Results tagged ‘ Red Sox ’
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.
As we have finished April, there are many surprises around baseball. Here’s what I feel are the biggest ones:
First, a major surprise to me is that the Rockies are leading the NL West with a 17-11 record. I don’t think that they will wind up at season’s end, but I didn’t think they had enough pitching to be where they are now, even this early in the year.
Everyone’s preseason pick in the NL West seemed to be the Dodgers, because of all the money they spent in the offseason. I was not one who picked them to win it. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I don’t believe you can buy a team. You can buy players, but not a team. The Dodgers had eight starting pitchers coming out of Spring Training. They traded Aaron Harang and the next day Zack Greinke breaks his collarbone in the fight with Carlos Quentin. Then Chris Capuano gets hurt. So the Dogers are hanging around .500.
Then we go to the other LA team. This team I did pick to win the AL West because I thought the additions of Josh Hamilton and Jason Vargas would help them because they are both low-key players who would fit in to the Angels clubhouse — which I have since found out from a player who has since left was not a very cohesive clubhouse. And it shows on the field.
Harold Reynolds pointed out one specific play that demonstrated this point perfectly. Albert Pujols was coming in for a pop-up and it bounced out of his glove. The catcher, Chris Iannetta, was there to catch it. There was no excitement on their faces, no laughing, nothing. This game is supposed to be fun. The minute you play the game just for the paycheck, it’s time to go home.
I can speak from personal experience on this. I always said that when the game felt like a job, I would retire. Because your ability won’t shine through. I retired at 32 because I wasn’t having fun anymore. The Angels have arguably the best all-around player in the game in Mike Trout to go with Hamilton and Pujols, and they are 10-18. Losing Jered Weaver didn’t help, but this team should be much better than they are.
In the NL, the Pirates started poorly and now are just one game back in the Central at 16-12 . They have started fast the last two years, but faded toward the end of the year. They traded a lock-down closer in Joel Hanrahan and gave the job to a career setup man in his mid-30s in Jason Grilli, who entered this season with five career saves. He is now 11-for-11 in save opportunities. I didn’t think this would be the year they broke the streak of 20 straight losing seasons in the Steel City, but it may be.
Over in the AL Central, the Tigers will win this division! But the Twins being at .500 after the first month is a shocker to me. I thought they had a lineup that could compete, but I didn’t see anything in their starting rotation that would have led me to believe that they could be anywhere near the .500 mark after the first month. Justin Morneau is back to his MVP form at the plate, and they have gotten enough pitching to keep them afloat.
Back to the Can’t Buy a Team Theory. The Blue Jays had the huge trade with Marlins this winter that made many people’s pick to win the AL East. The pitching they got via trade has been subpar to this point. So far R.A. Dickey has not been the guy who won the NL Cy Young Award last year. Mark Buehrle has not been his reliable self, and Josh Johnson is on the DL. But the biggest loss for them has been the Jose Reyes injury. This guy absolutely disrupts the opposing pitcher’s focus when he is on base. He was hitting .395 when he got hurt. Meanwhile, the man who was an MVP of the 2012 All-Star Game and well on his way to perhaps a league MVP award until failing a drug test and getting a 50-game suspension, Melky Cabrera — to whom the Jays gave a two-year deal and a $2 million-a-year raise — has not even come close to being what he was before the suspension. All of this leads to the Jays being 10-19 and in the cellar of the AL East.
The other surprise in that division is the Yankees. I picked them to finish last because of all the injuries they were dealing with coming out of Spring Training. They led the majors last year with 245 home runs, and 200 of those were not in the lineup Opening Day. Yet they are in second place right now behind what I consider to be the biggest surprise so far this season to everyone. (I wasn’t as surprised most by the A’s, as I had the chance to see them in the spring in person and talk with the players to get a feel for what this team was all about.)
The Red Sox are a very good team. I think the main reason is the change in the manager. Bringing back John Farrell to manage a club where he was the pitching coach when they won their World Series titles was pure genius on the part of the Sox. First, they needed Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz to return to their former selves. Secondly, they needed a manager who wasn’t the main focus of the team. Farrell is very content to sit back and let his players play, and wants none of the credit. They have three starting pitchers who have not yet lost. Buchholz is 6-0. Lester is 4-0. And Felix Doubront is 3-0. The Sox have the best record in baseball and — barring injuries — I think they will win the AL East.
And for the record, I didn’t see them being this good. I expected them to be much improved, but I would be lying if I said I saw this coming all along. Also, for the record, Buchholz and Lester returning to their old form under their former pitching coach, Farrell, is not a coincidence!
Now for my least surprising performance to this point: Mariano Rivera being 11-for-11 in save opportunities. Many people wondered about his knee. If it had been his landing leg, yes, there would have been concern on my part. But the fact it is his post leg meant I never doubted he would be the old Mo! He is only off to the best start of his career. And yet he has said he will retire at the end of this year. I hate to see that. I believe Mo could close for another five years. When you have his command and an absolute understanding of the mental part of closing — by that I mean he knows the pressure is on the hitter, not you as the closer. You already have the lead.
I don’t care if his cutter velocity drops to 85 mph. Any coach who wants to teach kids perfect throwing mechanics, put on a tape of Mo for them to watch. His mechanics are flawless. And simple. If he decided not to retire, he would put the save record so far out of reach that no one would ever come close to it. He could pitch five more years and be close to 800 saves. He is a guy who shouldn’t have to wait five years to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The day he says “I’m retired,” he should be inducted. We will never again see anyone like him!
Who do I think made out the best at this year’s Winter Meetings?
There were not a lot of big name deals that were done at the Meetings this year, but there were some deals made that I think were very good moves, some that I thought were not such good moves, and some that made me scratch my head.
I will start with the team that I think made out the best: the world champion Giants. They had two guys who were not what many people might have considered very important. They brought back Angel Pagan for four years at $40 million — not a ton of money. They also retained Marco Scutaro. Those two moves alone tell me that the Giants get it when it comes to how important “complementary” guys are to the success of a team in today’s game. You can buy players, but you can’t buy chemistry! If you look at the Giants on paper, they are not going to scare many people . But they have won two World Series in the last three years.
The move that I thought was the worst took place in Queens. The signing of David Wright doesn’t make much sense. I say this because the Mets have committed $138 million over eight years years to a player that I believe they could have used as trade bait and gotten back some good young talent. I do think Wright is worth the money, but are the Mets in a position to win in the next four years? I don’t see it. Also the mets signed Wright and now we are hearing talks of trading 2012 Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. Talk about mixed signals. The man won 20 games.
That brings me to my biggest question signing: the Red Sox signing Shane Victorino to a three-year, $39 million deal. I love Shane . He plays the game hard and plays it the right way. But he didn’t have a great year last year between Philly and the Dodgers. I’m very happy for him, but I would be lying if I said that I thought he would get that kind of deal. He reportedly turned down $44 million to play in Cleveland. It tells me there are some clubs who believe that a down year doesn’t mean a player can’t bounce back. If anyone can, it is Shane. But I don’t think as a businessman I could bet $39 million that it will happen.
Winter Meetings are not where all the big deals are made anymore. It has become a place for teams to get a chance to meet with players and discuss possible trades. But I think the days of big deals taking place there are over. Now it’s more about the middle-of-the-road players.
When the Boston Red Sox finalized the deal with the Dodgers over the weekend I was shocked! At this time of year, we will hear rumors of all kinds of trades that are just that: rumors.
I was shocked first by the fact that the Dodgers would take on all that money in the contracts of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. The only one of that group that has performed well enough over the last two years to justify the money they were being paid was A-Gon. Crawford has been hurt much of the time he was in Boston, and when he was healthy he hadn’t been close to being the player he was in Tampa. He is going to be no help this year in LA, as he is having Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of this year and the beginning of next season.
I fully expected the Dodgers to spend a lot of money this coming offseason, but to start by taking on these contracts did surprise me. I think Beckett will be a different pitcher in LA. I think he was sick of being in Boston and dealing with the garbage that had nothing to do with baseball, like the problems with players and the manager, Bobby Valentine. It is no secret that the players were not getting along with the
manager. Reports of texts that had been sent to ownership by players expressing their dislike for Valentine had surfaced.
That brings me to the most shocking part of this trade. It has always been said that when a team is not playing well that you can’t fire the team, so the manager is going to be the one that pays the price for the poor performance of his players. But in this case, it appears for the first time the organization has fired the players and kept the manager!
Does this mean that Valentine will be back next year in Boston? No, I don’t think it means that at all. They fired pitching coach Bob McClure recently, and I think come the end of the season, there are going to be more changes in the on-field staff. With rumors that Mike Scioscia could be let by the Angels and Terry Francona being the name thrown around as the man to replace him, it would not surprise me at all to see Scioscia being the manager in Boston next year.
One thing is for sure: the Red Sox in my opinion will be the team that looks the most different from the start of the 2012 season at the start of 2013. With all that being said, I do believe now that the Dodgers will win the NL West.
Before the season started, I made predictions as to what teams I thought would be Postseason teams. We are in the first week of July, and there are some teams that I thought would win divisions that are either not playing good baseball and are still in the hunt and there is one team that sits dead last in its division — the Phillies being that team.
As I sit here today, the American League East is shaping up to much like I thought it would, with the Yankees leading the division. The big surprise is that the Orioles sit in second place. I still believe that the Yankees will win that division, and I am sticking by my pick of Boston being one of the Wild Card teams. They have endured more days of players being on the DL than any other team in baseball, with over 900 games missed. And they still are only 6.5 games out of first. That means when they do get healthy, the Red Sox will be very deep heading into the second half.
The AL Central has not played out in the first half like I thought it would. I had Detroit running away with the division, but they have not played well as a team yet. I still see them doing much like they did last year and winning the division by a wide margin. Their starting pitching hasn’t been as dominant yet this year. Namely Doug Fister. He came to Detroit last year at the Trade Deadline and went 8-1 for the Tigers. He is 1-6 at this point. That won’t last.
The AL West is right where I thought it would be, with the Rangers leading the division, and the Angels in second place, which will earn them the other Wild Card spot.
In the NL, it has been much harder to figure out what has happened. The Dodgers got off to a great start, but the loss of Matt Kemp due to a hamstring injury has left their offense unable to out-hit average starting pitching. The Giants lead the division, but the team I picked to win the division, Arizona, has started to gain a little ground and they are getting healthier. I still feel that they will win the West.
In the Central, I picked the Cardinals to win the division. They started off on fire this year, but have since come back down to earth. The team that has shocked me and every other so-called expert is the Pirates. They have pitched well and are starting to hit a little bit. This is one division I am changing my pick to win from St. Louis to the Reds. They are at the top of the division in spite of the fact that they have not hit well all year long. They will hit in the second half and win the Central.
The NL East is a division that looks upside-down. In the spring, I picked the Phillies to win the division, even though Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were starting the year on the DL. They are in last place and 11 games out of first. Roy Halladay hasn’t pitched in well over a month. Cliff Lee has not won a game. All of these things will change in the second half. Utley is back, Howard is rehabbing in the minors, and Lee will start winning games. Washington, who I picked to finish second and be a Wild Card team is leading the division and is a very deep team. Atlanta is getting healthy, despite losing Brandon Beachy for the year. They have gotten Jair Jurrjens back, and he has thrown very well in his first two starts. People are going to think I’m nuts, and that is ok. I’ve been nuts before. But I think Washington is going to win this division, and the two Wild Card teams are going to come out of the East, with Philly and Atlanta being the two Wild Card teams.
I think Philly is going to trade Cole Hamels at the deadline to get a big right handed bat to hit behind Howard and also get an arm or two in the deal. There is zero chance of Hamels resigning with the Phillies, in my opinion. He is a Southern Cal boy, and the Dodgers will overpay to get him in their rotation, to go along with Clayton Kershaw. Hamels is at his peak as far as trade value. If the Phillies get a big bat and a bullpen arm or two in the deal, they can win games with Halladay, Lee, and Worley in the top 3 spots in that rotation.
Like I said, people will think I’m nuts. Well, I have papers to prove it! So let’s see how it all shakes out.
We’ve reached that point in the year when I attempt to forecast which teams will be division winners. I’ll start with the American League.
Of all the moves that were made during the offseason, three have the potential to impact the chase for the AL pennant.
The obvious one is Albert Pujols to the Angels. And then there’s Prince Fielder signing with the Tigers, who are leaps and bounds ahead of the other teams in the AL Central. The midseason addition of Doug Fister to their rotation proved to be the best move made at last year’s trade deadline. Fister has a change to be a 20-game winner, with a full-year in Detroit and a lineup that will score runs in bunches. And I think AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander may be better this year than in 2011.
Back to those impact moves: If Yu Darvish can stay healthy, the Rangers should make another trip to the postseason. Keep in mind that we have the additional Wild Card team this year, so here is how I see the AL shaking out:
I like Rangers over Angels in the West, and I the Yankees will rise to the top of the East while Detroit wins the Central in a runaway.
As for the Wild Cards, I’ve got the Angels and Red Sox playing the one-game playoff for the chance to advance to the Division Series. I have the Angels winning that game, which means they will have to play Detroit in the DS. Detroit will have the best regular-season record but, this year, that will mean playing the first two games on the road in Anaheim. Regardless, I still see the Tigers winning that series.
That means Texas and New York would play the other series, and I’d take the Rangers in that one, setting up a rematch of last year’s ALCS between the Rangers and Tigers. Adding Prince to the lineup gives the Tigers the edge and, unlike last season, Detroit advances to the World Series.