Tag Archives: adrian gonzalez

Pujols Proves It’s All About The Money

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Sports is all about money. Period. It’s about getting paid, but then again in our daily lives it’s the same for us. We all want our fair share of pay and we want to be paid what we feel that we deserve. We always want the best deal possible and once we get it we are gone.

There is no sense of loyalty in our day to day jobs especially if it’s a job that we do that we hate. If the money is better elsewhere we will leave at the drop of a hat.

For sports fans we view things on the field differently. We look at athletes not as workers but as idols. We worship the ground they walk on, buy those expensive jerseys and scream, cheer and holler at the mere sight if them.

All we ask in return is some loyalty. Loyalty to us for being loyal to you. All we ask is that the man the adore so much will stay and play for the fans that made him so loved.

However, loyalty is at a premium these days as athletes have emulated the working class by chasing more money instead of working with what the home team has and being an icon for far after they have retired.

You can add Albert Pujols to that list.

Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals today to sign with the Anaheim Angels (I will not ever call them the Los Angeles Angels ever) for a ten year 250 million dollar deal that makes him baseball’s highest paid first baseman tied with Ryan Howard.

That’s what Pujols wanted all along. He wanted to be games highest paid player at his position and apparently was willing to throw away 11 years of goodwill to get it… and he did. Honestly though, who wouldn’t?

As a fan of the game it ticks me off. Pujols was a St. Louis Cardinal. He was the modern day Stan Musial, he could’ve been the greatest Cardinal of all time and placed on the same mantel as Musial, Bob Gibson and Ozzie Smith. That was his city. He began his career there and built up a legacy that looks as if it will be hard for anyone to touch.

Pujols has 445 homeruns, 2000 hits, and won two World Series rings with the Cards. He had the city in the palm of his hands and the love and admiration of everyone involved… and he let it all go for one extra year and 30 million dollars.

The Cardinals are a small market organization that doesn’t have the deepest pockets in the world. However, they did off Pujols a 9 year, 198 million dollar deal at the beginning of the season and upped it to 10/220 this week. This is an extremely lucrative deal that would make anyone happy… Not Pujols.

The deal would’ve made him the fourth highest paid first baseman in the game behind Howard, Mark teixiera and Adrian Gonzalez. Pujols always wanted to be the highest paid player at his position and if the Cardinals weren’t going to give it to him then was willing to look elsewhere.

The Angels came knocking and Pujols is now taking his talents to the west coast.

They made the deal that Pujols wanted and he took it. It didn’t matter that Pujols was a king in St. Louis, that he was playing for the second most decorated team in baseball behind the New York Yankees or that he could’ve been the greatest Cardinal that ever lived.

All that mattered most was the money. Once he got it, he rolled out.

I have resigned myself to the fact that there are no more lifers in sports. No one wants to play for the same team throughout their entire career and jump ship when the opportunity arises.

I just had hope that Pujols wouldn’t be that guy. I was hoping he would stay in St. Louis and finish what he started and be admired for it long after he was gone. Instead he took the money and ran.

St. Louis won’t be able to replace Pujols and all he meant. They won’t find another bat to replace his production in the middle of the lineup nor will they be able to find someone who meant as much to the city as he did. Eventually the pain of losing an all-time great will leave the senses of St. Louis, however it will be a long long time and they will be reminded of it every time they stare at first base and don’t see number 5 there.

It’ll be weird to see Pujols don a different shade of red come spring training. When he puts on that bright red cap with a giant A with a halo above it in the next few days Albert Pujols begins the last chapter if his career. He is now an Angel for better or worse. He’ll hit his 700th home run there, he’ll obtain his 3000th hit there and he’ll finish his hall of fame career there.

He should’ve done it all as a Cardinal, he should’ve been loyalty to the fan base that made him as big as he is.

However, loyalty in sports doesn’t exist anymore, it’s all bout the money. As much as I despise Pujols’s decision to leave St. Louis I can’t judge him.

If a job called us up and offered any of us big a pay increase we’d leave jump ship too. That’s just how it is.


The Debate: Curtis Granderson, AL MVP

AL MVP? You're looking at him.

So Adrian Gonzalez is going to win MVP in the American League. I’ve conceded this fact I know it will happen and there’s nothing that I can do about it.

Gonzalez has been everything that the Red Sox hoped for when they acquired him from San Diego. He has stabilized their lineup, hit for average and driven in a ton of runs. Basically without him in the lineup the Red Sox are not the same team they don’t have the same pop in the order and no one can really match what he does as far as production goes.

His MVP candidacy can only be trumped by two other Red Sox who are having great years in Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury and maybe a dark horse candidate in Jose Bautista can steal some votes. Besides that Gonzalez should run away with this thing as the Red Sox guide their way into the playoffs and to a possible AL East title…

Ok that was my take on the AL MVP race up until today when I did my normal weekly numbers look up and checked out league leaders and to see who else was ballin out of control currently. There was Gonzalez in all of his glory with a monstrous .348 batting average and a .408 on base percentage to go with 102 RBI. Those numbers, along with his great defense at first base can more than lock up the MVP race for him.

Mark Teixiera can thank Grandy for his power numbers.

But here’s the revelation that I have come to after further review and after getting my head together… Adrian Gonzalez is not the AL MVP if the season ended today… Curtis Granderson is.

Yep, I hear the calls from all of you that this is a homer pick seeing as how I am a super crazy Yankees fan and that I’m just finding a way to diminish Gonzalez’s value to the Red Sox. Honestly I’m not; I think Gonzalez is without question the best Red Sox player right now. He is putting up great numbers and has been a great addition to the Red Sox lineup.

With that said Granderson has been much more valuable.

With Alex Rodriguez fighting through injuries, Derek Jeter’s early season struggles, Mark Teixeira’s horrendous batting average and a ton of uncertainty in the rotation with Phil Hughes arm problems and injuries to Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano it was Granderson that made all of that irrelevant.

Granderson took Teixeira’s number 3 spot in the lineup after A-Rod’s injury and took off. He’s producing power numbers at a career rate and is doing it with ease. Granderson has set career highs in home runs (36), RBI (103) and slugging (.591) and is doing it against left handed and right handed pitching.

For anyone that has followed Granderson throughout his career you know about his deficiencies against lefties. Last year he barely hit .200 against them and found himself on the bench in games against lefties and replaced in games by the likes of Austin Kearns. Yeah it wasn’t cool. This year he’s hitting .279 against them thanks to help from hitting Coach Teddy Long and looks as comfortable as ever.

Take a look at his stats for a minute and compare them to the three Red Sox Gonzalez, Pedroia and Ellsbury as well as Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista. Of all 5 contenders Granderson does have a ton more strikeouts with 135, trails Bautista, Gonzalez and Pedroia in on-base percentage and has the lowest batting average at .278. However, let’s be real about strikeouts these days, they don’t matter. This is a free swinging era and seeing high strikeout totals is nothing new. In 2006 when Ryan Howard won MVP he struck out 186 times, he also hit .300 with 50 home runs and 140 RBI. Also his OBP is almost .380 so who cares that he’s 11th in that category when you get on base that much.

Granderson has monster numbers in most offensive categories. He’s 1st in runs, triples and RBI, 2nd in Home runs and slugging, 3rd in OPS, 6th in walks and 8th in steals. Look at those runs for a minute; yes he is 11th in OBP but when he gets on base he scores almost every single time. Jacoby Ellsbury has scored 93 times, 2nd in the league, and is a league leader in steals… AND IS STILL ALMOST 30 RUNS BEHIND GRANDERSON! To get on base like that and score runs at that pace is silly. He has an outside shot at scoring 150 runs this season and breaking Jeff Bagwell’s modern day mark of 152 (the record is 198 in 1894 and that’s never getting broken).

He’s put Yankee batters in great position to knock in runs all year with his ability to get on base and his speed. As poor as Tex has been hitting this year his power numbers are still gaudy because he hits behind Granderson and has been able to get good pitches to hit, same for Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher.

(Side note: A dark horse candidate for MVP is Cano as well. Top 10 in four offensive categories, could have 200 hits, a gold glove at second base and is scorching hot in the second half. Yeah I know I’m giving my Yankees a little too much slurpage but they deserve it.

Granderson's not bad defensively either.

I honestly thought that the Yankees were going to be mediocre this year with the Red Sox getting Gonzalez and Carl Crawford as well as the Yankees pitching problems. However, you name the person and they’ve stepped up.

David Robertson has become one of the game’s best setup men, Granderson’s career year to ease the A-Rod ills, Ivan Nova emerging as the Yankees number 2 starter and Swisher finding his swing in the summer months have all lifted the Yankees to a possible playoff spot. This was an iffy year and guys have been stepping up and killing it.)

More than anything Granderson has become the most reliable man in the Yankee lineup. It’s almost as if you expect him to get on base and score runs every game. It doesn’t matter if he gets a hit or not he somehow finds a way to score a run. A few games ago Granderson went 0-3 and scored 2 runs… how does that happen? In yesterday’s 22-9 massacre of Oakland he had 2 hits and scored 4 runs… really?

He’s having a gaudy year and is as worthy of MVP as anyone in the league. If Bautista is truly MVP worthy why is his team playing so poorly even with him in the lineup? Also how can you distinguish one of the Red Sox players as MVP?

Who is truly more valuable Ellsbury, Pedroia or Gonzalez? If you take any of them out of the lineup will the Red Sox still be effective offensively? Who makes the other two guys better? Hell David Ortiz missed time in the lineup two weeks ago and the Sox went 4-4 and fell behind the Yankees in the AL East momentarily so maybe he should get MVP votes.

The point I’m making is it’s hard to choose an MVP from a team where there are three candidates because really who is more valuable. With Granderson you see his value and his effect on the Yankees lineup from top to bottom. He sets the tone, drives in runs, and has made other players in the lineup better.

Without Granderson the Yankees wouldn’t be in the position that they are in. His big numbers and big plays have the Yankees sitting pretty in the AL Wildcard and possibly winning the AL East.

He deserves props and respect for the season that he is having, but more than anything he deserves to be the AL MVP.


Random Thoughts Vol.2

Hit me... I dare you.

It’s been a month… time for more random thoughts.

I’m pretty sure that even if Dontrelle Willis’s improbable comeback as a pitcher fizzles out, he can be a DH or first baseman with that bat.

The Pirates are now dead… I knew it couldn’t last.

FC Barcelona losing to Chivas USA is the equivalent of Michigan losing to Appalachian State.

Justin Verlander might throw 6 more no hitters this year… I’m not joking about that either.

The U.S. Women didn’t choke.

(I mean did you watch the game? Japan never died. They kept fighting back and took advantage of the opportunities that were given to them. Sure the U.S. missed chances in penalty kicks where the Japan goaltender all of a sudden looked like Ken Dryden. However, you can’t say that they choked the game away when Japan played well in the face of adversity. Sometimes teams give games away but most times teams pull victory from the jaws of defeat. That’s what Japan did.)

Isn’t it funny that Ben Roethlisberger provided good off-season news for the Steelers as opposed to everyone else?

I’m surprised Steve Williams didn’t rip Tiger Woods even more than he did.

The Red Sox have not had a solid starting staff for the entire season with bullpen issues… yet have been in first place since June. And you think Adrian Gonzalez doesn’t deserve MVP?

Randy Moss aint done… seriously.

Are Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand the more extreme version of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter?

Seguin and Marchand are really enjoying winning the Stanley Cup.

I hate Merrill Hoge… but he was right about Tim Tebow…

And LeBron James would back him up wouldn’t he.

(My least favorite basketball player who shrinks in the moment defending the most overrated athlete not named Jimmer Fredette… god has a sense of humor.)

Kevin Durant dropped 66 at the Rucker… somewhere Russell Westbrook was seething.

Nice to see that Shea Weber got $7.5 million in arbitration… he’ll get that when he’s a Red Wing next year too.

The most aggravating rotation in baseball would consist of A.J. Burnett, John Lackey, Barry Zito, Edinson Volquez and Zach Greinke… with Burnett leading the league in headaches.

(I hate A.J. Burnett.)

The Eagles are the new Heat.

Osi Umenyiora can talk about a new deal all he wants. However, if he follows up another big sack season with a small sack season… kick rocks.

Ocho and Brady… Jesus.

What do you think Carson Palmer will do with all that money now that he’s retired?

Kyle Orton has lost his starting jobs to Jay Cutler, Rex Grossman and Tim Tebow…if he went on a 12 month bender I wouldn’t judge him.

Oklahoma is no.1 in the coaches’ poll. The last team to start the season no.1 and finish it as such… 2004 USC… good luck Boomer Sooner.

Strasburg is coming back… *giddy face*.

Shaq and Barkley on TNT… I need my cable back and fast.

The Red Sox traded for Erik Bedard to help their rotation… his ERA at Fenway is near 7 lifetime… I’m starting to feel ok that the Yankees didn’t get anything before the deadline.

Ryan Howard in his last 3 games has 3 home runs and 6 RBI, yep it must be August.

Michael Irvin on the cover of a gay magazine to promote equality of all people. Don’t know if I would’ve done it but very gutsy.

I win... again.

Duke being investigated for violations in recruiting… told you that no one is clean anymore.

When is Verlander’s next start again?

(We’re at a point with Verlander that he is must see TV. Verlander throws harder than anyone else in the league and his location has improved to the point where now he is close to pinpoint accurate. If you play the Tigers and Verlander is up on the mound then you might as well take it as a loss. He’s currently baseball’s best hurler and he hasn’t even hit his prime yet. Imagine this guy in 4 years… scary.)

Yani Tseng is the most dominant athlete in the world right now. And I am well aware that she is a 22 year-old female golfer and not many people watch women’s golf, but you should watch her.

Dan Uggla has a 25 game hitting streak… yet is batting .213… ummm?

NFL players like talking smack about how bad Roger Goodell is in the media, yet the signed this new CBA like everything is ok. Either take action or shut the hell up.

Is it wrong that I’m more excited for Syracuse football than Ohio State football? Keep in mind that I’m an OSU grad though I grew up with the ‘Cuse.

When A-rod retires there will be no specials on his greatness, no lauding over his accomplishments… hell there maybe a party thrown just for the fact that we never get to hear his name again.

(I haven’t been on A-Rod in a while but he’s like a bad ex-girlfriend he always finds a way to drive you crazy.

Really A-rod… illegal poker rings? And you still go after MLB and the Yankees tell you not to?

The Yankees are in a pennant race, one game back of Boston with the biggest part of the season approaching and you decide to blow a few thousand in front of low lifes, coke users and violent outcasts.

Eat your heart out Red Sox Nation.

I always say that I’m over A-rod but I really mean it this time. If this is true and A-rod did violate MLB policy then the Yankees should find a loophole in his deal, drop him like a bad habit and let Eduardo Nunez go through his growing pains at third.

I’m over the A-rod drama, I’m over the fact that there is always something with him and I’m ready to move on from him. Hopefully the Yankees brass feels the same.)

Kate Upton’s a Yankees fan, thank you God.

Had to end it off positively. Have you ever seen Kate Upton? That would make anyone feel good even when your third baseman is a perennial screw up.


Baseball Preview Day 2: The Present And Future Of Prince Fielder

With free agency looming, all eyes are finally on Prince Fielder.

This is the era of the first baseman. We went through the shortstop revolution in the late 90’s with Omar Vizquel, Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and now the bulk of talent in the field has shifted to the right side of the infield.

Joey Votto was the NL MVP last year. Ryan Howard has won one as well and has a NLCS MVP to match. Mark Teixeira is a perennial all-star and considered to be the best defensive first baseman in the game. Then there’s Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera and of course the best of them all Albert Pujols (no explanation needed.).

One guy who gets lost in the sauce is Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.

The son of former 50 home run hitter Cecil is the same hulking mass that his father is, but is a much more refined hitter.

He’s good for close to or over 100 walks a season to go with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI that he averages a year. He puts up Pujols on-base numbers, Howard power numbers and has improved his defense so much that he’s close to Teixeira’s level.

So why then is Fielder never mentioned on the same breathe as his associates?

It goes something like this; as talented and as big of a threat he is at the plate, Fielder is more comparable to Milton Bradley than he is to Pujols, Howard or Teixeira.

Ryan Braun maybe the Brewers franchise face, but Fielder's presence makes his job easier at the plate.

While it’s not that extreme, Fielder is rougher around the edges than his cooler fellows at first base. You will see Fielder throwing bats and gloves in the dugout after a strikeout, going chest to chest with an ump, you’ve seen him wait to beat the pulp out of Guillermo Mota after being hit. Not to say that he is too volatile, but Fielder has had his share of questionable moments.

As far as baseball goes the reason why he’s not mentioned in the same breath with the other first basemen could be due to location, geographically and divisionally and the fact that unlike the other men Fielder isn’t the face of his team.

Fielder plays in the same division as Votto, who powered the Reds to an NL Central title last year, and Pujols, who… well, is Albert Pujols. Being in the same division as two of the top 5 first basemen in the game gets you less airtime on Baseball Tonight and in the national press. What also doesn’t help his name is Ryan Braun. It’s not Braun’s fault that he’s one of the games brightest stars and since his debut 4 years ago he’s been a stud. Braun is the face of the franchise because he has an appeal and a quality about him that makes him a likeable guy.

It also doesn’t hurt to be a lifetime .300 hitter whose strikeout totals have declined each of the last 3 seasons. It also doesn’t hurt to hit in front of Fielder whose presence in the lineup allows for Braun to get the kind of at-bats that he gets.

That could change after this year.

This is a huge year for the Brewers and Fielder. With the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright going through Tommy John surgery and the Brewers picking up Zach Greinke from Kansas City, the Brew Crew have great positioning to be the team to knock Cincinnati off of their perch in the division.

However, if they don’t resign Prince Fielder then it could be a one-year deal.

Fielder is at the end of a 2 year, 18 million dollar and is looking at a huge payday this offseason. One that the Brewers wont be able to afford unless Fielder takes a hometown discount.

Losing Fielder would be a huge blow to the team and its lineup. Despite his attitude issues Fielder is a great commercial guy and is fun loving type of player (see the team’s home run celebration when he stomped on home plate two years ago.). He is a great clubhouse guy who brings everyone together in a funny way. If he leaves the Brewers lose a fan favorite and a huge bat in the middle of its lineup.

Sure he had an off year last season but Fielder is a .290/33/110 guy with a .400 OBP waiting to happen. You can’t replace that anywhere.

Fielder is volatile, but he's also lots of fun.

His presence in the lineup makes Braun, Corey Hart and Casey McGehee so much better and gives pitchers fits. Losing Fielder would put more pressure on a rotation that is already iffy even with Greinke and Yovani Gallardo at the top.

However, the Brewers can’t pay him 20 million a year, it’s impossible. Not in that market, with that team. Their only options are to play out the year and see what happens or trade him now and get what they can for him.

If they do trade him, they’ll get a ton of talent back. Fielder is arguably a top 5 first basemen in an era where there are a ton of them to choose from.

Though he’s not a huge name like Albert Pujols, or the rising star the Joey Votto is, Fielder is one of the best in the game at his position.

Trust when I say that Fielder won’t have the same year that he had last year. This year will be huge, and someone whether it is the Brewers or another team will pay for it.


The Red Sox Strike Back

You didn’t really think that the Boston Red Sox would just sit there and let another offseason pass by with little activity from their front office especially after what happened last year right?

The trade for former Padres first baseman and former #1 draft pick Adrian Gonzalez comes off as nothing more than a formality, especially since its been talked about since the 09 season.

Adrian Gonzalez and the Boston Red Sox, together at last.

The Red Sox coveted Gonzalez as a power hitting left handed bat in their lineup who could replace the numbers left behind by former slugger Manny Ramirez, and who could also be of great use in Yankee Stadium when he visits due to that infamous short porch in right field. The deal itself helps to improve an offense that needs improvement desperately.

Sure it wasn’t the Red Sox fault that Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis were both out for the majority of last season, but it was their fault for the approach that they took before the season began. Theo Epstein and company decided that they were going to try the old defense and pitching approach when adding righty John Lackey from Anaheim and obtaining Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro to play defense behind what they thought was a stout pitching staff.

Yeah… about that.

With Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matzusaka both missing most of the year with injuries and a less than stellar bullpen, the plan backfired. Scutaro and Cameron were busts, and with the injuries to their two best offensive players the Sox were out of the division race by June even with an August push. Their inability to score and produce runs without Youk and Pedroia was seen when Darnell McDonald and J.D. Drew were asked to come through with key hits in key situations. Yep that J.D. Drew. Now with Gonzalez in the fold the Sox have the most potent lineup in baseball next to the Yankees and Phillies. Potentially their lineup could have Jacoby Ellsbury in the leadoff slot (if he’s still there before the beginning of the season) followed by Pedroia, Youk, Gonzalez and David Ortiz who showed signs of the old Big Papi last year in the five hole.

It would be hard to argue against that being the best lineup in the business no matter who you put behind them (including Drew).

The question now is will that be enough for Boston or do they want to add another piece to the puzzle like a Carl Crawford? They missed out on Jayson Werth who signed a ridiculous contract with the Washington Nationals of all team and really do need to address their need of offensive outfield production. Also will they just let Beltre walk away after the great season he had at Fenway? Beltre’s bat and glove did great work for the sox last year and letting him walk would be a huge mistake even if Youkilis can play third base.

Whatever they do decide to do the Gonzalez deal is a great start. After watching last year go down the tubes in a heartbeat the Red Sox are making sure it won’t happen again and are strengthening their team for the future with 28 year-old left-handed bat of Gonzalez. You knew the Sox wouldn’t be down for too long and you know they’re not done yet. It’ll be interesting to see how and if their favorite rivals the Yankees respond.

 


Baseball Season Officially Begins

The Yankees, behind C.C. Sabathia, are still the team to beat.

Now the real baseball season begins.

We’ve gotten rid of the fast starts, cool downs by over-hyped players, and now here is the real deal.

The contenders have shown who they are in baseball’s closest season in decades. There is not one division leader up by more than four and a half games, which means every race could come down to September and this trade deadline coming up could be the most important in years.

While everyone is making a case that the Yankees are the team to beat, I beg to differ. The Yankees of all teams have the weakest bullpen that Joe Girardi still hasn’t figured out yet. Joba Chamberlain has been miserable as the 8th inning man while David Robertson, Damaso Marte and company have struggled just as much. As great as the starting pitching has been for the Yankees it can’t be the only pitching that they have.

You can make a case for the Padres, Braves, Twins and Reds (yes the Cincinnati Reds are in first place) as much as the Yankees to win the World Series come October. The last 70 plus games of the season are going to be an absolute riot if you ask me. There are no clear cut favorites for any award or division title. In the year of the pitcher (or return of the pitcher) offense has been at a premium as ERA’s have dwindled to fifteen year lows. With that said, bats are going to be a hot commodity in this upcoming deadline. Prince Fielder’s name is swinging like a carrot in front of teams as are players like Jose Guillen, Luke Scott and Adam Dunn. Fielder is the most peculiar name because you can get an all-star power hitting first baseman but also a huge head case. His bat would go over great in New York with the Mets or in San Francisco with the Giants but is he worth the trouble?

Who knows. The second half sure will be interesting to watch play out but let’s recap the first half while we look forward:

NL MVP- Joey Votto (Who Will win MVP? – Ryan Howard)

Votto's been the man so far for the upstart Reds.

Did anyone have a better first half than Votto? He led all MLB first basemen in average, slugging, homers, RBI and OPS. Yet had to be voted in to all-star game as the last man in. He has led the surprising Reds to the top of the Central with a few key series left against the second place Cardinals. If the Reds can keep it up then Votto should be a shoe-in for the MVP.

But it is the second half of the year which means Ryan Howard is about to load up Philly onto his back and carry them through the next two months. Howard’s power number numbers are down but so are his strikeouts. Howard is becoming more disciplined at the plate and has seen an increase in average and OBP because of it. The Phils need him more than ever to carry them to the playoffs and knowing Howard he’ll gladly accept the Challenge

Contenders: David Wright, Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols

AL MVP- Josh Hamilton (eventual winner?)- Miguel Cabrera)

Two men who have fought demons to become big names in the game. Hamilton through drugs, Cabrera through alcohol. Both are having stellar years. Why is Hamilton the first half MVP? A 29 game hit streak and a monster June helped catapult the Rangers into first place and have made them the team to beat out west. Hamilton has come back from last year in a big way by leading the majors in batting average, and among the leaders in homers and RBI. With help from a resurgent Vlad Guerrero the Rangers have the most formidable 3-4 punch in the game.

So why will Miguel Cabrera win the MVP? One, he could win the triple crown, two he is tearing the cover off of everything he sees. Three his focus is finally clear after two down years in Detroit after a ballyhooed trade from Miami. Cabrera has finally settled into the position has face of the franchise and is carrying himself in the way the Tigers imagined.

Contenders: Robinson Cano, Justin Morneau and Adrian Beltre

NL CY YOUNG- Ubaldo Jimenez (Winner- Jimenez)

With all due respect to Josh Johnson and his paper thin 1.70 ERA, this is Ubaldo’s trophy to lose. 15-1 2.20 ERA on the wild card leaders out west? Come on. Jimenez could very well win 25 games this year which has been done since the 80’s. Jimenez has breezed through the competition with ease though his ERA has risen by half a run in the last month. However, every fifth day there is no more automatic starter in the game than him

Contenders- Johnson, Adam Wainwright, and Mat Latos

AL CY YOUNG- David Price (Winner- CC Sabathia)

David Price is now the man in Tampa. He’s the ace, no question about it. the superstar that he was supposed to be coming out of Vanderbilt is finally coming to fruition with a 12-4 record and a 2.42 ERA that has kept Tampa within striking distance of the Yankees…

Yet the reason why the Yankees are in first place in the first place is; a. starting pitching and b. CC Sabathia’s ridiculous last 45 days on the mound. He hasn’t lost since May 23rd and has watched his ERA dip to 3.09. plus with his reputation as being a workhorse in the second half it looks like CC is in the driver’s seat for CY Young number two.

Players that need to step it up:

Mark Teixeira

He’s a slow starter—this is ridiculous. Nine days ago he was batting .232 now he’s finally up to the .250’s. he ought to buy Robbie Cano a Rolex for bailing him out this far. The power numbers are there, but for the Yankees to go far into October, Teixeira needs to get going.

Carlos Pena

If its not a home run then its been a strikeout for Carlos Pena.

.203 batting average? I don’t care if you are a slugger at least get into the 230’s man. Evan Longoria would love a disciplined bat next to him right now.

Anybody on the Phillies not named Ryan Howard or Roy Halladay

Raul Ibanez has lost his stroke, Shane Victorino can’t hit anything and Cole Hamels apparently hasn’t gotten over last year’s brain malfunction. With Chase Utley out until August the Phillies need their bats and arms to wake up quick or the Braves and Mets will be sailing into October leaving them in the dust.

Todd Helton

Career lows in all offensive categories means that Helton’s career is almost finished. Unless he finds that stroke quickly the Rockies should consider making a deal for Prince Fielder.

Gavin Floyd

With Jake Peavy down for the year, Floyd has to find the form that made him so special last year. he has recovered from a 2-7 start with three straight wins and will have to continue to stay hot to support Freddy Garcia and Mark Buehrle.

Most important Players:

David Ortiz

Ortiz claims that he’s back to form, but the real test comes now. If he can continue with his steady production then the Sox will be in it until the end. However, if Ortiz can’t maintain his current pace then the Sox can kiss October bye-bye

Jose Reyes

If he’s healthy the Mets can win the east. If he’s not then they won’t. That’s about as simple as it gets people. As he goes they go.

Jonny Cueto

He has to take this rotation by the horns right now. The Reds haven’t been this close to the playoffs in years and they need Cueto to grow into the ace that he was destined to be when they signed him.

Vladimir Guerrero

The first half comes as a surprise to those that wrote him off. Now in these next two months, Vlad will have to keep it going in order to keep the Rangers ahead of Anaheim.

Adrian Gonzalez

Last year he was sure as gone from San Diego. This year the Padres wouldn’t give the world for him. with the Padres facing Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw, Jimenez and a bevy of west coast hurlers Gonzalez has to continue what he’s done all year for the Padres in order to make the playoffs. Set the tone, drive in runs and lead them to victory.

There is so much more to cover and talk about, but there’s two and a half months left in the season to get to it. for now enjoy it. the best baseball of the summer is about to get underway later today, and from the looks of things it’s going to be one hell of a fun second half.


This Years Smart Baseball Picks

Aaahh, still a beautiful sight.

Hey did you know that the New York Yankees were world champions? Sorry I had to rub that in one more time. After a decade of dealing with annoyingly fair-weather Orioles fans in Baltimore and bitter fans in Cleveland I got to throw it back in the face of everyone within a 500 mile radius of my obnoxiousness.

After Mark Teixeira collected the final out of the World Series me and buddy Mark Damiano jumped around like kids that just found out that they were going to Disneyworld. It was as if we had never won a title even though the nineties were the greatest time of my sports life when the Yanks won 4 titles in 5 years. Truth is the last ten years of being a Yankee fan was hell (and here’s where the Cubs, Astros and about 20 other teams fans tune me out until I get to my picks). It wasn’t hell in the sense that we didn’t a title every year; it was hell due to the amount of pressure that was placed on the team every year to win a title.

When I was a kid I was happy to watch Don Mattingly roam first base freely even though the team was terrible. When we lost in 97 to Cleveland after winning the title in 96 I was upset but it wasn’t a monumental thing that made me want to jump off of a cliff. For a stretch of the 2000’s the Yankees front office made it impossible to watch the Yankees without being disappointed. We treated playoff appearances like wins over the Royals. If we didn’t win titles we spent millions on guys who we thought would make the team better (Jason Giambi, Randy Johnson, Kei Igawa, etc.) and when they failed we spent more. For a while I felt like- gulp- a Red Sox fan.

That’s why last year’s title was a relief for fans (again boo-hoo’s from the Mets, Pirates and Reds fans). This year we can go back to being normal fans. We didn’t spend a ton of money on free agents because we didn’t need to. For all of the flack that Brian Cashman receives, he is without question the best GM in baseball. After watching the rotation feast or famine with 3 pitchers, and somehow win, he traded for Javy Vazquez (moment of silence for my “Got Melky?’ t-shirt). He knew our outfield needed to get younger so he traded for the underachieving yet talented outfielder Curtis Granderson. He got guys that fit the attitude of these Yankees and didn’t break the bank to do it.

It sets up the Yankees for another title run with expectations to win, but not in a psychopathic “we have to match the Red Sox” kind of way that it has been. In all honesty if the Yankees don’t win it all this year it won’t be such a bad thing (and if you truly believe that last line I just typed, then you must not understand the Yankees or our fans. As long as someone named Steinbrenner owns the team it’s all about winning and winning now. In fact if we don’t win it all this year I wouldn’t be surprised if Joe Girardi got fired. Welcome to the Bronx Zoo. Come for the excitement, stay for the carnage).

If the Yankees do want to repeat they need to be the exact same team they were last year. This year so many teams and divisions are so tough to call that the six divisions could be won by either two or three teams. There are no gimmies this season; the Braves are the Rockies are the Mariners are the Rays are Cardinals. Every team in contention has a go to starter, big time hitter and consistency in most areas of their game. The Phillies for example picked up Roy Halladay to go with Cole Hamels (who will not have another 2009. EVER! Write that down. Last year was a fluke. I’m talking Kevin Stevens 50 goals in 1992 fluke.) , they have a ton of offensive fire power and you know once August rolls around that Ryan Howard should put up his usual .300/15/45 last two months to carry Philly to the postseason. Likewise in Boston who have a healthy Josh Beckett (don’t get it confused, he struggled last year because he was injured. He didn’t tell anyone but we knew) plus John Lackey, Jon Lester and the best bullpen in the game. However, the Sox struggled against the Rays all year last season, and with a sense of urgency on a team that has this season as its last for contention with this much talent, who’s to say Matt Garza and James Shields won’t dominate them again as they did last year or that a possible career year from free agents to be Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena wont overpower them? Likewise in the Central, couldn’t you imagine the Astros putting it all together and using Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez to lead a charge to the top of the division, or Ryan Braun and the Brewers overpowering the Cardinals?

As you can see, the Phillies didn't take losing the series lightly.

With all of these possibilities comes one thing that is for sure, that I will predict something completely and utterly stupid this season in my preview. Let’s not forget that two years ago I thought the Reds were good enough to win the NL Central (fail), or that the Mariners with Erik Bedard were the best team in the AL West (to my credit, so did everyone else for that matter). My favorite was predicting that Robinson Cano would have an MVP year in 2008; he ended up with his worst offensive season of his young career that year (triple fail). So for this year I have a full proof way of showing off my prowess for baseball knowledge, without looking like a jack-ass. Ladies and gentlemen I give you my picks, and the picks I would make if I had no sense whatsoever:

NL WEST: Old Kevin- San Francisco Giants. Smart Kevin- Colorado Rockies

I love the pitching by the bay. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain might be the best one-two punch in baseball (apologies to Carpenter and Wainwright). Plus they have a healthy Nate Lowry and Jonathan Sanchez looks like he has finally put it together. However, if you think they can get by with that offense of theirs you must be crazy. Pablo Sandoval is about as much of a clean-up hitter as Aaron Rowand is a lead-off guy.

In Colorado you have a team primed for another run at the playoffs. Troy Tulowitzky is an MVP caliber player and Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa make a great tandem at the top of the rotation. The only question is what about the health of Huston Street? When healthy you can argue that Street is of the top 5 closers in the game. Once is arm is healthy look for the Rocks to outlast Los Angeles in the West.

Player to watch- Adrian Gonzalez.

The Red Sox wanted him, and failed in acquiring him. The Padres will finish last in the division, and will do so after jettisoning Gonzalez before the deadline.  Gonzalez is a 30 homerun 100 RBI guy on the most inept team in baseball. Imagine him in Atlanta or Chicago with the White Sox.

NL Central: Old Kevin- Milwaukee Brewers Smart Kevin- St. Louis Cardinals

Can the Brew Crew hit? Uh yeah. They didn’t ink Braun and Fielder for fun and games. The two of them are a yearly 80+ homeruns and 200-225 RBI. Yet the Rotation (as always) is a huge question. You don’t doubt Iovany Gallardo, but you question whether or not Randy Wolf and Doug Davis are 2 and 3 guys.

The Cardinals are more complete in all aspects. Pujols is in MVP until further notice mode while Matt Holiday should put up huge numbers in season number two in the Lou. Plus the aforementioned Carpenter and Wainwright are worth a guaranteed 42 wins this year. Only concern might be Ryan Franklin as closer. Some days he’s good, some days he’s not.

Wildcard team- Cincinnati Reds

I’m not picking them to win the division, but they are going to give teams fits, as well as themselves. Look at the rotation: Jonny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Homer Bailey are talent scouts wet dreams. Yet Bailey seems to be on his last chance and Cueto still has questionable maturity issues. Then there’s the much talked about Chapman with a cannon of a left arm and a mound of control problems. Add in Jay Bruce (he’ll bounce back after a poor 2009) and Joey Votto and this young team should be a problem. If they can get over struggles better than they have.

NL East: Old Kevin- Florida Marlins Smart Kevin- Philadelphia Phillies

I can’t pick a team with Dan Uggla as there Feature power hitter. I want to pick the Marlins I really do (sound familiar). I have a man crush on Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez. Yet once again I don’t trust Uggla, Leo Nunez and I don’t think Chris Caghlan will have another year like last year.

The Phillies aren’t exactly a smash either. Brad Lidge is injured, Cole Hamels is fragile as we learned last year and Jimmy Rollins might be a 7 hitter disguised as a lead-off man. Yet there’s still Ryan Howard (My pick for MVP), Chase Utley and the addition of Roy Halladay that makes every team fear for their lives against the Phillies. So it’s the Phillies to win 4 years and running.

The Team that reminds me of the Jersey Shore cast – New York Mets

Sucks to be you.

THEY ARE A TRAIN WRECK… yet I can’t stop watching. How can I not watch? Who’s going to back up Johan Santana in the rotation? Who’ll protect David Wright in the lineup? When will Jerry Manuel get fired? Will Omar Minaya punch Jose Reyes in the face? All they need is The Situation and J-Woww swinging at each other in between innings and they become the best side show in baseball.

AL West: Old Kevin-Texas Rangers Smart Kevin- Seattle Mariners

On paper the Rangers can compete. They’ll score 850 runs and Derek Holland and Neftali Perez look like future aces. In reality, Ron Washington’s a coke head. I’m sorry; I’m not picking a team managed by Tyrone Biggums.

Seattle was handed Cliff Lee for reason that still puzzle me. What did they give up again? A mid-rated minor leaguer? Anyway, he and Felix Hernandez get the honor of scaring every team on back –to-back days for at least a year and there’s Ichiro. In this division that’s all you really need. (How about Milton Bradley batting fourth for them. Did they not see him in Chicago last year? His one good year came in a hitters park in Texas. Clean-up? Clean-up in a pitchers park? Why am I picking Seattle again?)

Most fun guy to watch- Brett Anderson, A’s Pitcher

If you ever get to watch this spazz in between innings please do. Get a bucket of popcorn and watch him go OCD on a water bottle, and look like he has facial contusions. Comedy. (Also watch him on the mound. In his first season he finished 11-11 with a 4.50 ERA but he thrived in the second half of the season.)

AL Central: Old Kevin- Minnesota Twins. Smart Kevin- Detroit Tigers

I would’ve been been blinded by Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer. I would’ve said Nick Blackburn and Francisco Liriano were more than enough pitching with that offense. I would’ve ignored the fact that Joe Nathan’s career is possibly over following Tommy John surgery. Now I’ve come to my senses. It aint happening.

It’s not that I truly trust a team with a recovering Alcoholic, a mentally complacent right-fielder, a head-case of a starting pitcher or a bullpen with live arms and no health. I just know that Jim Leyland, who is one of the top 5 managers today, will put it together, and as long as Justin Verlander is going every 5 days that’s 20 wins in the bag. (But to reiterate I really don’t trust them.)

Team I really think can be better than both teams mentioned, but no one is noticing- Chicago White Sox

It’s a team with more questions than the GRE. Is Jake Peavy healthy? Will Alex Rios ever return to the form that made him tantalizing in Toronto? Will Alexei Ramirez, Carlos Quentin and Gordon Beckham put up the numbers that they should put up yearly? Can Ozzie Guillen keep his job? How can you not like the makeup of this team? They have a great rotation lead by Mark Buerhle, a steady bat in Jermaine Dye and of course the mad scientist Guillen who is heavily underrated as a Manager. The problem is you really don’t know what to expect from them on a game to game basis. They seem to have the tools to be great, but it may take time. Also you have to wonder if eventually this team will tune out Ozzie. His fiery style may finally be wearing thin, and unless he can deliver on the field he might be in a studio by October.

AL East: Old Kevin- New York Yankees. Smart Kevin-Tampa Bay Rays

Expect The Rays to win the east and this guy to win the MVP.

Ok I had to throw in one shocker. Why don’t I trust the defending champs? The best looking pitcher in spring training was A.J. Burnett for one (C.C. Sabathia looked miserably bad). Two, A-rod has been in the news for things other than baseball, again. Three,  Joba Chamberlain isn’t saying it, but he looks like a disgruntled reliever after losing a rotation spot to Phil Hughes. I think these Yankees also have to go through being the prey for the first time to get a good feel for them. This is a different Yankee team because these boys are more blue-collar than the teams of Yankees past. You have to wonder if that laid back style will falter when the pennant race heats up, and the pressure of repeating kicks in.

So why Tampa? Like I said, this is their last chance to win a title for another ten years. They won’t keep Crawford and Pena after this year. They may deal Matt Garza. This might be a different team next year. They will play like their lives depend on it. This team is so undisciplined at the plate (ahem, B.J. Upton), so streaky and so hit or miss that you love them one second, and pull your hair out the next. Yet Joe Madden had righted the ship for two straight years. He’s molded Matt Garza into an ace, Evan Longoria into a star (he’s my AL MVP) and a league laughingstock into a respectable contender. The urgency is there and I think Madden will mold it into another division title and possibly a World Series birth.

Team to fear in two years (once they get some pitching)- Baltimore Orioles

I hate admitting this, but Baltimore is almost back. If Peter Angelos can somehow spend a little money on a pitcher next year or down the line (how crazy would it sound to get Cliff Lee or Zach Greinke in Baltimore?) then this team could be better than Boston or New York. The outfield is set for years to come with Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters behind the plate will be a monster. Yet it’s that product on the mound that hurts them more than anything else. They thought Jeremy Guthrie was an ace, oops. They thought Erik Bedard was as well, oops number two. Instead of getting pitching one year they got Sammy Sosa. Angelos had been so bad in making this team competitive that it’s a wonder that all of this talent fell into their lap.

He has routinely made decisions that hurt the Orioles on and off of the field. Go to an O’s game when the Red Sox or Yankees are in town and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s embarrassing that Camden Yards becomes Yankee Stadium and Fenway South. Angelos has ticked off his own fans and turned them into fans of the enemy. Yet here he is on the cusp of reviving baseball in Baltimore, one of the best baseball towns in America. Will he finally get it right? (Probably not. If you ever live in Maryland than you know that Peter Angelos is loved about as much as the Yankees. AND YOU KNOW HE WONT DO ANYTHING REMOTELY CLOSE TO MAKING THE ORIOLES LOOK GOOD!)

World Series: Old Kevin- Yankees vs. Phillies with the Phillies winning it all

Smart Kevin- Tigers vs. Cardinals with the Cardinals winning it all

I really like the Cardinals this year. I like the rotation with the addition of Brad Penny. I like the subtraction of Rick Ankiel and having Cody Rasmus in Centerfield. I like the lineup headed by Scott Schumaker with Pujols, Holliday and Ryan Ludwick in the middle. This team is capable of winning the title with what they have, save for possibly acquiring a middle reliever at the trade deadline. It is a good mix of youth and experience. Plus the best player in the game plays for them so why not take a flyer on them.

So there you have it. No crazy picks, no ridiculous obsession over the Yankees. A smart pick to win the title from a crazed baseball fan. However, you all know I think the Yankees will win it all. You’ll read my facebook statuses and watch me cry, whine and moan every time A-rod strikes out or Robby grounds into a double play. Just remember don’t blame me, blame Cashman and the powers that be. They made all Yankees fans like this. I just have to keep reminding myself that we’re World Champions. That does sound great doesn’t it?

AL EAST- RAYS                         NL EAST- PHILLIES

CENTRAL- TIGERS                   CENTRAL- CARDINALS

WEST-MARINERS                    WEST- ROCKIES

WILDCARD-YANKEES              WILDCARD- DIAMONDBACKS

NLCS- PHILLIES VS. CARDINALS          ALCS- YANKEES VS. TIGERS

WORLD SERIES- CARDINALS VS. TIGERS        CARDINALS-WORLD CHAMPS

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR- DON WAKAMATSU NL- TONY LARUSSA

AL CY YOUNG- CLIFF LEE        NL- CHRIS CARPENTER

AL MVP- EVAN LONGORIA      NL- RYAN HOWARD