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.
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.
Season Preview: New York Mets
Projected MLB Rank: 6th — NL Rank: 4th — NL East Rank: 2nd — Record: (91-71)
National League Wild Card Winners
There is potential in the New York Mets this season. Potential to have great success. Potential to fail and fall flat on their faces. I’m sure if the bullpen backfires, Omar Minaya will be gone. And will never even return to within 100 miles of the new Citi Field. But this year will the be they blow it again or succeed and finally make it to October?
Minaya went out this past offseason and, we’ve heard it all before, turned a weakness into a strength. He signed closer Francisco Rodriguez to a huge deal and traded for closer JJ Putz to come in and be the setup man. Putz last season posted a 3.88 ERA and saved 15 games for the Mariners with a nice strikeout rate but I think he has the potential to start blowing saves. At times, he didn’t look too confident in the WBC and that may continue into the season. As for K-Rod, we all know what he did last season, saving a record 62 games while posting a 2.24 ERA with over ten strikeouts per nine innings. His WHIP has been gradually rising the past few seasons and at the end of last season he lost some velocity on the fastball and was mainly throwing his biting curve. I can see both pitchers succeeding in their roles on the Mets, or failing.
We all know about the rest of the Mets bullpen
The rotation on the other hand has it’s high points, then there’s some low points as well. Southpaw perennial Cy Young candidate Johan Santana leads the way as he went 16-7 last season with a 2.53 ERA and he topped 200 strikeouts for the fifth season in a row. Number two starter Mike Pelfrey solidified himself at the end of last summer as a consistent starter after he was so shaky in the beginning of the year. He posted a 3.72 ERA and we’ll find out what he’s really made of this season.
Another lefty, Oliver Perez, seems to not really pitch well against anyone–except the Phillies. Well he’s back and I expect him to go 1-8 with a 5.22 ERA against the Nats, Marlins, and Braves but go 2-0 with a 1.79 ERA against the Fightins. Righthander John Maine, who seemed a couple years ago to be a front of the rotation guy, has seemed to go backwards. Before injury last season, he posted a 4.18 ERA in 25 starts. Then there’s Livan Hernandez, I don’t know what to expect from him. Last season, he had a 6.05 ERA with a WHIP that reached a mile high. But he’s not one to get injured, so you could call him reliable.
The lineup looks really legitimate, until you get past the fifth hitter. Ryan Church, Luis Castillo, and Brian Schneider aren’t guys that I believe will help the Mets get to the playoffs. If anything, they hurt the team because none are the players that they once were. Someone unexpected who may help though, is leftfielder Daniel Murphy. The 25 year old hit .313 last season in 49 games and ripped the ball apart in the spring as he hit .363 with 15 RBIs, 6 doubles, and two stolen bases.
Then there’s the rest of the Mets, the household names. The perennial chokers. Jose Reyes, who is one of the best base-stealers and leadoff men in the league. Carlos Delgado, who carried the team at one point last season and tallied MVP caliber numbers, but he’s getting older. Carlos Beltran, who can flat out hit, hasn’t brought the Mets a World Series championship to the Mets. Then there’s David Wright. The attention grabber. The guy that FOX likes to take, and place on top of the world, and treat him like a lowercase god. It’s not that I hate David Wright as a person, I hate the fact that he gets the amount of attention he does while not leading his team to greatness yet. When it comes down to it though, he is a great hitter and I would still take him at the hot corner any day on the Phils.
Overall, the Mets still haven’t proven anything, to anyone. I could even see this team missing the playoffs, after what I’ve seen the past two years. Until proven else, the Phillies are the “team to beat” in this division, and will continue to be just that. Because of the upgrades made in the bullpen, how could I leave them out of the playoffs? But, I could totally see this team missing October for the third year in a row. As much as I wish Cole Hamels would just write down what he wants to say, so we wouldn’t hear his voice, he’s right when he calls the Muts “choke-artists.”