Stay Out Of The National League, DH

(Via DailyHerald.com)

The other day, I was sitting on my couch, watching the Phillies and Mets play (which, by the way, was utter torture, because, well, one, it was the Mets, and two, the Mets shelled Chad Billingsley in his first start of the season, but that’s just a side note) when Bartolo Colon stepped to the plate. We all probably know where this is headed. Colon, notoriously viewed as one of, if not the worst, hitting pitcher in baseball, stepped to the plate with about as little a chance of success as I would have. Colon flailed at a few pitches before miserably taping a pitch for an out.

This at bat, like many of Colon’s .063 season batting average at bats have, prompted a conversation from the Phillies announcers on why pitchers are still hitting in the National League when their American League counterparts don’t have to worry about hitting. It got me thinking, like every 1 million times a season this conversation comes up does. Should a DH be inserted into the National League to allow for a far more competent hitter to get to the plate every ninth batter, instead of having to send your pitcher up there for what amasses, for most, to an out? Now of course there are exceptions to the rule, like Carlos Zambrano, Dontrelle Willis and Micah Owings, but for the most part, it is a major struggle for pitchers to hit at the Major League level.

So why not allow a DH to come into the National League? It is an offensive game after all, right? Wrong. So wrong. Drop dead wrong. There is absolutely no reason to take the purity of the game in the National League, which makes pitchers hit, away. In fact, there are so many reasons to keep the pitcher hitting in the National League, and to take the DH out of the American League for that matter.

First, let’s talk strategy. One cannot sit there and say that a DH doesn’t take away from the strategy of the game of baseball. In the American League, managers don’t have to worry about when their pitcher will come up in the batting order, and trying to figure out the perfect matchup for their pitchers before they are going to have to be pulled in favor of a pinch hitter. Having your pitcher hit means that double switches and lefty-lefty matchups become ever so important. A great manager is able to use the double switch to his advantage and give his team the opportunity to stay away from the pitcher’s spot in the order fro as long as possible. He becomes a mastermind, a chess player trying to out duel his opponent, the other manager. That all goes out the window in the American League.

Also, the manager must learn to play small ball with not only his pitcher, but the players around him, specifically those who hit in the 7 and 8 spots, as well as the lead off hitter. Lets suppose the 7,8 and 9 hitters come up to the plate in the inning for an American League team. While that could be three of your weaker hitters, there’s a 99.99% chance that your 8 or 9-hole hitter is still a better hitter than the pitcher in the National League. With that, a National League manager needs to be able to configure his lineup in such a way that he has a supporting cast around his pitcher that gets on base for the pitcher to sacrifice them over. He needs players that hit a bunch of singles and take a ton of walks. That’s how runs are, and should be, produced.

Not only that, but the bench player becomes important as well. As an American League bench player, you’re really only limited to spot starts and injury appearances. If a team has a good starting nine that’s able to play 150-160 games together, the bench becomes somewhat obsolete. In the National League, however, the bench players have to be prepared every night to have their number called on to pinch hit, often times in crucial spots in the game. It is so much more important to have a well rounded bench in the National League because of the hitting pitcher. Just look where it got Matt Stairs and Greg Dobbs in 2008 with the Phillies.

Finally, it comes down to the pitchers themselves. Pitchers are proud creatures and don’t like struggling in anything they do. There’s also a strong chance that these pitchers, who are generally great athletes, were decent hitters. Give the guys some more time in the cages and maybe things will turn around for them. I don’t expect to see pitchers hitting .300, but hitting under .100 is simply unacceptable for anybody that calls themselves a Major League ball player, in if it is a pitcher.

Later in that inning, after turning away from it for a bit out of pure disgust for what the Phillies’ franchise has become, I flipped the game back on. Chad Billingsley was stepping up to the plate. With an 0-2 count, Colon tried to sneak a fastball by Billingsley, and why not? Save your good pitches for hitter who matter right? Well a few seconds later, the ball ripped off Billingsley’s bat found its way into the left field seats for the first run of the day. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes? Maybe. But I’ll take that blind squirrel over an impurity in the game of baseball any day of the week. Stay out of the National League, DH.

How do Recent Injuries Affect Trade Market for Pitching?

Wainwright, Alvarez, McCarthy and Bailey with significant injuries

With the recent injuries to significant pitchers in Major League Baseball, teams will likely be making some phone calls about the availability of starting pitchers who could be on the trade market at this year’s trade deadline.  The Miami Marlins probably have not entered into trade discussions after losing Henderson Alvarez to an early season injury, because the team hopes he can make a quick recovery after a trip to the disabled list with shoulder inflammation .  Even though the St. Louis Cardinals have sufficient pitching depth to turn to after losing Adam Wainwright for the season, it is in their best interest to explore the options on the trade market early on this season.  The Los Angeles Dodgers have multiple starting pitchers on the disabled list right now, but losing Brandon McCarthy for the season with a torn UCL, is what could cause them to explore trades for a veteran starting pitcher.  Reports have surfaced that Homer Bailey may have a significant elbow injury, with this development potentially pushing the Reds to sell off more pieces at this year’s trade deadline if they are no longer contending for a playoff spot .  Each of these situations has the potential to play a significant role in how the trade market for pitching develops this season, and with this in mind, a further look at the development of the pitching market will help to determine how it will all play out.

Which pitchers are likely to be available on the trade market?

Cole Hamels is the big name that everyone expects to be on the trade market at this year’s trade deadline, but there are also other significant options that could join him on the trade block.  With the Reds suffering a significant injury on their pitching staff, Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake could be made available at this year’s trade deadline if the team falls out of contention for a playoff spot.  Both players are on expiring contracts, and the Reds need to get as much value for them as possible in case of a scenario where they both end up elsewhere as free agents.  With the Milwaukee Brewers off to the worst start in their franchise history, they are considering selling off some of their veteran pitching at this year’s trade deadline.  Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza are the two being mentioned as being on the trade block, with Matt Garza being an attractive trade chip for either National League or American League clubs.  Along with Cole Hamels on the Phillies, both Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsley could be on the trade block at this year’s trade deadline.  Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor could also be available at this year’s trade deadline, adding to the quality left handed starters available on the trade market.  With all of these starters likely to be available on the trade market leading up to this year’s deadline, the teams that have suffered significant injuries to their rotations, should be able to make the necessary move to add a veteran starting pitcher.

Who else is in the market for starting pitching?

With the Cardinals and Dodgers not being the only teams looking for starting pitching on the trade market, the Boston Red Sox are the top candidates to be shopping for starting pitching at this year’s trade deadline.  The Red Sox have the farm system depth to make a trade for any of the available starting pitchers, with either Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto being the best fit for a team that features a great offense.  The Toronto Blue Jays could also be in the market for starting pitching this season, with a solid number three starter like Matt Garza being a great fit for the team.  With the season still very young, more teams could emerge that need starting pitching at the trade deadline, but for right now there are plenty of options available to the teams that either have a need or suffered a significant injury.  As the season approaches the summer months, a clearer picture will emerge on the pennant race fronts as some unexpected teams could join the pursuit of a playoff berth this season.  With plenty of surprises yet to materialize, the trade market for starting pitching appears to be plentiful for right now if a team decides they want to make a push for an early season trade.

Will the Cardinals or Dodgers make a trade for starting pitching?

The Cardinals do not need to make a trade for a starting pitcher since they have veteran John Lackey to step into a leadership role on their starting staff.  They have the option to call up top prospect Marco Gonzales when he returns from the triple-A disabled list, while slotting him in the fifth spot in their rotation to move everyone else up one spot.  The Dodgers are presented with a much different situation however, even though they have one of the strongest top of the rotation trios in all of baseball.  With Hyun-Jin Ryu currently on the disabled list, the Dodgers starting pitching is very thin right now.  Ryu should be able to make a return early next month and Brandon Beachy could make a return from the disabled list in June, however the options for the Dodgers are limited right now with Brandon McCarthy out for the season.  Turning to Juan Nicasio and Scott Baker to fill the final two spots in their rotation right now is a short term option, but the team is likely to explore trade opportunities by making calls on veteran starting pitchers.  With the Dodgers likely to make a move for a starting pitcher, the coming weeks could create some interesting storylines as the Dodgers negotiate with teams in an effort to bring in another veteran starting pitcher.

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Dodgers News And Stats As Of 8/11/14

As it stands right now, the Dodgers are a season high 4.5 games up in the NL West! They are 67-52.

There are currently 8 Dodgers players on the DL.

Josh Beckett is on the 15-day DL with a left hip impingement and a groin strain. His hip problems are what landed him on the DL back in July. Don Mattingly said that he thinks that Josh will be able to pitch again this year.

Chris Perez is on the 15-day DL with bone spurs in his right ankle. He was placed on the DL on August 4th and the date he will return to the active roster is unknown.

Paco Rodriguez is on the 15-day DL with a Teres Major strain. It’s the same lower shoulder strain that Clayton Kershaw had earlier in the season. Paco hopes to be back before September 1st.

Hanley Ramirez is on the 15-day DL with a right oblique strain. It is hopeful that Hanley will be ready to be activated as soon as he is eligible.

Onelki Garcia is on the 60-day DL, recovering from a left elbow surgery he had last year in November. He has been on the DL since mid March. The date of his return is unknown.

Paul Maholm is on the 60-day DL with a torn ACL in his right knee. He is scheduled to have surgery on August 15th.

Paco Rodriguez (Photo credit: USATSI)

Paco Rodriguez (Photo credit: USATSI)

Chad Billingsley had season ending surgery on June 24th to repair a partially torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. He had Tommy John surgery last year and suffered two setbacks during his rehab from Tommy John. CBills is out for the season.

Chris Withrow is out for the season after having Tommy John surgery on June 3rd.

The Dodgers have acquired two pitchers recently.

Roberto Hernandez was acquired from the Phillies. In his seven starts before he became a Dodger, he went 3-3 with a 2.85 ERA. He made his first start with the Dodgers on August 8th against the Brewers. Hernandez pitched 6 innings, allowed 3 hits and 2 runs with a 3.83 ERA. The Dodgers lost 9-3.

Kevin Correia was acquired from the Twins. He is 5-13 with a 4.94 ERA so far this season. He makes his first start with the Dodgers tonight against the Braves.

The Dodgers begin a four game series in Atlanta tonight, then head back to LA to play the Brewers, Padres and Mets for three games each.

By the way, just a random thought.. let’s hear it for the bubble parties! They make me happy.

 

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