Saturday Afternoon Baseball Thoughts: Hurricane Irene Edition

MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 18: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers talks with Rod Barajas #28 against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on August 18, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

I just got back from running errands with my mother, getting caught up on some baseball news, and here are some things that I came across in the last 30 minutes or so:

From Buster Olney over at ESPN in his Saturday morning blog:

The DodgersClayton Kershaw is a Cy Young candidate, of course, with a 2.51 ERA and a 16-5 record. Consider this: Left-handed batters have 49 strikeouts in 129 at-bats against him, and have posted a .497 OPS. Since the All-Star break, Kershaw is 7-1 with a 1.37 ERA. One evaluator told me he now considers Kershaw to be the best young pitcher in the majors, ahead of Felix Hernandez or any other guy younger than 27.

Kershaw will be a strong candidate for NL Cy Young, and if he doesn't win it this year, he will have plenty more opportunities in his career. He is just 23 years old and is already an ace. A dominant ace. One that teams can build around, and the Dodgers are in a rebuilding process right now. But they have some young arms coming up, or already up, from the minors, including Allen Webster, Nathan Eovaldi, the injured Rubby de la Rosa, and in a few years Zach Lee and Garret Gould. Eovaldi and RDLR have already pitched in the big leagues this year and proven they are ready.

That's why I think the Dodgers should deal Chad Billingsley and Andre Ethier this offseason. Ethier is still a good hitter, but the power appears gone. Billingsley could be one of those pitchers who need a change of scenery. He has underperformed expectations for a few years now, so why not see what you can get for him.

More thoughts after the jump:

Over at Minor League Ball, John Sickels wrote in his Saturday Minor League Notes the following:

**Colorado Rockies southpaw prospect Tyler Matzek had a terrific start last night for Low-A Asheville, going seven innings against Hagerstown, allowing two hits, two walks, and one run, fanning 13. This was the second start in a row where he's shown both command and stuff; he fanned nine with two walks in seven innings on August 21st. His overall numbers since being demoted from High-A: 4.89 ERA in 11 starts, 43 hits, 72/46 K/BB. The K/IP ratio is terrific.

Matzek has made a dramatic turnaround after having left the Rockies to go back to work out his mechanics with his HIGH SCHOOL pitching coach. Good for the Rockies for being open-minded enough to allow him to do this. The move could turn his career around.

More from Olney:

1. The AstrosJ.D. Martinez is hitting .450 with runners on base, with 18 hits in 40 at-bats, including seven doubles and four homers; that's a .925 slugging percentage. And overall, he's got 15 extra-base hits in 95 at-bats.

Martinez is hitting .295-.333-.558 with 5 HRs, 10 doubles, 14 runs and 24 RBI in just 95 at bats. His .263 ISO is the highest since rookie ball in 2009.

TrueBlueLA's Eric Stephen wrote about Matt Kemp reaching the 30-30 club last night. He is the second Dodger, and 35th player in baseball history to join the club. Eric provided a chart of the fastest players to reach 30-30 and Kemp's is the 12th fastest in baseball history.

The Rockies are going to stick with Rafael Betancourt as their closer for the time being. Some quotes from Rockies manager Jim Tracy from the Denver Post:

"I'm not going to pull the plug on Betancourt right now," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "I can't do that . . . can't do it. It's a decision that's being made in the best interests of the players and the club, period."

 

Betancourt, the Rockies' usual setup man, has been lights out in recent weeks, allowing one unearned run and striking out 30 in his last 20 outings, a span of 17 2/3 innings. He converted three saves in Street's absence. He will get the opportunity for more.

 

"I think it goes without saying that you wouldn't expect a guy to be moved to the side and back to the eighth inning and throw Huston right back in there," Tracy said. "That may end up playing out badly for Huston if you want to get right down to it.

 

"With the work that Rafael Betancourt is doing right now, I don't think it's fair to the club and I don't think it's fair to either individual to flip-flop that out immediately. It's much better for us and them if we kind of ease Streeter back in."

It will be interesting to see who closes for the Rockies in 2012, as I would not be surprised if they traded Street this offseason. The Rockies have plenty of solid bullpen arms who could step into the role next season including Betancourt, Matt Lindstrom and Rex Brothers.

 

I was looking at how bad the performance of the crop of third baseman has been this season, and I wonder who I would rather have in 2012: Alex Rodriguez or Aramis Ramirez. Taking a look at the trend in their stats, I think I would rather have ARam.

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