A week from today, I will be heading out to Cooperstown for the induction ceremony. Yes, I know, it really has been harped on from these posts. Still, it is a great weekend to be a part of.
With that in mind, I wanted to relay a favorite story or two over the next week to get people that are going in the spirit and to maybe inspire a few that might not otherwise go.
Two years ago, my best friend and I got in to town on a Friday. We head to T.J.'s Place for dinner every Friday, so we made our way down to the restaurant. On the way, lining Main Street in Cooperstown are tables filled with former ballplayers signing autographs.
Directly in front of the restaurant behind a table we found Paul Blair, Vida Blue, Duke Snider, and Goose Gossage. Eclectic group, but a pretty impressive arrangement. We went inside to sit down and a Yankees game was on television.
After we order, in comes Gossage with a friend. The two are seated literally at the table right next to us.
Now, this was prior to Gossage being inducted last year. Still, the two of us (both in our mid-20's) were relatively starstruck by the reliever sitting there. To the point that we nearly did not speak for five minutes.
I could not tell you if Gossage picked up on it or something completely different, but he turns to us and starts talking about the game.
We talked for an hour about Jorge Posada's game-calling ability, the player he would most want to brush back, and if he would get into the Hall. Gossage was personable and outgoing; he just wanted to talk about the game.
It is a small story, but one of my favorites. In what other place in the world can you sit down to dinner and end up talking to one of the greatest relievers ever?
On to the notes.
- Jamie Moyer gave up just one hit over seven innings or work against the Marlins. With the win, he improved to 8-0 since 2006 at Dolphin Stadium and is now 13-2 against Florida for his career. Whatever his season stats are, he has some sort of mastery over the Marlins, and owners need to take advantage of the opportunity to start him.
- According to multiple reports, the Red Sox are desperate to trade Julio Lugo. Lugo is likely going to be released over the weekend if the Red Sox cannot find a home for him. Teams know this, and will wait it out. Who would want to give up even a fringe prospect for a shortstop that cannot field? AL-only leagues should prepare to grab Jed Lowrie.
- Perfect return from the break for Ervin Santana. Santana dominated the A's, going eight innings while allowing just one run on three hits. The Angels starter has done well against his own division, and that should serve him well in the second half. The break was necessary for him, as he was able to give the injury just a bit more time to heal.
- It is at least a step towards good news for Jake Peavy. The pitcher had a protective boot removed from his ankle and threw for the first time since suffering the injury. Peavy is still only iffy to return this season, but this should be taken as a positive. Still, it is likely that September is the best bet.
- It was not the best of performances for Aaron Cook, but he managed to get a win last night while giving up eight hits and four walks over six innings of work. Cook is now 13-4 against the Rockies for his career and is 6-1 against them with a 1.60 ERA in his last nine starts. He worked into and out of a fair amount of trouble, but came away with a victory.
- Safe to say that Raul Ibanez is fully healthy. The Phillies outfielder hit two home runs last night and has simply picked up where he left off before the injury. Look for him to continue the impressive season as long as he remains active and in the lineup.
- How about Derrek Lee's July? Lee is hitting .304 for the month and has nine home runs to go with 17 RBI. After an April that saw him hit .189, Lee has posted average over .300 in May and June. This is why you do not give up on players early, even ones that look like they need a toe tag. Lee does tend to slip after the break, so be aware, but his stats to this point show no signs of the issues of years past.
- Something that has been harped on, but check this out. Knox Bardeen pointed out that Derek Lowe leads the Braves with 13 quality starts, but has only eight wins to show for it. Sure, when Lowe is bad, he blows up. Much of his problem, though, is run support. In four of his last 10 starts, the Braves have scored two runs or less. Several other times he has left behind or tied because of offensive production.
- We have yet to see the full power return from Joey Votto, but the Reds first baseman is hitting .358 in July with three home runs after belting one last night. His splits this season, despite time on the DL are impressive. At home, Votto has hit .364 in 88 at-bats and is at .345 on the road.
- Carlos Zambrano has done very well against the Nationals bats. Look to avoid Adam Dunn and his .232 mark in 56 at-bats. Dunn has hit seven home runs, and thus has the power game most owners are looking to him for. Ryan Zimmerman is only 2-for-11. Best bet? Probably the 5-for-7 Josh Willingham.
- This is a different Ricky Romero than what the Red Sox saw the first time around. He has not given up more than three earned runs in a start since facing the Red Sox on May 31. Romero has improved drastically since he last faced Boston, and he would not be a bad start in this one based on his 5-1 record at home and 2.32 ERA.
- Jair Jurrjens is another Braves pitcher struggling to get any sort of run support. Jurrjens has a sub-3.00 ERA and has been very hard to hit in July. He has gone 2-1 this month in three starts while holding batters to a .197 average. Jurrjens pitched well against the Mets earlier this season as well, and only David Wright has strong numbers against him.
- Look to J.J. Hardy to get it going against Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo has given up four home runs to the shortstop, and Hardy has gone 7-for-23 against him overall. Mike Cameron and all your Brewers regulars are good plays in this one against the Reds. Arroyo is only 4-4 at home this season, and has a 6.37 ERA in his nine starts.
- Ubaldo Jimenez has done the job against two of the best bats in the Padres lineup. He has held Adrian Gonzalez to 4-for-18 and Kevin Kouzmanoff to 2-for-18. When you can do that, you are very effective against San Diego. Look for him to be a solid play tonight on the road.
- While you are obviously starting Hanley Ramirez, and should based on his 9-for-24 numbers against Cole Hamels, avoid all other Marlins. As good as Cody Ross has been, he is just 4-for-19 against the Phillies starter. Dan Uggla has only gone 3-for-23 against Hamels.
- Batters have hit only .216 against John Danks at home. While he is just 2-4, his early numbers were skewed by a rough April start. Danks has won three of his last five starts, and has only given up more than three earned runs in one start in his last six. Baltimore has not hit particularly well on the road, and Danks has already handled them once this season.
- While A.J. Burnett has not seen much of the Tigers, he has been able to hold Curtis Granderson to a 1-for-11 figure against him. Burnett turns it on after the All-Star break, something that we saw last season. Look for this to be the first of many good starts.
- Joe Saunders has done well against his division, and one would think that should override his recent history. Saunders has seen his ERA climb by nearly a full run since the start of June, and he has given up at least one home run in eight of his last ten starts. His last three have been simply awful, giving up a combined 18 runs in 14 innings of work. The trends out weigh the history for this one.
- Spot Starts: Ubaldo Jimenez, Clay Buchholz, Jeff Suppan
- Be careful thinking that Johan Santana is going to be automatic every time out. The Braves have hit the Mets pitcher very well. Matt Diaz leads the way, going 10-for-18 against Santana. Others to keep active are Chipper Jones, Yunel Escobar, and Casey Kotchman. All are over .400 against Santana.
- All-Star or not, Brandon Inge cannot hit CC Sabathia. Inge has gone 7-for-46 against the Yankees pitcher dating back to Sabathia's days with the Indians. Curtis Granderson is only 3-for-15 as well.
- The Brewers have not been easy on Aaron Harang. All of your Brewers should remain active and in the lineup for this matchup. Power numbers are there for the usual suspects, and most of the starters are hitting north of .285 if they have had at least 15 at-bats. Still down on Corey Hart, but the rest are good plays.
- Mark Buehrle is very tough at home. This season, he has gone 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA while pitching in Chicago. Batters have hit only .241 against him there this season. Do not look for the Orioles to change that. The only regular that has a history of success is Nick Markakis. The oufielder has gone 4-for-9 against Buehrle. Avoid most others if possible.
- Pay little attention to Jered Weaver's full season road numbers. Because of early struggles, he still shows an ERA of 4.66 in eight starts. His last five road outings have been largely very good. Add to that, he has pitched well against the bats in the A's lineup. Keep him active here, obviously.
- If you are looking to steal a couple late-week hits, look at some of the matchups John Lackey has against the A's on Sunday. Nomar Garciaparra, Bobby Crosby, and Jason Giambi have all put up good numbers against the Angels starter. Good chance that there are some hits to be had in that one.
- There are some Red Sox to avoid against Roy Halladay. Dustin Pedroia is only 5-for-31. Coming off his hip injury to boot, Mike Lowell has struggled to 7-for-30 against Halladay. Jason Varitek is no better. Look elsewhere in this one if you have options available to you.
- Jon Lester has been nothing short of dominant in recent starts. While you should look to keep Alex Rios and Marco Scutaro around, look to avoid most other Blue Jays. Where Lester has given up just one earned run in his last three starts (covering 21.2 innings), Toronto could struggle to score.
- Javier Vazquez is dealing with a stomach injury, but feels he should be able to make his next start on Sunday against the Mets. The Mets have hit him well overall, but there is some disparity across the board. Look to keep your regulars in the lineup, and be wary of Vazquez being able to get through the start. That could push the offense in the Mets favor.
- Spot Starts: Brad Penny, Jordan Zimmermann, Barry Zito, Randy Wells, J.A. Happ