MLB Thanks: It’s Not Thanksgiving, But it Certainly Isn’t Too Early to Say Thanks to Baseball Part 3

Thanks to the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres for Ryan Braun and Chase Headley’s collective one-upping competition for the National League RBI crown. Outside of that there wasn’t anything outstanding from either of you.

(Prepares to write next part, stops–)

I take that back, thanks Milwaukee, for not signing Prince Fielder. Fiscal insanity or no, we needed him in Detroit. Continue reading

MLB Thanks: It’s Not Thanksgiving, But it Certainly Isn’t Too Early to Say Thanks to Baseball Part 2

I have to give thanks to my team, the Detroit Tigers, thanks for a tremendous season.

Another bit of joint-thanks goes out to the Chicago White Sox. They’ve done a tremendous job of not making the playoffs recently. I’m sure AJ Pierzynski is thrilled with the fact that he’s been to the World Series more as a color analyst than as a player. And he hasn’t retired yet.

Thanks to R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets for reestablishing America’s belief in the knuckler. Continue reading

Wrapping Up the Tigers’ Regular Season: MVP Voting, Playoffs and More

While the much-hyped MVP discussion is heating up, the regular season is cooling down.

The Tigers joined the San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds as the only teams in baseball to clinch their own divisions.  Also joining those clubs in October baseball are the Atlanta Braves,  New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s. The Tigers also became the first AL team to clinch their division. The second year in a row that they’ve done that.

But really, no one is reading too much into the playoffs. Yet. Now, the baseball-related discussions are about that AL MVP race and something you might have heard of called the Triple Crown.

Coincidentally or not, both of those discussions involve one Miguel Cabrera who also plays for the Tigers.

Triple Crown & MVP

I’ll start with the Triple Crown first, to get it out of the way.

Continue reading

Silencing the Tigers’ Haters

Much has been made of the Tigers’ “inconsistent” play as of late, as well as the fact that they aren’t in first place in a “weak” division.

This is all irrelevant. Or, unwarranted rather.  The Tigers have, if not the best, then one of the best records in the league since the end of June.

The division is another thing entirely. Yes, the Tigers sit two games out of first place Chicago, but on the year, Detroit has a 7-5 record against the Sox. That’s tied for the most wins the Tigers have against any other club this year. The other two teams the Tigers have seven wins against are Minnesota and Kansas City, which Detroit is a combined 14-6 against. Which brings us to this point, of the 40 games left, twenty six of them are against those teams. Six more of those scheduled games are against the Angels, who Detroit has won three of the four meetings with this year.

So add it all up, and the Tigers, if all goes as it has been going, should end up with the division title. This would in turn remove them from the wildcard-playoff-shtick. Continue reading

MLB Trade Deadline Roundup

First off, Happy Birthday to my Aunt Joyce. Last year I promised that I would mention her birthday here, and because I’m a man of my word, I am. So, Happy Birthday Aunt Joyce!

Today is the baseball trade deadline. It’s one of the Holy Grails of sports. A day when the deals go by fast and furious and without a Vin Diesel reference. Oops.

Anyways, since the MLB Network has been so kind as to air a trade deadline special, I’ll just run through the trades in the order that they show them, use it as a framework almost. Continue reading

An Extended Glance at the Sox Drawer: Why the Kevin Youkilis Trade is a Lose-Lose

I’ve already outlined that trading Kevin Youkilis will come back to bite the Red Sox (you can see that here), but maybe you haven’t heard why it’s bad for Chicago.

Sure, the White Sox didn’t give up too much for The Youk, but he isn’t going to be the impact bat that he once was. Let’s face it, Youkilis is more of a #6 hitter these days. Let me rephrase that, Kevin Youkilis could hit cleanup on a bad team, but would be more of a complementary bat on a good team. It’s like guys in the NBA, they’d start on bad teams and be bench options on contenders. Looking at you Jimmer Fredette. It is true though, Youkilis couldn’t crack Beantown’s lineup. He certainly wouldn’t have hit higher than 6th in New York. He would probably hit 8th in Texas, which is saying something. Mind you this is all assuming he gets in the lineup consistently, wherever that may be. He’d hit 6th in Detroit if Victor Martinez was healthy. I’d hit him 6th as well if I were the Angels, and finally he’d hit a resounding 6th in Washington and Cincinnati.

And herein lies the issue with Chicago. Outside of Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, every single White Sox starter would hit 6th in a normal lineup. I’d hit Alex Rios 6th. AJ Pierzynski is a perennial 6 hole hitter.  Dayan Viciedo is a likely option in the 6th spot at this point in his career. Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez are also options at number 6 on most teams. Which brings us to the problem, everyone should be hitting sixth! So that is one of Chicago’s chief problems, they have a bunch of 6th hitters. Sorry, I had to use my “Captain Obvious” persona there. Because of all the 6 hole hitters, the White Sox need a true leadoff hitter, among other things. Alejandro De Aza has been a nice energy guy, but Chicago needs a legitimate table setter.

The end result of all of this is that Youkilis will probably be hitting 6th in his White Sox debut and thereafter throughout his “new” Sox lifetime.

One last note, this move doesn’t really mean that the Sox think that the Tigers aren’t contenders anymore, or aren’t as strong as they should be. It just means Chicago wants to win the division, Detroit or otherwise.

The Problem With Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn is having a fine bounce-back year. The Chicago White Sox, however, aren’t. Yes, they are technically in second place in the division, but there isn’t a lot of staying power to be had on the South Side. Which brings us to our next point. Do they trade off some pieces to continue their “rebuilding”? (cough cute attempt at “reloading” cough)

Dunn already has 14 bombs after tallying a mere 11 last campaign. This all fine and dandy, but what real value does Dunn have?

He can hit, we know that. We also know he isn’t the best defender by any stretch. Which is why he’s listed as the starting DH for the Sox.

Because of the defensive, ah… inconsistency, Dunn is going to scare off some NL teams looking for a first baseman. So for all intents and purposes let’s cross off all NL teams from Dunn’s “Trade Possibility List”.

The number of teams shrink again when you look at the AL. In the East, Toronto doesn’t need him, though they might take a flier if Adam Lind struggles. Tampa probably doesn’t want to shell out the cash to get him (Dunn). New York and Boston are set. Baltimore though is the one possibility in the division, and maybe the league. The Orioles are currently employing Wilson Betemit and Nick Johnson at DH. Not exactly a World Series winner’s platoon there, but funnier things have happened. The point is that the Orioles make sense for Dunn when not many teams do.

Other teams that don’t make a lick of sense (not necessarily in this order, well maybe… You know what, forget I even said the order thing…)

Detroit:  Though if Delmon Young continues to struggle… Nah.

Kansas City:  No room whatsoever. Unless it’s a straight-up swap for Billy Butler.

Minnesota:  Sellers-R-US.

Texas:  Wouldn’t put it past them to get another bat. But probably not.

Oakland:  Billy Beane isn’t moving his prospects for Dunn. No way.

Los Angeles Angels of Wherever:  Nope.

And last, but probably least, of teams that make no sense, Seattle:  Least only because I don’t think Dunn wants to join the ranks of Richie Sexson, Milton Bradley and Brad Wilkerson. (Which, if you haven’t guessed, is the line of tombstones for their careers. Safeco Field is death row for hitters.)

Cleveland makes some sense on the list of potential suitors, but there isn’t a chance in a blue moon that Kenny Williams moves him in division. Unless the Indians are boneheads again and give up almost every good prospect they have to get a decent player. (cough Ubaldo Jimenez cough)

Sorry about my constant cough throughout this piece. It seems to come up when talking about mediocre teams (cough Cleveland cough White Sox cough)

Wrap-up point here, Dunn’s bounce-back season is nice, but Chicago can’t really capitalize on it and move him due to the lack of buyers.

Thanks David Stern (sarcasm, sarcasm, a little passive aggressiveness and, wait for it … sarcasm)

Have you been watching the NBA playoffs? Have you seen the Oklahoma City Raiders, as the politically correct people call them? Have you seen how good Kevin Durant is? Have you seen Russell Westbrook go bananas? Have you seen James Harden’s beard? And have you seen Seattle?

I cringe at the fact that the Raiders are so good. Actually, take that back, I do think they are a decent NBA team, it’s just the constant feeling that they could have been in Seattle. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. They could be the talk of Seattle now, instead the talk of Seattle probably includes the word Robbed.

Take that word and flip it into whatever synonym you see fit, because we were robbed.

It continually kills me to see the Raiders succeed. Yes, that’s right; I’m to the point of not mentioning their name.

It’s not as if this is a city like New York, or Dallas where all of the sports teams generally succeed. The Yankees seemingly always make the playoffs. The Giants won the whole thing last year, and the Jets aren’t too bad either. And in Dallas, the Mavericks went from perennial playoff squad to title winners last year. The Rangers have won the last two AL pennants.

The point with that last blip is that the pill is easier to swallow if a team leaves, and if the other professional teams in and around the area are playing at a high level.

Which brings us to our next point. Where have the big playoff moments been in Seattle? The Storm won a title in the WNBA and the Sounders are a really good side, but our last big-nationally-talked-about-you’ll-remember-where-you-where-when-it-happened-moment was when Marshawn Lynch unleashed the beast and went on a smash-and-dash 67 yard run to clinch the win over the defending champion Saints in the playoffs. And that’s coming up on two years ago. Before that it was a Seahawks Super Bowl should-have-been-win that was botched by officiating, and before that we have to go back to “the Double” by Edgar Martinez. And that’s going back a ways.

But to get back on topic, Stern and his joined-at-the-hip buddy Clay Bennett have robbed us of a successful, Big 4 (that’s MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) team. One that would have taken the city to a whole new level of sports pandemonium. Instead we are forced to sit and watch the Raiders succeed.

Stern and Bennett not only took away our team, they took away a team that is pretty darn good. And one that might be that good for a while.

One of my favorite moments in Sonicgate is when they flash to a kid showing a sign that reads: “Clay Bennett Ruined My Childhood.”

What we should remember here is that it isn’t just Bennett’s fault. The blame falls on others shoulders as well, people like Greg Nickles and Howard Schultz. But the main culprit not named Bennett is Stern.

Isn’t it funny that when we had the Sonics situation on our hands, David Stern barely lifted a finger? And then when we see Sacramento’s arena deal and team security thrown into uncertainty, Stern does almost everything godly possible to keep the team in Sacramento. He practically got them another year in Sacramento. And that’s the problem. He is in love with small markets.

I know everyone and their dog are rooting for the Raiders in the playoffs in and around the Oklahoma area, and the revenue off that is great and all, but wouldn’t you look a lot better if that were in say, Seattle?

Anyways, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Bennett ruined my childhood. You see, my childhood has been great to this point. But I was in middle school when the Sonics left. I even wrote an essay on it for English class, saying why the Sonics should stay and all that. But that one year in middle school was also the year I really got into basketball. I mean I played it at every waking hour at school when I didn’t have classes. I was, and still am, obsessed with it. And that’s the sad thing. I never got to go to see the Sonics in person and barely saw them on TV. I’ve gone the last Andre-the-Giant-sized handful of years without an NBA team. Because the Sonics left I shifted my attention to the college ranks to get my winter basketball fill. Washington wasn’t amazing at the time so I watched a lot of Gonzaga and Washington State, seeing them both make the NCAA tourney.

And that’s just the thing today. For folks to get their local basketball fix their options are UW, WSU, Gonzaga and Seattle U. That’s it in the state. Seattle U is making the transition back to D1, and WSU and Gonzaga are on the other side of the Cascade Mountains. Not too many people are going to make that trek 2-3 times a week from the Puget Sound area to see basketball. Which leaves us with the Huskies. This is the first team in NCAA history not to make the tourney after winning the regular season championship in a power conference. They lost to South Dakota State by 19…

Let me say that again. They lost to South Dakota State by nineteen whole points!

I tend to get caught up in baseball over the summer, so that makes it a bit hard to follow the Storm intensely.

So, thanks to Stern and his little buddy Bennett (and some others) the biggest basketball draw in the Pacific Northwest over the winter and spring is a team that lost to South Dakota State by 19 points. Did I mention it was at home? Maybe if the Raiders win a ring and the NBA doesn’t come back to Seattle soon you very well may have ruined my childhood, Bennett and Stern.

Can’t Live Without ‘Em: American League

(Disclaimer: You can live without these players, it certainly doable.)

Injuries happen. Trades happen. Prolonged, bench-worthy stints occur. Players might not be there.

Whether that player is your everyday superstar or fourth outfielder, the loss means something. But in the case of the superstar, it can sometimes mean a lot.

Teams and the Players They Can’t Live Without:

(Starting in the AL West and moving east through the AL, I’ll have another one coming soon on the NL.)

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: None. Not kidding in the slightest. Even if their big, new-fangled signing Albert Pujols breaks down at some point, either Kendrys Morales or Mark Trumbo will be there to step in. Rotation-wise, I might say Jered Weaver simply because his replacement won’t likely come close to his production.

Texas Rangers- Joe Nathan. Again, not what you’d think. If the Rangers lose any one of their infielders Michael Young will step in more than adequately. The outfield is a little more in question, but Craig Gentry usually gets the job done. I say Nathan because, while Texas has depth in the bullpen, it isn’t necessarily closer depth. Koji Uehara, Mike Adams and Alexi Ogando only have 18 saves combined in their careers, and 13 of them are Uehara’s. (Just a quick aside, Mike Adams is an almost-less-than pedestrian 4-20 in save opportunities in his career. If you’re doing the math at home, yes Ogando only has one career save.) All that is basically blogspeak for: The Rangers might go into a colossal bullpen-tailspin if Nathan can’t hold it down.

Oakland A’s- Yoenis Cespedes or Jemile Weeks. It’s not as if the Athletics can’t live without them, or play for that matter. It’s that they probably wouldn’t like to stunt the players growth/developments (whatever term lights your fire).

Seattle Mariners- Chone Figgins. I’d say Jesus Montero for reasons listed above, but the M’s need the Figgy Pudding to maintain his trade value by playing well.

 

Detroit Tigers- Justin Verlander. The Tigers, like the Angels, have good depth. Also like the Angels, the potential loss of the reigning MVP would only hurt Detroit from the standpoint that the replacement couldn’t put up Verlander’s numbers unless his name is Felix Hernandez.

Kansas City Royals- Either of the Corner Infielders. Just as with Oakland, KC needs their young players to get time under their respective belts. The loss of a potential trade candidate like a Mitch Maier or Jeff Francoeur could also endanger those players’ trade values.

Chicago White Sox- Adam Dunn. The Sox need Dunn to stay healthy so he can prove that his signing wasn’t a complete-and-utter waste. The potential loss of Paul Konerko could send this team into the cellar after the way they played last year. Dayan Viciedo could benefit from getting a good deal of playing time as well.

Cleveland Indians- Asdrubal Cabrera and Ubaldo Jimenez. Cabrera is at the center of everything the team does on both sides of the box score. Jimenez, meanwhile, needs to prove that the Rockies didn’t straight-up rob the Indians’ entire store of prospects.

(Weird side note, have you noticed that a lot of the Indians players previously played in Seattle? Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Casey Kotchman, Derek Lowe, Jack Hannahan and Jose Lopez all donned Mariners uniforms. Weird.)

Minnesota Twins- Whoever is Producing Well at the Time. The Twins have been ransacked by injuries in recent years. They have gone from division champ and perennial sacrifice to the Yankees in the ALDS to basement dweller. To give you more of an idea of how far the Twins have fallen, when you type in “Minnesota” and then a “t” to start the word “twins” you get “Minnesota Timberwolves” as your top suggestion. That’s right, the Twins have fallen past the T-Wolves.

 

New York Yankees- CC Sabathia. The Yankees acquired pitching in the offseason. I’ll give them that, but the loss of their ace could be detrimental. As it is the Yankees seem like they will be a playoff team, whether that is as a wild card or a division winner remains to be seen. Here’s a quick rundown of the AL East as it is for me. Tampa and these Yankees are head and shoulders above the rest of the division. Boston and a not-so-far-behind Toronto are in the next tier that seems to be fighting for a wild card berth. Obviously that leaves Baltimore at the bottom, but we’re moving on. The potential loss of Sabathia drops New York more towards the Sox and Blue Jays than Tampa.

Tampa Bay Rays- Carl Crawford Matt Garza Jason Bartlett. The Rays have shown in the past that when an injury hits, or they lose a player to free agency or trade, they recover. Honestly, Evan Longoria would probably sting the most to lose, but the Rays will probably find a way to replace him. Cause that’s how they roll (as the kids say).

Boston Red Sox- Adrian Gonzalez. Yes, Boston would still have Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz, but the rest of the offense simply isn’t there. Carl Crawford is on the shelf due to injury, leading to outfield woes that also prompted the acquisition of Marlon Byrd. Losing a player like this in the past wouldn’t have been as serious, seeing as Boston’s outfield and rotation were both much stronger than they are now. But because of those weaker factions of the team, the Red Sox might not get by if A-Gon is gone. (Sorry, had to do it.)

Toronto Blue Jays- Jose Bautista. The Jays are going to need their MVP candidate if they want to even have the smallest of smallest shots at contending. Other candidates include Adam Lind and Ricky Romero.

Baltimore Orioles- Anyone who has trade value. The Birds need some pieces, and lots of them. The rotation is a very young group, but the players in the field could use a youth infusion. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are nice pieces, but something has to give. The O’s need to make some changes to even try to win in God knows when.

Who is the Best First Baseman in the American League?

Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Possibly the NL’s finest pair of first basemen last season now find themselves in the AL, who were already rich with first basemen.

The Candidates-

  • Albert  Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Maybe the best of his generation, the all-around threat has switched leagues and will look to unleash his at and stellar glove work on the already down Mariners and A’s among others.
  • Prince  Fielder, Detroit Tigers. What some call the biggest free agent signing of      the offseason, he teams with Miguel Cabrera to form one of the best 3-4      combos since Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Yes, I just went there.
  • Paul  Konerko, Chicago White Sox. The near player-manager is the symbol of      consistency on a White Sox team that is shaky, and that’s putting it      nicely.
  • Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers first      baseman might arguably be the best defensive in the game. Hitting for 30      homers and 100 runs batted in a year doesn’t hurt either.
  • Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox. It’s hard to call him the third best hitter in      the AL since he’s Adrian Gonzalez for pity’s sake, but sadly it’s true. In      terms of the whole package at the plate, A-Gon is third behind Pujols and      Cabrera.

(It should be noted that Cabrera should be here, but he is currently at third base because of Fielder.)

The Displaced Options-

  • Kendrys Morales, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. A very good first baseman, after his recovery from injury, he is at DH while the team welcomes Albert      Pujols into the fold for the next decade.
  • Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. If Trumbo is here, Cabrera probably should be as well, but given the Angels ability to move one of Trumbo or Morales and put the other at DH, it seems he could be back at first base      soon.
  • Matt Laporta, Cleveland Indians. The centerpiece to the CC Sabathia trade is      currently raking at AAA and could be back in Cleveland or in somewhere else if the Tribe feels Casey Kotchman satisfactory.

Former Super Stars Who Have Had Injury Issues-

  • Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins. The formerly stated superstar has had his fair share of issues with the injury bug. A return to prominence would benefit      him greatly.
  • Morales.

Young, Former Top Prospects Yet to Carve out a Niche-

  • Justin Smoak, Seattle Mariners. The other big mover in one of the many Cliff Lee trades, Smoak is currently starting at first for the Mariners, but could lose the occasional start to Jesus Montero.
  • LaPorta.

Out of Position Players Moved to First Due to Injury or Other Reasons-

  • Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners. The trade equivlent of Michael Pineda, or at      least from the M’s and Yankees point of view, could move around the middle      of the lineup at either first, DH or behind the dish.
  • Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins. Mauer is one of the better 20 players in the league when healthy. I’ll emphasize healthy because he hasn’t been that as of late. Moving to first takes away some of the wear and tear behind the plate.

The Dark Horses-

  • Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Rays. Pena is back in Tampa and if he can hit for average, he could be a bigger force than he already is.
  • Casey Kotchman, Cleveland Indians. Kotchman is a wiz defensively. He proved he can hit for average. If the power comes, watch out.

Do you go with the all-around package in Pujols? The Power of Fielder? Who knows? All I know is we are going to have one hell of a vote for the All Star Game.