Category Archives: MLB
There are a lot of storylines heading into the season. Will the Red Sox repeat? Will the Yankees and Nationals bounce back? Will the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig become a star and not a headcase? Will the Pirates take the next step? All of those questions will be answered in this preview
and proven wrong during the season.
So, without further ado…
Note: *- wildcard team
- Boston Red Sox (98-64)
- New York Yankees-* (95-67)
- Tampa Bay Rays-* (93-69)
- Baltimore Orioles (88-74)
- Toronto Blue Jays (80-82)
Analysis: The AL East is still the best division in the majors. Any of these teams could contend for division titles outside of the AL East. Hell, I think that the Blue Jays will finish near or at .500.
At any rate, the Red Sox have close to the same squad that won it all last season, and is the team to beat in the division. Hell, I’d be shocked if the Red Sox do not contend for the AL pennant. The team that should be much improved is New York. My Yankees acquired arguably the most sought-after pitcher in Masahiro Tanaka, who should be the guy that should help take the pressure off of CC Sabathia. More importantly, the arrivals of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran should boost an offense that includes a healthy Mark Teixeira. As long as Tampa Bay employ Joe Maddon as its manager, the Rays will always be there in the end. It’s too bad that the Orioles and Blue Jays are in this division – two good teams that would at least contend for division titles elsewhere.
- Detroit Tigers (96-66)
- Cleveland Indians (90-72)
- Kansas City Royals (88-74)
- Minnesota Twins (74-88)
- Chicago White Sox (72-90)
Analysis: Even with the changes the Tigers endured in the offseason, they are still the class of the division. Iconic manager Jim Leyland retired shortly after the end of the playoffs, and Detroit traded away slugger Prince Fielder to the Rangers. As long as they still have Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers should be fine.
Everyone else in the division is playing for second place. The Indians were a great story last season, and should be in the mix for a wild-card spot this season. Terry Francona is one of the best managers in the majors and should have Cleveland ready to go this season. And as great a story as the Indians were, the Royals were an even better story. Ned Yost is doing a good job in managing Kansas City, and “Big Game” James Shields is the undisputed ace of the Royals’ pitching staff. As for Minnesota and Chicago, have fun waiting for football season.
- Texas Rangers (93-69)
- Oakland Athletics (92-70)
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim near El Segundo south of Hollywood (81-81)
- Seattle Mariners (78-84)
- Houston Astros (60-102)
Analysis: The Rangers are looking to avenge last season’s flame-out near the end, when they allowed the Athletics to pass them en route of winning the division for the second year in a row. When Texas acquired Prince Fielder during the offseason, I thought that move will help put it over the top. After all, their lack of hitting hurt the Rangers last season.
Oakland will still be a good team this season, but I don’t think the Athletics have the horses to hang with the Rangers this time around. The Angels have to be the most overrated team in the majors. The Angels have this going for them, they serve as a cautionary tale for other teams: you cannot buy a championship. Sure the Mariners have Robinson Cano – and waaaaaay overpaid to do so – but they are still mediocre. And I would encourage Astros fans to hang in there until football season, but the Texans suck too.
- Washington Nationals (94-68)
- Atlanta Braves (90-72)
- Philadephia Phillies (87-75)
- New York Mets (70-92)
- Miami Marlins (60-102)
Analysis: I think the 2014 should be renamed “Nationals Revenge” because I think the Nats have a lot to prove after last season’s meltdown. The Nats were a M.A.S.H. unit last season, and still finished within reach of a wildcard spot. Plus, seeing Nats slugger Bryce Harper so yoked up is an indicator that he and the Nats mean business this year. The Braves will contend as usual, but I dunno if they have the horses to overtake the Nats this season. I mean sure, there are the Upton brothers and Jason Heyward, but what about that starting pitching? Kris Medlen? Mike Minor? Really???
And there are the Phillies. Poor guys. This is a talented team that has underachieved in recent seasons, been doing so since they won the World Series in 2008. Maybe new manager Ryne Sandberg will help Philly get it together? I doubt it, but we’ll see.
Meanwhile, the Mets are still the Mets, and will be among the cellar dwellers in the division. They MIGHT be a slightly improved team, but that’s not good enough in a division with the Nats and Braves. As far as the Marlins are concerned, I’m still amazed that management has not been “French Revolution”-ed and run out of town by the locals. How the Marlins were able to rip off the city for that new crib, still suck and get away with it is beyond me.
- St. Louis Cardinals (97-65)
- Pittsburgh Pirates-* (94-68)
- Cincinnati Reds-* (93-69)
- Chicago Cubs (75-87)
- Milwaukee Brewers (70-92)
Analysis: This division and the AL East are the best divisions in baseball. The Pirates and Reds will repeat as wildcards, and the Cardinals will luck their way into another division title. Look, I lived in Cincinnati for four years, so I had learned to hate the Cardinals as much as I do the Red Sox – so I may be a bit biased against St. Louis. However, there is no denying that St. Louis (and Tampa Bay) is the best run organization in baseball. The much-improved Pirates (it’s about damn time they were good again), and Reds will make the Cards sweat in defending its Central Division crown. Hell, this division didn’t resolve itself until the last couple of weeks of the season. I am looking forward to seeing how this division shapes out after the All-Star break.
As for fans of the Cubs and Brewers, what can I tell you? The Chicago will still suck and Milwaukee is still stuck with its lying drug cheat (Ryan Braun). By the way Chicago, nice new perverted mascot…
- Los Angeles Dodgers (93-69)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (90-72)
- San Francisco Giants (85-77)
- Colorado Rockies (81-81)
- San Diego Padres (65-97)
Analysis: The Dodgers-D’Backs rivalry will make this division “must-see TV”. Seeing managers/old school former players Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson jaw at each other during the big brawl between the two teams last season was epic. Speaking of the Dodgers, they should repeat as division champs this season. They have a powerful starting lineup led by Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, and the enigmatic Puig. L.A. also has the best starting pitching rotation in the majors led by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Dan Haren. Having closer Brian Wilson doesn’t hurt either. The only thing that will get in the Dodgers’ way is themselves – see the latest stunts pulled by Puig.
The aforementioned D’Backs and Giants are good, but not great. Both will fight it out for the right to play spoiler to the Dodgers/second place in the NL West. The Rockies are just mediocre, nothing to get too excited about. As for the Padres fans, there is always football season!
American League champions: Boston Red Sox
National League champions: Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 World Series champions: Los Angeles Dodgers
Jeter will be remembered for a lot of things. First of all, he was known for treating people around him well. From the rookies to the lower level employees and bat boys, Jeter treated the “lessers” around him with dignity and respect.
On the field, Jeter was just as exemplary. He was “The Captain”. He will be remembered for his clutch plays. He hit a home run that won a World Series game vs. the New York Mets. He will also be remembered for playing the game the “right way” – i.e. no performance enhancing drugs (unlike Alex Rodriguez aka “A-Fraud”).
However, Jeter will be most remembered for the two following plays:
Now folks (including Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless from ESPN’s “First Take”) are asking themselves where should Jeter should be placed among the New York Yankees’ all-time greats. Here is how I would rank the greatest players to don a Yankees uniform:
- Babe Ruth
- Lou Gehrig
- Reggie Jackson
- Joe DiMaggio
- Mickey Mantle
- Derek Jeter
- Mariano Rivera
- Goose Gossage
- Don Mattingly
- Dave Winfield
Jeter may not be the greatest Yankee, but I would argue that he was its biggest icon. He was the face of baseball most of his career. And again, reference the two videos above as proof of Jeter’s icon status.
By the way, the baseball writer who does not vote Jeter in as a first-ballot Hall of Famer should have his voting privileges revoked permanently.
Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners have agreed to sign a 10-year, $240 million contract. Meanwhile, my Yankees decided to give Jacoby Ellsbury $153 million over seven years.
Did I think my Yanks over-paid for Ellsbury? Hell yes I do.
Did I think my Yanks were right in not overpaying for Cano? Hell yes I do.
There was no way in hell the Yankees would have given 10 years to Cano for this simple reason: dude is 30 years old. Would you justify paying 40-year-old $24 million? I didn’t think so, but apparently the Mariners do. The only 40-year-old I have seen excel as a batter was Barry Bonds (no need to ask the steroid questions anymore).
And yes, I understand that you cannot simply let a guy who played in almost every game last season (Cano played in 160 games), batted .314 (lifetime .309), 27 home runs and 107 RBIs walk. And yes, Cano was by far the straw that stirred the drink on offense. And yes, Cano is in his prime and will probably stay in this run for a while.
Just not at 40 years old.
I believe the Yanks are still smarting over giving Alex Rodriguez that ridiculous 10-year, $275 contract extension a few years back – especially when they were bidding against themselves. It’s too bad they wised up in one area (Cano) while taking a step back in overpaying for an oft-injured – but good – player (Ellsbury).
I’ll say this: I just wished the Yanks and Cano (and Jay-Z) had come to terms on a seven- or eight-year contract.
Fortunately for us, the World Series is giving us perhaps the best matchup we have seen in quite some time. The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals were the best teams in the American and National Leagues, respectively – and justified their win-loss records in the preceding rounds of this postseason. Couple that with both teams’ rich baseball traditions and huge fan bases, this should be a highly-watched World Series – the first in a loooooooong-ass time.
What I like about this matchup is the fact that both teams are evenly matched when it comes to their offenses. Both teams possess power. Boston’s’ Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Daniel Nava both are batting over .300. A few more players (Shane Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jarrod Scott Saltalamacchia) are batting over .270. Meanwhile, the Cardinals had all but two of their starting offensive players batting over .275. Four of those players (Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter) batted over .300.
Basically, the majority of Boston’s and St. Louis’ nine starting offensive players are a tough out – literally and figuratively.
However, there is one advantage the Cardinals have over the Red Sox: starting pitching. They have three guys (Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, and Lance Lynn) who is capable of shutting down ANY starting lineup in MLB. Two fo those guys won at least 15 games (Wainwright and Lynn won 19 and 15, respectively). Wacha could easily (along with Carlos Beltran) be the Cardinals’ postseason MVP for his outings against the Pirates and Dodgers.
Boston just doesn’t have the horses in its starting rotation to even ADEQUATELY compete with St. Louis. Beyond Jon Lester and Clay Bucholtz, what does Boston have? John Lackey, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront? No thank you.
Are both teams tough as nails? Hell yeah! Both teams seem to always find ways to win when many of the naysayers (especially yours truly), counted them out.
However, based on pitching alone, I’m rolling with the Cardinals to win their 12th World Series. Cardinals in 7.
Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers. The Tigers, led by stud Justin Verlander, beat the Oakland A’s in last night’s Game 5. The Tigers’ offense scored the runs it had to, and Verlander was on fire – a dangerous combination for the remaining teams in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Detroit won’t be able to send Verlander back to the mound until Game 3 in Detroit at the earliest. Meanwhile, the Tigers will send Max Scherzer to the mound in Game 2, so at least they have both their aces going in back-to-back games.
The Red Sox are rolling (unfortunately), and seens hell-bent on proving to the sports world that former manager Bobby Valentine was the mother of all fuck-ups. They validated having the best record in the major leagues in making quick work of division rival Tampa Bay in the ALCS. It will be interesting watching how sluggers Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz will do against the Tigers’ pitching staff.
Believe it or not, this will be the first postseason series between these two teams. Both teams have similar batting and pitching stats for the season. This will be a classic hard-fought series, but I think the Tigers’ pitching is a bit better than the Sox’, and that will be the difference. Tigers in 7.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Both teams are hot and rolling. While the Cardinals had a bit of trouble dispatching the division rival Pirates, they are still clicking on all cylinders. This series will come down to what happens in Games 1 and 2. The Dodgers will be starting aces Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw respectively. If the Dodgers are victorious in both games, I do not see the Cardinals winning 4 out of the next 5 against the likes of Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and company. Sure, Adam Wainwright is scheduled to start for St. Louis in Game 3, but it will be on the road and all the weight would be on his shoulders if his team is down 0-2 in the series.
It’s hard for me to count out the Cardinals – after all, I call them “Team Cockroach” for a reason (you can’t kill those fuckers). However, I think the Dodgers are too strong and will overcome the consistency of a well-managed Cardinals team. I just think it’s L.A.’s time. Dodgers in 6.
The World Series tournament is here, and I am very excited for the matchups. We have the Dodgers back to where they belong, winners of the National League West by a landslide. Boston recovered from the Bobby Valentine disaster. And most of all, the Pirates are back in the playoffs since the days when a skinny Barry Bonds was leading the early 90s Pirates teams to division titles on the regular.
Now let’s look at the American and National League Divisional Series – shall we?
Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays. As much as I would LOVE to see the Rays knock off those hated Red Sox (go Yankees!), I just don’t see it. The Red Sox won 12 of 19 games against the Rays, and I think the Red Sox’ domination will continue in this series. Boston has the better offense, and save for Tampa’s David Price the better pitching staff. The Rays, as always, are an amazing team and even better story. The fact that Tampa Bay is competitive with limited resources while playing in a dump (Tropicana Field) is nothing short of astonishing. However, Boston is the better team with a better story (last to first place in the AL East, home-field throughout the AL playoffs, the recovery of the Bobby Valentine debacle). Prediction: Red Sox in 3
Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers. I love Detroit. I love their moxie. I love Miguel Cabrera. I love the Tigers’ pitching (especially Max Scherzer). And most of all, I love their manager Jim Leyland. The A’s are such an enigma to me. Maybe because they are on the West Coast. Maybe because there is so little to know about them. I can’t for the life of me figure out how in the hell Oakland won 96 games. The A’s are a spunk bunch, but I don’t think they are better than the Tigers, and I will be proven right. Prediction: Tigers in 5
Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Atlanta is a good story. They upgraded their offense with the acquisition of Justin Upton (his brother B.J. has been a disaster hitting the ball). The Braves are well-managed by Fredi Gonzalez. Atlanta has a pretty decent pitching staff, which is statistically better than L.A.’s (3.18 to 3.25 team ERA). Craig Kimbrell is one of the best closers with 50 saves. However, I think the Braves will miss the injured Tim Hudson. As for the Dodgers, what’s not to love? I love their swagger. I love Yasiel Puig. I love the fact that L.A.’s offense is healthier, led by Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez. And last but not least, the Dodgers’ pitching staff is a beast led by Cy Young and MVP candidate Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke. I think the Dodgers’ pitching staff will stymie the Braves’ bats, and that alone will put the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series. Prediction: Dodgers in 4
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates. I love divisional rivalries manifesting themselves in the playoffs. St. Louis was the best in the NL Central, but it is facing a team that is not scared of it one bit. The Pirates won the season series 10-9, which I do believe makes Pittsburgh the only team to win the season series from the Cardinals. The Pirates (and their fans) are excited as hell to be back in the playoffs, and is eagerly awaiting (and wanting) St. Louis. And yes, the Cardinals have been a juggernaut in the NL. They have an MVP candidate in Yadier Molina. Matt Holiday and Carlos Beltran have been tearing it up behind the plate. They have a stud ace in Adam Wainwright. But you know what, the Pirates have some of those too. They have an MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen. I would argue the Pirates have two aces in A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano. The Pirates are feeling themselves, and that moxie and fearlessness is why I am picking them to upset the heavily favored Cardinals. Prediction: Pirates in 5
“What the HAIL?!” and “That’s not what you have been saying about Bud for a while Klownboy.”
Look, I’m not going to argue with you all on either of those thoughts.
First of all, Bud Selig has been perceived as (and will continue to be thought of going forward) as the weakest commissioner in all of professional sports. He has never won any major showdowns with his union (the Major League Baseball Players Association). He and his owners caved when Major League Baseball was on the brink of lockouts and strikes over the last few years. He was especially feeble against Donald Fehr, the former head of the MLBPA, when it came to testing for performance enhancing drugs.
And the time he did fight back, we witnessed the most bizarre and unpopular strikes in sports history in 1994. For those of you “new schoolers” who were too young to remember, the Major League Baseball strike of 1994 not only wiped out the second half of the season – it also wiped out the World Series. I’m sure the last remaining fans of the Montreal Expos are still plenty forgiving of Selig.
Here are a few more things that good ‘ol Bud did to the sport:
- After the 1994 strike, the fabled “Home Run chase of 1998″ where sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were allegedly ‘roided out of their minds while smashing Roger Maris’ single-season home run record occurred on Selig’s watch (Selig allegedly knew of this and turned a blind eye).
- His behind the scenes enabling allowed Frank McCourt to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers, in which McCourt would later run into the ground.
- Selig made the controversial decision to declare the 2002 All-Star game a 7-7 tie after 11 innings because both managers used their entire rosters.
- He made the Houston Astros - not the Arizona Diamondbacks - switch leagues to start the 2013 season.
- And last, but not least, granting home field advantage in the World Series granted to the winner of the All Star Game in the same season in 2003.
Now is the time to point out the many good things Selig did for baseball. They are:
- Alignment of teams into three divisions per league, and the introduction of playoff wild card teams
- Interleague play
- Two additional franchises: the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays
- Dedicating April 15 as Jackie Robinson Day
- Stricter Major League Baseball performance-enhancing drug testing policy
- World Baseball Classic
- Introduction of instant replay.
- Introducing a second wild card playoff team in each league last season
And more importantly, Selig made his owners AND players money – lots and LOTS of money. All of MLB franchises increased in value, with my beloved New York Yankees valued the highest at $2.3 billion and the Rays “bringing up the rear” at $451 million. The average salary of a baseball player is $3.2 million.
As for the TV revenue, here is how Selig negotiated those deals. Last season MLB made deals with Fox and the Turner networks. Fox now pays around $4 billion over eight years (close to $500 million per year) while Turner pays around $2.8 billion over eight years (more than $300 million per year). The deal Selig cut with ESPN last season was even more lucrative – a $5.6 billion deal that pays around $700 million per year.
So you see folks, while good ‘ol Bud made his fair share of gaffes and half-baked decisions, you can’t deny the dude helped baseball become more popular with fans and put it on a fast track to the money train. And the sport itself should be thankful for that.
Well, well, well. Looks like good ‘ol Bud Selig pulled the plug on 13 Major League Baseball players involved with the South Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis, including Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, and of course Alex Rodriguez.
Right about now, Selig is probably patting himself on the bat for taking such a “stand” in the name of purifying the game of baseball of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). He must be oh, so proud.
Before I go on any further, let me say that in no way am I condoning the cheaters. Any methods to becoming great that does not involve natural means – hard work in the gym, film room and practice field – is considered cheating. Therefore, those aforementioned 13 players got what they deserved.
However, for Selig to go around as baseball’s savior in the fight against PEDs is disingenuous at best. Keep in mind that Selig, the owners – and to some extent, the media – were in bed with the alleged steroid users for more than a decade.
Remember that “magical summer” of 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had that assault on Roger Maris’ home run record? Remember when MLB teams were setting all kinds of attendance and batting records? The ’98 home run record chases are widely credited by sports analysts as having restored Major League Baseball among its fan base in the preceding years, as many had lost interest in baseball thanks to the strike in 1994.
Do you really think that Selig and the ownership game was going to pull the plug on that good vibe brought on by that home run chase? Could you imagine how much more fan apathy would have increased if that happened? Bad enough that the fans were still pissed at MLB for cancelling the World Series in 1994 due to the strike.
When PED use became rampant and fans and the media were clamoring for baseball to become “pure” again, Selig decided to ride on that mythical white horse and “save the day”.
No way Selig is getting any props from me.
Meanwhile, how funny is it that A-Roid is playing tonight while he is appealling his 211-game suspension? Selig has to be somewhere weeping and gnashing his teeth right now. And you know what, that’s what Selig gets for lying in bed with the PED cheats in the first place.
After all, if you lay down with dogs that ass will wake up with fleas…
After all, teams like the Boston Red Sox, my New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves were counted on to win scores of division titles in addition to participating in the World Series. And while some of those teams are still competitive, no longer do we have the fluky runs of the Florida Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Don’t take my word for it – look at what the Tampa Bay Rays have been doing the last five-plus seasons.
What the Rays have been able to do the last few seasons has been nothing short of remarkable. The Rays are winning without a budget (much of one, anyway) or a fan base (at least as judged by the attendance figures). Yet here they are, leading the expensive – and highly competitive – AL East division.
There are several reasons for this of course. The Rays have efficient ownership (Stu Sternberg and Matt Silverman) and a brilliant general manager (Andrew Friedman). And it doesn’t hurt that the Rays have the best manager in MLB: Joe Maddon.
No manager is better at communicating with his players, setting the right tone in the clubhouse or getting his guys to believe that everything he does is in the best interest of the ballclub. Just look at how shortstop Yunel Escobar has been performing this year.
Plus Maddon believes in winning ballgames the old fashioned way: defense and good pitching. And that combination has led the Rays to a spot atop the AL East.
Sure there are the Oakland A’s and their famous “Moneyball” approach with general manager Billy Beane. Hell the dude was portrayed by Brad Pitt in a movie!
I don’t know about you, but I think the Rays have lapped the hell out “Moneyball”.
Yeah, I know Major League Baseball suspended Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun for 65 games over his use of performance enhancing drugs and the Biogenesis involvement. And yes, I know that he would forfeit $3.8 million of his remaining salary this season.
I still think Braun got off easy.
Follow me for a minute.
Remember what Braun did when he was caught the first time last season? He essentially trashed the poor fellow who collected his sample, which led to two things: Braun getting off on a technicality because of how the sample was collected and the urine collector losing his job.
Braun’s Brewers are 16 games below .500. What player would want to play out the string knowing how bad his team sucks? I mean, what’s the point of showing up other than to collect a paycheck.
And speaking of paychecks, Braun won’t be missing $3.8 mil. In fact, Braun’s contract will increase to $10 mil next season, and $12 million in 2015. So basically his $3.8 mil loss is like $10 to me and you.
And most of all, he will still collect on his guaranteed contract. What says “I got over” more than collecting on $105 mil on the extension he signed in 2011
MLB commissioner Bud Selig should not be patting himself on the back over the Braun “suspension”. I’ve always said if Selig wanted to be serious about eliminating PEDs from the sport he’d do two things: make the suspensions longer and terminate the contracts. That way, at least players would think twice about ‘roiding up.
It will be interesting to see what Selig and MLB will do about Alex Rodriguez. Given what happened to Braun, I’d be shocked if Selig dropped the hammer on A-Fraud.