOUNDING is that BOTH times he decided to do it against the RED SOX!!! The first time Pineda was shown to have a “dark” substance on his pitching hand but the Red Sox did not have the umpires check him out.

michael-pineda-pine-tar-hand

Amazingly Pineda gave them a second crack at proving him a cheater in HIS NEXT START AGAINST THEM! After having control problems in the 1st inning and surrendering two runs, Pineda took the mound in the 2nd with a VERY NOTICEABLE substance on his neck. This time John Farrell came out and had the umps check Pineda and what do you think they found? Yup, pine tar. Immediate ejection and 10 game suspension.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a clown Michael Pineda is. I mean, what kind of dope goes out and cheats TWICE against the SAME TEAM in the SAME MONTH?! You have to be a REAL special kind of stupid to do that. Especially against your ARCH RIVAL whose Manager is a former pitching coach and that has their own pitchers (Clay Bucholz) who may or may not doctor the ball…

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Houston Astros

The Billy Hamilton experience: 25 G • 90 AB • .244 BA • .281 OBP • 10SB/5CS • 12 R • 1HR/6RBI •19 K’s. His stat line may not be overly impressive but going 1st to 3rd on a squib hit to the pitcher before scoring on a routine grounder to 3rd after being HIT BY A PITCH is DAMN impressive!

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/26271672/v32283845/cinpit-hamilton-uses-speed-to-score-run-for-reds/?query=billy%2Bhamilton

What still amazes me is that someone with ELITE speed like Hamilton cannot master the bunt; especially when playing in the NL. His wheels will
always ensure him a job in the MLB but it will be his plate approach and discipline that will allow him to become a potential star.

tanaka

No one knew what to expect of Masahiro Tanaka going into the 2014 season. The one thing that everyone could agree on was that the Yankees had paid an awful lot for someone who has never thrown a pitch in a major league uniform. However, one month in and the Japanese import, who was signed to a ludicrous 7 year/ $155 million dollar deal, is looking better than advertised. Through his first 5 starts, Tanaka is:

3-0 • 2.27 ERA • 46 SO/6 BB • .93 WHIP • 35.1 IP

The only thing that has been filthier than his stat line has been his disgusting split finger fastball. In the video link below, former MLB catcher Mike Lieberthal compares Tanaka’s splitter to that of potential HoF’er Curt Schilling’s.

http://m.mlb.com/video/v32450935/tanaka-using-splitter-to-rack-up-the-ks-in-april/?query=masahiro+tanaka

I would like to say that that is awful high praise for someone who has pitched less than 40 innings in the majors (especially being a Yankee). But oh my goodness at that splitter…

Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox

When he announced his free agency and his intentions to play in the MLB, the White Sox were quick to sign Jose Abreu to a 6 yr/ $68 million dollar deal. It was an incredibly bold move to make on a power hitter who has never played in the MLB but the White Sox were hoping that Abreu would be the latest Cuban position player to take the MLB world by storm. And to date, Jose Abreu has not disappointed. His 10 HR and 31 RBI are BOTH new MLB records for a rookie. He has three multi home run games to date including a walk off Grand Slam off Rays closer Grant Balfour.

http://m.mlb.com/video/v32392797/must-c-conclusion-abreu-lifts-white-sox-with-slam/?query=jose+abreu

Abreu has “easy” power and can hit to all fields. His torrid pace should slow down as MLB teams get more video on the slugger but his numbers and tools alone could see him in the 2014 All Star game and hopefully in the Home Run Derby too.

harang

Going into Wednesday’s game Aaron Harang was the MLB ERA leader (.86 ERA) and among the league leaders in wins (3) and strikeouts (33). Unfortunately for the Harangatang he turned back into a pumpkin as he was lit up by the Marlins for 9 earned runs (a career high) in his start on Wednesday. Harang was part of a patchwork rotation that the Braves pieced together after placing SP Mike Minor on the 15 day DL and losing pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy for the season with Tommy John surgery. The Braves were also able to coax Ervin Santana into signing a one year deal after he had been rumoured to have signed with the Blue Jays. LHP Alex Wood has also stepped out of the bullpen and into the rotation with relative ease. Despite a 2-4 record the lefty has a 2.93 ERA and 37 punch outs in 40 innings pitched. Wood, who was a 2nd round pick by the Braves in 2012, is looking like the latest homegrown pitcher to impact the Braves rotation.

JoseFernandez

Jose Fernandez is making his case for being the best young RHP since the days of Doc Gooden and Roger Clemens. The 2013 NL Rookie of the Year is showing NO SIGNS of a sophomore slump. At the end of the month, Fernandez is 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. Fernandez is straight up DOMINANT and most games looks completely unhittable. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the 21 year old Fernandez is currently the best RHP in the game.

What to Look Forward to in May:

The DL returns of Clayton Kershaw, Manny Machado, Taijuan Walker, Mike Minor and Aroldis Chapman.

MLB top prospects finally getting the call: Gregory Polanco and Oscar Taveras could make a big impact. Not to mention guys like Andrew Heaney, Kyle
Zimmer and Mark Appel.

The pink bats and apparel that signify Mothers Day/Breast Cancer awareness.

More Tommy John injuries… currently sitting at 16 MLB pitchers and counting….

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