Video: A look into the A.L. division races and the Wild Card

Second Half Push writer’s Ivan Berliant and Blake Chadwick talk about the A.L. division races and the Wild Card race of 2010. See who we like coming out of the A.L. East, West and Central. This is a two-part video so please watch them both!

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Video 1:

Video 2:



Marlins All-Stars Have Good Showing

By Ivan Berliant

For the first time since 1996, the National League won the mid-season classic and FINALLY regained home field advantage for this years N.L. representative in the World Series.

And apparently not too much of America seems to care.

Tuesday night’s showdown rendered the lowest viewers for an All-Star game EVER. Yes, I said EVER. Perhaps the typical fan is more American League oriented and wanted to see a slugfest, and well after all, “chicks dig the long ball.” But this year’s contest had none of that, and was dominated by much of what we’ve seen for the first half of the season, lights-out pitching.

Personally, there is nothing I like more than a pitching duel, and that’s one of the reasons I will be in attendance for tomorrow’s Marlins game featuring the young phenom Stephen Strasburg and one of my personal favorite pitchers, Ricky Nolasco. Plus, c’mon, it’s STEPHEN STRASBURG… who wouldn’t go!?

Needless to say, I enjoyed Tuesday’s pitching display, which featured some of the greatest young arms in the game. And for those of you who did tune in, you got to see first hand what type of talent fantasy owners have drooled over all season.

Moreover, fans who happened to watch the 3-1 N.L. victory as well as the previous night’s home run derby, witnessed what Marlins’ fans take for granted on a weekly basis– the amazing talents of Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson.

Josh Johnson delivers

Josh Johnson delivers. Photo from NY Daily News.

It was business as usual for the Marlins during the All-Star stretch, as Josh Johnson came in for two innings of shut-down ball against some of the most revered hitters the American League had to offer. JJ (as we refer to him here in South Florida) started the fourth inning by getting the Rays’ Carl Crawford to line out to third, followed by two consecutive strikeouts of Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki.

You thought that was impressive?

Well Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero went down in order in the fifth! That’s a stretch of six hitters no pitcher would ever want to see, and Johnson made it through without the bat of an eyelash.

Josh Johnson’s talents overshadowed Hanley Ramirez’s day at the plate, who went 0-3 throughout the night, but I’m sure Hanley wasn’t too disappointed.

In fact, I believe his previous nights work at the home run derby was more than sufficient for Ramirez’s ego, as he just fell short of David Ortiz for the slugging crown. Hanley knows he’s the man and being in a small market such as Florida he was able to showcase his skills to a national audience.

I’m sure his efforts at the derby will resonate more so with baseball fans who might only be familiar with Ramirez and the Marlins due to a well documented clubhouse controversy.

Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz at the 2010 Home Run Derby. Image from Yahoo Sports.

Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz at the 2010 Home Run Derby

The Marlins still could be buyers in the second half of the season, and with these all-star talents likely locked in the organization for some time (suprising Marlins’s fans I know), I can see the Marlins developing some momentum as they attempt to make a Second Half Push.

Second Half Push Video: From the cheap Seats-Atlanta Braves

Hello Second Half Pushers, this is the first video segment in the series “From the Cheap Seats.” This is a five-part series looking at what each team in the N.L. East needs as we head to the second half of the season. We’ll start with the first place Atlanta Braves and finish with the current last place Washington Nationals. See what we think the Braves need to sustain their lead atop the N.L. East.

Don’t worry Mets‘ and Marlins‘ fans, will address those needs soon!

→ This is our first video so have faith in us as we continue to make the content and the production as good as possible←

It’s a Petco Party and Everyone’s Invited

By Blake Chadwick

On Opening Day, if I asked who you thought would be leading the NL West at the All-Star break, most would say either the Dodgers, Rockies, or Giants. Hell, even the Diamondbacks might come up a few times. All of those answers are wrong. The San Diego Padres are the cream of the West crop at the halfway point with a three game lead. This is a truly amazing feat. Let’s go through the lineup. It looks like a Spring Training squad mixed with veterans, prospects, and Triple-A lifers.

The heart of this team is clearly 1B Adrian Gonzalez. Arguably the most underrated player not only at his position, but in the entire game.He is a former #1 overall pick to the Florida Marlins back in 2000, and in four and a half major league seasons has become a force. He has 17 HR’s and 54 RBI’s with .302 avg and .929 OPS at this point of the season. He is the only player on the team with more than 8 HR’s and 32 RBI’s. He is joined on the roster by such players as Everth Cabrera, Kyle Blanks, Chase Headley, David Eckstein, Tony Gwynn Jr., Oscar Salazar, the list of mediocrity goes on and on.

The one truly consistent point this season for the Pads has been their pitching. The rotation has a bunch of no-names ever since Jake Peavy left town and Chris Young has been injured. Jon Garland is perhaps the most well-known of this bunch. But they get the job done. 4 of the 5 guys in the rotation boast a 3.56 ERA or better including Mat Latos and his lights out 2.62 with an equally nasty 0.96 WHIP. Talk about a fantasy sleeper. Also, no names like Clayton Richard and Wade LeBlanc have more than proved their worth with 20 Quality Starts between them.

If the Padres want to make that second half push into the postseason, they will need to pick up their bats a bit. With balanced squads like the Rockies, Giants, and Dodgers all nipping at their heels, the offense will need a shot in the arm. Will the Padres actually be buyers at the deadline? That remains to be seen. For now, however, Petco Park is a party and everyone is invited. Unless your in the NL West.

Video Segment: Rumors around the N.L. East!

Hey guys, enjoy the first video segment of many coming from the writers of Second Half Push. Today’s video addresses a potential call up of Marlins’ top prospect, Logan Morrison. That could mean some interesting moves and shifts going down in South Florida. Also, exciting Mets’ news as Carlos Beltran is coming off the DL and could be activated VERY soon. Find out about the Cliff Lee trade rumors, and how Philadelphia plans on replacing Chase Utley.

Click here to see how I plan on filling my fantasy hole at second base

Enjoy the video and give us your comments, we would really appreciate it!

Finally, All is Wright

By Blake Chadwick

The 2009 baseball season is one to be forgotten as a Mets fan. Injuries, lackluster play, and an overall mediocre ballclub plagued Queens for 6 months. The biggest mystery surrounding the season was arguably David Wright’s odd numbers. Outside of a concussion late in the season, Wright played the majority of the season with a few baffling statistics. For a guy who hit 25+ HR’s and 100+ RBI’s in each of his first 4 full seasons, he dropped way off the map in 2009. Was it the adjustment to Citi Field? Was it seeing less pitches due to other stars being injured? Nonetheless, his 10 HR 72 RBI output to go along with a career high 140 K’s and his first sub .900 OPS “helped” the Mets to 92 losses and a 4th place NL East finish.

Fast forward to 2010. The Mets are 10 games over .500 at the end of June and only a game and a half out of first in the NL East. Reyes, Santana, and Niese are healthy. Beltran is almost back. But most importantly, David Wright has once again found his swing. 14 HR’s and an NL-leading 63 RBI’s heading into the month of July to go along with a .311 avg and a career high OPS of .941. He has overcome his early season struggles in which he dipped to 5th in the batting order and looked to remain on last season’s track. He is back to the 3 hole and paces the team on a nightly basis. There is no question the Mets hot streak over the last month and a half directly coincides with Wright’s hot bat. The Mets will always have question marks until they can return to the promised land that is the World Series. However, as we enter July and teams begin to make their second half push, the Mets can say for now, all is Wright.

Not another Aaron Hill article…

Aaron Hill swinging for the fence

Photo from Aaron Hill swinging for the fence.

Well yes, this is in fact another article about the struggling Toronto Blue Jays’ second basemen, but Aaron Hill‘s disparaging numbers and near-drop status in fantasy leagues will not be the main focus of this post.

In fact, rather, quite the opposite.

With the recent injuries to many of fantasy baseball’s high-profile first and second round draft choices, Aaron Hill has the opportunity (in my Yahoo 14-team H2H league and for my team in particular) to prove he is still fantasy relevant and a viable option at second base as many professional analysts have suggested.

“I like me some Aaron Hill, who is currently among the top 10 dropped second basemen in ESPN standard leagues. He shouldn’t be. The obvious thing is the crazy-low .191 BABIP. A career .278 hitter (with a career .298 BABIP), his average will come up; he’s already hitting .250 in June, so it’s a start. On pace for 26 home runs, the power has actually been there. Low RBI totals so far, but again, if the average heats up, so will that number. He’s hitting .240 with runners in scoring position versus .191 with nobody on. Hill screams “buy low,” said Matthew Berry in a ESPN fantasy article of 10 players not to give up on.

Yes, I too could not escape the barrage of injuries to these players unscaved, as my number one draft pick, Chase Utley, was sidelined and will be out of action until after the upcoming All-Star break. Luckily for me, I burnt my valuable waiver wire position a few weeks prior to acquire the Jays’ second basemen as soon as he was dropped by an owner with a little less patience. I had to make the move, and I did based on a few contributing factors…

  1. Hill’s numbers from the 2009 season: The 2009 American League Silver Slugger award winner posted a .286 AVG while slugging 36 home runs with 108 RBIs.
  2. Name recognition: Unfortunately, this could be a double-edged sword in the fantasy world, as many owners tend to stick with the big name guys rather than those who are performing. In this case, as we all know, the second base position is quite thin in any league. To scoop a guy like Hill, despite the numbers was still pretty exciting.
  3. Potential power: As stated above the kid showed last year that he could have some power at the second base position. The fact that despite his average is considerably below the Mendoza line (.187), he was still hitting for some power (11 HRs) on a team revered as one of the big-power clubs (The Jays lead baseball with 115 collective home runs).
  4. In a 14 team league any sexy drops need some consideration: Hill’s slumping counterpart, Adam Lind, was picked up in similar fashion before he cleared the waivers in our league, and I’m sure if players of similar stature and recognition were dropped, they would automatically get a look or two…or three.
  5. Professional Analyst recommendation: If what his numbers and analysts’ opinions indicate, when an eventual turn around comes, he would have some considerable trade value for a power hitting second baseman. This in conjunction with his name recognition could set me up nicely for a beneficial trade and late push towards the end of the season.

I had the spot and nothing to lose. I mean wouldn’t you?

Initially it seemed to pay off. The two subsequent days following his official arrival to my line-up, he jacked two home runs in the utility slot and assured my reasoning for the pick up. Well that bright spot was one of the few highlights of his time spent on my team, six-to-midnight. But, now I’m hoping Aaron Hill can put together a couple of weeks of decent numbers as I anxiously await the return of my first round pick.

So please Mr. Hill, can you finally turn your mediocre season around and be a solid replacement as I surge to make that Second Half Push?

Here are some recent pick-ups I made to give my team that Second Half Push:

Although the injury bug seems to be contagious around the league, I happened to fall on some good fortune with the return of Jimmy Rollins and Huston Street coming off the DL in the same week. It helps that Rollins resumed his lead-off spot upon this return, as he was hitting in the sixth hole when he came off his earlier DL stint. Street seems to be rolling and found his way back into the Rockies’ closer role. This was eminent as his former replacements, Manuel Corpas and Franklin Morales, have been struggling of late. As those two came off the DL, I was quick to find their disabled replacements in Edinson Volquez and J.A. Happ. Pitchers like these are quite sexy in a 14 team league where pitching is quite thin. At one point I was streaming pitchers that have no place on a roster even in deeper leagues. No offense Jeremy Guthrie and Scott Olsen. I also made a desperate move to fill the only true hole in my batting order, third base. I picked up Pirates’ rookie, Pedro Alvarez, but that proved fruitless.

Catching the injury bug, SORRY Blake!

I should be so lucky that I have a player like Aaron Hill to replace Chase Utley. Check out some of these injuries Second Half Push writer, Blake Chadwick, sustained in the last two weeks.

  • Troy Tulowitzki
  • Victor Martinez
  • Manny Ramirez
  • David Freese
  • Joel Zumaya

Definitely not what a first place team in a deep league needs as we head to the second half of the season.