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Zambrano taking his talents to South Beach

January 5, 2012 Comments off

The volcanic Carlos Zambrano is headed to the Miami Marlins. Credit madmikesamerica.com

The time has come.

Carlos Zambrano has worn out his stay in Chicago.

The Chicago Cubs are prepared to trade the feisty veteran to the Miami Marlins and in exchange will receive veteran right-hander Chris Volstad.

Pending a physical, Zambrano will be the next big name to join the Marlins this offseason and at little cost to his new team.

The Cubs will have to pay $15 million of the $18 million owed to Zambrano in 2012.

Zambrano, nicknamed Big Z, made his major league debut for the Cubs in 2001 and has spent his entire career in a Chicago uniform.

He won 10 or more games in six straight seasons starting in 2003 and posted a career high 18 wins in 2007.

After the 2008 season things started to go downhill for the ill-tempered star. The Cubs failed to make the playoffs in each of the next three seasons and Zambrano failed to win 10 games in two of those.

He began to show his displeasure about the decline in more ways than one.

He began calling out teammates over poor play and even management for bad decisions. He definitely wasn’t shy when it came to sharing his displeasures. He also loved to lose his cool on the diamond and hurt his team multiple times by doing so.

If a reporter wanted to get a good postgame quote then they could find him posted outside Zambrano’s locker.

His emotions would get the best of him in 2010 when he got into an altercation with former teammate Derek Lee. Zambrano was suspended but unfortunately he didn’t learn his lesson.

Zambrano literally walked out on his teammates, fans and franchise when he left Atlanta’s Turner Field during a 2011 game.

That was the last straw.

Zambrano was put on the disqualified list and would not pitch again for the Cubs.

The legacy Zambrano leaves will be a mixed one. Some fans wanted him gone several years ago; others would love to see him stay.

One thing that can be agreed upon is that Zambrano didn’t lack excitement when he stepped onto the field. No one, not even Big Z himself knew which Big Z was going to take the mound that day, and that was the fun of it. He could pitch a solid eight-inning game or make it through an inning and a third before throwing his glove and getting ejected.

Now I’m no Cubs fan, but I always enjoyed watching the man take the mound every now and then. He might not have brought a World Series ring to Chicago but at least he kept spirits high and beers empty.

The highlight reel is bound to get better as Zambrano will be playing for a team that has large amounts of potential and in a town known for its nightlife.

LeBron better look out because there’s another sheriff in South Beach and he isn’t afraid to tell you how he feels.

Pujols headed out west

December 8, 2011 Comments off

Albert Pujols is now the highest paid first baseman in the MLB. Credit: wrapup.com

Maybe it was manifest destiny, or maybe it was just greed, but after much deliberation, the contract of Albert Pujols saga has finally come to an end.

Pujols, 31, agreed to a 10-year, $254 million contract on Thursday with the Los Angeles Angels. The contract is the second largest in league history, trailing only Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year contract with the New York Yankees. The contract will make Pujols the highest paid first baseman in the league.

The deal also included a full no-trade clause, a requirement that Pujols was looking for in any deal.

The Angels surprised the sports world early Thursday morning by signing the three-time NL MVP and two-time World Series champion. There had been speculation that Pujols would be skipping town for more money, but the Angels never came up in the conversation. In what seemed like a two horse race between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins, the Angels were definitely a dark horse to land the superstar.

The Cardinals weren’t able to keep Pujols, and reports surfaced that the two sides were father apart than the media portrayed. The latest offer was reportedly for nine years and a little under $200 million.

“I would like our fans to know that we tried our best to make Albert a lifetime Cardinal,” Bill DeWitt Jr., Cardinal Chairman and CEO, said. “Unfortunately, we were unable to make it happen.”

Albert Pujols will leave after 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. Credit: USAToday.com

St. Louis fans weren’t happy with Pujol’s decision and the fact he was just chasing the money.  What they have to realize though is baseball is a business, and Pujols just made the best business decision.

Now lets get into the specifics of the why Pujols is headed out west and not staying in St. Louis.

Money. It’s all about the dough and the Angels were willing to fork it over. The deal they offered was worth close to $30 million more than the Cardinals were willing to offer. Also, the Cardinals weren’t willing to give Pujols the 10-year deal he desired. The reasons are mostly because of age, Pujols isn’t getting younger and will be in his early 40’s by the end of the deal.

Luckily, for the Angels, they will be able to move Pujols to the designated hitter (DH) position later on his career, a move the Cardinals would not have been able to make. The Angels in essence, will be paying a full-time DH $25 million a season. By the time that problem arises though Pujols will be pushing 40, will he still be the same player he is today? Most likely no, but it’s a risk the Angels are willing to take in order for the chance of a World Series title.

As a Cardinals fan, I would have loved to see Pujols return and play his whole career in St. Louis but it just wasn’t feasible. By not signing Pujols, the Cardinals now have a lot of money freed up to build around young stay David Freese. Plus they bring back perennial all-stars Matt Holiday, Lance Berkman, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter.

It’s sad to see Pujols leave St. Louis but in the end it was the right move for the Cardinals and one that the fans are going to have to live with.

Legacy of La Russa

October 31, 2011 3 comments

Tony La Russa won 3 World Series titles over a 33 year career as a manager. Credit: dailskew.com

Tony La Russa retired from his position as manager for the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, three days after winning his second World Series with the team and his third overall.

La Russa retires third on the all-time wins list with 2,728, only 35 behind second place John McGraw. Though he’s said he’s open to some sort of baseball job in the future, when asked if he’ll ever manage again, La Russa answered confidently, “No.”

La Russa is sure that his decision is the right one and that it was just time to get away from the game. He is the first manager to retire immediately after his club won the World Series.

La Russa spoke to the media on Monday at Busch Stadium to announce his decision, also joking about the possibility he might “open a book store.” He noted that there wasn’t a single factor that led to his decision but he began to have doubts during this season.

Cardinal’s general manager John Mozeliak said that the search for a new manager is underway, something the Cardinals haven’t had to do since the 1996 season. A search committee has been formed but a timetable has not been set for when a replacement will be found.

Let’s take a look back at the career of Tony La Russa:

La Russa, 67, spent 33 years as a manager, starting his career in 1979 for the Chicago White Sox. La Russa led the White Sox to the AL West championship in 1983 earning him American League Manager of the Year award. La Russa was fired during the ’86 season when the team started off with a lackluster 26-38 record.

His next stop would be that of the Oakland Athletics. La Russa led the team to three consecutive World Series, from 1988 to 1990, and captured his first World Series title in 1989 when the A’s swept the San Francisco Giants in the famous earthquake-delayed series. During his tenure with the A’s La Russa earned two more Manager of the Year awards. La Russa left the A’s organization after the ’95 season to take over as the Cardinals skipper.

In just his first season as the Cardinals manager he led the team to a NL Championship game, one they lost to the Atlanta Braves. La Russa and the Cardinals were an up and down team after that making the playoffs three times and missing it four times in the next seven seasons.

That was until the 2004 season.

La Russa would lead the Cardinals to a 105-57 record during the regular season, the best winning percentage of his managing career. Unfortunately the winning would end, as the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the World Series to finally break the famous “Curse of the Bambino” and capture their first title since 1918.

La Russa would get back to his winning ways though by leading the Cardinals to their 10th World Series title and first under La Russa in the 2006 season.

The final season of La Russa’s career is definitely going to be one that he remembers.

The Cardinals trailed the Atlanta Braves by 10.5 games on August 25th for the final playoff spot in the National League. That is when the magic began. The Cardinals would charge back and beat the Braves by one game to take the last playoff spot and earn a matchup with the heavily favored Phillies. The Cardinals would prevail in five and push past the inner division rival Brewers in six to get back to the World Series.

The Cardinals magic had almost ran out during game six when they trailed 3 games to 2 and were down to their final strike. But it seemed like the Cardinals were destined to win the title, striking back to tie the game and become the first team in MLB history to be down to their final strike, twice, after the ninth inning, and come back and win. They would ride the momentum wave and knock out the Rangers in seven to capture the team’s 11th World Series title.

La Russa is arguably one of the top five managers of all time in MLB and some believe that he is the best. He is surely a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, and with the career that he had it’s hard to argue that.

With the retirement of La Russa many people have started to question the future of star Albert Pujols.

Will the absence of La Russa lead Albert Pujols to sign somewhere else?

For now we can only debate the answer to that, but one thing we can all agree on is that the legacy of Tony La Russa will be a strong and memorable one.

BAJA Sports: 2011 MLB Playoff Projections

September 29, 2011 Comments off

After six months and 161 games the final playoff teams were still yet to be determined. The wild card winners in both leagues were going to be decided on one final day of baseball and if it was missed, it lived up to the hype.

The Braves collapsed losing a 8.5 game lead in September. Credit: liveflashscore.com

The Atlanta Braves led the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL wild card race by 10.5 games on Aug. 5, but by Wednesday that lead had dwindled to nothing. The Cardinals would need one more victory and a Braves loss to complete the unforgettable comeback. The Cardinals sent their ace Chris Carpenter to the mound and he shut down the Houston Astros in an 8-0 complete game victory.

The Braves were reeling and needed to stop the damage if they wanted to hang on and limp into the playoffs. They faced the already playoff bound Phillies and held a 3-2 in the 9th inning. Then it went downhill from there, they blew in the lead in that inning and lost the game in 13th, ending their playoff chances and their season.

The more talked about race was the AL wild card, where the Boston Red Sox led the Tampa Bay Rays by nine games early on in September. This lead would not last as the Red Sox combined poor pitching and empty bats to see the lead diminish to nothing. Both teams would have one more game to prove they were qualified to play postseason baseball.

The Red Sox faced division foe Baltimore and would send ace John Lester to the mound to secure what they believed as a must-win. Lester pitched great going into the sixth inning and only giving up two earned runs. He would put his team in position for the win as they led 3-2 going into the bottom of the 9thinning.

Again the 9th inning drama would kill a team’s postseason aspirations.

The Orioles tagged Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon for two runs and in shocking matter the Rays now had the power to play their way into the playoffs.

They faced their division rivals New York Yankees who had already clinched the division; quite simply they were playing for nothing. This didn’t stop the Yankees from jumping to a 7-0 lead and keeping that lead until the 8th inning.

Then all of the sudden the Rays bats woke up, driving in six runs in the 8th and bringing them within one run of tying the ballgame up. That would happen when pinch-hitter Dan Johnson smoked a solo shot when the club was down to their last strike.

The drama didn’t end there though.

The two teams would stay deadlocked at seven until the bottom of the 12th inning when Evan Longoria hit a line drive home run over the left field fence to propel the Rays to the playoffs in back to back years.

Rays celebrating their playoff clinching win Credit: bleacherreport.com

Now these aren’t the only two teams that are going to be playing in the playoffs. Just bringing fans up to speed on how the season ended and how these teams dramatically reached the postseason.

The AL Division winners were the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers. The NL Division winners were the Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Now let’s talk postseason baseball, here are my predictions for the playoffs.

Note: Team listed first has home field advantage.

American League Division Series:

Texas vs. Tampa Bay:

Texas will host the surging Rays in the first of two AL division series matchups and I believe this is going to be a nail-biter. The Rays are playing great baseball right now and definitely have the momentum going into this series. Throughout the season though, Texas has proven to be the better overall team.

This one goes five with the home field advantage helping Texas prevail in the end.

NY Yankees vs. Detroit:

Justin Verlander will need to continue his dominance if Detroit is going to beat the Yankees. Credit rumorsandrants.com

The Yankees finished with the best record in the AL at 97-65 and will look to continue that success into the postseason. To do so they will need their starting pitchers to step up, as that has been a sore spot throughout the season. The Tigers don’t have much problem at starting pitcher with Justin Verlander and Doug Fister ready to take the mound. The Detroit offense will need to step up and put some runs on the board if they want to upset the Yankees.

Yankees move on in four with Verlander getting the victory in game one for the Tigers.

National League Division Series:

Milwaukee vs. Arizona:

These are the two teams that not very many people have been talking about. They have been living in the shadows of the other teams and just getting the job done.

Winning games that is.

Even with all the craziness that happened in the last month of the season I have to say that Arizona, so far, is the biggest surprise this year. The defending champions Giants were the easy favorite to take the division and Arizona wasn’t having any of that. Milwaukee added some key players going into this year knowing that it could be the last year with star players Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.

The offense of the Brewers easily outscores that of the Diamondbacks who have struggled to get runs this year. Brewers win in four.

Philadelphia vs. St. Louis:

These could be the last game Albert Pujols plays for St. Louis. Credit: chrisoleary.com

St. Louis is the hottest team in the NL right now as they ride their hot streak into the division series against the Phillies. This quite possible could be the last couple of games that superstar Albert Pujols plays for the Cardinals as he is in the last year of his contract.

Unfortunately, they face the team that has played the best baseball this year bringing in a 102-60, which is good enough for best in the league. The Phillies starting pitching is just dominant with the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. All three of them could be considered to be top five pitchers this year.

I don’t like picking against my team (Cardinals), but, in this instance, I have to. The Phillies pitchers dominate and the Cardinals repeat the outcome of the Reds last year by getting swept in the first round.

American League Championship Series:

NY Yankees vs. Texas:

Mark Teixeira will need to be a key player for the Yankees if they play on returning to the World series this year. Credit: zimbio.com

The bats for these two teams are their strong points as they were both top three in runs scored.

The problem lies in their starting pitching.

After the first two starters in the rotation the managers are looking at some shaky pitchers. This is going to be the key to the series, which team’s back of the rotation will step up and give a significant amount of quality innings.

If I knew the answer to that question I would be a rich man but sense I don’t I’ll just have to stick to predicting the outcome?

The Yankees bats will outweigh what there pitching staff doesn’t do and move on to the World Series yet again winning 4-2.

National League Championship Series:

Philadelphia vs. Milwaukee:

This is going to a great matchup between two teams that want nothing more than the chance to prove that their acquisitions were worth the money they spent. Both teams spent a lot of money assembling a team that they believe would fight for a World Series title and only one will be able to do that. The Brewers are going to rely on their bats to get them to past the Phillies and that’s going to be tough to do when they are facing the best pitching staff in baseball.

The Phillies continue their dominant pitching and the offense scores enough runs to take them to the place they couldn’t get last year – the World Series. Phillies move on in five.

World Series:

Philadelphia vs. NY Yankees:

Well this is it, the World Series – a team works all year to get to this point in the season. Only two teams can make and when they do, they definitely deserve to be there. You don’t make it to the World Series by being lucky; they make it there by playing solid all-around baseball night in and night out.

The Phillies dominant starting pitching rotation. Credit: bleacherreport.com

The Yankees will be the underdog going into this series and fans definitely don’t see that very often. They will have to play top-notch baseball throughout the series if they are going to upend the Phillies.

I know I keep reiterating it but the starting pitching staff of Philadelphia might be the best we have seen in several decades – if not ever.

If they pitch up to their potential then there is no way they don’t win this series.

I’m going to stick with my pre-season World Series prediction and pick the Phillies to win this year. This should be an exciting series and I really hope it’s close so it’s fun to watch.

Phillies take the title in seven.

BAJA Sports: Brian Weiss’s 2011 MLB Predictions

March 30, 2011 Comments off

The 2011 MLB season has 30 teams in the quest to be crowned World Series Champions; only one will prevail. Credit: wickedlocal.com

Unlike other sports around the country, Major League Baseball is not currently debating on whether or not to play their season.

Coaches, players and fans have been anxiously awaiting the day when regular season play begins. This year, the specific day is March 31, and with six games on the slate, fans will have plenty to talk about.

Every team made changes during the offseason, may they be in the coaching staff, the field or the pitching rotation. These changes might make your favorite team a contender or a pretender. The league is full of up and down teams every year and a few changes in the offseason can be the difference to which end of the spectrum you are in.

Will the Cubs finally break the curse? Are the Giants for real or was last season just a fluke?  Is the Phillies rotation the best ever?  These are just a few questions that will be answered after the grueling season has come to an end. But before we can get to answering those tough questions let’s get the predictions out of the way.

American League:

The AL East has been the division to beat in the past decade. This year will continue that trend with the Yankees and the Red Sox battling for the covenant division title.

The Red Sox won the offseason battle between the two franchises by signing key players Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. It is not too often that I get to say someone actually spent more money than the Yankees during the offseason but the Red Sox gave me that privilege.

The Yankees, unlike almost every season in the past, were unable to sign a big name free agent. They were in the market for several but other teams like the Phillies scooped them up.

Due to the fact that the Red Sox were able to dramatically improve their roster and the Yankees were not I am picking the Red Sox to win the division this year.

The AL Central has been the type of division that goes down to the last few games of the season to determine a winner. I do not see that changing this year with the Twins and the White Sox batting each other for the title.

The Twins have a great offense and if they can stay healthy this season I believe they will edge out the Sox for the division. With that being said, the Twins pitching staff is not something to go around bragging about. If the injury bug were to find the starting rotation then this prediction could get ugly quick.

Last year in the AL West it was supposed to be a three team race, with Oakland being the odd team out. But as you may know almost everything that is supposed to happen in baseball does not. The Mariners got off to an ugly start and brought up the rear the whole season, while the A’s finished in a respectable second place.

Unlike last year, I do not expect too many teams to be in the race.  The Rangers may have lost some talent over the offseason but I expect them to run away with the title this year.

National League:

The NL East is going to be a team show this year. The Phillies have a star filled roster and unless they suffer several key injuries I see them running away with the title.

Now unlike the East I believe the Central is going to be the best race to watch throughout the season. With the Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs and Reds all battling for the top spot there are sure to be some fireworks.

The Cardinals have arguably the best player in the league in Albert Pujols but we all know one player cannot lead a team to a title. With the loss of Wainwright for the season I do not see the Cardinals being able to stay with the other teams.

To the dismay of the readers I am going to say that the Cubs will be looking forward to next season after the first two months of the season, continuing the horrid streak.

The Reds easily have the youngest roster in the division and were able to ride that raw talent to the division title last year. I just do not see them repeating the success from last year.

This is my upset pick for the division titles this year, because I am going to go with the Brewers winning the Central. I think they made some great acquisitions over the summer and have put together a roster that will get them the hardware.

In the NL West it is going to be a two team race between the Giants and the Rockies. The Giants return almost the entire roster from the championship team last year and will squeak out a two or three game division title in the end.

Wildcard:

There is only one logical choice for the American League wild card. The Yankees franchise just does not miss the playoffs and I see Jeter and the rest of the veteran squad beating out the White Sox for the last spot in the playoffs.

Now the NL is a much tougher choice for me. There are four legitimate teams that could fall short in their divisions and still find themselves in the playoffs. The Braves, Cardinals and Rockies will make it quite interesting but the Reds youth will earn them a playoff berth for the second consecutive year.

ALCS:

The Red Sox and the Twins will meet each other in the ALCS looking to move onto the World Series. The Red Sox will be riding the momentum of a dominant season into this series and then they will get knocked down a peg. The Twins will use a balanced attack and some luck to outmatch the Red Sox and move on.

NLCS:

I think the Reds will bounce back after getting swept in the first round of the playoffs last year and move on to face the Phillies in the NLCS. The pitching staff of the Phillies will be too much for the Reds and they easily move on to the World Series.

World Series:

I know it sounds redundant but the Phillies will continue to ride their strong pitching staff throughout the World Series. When your staff consists of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton they can have an off night at the plate and still get a victory. The pitching staff leads the Phillies to a world championship and puts their name in the basket for the best of all time.

BAJA Sports: Jared Short’s 2011 MLB Predictions

March 29, 2011 Comments off

The Boston Red Sox taking on the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Credit: Flickr.com

The 2011 Major League Baseball season has all the right parts to be very memorable.

The San Francisco Giants will attempt to become the last team to win back-to-back World Series titles since the New York Yankees did so in 1999 and 2000. While the Giants try to repeat as world champions, the Chicago Cubs will try for the 103rdyear in a row to bring a title back to the north side of the Windy City.

In the American League, while the Texas Rangers try to repeat as AL champs, many expect that the Boston Red Sox and Yankees will once again duke it out for AL supremacy.

For the first time in recent memory, the Yankees went the entire offseason without making a blockbuster move, while the Red Sox went and signed arguably the two biggest names available on the free-agent market in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. For the past couple of seasons the Yankees have gotten the better of the Red Sox, but many MLB fans expect the tables to turn this season.

In the National League, while it is very hard to pick against the defending world champion San Francisco Giants, it is equally hard to not be impressed by the Philadelphia Phillies.

After making the biggest move of any team and acquiring Cliff Lee from free agency, the Phillies have the star-studded rotation and the bats to wreak havoc in the National League and make a run to the World Series.

American League:

Like recent seasons, the AL East will be a bitter battle to the end between the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees. I feel like the AL East will ultimately come down to what each team was able to do (or not do) during the offseason.

The Red Sox were able to make great pickups like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Bobby Jenks.

The Rays lost a few key players including Matt Garza, the anchor to their rotation. The Rays did however manage to add veterans like Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, which will help bring leadership to the normally young club.

The Yankees had a very disappointing offseason. The Yankees will basically be putting the same team on the field as they did last season, and with the additions made by the Red Sox, I just do not think it will be enough.

I am predicting that the Red Sox win the AL East this season.

The AL Central is a lot like the AL East in the fact that in recent years it has been dominated by three teams.

I think this trend will hold up during the 2011 season.

The Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins all have a great shot at reigning supreme in the Central. In the end, I do not think that the Twins have the lineup or the starting pitching to contest the Tigers and White Sox.

This season, we should see the return or the Jake Peavy of old along with quality starts from Mark Buehrle. I think this one-two combination in the rotation will get the best of Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera and the power hitting Tigers.

I believe that the White Sox will finish on top of the AL Central.

The AL West may be the easiest division to predict this season.

The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners simply do not have what it takes to win a significant number of games. Leaving it to the Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers.

Over the past few seasons, we have seen the Angels head digress. Josh Hamilton and the Rangers were one of the great stories of the 2010 season. The Rangers, even with the loss of Cliff Lee, will remain dominant in the AL West.

National League:

The NL East will without a doubt be one of the most exciting divisions in all of baseball.

Figuring the Nationals will continue their mediocre play, and the Mets will not be able to make anything happen when it matters. This being said, the NL East is left with the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins. All three are very good all-around teams.

The Marlins are still very young, and I am not convinced they can compete at the same level as the Phillies and Braves. The Braves have all the right parts to be a dominant team in any other division in the National League, but this year belongs to the star-studded rotation and dynamite lineup of the Phillies.

The NL Central is almost always the closest division in baseball. Even though the Pirates and the Astros are up and coming clubs, they will not have what it takes to win the tough NL Central this season.

The Cubs made a very solid addition to their starting rotation by signing Matt Garza, but I do not see it as being enough to propel them among the top of the NL Central. The Brewers are in the same situation as the Cubs. They acquired a great pitcher in Zack Greinke, but one pitcher cannot make them dominant.

The Cardinals were easily my team to beat in the NL Central until the news that Adam Wainwright would miss the season and require Tommy John surgery. Aroldis Chapman will start this season on the Major League roster for the Reds this year. I had the privilege of witnessing him play a minor league game last season, and in the two innings of work he did not allow a hit and threw three pitches in a row at a scorching 104 mph.

The Reds were one of the biggest surprises in baseball last year, and I believe they are once again the team to beat in the NL Central.

The NL West will be a battle between the Colorado Rockies and the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. The Rockies and the Giants are both very capable of winning this division.

Outside of the Phillies, the Giants have the best rotation in major league baseball. Pablo Sandoval (Panda) was a non factor during the post season last year. This spring training, a very lighter panda, has looked phenomenal. I think the reintroduction of his bat into the lineup will be a major factor in the success of the Giants. After witnessing the Giants impressive run through the playoffs last year, they are my pick to reign supreme in the NL West.

Wild Card:

Even without a major offseason move, the Yankees are a very solid all around club. This was a very tough decision, and I would not be surprised to see the Tigers take the Wild Card spot. I just think when it comes down to it, do not pick against the winning-est team in baseball history.

The Braves will be the NL Wild Card team this season. The Rockies and the Cardinals stand a chance to take this title, but the Braves have looked absolutely spectacular during spring training. Last year, the Braves were a very tough playoff team and with the great addition of Dan Uggla, the Braves will be tough to beat.

ALCS:

This year’s ALCS matchup will be between the Red Sox and the Yankees. This season, the Red Sox have a rotation and lineup that is superior to the Yankees. Boston Red Sox in six.

NLCS:

The Reds performed very poorly in the playoffs last season. I believe they will reconcile that performance by making it to the NLCS and facing the Phillies. The Phillies simply have too good of a starting rotation to lose. Philadelphia Phillies in five

World Series:

The World Series will be one of the best match-ups in recent memory. The Red Sox and the Phillies both have all the right parts to make a great series. The Phillies have the better rotation, but the Red Sox lineup trumps that of the Phillies. These two MLB powerhouses will trade blows.

What it all boils down to is the old baseball ideology that “good pitching beats good hitting.” Phillies in seven.

Another one bites the dust

February 25, 2011 1 comment

Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright will undergo season ending Tommy John surgery. Credit: http://www.zimbio.com

The bad news continues for the St. Louis Cardinals as they have lost their ace Adam Wainwright for the season.

Wainwright will have Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow and will miss the entire 2011 season.  Wainwright felt soreness in the elbow on Monday during a bullpen session but did not find out the severity of the injury until Wednesday.

The injury is a tough one to swallow for the Cardinals. Wainwright was a 20 game winner last year and finished second in the NL Cy Young voting. Wainwright also had a 2.42 ERA last season second in the NL only to Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson. Wainwright has pitched the most innings over the past two seasons racking up an incredible 463 1/3 innings.

The Cardinals starting rotation is now left with a gaping hole. The current rotation includes Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook. They are still left with four quality pitchers but no Wainwright. The big question is who will be added to the rotation as the 5th starter.

There have been reports the Cardinals might try and sign a free agent to replace Wainwright, but Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa said it would be unlikely they do so. The most likely outcome is that someone from within the organization will take the spot. There are six to seven candidates but reliever Kyle McClellan leads the list.

Whoever takes over the 5th starting spot will need to put a good amount of innings because the bullpen will be used more often than last year. It is important the starters go deep into games in order to keep the bullpen fresh.

The ability to stay healthy is going to be a big key for the Cardinals pitching staff this season. While losing Wainwright is a huge loss, losing another pitcher to injury will be catastrophic. The rotation will be depleted and the bullpen will have to be used entirely too much during the season.

The Cardinals’ chances of making the playoffs took a major hit with the loss of Wainwright. Only time will tell if the pitching staff can recover from the loss and lead the Cardinals into the postseason.

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