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Henderson Alvarez posted by Marlins Fan

Born April 18, 1990 in Venezuela, Henderson Alvarez plays MLB for Miami Marlins as a pitcher. He started his professional baseball career in 2007, playing minor league for DSL Blue Jays 1, scoring 5.61 ERA, and going 1-2. In August 2008, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Blue Jays. During this time Alvarez, moved to the U.S. and played for GCL Blue Jays with a 5.67 strikeout to walk ratio, and 5.63 ERA. In 2009, he was promoted to Midwest League, Single-A Lansing Lugnuts team. He became an All-Star with a record of 9-6, and ERA of 3.47. In 2010, Alvarez played for Dunedin Blue Jays, a High-A team, and in 2011, he was promoted to New Hampshire Fisher Cats, a Double-A team.

In August 2011, Alvarez made his debut in MLB when he was called to replace Wil Ledezma. He pitched against the Oakland Athletics with four strikeouts, a single walk, and gave up three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. At the end of the same month, he had the first win of his career, over Baltimore Orioles at 13-0. Pitching in eight full innings, Alvarez had five strikeouts, no walks, and gave up only three hits. He became the youngest pitcher of the Jays to record a win. The 2012 season was not good for Alvarez, as he managed to strike out only 79 batters in 187.1 innings.

In November 2012, Florida Marlins acquired Alvarez in a trade, and most of the 2013 season he was on the disabled list for inflamed right shoulder. In July, he was back, and earned his first Marlin win against the Pittsburg Pirates. The first half season of 2014 was great for Alvarez, as he earned 8-5 record and appearance in All-Star. He finished the season with 2.65 ERA and a 12-7 record, which is the highest win for a Marlins pitcher.

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Joe Halstead

Halstead: Leave Ozzie Guillen Alone posted by Joe Halstead

I'd like to know who thinks that the United States shoiuld be described as a place where someone's unpopular opinion should cost that someone thousands of dollars.

Honestly, who believe that this is how our great country should be? No one?

I only ask this question because this is exactly what is happening to Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen.

Guillen expressed admiration for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro because of Castro's staying power amidst numerous assassination attempts, a decades-long embargo and enormous political pressure from Cuban dissidents abroad, most notably in southern Florida.

My God, hide the kids and bolt the doors- someone said something unpopular!

I could, at this point, expound on the possibility that Guillen was being slightly facetious. We might ask Guillen, for example, if Castro has been good for Cuba, or if Cubans should love Castro, or if other nations' leaders should emulate Castro's model of leadership. Surely, Ozzie Guillen would not answer in the affirmative to any of that.

However, this shouldn't even be the point. The man expressed an opinion that undoubtedly offends many, but in reality, hurts no one.

Fidel Castro didn't suddenly grow to be more powerful. He didn't become richer. He didn't gain in prestige. His health didn't improve. Nothing about Fidel Castro got better. But, you'd think that Ozzie Guillen put some personal doctors on a plane and sent them to guard Castro's health and his life, day and night. You'd think that Ozzie himself was seen at a photo op with his arm around Castro, beaming and clutching a Cuban cigar with his free hand. 

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Yankees look to fill Pettitte’s shoes in rotation posted by David

Following Andy Pettitte’s retirement announcement last week, the New York Yankees are left with a big hole in their starting rotation.  CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett are the team’s top three starters, while the last two spots are up for grabs.  Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre are options for Joe Girardi, but their limited experience in The Show may hurt their chances, as the Bronx Bombers tend to go with more established pitchers.  That leaves Freddy García (35) and Bartolo Colón (37), both of whom will try to prove they are not washed-up.

García won 12 games last season for the White Sox, but his 4.64 ERA is more indicative of the type of year he had.  I went to Chicago one weekend and actually saw him give up seven earned runs in just 2.1 innings of work against the Marlins.  The ChiSox eventually lost the game 13-0 in front of their home fans.  García surrendered three home runs in that game and 23 overall in only 157 innings pitched, numbers that are unlikely to improve if he makes half his starts at New Yankee Stadium.

Once a great pitcher, Colón has battled injuries over the last several years and didn’t pitch in the big leagues last season.  Since winning the Cy Young Award in 2005, Colón has accumulated just 14 wins, topping out at six in 2007.

The starting pitching challenges for Girardi don’t end there, as it’s anyone’s guess what kind of season Burnett will have.  In 2009 – his first year in pinstripes – Burnett posted a respectable 4.04 ERA to go with a 13-9 won-loss record.  In 2010, his ERA jumped to 5.26 while his record fell to 10-15.  He also led the majors in hit-batsmen, with 19 – the most batters a Yankee pitcher has hit in the last 100 years.

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Trevor Time calls it a day posted by David

Trevor Hoffman, Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader, announced his retirement this week after an illustrious 18-year big league career.  The seven-time All-Star finishes his career with 601 saves, a 61-75 record, a 2.87 ERA, and 1,133 strikeouts.  In 1089.1 innings pitched – spanning 1035 games – he surrendered exactly 100 home runs.  Hoffman spent the bulk of his career with the Padres, with whom he won four division titles and one National League pennant.

Hoffman was drafted as a position player, but after hitting .249 and .212 in his first two seasons in the low levels of the minors, the Reds turned him into a pitcher.  Hoffman found immediate success on the mound, going on to become a dominant closer for nearly two decades, but Cincinnati lost him to the Marlins in the 1992 Expansion Draft.  After half a season in the majors, he was traded to San Diego in a deal that sent Gary Sheffield to Florida.  Hoffman would spend the next 15 and a half seasons in a Padres uniform.

Hoffman’s best season came in 1998, when he recorded 53 saves (at the time, tied for second in a season), boasted an ERA of just 1.48 and a WHIP of 0.85, and allowed only two home runs.  In 73 innings, Hoffman struck out 86 batters while walking 21.  That same year, he came in second in Cy Young Award voting despite receiving more first-place votes (13) than the winner, Tom Glavine (11).  In an MVP race that saw sluggers Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire finish first and second, Hoffman came in

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Longer series are good for ball posted by David

Postseason sweeps are great if your team comes out victorious, but for the fan who just wants to see a good series because his team is already done for the year, sweeps make October less exciting.  The Phillies and Yankees outplayed their first-round opponents so it was no surprise that the Reds and Twins failed to win a single game, but the other two division series were more fun to watch.  Additionally, the League Championship Series in both the AL and NL will last a minimum of six games, which is how it should be.  A postseason series that features one team in complete control over the other is like a boxing match in which one fighter KO’s the other in the first round, but then fights him again the next night and does it all over again.  A series that goes the distance (or a game shy of it), on the other hand, is good for ball.

How ‘bout that?

How about Cody Ross?  The Giants outfielder hit two home runs against Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the NLCS and added one off Roy Oswalt in Game 2 to provide San Francisco with its only run of the game.  This feat of power against two of the league’s best pitchers comes after Ross hit only three long balls in 33 games after coming over in a trade from the Marlins.  Though closer Brian Wilson has struck out six in 3.1 scoreless innings of work, Ross’s .375/.474/1.063 line as an everyday player makes him the favorite for the series MVP should his team eliminate the two-time defending NL Champs and play in the Fall Classic for the first time since 2002.

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All-Star Game thoughts posted by David

Thank goodness Joey Votto (.314/.422/.589 with 22 home runs) was elected to the National League All-Star team via the Final Vote.  Billy Wagner, Carlos Gonzalez, and Ryan Zimmerman are great players and were all worthy of roster spots, but Votto should have been the NL’s starting first baseman over Albert Pujols, and it would have been a travesty had he not made it in the end.  Votto leads the NL in both On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage and is tied for the lead in home runs; if the season ended today, he’d likely be voted the league’s Most Valuable Player.  It’s too bad, then, that Votto went 0-2 and did not make an impact in the game.  (Each of the other first basemen on the National League side – Pujols, Ryan Howard, and Adrian Gonzalez – went 0-2 as well.)

In case you missed it, the pitchers who looked the most dominant among all the flame-throwing hurlers who took the mound on Tuesday night were not the starters, Ubaldo Jimenez and David Price.  The best of the best were Florida’s Josh Johnson, who looked strong in retiring all six hitters he faced – all of them starters for the American League – and Detroit closer Jose Valverde, who struck out the side in order in the top of the ninth to at least give the AL a chance to make a dramatic comeback.  Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, and Phil Hughes, like Jimenez, each gave up a couple of hits and Jonathan Broxton, who earned the save all showed they are not untouchable. 

How ‘bout that?

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Jamie Moyer: baseball's new Ageless Wonder posted by David

Julio Franco may be the oldest player in Major League history to hit a home run (he also holds a number of other oldest player records), but Jamie Moyer has established himself as the game’s new Ageless Wonder.  In throwing a two-hitter against the Braves on May 7th, the 47-year-old became the oldest player to throw a complete game shutout.

A perfect Mother’s Day

In case you missed it, Dallas Braden guaranteed his place in the record books earlier this month by throwing the 19th perfect game in Major League history.  A perfect game is always difficult to achieve, but throwing one against the Rays – the best team in baseball – is that much more impressive.  What’s also worth noting is that this was the first Complete Game of Braden’s career.  That said, the most perfect aspect about the achievement was that it occurred on Mother’s Day, with Braden’s grandmother, who raised him after his mother died of skin cancer, in the stands.

How ‘bout that?

How about Andre Ethier?  Leading all three Triple Crown categories (.392 AVG, 11 HR, 38 RBI’s) in the National League as of a week ago, Ethier is the most feared hitter in the Dodger lineup (even more than Manny Ramirez), but will spend at least the next couple weeks on the Disabled List with a broken bone in his pinky finger.  His injury is bad news for the Dodgers.

How about Ty Wigginton?  After hitting 11 home runs all of last season, Wigginton is tied for second in the majors with 12 homers and still has a week and a half left to play in the month of May!  The Oriole infielder slugged just .400 in 2009 but boasts a .617 slugging percentage through the first eight weeks of 2010.

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Oh, what a night! posted by David

As if Ubaldo Jimenez’s no-hitter was not enough excitement for one day, the Mets and Cardinals took part in a marathon contest, playing a 20-inning game Saturday in St. Louis.  If that does not…, the most remarkable part of the monumental occasion was that the two teams went scoreless through the first 18 frames!  That’s like back-to-back shutouts being thrown by both teams!  In a game that took nearly seven hours and featured an astounding 18 pitchers (two of whom were actually position players that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sent to the hill), three Met hitters – Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, and Jeff Francoeur – went a combined 0 for 21.  That is an ugly line in the box score for three of the team’s four best offensive players.

How ‘bout that?

How about Roy Halladay?  In his first four starts, Halladay is 4-0 with a 0.82 ERA and a 0.879 WHIP.  He has thrown two complete games – including one shutout – and in 33 innings pitched, has struck out 28 while walking three.  The ace of the Philadelphia pitching staff has more wins than walks, and has collected as many hits (three) in the batter’s box as he has allowed earned runs.  With a strong team playing behind him, Halladay has a real chance to become baseball’s first 25-game winner since Bob Welch, who in 1990 won 27 of his 35 starts.

How about Jorge Cantu?  The Marlins infielder had a hit and an RBI in the first 10 games of 2010 to set a new record to begin a season.  It is worth noting that Cantu also collected a hit and RBI in the last four games he played in 2009 and dating back to last year, he has a 20-game hitting streak.  Cantu’s consistency has helped Florida to a 9-7 record thus far – just a game and a half behind the division-leading Phillies.  To put into perspective how impressive Cantu’s hit-and-RBI streak is, consider this: during Joe Dimaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941, the longest RBI streak he put together was seven consecutive games; in fact, The Yankee Clipper even went seven games straight

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John Frascella

Have the Rockies locked up the NL Wild Card? posted by John Frascella

As it stands right now, the Colorado Rockies are 4.5 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the National League Wild Card race. The Rockies have been a bit of a surprise team this season, after an unimpressive '08 campaign and the loss of Matt Holliday during the offseason. They've thrived after the firing of Clint Hurdle, as Jim Tracy has pushed the right buttons, rarely ever taking a misstep.

Considering the way they've played in recent months, is a 4.5 game cushion plenty for the Rockies? Can the Giants, Marlins, and Braves kiss their playoff hopes goodbye?

Well, I've never quite been a believer in the Giants. Sure they have Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain at the top of their rotation, but it's difficult to gather momentum with an offense as impotent as theirs. They'd be tough in a short series because of their starting pitching, but I doubt they'll get to that point. 

I thought the Braves would put up more of a fight than they have, but Chipper Jones is clearly spiraling toward the end of his spectacular career. Like the Giants, the Braves don't score enough to rattle off consecutive victories at the right juncture in time. 

The Marlins are hungry -- I feel like we've all been saying that for years -- but I don't trust their starting pitching outside of stud Josh Johnson. All things considered, it looks like relatively smooth sailing for the Rockies the rest of the way out. 

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Michael McGauley

"Giants Have Reportedly Signed Brad Penny" posted by Michael McGauley

  The Giants desperately need a number five starter, and have apparently filled that void with today's waiver acquisition of former Dodger and Marlin Brad Penny.  After a brief stint in Boston, Penny was released after 24 starts, and cleared waivers.  The Giants were one of at least six teams interested in the one-time all-star; who won 16 games in back-to-back seasons with the Dodgers in '06 and '07.  

  Penny posted a 7-and-8 record and a 5.61 ERA (1.53 WHIP) with the Red Sox this season.  Penny spent four-plus seasons in L.A. following a six-player trade in 2004, that sent him West from the Florida Marlins for Paul LoDuca and Guillermo Mota.  Penny was once a part of the same rotation as Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett in South Florida - what were the fish thinking in breaking up that trio?  

  San Francisco has got to do something short of going to a four-man rotation.  The combination of Joe Martinez and Ryan Sadowski has not been the answer.  Too bad things have gone so terribly wrong for Noah Lowry - remember him?  I was kind of hoping to see Lowry eventually return from injury (as well as some legal allegations made against the Giants' medical staff), and grab that number five slot.  

  What about Madison Bumgartner?  The kid has thrown a lot of innings between Single-A and Double-A, and it makes sense NOT to throw him into such a pressure-cooker at this point of the season.  Bumgartner, who was a combined 12-and-2 with an ERA under two; just recently turned twenty August 1st.  He will likely pitch most of next year at the Triple-A level before getting called to the Giants. 

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