The Punch Heard ‘Round The World

By Derek Reed
PSDC Texas Rangers Expert

The date was August 4, 1993. The Chicago White Sox vs the Texas Rangers. Robin Ventura at the plate. Nolan Ryan on the mound. Ventura takes a heater from the Ryan Express off the back of his right shoulder. He pauses for a second. Contemplates his next move. Then the 26-year old Ventura tosses his bat and helmet down and runs toward the mound. A mound occupied by the 46-year old legend and Texas icon. A headlock and several uppercuts later, and Ranger fans had a moment that is still talked about to this day.

That memory was one-of-a-kind. But, now it doesn’t stand alone.

Flash forward to Sunday afternoon. The Toronto Blue Jays vs the Texas Rangers. Jose Bautista at the plate. Matt Bush, making his second Major League appearance, on the mound. A 97-mph fastball glances off Bautista’s elbow and hits him in the ribs.

rougned-odor-punch-jose-bautista

A hard slide and a straight right hand to the jaw later, and another moment in Texas Ranger history is born. And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person.

Jose Bautista is a talented player. He plays the game hard. He plays with intensity. But, he also comes across as a prima donna. A whiner. A selfish person. And after Sunday, all bark and no bite. [Read more…]

Baseball Thoughts Entering the 2015 Playoffs (or how the Cubs can win the World Series)

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

I’m sitting in the ProjectShanks.com home office in Longview, Texas, six feet to the left of my slave-driving boss, Chris Stuckey. Talk about pressure.

But I surge ahead, determined to transfer these thoughts I have from my brain to keyboard, whether a thousand miles away at home, or at headquarters.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

In case you haven’t noticed, the Cubs have the third best record in baseball. It is typical, that in such a case, the two better records belong to teams in their own NL Central Division; the Cardinals and Pirates. With only a couple of games this weekend to settle the dust and seal the postseason awards, the National League playoffs are set. The Cubs and Pirates will play the one game wild card game in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, TBS the dutiful portrayer of the game. And don’t the playoffs just scream TBS? They broadcast an excuse me game every now and again, I was surprised to find late in the season that Ted Turner’s network even continued to broadcast baseball, with the superstations TBS and WGN dumping the local team coverage in the last few years, they being the Braves and Cubs. But that’s a conversation for a different column. [Read more…]

Major League Baseball’s Review at the Two-Thirds Point

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

Mike-Trout

Major league baseball is at the 2/3 mark of the 2015 season and begs for a review. These are the dog days, heading into mid-August with sellers selling and buyers hoping to rent their way to top of the heap. Re: Toronto Blue Jays. [Read more…]

2015 MLB Predictions

By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru

mike-trout

Baseball season kicks off on Sunday night with the Cubs and Cardinals in the first ever opening night game at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are teeming with hope this year, as with every year. This year though, the hope actually has some actual talent with which to base itself on. This isn’t another Cubs story though, these are my predictions for the upcoming baseball season. Division races, wild cards and the World Series. As a bonus I’m throwing in the individual postseason awards. So sit back, take a look and then let me know what you think. Play ball! [Read more…]

5 Best MLB Over/Under Bets

By Matt Conley
PSDC Contributor

The first thing you notice when you look at Over/Under bets on a sportsbook is that the people who set the lines are very good at what they do. If you pick a number for a team, then cross reference that with the actual line, chances are your guess will be within a couple games of the line. If it isn’t, chances are it’s because you are misjudging something, not them. None of this means there isn’t money to be made. Bookmakers tend to undervalue certain types of teams. Lines get swung too high by flashy free agent signings that the public thinks will help a team more than they actually will. If you have a good understanding of what makes a team successful, you can jump on some value. The hardest part is waiting six months for your bet to pay off.

All lines from sportsbook.ag

Toronto Blue Jays (Over/Under 79.5 wins)

jose-reyes

Under- I have never bought into this team. The pitching is never there. Last offseason, they made a big splash by trading for Cy Young winner RA Dickey, and most of the Marlins veterans. That didn’t work out the way GM Alex Anthopoulos thought it would. Sure, if Brandon Morrow and Jose Reyes stay healthy, Brett Lawrie breaks out, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion keep thumping and RA Dickey can get back to his elite form, this team will make noise. How likely are all those to happen in the same season, though? This team isn’t deep enough to have struggles from their top players. The back of the rotation isn’t pretty, and there are questions about the readiness of their AAA pitchers. A good rule of thumb: if a team seems to be getting the benefit of the doubt on their major question marks, jump on their under. [Read more…]

Major League Baseball’s Triumphs and Flops…So Far

By Ted Parrish
PSDC Contributor

As usual, Major League Baseball is full of pleasant surprises and cruel disappointments in early June. A prime example is the Washington Nationals, a star-studded team coming off a 98-win season and an NL East championship in 2012.  They were picked by 38 out of 43 ESPN.com analysts to win the division for a second straight year. Despite all the preseason hype, Washington sits in third with a 29-30 record after 59 games.

In the NL West, Arizona finished 2012 at 81-81, 13 games behind the eventual World Series champion Giants. They traded away four players, including their two-time All-Star Justin Upton and their top pitching prospect, Trevor Bauer. Now, led by hot-hitting Paul Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks sit atop the NL West with a 35-26 record, 3.5 games ahead of the Colorado Rockies.

This article will take a look at teams that have surprised or disappointed their fans so far. This week we will go through the American League divisions, and next week we will visit the National League.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST:

Surprise: New York Yankees 35-26, 2nd place, 2.0 GB

There have been very few times in the last 10 years when you can describe the Yankees sitting in second place in the AL East as a “surprise.”  For years the Yankees have been almost a lock for the playoffs, including last season when they won 95 games and the division.

This season was shaping up to offer more of the same before injuries began to take their toll. At one point, New York had $95 million in salaries on the DL, including Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixiera. Those five players alone have combined for 35 career All-Star appearances. [Read more…]

5 Things We Know About the American League East So Far

By Johnny Griffith
PSDC Stat Man

5 things we know about the American League East so far…

1. Toronto is in trouble early. Chemistry was the buzzword in spring training for the Blue Jays as GM Alex Anthopoulos was opening the purse strings and assembling an all-star roster of talent to put on the field for opening day. As good as the team looked on paper, there was the ghosts of the Marlins and Phillies teams past that had all the makings of pennant contenders and just could not get it together when it counted. Toronto is making a believer out of me, but not in a good way. The offense is horrible, next to last in the AL in on-base percentage. The pitching staff is 28th in the majors for ERA led by an epic collapse of reigning Cy Young winner Dickey. Only one team has committed more errors, and they aren’t manufacturing runs at a prolific rate as 51 of their 106 runs have come by the long ball. The season is obviously still early and there is time for the ship to get right, but with an early 8.5 game deficit in the division, fans can officially start to get nervous.

Grade so far: F…I’d give an F minus here but you can’t really quantify absolute suckage.

[Read more…]

2013 MLB Team Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

By Johnny Griffith
PSDC Writer

O Canada!

You know it well, our polite neighbors to the north that have given us maple syrup, hockey, Bryan Adams, and the McKenzie brothers. Okay, okay I admit that Quebec did unleash the scourge of Celine Dion onto the world but those crazy francophones have already tried to leave Canada on more than one occasion so we’ll just ignore them for the sake of this article. In the great traditions of LaBatt Blue, Pam Anderson, and Nickelback, you can now count competitive baseball as the latest thing flying the Maple Leaf to take America, or at least the American League, by storm.

Oh! Canada?

By all accounts Toronto is poised to be a serious contender for the next few years in the AL East.  Yes, this is the same franchise that faded down the stretch last season to finish two games ahead of last place after injuries and inconsistent pitching wreaked havoc on a strong start.  After yet another season, general manager Alex Anthopoulos (there, I said your damn words) pulled his best George Steinbrenner and spent the money necessary to potentially book a trip to October baseball this year. In one brash and risky move the Blue Jays pilfered the Marlins so bad that the Department of Homeland Security was investigating how a bunch of Canadians pulled off one of the most lopsided acquisitions in baseball history.

[Read more…]

PSDC Random Stat of the Day

By Johnny Griffith
PSDC Writer 

With Opening Day rapidly approaching, the AL East is projected to be as convoluted and competitive as ever, if not more so than usual.  Since the Yankees and Red Sox seem to be always demonized for their willingness and ability to spend the almighty dollar for a win, I decided to take a little deeper look at the pecking order of the division and salaries to see exactly who is getting the most bang for the buck.   I went back to the 2008 season as this was the first time Tampa had won the division and having been little more than a bottom dweller before then and have been the most successful turning dollars into wins ever since.

Average Opening Day Salary Since 2008 (cumulative salaries)*

New York: $208,134,203 ($1,040,671,015  yes that’s BILLION)
Boston: $152,463,492 ($762,317,460)
Toronto: $82,301,711 ($411,508,557)
Baltimore: $75,831,065 ($379,155,328)
Tampa: $56,917,307 ($284,586,535)

Record Since 2008**

New York: 479-331 (.591)
Tampa: 458-352 (.565)
Boston: 438-372 (.540)
Toronto: 400-410 (.494)
Baltimore: 360-449 (.445)

Salary Cost Per Win Since 2008

New York: $2,172,590
Boston: $1,740,450
Baltimore: $1,053,209
Toronto: $1,028,771
Tampa: $621,368

*Salary information Courtesy of BaseballProspectus.com
**Records Courtesy of MLB.com

Blue Jays, Marlins Blockbuster Breakdown

By Ryan Schofield
PSDC Insight Man

It appears the Marlins have done it again. Every player with any talent not named Giancarlo is going to need to get their passports handy, because they’re being shipped up to Canada. So in the immortal words of some guy in an En Vogue song, now it’s time for the breakdown. [Read more…]