Time for more bobblehead madness. In case you missed part one on the AL West, check it out here. Again, each bobblehead will be rated 1-5 stars based on quality of subject, originality, number available, and overall awesomeness. Teams will be ranked by total stars, so the more giveaways (especially quality ones) the better. Which bobbleheads in the AL Central will be crowned the king? Let’s find out!
Cleveland Indians (amount of giveaway varies)
Saturday, May 3rd, Orel Hershiser: Interesting choice for a throwback bobblehead as Hershiser had a 4.21 ERA in his three seasons with the Tribe. He is a big name though. This giveaway is for 10,000 fans. ** 1/2
Saturday, May 31st, BrOhio: I have no idea where this is going, but it has potential to be the most creative bobblehead in Cleveland’s crop. They also up the giveaway to 12,500 for this one. *** 1/2
Tuesday, June 3rd, Michael Bourn: Pretty standard stuff here. Back down to 10,000 fans on this giveaway **
Tuesday, July 8th, Jason Kipnis: See, Michael Bourn. But a slightly better player and 12,500 fans get this one. ** 1/2
Monday, September 1st, Michael Brantley: Another average to slightly above average player getting his bobble on. Still 12,500 fans for this one, but still a low number compared to other teams. A lot of quantity, but not much quality from the Indians in 2014. **
Total: 12 1/2 stars
Minnesota Twins (10,000 fans)
Friday, June 20th, Harmon Killebrew 1965 All-Star Game: I had a feeling the Twins would go the route the Mets did in 2013 and honor players that appeared in All-Star Games with the team. The Twins are hosting the 2014 All-Star Game. This would be a huge boost if the Twins also featured the three Minneapolis stadiums to host the All-Star Game as well. Killebrew is one of my favorite players of all-time. ****
Friday, July 4th, Lou Gehrig: This giveaway is with the Yankees in town and corresponds with the 75th anniversary of Gehrig’s farewell speech. Great tip of the cap to history by the Twins. ****
Saturday, July 5th, Tom Brunansky 1985 All-Star Game: Brunansky picked a great year to be the only Twins All-Star and make his only appearance in the Midsummer Classic. The career .245 hitter does have a sweet mustache, but it’s not enough to probably be the worst bobblehead of 2014. *
Saturday, September 6th, TBD 2014 All-Star Game: Fake Vegas odds on who this bobblehead will be. Joe Mauer -2000, Glen Perkins +500, anyone else +1500. If it’s Mauer…….. ***
Total: 12 stars
Kansas City Royals (10,000 fans)
Saturday, June 28th, James Shields: This is going to be tough to dole out stars with a measly 10,000 fans getting each bobblehead. Shields is a solid pitcher, but not a big star. **
Saturday, July 12th, Salvador Perez: Perez isn’t even on Shields’ level, yuck. * 1/2
Sunday, August 10th, Alex Gordon: Gordon is the “star” of the team. We’ll see if they make it with a Gold Glove variation, that’d be a nice addition. ** 1/2
Saturday, August 30th, Mr. Royal: This one could actually be fun! This throwback mascot will get a bobblehead on retro night. I’m in. *** 1/2
Total: 9 1/2 stars
Detroit Tigers (amount of giveaway varies)
Thursday, June 5th, Max Scherzer 2013 Cy Young Award: No picture yet of the the bobblehead, but I’d suspect it’ll be him holding the Cy Young award. Maybe they’ll throw in the WWE Title belt that Scherzer was given for winning Cy Young. This giveaway is for 15,000 fans. ***
Thursday, August 14th, Justin Verlander Mini-Bobblehead: Mini-bobblehead? Can’t give him a normal sized one? I’ll only accept this if there’s a mini-Kate Upton on it too. This giveaway is for just 10,000 fans. Dislike. * 1/2
Friday, August 15th, Miguel Cabrera 2-Time MVP: Apparently to get a normal-size bobblehead you have to win an award the previous season. I want Cabrera to be wearing his Triple Crown crown while holding two MVP’s in his arms. I’d bet it won’t look like that. This giveaway is also for 10,000 fans. ****
Total: 8.5 stars
Chicago White Sox (20,000 fans)
Saturday, May 24th, Chris Sale: Sale is the current and future ace of the White Sox. The extra 5,000 fans that get to take this home compared to the Yu Darvish bobblehead in part one, gives this an extra 1/2 star. ***
Saturday, August 30th, Tony LaRussa: Many people forget that LaRussa started his managing career on the Southside. In his Hall of Fame induction year, I like that they’re giving him a bobblehead. I hope it’s in this classic throwback uniform. *** 1/2
Total: 6.5 stars
That’ll do it for the AL Central. I’m quite disappointed that there were no pictures of any 2014 bobbleheads in this division. The Indians win on quantity, but the Twins win on quality. Unless, it’s Tom Brunansky of course.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
In the wake of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon on Monday, MLB teams showed their support for the city of Boston by playing “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. The song is a staple at Fenway Park and is sung by Red Sox fans before the bottom of the 8th inning. The song was played at home games by the Braves, Marlins, Reds, Cubs, Twins, Dodgers, Indians (who were playing the Red Sox), and even their biggest rival, the Yankees. Here is the video of “Sweet Caroline” being played at the end of the 3rd inning at Yankee Stadium.
Here’s the Target Field version:
Down in Miami at Marlins Park:
All the way on the other coast at Dodger Stadium:
And at O.co Coliseum in Oakland:
Turner Field in Atlanta where the Braves went on to hit three homers in the bottom of the 8th:
The Brewers showed their support by playing another famous Boston song, the theme from “Cheers”. That can be heard at the 1:40 mark of this video.
You have to love the support that Boston is getting from across the country. It’s the little things like this that add up to big things. It really is “so good, so good, so good.”
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Okay, so the Diamondbacks aren’t in Ohio. But two of the three teams involved in today’s mega-deal are! Fans of both the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds must be feeling pretty good about the moves they made.
The Indians finally found a good fit for star outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but even they might end up surprised with the return they got on the investment. And Choo’s new team, the Reds, are clear favorites to repeat in the NL Central after adding a quality bat and glove like his.
And the middle child, Arizona, is stuck with the biggest question mark. Luckily for them, their guy also may net the biggest return. However, the ultimate prize for the D’Backs may be that with a shortstop added to the mix, Justin Upton will be staying put in the desert.
Will the other, secondary players in this trade make an impact down the road? This writer sure thinks so.
Let’s break down this three-way trade:
SS Didi Gregorius (AAA) from CIN
RP Tony Sipp (AAA) from CLE
1B Lars Anderson (AAA) from CLE
OF Shin-Soo Choo from CLE
IF Jason Donald from CLE
$3.5 million from CLE
OF Drew Stubbs from CIN
SP Trevor Bauer from ARI
RP Bryan Shaw from ARI
RP Matt Albers from ARI
Wow, that’s a doozy. The first thing that stands out to me when breaking down this trade is the ultimate haul of ridiculous talent that ends up in Cleveland. Though Stubbs hasn’t quite lived up to his billing in Cincy – mostly due to a high strikeout rate – he’s extremely gifted.
I’m talking speed, power and defense in a combination that few players can match. Even if he struggles to acclimate to Cleveland and continues to fail at getting on base, I think the Indians have a very workable project with Stubbs, who is still young and has a very high ceiling. He should fill in nicely for Choo for the time being.
The real prize has to be Bauer, a top pitching prospect who is considered among the best in baseball. I’m a little bit surprised the Diamondbacks parted with him over Tyler Skaggs, but I’m not one to question that brilliant front office. Bauer brings power, wisdom and accuracy to the mound. At the ripe young age of 21, Bauer is under team control for a long time and should blossom into a star, barring injury.
Throw in the fact that Cleveland landed two right-handed relievers under age 3o, and they might just win this whole darn thing. Matt Albers, 29, has a 2.57 ERA last season between the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks, and Shaw, 25, put up pretty good numbers as well.
Over in Cincinnati, the Reds have found a full-time center fielder. One has to wonder if that will backfire, given that Choo has only played 10 games there in his whole career. That being said, the outfield is all the same – center field commands more of a range, but if you can catch a fly ball and throw a runner out, you can do it well from anywhere out there.
Personally, I think Choo will figure it out pretty quick and be an above-average center fielder. And never fear, Reds fans. Choo is most likely a one-year stop-gap before uber-prospect Billy Hamilton reaches the Majors for good in 2014. Adding in Donald isn’t extremely noteworthy, but he’s a good utility man who can provide a spark off the bench across multiple positions – or fill a potentially-vacant role at third base.
In Arizona, fans might be wondering why their team moved one of the best minor league arms in baseball for a guy named Didi. But one look at Gregorius’ tape and stats, and you may be convinced. He is under team control until 2019, and may be that franchise shortstop the D’Backs have been searching for.
The stats aren’t anything exceptionally flashy, but they don’t tell the whole story. Multiple analysts rank Gregorius as a plus-fielder and a plus-hitter for average. His nearly 450 games in the minors so far have produced a .271 career average and respectable fielding numbers.
If Gregorius lives up to the enormous potential he possesses, the D’Backs may have gotten the biggest steal of the whole trade. And don’t forget they got Sipp and Anderson too. Sipp has a career 3.68 ERA, but is just entering his prime. Anderson is also under team control until 2019 and could very well blossom into a power-hitting, left-handed first baseman.
As it stands now, the Reds definitely win in the short-term with this trade. In the long run, I like what the Indians got. And the dark horse Diamondbacks will need all three players to really pay off if they want to even be considered as winners of this deal. But enough of my opinion – what do you think?
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Imagine my poor blood pressure this morning when I woke up to a headline like THIS today.
Something like what Derek Jeter is alluding to would be disastrous if it actually came to fruition. I’m no Yankee fan by any measure, but I truly respect Jeter and have looked up to him since I was a little kid. And I just can’t imagine him wearing anything besides the pinstripes.
None of that Joe Montana-to-the-Chiefs, desperate-to-keep-playing, end of the career crap from Jeter, please.
Sure, the unthinkable has been done before – Ken Griffey, Jr. moved to Cincinnati from Seattle even though he looked like a super hero in the silver and teal. Heck, we had one happen this past off-season when Albert Pujols jumped ship to Anaheim, despite looking so damn good in Cardinal red.
But the super fan in me would like to keep that kind of olé B.S. to a minimum. I don’t know what it is…the players themselves, the jersey/color combo of the teams they represent, or just the nostalgia of a childhood long-gone (okay, I’m not that old), but I identify Jeter and the rest of this list as players who I could never, ever see in a different jersey:
*Disclaimer: Mariano Rivera and Chipper Jones not included because they are guaranteed to stay a Yankee and Brave, respectively, for the remainder of their Hall of Fame careers*
1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Let’s start with the Captain himself. Jeter has played all 18 seasons as the shortstop of the Yankees, number two plastered on his back. Needless to say, Mr. November will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the next great Yankee to have his number retired. There is no more iconic jersey in sports than those of the Yanks, and even imagining Jeter in an Angels, Cubs, Red Sox (god forbid) or any other jersey is painful.
I know he’s only been around a few years, but damn if Posey hasn’t made himself a celebrity in San Francisco at Usain Bolt-esque speed. There is no way the team will let this guy walk away as long as he’s physically able to play the game. It’s really hard to predict this early, but we could be seeing the next great “one-team” lifer in Posey, who should be representing that awful orange and black for another decade and a half.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if Mariners GM Jack Zdurineck trades Felix, he should not only be fired, but tarred, feathered and forced to watch Jack and Jill on loop. Hernandez is the King of Seattle and it should stay that way forever. I dig the silver and teal uni’s up there in the Pacific Northwest, and Hernandez wears it best. Plus, he wants to stay a Seattle Mariner. I’m sure Brian Cashman has visions, but I just can’t see this guy in Yankee garb.
When I say Rockies, you say Helton! “ROCKIES!” “HELTON!” Thank you. But seriously, Helton is about as synonymous with Colorado baseball as macaroni is with cheese. He’s played all 16 years of his career manning first base at Coors Field, and will most definitely have his number retired there whenever he hangs up the spikes. Todd Helton in anything but purple would be straight criminal.
I know a few Cardinals fans who would actually sob uncontrollably if Yadi ever slips on another team’s jersey. And they should, because it would arguably be more devastating than the loss of Pujols to that devoted fan base. Whereas Pujols was the power and glam of the team, Molina is the heart, soul, lungs and kidney of the franchise. I know NL catchers have a short shelf life, but just trying to picture him as a Dodger or Phillie makes me want to elbow drop a baby penguin.
Last, but certainly not least, we have arguably the best all-around player in the National League. I don’t know what it is with him and that black and gold, but McCutchen just looks so right in a Pirates uniform. Maybe it’s the dreads, or the blindingly white smile, or the elegant physique over which the Pirates’ jersey falls. No matter, McCutchen can never go play for the Indians or Orioles or anyone else. He needs to be in Pittsburgh for life.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Mike Trout (Angels), David Price (Rays)
Comment below if you think someone else should be considered for this list! And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
It’s time for another round of interleague play! These match-ups aren’t as exotic as the last “Weekend Watch” with interleague play involved, but it doesn’t mean that cross-divisional series aren’t as fun. Here’s what I’m looking forward to watching this weekend as I sneak the MLB At-Bat app on while tailgating at the Belmont Stakes.
6) Indians at Cardinals
Battle of the two 2nd place teams in the Central where both are trying to get back to the 1st place perch they had just recently. The injury bug continues to hit St. Louis as Jaime Garcia finds himself joining teammates Jon Jay, Skip Schumaker, and Lance Berkman on the disabled list. The Indians, on the other hand, seem to be the least talked about “good” team in the Majors. They keep plugging away without doing anything too special, they sit 8th in the AL in batting average and a dismal 2nd to last in ERA, but there they are at 30-26, just a game out of 1st place. Jason Kipnis has been great for Cleveland in his sophomore season leading the team in home runs (9) and stolen bases (14).
2D) Blue Jays and Braves
This is a series as a Braves fan that I wish I could go down to Turner Field and attend in person. Friday night, the Braves are retiring the great John Smoltz’s number (more on that in a blog tomorrow) and on Saturday is the greatest promotion the team has ever done, Sid Bream Slide Bobblehead Day! Seriously, this thing is awesome and are already being offered on eBay from $55-75. Both the Jays and Braves are playing in tightly contested races in their East divisions. As I type this the AL East is separated by just four games. The NL East is only a game and a half difference between 1st place and 4th place. Every team in those two divsions is .500 or better except for the Phillies, who saw that coming? No wonder why FOUR East interleague series make the “Weekend Watch” this week.
2C) Nationals at Red Sox
1st place vs. last place gets 3rd place here, that’s the average. Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez have been wunderkinds in the National League, but how will they do on the road against a quality offense in Boston. Gonzalez’s track record against the Sox while he was in Oakland was not very good as he has a 5.79 ERA over 28 innings in his career. Red Sox Kevin Youkilis also feasts on Gonzalez pitching going 6 for 11 in his career. I’m also intrigued to see Daisuke Matsuzaka’s return on Saturday to the Red Sox after recovering from Tommy John surgery. If he can give Boston anything after they had to send down Daniel Bard to AAA it’d be a great plus.
2B) Mets at Yankees
The Subway Series means something! The Yankees have been on fire winning 10 of their last 13 games going into Thursday night’s game with the Rays. The Mets are still reveling in the teams first no-hitter by Johan Santana last Friday night and he’ll start the opener against Huroki Kuroda. The no-hitter has been an extra spring in the step of Mets fans. I live in Connecticut, where you get a mixture of Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox fans. I’ve seen more Mets hats and jerseys in the past week than I had the entire season before Santana’s no-no. Wonder if some will actually try to infiltrate the Bronx this weekend. Derek Jeter thrives against his cross-town rivals hitting .385, the best batting average he has against any team he has 40 at-bats against.
2A) Rays at Marlins
The Battle for Florida means something! I don’t expect a lot of runs this weekend between these two as the pitching matchups are pretty solid and Marlins Park has played towards the pitcher so far. I really want to see if Matt Moore can continue his recent success as he has a 2.55 ERA over his last three starts compared to a 7.20 ERA his three starts before that. Maybe he can still salvage my AL Rookie of the Year pick. Mike Trout you say? Yeah, I’m doomed. James Shields vs. Anibal Sanchez on Sunday is an underrated pitchers special.
1) Rangers at Giants
Can’t be yelled at for East Coast bias if I put the Rangers and Giants in the top spot! Despite Tim Lincecum’s worst efforts the Giants are the hottest team in the National League winning 8 of their last 10 games. The Rangers have only won one game in each series against the Mariners, Angels, and Athletics coming into this series. Roy Oswalt can’t get up to the Majors fast enough it seems as Derek Holland now joins Neftali Feliz on the DL from the rotation. Alexi Ogando will come out of the bullpen to make the start in place of Holland. Even better is that this could be a potential World Series match-up down the road.
Mapes Fantasy Special
Another great week for the Mapes Fantasy Special. I’m now 10-2 since moving the Mapes Fantasy Special over to the Weekend Watch. I’ll slow clap for myself. Here are this weeks picks, remember these pitchers must be available in 50% or more of Yahoo! fantasy baseball leagues.
6/8 Gavin Floyd (32% owned) vs. Astros, Floyd has been absolutely terrible lately, but if he can’t do it at home against the Astros I have no hope for him. I wish I could just quit you Gavin.
6/9 Scott Diamond (22% owned) vs. Cubs, Diamond has been a find in the rough for the Twins, sorry I couldn’t resist, he’s been stellar going 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Even better are his 4 walks in 38.2 innings this season. Diamond faces the Cubs who have drawn the 4th least walks in the Majors this season, bodes well for him if they put in in play at Target Field.
6/10 Andy Pettitte (49% owned) vs. Mets, I have no explanation for what Pettitte is doing right now, so I’m just gonna enjoy the ride before he gets over 50% owned.
What are you looking forward to this weekend? Who do you like in fantasy? Tweet me using #MapesFantasySpecial
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
There undoubtedly other fun sporting events to watch this weekend like the NHL and NBA playoffs, plus the Kentucky Derby. However, here’s what I’m watching on the diamond this weekend.
5) Orioles at Red Sox
The battle between the team in 2nd place in the AL East and the team in the basement. Only it’s the reverse of what everyone thought it would be at the start of this season. Can the Orioles keep up the momentum? For Baltimore, is Jason Hammel for real? That trade with the Rockies for him is looking pretty shrewd right now as Hammel is 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA and passed his first difficult test of the season against the Yankees. The Red Sox schedule is easing up, but after losing two straight against the Athletics, all hands need to be on deck in Beantown.
4) Blue Jays at Angels
I’ll really just be keeping an eye on this one to see if Albert Pujols is going to decide to hit a home run this season. The Jered Weaver no-hitter bump already seems to be gone as the Halos dropped the first game of this series on Thursday night.
3) Phillies at Nationals
I want to see if Bryce Harper can bring people to Nationals Park on the weekend. The Nats haven’t seen a bump in attendance in the first series with “The Chosen One” in the lineup. My leader in the NL Cy Young after April will be taking the hill on Friday night in Stephen Strasburg. If Washington can’t get 30,000 in the seats for that, I give up. Hamels vs. Zimmermann on Sunday Night Baseball will be a great duel.
2) Braves at Rockies
A little bit of a homer pick by me, but I always enjoy watching games in Colorado. I’m excited to watch Tim Hudson’s continued return, hopefully a 49 year-old Jamie Moyer vs. 40 year-old Chipper Jones matchup on Saturday, Carlos Gonzalez has been on fire lately.
1) Rangers at Indians
The only weekend matchup pitting two 1st place teams. There hasn’t been a lot the Rangers have done wrong so far this season with Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler mashing in the lineup and Yu Darvish and Colby Lewis cruising along in the rotation. The Indians have been a little bit of a surprise in the AL Central that was supposed to be controlled by the Tigers. The Indians started off hot last season before fading, did they learn from it in order to make a run in 2012? Winning this series against the two-time defending AL Champion Rangers would be a nice boost.
What are you looking forward this weekend in Major League Baseball?
The AL Central is composed of the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins. If I was going to build a line-up consisting of AL Central players ONLY, here is my starting 9, DH, set-up man, and closer. Consider this the AL Central fantasy draft. I take in consideration the ability to play this year and only this year and I am not trying to build for the future.
Leading off and playing Center Field: Austin Jackson (Detroit)– He batted .294 with 34 doubles his rookie season and is off to a scorching start this year.
Batting 2nd and playing Right Field: Brennan Boesch (Detroit)– His power is up there with Miguel and Prince and batting in front of those two, he will see his fair share of fastballs.
Playing 3B and batting 3rd: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit)– This year shapes up for him to win the AL MVP giving the fact Prince is protecting him (in real life, not just this lineup). Strong arguments support he IS the best hitter in baseball.
Batting clean-up and playing 1B: Prince Fielder (Detroit)– Couple options at 1B but Prince needs to be the everyday guy. Butler and Morneau are possibilities, but Prince will out-homer them. Grand Slams? Yes please.
The DH and batting 5th: Billy Butler (Kansas City)– Tough to choose between Billy and Morneau but taking in consideration age and current health (Justin’s injury last year), Billy is the guy I want hitting everyday.
Batting 6th and catching: Joe Mauer (Minnesota)– Joe’s track record is better than recent AL All-Star, Alex Avila. I have to take the experience here and also not be such a homer.
Playing Shortstop and batting 7th: Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland)– He rakes and makes at least one ridiculous play a week. I would take him purely because of his glove, he also happens to be a stellar hitter.
Batting 8th and playing Left Field: Alex Gordon (Kansas City)– Alex shows pop in the bat, speed on the bases, and a strong arm from the outfield.
Playing 2B and batting 9th: Gordon Beckham (Chicago)– Good young player that shows life on his bat from time to time and a consistent glove. Also not much to choose from at this position so he wins by default.
Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander (Detroit)– AL MVP. CY Young. Need I say more?
RP: Vinnie Pestano (Cleveland)– Bullpen mafia O.G.. Lights out and is a trusty arm in the 8th inning.
Closer: Jose Valverde (Detroit)– Papa Grande didn’t blow a save all year in 2011, but blew his first chance in 2012. Due to injury to Soria, he is the only real candidate. At least he’s consistent.
Honorable mention: Ricky Vaughn (Cleveland) and Jack Parkman (Chicago)
How did I do? What are your thoughts? Who would you plug in where?
Don’t forget to follow me @GODF_TH_R and Three Up, Three Down @3U3D