-The Yankees probably won’t have any interest in Cliff Lee, according to Joel Sherman. They believe Seattle wants either Jesus Montero or Austin Romine along with others for Lee. They will, however, have interest in White Sox lefty Matt Thornton if he becomes available like his teammates AJ Pierzynski (the Rangers have significant interest) and Mark Buehrle. Mets officials told Sherman that they’ll trade for a starter like Kevin Millwood or Jake Westbrook if they remain in contention. Sherman speculates (not a rumor) that the Yankees could trade Javier Vazquez to a team like the Cardinals, Dodgers or Mets and package those prospects in a Lee trade.
-The Providence Journal reports that Jacoby Ellsbury’s rib injury could keep him out until the All-Star break. Joe Nelson was designated for assignment and will likely find work elsewhere. Ken Rosenthal reports that Mike Lowell is in the Friday lineup for the Red Sox and could be showcased as a trade piece. The Twins, Angels and Rangers are interested. Also, the Red Sox could be looking for an OF with Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida on the DL and Mike Cameron hurting.
-Bobby Valentine will interview with the Orioles for their managerial opening, according to the Baltimore Sun. Eric Wedge could also be a possibility and the paper reports that he interviewed on Thursday. Jim Bowden reports that pitching coach Rick Dempsey also wants to be considered for the job.
-Jon Heyman reports that Arizona had a big meeting on Thursday and that GM Josh Byrnes stuck up for manager AJ Hinch. Anything is possible including trading Ian Kennedy or dealing Justin Upton in a blockbuster. That means they would at least consider trading Dan Haren. Mark Reynolds may be the only exception. Edwin Jackson, Chris Snyder, Adam Laroche and Kelly Johnson are other candidates. St. Louis would be a good fit for Roy Oswalt.
-Because of a clause in his contract, Atlanta has until the 15th to either bring Chris Resop (who pitched a complete game one hitter this week) up, trade or release him. Several teams are nterested but the Braves will likely bring him up, according to Fox Sports.
-The Dodgers signed reliever Kiko Calero to a minor league deal and could be a part of their pennant run.
This morning, Boise State announced that they will be leaving the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and moving to the Mountain West. This is big news to the Mountain West, as they add another BCS power along side TCU. This strengthens the Mountain West to possibly the 4th or 5th best conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS.)
Nebraska announced this morning that they have officially accepted an invitation to join the Big-10. Nebraska has had issues with the Big-12 ever since their existence and they will be much happier in the Big-10, where they believe the money is spread out to every school and not just to schools such as Texas and Oklahoma. The Big-12’s future lies in the hands in the University of Texas, who will meet Tuesday on whether to stay in the Big-12 or switch to another conference.
EDITOR’S NOTE- The Mountain West could really benefit if teams left out of the Big 10 or the Super Pac 16 if they can attract teams like Missouri, Baylor, Kansas State and others. That would really elevate them in football and would likely get them an automatic BCS berth.
BABIP Lucky Hitters (thanks to Fangraphs as usual)
Austin Jackson (.425), Justin Morneau (.412), Austin Kearns (.410), Colby Rasmus (.394), Robinson Cano (.389), David Freese (.389), Ichiro Suzuki (.385), Elvis Andrus (.372), Evan Longoria (.370), Ben Zobrist (.366).
BABIP Unlucky Hitters
Aaron Hill (.181), Aramis Ramirez (.189), Carlos Pena (.197), Casey Kotchman (.201), Carlos Quentin (.205), Akinori Iwamura (.209), Carlos Lee (.219), Nate McLouth (.221), AJ Pierzynski (.223), Jose Bautista (.225).
Jose Bautista (.340), Corey Hart (.332), Miguel Cabrera (.326), Paul Konerko (.321), Scott Rolen (.303), Justin Morneau (.300), Vernon Wells (.297), Adam Dunn (.279), Kevin Youkilis (.278), Kelly Johnson (.274).
Justin Morneau (60.1), Kevin Youkilis (57.3), Robinson Cano (54.4), Miguel Cabrera (54.2), Evan Longoria (50.8), Albert Pujols (48.8), Josh Willingham (46.6), Jose Bautista (45.3), Kelly Johnson (45.2), Joey Votto (44.6).
WAR’s Most Valuable Hitters
Justin Morneau (4.3), Robinson Cano (3.7), Evan Longoria (3.2), Ryan Zimmerman (3.1), Alex Rios (3.1), Kevin Youkilis (3.1), Marlon Byrd (2.9), Carl Crawford (2.8), Adrian Beltre (2.6), Josh Willingham (2.6).
WAR’s Most Valuable Pitchers
Roy Halladay (3.9), Ubaldo Jimenez (2.9), Cliff Lee (2.9), Francisco Liriano (2.7), Josh Johnson (2.7), Adam Wainwright (2.6), Ricky Romero (2.5), Jon Lester (2.4), Tim Lincecum (2.2), Phil Hughes (2.2)
E-F Pitchers Due To Decline
Livan Hernandez (2.09), Tim Hudson (2.03), Ubaldo Jimenez (1.79), David Price (1.73), Jaime Garcia (1.73), Jeff Niemann (1.63), Ian Kennedy (1.63), Andy Pettitte (1.39), Jon Garland (1.34), Mike Leake (1.26).
E-F Pitchers Due To Rebound
Gavin Floyd (2.16), Brandon Morrow (1.8), Rick Porcello (1.52), Jake Peavy (1.44), Randy Wells (1.32), Edwin Jackson (1.2), Joel Piniero (1.14), Max Scherzer (1.13), Cliff Lee (1.11), Brian Matusz & Mark Buehrle (1.04).
BABIP Lucky Pitchers
Jeff Niemann (.226), Ubaldo Jimenez (.229), Matt Cain (.231), Tim Hudson (.233), Mat Latos (.239), Ted Lilly (.240), Jaime Moyer (.240), Doug Fister (.240), Brett Cecil (.242), Livan Hernandez (.243).
BABIP Unlucky Pitchers
Gavin Floyd (.369), Zach Duke (.359), Wandy Rodriguez (.354), Justin Masterson (.353), Brian Matusz (.353), Dan Haren (.351), Rick Porcello (.350), Francisco Liriano (.349), James Shields (.344), Randy Wells (.343).
History will be made, indeed. After an intense game that ended in a confusing, yet wild fashion, the Blackhawks are Cup champions, as if anyone expected otherwise.
Video game company EA Sports took its award-winning hockey game NHL 10 and simulated how the playoffs would play out this season and the result was right on the button. Many fans and critics alike believed that this year’s team would bring the glory back to Chicago, and the young Hawks did not disappoint.
The Blackhawks swept through the playoffs playing on a consistently high level throughout. Their stars played better than ever, and a few players became household names.
Team Canada members Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews added to their trophy case after they won gold in February. Captain Toews also came home with the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoffs MVP after a stellar postseason in which he had 29 points, including 3 game-winning goals.
Patrick Kane, the man who lived the dream of every kid playing hockey on his driveway, scored the Cup-winning goal in OT and avenged a silver medal from the Olympics and was one of the main reasons the Hawks are Cup champs.
The story of the playoffs, however lie away from the captain/assistant captains of the team, or those who are featured on the cover of video games, but rather with those players who are now famous for their achievements in the playoffs.
Dustin Byfuglien, who finished the season with 34 points after playing in every one of the 82 games, was one of two main reasons that the Hawks won the Stanley Cup. In the playoffs, however, Byfuglien became a one-man wrecking crew. He tallied 16 points, 11 of which were goals and 5 of those 11 were game-winning goals. That means of the 16 wins that it took the Hawks to hoist the Cup, Dustin was the man who score to win 31% of them.
His tremendously huge and unforgettable hit on Philly defenseman Chris Pronger in game 5 finally plucked the thorny veteran out of Chicago’s side, as well as making Byfuglien an overnight YouTube sensation. Look for Dustin to be a huge part of the Hawks team next season as they look to keep doing everything right and defend their trophy.
Something that seems to be overlooked in the playoffs is goaltending, unless the player involved has just had 3 shutouts in a row or has a goals-against average of less than 1. By the numbers, Niemi was not the best netminder of this year’s playoffs, but who cares about numbers?
Antti Niemi, the official backup for the Hawks only a short while ago, became the first goalie from his native Finland to win the Stanley Cup. Seriously. This is the guy who didn’t make the Finnish national team for the Vancouver Olympics and whose fellow countrymen are the likes of Miikka Kiprusoff, Nicklas Backstrom, Vesa Toskala and Tuukka Rask.
Niemi had a .910 save percentage, a 2.63 goals against average, and let in 58 goals over 22 games. These stats are hardly enough to place him among the great goalies who have led their teams to the Cup in the past, HOWEVER, he started all 22 games for Chicago, and made some incredible game-saving plays that allowed for his teammates’ faith in him to never falter. Niemi comes from a great hockey nation in Finland and has done his homeland proud. He will be a force to be reckoned with next season as there is no doubt he will start in net to defend the Hawks’ glory and will continue to shine.
For this year’s feel-good story, we will look no farther than Chicago forward Marian Hossa. Love him or hate him, Hossa just wants to win the Cup, and come on, who doesn’t? He played for Pittsburgh and lost to Detroit, switched to Detroit and lost to Pittsburgh, and now moving to the Hawks finally found his team that could help him raise the cup.
In order to succeed in the Hawks’ system, Hossa needed to change his mindset from the go-to sniper on a team, to a role-playing helper who would be a part of a puzzle that would lead to success. His 15 points, 3 goals and 12 assists reflect how Hossa has become a team player and was an integral part of Chicago’s championship run.
After 49 long years, the Stanley Cup has finally returned to the Windy City. With one of its best teams in recent years, Chicago will remember these players for a long time. Congratulations to the Blackhawks, and let’s get ready for next season! Ok, after the parade, but don’t be like the idiot Rangers and throw it out of a window…New Yorkers.
Here is Patrick Kane’s crazy goal that won it all, even if no one realized until a minute later.
-While Jon Niese was injured the Mets had two very good starters in Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey and then three borderline major league starters in their rotation consisting of guys like John Maine, Oliver Perez, RA Dickey, Hisanori Takahashi and others. But with Jon Niese back in the rotation, they have a chance to add a third above average starter. He definitely got the job done on Thursday against San Diego, spinning a complete game one-hit shutout in a 3-0 win. They still need to trade for a starter assuming they stay in the NL East race by July but having Niese as a third or fourth starter is definitely not a bad thing.
-The cardiac Reds continued to keep things exciting with their big league best 12th win in their final at bat in a 7-6 win over the Giants. A two-run triple by Brandon Phillips tied the game at 6 in the bottom of the 8th and a Joey Votto gave them the eventual game winner. It got the win for Arthur Rhodes, who has thrown 25 consecutive scoreless innings in relief dating back 27 appearances! He has a 0.33 ERA and has allowed one earned run all season and that was on April 11. AOL FanHouse campaigned for Rhodes to make the All-Star game and he’s had as dominant a season as anyone at baseball and is definitely an unsung hero for the surprise NL Central leaders.
-Two young hot starters in the American League are Brett Cecil of Toronto and Trevor Cahill of Oakland. Cecil allowed one run over 6 2/3 for his 5th straight win in a 3-2 Jays win over Tampa Bay and Cahill allowed a run over eight frames for his 4th straigh win as the A’s beat the Angels 6-1.
-Elsewhere in the NL East, Josh Johnson got the best of Roy Halladay this time after Halladay threw a perfect game in their last meeting. Johnson pitched eight scoreless innings on three hits and Leo Nunez closed the door on a 2-0 win. In DC, Livan Hernandez continued his fluke season by allowing two runs over six as the Nationals swept the Pirates 4-2.
-Unexpected heroes reigned supreme in the AL Central on Thursday. Wilson Betemit hit his first two homers of the season on Thursday, including a solo shot in the 9th that ended up being the difference in a 9-8 Royals win over Minnesota. Omar Vizquel’s first homer of the year was all the White Sox needed in a 3-0 win over Detroit behind John Danks.
-Jake Arrieta picked up the win in his major league debut as Baltimore defeated the Yankees 4-3. This is the beginning of the future for the Orioles as all three of their top prospects: Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz, are all up in the big leagues now.