It’s finals week here and I find myself studying a bunch, but currently I’m procrastinating. Took the first final early this morning and now I have three more to go. I cannot wait to get back home for the summer. I have tickets to one of the Dodgers/Phils games at The Park next week. I’ll get to see Manny come to town along with that solid Dodgers team. But anyways…
While I’m on my study “break” (I call it a break because I plan on doing this post, and then watching the Sox/Yanks game tonight, so really it’s a four or so hour break), I’ll give you the team of my favorite players that I’ve watched during my lifetime. I’m in the team forming mode so here it goes.
– Team consists of a player at each position, five starting pitchers, and two relievers, and a manager
– Each player is my favorite at that position
– Each player will have played since 1990 (my year of birth) but I don’t remember the early 90’s so most likely a little later than that
– No DH (since the Phils are in the NL and pitchers should hit anyways)
– And other rules that I can’t think of right now
THE “MY FAVORITE PLAYERS” TEAM
Catcher Joe Mauer
This guy can catch and hit for average? Sign him up. A career .319 hitter, Mauer has a great approach at the plate and a career OBP over .400 and he’s back from injury now (which is good, he’s on my fantasy team). He beat out Mike Lieberthal and Charles Johnson here.
Firstbase Jim Thome
In an era where all the players reaching the 500 homerun club are accused of performance-enhancers, we have the players like Thome who are just pure power. My dad was a fan of Thome when he was still with the Tribe, so I followed his liking and then he ended up coming to Philly for three or so years. He’s slugged 545 total homers in his career and keeps on going with the White Sox today. The runner up here is Todd Helton.
Secondbase Chase Utley
When there are so many great secondbasemen in the game today, Utley is called by many, the best of them all, and I agree. He’s been all the hype since he came up to the big leagues with the Phils in 2003 and hasn’t dissapointed. With the quick swing and a great approach to the plate, I’ll have Utley over any secondbaseman on my team. Luis Castillo and Brian Roberts were also considered–but it was really no contest.
Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra
He was my second ever “most favorite player” while playing short for the Sox. I’ve followed him as far back as I can remember. With the Red Sox, he hit .323 and was the batting champion twice. He’s the reason my favorite number is five. From ’96 Rookie of the Year to today, Nomar’s the man.
Thirdbase Cal Ripken Jr.
The only current Hall of Famer on this team, is Ripken. I know he was a shortstop for most of his career, but as far as I can remember, he’s a thirdbaseman. One of my most favorite baseball moments ever is when he hit a homerun in his last All Star Game in 2001. Mike Lowell is the runner-up here.
Leftfield Jeff Conine
He was my very first “favorite player.” As far as I know, I’ve been a Conine fan since I’ve been a baseball fan. Supposively when I was five or six, my dad took me to a Marlins/Phils game at The Vet and Jeff Conine hit a homerun that game and I decided he was my favorite player. It is only fitting that he was with the Marlins both times they won the World Series. There was no way Pat Burrell would top Conine here, but he’s also up there.
Centerfield Shane Victorino
I’ll say it over and over and over again, Victorino is a winner. I love the way he plays the outfield. He gets one of the best jumps on the ball in the entire league. He’s also always coming up big when we need him most, he’s clutch. Juan Pierre was also in contention in center.
Rightfield Brad Hawpe
This former pitcher-turned-outfielder has a cannon from right field. He can hit the ball real well too, its not just the thin air in Denver that carries the ball because he hits just as well on the road as he does at home. Hawpe’s a hitter.
Starting Pitcher Josh Beckett
My current “favorite major leaguer” is Beckett. He played a huge role in the 2003 Championship in Florida and everytime he was on the mound, I knew the Marlins were going to win. When healthy, he has some of the nastiest stuff in the league and isn’t afraid to knock anyone back with a fastball.
Starting Pitcher Curt Schilling
Pitched a while for Phils and I got his autograph at a Commerce Bank opening. Then we traded him to Arizona where he went on to win a World Series with the Dbacks. Then he went on to Boston where he was a clutch pitcher in the playoffs, season, bloody sock, bogged by injuries, and so on. He’s a Hall of Famer to me.
Starting Pitcher Roy Halladay
This guy is one of my favorite pitchers in baseball. In an age where complete games are far a few between, Halladay goes the distance like its in his contract. I wish I could have been alive during the days where pitchers were expected to throw complete games, because I feel like that’s the way it was supposed to be. I respect Halladay because he pitches the right way.
Starting Pitcher Randy Wolf
How can you not love Randy Wolf and the Wolf Pack? A Phillie for most of his career, Wolf has become one of those players that I like to always check up on and find out how he’s doing.
Starting Pitcher Cole Hamels
Young King Cole and his dirty changeup lead the Phils through the playoffs last season. He has great tempo on the mound and has solid mechanics. This year, he has just been the unluckiest pitcher in baseball. I’m looking for him to have a great career (knock on wood).
Other Starters that were up there are Greg Maddux, Brett Myers, and Josh Johnson.
Relief Pitcher Brad Lidge
After what he did last season, how could he not be my most favorite reliever in the entire game. He was perfect, echoing the Phillies perfect season. When he fell to his knees after striking out Eric Hinske to end the World Series, it instantly became my favorite baseball moment, ever.
Relief Pitcher Jonathan Papelbon
This guy is such a character. He has the perfect mentality for the closer role. He’s crazy. Sometimes you have to be to be a closer. Papelbonfire.
Manager Charlie Manuel
Come to me before last postseason and I would have told you Jack McKeon. But Charlie proved to Philly and all its fans that he cares about and loves the fans. He knows a heck of a lot about hitting. Charlie brought a Championship back to the city. Lets do it again!
There’s my favorites of my MLB memory.
Last night, in what appeared to be another offense-less loss, the Phils came back in the ninth down 3-0 as Matt Lindstrom imploded in South Florida. Shane Victorino and Chase Utley capped the top-ninth comeback with a grand slam and solo shot, respectively.
Then tonight, entering the ninth down 4-3, the Phils manufactured the one run they needed to tie it up. They then scored two in the top of the tenth and Brad Lidge earned the save in the bottom-tenth.
So in two consecutive nights, the Phillies entered the ninth down, and two night in a row, they find a way to pull out the win. Well, we’re not the Fightin’ Phils for nothing.
Random Notes on the first two games of the series:
Emilio Bonifacio has fallen back to earth, in this series, he’s gone 0-for-8 with two walks and five strikeouts. Keeping the leadoff man to a .200 OBP definately has played into keeping the Phils in these games thus far.
Brad Lidge still looks shaky yet still gets it done. He claims to have found what caused the blow-up against San Diego, but tonight he struck out the first two, and then loaded up the bases before getting Cody Ross to strike out. He still is having trouble locating his pitches, and its clear.
Shane Victorino is a winner. He’s clutch and comes up big when you need him to. The grand slam the other night was great and then he singled tonight in the tenth to start up the rally to score him as the go ahead run.
Utley just seems to be having some trouble with the breaking ball. Last night against Josh Johnson and tonight against Chris Volstad, he’s whiffed at some breaking pitches.
Chan Ho ‘Outta The’ Park homered tonight to help himself. He also went a rare Chan Ho seven innings. He’s usually good for five or six, rarely seven, so that was reassuring to see. By the way, he pitched well in the seventh.
Sooner or later, Jorge Cantu will have to be put on the DL. Everytime he swings, he cringes because of his wrist. It’s not going to magically get better.
You know it’s bad when Jimmy Rollins goes 1-for-5 and his average rises. Once he gets going, so will the offense. And he will get going, he just needs to find it again.
In two innings this series, Ryan Madson has struck out five. He’s definately worked out his kinks.
It’s awesome to see fans in Florida (even if 1,500 or so are dogs). I think they’ve come near 30,000 each of the past two nights.
Charlie Manuel was ejected tonight, respect the Charlie.
We’re back to .500 now, let’s go for the sweep tomorrow.
By the way, the Sox/Yanks series has been awesome.
THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES SELECT…
Jeremy Maclin? Why? We don’t need a Jeremy Maclin. He’s a great wideout but Brandon Pettigrew was still on the board! Why wouldn’t you take the best tight end in the draft?! Oh well, maybe they got something planned, but who knows. I don’t know too much about LeSean McCoy, but I’ve heard good things. I really wanted Knowshon Moreno, but went way early to Denver around pick 12.
Don’t even start with the Flyers.
In each of the last two games against the Brewers, the Phils have mustered a hefty one run in each game off solo shots. Two days ago, Jayson Werth took a ninth inning pitch long for a homerun to keep the Brewcrew from shutting out the Phillies. Then yesterday, Matt Stairs kept the Phils from getting shutout AND getting no hit, all in one swing, with a shot that went off the foul pole.
The offense has struggled the past two games to manufacture runs and last game, they struggled to even get on base via base hits. Over the past two games the Phils are hitting .164 (10-for-61).
Well, don’t expect much better tonight in Florida as the Phils face up against righthander Josh Johnson. Johnson (2-0) goes for his third win in his fourth start after starting the season dominating his first two starts against Washington and the Mets. His third start, however, wasn’t too impressive when the Nats got a second look at the 2009 Johnson, roughing him up for six runs in six innings.
I’m hoping the Phils can take advantage of a Johnson off a bad start and Johnson, being a righty, may be hit by the lefty-heavy filled Phils lineup. But Johnson, who can strikeout hitters, may take advantage of a free swinging Phils team.
When Cole Hamels went down yesterday off the linedrive back at him from Prince Fielder, I was initially worried. My panic level rose rapidly. Especially when Fielder was the one who hit the ball, one of the hardest hitting hitters in the league. When he swings, he really swings. But last night, I heard that the ball went off the meaty part of his back shoulder and that he may not even miss his next start. I was scared of a DL stint, and apparently, that isn’t going to be happening.
This Marlins series is the Phillies first real test of the season. The Fish, coming off the wrong side of a sweep against the Pirates, are hungry for their first win of the workweek. The Phils, with a struggling offense, look to cut down the Marlins division lead even further.
Here’s my Keys to the Series
-No easy pitches to Phillies hitters
-Take the extra bases
-Look to hit the longball
-Find a way on base
-Continue to play good defense
-Avoid giving up the longball
Tonight Brett Myers takes the ball against Johnson. Tomorrow night, Chan Ho Park starts against young stud righthander Chris Volstad. Then on Sunday, Jamie Moyer will toe the rubber against what was supposed to be Andrew Miller, but now that he’s on the DL, maybe Anibal Sanchez will start.
PHREAKIN’ PHUN WEEKEND
Not only do we have the Phils/Marlins series this weekend, but all four Philadelphia teams are in action this weekend. The Flyers played great last night and Marty Biron had a heck of a game. The Sixers play two at home this weekend against the Magic, coming into the Philly with the series tied–and a nervous Magic team. The Eagles got the draft Saturday, and at pick twenty-one I’m really hoping the Birds get Knowshon Moreno. We got Yanks/Sox this weekend on TV Saturday and Sunday. Tons of playoff basketball and hockey. Not to mention a sick weather weekend, and I’ll be going golfing Saturday morning. Here’s the schedule, not that anyone cares, but I’ll post it anyways:
7pm — Phils at Marlins
8pm — Magic at Sixers
Teeing it up
3pm — Pens at Flyers
4pm — NFL Draft
7pm — Phils at Marlins
12pm — Phils at Marlins
6pm — Magic at Sixers
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.
We just had our fantasy draft. There are 16 teams in our league and I had the 11th pick. There are 25 spots on each roster. Before I list my team, here are the categories that we have in our league:
Hitting categories: R, H, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OPS
Pitching categories: W, CG, SHO, SV, K, HLD, ERA, WHIP
Round 1: Ian Kinsler 2B – Kinsler does it all and even drives in runs out of the leadoff spot (71 RBIs last season). He hits for a high average and steals bases.
Round 2: Lance Berkman 1B – He’s got a great bat as he can hit over .300 and get you over 100 RBIs and possibly 30 homeruns.
Round 3: Roy Halladay SP – The first starting pitcher I took. All the other studs were gone. I thought getting him was a bargain in the third round due to the fact our league uses complete games and shutouts as a category.
Round 4: Joe Mauer C – Catcher is a thin position. So I went with Mauer. Despite injury potential, you cannot argue with over a .300 batting average.
Round 5: Chris Davis 1B/3B – If you read my blog, you know that I’m all about this kid. He’s a big lefty and can hit and he had a great half a season last year. And especially in this lineup, he will drive in runs.
Round 6: Joakim Soria RP – I seemed to be at the end of the stud closer run and Soria was the last one left. I’m just hoping he can reproduce his 2008 totals.
Round 7: Rich Harden SP
Round 8: Chris Young OF – Young has that rare combo of power and speed.
Round 9: Mike Aviles SS – I’m hoping Aviles can build upon the great rookie campaign he had in Kansas City. (.325/10HR/51RBI)
Round 10: Josh Johnson SP – Did a nice job last season in his 14 starts (7-1).
Round 11: Clayton Kershaw SP – Would this be considered taking a gamble?
Round 12: Mike Gonzalez RP
Round 13: Adam Lind OF – This is another one of those players that, if you follow my blog, you know I like them. I assume he will be in the middle of this Blue Jays lineup this year.
Round 14: Joey Devine RP – Now, I’m hoping that Devine wins the closer job. Even if he doesn’t, we get points for holds — so I can’t be too concerned. I was suprised Devine went this late as well. Ziegler was drafted only a few picks before this.
Round 15: Jack Cust OF – I follow up one Oakland A with another. I needed some more power and production (even if Cust doesn’t post the average).
Round 16: Chris Dickerson OF – I’m hoping Dickerson will get at least some starts. He can steal and has been doing well this spring.
Round 17: Chase Headley 3B/OF
Round 18: Matt Thornton RP – He should help in the hold category (although I think the hold is a rediculous statistic — it exists).
Round 19: Casey Kotchman 1B
Round 20: Matt LaPorta 1B/OF – With so many roster spots — why not?
Round 21: Ryan Madson RP – The “bridge to Lidge” should get me some holds.
Round 22: Elvis Andrus SS
Round 23: Mark Teahen 1B/3B/OF – He’s eligible all over.
Round 24: Seth Smith OF – He probably isn’t drafted in some leagues but I like him.
Round 25: Josh Willingham OF – Finish this team off with “the hammer.”
I feel pretty good about my team considering the fact there are sixteen teams in the league. Last year I won, so let’s see if I can repeat.
Team Preview: Florida Marlins
Projected MLB Rank: 14th (t) — NL Rank: 9th (t) — NL East Rank: 3rd (t) — Record: (82-80)
The Florida Marlins may have silently become one of the biggest threats in the National League. The team’s built of young stars with a lethal combo of electric arms and powerful bats. I would not be suprised at all if they ended up playing playoff baseball–if they could stay healthy.
It starts with their studded young rotation. Ricky Nolasco solidified himself last year as the ace at the end of the season, when they have two other starters that could snag that title in the future as well. Nolasco got even better as the season progressed and finished off his 2008 with a 3.52 ERA, a 15-8 record, and 186 strikeouts next to 42 walks (12 in the second half). I would consider him to be my wild card to win the Cy Young award.
Josh Johnson might be considered the ace if he was healthy last season. In 14 starts he posted seven wins and only one loss. The 25 year old also held a 3.61 ERA and struck out 77 batters. The rotation continues with who I think could be the future ace of this staff, 22 year old Chris Volstad. Volstad came up midway through last season and in 14 starts and a relief appearance he compiled a 2.88 ERA while going 6-4. He rolls groundball outs like it’s his job and should improve his strikeout/walk ratio in 2009. Anibal Sanchez certainly has big punch potential but had a rough ten starts last season. The rotation finishes off with southpaw Andrew Miller, who came over in the Cabrera/Willis trade. He should continue to develop and one day will reach his potential.
The addition of Leo Nunez will help this bullpen. Nunez posted a 2.98 ERA in 45 games last season with the Royals. He even has the potential to move into the closer role if Matt Lindstrom can’t get the job done. Lindstrom saved 5 games last season when Kevin Gregg went down at the end of the season. In 66 total games last season he had a 3.14 ERA and is currently considered Florida’s closer. The rest of the bullpen is average. Logan Kensing and Renyel Pinto both had ERA’s over 4.00 and the addition of Scott Proctor who posted a ERA over 6.00 last year isn’t exactly an improvement.
The lineup is a serious threat. Hanley Ramirez was basically a star in this league before he even played a game in the majors. Don’t be suprised if he surpasses his 33 homeruns and 67 RBIs last season now that it looks like he will be batting in the three spot. Jorge Cantu was a nice suprise last season when he hit 29 homeruns and drove in 95 runs, and he’s only 27. Expect Dan Uggla to continue this season after he hit 32 homers with 92 RBIs and a .514 slugging percentage.
Leftfielder Cody Ross is a serious homerun threat and shouldn’t have to platoon this season as he did last year. Look out for him to top his 22 homeruns and 73 RBIs. Jeremy Hermida needs to step up his game if he wants to stick around Miami, or atleast start. He is supposed to be a power and speed threat but looked nothing like that last season with 17 homeruns and six steals.
This will be the first full season for John Baker, Cameron Maybin, and Gaby Sanchez. In 61 games last season, Baker hit .299 with five homers and 32 RBIs and will probably be the Marlins starting catcher come April. Maybin probably won’t hit at the rate he did last season for the eight major league games he played (16 for 32) but he’s said to be a future all star and he’s got speed. Sanchez would be a nice option to open up the season at first base but if he isn’t ready, the Marlins shouldn’t rush him. Cantu could simply start the season at first and the Marlins deep bench could fill the hole at third with Dallas McPherson, Wes Helms, or Emilio Bonifacio.
As I mentioned earlier, I would not be suprised at all to see this team winning the Wild Card. They key is for them to stay healthy and not to strikeout as much. Fredi Gonzalez has done a nice job thus far as the Marlins manager and the league should watch out this year for this team.
Oh yea, They will be staying in Miami now too.