Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Best hitter for 2009 in the NL Central/MVP: No doubt on this one, it's St. Louis 1B Albert Pujols. Pujols will be 29 this season and already has 319 HR in 8 ML seasons. He's the reigning NL MVP after batting .357 with 37 HR and 116 RBI last year. He also had a ridiculous OBP of .462. Expect another huge year out of Pujols.
Best pitcher for 2009 in the NL Central: There are a lot of people to choose from here with Edinson Volquez from Cincinnati, Roy Oswalt from Houston, and Carlos Zambrano from Chicago. But the best pitcher in the Central this year is Rich Harden from the Cubs. The problem with Harden is going out there every 5th day and pitching. But boy when he is out there, he is almost unhittable. Harden started 25 games last year, the most since 2004, and was 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA. In his 12 starts with the Cubs, he was even more impressive, going 5-1 with a Playstation-like 1.77 ERA. Imagine his if he can start 30+ games. It's scary.
Here are my predictions on the order of the NL Central with a little about each team.
1) Chicago Cubs - This team has spent too much money to be anywhere but here. Their rotation with Zambrano, Harden, Lilly, Dempster, and Marshall is the best in the division. And with offense being provided by Derek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto, Milton Bradley, and others, they should breeze through the division.
2) St. Louis Cardinals - Tony LaRussa seems to squeeze out 85-90 wins out of this club every single year even when they don't loook good, so there is no way to see that not happening again this season. The man can flat out manage baseball. I personally don't like him, but I can respect him for what he accomplishes. He could be the best manager in the game. The team also has some pop with Pujols, Ludwick, and Ankiel. The rotation isn't looking to be one of their strong suits, however.
3) Milwaukee Brewers - The team will be able to score. With hitters aplenty in Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy, and Corey Hart, they will try to outscore you. However, with the losses of Sabathia, and Sheets, the pitching staff is not nearly as good. When Jeff Suppan is your opening day starter, you know there is something wrong.
4) Cincinnati Reds - This is a team that can surprise some people, but could also totally flop. A lot of pressure will be on the shoulders of this pitching staff to see if everyone can actually come together at the same time. Harang will have to pitch like the Harang of old, Volquez will have to continue what he did in the 1st half of last season, Arroyo will have to have a strong year, and Cueto will have to build on an impressive spring. The offense will also need to overachieve after losing Dunn and Griffey last season. A lot of weight will be put on phenom Jay Bruce to carrry the load.
5) Houston Astros - I think GM Ed Wade might be losing it. I mean, you look at this roster he put together and you just have to wonder what the man is thinking. They have a few guys who will impress with Oswalt, Lee, and Berkman, but this team is full of old guys past their primes for the most part. Out of the guys still in ML camp, 5 will be under 30 this year. Expect Wade to not have a job by the end of the season.
6) Pittsburgh Pirates - Well, this is my team, and I'm not showing much faith. Click here for my Pirates Preview. This team is destined to make history. Just not the good kind. Look for their record 17th straight losing season this year. If that does not happen it will only be from a miracle, and I'm not even using that term loosely.
Best Pitcher- Zack Greinke. Those two words will hopefully strike fear in batters across the globe. After sorting through his personal problems in '07, and a successful '08, I see this to be a major breakout year for this guy.
Best Hitter- Jermaine Dye. As you will see in the predictions below, I don't see the Chisox going many places this year, but there will be one bright light of hope for them. A former Royal, Jermaine Dye looks to be somewhat healthy and ready to explode at the plate, but he may be the only one on the team.
MVP- A recurring theme you will see from me is a lot of talk about the Royals. I have been watching the preseason games, and have seen that Alex Gordon looks to either be in the Best Hitter category or MVP. Sue me if I'm wrong. (Please don't I'm poor).
1. Kansas City Royals - One of the Royals downfalls last year was production at the plate in order to win games. This year, at least so far, our bats seem to be healthy, and the long ball has been ever present. Bob McClure also looks like he's getting the pitchers ready for a stellar year, especially with Best Pitcher Zack Greinke. I see big things happening with these guys.
2009 record 90-72
2. Minnesota Twins - With Joe Mauer looking to become healthy when the season starts, and some promising results from an ever-dropping ERA from Scott Baker and Glen Perkins, I see a decent run for the Twins. If there are no big surprises/injuries (we all know how that goes, though) then Minnesota should make a good run for second, because we all know the Royals are number one.
2009 record 84-78
3. Detroit Tigers - Some might wonder why the Tigers are in third. Well, I don't have a great answer for you besides them not being too bad, and not being too good either. They just picked up Josh Anderson from the Braves, but lack of production on the mound seems like it will be the Tigers' downfall. This is especially true since pitcher Jeremy Bonderman being added to a list of pitchers that don't look ready to start the season. We shall see if things can pick up and look better for Detroit midway through the season, but don't count on it.
2009 record 75-87
4. Chicago White Sox - Some may see this as some sort of omen. Jim Thome's 2008 salary was $15,666,666. I see that as a double fail for the ChiSox and I do not see them fighting their way to the top of the AL Central this year. If they cannot produce hits, even with Jermaine friggin Dye, then I would not count on a productive year out of these guys. I do believe it will be a fight between Detroit and the White Sox, but that's like watching Cleveland play, well Seattle.
2009 record 70-92
5. Cleveland Indians - This brings us to the worst team in the AL Central. I think they will make the Major League Cleveland Indians look good. (That's the movie for all you youngans out there). There is a high probability this team will lose 100 games this season. Their biggest stars are Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee and both had solids years last year, but it's not gonna matter this year. I hope I'm wrong about this one, I'd like to see another good year out of these guys, but as the old saying goes, "only time will tell, unless you're the Indians."
2009 record 64-98
Monday, March 30, 2009
AL West MVP - Once again, based on "Most Valuable," - this is never easy. I know this sounds crazy, but the Angels could lose anyone and still win the West by 10 games, and yes this includes Vlad. I know Seattle is bad, very bad...but how much worse would this team be if they didn't have Ichiro. The old man still runs, has a cannon that no one runs on - and hits, hits again and then some more. Has averaged 225 hits a year for the past 5 years.
AL West Best Pitcher - I know the kid has never lived up to lofty expectations, but my pick for Best Pitcher and Breakout candidate of the AL West - Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners. It would have been John Lackey, LA Angels - He's the ace of the staff...he has a minor injury to start the year, but it looks like it turns out to be no big deal. But, to miss at least a month and you never know about arm injuries - I just can't give him the nod over Felix.
AL West Best Hitter - Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers. This was a tough choice, there is Ichiro, but just didn't have enough pop. Oakland's huge off season acquisition, Matt Holiday - he is definitely in the discussion. But Hamilton plays in a Stadium called LaunchvilleUSA.com. When that hot summer hits down in Arlington - an infield pop up goes yard - and sorry - baseball is all about stats - and so stadiums come into this discussion. The guys numbers last year .304, 32Hr, 130RBI's - and that is only after a season and a half of seeing big league pitching. The guy is only going to get better.
1. LA Angels - The Angels lose Teixeira to who else, the New York Yankees. They lose Francisco Rodriguez to the New York Mets. But come on, does it really matter? They won the division by 21 games. Fine, with those losses, maybe they only win the division by 10-12 games, but all that matter is getting into the "Tournament" as the baseball players say. Lackey will be back in early May and the same with Santana. And they also have Jered Weaver on that staff. They add Bobby Abreu to replace long time staple Garrett Anderson - and that is a huge upgrade on the offensive side of things. You still have Torii Hunter patrolling center...this team will win the division, pulling away in September.
2009 record 88-74
2. Texas Rangers - I know what you're saying the Rangers in 2nd? Why? Well, I'm glad you asked. Well - one word defines this team...RAKE. All this team does is hit. Kinsler, Young, Hamilton, young raker Chris Davis & Rookie of the Year Candidate Nelson Cruz. I think my boss and I could go pitch for them every fifth day and put up double digit wins. The run support these starters are going to get...I'll tell you what, if the Angels starters Lackey and Santana are out for an extended period, and Fuentes isn't a shut the door closer - there is a shot the Rangers could win the AL West and go into the history books. This team would be the 1st team to win a division with an ERA over 5.00.
2009 record 79-83
3. Oakland A's - Billy Beane is the GM that gets the most out of its players and also knows when to let them go. But the trade of Rich Harden was very questionable and even though Joe Blanton was only a middle of the rotation guy - he still could help some of these young, unexperienced arms coming up, but Beane traded Blanton to the World Champion Phillies. But, in the offseason, Beane goes completely out of character and beats the St. Louis Cardinals to the punch and trades for All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday. Explain that. Now what. I'll tell you what...it's not pretty...look for Holliday to be traded at the deadline...and I'm saying the Cardinals are the front runners.
2009 record 76-86
4. Seattle Mariners - This team is bad...like Pittsburgh Pirates bad...they lost 100 games last year, but they did sign legendary Mariner Ken Griffey Jr. in the off season, so they will draw well in Seattle, but hell - that is the only thing to do in Seattle. They could put a team of A-ball minor leaguers out there - oh wait, they already do that for the most part anyway. Way too many question marks. This team has Felix Hernandez as a future ace. Brandon Morrow can shut the door. Ichiro, Jose Lopez and Adrien Beltre in the field, but that isn't taking you to a division title. And even if Erik Bedard comes back 100% - this team might still lose 100 games for the 2nd consecutive year.
2009 record 63-99
Thursday, March 26, 2009
CC Sabathia has been named the starter for the Yankees season opener on April 6th at Baltimore and also the Yankees home opener on April 16th against the Cleveland Indians. I get the feeling that mister CC is going to be pitching a lot of innings once again this season.
- The Rays did end up sending David Price to the minors to start the season.
- Manny Ramirez played in left field yesterday as the Dodgers dropped the game 12-8 to the Brewers. The hamstring injury is supposed to be getting better as well.
- Accused steroid user Rafael Palmeiro was elected into the College Baseball Hall of Fame. That might be the only hall is will be in.
Spring Training Scores (some games are done and some aren't)
Angels v Indians
Royals v Mariners
Doders v Rockies
Cubs v Giants
D'Backs 3 v White Sox 1
Rangers 10 v Brewers 11
Rays v Tigers
Twins v Reds
Mets 9 v Cardinals 5
Marlins 11 v Orioles 6
Blue Jays 7 v Braves 5
Yankees 10 v Phillies 2
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Basically, she's in trouble. Hopefully Jose doesn't know anything about this stuff.
Tabata released a statement today saying he is "hurt, frustrated, and confused." Police have also said that Jose was not involved in this in any way. So, a little bit of good news...but still very weird.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Japan beat Korea in the 10th inning after scoring two runs in the extra frame. Korea tied the game at 3 in the bottom of the 9th with two outs. Who came up big for Japan? The man we needs only his first name on the back of his jersey, Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro hit a two-out, two-run single in the top of the 10th that put Japan ahead for good and gave them back to back WBC's. Yu Darvish got the win for the Japanese team. Congrats Japan, see you in 2013.
The Tampa Bay Rays will likely send pitching phenom David Price to the minors to start the 2009 campaign. He's only 23 and in October last year he went 1-0 with a save and an ERA of 1.59 in five appearances. You know he'll be up later this season even if he does end up heading to Durham to start things off.
Phillies ace Cole Hamels pitched in a minor league game today as he starts coming back from experiencing elbow tightness last week. Hamels struck out five of the 13 batters he faced. There is a good chance he will not be a go on Opening Day.
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is calling it quits after a career that spanned 20 years. Schilling sat out the 2008 season with a shoulder injury. He announced his retirement on his blog and said he has no regrets. I think we all remember the bloody sock in the 2004 World Series but this guy has some solid numbers. Over his career Schilling is 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA. That puts him 80th on the all-time wins list and 15th on the all-time K's list with 3,116. He holds an 11-2 postseason record and a 2.23 ERA in the postseason and has three World Series rings. Which is three more than all the writers on this blog combined. Hard to believe, I know. The question is, does he deserve the Hall of Fame? You tell me. I think so but I want to know your take so leave a comment.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka will rejoin the "Sawx" on Wednesady.
- And the BLBB would like to send its condolences to the family of George Kell, Hall of Famer for the Tigers who passed away Tuesday at the age of 86.
Tuesday Spring Training Scores
Mariners 8 v Dodgers 6 (Top 9th)
Padres 5 v Angels 10
White Sox 2 v Indians 2
Rangers 7 v Mariners 7
Rockies 8 v Cubs 9
Giants 7 v D'backs 3
A's 3 v Royals 8
Nationals 3 v Orioles 1
Philles 7 v Blue Jays 6
Mets 0 v Astros 8
Twins 8 v Marlins 1
Pirates 5 v Braves 2
Red Sox 1 v Yankees 7
Best Pitcher for 2009 in the NL East - Johan Santana, but not by too much. Cole Hamels looks like the injury scare in spring training is just that, a scare. He is healthy and threw without pain today. With that said, if Hamels is healthy, the 2008 World Series MVP may surpass Mr. Santana as Best Pitcher in the NL East, or heck, the whole National League.
Best Hitter for 2009 in the NL East/MVP - I am supposed to have one of each, but I can't seperate the two...so the best hitter is the MVP of the division. Many people would say Ryan Howard is the best hitter in the NL East, but all he does is launch bombs or strikeout. Sorry a .250 hitter is not the best hitter. There is also Chase Utley, Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Chipper Jones in the division, but hands down the best hitter and the Most VALUABLE Player in the NL East is Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins. The kid just rakes and he won't be 26 until late December...so Hanley isn't even in his prime yet. Ramirez led off 99% of the time last year - hit .301 with 33 homeruns, 67 RBI's and 35 steals. The thing is - Ramirez does this with no protection in the lineup...none. Beltran and Wright are together, Howard and Utley support each other, but Hanley just continues to hit without any help whatsoever.
Now, on to the team-by-team preview of the NL East.
1. New York Mets - This kills me picking this organization to win the NL East. I grew up in St. Louis and absolutely detested Strawberry, HoJo, Dykstra, Mookie, Doc (I snort after every game with Darryl)Gooden, Sid (I'm a fat elephant)Fernandez - I hate them and the list goes on and on. How much did I love Wainwright (a rookie) buckling Beltran's knees in game 6 of the 2006 NLCS...well - let's just say I am still excited about Adam doing that to Cardinal killer Beltran. But '09 is the dawn of a new era. The Mets only made two significant moves in the off season...but oh man were they huge. They added single season save record holder Francisco Rodriguez and stud closer, and someone who now becomes one of the best setup men in baseball, JJ Putz. That is all this team needed to add with a lineup that includes Jose Reyes, Beltran, Wright and Carlos Delgado. This team has Santana as the ace of the staff and Maine, Pelfrey & Perez as serviceable 2-4's. This team has to win their division or it will be a huge disappointment from the top down.
2009 record 96-66
2. Florida Marlins - Oh yeah, that's right Philly fans - you're finishing 3rd. The Marlins have the best all around player in the NL East in Hanley Ramirez, but the big thing the Marlins have that other teams in this division don't have - depth of quality starting pitchers. The Marlins have Josh Johnson (3.61 ERA), Ricky Nolasco (3.52 ERA) and Chris Volstad (2.88 ERA). That is a tough 1-2-3 to face for any team in any 3 game series. Yeah - Hamels and Santana might take game 1's in series versus the Marlins - but I'll take Florida in games 2 & 3. The one thing holding this organization back - offensive punch. After Hanley, there is top rookie prospect Cameron Maybin. If Maybin can win the starting CF job, they will bat him in the leadoff spot, which can drop Ramirez to 3rd, which makes this lineup a bit tougher. The Marlins have Jeremy Hermida, but he is never healthy. Dan Uggla is a power hitting 2nd baseman, but doesn't hit for average. Heck, Uggla has not recovered from a 3 error performance in the All-Star game last year, so who knows where this kids head is at. Anyway, starting pitching will keep the Marlins in the wild card hunt all season.
2009 record 90-72
3. Philadelphia Philles - This team will finish 3rd. Yes, I know they have Jimmy Rollins, Utley, Howard on the infield. Victorino and free agent signing Raul Ibanez are also in the lineup patrolling the outfield. They have Cole Hamels as the ace of the staff and Brad Lidge to close. But this team's starting pitching behind Hamels is dreadful. Jamie Moyer will turn 104 years old in June - and he is your #2 starter? Moyer really struggles after the 5th. Brett Myers is your #3? Myers ERA was over 5 the last 2 months of the season. Joe Blanton is your 4? The guy has never fulfilled the hype he had when he came up. Blanton's ERA was over 4 and a half in 08. Now this organization does have a kid named Carlos Carrasco down in the minors - and he is the real deal...I get a feeling they are going to give this kid a chance after a month or two into the season. This team will fight for a playoff spot, but pitching will be its achilles heel all season.
2009 record 87-75
4. Atlanta Braves - Wow, How the mighty have fallen...and I love it. Everyone always says Bobby Cox is one of the best managers ever. Why? Because he won 1 World Series title? The guy had 3 of the best 5 starting pitchers in the game for a decade and won 1 title. In my opinion, that's embarrassing. Now, Cox has a staff that consists of old man Derek Lowe, average starter Javier Vasquez and overhyped Jair Jurrjens. Tim Hudson is on the DL until at least August. That's not a good outlook. Well, their offense must be great if their starting staff is this bad. Um, no. In fact, the Braves outfielders combined to smash 18 homeruns last year...oh yeah, that's right 18. Jeff Francouer, originally known as the Natural when first called up to the majors a few years ago, continues to mysteriously struggle. All-Star Catcher Brian McCann and Chipper Jones will have to carry this team just to finish above the .500 mark. But Chipper is getting a bit old - and is on the DL at least once or twice a year now. This team is in deep trouble in 09.
2009 record 81-81
5. Washington Nationals - Holy Crap...this organization is as embarrassing as Bobby Cox is as a manager. This team has a lot of quality character guys within this organization. General Manager Jim Bowden and scout Jose Rijo were both recently relieved of their positions because of a scandal in the Dominican. The Nationals also have former Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes, most known for beating the crap out of his wife. Former Met Lastings Milledge embarrassed his former organization and was traded for 14 batting practice balls and a Filet-o-Fish from McD's. How do you embarrass an organization that has had Darryl Strawberry & Doc Gooden as a part of it. Outfielder Wily Mo Pena, all he does is complain about not getting enough playing time, but once he does, can't produce. Like I said - many quality character guys in this organization. The sad thing is - this might be a worse franchise than the Pittsburgh Pirates, and that's saying something. They have no pitching. But they did sign free agent Adam Dunn to a contract in the off season - and at least this gives them a bat in the middle of the order, but unfortunately, it is the only one. Plus Dunn strikes out a ton too - not good. Pitching - well they have none. Starters or relievers. Hell - I might call and be their ace by opening day. Well, at least this organization is stocked with numerous big time prospects are their way up to help the big club. Ummmm - Don't think so. They have one prospect ranked in the Top 100 of Baseball America's Prospects. So - with that said - I do have one thing to say. If I could take over any organization in baseball - this would be it. You can only go up as a GM - you c an only make them better, because they can't go down any further. Good Luck Nationals - can a team lose 1000 games in a season when they only play in 162?? That's right - 1000.
2009 record 56-106 (Oh man, that is not good at all).
Monday, March 23, 2009
Manager: John Russell (2nd season)
The Pittsburgh Pirates will try to avoid their major American sport record-setting 17th straight losing season in 2009. In order for that to happen, a whole lot of things have to go right. They first have to improve from their 5.08 team ERA from 2008. Last year's pitching was horrendous as the Bucs threw out 13 different starting pitchers combined for an atrocious 33-67 record. It was also the first year since 1890 that wasn't shortened by a strike that the club did not have a 10-game winner. The rotation will have to become much more stable in order for the team to succeed.
Just like the pitching, the offense must improve as well. The team hit .258 last year and scored only 735 runs. They also traded away two of their big threats in outfielders Jason Bay and Xavier Nady. However, young stars emerged in Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit last year as both had breakout seasons.
Projected Lineup (2008 stats):
C - Ryan Doumit (.318, 15 HR, 69 RBI)
1B - Adam LaRoche (.270, 25, 85)
2B - Freddy Sanchez (.271, 9, 52)
3B - Andy LaRoche (.152, 3, 12)
SS - Jack Wilson (.272, 1, 22)
LF - Nyjer Morgan (.294, 0, 7)
CF - Nate McLouth (.276, 26, 94)
RF - Brandon Moss (.222, 6, 23)
SP - Paul Maholm (9-9, 3.71 ERA)
SP - Ian Snell (7-12, 5.42)
SP - Zach Duke (5-14, 4.82)
SP - Ross Ohlendorf (0-3, 6.35)
SP - Jeff Karstens (2-6, 4.03)
CL - Matt Capps (2-3, 21 SV, 3.02 ERA)
My projected 2009 record: 64-98, 6th in NL Central
- Trevor Hoffman is doubtful for Opening Day with a strained right oblique.
- Rays outfielder BJ Upton probably won't feature on Opening Day either after being hit in the hand by a pitch. The injury is not supposed to be serious.
- The Chicago White Sox agreed a 4-year deal worth $15.5 million with RHP Gavin Floyd over the weekend. In 2008 Floyd went 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA.
Check out Monday's schedule below:
Dodgers v Angels
Cubs v A's
Royals v Padres
Mariners v Giants
Brewers v Rockies
Nationals v Cardinals
Tigers v Red Sox
Orioles v Twins
Blue Jays v Reds
Marlins v Astros
Yankees v Phillies
Rays v Pirates
Saturday, March 21, 2009
In the WBC, the semifinals are set and they kick off tonight in Los Angeles with Korea playing Venezuela at 9:00pm Eastern. Tomorrow at 8:00pm Eastern the United States will face off with defending champ Japan. The starting pitchers in that game are Roy Oswalt and Daisuke Matsuzaka. The ESPN experts (six of them) picked Japan four times, Korea once and the United States once. I'll side with Tim Kurkjian and go against the majority and predict the USA will win the event.
A few things to mention from the MLB:
- Joe Mauer will likely not be available for Opening Day when the Minnesota Twins open on April 6th at home against the Seattle Mariners.
- Ivan Rodriguez signed a deal with the Houston Astros and has passed a physical to complete the signing.
- The most expensive ticket at the new Yankees Stadium is $2,625. That's not really that important but it's a lot of money and I had to mention it.
Look for some more divisional and team previews hopefully this upcoming week and the week after that.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Best Pitcher for 2009 in the AL East - How can you argue with CC. He was the best pitcher on the planet last year. Carried the Brewers on his back to the playoffs - but there is definitely plenty of room on his back. And now he has an offense that will insure he wins at least 20 and that is a rarity nowadays.
Best Hitter for 2009 in the AL East - A-Rod is hurt - so he's out. Jeter is aging - so he's out. The loss of A-Rod eliminates Teixeira, protection will be an issue for a couple months - so he's out. Big Papi is like 42 but runs like he is 92 and he can't stay healthy - he's out. Pedroia needs to prove that he can do it again (at least to me) - out. So I think that leaves Evan Longoria - the up and coming superstar third baseman in Tampa. Look for this guy to take over A-Rod AND David Wright as the premier 3rd baseman in the league...oh yeah, that's right - I said it - over both New Yorkers!!
MVP - This is tough - tons of depth...if we are saying Most VALUABLE - it would be Roy Halladay - but without AJ Burnett - you can write them down as finishing in 4th or 5th - so he is a non factor now. After the offensive explosion from BJ Upton in the 2008 playoffs last year - he is the key to give the Rays a chance to repeat as AL East Champs. He needs to prove that the playoffs were not a fluke and take it to the next level for an entire season. If Upton can do this and Longoria turns it up a notch - this team might be able to steal another division away from the 2 Free Spenders, the Sox and the Yanks, of Major League Baseball.
Now, on to the team-by-team preview of the AL East.
Three words give everyone in Major League Baseball hope that they can win it all in 2009. Those words are TAMPA BAY RAYS! The Rays had never won more than 70 games in a season since the franchise came in to the league in 1998. They went 66-96 in 2007 and then hit lightning in a bottle in 2008 by going 97-65 and going to the World Series. The question is can they do it again? It is a tough thing to ask of the Rays to repeat with such free spenders as the Yankees, as well as the best run baseball team in the league, the Boston Red Sox. So without further ado…my preview of each team below is in the order I think they will finish.
1. Boston Red Sox - How can you pick against this team? I say they are the best run franchise in baseball. I know they have a huge payroll, but they do not overpay for anyone. Everyone wants to play there. Brad Penny, Takaski Saito, John Smoltz & Rocco Baldelli all signed for very reasonable amounts and a couple took less to play in Fenway. You add that depth to an already loaded team – what you get is a 2009 AL East crown. The BoSox have Ellsbury, Pedroia (the AL MVP in 2008) & Big Papi. They have a full season of Jason Bay – so he will be more comfortable now. And Jonathan Papelbon closing the door at the end of games – this team is the most balanced team in the league.
2009 record 98-64
2. New York Yankees - The loss of A-Rod for at least the 1st month or two is a big loss. Cody Ransom is his backup. We all know this team and how it works – they are never afraid to make a move if they need to and cash is never an issue. I think this team will look to trade for Mark Teahan of the Royals. Teahan would be a great fit for this organization. Funny how $3.5 million is too much for Kansas City, but is pocket change for the Bronx Bombers. After A-Rod gets back – Teahan can play 1st, 2nd, 3rd or OF – and I’m sure Girardi will find a way to get him some at-bats. The Yankees overpaid for CC Sabathia, but they had to because he wanted to play on the West Coast – so it was a great move for the Yankees. Now the Burnett signing is a head scratcher. They paid way too much for a 32 year old .500 lifetime pitcher. Plus AJ’s best friend for any team he has ever played for is named Disabled List. The Mark Teixeira signing is a great move. A great glove and an even better bat. Still only 28, switch hits, but how many bombs will this guy hit from the left side with that short porch in right? This team does have some age concerns – Jeter, A-Rod, Damon, Pettitte & Posada all getting up there – so health will be an issue with this team. Plus CC the new ace of the staff threw about 942 innings in 2008 alone. If this team can stay healthy – and that is a big IF (just ask A-Rod), a wild card berth is a distinct possibility.
2009 record 94-68
3. Tampa Bay Rays - This is one of the teams I will be covering during the 2009 season. You have to love what manager Joe Maddon did with this team in 2008. The guy had no fear throwing youth into the mix, plus was not afraid to bench his stars for not hustling. On a number of occasions, he yanked BJ Upton out of the game for not hustling and that will help teach BJ how to play the game right all the time. While at the same time showing everyone on the squad that if you don’t play hard, I don’t care who you are, you will sit. The Rays young core is in tact and the future is bright. Upton, Carlos Pena & Carl Crawford lead the offensive attack, while James Shields and Scott Kazmir anchor an up and coming staff. But back to back division titles in a division like this is a little bit too much to ask.
2009 record 85-77
4. Baltimore Orioles - The O’s have some youth to get excited about and really have done a great job of drafting the last couple years. Catcher Matt Wieters might very well be the next Mike Piazza. Wieters is going to hit for average, as well as hit plenty of Bombs at Camden Yards for many years to come. The question is will the Baltimore front office let that era begin at the start of 2009 or wait until May or June to bring him up. Nick Markakis looks like he will be planted in rightfield for the next 10 years, Adam Jones is only 23 and playing CF, Brian Roberts plays 2B and steals bases and Melvin Mora is still serviceable. This team really needs to get a couple arms to build around in the very near future. This team is going to win a lot of their games with just outslugging the opposition.
2009 record 75-87
5. Toronto Blue Jays – There is just not much to get excited about with the Jays and the O’s. Roy Halladay is the ace of this team and would be the ace on just about any other team in baseball. Vernon Wells and Alex Rios are a great 1-2 punch, but who else are they going to have around them. I really like the looks of Adam Lind. Once Cito Gaston let him know he was going to be in the lineup everyday no matter the results, Lind hit 9 homers and batted .282 in 326 at bats, so this kid will factor into the Blue Jays lineup in 2009. But it is going to be a long season for the team north of the border.
2009 record 67-95
Friday, March 13, 2009
Manny Ramirez got into his first spring training game today for the LA Dodgers as their DH. He was scratched from starting on Thursday due a sore hamstring but put up a walk and a single today.
Former St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire is back in baseball. McGwire is doing hitting instruction for players like Matt Holliday and Bobby Crosby of the Oakland A's and Chris Duncan and Skip Schumaker of the Cardinals. He said in an interview with the New York Times that he was interested in getting into coaching and almost attended spring training with former coach Tony LaRussa.
- The most intimidating looking player in the history of baseball when he is on the mound, Jonathan Papelbon called Manny a "cancer" while he was in Boston.
- Twins C Joe Mauer will get a second opinion on his back injury.
Only one game last night in the WBC. Cuba killed Mexico 16-4 in 7 innings. Six homers total in the game from the two teams. We've got two games scheduled for tomorrow: Netherlands and Venezuela play at 1:00pm Eastern and the United States take on Puerto Rico at 8:00pm Eastern. Jake Peavy will get the start for the American team. Both games will be played in Miami, Florida.
Spring training scores from today:
Cubs 2 v Angels 8
Athletics 3 v Indians 4
Rangers 1 v Royals 4
Royals 1 v Brewers 5
Marners 1 v Cubs 8
Rangers 3 v Dodgers 4
White Sox 15 v Padres 4
Mariners 6 v D'Backs 14
Giants 7 v Rockies 3
Cardinals 6 v Orioles 5
Mets 9 v Tigers 3
Rays 1 v Blue Jays 3
Pirates 6 v Phillies 5
Braves 9 v Marlins 2
Yankees 4 v Red Sox 8
Reds 1 v Twins 0
Nationals 2 v Astros 2
Orioles 1 v Cardinals 3
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The WBC continues to create the biggest stories in baseball, especially since it is still spring training. Puerto Rico came out and defeated upstart Netherlands 5-0 to move to a perfect 3-0 in the tournament. The United States dropped their first game tonight to Venezuela 5-3 but will still move on to the second round. As this post is being written, Mexico currently leads Australia 4-0 in the bottom of the 3rd. I'll take a look at the second round of the WBC later this week.
On the MLB side of things, Brian McNamee told sportsimproper.com that he injected Roger Clemens with drugs in a hot tub at Yankee Stadium. Alright, the way I wrote that sounds a little sketchy for McNamee but that's not what is at hand here. Things just don't look good for Clemens. I know he has been out of the news for awhile but he fought the steroids accusation hard last year and basically to no avail. As soon as you have "steroids" linked with your name in any way, shape, or form it is extremely hard to change the negative opinions people get about you.
- Manny Ramirez still looks on track to debut tomorrow for the Dodgers.
- Joe Mauer, who has pain where the spine meets the pelvis, will up his dosage of medicine to try and speed up his recovery from the aforementioned pain in his back.
- Chipper Jones took BP today and should play on Saturday in the second round of the WBC against Puerto Rico.
Korea v Padres (in progress)
Brewers 2 v White Sox 6
Rockies 5 v Indians 0
Mariners 2 v Royals 9
Japan 6 v Giants 4
Cardinals 8 v Marlins 4
Twins 4 v Orioles 3
Yankees 4 v Tigers 7
Pirates 2 v Blue Jays 2
Astros (1-11) 2 v Reds 8
Braves (9-2) 12 v Phillies 10
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
That's right, the Dominican Republic was knocked out of the WBC tonight as the Netherlands defeated them for the second time during the tournament. All the scoring in the 2-1 game was done in the 11th inning after Eugene Kingsale singled in the tying run and then ended up crossing the plate as the winning run as well. Let me remind you that this was a Dominican Republic team that included the likes of Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, and Pedro Martinez, among others. Adios DR.
Earlier today Venezuela took out Italy 10-1 and moved to 2-1 in the tournament. Currently Cuba is tied with Australia 1-1 in the Bottom of the 5th. Tomorrow, underdog Netherlands will take on Puerto Rico, and Venezuela will play the United States for the second time.
Just one other thing I will note today is that the Boston Red Sox signed multiple players to one-year deals today. One of those players is Jon Lester who was reported to have signed a five-year $30 million contract earlier this week. That is not so and Lester joins 18 others with a one year deal.
And Manny Ramirez will likely make his spring training debut on Thursday.
Check out the scores below.
Indians 4 v Angels 8
Cubs 8 v Mariners 1
Giants 6 v Rangers 4
D'Backs 3 v Dodgers 6
Athletics 7 v Rockies 14
Orioles 5 v Red Sox 1
Tigers 2 v Cardinals 5
Braves 7 v Astros 4
Mets 5 v Nationals 5
Blue Jays 4 v Rays 11
Reds 1 v Yankees 7
Monday, March 9, 2009
Are you tired of hearing about Alex Rodriguez yet? Well he is in the news once again as the Yankees 3B had surgery on his hip. The surgery that fixed a torn labrum, "went exactly as we planned," according to the doctor who did the surgery, Dr. Marc Philippon. Like it was mentioned yesterday, A-Rod will be out for 6-9 weeks and should be back on the field in May. He will require more surgery after the season.
The injury news just keeps on rolling in as Los Angeles of Anaheim Angels RHP Ervin Santana will start the season on the DL with an elbow injury. An MRI showed that he had sprained the medial collateral ligament. Not sure on the timetable for a return but last year Santana went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA. The 26-year-old signed a four year, $30 million contract before the season. Twins catcher Joe Mauer is also another injury concern today. Mauer has had back pain and it has gotten in the way of his rehab from offseason kidney surgery. There is no diagnosis yet but more tests will be run this week on his back. And lastly on the injury review is Chipper Jones, who injured his right side during the USA's game against Venezuela in the WBC. Jones has a mild strain but is likely to return for the next round of the tournament.
Speaking of the WBC, SEGWAY! (Curtis will know what this means). The next round is starting to take shape with some results from Sunday night, and also from Monday. So on Sunday, if you read the last post you knew the Domincan Republic was beating Panama 5-0 due to my extroardinary, on-the-couch-with-ESPN-on coverage of the game. The Dominican Republic went on the win 9-0, a huge win since they lost their first game to the Netherlands. Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto got the win. The United States secured a place in the next round with a big 15-6 win over Venezuela on Sunday as well with an eight run 6th inning. The US totaled 16 hits and got HR's in consecutive games from Adam Dunn and Kevin Youkilis. Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt started for the US and went 3.2 innings, giving up six hits, three earned, and striking out one. In the nightcap Australia took down Mexico in a big way, 17-7 in both team's first game of the WBC.
On Monday, Korea defeated Japan 1-0 to finish 3-1 in Group A. Italy knocked Canada out of contention for the next round with a 6-2 win and Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands 3-1 to move to 2-0 and secure a place in the next round as well. Mexico and South Africa are currently in the Bottom of the 7th at 12:38pm Eastern with Mexico leading 6-3. More groundbreaking live game coverage. Tomorrow there are three games scheduled: Italy plays Venezuela in a big Group C game at 5:00pm Eastern, the Domincan Republic looks to avenge a loss to the Netherlands at 6:30pm Eastern, and then Cuba takes on Australia at 10:00pm Eastern.
Scores from spring training on Monday are listed below.
Indians 9 v White Sox 3
Angels 4 v A's 5
Dodgers 13 v Rangers 7
Royals 1 v Cubs 9
Brewers 6 v Giants 8
Padres 16 v D'Backs 3
Reds 8 v Phillies 4
Patriots (Red Sox) 15 v Steelers (Pirates) 14
Twins 4 v Rays 3
Orioles 8 v Mets 9
Blue Jays 6 v Yankees 2
Astros 6 v Nationals 8
Tigers 0 v Marlins 1
Sunday, March 8, 2009
According to a Yahoo Sports report, the Boston Red Sox have signed LHP Jon Lester to a 5-year, $30 million extension. Lester was diagnosed with lymphoma as a rookie in 2006 but was declared cancer-free later that year. He went 16-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 33 starts last year in over 200 innings.
Let's move to the WBC news.
On Saturday I mentioned that Japan had won but the shock of the day had to be the Netherlands beating the Dominican Republic, 3-2. Sidney Ponson got the win for the Dutch team. The United States pulled it out against Canada 6-5 after Jason Bay flew out to Shane Victorino in right with a man on base. Cincinnati Red Joey Votto had a huge day, going 4-5 with a HR and two RBI's. Kevin Youkilis, Brian McCann, and Adam Dunn all hit HR's for the US team. In the other games on Saturday, Puerto Rico beat Panama 7-0 and Venezuela defeated Italy by the same margin.
On Sunday, Korea has beaten China by a whopping 14-0 score and Cuba took care of South Africa, 8-1 on the back of six HR's, a WBC record. As this post is being written the Domincan Repbublic is beating Panama 5-0 in the Top of the 5th. See, look at the BLBB giving you live, from the couch, coverage of the WBC. Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto is on the mound and is about to get pulled after reaching the pitch limit. Later on today the United States will take on Venezuela at 8:00 Eastern on ESPN. Roy Oswalt will get the nod for the US team and he will go against Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers. And finally, Australia takes on Mexico in the last game of the day.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Big news coming out of the New York Yankees camp of course is the hip of Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod flew to Denver on Wednesday to get his hip checked out and it was revealed that he may need surgery for a torn labrum. There is a chance however that he could play the whole season and get surgery if needed after the season. A-Rod and the Yankees are waiting now to see how this plays out and are not moving to replace Rodriguez at third yet.
Last time I posted it wasn't official but it is now, Manny Ramirez came to a contract agreement with the LA Dodgers. The deal was 2 years worth $45 million. It was the same as the previous offer from the Dodgers but Manny and agent Scott Boras weren't happy with the way the money was distributed so this one I can only assume has those issues worked out.
Lots of other little things going on but I don't have enough to say about them so I'll just end this with the spring training schedule for today.
Royals v Indians
Cubs v Brewers
White Sox v Rangers
Mariners v Dodgers
Athletics v Padres
Rockies v Giants
Angels v Diamondbacks
Pirates v Twins
Reds v Blue Jays
Cardinals v Astros
Tigers v Phillies
Orioles v Marlins
Red Sox v Rays
Nationals v Mets
Braves v Yankees
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The Oakland A's have reportedly signed Nomar Garciaparra to a one-year deal, the San Francisco Chronicle claimed. The A's are expected to make a formal announcement on Friday. Garciaparra, who is 35, batted .264 in only 55 games for the Dodgers in 2008. The right-hander will help balance out a lineup that is heavy with left-handed bats with Jason Giambi, Jack Cust, and Eric Chavez, among others.
The Big Unit, Randy Johnson, showed that he could still play today with seven K's in three innings. Johnson threw 29 strikes in 42 total pitches, impressive for a 45-year-old if you ask me. The Giants pitcher is 5 victories short of 300 and is on a one-year contract worth $8 million this year.
Oakland Athletics pitcher Justin Duchscherer was seeing a doctor on Tuesday to have his right elblow looked at. He is Oakland's projected Opening Day pitcher.
Johan Santana may not be ready for Opening Day with tenderness in his elbow.
News from Boston has the Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny was scratched from his first spring training exhibition start due to shoulder soreness and JD Drew flew to Boston for an injection in his lower back.
Finally, adding to his offseason struggles, Alex Rodriguez will have his hip checked out after a cyst was found on Saturday during an exam. He will visit a doctor in Vail, CO on tomorrow.
And of course the scores:
Indians 9 v Royals 9
Rockies 6 v Brewers 8
Athletics 4 v Cubs 6
Dodgers 5 v Padres 4
Diamondbacks 6 v Giants 7
Reds 9 v Red Sox 8
Venezuela 5 v Tigers 7
Cardinals 15 v Mets 4
Puerto Rico 2 v Twins 3
Canada 6 v Blue Jays 4
Panama 2 v Braves 11
Italy6 v Nationals 9
Netherlands 4 v Pirates 5
Domincan Republic 10 v Marlins 1
Astros 2 v Rays 12
United States 6 v Yankees 5
Monday, March 2, 2009
The Oakland Athletics have agreed a one-year $4 million contract with free-agent Orlando Cabrera, formerly of the White Sox, ESPN is reporting. The 34-year-old hit .281 with eight HR's, 57 RBI's and 19 swiped bases.
Alex Rodriguez reported to the Dominican Republic team ahead of the World Baseball Classic which is set to open up on Thursday. A-Rod met for two hours with MLB investigators on Sunday where they discussed his recent admission to taking steroids. Sounds to me like he just wants to move past the steroids thing but he plays in New York so it's not going anywhere.
Speaking of the WBC, Joe Nathan of the Minnesota Twins and BJ Ryan of the Toronto Blue Jays are both out, leaving the US team with two less relievers than it started the morning with. Nathan has soreness in his pitching elbow and Ryan wants to tune-up in spring training with the Blue Jays. To compensate for these losses the US added Houston's LaTroy Hawkins, the Nationals' Joel Hanrahan, and San Diego reliever Heath Bell.
And let's wrap this up on a note of sportsmanship. Reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols declined an invitation to play for the Dominican Republic in the WBC earlier this year and will not play against them when the St. Louis Cardinals take on the Dominican team in an exhibition on Thursday. Pujols was quoted as saying, "It's all about respect. I don't want to play against them. I don't feel comfortable with it, and that's it." Classy guy.
Here's the scores from today's games:
Marins 5 v White Sox 3
Rangers 8 v Indians 7
Giants 5 v Royals 14
Diamondbacks 9 v Cubs 1
Brewers 3 v Padres 4
Angels 12 v Rockies 3
Rays 8 v Cardinals 5
Red Sox 3 v Orioles 5
Moccasins 1 v Tigers 7 (who are the Moccasins anyway?)
Phillies 12 v Blue Jays 7
Yankess 5 v Astros 5
Reds 1 v Pirates 2