cnotes Posts:32869 Followers:38
On 07/18/2014 01:40 AM in MLB

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Who's Not Hot - NL

July 17, 2014

The All-Star break has come and gone, and now is the perfect time to separate the pretenders from the contenders. Today, we're breaking down the teams that have broken your bankrolls the hardest from the National League thus far in 2014 and analyzing whether we can expect a turnaround in the second half of the year or not.

Arizona Diamondbacks (40-56, -$1,532) – In this case, we tend to believe that the Diamondbacks have to get a bit better from a money standpoint. The team isn't all that talented, but there was no way that this club was really warranting being 16-games under .500 at the break. A horrid start to the season at home really put this club in a hole that it was probably destined to never get out of. However, the perception is clearly there now that Arizona is one of the lesser teams in the National League, but as we'll see here in the second, there are some other teams in the NL West who are in just as bad of shape.

Colorado Rockies (40-55, -$1,512) – Our tour through the NL West continues with a team that, once upon a time, was 22-14 and on top of the NL West with one of the best money marks in the entire league. Since that point though, the Rockies are just 18-41, have the worst money mark in baseball over the course of that stretch, and have faded completely out of sight and out of mind for bettors. The big problem has been the injuries to SS Troy Tulowitzki and OF Carlos Gonzalez. We don't remember the last time that these two were in the lineup at the same time for any real period, and what the Rockies have proven is that they really don't have any bats around these two in the order. If the team was smart, it would sell off both at the trade deadline, get as big of a hoard of minor leaguers as they can get, and start to build once again. The pitching staff just isn't there, and the offensive numbers are inflated by Coors Field and the fact that two of the best hitters in the game have carried things.

San Diego Padres (41-54, -$1,482) – Interestingly enough, all three of the worst teams in the National League for MLB betting purposes are from the same division, and no one is really even close. The Chicago Cubs are the next team in line at -$782. San Diego isn't all that talented either, and though it plays in the complete opposite ballpark of the Rockies, the fact that the pitching staff is getting destroyed by injuries is what is causing the Padres to be in this list. RHP Andrew Cashner is the highlight pitcher of five starters that are currently on the DL for the Padres. When you've got a team which is averaging 2.94 runs per game and is batting .214, you'd better have a great pitching staff. The Padres have the fourth best ERA in baseball, but that just hasn't been good enough.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32869 Followers:38
07/18/2014 01:43 AM

Rising Five

July 17, 2014

Here we are once again at the All-Star break, mired somewhere in the middle of yet another crazy baseball season. It’s a strange time, isn’t it? For me personally, being someone who obsessively studies and follows this stuff literally every single day and night over the course of the six-month journey, it’s the only portion of the year where time seems to be frozen, as we all collectively wait for our favorite teams and players to return to action and resume the latest installment of America’s national pastime.

Through the first three-months-and-change of the campaign, we’ve already observed some pretty wild events and performances, while being in the midst of saying one of the most emotional goodbyes to any professional athlete in recent memory, but as hard as it is to believe, we still have another two-and-a-half months to go, and that doesn’t even include the always eventful playoff slate. With only a select amount of time left, you may be looking for starting pitchers -- my specialty, and what is really the nucleus for my annual success in over/under betting -- that are on the rise to ride consistently in gambling so with that being said, I present to you five up-and-coming Zylbert Guys (In alphabetical order), whom I’ve been tracking closely for awhile, and appear to be on the hinge of breaking out into something much bigger…

Jake Arrieta - Chicago Cubs

By now, the secret is out about Jake Arrieta, but since I was one of the few on his bandwagon when he first became a Cub last year following a once-thought-to-be meaningless acquisition, I will gladly take this opportunity to revel in it, given how hard he had fallen in Baltimore. After beginning the year on the DL, Arrieta finally arrived to the big league rotation in the beginning of May, when he actually defeated longtime Cubs nemesis Adam Wainwright, and since then, has pitched masterfully. In fact, he’s been so good that despite missing the first month of the season, he was drawing some serious All-Star consideration, something that once seemed unfathomable for a guy who struggled mightily for years while not showing many signs of hope as an Oriole.

Arrieta has transformed himself into a legitimate upper-rotation pitcher, carrying a 5-1 record, 1.95 ERA, and 1.01 WHIP into the second half of the season, but the most impressive stat of all, however, might be his K:BB ratio, which sits at a very impressive 85:22 mark in 78 innings of work. From a betting standpoint, Arrieta has been an unders machine, producing a 7-3-3 record in favor of under bets (I’m actually 5-0-2 with his unders this year), even while regularly drawing low lines. I said it early on in the year when Arrieta first made his return and I’ll say it again: This is someone that could very well be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter in 2015. I actually really like the Cubs next season and am seriously eyeing their Over Win Total as my best bet for ’15 (I said the same thing about the Marlins in this very column a year ago concerning this season, and what a terrific call that turned out to be), and Arrieta will be a big reason for that. In the meantime, his ascension should be taken seriously and bet on accordingly.

Roenis Elias - Seattle Mariners

Oh man, if there’s one starting pitcher that has made their debut in 2014 and caught my eye more than anyone else -- while coming out of the blue to do it, as this kid was barely recognized within his club’s strong young pitching depth previously -- it’s southpaw Roenis Elias, Seattle’s sneakily-emerging rookie. While Elias’ numbers at the moment are far from desirable (7-8, 4.54 ERA, 1.27 WHIP), the 25-year old actually displayed enormous potential prior to a recent three-start stretch that has seen the left-hander yield five runs or more in each outing. In fact, entering late-June, Elias possessed a very respectable 3.74 ERA, and even though that number has since ballooned up almost a full run, I really think Elias will get back on track in the second half and ultimately become an impact player for awhile.

Pitching in a home venue like Safeco Field for half your starts certainly helps, but it’s also his strikeout potential that leads me to believe he can sustain success at the big league level. Elias has actually registered five or more strikeouts in 13 of his 19 starts, and prior to his current funk, he had also exhibited notable consistency, having surrendered three runs or less 11 times in 16 tries, including an impressive complete game shutout in Detroit on June 1 when he outdueled reigning AL Cy Young Max Scherzer. Just like his arrival onto the major league scene, most still aren’t familiar with him but it won’t be long before more people know the name Elias… Roenis Elias.

David Hale - Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves boasting a fabulous starting rotation is pretty much always a given with any baseball season (Even when they have to depend on the likes of Gavin Floyd and Aaron Harang), and it appears that will remain the case so long as David Hale is featured as a prominent part of it. I first fell in love with Hale as soon as he made his major league debut last year, when he made two starts and produced an outstanding 14:1 K:BB ratio in his 11 combined innings, while also recording a 0.82 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

I was so excited for the right-hander that I actually tabbed him as one of my top three sleepers entering the 2014 campaign (Along with Tanner Roark and James Paxton; how many other people made that genius call on Roark besides me?), as I thought Hale would become a regular fixture on the Braves pitching staff, but alas, that would not end up happening, as the talented young right-hander only made a few starts -- and that apparently was only because of the team’s many injuries -- before being relegated to the bullpen once some of their older arms returned from the shelf. Hale made a spot start a few weeks ago and was excellent as always, and it’s only a matter of time before he resurfaces in the rotation. When that happens, look out. If you’re into fantasy baseball, you should claim Hale immediately if he’s reinstated as a starter later on this season. Just like I emphasized last September, David Hale is going to be legitimately tremendous, and for a long time.

James Paxton - Seattle Mariners

The fact that another Seattle pitcher is being featured in this article -- and one not named Felix Hernandez or Hisashi Iwakuma -- is a main reason why the Mariners are legitimate contenders this season (And I haven’t even discussed the more-known commodity, Taijuan Walker, who is basically a guarantee to succeed). This particular hurler, James Paxton, arguably has as high a ceiling, in my opinion, as any rookie in baseball, and actually might be my favorite up-and-coming left-hander in the game. As mentioned in my David Hale analysis, Paxton was another one of my top three sleepers entering the 2014 campaign, and through his first two starts of the season, it appeared I was spot-on with that call, considering the 25-year old southpaw recorded a 13:2 K:BB ratio in 12 combined innings, while putting together a 2.25 ERA and microscopic 0.67 WHIP in the process.

Unsurprisingly, Paxton won both of those games. Unfortunately, he’s been on the DL ever since thanks to a shoulder issue -- although he is finally close to returning -- and while his sample size this year is quite small, you only have to take a look at what he did last season when he received his first call-up to conclude how dominant this kid can truly be. Paxton made his first four career starts last September, and he was phenomenal, going 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 21:7 K:BB ratio in 24 innings. Overall, he’s racked up 36 career innings thus far, and has a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP to show for it, while opponents are batting just .164 against him. Yeah, this is someone that’s undoubtedly going to be special so make sure you ride him as soon as he makes his grand return.

Danny Salazar - Cleveland Indians

Yes, I realize Danny Salazar is currently in the minor leagues. Yes, I realize Salazar was nothing but horrific when he was up with the big league club for the first month-and-a-half of the 2014 season. Setbacks can happen with young pitchers, especially very early on in a career when said pitcher is tagged with the pressure of having high expectations from the organization. After the Indians’ surprising break-out run of a year ago (Successfully called by this author, remember), which featured Salazar’s immediate rise towards the end thanks to his standout pitching over ten starts, including a performance that almost single-handedly carried them past the AL Wild Card play-in game, the right-hander was expected to lead the rotation from here on out for years to come with his dominant arsenal.

Instead, Salazar endured the rockiest of runs for a starting pitcher, as he struggled to the tune of a 5.53 ERA and 1.62 WHIP, and only registered two quality starts in his eight tries. Furthermore, opponents were hitting over .300 against him, and the 24-year old averaged one home run allowed per start. Even so, I still believe what we saw last year from him, albeit in a not-so-large sample size, was no fluke or flash in the pan at all, and that Danny Salazar still has monster potential to become something big for a considerable amount of time. He’ll make his return at some point so make sure you keep close tabs on him.

Honorable Mention: Danny Duffy, Chris Archer, Kyle Gibson, Tyler Skaggs, Vance Worley (If he gets back into the Pittsburgh starting rotation), Tyler Thornburg (Just as I said last year, when he’s permanently in Milwaukee’s rotation, which should’ve been all along), Dallas Beeler

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32869 Followers:38
07/18/2014 01:44 AM

Friday's Tip Sheet

July 18, 2014

Brewers at Nationals – 7:05 PM EST

Probable Pitchers:
MIL: Lohse (9-4, 3.26 ERA)
WSH: Strasburg (7-6, 3.46 ERA)

Previous series recap: The Brewers avoided a winless homestand by knocking off the Cardinals on Sunday, 11-2 to snap a seven-game skid. Milwaukee closed the first half in a 2-11 slump following a terrific start, while scoring two runs or less in seven of the past 10 contests. The Nationals grabbed the final two games at Philadelphia as a favorite to finish the first half with 51 victories, while going on an impressive 10-4 run in the final 14 games.

What to watch for: Washington took two of three at Miller Park in late June, but the Brewers racked Strasburg in the series finale, 9-2 as a +130 home underdog. The Nats have won seven of their past nine at home, but have lost three of their previous four home openers. The Brewers have struggled in road series openers recently, posting a 2-5 record in the last seven opportunities, while going ‘under’ the total in four of the past five road games.

Reds at Yankees – 7:05 PM EST

Probable Pitchers:
CIN: Leake (7-7, 3.54 ERA)
NYY: Phelps (3-4, 3.94 ERA)

Previous series recap: In spite of injuries to the right-side of Cincinnati’s infield (Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto), the Reds are back in the NL Central race by winning seven of their past nine games. Cincinnati won all three series on its previous homestand, including taking two of three from Pittsburgh to bust the 50-win plateau. The Yankees are back home for the first time since early July following a 5-6 road swing that concluded with a rain-shortened Sunday night defeat at Baltimore.

What to watch for: Since sweeping Toronto last month, the Yankees have limped to a 2-7 mark in the past nine home contests. New York has won nine of 14 interleague games this season, including a 4-3 record at Yankee Stadium. The Reds own an impressive 13-6 ledger in the past 19 road games, but have lost three straight contests on the highway. The ‘over’ has cashed in five of Leake’s last six starts, while the Reds are 4-1 to the ‘over’ in his past five road outings.

Dodgers at Cardinals – 8:15 PM EST

Probable Pitchers:
LAD: Haren (8-6, 4.23 ERA)
STL: Lynn (10-6, 3.14 ERA)

Previous series recap: The Dodgers won three of four from the Padres at home to wrap up the first half, with all three victories coming by one run apiece. The Cardinals couldn’t finish off a road sweep of the Brewers, but St. Louis put together a 5-2 record against Pittsburgh and Milwaukee to conclude the opening half of the season just one game out of first place in the NL Central.

What to watch for: Los Angeles dismantled St. Louis in three of four games in late June at Chavez Ravine, but the Dodgers are making their first visit to Busch Stadium since getting bounced in the NLCS last October. The Redbirds have cashed the ‘over’ in seven of their last nine games overall, while St. Louis owns a 6-2 record in Lynn’s past eight home outings. The Dodgers are 6-1 to the ‘over’ in Haren’s last seven starts overall, while Los Angeles has lost three of its past four road series openers.

Mariners at Angels – 10:05 PM EST

Probable Pitchers:
SEA: Iwakuma (8-4, 2.98 ERA)
LAA: Weaver (10-6, 3.45 ERA)

Previous series recap: The Angels remained red-hot after sweeping the Rangers in Arlington to extend their scorching stretch to 11-1 the last 12 games. In nine of those victories, the Halos managed to score at least five runs, including 33 runs in the four wins over Texas. Seattle concluded its surprising first half by grabbing a home series victory over Oakland, but finished its four-game homestand at just 3-4 against the Twins and A’s.

What to watch for: The Mariners have had the Angels’ number this season by going 6-3 in nine matchups, including a three-game sweep in Anaheim back in early April. Iwakuma is unbeaten in his last three starts, while the M’s are 6-0 in his six career starts against Los Angeles. The Angels are on fire at home over the last two months, posting an 18-2 record the last 20 games in Southern California.

Orioles at Athletics – 10:05 PM EST

Probable Pitchers:
BAL: Tillman (7-5, 4.11 ERA)
OAK: Samardzija (1-1, 2.40 ERA)

Previous series recap: Both of these first place clubs finished the first half with a victory over a division rival. The A’s avoided a sweep by knocking off the Mariners, 4-1 as -150 road favorites, while the Orioles concluded a five-game homestand at 3-2 by topping the Yankees, 3-1 to cash as -140 favorites. In all five contests at Camden Yards, Baltimore cashed the ‘under’ all five times.

What to watch for: The A’s captured two of three games at Camden Yards last month over the Orioles, but Baltimore won three of four in its previous trip to Oakland in April 2013. In 10 starts as a road underdog, the Orioles own a stellar 8-2 record with Tillman on the mound, including a 5-0 record as a +130 ‘dog. Oakland has put together a 7-2 mark in its previous nine home series openers, while posting a 9-1 ledger in the past 10 home contests against AL East opponents.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32869 Followers:38
07/18/2014 01:50 AM

Yankees midseason report: Treading water won't cut it

For the New York Yankees, another non-playoff season appears to be a strong possibility.

At least it does if the offense cannot pick it up consistently to support a pitching staff missing 80 percent of its projected rotation while using rookie starting pitchers in 45 games.

The fact that the Yankees are within striking distance in the American League East is because that while they've treaded water, no one ahead of them has become consistently hot.

However, no team can rely on that factor and eventually the Yankees will have to develop a hot streak. It will have to be one that goes beyond last month's four-game winning streak and stretch of 10 wins in 14 games.

If that is going to happen, the Yankees will need to hit better than a team that barely hits over .250 and improve on their struggles in many clutch situations.

That means Brian McCann will have to do better than the .239 average he has produced so far. It also means than when Carlos Beltran returns he will need to do better than the underwhelming .216 average.

To achieve all of that, the Yankees will also have to play better at home. They have won 18 of their first 41 home games, start the second half with an 11-game homestand and play a major league-leading 40 home games after the break.

Getting all those components to click is their mission and if the Yankees are going to be a playoff team, it must happen.

"It's a little surprising," hitting coach Kevin Long said. "Certainly you expect some of these guys in this lineup to perform and at the end of the day, at the end of the year you hope that those numbers are going to be where they should. I can tell you they're doing everything in their power to try and correct it and I'm doing everything in my power to try to correct it and we're just going to stay at it. There's no simple plan. The work is positive and we're working in the right direction. It's just been tough."

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32869 Followers:38
07/18/2014 01:50 AM

Blue Jays midseason report: Contenders or pretenders?

The Toronto Blue Jays had a brilliant May, going 21-9. The American League East is surprisingly weak.

They are two reasons that Toronto is still in serious contention for its first postseason appearance since 1993, in the pre-wild card era, when they won the World Series championship for the second year in a row.

After surging through May and winning their first five games in June to go to 38-24 and stand atop the AL East, the Blue Jays have sputtered at 11-23, including a 2-8 trip to lead into the All-Star break. Yet, surprisingly, they will return to competition within striking distance of first in the division. But first they must play much better than they have.

Their starting pitching, which lacks depth, must continue to be better than expected. The bullpen, a major disappointment, must make better use of the fastball instead of hanging sliders in situations in which even a good breaking pitch doesn't make sense. The hitters must find a way to solve left-handed pitching. The players must eliminate as many as possible of the silly mistakes that have infested their play.

"We've been within striking distance in a lot of games but we just haven't played good enough, that's the bottom line," right fielder Jose Bautista said. "I haven't played good enough and other guys, if you ask them, they'll probably tell you that they haven't played good enough. We haven't done what we did earlier on and that's why we've lost some of these games."

There have been injuries that have put such players as third baseman Brett Lawrie, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion and designated hitter Adam Lind on the disabled list. The Blue Jays plucked outfielder Nolan Reimold from the Baltimore Orioles on waivers, but after a quick start, he suffered a strained calf that put him on the DL. That's the way things have been going, but the slide started before the injuries.

There has been a tendency to blame recruits from Triple-A Buffalo for some of the mistakes. But the Blue Jays were playing well in May when center fielder Colby Rasmus was on the DL with a hamstring injury and Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar platooned in his place. Gose made some vital catches Rasmus likely would not have made.

There were just too many examples of careless play from players who are supposed to be stars. Shortstop Jose Reyes has made some astonishing throwing errors. He also has let some ground balls get past him and, in one case, between his legs. He says he has a bit of a sore shoulder, but his footwork also could use some work on his throws.

Catcher Dioner Navarro, who was lauded early for his game calling, seems to have a tendency to call too many breaking balls when fastballs would be better.

Despite all this, the Blue Jays have a chance. And Bautista does not feel it is necessary to make a big trade to fortify the team.

"It would definitely help but I don't think it's a must," he said. "I don't think it's the only way we can become contenders. ...We managed to get up to first place and stay there for a while. We can definitely get back there. We just have to play the good baseball that we."

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32869 Followers:38
07/18/2014 01:50 AM

Rays midseason report: Murphy's law in first half

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The first half had been nothing short of an abject disappointment for the Tampa Bay Rays, picked by many to contend for the American League pennant and selected by others to at least play in, possibly even win, the World Series.

The Rays fell victim to what executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has repeatedly called an "imperfect storm" in the season's first couple months, with the starting pitching not performing up to its capabilities, the lineup failing to produce runs at its expected level and even the usually reliable defense showing cracks in the armor.

In short, everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Rays.

But lately, they've seemingly turned it around. Will it be enough?

The Rays have kept their hopes alive for the second half with a 20-11 record since June 11. But to make up for the ground they lost in the first 97 games, the Rays have to be on top of their game the rest of the way. They believe it's possible if they fully play up to their potential, however.

"We knew that we were capable of it. It just wasn't happening. We knew it couldn't last forever. It just lasted longer than we expected," Rays second baseman/right fielder Ben Zobrist said. "Now that it's going well, we can't look at the past and focus on that. We're just going to focus on the games that we have left and the fact that we're still close enough, within striking distance of the division."

"There's no letting up right now," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "We have to keep winning series, there's no doubt."

The Rays enter the break with a 44-53 record, almost 10 games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. It's a winnable division with no one dominant team, which plays in the Rays' favor, but it's still going to be a steep uphill climb. In reality, it may be impossible.

It might become even more difficult if the Rays lose their ace.

Left-hander David Price has been the subject of intense speculation since last year's July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and the Rays' dreadful start only intensified those rumors. His $14 million salary is high for Tampa Bay's low-budget operation, and he's only going to get more expensive in 2015, his final year of arbitration. Tampa Bay built its current roster primarily through shrewd trades, and Friedman undoubtedly recognizes the kind of haul he might get for a young star like Price, a former AL Cy Young Award winner who says he's pitching better than ever.

So, the biggest question for the Rays as they head into the All-Star break is the future of their ace. Will they deal him? What will they get? Can they contend without him?

That all remains to be seen. For now, the Rays will keep fighting to stay alive in the AL East, refusing to believe a playoff berth is out of the question until they are mathematically eliminated.

"You've got to believe that we're going to have a really good rest of the year here as far as the way that we've been playing for the last three or four weeks here going into the break," Zobrist said. "I definitely believe this team is capable of coming back."

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32869 Followers:38
07/18/2014 01:51 AM

Indians midseason report: Average play, .500 record

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians went into the All-Star break with a record of 47-47. It's the 13th time this season they have been exactly at the .500 mark, and for most of the first half they haven't wavered more than three games above or below .500.

It will likely be a challenge for the Indians to mount a serious push for the postseason in the second half unless they start to get some consistent production from their injured and under-performing players. Two key players are currently on the disabled list: right-hander Justin Masterson and center fielder and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn.

Masterson is out with an inflamed right knee, but General Manager Chris Antonetti said the Indians expect him to be activated within a week following the resumption of play after the All-Star break. Bourn is behind Masterson in his rehab, and could still be sidelined for another couple of weeks.

Masterson has been one of the biggest disappointments on the team this year. A 14-game winner and All-Star selection last year, Masterson this year is 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA. It's hard to see the Indians climbing back into contention without a big second half from Masterson.

Antonetti said he is "exploring a lot of different things" in trade talks with other teams, but he is quick to add that the biggest need for the Indians in the second half is for the players being counting on to produce to start producing. In addition to Masterson, that list would also include designated hitter Nick Swisher, first baseman Carlos Santana, second baseman Jason Kipnis and utilityman Ryan Raburn, all of whom were important contributors last season.

Swisher has more errors than home runs, which is one reason he is being used more as a designated hitter than first baseman. The switch hitting Santana has shown some life lately, but he is still hitting just .189 against right-handed pitchers. Kipnis, like Masterson an all-star last year, is hitting just .255 with three home runs and 24 RBIs after hitting .284 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs last year.

Raburn hit 16 home runs in 243 at-bats as a super sub last year, but this year he has hit just two home runs in 151 at-bats. With the exception of right-hander Corey Kluber, who had an all-star-caliber first half, the starting rotation has been in a constant state of flux.

So for the Indians to become a factor in the race in the second half, what they need most is simply better production from the players already on the roster. "I wish our record was better," said manager Terry Francona. "But I think the way we played (to get back to .500), the next two months, if we play good baseball, it's going to be very exciting."

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32869 Followers:38
07/18/2014 01:51 AM

White Sox midseason report: Consistently inconsistent

CHICAGO -- There are days the streaky White Sox look like contenders.

Then there are stretches like the four losses in five games heading into this week's All-Star break that leaves Chicago looking like anything but.

The White Sox flirted with .500 much of the season and their current 45-50 mark is eight wins better than at last year's break and six ahead of their pace after 95 games (39-56) in 2013.

Credit rookie Jose Abreu and left-handed pitcher Chris Sale for much of improvement and overachievement for a South Side team that lost 99 games last year.

Abreu, a 27-year-old first baseman from Cuba, tops the majors with 29 home runs and has twice been named American League rookie of the month and was also AL Player of the Month once. It's hard to imagine much White Sox success without him.

Sale's 8-1 record trails only Jose Contreras' 9-0 first half record in 2006 among best starts in White Sox history. Sale has a 2.08 ERA through 14 starts and has struck out 102 while walking just 16.

Abreu, Sale and shortstop Alexei Ramirez were set to represent the White Sox at this week's All-Star Game in Minneapolis. Sale was winner of the AL's Final Vote contest.

Even with Sale, the White Sox rank near the bottom of the American League in ERA (4.17), saves (19) and walks and hits per inning pitched (1.39). And 12 blown saves are tied for third most in the league. Closer Ronald Belisario (3-6) has struggled with a 6.35 ERA and just eight saves in 38 appearances.

Chicago stands 10 1/2 games behind first place Detroit, which seems poised to run away with the division in the second half.

So the only hopes for postseason lie with a wild card berth. And right now the White Sox are seventh in the wild-card standings, 6 1/2 games behind the co-wild card leading Angels and Mariners.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32869 Followers:38
07/18/2014 01:52 AM

Twins midseason report: Upcoming homestand is key

The two weeks between the All-Star Game and the July 31 trade deadline will go a long way toward deciding whether the Minnesota Twins will be a buyer or a seller at the end of the month.

The Twins (44-50) improved significantly after three consecutive 90-loss campaigns and are 4 1/2 games better at the break this season than they were last year (39-53). At 10 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central race, Minnesota appears on the surface as if it should be a seller. However, the Twins begin the second half with a season-long, 10-game homestand.

"This week was a big week for us," Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. "Coming back from the All-Star break with 10 games at home, everything plays in our favor. We've just got to go out and win."

With the Tampa Bay Rays (44-53), Chicago White Sox (45-51) and Cleveland Indians (47-47) the opponents coming in during the stretch at home, the Twins could make up some ground between now and July 31.

"I know how the business side of it is, but it's our job to make those decisions hard," Dozier said. "I want to contend. I believe we can. We've got the people to do it. I'm not saying we may not need a couple extra pieces to do it, but we're going to be just fine."

The past month was disappointing for the Twins, who sat only three games under .500 on June 8 when they surprised the baseball world by signing veteran slugger Kendrys Morales to a one-year, prorated $12 million contract. At the time, the Twins were only five games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central and 3 1/2 out of a wild-card spot.

"Why not the Twins?" Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan asked rhetorically after signing Morales.

By June 13, the Twins were just 3 1/2 games back in the division race and 2 1/2 out in the wild-card chase. However, a five-game losing streak that began June 24 in Anaheim set the Twins back, and by the end of it, Minnesota was nine games behind surging Detroit.

Another three-game losing streak in early July added another 1 1/2 games onto the Twins' hole, but a 5-2 road trip to Seattle and Colorado to end the first half provided a glimmer of hope.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32869 Followers:38
07/18/2014 01:52 AM

Royals midseason report: Club hoping for surge

The Kansas City Royals entered the 2014 season coming off their best record since 1989. They replaced starting pitcher Ervin Santana with Jason Vargas and were counting on solid seasons from Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura. They struggled through the first half of 2013 and then caught fire in the second half, finishing with an 86-76 record.

Expectations were riding high in Kansas City. Through the first half of 2014, plus a few games, the team has pretty much met expectations thus far. At the All-Star break, the Royals are 48-46 and in second place in the American League Central, 6 1/2 games behind Detroit.

The offense still has to jell. The Royals are fourth in the American League with a .264 average, but they’re in the bottom half in runs. They’re last in walks and home runs, by a sizeable margin.

“Most of our guys -- Moose and Hoz included -- are second-half guys,” manager Ned Yost said. “All the signs are pointing upwards for us.”

At this point, all Yost can do is hope that it holds true again this season. “As an organization, we’ve said that those are the guys who are going to carry us offensively. I have no idea (why they’re second-have guys). If I knew, I would have fixed it.”

Yost can count on a solid rotation and a lights-out bullpen. The Royals have a combined ERA of 3.78, good for third best in the American League. The starters have a combined ERA of 3.57. Wade Davis, who is used primarily to protect a lead in the eighth inning, is 5-2 with a 1.16 ERA. And Greg Holland is going to his second straight All-Star Game with 25 saves in 26 chances.

The Royals are counting on a repeat of 2013, when they went 42-27 after the All-Star break. That kind of production in 2014 will put them right at the 90-win mark.

And the Royals, who have the longest postseason drought in the four major American professional sports, will take their chances with that.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: