The 2013 MLB All-Star Game is 83 days away, but never fear you can start voting for your favorite players today here. You get 25 votes that gets bumped up to 35 if you log in with your MLB.com account. Of course there are still paper ballots that can be found at every stadium and the MLB Fan Cave for you to fill out. While I don’t fill out mine until I get a better grasp of who deserves it (like that ends up mattering) here’s what my ballot would look like on April 24th.
American League: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles Davis is off to a hot start for Baltimore. He’s hitting .382 with an AL-leading 7 home runs coming into the games on the 24th. Mike Napoli and Prince Fielder have cases and Napoli would be my pick if he was on the ballot at catcher, not first base. (Runner-up: Prince Fielder, Tigers)
National League: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds The power numbers aren’t there, but Votto-matic is automatic at getting on base leading the league with 26 walks so far and a crazy .485 OBP. The next highest walk total is 16 by David Wright. (Runner-up Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers)
American League: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees I can make a case that Robinson Cano is the MVP of the American League right now. Then you can make the case that it’s April 24th and that’s stupid. (Runner-up Ian Kinsler, Rangers)
National League: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds It must be nice for Phillips to just get to drive in OBP-machines Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo getting on base ahead of him all the time. He leads NL second baseman in RBI and is tied for the lead in home runs. Plus, he’s the best defender at the position in the league. (Runner-up Daniel Murphy, Mets)
American League: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics Lowrie has been quite a coup for Billy Beane’s boys. Lowrie leads AL shortstops in runs, RBI, and batting average. (Runner-up: Jose Reyes, Blue Jays, I’m not joking either)
National League: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies Why have the Rockies been surprising in 2013? A healthy and hitting Troy Tulowitzki is a big part of it. He leads NL shortstops in home runs, RBI, and runs, while hitting .292. (Runner-up: Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers)
American League: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers The defending AL MVP is off to a quiet start, but is still among the league leaders in hits and is best among AL third sackers in batting average. (Runner-up: Evan Longoria, Rays)
National League: David Wright, New York Mets I really wanted to have NL batting leader Chris Johnson here, but Wright has had the overall better start to the season, especially on the basepaths. There’s a lot of depth here right now with Todd Frazier, Pablo Sandoval, and Martin Prado off to solid starts. (Runner-up: Chris Johnson)
American League: J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays Napoli not being on the ballot at catcher is Arencibia’s gain for now. He leads the American League in home runs with eight after another one on Wednesday. He’s my least likely from here to be on my actual ballot in a couple months. (Runner-up: Carlos Santana, Indians)
National League: John Buck, New York Mets Let’s just sum up Buck’s start with this meme. (Runner-up: Evan Gattis, Braves, wait he’s not on the ballot?!?)
American League: Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics, Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox, and Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles These three have been the best all-around outfielders in the American League this season. It’s not my fault that they’re all center fielders. (Runners-up: Austin Jackson, Tigers and Alex Rios, White Sox)
National League: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves, Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies, and Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals There is a ton of depth at National League outfield right now. You could take the next four on my list and make a case they deserve it on to the squad. Justin Upton has been hands-down the best hitter in the game so far this season, it’s ridiculous that he’s still on pace for 90+ home runs. (Runners-up: Shin-Soo Choo, Reds, Dexter Fowler, Rockies, Ryan Braun, Brewers, and Andrew McCutchen, Pirates)
American League: Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians Reynolds has been a great find for Cleveland with seven home runs and 18 RBI, both are top ten in MLB right now. (Runner-up: Travis Hafner, New York Yankees)
Who would you have on your All-Star ballot on release day? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Welcome back! The gang is back this week discussing the many many trips to the 15 Day DL that everyone is taking. Zimmerman, Chacin, Billingsley, etc etc, the list goes on and on. Derek Jeter has also sprung up in conversation as he won’t be back until after the All Star Game. David Ortiz and Chase Headley return from the DL to help their respective teams, and the Brewers get a little crazy stealing first base and throwing water at other players. We also give you your hot fantasy pickups and drops to help you win that office league. Take a listen and start winning!
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Just when you think you’ve seen everything in baseball, Brewers shortstop Jean Segura goes and does something we may never see again. In the 8th inning against the Cubs, Segura reached base and then stole 2nd. He then tried to steal 3rd base and got hung up resulting in this..
Let me attempt to explain. Ryan Braun seeing the throw go to 3rd decides to take 2nd base, then Segura and Braun are both on the base. Segura is safe when tagged and Braun is out when tagged because 2nd was Segura’s original base. Segura assumed he was out at 2nd (which he should’ve been on his 2nd tag) and starts to run back to the dugout only to realize he had been safe at 2nd. Knowingly (for the first time) that he’d end up out if he went back to 2nd, he steals 1st base and is safe. Naturally, Segura is thrown out trying to re-steal 2nd base afterwards.
UPDATE: Here’s the full video of Segura’s antics including both steal attempts of 2nd base.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen someone steal 1st base though. Flashback to Lloyd Moseby of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1987.
Luckily for Moseby, he ended up back at 2nd base in the end. Segura’s still trying to find his way back.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
It’s that time of year again. That time when you realize your resolution to lose 30 pounds failed – in fact, we gained 30, didn’t we? When your declaration that your vampire novel would finally be finished and sent to the publisher, never got off the shelf.
Or that your dream of visiting Tahiti ended up being a shady motel for a weekend in Oakland on business.
Now that we’ve set a bleak mood, here’s the point: It’s New Years resolution time. We will all be making them, whether it’s private or public. And likewise, our favorite MLB teams must have one resolution they are aiming to accomplish in 2013.
Since we survived the apocalypse for now, here are Three Up, Three Down’s resolutions for every MLB team:
Texas Rangers – Make a new friend – The Rangers either shopped in the wrong place or got screwed over for every player on their Christmas wish list. It’s not too late to snag Justin Upton from the D’Backs, though it gets less likely with each passing day. Texas should be going after the powerful right fielder hard in January.
Los Angeles Angels – Make a little money – Hear me out. Everyone knows that Arte Moreno and his Angels are filthy rich, but do they really have enough left over to re-work the decimated starting rotation? Trading for Jason Vargas was a nice touch, but will Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson really replace Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana?
Oakland A’s – Move to a better ‘hood – Lew Wolff is fooling nobody. Because everyone and their mother knows that o.Co Coliseum is not a viable venue for a professional baseball team. Wolff claims he wants at least another half-decade in Oakland, but I’m calling his bluff. Their resolution should be to get OUT, and fast.
Seattle Mariners – Bulk up – No, not on the Bartolo Colon diet. The M’s took a good first step toward that workout regimen by trading for Kendrys Morales. But just because that punch-less offense now benches the bar doesn’t mean opponents will quiver with fear. The M’s need to go out and get some more power to legitimize those playoff hopes.
Houston Astros – Graduate – It’s no secret that the ‘Stros are a big work in progress. Moving to what was last year’s best division in baseball isn’t going to help things. While the other four teams in the division are – at the very least – grown men, Houston is struggling to graduate from a student to a serious businessman. Can they take that step in 2013?
Detroit Tigers – Learn to close – Take this as you may. There are thousands of frat boys in America resolving to improve in the same fashion next year. But I meant it as a nod to the Tigers getting handled in a sweep in the World Series in 2012. Adding Torii Hunter and bringing back Anibal Sanchez were big steps, but 2013 will be a failure without redemption.
Kansas City Royals – Become a “cool kid” – Oh, don’t pretend like you weren’t aspiring to be one your whole academic life. The Royals got some nice clothes and a haircut over the winter vacation, and are looking to butt their way into the “in” crowd. In baseball speak, that means they are aiming to be the new playoff darlings after adding much-needed pitching.
Cleveland Indians – Get along with Dad – The relationship wasn’t that bad before, but the Indians sure would like to impress new skipper Terry Francona in 2013. Cleveland is loaded with untapped potential, and they are hoping to play well for a full season to show their manager and fans that they are serious about this job.
Chicago White Sox – Prove everyone wrong – Wait, didn’t they do that last year? Sure, but people like me are still unconvinced. Their numbers were unexpectedly good, but that just makes the boss curious. Can they repeat? Do they actually deserve the promotion? The Chisox sure would like to move on up, but they will have a tough road.
Minnesota Twins – Get back on their feet – Plenty of people have to resolve to do this every year. Whether it be an economic downturn, family problem, or injury, some years are just destined to be awful. The Twins know they won’t contend in 2013, but they can start the grueling process of getting back to a stable place.
New York Yankees – Forgiveness – They better learn how, because former public enemy number one, Kevin Youkilis, will be manning third base for the Yanks in 2013. What this really means, is that if Youk bounces back and has a good year, the Yanks will forget all about their problems, and likely return to the postseason.
Boston Red Sox – Get cleaned up – This kind of resolution is usually reserved for a junkie of some kind, but it’ll fit nicely with the BoSox here. Boston got so far off track last season that they traded away millions of dollars in bad contracts for below-average prospects. Once they finish cutting out the rot, the Sox might contend again, even in this division.
Toronto Blue Jays – Build an empire – Such a wish is much more foreboding when applied to business in the real world, but opponents of the Jays should really be terrified of the changes this team has made. Their one and only goal with so many major acquisitions must be to not only make the playoffs, but to dominate everyone on the way.
Tampa Bay Rays – Try something crazy – I want to go skydiving, or hike a volcano, or start a band. The Rays, however, should do a whole different kind of crazy. Start Wil Myers in the big leagues, and see if it takes off. The kid is ready, and the lineup needs a boost. Anything remotely good from Myers may mean a playoff berth for Tampa.
Baltimore Orioles – Update the security system – In this day and age, you can’t be too careful with home security. I’m not talking a drawbridge and moat, but we’ve learned that the best teams are thriving because of good pitching staffs, to protect any other weaknesses they may have. Baltimore NEEDS a couple starting pitchers.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Give to charity – I swear, this isn’t even a “rich ownership” joke. Okay, it kind of is. But with all the money this team has shelled out over the past ten or so months, why isn’t their most deserving commodity seeing any of it? They keep talking about an extension for Clayton Kershaw, but show the fans you mean business!
San Francisco Giants – Share with friends – Not the World Series title itself, although this Dodgers fan would appreciate them passing that honor along next season. I’m talking about the Giants sharing with their San Francisco cohort, the 49ers. As the new year starts, the 49ers will be in contention for a title of their own, and any advice would be great.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Cut ties with a family member – Sometimes it’s just necessary. You hate to see anyone secede from the clan, but signing free agent outfielder Cody Ross makes it inevitable. Will it be Upton? Adam Eaton, Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra? One will need to go, and it’s only a matter of time before they get dumped.
Colorado Rockies – Get health insurance – I know, I know. It’s not affordable in this country anymore. That’s one thing I won’t argue! But you have to think, given the regularity of major injuries to Colorado’s best players (Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, etc.) they would find any way to keep everyone off the DL.
San Diego Padres – Earn a promotion – Any opponents who take the Padres lightly in 2013 are foolish. With Chase Headley, Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso backing an underrated pitching staff, San Diego could be the A’s of 2013. They will have to fight and scrap their way to get there, though.
Cincinnati Reds – Follow through – This is a tough one for any given person to accomplish. We make all sorts of promises to ourselves that oftentimes go unfinished. The Reds have made a silent pact to be even better than they were last year, and finally achieve what they’ve been on the brink of for years now. They might be the team to beat in the NL next year.
St. Louis Cardinals – Rekindle the flame – In a non-romantic way, of course. One of the reasons the Cardinals were able to shock fans everywhere and make that insane title run in 2011 was the clutch gene. They weren’t missing it last year, but everything was just too inconsistent in St. Louis. If they rediscover their balance and passion, watch out everyone else.
Milwaukee Brewers – Be a good parent – Confused? Good. The Brewers almost clawed their way all the way back into a Wild Card slot in 2012 after a dismal, bullpen-failure-laden start to the year. With a loaded lineup and above average pitching staff, this should not happen again. So their resolution is to help tutor young shortstop Jean Segura into a star.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Improve their grades – The Pirates were so close to being eligible last year. Not for the playoffs, or any nonsense like that. But to finally getting over the hump. Pittsburgh needs a 2.0 to be eligible – in this case, they need 81 wins – to be taken seriously. Will they reach the .500 mark? A slight improvement in 2013 will do it!
Chicago Cubs – Change their image – There really is no changing an entire image built around loss and devastation, as Cubs fans have known all too well for over a century. But even a slight uptick in wins and a breakout season from one of their young stars (Brett Jackson, maybe?) will at least give people hope that they can change.
Washington Nationals – Make up – Adam LaRoche needs to be back in D.C. for 2013. All he wants is one extra year on a contract he has more than earned. Without a doubt, he was the most consistent hitter on the best team in the league in 2012, and should get paid as such. My New Years advice to the Nats is to make up with him. Sign the guy for three years.
Atlanta Braves – Learn acceptance – I remember being taught in psychology that the standard grieving process goes Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Braves fans and any good fan anywhere are surely coming out of the Depression stage right now (I know I am) and trying to transition into Acceptance at the fact that Chipper Jones has retired.
Philadelphia Phillies – Become more patient – This is easier said than done for anyone, but it’s especially pertinent in Philadelphia. From an outsider’s perspective, I thought Philadelphia was caving into a sinkhole given the fans general reaction to last season’s debacle. Patience, Phillie fanatics. Your team is still very, very good. They are close, too.
New York Mets – Have more fun – I presume life as a Mets fan hasn’t been very enjoyable for the past three seasons – well, at least after the All-Star break. But they re-signed poster boy David Wright and gained some really solid prospects in the R.A. Dickey trade. Everything is headed in the right direction, Mets fans. Just calm down and have a little fun with it.
Miami Marlins – Make amends with people – Strange, you say? Au contraire! The smaller fan base that follows the Marlins are no doubt let down by the shocking fire sale that took place this winter. No more executive-speak, front office. Give it to the fans, and your best remaining player Giancarlo Stanton, straight. What is the plan? Honesty will take you far.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
It doesn’t come as a surprise to most of Brewer Nation that their acquired pitching ace, Zack Greinke, wasn’t going to be around forever. Having not lost at Miller Park in almost a year and a half, it was almost too good to be true. Alas, every good thing in Milwaukee (except Ryan Braun) comes to an end. (Read: CC Sabathia, Prince Fielder). And just like that, Greinke was shipped off to his first large market team in the form of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Not without cost however, as the Brewers acquired three strong prospects from the Angels’ organization. Let us recap:
SP – Zack Greinke
SS – Jean Segura
RHP – John Hellweg
RHP – Ariel Pena
An outside observer might think that this would be unbalanced, and for the time being, it is. It will help an Angels team that is currently 5 games back of their division and surging as of late behind the AL Rookie of the Year leader, Mike Trout, and the big man on campus, Albert Pujols. If they catch the Rangers by seasons end, that would be a big plus, but with the moves that are being made, a Wild Card spot may be all LAA needs to make a strong run to the World Series.
The Angels aren’t at that point yet. They got a 9-4 would be All Star who had countless blown saves behind him, who also posted a 3.39 ERA with a K/9 of exactly 1.00. Now when you put it like that, the Angels padded their already stellar rotation with one more right handed mastermind. I’m not worried about him not performing in Los Angeles, he will. It’s the people behind him and possibly the spotlight that would make him flinch, but I don’t see the stone faced Greinke flinching anytime in the near future. After posting a solid first outing for them, I think they’ll be glad with their trade. Now can they resign him? That’s a question we’ll have to see after the season.
Over in the Midwest, the Brewers are collapsing behind their bullpen who has managed to ruin win after win for their starters. With the current state of affairs in Milwaukee, this was a great rebuilding trade for a team that probably wasn’t going to resign Greinke at the end of the 2012 season anyway. Plus, being 16 games back never helped anyone. They acquired three top prospects from the LAA farm system and will be looking to make a lot of noise in 2013 or possibly when the rosters expand to 40 at the end of the season.
Jean Segura, the 22 year old Dominican and a career .311 hitter in the minors, was one of the Angels top prospects. He’s certainly going to battle for Alex Gonzalez’s spot in 2013 as Segura has the power and speed to make a difference right away. His base stealing alone will bring an aspect that the Brewers have focused on under Ron Roenicke. On top of that, he can swing a quick bat, and will strive for 15 home runs and around 30 doubles a season. Segura is pretty sure handed with the glove as well, posting a .971 fielding percentage over 6 seasons.
Let’s head to the pitchers. It would be hard to miss John Hellweg in the halls of Miller Park as he stands a tall 6’9″. He packs a fastball that tops out at just under 100 mph on some days, but usually hovers around the mid to upper 90s. Locating that fastball however has been the problem. Hellweg’s pitching arsenal and control aren’t quite mature enough to be a prolific starter just yet. With some crafting at AA-Huntsville, he could lower the 1.378 WHIP, strike out more batters, and depending on how his stamina develops, we could see John make a debut in the majors sooner rather than later.
Ariel Pena has the potential to make an impact in the Brewers’ organization as he has improved his statistics each year and his pitches have matured quite well. As with any young pitcher, he does have control issues, but his BB/9 has gone down every season and his ERA/WHIP have both trended downward. Pena also needs to change his “miss” pitch, as it tends to float up in the zone, which at Miller Park, is never good. We’ll keep an eye on him as he has yet to make his first start for AA-Huntsville.
Side Note: The Brewers also traded C George Kottaras to Oakland for RP Fautino De Los Santos. Two mainly backup players for both teams. Kottaras is best known for catching Randy Wolf every fifth day while also tallying one of the Brewer’s elusive cycles. De Los Santos has always been seen as a potential closer for Oakland, but didn’t pan out early this season and has spent his time in Sacramento. Keep an eye on Kottaras as he’ll be Suzuki’s backup in Oakland, but De Los Santos will start in the minors.
So? What do you think? Who came out on top? That kind of depends if you live in the present or the future. Feel free to let me know in the comments or on Twitter – @FalconKP