TNP, the Twins and Howard!

Sorry, I’ve been away for a while. Last week, I was at the hospital with family as my first nephew was being born. Nothing says fun like a baby….and a time of birth of 2:04 a.m! We looked worse than Hayden Penn’s performance on Sunday. Just got back from a couple days at the beach, brought along the satellite to listen to some games.

-For a second, I thought Rick Cerrone was back behind the plate for the Yankees before I realized it was Sal Fasano. It’s good to see Sal caught on with the juggernaut!

-I had to research for myself Johan Santana’s career post All-Star break stats.  Wow, 43-9 with a 2.56 ERA! 21-4 in August and 11-3 September. Jeez, I guess last night’s two-hit, 12-K gem couldn’t come as a shock. He’s 8-0 since the All-Star Break and leads the AL with 17 wins, a 2.84 ERA and 219 strikeouts. In other words, I think he’s pulling away in the AL Cy Young Race, apologies to Roy Halladay. It’s funny, two months ago, my Red Sox friends were talking up Papelbon for Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and the Nobel Prize. I guess things just have a way of working themselves out. Santana just might get AL MVP consideration if he keeps his great run in tact and the Twins make the playoffs. I know that race will be **** shoot-Ortiz, Jeter, Morneau, to name a few.
My friend, Steve, gets credit for coming up with the nickname for Santana way back in 2003-TNP (The Next Pedro). He couldn’t believe the Twins kept using him in the bullpen before making him a starter.
I saw some of the Twins last week. Jeez, Dennys Reyes has been an incredible shot in the arm for the Twins bullpen. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 2 months (27 appearances). Reyes is 4-0 with a 0.85 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings this season. Pat Neshek has been a nice addition as well with a 3-0 mark and 1.35 ERA.  Of course, I’ve felt that Joe Nathan has been as productive as any closer in the game the past couple of seasons. Nathan is headed for this 3rd straight 30-plus save season converting 29 of 31 opportunities to go along with a 6-0 record and a 1.74 ERA. This is a huge reason why the Twins have been able to be a player in the Wild Card Race, especially while the Chosen One (Francisco Liriano) has been on the shelf for the past month.

-I listened to Ryan Howard’s 3-home run game on Sunday. I just started laughing after his 3rd one, wow! He’s definitely making his case for MVP. 
Howard’s power numbers are hard to ignore (duh!)-the major-league leading 53 HR and 134 RBI. The timing of his production should be noted. The Phils were a lost cause when I saw them against the Devil Rays in mid-June. It seems like his production is keeping them in the wild card race. If the Phils make the playoffs, it could be the extra push Howard, the NL’s Player of the Month for August, needs for the MVP.
Pujols isn’t a slouch as he had a three-home run game Sunday too. Compared with Howard, Pujols has the edge over Howard in batting average (.321 to .309), on-base percentage (.424 to .403) and slugging (.686 to .665) and runs (102 to 89). However, Howard does have a 334 to 303 lead in total bases over his St. Louis counterpart and has one more walk (78 to 77) than Pujols. In the strikeout category, Pujols’ 40 are 114 less than Howard, whose 154 K are second in the majors!
Soriano’s chances for MVP might be fading but through not fault of his own. Soriano, who is four stolen bases away from 40-40, has been nothing short of spectacular for the Na ts, even if it might be for one season. Could you imagine the Na ts without Soriano this year? They would be the worst team in baseball. People know the numbers, 44 home runs, 86 RBI, 104 runs scored as well as a solid .290 average.  Throw in the MLB leading 19 outfield assists as well. Jim Bowden’s best trade yet! Beltran and Wright have had great seasons as well, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t think the production of one Met can be placed above the others. I think Beltran, Wright and Reyes knock each other out.
The passionate fans of Philly and St. Louis of course will have their say. Pujols has been the same amazing player he’s been since coming into the league. In his second season, Howard has already slugged his way into the upper echelon of premier power hitters.  Should be a great couple of final weeks.

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