Monday, March 28, 2011

MLB Preview - Hitters

Thescore.com is back at it again, this time giving us a breakdown of some stories to look out for with the hitters during the upcoming season.  Will Prince Fielder hit 60 home runs? and what about Alex Rodriguez..will he one day be the all-time leader in home runs?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Opening day assignments

In case you were wondering who will be on the mound for your favourite team on opening day..here are the latest starters expected to be on the mound this Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, March 31

Justin Verlander vs. CC Sabathia (DET @ NYY) advantage Yankees
Derek Lowe vs. Livan Hernandez ( ATL @WAS) advantage Braves
Yovani Gallardo vs. Edinson Volquez (MIL @ CIN) advantage Brewers
Jered Weaver vs. Luke Hochevar (LAA @ KC) advantage: Angels
Tim Stauffer vs. Chris Carpenter (SD @ STL) *Mat Latos scratched (shoulder)
Tim Lincecum vs. Clayton Kershaw (SF @ LAD) advantage: Giants

Friday, April 1

Brett Myers vs. Roy Halladay (HOU @ PHI) advantage Phillies
Kevin Correia vs. Ryan Dempster (PIT @ CHC) advantage Cubs
Mark Buehrle vs. Fausto Carmona (CWS @ CLE) *going to be cold..advantage White Sox
Jon Lester vs. C.J. Wilson (BOS @ TEX) advantage Red Sox
Ian Kennedy vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (ARI @ COL) advantage Rockies
Carl Pavano vs. Ricky Romero (MIN @ TOR) advantage Blue Jays (always play well in openers)
Mike Pelfrey vs. Josh Johnson (NYM @ FLA) advantage Marlins (Johnson going to have big season)
Jeremy Guthrie vs. David Price (BAL @ TB) advantage Rays (Price may win Cy Young)
Dan Haren vs. Jeff Francis (LAA @ KC) GAME 2 (Canadian Francis gets the start)
Felix Hernandez vs. Trevor Cahill (SEA @ OAK) advantage "King Felix" and the M's
Jonathan Sanchez *projected vs. Chad Billingsley (SF @ LAD) GAME 2

The season is almost here! 

Nyjer Morgan dealt

The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired the always interesting and very controversial outfielder Nyjer Morgan from the Washington Nationals in exchange for the son of Phillies great Lenny Dykstra, infielder Cutter Dykstra.

Last season, Morgan hit .253 with 34 stolen bases, but was not a fan favourite for his antics on and off the field and was in jeopardy of not even making the Nationals roster this upcoming season.

This week, thescore.com will have new Stat Attack segments on the upcoming MLB season.  The first part of the series is on pitchers and is hosted by Simon Bennett and the panel includes the guys from the Getting Blanked blog and Drunk Jays Fans.  Enjoy

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Silva fails to make rotation.

After starting last season with an 8-0 record, Carlos Silva has been told that baring injury to anyone on the staff from now until the start of the season, he will not be part of the rotation or the pitching staff for that matter this upcoming season.  The Cubs made the decision to go with Andrew Cashner as the 5th starter and Marcos Mateo the last guy in the bullpen.

Reports on Friday had Silva making the team, but the Cubs made the final decision Saturday, squashing any more rumours from starting.

Last season, Silva posted a 10-6 record with a 4.22 ERA, but again started 8-0 and dealt with an irregular heartbeat and a calf injury most of the second-half.  This spring, Silva struggled with a 1-2, with a 10.90 ERA in 5 spring games and also started a fight with Aramis Ramirez over a error in the field.

The Cubs will try and traded the career 70-70 pitcher, but his $11.5 million salary might be a tough task, although the Mariners were able to pull off a deal when they decided to accept Milton Bradley as part of the deal.  If the Cubs simply release him, the Mariners will not owe the Cubs the $5.5 million they agreed to pay as part of the deal, so the Cubs must find a taker or have Silva accept the minor-league assignment.

I guess he won't be part of the 2011 GO CUBS GO as he was in 2010!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Millwood to the Yankees

After waiting and waiting and waiting for a major league contract this off season, Kevin Millwood, who apparently wasn't interested in accepting a minor league deal...did just that, signing a 1-year minor-league contract with the New York Yankees. 

Millwood, coming off a 2010 campaign with the Orioles, went 4-16, with a 5.10 ERA in 31 starts (190.2 innings pitched) with the O's, really just unbelievably terrible totals for a pitcher with 170 + innings in a season, but the Orioles were bad last year, to say the least, explaining the 4 wins.

Millwood, who has missed all of spring so far, will hope to be ready to join the rotation sometime in last April, depending on the decisions made by the Yankees on their rotation.  Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova have battled all spring for the two remaining spot in the rotation left by Andy Pettitte's retirement and Joba Chamberlain's bullpen return.

Millwood's best month pitching in his career is August, so maybe the Yankees will utilize him more later in the season if Colon, Garcia and Nova start their seasons strong.  Time will tell, but at least he won't have to pitch against the Yankees, where in his career he was 2-6 in 13 starts and a 5.12 ERA and 1.64 WHIP.  In his career at new Yankee Stadium, Millwood went 1-1 with a brutal 8.74 ERA. 

Other news:
If you are a fan of pitcher day...The score.com put together the best and worst moments this year including the famous look of Giants closer Brian Wilson, and a few interesting poses by the Cubs' Matt Garza.



Breaking: the Phillies have announced that Brad Lidge will begin the season on the 15-day DL..Lidge joins Chase Utley, Frank Francisco and Brandon Morrow as players to not start the season.

Monday, March 21, 2011

AL East Predictions

It took the Rays 96 wins to win the east in 2010, 103 wins for the Yankees in 2009, 97 wins for the Rays in 2008 and 96 wins by the Red Sox in 2007, so if the Blue Jays and Orioles have a chance, they would have to put together seasons that no one really think can realistically happen, although that's what we would have said in 2008, when the Rays won 96 games after only 66 in 2007.



The Jays will either surprise one way or the other.  A 85 win season isn't out of the question (same as last season), but they need that number to rise to 95 to be considered for the playoffs.  If the pitching staff avoids long-term injury, the staff of Romero, Cecil, Morrow, Drabek and Litsch might just go on to win 55-60 games on their own, but they would have to all remain healthy and ALL have career years. Jose Bautista is not projected by any publication to hit more than 42 home runs, so his 54 from last season is unlikely.  The offense is greatly improved with speed to burn, starting with Rajai Davis at the top, but theYankees and Red Sox are still to tough, and the Rays are still considered contenders.

Baltimore beefed up their offense this past offseason, but forgot about the pitching.  Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee will help the Orioles score, but can they avoid giving up too many runs by a young pitching staff.  Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz will lead the rotation, but the back-end is up in the air, with Kevin Gregg named the closer.

The Rays lost Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena to free agency, but replaced them with Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez which will help.  David Price could be talked about as a potential CY young candidate and leads a starting staff that lost only Matt Garza to the Cubs.  Young Jeremy Hellickson has looked good this spring and James Shields is hoping for a rebound season.

The Yankees and Red Sox are clearly the top two favourites in the AL East and so they should be.  The additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox lineup equals success for the entire order and the Yankees, with a healthy A-Rod, a some-what happy Jeter and new DH in Jorge Posada, are the basically the same team with the same goal....win the AL East.  CC Sabathia will probably be the one to watch, as he can opt out of his massive contract at seasons end.  Players, such as A.J. Burnett with the Blue Jays, have been in this situation before, and usually pitch lights out.

Predictions:

Boston: 98-64
New York: 95-67
Tampa Bay: 89-73
Toronto: 82-80
Baltimore: 67-95

Boston will win the East, while the Yankees win the Wild Card.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

ExtraBaseHit: Power Rankings

First look at our Power Rankings heading into the season:


1. San Francisco Giants: still the Champs, for another 2 weeks anyway.
2. Philadelphia Phillies: addition of Cliff Lee outweighs the short-term loss of Chase Utley and Jayson Werth long-term.
3. Boston Red Sox: Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez... enough said
4. New York Yankees: pitching still a concern.  A.J. Burnett didn't look good in last spring start
5. Atlanta Braves: the addition of Uggla will help offensively and defensively.
6. Texas Rangers: lost Lee, but still have the offensive to stay a top the West
7. Minnesota Twins: when Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey are after thoughts, means the team is still going in the right direction.
8. L.A. Angels: Vernon Wells a nice upgrade, but pitching still a concern
9. Chicago White Sox: best move was to sign Dunn and say good-bye to Manny
10. Detroit Tigers: a team whose offense is better than most people give credit to.
11. Colorado Rockies: a good start may be the difference this season; Tulowitzki a MVP candidate
12. Milwaukee Brewers: Marcum a pitching concern with injury, but Greinke will look unstoppable when he returns.
13. St. Louis Cardinals: may only win 85 games; enough for a division title, Pujols happy or not?
14. Cincinnati Reds: MVP Joey Votto on quest for a even better season, team not likely to win division again.
15. Toronto Blue Jays: might be the surprise team of MLB for better or for worse.
16. L.A. Dodgers: built for pitching, but Kemp and Ethier must have big years
17. Tampa Bay Rays: additions of Damon and Ramirez take over for losses of Crawford and Pena.
18. Florida Marlins: basically the same team as last season minus Uggla and plus Vazquez and Buck.
19. Chicago Cubs: the addition of Matt Garza will look very good, fans will soon boo Pena and his strikeout totals.
20. Seattle Mariners: any team led by Felix Hernandez should compete, expected to last year, so maybe this is the season to surprise as they always seem to do that.
21. Baltimore Orioles: pitching is poor, but the offensive is impressive with Lee, Guerrero and Roberts.
22. New York Mets: team just released Luis Castillo and his $6 million salary.  Pitching not good and Jason Bay must have a 30 home run season, at least!
23. Washington Nationals: no Strasburg, but they have Werth, hope he's buying lunch on the first day!
24. Oakland Athletics: bullpen is full of names now: Fuentes, Balfour, but still stuck in the AL West and lowest budget team of the group hurts.
25. Cleveland Indians: season all depends on Travis Hafner ($13 million hit) and Grady Sizemore's ability to rebound from surgery.
26. Houston Astros: Carlos Lee at first?  Hunter Pence the best player? Stay tuned!
27. Kansas City Royals: no Greinke, no chance!
28. San Diego Padres: Adrian Gonzalez gone, not likely to surprise again although Brad Hawpe, Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett are nice additions
29. Arizona Diamondbacks: J.J. Putz is talked about as the answer to the D'Backs problems, but they have to be leading to get to him!
30. Pittsburgh Pirates: Lyle Overbay the veteran of the group, destined for another 100-loss season

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Player incentives

Earning extra money from things like games played, number or home runs or number of games finished is something that MLB players are starting to get back in their contracts.

The latest reports from Joel Sherman of the New York Post, states the the Mets would owe Francisco Rodriguez a guaranteed $17.5 million in 2012 if he finishes 55 games this season.

Usually, the bonuses would include things like winning a gold glove, Cy Young award, MVP honours  or making an All-Star teams. Some players could actually make an extra ($25,000-$250,000) for such awards, but now, reportedly, pitchers such as Bobby Jenks and Kyle Farnsworth, along with Rodriguez, have these type of deals that allow the teams to have control over such contract details like finishing up games.

It's one thing for a player to an incentive to make an All-Star team or win the Cy Young, but to have dollars parlayed with the number of games finished, or say, home runs hit, gives the team too much power over what may happen when a player gets close to the number.

What if Rodriguez comes close to the 55 games, and the Mets for some reason start to almost hide the closer?  It would become obvious that the Mets wouldn't want to be on the hook for the $17.5M salary for the next season.  The player's union will be all over these types of deals all season, which I'm sure is common, it's just that they shouldn't have these details become so public, and maybe, these types of deals even in place.

Getting a player to stay motivated is one of the reasons why team do this, but maybe not having it so that their entire salary for the next season becomes guaranteed.  Having incentives are fine, and some players actually need them to help them stay motivated, but maybe just smaller bonuses would work better.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mariners in 1994

Taking a look back at some commercials shot for the 1994 Mariners.

The season that never saw the World Series did see Randy Johnson throwing knives and Jay Buhner working as a comedian.



For the record, the Mariners went 49-63, 3rd in the AL West.

Players on the team included: Tino Martinez, Edgar Martinez, Felix Fermin, Ken Griffey Jr, Chris Bosio, Alex Rodriguez, Reggie Jefferson and Mike Blowers to name a few.

In 2004, Ichiro made an appearance



And the Mariners bullpen



And Jamie Moyer was even involved in an embellished version.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Halladay commercial

Does Roy Halladay really miss the catcher (Carlos Ruiz) that helped him throw his perfect game last season?  This promo for 2K11 show a different side of Roy, even for T.V.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday's Links

With the regular season just around the corner, well not really, close though.  We take a quick look around the majors at what's making news and what's not!

A story out of San Francisco about Barry Zito sure had people talking.  Bruce Jenkins, of the San Francisco Chronicle, talked about how Zito is on thin ice, and the Giants considered buying him out with $64 million still left on his contract.  ($18.5 million this season and remember, he was left off the post season roster last year.

David O'Brien was more than impressed with the spring debut of prospect Arodys Vizcaino.

The Blue Jays finally won a game this spring, now 1-4, thought maybe an doughnut was in the works this spring.

The Brewers Zack Greinke made his debut yesterday and feels that the Milwaukee rotation is tough.  "Every rotation is tough, but this one's tough" on the decision on who's going to be the opening day starter.

The Indians have traded pitcher Aaron Laffey to the Mariners for infielder Matt Lawson.

Paul Hoynes, of the Plain Dealer gives an update on the spring so far for Grady Sizemore.

The LA Times looks at a more mature and confident Brandon Wood of the Angels.