Dodgers All-Star Bits
Did you all enjoy last night’s all-star game ? Our boys that represented made quite an impression last night, particularly Kershaw and Greinke, striking out a combined 3 batters on only 21 pitches during their 2 innings.
Dee Gordon also made his presence felt scoring on a 2 out double by Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers and making a fine defensive play in the 6th inning.
Yasiel Puig was not so fortunate last night, striking out 3 times in his first all-star appearance, tying 11 players for the record for most times to strike out in an all-star game. However, Puig is in some fine company, as Lou Gherig, Mickey Mantle, Willie McCovey, Johnny Bench, Albert Belle and Craig Biggio have also achieved this dubious feat. Hey, even the great one’s have their bad days…
Other All-Star Bits
Congratulations to the Angels Mike Trout on being named the 2014 All-Star MVP . At 22 years of age, Trout is the second youngest player to win all-star game MVP behind Ken Griffey Jr. in 1992.
Tip of the Cap
Thank You Derek Jeter for 19 memorable seasons. Last night marked the final time the Yankee captain would participate in an All-Star game, marking the 13th time he would play in the mid-summer classic.
Last All-Star Thought
The all-star game should not determine home field advantage for the World Series. I have felt that way since the inception of the rule in 2003 regardless of which league comes out the winner…
Looking Back at the 1st Half
The first half of the season, which seems like the longest 1st half in recent memory given the season officially started in Australia on March 22nd, was filled once again with it’s highs and lows, highlighted of course by the no-hitters thrown by Josh Beckett and Clayton Kershaw.
Like last season, the Dodgers did not exactly start the season off fast out of the gate, falling behind as much as 9.5 games in the standings behind the Giants. However, the Dodgers, like last season, have rebounded to finish the 1st half strong and will head into the 2nd half not only in 1st place in the NL West but also with the National League’s best record.
Why Dre is Happy ?
What else can you say about Kershaw and Greinke, perhaps the best 1-2 starting combo in the game right now ?
Dee Gordon has proved to everyone that he is now our everyday starting 2nd baseman. Gordon looks more confident in his play this season with both the bat and glove and it is certainly showing .
A strong finish to the 1st half has our Boys in position to reclaim the NL West.
The back end of our rotation. Dan Haren can be on or off, but his recent lack of velocity could be a factor as to why he has given up 20 home runs. Josh Beckett, at this point a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, has not pitched a full season in 2 seasons and concern over his recent hip condition has raised some other concerns as to how much further into the season he can pitch. Whether he does come back, my concern for Josh is if he can keep up his 1st half performance.
Which Brian Wilson will we see in the 2nd half ? Brian blamed the lack of a prolonged spring training to his early season stint on the DL, but since his return has still struggled to return to his late season form of last season. Can Brandon League continue his resurgence into the 2nd half ? JP Howell has quietly done his part in getting the ball to Jansen, who hasn’t quite been as dominant, but still is one of the league leaders in saves. I look for another strong 2nd half finish from our closer.
Productivity from the offense. The reason the Dodgers are where they are right now ? You know it. Starting pitching. However, even the best starting 5 could use some needed run support. How will the outfield situation pan out ? Will a trade be in store for the Blue ?
This is Still Matt’s Team
Yup. That’s right. I said it. This is still Matt Kemp’s team to lead. That is if he want’s to be that leader. Do I expect a rebirth of the Matt Kemp of 2011 ? No. What I want to see from Matt Kemp, present day, 2014 ? I want to see him take control of the clubhouse and be that vocal leader every team should have. I don’t necessarily mean showing anger when he is in a slump. Puig is still to young and ripe for that role. Kemp, the longest tenured Dodger alongside Andre Ethier, needs to show that this is still his team . As Matt goes, so goes the Blue. Hopefully, into another deep run into October…
Looking Back at My Pre-Season Picks
Overall, my forecast have been on and off . In the AL East, Tampa struggled early but has climbed to within 9.5 games of the lead. A recent run has Detroit standing 6.5 games ahead in the AL Central, the largest lead of any division leader heading into the 2nd half. Wholesale changes could be in order for the Rangers, 21 games under .500 and 21 games out. I stated that 2 managers could be on the hot seat in the AL West, the two being Ron Washington and Mike Scioscia. It’s safe to say that one is off the hot seat. The other ? Do the Rangers reward Washington for the past 5 seasons and honor his contract extension through 2015 ?
So, where do I call an audible ? In the AL East, I’m going to stick with the Rays, even with the fact they sit 9.5 back and have 4 other teams to get past. Should the Rays still be in contention by the end of this month, perhaps all talks of David Price in another uniform will die down.
In the AL Central, I picked Detroit and will stick with that. In the AL West, this is where I call an audible, and a huge audible too. This is where I picked the Rangers to reclaim the AL West. As I said, that’s where I call my audible. The AL West could possible have 3 teams in post-season play. 2 of them could very well be a serious threat into October. My call ? Oakland wins it’s 3rd straight AL West title, with the Angels and Mariners as the wild cards. If Seattle can find some offensive support down the stretch, they may be a serious October contender.
Playoff Picks. Wild Card Angels over the Mariners , ALDS Tigers over the Angels, A’s over Tampa. ALCS Oakland showed they want it now with the acquisition of Samardzija and Hammel. I’m still sticking with my pre-season AL Champ pick. Detroit. Detroit over Oakland, 3 years in a row. This could be a developing rivalry, right Justin Verlander ?
Verlander on A's trade: "They made that trade because of us." Verlander, Tigs have eliminated A's the last two years.
— Freep Tigers (@freeptigers) July 5, 2014
Here is where my accuracy is somewhat on target. In the NL East I said it would be a 2 team race between the Nationals and Braves and as of now both stand tied atop their division . After struggling early in the season, the Cardinals have made up 6.5 games in the standings within the last 2 weeks and sit 1 game behind the Brewers atop the NL Central. 3.5 games separate the Brewers, Cardinals, Reds and Pirates in the NL Central. It is possible 3 teams in this division see post-season play again this season. Who could be the one left out of the dance ?
And finally. The NL West . In spite of the fact the Dodgers were the overwhelming favorites to repeat as NL West Champions, I still felt the division would not be a runaway. The Giants started out hot but have fizzled as of late. The Dodgers, in spite of some offensively challenged numbers, head into the 2nd half with not only the lead atop the NL West but with the National Leagues best record and are still the favorites to come out on top in the NL West. The Giants will continue to challenge The Blue, but lack of a serious offensive threat and depth will derail them in the end.
As for my other pre-season NL picks, Dre call’s no audible here. For the Wild Cards, i’m sticking with the Pirates over the Braves. For the NLDS , the Cardinals over the Nationals, and the Dodgers over the Pirates, setting up a rematch of last year’s NLCS between the Dodgers and Cardinals, in which I have our Boys in Blue coming out on top.
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