CC Sabathia: AP
Stop me if you've heard this one: CC Sabathia pitched a gem last night for the Brewers. This time he went seven innings while allowing one run and nine hits against the Padres to improve to 7-0 with Milwaukee. He also lowered his ERA to 1.55. Few can doubt the reigning AL Cy Young Award-winner's talent, but this has been a pretty magical stretch by any standard. Sort of makes you wonder about the source of the hefty lefty's power in Milwaukee. Could it be softer National League lineups? A mere change of scenery? Maybe it's just the power of Usinger's sausage and delicious Wisconsin cheese.
Whatever the case, Sabathia's trade from Cleveland and immediate NL success recalls the blockbuster deadline trade from 1998: The Mariners-Astros deal that sent Randy Johnson to the Houston, and Carlos Guillen, Freddy Garcia and John Halama to Seattle. The Big Unit proceeded to go 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA down the stretch to help lead the Astros into the playoffs -- where they were eliminated in the first round. Johnson promptly left Houston that offseason to sign a new contract with Arizona. This isn't to say that Milwaukee is heading for a first round exit, but the Brewers are four games ahead of St. Louis in the wild card race, and Sabathia is a free agent after the season. The parallels between the Sabathia and Johnson deals may just be getting started.
The news got even worse yesterday for Rays' left fielder Carl Crawford, who's opting for surgery on his broken left wrist. Officially, he's expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Realistically, he's probably done for the regular season. It's a huge loss for the Rays, who might need to start looking for available outfielders. (Gary Sheffield? Barry Bonds?) In the meantime they promoted oft-injured Rocco Baldelli -- or as I call him, Rocco Ball-D-L-ee. (Thank you! I'll be here all day.) Don't be surprised if the Rays soon make a move to bolster their offense.
Tuesday's 19-17 marathon between the Red Sox and Rangers came at price for Boston, which put third baseman Mike Lowell on the 15-day DL with a strained oblique. He's hitting .270 with 14 homers and 67 RBIs this year, and those numbers will be tough to replace. The Sox recalled right-handed pitcher David Pauley from Triple-A to take Lowell's roster spot. As for Lowell's at-bats, Kevin Youkilis has been getting time at third base, making room for Sean Casey to play first.
Delmon Young: AP
The Twins' Delmon Young hit a three-run homer for the second straight game yesterday, raising his season total to still-disappointing seven. Most projections had him around 15-20 homers this year, but then again, there might still be hope -- another 7-10 homers from here out is easily reachable. And it's a nice lead-in to today's trivia question ...
Who holds the American and National League records for home runs in the month of August? The answer is below.
Shifting to football, this is the time when fantasy football draft preparation really heats up. Mock drafts are exploding in popularity, but it can also be beneficial -- perhaps even therapeutic? -- to try a mock draft by yourself. And since every other fantasy writer seems to have one, here's how I mocked the first two-rounds of a 10-team draft.
1) LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers: Still on top, but is this the year the decline begins?
2) Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: Consistency and improved health push him to No. 2
3) Adrian Peterson RB, Vikings: He's no one-hit wonder, but everyone forgets he shares carries with Chester Taylor and will face a ton of eight-man fronts.
4) Steven Jackson RB, Rams: The holdout will end, and he's set up for a big year in the Rams' new run-first attack
5) Joseph Addai RB, Colts: No reason to expect anything less than '07 production
6) Clinton Portis RB, Redskins: Healthy, motivated and ready to rejoin elite RBs
7) Frank Gore RB, 49ers: Focus of Martz offense will have every opportunity for big numbers
8) Tom Brady QB, Patriots: Another 50 TDs ain't happening, but 40 is possible
9) Randy Moss WR, Patriots: Another 12+ touchdowns seem reasonable
11) Marshawn Lynch RB, Cowboys: Off-field issues did not result in suspension
13) Ryan Grant RB, Packers: Ds will stack against the run, but Pack O-line is still one of the best
14) Peyton Manning QB, Colts: I'm not even remotely worried about the knee injury
15) Larry Johnson RB, Chiefs: Not someone I'm targeting for my teams, but still no competition for carries
16) Braylon Edwards WR, Browns: As long as he remembers to wear shoes on the field, this is the year he cements his status as a superstar
17) Tony Romo QB, Cowboys: What Hollywood distractions? The Cowboys' offense will be ridiculous
18) Maurice Jones-Drew RB, Jaguars: Slides up a few spots on the news of Willis McGahee's recent knee surgery
20) Andre Johnson WR, Texans: Underrated thanks to string of injury-shorted seasons; he can produce at this level if healthy
Two games are on tap as we kick off the second week of preseason, Steelers-Bills and Eagles-Panthers. Here's what I'm watching for:
Steelers: In case you missed it, backup QB Charlie Batch suffered a broken collarbone in the Steelers' opener. But it's really all about the running backs here. Willie Parker ran well last week, but is he still an every-down back? Or is will this be a time-share between Parker and rookie Rashard Mendenhall -- who also looked great last week (seven carries, 34 yards)? My hunch is the later, but tonight we should get more clues.
Bills: Is Trent Edwards ready to step up and lead this offense? He looked lost in the Bill's preseason opener last week, going 1-for-5 for 18 yards. If Edwards can't keep defenses honest, opponents will stack the line to shut down talented second-year back Marshawn Lynch all year long. It would be great for Buffalo is Edwards takes a step towards seizing the job tonight, and outplays current backup (but onetime starter), J.P. Losman, who was solid in Week 1.
Eagles: This offense begins and ends with Donovon McNabb, who had a strong debut against the Steelers last week. I'm just interested to see if the brittle QB comes through this game upright and healthy. Also tonight, running back Brian Westbrook should make his preseason debut, after signing a six-year contract extension last week.
Panthers: Every offensive skill position has question marks. Has Jake Delhomme fully recovered from offseason Tommy John surgery on his elbow? He played just two short series last week, so perhaps tonight we'll learn more. Also, will tailback DeAngelo Williams, who had nine carries for 55 yards and two touchdowns in the opener again the Colts, continue to shine? Rookie Jonathan Stewart is expected to play, so tonight we'll also get a look at Williams' competition for the starting gig. At the WR slot, can D.J. Hackett, Mushin Muhammad or Dwayne Jarrett emerge on the outside and become a serviceable compliment to Steve Smith? This could be turn out to be an offense filled with strong options, or a fantasy wasteland (like last year). Time will tell.
In case you missed it, Adam "Don't Call Me Pacman" Jones called out Broncos' receiver Brandon Marshall yesterday, claiming the Bronco doesn't deserve the nickname "Baby T.O."
"He's nowhere near T.O.," Jones said. "He's a good athlete, it ain't no T.O., though."
Thanks to Owens' nose for the end zone, the numbers seem to support Pacman:2008 Statistics
Owens: 81 receptions, 1,255 yards, 15 TDs
Marshall: 102 receptions, 1,325 yards, 7 TDs
Marshall is suspended for the first three weeks of the season for violating the league's player conduct policy, making it even more unlikely he'll surpass T.O. this year. A little preseason smack talk probably won't change much in the grand scheme, but this story was entertaining nonetheless.
The record-holders for home runs in August:American League: Rudy York of the Tigers hit homers 18 in 1937National League: The Giants' Willie Mays hit 17 dingers in August of 1965, a record that was later tied (with an asterisk?) by the Cubs' Sammy Sosa in 2001.
Ever dreamt of playing fantasy football against a Hall of Fame safety, Sports Illustrated football writer, Major League Baseball general manager, world-renowned swimsuit model, professional poker player or best-selling author -- to name a few? SI.com, in conjunction with Facebook, will welcome someone into its 2008 Celebrity Fantasy League where one lucky fan matches weekly wits, from Draft Day to the Fantasy Bowl, with Ronnie Lott, Peter King, Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, supermodel Brooklyn Decker, poker great Phil Gordon and Michael Lewis, author of the sabremetrician-friendly book, Moneyball. Time's running out, though, so click here and register today! As a consolation prize for the contest non-winners, you can create new leagues and develop newer rivals on the new SI/Facebook fantasy game.