Tag Archives: Joe Girardi

I’ll Miss AJ Burnett

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I'll miss the man and the pies.

Truth be told I really did like AJ Burnett.

I love what he brought to the New York Yankees organization. He was the screwball in an overly professional environment that livened everyone up that was around him and made the clubhouse a nuthouse.

He for sure wasn’t the prototypical Yankee. He had the most tats on any Yankee I’ve ever seen, he was almost never clean shaven and his shaving cream was mostly used for his infamous after game pies to the face (which I think everyone loved in N.Y.).

But that was AJ.

He gave the Yankees a new identity. At the beginning of 2009 Burnett, C.C. Sabathia & Nick Swisher were all part of a wave of newbies that came to the Bronx and turned it on its head. They were all tatted up, Mohawk wearing guys that changed the culture of the Yankees internally and made things more entertaining.

Burnett more than anybody else was the catalyst of it all. His game ending pies became a fan favorite highlight after big wins and his arm helped produce some big wins in his first season in New York.

His seven inning gem in August of 09 against the Red Sox helped keep the Sox at bay as the Yankees eventually won the AL East. His best performance came in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. After Cliff Lee put the Yankees in a one game hole Burnett came out in game 2 and pitched the game of his life to tie the series. In seven innings and with nine strikeouts Burnett flipped the World Series and turned it in the Yankees favor.

Without him the Yankees don’t win the World Series that year. That’s why I appreciate Burnett so much.

Was he maddening to watch? Absolutely. Burnett has all of the talent in the world; a top notch fastball, nasty breaking pitches and when he’s on he can be unhittable.

But when he’s bad he’s putrid.

He’s one of the wildest pitchers in the game. His location can be non existent, he can walk batters as consistently as he can throw wild pitches. Burnett mentally has never always been there. When he fails it affects him for starts at a time.

He presses too much. Once he walks a batter he panics, one walk leads to another, then another, then a hit, then a run, then before you know it Burnett is a mess and the Yankees are in trouble.

The worst case of this was last year against the White Sox. The Yankees had a 13-0 lead in the fourth inning. My buddy Mike sent me a text message saying “AJ is gonna find a way to give all 13 of those back. WATCH!” Sure enough it was 13-7 in the bottom of the fifth with two runners in scoring position and no outs when Joe Girardi pulled him.

I wanted AJ to succeed so badly because he was just a great dude and those memories of 09 were still fresh in my brain… But he made me and all Yankees fans want to kill him. When Burnett pitched I don’t think there was one Yankees fan who didn’t have a bottle of Jack Daniels next to them because you needed it to watch him.

The pitching coaches couldn’t fix him and he sure as hell couldn’t do it himself. In the end in order for the Yankees to have a shot at winning another title they had to get rid of one of the main catalysts to its last title.

Trading Burnett was the right thing to do in the long run for the Yankees. One of the Yankees weaknesses last year was its rotation and after acquiring Michael Pineda and Hideki Kuroda they seem to have fixed their problems (at least on paper). After the two additions there was no room for Burnett and his end was seemingly eminent.

Now he’s gone and he’s taken his pies with him.

As maddening as he was I really like AJ. Pittsburgh is gonna love his antics, the way he brings guys close together and how he livens up the clubhouse.

Hopefully it’s pitching coaches can keep him focused and on point and Burnett can put together some good seasons. The guy deserves it.

Sure he couldn’t find the plate if he tried in stretches and was wildly erratic… but AJ Burnett helped the Yankees win a World Series and made life fun for all in the process.

That more than outweighs all the other stuff.


Nova In And Burnett Out Should Be The Call For The Yankees

Ivan Nova has more than proven that he should be in the Yankees rotation.

This is not rocket science. This should not be a hard decision.

If Joe Girardi is smart then here is what he should do about his current pitching problem… pencil Ivan Nova in and take A.J. Burnett out.

It’s simple mathematics really, Nova has been stellar since being called back up from AAA Wilkes-Barre and he was on his way to stellar even before then.

Nova has won 6 consecutive starts dating back to June. He hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in any of those starts. What’s even more impressive is that with each start Nova is getting better and better.

Since his return Nova has allowed 3 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings of work. He has turned into the Yankees second best pitcher and despite his youth he has looked like a ten-year vereran on the mound with his poise and unshakeable attitude.

The same can not be said for Burnett.

As much as I love Burnett and his pie antics and loveable locker room personality he is not fit for this team as a starter right now.

With Burnett it’s all mental. When he’s throwing strikes and his pitches have movement Burnett could be a top 2 pitcher in any rotation. However, he can’t get there because he is too inconsistent.

Burnett looked like a gem in April going 4-1 and not allowing more than 4 earned runs in any outing. Since then? He’s 4-8 and has had more than a few moments where fans have been screaming bloody murder for Girardi to remove him.

Take for instance Wednesday night; the Yankees are up 13-1… 13-1 with Burnett on the hill in the fourth inning. With that type of lead you should be fine as a pitcher, no big deal. Fast forward to the bottom of the fifth and it’s 13-7 with one out and two in scoring position. I was actually concerned that Burnett was going to blow it because he looked like a batting practice pitcher by leaving all of his pitches high and flat.

Something's gotta give when it comes to A.J. Burnett.

Girardi mercifully removed him and Cory Wade got out of the jam. Now the Yankees did win 18-7, but the story was still Burnett couldn’t even pitch well enough to earn a Win with a 12 run lead.

Funny thing is that this isn’t unusual, this is just how unreliable Burnett truly is.

(Side note: I can’t watch Burnett pitch anymore it’s too scary. Even when I see him penciled in I get the shakes. Watching Burnett is slow torture because, he reels you in with his fastball and makes you put your guard down. Then over the next few batters and innings he leaves balls up, gets out of jams that he causes, allows hit after hit, then there’s a shot of Girardi trying to let him work through it and encourage him while internally he’s probably going “you’re giving me hemeroids A.J.,” then either A.J. completely implodes or Girardi pulls him out just in the nick of time.

I swear Hostel 2 or any of the Saw movies are easier to watch than Burnett at this point.)

Coming down the stretch the Yankees need consistency in the rotation and Girardi needs to go with the hot hand and keep Nova in the rotation as well as Phil Hughes who has looked sharp in his return from arm troubles.

Nova is the Yankees second best pitcher behind C.C. Sabathia. As long as they don’t screw with his arm like they’ve done with their other young and talented pitchers Joba Chamberlain and to an extent Hughes (or trade him like Ian Kennedy… Excuse me while i vomit) then Nova should finish the year getting stronger with each start.

The Yankees can depend on Nova, they can’t depend on Burnett. Which is why by this time next week Joe Girardi’s rotation should be Sabathia, Colon, Nova, Garcia and Hughes and A.J. Burnett should be on the bench.

It’s the best move for the Yankees, and it makes everyone involved less stressed not knowing what to expect from one of it’s starters.


The Return Of Random Thoughts

Wait a minute... we're still over .500? High five!

You know what we haven’t done in a while? A random thoughts blog.

Just things I’ve thought about that maybe you have as well in the last few weeks of watching sports.

With so much going on as far as sports since March Madness I think it’s time to do some rehashing.

So without further ado… HERE WE GO!

Is Zach Greinke really worth it? I mean he is 7-3 but he’s got a 5.66 ERA.

Anybody else think Kenny Williams is lying about the Adam Dunn deal?

Josh Harrelson a year ago was buried on the bench at Kentucky with Enes Kanter coming in. A year later he was a key component in the Wildcats Final Four run and will get minutes off of the bench for the Knicks. Life.

Hopefully the Sedin Twins take boxing lessons this summer.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, please gain 20 pounds.

Even though she is six foot five how many of us would hit on Jan Vesely’s girlfriend?

Federer couldn’t beat Nadal, Nadal can’t beat Djokovic… So who’s he going to have a problem with?

Why is it that Joe Girardi is the only person who thinks Derek Jeter should lead off?

David Ortiz couldn’t hit anything for the last two years now all of a sudden he’s hitting .301 with 17 home runs and 49 RBI… hmmmm….

Lebron James dunking on a kid doesn’t help his image.

(honestly at this point LeBron could cure cancer and we’d still hate him. And yes I’m serious about that statement.)

Mario Chalmers is now my new least favorite athlete in the world.

Did any team in the NBA Draft really help itself?

Sabine Lisicki also plays tennis. We'll talk about that later.

Nicklas Lidstrom came back for his 20th season. Can we engrave his name on the Norris Trophy in 2012 already?

Lets face it, Dany Heatley will never be “the guy.”

Neither will Andy Murray.

Anybody else happy that Brian Cashman corrected Alex Rodriguez by saying that Robinson Cano is better that Jose Reyes?

Can I call Austin Rivers “Baby Doc?”

Did Jose Bautista really just score the most votes in All-Star voting history?

How awesome was it that Virginia won the lacrosse title?

(think about this for a second. In the last two years lacrosse’s two most controversial teams fought back from media hell to win a title. Last years Duke team won after three years of dealing with the ugly aftermath of a stripper rape allegation and this year Virginia won after one of it’s own murdered women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

The image of the Cavs men’s team was brutally tarnished and the turmoil around both mens and women’s teams was enough make anyone not want to put on pads and a helmet and sprint out onto the field again. However, Virginia fought through it’s adversity and came out a winner. Their win over Maryland in the Memorial Day title game cast a fantastic light on the team an buried whatever demons were left from the 2011 season.

Very commendable indeed.)

Are the Pirates really a game and a half out of first place?

Who the hell is Mike Morse?

Brian Wilson needs to shave that beard… Now!

Is Jim Riggleman; a, a gangster, b, salty or c, out of his bleeping mind?

Iman Shumpert… And yes I’m still stuck on that pick.

How funny would it be if the Winnipeg Jets won the southeast division this year?

(Winnipeg is six hours north of Minneapolis.)

It’s July… NFL step on it.

(I’m serious. The New York Giants tick me off, Eli Manning makes bad throws, I’ll see 85 Coughlin faces and understand each of them… AND IF I MISS ONE FREAKING GAME I WILL HUNT ROGER GOODELL AND DEMAURICE SMITH DOWN!!!)

By the way, if the MLB locks out in November then there is a real possibility that Hockey may be the only game in town come 2012….

New theory behind the Flyers trades; maybe Paul Holmgren used Jeff Carter and Mike Richards just to get the Winter Classic in Philly and then dumped them afterwards… Nope, trade still makes no sense.

I know Brett Favre is retired, but I’m still uncertain.

Quick, 3 things about Luke Picknell. Ready and… GO!

Is Maryland football a better job than Connecticut football? Randy Edsall are you listening?

Seattle Sounders FC draws more fans than the Mariners…

Anybody else think Cam Newton will bomb?

I still have no caption for this.

No seriously are the Pirates really only a game and a half out of first place?

(why is this not a huge story? The Pirates haven’t had a winning season in almost 20 years. That’s back to the Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla days.

Ever since then they have traded every and I mean every good player that they’ve had and have been in a never ending rebuild mode. Now here there are with Andrew McCutcheon as a dark horse MVP candidate, an All-Star in Joel Hanrahan and the Brewers, Reds and Cards all looking back in disbelief.

If they make the playoffs they are the story if the year hands down.)

Sabine Lisicki… Mmmmmm.

Will Tiger Woods fade into oblivion?

Even though Roger Federer has “lost it” he’s still the third best tennis player in the world.

And lastly… Dirk, a $90,000 bottle of champagne and pictures with Birdman and Lil’ Wayne… In LeBron and D-Wade’s backyard.

Cough on that Miami.


Jorge Posada Adds To The Yankee Headaches

This isn't the ending Jorge Posada was hoping for.

I’ve loved Jorge Posada for his entire Yankee career, from the time that he took over for Joe Girardi behind the plate to his recent decline at the plate.

But what he did yesterday with the Yankees in the type of rut that they’re in makes me angry as hell.

Posada asked to be removed from the starting lineup after he found out that he had bumped to ninth in the order, which is due mostly in part to his horrific start to the season at the plate. Posada is hitting a league worst .165 and it among the worst in the league in slugging percentage and on base percentage. In short his bat has done more harm than it’s done good and in all fairness Girardi was right to bump in down in the lineup. Heck, you can make the case that Girardi should’ve taken him out of the lineup all together.

Instead Posada did that himself, and in the middle of a stretch where the Yankees have lost 8 of 11 and are clinging to second place in the AL East with the Red Sox charging Posada has given the Yankees another thing to worry about.

Safe to say no one is saying hip hip Jorge at the moment.

As great of a player as Jorge has been over the years his stubbornness has been a detriment to him. In Buster Olney’s book The Last Night of The Yankee Dynasty, he chronicled some of Jorge’s lesser moments where his headstrong attitude and stubborn ways rubbed umpires and some of those in the organization the wrong way. You see it rearing its ugly head with this incident.

Posada has struggled mightily at the plate this year.

No matter what Jorge’s done in the past he has to realize that those days are gone. He is not an ever contributor like he once was. He can’t hit fastballs anymore, can’t turn on pitches like he used to and is a problem wherever he bats in the lineup. For him not to see this and to react the way he did goes back on everything I thought that he stood for.

Jorge is supposedly a team guy, he supposedly would do anything to help out the Yankees, and this is how he reacts when Girardi makes a smart decision to help out the lineup? Come on Jorge.

To be blunt, Jorge isn’t helping the Yankees out right now and should be benched. There are other players who could use more reps at the plate and at the DH spot. Girardi should tinker with either Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez at the DH while giving Eduardo Nunez their spots in the field for defensive purposes. Or maybe this is the right time to bring star prospect Jesus Montero up from the minors and let his big bat go to work.

Whatever it is that needs to be done the Yankees should do it. Because their not getting a lot from many spots in the order and Posada is the number one guy that’s not cutting it.

With all of the concerns about Phil Hughes’s arm, the rotation, Rafael Soriano and Jeter, the last thing the Yankees needed was one of its most revered veterans acting like a spoiled child.

As much as I love the guy he needs to get his act together, as do so many other Yankees right now, and focus on how to get this team to the playoffs. And it has to start with him riding the bench.


The Yankees Should Think Twice Before Starting A.J. Burnett

Joe Girardi, if you’re listening, at all… do not, DO NOT start A.J. Burnett in game 4 of the ALCS. PLEASE!!!

Learn from the mistake that Joe Maddon made in game 2 of the ALDS when he started James Shields against Texas. He knew that Shields wasn’t pitching well all year. He knew that Shields couldn’t shake his struggles and control problems. He knew that Shields wasn’t the right man to pitch in that situation, but still did. Why? Because he’s “Big Game” James. He was the guy that led Tampa’s charge to the World Series in 2008. Because he was hoping that James would find his motor once again in another big time series. He was wrong.

Girardi better be right about A.J. Burnett

This is the exact same scenario with A.J. Burnett. He’s 10-15 with a 5+ ERA, this is after a 6-1 start. He lost control of his stuff and never regained it. He struggled mightily against everyone. He had a 7.80 ERA in August and a 6.14 ERA in September. All of these numbers should tell any sensible manager that starting Burnett is a no-no even in the Arizona Fall League playoffs.

Yet here is Joe Girardi revealing his 4 man rotation for the playoffs and after Andy Pettite in game 3, there it is Allan John Burnett set to go in game  4. Why? Because last year when the Yankees only went with a three man rotation in their World Series run it was Burnett who set the tone in game 2 of the ALCS and virtually saved the Yankees season with a gem of a game 2 against Philadelphia in the World Series. Despite his 5.27 ERA Burnett put the Yankees in position to win each of their series after following C.C. Sabathia in the rotation.

This is why Girardi is putting him in the rotation. He didn’t pitch Burnett in the ALDS because of his struggles, but is hoping that A.J. can regain his form of last year and help pitch the Yankees into the World Series once again.

The problem is that no, and I mean no one believes that A.J. is fit to pitch on this team this year. Just look at his last simulated start a few days ago. he was wild, viciously wild, he hit two batters and threw a wild pitch, yet the Yankees brass are saying that A.J. took big steps forward in his location and delivery. Do I believe that? Of course not.

However when you look at the Yankees other options you  could understand why they need to talk themselves into thinking that A.J. is ready to go. You can’t do the three man rotation again with a young Phil Hughes and Andy Pettite off of an injury. You can’t throw Ivan Nova out there because of his inexperience. As for Javier Vazquez… id rather Hideki Irabu pitch for the Yankees that Vazquez. It honestly looks like it could be A.J. or bust. What else could the Yankees do, pull Joba Chamberlain from the bullpen and start him?

It’s the lesser of two evils for the Yankees right now, A.J. Burnett or a question mark filled field of pitchers. Honestly? I would take my chances with throwing Nova out there before I let Burnett go near the field. As clutch as he was last year Burnett is not the same guy this year. Throwing him out there is a huge mistake and would kill the Yankees shot at making it to the World Series. Unfortunately, Joe Girardi thinks differently. I really wish he would’ve talked to Joe Maddon first before making his decision.

 


Inconsistency Kills The Yankees, Here’s How To Fix It

The Yankees Inconsistency bug finally caught up with C.C. Sabathia

The Tampa Bay Rays effectively killed the Yankees season with that 10-3 beat down last night. Am I overreacting right now? No. we just aren’t a good enough team pitching or hitting to win a championship this year or to compete with Minnesota, Texas or Tampa. So here’s my solution to the Yankees problems—next year, because its too late to save the Yankees from a first round playoff exit this year…

  1. Get Cliff Lee and make either Ivan N ova or Joba Chamberlain a starter next year. As you can see the A.J. Burnett deal is slowly fizzling into a black hole as Burnett hasn’t been able to figure his stuff out now for 3 months. unfortunately in this economic climate no one in their right mind would be willing to take on a contract from a player with 3 years and close to 50 million dollars left on it. especially for a player that can’t find the plate consistently. However, you can dump Javier Vazquez into the Hudson River this season (I meant free agency, though I wouldn’t mind the former). I think Nova is ready to be a starter and you need to find out about what Chamberlain truly is at this point. There is no way to tell if he will be a full time reliever or if they can make him a full time starter with no friggin “Joba Rules.” The rotation next year should look like this: C.C. Sabathia-Lee-Phil Hughes-Nova/Chamberlain-Burnett.
  2. Sign Joe Girardi to a long-term extension, roughly 5 years/30 million. Why? I mean the guy has won a World Series and has them in contention this year despite not having any type of starting pitching, consistency from his power hitters Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez or at the top of the lineup with Derek Jeter (more on this in a minute). Girardi has been under scrutiny for a while and there have been rumors about him taking the open Chicago Cubs job due to his affiliation with the area and the team. Its important for the Yankees to keep some level of consistency on a team where right now there is none.
  3. This is the most important note as the Yankees season winds down and it has to do with Derek Sanderson Jeter. First and foremost give that man whatever he wants for a contract for the years that he has put in with the organization and his meaning to the Yankees as a whole. By season’s end he will be the Yankees all-time leader in wins and hits and will start next season less than one hundred hits away from that magical number of 3000. Jeter’s meaning to the Yankees is more than hits or numbers; he’s been the face of the franchise since the late 90’s and could very well be the greatest Yankee ever. If he wants 25 million a year for the next 4 years then give it to him… however as great as Jeter is, Girardi has to make this big decision when it comes to the lineup—drop him to either the seventh or ninth spot in the lineup next year.

    Derek Jeter's struggles at the plate have killed the Yankees.

His production at the top of the order has been dreadful as he has been hovering around the .260 average mark for the entire second half of the season and his .332 on base percentage hasn’t made driving in runs for the middle of our lineup easy. You have to move Jeter to the end of the lineup and put Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson/ Nick Swisher in the 1-2 holes. Swisher has had a career year platooning between the 2 and 6 slots with a career high in average hovering close to .300 throughout the year. that’s what makes the Jeter quandary so tricky. You would think that Girardi knows this right now but doesn’t want to upset Jeter by moving him to an inferior portion of the Lineup. Listen Joe, I love Derek Jeter he’s been my favorite athlete for 15 years and running now—but at some point you gotta look at Jeter and say dude you have to bat there but you’re killing us here. There was a point in a series against Baltimore at home two weeks ago where we had an opportunity to score some runs with runners in scoring position and I saw that Jeter was up next and I got nauseous.

That to me has been the biggest problem with the Yankees offense this year, I think guys are hitting in all of the wrong areas on this lineup. The fact that Teixeira is hitting .254 and is still third in the lineup puzzles me. The lineup should have Gardner at the top followed by Swisher, Robinson Cano, A-rod, Tex, some combination of Jorge Posada or Lance Berkman at 6 or 7 and flip flop Jeter and Curtis Granderson at 8 or 9. That reflects how these guys have been hitting all year and would give guys like Tex and Jeter better pitches to hit to up their dismal averages. I feel Girardi is respecting his players a little too much and needs to do what is right. If he would’ve started batting Jeter in the 7, 8, 9 slot I guarantee you he would’ve gotten much better production out of him.
However, it’s a little too late to wonder about the what-ifs of this season. Unless the Yankees flip the on switch they won’t be making a run at their 28th title this year. The last two games of the Tampa series proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Inconsistent hitting, pitching and mind-blowing under achieving by guys that were expected to be major contributors to a repeat (that’s you Vazquez and you nonchalant attitude towards losing).  As a fan it stinks to watch you team win 95 games and know they won’t make a dent in the postseason, but hopefully next year Brian Cashman and company learn from their mistakes and do the right things to make this team better.


Baseball Season Officially Begins

The Yankees, behind C.C. Sabathia, are still the team to beat.

Now the real baseball season begins.

We’ve gotten rid of the fast starts, cool downs by over-hyped players, and now here is the real deal.

The contenders have shown who they are in baseball’s closest season in decades. There is not one division leader up by more than four and a half games, which means every race could come down to September and this trade deadline coming up could be the most important in years.

While everyone is making a case that the Yankees are the team to beat, I beg to differ. The Yankees of all teams have the weakest bullpen that Joe Girardi still hasn’t figured out yet. Joba Chamberlain has been miserable as the 8th inning man while David Robertson, Damaso Marte and company have struggled just as much. As great as the starting pitching has been for the Yankees it can’t be the only pitching that they have.

You can make a case for the Padres, Braves, Twins and Reds (yes the Cincinnati Reds are in first place) as much as the Yankees to win the World Series come October. The last 70 plus games of the season are going to be an absolute riot if you ask me. There are no clear cut favorites for any award or division title. In the year of the pitcher (or return of the pitcher) offense has been at a premium as ERA’s have dwindled to fifteen year lows. With that said, bats are going to be a hot commodity in this upcoming deadline. Prince Fielder’s name is swinging like a carrot in front of teams as are players like Jose Guillen, Luke Scott and Adam Dunn. Fielder is the most peculiar name because you can get an all-star power hitting first baseman but also a huge head case. His bat would go over great in New York with the Mets or in San Francisco with the Giants but is he worth the trouble?

Who knows. The second half sure will be interesting to watch play out but let’s recap the first half while we look forward:

NL MVP- Joey Votto (Who Will win MVP? – Ryan Howard)

Votto's been the man so far for the upstart Reds.

Did anyone have a better first half than Votto? He led all MLB first basemen in average, slugging, homers, RBI and OPS. Yet had to be voted in to all-star game as the last man in. He has led the surprising Reds to the top of the Central with a few key series left against the second place Cardinals. If the Reds can keep it up then Votto should be a shoe-in for the MVP.

But it is the second half of the year which means Ryan Howard is about to load up Philly onto his back and carry them through the next two months. Howard’s power number numbers are down but so are his strikeouts. Howard is becoming more disciplined at the plate and has seen an increase in average and OBP because of it. The Phils need him more than ever to carry them to the playoffs and knowing Howard he’ll gladly accept the Challenge

Contenders: David Wright, Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols

AL MVP- Josh Hamilton (eventual winner?)- Miguel Cabrera)

Two men who have fought demons to become big names in the game. Hamilton through drugs, Cabrera through alcohol. Both are having stellar years. Why is Hamilton the first half MVP? A 29 game hit streak and a monster June helped catapult the Rangers into first place and have made them the team to beat out west. Hamilton has come back from last year in a big way by leading the majors in batting average, and among the leaders in homers and RBI. With help from a resurgent Vlad Guerrero the Rangers have the most formidable 3-4 punch in the game.

So why will Miguel Cabrera win the MVP? One, he could win the triple crown, two he is tearing the cover off of everything he sees. Three his focus is finally clear after two down years in Detroit after a ballyhooed trade from Miami. Cabrera has finally settled into the position has face of the franchise and is carrying himself in the way the Tigers imagined.

Contenders: Robinson Cano, Justin Morneau and Adrian Beltre

NL CY YOUNG- Ubaldo Jimenez (Winner- Jimenez)

With all due respect to Josh Johnson and his paper thin 1.70 ERA, this is Ubaldo’s trophy to lose. 15-1 2.20 ERA on the wild card leaders out west? Come on. Jimenez could very well win 25 games this year which has been done since the 80’s. Jimenez has breezed through the competition with ease though his ERA has risen by half a run in the last month. However, every fifth day there is no more automatic starter in the game than him

Contenders- Johnson, Adam Wainwright, and Mat Latos

AL CY YOUNG- David Price (Winner- CC Sabathia)

David Price is now the man in Tampa. He’s the ace, no question about it. the superstar that he was supposed to be coming out of Vanderbilt is finally coming to fruition with a 12-4 record and a 2.42 ERA that has kept Tampa within striking distance of the Yankees…

Yet the reason why the Yankees are in first place in the first place is; a. starting pitching and b. CC Sabathia’s ridiculous last 45 days on the mound. He hasn’t lost since May 23rd and has watched his ERA dip to 3.09. plus with his reputation as being a workhorse in the second half it looks like CC is in the driver’s seat for CY Young number two.

Players that need to step it up:

Mark Teixeira

He’s a slow starter—this is ridiculous. Nine days ago he was batting .232 now he’s finally up to the .250’s. he ought to buy Robbie Cano a Rolex for bailing him out this far. The power numbers are there, but for the Yankees to go far into October, Teixeira needs to get going.

Carlos Pena

If its not a home run then its been a strikeout for Carlos Pena.

.203 batting average? I don’t care if you are a slugger at least get into the 230’s man. Evan Longoria would love a disciplined bat next to him right now.

Anybody on the Phillies not named Ryan Howard or Roy Halladay

Raul Ibanez has lost his stroke, Shane Victorino can’t hit anything and Cole Hamels apparently hasn’t gotten over last year’s brain malfunction. With Chase Utley out until August the Phillies need their bats and arms to wake up quick or the Braves and Mets will be sailing into October leaving them in the dust.

Todd Helton

Career lows in all offensive categories means that Helton’s career is almost finished. Unless he finds that stroke quickly the Rockies should consider making a deal for Prince Fielder.

Gavin Floyd

With Jake Peavy down for the year, Floyd has to find the form that made him so special last year. he has recovered from a 2-7 start with three straight wins and will have to continue to stay hot to support Freddy Garcia and Mark Buehrle.

Most important Players:

David Ortiz

Ortiz claims that he’s back to form, but the real test comes now. If he can continue with his steady production then the Sox will be in it until the end. However, if Ortiz can’t maintain his current pace then the Sox can kiss October bye-bye

Jose Reyes

If he’s healthy the Mets can win the east. If he’s not then they won’t. That’s about as simple as it gets people. As he goes they go.

Jonny Cueto

He has to take this rotation by the horns right now. The Reds haven’t been this close to the playoffs in years and they need Cueto to grow into the ace that he was destined to be when they signed him.

Vladimir Guerrero

The first half comes as a surprise to those that wrote him off. Now in these next two months, Vlad will have to keep it going in order to keep the Rangers ahead of Anaheim.

Adrian Gonzalez

Last year he was sure as gone from San Diego. This year the Padres wouldn’t give the world for him. with the Padres facing Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw, Jimenez and a bevy of west coast hurlers Gonzalez has to continue what he’s done all year for the Padres in order to make the playoffs. Set the tone, drive in runs and lead them to victory.

There is so much more to cover and talk about, but there’s two and a half months left in the season to get to it. for now enjoy it. the best baseball of the summer is about to get underway later today, and from the looks of things it’s going to be one hell of a fun second half.