Tag Archives: ubaldo jimenez

Random Thoughts Vol. 3

OH GOD THERE'S MORE?!?!

Beginning of the month, been watching a lot of sports… yep, it’s time for another round of random thoughts.

Fernando Torres has scored one goal since being acquired by Chelsea in January… one. I always pick the best teams to follow don’t I?

The Yankees wouldn’t trade for Ubaldo Jimenez due to concerns about his velocity. In a possible trade the Rockies would’ve wanted Ivan Nova as part of the deal… Jimenez hasn’t made it past the 5th inning in 3 of his 7 starts with the Indians, Nova hasn’t lost since June… I think Cashman got that one right.

Losing to a FCS school should be like relegation in soccer shouldn’t it? Hi Oregon State.

Me at 8:30 pm last Saturday of the Boise State-Georgia game: “those Georgia uniforms are hideous.”

Me 48 hours  while watching the Maryland-Miami game: “those are the worst uniforms I have ever seen.”

Nyjer Morgan called Albert Pujols “Alberta,” does he realize Pujols is 4 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than him?

Oregon State should probably leave this out of the recruiting package.

Baylor is mad that Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 and possibly breaking up the conference leaving them in football limbo. Somewhere Rice, TCU and SMU are uttering to themselves karma is a mother.

Wait a minute, Kevin Durant has tattoos?

At least David Garrard and Byron Leftwich have something in common to be mad about.

The way that analysts were criticizing his QB skills you would’ve swore Tim Tebow was black.

Appalachian wants to join the FBS… after getting drubbed 66-13 by Virginia Tech they should reconsider.

Tom Brady said he would welcome back Randy Moss with open arms. I’m not saying that’s in some way related to Chad Ochocinco… but I’m saying.

So if John Isner wins the U.S. Open is his career a bigger success than Andy Roddick’s?

Utah State almost beat Auburn, BYU beat Ole Miss, and Utah beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl years ago… maybe the SEC should stop playing teams from Utah.

Stephen Strasburg’s back, and he looks good.

(honestly it didn’t matter if the Nats lost that game or not, all that mattered was if Strasburg looked like he was the same pitcher he was before he left or not and he was. His movement and velocity were pretty darn good, he made everything look effortless and dominated a decent Dodgers lineup. If I’m the Nats and I look at a rotation with Strasburg, a rejuvenated Chien-Ming Wang, Jordan Zimmerman and John Lannon at bats like Ryan Zimmerman and Mike Morse then I’m feeling good about next year. that is if Jayson Werth can hit with that $18 million per year salary on his back.)

That Carlos Beltran deal isn’t working out so well for the Giants… shocker.

Who’s the next program to get stung by the NCAA? I’ll take South Carolina.

I’m still blinded by Maryland’s uniforms.

TIki Barber is shocked that no one threw him a bone this offseason. I mean who wouldn’t want a 36 year-old running back that hasn’t played in 5 years with tons of public baggage?

Ndamukong Suh is not dirty, he’s just playing football the way Deacon Jones would like.

It might be time for Tiger Woods to consider new career options.

This hasn't gone exactly as planned.

I will not talk about A.J. Burnett, I will not talk about A.J. Burnett, I will not talk about A.J. Burnett.

Aaron Rodgers called out Mark Sanchez for his GQ pictures. What can Sanchez respond with? Rodgers just won a Super Bowl he can say what he wants.

I think we might actually have a season without Brett Favre.

I have a feeling Luke Fickell might be more conservative than Jim Tressel.

By the way, how does Tressel get a six game suspension from the NFL for his NCAA violations?

(Goodell needs to keep college problems in college. Their penalties don’t transfer to the NFL. Tressel quit/ got fired by the Ohio State University so his 5 game suspension is pretty much obliterated. The fact that Tressel and Terrelle Pryor for that matter have carry over suspensions from college shows that maybe Goodell has too much power when it come to these disciplinary actions and should some of that power stripped. And it will be… in ten years with a new CBA. Good job NFLPA.)

Doesn’t it seem like Lance Briggs and the Bears have been beefing since 2006?

Apparently the NBA is making strides to getting a CBA done real soon. How does Wilson Chandler feel about that?

If the Philadelphia Phillies don’t win the World Series it would be a Greek tragedy.

I have a few choice words for how the Baltimore Orioles handled the makeup games with the New York Yankees and the results of those games. I can’t say them on this blog but I’ll let your mind wander.

After all of the controversy surrounding Ohio State this year how do three more players get suspended for taking benefits? I should’ve went to Ohio University.

I expected more from the Winnipeg Jets jerseys.

Mike Fisher you lucky son of a gun.

At least they weren’t Maryland’s.

(you know what’s even scarier than what we witnessed on Monday night? There are more than 12 color combinations that Under Armour has in store for this year. Under Armour is based in Baltimore, Maryland and I guess they are doing to the Terps what Nike did to the Oregon Ducks… except Oregon’s outfits look extremely cool. Oregon’s designs have flair and eye popping designs, Maryland’s are a horror show. There was way too much of the Maryland flag for any human being to take. A message to UA: emulation is the sincerest form of flattery but leave the flashy stuff to Oregon. By the way Maryland’s football team is going to make some noise this year and you should pay more attention to Danny O’Brian than his jersey.)

What Ana Ivonivic could’ve been.

Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly broke up… hide your girlfriends New York.

NHL training camps start this week…

That mean we’re a month a away from Rachel McAdams shots at Vancouver games and Carrie Underwood at Predators games.

God I love hockey.


The Indians Go For It

Cleveland apparently rocks.

There is having a sack (edited version) and then there’s having a huge sack.

The Cleveland Indians are the latter.

The guts the Indians showed yesterday in acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez shows that they mean business. This isn’t just a one-time, happy to be here team that is enjoying their success this year after a few years of looking like mush. No, no, no, the Indians are going for it.

Jimenez was the most coveted pitcher of this trade deadline with the Rockies looking to get a huge package in return for a guy that is an ace even with questions about his mechanics and velocity. The Rockies got that and more by receiving super talented righty Alex White and possibly an ace in the making in lefty Drew Pomeranz.

That’s a lot of pitching to give up for one guy, but Jimenez might be worth it.

Jimenez has the talent to be one of the best pitchers in the game as he showed last year by winning 15 games and posting an era near 2 before the All-star break before having an off second half. He’s suffered through an injury plagued year going 6-9 with an ERA around 4, however he has regained some form lately. In his last ten starts he has a 2.58 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 66 innings and his velocity has recovered after he showed a considerable dip in arm strength early in the season.

Scouts were worried that he seemed to lose at least 3mph off of his fast ball when he had arm problems in April and May. However, his fastball has been topping out at 96mph lately, which has him looking like the Cy Young candidate that he was last year. They need him to be that Jimenez with two months left in the season and the Tribe a game and a half behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

Even if Jimenez isn’t as dominant as he was last year it still shows how eager the Indians are to win and win now.

The Indians smell the postseason and are doing whatever they can to get there.

This deal combined with the deal for Kosuke Fukudome earlier in the week (which was just as huge because the Indians needed some type of positive outfield production) shows that the Indians aren’t happy with just winning a few games.

Their surprise season has them hungry for more than just a few pats on the back and some spots on sportscenter. The Jimenez deal shows their fans just how serious the team is about contending despite the concerns behind Jimenez.

Is he an ace or isn’t he? He is an upgrade in a rotation that desperately needed help outside of Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin. He is also more of a reward than a risk; his contract is small market friendly as he’s only owed $4 million next season with a few club options that total $14 million over the next two seasons. Even if it doesn’t work out with Jimenez it’s still a very cost effective deal.

But that’s not what the Indians want out of this deal. They want the guy that made scouts drool over him last year with a combination of his big fastball and nasty off speed pitches. They want the guy that could be mentioned in the same breath as Justin Verlander, Josh Johnson and the other young and talented aces in the league.

They made this deal to acquire a pitcher who can carry them down the stretch and be counted on to go the distance when needed. If Jimenez can fulfill those thoughts then giving up two blue chip hurlers will have been more than worth it.

Even if he doesn’t at least the Indians tried. They pulled the trigger on a deal that the Red Sox and Yankees were afraid to make. The big dogs feared about Jimenez’s health and velocity and rather than give up prized possession they passed.

The Indians took a risk on a pitcher that can become one of the best in the game if he is fully healthy. They outbid two of baseball’s behemoths for one of its prized possessions.

They deserve props no matter the result.


Baseball Preview Day 7: The Season Preview

The Giants begin their title defense.

The human arm was never meant to throw any object over 70 mph… it certainly wasn’t meant to do it over, and over, and over again 30-80 times a year for 10+ years.

Unfortunately for that theory grown men have been doing it for over 100 years in this little game we like to call baseball. And without pitching your chances of doing anything remotely impressive during the season will be as slim as Tim Lincecum.

Pitching is the most important part of the game of baseball. Teams with good pitching do better than teams without it. Sure you could score a lot of runs, win some games and it could be a bunch of fun. However, more than likely if you don’t have a decent two or three starters or a semi-decent bullpen then your season is over by the time the NFL heads into training camp (assuming of course that we have an NFL season this year.).

The old adage that good pitching beats good hitting is as solid as defense wins championships. Look at last year’s World Series for example; the Rangers for 11 years have been a team predicated on mashing the ball out of the yard and they do so at a great rate with Josh Hamilton and company. Yet after getting by Tampa Bay and the Yankees they had the pleasure of facing the best young staff in the Majors and they got smoked. Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner shut them down and brought home San Fran’s first baseball title and first pro sports title since Steve Young and the 95 49ers.

Before that the threesome of C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettite and A.J. Burnett limited the Philadelphia Phillies potent offense in 2009, and the Phillies did it to Tampa before that.

The Rangers, Phillies and Rays were all teams that scored a lot of runs and did it at a great rate. However, once Cole Hamels, C.C. and Lincecum started to locate, their runs were over.

How important is pitching? Teams trade away the farm for it and stockpile it as if a nuclear strike were happening and the only supplies you could use were toilet paper, water and a left-handed flame thrower.

Without C.C. Sabathia they Yankees dont win the 2009 World Series

The Angels were so desperate to make a run at the AL West last year that they traded a young gun in Joe Saunders for a proven ace in Dan Haren. The Red Sox shelled out 80 million dollars for John Lackey who is at best a number 3 starter. The Mets gave up 4 major leaguers and cash for Johan Santana. The Yankees wouldn’t get Santana because it would’ve meant parting with Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. The pitching market is like the drug market, its risky and more times than not you’ll get burned, but you got something good you feel on top of the world.

Pitching means everything. If St. Louis would’ve lost Colby Rasmus for the season you figure that Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols could step up. But losing Adam Wainwright knocks you out of the race for NL Central because he’s an ace on most teams but he’s your number 2 guy.

How have the Giants been able to overcome their offensive deficiencies and Barry Zito’s horrendous 7 year/$126 million dollar signing? Because, their front four have been spectacular and their bullpen was just as good.

Why didn’t the Padres win the NL West last year? Because they rode Mat Latos and had no other pitchers to back him up (that and their offense was terrible but Latos and the pen covered their tails until the last month of the year.).

It’s all due to pitching. As great as Albert Pujols is, Carpenter and Wainwright won that title in 2006. Ryan Howard is a stud, but the 08 Series belonged to Hamels. You can go back to the 90’s and the Twins, Jays and Marlins. Do they win those titles without Jack Morris, Dave Stewart and Livan Hernandez pitching lights out? Nope.

Which brings us to 2011 of course. The perennial favorites to win this year’s title are the Phillies. Why? Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels (and Joe Blanton.). That front four might be the best looking rotation in the history of the game on paper. 3 Cy Young’s, 2 rings and a lot of heat.

Philly’s acquisition of Lee made them the favorites for this year even as the Giants were still getting their names etched into their World Series trophy. Never mind that Chase Utley is banged up, and Ryan Howard has no protection in the lineup, if they score 2-3 runs a game then they’re fine.

Same for San Francisco, Atlanta and Oakland, yes the Oakland A’s have one of baseball’s best staffs with Dallas

That's Trevor Cahill, he's an A, get to know him.

Braden, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson at the top of the rotation. Combine them with a bullpen featuring Andrew Bailey and Brian Fuentes and the A’s could make a series run at the Rangers for the top spot out west.

So who really has the best staff in baseball this year and could go for it all in October? Well as always you have to start from the bottom and work your way up, so…

30. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (last year pitching rank 30th)

ROTATION: Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, James McDonald

James McDonald has a lot of hype and rightfully so after a pretty impressive second half last year. Unfortunately he and the Pirates are staring at another year in the NL Central basement.

29. KANSAS CITY ROYALS (LY: 29th)

ROTATION: Luke Hochevar, Jeff Francis, Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen

They traded away Zach Greinke and only have a 4-man rotation to start with. They have a boatload of talent in the minor leagues and they may be getting a lot of playing time this year.

28. CLEVELAND INDIANS (LY: 23RD)

ROTATION: Fausto Carmona, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, Mitch Talbot

Carmona rebounded from a rough 2009 with a decent 2010. However he’s going to need to do a lot more with this young and very raw rotation.

27. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (LY: 27TH)

If this is your ace, then your pitching needs work.

ROTATION: Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman.

The Orioles added Vladimir Guerrero and Mark Reynolds to their lineup, which means we’ll be seeing lots of 6,7 run games for the O’s. the downside is that they won’t be wins with a bad pen and an iffy rotation.

(side note: can we all be in agreement that Guthrie is not a number one starter? The O’s have been trotting him out there as such but he’s never won more than 11 games and has never finished over .500. just hand the reigns over to Brian Matusz and call it a day.

26. NEW YORK METS (LY: 7TH)

ROTATION: Mike Pelfrey, Jonathan Niese, R.A. Dickey, Chris Young, Chris Capuano

So, who here thinks Pelfrey and Dickey can replicate there seasons from last year, Niese can become a decent two before Santana returns and that Chris Young is finally healthy? Yeah me neither.

25. SAN DIEGO PADRES (2ND)

ROTATION: Mat Latos (DL), Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Aaron Harang, Dustin Moseley.

Who steps up in this rotation in Latos’s absence. Matter of fact who steps up when he’s back? While you like Richard as a number two after a pretty good campaign last year you have to be concerned that Stauffer and Moseley started 11 games total last year and that Harang has always been an up and down pitcher.

24. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (LY: 23RD)

ROTATION: Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch.

Youth, youth, youth. Drabek has been a hot commodity since he was first mentioned in the Halladay talks in 2009. Brett Cecil was a beast going 15-7 with a 4.22 ERA and Morrow and Romero have amazing stuff. If they can put it all together they’ll be really good, but an questionable bullpen with Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch leaves room for improvement.

23. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (LY:19TH)

ROTATION: LIVAN HERNANDEZ, JOHN LANNAN, JASON MARQUIS, JORDAN ZIMMERMAN, TOM GORZELANNY

I really like the arms in Washington even without Stephen Strasburg until next year. Zimmerman could be a stud and a viable number two and Livan is a consistent, innings eater who will fill in nicely as the ace of the staff until Strasburg heals from Tommy John surgery.

Also in case you haven’t noticed, the Nats have done some nice retooling in their lineup by adding Jayson Werth and I think this is the year that Ian Desmond breaks through at the top of the order. The Nats wont be in the playoff mix but they’ll be intriguing to watch.

22. HOUSTON ASTROS (LY:17TH)

ROTATION: Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ, Bud Norris, Nelson Figueroa

What I like: the front 3 of Myers, Rodriguez and Happ will give teams fits. I always liked Happ when he was a Phillie and he has a chance to be a top of the rotation guy in Houston.

What I don’t like: everything else. Figueroa as a starter? Norris who only relies on one pitch? And don’t get me started on Carlos Lee… lets just move on.

Hopefully the Cubs knew what they were doing.

21. CHICAGO CUBS (LY:21)

ROTATION: Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Carlos Zambrano, Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner

Garza and Zambrano, two head cases in the same rotation… 103 and counting.

20. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (LY:5TH)

ROTATION: Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse, Kyle McClellan

With Wainwright this is a top 10 rotation, without him they fall out of the NL Central race. Sad to say but unless Westbrook has a career year this is a wait til next year scenario.

(also, who would’ve thought that with all of the Pujols banter this offseason that Wainwright’s injury would be the ultimate doom to their year? Internally Pujols has to love this, because lets say he goes .340/45/140 and the Cardinals make the playoffs with a shoddy pitching staff. How does he not get his 30 mil a year deal?)

19. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (28TH)

ROTATION: Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders, Daniel Hudson, Barry Enright, Armando Gallaraga

Have you noticed that in the last year the D’Backs have fleeced the Yankees for Kennedy, the Angels for Saunders, the White Sox for Hudson who all looked better in ‘Zona than they did in their previous locations, and were able to suck the Orioles into Mark Reynolds? If Gallaraga goes 14-9 with a sub 4 ERA the Tigers will be kicking themselves in the teeth.

18. DETROIT TIGERS (LY:25TH)

ROTATION: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Brad Penny, Phil Coke

The “Yeah, but…” rotation of the decade. Scherzer and Porcello are young arms with experience, but can they be top of the rotation guys? Brad Penny has shown flashes, but his struggles in the last two years have outshined those flashes. Phil Coke… look he’s an ex-Yankee and I like him, but a starter… no.

17. NEW YORK YANKEES (LY:15TH)

ROTATION: Sabathia, Burnett, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova

Burnett's our number 2... lord help us.

You didn’t misread that, I have my Yankees at the bottom half of the Majors for pitching and overall this year.

You may think I’m crazy, nuts, going overboard even. The fact is that this team aint making the playoffs. Starting rotation, too many questions. Jeter leading off… not gonna work. Mark Teixeira trying to have a fast start, not gonna happen.

There are too many grey areas with this team to have faith in them. Will they win close to 90 games? Sure, why not? But contend? No way. For the first time in 15 Yankees fans will have to settle for wait til next year.

(and you can erase that top paragraph if Nova pitches as well as I think he will and this Manny Banuelos kid comes up and starts lighting it up in June. I’m realistic about this team, but I have lots of hope.)

16. TEXAS RANGERS (LY: 10TH)

ROTATION: C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando

Their best starter is also their best reliever. Their biggest mistake for this season is not starting Neftali Perez out of the gate. If Holland can figure it out finally and Lewis and Wilson recapture that postseason magic then they’ll be fine. However, it’s going to be hard when you’re not sneaking up on anyone and you’re no longer the underdog.

15. FLORIDA MARLINS (LY: 16TH)

ROTATION: Josh Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad, Anibal Sanchez

I’ve wanted to pick the Marlins to win this division for years. And right when they unload Uggla who hindered them defensively, pick up Vazquez who is a remarkably better National League pitcher than he is an American Leaguer, and have and awesome rotation that’s finally healthy, the Phillies get Lee and the Braves staff returns to its mid-90’s form. Good grief.

14. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (LY: 13TH)

ROTATION: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilli, Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Garland

Five innings eaters with good stuff takes you a long way. Except when Jonathan Broxton is your closer. If Broxton were Heath Bell then the Dodgers would be in the top 10 and contending for the World Series. But that’s not the case.

(by the way, this maybe Matt Kemp’s last season to get his head out of his rear and become the player he should become. Mr. Hollywood should be a .320/30/100 guy right now and should be the face of this team, but his bouts with laziness and love of the limelight are hindering him. One more year of this and its bye-bye la-la land for Kemp.)

13. SEATTLE MARINERS (LY: 9TH)

ROTATION: Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, Michael Pineda

King Felix meet Michael Pineda. Take him under your wing and lead him into good habits and guide him to his American League rookie of the year award. Then say bye to him when you’re traded after this season.

12. COLORADO ROCKIES (LY: 20TH)

If the Rockies want to contend, this guy has to step up.

ROTATION: Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Hammel, Jhoulys Chacin, Esmil Rogers

Troy Tulowitzky could win MVP, Carlos Gonzalez could win the Triple Crown, the Rockies could make the World Series… and none of this will happen unless Jimenez slaps some consistency into De La Rosa and he becomes a reliable number two.

11. ANAHEIM ANGELS (LY: 14TH)

ROTATION: Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir, Joel Piniero (DL)

I couldn’t tell you why, but I am not particularly thrilled with this Angels team. They have a great rotation, decent closer and a lineup that can produce 800 runs. But I just feel that this team is missing a piece. Maybe a speedster, a great reliever, something. Stay tuned.

10. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (LY: 26TH)

ROTATION: Yovani Gallardo, Zach Greinke (DL), Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson

As long as Greinke stays away from a basketball court this team will be dangerous. Prince Fielder in a contract year with Ryan Braun and Corey Hart will score a ton of runs, and Gallardo is the happiest man in baseball that he finally has some help in the rotation.

9. MINNESOTA TWINS (LY: 11TH)

ROTATION: Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker

More important for the Twins is that Joe Nathan returns after Tommy John surgery. More importantly Justin Morneau returns from a season ending concussion. As long as they don’t play the Yankees late in the year then they’re a AL contender.

(did you know the Yankees were taking a look at reacquiring Pavano this off-season? I want to know who smacked Cashman first after hearing that possibility a Steinbrenner or Jeter?)

8. CINCINNATI REDS (LY: 12TH)

ROTATION: Edinson Volquez, Jonny Cueto (DL) Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood, Mike Leake

Was last year a fluke? Hardly. They get Volquez at 100% and Aroldis Chapman for a whole year. Not to mention Joey Votto and Jay Bruce leading a highly potent offense. Only one question, who’s arm will Dusty blow out first? (I joke, I joke.)

7. BOSTON RED SOX (LY: 22ND)

If Beckett and Lackey don't return to form, you guys are going to be more than winded.

ROTATION: Jon Lester, John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matzsuzaka

The Red Sox can win the World Series if:

  • Josh Beckett’s back holds up
  • John Lackey proves he’s worth 80 million
  • Clay Buchholz proves last year was a glimpse into a promising future
  • They find someone to take Dice-K’s dead weight
  • Adrian Gonzalez is the real deal
  • Carl Crawford doesn’t descend into an oblivion
  • And if Daniel Bard becomes their closer and Jonathan Papelbon becomes Kansas City’s closer

Got it?

6. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (LY: 18TH)

ROTATION: Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Jake Peavy (DL), Edwin Jackson

I’m risking my sanity again on betting that the ChiSox wont blow up into a gelatinous mess and that Peavy regains his mojo along with Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko bopping home runs at will. I give it 3 months.

5. OAKLAND A’S (LY: 5TH)

ROTATION: Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy

I’d like to call this one the pick that will drive my buddy Scully up a wall. I’m putting a lot of faith into a team that will score like the Nashville Predators and is relying on Josh Willingham to do the offense’s heavy lifting.

But this rotation is a dream. Cahill was a dark horse Cy Young candidate last year, Braden is coming into his own after pitching a perfect game last year and Anderson is an innings eater with great stuff. It’s a less fragile version of the staff that they had in the early 90’s and one that can carry them to the ALCS. I really believe that.

4. TAMPA BAY RAYS (LY: 8TH)

ROTATION: David Price, James Shields, Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann

Risky pick that will drive Scully mad number two. But really, who’s going to hit that rotation? The Rays have more pitching than North Korea has nukes. One problem, their closer is Kyle Farnsworth…

And with that I’ll lead into this, I like the pickups of Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. Why? Because this team needed plate discipline and guys that could take pitches. This team strikes out so much that it’s mind-boggling. For all of their talent none of these guys can practice any patience. Now with Damon and Ramirez they get guys that can work counts, draw walks and extend at bats that will wear down pitchers.

3. ATLANTA BRAVES (LY: 3RD)

ROTATION: Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Braves are back to their stellar pitching ways with Hudson, Lowe and Hanson who might be a dark horse for the Cy Young.

What’s different is the guy in the dugout. For the first time since the 80’s Bobby Cox is not managing the Braves. Fredi Gonzalez takes over for one of the game’s winningest managers and the Braves most memorable personality.

What he leaves behind is a team that could be a World Series contender if things fall into place. Besides the starters the lineup gets a huge boost with the acquisition of Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward looks to improve on an impressive rookie season.

But the key is the rotation and bullpen, Jurrjens and Hanson are improving everyday and Hudson, though not an ace, is a quality start every time he goes out. However, if Lowe cant pitch consistently the Braves wont make it to September. Lowe is this staff’s most important cog because of his experience and ability to make enough pitches to extend his starts into the sixth and seventh innings. If he can’t do that then the bullpen will have a hard time closing games out even with Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill bringing the heat.

As Lowe goes, this team goes.

2. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (LY: 1ST)

Sick of us yet?

ROTATION: Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Zito

Best staff and bullpen in the game period. You cant, and wont score runs on them. Even with Brian Wilson on the shelf for a month Sergio Romo will be able to hold it down until he returns.

The concern is can they stand the heat being the defending champs? They have to deal with every team’s best shot all year long and have to consistently score runs, which is something that they struggled with last year.

However, the offense has more pop this year with Buster Posey playing a full season and Pablo Sandoval dropping 40 pounds. (plus Brandon Belt coming up sooner than later, write that down.).

Plus, this is the freaking Giants. They’re the most loose, free spirited team in the league. They got this.

1. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (LY: 6TH)

ROTATION: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt, Blanton

No Utley, no Lidge, no problem. The scariest rotation since the mid-90’s Braves. Have fun National League.

So with Philly as the number one pitching staff in the league then you’re thinking that I’m picking them to win the World Series… well not exactly.

They’ll make the Series, but Boston will win it. Why? Even with all of those concerns you feel like Boston will put it together. Beckett will be healthy, Buchholz will have a great follow up season and Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford will be spectacular. They tried the whole defense and pitching thing last year but decided to make their line up manlier and it will pay off.

The have enough pitching and their guys can pitch when it counts. I like the Phillies but I wonder if Hamels is all the way back mentally and how will Halladay pitch in big game situations because against the Giants last year it wasn’t well.

The Sox have those type of guys and they’re on a mission. After an abysmal 2010 the Sox are going for broke and don’t be surprised if they come up all roses.

Wow, I picked the Red Sox to win it all, I feel dirty.

You’re probably wondering, “wait a minute, if they don’t have the best pitchers how can they have the best team after your argument.” Because sometime it’s not how much pitching you have, but the right pitching. That’s baseball for ya.

AL EAST- RED SOX

AL CENTRAL- WHITE SOX

AL WEST- A’S

AL WILDCARD- RAYS

NL EAST- PHILLIES

NL CENTRAL- BREWERS

NL WEST- GIANTS

NL WILDCARD- BRAVES

ALCS- RED SOX- A’S

NLCS- PHILLIES- GIANTS

WORLD SERIES- RED SOX- PHILLIES

NL MVP- PRINCE FIELDER

NL CY YOUNG- ROY HALLADAY

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR- BRANDON BELT

NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR- RON ROENICKE

AL MVP- EVAN LONGORIA

AL CY YOUNG- JON LESTER

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR- MICHAEL PINEDA

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR- BOB GEREN


The Rockies Time Of Year

So It’s September, football is starting, the leaves are changing… And the Rockies are making their annual playoff push.

It happened in 2007 when the Rockies winning ways landed them a spot in the Series versus Boston, it happened last year during another playoff push sans Matt Holliday, and it’s happening again this year thanks to a 10 game winning streak that has pushed the Rockies to within a game and a half of first place in the NL West.

How have they done it? How do all great runs happen? Timely hitting, great pitching and a little luck. The pitching has come from this year’s Cy Young leader Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez has been the man ever since he no-hit the Braves in the spring and has cruised to a sub 3 ERA and a NL high 18 wins. Also Matt Belisle has been a strong man out of the bullpen with a 2.75 ERA.

Just another September in Colorado.

Of course this is Colorado, so offense is still the main attraction. With Ruan Spilborghs and Troy Tulowitzki coming up with clutch hits time and time again they have offset a dismal year from the always steady Todd Helton. However, the man has been Carlos Gonzalez who has had the breakout year of breakout years.

(there’s something about that number 5 in left field ther, just ask Holliday.)

Gonzalez is one of the three triple crown, MVP candidates in the NL, leading the league with a .337 batting average, 4th in home runs and 3rd in RBI. Gonzalez’s breakout year desperately filled a void in the lineup left by Holliday a year ago and has added a great component to an already
potent lineup.

Lastly luck always a big role in the Rockies late runs… And it seems to invoke the San Diego Padres in some way.

In 2007 the Padres led the NL wildcard, but faltered late down the stretch which coincided with the Rockies run of 20 straight wins and included that breathtaking playoff game that ended with a Holliday faceplant.

This year the Rockies winning ways come during the Padres 10 game losing streak which watched them go from ten up on the Rockies in August to a game and a half lead today, which includes a three game sweep by Colorado earlier this month in San Diego. The Padres must love watching Colorado play in rocktober.

You can also thank the unknown players for giving Colorado a boost. Besides Belisle, players like Jason Giambi (Yankee great) have come up with clutch game winning hits to put the Rocks over the edge.

The question is can the Rockies do it again?

Three times in four years seems like a lot to ask out of one team, but the Rockies have turned this into an art form. It’s as if Colorado flips the on switch on August 31st and it runs deep into October.

This week’s series against San Diego will be their latest test.

The Padres haven’t been able to score runs at all in their last 15 games… Heck all season! However, in the offense friendly confines of Coord Field Adrian Gonzalez and company may be able to get it going.

If the Rockies can Take two from the Padres at Coors that would leave them a Hal game back with less than 20 games to go with 10 games left against non playoff competition while San Diego still has series left against St. Louis and Cincinnati.

Colorado could essentially put themselves in the drivers seat with a great series in the next 3 days.

If it happens again we shouldn’t be surprised. This is Colorado’s time of year. Leaves changing colors, weather turning colder, and the Rockies getting on a role and making a late postseason push. You may be amazed. Me? I’m used to it. I’m surprised they haven’t won 15 straight by now.


Garza May Finally Breakthrough, With This Breakthrough

Matt Garza's Up and Down year gets a huge boost with his no-hitter

The no-hitter has replaced the home run as the most appealing sight in baseball. That’s what happens when you have 6 in less than 100 games (and yes I’m still counting Armando Galarraga’s thank you very much).

The latest comes from Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays who only allowed one walk over his 120 pitch gem in a 5-0 win against the Detroit Tigers. Garza has been considered to have ace potential since his arrival from Minnesota via trade, and his performance Monday shows why Tampa ponied up a few prospects to land him in the first place and make him a front of the rotation pitcher.

(It also makes you wonder what Minnesota’s rotation would be like with him there and how the current struggles it has with Nick Blackburn being moved to the bullpen would be a moot point. Sorry to pour salt in those wounds Twins fans.)

The great thing about Garza’s performance is that it was an awesome performance. Unlike Edwin Jackson and Ubaldo Jimenez’s walk fests of no-no’s Garza was in control for most of the night walking only one but getting a double play ball immediately after. He faced the minimum of 27 batters striking out six and over powering Tigers hitters with that huge fast ball of his. 101 of his 120 pitchers were fastballs sometimes hitting 96 or 97 on the radar gun. His performance last night was the high point in a year that has been filled with ups and downs.

Sometimes over the course of his tenure in Tampa, Garza’s focus and emotional restraint has been questioned. He is a fiery right-hander who listens to 2pac before each start and it shows in his emotions throughout the course of some of his starts. In June Garza had a complete meltdown against the Florida Marlins when he gave up 7 earned runs in 1 1/3 innings, against the Red Sox earlier this month he allowed 4 earned runs and threw 84 pitches in 3 innings which got him the quick hook. In his last start against Baltimore he allowed 7 earned runs and ten hits to one of the worst offensive teams in baseball.

Then this, this is the Matt Garza that baseball writers fell in love with during the 2008 ALCS where he made his presence known by winning the series MVP. This is the guy that came out this year with a 3-0, .75 ERA start to his season. This is the guy that was going to be the leader of a rotation with young flame throwers like David Price and Jeff Niemann. Garza himself knows what kind of year it’s been for him, “This year I’ve just been so rocky, just trying to find myself. Something good had to happen soon,” the right-hander said. “I’m trying to look for just a hint of consistency, and this should get the ball rolling in the right direction. I didn’t feel great. My mechanics felt off, but I was able to locate my fastball.”

Manager Joe Maddon agrees, “This is the kind of game that could catapult somebody like him who has this kind of ability. He has struggled at different moments this year. Hopefully this is one of those things that can really mentally get you over the hump.”

The Rays need it too. They’re in a pennant chase with the Yankees and have a huge series coming up this weekend against them. They would love nothing more than to have this carry over into the series and take over sole possession of the AL East.

What they would also love are more gems like these in their favor. The Rays before Monday had been no-hit 3 times in fourteen months. It’s about time one of these things went in their favor.

While we all marvel at Garza’s achievement, and Yankees hope that Saturday’s showdown against him is a little better than what the Tigers endured, his oldest son Matthew isn’t impressed. He told his dad after his historic performance, “You’re still not an all-star.” See, even in the year of the pitcher where a guy wins eleven games and throws a no-no you still can’t impress everyone. Hopefully this outing will change his dad’s fortunes and maybe this time next his son will be fully satisfied.


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.