I just saw a segment on Baseball Tonight about the best one-two offensive punches in baseball. So here’s my top ten in order without explanation…
1. Joe Mauer / Justin Morneau MIN
2. Carlos Pena / Evan Longoria TB
3. Chase Utley / Ryan Howard PHI
4. Mark Teixiera / Alex Rodriguez NYY
5. Ryan Zimmerman / Adam Dunn WAS
6. Adam Jones / Nick Markakis BAL
7. Kevin Youkilis / Jason Bay BOS
8. Carlos Beltran / David Wright NYM
9. Michael Young / Josh Hamilton TEX
10. Ryan Braun / Prince Fielder MIL
Wild Card: Todd Helton / Brad Hawpe COL
It may be too early to vote, but I got to show appreciation to the guys off to the hot starts so I voted. Here are my all stars as of today. I’ll just give you the starters and then I’ll do a complete all star roster (my opinion) when the full rosters are revealed.
1B Kevin Youkilis
.395 5 HR 15 RBI 1 SB
2B Ian Kinsler
.322 7 HR 20 RBI 7 SB
SS Marco Scutaro
.281 5 HR 15 RBI 1 SB
3B Evan Longoria
.369 6 HR 24 RBI 1 SB
C Victor Martinez
.386 5 HR 11 RBI
OF Jason Bay
.324 5 HR 19 RBI 2 SB
OF Torii Hunter
.325 8 HR 16 RBI 1 SB
OF Nick Markakis
.381 2 HR 22 RBI
1B Albert Pujols
.337 8 HR 28 RBI 4 SB
2B Chase Utley
.342 7 HR 20 RBI 2 SB
SS Hanley Ramirez
.289 2 HR 12 RBI 3 SB
3B Ryan Zimmerman
.289 5 HR 16 RBI
C Bengie Molina
.329 4 HR 18 RBI
OF Andre Ethier
.306 5 HR 22 RBI 1 SB
OF Raul Ibanez
.359 7 HR 17 RBI 3 SB
OF Manny Ramirez
.372 5 HR 15 RBI
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: Baltimore Orioles
Projected MLB Rank: 28th — AL Rank: 13th — AL East Rank: 5th — Record: (67-95)
Playing the Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, and Blue Jays for a majority of your schedule, wouldn’t play in your favor. Well being the weakest team in the division, that’s the position the Orioles are put into this season. Prior to last season, they had the [Devil] Rays to take the bottom spot and share the woes in the AL East. But now the young Rays have proved they are an elite team in the league, winning the AL East last season.
However, if you take a look at the Rays, they came out of no where last season. So the good news for the O’s is that anything is possible and everyone’s records start at 0-0 when the first pitch of the year is thrown. Plus, they remodeled the bird this year. The Rays changed their look last year and Orioles do it this year.
This year’s Orioles possess some elite talents and some developing players. Brian Roberts has become one of the best second baseman in the game today behind Chase Utley, Ian Kinsler, and fellow AL East-er Dustin Pedrioa. The switch hitter is a career .284 hitter and scores runs and steals bases at the top of the order and gives Nick Markakis, Aubrey Huff, and Melvin Mora many chances to put runs on the board. Markakis is becoming an elite outfielder and he just signed a big contract this past offseason. Fellow outfielder, Adam Jones had a good rookie campaign while battling an injury and should continue to develop this season.
Huff quietly had a great 2008. He batted .304 with 32 homeruns and 108 RBIs. He is coming into his tenth big league season and should get his chances to produce once again in the hitter friendly Camden Yards. The two weak spots in the lineup are shortstop Cesar Izturis and catcher Gregg Zaun. Izturis is an awful hitter but will be starting at short most likely and Zaun will probably start the season as the starting catcher, barring how the highly regarded prospect Matt Wieters does in spring training. Once Wieters becomes the starting catcher and develops into the hitter they hope him to be, this lineup will become so much better.
Jeremy Guthrie leads the rotation and had a pretty good 2008 with a 3.63 ERA while going 10-12 in 30 starts. “Rookie” Koji Uehara is 33 years old and from what I hear, is past his prime but will be a solid starter for Baltimore. Lefty Chris Waters in coming into his second year. He started 11 games and went 3-5 with a 5.01 ERA so don’t expect big things. Another southpaw, Rich Hill, will hopefully be healthy this year. Radhames Liz will hope to make the rotation but needs to find his control first. Once he does that, he will become a much better pitcher because he throws hard and has a great breaking ball.
The closer’s job looks like it will be going to George Sherrill to start the year but if Chris Ray, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, shows he can handle the closer’s job again, expect him to take the job because of Sherrill’s walk ratio. Overall, the rest of the bullpen is subpar, especially in this tough division.
Now, I wouldn’t rule out fourth place this year for the Orioles, or maybe even a Raysesque run. Most likely not (hence why I have ranked them at 28) but don’t rule out Baltimore.
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Seating Capacity: 48,190
I have been to more than a few games at West Camden Street. It is one of the most beautiful and original stadiums in the league. The way the stadium feels when sitting in it is very homey and comfortable. The way it pioneered the open outfield stadium splurge makes it feel kind of historic. It’s best feature is the signature warehouse behind the right field wall and Eutaw Street. The view of the city is great past the scoreboard and the ivy covered batters-eye.
It’s a shame that the Orioles fans don’t come out more. Attendance has fallen and they fell short of bringing in two million fans last year. They have a beautiful stadium and if their team isn’t winning, they’re always hosting the Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, and Blue Jays.
What to do in the city before the game: Go to the Inner Harbor and grab some lunch at Phillips. Check out the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum only a few blocks from the ballpark. If there’s enough time, the aquarium is very well done.
What to do when the gates open: Go to the rightfield wall and try to catch a batting practice homer. Check out Eutaw Street and they have plaques where some sluggers have cranked homeruns onto Eutaw Street.
Where to sit: The view while sitting on the third base side lower level is as good as it gets. So while it still daylight, you have a great view of the Baltimore skyline and then you have the warehouse at night.
Player to go watch: O’s outfielder Nick Markakis. The 25 year old is quietly becoming a star in this league.
It is one of my favorite stadiums to go to. What moved Camden Yards from an A- to an A is the fact that it doesn’t have a stupid corporation name. There are currently no naming rights to the stadium and I honestly hope it stays that way because it is rare to see these days. Even the name gives a more classic feel to the stadium and that what puts it at one of the elite stadiums in the league.