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.
Season Preview: Texas Rangers
Projected MLB Rank: 20th — AL Rank: 8th — AL West Rank: 3rd — Record: (77-85)
It’s hard to argue with the most runs per game (5.56) and the highest team average (.283) in the league as not the best lineup. So I won’t, because I do believe that this is the best lineup in the league.
Secondbaseman Ian Kinsler is a star in the league and he got things started for this lineup last year. He was sidelined last year for the end of the season and still drove home 71 runs from the leadoff spot. He has the rare combo of power and speed and should bat leadoff again for Texas if rookie phenom Elvis Andrus doesn’t. Andrus hasn’t yet played a game in the majors, but will start the season as the the shortstop for this club. He may not have the average for the leadoff spot, but he definately has the speed. He should have 30 or more steals by season’s end.
Andrus’ welcome to majors included moving regular shortstop, Michael Young, to third base. Last year, Young drove home 82 while posting a .339 OBP. Expect big numbers from Josh Hamilton again. He dropped off after the all star break last year but I expect him to do the same thing he did last year (.304/32/130). Firstbaseman Chris Davis should have a huge year after he hit 17 homeruns and drove in 55 runs in only half a season last year. The big lefty also slugged .549.
I would also expect Nelson Cruz to continue hitting well after he hit .330 last season in a short-term with the club. The other corner outfielder, David Murphy should also continue to produce no matter where he is put in the order. Also, keep an eye on the competition at catcher between youngsters Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. I expect a platoon between the two going into the season.
If only they could get some pitching help. Kevin Millwood is their ace. Uh oh. He went 9-10 last year with a 5.07 ERA and isn’t exactly getting younger. Same case with the number two starter Vicente Padilla, 14-8 with a 4.74 ERA. Lefty Matt Harrison is a quality starter, but first we need to see how he does for a full season. The injury-happy Brandon McCarthy still has yet to prove himself. Then there’s righty Jason Jennings. I’ll leave it at that.
The bullpen, anchored by closer Frank Francisco, is subpar. CJ Wilson’s ERA last season was over 6.00. Eddie Guardado is 38 years old. Then, there’s Derrick Turnbow, shall I go on?
I am a firm believer in pitching, pitching, pitching. The best offense in the league last year could only muster up 79 wins. So until the pitching decides to show up, expect more of the same from the Rangers.
With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than three days to Florida and Arizona, I’ll be writing about some of the players I think will breakout this season.
1B Chris Davis Texas Rangers
This 6 foot 4 first baseman had a productive rookie campaign. He had 17 homeruns and 55 RBIs in 80 games with a .285 average. He slugged .549 which was higher than teammates Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, and Josh Hamilton.
When the season starts he will be 23. In the minors in 2007 he totaled 36 homeruns and 118 RBIs with the single-A Bakersfield Blaze and the double-A Frisco RoughRiders. Last season with Frisco and the Oklahoma RedHawks he hit 23 homeruns and had 73 RBIs before getting called up to the big leagues.
A majority of his at-bats were in the seven or eight spot in the lineup and I imagine he would move up in the lineup this season. Maybe to the six spot in the lineup pending where fellow lefties Hank Blalock and David Murphy are placed. Hamilton will likely bat third or fourth. It all depends on where phenom shortstop Elvis Andrus is placed in the lineup (I imagine leadoff or 2). Kinsler will bat wherever Andrus doesn’t. Young could bat third with Hamilton fourth. With all those great hitters in front of him, Davis will get a lot of chances to produce for the Rangers. Unless the others drive home the men on base first. Either way, we will hear good things about Chris Davis in 2009.