I haven’t posted in a while. I’m coming to the end of my winter break and the Eagles game doesnt come on until tonight, so I’ll throw in my two cents on a couple different topics.
Yes, it’s been that long since I’ve done anything on here. When I initially heard about this deal happening from a Ken Rosenthal report, I wasn’t excited. Cliff Lee had done so much for this club in the few months he was in Philly and I just didn’t understand the reasoning behind the deal, especially surrendering Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor… until I read further.
First of all, Roy Halladay is a righty, which definately helps this lefty-heavy rotation. If we had kept Lee and if Jamie Moyer been named the fifth starter, we would have had four lefties and a righty (Joe Blanton). So this gives the rotation the look of:
LHP Cole Hamels
LHP JA Happ
LHP Moyer or RHP Kyle Kendrick or Free Agent signing
They also got back what they lost in a sense, when they traded Lee to Seattle. Phillipe Aumont and Tyson Gillies are both very talented prospects. I’ll elaborate on them eventually in another post.
Then, what really pulled me to understand the deal was that Halladay wanted to sign an extension and give the Phils a discount on his contract whereas Lee had said he wanted market value (somewhere a bit south of CC Sabathia money). The Phils wouldn’t have been able to keep Lee and sign all the key players whose contracts are coming up in a year or two. Lee also wanted about seven to eight years which is something the team doesn’t offer to pitchers, and it’s smart.
And there’s the reasoning that Halladay is just better. He and Johan Santana are, to me, the two best pitchers in the game with Tim Lincecum close behind. Nothing against Cliff, but his first five or so starts with the Phillies were quite dominant but then he started to stumble a bit and his next few were shaky before he found his stride again. Halladay doesn’t go through slumps and he can give you nine strong innings each time he goes out there.
12 time All Star.
10 time Gold Glove winner.
4 time Silver Slugger Award winner.
2 time World Series champion.
I could see all of that on a plaque in Cooperstown. Apparently, some others couldn’t. Robby Alomar fell about eight votes short of getting into Cooperstown on his first ballot. When I think of Hall of Famer, I think of greatness. So, I know you’ve heard it before, if you don’t say Hall of Famer right away then they’re not in. You shouldn’t have to think about it. The Hall isn’t for the maybes, it’s for the greats.
I never had the chance to watch Andre Dawson in his prime but I’ve heard that he was one of the more dominant hitters of his era. It did take him nine ballots to get in which seems to be a bit much but you can’t change the system now. Congrats to The Hawk.
and GO BIRDS!
The Yankees debut of the New Yankee Stadium was filled everything you can imagine a $1.5 billion stadium could provide, but apparently you cant buy the tally in the “W” column. Grady Sizemore and the Tribe had a different idea for the christening of New Yankee.
FIRST PITCH: Fastball misses outside from CC Sabathia to Grady Sizemore
*May have set a tone for the rest of Sabathia’s 5.2 innings–he walked five before he was lifted
FIRST STRIKEOUT: CC Sabathia gets Victor Martinez on a 2-2 fastball in the top of the first
FIRST HIT: Johnny Damon on a Cliff Lee slider in the bottom of the first
FIRST EXTRA BASEHIT: Ben Francisco double in the top second
FIRST RUN: Ben Francisco crosses the plate on a Kelly Shoppach double in the top fourth
FIRST HOMER: Jorge Posada launches one over the centerfield wall in the bottom fifth
FIRST GRANDSLAM: Grady Sizemore in the heart of a nine-run seventh
FIRST WIN: Cliff Lee has returned
Wow, does Alex Rodriguez need to return to this lineup or what? Cody Ransom is now hitting .100 on the young season and left nine men on base today. Not saying that A-Rod is Mr. Clutch but he wouldn’t be posting those numbers.
NATIONALS WIN ONE
The Nationals got their first win of the season this year. Jack Taschner got tagged for four earned runs in eighth to take any thoughts of a ninth inning rally and forget about it. I don’t want to talk about that game. Except for…
He singled and doubled today to start off his 2009 season. Going 2-for-3 with a run scored hitting in the eight spot. He had Shairon Martis previously in the minors though, and hit him pretty well down there, so good move by Charlie placing Marson into the starting lineup today.
Here are my power rankings after week one. I’ll try to give my “Monday Ten” every Monday weekly. So here they are:
1. St. Louis Cardinals (5-2)
Lead by strong pitching and some nice offensive production thus far, the Cards have jumped out to lead the Central. It appears that Chris Carpenter is back.
2. Florida Marlins (5-1)
How exciting is this young team. Josh Johnson is the true ace of this staff and he’s showed it so far. Bullpen is still suspect.
3. Seattle Mariners (5-2)
They’re winning close ballgames and they have the lowest ERA in the AL through seven games. I’ve mentioned before, I love seen Junior in the uni again.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (4-3)
Lowest WHIP in the NL but Manny may start stirring up some problems.
5. Toronto Blue Jays (5-2)
Scoring the most runs per game this year and how about Adam Lind? Called it.
6. Chicago Cubs (4-3)
Soriano has gotten off to a good start for once.
7. Colorado Rockies (3-3)
Offense is looking really good. Whether or not they can keep carrying this production–time will tell.
8. Los Angeles Angels (3-3)
The Angels, with the death of a fellow teammate on their hearts, are playing hard baseball. The cleared benches may have sparked something as well.
9. Atlanta Barves (5-1)
Took advantage of the Phils starters not locating pitches and then the played the Nationals? The bullpen absolutely imploded in Philly though.
10. New York Yankees (3-3)
Not sure where they would be after two road series to start the season. But now we know CC does have his stuff.
Pushing the Ten: Kansas City Royals (3-3)
It’s still the first week though, so take all of this lightly.
Oh central Pennsylvania. It’s currently sunny outside and snowing. The weather here never ceases to amaze me. I cannot wait to go home to Philly for good where the weather doesn’t go haywire. I’m taking time out of a hectic few school days (a couple exams and a paper) to write this post because I can’t stay away from baseball, come on, it’s opening week. My professors will understand, I hope.
So as I watched the Orioles/Yankees game yesterday, I wasn’t suprised that CC Sabathia was all over the place. I don’t think Yankees fans should be concerned though. I saw a statistic yesterday that last year he started the season with some awful stats (I forget what they were, it was like one win and a skyscraper ERA through five or so starts). Then he turned into a savior in Milwaukee and put up unbelievable numbers there. As much as I want him to do poorly in New York because he’s playing for money there, he’ll definately turn it around.
Speaking of playing for money, did anyone hear Mark Teixiera get booed as if he flipped the bird to every Orioles fan in the park. Well, they weren’t pleased that the “hometown boy” turned down the Orioles offer this offseason to go play in the Bronx. Well Big Tex ended 0-for-4 and left five men on base. O’s fans were certainly pleased. As was I.
How about that Orioles offense? Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis combined to go 8-for-11, scored seven runs, and drove home four. Every Orioles starter had at least one hit except Luke Scott, who worked two walks and had an RBI. This lineup will produce runs this year with a nice combination of young stars and veteran players, if only they had some pitching to go along with their potent offense.
“ALL HAIL THE PUTZ/K-ROD COMBO”
I’m one of few people who doesn’t believe this combo will be as lights out as everyone else thinks it will be. Sure they’re great and all. But it was what, 30 degrees in Cincinnati yesterday? It’s definately going to be hard to get around on a either one of Putz or Rodriguez’s pitches.
Johan looked good for the most part. His slider wasn’t too effective yesterday and he walked four, but I guess you can’t argue with seven strikeouts and one earned run in almost six innings. His counterpart, Aaron Harang threw a lot of pitches in just five innings of work and looked pretty good despite working deep into the count in what felt like every batter.
The two runs yesterday by the Mets were produced by not Wright, not Reyes, not Beltran, not Delgado–but Daniel Murphy. He hit a homerun and then later drove home Luis Castillo. This kid is pretty good, so look out for him this year.
Those were really the only games I sat down and watched yesterday. I caught some of the Cubs/Astros, Rangers/Indians, A’s/Angels, and Pirates/Cardinals but just a few innings here and there. I got a lot of studying to do and a paper to write.
Best matchups of the night:
Ubaldo Jimenez and Dan Haren try to cool the bats of eachothers’ teams after the D-backs and Rockies combined for seventeen runs and eight homers yesterday.
Scott Olsen faces off against his old team and Josh Johnson as the Marlins look to continue to roll after they posted a 12-spot on the scoreboard yesterday.
The Phils look to rebound from their opening night loss as they send Jamie Moyer to the mound against the Braves and Jair Jurrjens who was 1-2 with a 3.33 ERA in four starts last year against the Phils.
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: New York Yankees
Projected MLB Rank: 11th — AL Rank: 4th — AL East Rank: 2nd — Record: (87-75)
American League Wild Card Winners
You think I’m kidding? Well I’m not. I do have the Yankees not ranked in my top ten teams this year.
Again, what you have just read, is correct.
Sure, I think the Yanks will make the playoffs. And of course they have the best rotation in the division, if not the league. But there’s something about the team that isn’t attractive to me.
Let’s start with what is though–that rotation. I actually have them ranked second in the entire league in the starting rotation category. A huge portion of what has them there is the two offseason acquisitions AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia. Sabathia has basically been declared the ace of the staff, recieving the starting job for both opening day in Baltimore and the home opener against the Indians. How can you not call him the ace? He did things last season for the Brewers that really no one even dreamed of. His arm and determination picked up that team and carried them into their short stay in October. Then there’s Burnett. Moving across the division from a team that could have won the division maybe if they were in the Central, to a team that has had the potential to win the division for the past 15 years and counting. AJ is a huge strikeout pitcher and a great compliment to Sabathia as the number two. What could scare Yankees fans is his potential for injury. He gets hurt all the time. He also has been known to pitch his best during contract seasons. My thought of Burnett is, his ERA will probably hover around 4.50 and when he’s fully healthy–then he’ll win you ballgames.
Chien-Ming Wang will also be pitching a full season this time around. Hopefully interleague play doesn’t cause him injuries again. He needs to regain some of the control he lost last season before the injury if he wants to make a big contribution to this team.This spring he has done a nice job thus far posting a 3.24 ERA in 16 innings while walking two and striking out seven. Andy Pettite, who turns 37 this season, should give the Yankees reliability as he returns. The fifth starter looks like it will be Joba Chamberlain (for now). They could make him a reliever by May, then a starter by July, then a reliever again by September, perhaps with some injuries in between. Just kidding. But in all seriousness, they need to settle on a role for this guy and stop messing with his arm.
Mariano Rivera anchors a bullpen that isn’t all too great. I feel like Rivera is never going to change. He’s always going to be this good. Damaso Marte had a nice strikeout rate last season in 65 innings but posted an ERA over 4.00. Edwar Ramirez looks like he will be the set up man. Although he has good stuff, he also has some control problems. Jose Veras also has control problems, but should make the 25 man roster. A highlight other than Rivera is Brian Bruney. In 32 games last season, Bruney posted a 1.83 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP and almost a strikeout per inning. The bullpen certainly has the potential to be effective, a few pitchers just need to establish their control first and cut down on the walks.
Then there’s the lineup. Some love it. Some hate it. Without Alex Rodriguez, I’m one of those haters. It’s getting to the point where Jorge Posada will have to rest more often, and Yankees fans shouldn’t like Jose Molina playing twice a week for their team. Moving on to Robinson Cano. If he’s supposed to be your top of the lineup guy, he should have an OBP higher than .305.
Captain Jeter. Still one of the best at going the other way with the ball but has become one of the worst fielding shortstops in the league and didn’t have a great WBC. Pertaining to bad fielders, let’s talk about Johnny Damon. He can still hit for .300, as he proved last season–but with Hideki Matsui in the DH role, it’s going to be an adventure in left field at New Yankee Stadium. It seems as if the quietest player with a huge bat in this lineup is Xavier Nady. He drove in 97 runs last year, so don’t overlook him. He’s basically won the rightfield spot (as if the .220 hitting Nick Swisher was putting up a legitimate fight). The centerfield job seems to have gone to Brett Gardner (who has Michael Bourn syndrome). He’s fast, but he’ll only get the Yanks the steals once he gets on base. Really though, anything is better than Melky Cabrera.
All hail the Bombers’ Savior, Mark Texeira. Big Tex has switched uniforms the past couple seasons at a good rate and should find some comfort in staying in one place. He’s a sure thing MVP candidate if he can carry this team until Alex Rodriguez returns. Ugh… Alex Rodriguez. Well we’ll see what Cody Ransom’s really got. He’s having a decent spring, leading the Yankees in at bats and hitting .286. He’s not going to come anywhere close to A-Rod production but it’s only for the start of the season.
Until A-Rod comes back, maybe May, the Yanks need to try to go at least .500 in that span. There’s just something about this team that I don’t like. I know I know, “what’s not to like?” Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up watching the dynasty Yankees. And hating them. This just isn’t the same. I say Wild Card champs.
Season Preview: Milwaukee Brewers
Projected MLB Rank: 19th — NL Rank: 12th — NL Central Rank: 4th — Record: (78-84)
Only five months ago, the Brewers were playing October baseball. They suffered a first round exit to the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, but making it that far could have been considered a success. They were lead by pitchers CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets into October. Well this year, Sabathia and Sheets aren’t in the rotation, and despite the great lineup, take a look at their rotation now.
Twenty-three year old Yovani Gallardo is being considered their ace. He is a great young hurler but is still very young. In 21 career starts he is 9-4 with a 3.38 ERA. Righty Dave Bush
is a solid pitcher, but I don’t think he’s a number two. He was 9-10 last season with a 4.18 ERA, but keeps a low WHIP (1.14). Jeff Suppan is a reliable starter (injury wise). At 34 years old, Suppan will get you 10-12 wins with a ERA hovering around 5.00. Braden Looper joins the club this season after going 12-14 with a 4.16 ERA last season for the Cardinals. Twenty-six year old Manny Parra rounds out the staff and made huge strides last season to become a reliable pitcher, especially after his second half.
The bullpen is so-so. Although it is hard to argue with Trevor Hoffman, who at 40 years old last season, recorded 30 saves. I wonder when the offseason acquisition will run out of gas though. Carlos Villanueva seems better as a reliever than a starter. David Riske had a 5.31 ERA in 45 relief appearences last season. Journeyman Jorge Julio joins the Brewcrew this season and brings in a player with closing experience. Seth McClung has potential to join the rotation at the start of the season but had a nice year in the bullpen last year. Lefty Mitch Stetter had a great 2008 coming out of the bullpen as the lefty specialist.
Milwaukee has probably the second best lineup in the division behind the Cubs and one of the top in the league. Rickie Weeks and JJ Hardy start it up at the top of the lineup. Weeks can steal you bases but doesn’t hit for high average. Hardy is a great number two hitter who has some pop (24 homeruns, 74 RBIs). The middle of the lineup is a great young combo in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Both had over 30 homeruns and 100 RBIs last season and should improve on those numbers this year. Corey Hart also chipped in with 91 RBIs.
Mike Cameron hit leadoff in the playoffs last season and provides some power threat if he’s put at the top of the lineup, but like Weeks, didn’t hit for a high average. Jason Kendall and Bill Hall are also in the same low-average boat. Craig Counsell and Mike Lamb provide some nice veteran experience off the bench and can platoon all over the infield if injuries come up or someone starts struggling.
When I look at this lineup, I think playoff contender. Then I take a look at the rotation and it doesn’t look like a bunch of pitchers that can even keep a team in contention. The Brewers had a deadly 1-2 combo last season, and not having them will definately show this season. Finishing over .500 might be a better goal for this team.