There is only one real bar in the village of Cooperstown. Not a bad place really. They have Yuengling on tap, so it cannot be all bad. No air conditioning, though, just a little bit of a dive bar. Good drinks and good food with some great people running the place.
Three of us were sitting at the bar at around 10 or so in the evening. As we solved the world's problems through some beers, a group of people walked in to the bar. A couple were tall, a couple shorter, and one was certainly the group leader.
It took a few minutes for everyone to figure it out, but as the beer started flowing, it became evident these were not regular patrons. One happened to be a Cy Young award winner, and he was having a blast. Vida Blue was signing autographs, swapping stories, and genuinely enjoying the company of the people at the bar.
Blue worked the room, seeming to talk to everyone for a few minutes based on whatever team apparel they were wearing. He had a story for all of them. His time with the A's was memorable, his work with the Giants was a lot of fun.
Being a part of two vetoed trades by then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Blue even commented that he never looked good in pinstripes anyway.
He stayed for a while, just having a good time. Something else you only get to experience on induction weekend.
On to the notes.
- Nelson Cruz missed yesterday's game against Minnesota with a fracture in his finger. The injury does not appear to be anything serious, as Cruz was still available for pinch-hitting duties. Obviously, something to keep an eye on, but nothing that should have owners scrambling to find some help to fill in the roster.
- Roy Halladay continues to show that nothing can rattle him. Halladay had his fourth complete game of the season yesterday against the Red Sox, holding them to just six hits and limiting the bats nearly entirely after the second inning. Regardless of where he pitches the rest of the way, he needs to be considered the best in the game and valued that way.
- Sticking with Boston, they continue to be impatient when facing young pitching. The Red Sox got the Blue Jays' alphabet soup left-handed starter Marc Rzepczynski. Boston cannot seem to be patient with lefties that they have not seen, and the pattern is repeating this season. Look at various games against Toronto, Oakland, and even the Angels and you will see a team that looks to swing early in the count without much rhyme or reason.
- Casey McGehee owners need to be wary now that the Brewers have traded for Felipe Lopez. The Lopez deal gives Milwaukee a true presence at second base that they lost when Rickie Weeks went down with an injury. McGehee was already suffering with a balky knee, and Lopez should step right in and be productive for the Brewers.
- Anyone else surprised at the pitching of J.A. Happ? Happ has done nothing but pitch well since his outing against Boston in the middle of last month. He has won five consecutive decisions over ten starts while only twice allowing an opponent to score more than three earned runs against him. He is not going to get you strikeouts, but he has been largely consistent and should be looked at as an add in deeper leagues.
- The Cardinals activated Mark DeRosa over the weekend, and he played in games both Saturday and Sunday. DeRosa will likely require surgery after the season, but he is going to try and play through the injury. Owners should be patient and realize they are getting only a partially effective player the rest of the way.
- Do not blame the Tigers pitching staff for the losses against the Yankees over the weekend. Justin Verlander pitched like he has all season long, allowing just two runs on seven hits over seven innings of work. Edwin Jackson suffered from some control trouble, but still managed to escape after allowing only two runs himself. The offense simply was not there for Detroit, and that has been more of a problem this season than not.
- Since the beginning of June, Albert Pujols is leading all of baseball in at-bats per home run. The answer as to the player that is second is slightly more surprising. Since June 6th, David Ortiz is second only to Pujols in this statistic. For a guy that had one of the worst starts of anyone in baseball, that is not a bad way to come back.
- There was concern over the weekend with regards to Alfonso Soriano and his finger. Soriano suffered a dislocation that looked like it would keep him out of the lineup. In actuality, Soriano needs to dislocate it more often, as he registered two home runs over the weekend to go with a 3-for-7 mark against the Nationals.
- Jorge De La Rosa has been pretty impressive over the last 30 days. Over his last 27 innings, De La Rosa has a 3.67 ERA and has allowed only 23 hits and 13 walks for a WHIP of 1.33. The Rockies starter has racked up four wins in his last four starts, earning some rightful praise. De La Rosa put up a solid outing against Arizona his last time out.
- Yes, Kevin Millwood has been good this season, but the Red Sox have hit .325 against him as a team. Look to Jason Varitek, who has hit .407 in 27 at-bats against Millwood. All your normal Red Sox should be started, up to and including J.D. Drew. Drew has hit .333 against Millwood with a home run.
- Andy Pettitte has been awful at home, and he draws a team that has handled him decently in the Orioles. Aubrey Huff's struggles should have owners looking elsewhere already, and his 4-for-29 numbers against Pettitte certainly do not help his cause tonight. Otherwise, your Baltimore starters are going to suit you just fine. Pettitte is 1-2 in three July starts with a 7.27 ERA. He has a 5.72 ERA in 10 home starts in 2009.
- Something to watch in NL-only formats tonight. Jason Schmidt will try to take the hill again, after another half season lost to injury. Schmidt's contract has been nothing but a waste so far for the Dodgers, and anything they can get out of him is a bonus. Talk about Carl Pavano's contract as a waste in New York, how about the $37+ million paid by the dodgers for six games of Schmidt since the start of 2007?
- If a team gets to Ted Lilly, they get to him on the road. He is only 3-5 on the road this season with a 4.66 ERA. Given that Lilly is dealing with a slight knee injury, this may be the time to hold off on starting him if you have the option. Lilly is determined to start, but has been pushed back once already. The Phillies are swinging well, and this could be a spot they can take advantage.
- Yes, we are all exicted to have Kyle Lohse back in our lives, but the Astros are more excited than anyone. This is a team that has done some overall damage against Lohse. While Lance Berkman is only 5-for-25, Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Ivan Rodriguez, and Miguel Tejada have pounded Lohse. Avoid him in this one, especially where it is on the road.
- Nick Blackburn contines to be one of the only pitchers on the Twins fantasy owners should start on the road. He draws a weak hitting Oakland team, and has already had a decent outing against them in 2009. Based on his 3.41 road ERA and 2.81 July ERA, Blackburn remains a strong play in all formats.
- It seems every time one thinks that Livan Hernandez should get lit up, he comes through with a solid performance. So, take this for what it is worth. Hernandez has been owned by most of the Nationals you would want to start. Look to Josh Willingham, as he is 8-for-19 against Hernandez. Austin Kearns could find his way into the lineup if the numbers are played. Kearns is 12-for-29 with two home runs. Adam Dunn is just 5-for-27.
- While he is certainly up and down, Ross Ohlendorf continues to give deep-league owners something to go with each time out. At home, the Pirates starter is 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a BAA of .236. He is never going to overpower a hitter, but his work has been solid enough to play him inside Pittsburgh's city limits.
- Spot Starts: De La Rosa, Ohlendorf, Blackburn
- Josh Beckett has largely found success against the Rangers. Michael Young has struggled against the Boston starter, posting a 1-for-12 mark in his career. While Andruw Jones has hit .250, his recent struggles even with the power numbers make this a no-go. Beckett has been dominant in his four of his last five starts, and nothing should change that here.
- While Aaron Rowand has had a run of tough luck lately, he is 10-for-20 against Derek Lowe. Bengie Molina and Randy Winn have put up good numbers against the Braves starter as well. Lowe has had some decent starts and lacked run support, but the Giants have done well against him overall.
- Odd to see Albert Pujols struggle against anyone, but he is only 3-for-20 against Wandy Rodriguez. The Astros hurler has thrown very well at home this season, and only Mark DeRosa poses any real historical threat against him. While this should not have you benching Pujols, it should not have you concerned about starting Rodriguez.
- Randy Wolf is not being given enough respect. Yes, he has an ERA over 4.00 at home, but that is largely from a rough June that saw him struggle in back-to-back outings. Wolf has pitched very effectively, and the Reds should not pose an overall threat to him in this one. Deep leagues should look to him here.
- There was some concern over Aaron Cook missing his start before the All-Star break with stomach and back issues. He pitched well against the Padres, though, even striking out eight hitters. While he did not get a win last time out against Arizona, he pitched well enough to get a win. Still have to like Chad Tracy to get a start in this one, with his 20-for-47 numbers against Cook.
- Spot Starts: Dallas Braden, Randy Wolf, Chad Gaudin