4.08.2005
 
Baseball Daily
  • A's Nation has some thoughts about Oakland's bullpen:
    How nice is it to have the bullpen we have now? It's only three games, but the bullpen has given up exactly four hits, two walks and six strikeouts over eight innings. More importantly, they have given up no runs. And we haven't even seen Juan Cruz yet.

    Here is the breakdown:

    Rincon - two innings, one hit, no walks
    Calero - three innings, one hit, one walk, four strikeouts
    Street - one inning, one hit, one walk, one strikeout
    Dotel - one inning, no hits, one strikeout
    Duchscherer - one inning, one hit

    It's still too early to make any long-term judgments, but it feels like we're long past the days of Jim Mecir and Arthur Rhodes. They also did it against a great hitting lineup, so you can't completely write this off. It's nice to not reach for the Maalox every time Macha reaches for that bullpen phone.
  • U.S.S. Mariner:
    Baseball has a cap as much as either of those two sports do. In baseball, there’s a hard number with severe and escalating penalties if a team exceeds it. Teams are free to exceed that number if they’re willing to eat the penalties… which is exactly as it is in the NBA and the NFL, though in each league the ways teams work it, and the penalties that they pay, differ.

    I don’t understand why baseball has this widespread perception. The Yankees are the only team that violates the cap, and they’re paying a huge price to do so that gets higher every year.
    From what I know, there is a huge difference difference between the NFL's cap and MLB's system of taxes. Not only does the NFL penalize teams with more than just fines (via draft picks), but all contracts in the NFL have to be approved by the League and if there's a team that is spending over the cap with a certain contract, the NFL will probably decline it. I doubt such a thing would happen in Major League Baseball.

  • Magglio Ordonez now has a viral infection and it's unknown when he'll return to the field.

  • Curt Schilling says his rehab start Thursday night went well, even though he gave up 7 runs on 11 hits. But as Jeff Brantley pointed out on Baseball Tonight, Curt's pitching motion doesn't look the same as it did last year and that could be a sign of overcompensating.

  • Mark Prior also says he's physically ready even though he gave up 7 runs last night in a AAA game.

  • Marcus Giles fells better and he will try to play today.

  • From Thursday's Notes:
  • Another pitcher making a rehab start on Thursday was C.C. Sabathia. He threw with AA Akron and will make at least one more start before returning to Cleveland late next week.

  • Rich Harden, who missed his first 2005 start because of blister problems, is scheduled to pitch Sunday against Tampa Bay.

  • Yet another pitcher on rehab, Vincente Padilla threw 5 innings in A Clearwater and he's available to come off the DL this Saturday.

  • Dontrelle Willis starts today against Washington. He was 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA against the Expos last year. Naturally, that game is included in today's picks.


4.07.2005
 
Frozen Four Semifinals
PREVIEW
SCOREBOARD

  • The Ohio State University rink where the Frozen Four is being played features a nice, high tv camera position that makes it enjoyable to watch from home, or from one's desk at work if one happens to have a tv there.

  • Denver pulled a fast one and started the goaltender who's 3-0 against CC over the goaltender who's 0-2 against them despite it being the latter's turn in the rotation. As they say, all bets are off.

  • After one period, don't count Colorado College out yet, Denver. The Tigers are a free flowing team who can score in bunches; as demostrated against Michigan in the regionals when CC came back down 0-3.

  • POST GAME ONE
  • I was going to live blog some of this game, but do to Blogger sucking, not.

  • I believe I heard Gary Thorne say that, coming into this game, Denver was 3 for their last 48 on the power play. I believe Denver had 11 PP chances today against Colorado College and I know for certain that DU scored all six of their goals with a man advantage. CC's two scores also came on the PP.

  • CC had plenty of scoring chances as they made their comeback attempt in the 2nd and 3rd periods. Their lack of forward depth showed, however, as CC was unable to finish many quality chances that could have closed the Denver lead to 3-2.

  • At the end of the game, espn interviewed a DU skater, I would assume it was their captain, Matt Laatsch. In that interview, the player said that he expected to face North Dakota in the final. Barry Melrose also followed up later by talking about a DU and UND final as if it was already decided. I hate when I like a team to win who's being taken into consideration like this. I hope UND hasn't been listening. They better come prepared to bury the Gophers.

  • POST GAME TWO
  • As expected, North Dakota rolled over Minnesota; setting up a good matchup in the final of Denver versus UND.

  • The Fighting Sioux on defense does a great job at keeping the puck off to the perimeter. Then, because they are so big and physical, and also so determined to win the 1 on 1 battles, they control the boards, and thus the style of play.

  • Since I picked North Dakota to win, I was hoping that CC would knock off Denver since Colorado College is more explosive on offense than UND. North Dakota has yet to play from behind during this year's tournament and that could pose a problem on Saturday night if they fall behind early to Denver.

 
Baseball Daily
  • Marcus Giles' knee injury is only a bone bruise and he should return to action in "three or four games."

  • Morgen Ensberg went 3 for 3 on Wednesday and the prospect of him hitting .300 this year is looking better each day.

  • Colorado's Dustan Mohr injured his calf during the team's victory celebration on Monday and he has been placed on the DL.

  • Edgar Renteria is struggling. He's grounded into a double play in three straight games. Edgar's just 2 for 13 so far but he did pick up two RBIs in the Red Sox' 5 run ninth inning against Rivera.

  • Seattle's Joel Pineiro will pitch a Triple-A game this Sunday on his way back to the Mariners' rotation. Mark Prior will throw today in AAA ball.

  • Ichiro has a 16 game hitting streak, dating back to last season. He's also on pace for 324 hits this year.

  • Chase Utley got the start on Wednesday and went 1 for 4.

  • Three people on Jeopardy didn't know where the Devil Rays played:
    The brainiacs on the panel breezed through the first four offerings in the category (among them Busch Stadium and the Cardinals and Shea Stadium and the Mets), then reached the final offering for $1,000: "Tropicana Field." Blank stares and uncomfortable silence filled the air until the times-up buzzer sounded and Alex Trebek leaned forward to say, softly: "Who are the Devil Rays?"
  • An interesting itnerview with Hudson Street, over at Athletics Nations.

  • DRays Bay has a good note about the Rays' pitching staff. They only have 4 walks through their first three games. That's always been a point of emphasis for Lou Pinella.


4.06.2005
 
Previewing the 2005 Frozen Four
SCOREBOARD
DENVER:
The defending champs claim they are a different, ‘more business-like’ team this year.
      NORTH DAKOTA:
Goalie Jordan Parise leads the way. He’s 8-0 with a 1.50 GAA and a 94.6 save percentage since taking over as the starter on February 26th.
COLORADO COLLEGE:
Despite being a favorite to win it all, CC had to come back down 0-3 against Michigan to get to the Frozen Four.
      MINNESOTA:
‘Mr. March’ helped the Gophers reach their third Frozen Four in last four years.

Notes:

  • From the WCHA:
    The 2005 NCAA Frozen Four will feature four schools whose enrollment runs from 48,677 (Minnesota), to 13,034 (North Dakota), to 9,455 (Denver), to 1,950 (Colorado College). Two of the teams­ CC (Colorado Springs World Arena) and UM (Mariucci Arena) play their home games on a 200 x 100 surface while two teams - Denver (Magness Arena) and North Dakota (Ralph Engelstad Arena) play their home games on a 200 x 85 surface.
    The Frozen Four will be held at Ohio State University's Schottenstein Center. The rink size there is 200 x 85.

    The WCHA Tournament was held in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center (the home of the Wild), which is a 200 x 85 rink as well.

    My favorite to win, North Dakota, is a big, physical team that should have a slight edge when playing the Gophers because of the rink size.

  • Also from the WCHA site:
    By class on their respective team rosters, Colorado College has three seniors, 10 juniors, nine sophomores and six freshmen; Denver has seven seniors, three juniors, 11 sophomores and seven freshmen; Minnesota has six seniors, six juniors, four sophomores and 10 freshmen; and North Dakota has nine seniors, three juniors, eight sophomores, and five freshmen. The team captains for all four teams are veteran defensemen in CC's Mark Stuart, Denver's Matt Laatsch, UM's Judd Stevens, and UND's Matt Greene.

  • In the WCHA Conference Tournament semifinals, Denver defeated UND 2-1 in OT and Colorado College defeated Minnesota 3-0. Denver then edged CC 1-0 to win the championship.

    In the Frozen Four, Denver will face Colorado College, and North Dakota will face Minnesota.

  • Denver's goaltending situation:
    Denver coach George Gwozdecky said he will stick with his two-man goaltending rotation at the Frozen Four. That means sophomore Glenn Fisher will start against Colorado College in Thursday's semifinal round. Fisher is 0-2 against the Tigers this season while freshman Peter Mannino is 3-0, including shutouts in his last two games against the Tigers. Neither goalie has started back-to-back games this season.

  • The Refs:
    None of the three referees chosen to work the Frozen Four is from the WCHA, even though all four of the teams are. Two of the referees — Matt Shegos and Steve Piotrowski — are from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and the third is from the ECAC. Shegos worked both of UND's games in the East Regional. "We raised the question about having WCHA officials work the Frozen Four since it's all our teams, but they didn't give us an answer," WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said Monday. "I have no idea what their (tournament committee's) reasoning is."
    WCHA refs have been rather lenient this season but, as the Regionals showed us, penalties in this year's Frozen Four are going to frequent. Surprisingly, special teams and goaltending will determine this year's winner. Again, I favor UND on both.

  • Excellent game previews from Inside College Hockey:
    CC vs Denver - 2pm EST
    UND vs Minn - 7pm EST

  • BEACH prediction: North Dakota defeats Colorado College 3-1 in the final.

 
Baseball Daily
  • Bo knows... how to refute false claims. On Cold Pizza this morning, not only did he say 'No' to the magic question, but he also said that he has a signed affidavit from the woman, Ellen Coleman, whom the writer quoted. The affidavit says that she did not say what she is quoted to have said. Bo also has a video copy of the speach where the writer says Coleman made her comment about Bo. In that video, there is no such comment made.

  • Josh Beckett only gave up 2 hits through six innings Tuesday, but he was pulled from the game in part because the Marlins had a 9-0 lead and in part because he had thrown 108 pitches. Of that number, only 68 were for strikes.

  • Derek Lowe is going to benefit from playing in parks like Pac Bell, PETCO, and Dodger stadium. On Tuesday, in San Francisco, Lowe recorded 7 ground outs and 7 fly outs. When he's at his best, Lowe's GB-FB out ratio is closer to 2:1 and he'll need to reduce the number of flies he gives up when the Dodgers travel to Coors Field and Bank One Ballpark.

  • Carlos Guillen admits he's not yet 100%.

  • Chris Carpenter was on last night. Through six innings, he had a 14:2 ground ball to fly ball ratio. Carpenter gave up three fly ball outs in the 7th and was relieved in the 8th.

  • Scott Kazmir wasn’t especially sharp last night, but he still was very effective.

  • Someone bless BIlly Koch:
    The scene for a surreal night may have been set when former Jays reliever Billy Koch showed up in the outfield stands wearing a Devil Rays cap and a jersey with right fielder Huff's name on it. Koch had taken a group of schoolchildren to the game and made good on a promise to cheer for Tampa Bay, made last week when he publicly ripped Toronto for cutting him at spring training.
  • Braves' catcher Johnny Estrada will miss a few games after bruising his right hand on a foul tip.

  • Eric Gagne hasn’t even begun to throw yet.

  • Rich Harden will miss his start today because of a blister on his right middle finger.

  • Johan Santana stuggled in the first inning on Tuesday night because he didn’t have a very good fastball. After the first, Johan threw more off-speed pitches and he dominated every Mariner he faced except for Adrian Beltre. What few doubts I had that Beltre would follow up last season with a strong 2005 are now gone after I saw him make great contact in all three at bats against the best pitcher in the AL.

  • Gil Meche looked good too, until he gave up four singles in the 5th and was pulled prematurely by Mike Hargrove.

  • That Lew Ford can really hit a fastball. Any fastball.
  • Here’s an interesting stat:
    ...while it is true that nobody has won a championship in April, 57 of 72 (79.2 percent) playoff teams since 1995 had winning records in April.
    Eleven (15.3 percent) had losing records.
    Four teams (5.5 percent) had .500 records.
    Twenty-two of those 57 teams with winning records got off to torrid starts, with winning percentages of .650 or better.

4.05.2005
 
Baseball Daily
  • The season has begun, and as Will Carroll notes:
    Starting a baseball season is like writing checks. You spend the first part putting the wrong month on the line, checking yourself as it goes.
  • More about Kevin Brown's back. Fantasy wise, it just isn’t worth the trouble.

  • The Mariners have released the ‘little unit.’

  • Despite a good spring, Craig Wilson was missing from the Pirates’ opening day lineup. But it was just because Wilson is 0-13 in his career against Ben Sheets.
    "If it wasn't opening day, nobody would say a thing about it," McClendon said.
  • A 2B that many left undrafted this season, Aaron Miles, started the season with a 5-6 performance on Monday. He also scored 3 runs and drove another run in. I looked past the 28 year old Rockies 2B because I don’t think he’ll steal enough bases and/or drive in enough runs to be a top 10 second basemen. But I did note that his average inside Coors field has not be tremendously higher than it has been on the road. If Miles can hit .330 at home this season, he’ll finish above .310 overall.

  • Bobby Crosby has started the year with back pain and also a sore left wrist. If he has to miss any time, Marco Scutaro will get the job at short.

  • Ryan Freel was arrested and charged with drunken driving, careless driving, and having an open container last night in Ohio.

  • It was nice to see Pat Burrell go 3 for 3 yesterday.

  • Vernon Wells batted 4th yesterday and hit a ball off of the left field speakers in Tropicana Field. It was one of the more impressive homeruns I’ve ever seen at the Trop. Roy Halladay also pitched very well and he seems to be more like the pitcher he was in 2002 and 2003.

  • The DRays finally picked up Charles Johnson yesterday.

  • Another second basemen that looked sharp on Monday was Jorge Cantu. He drove in a run and looked solid in the field. Like, Miles, Cantu should hit over .300 but with not too much speed.

  • Eric Karabell is singing about Brady Clark as a possible 30 steal guy who could have balanced R and RBI numbers as well.

  • Joe Mauer stole a base on Monday.
    Mauer caught all eight innings in Monday's season opening loss to the Mariners and even stole a base, jokingly telling the St. Paul Pioneer Press afterward: "I wanted to pull the bag up." Mauer will catch tonight, but is scheduled to get Wednesday off from catching duties.

4.04.2005
 
Baseball Daily
  • Kevin Brown looked terrible last Friday in his final spring performance against the Tigers, and now he's on the DL. He looked hurt last week, and at 40 years old, the chances of him being totally healthy again are fading.

  • Just because Alex Sanchez is serving a 10 day suspension, it doesn't mean that Joey Gathright will take over in center. He does at least get to stay in Tampa for the time being, but Gathright will back up former White Sox center fielder, Chris Singleton.

  • Nationals Manager Frank Robinson has officially named Chad Cordero the team's closer.

  • Placido Polanco will start opening day at 2B, meaning that Chase Utley will be on the bench to begin the 2005 season.

  • Since Jimmy Rollins did not get a contract extention before the season started, he's even more motivated to have a solid 2005.

  • Brandon Lyon won the Arizona closer job over Greg Aquino. Lyon was added to Yahoo leagues this morning and has been available on espn for some time.

  • Baseball picks over at the Coin Flip Challenge.


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