I’m on a blogging spree right now.
A few weeks back during a lengthy car ride from Asheville, NC to the research triangle, I put together my all-time team. That’s right, team is italicized. I put it together as if these are the guys that I would want out on the field, on the mound, in my bullpen, and on bench fulfilling different roles.
So I put together a 25-man roster consisting of Major Leaguers past and present. Here they are with some explanation.
Secondbase – Rogers Hornsby
He holds the second highest batting average ever at .358, who else would you want as your leadoff man? He hit over .400 three times and won seven batting crowns. He fell just 70 hits short of the highly regarded 3,000 hit club.
Centerfield – Willie Mays
Power and speed reign in my centerfield as “Say Hey” topped 3,000 hits, 2,000 runs, stole 338 bases, drove in 1,903 runs, and hit 660 homeruns. This one’s really no competition.
Leftfield – Ted Williams
Don’t look at the numbers because he went to war in the middle of his career. Number 9 could rake. Just know that he was the last player to hit over .400 in a season. In my opinion, Williams and my cleanup hitter are the best hitters ever in the game, and the three spot is where you put your best hitter.
Rightfield – Babe Ruth
In his time, no one even came close to his power numbers. Little does anyone know that he also was a career .342 hitter. Do I really need to rattle off the stats? He may be the most highly regarded athlete in history.
Thirdbase – Mike Schmidt
Michael Jack had that lethal combo at the hot corner of power and fielding ability. Along with his 548 career longballs, he won ten gold glove awards. He may be part of that last group of unskepticized power hitters.
Firstbase – Lou Gehrig
Overshadowed by the Babe, Gehrig quietly hit .340 for his career and posted a .632 slugging percentage along with 493 homeruns and 1,995 RBI. Starting Pujols was tempting here, but I stuck him on the bench until further notice.
Catcher – Johnny Bench
He was clutch, great defensively, and won two MVP awards as a catcher.
Shortstop – Derek Jeter
I’m sorry. I needed someone from my generation in the starting lineup. Just kidding. But honestly, the level of hate I have for the Yankees is the level of respect I have for Jeter, ironic? He is the best hitter I have seen at taking the ball the other way. He inside-outs the ball like no other, how could you not want that at the bottom of your lineup?
Righthander – Walter Johnson
“The Big Train” threw hard. 417 career wins on one of the worst teams in baseball history is an impressive feat on its own. Imagine the amount of wins he would get on this team. Yikes.
Lefthander – Sandy Koufax
Yea yea, I know, “he only had a bunch of great years and not a whole career.” The thing is, those years weren’t just great, they were amazing. In a five-year span, Koufax won 111 games, had an ERA under 2.00, struckout a boatload, and threw four no-hitters. Untouchable.
Righthander – Satchel Paige
This is tough because the Negro Leagues didn’t keep statistics really. But the fact that whenever I hear anyone relate what Satchel did on the mound to Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax, and Nolan Ryan combined and even better. I’m going to trust them. I’ll just say that he did well in the Majors at 60 years of age.
Lefthander – Lefty Grove
He won exactly 300 games in the big-leagues and sported a .680 winning percentage which is the third highest in the Hall of Fame.
Righthander – Cy Young
Well he does have an award named after him. Denton True holds a plethera of pitching records including wins (511) and complete games (749).
Righthander – Dennis Eckersley
He recorded 320 saves as a closer after he turned 32 years of age. I could use him to spot start if I needed to, but given my starters, he would just be coming out of the bullpen for me.
Lefthander – Randy Johnson
It’s my team, so I can put a starter in the ‘pen. Imagine Johnson coming out of the bullpen to face a few lefties.
Righthander – Nolan Ryan
Same story here. He’d be another starter out of the bullpen for me. In a much needed strikeout situation, why not bring in the all-time leader?
Righthander – Rollie Fingers
It would be impossible to keep that mustache and those 341 career saves out of this bullpen.
Setup Man – Trevor Hoffman
The all-time saves leader and his changeup would be my setup man.
Closer – Mariano Rivera
The cutter is absolutely filthy and once he’s retired, he will be considered the best closer of all-time, to me atleast.
Catcher – Ivan Rodriguez
Around a .300 career average hitter, he would be on my bench for his defense. Whenever Bench would need a break, his defense wouldn’t be missed because Pudge’s is amazing as well.
Firstbase – Albert Pujols
359 career homeruns and counting. Around a career .333 average. In each of his first nine seasons in the Majors, Albert has topped 30 homeruns and 100 RBI. He doesn’t turn 30 until next year.
1B/OF – Hank Aaron
Who better to bring up with the game on the line other than the all-time homerun leader?
Infielder – Pete Rose
The Hit King can come off my bench to pinch-hit, I don’t care if he gambles.
Outfielder – Rickey Henderson
Pinch runner extraordinaire. The all-time steals leader would tear up the basepaths late in the game when we need a runner to get into scoring position.
Outfielder – Roberto Clemente
With exactly 3,000 hits and the cannon for an arm that he’s got, he would be a perfect role player for this team, getting starts here and there.
It may be too early to vote, but I got to show appreciation to the guys off to the hot starts so I voted. Here are my all stars as of today. I’ll just give you the starters and then I’ll do a complete all star roster (my opinion) when the full rosters are revealed.
1B Kevin Youkilis
.395 5 HR 15 RBI 1 SB
2B Ian Kinsler
.322 7 HR 20 RBI 7 SB
SS Marco Scutaro
.281 5 HR 15 RBI 1 SB
3B Evan Longoria
.369 6 HR 24 RBI 1 SB
C Victor Martinez
.386 5 HR 11 RBI
OF Jason Bay
.324 5 HR 19 RBI 2 SB
OF Torii Hunter
.325 8 HR 16 RBI 1 SB
OF Nick Markakis
.381 2 HR 22 RBI
1B Albert Pujols
.337 8 HR 28 RBI 4 SB
2B Chase Utley
.342 7 HR 20 RBI 2 SB
SS Hanley Ramirez
.289 2 HR 12 RBI 3 SB
3B Ryan Zimmerman
.289 5 HR 16 RBI
C Bengie Molina
.329 4 HR 18 RBI
OF Andre Ethier
.306 5 HR 22 RBI 1 SB
OF Raul Ibanez
.359 7 HR 17 RBI 3 SB
OF Manny Ramirez
.372 5 HR 15 RBI
Team’s true colors may be starting show now, so here’s this weeks power rankings:
1. Toronto Blue Jays (14-6) (3)
They’re scoring the most runs in the league per game and they’re third in the AL in ERA. All with half their rotation on the DL. As long as they keep scoring runs and Roy Halladay is their ace, expect ongoing success.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (13-6) (4)
They’ve played a lot of games at home so far (10-3 at Busch) but their pitching staff has been solid thus far and Albert Pujols continues to be well, be Albert Pujols.
3. Boston Red Sox (12-6) (10)
Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home became an instant classic moment of the 2009 season. I didn’t even see it live, but I watched the replay over and over because it was so great. Terry Francona loved, Boston loved it, I loved it, and I love the way the Red Sox are playing right now.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (13-6) (1)
Clayton Kershaw got roughed up yesterday and there were some miscues, but teams have those games. The Dodgers still lead the entire league in WHIP and are second in the NL in batting average.
5. Seattle Mariners (12-7) (5)
Pitching, pitching, pitching. Second in the AL in ERA.
6. Detoit Tigers (10-8) (9)
Offense is coming through as Miguel Cabrera continues to tear.
7. Kansas City Royals (9-9) (7)
This staff is doing a real nice job thus far this season. If only they could start scoring some runs. They lead the American League in ERA and WHIP and last time I checked Zack Greinke still hasn’t let up an earned run.
8. Chicago Cubs (9-8) (8)
They’re still striking out batters at an alarming rate but a few key offensive players are struggling and/or hurting.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates (11-7) (NR)
Wow, who would have thought. The Buccos lead the entire league in ERA (2.97) but I’m hesistant to put them any higher.
10. Florida Marlins (11-7) (2)
I’ll put it this way, they haven’t won a game since last week’s Monday Ten. All the team’s suprises have kind of fallen back to earth. Emilio Bonifacio had a rough week and you all saw that bullpen against the Phils.
Speaking of those Phillies–
Pushing the Ten: Philadelphia Phillies (9-8)
San Diego Padres (10-8)
So now that I’m completely done my team previews and you have all seen how I predict it will pan out, here’s the playoff and award predictions.
Cubs over Mets
I feel like everyone jumped on me having the Cubs finish with the best record. Well I got them going a step further. A playoff rotation like there’s shouldn’t have failed last season. Some of their offensive guys are getting older, but they recognize this may be their last hurrah as they are all probably near the end of the primes of their careers. As for the Mets, their bullpen is nice, but you don’t get to them unless you have the lead.
Red Sox over Indians
The Red Sox are just a playoff team. They’re built with the intangibles and I’m big on that. A deep rotation with an unbelievable bullpen gets the easy nod over Cleveland here.
Yankees over Angels
Come on, a playoff rotation that could potentially be CC, AJ, Wang, then Pettite or Joba. You have to at least win the first series. The Angels counter with a solid rotation but I think the close series goes to the Yanks.
Dodgers over Phillies
As much as it hurts me to say this, I think the Dodgers get the best of the Phils this time. Manny is a force and the rest of the offense can hit. They have some good young arms and a solid bullpen. Close series, but no cigar for my Fightins.
Dodgers over Cubs
I’m all about the Dodgers this year, they have a heck of an offense. This is where the Cubs magic ends this season. In the rematch of last year’s NLDS, this result is the same.
Red Sox over Yankees
Of course, I love this rivalry and I think they meet once again in the ALCS. Sox move on simply because I hate the Yankees. Just kidding. Well Sox do move on, but my reasoning isn’t because I hate the Yankees. Intangibles move them on.
Red Sox over Dodgers
With Josh Beckett in October, you can’t go wrong. Sox win their third in six years.
American League MVP
He’ll be the most valuable player for his team this season as I expect him to have a higher batting average than last year. He does it all; steals, scores, drives home runs, hits homeruns, and plays a great centerfield.
Other Possibilities: Mark Teixeira, Dustin Pedrioa
Wild Card: Evan Longoria
National League MVP
He was robbed last year. Lead the entire league in homeruns and RBIs and he struggled. It’s scary to think that he can do better, and then when you look at the fact that he could increase his average, he can definately increase his 146 RBIs.
Other Possibilities: Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez
Wild Card: Pablo Sandoval
American League Cy Young
He throws complete games like it’s his job. If he has a year like his last, he’s bound to win this award.
Other Possibilities: Cliff Lee,
Ervin Santana (my pick prior to injury), Jon Lester
Wild Card: John Danks
National League Cy Young
I think this kid is bound to break out. I think this is the year Billingsley steps up and becomes the Dodgers ace. He definately has potential for 20 wins, 200+ strikeouts, and a sub-3.00 ERA.
Other Possibilities: Brandon Webb, Tim Lincecum
Wild Card: Ricky Nolasco
American League ROTY
The reason I like him for this award is because he has a definate job. He will definately get his chances to move up in this lineup as well. I got two Jays winning awards.
Other Possibilities: Matt Wieters, Either Athletics 21-year-old
Wild Card: Elvis Andrus
National League ROTY
He has so much potential and he had an awesome performance when called up in September last year.
Other Possibilities: Colby Rasmus, Tommy Hanson
Wild Card: Jason Donald
Now that that’s over with, let the Phils raise the championship banner and play ball. Brett Myers, you may now throw the first pitch of the 2009 MLB season.
Season Preview: St. Louis Cardinals
Projected MLB Rank: 9th (t) — NL Rank: 6th (t) — NL Central Rank: 2nd –– Record: (88-74)
The Cardinals have all the makings of a run for October, but those makings are somehow overlooked. With a solid rotation, reliable bullpen, and underrated hitters–I will not be suprised when the Cards are still in the playoff hunt come mid-September.
Here’s a look at their projected rotation for the upcoming season:
1. Adam Wainwright
In 20 starts last season, Wainwright posted a 3.20 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and chalked up 11 wins. In his second season as a starter, his numbers were a good improvement on his 2007 season. Expect the Cards ace to top 200 innings and win over 15 games if he pitches a full season.
2. Kyle Lohse
Having a career year in 2008, Lohse proved that he can be reliable as he won the most games (15) and had the lowest ERA of his career (3.78). I would not be suprised to see him do it again.
3. Todd Wellemeyer
Another player who had a career year in 2008 is Wellemeyer. The former reliever tacked up 13 wins and held a 3.71 ERA. I would expect the same out of this year for him, along with some injury potential (having been converted to a starter last year).
4. Chris Carpenter
Finally back from injury, Carpenter posted a 1.88 ERA in three starts late last season. While it would be a suprise to see him 2005 form again, Carpenter is the true number two in this rotation, which pushes Lohse and Wellemeyer back in to more reasonable roles.
5. Joel Pineiro
Pineiro has had a rocky career but seems to have found a nice back of the rotation job in St. Louis. Last year, he went 7-7 with a 5.15 ERA.
The bullpen has great young arms and the veteran experience needed to succeed. The veteran experience is provided by 36-year old Ryan Franklin. Franklin, who was the Cards closer for some time last season, saved 17 games with a 3.55 ERA and is a nice veteran option if the other two potential closers don’t pan out as planned. Lefty Trever Miller is another veteran option who recently had some playoff experience in Tampa Bay.
The closer job looks like it’s gone to Jason Motte. He lacks big league experience with only 12 games last season but in those 12 games he posted a 0.82 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 11 innings. He’s showed more of the same this spring with a 1.74 ERA and 15 strikeouts in about 10 innings. He wins the job over, who I thought had the job from the experience he gained at the end of the year last year, Chris Perez. Saving 7 games last year for St. Louis, Perez provides the option just in case Motte doesn’t get the job done. Perez’s 3.86 ERA in 7 innings is most likely the reason for the job going to Motte. Expect him to be the set-up man. Although I wouldn’t be suprised if the Cards started going closer by committee during the season.
The Cardinals outfield has the potential to be one of the best in the league. Last year, Ryan Ludwick really came out of nowhere to hit for nearly .300 while driving in 113 runs and hitting 37 homeruns. Not to mention his .591 slugging percentage. Ludwick is in his prime, so expect the same kind of year for him. Resurgent pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel has some great power as he hit 25 homeruns and drove in 71 runs last year but doesn’t hit for a high average and whiffs a ton. He’s still only young into his second career though, so the patience has the potential to be there. It now looks as if young stud Colby Rasmus will be the starting leftfielder for the Cardinals this season. The 22 year old is a top prospect, and now that Skip Schumaker has won the second base job, left field seems to be all Rasmus’. Fourth outfielder Chris Duncan provides some nice pop off the bench and a good starting option in case of injury.
Until the return of Troy Glaus, it looks as if David Freese will get the shot to start at third base. This kid tore it up in minors and has the potential to do the same in the big leagues, maybe not this year, but he will show some flashes of potential. Secondbaseman Skip Schumaker should bat at the top of the order and give Albert Pujols a bunch of chances to drive him home. Yadier Molina, who has shown improvement at the plate the past few years batting .216, .275, and .304 last season hopefully keeps up the average and that would be a plus to the catching job he done behind the dish. There is a weak spot here however, it’s spelled K-H-A-L-I-L. If shortstop Khalil Greene can continue what he’s done this spring, then it’s not a weak spot (hitting .418 with 17 RBIs). But if he’s not doing that, well, let’s just say last year he hit .213.
This lineup has all the potential to be productive and drive home runs and the rotation and bullpen will certainly keep the Cards in the game. I expect success out of St. Louis this year but not in the form of the playoffs.
Oh yea, I forgot they have this guy…
I am going to try to make this my last post about A-Rod, steroids, etc, etc. But I got thinking who is next in line to capture the homerun record as their own fully clean, as far as we know. Rodriguez was supposed to be our savoir from Barry, Balco, Big Mac, and Juiced but, well, you all know the story forwards and backwards now (at least we think we do). So who could potentially top Bonds and take Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s record from him and not have an asterisk surrounding his name?
In his eight year career, Pujols has slugged 319 homeruns averaging almost 40 homeruns a season. He is one of the best right-handed hitters in the game right now, if not the best. He is 29 years old and if he can average 37 homeruns over the next twelve seasons, he will have 763 homeruns, one more than Bonds. By that time he will be 41 years old. Bonds was 42 when he broke* Aaron’s record of 755. Pujols’ career high came in 2006 when he hit 49 dingers (and he only played in 143 games that year).
POSSIBILITY: MOST LIKELY
Ken Griffey Jr.
The closest among all active clean players with 611 homeruns (are Bonds and Sammy Sosa even active anymore?). Junior’s back in the Emerald City where he hit his first 398 homeruns. Since then, the new millenium hasn’t treated Griffey well as he has been plagued by injuries and years of not contending (until his trade to the White Sox last year). Since 2000, he’s topped out at 40 homeruns (2000) and is 151 homeruns away at 39 years old. He would need to play five more seasons and average just over 30 homeruns over that span to break take the top spot from Barry.
POSSIBILITY: NOT LIKELY
Over four years into his career he has connected for 177 homeruns. His 162-game average in homeruns is 50 per year. He has 586 homeruns to go if he wants to take away the title from Bonds he will need to average 46 homeruns over the next 13 seasons. However, he goes into slumps like it’s in his contract. But when his bat is hot, the lumber is on fire. Another problem is that he didn’t come up to the big leagues and stay up until he was 25 and he didn’t play his first full season until he was 26. He is 29 this season and if he only plays until he is 40 he will need to muster over 53 homeruns per season. Becoming a member of the 500 homerun club should be his first priority.
POSSIBILITY: NOT LIKELY
Dunn has raw power and has hit 278 homeruns over his eight year career averaging just under 35 per season. He is also 29 this season and needs 485 homeruns to break the record. He would need to average 45 homeruns over the next 11 seasons to conquer that feat and has only hit over 40 homeruns once (46 in 2004). I would say that he have the same priority as Howard, join the 500 homerun club first and then see where he’s at.
POSSIBILITY: NOT LIKELY
Let’s let him find a team first. But he needs 236 more homeruns and he is 36 years old. He would need to average just over 47 homeruns in the next five seasons and about 34 homeruns if he were to play seven more seasons.
POSSIBILITY: NOT LIKELY
Others who would need a prayer to break it:
Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero
Too early to tell:
Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Prince Fielder
First of all, congratulations to Albert Pujols, although I don’t agree with the decision, great year.
But I know you’ve heard it all before, Ryan Howard propelled his team in September (the most important month). He batted .352 in September with 11 homeruns and 32 RBI. He accounted for a quarter of the Phils RBI in the month and almost twenty percent of their RBI total for the entire season. In September, fellow lefty Chase Utley had one homerun, Jayson Werth hit .242 with one homerun, and Pat Burrell wasn’t at his best. Pujols accounted for only about fifteen percent of the Cards RBI total for the season. Fellow teammate of Pujols Ryan Ludwick mirrored Pujols production numbers and also accounted for about fifteen percent of the Cards RBI. Trot Glaus also had 17 homeruns and 99 RBI. The next closest Phillie other than Utley in RBI count was Pat Burrell with 86. I don’t like to lean on homeruns either but Howard did have 11 more along with 5 more runs scored.
Where did the Cardinals finish in the NL Central? Fourth. Where would they have finished without Pujols? Probably fifth if not stay at fourth. Where is the value in that? There is no chance the Phillies would have won the division without Ryan Howard.
The MVP is very opinion-based because everyone has their
own definition about what the MVP should be. In my mind, I think that unless there is a player who had a majestic, record-breaking season–it should go to a player that had the largest contribution of getting his team into the playoffs. That ballplayer is Ryan Howard.
Here is how I would have voted..
First: Ryan Howard (PHI)
Second: Manny Ramirez (LAD)
Third: Albert Pujols (STL)
4th: Ryan Braun (MIL)
5th: Lance Berkman (HOU)
6th: Brad Lidge (PHI)
7th: Chipper Jones (ATL)
8th: CC Sabathia (MIL)
9th: Aramis Ramirez (CHC)
10th: Carlos Delgado (NYM)