For the second weekend in a row the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race on Saturday night. This week the drivers go to the Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400 Due to inclement weather qualifying was cancelled so the field was set according to owners points. That puts Kevin Harvick on the pole with Brad Keslowski joining him in the front row. In the row behind them Kurt Busch will start 3rd and Keslowdki’s teammate Joey Logano will start 4th. Carl Edwards rounds out the Top 5 as he’ll start the race 5th. In the 4th and final practice Edwards posted the fastest time at 187.448 MPH, he was followed by Martin Truex Jr. at 186.528 MPH Kyle Larson was third fastest at 186/387 MPH while Dale Earhardt Jr. 186.091 MPH and Kyle Busch 185.989 MPH rounded out the Top 5 fastest times in practice. Counting tonight’s race in Kentucky there are 9 races left before The Chase starts. There are 11 drivers with a win this season and an automatic spot in The Chase and that includes Tony Stewart who is currently 30th in driver points, but has his win to get into The Chase. Remember now that Stewart has a win he has to stay in the Top 30 in driver points to qualify for The Chase. This is no lock for Stewart as he finds himself 31 points behind 29th place David Ragan, but just 3 points ahead of 31st place Brian Scott. Ryan Blaney is currently holding on to the last spot in The Chase. Blaney has a 4 point lead on Jamie McMurray for that last spot. Right now McMurray would be the driver would make The Chase if Stewart was to fall below that 30th place spot. Can a driver pick up their 1st win of the season tonight in Kentucky and punch there ticket into The Chase or will it be a driver who already has a win heading to victory lane at the end of the night?
It looks like the Boston Red Sox are getting a jump on the July 31st trading deadline as they’ve made three deals in the last three days. On Thursday the Red Sox sent two minor league players, pitcher Aaron Wilkerson and second baseman Wendell Rijo to the Milwaukee Brewers for infielder Aaron Hill. To make room for Hill on there 40-man roster the Red Sox designated outfielder Ryan LaMarre for assignment.
Milwaukee picked up Hill this off season in a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Hill was having a bounce back season for the Brewers. Hill was hitting .283 with 8 homers and 29 RBI’s for Milwaukee. His slugging percentage was .421 and his on base percentage was .780. Hill is capable of playing all the infield spots, but it looks like the Red Sox acquired him for help at 3rd base. It’s doubtful that Hill would take over as Boston’s everyday 3rd baseman, but could end up in a platoon with Travis Shaw.
On Friday, the Red Sox started the day by picking up utility man Michael Martinez from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. Martinez has played 2nd, 3rd and all three outfield positions for the Indians this season. In 32 games for Cleveland this season Martinez was hitting .283 with 1 home run and 3 RBI’s. His slugging percentage was .383 and his on base plus slugging was .690 for Cleveland. Martinez is 33 years old and it’s a little unclear what his role with the Red Sox will be.
Then a little later on Friday the Red Sox sent minor league pitcher Jose Almonte and minor league middle infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe to the Arizona Diamondbacks for closer Brad Ziegler. The big rumor was that the Red Sox would make a deal for a starting pitcher and they still might, but with Craig Kimbrell unavailable for Friday’s game because of knee soreness, Ziegler would be a quality fill in.
With Kimbrell unavailable, former closer Koji Uehara recieved the save chance. Don’t forget that Boston lost Carson Smith to Tommy John surgery after he pitched just 2 2/3rd innings this season. Also the Red Sox main set up man Junichi Tazawa was unavailable Friday due to shoulder discomfort. Ziegler has appeared in 36 games for the Diamondbacks this season covering 38 1/3rd innings. His ERA is 2.82 and he’s saved 18 games. Ziegler has set up man experience; so while Kimbrell is the full time closer in Boston Ziegler should have no trouble at all slotting into a 7th or 8th inning role.
Now being a baseball fan I am a fan of stats. As a young baseball fan I learned to do multiplication and division by figuring out batting averages and ERA’s along with any other baseball stat I could find. Sabermetrics have a stat for just about everything and I really think things have gotten out of control. Here’s my example and you’ll have to let me know f you agree or disagree. I was listening to the local Chicago sports talk station and the host was explaining how RBI’s are meaningless because you’re just driving in your teammates who got themselves into scoring position. He then went on to explain that there’s no such thing as clutch hitting in baseball.
While I don’t agree with either of these arguments I’ve heard them enough now to just kind of let it go. There was no reason to call into his show as anyone who didn’t agree with the host was called “stupid” and hung up on. Now the thing that really got me and just pushed me over the edge is when the host used fielding independent pitching stats to say that Jose Quintana was the best pitcher in the American League. Quintana has an ERA of 3.06 in 17 starts this season and has a record of 6-8, but they’ll tell you to throw the record out, so we won’t look at that. I do think that Quintana is a top of the rotation starter for any team in baseball but the best in the American League is a little much for me to believe. There are quite a few people who will tell you he’s not even the best pitcher on his team, the Chicago White Sox. If you had your choice of starting pitchers off of the White Sox roster wouldn’t you take Chris Sale before Quintana?
I understand that no matter what I think or try to do, Sabermetrics are the way baseball is going and teams are even using them to build their rosters. Again I have no problem with stats as a whole. I just have a problem with stats that lead me and or my favorite team down the wrong path.
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