Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hamels Nearly Perfect, Furcal En Fuego!

When Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels first came up last year, I admit the first thing I noticed about him was that his first name and that it matched my last name... I still remember the first time I saw him pitch on TV last year, and marveling at his breaking balls and his great command... With 145 strikeouts in only 132 1/3 innings, a solid 4.08 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, I knew he was someone I definitely wanted on my fantasy teams this year. While I didn't get him on a lot of teams this year, I got him in a couple of my more important leagues...

Last night, Hamels was perfect for six innings. A walk and a J.J. Hardy homer to beging the seventh ended that... still, the performance was overwhelming: 8 innings pitched, 2 hits allowed, 2 runs allowed, 1 walk and 11 strikeouts. After last night's 6-2 Philly win, he now owns a 6-1 record, a 3.30 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and 70 strikeouts (2nd in the league to Padres ace Jake Peavy). At only 23 years of age, Hamels is looking like someone who is going to be a star for a very long time if he can remain healthy...


What in the world has gotten into the L.A. Dodgers' Rafael Furcal??? This past Saturday night, as I was watching the Dodgers game against the Cincinnati Reds I noticed that his batting average had fallen to .214. Furcal's historically a slow starter as I mentioned to a few people on Ron Shandler's Baseball HQ site. I also made mention that I was going to "aggressively target" Furcal in my fantasy leagues. So what happens? Furcal gets hits in his final two at bats to raise his average to .228. Over the next three nights, Furcal tallied an amazing four hits each game, while only making two outs total over that time, raising his batting average to .297. Last night, incredibly, he got a hit in his first at bat to get over the .300 mark! Outs in his final three at bats pushed him back down to .295. What an AMAZING run! Needless to say, it's probably too late now to try to buy Furcal low in your leagues... This past weekend, I did manage to make a trade for him in one league, giving up the Twins' Torii Hunter straight up for him. Hunter is a career .271 hitter who happens to be hitting .322 at the moment... expect that batting average to fall over the coming months. My only regret is that I didn't make that trade a day or two sooner, as Furcal's stats won't start counting for my team until next Monday...


As for the games, well the aforementioned Dodgers won again 5-4 behind the resurgent Randy Wolf... The Angels shut out the Seattle Mariners 5-0 as their ace, John Lackey, threw six strong innings. The Washington Nationals won for the fifth time in six games as Ryan Zimmerman homered and doubled and Ryan Church hit a three run double in the fifth inning... Jon Rauch picked up his second save of the year for the Nats. For all of you Chad Cordero owners, fear not! He will be back in the closer's role starting on Friday. My condolences go out to Chad and his family as his ailing Grandmother passed on this past weekend.


Time to switch gears to the NBA Playoffs for a moment. Being a lifelong spoiled Los Angeles Lakers fan, it's always hard to get into the playoffs when my Lakers are no longer in them. This year, I guess I have to be rooting for the San Antonio Spurs - I like a lot of their players such as Tim Duncan and ex-Laker Robert Horry, and I'm really not a fan of the Phoenix Suns... Last night, the Spurs rallied from a 16 point deficit to defeat the Suns 88-85 and take a 3-2 lead in the best of seven series... Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 26 points and 10 rebounds.


Finally, just what happened on American Idol last night??? I really don't know... I'm still in shock that Melinda Doolittle got eliminated. I had picked her to win from the beginning as she definitely seemed to have the "complete package." So much talent and such an AMAZING voice, and a spirit that reminded me of 2005 winner, Carrie Underwood... I'm going to make a prediction now: Melinda is going to sell more records than either of the two finalists on this year's show. Two years ago, I correctly predicted when they were down to 24 contestants that Carrie and Bo Bice would be the two finalists with Carrie winning... I picked Taylor Hicks to win when they were down to 20 contestants last year - though I said at the time that Chris Daughtry was going to be more successful commercially... This year, I picked Melinda and LaKisha Jones as the two finalists when they were at 24... Needless to say, the past two weeks have been a little humbling to me as far as A.I. goes.

With the whole Sanjaya thing earlier this season, and with the two best singing talents not even making it to the finals, you have to think that some of the long time fans of the show (such as myself) are feeling a little disappointed this morning.

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