As presented to you by me, EJ the Kid From New York. Sorry that I couldn’t make a blog entry yesterday, I was babysitting kittens with wings.
Today, I’m doing a blog that I’ve planned on doing for a long, long time. You read the title. You know what this is about. As we head towards the All-Star Game(props to Prince Fielder for juicing those balls last night), it’s time to review the disappointing players and the players who have come out of the blue and delivered more than their ballclubs could’ve imagined.
I will separate all of the surprises in this ’09 MLB season by category. and give one to three things by category. So let’s get it started, as the Black Eyed Peas say.
We begin with one of the more obvious categories when you’re discussing baseball surprises.
The Breakout Stars
Aaron Hill, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
There’s a second baseman in the American League who isn’t as tall and as strong-looking as a lot of his fellow baseball players, but he’s already hit 20 homers prior to the ’09 All Star break and has made the All-Star Game. To go along with that, he’s been great defensively, has 114 base hits, and steals a base every now and then. He’s been one of the main reasons his ballclub has been in contention in one of the toughest divisions in the game. He is not Dustin Pedroia, he is not Ian Kinsler, or Robinson Cano. His name is Aaron Walter Hill. He is 27 years of age. He plays for the Toronto Blue Jays. His 20 big flies already give him a career high, his previous mark being 17 home runs. This year, he is better than Dustin Pedroia, better than Ian Kinsler, better than Robinson Cano,, than Brian Roberts, than almost any second baseman in this game that you can give me(Chase Utley is a rare exception). Go ahead. I dare you.
Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles
Adam Jones was one of the players that the Orioles recieved in the Erik Bedard deal with the Seattle Mariners. and oh boy, is he showing it now. When you talk about athletes… when you talk about five tool players… when you talk about talent… this has to be one of the names you bring up, and if you don’t bring him up, shame on you. 12 longballs, 6 stolen bases, a .303 batting average, and not to mention Gold Glove defense. If he and Hill don’t win those Gold Gloves, it’ll be just another year in which the defensive award isn’t given to the best defensive player.
Honorable Mentions: Russell Branyan, Juan Pierre, Adam Lind
Andruw Jones, OF, Texas Rangers
You know the story.
New York Mets, 42-45, 6.5 Games Out of NL East
This is a ballclub that even I predicted would make the World Series– boy, how naive I was. These Mets have David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado on offense, Johan Santana leading a rotation with talented on-the-rise sinkerballer Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez, a guy who can be so nasty at times and is inconsistent but he could work that out, and they had a bullpen that after blowing so many games last year was revamped and supercharged with Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez, and JJ Putz and they were going to be so good! What possibly could have happened? Well, almost all of the players I just named have been sidelined for a long while now with injuries, and after trading away so many minor leaguers for Johan Santana and Putz and not focusing on building that farm system, they have absolutely no depth. Depth is what separates the contenders(Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers) and the pretenders, namely the Mets.
Chicago Cubs, 43-43, 3.5 Games Out of NL Central
The Chicago Cubs were supposed to, for the second consecutive year, be the powerhouse of the National League(mainly in the regular season). They had signed Milton Bradley, a guy who put up great offensive numbers in the 2008 season and who was a switch hitter, able to mix things up in that right handed heavy lineup. They had the returns of All Star starting pitchers Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano, and they had Gold Glover Derrek Lee at first who can also swing it with the best of ’em, and Hank Aaron Award winner and good fielding 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez, and Rookie of the Year backstop and All-Star Geovany Soto. So what happened here? Basically, Milton Bradley, defensively and offensively, stunk. Really bad. Aramis Ramirez got injured. Alfonso Soriano, after a good start, couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. And even though they haven’t been that bad this year, they certainly have disappointed their fans and a ton of people who predicted they’d win it.
Honorable Mentions: Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics
That’s it for today.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
If there is anyone I missed, please say so in the comments below.
-EJ the Kid From New York
We’ll start with the Yankees-Mariners ballgame.
Last night, the Yankees won again, continuing their 6-game winning streak. Joba Chamberlain turned in a decent start and, needless to say, got a no decision. After Alex Rodriguez hit a towering homer to left to give the Yanks a lead, Brian Bruney once again looked off and had an awful outing. However, Brunester got himself the W when the Yankees came back to score 3 runs off the Mariners’ Sean Green, headed by an RBI double by Mr. Clutch, Melky Cabrera, who had 3 RBI that day.
And how about Melky Cabrera this year? He’s on pace to hit 13 or 14 homers, be in the 60s or 70s in RBI, and steal 10 or 11 bases. That’s nowhere near what we’ve expected Lil’ Leche to be after that severely disappointing year he had in 2008.
Now, while that win is all fine and dandy, something else happened in the AL East that is about 7 thousand times more awesome.
The Red Sox got pwn’d.
After facing a commanding Red Sox lead of 10-1, those beautiful beautiful Orioles down in Baltimore rallied for 10 runs over the next few innings, the last couple off of dominant closer Jonathan Papelbon. How freaking unbelievable is that?! It’s hard enough facing the Red Sox losing 2-1, but 10-1? What happened now, Boston?! I thought you could pitch?
And guess what? As I speak, the Red Sox are losing to the Baltimore Orioles by the score of 1-0! These guys are incredible!
Nick Markakis is dreamy, too…
And once again, even though the Subway Series has been over for well over 48 hours now, I still find myself talking about the patheticness of the New York Mets.
Johan Santana was angry after a 4 run inning full of sloppiness(what else is new, it’s the Mets!), he was shouting, he was just pissed. And you know what? It’s good that he was pissed. Somebody’s gotta be pissed!
I don’t think Johan Santana should have been shouting and screaming like a madman, let’s be clear on that. However, I also don’t agree with Johan getting in the dugout, breathing for a couple seconds and telling F-Mart(you see his mistake above) “I’m sorry, I should’ve picked you up.” Instead, I would have rather seen The Johan use his anger in a more calculated manner. When you shout and yell, you only scare the heck out of everybody. You only intimidate and that doesn’t do anything but hurt your cause.
Instead, Johan Santana should have gotten into the dugout, dropped his glove and said “What’s the point of me working my **** off every day and giving my all every five days when I know I’m going to lose anyway?”
And that gets to you. It sends the team a message. “Dude, you’re letting me down. I’m frustrated here.”
But no, the Mets have no true leaders in their clubhouse. They don’t seem to have a single player who knows how to get to his teammates and control his dugout. And when you don’t have a leader like that who can motivate his team, all you have are a bunch of frustrated ballplayers. And guess what? That only compounds the problem.
It’s sad what has happened to this Mets ballclub.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
What a great win, huh? After the first inning, it looked like we were never going to score again, as Livan Hernandez was, for some reason, shutting us down. But Chien-Ming Wang turned in a decent outing and the bullpen was lights out from there. It’s nice when you can take your starter out in the 6th inning and still have 5 relievers(Coke, Hughes, Bruney, Aceves and Robertson are all very fine relief pitchers) whom you can use to set up Mariano Rivera. I’m sure Girardi feels very comfortable with his bullpen right now.
However, we could use a complete game soon, because you don’t want to use your bullpen everyday. Those guys have really earned a rest out there in the ‘pen. Now, Joba Chamberlain is starting next game against the Mariners, so it’s quite unlikely that he’s going to pitch a complete game. And hey, since we have an off day today, that should be enough for the ‘pen for now. But I don’t like that we use them every day. I’d like to see Joba pitch a complete game, obviously, since he is capable of doing so. Let’s face it, though, the only way Chamberlain’s going to pitch a full game is if it’s a no hitter. And even then, there are doubts.
Mariano got the 500th save of his career in the most extraordinary way: with his first career RBI. I mean, if Mo was going to drive in a run, you would think it’d be of the home run or double variety. That dude can swing it! But, Francisco Rodriguez, clearly screwed up by Rivera fouling a ball off, attempted to blow a fastball by Mo, and missed with two balls to walk him. That’s just pure embarrassment, right there.
So now it’s time to have a little off topic fun: before this season, in the month of February, I gave predictions on the awards and league leaders of the American and National Leagues. Today, with a day off, I’m going to look back at those predictions and, with the information that we have thus far as we head towards the All Star break, realize how dumb and wrong I am.
Cy Youngs: Oswalt and Halladay
I wanted to get funky with the Roy and Roy thing, and I’ll tell you what, one of those predictions was pretty good. Who’d have thought Zack Greinke would be as dominant as he is this year? Oswalt, on the other hand… quite past his prime, definitely, but again, who could’ve seen Matt Cain be this dominant? Dan Haren, arguably, is better this season, and you could’ve seen Haren coming, but even with that, Oswalt was a dumb prediction.
MVPs: Miguel Cabrera and David Wright
Miguel Cabrera was a strong prediction, you have to admit, but Joe Mauer has been out of his mind since he made his season debut in May. He’s just been off the charts. Now, Miguel Cabrera’s had a very good season, too, and he does have a shot at making me right if he continues his Miggy Cabrera season and Mauer cools off, but the Wright prediction was not all too sound. Sure, Wright is leading the NL in hitting, but how could I have possibly picked someone other than Pujols?
You guys look at the rest and tell me how good my predictions were.
Thanks to Vanessa for hosting the game last night, it was real fun.
Stay positive, Yankee fans…
-EJ the Kid From New York
Jesus man, these Mets find such hilarous ways to lose. It’s really quite astounding. Congrats on not making an error, now all you have to do is figure out how to hit a ball and how to pitch one and then you can start actually playing competitive games! Gasp!
I know it sounds like a bit of a stretch, Metsies, but with a little determination and a little more hope, one day you can actually have a chance at beating us.
Haha, I’m really mikin’ this, huh?
Nice to see that Posada homer, that’s the Jorge we know and love…
Song of the Day is The River – Good Charlotte feat. M Shadows and Synyster Gates of Avengd Sevenfold… be sure to leave comments…. I’ll be at Vanessa’s blog, Flair For the Dramatic tonight, she’s hosting the Mets-Yankees game on ESPN, it’ll definitely be an interesting game.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
I love it!
We always win!
Save for a few games, of course, like the Nieve ballgame earlier this year, the Yankees just constantly prove that they Mets will never be able to beat us. Why? Well, I’ll tell you why.
Because the Mets are cursed. What kind of curse, you ask? Who brings the curse upon the Mets? Some could argue Minaya curses the Mets, and I hear that argument, but I wouldn’t say a specific entity haunts the Mets. It’s really just this pressure that the Mets have on them. They have so much pressure to defeat us, the big brother Yankees, that they rush and they overdo everything and end up losing the fundamentals. Think about it!
When you go and acquire Johan Santana and K-Rod and JJ Putz, you now have so much responsibility to succeed. You cannot fail with those guys, especially after losing the NLCS in 2006 in game 7, losing on the last game of the year two years in a row, you have sooo much pressure to get every out and hit the big home run and make the great play that you rush and overdo it.
So that’s the plague that the Mets have. Plus, they get injured so often. Maybe that has something to do with it too? I dunno, I just know y’all Mets are cursed.
By the way, we also played pretty well, too. Unfortunately, Frankie went 0 for 5, but Gardner had 5 hits including his 3rd big league homer, which was sooo great for him. I love Brett Gardner.
I love Francisco Cervelli more, but Brett Gardner’s definitely up there.
Also, congrats to A-Rod for bombing a homer to right center, passing Reggie Jackson on the all-time homer list and showing Citi Field ain’t small, you Mets just suck.
Haha, I’m just teasing.
The Song of the Day is one y’all might know, called Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz.
Stay positive, Yankee fans. AND COMMENT THIS TIME
-EJ the Kid From New York
Thank you, New York Yankees, for giving me a really nice win to talk about. Finally, the Yankees scored a bunch of runs again, as their offense was looking really flat of late. After the controversial(and completely blown) call that Brett Gardner was picked off from first base, Joe Girardi stormed out there and argued and argued that call. He was sooo trying to get ejected, I have no doubts about that. The umpire wasn’t even really arguing with him, and plus, once he got tossed, he just walked away instead of continuing to argue. But hey, he got the job done, because the next batter is my new man crush, Frankie Cervelli.
And all he does is hit his first MLB homer to left center to tie it at 1. We just took off from there.
Later, Alex Rodriguez hits a sharp two run single to center field, and I’m shouting “I don’t believe what I just saw!” (In a year so improbable… the impossible has happened!)
I mean, honestly, yesterday was one of the best things that ever happened to Alex. He hit a few balls well, caught a popup, and hopefully that game will begin his massive tear of Major League Baseball pitching this season. I doubt that’s actually true, but a boy can dream, can’t he?
But easily– easily– the best moment of the game was Mariano Rivera’s at bat. From the minutes leading up to it, when Melky Cabrera was giving him batting gloves, a helmet, and a good talk. Then, when he was on the on-deck circle, just chillin’, leaning against the backstop like nothing was gonna happen. It all ended sooo climactically, with this:
A line drive to center field. Sadly, Nate McClouth was right friggin’ there, but it was actually a very good swing and a very well-hit ball. If only he had just pulled it more, it would be the best moment of the year. But alas, it’ll have to settle for the top 10.
Actually, that’s a pretty good idea. What have been the top 10 moments of the 2009 Yankees season? Trust me, I came up with this just spontaneously. This was not planned. Dead serious.
I believe this was our first walk-off of the year. We came back against the Angels, who always kill us, and win it on a walk-off single by the then-not-useless Jorge Posada.
Into Monument Park. This’ll be a trivia question for the ages.
A hilariously beautiful moment. If only it were a hit.
Facing Joe Nathan down by two runs in the ninth inning, Melky Cabrera hits an improbable two run single to left center.
Swishalicious brings a lot of humor and fun to the game, and this is a great example. His first MLB outing ensued hilarity at the end of a ballgame that is otherwise terrible and disgusting.
A-Rod comes back in the most storybook way possible. Yet, we all most definitely saw it coming.
First it was Melky Cabrera’s two run single. Then it was Alex Rodriguez’s walk-off, two run bomb. Finally, Damon capped off the clutch streak with a walk-off shot in extras.
Down by two runs in the inning, A-Rod tied it with a homer into right field off Brad Lidge, and again off Lidge, Melky Cabrera drives in fellow Dominican and buddy Robinson Cano for his third walk-off of the year. If that’s not enough, it was on FOX.
Before the game, Brett Gardner made a bold promise to an 18-year old fan who was in the hospital. After hitting a blooper than got by Denard Span in left, Brett Gardner went balls-to-the-wall on the basepaths and came all the way home, for an inside-the-park homer, the second of Gardy’s career and probably the wake-up call for the Yankees to comeback in that game against Minnesota.
Against a team who’s fans, every year, think their team will be so much better than the Yankees even though they were severely disappointed the year before, the Yanks once again prove that, no matter what we do, whether we fail embarrassingly or succeed tremendously, you guys will always, always, always find some way to embarrass yourselves worse. Enjoy that.
So, thanks for reading, I think this blog is a lot better than my other blogs have been recently. Be sure to leave comments.
Almost forgot — Song of the Day is I’m Not Jesus – Apocalyptica ft. Corey Taylor.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
Well would you look at that? I blogged earlier today and admitted that this would be a probable loss for the Yankees today with Santana on the mound and Burnett going against him, but this turned out to be the exact opposite. The 2009 Yankees gave Johan Santana his worst outing not only of the year, but of his entire career! These guys can be lights out offensively. Yesterday we didn’t see those bats against Nieve, but we kicked butt today against the second best pitcher in baseball.
AJ Burnett was great today, he was throwing hard and also had a solid breaking ball. But one interesting story of today’s game was the performance of a certain first-year backstop:
Francisco Cervelli went 3 for 5 with 3 singles and a crucial two out, two strike, bases loaded bloop single off Johan Santana to plate the first run and get the Yankees’ first big rally started. The Pinstripers went on to score 3 more runs in that inning. I am telling you, we need to give this guy some starts. Posada is not getting it done for us behind the plate. He’s collecting a couple knocks here and there but he can’t throw anyone out or call a good ballgame. Francisco Cervelli is hitting better and in more timely situations, he’s calling great games(caught all 9 shutout innings today in this 15-0 victories), he’s throwing out runners and the Yankees are winning with this guy behind the plate.
To go with that, he’s also providing a very valuable energy to this Bombers ballclub. Did you see his infield single in his second at bat? A little roller to the right side to Murphy, the first baseman’s right, and Murphy makes a bad play flipping the ball underhand to Santana at first. Frankie is busting it down the first base line and he makes it to first base safely, and then slides after making it to the bag. He’s doing enthusiastic fist pumps when his pitchers get a K in a key situation.
Joe Girardi, I love you, but when you put Posada out there to catch, you are severely holding not only us back, but also the development of this young backstop. When you put Posada in the lineup, put him at DH or first to give Tex a day off. Start him at catcher occasionally, but let Francisco Cervelli work his magic more often. He is more than a capable backup; he is a capable starter.
By the way, the Metropolitans have looked absolutely ridiculous this series. They got a win yesterday, but it wasn’t a dominating win, it was kinda ugly in my opinion. Not only did they have that drop to lose the game on Friday, they kept blowing leads and they didn’t look good at all. Today they obviously looked their worst; unable to score with the bases loaded and no outs, Alex Cora not running to first on a strikeout/wild pitch, Daniel Murphy with a dumb play underhand flipping the baseball to first and letting Cervelli go in safe. They looked lackadaisical after a while, and it was a saaad sight to see.
Anyways, fantastic game, I’ll do the 5 best starters entry tomorrow, but for now, chew on this little recap.
Thursday is my last day of school, I have half days from Monday-Thursday, so I’ll try and blog earlier in the day.
Stay positive, Yankee fans!
-EJ “Cervelli’s Biggest Fan” the Kid From New York