Hello again everybody...
Congratulations to you all! Once again, we've cheated the employment gods and made it to another weekend!
And it's not just any weekend, it's Preakness weekend. Of course, I completely spaced that on Wednesday when I was whining about not having things to write about. Lovely.
Today's DFTU day of course, so I won't spend a lot of time on it. Fortunately, there's not a lot to spend time on.
Unlike the Derby's bursting 20-horse field, only 12 horses will run in the Preakness. Of those 12, only five ran in the Derby, and only two factored in the finish. Derby winner Super Saver will try to set up a Triple Crown threat, while Paddy O'Prado - who finished third - will try to play spoiler. Also hoping to spoil Super Saver's bid will be Lookin at Lucky, the Morning Line favorite in the Derby.
Not running in the Preakness is my Derby pick, Ice Box. His owners and trainers decided to rest him and point him towards a run at the Belmont. I can hardly blame them, the Belmont certainly suits his style better than the Preakness. But it would've been fun to see what Ice Box could've done with this smaller field.
The drama in this race is going to completely surround Super Saver. Can Calvin Borel guide him to a Preakness win and set him up for a Triple Crown attempt? Or will another horse spoil his efforts, and render the Belmont anti-climactic?
Last year, I correctly picked Rachel Alexandra as the Preakness winner. Can I make it two-for-two this year?
The only serious threats to Super Saver in my mind are Paddy O'Prado and Lookin at Lucky. None of the newcomers impress me a whit. Paddy wasn't able to catch Super Saver in the Derby and the Preakness is run at a shorter distance, so I don't see him doing it here. Lucky got an unlucky trip at the Derby and never recovered. Trainer Bob Baffert was so unhappy with the jockey Garret Gomez, that he switched to Martin Garcia for the Preakness. That kind of drama doesn't bode well for Lucky in my mind.
The bottom line is that there isn't another horse in the field with Super Saver's speed. And with the shorter distance at Pimlico, speed will be worth even more than it was in the Derby. Super Saver got an ideal draw at post position 8, and Calvin Borel is as good as it gets in the saddle.
Your 2010 Preakness winner? Super Saver. Book it!
Post time is 5:12pm central. Coverage is on NBC. Check your local listings.
That's it for the ponies... time to get Updated!
”If you put tomfoolery into a computer, nothing comes out of it but tomfoolery. But this tomfoolery, having passed through a very expensive machine, is somehow ennobled and no-one dares criticize it.”
- Pierre Gallois (1911 - ), French air force brigade general and geopolitician
Let me assure you Monsieur Gallois, I've put plenty of tomfoolery into a computer, and it's been thoroughly criticized... as it should be... mostly.
With that, it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...
Dan's Favorite Teams Update
Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 22-12, in first place in the AL Central and 2.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers.
A week later, not a whole lot has changed for the Twins. Their lead has shrunk by a half-game (not terribly important), Joe Mauer's back from being injured (okay, that's fairly important), and Jose Mijares has returned from the disabled list (all right, that's potentially terrifying).
Outside of that, the team is in much the same position as they were last week.
The most important difference? The upcoming schedule.
Last week, the Twins were in the midst of a series with the Orioles, and looking forward to facing the White Sox... all at home. This week, they're off on a seven-game road trip that will take them to New York, Toronto and Boston. Oof.
Let's start with the Yankees. As we all know, the Twins scored the big doughnut last year against the Bombers. A fat 0-10. So I should feel pessimistic, right? I should be trembling at the thought of another trip to the Bronx, correct?
Okay, I am.
But I'm also filled with anxious anticipation. This is a different Twins squad than last year. There are pieces here that Minnesota didn't possess in 2009. And given their great start, it's fair for Twins fans to wonder just how good this team can be. And what better measuring stick could there be than a trip to New York?
All due respect to the Rays, who have the best record in baseball, but the Yankees are still the measuring stick. If you want to be an elite team, especially in the American League, you've got to be able to hang with the Bombers.
So while I'm terrified that they might post another goose-egg this weekend, I know that if they're going to be as good as I hope they are, this weekend is the crucible which will help determine their quality.
And honestly, the situation couldn't be more in their favor. The Yankees are scuffling, having just dropped 3 of four to the Tigers (yes, the same Tigers that the Twins swept just over a week ago). Plus, the Twins get to miss the Bombers two best pitchers, CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. In response, the Twins' two best pitchers of late, FranKKKie Liriano and Nick Blackburn will bookend the three-game set.
I fully expect to have no fingernails left whatsoever by the time the weekend's done. But if things fall the Twins' way, that might be a good thing. Who knows?!
We find out starting tonight as Scott Baker (4-2, 4.57) faces A.J. Burnett (4-1, 3.40) in the opener. Then Saturday afternoon Liriano (4-1, 2.36) takes the hill against Andy Pettitte (4-0, 2.08). Finally, Nick Blackburn (3-1, 4.76) squares off against Sergio Mitre (0-1, 3.86).
After their trip to the Bronx, the Twins are off to Toronto for two, and then play two at Fenway Pahk against the Red Sox (whom I still hate, even though they suck), before returning home for the start of interleague play against the Brewers!
I've got the jitters already!
Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 14-21, in last place in the NL West and 8.5 games behind the San Diego Padres.
Perhaps not much has changed for the Twins, but a LOT had changed for Arizona in a week.
The Snakes have now lost six in a row and seven of their last ten.
Last week I cautioned D'backs fans not to get too excited about taking three of four from the woeful Astros. I also said that a wake-up call was in the offing with the Brewers coming to town.
That wake-up call took the form of a three-game sweep where the Crew out-scored Arizona 26-6. And they promptly followed that disaster up with a three-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, who only outscored them 26-9. So there's that...
I do so hate to be repetitious, but after a point, the Diamondbacks sort of are what they are. They've got bats that can get hot and score a lot of runs. They've got starting pitching that can, at times, be effective. And they've got a bullpen that's just plain gawd-awful.
The problem is, when your bullpen's that bad, there's only so much the rest of the club can do. You simply can't win consistently trying to out-mash the other club on a nightly basis. And when you get a rare quality-start by a starting pitcher, you have to be able to make that hold up, or you've really got no shot.
Case in point... Dan Haren struck out the first nine Dodgers he faced on Tuesday night - a franchise record. He scuffled a bit after that, but still went 6.1 innings and kept his team in line for a win. The final score? 13-3 Dodgers.
Seriously?! How is a team supposed to have a shred of confidence if the bullpen can't hold up for their best starter?
The question is, what can the Diamondbacks do about it? In the short-term there don't seem to be many easy answers. If there were better relievers in the pipeline, they'd have been called up by now. It's not like they can go out an make trades. Nobody's going to be dealing relief pitching this early in the season.
Instead it seems like manager A.J. Hinch is going to have to live with what he's got, and hope that shaking up the roles in the bullpen results in finding a combination that works. That's not much hope to cling to, but I'm really not sure what their other options are.
I doubt a coaching-change is in the works. The Snakes tried that last year to mediocre results.
Dammit, it's only May. I shouldn't be this down on one of my clubs. Unfortunately, I think we're in for another roller-coaster year in the Valley. They're going to have their hot streaks, but the cold-streaks look like they'll be longer, and far more impactful.
Maybe a road-trip would help?
The Diamondbacks try to get the ship righted starting tonight in Atlanta (who can't hit water falling out of a boat right now). Ian Kennedy (2-2, 3.48) goes tonight against Kenshin Kawakami (0-6, 5.73). That match-up certainly favors Arizona. Tomorrow night Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 4.30) takes the mound against Tommy Hanson (3-2, 2.30). That one doesn't. Sunday Dan Haren (4-2, 4.23) tries to get the monkey off his back against Tim Hudson (3-2, 2.64). Suddenly I'm not so encouraged.
Then next week they head to Florida for a quick two-gamer before they're back home for another two-gamer against San Francisco, followed by interleague play next weekend against the Blue Jays.
That's going to wrap things up for this week. Have a great weekend, enjoy the Preakness and I'll see you all back here on Monday!
Until then, thanks for reading!