There’s nothing better than the baseball season. The glorious game’s 2010 season is set to start this week as pitchers and catchers report to camp. Finally, the wait for the game that America loves so dearly is set to begin. It means warm sun, barbeques, summer storms, and much more is on its way in a couple months.
It is time for the players to work out their kinks and recover from offseason injuries and rehab to get back in time for Opening Day. It is time for players to change their stances and time for Cole Hamels to develop another pitch. Time for team bonding and hard work. Time for Florida and Arizona. Time for more bad looking batting practice uniforms. Time for autographs and time for bullpen sessions. Time for buckets of baseballs and buckets of sunflower seeds.
Its ’bout time for baseball.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love all the other sports and enjoy them while baseball is not with us but the aura of baseball is unbeatable. The freshly cut grass. The smoke that sits in front of the warehouse at Camden Yards. The Roy Hobbs homerun that lights up the sky. The ivy that lines the Wrigley Field walls. The dirty dugouts. The dim Iowa cornfields that surround an illustrious diamond at night. The 3-2 knee buckling breaking ball to end the inning. And I could go on.
All this is about to be back with the great USofA in a couple days. As usual, there are questions that surround the upcoming season. If you are one of my few readers, then you might remember the team-by-team preview I did on this blog last year. Because of my slow internet this year at school, that won’t be happening again. Heck, I’m only writing now because my class was cancelled and I wanted to stay on campus until my next one. I’ll throw out some questions and do my best to answer them with some bold predictions.
How much of a threat do the Mariners pose to the Angels in 2010?
Well last year the M’s finished over .500 and they got a lot better with huge offseason acquisitions in Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee. The problem out West is that the Rangers got better too and even the Athletics got a bit better. I think that the Mariners are a bigger threat to the Angels than last year now that the Halos have lost John Lackey. But the Angels still have a solid rotation from the top to the bottom where the Mariners have some questions. I think the the Angels’ wins go down this season but they remain division champs with Seattle and Texas close behind.
Will anyone for the Mets hit over twelve homeruns?
As if it couldn’t get any worse after the way 2007 and 2008 ended, it did (and I love it). The Mets opened their new spacious ballpark and then couldn’t hit in it or stay healthy. To answer the question though, yes. Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, and David Wright will definately have over that number while Jeff Francoer and David Murphy should get into the high teens too. Last year was a freak year for the Mets, and I expect them to be contenders once again in 2010.
Who do the Pirates trade first this year?
Sorry Pittsburgh fans, you know someone’s leaving. No one’s ever safe in Pittsburgh but I’m pretty sure Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones are safe. I’ll say Brendan Donnelly gets dealt at the deadline to a team that needs a veteran arm in their bullpen. Octavio Dotel and Joel Harahan are also potential trade pieces as well.
Who will have the best spring training record?
Texas Rangers. No reasoning.
More questions to come.
After a exciting, yet dissapointing, series in Pittsburgh that I’d rather not blog about due to frustration, I’ll give you all the stadiums I’ve been to.
Just a quick note on the Fightins. Hopefully they can start scoring with runners in scoring position. Last night they should have put the Pirates away in the first inning with the bases loaded and no outs. It is frustrating to watch and that leaves JA Happ with no room for error. Other than Garrett Jones’ rainmaker, he pitched very nicely, just as he has been all season long. Right now I am about 50/50 as to who I’d pick for NL Rookie of the Year between Happ and Tommy Hanson in Atlanta.
Hopefully they score some runs on the Braves and get some solid pitching tonight from Pedro to bounce back from that series.
Anyways, here’s the list.
Major League Baseball (no longer in use)
Veterans Stadium — Philadelphia Phillies
Tiger Stadium — Detroit Tigers
Shea Stadium — New York Mets
Olympic Stadium — Montreal Expos
RFK Stadium — Washington Nationals
Major League Baseball (in use)
Citizen’s Bank Park — Philadelphia Phillies
Rogers Centre — Toronto Blue Jays
Camden Yards — Baltimore Orioles
PNC Park — Pittsburgh Pirates
US Cellular Field — Chicago White Sox
Fenway Park — Boston Red Sox
Coors Field — Colorado Rockies
Busch Stadium — St. Louis Cardinals
Citi Field — New York Mets
AAA International League
PNC Field — previously Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons (Moosic, PA)
Louisville Slugger Field — Louisville Bats (Louisville, KY)
McCoy Stadium — Pawtucket Red Sox (Pawtucket, RI)
Durham Bulls Athletic Park — Durham Bulls (Durham, NC)
AAA Pacific Coast League
Secuirity Services Field — Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Colorado Springs, CO)
AA Eastern League
Blair County Ballpark — Altoona Curve (Altoona, PA)
FirstEnergy Stadium — Reading Phillies (Reading, PA)
Mercer County Waterfront Park — Trenton Thunder (Trenton, NJ)
Prince George Stadium — Bowie Baysox (Bowie, MD)
A Carolina League
Daniel S. Frawley Stadium — Wilmington Blue Rocks (Wilmington, DE)
Calvin Falwell Field — Lynchburg Hillcats (Lynchburg, VA)
Salem Memorial Ballpark — previously Salem Avalanche (Salem, VA)
A Florida State League
Joker Marchant Stadium — Lakeland Tigers (Lakeland, FL)
A South Atlantic League
Grayson Stadium — Savannah Sand Gnats (Savannah, GA)
Joseph Riley Ballpark — Charleston River Dogs (Charleston, SC)
McCormick Field — Ashville Tourists (Ashville, NC)
Short-A New York-Penn League
Ripken Stadium — Aberdeen Ironbirds (Aberdeen, MD)
Damaschke Field — Oneonta Tigers/Yankees (Oneonta, NY)
Centennial Field — Vermont Lake Monsters/Expos (Burlington, VT)
Donovan Stadium at Murname Field — Utica Blue Sox (Utica, NY) no longer exist
Rookie-Adv Appalachian League
American Legion Field — Danville Braves (Danville, VA)
Calfee Park — previously Pulaski Blue Jays (Pulaski, VA)
Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
Campbell’s Field — Camden River Sharks (Camden, NJ)
TD Bank Ballpark — Somerset Patriots (Bridgewater, NJ)
Field of Dreams (Dyersville, Iowa)
Doubleday Field (Cooperstown, NY)
I think that’s all.
Season Preview: Baltimore Orioles
Projected MLB Rank: 28th — AL Rank: 13th — AL East Rank: 5th — Record: (67-95)
Playing the Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, and Blue Jays for a majority of your schedule, wouldn’t play in your favor. Well being the weakest team in the division, that’s the position the Orioles are put into this season. Prior to last season, they had the [Devil] Rays to take the bottom spot and share the woes in the AL East. But now the young Rays have proved they are an elite team in the league, winning the AL East last season.
However, if you take a look at the Rays, they came out of no where last season. So the good news for the O’s is that anything is possible and everyone’s records start at 0-0 when the first pitch of the year is thrown. Plus, they remodeled the bird this year. The Rays changed their look last year and Orioles do it this year.
This year’s Orioles possess some elite talents and some developing players. Brian Roberts has become one of the best second baseman in the game today behind Chase Utley, Ian Kinsler, and fellow AL East-er Dustin Pedrioa. The switch hitter is a career .284 hitter and scores runs and steals bases at the top of the order and gives Nick Markakis, Aubrey Huff, and Melvin Mora many chances to put runs on the board. Markakis is becoming an elite outfielder and he just signed a big contract this past offseason. Fellow outfielder, Adam Jones had a good rookie campaign while battling an injury and should continue to develop this season.
Huff quietly had a great 2008. He batted .304 with 32 homeruns and 108 RBIs. He is coming into his tenth big league season and should get his chances to produce once again in the hitter friendly Camden Yards. The two weak spots in the lineup are shortstop Cesar Izturis and catcher Gregg Zaun. Izturis is an awful hitter but will be starting at short most likely and Zaun will probably start the season as the starting catcher, barring how the highly regarded prospect Matt Wieters does in spring training. Once Wieters becomes the starting catcher and develops into the hitter they hope him to be, this lineup will become so much better.
Jeremy Guthrie leads the rotation and had a pretty good 2008 with a 3.63 ERA while going 10-12 in 30 starts. “Rookie” Koji Uehara is 33 years old and from what I hear, is past his prime but will be a solid starter for Baltimore. Lefty Chris Waters in coming into his second year. He started 11 games and went 3-5 with a 5.01 ERA so don’t expect big things. Another southpaw, Rich Hill, will hopefully be healthy this year. Radhames Liz will hope to make the rotation but needs to find his control first. Once he does that, he will become a much better pitcher because he throws hard and has a great breaking ball.
The closer’s job looks like it will be going to George Sherrill to start the year but if Chris Ray, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, shows he can handle the closer’s job again, expect him to take the job because of Sherrill’s walk ratio. Overall, the rest of the bullpen is subpar, especially in this tough division.
Now, I wouldn’t rule out fourth place this year for the Orioles, or maybe even a Raysesque run. Most likely not (hence why I have ranked them at 28) but don’t rule out Baltimore.