The Gold Glove Awards have been announced over the past two days and Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino have won their third and second, respectively. In my last post I stated who I should get the award in each league. Four of my nine American League guesses were right (Erick Aybar was robbed though) and I missed on two of the nine National League spots. I was debating on whether or not to put Freddy Sanchez or Orlando Hudson at second and I chose Sanchez because Hudson lost his job at the end of the season.
But, nice work Vic and Jimmy. These two guys do a really nice job in the field and come up with some spectacular plays here and there but their biggest strength in the field is that neither make mistakes. Victorino was tied for the league lead in least centerfield errors with only one and Rollins lead all National League shortstops in fielding percentage.
And each everyday Phillies starter has a decent glove which is one of the best parts about watching this team. Ryan Howard, perhaps the weakest glove, really stepped it up this season and didn’t commit as many errors (and I think he had the most “web gem” points for a first basemen too). But when you go around the field and look at each guy, there’s really no mystery out there as to whether or not they’ll make a play.
Carlos Ruiz is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. I think he may have had only one passed ball all year long and if it weren’t for the likes of Yadier Molina in the NL, Carlos might be winning these Rawlings awards. Chase Utley is also one of the best at fielding his position and he is one of the most heads up fielders in the league as well. Pedro Feliz has one of the more solid gloves and stronger arms in the league from the hot corner (and I’d like him to be back next year in some ways, just for his glove). Raul Ibanez has a decent arm out in left and if it weren’t for injuries this past season, his range could have been better. Then I think Jayson Werth has one of the most underrated arms in the league and well as good range with those long strides.
Congrats again to all the Gold Glove winners.
AND this is my 100th entry. I’ve been off and on writing on this over the past year and at times I forget that I have this thing. So thanks to the few that may read this junk.
Today the American League Gold Glove Awards will be announced, here are my picks for the AL and National League.
C: Gerald Laird
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Placido Polanco
3B: Melvin Mora
SS: Erick Aybar
OF: Carl Crawford
OF: Torii Hunter
OF: Adam Jones
P: Kevin Millwood
C: Yadier Molina
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Freddy Sanchez
3B: Ryan Zimmerman
SS: Jimmy Rollins
OF: Matt Kemp
OF: Shane Victorino
OF: Jeff Francoeur
P: Adam Wainwright
I’m here on my family vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. And I had some downtime so I figured rather than sleep or look at the clouds that are eye level outside our mountain house, I would blog.
And okay, caught me, I said I wouldn’t be posting again until I got back to school, but.. I am. I figured I would post some of my predictions for the rest of the season. Note: These are my predictions as of August 5th, I reserve the right to change my mind as the season progresses, after all–it is my blog.
The NL West goes to the Dodgers, that was hard.
The Phillies are in quite a slump. They’re not hitting, not pitching all too well, and making an error here and there. The greeting card sitting at Cliff Lee‘s locker when he arrived at CBP Tuesday might have read: “Welcome to town, Mr. Lee! We’ll continue to win once every fifth day when you’re out on the mound and maybe not even win then, if our offense doesn’t get going!” Lets hope that Lee didn’t bring the funk that the whole Cleveland Indians team is going through to Philly. I’m just playing around, teams go through valleys and reach mountain peaks throughout the season and I’m hoping the Phils are just in a small valley. My guess is that the Phils don’t suffer from Tribe Syndrome, turn it around in the coming week, and win the NL East.
If the Rangers had more than Dustin Nippert and Kevin Millwood then I would seriously consider them in the West over the Angels. But since they don’t, I got the Halos.
One of the best races to watch may be that AL Central. It is going to come down to what pitching staff steps up and holds off each opponent because the Tigers, White Sox, and Twins all scrap until the end to win baseball games. I love the punches Buerhle, Danks, and Floyd but the combination of Mauer and Morneau is lethal as well. So lets knock off who leads the division right now, the Detroit Tigers. They’re near the back of the AL in a bunch of categories and in the long haul, that won’t get you to the playoffs. So if its White Sox vs. Twins, advantage: Twins. They are 7-5 against the ChiSox this year.
The case for the Colorado Rockies (in a few sentences):
They have the pitching finally as their rotation has really come together this season even when Jeff Francis went down before the season started. Seth Smith and Dexter Fowler are maturing in the majors. They’ve always had the middle-of-the-lineup bats to drive in the guys that get on base before them. Todd Helton is healthy. They have more home games left than any other NL contender. They’re my NL wild card pick.
Why not the Giants?
This makes me feel like a HUGE hypocrite. I usually am all about pitching. Pitching wins, pitching wins, pitching wins. That’s what I lay my baseball foundation on. The Giants have one of the best staffs in the National League. AND they just upgraded their awful offense AND they’re now scoring runs. They do have some great young players but I’m not sure that I can see this team playing in October. Maybe because I’ve never seen Freddy Sanchez there. Haha. Speaking of which…
Poor Pirates fans. But only the Pirates fans because Pittsburgh’s won two other championships this year. Jerry Crasnick, of ESPN.com, wrote a great article about the dismantling of this team here: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=crasnick_jerry&id=4373943.
Lets get to the touchy subject, the AL East. The Red Sox own the Yankees this year, but the Rays own the Red Sox, but the Yankees lead the division. Huh? Yea, this is a tough division to choose. The Yankees score 0.29 more runs per game than the Red Sox and 0.32 more than the Rays. The Sox ERA is 0.06 better than the Rays and 0.39 better than the Yanks. My guess is that the Yanks lose their game and a half lead to the Red Sox.
Then since the Yankees play in a park where an everyday flyout to right is homerun, I say they win the wild card. Followed closely by Tampa Bay who put themselves in too big of a hole to start to season. My same reasoning for why the Rangers don’t win the West is the same reasoning I’m using here for the wild card.
This may be preaching to the choir, but the Cardinals really bolstered their lineup at the deadline. It is a top tier NL lineup now. As long as the pitching keeps the Cards in games I see the additions of Mark DeRosa, Julio Lugo, and Matt Holliday paying off and getting the Cards into October. Sorry Cubbies.
So as of now, my playoff pairings guess goes:
Twins at Red Sox
Rockies at Phillies
Yankees at Angels
Cardinals at Dodgers
Season Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates
Projected MLB Rank: 25th — NL Rank: 14th — NL Central Rank: 6th — Record: (71-91)
The Pirates haven’t had a winning season since they made the playoffs in 1992. In fact, the Pirates haven’t won over 70 games since 2004. Well this season, things are looking up for the team that has struggled for years. Things are sure not looking up too far, but the Pirates seem to be taking steps in right direction.
For a team that has been called, the farm system for the rest of the MLB teams, this past offseason they actually signed a couple guys to semi-long-term contracts. All Star centerfielder Nate McLouth signed a three year deal with an option for 2012. Left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm also signed a contract that runs through 2012. Maholm is becoming a very reliable pitcher for the Pirates and is considered their ace.
Then there’s Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson. The staple Pirates should both rebound from off years last season as Sanchez should bring his .271 average back up and Wilson should play a full season if he doesn’t start sharing time with prospect Brian Bixler. There’s also Adam LaRoche. A solid hitter who will give you 80-90 RBIs a season.
Who else is on this team that will continue to develop and hopefully help the Pirates compete a few years down the line? Let’s Meet the Pirates–
Catcher Ryan Doumit
This 27-year old really took advantage of a bad start from Ronnie Paulino and solidified the catching job as his. Now he’s their starter and he should continue to hit well. Last season he hit .318 with 15 homeruns and 69 RBIs along with 34 doubles. He’s always had hitting talent, just never the durability to be the starter. Now, he is the starter.
Starting Pitcher Jeff Karstens
Coming to the ‘Burgh in the Xavier Nady trade, Karstens is a quality starter and should make the rotation this season. He doesn’t strikeout many batters but he has good control of his pitches.
Rightfielder Brandon Moss
Coming off knee surgery this season, the Pirates say that Moss is their starting rightfielder. Once he plays a full season, he will probably give the Pirates 20 homeruns and a .280 average.
Reliever Tyler Yates
This righthanded pitcher is one of the best in the league coming out of the bullpen against righties, holding them to a .224 average. He throws hard and should be a solid setup man for closer Matt Capps.
Outfielder Steve Pearce
Slated right now as the fourth outfielder for Pittsburgh. The righthanded hitter should compete for the starting job in either corner outfield spot this spring. Last September, he came up and connected for four homeruns and has attractive power potential.
Thirdbaseman Andy LaRoche
Another product of a trade last season, Adam’s brother hit very well in the minors. But in 49 games with the Pirates he hit an awful .166 with 5 homers and 18 RBIs. Look for him to improve this season.
Reliever John Grabow
Grabow, at 30 years old, had a great season coming out of the bullpen for the Pirates in 2008. He held a 2.84 ERA and the lefty can pitch well to lefties and righties.
Utilityman Eric Hinske
You all saw him at end of the World Series against Brad Lidge’s dirty slider. A great addition in the offseason, Hinske will come off the bench. He hit 20 homeruns and drove in 60 last year for the Rays, so expect solid production numbers if he gets the at-bats.
Those are only a few of many Pirates trying to make a difference in Pittsburgh this season. I do think that this team will eventually compete. Just not this season, or next season. But I think reaching 70 wins should be step one for the Buccos in 2009.