The Hanging Curve – Baseball Opinion Blog with MLB Analysis that won’t Bend or Break

Jason Bay to Boston

The Pirates, coming right down to the wire, have traded Jason Bay.  Most of the rumors around this deal involved the Marlins, but Pittsburgh abandoned that idea this afternoon (the Marlins sounded like they were demanding Manny, minus most of his salary, for Rick VandenHurk and a first baseman’s mitt) in favor of a swap with the Dodgers.  The Red Sox will get Bay, who is nearly as good as Manny but without all the drama.  Watch his numbers (RBI, runs, HR) balloon with great hitters around him and the Monster instead of a 390-foot fence in left field.  The Dodgers will get Ramirez and probably a boatload of cash.  The Pirates get a great take (from their perspective), both unloading some payroll on a player whom would probably be gone after his contract was up anyway, and in picking up some young prospects.  They receive Andy LaRoche, Bryan Morris, Brandon Moss, and Craig Hansen.

Andy LaRoche was great in the minors but for some reason (even with all their injuries) the Dodgers just wouldn’t let him play.  Definite upgrade (and younger to boot) at third from Bautista, who should now take his real role as an excellent super-sub.  Morris will go to the class A Hickory Crawdads to show off his stuff.  I’ve heard good fastball, excellent slider, and boy do the Pirates need some pitching depth.  Brandon Moss should be a pretty decent fill in for LF until McCutchen is ready to come up for the CF job (September or 2009 season) and he’s young.  Not bad even if he ends up being your bench guy.  Finally, Craig Hansen is ready to join the Pirates now terrible bullpen, and at 24 he’s probably not getting any worse right now.

To me, it seems like Dodgers pretty much got the hose.  Yes, they did get Manny, but they didn’t really need an outfielder.  Ethier and Kemp are young and very good.  They will continue to play Andruw Jones in center even though they probably shouldn’t, and they have Juan Pierre (who should be on the bench at most).  Likely they will bench one of the young guys and leave the great Pierre in the lineup.  And Manny is only getting older, and Dodgers park is way bigger than Fenway.  Weird.

I am sad to see Bay leave Pittsburgh because, at least publicly, he said that he wanted to stay with the Pirates, but he will likely have far more success in Boston than with Pittsburgh.  Anyways, good luck to all involved.

Update: Bay, Manny, Moss and LaRoche have all hit their first home runs with their new clubs.  Manny has been crushing the ball, hitting .615 with 2 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI.  Bay is also hitting well, .364 with 3 BB, a HR, 3B, 6 R and 3 RBI; plus he has an outfield assist throwing a runner out at second and made a game-saving diving catch in left.  Moss has been hitting pretty decent for Pittsburgh, only .250 but with 4 BB already and a HR.  LaRoche has been less than perfect, only batting .182, but he has managed 2 R and 2 RBI with that, and his homerun last night makes me think he is finding his groove.

Cubs Buy Glass Arm Rich Harden

Rich Harden traded to the Cubs..:as someone who has owned Harden parts of the last three years…let me be the first to show you the Rich Harden Injury Timeline®™

Now you know.

What Are They Thinking?

St Louis in their infinite wisdom seriously started Mark Mulder even after he displayed he wasn’t even ready for the minor leagues.  He was really really bad last year, injured for most of it, and obviously not even close to whom he once was.  So he rehabs this year through various injuries, goes to the minor leagues GETS RAKED and then injures his back.  Then he is for some god damn reason promoted to the majors to do 2 relief appearances.  He blows the game of one and gives up 2 hits in his other inning.  They decide that this is enough for him to start again (because the hits against him weren’t hit hard enough apparently).  I’m sure all Cardinals fans breathed a sigh of relief when he came down with an injury after 16 pitches.  Hilarious management.

Oh god my shoulder, back, arm, and rotator cuff.  Wait I start WHEN???

Divisional Roundup: AL East

Now that the All-Star rosters have been announced, we move our divisional roundup into the American League East, perhaps baseball’s strongest division.  I must admit, I have been terribly wrong about a few teams in this division so far.

At the top we have the Tampa Bay Rays.  Yes, by some stroke of luck, finger of God or, perhaps, upwelling of talent, the Rays are in first place on July 7th.  Many of the “Rays fans” out there probably don’t even realize that they changed their name this year.  What hasn’t changed is Tampa’s group of budding superstars.  Still possessing the same pieces they’ve always had, the Rays will perhaps become the Rockies of ’08.  No one doubted the half power, half blazing speed of Crawford or the superstar abilities of BJ Upton, or the abilities of Scott Kazmir, or the incredible K/BB ratio (4.57 this year, 5.11 last year) of James Shields.  What has brought the Rays to first place is the rounding out of a great rotation, perhaps by players playing above their ability (Matt Garza comes to mind), the elevated play of Navarro and new contributions of Longoria, and the hole-plugging play of the Gross/Hinske two-headed monster.  Maybe this is the year for Rays, just recall how the Rockies are doing now and live it up while you can “Rays fans” everywhere.

Boston.  Ever since 2004 they’ve the unquestionable kings of baseball.  This year is no different, they have the returning power of Manny and Papi, the Greek God of Walks Euclis, the best rotation (minus Schilling) in baseball, an incredible closer, and few great young players in Pedroia and Ellsbury lighting up the scoreboards each night.  I have absolute faith that the Red Sox have the talent, depth, and “winning heritage” to take the division from the Rays and anyone else down the stretch.  That’s really all there is to it.

The Yankees sit in third place right now with a decent record, but I would be worried if I were a Yankee’s fan.  Their already shitty rotation got a lot shittier when Wang and Pavano went down to injury, but possibly a little better when Hughes went down.  The Yanks’ idea of a bandage, however, is Sydney Ponson.  Ouch.  I would also be worried about when Joba’s walk rate will catch up with him.  The rotation isn’t the only place where injuries have hit, “Godzilla” Matsui will be down for some time with knee problems, and now Damon has the bug too.  Don’t blame all their problems on injury though, Posada is not having a career year again (suprise) and Robinson Cano is showing that he can consistently decrease his production through his prime years.  Props, however, for busting his balls in the last two months to heroically bring his average out of the Mendoza cellar to a not-as-terrible .252.  Perhaps he could walk a little more than approximately once every 5000 at-bats now too.  Prediction:  Yankees miss the playoffs, finish third.

The Orioles.  My god has this been a shocker so far.  Now, I’m not really that suprised to see the Rays in first place because that team at least has TALENT.  To see the Orioles in anywhere but last place is, to me, a shocker.  Let’s put the team in perspective:  the “Ace” is Daniel Cabrera and the cleanup spot has been manned by Aubrey Huff, Kevin Millar and (breathe) Ramon Hernandez.  Jesus.  Now, the team does have Roberts, who is a pretty good all-around ball player, and Markakis, who is young and a very good hitter.  The only other team in baseball with this little actual talent is San Francisco, who actually surpasses Baltimore by a decent margin in that department.  Prediction:  O’s finish a terrible last.

That leaves us with the last place Blue Jays.  These guys have disappointed me so far:  at the beginning of the season, I was thinking they could make a run for the wild card.  Their rotation (Halladay, Burnett, McGowan, Marcum) rivals the Red Sox, and they have faced an injury to Marcum as well.  Their lineup has been less potent than I would have thought, what with Rios, Wells, Hill, Thomas (no longer), and to a lesser extent Rolen and Overbay.  I suspect this has been the main downfall for them this season; that and playing in the AL East.  Prediction:  change their name to the “Toronto Jays” in attempt to capture the magic of Tampa Bay.  Finish tied for third with Yankees.