Tagged: Chase Utley

All Decade All the Time

It’s 10:14am here in the east and I’m three days removed from my college graduation. So this is what “the real world” is like, huh? I’ve heard about this for what seems like forever. Colleges, these days, pride themselves on preparing us for the great wide world that is going to crush us if we’re not ready.

My opinion.. honestly? Kinda boring.

Okay, I don’t have a “job” yet, but I do have several things going on. I’m attending the Allentown Bartending School after the new year. That should be fun. My ultimate goal would be to get a job in a nice sports bar where I could talk sports all day long. I do that already, but my fiancee is not very receptive unless it about the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I’m also working in a new web series that I’m trying to pitch. It’s called Guys With Girl Problems (cheap plug) and I think people will find it funny. I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 years in college working my tail off toward something I have little interest in. If I’ve learned anything in that time, it’s that I need to be working toward something I believe in.

Wait a minute. This is a baseball blog, right? Sorry. On to baseball!

To quench my winter thirst for baseball in the wake of the Roy Halladay trade, I’m fixed on mlb.com eying the next big moves. One of today’s headlines was regarding the fan voted “all-decade” teams. So I thought I’d weigh in.

Now I don’t know all the rules here. From what I gather, this is like an AL/NL all-century team except just the 2000-2009 decade. So here goes.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1B: Albert Pujols – No surprises here. They don’t call this guy a machine for nothing. since breaking into the league in 2001, Pujols has hit .334 with 366 dingers and 1,112 RBI on his way to 3 MVPs and a World Series. Some guys would sell their soul for the career this guys has had in 9 years. If Ryan Howard had come into the league earlier than 2006, this might be a more difficult discussion, but Pujols is just undeniable right now.

2B: Chase Utley – Here comes the homer! Okay, yes I’m a Phillies Phanatic but you really can’t argue with Utley at all. I don’t even need to throw out numbers with him. He’s going to go down as the greatest second baseman of all time, even better than Ryne Sandberg.

3B: Chipper Jones – This was a little tougher decision. Chipper has battled some injuries which kept him out the better of one or two seasons and he’s getting up there in age. But I’ve been following his career since he was a rookie in 1995, A lot of people want to shy away from him but at the end of the day you can’t deny what he brings to the plate. Yes, he moved around position wise, playing LF for a couple years, but he’s always been a third baseman.

SS: Jimmy Rollins – This was by far the toughest decision because SS seems to be a forgotten position anymore. It was sexy in the 90’s with Ripken, Jeter, A-Rod and Garciaparra but now I can only name maybe 5 starting shortstops in all of baseball without really thinking hard. For me, it came down to Jimmy Rollins and Rafael Furcal. I went with Rollins because he’s been consistent and clutch and he’s got an MVP trophy and a World Series ring. Furcal has neither. Plus, Rollins and his club have come up victorious in the last 2 NLCS of the decade.Compelling.

LF: Barry Bonds – I’ll take the 2001-2004 Bonds who hit a billion home runs and won 4 consecutive MVPs. Not the 2005-2007 Bonds who played every other day and walked more than he ran. Literally. Steroids or not, the games count so he counts. He never could win a championship but he was playing in San Francisco. Gary Sheffield was a close second, but he spent a lot of the decade in the AL with New York and Detroit.

CF: Jim Edmonds – I had three choices for best CF of the decade. Edmonds, Andruw Jones and Carlos Beltran. Beltran only came to the NL at the trade deadline of 2004 so he’s out. That left Jones and Edmonds. Both of these guys were staples in CF for one teams nearly the whole decade. There was a time where no fly ball was safe in St. Louis or Atlanta. I gave the nod to Edmonds because his numbers were a bit more consistent whereas Andruw Jones was more of a bell-curve. 

RF: Gary Sheffield – Yes, I know I mentioned him in the Left Field discussion, but Sheff really did spend more time in Right than Left until recently. I re-thought his career and despite spending 2004-2008 in New York and Detroit, he is still hands down better than the youngsters that have been in right for the rest of the decade. A shout out goes to Will Ferrell, i mean, Adam Dunn.

C: Mike Piazza – Even though he retired in 2008, Piazza still stuck out as the best of the unsung heroes behind the plate. He was one of the few to be feared at the plate and meant a lot to the city of New York following the tragedy of 9/11. Russell Martin, Brian McCann and the Molina family are all great catchers, but Piazza is up on the pedistal in my book.

P: John Smoltz – Picking just one pitcher out of, I don’t know, A MILLION is a tall order. In the end, I went with Smoltz because he was part of what could be the greatest 1-2-3 rotation (Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz) of all time. AND he did what his team needed and stepped into the closer role and was nothing short of a lock. He was the Mo Rivera of the NL for 3 seasons.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1B: Paul Konerko – This is tricky because the 1B/DH designation is typically one and the same. You can throw around names like Jim Thome and David Ortiz, but they were typically DH. Many First basemen in the AL are there for defensive purposes. Konerko played a lot of 1B in the decade and is one of the most overlooked players of the decade. So I’m going to show him some love in this blog at least.

2B: Alfonso Soriano – It’s hard to remember his time in the AL since his astronomical contract in Chicago and his move to LF, but he was once considered the next great Yankee. After losing the 2001 and 2003 world series respectively, New York traded him away and teams have been overpaying for him ever since. Gotta give it up to a guy who looks like he weighs 150lbs but can power it to China.

3B: Alex Rodriguez – He still seems like he doesn’t know what he’s doing at 3B but what he’s done at the plate greatly overshadows it all. A lot of his great work of the decade was done at SS but its undeniable who belongs at that designation, I had to give 3B to Rodriguez.

SS: Derek Jeter – In my book, he’s still the last true great Yankee. I think he can be mentioned in the same breath as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle. I spent most of my life loathing the Yankee organization, but I always liked Jeter. He’s a classy, old fashioned ballplayer. I really don’t think I need to say anything else.

LF: Manny Ramirez – One of the many great products of the Cleveland Indians organization to experience success somewhere else. Manny has been Manny this whole decade and while his antics on the field have been somewhat comical, he been the best and most consistent hitter we’ve had outside of DH.

CF: Torii Hunter – Center Field used to be a premier position with guys like Mantle and Griffey Jr., but now teams usually want a speedy defensive center fielder and are lucky to find one that might be able to put the bat on the ball well enough to lead off. Hunter has done all that and more and he’s done it year in and year out.

RF: Ichiro – He largely stays out of the media because he doesn’t speak much English and he plays in Seattle. But Ichiro has started almost every All-Star game since he came into the league in 2001 from Japan and he’s the one guy you DO NOT want to see when you’re looking for a safe out. Many fans also discount his defense which is amazing. I remember watch
ing him throw out a tagging runner on a frozen-rope strike from RF to third.

C: Jorge Posada – Consistency is big in my book. There are a lot of players that are hyped up because they have 1 or 2 big months, but I like the players who get it done day in and day out. Posada is one of those players who can hit almost anywhere in the lineup from either side of the plate and put the barrel of the bat on the ball. What more do you want from a catcher?

P: Roy Halladay – Yes, I know, I’m excited to see him in Philadelphia, but he was the workhorse of the AL for the entire decade. A Cy Young in 2003 doesn’t begin to describe what he did for Toronto who otherwise had to think back to Joe Carter’s series winning home run, but Mitch Williams and I don’t want to talk about that. You could make a good case for Roger Clemens or even Andy Pettite, but both of them abandoned the AL for the NL in 2004, and Clemens has been baseball’s version of Brett Favre ever since. So I had to take points away. Halladay has pitched around 200 innings a year in 6 of the last 10 seasons on his way to winning 139 games.

So there it is. My all-decade teams for the AL and NL. Of course there are arguments to be made and I’m open to any of them.

If I Were A Rich Man

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Finals are over at last and my
head is killing me. My last final was in STAT 200, the bain of my existence.

 

QUICK QUESTION:

At a ski area in Vermont, the daytime high temperature is normally
distributed during January, with a mean of 22 degrees F and a standard
deviation of 10 degrees F. You are planning a trip to Vermont this January.
What is the probability that you will encounter daytime high of 15 degrees F of
lower?

stressed out.jpgGive up?

Welcome to
my world.

So now I
have nothing left to do so I need to start seriously blogging again. My idea
now, since the rest of the baseball world is playing GM, is to put together a
championship caliber team. The rules? All players stats and salaries are based
on 2008 alone, and you can’t spend more than $100 million. Try it sometime, it’s
actually kind of fun.

I’ve spent a
few hours on this little project and I think I’ve come up with a team that
could legitimately compete in any division in baseball, if not dominate some of
them. So here goes.

 

Starting Lineup:

1.    
Rick Ankiel                       L         RF

2.    
Chase Utley                       L         2B

3.    
Albert
Pujols                    R         3B

4.    
Travis
Hafner                  L         1B

5.    
Josh
Hamilton                 L         LF

6.    
Russell
Martin                R         C

7.    
Reed Johnson                  R         CF

8.    
Bobby Crosby                  R         SS

9.    
Pitcher’s
Spot (because pitchers are players too!)

 

Roster:

Martin.jpg

Russell
Martin – C (Los Angeles Dodgers – $500,000)

Russell Martin is everything you
want in a catcher. He defends the plate, he has a good relationship with
starting pitchers and he swings a big stick too. On the plus side, he’s an
everyday catcher too, which is huge for a starting rotation to have that kind
of consistency. He may not win games all by himself, but he puts the rest of
the team in position to do just that.

 








hafner.jpg

Travis
Hafner – 1B (Cleveland Indians – $8.05million)

I feel bad for Travis Hafner
because he never got a chance to really come about. He is a big, strong power
hitter who can send a ball into orbit at will. Problem was, he only needed one
good season to make pitchers afraid. So they stopped pitching to him. With a
lineup as shaky as Cleveland’s, pitchers could get away with it too. Give him a
little protection in the lineup and the league will have to invest in a few
more baseballs each season.

 

utley.jpg

Chase Utley –
2B (Philadelphia Phillies – $7.8 million)

Chase is a rock star. Some may
give him a bad rap because he likes to throw out a few too many f-bombs in
public, but that’s exactly why I love him. He shys away from nothing. On the
field, he’s every little league coach’s dream. He plays like it’s his last game
ever and he wants to go out with style. He plays a great second base and won’t
hesitate to dive for that line drive. At the plate, he’s clutch and can go yard
at the drop of a hat.

 


pujols.jpg


Albert
Pujols – 3B (St. Louis Cardinals – $13.9 million)

Some forget that Pujols
originally came up as a Third Baseman. I had trouble deciding between him and
Chipper Jones for this spot but eventually decided to go with Pujols because of
his upside. Chipper is on the latter end of his career, and while he’s capable
of putting on a hitting clinic on any given night, he has trouble staying on
the field. Pujols is all upside and I don’t need any justification here.

 









crosby.jpg


Bobby Crosby
– SS (Oakland Athletics – $3.5 million)

Bobby Crosby’s not flashy, he’s
not in your face and he’s not going to hit many walk-off home runs. What he
will do is step on the field between third base and second base and play solid,
fundamental baseball. He gets on base, which is important to any lineup. He’s a
catalyst to any offense and a rock to any defense.

 

hamilton1.jpg


Josh
Hamilton – LF (Texas Rangers – $396,830)

Josh is more than just a great story; he’s a top-tier ball player
too. The homerun derby was no fluke; this kid hits the ball hard every time.
Someone who can hit the ball hard will get hits more often than not.

 

johnson.jpg




Reed Johnson
– CF (Chicago Cubs – $1.3 million)

Reed Johnson flies under the
radar for the most part but he’s a good old-fashioned ball player. He puts me
in mind of Lenny Dykstra from the 1993 Phillies NL Championship team. He’s not
the biggest or the strongest but he plays like he’s the biggest dog in the
pack. Don’t tell him he’s not the cleanup hitter because he knows how to get
the barrel of the bat on the ball every time he makes contact.

 

ankiel.jpg

Rick Ankiel –
RF (St. Louis Cardinals – $900,000)

I’m becoming a really big fan of
Rick Ankiel, fast. He’s the most naturally gifted athlete in baseball. Who else
could come up through the system as a pitcher (a good pitcher), lose his stuff,
get sent back to the minors, change positions to the outfield and make it back
to the majors? No one. He’s a guy I want on my team and I’ll find a place for
him.

 











Bench:

IF         Ryan Theriot – R
(Chicago Cubs – $428,000)

OF       Fred Lewis – L (San Francisco Giants – $392,000)

OF       Shane Victorino – S (Philadelphia Phillies – $480,000)

IF         Josh Willingham – R (Florida Marlins – $405,000)

 

 Starting
Pitchers:

hamels1.jpg

  1.    
Cole Hamels
– LHP (Philadelphia Phillies – $500,000)

What can you
say about Cole Hamels that hasn’t already been said? He’s a stud. He stares
down opposing batters and throws ridiculous stuff at them. He proved his worth
in the playoffs where it really counts. Now if only I could get him to cut his
hair a little bit. Those wavy locks have got to go.

 




roy-halladay.jpg

2.    
Roy Halladay
– RHP (Toronto BlueJays – $10 million)

Halladay is
a work horse. He will make 30 starts a season and pitch at least 6 innings each
outing. You can’t put a price on that. It shortens each game to three innings
long and makes the bullpen’s life easier. He works the count well with a good
fastball/changeup combination and pulls the string when you least expect it.

 




buehrle.jpg

      3.    
Mark Buehrle
– LHP (Chicago White Sox – $14 million)

Buehrle
flies under the radar a bit on the south side of Chicago but his repertoire speaks
for itself. He’s a low-ball pitcher who induces a lot of ground balls and
pop-ups and virtually takes the bat away from lefties. Not only that, but he gets
better as the season goes along and pitches well in the post-season.

 




peavy.jpg

4.    
 Jake Peavy – RHP (San Diego Padres – $6.5 million)

The reason
behind this pick is simple. Jake Peavy will step out on the mound on any given
day and absolutely hurl the ball at the plate. He’s a hurler; plain and simple.

 






b_backe.jpg

   5.    
Brandon
Backe – RHP (Houston Astros – $800,000)

I like
Brandon Backe because he has good stuff but he can also swing the bat. I like a
pitcher who will at least try to act like a batter and make an effort to get on
base.

 






                                               The greatest picture ever taken!

lidge.jpg

Closer – Brad Lidge – RHP (Philadelphia
Phillies – $6.35 million)

Two years
ago, Lidge would have been toward the bottom of my list for closers. In fact, I
would probably have said the same in April. But it’s hard to argue with
perfection, which is exactly what Brad “Lights Out” Lidge was this past season
from April all the way through to the last out of the World Series. What else
can you ask for?

 

Other Relief
Pitchers:

J.C. Romero – LHP (Philadelphia Phillies – $3.25 million)

Ryan Madson – RHP (Philadelphia Phillies – $1.4 million)

Ryan Rowland-Smith – LHP (Seattle Mariners – $395,000)

Carlos Marmol – RHP (Chicago Cubs – $430,000)

David Aardsma – RHP (Boston Red Sox – $403,250)

Boone Logan – LHP (Chicago White Sox – $405,000)

Ambiorix Burgos – RHP (New York Mets – $415,000)

 

Total
Team Salary:       $ 82,900,020.00

 

The team’s salary is good enough
to put the team in 15th place in Major League Baseball just ahead of
the Milwaukee Brewers. The one glaring hole I can see in the lineup is the lack
of a little balance. I have two players accustomed to being the #3 batter
hitting in different spots (Chase Utley and Josh Hamilton). I picked them
because I thought they are the types of players who can adapt to a new spot in
the lineup and hit different types of pitchers.

 

The next step in my plan is to
put this team in action on MLB 2K8 and see how they turn out. Yes, it’s just a
video game, but I can’t play GM in real life (not yet, anyway), so I have to
play GM virtually.

 

(SIDE NOTE – Coming in January
will be a PS3 game called ‘MLB Front Office Manager.’ A game that’s right up my
ally and good for anyone else who has aspirations of running a MLB team. I’ll
have a synopsis once I get a chance to play.)

 

Would this team win? I think so.
There is a lot of talent in the lineup from top to bottom so if one player
struggles, someone else can fill the void. Yes, there are more Phillies than
any other team but consider the source. This is based on 2008. If this was
based on 2007, you probably would see a few more Red Sox. If this was based on
1998, you’d see a bunch more Yankees. There are about a dozen and a half more
players I can think of that I could put in there and not lose any sleep., so
please, don’t think I’m snubbing anyone who isn’t deserving.

 

Any disputes? Please comment. I’d
love to hear your opinions.

P.S. The answer is 24.2%, in case you were wondering. Don’t ask me how I got the answer, because I really don’t know.

We’ve Always Had The Phillies

Like many others my age, I come from a family with divorced parents.

They split when I was just nine years old. I came home from school thinking nothing was wrong, I had heard them yelling at night before but I just figured that’s what parents do. I looked in the garage and there was my dad’s 1992 Honda Civic hatchback piled with clothes, pillows and a few other things he would need. It was there he sat my 6-year-old sister and I on his lap and confessed that he was leaving and it would only be temporary. He never came back home.

Although he no longer lives with us, and he has since re-married, he ha still been a part of my life. I have always wondered whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. There’s no doubt to the distance that has been between us through the good times and the bad. He tries. He tries hard sometimes but I don’t know if he ever grasped his mind about “just being a dad” and nothing else.

Have I bummed you all out yet?

I am 23 now and some might say I’m past the point where I need a dad. But whoever says that is way too cynical to be reading my blog.

When I look back on what has defined my relationship with my father, I can only think of one constant. The Phillies.

Just a week or so ago, I spent hours on the phone talking to him about the team and how the whole country thought the Rays were the better team with the better pitching, the better hitting and the better coach, but that night I preached to my preacher father a different story.

“The Phillies have one very important thing that the Rays don’t.” I told him. “What’s that?” he asked. “The city of Philadelphia.” In that moment I was immediately taken back to my childhood. And all I could really think about was Veteran’s Stadium and the blue seats my dad and I would occupy until they tore it down in 2003. We always tried to make it to at least one game every summer, just him and me. It would always be an event I looked forward to.

The Phillies games were where we could forget about everything else. We could forget about all the fights, the disagreements, the antimocity and just be father and son. It was the only place I ever felt that way.

He took me to watch them play Curt Schilling in his return to Philadelphia after being traded to Arizona in one of the biggest crowds Veteran’s Stadium ever had. The stadium was a sea of red that day but my dad showed up in a bright chartruce button down shirt that could be seen from left field.

This year he took me to watch them play the Rockies who swept them in the playoffs the year before. We sat next to a man and his young daughter who loved Chase Utley. My dad, who is an overly friendly man, would not stop talking to them and gave the girl a high-five when Utley hit a homerun in the bottom of the fifth. I turned to the man and his daughter and said “Ya know, ten years from now she’s gonna walk up to you one morning and say ‘hey dad, remember when we went to that Phillies game and we sat next to that crazy guy and his son?'”

Now that the Phillies have won the World Series, I can’t put a price on all those games I went to. The Phils won a few of them on the shoulders of Curt Schilling and Darren Daulton and occasionally Scott Rolen but they lost a lot of them too. But games with my dad were never about the Phillies winning or losing, it was about being there, watching the greatest game ever invented with thousands of other people, none more important than the guy sitting next to me. My dad.

I’ve tried to get him into golf. No luck. But golf is my thing.
He’s tried to get me into literature. Worse luck. But literature is his thing.

I’m always reminded of how different he and I are, and while our relationship is good, most of the past can never be resolved.  For 9 solid innings though, all that disappears, and we are just father and son once again.

I’ve always had him.
He’s always had me.
We’ve always had the Phillies.