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Mets sweep Rays

Shockingly the Mets swept the Rays this afternoon by a score of 9-6. The offense has suddenly awakened against the best pitching staff in the American League, go figure. Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit two home runs and Jason Bay of all people had one as well. Johan Santana got the win pitching into the sixth inning.

The star of the game might actually be Jon Rauch who came into a base loaded, no out jam in the sixth inning. He struck out the first two batters he faced and finished it with a groundout to third. Rauch has lost his setup position and has gotten into the last two games very early.

The bigger story was the pitching of R.A. Dickey in last nightís 9-1 victory. Dickey went the distance giving up only one hit that occurred in the first inning. B.J. Upton hit a slow roller to third that David Wright tried to grab with his hand. Dickey was absolutely dominant. He struck out a career high twelve batters and now has the longest shutout streak for the team. He broke the previous record held by Jerry Koosman.

He should have had another shutout but Wright made an error in the ninth inning and the runner advanced on two passed balls before scoring on a groundout to short. Dickey is now 10-1 on the season and unless he completely collapses might start the All-Star game for the National League. Itís fair to say that Dickey is now the ace of the staff and the Mets should look into locking him up long term.

The team is now 35-29 at the moment, 4 Ĺ half games behind the division leading Washington Nationals. The Mets will now head home for a series against the Reds.
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Performance Pitching

Monday brought its share of dominant pitching performances. Yesterday alone, seven pitchers went at least 7 innings and gave up no more than 1 earned run. This stat isn't even including the Pirate's Kevin Correia who threw a complete game against the Reds, only surrendering 2 earned runs.

Daisuke Matsuzaka
Red Sox find hope in Monday's outing

The Red Sox Daisuke Matsuzaka started off the day holding the Blue Jays to only one hit over seven innings. Matsuzaka only needed 89 pitches to get through his 7 innings of work, in which he struck out 3 and walked 1.

As the day turned into night, MLB's evening schedule began, and the strong pitching continued. David Price shut out the offensive force of the White Sox over 8 innings, giving up only 4 hits while striking out 9.

david price
Price helps Rays continue hot streak

C.J. Wilson of the Rangers faced off against the team's AL West rival Angels. While his counterpart Ervin Santana did not add to the list of performances, Wilson had a good night. He was able to scatter 9 hits and limit the damage, only allowing 1 earned run and striking out 9.

In a West vs. East battle, Ted Lilly led the Dodgers to a victory over Tim Hudson and the Braves. The Dodgers gave Lilly an early 3 run lead and that's all that he needed, going 7 scoreless innings. Lilly allowed only 4 hits and punched out 6 Braves.

While most games offered one strong pitching performance, there was one match up where both pitchers wanted to get in on the action. The Cubs faced off against the Padres and both sides pitched so well that extra innings was needed to decide the outcome. Both starters were very solid, Tim Stauffer of the Padres going 7 scoreless, allowing only 4 hits. However, Stauffer was bested by Cubís enigma Carlos Zambrano, who struck out 10 over 8 scoreless innings.

tim lincecum
Lincecum has been dominant

While these were certainly some great match ups and performances, Monday saved its best show for last. The Freak Tim Lincecum faced off against the red hot Colorado Rockies. The Rockies and Coors Field were no match for the former Cy Young winner as Lincecum held the Rockies hitless over 6 innings. Colorado was able to get to Timmy in the 7th but they only managed one run. Lincecum finished the night going 7.2 innings; he allowed a single run and struck out 10.

On Monday, pitching was king. We will see what Tuesday brings, if the pitching continues or if the offense controls the night.
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Cooperstown Bound?

If athletes could map out their careers they would include things such as Rookie of the Year Awards, MVP's and of course plenty of championship rings. Many would plan a storybook ending, perhaps a tearful sendoff by a stadium full of their devoted fans. No one, if given the choice, would choose Manny Ramirez's exit.

Manny Ramirez
Manny carried the Dodgers in 08

Ramirez was notified that he had violated the league's performance enhancing drug policy for a second time. Rather appeal the violation or just serve his suspension, Manny decided to walk away from the profession that earned him at least $200 million. While the dust from his quick departure settles, many are looking ahead to the question of should Manny Ramirez be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame?

I was certainly surprised by the announcement Friday. The Hall of Fame talk got me thinking, and I wasn't immediately sure what my decision was on Manny. I am an Orioles fan and can remember the havoc that Ramirez wreaked on the birds. There is no doubt he was a game changer, and anyone who disagrees has to look back no further than the amazing run he had with the Dodgers in 2008. After the Red Sox traded him to the National League, Ramirez hit an insane .396 and went on to carry the Dodgers in the playoffs, hitting over .500 for two series.

While it helps to be one of the most feared hitters of your time, your numbers have to stack up to make you Hall of Fame material. The one stat that many are aware of is his homerun total of 555. He ranks high in many offensive categories, his two most impressive feats are his career .312 batting average and .996 OPS.

Manny Ramirez
Ramirez posted a career .312 BA

While Manny Ramirez had a very good and borderline great career, in this period of performance enhancing drugs he would not get my vote for the Hall of Fame. Even without the cloud of steroids hanging over Manny's head I do not think that he belongs in Cooperstown.

No longer does the 500 home run mark unlock the door of the Hall of Fame for players. Manny ranks 14th on the career homerun list but was not able to crack the more celebrated 600 plateau. You also have to figure in his steroid and PED use. It is impossible to say how many more homeruns Ramirez hit while using these drugs, but guys take them and have taken them for a reason, it boosts your numbers. This is a fairly moot point for me because as I've stated hitting 555 homeruns even without taking steroids does not guarantee you my vote.

While statistics have shown that chicks do dig the long ball, you need to be a well rounded hitter to get into the Hall. This is where I believe you will find the strongest argument for Ramirez. His .312 batting average is very impressive and this is where I will give Manny credit. While steroids may help hitters achieve milestone homerun marks, they do not turn .250 hitters into guys who mash at a pace of .312. His OPS was impacted by his homerun totals, but a .996 mark is nonetheless impressive. These two marks definitely put Ramirez in the category of great right handed hitters, but alone do not make him bound for the Hall.

Another important but often overlooked aspect is a player's defense. This is an area that Manny will be getting little love. Ramirez has had several memorable moments in left field but not for the right reasons. Manny has had his share of fielding gaffs and was seen as more of a liability in the outfield during the ladder part of his career.

Finally there are the intangibles. Some may say that these are issues that do not matter, votes should be determined on the numbers alone. While the numbers usually do much of the talking, I believe there are some points to be won by being a great leader or teammate. This is another area where Ramirez comes up a little short. He was often a distraction and even gave up on the 2008 Red Sox until he got his wish and was traded to the Dodgers. He took innings or games off mentally, especially in the field. While he will be known for his easy going ways, I do not know that Manny Ramirez will go down as one of the great teammates in history.

Manny Ramirez
Manny being Manny

As I've laid out, I do not think Manny Ramirez is a Hall of Famer. Feared by pitchers and managers, Manny was certainly a great hitter and game changer at times in his career. However, his hitting alone doesn't overwhelm me and along with that he just did not have the defense or intangibles to warrant my vote.

So while Ramirez might not have had the storybook ending some would hope for, I'm sure that $200 million will keep him busy in Mannywood.
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AL Studs and Duds 4/9/11

With week one in the books I'd like to take a second to see which individuals got to a quick start out of the gates and those who couldn't figure out how to open theirs. I'll start with the American League and then share those Studs and Duds in the National League later today.

We'll start on a positive note with the studs. While in their first two starts Dan Haren was exceptional and Edwin Jackson punched out a league leading 20 batters, my pick for AL stud pitcher of the week goes to Jered Weaver of the Angels. While he wasn't facing the beasts of the AL in the Rays and Royals, Weaver only allowed 5 hits and 1 ER over his first two starts. We will see if this 0.69 ERA holds up next week against a tougher opponent in the Blue Jays

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Manny Done Being Manny?

It has just been announced that Manny Ramirez will end his illustrious and always entertaining career. Only a week into the new baseball season, the Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter is calling it quits. It appears that Manny was dealing with the league on an issue regarding MLB's Joint Drug Prevention Treatment Program. I'm certain that more information will be coming out of this situation, but I for one am certainly surprised.

Though he has seen his numbers tail off in recent years, Manny ended last season with a combined .298 batting average playing for the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. It is certain that he did not have the start that he wanted this year

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Any Ray of Hope in Tampa?

A few days ago I took a look at a team with high expectations coming into this season who stumbled out of the gates. While the Red Sox have not yet found the win column, I think that they are in much better shape than the Tampa Bay Rays. I usually do not like putting too much stock in early starts, but the Rays are in trouble.

The Rays have been a team that has thrived off of its home grown talent and shrewd trades. The team rose suddenly to prominence during the 2008 season and has been a contender in the tough AL East ever since. The team has played well under manager Joe Maddon, relying mainly on strong team defense and pitching

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