Tag Archives: mark teixiera

Pujols Proves It’s All About The Money

20111208-152239.jpg

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.


Are The Yankees The Next Empire To Fall

Was the Soriano deal a sign of a possible downturn for the New York Yankees?

Did you notice a trend that has happened in sports in the last ten years?

The death of the traditional power.

Think about this for a second; how many traditional sports powers took hits to their pride and luster in the last 10-15 years?

In college football Notre Dame still thinks that they will wake up the echoes in a matter if time and Michigan still considers itself to be the gold standard even when no when, I mean no one, wanted its head coaching job after the ousting of Rich Rod. Throw in Miami and Florida State and four of the games premier programs are in the middle of the pack as far as relevance .

In college basketball its Kentucky who still prides itself on being an elite program but hasn’t made a final four since Tubby Smith’s first year. Arizona, though they have an excuse, and recently UCLA, which is stunning especially after the run they had at the beginning of Ben Howland’s regime, have all fallen to the middle of the pack in recent years.

In hockey its been the Maple Leafs and Canadiens. Did you know once upon a time in the 90’s that the Habs had the same number of championships (24) as the Yankees? Ever since their last cup in 1993 the franchise has been plagued by unfortunate injuries (the Saku Koivu cancer cancer scare), lackluster performances (have they had a player in the top 20 in scoring in the last 20 years?), and scandal (hi Kostitsyn twins). Oh yeah don’t forget the whole Patrick Roy asking out of Montreal fiasco that has probably led to a curse on the team. Not that we’re counting or anything.

Dont get me started on the Maple Leafs. They havent won a title in over 40 years and in the last 10 they’ve resembled the Toronto Raptors more than the franchise that has the second most cups (13) to the Habs.

(Side note: Shouldn’t Gary Bettman step in and help fix this team. The NHL needs to Leafs to be good just like the NBA needs the Lakers, or baseball needs the Dodgers to be important. This is one of the leagues flagship franchises in the country’s capital. The hockey hall of fame is there for goodness sakes. The fact that the Leafs haven’t made the playoffs in seven years and haven’t been relevant since their last division title in 2000 is a little more concerning than the fledgling Phoenix Coyotes, who should still be in Winnipeg. Yep, Bettman is back on my bad side.)

There haven't been many good times in Toronto for awhile.

In the NFL its been the Cowboys, Redskins and Raiders. All of these franchises have slid to mediocrity due in part to their ridiculous owners and their bad habits of spending money while letting the football side of things slip through their grasp.

The Redskins haven’t won a division title since their Super Bowl run in 1991 and have been a running joke since Daniel Snyder took over. They’ve made the playoffs three times with only one win to show for it. However, what’s defined them is their penchant for over paying players well past their prime. Bruce smith, Deion Sanders, Mark Brunell, Jason Taylor, and that’s for starters. Throw in their horrible coaching history lately (hi Jim Zorn, and Steve Spurring) and you wonder why fans want Dan Snyder’s head on a stake a la MacBETH.

For the Cowboys its a combination of Jerry Jones overbearing style and the lack of productivity on the field that has hindered them.

In the 90’s Dallas owned football with three titles and a high-powered offense anchored by three hall-of-farmers. Then after their last Super Bowl win over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl 30, the team hasn’t seen a playoff victory.

They’be been plagued by bad QB play, poor decision making by Jones, which includes firing Bill Parcells and trading two number one picks for Roy Williams (I’m sure the Lions still can’t believe that one) and not getting much from heralded draft picks (Mike Jenkins that’s you). Be honest, what do you know about the Cowboys now, a franchise with a rich history from Roger Staubach to Troy Amman, or their ridiculously expensive stadium with a 80 yard flatscreen in the middle of it?

As far as the Raiders go… let’s put it like this; they haven’t been over .500 since getting smoked by the Bucs in Super Bowl 37 over 8 years ago. If you want to know why then take a look at Hue Jackson’s press conference to introduce him as the team’s new coach this past week. Owner Al Davis, looking as decrepit as ever, sat at the table and ranted about Tom Cable’s personal life, comparisons of Jason Campbell to Cam Newton, and seemed more out of his mind than normal.

This is the guy who blew up Lane Kiffin at a press conference years ago, fined Cable for not executing a game plan he wrote out, drafted JaMarcus Russell, and has made so many horrible personnel decisions that no coach or player should come near Oakland. Poor Hue Jackson, I don’t think he knows what he’s getting into.

Before the Boston Celtics climbed back into contention in the NBA they had grown into a punch line. Gone were the days of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and in were Dino Radja and Antoine Walker.

Their most memorable moment during that time came during a Rick Pitino news conference after another loss where he told the media and essentially the fans to get over themselves and that “Larry Bird ain’t walking through that door.” Right he was, though fans would’ve rather had a near 50 Bird than Ron Mercer.

So in essence every sport has seen its top franchise go through the motions and fall from grace in a haze of greed, nativity, or ignorance. Well everyone except baseball.

In the last 15 years the top tier teams in the sport have stayed on top without much static.

Sure past champions like Kansas City, Toronto and Oakland have seen their share of bad times, but their history is nothing like the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers.

(You’re probably wondering what about the Cubs? Flagship franchise? Yes. However, they haven’t won a damn thing in 109 years so they don’t count. Sorry Cubs fans.)

These were the bad times in Boston.

Baseball has largely protected its top franchises by not introducing a salary cap, which allows the Braves, Phillies and Angels to out spend every other team in the league and stay where they are.Sure these teams haven’t made the playoffs every year, but they always bounce back from lackluster seasons.

The Red Sox will be favorites this year after finishing third in the AL East last year in part to overspending for Carl Crawford and giving away the farm for Adrian Gonzalez.

It’s hard for any of these teams fall off of their perch and fall victim to the same plague that’s infiltrated each league over the past 15 years. Or is it?

Last week the New York Yankees announced the signing of former Tampa Bay Rays closer Rafael Soriano to be the 8th inning setup man for closer Mariano Rivera and eventually replace him.

No big deal, just the Yankees spending their endless funds to fix a problem like not having an eighth inning stopper.

However, GM Brian Cashman didn’t want to spend the money on Soriano and wanted to keep either Joba Chamberlain in the setup role or David Robertson. Owner Hal Steinbrenner overruled Cashman and handled the negotiations himself while Cashman sat in the corner and pouted.

Both sides say everything is fine but I’m not buying it.

Cashman is the game’s best GM and built a dynasty in the 90’s while the young Steinbrenners sat back and watched from The Boss’s luxury box. Cashman knows what he’s doing and what to do to keep the Yankees successful.

What Steinbrenner did was undermine Cashman and used his power to make a decision that may or may not work and also costs the Yankees a first round draft pick. That’s the kind of decision you would see Al Davis make. Uh oh.

Ok so that’s one little thing so what? Well, look at the Yankees future for a second if you will; the Yankees have been able to stay competitive after their dynasty years in the late 90’s and 2000 thanks to their huge budget and the ability to get whoever they want for any price. While they haven’t been winning championships at the rate that they would like, the Yankees are still the class of the AL East and remain the team to beat.

However, look at the current contract situations that the Yankees have:

Mark Teixiera- 8 years/180 million dollars, signed til he’s 37
A.J. Burnett – 5/82.5, signed til he’s 39
C.C. Sabathia- 7/161, signed til he’s 37
Alex Rodriguez- 10/275, signed til he’s 43
Derek Jeter- 3/51, signed til he’s 40
Jorge Posada- 4/52, signed til he’s 41
Mariano Rivera- 2/30, signed til he’s 43

In other words half of the Yankees main players on their roster are all signed well into their late 30’s or 40’s and are owed a boat load of money.

Guys like Rodriguez, Jeter and Posada are already on the downside of their careers and aren’t worth the money.

Not to mention there is the possiblility at other long term deals for Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes looming, which will add more money to their books.

The Yankees are used to shelling out lots of cash but right now there’s too much tied up in players that won’t help them contend in three years and could lead to the Yankees becoming baseball’s Cowboys.

As great as they've been, the deals given to A-Rod and Jeter could lead to the Yankees downfall.

There is no balance with them right now. There’s lots of old guys and not enough youth. Sound like Dan Snyder to you?

Another problem are the deals that the Yankees have made, which cost them two viable parts that they could use right now and both could’ve added some much needed youth to their everyday roster.

Last year they traded Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for Curtis Granderson essentially in a three team deal. Jackson and Granderson play the same position and Jackson hit for a higher average, stole more bases and had a higher in-base percentage than Granderson. Not to mention he’s five years younger and the perfect leadoff hitter that the Yankees so desperately need.
Kennedy went 9-10 last year for the Diamondbacks with a 3.80 ERA. While his numbers don’t seem too impressive Kennedy got stronger and stronger towards the end of the year. He’s currently penciled in as their third starter while the Yankees have no viable options in their rotation past Sabathia, Hughes, and Burnett. I’ve seen the Leafs give up on a few young guys in the past few years haven’t you?

Lastly the Yankee luster isn’t what it used to be. Guys now a days grow up hating the Yankees instead of idolizing them. No one fawns over Jeter the way they did Mickey Mantle, there’s no appreciation for Posada like there was for Yogi Berry. In the 60’s if a guy like Zach Greinke was on the market he would’ve been a pinstripe in a heartbeat, same for Cliff Lee. Now, they’d rather be a Brewer or a Phillie.

Still, the Yankees can out bid whoever they want to get their man. However, they also set the bar for other teams with just as deep of pockets to follow. How do you think the Sox got Carl Crawford or the Nats (yes, the Nats) got Jayson Werth? It’s the Yankee model; overpay for them and dare someone to leap up and get them.

So now its no longer about the pinstripes and the aura of the stadium and the pressure of the media. If you were Werth wouldn’t you rather take 126 million to play in a small market and not have the pressure of facing 1000 media faces a week wondering what’s wrong with you?

Maybe I’m going crazy, or maybe I see the writings on the wall. I know the Yankees have had to good a run of gluttony and capitalist pleasure to not have it come to a screeching hault. We’ve toed the line of smart and senseless way too long to not have it blow up in our face and I feel were getting to that point.

If the Yankees don’t solve their spending problems and incorporate some youth and practice patience then they may resemble the Celtics of the late 90’s or the Raiders of right now. They run the risk of losing their luster like Notre Dame and could become a legendary afterthought like the Habs.

Call me crazy, but Soriano deal might be the first in a long line of problems for top to bottom from the Yankees. I might be wrong, but I’ve seen it all before.


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