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: 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.
The game is our national pastime. No matter what people say about how it’s losing its touch, there are just countless reasons as to why it is better than any sport in the world. The idea for this post came to me today after I watched my beloved Eagles tie the Cincinnati Bengals. As I left the TV after Donovan McNabb couldn’t find a home for a hail mary post-Shayne Graham missed field goal, I thought about just one of the many reasons why baseball is America’s true pastime: Two teams cannot tie (okay forget the Milwaukee All Star Game). Someone is always better on a given day. The game can theoretically go on for days and even longer. The longest professional game ever was a Triple-A game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings in 1981. The ‘PawSox’ won 3-2 in 33 innings. That game featured hall-of-famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Wade Boggs.
So reason #1: No Ties.
Reason #2: Length of the season. Some complain about how the season is too long, but that only gives more accuracy as to who the best teams in each division are.
Reason #3: Tradition. No sport has a tradition quite like baseball. I could go on forever with this.
Reason #4: No time limit. There’s no clock. The longest game ever recorded time-wise was an 8 hour and six minute affair in which the Chicago White Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 in 25 innings. You cannot put a limit on the game
Reason #5: Variation of situations. There are countless situations that a baseball player can be in, and in the seconds that a play occurs they have to make quick decisions. More recently, Chase Utley in part two of game five on the Akinori Iwamura groundball where he threw out Jason Bartlett at home and countless, countless other situations.
Reason #6: Walk-offs. I think the walk-off is one of the most exciting times in the game. The game is over like that. It beats a game winning field goal, touchdown, goal, or basket any day of the week. Bill Mazeroski, Kirk Gibson, Joe Carter (sadly), Chris Chambliss, Chris Burke, Edgar Renteria, Luis Gonzalez, and many many others.
Reason #7: Lack of a salary cap. You can’t limit how much a team can buy. But, when a low-market, low-salary team comes through and becomes successful, it makes the game look even more genuine through the paradox (i.e. ’08 Tampa Bay Rays).
Reason #8: No-hitters and Perfect games. For a pitcher to go out there every inning and not let up a hit all game is one of the most miraculous feats in professional sports, if not the most miraculous. I was at the Kevin Millwood no hitter and it is one of the most unbelievable things I have ever witnessed.
Reason #9: Variation of ballparks and field dimensions. It gives fans more appreciation and pride in their ballpark. It is not limited to 100 yards and two endzones or baseline to baseline. No one cannot limit the way a parks dimensions are set up within that 90 degree angle. From the Polo Grounds deep center to the Minute Maid hill to the Green Monster, each and every stadium is original.
Reason #10: Trek to the majors. From the Rookie Gulf Coast League to the Single-A Short Season New York-Penn League to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, the players in the majors are only the best of the best of the best… of the best.
These are only ten of countless reasons. You cannot limit the reasons, you cannot limit the game to anything. That’s what makes it the best game in the world.