2008 Home Run Derby Preview

July 14, 2008

Confrimed Particiapants:

Right Handed Batters

Ryan Braun
Dan Uggla
Evan Longoria

Left Handed Batters

Chase Utley
Josh Hamilton
Justin Morneau
Grady Sizemore

Switch Hitter

Lance Berkman

I think it would be safe to give the edge to a left handed hitter with the short porch at Yankee Stadium. 318 down the line is a decided advantage. With that said, it is curious to me that Lance Berkman who is a switch hitter is batting RH. So for me that eliminates Berkman, Braun, Uggla, and Longoria.

Out of the four left handed batters remaining only one (Morneau) has ever hit a HR at Yankee Stadium. Utley is third in the NL, while Grady Sizemore leads the AL.

All remianing players have hit most of their HRs while their team was tied or losing, meaning that they respond well to pressure (Utley 18 of 25, Hamilton 14 of 21, Morneau 10 of 14, Sizemore 15 of 23). The variable to this is who bats behind them or who do they bat behind. Utley his ahead of Ryan Howard, and as such sees a ton of good pitches. Sizemore hits leadoff and sees a ton of fast balls to start each game, Morneau hits ahead of Jason Kubel, while Hamilton hits ahead of Milton Bradley. For the purposes of this HR Derby only…Hamilton and Morneau are making the most of their limited opportunities with the good pitches that they actually see.

So in this two man race Hamilton v. Morneau I have to go with the guy that has the most power which is Josh Hamilton. The only x-factor is that his 71 year old American Legion baseball coach is rumored to be pitching the HR Derby to him….lets hope his nerves don’t get the best of him.

This years feel good story will be told 1000 times tonight, and deservedly so. I am happy that  – for all of the guys that throw away all of their talent on drugs and alcohol – there are a few that actually overcome it and go the other way with it. Congratualtions in advance to Josh Hamilton….even if you don’t actually go on to win the HR derby, you have clearly won other things in life that are more important.


Lincecum Dominates as Cubs Lose 4-2

July 14, 2008

I was afraid of this. Very afraid. I hedged a little bit yesterday in making the game predictions and I should have gone with my head instead of my heart. Tim Lincecum is just that good.

On a wind swept day at Wrigley field, the Cubs had no answers for Lincecum who handed Ryan Dempster his first home defeat of the season. Spreading out six hits over eight innings while striking out nine, Lincecum completely dominated the Cubs potent lineup.

The Cubs only hope would have been to get into the Giants bullpen. Unfortunately, Lincecums pitch count enabled him to stay in the game long enough to not have to turn things over to the shaky setup crew of the Giants. You got the feeling that with the All Star Break here giving Lincecum an extended break, Giants Manager  Bruce Bochy was going to do everything he had to to get the fortunes of his club reversed. The Giants were in the middle of a six game slide and Bochy used some strategy to get his team a win. The formula was Lincecum early, and Lincecum Late. Turn it over to Wilson and hope. The Cubs almost capatilized scoring one run in the bottom of the ninth and getting the winning run to the plate…but Ryan Theroit grounded out to end the game.

Still the Cubs won the series 2-1 and finish the first half tied for the best record in baseball with the sneaky, quietly, west coast, no one talks about Los Angeles Angels. (The Angels Angels???)

Notes

Somewhere in the prediction for the game I thought the Cubs in a normal pre-break series would lose this game 3-2…maybe it was the Cubs looking ahead.

I also thought the Cubs would win 6-4…that was my gut feeling Cubs sweep, and more Dempster magic…Demp pitched great today, but a few tactical errors, and a non called error by Mark DeRosa…spoiled it for Demp’s perfect home record. But I never really believed he would go 16-0 at home.

So for the predictions….I somehow got the number of Giants runs with my gut (4) and the number of Cubs runs with my head (2)…Lincecum dominant? Check. Cubs only shot was relievers? Check.

I will be posting the Home Run Derby and the All Star Game so check back over the next few days…I am sure there will be a lot of Cubs news as Carlos Marmol was added to the roster today replacing Kerry Wood. Wood’s blister will need additional rest and time to heal. Marmol’s addition means a record tying EIGHT Cubs in the 2008 All Star Game.