Results tagged ‘ Major League Baseball ’
As we head into Winter Meetings there have been some trades made that have made some teams better and other teams weaker in my opinion. I will deal with just two trades in particular. Both of them involve the Tigers.
It is only my opinion, but the trading of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister have made the Tigers much weaker today than they were at the end of the season. I know Prince had a bad postseason, but you have to take into account the protection he provided the 2012 and 2013 MVP, Miguel Cabrera. Prince had a down year in the homer category. He still was able to drive in over 100 runs for the second straight year in Detroit, and behind a guy who has driven in over 280 runs during that time. Prince hit over .400 following a walk to Miggy. Ian Kinsler is a good player, but the Rangers definitely got the better of that deal. Prince could hit over 50 home runs a year in Arlington. Also, whoever he hits behind in that Ranger lineup can expect to see their numbers go up dramatically.
The other trade the Tigers made that I feel weakened them was the trade of Fister — probably the best fourth starter in baseball — to the Nationals. The Nats got better and also now have insurance in case Stephen Strasburg is hurt again. They had to give up a utility player, a lefthanded reliever and a youngster. The lefthander will help the Tiger bullpen, but the loss of Fister weakens their rotation.
What this tells me is that the Tigers are freeing up money to sign Max Scherzer, or to go out and sign another big name hitter and a proven closer like Joe Nathan. The closer role and bullpen in general were the reasons the Tigers didn’t advance to World Series this past season.
Dave Dombroski is to smart to make these trades without a replacement plan in place. But as we sit here today, they have not come out on the right side of either trade.
My predictions for 2013 didn’t go as well this year as they have in previous years. But when it was all said and done, we had a great season to look back at and say there were some really big surprises. And some not-so-big surprises.
I will start with who I picked to make the postseason:
AL East: Tampa Bay (Won Wild Card, lost in ALDS to Boston.)
AL Central: Detroit (Won division, lost in ALCS to Boston.)
AL West: Texas (Lost Wild Card Tiebreaker Game.)
AL Wild Card: Boston (Won division and World Series) and Kansas City (Finished 5.5 game back, on the right track and will be back fighting in the Central next year)
NL East: Washington (The biggest disappointment in baseball in my opinion. I had them not only winning the east but making it to World Series. I still believe they will be a postseason team next year.)
NL Central: Cincinnati (Lost Wild Card game to Pittsburgh.)
NL West: Giants (Didn’t play nearly like the team that won the World Series in 2012.)
NL Wild Card: St. Louis (Won division and lost World Series to Boston) and Arizona (Started off strong before fading badly.)
The only positive thing I can say about my predictions is at least five of the teams I picked to make the postseason did so.
Looking back at what teams did this year that shocked me, first and foremost the pirates making the postseason was the biggest surprise by far. What that team and Clint Hurdle did this year was amazing to me. Another surprise was how well the Braves played when they got no production out of two of the guys they were counting on most in Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton. In spite of that, they ran away with the NL East. Great job of managing by Fredi Gonzalez. Also in my opinion the NL MVP is Freddie Freeman.
The game is so much about starting pitching these days that I believe sometimes great bullpens and bad bullpens get overlooked. The Pirates had the season they had in large part because their bullpen was awesome. The same can be said for the champs in Boston. They had two closers go down with injuries, yet managed to find a guy in Koji Uehara who was almost unhittable. The Cards’ young pen got them to the World Series in the postseason. Edwin Mujica did a great job of closing games until September, then Trevor Rosenthal and his 100-MPH fastball took over.
For the teams that had great rotations and subpar bullpens, we only need look as far as Detroit. Joaquin Benoit took over as closer in the second half and did great. But in the ALCS, the guys who were charged with getting the ball to Benoit were not so good, and cost the Tigers a chance to play in the World Series. It would not surprise me at all to see the Tigers go out and sign a free agent closer Joe Nathan, then trade Rick Porcello to land a couple of good, young arms — both left-handed and right — to add to their pen. If they do that, I will be picking them again next year.
Three of the saddest moments of this year were Charlie Manuel getting fired in Philly, Jim Leyland stepping down as manager of the Tigers, and Mariano Rivera retiring. Why are these sad to me? Because each and every one of those guys are what are sport should be about: pride, integrity, and class. Baseball will miss all of them. Of the three, I think we might see Charlie Manuel again. I’m not sure he has the game out of his system yet. I hope not anyway.
All in all, 2013 was a great year for MLB. Congrats to the Red Sox for bringing celebration to Boston after the senseless and inhumane act of the Marathon bombing.
With the series 3-2 in favor of the Red Sox heading into Game 6 tonight, there are many people who think it is over with the series moving back to Boston. I for one don’t think it is over, mainly for one reason. That reason is 22 years old and stands 6’6″ tall.
Michael Wacha! This kid has proven the big stage and bright lights don’t bother him. The Cardinals were down 0-1 in the series when he got the ball in one of the most hostile places in sports to play in, Fenway Park. He proved he was not intimidated by that.
The other reason is that he counts on his fastball and changeup. If you have to pitch in cold weather, those are the two pitches that your grip affects the least.
The Red Sox are not a team that is going down without a fight. John Lackey has proven that he is a big game pitcher. But his curveball is a huge part of his arsenal. If he doesn’t have a good grip on it, it will affect the bite and location of it. Game 5 really was the only game where a mistake didn’t lead to a team winning or losing. I believe the team that plays the best defense in Game 6 will win.
For Lackey to win, Boston is going to have to make more plays defensively than the Cards, because I believe Wacha will strike out more guys. That being said, to predict a winner in this series simply is a guess on anyone’s part. These teams are very evenly matched. All I am going to guess is that there will be a Game 7!
For all of those reading this, I’m a little late with my predictions for who will advance to the World Series. But I will say this: Game 2 of the ALCS hasn’t started yet, but with the Tigers winning Game 1 in Boston 1-0, I can tell you that I would have bet all I own that there was no way that the Tigers could have won a game against the Sox 1-0 where the Detroit bullpen had to throw three innings.
I really like Benoit as the closer and Smyly as the lefthander, but the rest of the Tiger pen has been a coin flip. I picked Detroit to win the series before it started, but that was based on their rotation. I wouldn’t hesitate to predict that a Tigers starter would go eight shutout innings and Benoit one inning in a 1-0 win.
The tigers have the best rotation in baseball, in my opinion. But for them to win the series, they can’t expect to get three innings a game out of their pen. Their starters will have to go deep in games. The Sox struck out 17 times last night. Even with Scherzer and Verlander being the next two starters, I don’t expect the Sox to punch out that much again. This series may go seven games.
As for the NLCS, at the very least I would have expected LA to leave St. Louis with a split. They had their top two starters going with Greinke and Kershaw. The Cards don’t hit lefties very well, and they didn’t yesterday, with the only run coming off a down-the-middle passed ball that put Freese on third with one out and John Jay hitting a sac fly for the only run. Meanwhile, Greinke threw eight innings and allowed just two runs, while the Cardinals started Kelly, who didn’t have great command, but got threw six innings, allowing only two runs. Both of those games should be wins for the Dodgers.
There are two really big reasons I don’t think the Dodgers can come back and win this series. The first being that Hanley Ramirez didn’t play in Game 2 because of bruised ribs from being hit by a Joe Kelly fastball. Since he couldn’t play yesterday, I don’t think he will play again in this series. That really hurts the Dodger lineup.
The second reason is now they have to face the Cards’ ace, Adam Wainwright, in Game 3. Oh yeah, and the Cardinals’ bullpen that has rookie after rookie that can come on and throw 98 to 101 MPH will make every game much shorter for manager Mike Matheny. Carlos Martinez throws 98 with movement and a wipeout slider, then you have Siegrist from the left side also throwing 98. And to top it off, their closer all year long, Edward Mujica, has not seen the field in two one-run games.
The closer’s job is now Trevor Rosenthal’s. He had three saves in September. Yesterday he came in to face the middle of the Dodger order and blew all three guys away like it was nothing. The last five outs of a 1-0 win were all strikeouts recorded by rookie Cardinals relievers.
I always have said that there is nothing more dangerous than youth, talent and confidence. This St. Louis team is loaded with all three of those things. The Cards will be in the World Series. The identity of their opponent is up in the air, but I believe it will be the Tigers because of their rotation.
With the season over and the playoffs upon us, I wish I could sit here and tell y’all who is going to win. It is so close in both leagues that it is almost impossible to predict.
We still don’t know the final Wild Card team from the AL. The Dodgers haven’t been playing that well to finish the season. Neither have the Tigers. The Dodgers lost Kemp for the postseason. The Tigers got no-hit in their last game. The hottest teams going into the playoffs are St. Louis and Pittsburgh in the NL and Cleveland in the AL. But Cleveland has had trouble with teams with winning records this season.
Experience plays a big role in the postseason, so I think the Reds will beat Pittsburgh in the NL Wild Card Game. I think Texas beats the Rays in the Tiebreaker Game and then Cleveland in the AL Wild Card Game. I had picked the Dodgers and Tigers for the World Series, and I am sticking with the Tigers. But I believe St. Louis will win the NL pennant. And I am sticking to my pick from before the season and taking the Tigers to win it all.
All that being said, this has been the most interesting trek to the postseason I have ever seen! And that is because of the Wild Card teams. Kudos, Bud Selig!
What happened in the Marlins-Braves game last night was one of the dumbest and most embarrassing things I have seen on a big league field.
For those who didn’t see what happened, Jose Fernandez of the Marlins is pitching against the Braves and Evan Gattis hits a bomb off him, then proceeds to style and profile and stare Fernandez down. Fernandez just turned around and walked toward second base saying, “Wow” — meaning he crushed that ball. Mistake Number One by the Braves.
Then Chris Johnson comes up later, takes a pitch and shakes his head as to say, “You got nothing,” to Fernandez. Then Johnson proceeds to fly out to left, at which point he yells at Fernandez the whole way to first base. Then Johnson says “weak [blank] fastball” to Fernandez. Mistake Number Two by the Braves.
Fernandez was upset by this — any pitcher would be. In his next at-bat, Fernandez hits a home run, stands there and styles and profiles. When he reaches home plate, Brian McCann tells him he can’t being doing that, someone’s going to get hurt. I agree totally with McCann, as long as he had the same conversation with his teammates, Gattis and Johnson. Fernandez could have done what I would have done and drilled someone on purpose, possibly injuring one of the Braves’ pieces vital to their World Series hopes. Instead Fernandez did what was done to him: stood and watched his home run.
Then we come to find out that some of the Braves players didn’t like the fact that Fernandez smiles and has fun playing the game. That’s why Johnson was yelling at him. To me, that is absurd. There is nothing more entertaining than watching players smile and have fun. They play a game for a living.
Gattis has a very inspiring story to his big league career. So does Fernandez. He had to defect from his native Cuba to come to the U.S. and play baseball and get paid for it. Why should he not smile? It is not disrespectful to your opponent to smile. If you are one of those players who thinks the game of baseball owes you something and you want to be miserable playing it, that is your choice. Torii Hunter has been smiling for over 15 years and no one has a problem with that.
Then to make things even worse, in his postgame press conference, Marlins manager Mike Redmond basically threw Fernandez under the bus for what he did, saying, “That is not how we do things around here.” He did not stand up for his player in any way. If I am a member of that team, at that very moment I would have lost all respect for him as my manager. He didn’t mention one word about what Johnson and Gattis did to provoke the actions of Fernandez.
Many people out there think I’m a Braves hater. Not true. I have a ton of respect for many players on that team. Brian McCann being one of them. They have the player who I believe is the NL MVP in Freddie Freeman. They have probably the most dominating closer the game has seen in years in Craig Kimbrel. What I don’t respect are guys who play this game and have a problem with a guy smiling and having fun. Anyone who has a big league uniform on should be smiling. You are playing a game and getting paid for it. They don’t know what Jose Fernandez went through to come to the United States and play baseball.
My advice to Jose would be to keep respecting the game the way you do, because this kid respects the game. I have spoken with him. Also keep smiling and being yourself. Smiling is not showing up your opponent. Finally, don’t let anyone show you up. You get respect by earning it. You are not the one who should have been embarrassed last night. The guy who went 0-for-3 with a punch-out and talked trash all the way to first base should be embarrassed.
2013 has turned out to be the year that the Pirates have broken a 20-year stretch of losing seasons. Last night they won their 81st game of the year. It has been a great story to watch unfold and I am happy to see that streak come to an end.
There are players on that team who have endured a lot over their time in Pittsburgh. There are also fans who have had to live through those dismal summers. They have one of the nicest ballparks — if not the nicest ballpark — in the game. Now they have a team that has made it worthwhile to come out and watch. This team is not loaded with superstars. It is, however, loaded with guys who play every out of every game. As a former player, I love to see that. I believe that with the money players make now (and even when I played), that they owe that effort every night to their fan base. This years Pirates do that.
Now comes the question: Will they make the Postseason? I believe they will. But I believe it will be as the first Wild Card team. I still believe that the Reds will win the Central. I think the they have too much talent. They have yet to get on a run, but I believe they will. I could be very wrong, but that is how I see it.
I also see a St. Louis pitching staff that is young and getting tired. When a pitcher is tired, he has to make pitches. Add in the stress of a pennant race and I just feel that the Cards’ staff is running out of gas. I would say — as so many are saying — that both NL Wild Card teams will come out of the Central. But with the weakest division in the NL being the East , I am not sure that the Nationals might not slip in there for the second Wild Card spot. They will play most of their games in their own division in September, as will the Cardinals. That’s to Washington’s advantage, as the Central is a much tougher division.
Back to the Pirates. Congrats to them, but I have a feeling they ain’t satisfied with just a winning season. They have too much fight in them to set their goals that low!
With September nearly upon us , I thought I would look at who is going to be in the 2013 Postseason in the National League.
In the East, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say the Braves have that locked up. They hold a lead that I don’t believe can possibly be overtaken.
In the west, I would say the same thing about the Dodgers . That is something I didn’t think would happen this year for them. Not because they didn’t have the talent, but because of chemistry. They seem to have that in abundance now.
Where the NL gets cloudy is in the Central. St. Louis is leading the division by a game and a half over the Pirates, with the Reds 3.5 back, as we sit here on the 28th of August. They are both Wild Card teams right now, but the NL it could get very interesting is the final month.
With so many games played against each other, the Pirates , Reds and Cards could be their own worst enemies. If they all beat up on each other in a fight for the Central, that could give Washington and maybe the D-Backs a chance to sneak into one of the Wild Card spots, as the NL East and West are much weaker divisions than the Central. It would only take a run by one of those teams to keep both Wild Card teams from coming from the Central.
Pittsburgh has been struggling lately and the Reds have yet to make a strong run. It is great to see that the Pirates will enjoy their first winning season in 21 years, but do they have the experience to withstand a playoff push? Time will tell.
Last month I said that I thought both Wild Card teams will come from the Central. I have since changed that opinion. I believe that either Washington or Arizona will sneak in and take one of the Wild Card spots based solely on the strengths of the divisions.
When it is all said and done, I believe LA will be representing the NL in the World Series.
With Jason Grilli going on the DL, how much will this hurt the Pirates’ chances to make the Postseason? Simply put, I don’t believe they can if they don’t make a move before the Trade Deadline.
There are a few teams that can use a closer heading into the deadline. If I were the Pirates, I wouldn’t part with any of my prospects that will make this team a contender for the next few years.
So who should they go after? This may sound crazy, but I think they could get Joba Chamberlain from the Yankees for next to nothing.
Joba ain’t a starter. He wears his emotions on his sleeve too much to start. You can’t celebrate 27 outs. I believe and always have , that Joba would do well in the closer’s role. For one thing, he has the stuff to do it. Secondly, Joba ain’t all there! I mean that in the best possible way. He will forget if he had a bad outing.
The Pirates took a chance on a guy in Grilli who is 35 and had five career saves entering this season. And he has been awesome. Joba needs out of New York. He is the poster child for a player needing a change of scenery! Get him out of the fish bowl that is New York and put him in Pittsburgh, where they celebrate every win because it has been so long since they have won.
Trade for Joba, give him the ball in the ninth and tell him to go be himself. It could be a stroke of genius on the Pirates’ part. And if it doesn’t work, they won’t have given up part of their future!
What makes this Pirate team for real, after last year’s team teased all of us into thinking they were going to finally finish above .500 for the first time in 20 years?
First off, they have depth in their starting rotation. What Jeff Locke and Gerrit Cole have done has been impressive. When you have a mixture of youth and veterans in the rotation, it makes for a situation where the vets now feel like they have to go out and and at least do as well as the young guys. It is a pride thing. They also will be getting A.J. Burnett back. That adds to their depth.
I did my power rankings on air the other night and I didn’t rank the pirates in the top 5. Is that because I don’t think they are one of the five best teams in baseball? No, it’s not. But I do think that if they continue to have people doubt what they can do, they will go out there with a chip on their shoulders to prove everyone wrong. To me, that is the greatest motivation of all. When the only people who believe in you are the 25 guys in the clubhouse, that makes it a very close clubhouse.
Also the Pirates’ bullpen has been phenomenal. If they can keep doing what they have been doing, the Pirates will be looking not only at their first winning season in 20 years, but the Postseason as well.
But for all you Pirates fans who think I’m not giving your team its due, I am, but I won’t be doing it on air. I know what it is like to feel like no one believes in you. And it will bring their pride to the surface. Proving people wrong is so much fun!