With the Diamondbacks struggling this year to the tune of a 20-34 record, losing their last ten game, and already 11 games back in the surprisingly competitive NL West; Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic is reporting that changes are coming to the Diamondbacks. There have been rumors that these changes might include dealing their all-star ace Dan Haren. You have to believe the Mets would be one of the teams who are interested in acquiring Haren, and it makes too much sense for the Mets not to be interested in Haren.
This has been an unusual year for both the Mets and Haren. The Mets have a stellar home record and a league worst road record, and that might be a product of questionable pitching after Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. Haren has been one of the leagues best pitchers over the past three seasons, but has struggled so far this year keeping the ball in the park (16 HR’s in 82 IP) which has hurt his ERA (4.83). His peripheral numbers though have been great, meaning he is pitching much better than his stats indicate. He has his usual stellar strikeout to walk ratio (83:15), which is well above league average, and his BABIP of .342 is well above his career average and surely it will come down.
It is clear that if the Mets want to compete this year they need to acquire another starting pitcher, but why Haren over Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt. Apparently Oswalt is not interested in coming to the Mets, but if he does he is owed around $33 million over the next two years and is nearly three years older than Haren. Cliff Lee is on the other hand is a great pitcher, but is a free agent next year and will probably cost the same quality prospects to get Lee as it would to get Haren. If they were to sign Lee next year he could possibly command a contract around $90-$100 million over six to seven years, while Haren is owed $25.5 million over 2011 and 2012 with a team option in 2013 that would bring it up to $41 million over three years. Taking on Haren’s contract would be far less risky than trading for Cliff Lee this year and losing him to another team this winter or signing Lee to a seven-year deal in the offseason.
It is clear the Mets are looking to add a starting pitcher either this season and definitely will be in the market for a starter in the offseason. They should stop the search now because Haren is a top starter in baseball and would probably be more effective in spacious Citi Field. This makes far too much sense for the Mets, and a trade for Haren would increase their chances this year and make them a better team for the future.
With the Astros tied for the worst record in the National League at 20-34, it’s pretty safe to say they won’t be contending this year.
Which is why star ace Roy Oswalt asked for a trade a few weeks ago, and the rumors and speculation hasn’t stopped since. Teams from all over the country, Washington, Atlanta and New York on the east coast, Minnesota, Texas and St. Louis in the midwest and both LA teams and San Diego on the west coast have all shown interest. But with Oswalt possessing a full no-trade clause, the chances of him leaving the Astros (the team he’s spent his entire 10 year career with) are slim to none unless he thinks he has a really good chance of winning the title.
“He wants to go to a sure-fire contender,” says Alyson Footer, the Astros Director of Media, who has been working alongside Oswalt for most of his career. “Not a team that MIGHT have a chance after he gets there.”
That probably eliminates the Nationals, Mets and Padres right off the bat from consideration. The Rangers pose an attractive in-state option and the Angels have a tradition of winning and are in the thick of a tight AL West race. Obviously the Angels aren’t in any hurry to acquire Oswalt now with a lot of time before the July 31 deadline, but things could go down that would make LA a legit Oswalt option.
“If they play well in the next month and Scott Kazmir continues to struggle, though, I wouldn’t rule them out as players.” said Mark Saxon, the Angels writer for ESPN Los Angeles. “I see their primary needs in the bullpen and the corners of the infield, though.”
With Kendry Morales out for a long while and Brian Fuentes struggling in the closers role, perhaps the Angels should be crossed off the list as well. Minnesota is in need of a frontline starting pitcher and I see them very much in the Roy Oswalt proceedings along with Atlanta, who could have a devastating Tim Hudson-Oswalt-Tommy Hanson top of the rotation. Another team in the thick of a pennant race with some pitching needs are the Dodgers, but they have some monetary issues that could prevent them from being major trading players this year.
“I’m calling no chance on Oswalt.” said Tony Jackson, the Dodgers beat writer for ESPN Los Angeles. “Too many years and too much money left on his contract. No way the Dodgers can make that work with their present budget.”
So that leaves the Rangers, Twins, Braves, Cardinals and perhaps the Red Sox as legitimate Oswalt destinations but there isn’t even a guarantee that Oswalt gets traded this season. Owner Drayton McLane has this sick obsession with holding on to veterans even though his team is clearly out of a playoff race and he and GM Ed Wade (who needs to be fired) will need to be bowled over to part ways with Oswalt.
“I’m hearing that they are seriously listening on Oswalt,” said SI’s Joe Posnanski to SprungOnSports, ”but so far I don’t think anyone is blowing them away with offers.”
“There are absolutely no guarantees a deal will ever be struck.” Footer said. “This is as complicated as it gets.”
It seems like the Astros are terrified about what would happen if they dealt Oswalt and the more Oswalt talks about it, the less likely it is to happen, if that makes sense (it doesn’t if you’re somewhat rational, which the Astros brass may or may not be).
“Every time he speaks out on where he will or won’t go, he diminishes his chances.” Footer says. “You cannot tip your hand if you’re the club. If you do, you lose negotiating power.”
So the more we talk about it and Oswalt talks about it, the less likely it’ll happen. In this 24 hour media news cycle, there’s a greater chance the BP oil spill is fixed by MacGruber with a toothpick and ballpoint pen rather than Oswalt not being discussed. So while teams all around baseball wait for the Astros to make a decision on Oswalt, the organization calling the shot has a really tough choice that I don’t think they’re equipped to make. In short, things are really, really complicated with Oswalt and what happens between now and July 31 is a mystery to everyone involved. Sounds like another typical late summer in Houston to me.
We are officially less than a week away from the biggest tournament in the world, this year’s soccer (futbol) World Cup in South Africa. With 32 teams from all over the world squaring off next week, the World Cup is sure to be filled with excitement.
EA Sports video game FIFA World Cup 2010 has already predicted that Spain will raise the trophy when all the dust settles, but with the teams that are lined up for the tourney, the final outcome could be very different. There are eight groups in total, comprised of four teams each. Two teams from each group move on to the next round, and with some groups containing 3 contenders, the group stage is going to be very interesting. So, let’s break it down.
Host nation South Africa starts off our first group, one that might be difficult to predict. France and Mexico are always good for a trip to the second round and could always make a deep run. The South Africans are going to be playing in front of their home fans and would love to make it very far into the tournament. Uruguay could be the fourth place team in this group because they haven’t made it past the round of 16 since 1970. My guess would be France because they have never lost to South Africa or Mexico, and have only lost to Uruguay once. South Africa would be my other choice simply because they’re the home team and it would mean so much to them.
This is one of those groups in the tournament with a definite winner, and three teams fighting for second place. Argentina is one of the best teams in the world in recent history and this year is no exception. They will move on easily to round two and leave the other three in their dust. Korea has a solid team and always represents well in the tournament, and hasn’t lost to either Greece or Nigeria. I don’t think Nigeria stands a chance against these other teams and my pick is South Korea to accompany Argentina in the next round.
England should be the team that everyone puts their money on in this group, but they have a tendency to choke in the World Cup. The Americans have a lot to prove to themselves and the rest of the world, and hopes are high to make a deep run in this year’s Cup. Neither Algeria nor Slovenia has ever played against USA, so those matches could go either way. The question in this group is who can beat England? My picks: England and USA – they’re just better overall.
The Germans are looking to avenge the 2006 tournament that they hosted and lost, and make a run for the cup this time around. Ghana has never beaten any of these other teams, and despite their skill could fall to the bottom of this group. Serbia is a solid team, but might be held back by a loss to the Germans and be forced to beat the Aussies. It’s going to be close, that’s for sure. I’ll say Germany and Australia move on.
This is a very interesting group. The Netherlands are my boys so I feel biased towards them, but I can’t deny the fact that even with superb talent on their roster, the Dutch never seem to make it far into the World Cup. Any of the other three teams could make it past the group stages, but I have a feeling it’s going to be Cameroon. Call it a hunch but this could be a good year for the African teams. Picks: Netherlands and Cameroon. Go Oranje!
As the defending champion, Italy is going to move on to the next round, trust me. Second place, well this could be a tough pick. Slovakia is very good, but they have never played against New Zealand or Paraguay. They have beaten Italy 8 times, though. It’s very possible that Slovakia could beat Italy again and force the Italians to beat up on the other two teams, which they will do, but it could make for an exciting first round. The way it looks right now is that Italy and Slovakia are moving on.
Welcome to the group of death. Even your average John Smith in America knows that Brazil has a kick-ass soccer team. Those who know a bit more about the game are aware that Portugal is right near the top with them, led by incredible striker Christiano Ronaldo. Ivory Coast has Didier Drogba, one of the best players in the world, as their captain, but he was injured in a friendly today. Korea is, well, the fourth team in this group. How unfortunate. This is going to be as tough as anything in the tournament and it’s going to take a lot of determination to win at least two games in this group. I do have to come to a conclusion, so my picks are Brazil and Portugal, even though I’d love to see Ivory Coast make it through. It’s just too bad that they got stuck in this group.
Spain is #1 here, no question about that. The real question is, who is number two? Chile has beaten Honduras three times and lost twice. Switzerland has beaten Chile twice, lost once, and never played Honduras. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Swiss will be riding the coat-tails of the Spaniards into the next round.
-Remember three weeks ago when I said the Phillies were poised to run away with the NL East? Right after that the Phillies decided to stop scoring runs and the Atlanta Braves decided to stop losing games. They’re astounding nine game winning streak has them three games clear of second place Philadelphia in the division, and their great pitching performance from young Kris Medlan gave them a 4-0 win over a fairly hot Dodgers team. Troy Glaus, May’s NL player of the month, showed he can still do it in June with yet another home run and Martin Prado enters the weekend leading the league in hitting. So with apologies to San Diego’s Bud Black, how can’t we give NL Manager of the Year to Bobby Cox in his last season?
-The charade in Baltimore is mercifully about to end with the firing of manager Dave Trembley. The team looks listless and uninspired and perhaps someone like Juan Samuel will change that until they find a permanent replacement. Until then, it’s time to start selling off their veteran pieces for players that can help them out in the future.
-Just like the Rays were benefitting from an easy schedule weeks ago, the Yankees have gone on a five game winning streak against inferior opponents like Cleveland and Baltimore. But the Yankees now start their season series against a Toronto team with a very good pitching staff and veteran hitters like Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista who can really hit. It will be a good test for both teams to see who can hang behind the Rays in the race for baseball’s best record not to mention the AL East lead.
-Like one of those horror film villans, the Tigers never seem to die out despite their pedestrain run differential of +9. With Minnesota’s three game losing streak, Detroit trails the Twins by just 2.5 games and now begin a series against Kansas City. Seems like Jim Leyland’s team is going to hang around for a little longer.
-For all the talk about Washington wanting Roy Oswalt and trying to contend this season, you’d think they’d do better against Houston, the worst team in the National League. Carlos Lee’s walkoff homer against Matt Capps won it for the Astros to complete the sweep of the Nationals. Washington needs to win the gimmes, especially when every team in that division hovers around .500.
BABIP’s Lucky Hitters
Austin Jackson (.453), Justin Morneau (.418), Austin Kearns (.394), David Freese (.391), Fred Lewis (.390), Ichiro Suzuki (.384), Jason Bay (.384), Robinson Cano (.379), Nick Swisher (.379), Elvis Andrus (.377), Adrian Beltre (.377).
BABIP’s Unlucky Hitters
Aaron Hill (.177), Aramis Ramirez (.187), Akinori Iwamura (.198), Casey Kotchman (.203), Carlos Pena (.207), Carlos Quentin (.209), Carlos Lee (.210), AJ Pierzynski (.221), Mark Teixeira (.225), Nate McLouth (.229), Pedro Feliz (.229).
Jose Bautista (.337), Paul Konerko (.329), Corey Hart (.325), Miguel Cabrera (.320), Justin Morneau (.311), Vernon Wells (.297), Scott Rolen (.295), Ryan Zimerman (.287), Alfonso Soriano (.281), Jayson Werth (.279).
WAR’s Most Valuable Hitters
Justin Morneau (4.1), Robinson Cano (3.1), Alex Rios (2.9), Carl Crawford (2.6), Ryan Zimmerman (2.6), Evan Longoria (2.5), Chase Utley (2.5), Joey Votto (2.4), Franklin Gutierrez (2.4), Kevin Youkilis (2.4), Miguel Cabrera (2.4).
WAR’s Most Valuable Pitchers
Roy Halladay (3.2), Ubaldo Jimenez (2.9), Cliff Lee (2.5), Ricky Romero (2.4), Adam Wainwright (2.3), Francisco Liriano (2.3), Josh Johnson (2.2), Shawn Marcum (2.2), Tim Lincecum (2.1), Jon Lester (2).
E-F’s Pitchers Due To Decline
Livan Hernandez (2.36), Tim Hudson (2.06), Jon Garland (2.06), Ubaldo Jimenez (1.82), Jaime Garcia (1.7), David Price (1.6), Jeff Niemann (1.52), Wade Davis (1.43), Mitch Talbot (1.24), Andy Pettitte (1.23).
E-F’s Pitchers Due To Improve
Gavin Floyd (2.37), Justin Masterson (2.08), Brandon Morrow (2.07), Jake Peavy (1.6), Brian Matusz (1.32), Kyle Davies (1.3), Craig Stammen (1.24), Luke Hochevar (1.24), Cliff Lee (1.23), Scott Feldman (1.08).
BABIP’s Lucky Pitchers
Ubaldo Jimenez (.223), Tim Hudson (.225), Todd Wellemeyer (.226), Matt Cain (.228), Livan Hernandez (.229), Jason Vargas (.236), Jonathan Sanchez (.238), Jeff Niemann (.240), Doug Fister (.240), Jaime Moyer (.243).
BABIP’s Unlucky Pitchers
Justin Masterson (.404), Gavin Floyd (.366), Brian Matusz (.359), Zach Duke (.359), Wandy Rodriguez (.357), Brandon Morrow (.350), Francisco Liriano (.349), Rick Porcello (.345), James Shields (.342), Dan Haren (.342).