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2013 MLB Team Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

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The Philadelphia Phillies have been perennial World Series contenders since Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were in their first years in the Majors. The Phillies have spent a king’s ransom on pitching, yet the rest of the lineup have aged poorly. Could Philadelphia become sellers at the trade deadline this season?

Will Philly regret signing Cole Hamels to a superstar contract when he is the team’s third best starter?

Here is the 2013 MLB season preview for the Philadelphia Phillies. Continue reading

2012 MLB: What We’ve Learned So Far…

If Matt Kemp was the MVP of April, the May award would go to either Giancarlo Stanton, Melky Cabrera, or Carlos Gonzalez. Their bats started to heat up as the degrees raised on the thermometer.

If I had to chose between Stanton, Cabrera, and Gonzalez, I would have to go with Stanton. He hit a grand slam that hit the scoreboard. It made a large portion of the scoreboard go black. If the Miami Marlins want to keep a left-field scoreboard, they may want to move it deeper into the park.

May is a month when teams start getting an idea if their roster needs tweaked. Players start getting called up from the minors and veterans begin to get “designated for assignment.”

Here are some things that we learned in May…

Jamie Moyer is a bad ass. Yes, a middle school pitcher could beat him on the radar gun, but you have to respect what he has done. The Colorado Rockies released him last week, but he set the age records for wins and oldest person to get an RBI. I hope a team gives him an opportunity to pitch at age 50 next season.

– No one can hit Ernesto Frieri. The Los Angeles Angels reliever did not allow a hit during the entire month of May. He has registered 30 strikeouts in 14 innings and saved his first game. He currently shares the role of closer with Scott Downs. I have a feeling that Frieri will have that job by himself if he keeps this up.

– Aroldis Chapman? (see: Ernesto Frieri)

– Matt Kemp’s hamstring pisses him off. He spent nearly the entire month of May on the disabled list. He came back, but re-injured his hamstring and will be out the entire month of June. Kemp was so mad that he had a mini-tirade in the dugout.

– Bryan LaHair falls back down to Earth. He was the only Chicago Cubs offense in April. He looked to have a stranglehold on the first-base job and block Anthony Rizzo from being called up. He is now stuck in a platoon with Jeff Baker and sits when the Cubs face a left-handed starting pitcher.

– Alfonso Soriano found the Fountain of Youth. He reduced his bat weight by an ounce and a quarter and his power has returned. He hit eight home runs in the last 30 days. The Cubs are hoping that he can keep this up so they can finally trade him.

– Justin Smoak can be called “The Smoak Monster” once again. He started the season off horribly, but he had seven home runs and a .280 average in the month of May. He now has a .241 average, which is much better than hitting around the Mendoza line.

Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are really, really good. No one thought they would hit this well so early in their careers. Harper is a ball of energy and is a threat with his bat and his cannon of an arm. Trout looks like he could turn into a 30/30 guy. He will definitely have over 30 stolen bases this season, since he has nine in only 127 at-bats.

Mark Trumbo ate Albert Pujols. Going into the season, analysts had written off Trumbo. They thought that he could end up in a platoon with an outfielder and spell Pujols at first-base. Trumbo currently has a line of 10/27/.331 and Pujols has a line of 8/23/.238. Pujols hit all of those homers in May, so he is headed in the right direction.

Jared Weaver and Roy Halladay are human. Both pitchers started off the year very hot. Weaver pitched a no-hitter earlier this season and Halladay had a few games in which he has no-hitter stuff. They both landed on the disabled-list at the end of May. Weaver will only miss a couple starts, but Halladay’s season is at risk. He is having a second opinion on his shoulder and could need surgery.

– The Pittsburgh Pirates have a talented pitcher? James McDonald came out of nowhere and has been phenomenal. In May, he had 39 K’s in 35 innings with an ERA of 1.54 and a WHIP under 1.00. His BABIP doesn’t do him any favors by showing that he has had a bit of luck. His K/BB is currently at 63/19, a rate that he needs to keep up if he wants to continue his early success.

– The AL East is too close too call. In the month of May, every team in the division were either 15-13, 15-14, or 14-14. You can’t get any closer than that.

– Will Middlebrooks made Kevin Youkilis expendable. Middlebrooks is a younger version of Youk, but with more power. The Boston Red Sox will get a nice return for the “Greek God of Walks”.

– The Chicago White Sox are showing that they could be a playoff team. They went 18-11 with a +34 run differential in the month of May. Davan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham, and Paul Konerko all lead a stat category for their position in May. The 2012 roster is almost a mirror image of last year’s team. They are responding to a new message and probably grew tired of Ozzie Guillen’s method.┬áRobin Ventura is getting the most out of the team.

– The NL East is as close as the race in the AL East. The Washington Nationals are currently leading, but only 3.5 games separate them from last place. I can see this race still being a three or four team race at the trading deadline.

– The St. Louis Cardinals are confusing. They have a +52 run differential but are only one game over .500. The Cincinnati Reds are looking like the team to beat, but don’t count out the Pirates. This is definitely a three team race.

– ┬áThe NL West will be won by either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the San Francisco Giants. The Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t getting as many balls fall as they did last year. The pitching staffs for the Dodgers and Giants look dominant. The NL Cy Young winner could be won by a pitcher in this division. Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong, and Madison Bumgarner and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw in the discussion.

The following pictures are a monthly treat for my female readers. I’m not a huge fan of this section of the post, but it has been a hit. Female sports fans have been very kind to this site, so here’s a little eye candy for the ladies…I hope you enjoy shirtless photos of Hunter Pence, C.J. Wilson, Ryan Braun, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Lance Berkman. (yeah, sorry about the Berkman photo)

Sorry about that guys! I promised a female reader that I would do this once every month during the baseball season. Shirtless photos are my limit…no one could handle seeing a nude photo of Berkman.

By: TwitterButtons.com

A Sports & Entertainment blog that focuses on absurdity in sports, snarky banter, updates on Tim Tebow’s virginity, and decent sports gambling advice.

Who Will Win American League Cy Young?

The American League Cy Young race is full of the usual suspects. You usually have a dominant picther from the Yankees and Red Sox (check), one from the AL Central division leader (check), and a few dark horses that are no longer in the divisional race (check). Check out who are the favorites and who could come from behind over their last 7 or 8 starts of the season.

Leading Candidates

Justin Verlander – He is tha anchor of a nice pitching staff in Detroit. He currently 14-7 with a 3.38 ERA and has an alarming 211 strikeouts in only 181 innings of work this season. He had a dismal 2008 season and it is nice that he bounced back. The Tigers are currently winning their division, but it could hurt him that he won’t get as much exposure as pitchers on the Red Sox and Yankees. I think he will at least finish in the top three in voting and could take the award.

C.C. Sabathia – He had a rough start to the season, but over the last two months, he has been great. It helps him that he gets a lot of run support from the modern-day “Murder’s Row” the Yankees have assembled. He has a fairly high ERA to be up for the Cy Young, he’s currently at 3.59. He is leading the league in wins (15-7) and his WHIP is 1.13, which is great. It will help him that he’s on the Yankees and that he probably should have won the award last season, but he switched leagues mid-season.

Roy Halladay – His season has been marred with “Am I getting traded?…okay, how about now?” banter all season. He has had a great year despite all of the distractions, he’s 13-7 with a 3.03 ERA. He has been a workhorse with five complete games and will easily get to 200 innings this year. He’s still a leading candidate for the Cy Young, even if his chances aren’t as great as Verlander or Sabathia’s at getting another Cy Young.

Zack Greinke – If the season ended at the beginning of June, then Greinke would have been the unanimous winner, but the Royals hit bottom and Greinke had a few bad starts. He still had a great year and is still leading the AL in ERA with a 2.43, a full .3 a head of the next guy on the list, Seattle’s Felix Hernandez at 2.73. Greinke has a 12-8 record with 5 complete games, if he were on a contender, I am confident that he would be a 20-game winner. He is also currently 2nd in the AL in strikeouts with 197. If he had run support, Greinke would be in stronger position to win the AL Cy Young.

Dark Horses

Josh Beckett – The Red Sox may not win the AL East this year, but they are fighting for their Wild Card life. Beckett has helped them by pitching well, but he has been erratic at times. He has a 3.65 ERA, but is 14-5 this year. He had a month-long stretch that he barely gave up any hits, but that streak has ended and he’s hittable again. I would say that he’s a dark horse to win it, unless he can pull out a perfect game between now and the end of the season.

Scott Feldman – The young ace of the Texas Rangers isn’t used to being considered for end of the year awards, but he deserves a little recognition. He’s currently 13-4 with a 3.87 ERA for the Rangers, but only has 84 strikeouts, but that isn’t his expertise. He has helped the Rangers contend for the AL Wild Card and with Kevin Milwood, Dexter Holland, and Tommy Hunter has transformed the Rangers starting rotation. He has too high of an ERA to win, but should garner some votes.

Jared Weaver – Weaver had a horrible first couple weeks of the season. At one point his ERA was nearing double digits. Over the last few months, he has trimmed his ERA down to 4.03. He is 13-5 with 143 strikeouts for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Over the course of his dominance, they have bolted all the way to the best record in the American League. Weaver also has a high ERA to win this award, but the way he has pitched lately could change some minds.

Jeff Niemann – At the beginning of the year, The Tampa Bay Rays were needing to trim down their starting rotation and Niemann was almost the odd man out. He has pitched great this year and especially at home in Tropicana Field, he has a 2.67 ERA at home. This season, Niemann is 12-5 with a 3.87 ERA, something that the Rays didn’t expect from him, those numbers were expected out of David Price, Scott Kazmir, or Andy Sonnanstine. He’s not a sexy pick for the Cy Young, but if can get the Rays into the playoffs and dominantly pitch the rest of the way, there’s a slim chance.

I would say that award is Justin Verlander’s to lose. He just has to stay the course and pitch consistently and he should take it home. C.C. Sabathia should finish second, but as much press that the Yankees garner, he could leapfrog Verlander if they keep winning and getting ample run support for their pitchers. At this point it’s too close to call, but when it’s all said and done, Verlander should finally win the AL Cy Young.
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Are The Cubs Finally Making A Run?

The Cubs may not be making any huge trades over the next 24-hour period, but their current players have finally started to hit. What would happen if Milton Bradley actually starts to produce for the Cubs? Can they keep pace with the Cardinals, who added Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday over the past couple weeks? Geovany Soto and Ted Lilly are both on the DL, but with Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez coming off, this could be the beginning of a nice second-half of the season.

Alfonso Soriano, who has battled a leg injury for most of the season, has finally started to swing the bat well. They moved him down to the sixth spot, and since then, he has been hitting .383 with 5 homers and 15 RBI. I’m not sure if the move down in the order sparked this offense, but resting during the All-Star break could have added to his numbers. I like him hitting behind Ramirez, Fox/Hoffpauer platoon, and Bradley, they have all found their numbers have increased. Ramirez has had an extra base-hit in 9 straight games and Bradley hit is eight homer of the season this afternoon. If they get their pitching in order, maybe they can keep pace with the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright and Cris Carpenter are the only Cardinals who has pitched well after the All-Star break, with Ryan Franklin finally looking human. If the Cubs can get a mid-level bat or someone like John Grabow over the next day, it could help their cause.

Geovany Soto has not had a great season this year, but he is expected back in a couple weeks from an oblique injury. He started to hit well before his trip to the DL, but I like the way Koyie Hill has called games for the pitching staff. Randy Wells has looked great and even Kevin Hart has looked like a professional over the last two weeks. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if Soto is out longer than expected, but I would like him to get a couple weeks of regular season activity at the end of the season, if the Cubs make the playoffs, I don’t want him rusty.

The rest of the league are scouring the league for trades, but the Cubs can’t afford to do that, nor should they do so. If their line-up starts to hit to their potential and Zambrano doesn’t eat someone’s face off, they will be in the race. The Cubs don’t have any blue-chip prospects other than Josh Vitters, who they hope will develop into something great. He’s a third-baseman, so he’ll either be an insurance policy for Aramis Ramirez, or a possible position change to first base, if Derrek Lee’s performance begins to decline.

I have really turned the wagons around the last few days concerning the Cubs season. If the Brewers get desparate and trade their lot of prospects away for Roy Halladay, I could head back the other way, but it looks like Doc Halladay isn’t headed into these parts anytime soon.
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Buehrle’s Perfect Game Puts Pressure On Cubs

Mark Buehrle has been a workhorse for the Chicago White Sox. He is a feast or famine type of pitcher, but when he has his control, the guy is non-stop. The White Sox are now tied for the AL Central lead with the Tigers, but the momentum is on their side. On the other side of town, the Cubs are struggling to score runs and put together a consistent line-up card. Buehrle’s perfect game has put added pressure on the Cubs to make a move. The White Sox and the Cubs aren’t in the same league, but they always feel the heat when the other team is controlling the headlines. When you add in that St. Louis is trying to get Roy Halladay from Toronto and Matt Holliday from Oakland, the North Side of Chicago is starting to feel like a sauna.

The Cubs need a few more pieces to compete in the NL Central. They only have the salary flexibility to add a middle reliever. There are rumors that they are trying to pry away Freddy Sanchez from Pittsburgh and George Sherrill from Baltimore. I’m okay with acquiring Sanchez, since he is a consistent .300 hitter and can get on base. I am not okay with acquiring Sherrill. If they get the Baltimore reliever, the Cubs would have three former closers in charge of the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. That normally would be a good thing, but it seems like the only club that the Cubs trade with is Baltimore. Andy MacPhail, Baltimore’s president of baseball operations, used to be the president of the Chicago Cubs. He was GM Jim Hendry’s boss in Chicago and they seem to be buddies. I am okay with having friends on other teams, but Hendry needs to call a few different numbers. Unless they want to trade us Brian Roberts or Adam Jones, don’t answer the phone with MacPhail calls you. Sherrill would be a better option than Chad Qualls or Juan Cruz, but I just don’t like how the Cubs conduct business with Baltimore.

If Milwaukee or St. Louis get Roy Halladay, I’m throwing in the towel as a Cubs fan. The Brewers obtained C.C. Sabathia last season and they could barely hold them off. This season, every team, except the Pirates, are in this race and we won’t be able to keep pace with everyone. The Chicago Tribune really screwed the Cubs over. The newspaper business has been in the toilet for the last decade and they should have sold off the club years ago. The uncertainty of the owner situation, made the Cubs stagnant this off-season. They had to trade away Mark DeRosa for table scraps and it barely saved them any money. They have had to rely on picking up guys like Ryan Freel and Jeff Baker on the cheap, just to fill out the batting order. I am not even going to discuss the Cardinals possibly getting Matt Holliday from Oakland for Brett Wallace. I am just praying that that doesn’t happen. They will only have him for the rest of the season, but this season could be won before the July 31st trade deadline. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they will be doing very little.

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