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The Year of the Pitcher Continues

1998 will always be remembered as the year of the home run.  That was the year of the historic home run chase with the Cardinals Mark McGwire and the Cubs Sammy Sosa going head to head chasing Roger Maris’ single season home run record.  2010 will be remembered for the complete opposite.  It will be remembered as the year of the no-hitter. 

We have not yet reached the July 31st trade deadline date and we have had five no-hitters (we would have six, but you can thank umpire Jim Joyce for that).  We had Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies throw a no-no vs the Braves on April 17th, then Dallas Braden was perfect on Mothers Day for the Athletics vs the  Rays, a few weeks later Philadelphia Phillies pitcher decided he want to be perfect vs. the Marlins, a month later Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson walked eight batters and threw 149 pitches, but still threw a no-hitter vs the Rays, and finally on July 27th Matt Garza of the Rays threw the first no-hitter in Rays history vs the Tigers.  This is the most no hitters since 1991 in which there were 7 no-hitters.  We’ll see if 2010 can produce  at least 2 more no-hitters to tie the ’91 season. 

I don’t know what the deal is with MLB hitters this year, but it’s definitely the year of the pitcher.

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July 27, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Should Steroid Users Be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame?

After yesterday’s admission by former slugger Mark McGwire finally admitting he did use steroids throughout the 1990’s, there has been much discussion now whether any steroid user should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Whether your name is Sammy Sosa, McGwire, Barry Bonds, Andy Pettite, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmerio, and the list that goes on and on and on of speculated “roiders” should they be in the Hall?

In my opinion, yes these guys should be and here is why.  Even though all these steroid users have cheated the game they should be in the Hall of Fame because the Hall of Fame is like a big living story book of the game of baseball.  Any person inducted into the Hall of Fame or artifact in the museum is told in the story of baseball.  If you don’t put any of those names in the Hall it’s like this chapter of book is erased and the book is incomplete.  The “steroid era” is something that can not be ignored in baseball, in fact is huge part of how the game is played today than it was in the mid 1900s.  I say you need to put these guys in the Hall of Fame, but on their plaque it says something about admitted or alledged steroid user.

This is a pretty heated debate so I would appreciate it if everyone could leave a comment about what they think, if you agree with me and if we can get a pretty good discussion going.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , | 1 Comment

MLB Mourns Death of Angels Prospect

Angels Pitcher Nick Adenhart

Angels Pitcher Nick Adenhart

If you travel a little over 30 minutes south from my hometown, you will find a little town called Williamsport, Maryland,  that was where Los Angeles Angels 22 year-old pitching prospect Nick Adenhart played his high school baseball.  After coming off of six scoreless innings for the Angels against the Oakland A’s, Adenhart was in a car hit by a drunk driver around midnight along with another passenger and the driver of the car he was in.

Coming out of high school Adenhart was projected to be a top five pick in the 2004 draft, but weeks earlier he had elbow problems and his draft stock fell.  He was drafted in the 14th round  by the Angels and had Tommy John surgery and spent four seasons in the Angels minor league system.

Adenhart made his Major League debut last year in May against the same team he made his unfortunate final start of his career against.  He finished his Major League Career with a 1-0 record, 6.00 ERA, 9 strike outs and 16 walks.  As much as he will be missed on the diamond, Angels outfielder Torii Hunter will remember him off of the diamond more.  “He was a great kid, he was funny, he was very popular in the clubhouse and off the field. People loved him,” Hunter said of him.

With a future as bright as Adenhart’s was, it is unfortunate that we will not be able to see this kid grow as not only as a pitcher, but as a person.

I was surprised by the news of his death as i was getting ready to go to Baltimore for the Yankees/Orioles game and a friend that i was going to the game with told me he received a phone call from his friend about Adenhart’s accident this morning.  I was in shock since he just pitched yesterday and it was no where on MLB Network or ESPN before we left.

My condolences are out to all of Adenhart’s friends and family.

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Panic Time Already?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

As everyone can tell from my picture I am a die hard Yankees fan.  In my spare I like to get on the Yankees message boards and talk baseball on there.  These were some of the topics I came across after the Yankees 10-5  loss to the Baltimore Orioles on opening day:  “It’s going to be a long season”, “TRADE CC”, ” TRADE TEX”, “FIRE GIRARDI”, “NO WAY ARE WE GOING TO BEAT OUT THE SOX OR RAYS”,  “MOVE JOBA TO THE PEN.”  Of course this is Yankee fan at their best.  We always expect to be 162-0 and even though we know it’s not possible.

Fans need to realize the baseball season is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Yankee fans are not the only one doing this either.  After their first championship in 28 year, the Phillies have started their 2009 season 1-2 against the Braves and their fans are in panic mode as well.  Saying things like “Rollins Sucks”, “the pitching staff sucks”, and “utterly embarassing.”

If teams gave up after a 0-3 start, we wouldn’t of had the the 1998 Yankees team who is arugably one of the best teams in baseball history.  It’s nice to get off to a fast start, but look at where the Diamondbacks finished after their fast start last year.

As much as you want to your team to get out to quick start, worry about where your team is in July, August, and September and not in April and May.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | 1 Comment

NL West Preview

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez

As of late the NL West has had a lot of parody with every team being near the top of the division the past five years.  This year the NL West will most likely be a two team race in the end.

First place and NL West Champ: Los Angeles Dodgers-  The Dodgers are by far the class of this division.  Not only did the make the key additions of Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf, but they resigned the difference maker in the division, Manny Ramirez.  The line up is the best in the division with a bunch of young talent with James Loney, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Russel Martin.  Add in veterans Rafeal Furcal, Casey Blake, Hudson, and Ramirez and thats a darn good line up.  Their pitching rotation is young and talented with Chad Billingsly, Clayton Kershaw, and Hiroki Kuroda.  They’re closer isn’t too bad either with flame thrower JonathanBroxton closing out games.

Key Player: Manny Ramirez-  The difference maker for the Dodger last year is the key player for them.  After being traded from the Red Sox at the trade deadline last year, Ramirez brought power, character, and fans to Dodgers Stadium which is what the Dodgers needed.  Man Ram is the player with the most impact in any division in baseball.

Second Place: Arizona Diamondbacks-  After getting off to a very fast start last year, they fell apart late in the season.  The same could very well happen this year the D-backs this year as they play 18 of their 21 games in April in Arizona.  Still a very young team at the plate with Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds, Stephen Drew, Chris Young, and Conor Jackson that has potential to put up a lot of runs.  The pitching rotation is solid at the top with Cy Young runner-up Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, and newly required Jon Garland will eat up a lot of innings.

Key players(s): The Line up-  After getting off to an explosive start last year, the young players showed their age as they couldn’t handle the 162 game marathon.  If the line up can stay consistant throughout the year,  this team can give the Dodgers a battle for the top of the division.

Third Place: San Francisco Giants-  The Giants made moves this year for them to win now.  With an off season of acquiring both Randy Johnson and Edgar Renteria, the Giants wanted to add another good pitcher to go along with last year’s NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito who hopes to get back to his normal self.  The line up is balanced with Renteria, Randy Winn, Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand.

Key player: Brian Wilson-  I doubt the Giants will be putting a lot of runs on the board so that means they will have a lot of close games.  Wilson had 41 saves last year, but a 4.62 ERA which could use some improvement as a closer.

Fourth Place: Colorado Rockies-  Even though the Rockies traded slugger Matt Holliday this winter, they still have a pretty good line up.  Catcher Chris Ianetta is a player people should look out for as he quietly had16 homers and 65 RBIs last season.  Garrett Atkins and Troy Tulowitzki are also key to this line up and rememeber the Rockies still have Todd Helton.  The pitching staff is alright with Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales at the top.  Closer Houston Street, who was acquired in the Matt Holliday trade, takes over the closers role after some problems in Oakland last year.

Key Players: Pitching Staff-  As always with the Rockies, the pitching is key with them playing in the high altitude in Denver.  The way the Rockies got to the playoffs the other year was because of their pitching.  If they want to get back to playing in October their pitching has to come through once again.

Fifth Place: San Diego Padres-  The Padres fell apart last year as they finished with one of the worst records last year.  The Padres still have a good one-two punch at the top of the rotation with Jake Peavy and Chris Young,  otherwise the rest of the rotation is a big question mark.  The line up only has two or three offensive weapons with slugger Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Headly, and Kevin Kouzmanoff, while the rest of the line up is pretty old and are out of their prime.

Key Players:  The pitching staff-  Even though the Padres have a good rotation at the top,  the rest of the pitching is a big question mark.  Also, for the first time since 1994 the Padres will not have Trevor Hoffman to close out games.  Now the ball will be handed to new closer Heath Bell for his first ever time in the closers role.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , | Leave a comment

NL Central Preview

Cubs Left Fielder Alfonso Soriano

Cubs Left Fielder Alfonso Soriano

The rivalry of the Cubs and Cardinals might not be as fierce as the famed Yankees and Red Sox rivalry, but these two rivals has taken over this division. The last time the Cubs or the Cardinals has not won the National League Central division was way back in 1999 when the Astros won. Will any one else in this division finally be able to overthrow any of these historic teams?

First Place and NL Central Winner: Chicago Cubs- After the Cubs got shutdown by the Dodgers in last years NLDS, they decided to add another bat to an already powerful lineup. Outfielder Milton Bradley adds more pop to a line up that already consists of Derek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and last year’s rookie of the year Geovany Soto. This line up will put up lots of runs, especially if the wind is blowing out in Wrigley Field. The pitching staff should be just as good as it was last year. With a rotation that has Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster and Ted Lily, it is by far the best rotation in the division, if not the National League. The closer should be interesting as Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg will battle it out for the role throughout the year.

Key Player: Rich Harden- Harden came to the Cubs in July last year from the A’s and made an instant impact. For him to have the same impact this season he will have to stay healthy which he had problems with in Oakland. If he stays healthy this rotation will be the deepest in the NL.

Second Place: St. Louis Cardinals- The Card quietly won 86 games last year as the team was without their number one and two starting pitchers, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, and combined for only 23 starts. Those two will really help out with this team that will give the Cubs a challenge for the division crown. The line up has tons of power in the middle of it with Rick Ankiel, Albert Pujols, Troy Glaus, and Ryan Ludwick, who came out of no where last year. Along with Carpenter and Wainwright, Kyle Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer are solid three and four starters.

Key Player: Chris Perez- In his first full year in the bigs, Perez will be given the ball in the 9th to close out games. I expect the Cards to be in a lot of close games this year, so Perez is going to have to be very good in this role.

Third Place: Cincinati Reds- The Reds can be a surprise this year. They have a good young core with first basemen Joey Votto, outfielder Jay Bruce, second basemen Brandon Phillips and pitchers Edison kVolquez and Johnny Cueto. Also adding center fielder Tavarez will add speed and be a good table setter for the rest of the line up. The rest of the rotation behind Cueto and Volquez is veterans Aarron Harang and Bronson Arroyo.

Key Play: Aarron Harang- Harang has always been a consistant pitcher for the Reds. Last year he won 5 games. They will need a lot more wins and him to get to his old self if the Reds want to make some noise in the division.

Fourth Place: Houston Astros- The Astros also quietly tied the Cards with 87 wins last year. The ‘stros mainly stayed with the team the team with the exception of the signing of catcher Ivan Rodriguez. The line up is solid in the middle with Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee. The rotation is a veteran group led by Roy Oswalt with Mike Hampton, Brian Moehler, and Wandy Rodriguez behind him. They have a pretty good closer to end the game with Jose Valverde.

Key Player: Ivan Rodriguez- After having a disappointing year with the Tigers and Yankees last year, Pudge had a good World Baseball Classic which is the reason the Astros signed him. If he can hit this year, he can be a RBI machine at the end of the line up.

Fifth Place: Millwaukee Brewers- After a memorable 2008 season, this team should go back to the bottom of the division. The Brew Crew have a very good line up that will be together for a long time. Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, and Cory Hart are all young and will all help put up a lot of runs. The pitching is the problem and it doesn’t help that they lose C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets. The ace Vinney Gallardo is really good when healthy, but Jeff Suppan, Manny Parra and David Bush can raise some questions.

Key Player(s): Pitching rotation- With an offense that will have an explosive offense, the pitching staff needs to keep teams off the score board for this team to be successful.

Sixth Place: Pittsburgh Pirates- The Buccos are in rebuilding mode. When you look at this team you see some quality players in Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, and Adam Laroche, but their future and stars are out fielder Nate McLouth and catcher Ryan Doumit and hopefully will get noticed. The rotation is full of young arms. Paul Maholm had a break out year last year and Bucs fans can hope he can repeat last years performance and Ian Snell is a decent pitcher as well. Zach Duke had a pretty good rookie year a couple years ago but hasn’t had a good season since. The rest of the staff there is nothing to be really impressed by.

Key Player(s): Pitching staff- This was a really good offense last year even after they traded Jason Bay and Xavier Nady. The pitching staff really has to improve and perform for this team to get out of the basement of the division and get people in beautiful PNC Park.

April 7, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NL East Preview

Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez

Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez

The past two years we have seen the same thing happen in this division.  In the final week of the season, it’s a two team race between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Mets would lead the division and then they would suddenly start blowing leads and the Phils would get on a hot streak and end up winning the division.  Will another choke job happen again in the division this year?

First Place and NL East Champions: New York Mets-  After their last two season of failing to clinch the division in the last week of the season, the third time is a charm.  It helps too when you address your biggest needs the way the Mets did this off season.  When learning that closer Billy Wagner will miss all of the 2009 season due to injury, they decided to fill that role with the single season record holder for saves Francisco Rodriguez, but they weren’t done there.  Weeks later they picked up the dominating closer J.J. Putz from the Mariners who will now be put in the setup role.  What was a weekness the past two years is now their biggest strength.  The lineup isn’t too shabby either.  We all know about Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and recently required Gary Sheffield who may not even start.  The starting rotation has its question marks though.  After Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey there are some question marks that pop up about Oliver Perez, John Maine, and Tim Redding.

Key Player: Oliver Perez-  The Mets re-signed Perez to a pretty big contract for his caliber of pitching.  Perez is as inconsistant as anyone.  When Perez is on he means business on the mound, but when he’s bad, he is horrible.  The Mets are going to need some consistancy from him in the third slot of the rotation.

Second Place and NL Wild Card Winner: Philadelphia Phillies-  The defending World Champions of baseball will defend their title this season and the big question on everyones mind is: Is this team healthy?  With Chase Utley coming off of off season hip surgery and Pedro Feliz coming off back surgery it will be interesting to see how have recovered.  Also, during Spring Training ace of the pitching staff Cole Hamels had an elbow problem, so there is another question mark.  Without a doubt they have the hitting to score runs and the signing of Raul Ibanez replaces Pat Burrells bat.  Their pitching staff isn’t bad either, but we’ll see if closer Brad Lidge will continue to do what he did last year.

Key Player: Brett Myers-  If Cole Hamels’ elbow becomes anything bigger and has to miss time, Brett Myers will have to step up as the ace of the staff.  Myers had an adventurous 2008 season as he was sent to AAA Allentown to work on his struggles and came back a different pitcher.  If he can be the same he was down the stretch last year Myers will help out a lot.

Third Place: Florida Marlins-  The Marlins are doing once again what they are best at, devoloping talent.  The young team came out of no where last year.  This team has a very good mix of young talent.  The big name star on this club is by far short stop Hanley Ramirez as he is a 40 Home Run/ 40 Stolen Base guy.  Also not to mention they have an all star second basemen Dan Uggla is sometime forgotten.  The rest of the line up has potential to score a bunch of runs too.  Their pitching is also young, but very talented.  Led by Ricky Nolasco who really came into a zone the second half of last season.  He also has up and coming stars Josh Johnson, Anibel Sanchez and Chris Volstad.

Key Player: Matt Lindstrom-  This year is his first year closing as he will being taking over for Kevin Gregg who left to play for the Cubs.  The former setup man will now have to handle the pressure of having to now pitch in the clutch in the 9th inning.

Fourth Place:  Atlanta Braves-  The Braves are a hard team to figure out how they will do this year.  The Braves have always been a team with consistant pitching and young talent that always come through on the big stage.  This Braves team does not have the usual pitching or young stars.  The big time additions of pitchers Derek Lowe and Tom Glavine and out fielder Garret Anderson will improve the team, but all three are either toward the end of their careers or their numbers will start to decline.  The line up will put up some runs though with Chipper Jones and Brian McCann in the middle of the order.  The pitching staff is alright with Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Jair Jurrjens and Glavine, but will they be able to stop the rest of the divisions offenses?  We’ll have to wait in see.

Key Player: Jeff Francoeur-  Francoeur had by far his worst year last year.  With only 11 home runs 71 RBIs and a batting average of .239,  Francoeur will have to get back to his old ways driving in around 100 runs to help out this offense.

Fifth Place: Washington Nationals-  The Nats made a splash in the off season landing slugging left fielder Adam Dunn, but that really won’t help this team much.  The Nats have a decent middle of the line up with Lasting Milledge, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Elijah Dukes, but nothing much after those guys.  The rotation is filled with a bunch of young guys, who we will see if they are ready to face major league hitters or not.

Key Player: Adam Dunn-  Dunn is going to have to put monsterous numbers this season to keep this team interesting.  The Nats wanted to spend some money and get someone that will help put bodies in the seats of Nationals Park.  If he struggles expect a horrible season from the Nationals and a lot of empty seats in our nation’s capital.

April 5, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , | Leave a comment

AL West Preview

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Closer Brian Fuentes

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Closer Brian Fuentes

The American League West has been dominated by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim the past few years.  Actually, they have won four of the last five division titles, with the Oakland A’s winning the other title.   Will any other of the AL West teams be able stop the Angels dominence?

First Place and AL West Champion:  Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-  Even though this Angels team isn’t as good as the Angels teams the past couple years, this team will still win the division.  Even though they lost big pieces of the team in first basemen Mark Teixeira and all-time single season saves leader Fransico Rodriguez, they managed to replace those guys with closer Brian Fuentes and outfielder Bobby Abreu.  With a line up lead by power hitting outfielders Torii Hunter and Vlad Guerrero and speedy infielders Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick.  This team will be lead by its pitching though.  With a starting rotation that consists of John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver, Joe Sanders and Kelvim Escobar is right up there with any rotation in the league.  The bullpen will also be a strong point as it is every year.

Key Player: Brian Fuentes-  Fuentes has some pretty big shoes to fill as he is replacing Francisco Rodriguez in the closers spot.  Fuentes had his shares of trouble throughout his career in Colorado and if that continues in LA, that could mean trouble for the Angels in close ball games, which will happen since this line up won’t score as many runs.

Second Place: Oakland A’s-  The A’s are always known for trading away their older/ big name players for younger and promising players.  They did the complete opposite this year as they traded young talent for slugger Matt Holliday as he will probably be a one year rental.  They also added more power with former Most Valuable Player Jason Giambi and got a reliable short stop Orlando Cabrera.  With their pitching usually being the strength of the team, this team’s rotation is filled with young and unproven pitchers who may not even be for the big leagues.  The only proven starting pitcher the A’s have is last year all-star Justin Duchscherer.

Key Player(s): Starting pitchers-  This teams’ rotation is very young and inexpirienced.  Even though this A’s team will be able to put some more runs on the board than usual.  The question is will these young pitchers be able to keep opposing teams off of the board.

Third Place: Texas Rangers- As like any Rangers team the past 12 years, this team will be all about their offense.  With a mix of power and contact hitters, this offense will be as potent as any other offense in the league.  Lead by power threats Josh Hamilton, Chris Young,  Nelson Cruz and Dave Murphy and table setters Ian Kinsler and Chris Young this team will put up a ton of runs.  Also, just like any other Rangers team the pitching staff will let up just as many runs as the offense will score for them.

Key Player(s): Pitchers-  Will this pitching staff be able to stop any offense?  Most likely not.  Veterans Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla will have to lead a very young and unproven pitching staff.

Fourth Place: Seattle Mariners-  After a horrible season in 2008, the Mariners had to make a splash to put some fans in the stands.  The Mariners signed former hometown favorite Ken Griffey Jr. for probably his final season, but other than Griffey, Ichiro Suzuki and young star pitcher Felix Hernandez this is a team clearly in rebuilding mode.  Also, it will be interesting to see how they use young pitcher Brandon Morrow who was really good in the bullpen last year.

Key Player:  Eric Bedard-  After an injury plagued 2008, Bedard needs to show why the Mariners traded their top prospect for him last year.  If the Mariners want to have any kind of success this year Bedard has to be healthy and pitch like he did in Baltimore two years ago.

April 5, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , | 2 Comments

AL Central Preview

Minnesota Twins First Basemen Justin Morneau

Minnesota Twins First Basemen Justin Morneau

As of late the American League Central has been the most unpredictable division in baseball. Year in and year out there has been a team in the division to come out of no where.  Will that trend continue in 2009?

First Place and AL Central Champion: Minnesota Twins- The Twins are a team that surprised everyone last year as they just kept on winning with a bunch of young kids after trading away their stud lefty Johan Santana in the winter. The Twins are returning one of the best duo threats of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer at the plate. While Michael Cuddyer and newly required third basemen Joe Crede will also help out with offensive production and you can forget about the speedster Carlos Gomez as the table setter for this lineup. The pitching isn’t bad either, ace lefty Francisco Liriano returns for a full season this year as he backed up by youngsters Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Glen Perkins who all had good seasons last year. Plus, it helps that they have one of the best closers in Joe Nathan and one of the best managers in Ron Gardenhour.

Key Player: Delmon Young- The Twins traded for the former first overall draft pick last year hoping for more power from the right side of the plate. Instead. they got a guy that hit 10 homers and drove in 69 runs. If he can swing the bat with more power this year look out for this offense.

Second Place: Cleveland Indians- The Tribe had a year that no one expected. A bad year. The Tribe didn’t have the offense that everyone expect, but Cliff Lee made this team go as he won the AL Cy Young and had a career high 22 wins and was practically unhittable throughout the year. This year expect a different kind of offense. Grady Sizemore has the potential to be a 40HR-40SB guy and catcher Victor Martinez should return to his old self as he is fully healthy. The rotation has the former Cy Young awarded winner Lee as well as Fausto Carmona who was also missed part of last year with an injury. Carl Pavano is one of those low risk/high reward signings that could benefit the Indians as he had a good spring, Another low risk/high reward the Indians signed this year was to help sure up their closer role with former Cub Kerry Wood, who had a good first year as a reliever.

Key Player: Travis Hafner- Another injured Indian last year Hafner was the key to this teams success in the past couple years. If Hafner can stay healthy and hit more than 25 home runs this year this team can get challenge the Twins for the division crown.

Third Place: Kansas City Royals- Wait what? The Royals in third? The Royals are a team that have a bunch of players that you don’t hear about everyday, but a bunch of talent. The Royals made some quiet off season moves that will make a lot of noise. Center fielder Coco Crisp is the perfect leadoff hitter the Royals have been missing, 1st basemen Mike Jacobs was acquired from the Marlins that will add some pop to the line up and signing relievers Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth sures up a bullpen and makes the perfect bridge to the best closer nobody has never heard of Joakim Soria. Add in the power of Jose Guillen, veteran leadership of David DeJesus, an up and coming star nobody has heard of Mike Aviles, and a good 1-2 punch on the mound with Gil Meche and Zach Greinke and you have the makings of a surprise in the AL Central.

Key Player: Alex Gordon- Gordon has been a guy with a lot of promise since the day they drafted him. He got off to a hot start last year but cooled down in the dog days of summer. If Gordon can be consistent throughout the year and cut down on the strikeouts, he will just be another weapon for the Royals.

Fourth Place: Chicago White Sox- After beating the Twins in a one game playoff to win the AL Central division crown and then lost to the Rays in the ALDS the White Sox didn’t do much to improve their team. The “other” Chicago team is now getting pretty old age wise. Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko are all getting up there in age and should be hitting a wall anytime now. Although last year two youngster, Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Quentin, came out of no where to help carry the team. The White Sox pitching staff is lead by veteran lefty Mark Buehrle. While the two and three starters, John Danks and Gavin Floyd, will have to repeat their performances last year for this team to compete for a repeat of the division title.

Key Player: Jose Conteras- Conteras was injured part of last year and was a decent pitcher when healthy. Coming off of a good spring training, if he can stay healthy and pitch well he can make the rotation a little more deeper.

Fifth Place: Detroit Tigers- Going into the 2008 the Tigers looked like a World Series lock. After the 2008 season, they were the disappointment in all of baseball. Expect another down year again Tiger fans. Even though they have a pretty good line up led by AL Home Run leader Miguel Cabrera and speedster Curtis Grandson. There are still some guys in the line up that are going up there and age. The rotation which was very inconsistent last year will probably remain the same this year. Justin Verlander had no where near the season he had the past two years, but the Armando Galarraga had a fine rookie year. The Tigers also picked up Starter Edwin Jackson from the Rays which will help out the rotation a lot. The closer, Brandon Lyon, is somewhat sketchy and not a guy I would trust going into the 9th in a tight game.

Key Player: Dontrelle Willis- After the D-train came from the Marlins, the Tigers were hoping for a dynamic duo at the top of the rotation. Instead, they got a guy that fell off the face of earth and was sent to Single-A Lakeland to work on control and mechanics. If he becomes the Willis of old expect the Tigers to move up a few spots in the division.

April 5, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , , | Leave a comment

AL East Preview

I’m going to start my MLB 2009 predictions with probably the best division in baseball and will have them most intense race at seasons’ end.

The AL East will likely be the most competitive division at seasons end. The division is top heavy with three elite teams, while the two teams at the bottom will try to improve to compete in the future.

New York Yankees First Basemen Mark Teixeira

New York Yankees First Basemen Mark Teixeira

AL East Champs: New York Yankees- After a disappointing year where the Bombers finished third in the division a didn’t play in October for the first time since 1994 they decided to open up their checkbooks and throw money at the top 3 free agents in the off season. With the new additions of Starting pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, the Yanks new look rotation is much improved and is what the Yankees missed last season. The other big name free agent signed is First Basemen Mark Teixeira. Who won’t only help in the batters box, but with the leather as he is the best fielding first basemen since Tino Martinez during the dynasty years. Add those guys to an already veteran postseason team with a young but deep bullpen and you have the AL East Championship team

Key player: Cody Ransom- That’s right Cody Ransom, as long as Ransom plays a solid defensive 3rd Base and has some production at the plate in Alex Rodriguez’s absence could depend on how the Yankees do from April through mid May.

AL East 2nd place and Wild Card winner: Tampa Bay Rays- The surprise of the 2008, if not the decade, the Rays came out of no where with young talent and an exciting brand of baseball to win the AL East and their first ever American League Pennant. With a lineup that has the perfect mix of speed, power and contact hitters and a starting rotation that is still young and STILL improving the Rays can do equally as much damage this year as last. Plus, with the added bats of Pat Burrell and Matt Joyce brings more power to the line up and shows they aren’t intimidated by the Yankees or Red Sox in their off season spendings.

Key Player: Carl Crawford- After coming off his worst season since coming into the league, Crawford worked out like crazy hoping to get back to his old ways. If he can be the old Crawfod this year, expect the Rays to be better than last years team

AL East 3rd Place: Boston Red Sox- While the Red Sox watched the Yankees get Sabathia , Burnett, and steal Texeira right out from under them, the Sox countered with a bunch of risk/reward signings. With the signings of Starting pitchers John Smoltz and Brad Penny can be good 4 and 5 starters in the rotation if healthy. Relief pitchers Takashi Saito and Ramon Ramirez help deepen the bullpen and Rocco Baldelli can be a steal as a bench player if stayed healthy. I think this team is getting old and injuries may be a cause for concern. Oh and there’s no more Manny in the middle of the line up.

Key Player: Mike Lowell- Lowell gets overlooked in this lineup. With out a full season of Manny he will also need to help fill his void and it will be tough for him coming off of offseason hip surgery.

4th Place: Baltimore Orioles- The O’s are a very young and upcoming team in the division, but they don’t think that they can become this years Rays. They expect that to be next year. The team has quite a good offense with a good mix of athletic and power. With one full year under his belt expect center fielder Adam Jones to become a house hold name and making the duo of him and Nick Markakis something fun to watch in Camden Yards all year. One thing you will not want to be watching in Baltimore is the starting pitching rotation. Even though Jeremy Gutherie has been very consistant the past year and a half there is nothing after him. Even though their offense will put runs on the board, their starters won’t help them as the opposing teams will put up just as many runs.

Key Player: Matt Wieters- Even though he is starting the season in the Minors. Wieters is one of the future stars of Major League Baseball and he should be playing with the O’s around June. He had a great spring training and watching him will be fun to see what the future of the O’s will be.

5th Place: Toronto Blue Jays- Even though the Jays have stars there is nothing much after them. A team that is lead by their ace Roy Halladay, he is the only person in the rotation that will keep opposing teams off the scoreboard. The rest of their rotation like Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum has been devistated by injury and will have a bunch of pitchers not ready to pitch in the big leagues will face some of the best offenses in the MLB. Offensively, the Jays only have Alex Rios and Vernon wells who will handle the bats well. Other than those two I don’t expect much offensively out of this team.

Key Player: Adam Lind- Lind is a very young player who is expected to be a power and rbi machine. With this offense he will be key to the offense to get productivity from other places than just Rios and Wells.

April 5, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | , , , , | Leave a comment