Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Memories

Before I dive into the actual post I want to send my thoughts out to Twins Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, who announced yesterday that he is battling esophageal cancer. Get well soon Killer!

On New Years Eve, I generally like to look back on memories from the previous year. And if you are a baseball fanatic like me, you will have many baseball ones in there. So I began to look back on Twins related memories from 2010, beginning with TwinsFest (The final one ever held in the Dome?) and ending with another painful sweep at the hands from that pinstriped team out east. So here are my top 5 memories:

5. AL Central Champs! (September 21): After destroying the 2nd place White Sox in a three game series a week earlier, the Twins wrapped up their 6th Central division championship under Ron Gardenhire with a come from behind 6-4 win over Cleveland, coupled with a Oakland victory over Chicago. Once September started, it became clear that the Twins were the best team in this division and were rewarded for it. Its always nice to spray the bubbly in September.

4. 50th Season Celebration (September 3-5): Any Twins fan was glued to either their seat at Target Field or their seat in front of the TV watching this weekend of baseball. All the old players and footage that makes up the history of Twins Baseball was on display during this weekend, highlighted by the the 50 greatest Twins and the old timers game. Meanwhile, the current Twins, swept the future AL Champs Texas Rangers. I had the privilege to attend the friday night game where Matt Fox was called up to spot start and had a very good outing. It was a shame he was sent down and snatched up on waivers by Boston the next day.

3. Jim Thome walks off the Sox (August 17): The Twins entered this game with a four game winning streak, highlighted by a sweep in Oakland. They also were three games up on the White Sox as the series kicked off at Target Field. The Twins jumped out to a 4-0 first inning lead, featuring a two run triple by Jason Kubel. By the fourth inning the game was tied at 4. Following a Delmon Young fifth inning home run, the Twins took a 5-4 lead into the ninth. Enter new closer Matt Capps, first man he faces (Alexi Ramirez) homers to tie the game and sends it to extra frames. In the 10th the Sox scored a run to make it 6-5. Matt Thornton came back out for the 10th to nail the save for Chicago. After a Young single, Thome stepped in. He swung wildly and missed on the first pitch. The next pitch, 93 MPH fastball, Thome connected. Sending it deep into the night and giving the Twins a 4 game lead. The homer was also the first walk off home run by the Twins at Target Field.

2. Mauer signs eight year extension (March 22): On March 21, I had the opportunity to go to the Target Field open house. At the conclusion of that open house, I received the news Twins fans had waited for all winter long. Joe Mauer had signed a 8 year $184 million extension. That might of been the best days ever (rivaling game 163 and the next memory). The following day, Joe put the ink to the paper and made it official. He was going to play the next nine seasons in a Twins uniform. But, that feeling only lasted a few weeks as the next memory took over...

1. Target Field Opener (April 12): For anyone who ever saw a game in the Dome, you didn't miss much. From the final game of 2009 to the first home game of 2010, Twins fans saw a game in the worst stadium then saw a game in the best stadium. Target Field was perfect. And any things that needed fixing, the Twins have made those updates for 2011. And to make it better, the Twins took it to Boston 5-2 on a glorious afternoon for baseball. Joe Mauer had a few hits, Jason Kubel hit the first homer, and Carl Pavano once again got the job done. A great game to break in the new place. Now lets hope that 2011 brings us even better memories (Or maybe even a World Series Ring?)...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Middle Infield Depth

Yesterday we saw the Winter Meetings wrap up, with the Twins making a significant move. The Twins shipped SS JJ Hardy and INF Brendan Harris to Baltimore for Minor League P's Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson. The move leaves the Twins with putting Alexi Casilla at shortstop and Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Pending the Twins sign him, which reportedly is close) at second base. This gives the Twins more speed up the middle, as they desire. It also dumps about $7 million in salary, leaving the door possibly open to resigning P Carl Pavano.

But one can't help but notice how little depth the middle infield now has with this trade. Behind Nishioka at second, the Twins best options in their system is Matt Macri (.263 lifetime minor league average) and Luke Hughes (.270 lifetime minor league average). And behind Casilla at shortstop in the minors is Trevor Plouffe (.254 lifetime minor league average), Macri (Utility Player), and Estarlin de Los Santos (.247 lifetime minor league average, never been above AA). All but de Los Santos has seen some time in the big leagues. As you can see, none are an appealing choice if Nishioka and Casilla get injured or cannot fulfill the job adequately. (SS Miguel Sano is the Twins best infield prospect but is still 3-5 years away from the big leagues)

So, bottomline, if neither Nishioka or Casilla cannot do the job or miss a lot of time with injury, the Twins will be forced to trade for someone mid season. The Twins have done a few moves during the season in both 09 and 10, with the moves paying off well. But I will find it ridiculous if Smith has to make a trade for a starting middle infielder because he squandered the depth he had there yesterday. Also, he should be looking for more long term solutions to the middle infield spots through the draft or via trade. Because right now, he has to be seeing what I'm seeing, and its not pretty.

Lastly, with the gaping hole in the bullpen, I would like to know why Smith didn't hold out on trading Hardy for more than two minor league pitchers? The Shortstop market is very thin this offseason (i.e. Juan Uribe and his 3 yr/$21 million contract), and an above average shortstop such as Hardy should of been worth more than that. One figured Hardy wouldn't be in the Twins long term plans, but why shoot yourself in the foot with this move? That's all I want to know. So lets all hope Casilla can hold his job this time or else the Twins are in trouble.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Twins Sleeveless Jersey

This is kind of a random post...
If you noticed in 2010, the Twins home alternater sleeveless jersey never made an appearance. It took a back seat to the home white, alternate blue, and 1961 throwback. I personally loved the idea of the sleeveless jersey and I hoped the Twins would of gotten creative with it. But they really just took the home whites and cut off the sleeves and called it a uniform. And I don't even know if that jersey is still an active one. But none the less, I have made some fashionable changes to the uniform. Maybe the Twins can agree with me on this.

Current Sleeveless Uniform

New Sleeveless Uniform

2010 Winter Meeting Thoughts

This week, all 30 GMs are down in Orlando for the Winter Meetings. And if you are like me, this is great to watch closely. All the rumors is what make this week great. But in recent years, the meetings have become more a place where teams lay groundwork on deals, then over the course of time complete them. The Twins have a lot of roster questions right now. So I was hoping for some significant move to help fill some holes, but that does not appear likely. Another thing that does not appear likely is GM Bill Smith commenting on a potential deal. I could probably get more useful info from the housekeeping lady than him. But there have been some interesting rumors surrounding the Twins so I will offer my thoughts here:

  • The market for free agent relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier are heating up. And as Bill Smith has said this week the Twins will not go into a bidding war for them. I have gotten the impression Smith is content with going into the season with a bullpen consisting of Glen Perkins, Anthony Slama, Pat Neshek, Jose Mijares, Joe Nathan, and Matt Capps. That is nothing to be content about. Perkins has a Joe Mays ERA since 2009. Neshek has to recover arm strength following his Tommy John surgery because his fastball had issures topping 85. Slama has had a stellar minor league career but control has been a problem for him. Mijares is a solid lefty specialist but no eighth inning setup guy. Nathan is coming off Tommy John surgery and should not be expected to put up his pre-2010 numbers. And Capps is not a 1-2-3 closer, but can dilligently get the job done. I hope Bill Smith can sign at least two solid relievers to bridge the gap to the ninth.
  • Much has not happened in the negotiations for Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, since the Twins won the rights to sign him. But after watching Oakland lose the pitcher Iwakuma because they failed to sign him by the deadline has me a bit concerned. I would like to see the Twins hammer out a deal out after the Winter Meetings end, so we don't take this to the wire. The Twins have until 11 P.M. on December 26 to get a deal done. Nishioka is reportedly wanting a 3 year deal in the area of $3 million per year.
  • With the Nishioka signing, SS J.J. Hardy has become expendable. The Twins are looking at having Alexi Casilla start next year, to help add speed up the middle. Casilla had a good 2010 season as a bench player, and when given the opportunity to start in previous seasons has struggled. So I would hate to lose a solid player like Hardy to see Casilla fail again. People are quick to point out Hardy missed lots of time in 2009 and 2010 with injuries. But if you look at his seasons before that he was a pretty healthy player. The Twins are reportedly in discussions with Baltimore about Hardy and in return the Twins would land some minor league pitchers. With the thin SS market this offseason, we can get a better return for Hardy than minor league pitchers. Try a Hardy for a solid relief pitcher deal.
  • SP Carl Pavano was in Orlando and met with the Twins and other interested teams. The Twins want Pavano back and from what I've heard, Pavano would like to return. But he is considered the second best pitcher on the market and is seeking a three year deal. I hope if the Twins do retain the 34 year old starter, they get a two year deal. Three years is overkill for a player of his age and his injury history. If a third year is a must, try a club option on the third year, first. The Twins (From what Bill Smith has reluctantly told us) are optimistic they can work something out. But Smith has also said they are content with having Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, and Kevin Slowey as their opening day rotation. Yikes!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

5 Twins Things I Am Thankful For

Hello all. Hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving. And since today is Thanksgiving, I thought I would do a post on my 5 Twins related things I am thankful for. Here they are:

5. Francisco Liriano's return to form in 2010: In spring training, everyone was wondering if Frankie would fill the closers role in Joe Nathan's absence. But, he was plugged in as the fifth starter, and by seasons end he was the staff ace. Frankie demonstrated he could command his pitches (Including that devastating slider) and showed the world he still has it. His electric year included a dominating first five innings in Game 1 of the ALDS against New York, before a rough spot had him taken out. Given the number of innings he pitched in winter ball, spring training, and the regular season it was safe to say that number had caught up with him by the postseason. But he should come back in 2011 ready to dominate once again.

4. Our Front Office: In the past two decades, the Twins have one of the most stable front offices in all of baseball. And the fact they keep producing high quality players through the minor league system has made them one of the best in baseball. They never panic. Most trades or free agent signees always seem to work out in the long run (For the most part). They just keep spitting out gold. And we all appreciate the fact a quality ball club is on the field. Which is why the Twins are one of the most respected franchises in the game today.

3. Our Manager: For most of the 2000 decade, the Twins were only able to put young teams with low payrolls out on the field. And for most of that decade, the Twins were always in the hunt. Most times they were division champs. And behind it all is the manager, Ron Gardenhire. He is known more as a players manager. So generally players have a enjoyable experience when playing here in the Twin Cities, which leads to on field success. In nine seasons Gardy has lead the Twins to 6 division championships, with just one season where the team has finished below .500. And finally in 2010 Gardy was recognized as the AL manager of the year after many years of a second place finish. Put his playoff success aside, Gardy is one great manager.

2. Joe Mauer's New Contract: In 2009, Joe Mauer missed the first month of the regular season. When he returned, he posted career best numbers en route to an American League MVP award. So in the following offseason, with his future up in the air, the Twins rewarded him with an 8 year $184 million extension. And despite battling injuries throughout 2010, Mauer was still great despite his numbers falling off. And now in 2011, the extension will kick in. Believe me when I say that is a huge relief. I didn't care how much he got paid, I just wanted him to stay. It would of been sickening to see him in a different uniform (Good thing he saw it that way too). Now Mauer will be a Twin through 2018. Who isn't thankful for that?

1. Target Field: This was a no brainer for #1. For 28 seasons, we had to suffer (our necks did in certain seating areas) in that abomination of a baseball stadium. And on April 12, we all had our eyes opened to what a baseball stadium should be like. Its honestly hard to come up with any big negatives for Target Field. It has everything a baseball fan wants. Present amenities mixed with a tribute to our history. And if you know me, I love baseball (More Twins than others) history. TF was ranked #1 as a stadium in all of professional sports. It's that magical there. Twins fans have gone from tortured to spoiled in a years time. Now all we need there is a new World Series flag (Knock on Wood).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

International Draft.

This isn't really a Twins post but I felt compelled to post this.

Yesterday and today, I've been hearing about teams placing bids on Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. And as I understand it now, these bids are just to get exclusive contract negotiations. Bids are reportedly in the $15 million range. And thats all just to talk to the guy. So in theory, you could pay that money, contract talks could fizzle out, he goes to the next highest bidder, and you are out $15+ million. This is outrageous. One of my biggest issues is not having an international draft in MLB. It's fine if the great Japanese or Cuban players want to play here, but the bidding wars to get these players have gone too far.

Jose Contreras, for example, was a great pitcher in Cuba. And after 2002 he chose to defect to the U.S. and play in the majors. The bidding war for his services came down to the Red Sox and Yankees. The Sox were almost his choice, but a late push for him by the Yanks landed him in the Bronx. The late push included the Yankees scouts trying to sign him, pleading with him to sign, because their jobs were on the line. Seriously, you will fire your scouts because they didn't get him signed?! They probably got fired anyway because Contreras turned out sour after a few mediocre seasons in the Bronx. BAD DEAL

Another example of the outrageous bidding wars is Daisuke Matsuzaka. In the winter of '06 his team, the Seibu Lions, put him up for sale to the highest bidder, much like Iwakuma is. Matsuzaka was the best in Japan. His stuff was legendary over there. And the Boston Red Sox won the rights to sign him with a $50 million bid. They then went on to sign him to a 6 year/$52 million contract. He had a average rookie campaign followed by a amazing 08 going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. But in the two years that have followed he has just pitched in 37 games. And his ERA averages around 5. BAD DEAL

The Twins signed Miguel Angel Sano last year as a international free agent to a deal that included a $3 million signing bonus. But he is just 17 years old. Contreras and Matsuzaka came to the majors in their early 30s. Iwakuma will be 30 on opening day. So I hope a team thinks twice before signing him long term. Because he can only give you 2-3 years of his best stuff before his skills start going south.

My point to all this is, either MLB set a limit on these bidding wars or they put in a international draft. A draft would help some teams add more talent to their roster and it prevents the Big Market teams from throwing millions at them instantly. A draft would make them earn their salary. To be fair, it can't be great for these guys to come over and play under the enormous pressure of the big markets, so a draft would help them settle in, in the US too. Because moving here can't be that easy. This is something MLB seriously should consider. Teams have wasted money bidding on players that fizzle out. Its bad for the teams, its bad for the player, its bad for baseball. And all this would do is give the little guys a extra push against the big guys.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Taking the GM Role

Today marked the release of the 2010-11 Twins GM Offseason Handbook. If you haven't gotten your copy, I highly suggest you do here. It's a great read for any Twins fanatic and takes you through all the aspects of what GM Bill Smith has on his plate in this offseason. It lets you, the reader, play the role of GM so you can decide every move you want to see the Twins make for the 2011 roster. So here, I, Giles Ferrell will assume the role of Twins GM for the offseason. Realistically the Twins will have a slight budget increase, but not as much as last season. So one would assume the Twins salary cap comes in at $110 million, and $92 million of that is already committed for next season. So here is how I would shape the 2011 roster:

1. Let Orlando Hudson, Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Randy Flores, Ron Mahay, and Carl Pavano walk as Free Agents: Its hard for me to let go of Matty G and the Stache, but the price would be too great to keep them around. And age and innings pitched the past few years is a concern for me as well. At least you can offer arbitration to Pavano (It's a guarantee he won't take it because he is the second best pitcher on the market behind Cliff Lee) and get something in return. As for the rest, they would be nice to retain (except for Flores), but the cost is too great. And with Hudson departing, Alexi Casilla finds himself in a starting role in what would appear to be his final shot at starting with the Twins.

2. Non Tender J.J. Hardy and let him leave via free agency: Hardy wasn't bad, but he certainly wasn't great either. Injuries limited him to just 101 games at shortstop this past season. He batted .268 with 6 HR and 38 RBI and managed to have a .394 slugging percentage. But Hardy is arbitration eligible and is expected to get around $6-6.5 million from that. The Twins could non tender him and resign him for a lesser amount, but my next move eliminates Hardy from the Twins for now at least.

3. Trade Kevin Slowey, Chris Parmalee, and Ben Revere to Florida for Dan Uggla: If needed throw in another prospect (But more of a low end one) to make this happen. Because the Twins need a right handed power hitting player. And his name is DAN UGGLA!!! As we saw in the postseason, the Twins lack power on the right side. And when lefties get thrown at them, the lineup is shaky. And with the Marlins always looking to cut payroll and Uggla wanting a long term contract, I can see Uggla in a new uniform next season. And why not the Twins. He fills a hole in the lineup and plays second (Which moves Casilla to shortstop, replacing Hardy). He is 30, so I would guess he wants a new contract with a trade, so I would give him a 3 year/$24 million deal. Kevin Slowey is the Twins most marketable pitcher between Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, and Slowey. So thats why Slowey goes in this trade. And I can imagine the Marlins don't want Scott Baker's $5 million salary back in a trade. Chris Parmalee and Ben Revere have great futures ahead of them, but with Parmalee playing first and outfield, and Revere playing OF with Aaron Hicks waiting in the wings, it makes these players expendable. Its hard for me to part with Revere, but Aaron Hicks is that much better. And the Twins seem set for the outfield in the future with Delmon Young and Denard Span so that leaves just one open spot. So Revere is the odd man out and he goes to Florida.

4. Bring in Free Agent relievers Grant Balfour and Randy Choate. Resign Jesse Crain: The Twins bullpen has some pressing issues this offesason. Of the seven pitchers in the bullpen on the postseason roster, only two (Matt Capps and Jose Mijares) are under team control for 2011. So my first move is to resign Crain at 3 years/$10.5 million. Then go out and sign Grant Balfour (A former Twin) for 2 years/$7.5 million and lefty Randy Choate at 1 year/$1 million. Balfour pitched phenomenally for tampa this past season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 53 games. And if Joe Nathan struggles in his closing duties, Balfour can step in and fill the void. (I'll talk more about this later) Choate wasn't as impressive, but he provides another lefty option in the bullpen for Ron Gardenhire.

5. Trade Matt Capps for prospects: I don't know what team or what prospects. But if the above pieces fall into place, I would be trading Matt Capps for some prospects at this point to clear some cap space. He was great for the Twins after being acquired at the trade deadline, but with Balfour and Nathan in the bullpen, Capps is no longer needed. And don't forget he is arbitration eligible and would make around $7-8 million. I love the guy, but its time to move on. I wish him well elsewhere.

6. Resign Jim Thome: Even if it costs $4 million to bring him back...BRING HIM BACK!!! No one was more glad than I to see Thome put on the Twins uniform this past season. And let's give him another shot at it in Minnesota. He became a fan favorite and provided some memorable swings for the 2010 Twins. He is chasing 600 home runs and the Twins could see some return on that $4 million in merchandise if he reaches the milestone here. Other AL teams seeking a DH (White Sox, Yankees) drive up the price. But you still pay it. Even for a bat off the bench.

7. Trade Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney to Toronto for Mark Rzepczynski: I have one available spot on my 25 man roster thats open. And its my fifth starting pitcher. Rather than trying to fill the void with a used up veteran pitcher, I was more content with trading for Rzepczysnki. If you look at his career numbers, they're not pretty. But he has not benefitted from playing in the AL East and the bandbox that is Rogers Center. So a change of scenery bodes well with him. And he is just 25 years old and has tremendous upside. (If you don't believe me watch his games against the Twins last year. He might not pan out, but for now i'll gladly take him as a fifth starter.

Well, there it is. All the moves have shaped my 2011 25 man roster for the Twins. I'll list each player by position and their 2011 salary next to them. Bold indicates starter. * indicates salary based on arbitration estimates.

C: Joe Mauer ($23M), Drew Butera(450K)
1B: Justin Morneau (14M)
2B: Dan Uggla ($8M), Matt Tolbert ($450K)
3B: Danny Valencia ($450K)
SS: Alexi Casilla ($800K*)
OF: Delmon Young ($5.25M*), Denard Span ($1M), Michael Cuddyer ($10.5M), Jason Repko ($750K)
DH: Jason Kubel ($5.25M), Jim Thome ($4M)
SP: Francisco Liriano ($4.5M*), Brian Duensing (500K), Scott Baker ($5M), Nick Blackburn ($3M), Mark Rzepczynski ($450K)
RP: Pat Neshek ($800K), Jose Mijares ($500K), Randy Choate ($1M), Jeff Manship (450K), Jesse Crain ($3.5M), Grant Balfour ($3.5M), Joe Nathan ($11.25M)

Total Salary comitted for 2011: $110.1 Million (Includes Brendan Harris' $1.75 million contract)

There it is. It wasn't pretty getting there, but I got there. I'd be worried about the lack of experience in the starting picthing, but these guys have to grow up at some point. Otherwise, I love the make up of this team. But of course, this is all fictional and will no way actually turn out to be what happens in the real offseason.

I'll be back once the World Series concludes. (Giants in 7 BTW) I'll start going more into depth on what the Twins should do in certain spots and things like that. So for now, enjoy the fall classic. Maybe one year we will be in it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This is the End...

Usually when the Twins season end, I have this bitterness that lasts a few days, thus the long hold out until I give my final thoughts. So I'm gonna be short and sweet here when giving my thoughts and the 2010 Twins regular season and postseason.

This year the Twins upped their payroll to $96 million and made them a AL contender from start to finish. And with the great in season acquisitions made by GM Bill Smith (Matt Capps, Brian Fuentes), the payroll jumped to over $100 million. And as we saw after the calendar turned to August the Twins were the best team in baseball. They coasted into the postseason and faced their nemesis the New York Yankees. And yes, i'll admit, I wanted the Yankees in the first round. We matched up better than ever before and we had home field advantage in the series. But as we saw the Bronx Bombers dispatched the Twins in three games and adding all the more to the torment of our postseason past. And as we saw, the Twins lacked a power arm (starter or reliever) and their hefty lefty lineup was exposed as New York sent lefties to the hill to start Games 1 and 2. So they clearly need to bring in someone to hit for power from the right handed side. And maybe it's time for some of the home grown talent to move on to another team (Hint: .069 postseason hitter). And honestly from a fans point of view, this team was a failure. It pains me to say that but 3 and out is just unacceptable. And no, that is not a call to fire the manager. Thats the last thing we need to do. We just have to plug some holes in our roster and take care of our pending free agents and we can come back even better next year. I pity Bill Smith. I pity all of Twins Territory. We deserve better than three and out. Farewell 2010 Twins

Friday, October 8, 2010

Feeling Down?

I know we are all hurting after these first two games of the ALDS. And what makes this worse is they were played here at Target Field. So in times like this I like to drown out these negative thoughts with a happy memory in the form of a Twins classic game. I obvioussly can't play any games on here, but I can offer up some photos to help ease our pain.

Or also check out this video I made last year.

I hope this helps...for a little bit at least.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It All Starts At The Top

Tomorrow, the Twins will open up the American League Division Series at home, against the hated New York Yankees. If your gonna question the Twins motivation in this series, it definitely has doubled in size now after this atrocity. Anyway, I have one pressing concern with the Twins as they go into the postseason. No, its not starting pitching. The Twins should be just fine in that category. The main issue for the Twins is their tablesetters at the top of the order, Denard Span and Orlando Hudson. As good as these guys are, they have not played well at all as of late. And the Twins need them to do what they do best, grind out at bats and get on base early and rattle hitters. But in the month of September, the two combined to hit .220, and that all needs to change come Wednesday.

The Twins scored 132 runs in the first inning as a team this season. That was the best in baseball. And in that first inning they hit .308 as a team. But their lead off man, Span (.264 AVG, .331 OBP), only hit .244 in the first inning. Everyone knows Span likes to take pitches and grind out the at bat when he leads off. The problem is the opposition knows that and fires strike one and strike two immediately and Span has an 0-2 hole. But i'd rather him take those pitches than hack at strike one and have a one pitch out. Meanwhile the number two hitter, Hudson (.268 AVG, .338 OBP), has benefited from Span's first at bat while hitting .351 in the first inning. And a good look at Hudson's stats says you need him on early cause as the game progresses his average dives (.219 after the seventh inning). And it also shows that the 3,4,5 hitters get a good look as well and they usually find their way on base and drive in runs.

The reason I bring this is up is because the Twins opponents, the New York Yankees, have a shaky starting rotation right now. And what makes this all the better is that they are a very vulnerable team in the first inning. As a team in the first inning their pitching staff has a ERA of 4.67. The opponents average in the first is .277 with an OPS of .765. For the Yanks, it appears C.C. Sabathia will be their only rock to start games. Behind him you have Andy Pettite (Groin injury), Phil Hughes (Innings Pitched), and A.J. Burnett (Command) who all have their own issues to which they are battling as they come into town. So, if I'm the Twins hitters, I would be more inclined to take pitches early and look to get ahead in the count so they can rattle these starters. And as of late Sabathia has not been at his best, and despite what people think I do not believe he should win the Cy Young award.

The Twins know they can beat this team. Yes, I could of given you a whole post on how starting pitching needs to be at its best for them to suceed. Which I agree with, but I have enough confidence in the starters, despite their struggles to end the season. But I worry more when Span and Hudson step into the box because getting on base has not been easy for them this season. But if they can grind out the at bats early, and get on for the big bats, the Twins have a very good chance to win. Especially with a stacked bullpen that the Twins have it makes it a 6 inning game. So getting on the board early is key. And it all starts at the top.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tonight is a Very Telling Start

Last night, we all watched the Twins get pounded into the ground by Toronto 13-2. Twins pitchers allowed 6 home runs in the process. 3 of those home runs, were allowed by Francisco Liriano, who had only allowed 6 before that start. And to add to the misery of that beating, it happened at Target Field, a place where opposing teams suffer a beating. I'm not pushing the panic button...yet. And tonight the Twins send Carl Pavano to the mound, and his start might just tell us how ready this team is for the postseason.

You may remember the Twins starters went through a similar phase to what they are going through now back in June. Four out of the five starters struggled to make it out of the 4th inning. The one who didn't was Carl Pavano. In his five June starts he went 4-1 and pitched no fewer than 7 innings in any of those starts. At one point he threw back to back complete games. He carried the starting staff, and saved the bullpen arms. He has by far been the most consistent pitcher for the Twins this season. And tonight, they need that calming veteran presence on the mound once more to give everyone, including the bullpen, a sigh of relief for a night. I'm not saying he needs to throw a complete game shutout. He needs a 7 inning, 2-3 runs allowed, keep the team in the game performance. You may remember last year Pavano pitched one of the best games in the postseason. 7 innings, 2 earned runs. But he took the loss as his counter part Andy Pettite was simply better. I would love nothing more than for that Carl Pavano to appear once again and keep the Twins in the game.

As before said, the Twins haven't played in close games lately. But to be fair most of them have been without the A-lineup on the field. But, none the less, you would want them to play in tighter games to better prepare for next week. Because honestly, I don't want a team that will get discouraged once they are trailing in a game in the postseason. That does not bode well whether you are facing the Yankees or Rays. Some might argue that these last 7 games have meant absolutely nothing. I give you that for the road trip, but these final four home games, you need your A-game. And what better way for the pitching staff to tune up for the postseason, then to face the most powerful team in baseball. But last night, they did not fare well at all. And that's why Carl Pavano will once again save the staff and the Twins. Because if he doesn't, the panic button gets harder and harder not to push.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Morneau Returns?

Yesterday we read that first baseman Justin Morneau has had four good days in a row and that he will take part in a full workout with the team today. This is by far the best news on this front since he went down with the concussion on July 7. Now all of a sudden, there is this rush to get him in the lineup for Wednesday's playoff opener. But lets be serious here. He won't play in the first round of the postseason. He has been inactive for three months. He needs a bit of time to shake off the rust, if he can manage to still have those consecutive good days. He was having a great season (.345, 18 HR, 56 RBI) before he went down. And we all want him back hitting behind Mauer in October. But the Twins are gonna give him time to get back into game shape and monitor his health as well. If he does well, I could see him possibly playing in the ALCS (If the Twins make it that far). But the Twins are in no hurry to get him back on the field. And they shouldn't. Lets all just assume Cuddyer will be playing first for however long the Twins play in October. And if Morneau plays, that's just a added bonus. But just for kicks and giggles, lets look at what the lineup would look like with and without Morneau:

With Without

Span CF Span CF
Hudson 2B Hudson 2B
Mauer C Mauer C
Morneau 1B Cuddyer 1B
Cuddyer RF Kubel RF
Kubel DH Thome DH
Young LF Young LF
Valencia 3B Valencia 3B
Hardy SS Hardy SS

The lineup gets that much better with Morneau. But, I trust the one without him too. So all lets just hope that Justin can get just get healthy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Twins White Sox Recap

If you think the White Sox have a chance still, you are crazy. The Twins have nailed the coffin shut and they did not spare the nails while sweeping the Sox at US Cellular Field (9-3, 9-3, 8-5). The Sox played abysmal and the Twins made them pay. The Twins now hold a 9 game lead in the Central division and their magic number has reduced to 8. They could potentially clinch the division during the next homestand (If you do, please do it Wednesday when I'm there!), but I'll bet they do it in the series after at Detroit.

Back to this series, the Twins got very timely hitting off the Sox best starters. My Twins key player from Tuesday's post, Delmon Young went 4-9 with 2 HR and 4 RBI while scoring 5 runs. He was very key to this sweep. But this guy was better. Joe Mauer stepped up big going 8-14, with a HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, and a walk. His three run homer in last nights game definitely left no doubt that this race is over and the Twins now need to look ahead to securing homefield advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Twins are tied with the New York Yankees at 0.5 games behind Tampa Bay for the AL's best record. And the Rays and Yankees have 4 games with each other starting Monday in the Bronx. So if the Twins can keep their foot on the gas and let the Yanks and Rays rip each other apart, the Twins could easily walk away with the #1 seed.

This is all I have for right now as I am trying to stay awake while posting this. But I'll be back tomorrow with a Twins-A's series preview. I'll leave on this thought. When we see the Sox again, they could be without A.J. Pierzynski, Paul Konerko, and Ozzie Guillen. How weird would that be?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Series Preview-Twins/White Sox


WED: BRIAN DUENSING (8-2, 2.02 ERA) VS GAVIN FLOYD (10-12, 3.91 ERA)
THU: CARL PAVANO (16-11, 3.47 ERA) VS MARK BUHERLE(12-10, 3.99 ERA)

Happy Tuesday everyone. Today the Twins and White Sox kick off a crucial three game series on the south side tonight. And as Joe Christensen wrote yesterday, anything but a White Sox sweep, and the Twins can start putting champagne on ice.

Both teams have their ideal starting pitchers going in this series. So I'm not expecting to see much offense in this series. Buherle and Danks have started a combined 8 games vs Minnesota this year and have gone 4-2 with a 3.63 ERA. Meanwhile, gavin Floyd has been hit hard by the Twins as he is 0-3 with a 7.41 ERA against them this year. On the Twins side, Francisco Liriano has been one of baseball's best pitchers since the All Star break going 7-0 with a 2.22 ERA in 10 starts. Brian Duensing has made 9 starts since he was moved into the rotation and has gone 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA. And the Twins "Ace" (If you want to call him that), Carl Pavano has lost four of his past five starts, but has averaged 7.1 innings pitched during that stretch.

Twins' Key Player: Delmon Young: July was Delmon's month. The guy just raked the baseball, hitting .434, with 6 HR and 30 RBI. His OPS during that month was 1.191. To show how good that is, Albert Pujols' OPS for the season is .996. But since that incredible month, Young hit just .218 in August and is hitting .190 in September with a OPS during those months are .552 and .525 respectively. The Sox have two lefties pitching in this series (Buherle and Danks) and that really hamstrings the lefty power bats (Kubel and Thome). So the Twins need someone from the right side to step up and drive the ball. Delmon needs to be this guy. He is a career .349 hitter against the south siders and carries a .354 average at US Cellular Field. And if anyone is due to come up big for the Twins this week, its Delmon Young. Lets hope he finds that July stroke again.

White Sox Key Player: A.J. Pierzynski: In May, we were talking about A.J. as a potential player who could be wearing a different uniform, come September. But he is still on the south side. And he is getting big hits for the Sox as of late, driving in go ahead runs in the late innings. Overall in the past month he has been red hot, hitting .382 with 17 RBI. Thats pretty impressive for a catcher (Not named Mauer) this late in a season. This year against Minnesota, Pierzynski has only hit .245 with 8 RBI. And with him catching it is likely he will only play two games, so he has to make those ones count. The Sox are getting good production from the middle of their order and Pierzynski hits around the 5-6-7 area meaning he will have guys on when he comes up, and they need him to drive them, to not only win in this series, but catch the Twins in the standings too.

Prediction: To quote Bert Blyleven, "I love a good pitchers duel!" And thats exactly what were gonna see in this series at least twice. It will be interesting to see how many fans turn up at US Cellular this week as the last time the Twins were in town the average attendance as around 25,000. And that was when the Twins and Sox entered the series tied for first. But this time the Twins enter leading by 6 games with 19 games to play. The Sox need a sweep, but I don't see it with the starters Minnesota has going out there. If the Twins win game one tonight, I think the Sox kiss October goodbye and it becomes easier for the Twins to win the remaining two and nail the coffin shut. And I think thats what will happen. But I don't discredit the Sox, and they are able to win a game, but no more. Twins win 2 out of 3 and look ahead to getting home field advantage in the postseason after this series.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Schedule Comparison

Here we are again, watching the Twins and White Sox battle down the stretch for a division crown. Since New York and Tampa Bay are racing for 100 wins in the East, one can assume that the loser there would win the Wild Card, leaving the two central teams chasing for one playoff spot. The Twins have enjoyed a nice 6-1 homestand since last Tuesday, but have gained no ground since the White Sox have won 7 in a row. The Twins still stand 3.5 games ahead of the Sox with a three game series on the south side looming next week. Lets have a look at the remaining schedules for both teams:

3 @ DET 2 vs KC
3 @ KC 3 @ CLE
3 vs MIN 3 @ CHW
3 vs DET 3 vs OAK
3 @ OAK 3 vs CLE
3 @ LAA 3 @ DET
4 vs BOS 3 @ KC
3 vs CLE 4 vs TOR

As you can see there are many similarities in schedules. The Sox have a bit tougher stretch with Oakland, Anaheim, and Boston before ending their season with Cleveland. The Twins schedule frightens me in those final 7 games with Kansas City and Toronto who will be no tough games. (For further reference on Kansas City as a spoiler look up the Royals from 2006 and their final three games in Detroit) But I fully know that if the Twins go into Chicago and win all three, those final seven games will probably mean nothing unless your name is Ben Revere, who would see massive playing time. Or could this come to another Twins White Sox Game 163 matchup? (If you are like me then you'd rather not have another 163 because blood pressure tends to spike during those games.)The Twins are the hottest team since the All Star Break. They have gone 35-15 in the second half, despite battling injuries to key players. The White Sox have been a very streaky team. Red hot for two weeks, ice cold for the next two weeks. And right now they ride a seven game win streak. But how long before this streak turns to ice? It could very well end during that three game series versus the Twins. And I hope it does.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Time Had Come

It was time. Time to switch this up. From now on this blog has become a Minnesota Twins only blog. Its all I post about. Its the only sport I am this knowledgeable about to blog on. So thats why I made this change. Enjoy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Twins Post-Hunter Returns

This season, we celebrate a new era of Twins baseball with the arrival of Target Field. There have been many people credited with getting this incredible ballpark built. Names like Pohlad, Bell, St. Peter, and some guy name Mauer are always thrown out into that discussion (For those going: "Mauer?" Go to TF on a given day and you can find a sign that says "The house that Mauer built"). But there is someone who has been widely uncredited this year, and you can find him playing, I mean right field for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Torii Hunter has flown under the radar in that before mentioned conversation and should be right along side those before mentioned names as well. Hunter meant so much to the Twins and its fans that it would be a mistake to not credit him. And there should be no reason not to give him credit.

Hunter was the Twins first round pick in the 1993 draft out of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He came fresh out of high school and learned to play center field in the shadows of the greatest Twin ever, Kirby Puckett. Hunter made his debut late in the 1997 season and had a couple of up and down seasons before breaking through in 2001 and became a superstar. Early in his career, Hunter was not swinging for a good average, but his defense made him the household name he is now (He has won 10 straight gold gloves). His sprawling catches on the Metrodome's carpet or his leaping catches to take home runs away. Hunter dazzled us and won over the heart of just about every Twins fan. His bat eventually came around and he became a great all around player and by 2007, was the face of the franchise and the team leader.

In that same '07 season, the Twins broke ground on Target Field, with Hunter most notably absent from this event. He was uncertain about his future in the Twin Cities past '07 and deemed it best to not participate in the event. There was an already growing concern that his days here were numbered due to the Twins' financial constraints from playing in the Dome. And that turned out to be the case. The Twins lost Hunter to the Angels the following offseason when he signed a 5 year/$90 million contract.

In his final game as a Twin, Torii was oulled from his center field position in the ninth inning by manager Ron Gardenhire. Torii jogged into the dugout and recieved an ovation that lasted nearly five minutes. There was no dry eye in the Dome that day. Everyone there, (myself included) knew they just saw the last time Torii Hunter would wear a Minnesota Twins uniform, and they showed him their appreciation for all he had done for the franchise.

But perhaps his greatest feat while here in Minnesota was being a big part of the Twins resurgence that led to the construction of Target Field. And when he arrived here this weekend, he recieved a huge ovation during Friday night's game and the Twins went as far as playing his 2007 walkup music as he stepped into the batters box for the first time. Throughout the weekend Hunter's comments have indicated (at least to me) that he misses playing here. And I think it's safe to say that the fans miss him too. And when his time in Anaheim ends, I'm certain the Twins would be willing to bring him back to his rightful home. Because Torii Hunter in a uniform not lettered with Twins on the front just isn't right.

Monday, July 26, 2010

MLB Power Rankings-7/26

This past week we saw some great baseball, and we saw Andre Dawson, Whitey Herzog, and Doug Garvey immortalized in Baseball's Hall of Fame. I have yet to get out to Cooperstown, but I have heard it is nothing short of spectacular. Anyway, no change at the top spot this week. Although the top 10 did shuffle quite a bit. Right now I have Texas as number two, but with the way they are playing they could be making a trip to number one in no time. My comments this week are based around the upcoming trade deadline. Or at least most team's comments will be revolving around the trade deadline:

1. (1) Yankees 62-35: Lost Lee, lost Haren. Who's next?
2. (3) Rangers 58-41: A scaringly good team
3. (2) Rays 59-38: Can they afford to be buyers?
4. (5) Padres 58-39: Jayson Werth Darkhorse?
5. (4) Braves 57-41: NL East is pretty much theirs
6. (9) Reds 55-45: Joey Votto for MVP!
7. (6) Red Sox 55-44: Team Dr. makes his money
8. (8) Cardinals 55-44: Needs a 3rd or 4th starter
9. (10) Giants 56-43: Hello, Prince Fielder?
10. (11) White Sox 53-44: For sure buyers this week
11. (12) Twins 53-46: Seems poised to stand pat
12. (14) Angels 52-49: Dan Haren? Seriously?
13. (17) Dodgers 53-46: Hard to see them as buyers
14. (15) Phillies 52-46: Bye Bye Werth?
15. (18) Blue Jays 50-49: Bye Bye offense?
16. (7) Rockies 51-47: Awful week makes them buyers
17. (13) Tigers 51-46: Injuries really handcuff this team
18. (19) A's 50-48: Dallas Braden finally won a game
19. (16) Mets 50-49: Bye Bye Manuel?
20. (20) Marlins 49-49: Gaby Sanchez for ROY!
21. (21) Brewers 47-53: Bye Bye Prince?
22. (23) Cubs 45-54: Bye Bye Lou
23. (25) Indians 41-57: Bye Bye LeBron
24. (24) Royals 42-56: Bye Bye Greinke?
25. (22) Nationals 42-57: Bye Bye Dunn?
26. (27) Mariners 39-60: Chone Figgins stinks
27. (26) Astros 40-58: Last week with Oswalt?
28. (28) D-Backs 37-62: Bye Bye Haren
29. (29) Pirates 34-64: Entering tough stretch
30. (30) Orioles 31-67: Bye Bye decent birdies

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Twins Post-Bullpen Overworked?

This season we have seen the Twins starting rotation (minus Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano) go through some issues, specifically since june 1st. Kevin Slowey, Scott Baker, and Nick Blackburn have been an abomination, and the Twins 6 game lead in the central evaporated and now they sit swapping between second and third. And I would like to raise the question, is our bullpen becoming overworked? My belief...Yes, they are. The lack of innings being thrown by the starters have caught up with them. Of the 95 games played by the Minnesota Twins this year, the starters have pitched through at least 6 innings in 62 of those. But since June 1st, the starters have pitched through the 6th just 28 out of 44 times. If you take away Pavano and Liriano since June 1st, starters have gotten 6 innings in just 13 out of 27 times. To compare, since June 1st, the New York Yankees starting 5 have pitched through 6 31 out of 41 times. And if you don't think these numbers are affecting the bullpen i tend to disagree. Since July 1st Matt Guerrier (1.93 ERA to 2.74), Jose Mijares (2.12 to 3.20), Alex Burnett (3.12 to 4.39), and Jon Rauch (2.61 to 3.31) have all seen their ERA's rise, and in the case of Burnett, it lead to his demotion. The only person out in the bullpen who seems to be thriving right now is Jesse Crain who's ERA has fallen down to 3.52 and has become Ron Gardenhire's most trusted reliever. The 'pen hasn't been so bad to where we need to push the panic button, but if the lack of innings being pitched continue, the Twins could find problems from the bullpen on top of the starters being inconsistent. The Twins did just call up Anthony Slama and they have Kyle Waldrop waiting for his shot, but Rochester's bullpen has been worked almost twice as much as the Twins 'pen has. So if anything these guys could be even better and not have their arms fall off. But fatigue could set in with them anytime now as well. Here is another sign that the front office needs to go after some arms that can pitch deeper into games. If not, third place looks great for the Twins.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Twins Post-Slama Time

After tonights 10-4 beating from Cleveland the Twins selected the contract of RHP Anthony Slama from AAA-Rochester. To make room for Slama, the Twins have sent down RHP Alex Burnett. In his last 10 games, Burnett had an 0-1 record with a 11.74 ERA (10 ER, 16 H) in 7.2 IP. He clearly had warmed out his welcome here. Meanwhile, Slama was selected to this years MLB futures game and the AAA All Star Game. In 43 appearances with Rochester, Slama had a 1.71 ERA in 52.2 IP with 23 walks and 33 strikeouts. He served as their closer and recorded 17 saves. I've been reading up on some scouting reports on Slama and from what I got is: He won't overpower you. He uses his deceptive delivery to keep hitters off balance. His fastball tops off around 91-92 and also carries a changeup and a good slider. This a needed move for the Twins. No, it doesn't solve the three holes in the starting rotation, but it solidifies a pretty good bullpen. My guess is Slama won't be used in hot spots right away but if he performs well he could be a 7th or 8th inning reliever. He is expected to be in uniform for tomorrows game against Cleveland.

  • Since July 1st Jon Rauch has a 8.44 ERA (5.1 IP, 5 ER) in 6 games played. That also includes 10 hits and 5 walks. Time to sound an alarm?
  • Joe Mauer has 17 GIDPs this season. To compare he had 16 all of last year, 21 in 2008, and 24 in 2006.
  • Denard Span is hitting .344 at Target Field this year compared to just .198 on the road.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

MLB Power Rankings-7/18

A lot has happened since my last rankings. The National League won an All Star Game, the Cliff Lee sweepstakes ended with Texas as the winner, the Yankees lost George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard, and through all of this the Red Sox continue to get hurt. It should be getting interesting with the trade deadline coming up and all division races having first place and second place decided by no more than 5 games. I'll dig into the deadline more next week. Rankings time.

Rank. (Previous Week) Team Record

1. (1) Yankees 58-33
2. (3) Rays 55-36
3. (4) Rangers 53-39
4. (5) Braves 54-38
5. (7) Padres 54-37
6. (2) Red Sox 52-40
7. (16) Rockies 50-41
8. (9) Cardinals 51-41
9. (6) Reds 51-42
10. (18) Giants 50-42
11. (15) White Sox 50-41
12. (12) Twins 49-43
13. (11) Tigers 49-43
14. (13) Angels 50-45
15. (14) Phillies 48-43
16. (8) Mets 49-43
17. (10) Dodgers 49-43
18. (17) Blue Jays 47-45
19. (19) Athletics 46-46
20. (20) Marlins 44-47
21. (22) Brewers 42-51
22. (21) Nationals 40-52
23. (24) Cubs 42-51
24. (23) Royals 39-52
25. (26) Indians 38-54
26. (27) Astros 37-55
27. (25) Mariners 36-56
28. (28) Diamondbacks 34-58
29. (29) Pirates 32-59
30. (30) Orioles 29-62

Monday, July 5, 2010

MLB Power Rankings-7/5

It's been a while. So i'm gonna skip comments and previous week, since that was three weeks ago. I should be able do be doing this regularly again.

1. Yankees (50-31)
2. Red Sox (49-33)
3. Rays (48-33)
4. Rangers (48-33)
5. Braves (48-34)
6. Reds (47-36)
7. Padres (49-33)
8. Mets (46-36)
9. Cardinals (45-37)
10. Dodgers (45-36)
11. Tigers (43-37)
12. Twins (44-38)
13. Angels (46-38)
14. Phillies (42-38)
15. White Sox (42-38)
16. Rockies (44-38)
17. Blue Jays (41-42)
18. Giants (41-40)
19. Athletics (41-42)
20. Marlins (38-43)
21. Nationals (36-47)
22. Brewers (37-45)
23. Royals (36-46)
24. Cubs (35-47)
25. Mariners (34-47)
26. Indians (32-49)
27. Astros (32-51)
28. Diamondbacks (32-50)
29. Pirates (30-52)
30. Orioles (25-56)

Twins Blog-At the halfway point

Technically, Saturday's game marked the halfway point in the Twins season. So forgive me if I continually use the halfway term. But as the Twins stand right now they are 44-38 and tied atop the AL Central with Detroit. They are on pace for an 88-74 record, and that will simply not cut it. The Twins have been plagued by inconsistent starting pitching, bad hitting in clutch spots, and very questionable managerial moves. They have shown they are not a contender yet as series vs the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, and Braves have brought out the absolute worst in the ballclub. Lets all hope they can pull it together and make a great second half run.

TWINS MVP: Delmon Young-This may be shocking, but Young has kept the Twins afloat in the past month with his hot hitting and timely defense. Right now he holds a .298 average with 9 home runs and 55 runs batted in (tied for team lead). All of this while hitting in the 7 or 8 slot in the order. Delmon has been a slow starter in past seasons, but this year he showed up in better shape (30 pounds lighter) and has a much better attitude at the plate. Hopefully at some point Ron Gardenhire will move him up in the batting order while his hot streak continues. Look for Young to finish the season with 20 home runs and 100 RBI.

TWINS CY YOUNG: Carl Pavano-Pavano has been exactly what the Twins have needed from at least one of their starters this past month, a innings eater and their best pitcher. He leads the team in innings pitched (111.2), wins (9), and starters ERA (3.30). And not forgetting that his WHIP (1.05) is 5th best in all of Major League Baseball. Pavano has definitely shown he can still pitch in this league and has been worth every cent the Twins have paid him this season. He should finish with a record around 17-12 and a 3.50 ERA and should once again show that veteran poise down the stretch and hopefully into the postseason.

TEAM NEEDS: SP, RP-The bullpen took a beating this past weekend from Tampa Bay, but I still feel they need to bring in some new arms whether thats from outside or within the organization. Kyle Waldrop has been lights out at AAA Rochester with a 3-1 record and a 1.00 ERA in 36 games pitched. Anthony Slama has been equally impressive posting 16 saves with a 1.33 ERA in 38 appearances for the Wings. Should the Twins decide to go outside the organization for a bullpen arm, the logical choices would be Brandon League (SEA) or Minnesota Native Michael Wuertz (OAK). But the Twins most pressing need right now is a starting pitcher, more importantly, a staff ace. The Twins have been rumored to be one of the teams trying to acquire lefty Cliff Lee from Seattle. But the word from around the Twins is that they feel they can win with the staff they have. Wrong. Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey have been atrocious on the mound in the past month, and Scott Baker has been shaky as well. And with the way these playoff teams have fared against the Twins pitching, it's quite clear they need a starter. If they can't land Lee, they could try Roy Oswalt (HOU) or take a gamble on Dan Haren (ARZ). Oswalt has never pitched in the American League and Haren has been very shaky this season, but has pitched in the AL before. The Twins have a valuable chip in Wilson Ramos to acquire one of those pitchers. And they also have great depth in their farm system without crippling it to make a deal like this. But do I see them making a deal like But we will have to see.

HOW IT ENDS: Twins don't acquire a SP; win Central; lose in ALDS-The front office brings in a reliever before the July 31st trade deadline, but don't acquire a starter. The staff pulls it together enough to overcome the Tigers and White Sox to win the Central in 162 games. But they run into their foes from the east, the Yankees, and again go one and done in the postseason, losing the series 3 games to 1. That's how I see it ending, but lets hope for a different one.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Twins Blog-Making a run at Cliff Lee?

In the past few weeks most baseball insiders have been speculating as to where Seattle LHP Cliff Lee will end up prior to the July 31st trade deadline. With Seattle's nose dive in recent weeks, it has become no surprise that they will shop around the former Cy Young award winner. Those same insiders believe the Minnesota Twins are the most likely team to land Lee. Given the depth of the Twins farm system matching up with some of Seattle's immediate needs, a deal could easily be made. A likely package to offer Seattle would consist of C Wilson Ramos, either SP Scott Baker or SP Kevin Slowey, and another mid level pitching prospect. The Twins have great depth in their farm system, but do they use some of that depth to acquire a pitcher that would just be a "rental" player? Lee is a free agent this winter and would be recieving offers from the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox upon hitting the market, so any team that trades for him would only have him for the remainder of 2010, thus the "rental" tag. The most pressing issue for the Twins right now is the lack of an ace pitcher. Their starters, minus Liriano, have lacked serious consistency. They have a couple stellar outings followed by a couple of awful outings. And the inconsistency has shown when they have played playoff caliber teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Braves). And more than likely the Twins would run into the Yankees in October again should they get that far, and last I checked, the Twins can't solve the Yankees. And if you need reminding, look at the 2009 World Series and you will see Cliff Lee as the winning pitcher in Philadelphia's only two wins in that series. So Lee fills the "We can't run with the Yankees" void. Bringing Lee to Minnesota has alot of upside. He would make the Twins not just Central contenders but World Series contenders. But when push comes to shove, no, I can't see GM Bill Smith pulling the trigger on a deal like this. You can put your money on the Twins making a deal for a relief pitcher more than making a deal for Lee. And with free agency looming this winter for Lee, it makes it all the more easy to just say no. Even if they got Lee, the Twins would have a one in five chance of keeping him here past 2010. He would demand a contract around 15-20 million dollars per year. No one would be so sure Smith makes a trade period. Last year it took the Twins All Stars to convince him that they needed to trade for SS Orlando Cabrera. So one has to wonder what it would take to convince him they need Cliff Lee. Smith just doesn't give in to the big deals. But he has to see what we all see and that is a rotation without a leader and consistency. And teams that have rotations like that take a quick exit from postseason baseball. So, it's all on Smith now. Does he get Lee and push the Twins towards the top or does he settle for mediocrity pitching and take another ALDS sweep? The time is ticking. And he has 6 weeks and counting to decide.

Monday, June 14, 2010

MLB Power Rankings-6/14

Its been a few weeks but i'm back with some power rankings. This past week saw baseball's best prospect, Stephen Straasburg, make his debut and interleague play resumed. I have a new number one atop the rankings this week. Those Yankees have been playing consistently and with Tampa Bay's struggles they had to be bumped down. I also have some teams making some big jumps in a couple of weeks. Here's the rankings:

Rank. (Previous Week) Team Record: Comment

1. (2) Yankees 40-23: Now firing on all cylinders.
2. (1) Rays 40-23: Pitching has been beaten lately.
3. (7) Braves 37-27: Has Troy Glaus gotten a second wind?
4. (10) Red Sox 37-28: Offense has come to life.
5. (9) Padres 37-26: Still holding their ground.
6. (3) Twins 36-27: Injuries have taken their toll.
7. (11) Dodgers 36-27: Swept by Angels. Not a good sign.
8. (5) Reds 36-28: Joey Votto is vastly overlooked.
9. (13) Giants 35-27: Matt Cain has been lights out.
10. (6) Cardinals 34-29: Matt Holliday needs to wake up.
11. (16) Mets 35-28: Suddenly into second place.
12. (17) Rangers 35-28: Pounded Milwaukee pitching.
13. (4) Phillies 32-29: Can they buy some runs?
14. (18) Angels 36-30: Where did they come from?
15. (8) Blue Jays 34-30: Another June flame out on the way.
16. (14) Rockies 33-30: Someone solved Jimenez...finally.
17. (12) Tigers 33-29: Miguel Cabrera is still rolling.
18. (15) A's 32-33: A very streaky team.
19. (19) Marlins 31-32: Josh Johnson is a big force.
20. (20) Nationals 31-33: Strasburg finally made it!
21. (22) White Sox 28-34: Ozzie's final days?
22. (22) Cubs 28-35: This team cannot find their bats.
23. (24) Royals 27-37: Zach Greinke got win #...2?
24. (23) Brewers 26-37: Randy Wolf has been awful.
25. (27) Mariners 24-39: Cliff Lee's final days there?
26. (26) Diamondbacks 26-38: Juston Upton is on fire.
27. (28) Indians 25-37: Carlos Santana looks good.
28. (29) Astros 25-39: Can Oswalt be traded already?
29. (25) Pirates 23-40: Nose dive!!!
30. (30) Orioles 17-46: Still down here!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

MLB Blog-Ken Griffey Jr. Retires

Today George Kenneth Griffey Jr. officially closed the book on his storied 22 year Major League Career. And one can't help but think of that sweet swing that sent baseballs farther than horizon lines. Griffey was a rare breed. A 5 tool player that made the absolute most out of his talents. He finished his career hitting .284 with 630 home runs (5th all time) and 1836 runs batted in. But what Griffey should be most remembered for was saving the Seattle Mariner franchise. For most Seattle fans 1995 would be the year the Mariners were saved, as the M's made a improbable run to the ALCS thanks to a Edgar Martinez double, scoring the speedy Griffey. But, had Griffey not blossomed into that feared hitter, he never brings the respectability back to Seattle, and Seattle probably would of up and moved to a new city (The M's were pushing for a new stadium at the time). Griffey needed Seattle and Seattle needed Griffey. And when Griffey was traded to Cincinnati in 2000, it just seemed like the wrong fit for both sides. In Griffey's first 11 seasons with Seattle he was averaging 36 HR and 104 RBI per season, but after his trade to Cincinnati he just averaged 25 HR and 67 RBI in 8 and a half seasons there. And in four of his first seven seasons in Cincinatti Griffey missed at least 50 games due to injury. It was just never right watching Griffey play for someone not named Seattle. But he made one last right in his career by playing his final year and a quarter with Seattle. But as we saw Griffey was so worn by age that the Seattle magic he once had there was gone. And he chose to ride off into the sunset on his terms. Ken Griffey was this writer's baseball icon growing up. And you couldn't of picked a better one to have during the steroid era, when all the games greats had fallen out of respectability, with the exception of Junior himself. Our final shot of Junior will be in 2016 as he recieves his plaque in Cooperstown with that infamous ear to ear grin on his face(No doubt he will have Seattle on his cap). And he will go down as one of the best centerfielders in baseball history, rivaling Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Ty Cobb for that honor.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

MLB Power Rankings-5/30

Hello all. No big changes in the top ten this week. Tampa had a bad week, but I still think they are the best in the league. My team of the week, the Twins, lost 2 of 3 to the Yankees but swept the Rangers to finish off their homestand and got a boost to number three this week. A team fast moving upward is the Braves, as in three weeks they have gone from 25 to 11 to 7. My team to watch out for this week is again the Reds. They begin the week at St. Louis and play the gritty Nationals. They can solidify their status in the National League with a solid week.

Rank (Last Week) Team Record: Comment

1. (1) Rays 34-17: Bad week, but still the best.
2. (2) Yankees 30-20: Joba was exposed this week.
3. (5) Twins 30-20: Still can't top NY, but swept Texas.
4. (3) Phillies 28-21: 5 of last 8 have been shutout losses.
5. (7) Reds 30-21: Mike Leake is fitting in quite well.
6. (4) Cardinals 29-22: Pujols coming out of his "slump"?
7. (11) Braves 28-22: Jason Heyward is on a roll.
8. (9) Blue Jays 30-22: Home Runs are flying aplenty.
9. (10) Padres 30-20: Padres looking to upgrade their team?
10. (13) Red Sox 29-23: Big Papi has awakened from a 2 year nap
11. (8) Dodgers 28-22: What happened to Manny?
12. (6) Tigers 26-23: Quietly falling behind in Central.
13. (17) Giants 27-22: Is Buster Posey up to stay?
14. (15) Rockies 26-24: Two words-Ubaldo Jimenez.
15. (20) A's 27-24: Great pitching this past week.
16. (18) Mets 26-25: Jose Reyes is livening up.
17. (12) Rangers 27-25: Awful, awful road trip.
18. (22) Angels 25-27: Walk offs will never be the same again.
19. (14) Marlins 25-26: Cameron Maybin needs fielding practice.
20. (16) Nationals 25-26: Loss of "Pudge" is hurting them.
21. (19) Cubs 24-27: Do Cubs pitchers like serving BP balls?
22. (23) White Sox 22-28: Joe West really dislikes this team.
23. (26) Brewers 21-29: Corey Hart had an amazing week.
24. (25) Royals 21-30: Better win pct under Ned Yost
25. (21) Pirates 20-31: Crash and burn time?
26. (24) Diamondbacks 20-31: Justin Upton's numbers are rising.
27. (28) Mariners 19-30: This is a big week for M's.
28. (27) Indians 18-30: Kerry Wood is back...for a week!
29. (29) Astros 17-33: Pitching is just abysmal.
30. (30) Orioles 15-36: There's always 2014 for the O's

Monday, May 24, 2010

MLB Power Rankings-5/24

This past week we saw every team in MLB play two two game series followed by the first crack at interleague play. The teams at the top of the rankings did not have the best weeks so there was hardly any movement in the top 10. The Cardinals however did make a jump in the rankings as their offense finally came to life and got them back in first place. My team to watch out for this week is none other than my Minnesota Twins. They have three game sets against New York and Texas at home, where they have played outstanding baseball. The Twins hopefully have caught the Yankees at the right time as they have lost 5 of their last 7 games. Here's the rankings.

Rank. (Last Week) Team Record: Comment

1. (1) Rays 32-12: Destroyed the Bronx Bombers in two game set.
2. (2) Yankees 26-18: Can't be a good sign losing 2 of 3 to the Mets.
3. (3) Phillies 26-17: Jimmy Rollins can't have another DL trip.
4. (8) Cardinals 26-19: Retook first after offense came to life.
5. (4) Twins 26-18: Twins pitchers were quite giving this past week.
6. (5) Tigers 25-19: Can't keep going if Austin Jackson goes on DL.
7. (6) Reds 25-19: Reds came back down to earth this week.
8. (10) Dodgers 25-19: Still clicking despite Ethier's absence.
9. (9) Blue Jays 26-20: This team just hits the tar out of the ball.
10. (11) Padres 26-18: Wade LeBlanc and Mat Latos?
11. (17) Braves 23-21: Someone told Atlanta these games count.
12. (13) Rangers 25-20: Lost 2 of 3 to the Cubs. Not a good sign.
13. (15) Red Sox 24-21: Did Daisuke come to life?
14. (14) Marlins 23-22: Can Hanley Ramirez's be trusted?
15. (12) Rockies 22-22: Ubaldo Jimenez is the NL's best pitcher.
16. (16) Nationals 23-22: Where's Strasburg?
17. (7) Giants 22-21: Managed to score just one run all weekend.
18. (19) Mets 22-23: Jason Bay needs to step it up.
19. (25) Cubs 21-24: Carlos Silva is 6-0. How is that possible?
20. (22) A's 23-22: Much needed sweep over Giants.
21. (20) Pirates 19-25: Andrew McCutcheon has great potential.
22. (21) Angels 21-25: Pitching took a beating in St. Louis series.
23. (18) White Sox 18-25: Paul Konerko's monster start is gone.
24. (27) Diamondbacks 20-25: Pitching is achillies heel.
25. (28) Royals 18-27: Still playing musical chairs in the bullpen.
26. (23) Brewers 17-27: Who is John Axford?
27. (24) Indians 16-26: Rember when Travis Hafner was good?
28. (26) Mariners 16-28: Felix Hernandez has been awful so far.
29. (29) Astros 15-29: Roy Oswalt wants out. Who can blame him?
30. (30) Orioles 14-31: Dave Trembley has just days left

Sunday, May 16, 2010

MLB Power Rankings-5/16

Cincinnati played grade A baseball and ended up in first place as I said they could last week. Tampa Bay still sits atop the charts, but the Yankees are a much closer second after handling Minnesota well in the Bronx. My team to watch out for this week is the Toronto Blue Jays. I have them at nine but with games against Minny, Seattle, and Arizona this week they could move up the charts. But they have to still prove themselves inside their division which could wear them down by July. We saw MLB's first managerial switch this week as Kansas City axed Trey Hillman in favor of Ned Yost. I dont think any manager can save the Royals this year or next so this was a puzzling move. Enough talk. Heres the Rankings:

Rank. (Last Week) Team-Record: Comment

1. (1) Rays 26-11: Starting Staff is lights out
2. (2) Yankees 24-13: Javier Vasquez is teams weakness
3. (3) Phillies 22-13: Cole Hamels is at his best
4. (5) Twins 23-14: Still good despite Bronx woes
5. (12) Tigers 22-16: Handled Boston quite well
6. (13) Reds 21-16: Played great baseball vs Cardinals
7. (7) Giants 21-15: Eventually lack of offense will catch up
8. (4) Cardinals 21-17: Reds showed offense lacks pop after Pujols
9. (9) Blue Jays 23-16: Sweeping Texas was good for confidence
10. (20) Dodgers 20-17: Pitching has come to life this week
11. (6) Padres 22-15: No offense came to play vs Dodgers
12. (14) Rockies 19-18: Jeff Francis' return boosts team
13. (8) Rangers 20-18: Pitching staff has big issues
14. (19) Marlins 20-18: Marlins have played great within division
15. (15) Red Sox 19-19: They just don't have that winning vibe
16. (16) Nationals 20-18: They just grind out wins
17. (25) Braves 18-19: This team should take off now
18. (18) White Sox 15-22: Still waiting for Sox to get going
19. (9) Mets 18-20: Awful losing streak puts Mets in the cellar
20. (23) Pirates 16-21: Young nucleus playing above average
21. (21) Angels 18-21: Eventually Halos should pull together
22. (10) A's 18-20: A 1-5 week not needed following perfect game
23. (17) Brewers 15-22: Starting 5 could use a retooling
24. (27) Indians 15-20: Bob Feller could still be the staff ace
25. (26) Cubs 16-22: Carlos Zambrano still can't pitch
26. (24) Mariners 14-23: Get this team a power bat soon!
27. (22) Diamondbacks 15-23: Took a good beating from Atlanta
28. (28) Royals 14-24; Trey Hillman was holding KC back?
29. (30) Astros 13-24: Roy Oswalt wants out. I'd want out too.
30. (29) Orioles 12-26: Dave Trembley's job is on the line

Sunday, May 9, 2010

MLB Power Rankings-5/9

I'm gonna try and do this every sunday evening as I sit down and watch Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. Its when I usually reflect on the past week in the game and give my rankings on MLB's 30 teams. This past week, baseball lost some legendary figures. Former Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell lost his battle with cancer and Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts passed away at the age of 83. Despite not having a single man reach base today my inaugural rankings have the Tampa Bay Rays at #1. They are baseball's best road team winning 13 out of 16 away from Tropicana Field. A team that has potential to rise from this week to the next is the Cincinnati Reds. They play all their games within the division and currently are in second in the NL Central and just 3.5 behind the Cardinals. Here are the rankings:

  1. Rays (22-9)-Can't be touched...on the road.
  2. Yankees (21-9)-Blasted their way through Boston
  3. Phillies (19-12)-Phills finally picked it up this past week
  4. Cardinals (20-12)-Red Birds are quietly becoming the best team in the NL
  5. Twins (21-11)-Twins managed to salvage a split with...Baltimore?
  6. Padres (19-12)-Something is just clicking with this team.
  7. Giants (18-12)-Giants finally look like the team they should be
  8. Rangers (18-14)-They went 5-2 this past week to give them the West lead
  9. Mets (17-14)-Starting to come back down to earth after impressive stretch
  10. A's (17-15)-Dallas Braden might of put himself on the map this past week
  11. Blue Jays (19-14)-Jays always start good, but it catches up with them
  12. Tigers (17-14)-Is it just me or is Max Scherzer off to a horrid start?
  13. Reds (16-15)-Cincy has played some great ball this past week.
  14. Rockies (15-16)-I feel this team will turn the corner quite soon
  15. Red Sox (16-16)-Sox have beaten Yankees and Rays just twice
  16. Nationals (17-14)-Get Strasburg up soon while you are still in it!
  17. Brewers (15-16)-Doug Davis is vastly overrated
  18. White Sox (13-19)-Sooner or later, pitching staff will come around
  19. Marlins (14-17)-Jeffery Loria says they stink...what did you expect?
  20. Dodgers (14-17)-I feel the McCourt divorce is affecting the whole team
  21. Angels (14-19)-Mike Scioscia could use a minor miracle right now
  22. Diamondbacks (14-18)-Pitching staff throws too many beach balls.
  23. Pirates (14-17)-Pittsburgh is getting alot out of so little right now
  24. Mariners (12-19)-Cliff Lee's return has sent them backwards
  25. Braves (13-18)-How did this team get so low?
  26. Cubs (14-18)-Most horrendus pitching staff in MLB so far
  27. Indians (11-18)-Shin-Soo Choo is the only good thing in Cleveland
  28. Royals (11-21)-Trey Hillman needs some in rolaids
  29. Orioles (9-23)-O's somehow split 4 with the Twins in Minny
  30. Astros (10-21)-How did they get this bad?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

MLB Preview-Recaps

Hello and a Happy Easter to you. I will recap my divisional picks here and I will also pick the world series and the award winners from each league. I hope you enjoy this baseball season as much as I will....

Division Winners
AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Mariners
AL Wild Card: Rays
NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Giants
NL Wild Card: Braves

World Series
Red Sox over Phillies

Award Winners
MVP: Kevin Youkilis (AL), Prince Fielder (NL)
Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (AL), Roy Halladay (NL)

I know you are wondering where is Albert Pujols in the NL MVP? I feel Pujols will have a great season, but with the lineup thats forming around Fielder I feel he will have a MVP like year. Same goes for Youkilis who puts up good batting numbers and will breakout this year for Boston.

"zzzhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhn6jn"-Kirby put his input for the season as well as he felt compelled to type something.

That does it for my MLB picks...enjoy the season

Saturday, April 3, 2010

MLB Preview-AL Central

Well, this is my final division to breakdown. And as you no doubt know, it is my favorite division. The past two years the central division has needed a tiebreaker game. That shows how close it is. And i tried to not be so biased while picking this division too...

  1. Minnesota Twins: No surprise here. Yes i love this team. I did give the White Sox a look at winning the division. But I feel the loss of Joe Nathan will not faze this team. They seemingly love facing adversity. Their rotation features four proven pitchers, and a resurgent Francisco Liriano who has had a phenominal spring. Their lineup is one of the most revered in baseball. And as long as everyone stays on the field, I will take this lineup against any pitcher. The only place it can improve is the 9 spot/third base which is filled by the gritty Nick Punto. The Twins will win the division, but the loss of Nathan keeps me from tabbing them as a AL favorite. But they always surprise us...
  2. Chicago White Sox: Many people are picking the White Sox to win this division. But people forget the team above loves to face adversity. So im gonna tell you why im not on board with the south siders yet. Can they hit? My answer is maybe. If they can stay on the field. CF Alex Rios has gone belly up since signing that extension with Toronto. He only hit .247 last year. OF Carlos Quentin can not stay healthy and that drags down the lineup. They brought in Andruw Jones to hit DH and last I looked he could not hit above the mendoza line. And 1B Paul Konerko is getting up there in years so his production could go down. This team will be one of the best pitching wise. But hitting wise I have issues there. And the White Sox lose in the final week.
  3. Detroit Tigers: Detroit came one win away from the postseason in 2009. And in the following offseason, they got a younger lineup. The let Placido Polanco leave via free agency and traded Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson away. But in those trades they did get promising youngsters Austin Jackson (OF) and Max Scherzer (P), while Scott Sizemore will come up from AAA and play second. Behind Verlander, the Tigers have some young guys and some wild card guys which raises some red flags for picking them higher. Their lineup will put up good numbers with Miguel Cabrera and newcomer Johnny Damon leading the way. But it came down to the experience and their lineup lost alot of that so the Tigers finish third.
  4. Cleveland Indians: It came down to Cleveland and Kansas City for fourth place in the division. And Cleveland has more proven players so that gave them the edge. They have Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona at the top of their rotation and Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner lead the offensive attack. But they have many youngsters in the lineup and rotation. So watch out for the tribe in the coming years as these guys get more and more major league experience. But for now they do not stack up with the teams above and they will pay for it in the standings.
  5. Kansas City Royals: It was hard picking Kansas City in the cellar again. I like the makeup of the lineup. But pitching in the rotation and bullpen will kill this teams chances of finishing above fifth. They do have reigning Cy Young award winner Zach Greinke, but he only pitches every 5th game. And 1B Billy Butler is a very underrated player in the eyes of the media. They have one of the games best in Joakim Soria closing games, but they will have big problems getting him the ball with a lead. And thats why Kansas City will sit in the cellar for another season.
Tomorrow, I will recap my picks and pick my world series winner award winners.

Friday, April 2, 2010

MLB Preview-AL East

This was the toughest division for me to get a grip on. You have the powerhouses in New York and Boston, but Tampa Bay has turned some heads this spring and I have thrown them in the division/wild card fold....

  1. Boston Red Sox: This team uppgraded themselves on the defensive side this winter by adding CF Mike Cameron and SS Marco Scutaro. Then they signed P John Lackey away from Anaheim to add some experience to their rotation. (Lackey has a 5.00+ ERA at Fenway but that doesn't worry me since he is part of the Sox now) The Red Sox have a solid lineup from 1-9 with every one of those players having all star potential this season. Their rotation and bullpen appears to be atop MLB as well with Lackey in the fold now as well. This might be the most dangerous Boston team in quite some time so I pick them to win this tight raced division.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays: This was a hard pick, but I love Tampa Bay to win the Wild Card. They have good young pitching (lead by James Shields) and they have a very good lineup(Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena bring the punch in this lineup). They still have their core players from their miracle run to the World Series in 2008 which gives them great experience. Players like OF B.J. Upton and P Matt Garza had down years in 2009 and I have a tough time seeing them not bouncing back in 2010. The Rays carried the best record in spring this year (I know these are just exhibition games), and 4 of the last 6 teams to have the best record in spring made the postseason the same year. A trend Tampa will continue.
  3. New York Yankees: New York took home the title in 2009. But I felt they downgraded their roster this offseason by adding OF Curtis Granderson and P Javier Vasquez. Both these players in my opinion are very overrated. Granderson had a sun .200 average against left handers last year and Vasquez had a good year in a weak division for Atlanta. Vasquez had a previous stint with New York going 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA. I feel he will post similar numbers in 2010. Their other outfielders Brett Gardiner and Nick Swisher do not produce good batting averages or good defense and that was a huge deciding factor while deciding between the Yanks and Rays. The Yanks get 90+ wins but fall short to Tampa.
  4. Baltimore Orioles: In two or three years, Baltimore will be a force to mess with in this division. But this year...not so much. They have a good young nucleus of hitters (lead by C Matt Wieters, OF Nick Markakis, and OF Adam Jones), which should build on another full year in the big leagues. They have some young gun pitchers in Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, and Chris Tillman which is why they brought in a veteran pitcher, Kevin Millwood, to lead their way. If they weren't in this division I probably would put them higher up, but they play in the same division as New York, Boston, and a resurgent Tampa Bay. And all I can give them is the four slot.
  5. Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto no longer has their best player in Roy Halladay. That title now falls on the underachieving Vernon Wells. Toronto has a young pitching staff that can make them a force in a couple of years, if they can reach their potential. They have some good hitters in Travis Snider, Aaron Hill, and Adam Lind. But I dont think these guys can save the Blue Jays from the cellar in this division. They have some wild card players in their lineup and a young rotation with no veteran and all it gets them is the AL East Cellar.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MLB Preview-AL West

Today I take a look at the four team AL West. It might be a bit closer than what you would think...

  1. Seattle Mariners: Seattle might of had the best offseason in Major League Baseball. They first went out and signed 3B Chone Figgins away from the Angels, and not to long later, the acquired P Cliff Lee from Philadelphia, and they acquired OF Milton Bradley from Chicago. They now have an elite 1-2 punch in the rotation with Felix Hernandez. They now have a #2 hitter than can get on base with Ichiro for the cleanup hitters. They now have a cleanup hitter that can drive those guys in. This team just sticks out to me as the favorite here. They seem determined to get to October. So I pick them to get there.
  2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels might of had the opposite offseason the Mariners had. They lost P John Lackey and 3B Chone Figgins to free agency. How can you let your ace and leadoff hitter walk out the door? Last season they had lots of guys step up and have career years. I don't think they can have those same numbers from the players. They appear to have good pitching and good hitting, which would make them the favorite. But not for me. Those before mentioned players they lost weren't just key players, they were clubhouse leaders. So the Angels need to find their identity before they go anywhere and with the rising power in Seattle, I pick the Angels second.
  3. Texas Rangers: For many years now, the Rangers have had great hitting teams. But their achillies heel in those years was their pitching. And I expect the same this season. They have an emerging ace in Scott Feldman and they took a gamble and signed Rich Harden to be the #2 starter. And even if you can keep Harden on the field, there alot of wild cards behind them. But in their defense they have younger guys, in those rotation spots and in the bullpen, who are still trying to make names for themselves. And they will need to step up against the Mariners and Angels if they want have a chance. Again, this team can hit. But they need to start pitching. It kills me to pick them third, but its hard to see them pitch well in August and September and that kills them in the end.
  4. Oakland Athletics: If you look at the Oakland lineup you see many question marks. Their staff ace Ben Sheets is a big question mark as he comes off elbow surgery in 2009. Their best hitter, Jack Cust, is a career .239 hitter. They do have a young team going into 2010. But their starting pitching is very young and will show some inconsistency as the year progresses. Their hitting does please the eye as well. And it appears OF Coco Crisp will be their team leader, and that raises a red flag with me. On paper the A's are a long ways off from winning. But this is Oakland, and they seem to overachieve every year. So I think this team will finish last, but they won't go down without a fight either.
Tomorrow I dive into the lob-sided AL East. But it might not be the same two teams coming out of that division in my opinion. Check back tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

MLB Preview-NL Central

Here's the breakdown of the NL Central. There are definitely some good teams in here so lets see how I picked them...

  1. St. Louis Cardinals: A seemingly harmless fly ball that was dropped in Game 2 of the NLDS ended any chance of a deep Cardinal playoff run in 2009. But with a fairly similar team coming back in 2010 one should expect St. Louis to make a return to the postseason. They have one of the best 1-2 punches atop their rotation with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. And they have one of the best 3-4 hitters in their lineup with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Their pitching has some wild cards in Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny, but with pitching guru Dave Duncan on the bench they should have just fine years. Behind Pujols and Holliday, the Cards have some questionable hitting, which holds me back from tabbing them NL contenders. But for now I will tab them NL Central division champs.
  2. Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers had a down year in 2009. They had some under performing players and some injury plagued players that held them down. 2010, however, has bright lights shining on Milwaukee in my opinion. They needed some experienced pitchers and they got that in the form of Randy Wolf and Dave Bush. They also now have youngsters Carlos Gomez roaming center field and Alcides Escobar at shortstop, as the Brewers lineup got a bit younger. Let's not forget Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun anchor this lineup that can do serious damage, and they have Trevor Hoffman closing games in the ninth. I like how this team is built, and I gave some serious thought to them as the NL Wild Card winner, but they need just a bit more experience which was my deciding factor. But don't expect the Brewers to go quietly.
  3. Chicago Cubs: One would think the Cubs would give St. Louis a run for their money in 2010. On paper they certainly seem poised to do so. But it's the Cubs we are talking about. For so many years they have looked good on paper, but they always have some catastrophic meltdown. Sure, the Cubs have a good pitching staff (Lead by ace Carlos Zambrano) and sure, they have a dangerous lineup (3 players in this lineup are capable of hitting 30 home runs). But will I pick the Cubs to win the central? No. Will I pick them second? No. They get a bronze medal in this race. So let's sit back and watch them unravel for the 102nd straight year.
  4. Houston Astros: The fans in Houston did not have much to cheer about in 2009. I expect the same in 2010 from the Astros. They have one proven pitcher in Roy Oswalt and two proven hitters in Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman. They have young outfielders Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence. But beyond the before mentioned players the Astros have some wild card players and some young unproven players coming up. They have yet to name a closer and their options (Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom) are not eye pleasing. But they have new manager Brad Mills who has two World Series rings from Boston, and I like his experience on the bench. But it is not enough to get Houston anywhere this year.
  5. Cincinnati Reds: If you're a Reds fan, the future of this team seems very bright. They have some young talented hitters (Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips) and some young talented pitchers (Aaron Harang, Homer Bailey, and Aroldis Chapman). Chapman, was their high priced signing in the offseason as he came highly touted while defecting from Cuba. Now the Reds are trying to find the right mix of veterans to this young core. They signed free agent SS Orlando Cabrera this offseason, while having veteran pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Arthur Rhodes on the pitching staff. But I still think they are a couple of years away from putting up a great fight in this division.
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates: Here's another team that has a bright future. And if you live in Pittsburgh you would hope the Pirates can keep this core of talented players they have assembled on the team. Promising hitters Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, and Ryan Doumit lead the team as they try to end Pittsburgh's 18 year skid of losing seasons. Their rotation is up in the air as Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf, and Paul Maholm try to make names for themselves. The only recognizable name in the bullpen is Octavio Dotel and he is a wild card at best. The pitching will hold Pittsburgh back from doing great things this year, but it may be a strong point in the years to come.
Tomorrow I switch over to the junior circuit and look at the American League West...