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17 year old Cale's very opinionated view on everything sports.

Posts Tagged ‘MLB

MLB Season Preview: #26 Cleveland Indians

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Overview: Two seasons ago, the Indians had the likes of players like P C.C. Sabathia, C Victor Martinez, and P Cliff Lee. Now that those players (and many others) have been traded, the Indians are clearly in a rebuilding mode. They will center the franchise around CF Grady Sizemore. However, Sizemore was injured most of last year, and Cleveland was terrible. Expect more of the same this year from the Tribe.

Offseason Moves: The Indians made very few significant moves this offseason. Their biggest acquisition was 1B Russell Branyan, who is coming off a career year in Seattle. Cleveland also brought in veterans, such as OF Austin Kearns, 2B Mark Grudzielanek, C Mike Redmond, and P Saul Rivera. None of these players will have a great impact, and will serve as mentors and stop-gap players waiting for Cleveland’s young talent to progress through the minor leagues.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. LF Michael Brantley (.313, 0 HR, 11 RBI)

2. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera (.308, 6 HR, 68 RBI)

3. CF Grady Sizemore (.248, 18 HR, 64 RBI)

4. 1B Russell Branyan (.251, 31 HR, 76 RBI)

5. RF Shin-Soo Choo (.300, 20 HR, 86 RBI)

6. SS Jhonny Peralta (.254, 11 HR, 83 RBI)

7. DH Travis Hafner (.272, 16 HR, 49 RBI) —- Will platoon with OF Matt LaPorta

8. 3B Andy Marte (.232, 6 HR, 25 RBI)

9. C Lou Marson (.246, 0 HR, 4 RBI)

Backup C: Mike Redmond (.237, 0 HR, 7 RBI)

Backup IF: Luis Valbuena (.250, 10 HR, 31 RBI)

Backup OF: Matt LaPorta (.254, 7 HR, 21 RBI)

Backup OF: Austin Kearns (.195, 3 HR, 17 RBI)

1. Jake Westbrook (No Stats in ’09)

2. Aaron Laffey (7-9, 4.44 ERA)

3. Justin Masterson (4-10, 4.52 ERA)

4. Fausto Carmona (5-12, 6.32 ERA)

5. David Huff (11-8, 5.61 ERA)

CP: Kerry Wood (3-3, 4.25 ERA, 20 SV)

SU: Rafael Perez (4-3, 7.31 ERA)

SU: Chris Perez (1-2, 4.26 ERA)

MR: Joe Smith (0-0, 3.44 ERA)

MR: Saul Rivera (1-3, 6.10 ERA)

LR: Jensen Lewis (2-4, 4.61 ERA)

LR: Jamey Wright (3-5, 4.33 ERA)

Player to watch: OF Matt LaPorta was the center-piece of the C.C. Sabathia trade a couple of years ago. After a decent rookie campaign, LaPorta finds himself in a log-jam for a spot in the Indians’ outfield, and possibly splitting time at DH with Travis Hafner. If LaPorta lives up to his ability and forces his way into the lineup, it will be interesting where the Indians put him in the field. LaPorta has the potential to be a 30 HR, 100 RBI hitter, and be the right-handed power bat in the Tribe’s lineup for years to come.

Prediction: 60 – 102, 5th in AL Central

The Indians will be the 2nd worst team in MLB this season. They simply have no pitching, and a lineup that will be suspect at times. You need pitching to survive in the American League, and Cleveland doesn’t have it. Not to mention that every other team in the division has good if not great pitching, which will help shut down the Tribe’s offense.

MLB Season Preview: #29 Pittsburgh Pirates

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Overview: As Pittsburgh fans have become accustomed to, the Pirates finished with a losing record again last season. That being nearly the twentieth season in a row, the franchise is looking for some relief. Frankly, I believe that the Pirates are the most promising team in baseball.

Offseason Moves: The Pirates had a relatively quiet offseason, which has also become a regular occurrence for the team. Pittsburgh added a veteran presence in 2B Akinori Iwamura, who has playoff experience from his time in Tampa Bay. The Pirates also added veteran relievers P Octavio Dotel and Javier Lopez to help out a mediocre at best bullpen. Finally, Pittsburgh added some stop-gap players in IF Bobby Crosby and OF Ryan Church to fill the holes until their young and promising talent arrives to the big leagues.

Projected Lineups and Pitching Staff:

1. CF Andrew McCutchen (.286, 12 HR, 54 RBI)

2. 2B Akinori Iwamura (.290, 1 HR, 22 RBI)

3. 1B Garrett Jones (.293, 21 HR, 44 RBI)

4. C Ryan Doumit (.250, 10 HR, 38 RBI)

5. LF Lastings Milledge (.279, 4 HR, 21 RBI)

6. RF Brandon Moss (.236, 7 HR, 41 RBI)

7. 3B Andy LaRoche (.258, 12 HR, 64 RBI)

8. SS Ronny Cedeno (.208, 10 HR, 38 RBI)

Backup C: Jason Jaramillo (.252, 3 HR, 26 RBI)

Backup IF: Bobby Crosby (.223, 6 HR, 29 RBI)

Backup IF: Jeff Clement (No Major League Stats in ’09)

Backup IF: Ramon Vasquez (.230, 1 HR, 16 RBI)

Backup OF: Ryan Church (.273, 4 HR, 40 RBI)

1. Zach Duke (11-16, 4.06 ERA)

2. Paul Maholm (8-9, 4.44 ERA)

3. Ross Ohlendorf (11-10, 3.92 ERA)

4. Charlie Morton (5-9, 4.55 ERA)

5. Daniel McCutchen (1-2, 4.21 ERA)

CP: Octavio Dotel (3-3, 3.32 ERA, 0 SV)

SU: Javier Lopez (0-2, 9.26 ERA)

SU: Joel Hanrahan (1-4, 4.78 ERA)

MR: Evan Meek (1-1, 3.45 ERA)

MR: Donnie Veal (1-0, 7.16 ERA)

MR: Jose Ascanio (0-2, 4.00 ERA)

LR: Chris Jakubauskas (6-7, 5.32 ERA)

Player to watch: Last year, Pittsburgh brought up their top prospect, Andrew McCutchen, in mid May. He went on to excite Pirates fans everywhere with his speed and ability. It would be crazy to think McCutchen wouldn’t continue to be a spark plug in Pittsburgh for a long time, and look for the 2010 season to really be where he shows what he can do in the big leagues.

Prediction: 70- 92, 4th in NL Central

I did it again. Yes, the Pirates will only make about an eight game improvement this season, but it will be enough to get out of the cellar. Although this may not seem like much to the fans, the Pirates have young talent such as 3B Pedro Alvarez, who some have called “the left-handed Albert Pujols”, and P Brad Lincoln coming soon. Combined with some of the young players at the big league level, and a couple of veteran additions through free agency, could make the Pirates a winning team in 2011. Not to mention, they will be in a division with all but one of the other teams that are getting older and will begin to fade in the coming years.

Fan Voting for All-Star Games

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In the past decade, the MLB, NFL, and NBA have instituted fan voting to send players to the All-Star game. This was in effort to bring more attraction to the game, and get fans more involved in the process. However, this idea has backfired, and as recently as yesterday, it was very clear.

Yesterday, Sixers’ guard Allen Iverson was elected as a starter in the All-Star game. Iverson is averaging a career low in points per game with 14.4, which doesn’t even rank in the Top 40 in the league. Names that would surprise you that are in front of Iverson in this category are Toronto forward Andrea Bargnani, New York’s Al Harrington, and the Clippers’ center Chris Caman. Not only that, but Iverson has played for a total of 18 games this season. Yes, it is a nice way to honor Iverson, who may be in the last year of an illustrious career. However, it is the All-Star game. It’s not the honoree game. Cal Ripken Jr. played in the All-Star game during the last year of his career, but he was worthy of being there. He had the statistics that put him at the top of the league, and deserved the trip. Allen Iverson doesn’t have the statistics that fit in the All-Star game, not to mention being a starter. It is sad because I am a fan of Iverson, want him to succeed, and would love to watch him in one last All-Star game. He is just not worthy of it though, and some player will be snubbed of a roster spot.

Next on the list of the undeserved is Tracy McGrady. McGrady has not officially made the All-Star team, but was leading the voting for quite a long time. However, McGrady has played a giant total of 6 games this season, and is averaging 3.2 points per game. No that wasn’t a misprint. It is 3.2 points per game. That would surely be the lowest by any player to ever make the All-Star team, yet he lead the fan voting. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

This is not just a problem in the NBA. Players elected to the game undeservedly in baseball lately are Cubs’ OF Kosuke Fukudome in 2008, Red Sox DH David Ortiz in 2008, and Giants’ OF Barry Bonds in 2007. The NFL has also had issues with fan voting recently. Most of these issues stem from fan bases wanting “their guys” representing their team in the All-Star game. However, this should not be the case. It should be a game where the best players on a given year unite, and play a spirited, hard fought game. Although, it is never like that either.

The Free Agent Guessing Game

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I am a follower of the site “mlbtraderumors.com” during the offseason and when it becomes closer to the trade deadline of the baseball season. Usually, I am very interested and agree with a lot of what the site says. However, they posted their Top 50 Free Agent Predictions, and I throughly disagree on many. Here is my list:

 

Matt Holliday (above) watches the game from the dugout.

1.  Matt Holliday – Mets.   The Mets need offense, plain and simple. They have the money, and want to add the big bat.

2.  John Lackey – Red Sox. Boston’s rotation was almost a sure thing prior to last season. Now, Beckett and Lester are the only two definite starters, so signing Lackey is a top priority.

3.  Jason Bay – Red Sox.  Boston is the only place Bay has won, and he fits in very nicely there. I expect him to wait until Holliday signs, but after realizing Boston is his best spot, he will resign.

4.  Chone Figgins – Cardinals. A bit of a surprise here, as most believe Figgins will either sign with the Phillies or return to the Angels. However, the Cardinals struggled with solidifying the top of their lineup all season, and Troy Glaus is no longer a sure thing at the hot corner.

5.  Randy Wolf – Dodgers. L.A. is in the same situation as Boston, and have no idea what their rotation will look like next season. It’s highly unlikely that the Dodgers could acquire Roy Halladay, so Wolf is a must to bring back.

6.  Andy Pettitte – Retirement. Yes, Pettitte is finally going to walk away. After winning a World Series in 2009, who wouldn’t want to go out on top?

7.  Jose Valverde – Yankees. This will be the biggest splash of the offseason in the Bronx, as the will sign Valverde to set up Rivera, and possibly be his replacement.

8.  Marco Scutaro – Red Sox. The Sox let SS Alex Gonzalez walk, and Scutaro fits nicely. He can bat at either the top or bottom of the lineup, and will help SS Jed Lowrie stay fresh throughout the season.

9.  Adrian Beltre – Angels. They will need to fill the void that Figgins leaves, and I don’t think that they are ready to hand over the job to minor leaguers yet. This signing makes much more sense if the Halos are unable to bring back OF Vladamir Guerrero.

10.  Rich Harden – Mets. I believe the Red Sox will get Halladay, and that is why I have Harden going to the Mets. In desperate need of starting pitching and a winning club, look for New York to go on a spending spree to try and fill the stands at Citi Field.

11.  Mike Cameron – Royals. Kansas City already declined Coco Crisp’s option, and they need a center fielder. Frankly, the need elsewhere for Cameron’s services is limited.

12.  Johnny Damon – Giants. The Giants need to add offense, and Damon would fit nicely by the bay. Damon would also be the final piece of an outfield that includes Aaron Rowand and Nate Schierholtz.

13.  Orlando Hudson – Diamondbacks. It was a mistake letting Hudson walk in the first place, and Arizona was a dreadful team last season. They need to make improvements, and second base is one of the many holes on this club.

14.  Miguel Tejada – Orioles. I think Tejada would be good for the Phillies,

Miguel Tejada (above) could dawn that same Orioles' uniform again.

 but I just can’t see that happening. After the relationship soured between Baltimore and Melvin Mora last season, a hole at third base opened up for Tejada to step right back into.

15.  Joel Pineiro – Mets. New York needs rotation help, and its no secret that GM Omar Minaya likes the idea of building a latin oriented team.

16.  Nick Johnson – Orioles. Baltimore let 1B Aubrey Huff go at the trade deadline, and can afford to offer an incentive laden deal to the oft-injured Johnson.

17.  Aroldis Chapman – Reds. This could be the surprise of the offseason. After all the hype, when teams actually see him throw, I believe that his value will fall in the eyes of GMs, and will join the Reds rotation of the future, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, and Micah Owings.

18.  Marlon Byrd – Rangers. It is the only place where Byrd has had success in his major league career, and there is not much of a market for center fielders, prompting the Rangers to keep Marlon.

19.  Vladimir Guerrero – Twins. This is another surprise pick here, but Minnesota needs to add a bat to help MVP Joe Mauer and 1B Justin Morneau. Guerrero would be the perfect DH to open a new ball park in the Twin Cities.

20.  Felipe Lopez – Dodgers. With Orlando Hudson leaving the Dodgers, Lopez fits right in as a bat in the No.2 hole of the line up, or down at the bottom.

21.  Adam LaRoche – Braves. LaRoche has spent most of his big league career in Atlanta, and the Braves can’t afford to lose too much offense. Look for LaRoche to get a pay raise to ensure that he doesn’t leave Georgia.

22.  Rafael Soriano – Angels. Adding this right-handed late inning reliever will give L.A. the ability to play the numbers, and put in either Soriano or closer Brian Fuentes based on matchups.

 23. Jon Garland – Twins. Minnesota would like another arm to go in their rotation, and Garland would be a nice addition. He is one of the lower pitchers of this year’s crop, so his price will not be outrageously high.

24.  Carl Pavano – Nationals. Pavano was given a shot by the Indians last season, and was then traded to Minnesota. While Carl could still return to Cleveland, the Nationals are in need of a veteran starter, and a stop gap until all their young pitching talent arrives.

25.  Brad Penny – Diamondbacks. Arizona needs everything, and Penny would give the D-Backs a deeper rotation, as well as a veteran starter.

26.  Erik Bedard – Dodgers. Bedard is often injured, and this could lower his price. However, price isn’t much of an issue in L.A. Bedard is also rumored to be a pain in the clubhouse, in which he would fit right in with Dodgers OF Manny Ramirez.

World Series MVP Hideki Matsui (above) won't leave the Bronx.

27.  Hideki Matsui – Yankees. Believe it or not, the Yankees need the Japanese media in New York. Not to mention, Matsui was just World Series MVP, and there is no way that he is let go.

 28.  Bengie Molina – Mets. The Mets need bats, and their offseason spending frenzy will continue with the signing of Molina. Acquiring one of the best hitting catchers in baseball will help New York build a deeper line up.

29.  Mike Gonzalez – Braves. A possible destination is in the Bronx, but if Soriano leaves Atlanta, Gonzalez may like having the closer’s role all to himself.

30.  Jason Marquis – Rockies. Marquis had a stellar first half in Denver, but struggled down the stretch. I believe that he will hold out in hopes of a bigger deal, but the market will not play in his favor and force a return to the Rockies.

31.  Placido Polanco – Rays. Money isn’t a plenty down in Florida, but after trading 2B Akinori Iwamura, the Rays could use a stabalizing force at the top of their line up. CF B.J. Upton was inconsistent last season, which is why signing Polanco could happen.

32.  Tim Wakefield – Red Sox.  Boston’s rotation is very uncertain, and Wakefield has only ever played for one team. If Wakefield doesn’t return to Boston like I believe, look for retirement.

33.  Ben Sheets – Rangers. Sheets has taken a year off to recover from shoulder surgery, and looks to mount a comeback. Not many teams will be willing to offer him a contract, but the Rangers are always in need of starters, and could offer him an incentive laden deal. Not to mention, Sheets is the same kind of pitcher that owner Nolan Ryan used to be, so that must make him attractive.

34.  Doug Davis – Brewers. Davis has already played for the Brewers, and Milwaukee doesn’t have the money to sign a top-notch starter. Davis’s signing looks even more likely since the Brewers claimed him on waivers in August but couldn’t work out a deal.

35.  Jarrod Washburn – Mariners. There were no bitter feelings between the two sides after trading Washburn to Detroit, and the pitcher said that he would like to return to Seattle. The Mariners aren’t deep on pitching, so bringing back Washburn makes perfect sense.

36.  Russell Branyan – Mariners. I don’t believe that any other club will take the chance of signing Branyan, for he very likely could be a one year wonder. Also, Branyan has the desire to stay in Seattle, so why would he leave?

37.  Billy Wagner – Nationals. Wagner has questions about his health and age, which makes him an unreliable option in the late innings. However, he has stated that he wants to close for the Washington Nationals, and they have no one better. There is no reason that this deal shouldn’t get done.

38.  Juan Uribe – Mariners. Uribe had a good season in San Francisco last season, but not good enough to demand a crazy amount of money. The Mariners will need a third basemen if Adrian Beltre opts to leave, making Uribe a fit in Seattle.

39.  John Smoltz – Retirement. Smoltz’s attempt to come back from shoulder surgery failed last season, and there is no reason to believe that he would be able to make it through a full season. I don’t believe any club in contention would take a chance on Smoltz.

40.  Jermaine Dye – Royals. Dye is in the last stretch of his career, and being a former Royal may appeal to him. His market is not that big, therefore Kansas City would be able to afford him.

41.  Mark DeRosa – Phillies.  The Phillies have tried to acquire DeRosa for years. It makes perfect sense for both sides, as Philadelphia will need a third basemen going into next season.

42.  Coco Crisp – Padres. Money is an issue for San Diego, and it helps that Crisp can’t demand a ton of it. The Padres need an outfielder, and Crisp would be a nice addition to the top of the line up.

43.  Carlos Delgado – Blue Jays. Delgado is another aging superstar, and

Carlos Delgado (above) could also be returning to Toronto.

may want to return to his old stomping ground in Toronto. The Jays are totally devoid of power, and could bring back Delgado at a low price.

44.  Orlando Cabrera – Twins. Both sides have interest, as Cabrera was the emotional leader of last season’s squad. I don’t see Cabrera going any place else.

45.  Gregg Zaun – Rays. The Rays need a backup catcher, and Zaun is cheap. Perfect fit.

46.  Jim Thome – White Sox. Thome has had a good run in Chicago, and the only other place I could see him landing would be Cleveland. I think the issue here will be money, and Thome will not get what he want, but Chicago will offer a little more than Cleveland.

47.  Fernando Rodney – Phillies. Rodney is a good fit in Philadelphia because of his versatility. He can close, set up, and pitch in middle relief. If Brad Lidge struggles again next season, Rodney would be the best insurance policy.

48.  Xavier Nady – Diamondbacks.  Nady provides corner outfield depth, and can play first base. He’s not an all-star by any means, but a decent player that could help out in Arizona.

49.  Kiko Calero – Rays. Calero would be cheap, and as I have previously said, that makes him a fit as a reliever in Tampa.

50.  Rafael Betancourt – Rockies. Betancourt was one of the Rockies best relievers last season, and there will be interest in him. However, I think Colorado will offer some decent dollars to Betancourt, and keep him around.

There is one thing that I did agree with on the site, and it is that this is a difficult puzzle. If one player signs with one team, it ultimately could effect another team’s interest in another player, and all sorts of mayhem in which is the MLB offseason. Although, I thoroughly believe that my predictions will prove more accurate.

Two GMs, Two Different Sports, Two Big Mistakes

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Packers’ GM Ted Thompson and now former Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi really don’t have much in common. The Packers are an age old NFL team, while the Blue Jays are in the MLB and are north of the border. Although, what they do have in common is the fact that they have both made a mistake that may stain their careers forever.

Starting off with Thompson, and he will be known as “The Guy Who Traded Brett Favre.” It began in the summer of 2008, when Favre retired, again. Of course, as training camp grew closer, Favre got the itch to play again. Being tired of the same old song and dance, Thompson felt that it was his place to put his foot down, trade Favre to the Jets, and move on with QB Aaron Rodgers as the face of his organization. This is where Thompson went wrong.

Brett Favre (left) may come back to haunt Ted Thompson (right).

Brett Favre (left) may come back to haunt Ted Thompson (right).

The Packers went 6-10 in 2008, while the Jets went 9-7. Of course, both teams missed the playoffs, but this isn’t where the story ends. So the inevitable Favre retirement occurred again, and it seemed that he may actually have been done this time. WRONG. After months of speculation, Favre signed with the Vikings, which also happened to be the team he was rumored as wanting to go to in 2008. Thompson had tried everything in his power to prevent Favre from becoming a Viking, including putting a clause in the trade with the Jets that would have sent Green Bay three first round picks if he were traded to Minnesota. Although, the Jets released Favre upon his retirement, allowing him to go where he pleases.

 

Now, Favre is with the Vikings, who are 3-0. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Favre wants to beat down his former team for letting him go. Oh, and this game will be nationally televised on Monday night. This is where Thompson will be publicly humiliated for trading a future Hall of Famer, and possibly the best quarterback of all time. I don’t care who Green Bay drafted, or if Favre retired 500 times before he came back, Thompson should have never traded Brett Favre.

On the other hand, we have ex-Blue Jays’ GM J.P. Ricciardi. Toronto letJ.P. Ricciardi Riccardi go after not trading away ace P Roy Halladay. Ricciardi never found the package of super young talent that he so desperately desired, despite receiving many offers. So, Riccardi ended up keeping Halladay, which has now drastically reduced his trade value. Halladay’s value may have decreased so much, that the Jays may just let him finish out his contract, and let him walk to the Bronx and the New York Yankees.

Ricciardi’s mistake was different from Thompson’s. J.P. had many different options, and many different packages of players. Although, he kept pushing and pushing for a team’s whole minor league prospect pull, and no one would budge. Now, Toronto is in total rebuild mode, after letting OF Alex Rios go on waivers. The Blue Jays just figured that Ricciardi was just not the man for the job, because he failed to pull the trigger.

A general manager’s toughest decision may be deciding whether or not to trade a star player. There should be some obvious ground rules about these situations, and these two GMs have failed to follow them. Now, Ricciardi is without a job, and if Favre beats down the Pack and leads the Vikings to the Super Bowl, Thompson could be without a job too.