Friday, August 26, 2005

High Expectations?

Just a little while ago I did a write-up on the Braves Rookies, which you can find here, and I mentioned a 21-year-old kid named Jeff Francoeur. Now many of you may have seen, as I did when I went to a news stand, that this week's issue of Sports Illustrated has that very same kid on it. He's the first Brave to appear on a cover since they won the World Series in 1995. That means Furcal's Rookie of the Year award (2000), Chipper Jones' MVP award (1999), or even Smoltz's 55 save season couldn't get the most prominent Braves their, not even the 13 consecutive division titles earned the team a cover issue.

So why this kid? Well his start is unprecedented. Only one player has ever come in this late and played this well, this long. Willie "Stretch" McCovey only, marginally, maybe even came close in 1959. McCovey hit .354, 13 HRs, 38 RBIs, and had an OPS of 1.085. Now Francouer, projected through the day SI went to press, will hit .370, 21 HRs, 64 RBIs, and have an OPS of 1.105. Also add 9 outfield assists in his first 31 games, that's just crazy. So by these standards that is Rookie of the Year for sure. Crosby barely had these numbers last year, and he played more than twice as many games as Frenchie will in his rookie season. That's why there is hype around this kid, and is it well earned? Well yes and no. Yes because he's playing at a level many big leaguers aren't at the moment. No, because there is a list of players that includes the likes of Mark Fydrich, a Detroit Tigers phenom, that burned out and never played the same as they did their rookie year. Now I would assume that this won't happen to Francoeur, unless he gets hurt, because his skill set is so tremendous. Heck, give the kid the attention he deserves, as he is getting it now, and we'll see him play for many more years, perhaps Cooperstown in 25 years or so. I think this kid is special, just watch him play for a couple of games and I think you'll raise the same opinion.


Or rather Lloyd McClendon and Dave Duncan (the instigator). This fight was really over something stupid and its just another issue that will give baseball a bad wrap.

The Post-Gazette reported that Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan asked Pirates reliever if he had purposely thrown high and tight to the Cardinals' Hector Luna the night before; Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon then yelled at Duncan to stop talking to his players, and things escalated. Duncan and Pirates hitting coach Gerald Perry appeared to be restrained by teammates.

Now why does Dave Duncan feel the need to ask? And why does it even matter? I didn't see the previous game in which this pitch was throw but why in the world must he ask? Most pitches are thrown for a purpose. Look at Roger Clemens...he doesn't get his sparkling ERA from pitching nicely. He's notorious for coming in on players (which some people think is wrong) but that is how you pitch, you move people off the plate or you send them a message, so that your next pitch will have a greater effect. This is plain stupid. Duncan should be suspended and fined for his sheer stupidity.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Ageless Wonder

Julio Franco, Braves' first baseman and pinch-hitter extraordinaire, turned 47 years old today. This makes him the oldest, non-pitcher, to ever play the game every day. Here is what Tim Kurkjian discovered and the records that the ageless one holds and may break many more times.

"Franco is the oldest non-pitcher in major league history (not including stunt appearances such as those by Minnie Minoso). Last season, Franco became the oldest player to get 50 hits in a season, and had more than twice as many RBI (54) as any 45-year-old in history (Pete Rose had 25 in 1986). This season, Franco became the oldest player (by more than four years) to hit a grand slam, the oldest to hit a pinch-hit home run, the oldest to have a multi-home run game and the oldest to steal two bases in one game. If he hits another homer, he will replace pitcher Jack Quinn (1930) as the oldest player ever to do so. And he'll become the oldest to hit 10 homers in a season (Carl Yastrzemski hit 10 in 1983 at 44)."

Really, do take the time to read the full article. It really is impressive what Julio Franco has been able to do without the help of steroids. He is the product of 26 years in the weight room, careful eating habits, and pure natural ability/build.

Monday, August 22, 2005

2005 NL World Series Representatives

The St. Louis Cardinals might be in a tough spot without Scott Rolen in their line-up for the rest of the year. I know the Cardinals have been playing well, seemingly always getting bailed out by Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols. Rolen was the 3rd #4 hitter in that line-up hitting behind Edmonds. The Cards are playing well right now but come post-season contests and the better teams and pitching could spell disaster for the Cards, considering that Sanders has been out, Walker just came back and might not reach top form again. I still pick them as the favorite in the NL, because the pitching has been suprisingly stellar from Carpenter and Morris. Neither of them gave us any reason to believe they would pitch this way this year. As of late neither one has had thair A-Game against the better teams they've faced. Jason Marquis is not the pitcher his record reflects, he's not as good as his, where Mulder is better than his record reflects. Mulder could possibly be the post-season hero for the Cards in 2005.

It just makes me happy

It is always pleasing to see the Yankees lose, especially when they lose big or because of a monumental incident such as yesterday.

"A dazed and frustrated Johnson allowed home runs to three consecutive batters for the first time in his major league career and four in all during the fourth inning, and the Chicago White Sox beat the New York Yankees 6-2 Sunday to stop a seven-game losing streak." - The rest of the article can be found here.

It makes it even sweeter when it is one of the biggest names that Steinbrenner brings in to be the victim of the loss.