The Urena Express: 6/24/21

By Steven Urena

“See that look in their eyes, Rock? When we fought, Rock, I trained hard but I didn’t have that look in my eyes. You had it, you won. You gotta get that look back, Rock. Eye of the tiger, man. Eye of the tiger.” -Apollo Creed, Rocky III


Who’s Your Daddy?
Sometimes you gotta take your beating like a man. Don’t make excuses, don’t play the blame game and move on. The Padres have our number this season. It’s been evident the past three games. They look hungry, motivated and are playing with confidence. The Dodgers often look like they are pressing, nervous and content to rest on their laurels. The Dodgers seem to have no trouble with the rest of the league but the Padres and Giants give them just about all they can handle. This is a receipt for failure if we end up meeting one of them in the first round of the playoffs. Sure, anything can happen in the playoffs but I would like to see a little more fight. Talk smack, play angry, do something! Dodgers, people forgot who you are. It’s time to remind them. Eye of the tiger, man, eye of the tiger.

Keep Your Sticky Hands Off Me
Check out the exchange between Max Scherzer and Joe Girardi. Girardi wanted the umpires to check Scherzer for foreign substances. Scherzer was ready to strip down to the bone. He had some choice words for Girardi and a little stare down. Girardi was ready to throw fisticuffs.

After 12 years in education I learned a few things. One of them is when you accuse someone that did something wrong, they sometimes get angry when you accuse them. In order to throw you off their scent, they throw a fit and pretend like they did nothing wrong, when in fact they did. They go over the top and try to intimidate the teacher. Sometimes that’s what these pitchers look like. They throw off their hat, glove and are ready to remove layers of clothes. The umpires are doing their job, there’s no need to take it personal.

On another note, are these inspections necessary? How long until they get old? It doesn’t seem to take away from the tempo of the game. It’s done between innings and honestly, when they show coverage I am locked in. I could see how pitchers are bothered by the inspections but then again, this is going to be the new norm.

Makes You Wander
Wander Franco made his MLB debut last night. Coming into the season, Franco was the clear #1 prospect on everyone’s lists. The 20-year-old only went 2 for 4 with a three run home run. If expectations were not already high, now they are soaring. One of the hardest things to do is to predict whether or not a prospect can consistently hit big league pitching. So far, Franco has dominated every level he has played in (A and AAA). There is a lot to like about the young man. Strong, athletic, fast and an 80 rating for his hitting (which most likely projects to an over .300 batting average). Franco’s next game, he went 0fer but he walked twice. The scouts always raved about his batting eye.

Francisco Lindor
Lindor came into June below the Mendoza Line. Currently, he sits at .224. He caught fire for a three game stretch then went hitless his next five at-bats and last night he had two hits with a homerun. It’s safe to say, Lindor has been a big disappointment so far. When you get the big bucks, you need to be consistent. Lindor has been a coin flip. The Mets still sit atop the hapless AL East but injuries have loomed. Jacob deGrom has exited a few games with elbow discomfort. Marcus Stroman just went on the IL (he’s on my fantasy team, shocker). Joey Lucchesi may need Tommy John. Ouch!

Lost Angeles Dodgers
Justin Turner got us all excited when he said the 19 games between the Dodgers and Padres would be like 19 “game 7’s.” They have been high intensity but I am not getting the Game 7 feels. Just from the Padres. Sure, we ultimately have the last laugh but last year’s success will not win us games this year. Yesterday is as old as dirt, tomorrow is a mystery so the Dodgers need to make today their masterpiece. Today is a gift, that’s why we call it “the present.” 

Giant Props
The San Francisco Giants are not getting enough credit. They lead the MLB with 48 wins. Behind them is the Oakland A’s and Houston Astros with 46. I bleed blue and I hate to see the Giants win a gunny sack race but they are playing great baseball. I finally saw the Giants ranked number one in the MLB Power Rankings. About time! The A’s and Astros have been duking it out. The Astros have won 10 in a row and the A’s keep grinding out victories. The best baseball is West Coast baseball!

El Mago or Mr. Magoo?
Javy Baez was doubled up a few nights ago for losing track of the outs. Baez was on first and took off on a routine fly ball. He thought there were two outs and ended up getting doubled up at first. I gave David Ross a lot of credit for benching him. That took some guts. Another observation I made was how bad baserunning is in the MLB. Aside from Baez’s blunder, I’ve seen other players make some bonehead mistakes. In college, we covered baserunning extensively and it’s hard to believe some of these guys lack so much baseball common sense. They run into outs, leave early when tagging up, go when they shouldn’t, etc. It’s nuts and such bad baseball.

Trade Deadline
You have to imagine that Max Scherzer is going to be highly touted. The Nationals may want to save some money after they tank. He would be valuable to most teams – Dodgers, Giants, Rays, Mets, etc. Power relievers are another valuable asset in October. I would not be surprised to see some serious moves this trade deadline. Many teams are one player away from making a deep playoff run.

My Bold Predictions
My NL MVP Prediction: Juan Soto (WAS).
Frontrunners: Jacob deGrom (NYM), Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD), Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)
If deGrom stays healthy, he will win every award. I liked Soto before the season but an injury set him back. Tatis and Acuna keep hitting bombs and making headlines. 

My AL MVP Prediction: Mike Trout (LAA)
Frontrunners: Vlad Guerrero Jr. (TOR), Shohei Ohtani (LAA).
Trout was killing the baseball before he hit the IL. He will be out 6-8 weeks and this might be enough to cost him the MVP. Guerrero and Ohtani are on fire. Both are worthy of the award right now. I think Ohtani ends up pulling it off.

My NL Cy Young Prediction: Walker Buehler (LAD)
Frontrunner: Jacob deGrom (NYM)
I took a shot with Buehler. Who knew deGrom would have the most dominant start in baseball history? My horse is still 7-0 with a 2.38 ERA and he took a no-no into the 8th his last start. deGrom looks like a man among boys. If he ends up going down this season, I still like Buehler if he has a strong finish.

My AL Cy Young Prediction: Gerrit Cole (NYY)
Frontrunner: Gerrit Cole….I guess.

Cole is still the favorite to win the award but he seems more mortal these days. Especially since sticky stuff is going to be outlawed. The White Sox have a few horses in the mix (Lance Lynn, Carlos Rodon, Liam Hendriks) and Aaron Civale (CLE) is leading the MLB in wins. This one is too hard to predict right now.

My NL ROY Prediction: Ian Anderson (ATL)
Frontrunners: Trevor Rogers (MIA), Ian Anderson.
This seems to be a two horse race. Both starting pitchers are pitching well enough to get some votes at the end of the season. No NL rookie hitters seem to be pulling away.

My AL ROY Prediction: Nick Madrigal (CHW)
Frontrunners: Adolis Garcia (TEX), Randy Arozarena (TB), Yermin Mercedes (CHW)
I really liked Madrigal but he got hurt. Season ending injury. He does not hit with a lot of power but he’s a great table setter. I wish the young man luck next season. Garcia, Arozarena and Mercedes are off to great starts. The one that stays consistent the rest of the season will walk away with the award. My prediction would have to be Arozarena. After what he did in last year’s World Series, he will get a lot of votes.

Good thing I have not quit my day job, I was way off!!!!

Steven Urena

The Urena Express appears every Wednesday at
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