Around The Bigs | Sharapova's Thigh

PETA is sure to hold up signs about this outside of Angel Stadium in October.

  • Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez, a.k.a. "K-Rod", has 28 saves in 31 innings pitched. Think about that. By the way, he recently said he wants to pitch for another 9 years, taking him to age 35. It's crazy to think he's only 26, or so that's what he's telling us. Remember back in 2002 he was a major factor in the Angels winning the World Series, at the age of 20. That was also the beginning of the Rally Monkey era, which I'm afraid we'll be seeing more of come October with the way that terrific Angels team is looking.
  • Want to win a bet? Blue Jays starting pitcher Shaun Marcum is leading the AL in ERA, at 2.43. He's just another part of that rotation north of the border featuring perennial Cy Young contender Roy Halladay, Dustin McGowan, A.J. Burnett, and Jesse Litsch. Now if the Jays could only hit, they might be better than a .500 ballclub. A.J. Burnett's likely to be traded soon, for a number of reasons, the #1 reason being his contract(he can, and would opt out at the end of the season), but he also mocked the home fans by taking his hat off to acknowledge them when he was booed following a terrible performance recently, and pretty much told the media this past weekend that he'd rather be pitching for the Cubs. The Blue Jays shouldn't ask for much in return, especially if a team like the Cubs would pay some of his remaining $12 million contract this season. The Blue Jays certainly will ask for a quality young bat or two though.
  • Talk has been that the Yankees would try to acquire a starter like Indians lefty C.C. Sabathia before the July 31st deadline. Well, today the chances of that increased, big time. Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang landed on the disabled list today with a right foot injury. ESPN's Buster Olney said that the best case for Wang is that he's back September 1st, so it's quite possible he won't even make it back at all this season. Wang's won 19 games each of the last 2 seasons, and needless to say it's going to be very difficult for the Yankees to even come close to replacing Wang. And yes, I know a joke belonged somewhere in there.
  • Today, the Mariners fired general manager Bill Bavasi, and it's hard to argue with that decision. The team is currently seated in last place, after many picked them to be a World Series contender coming into the season. They have absolutely no hitting. Bavasi's most notable mistakes include the signing of first baseman Richie Sexson to a 4 year, $50 million deal in 2005, and the trade to acquire starting pitcher Erik Bedard this past off-season. In 2007, and so far in 2008, Sexson's batting average is hovering around the Mendoza line, and his on-base percentage has been under .300. He's also well on his way to finishing with over 150 strikeouts for the third time since Bavasi handed him that big contract. As for Bedard, I recently broke down how that trade's looked so far(hint: it's not looking good for the Mariners).
  • Another average looking A's team on paper, another A's team playing great baseball. The A's are currently 38-31, just 3.5 games behind the Angels in the AL West, and 2 games behind the Rays in the AL Wild Card. How are they doing it? Pitching. The A's rank 2nd in the AL in ERA, 1st in BA and OPS against, and 2nd in WHIP. Their rotation has been sensational: Justin Duchscherer is 6-4 with a 2.20 ERA, 24-year-old lefty Dana Eveland has a 3.56 ERA and only has allowed 3 homers in 83.1 IP, 24-year-old lefty Greg Smith has a 3.62 ERA, and Joe Blanton is an innings-eater with 100 IP under his belt already this season. But the A's and people around baseball know their best starting pitcher is Rich Harden. Harden is still only 26, but he has been unable to stay healthy. In 2006 he made 9 starts, 2007 7 starts, and so far this year 9 starts. In his 9 starts this season, he's looked outstanding, going 4-0 with a 2.53 ERA, and a whopping 67 strikeouts in 53.1 innings pitched. However, there's also a chance Harden could be traded before the July 31st deadline. He might be the most talented guy on the market, and because of that general manager Billy Beane isn't going to just give Harden away, but it's going to be tough for a contender to trust Harden given the injury risks.
  • Mets manager Willie Randolph could be fired very soon, maybe even after a loss tonight. General Manger O.J. Minaya is joining the team in Anaheim tonight, where the Mets will take on the Angels. Rumors are that Randolph would be replaced by Mets bench coach Jerry Manuel, who managed the White Sox from 1998 to 2003.
  • Mini Power Rankings, By League...
    AL
    1. Red Sox- Big Papi being on the DL hurts them, but they'll still score enough runs.
    2. Angels- 42-28, but only +1 in run differential(292-291). But Vlad's heating up: .429 BA, 3 HR, 1.231 OPS in June.
    3. Rays- Scott Kazmir is dominating: 6-2, 1.74 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, .187 BAA.

    NL
    1. Cubs- MLB's best record at 45-25, and best run differential in MLB at +108(387-279).
    2. Phillies- Chase Utley has an MLB-leading 22 homers and an OPS of 1.033. Pat Burrell isn't doing much worse with 18 homers and 1.026 OPS.
    3. Cardinals- Could fall fast with star first baseman Albert Pujols and ace Adam Wainwright each out at least a few weeks.