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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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.
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.
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.
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.
→ This is our first video so have faith in us as we continue to make the content and the production as good as possible←
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.
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.
Are you involved in the baseball world?
We at Second Half Push are looking for your questions and opinions for a new video segment coming soon!
- Let us know what you think about the Marlins firing former manager Fredi Gonzalez.
- Have questions about his possible replacement former Mets’ manager Bobby Valentine?
- How do you feel about Lady Gaga making appearances at the recent Mets and Yankees games?
- Should you wait on players like Aaron Hill or Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval?
We’re looking for anything and everything for a question portion appearing on our new video segment, “From the Cheap Seats.”
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-Second Half Push
By Blake Chadwick
Ok. After a month to digest the insane month of pitching that was May, it brings up a debate. There were three (I know there were technically 2 but still) perfect games thrown in the month. THREE! That is unprecedented. Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay, and Armando Galarraga all basically put their names in the record books. I know Galarraga’s isn’t official, but no one outside of Jim Joyce believes that. So the question I ask is, who had the best perfect game of the bunch? Let’s digest the stats…
Dallas Braden (Oakland Athletics) vs. Tampa Bay Rays 5/9/10 – 9 IP 6 K’s 109 pitches
Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies) @ Florida Marlins 5/29/10 – 9 IP 11 K’s 115 pitches
Armando Galarraga (Detroit Tigers) vs. Cleveland Indians 6/2/10 – 9 IP 1 Hit 3 K’s 88 pitches
So who had the best perfect game? YOU decide!!!