Forgive my giggles. But when I see a gigantic, inflatable rubber ducky sitting in a harbor in Hong Kong, I laugh uncontrollably. There is something innocent, hilarious and charming about a rubber ducky of any size, but this Godzilla-sized specimen is special.
Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman displays his creation in major waterfronts in major cities in order to “revolutionize the way people view public spaces.” For my money, the giant rubber ducky does a great job of accomplishing that goal.
And while I wanted to be selfish and capture it for my backyard, I will share this with the rest of the baseball-loving world: My personal renderings of the three best MLB locations for Mr. Quackenbush (I know, I know…I shouldn’t name him, I’ll become attached.)
1. McCovey Cove at AT&T Park in San Francisco
Those kayakers out there are going to have some stiff competition for any splash hits. Unfortunately, the Giants were still able to charge $50 a pop for floating room only tickets. And yes, I had to add that little touch on top…
2. PNC Park in Pittsburgh
That bridge sure is pretty, especially when half of it is obstructed by our giant rubber ducky floating on the Allegheny River behind the right-centerfield bleachers. Chances are, the duck is going to have a field day snatching popcorn from fans in the back row.
3. Kauffman Stadium Fountains in Kansas City
I can’t think of a better place to chill in the summer heat and watch a game than in a constant stream of nice, cool water. The Royals are finally relevant, so the ducky would have something to quack for! Heads up when the water cannons go off, though.
Do you think the artist, again of Dutch origin, would adorn the duck with a #Honkbal cap if it was sitting outside a MLB stadium? I really, really hope so. Because this whole #DuckyInfiltratesMLB thing must happen, and happen soon!
Tweet us @3u3d with your suggestions of other MLB-related places for the ducky to squat. Make sure to hashtag #DuckyInfiltratesMLB and we will retweet the best ones! There are plenty of water features among MLB stadiums to choose from, but don’t limit your selections to that. And are they all going to be in right-centerfield??
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Last season, the AL Central was not only the weakest top to bottom in the American League, but you could also argue it was the weakest in all of baseball. While no team last surpassed 88 wins, the AL representative in the World Series came from the Central. Will Detroit win the division for a 3rd straight year? Or will the White Sox be able to fend off a Tigers push? Will Cleveland’s new manager Terry Francona bring back playoff baseball for the Indians? Are the Royals finally ‘there’?
Chicago White Sox: Chicago looks to be primed to make a run at an AL Central title this year and it starts with their rotation. The 1-2 punch of Chris Sale and Jake Peavy will provide solid outings all year but the injury to John Danks might prove to be too costly. It’ll be up to Dylan Axelrod to step up in Danks’ absence. The two biggest question marks for the lineup are will Adam Dunn mash all season long again and can Paul Konerko stay healthy and lead the way in what may be his last season?
Cleveland Indians: The Indians have a lot to be excited about heading into this season and it starts with accomplished manager, Terry Francona. The sheer experience Francona brings to the clubhouse will propel Cleveland past last season’s 68 wins. New additions Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Reynolds provide the ability to score runs with Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana. The real concern with the Indians will be the starting rotation. Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers are going to have to carry the load if this team is going to be successful in 2013.
Detroit Tigers: The defending AL Champs have everyone back from last year with a key addition in Torii Hunter and a healthy Victor Martinez. This team is built to win now and should run away with the division. But there is one giant hole; the role of closer. The Tigers will start the season with a closer by committee strategy that will rotate Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit, and Octavio Dotel. The rotation is the best in the league with a perennial Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez., and Rick Porcello. Expect to see this team deep in October.
Kansas City Royals: Every year for the past 5 years, the talk about the Royals has been “they are 1 or 2 years away”. This organization has plenty of young talent but its put up or shut up time. James Shields and Ervin Santana join 2012 mid-season acquisition Jeremy Guthrie to form the 2nd best pitching staff in the Central. If Butler, Moustakas, and co. can stay healthy, the KC Royals will be playing meaningful games through September and might see some post-season action.
Minnesota Twins: When you’re Opening Day starter is Vance Worley, you have seen better days. To make this season a success, the Twins need to break up the M&M boys. It makes more sense for Morneau to be dealt purely based on contract size, unless the Twinkies want to absorb some of Joe Mauer’s $23M/year deal. Josh Willingham provided much of the offense last year while having a career year. The only way I can see this team avoiding a 100-loss season is if Willingham duplicates his 2012 stats AND they do not trade Mauer or Morneau. It might be more beneficial to bite the bullet this year and start stocking up for 2014.
Adam Dunn – Chicago White Sox
Michael Bourn – Cleveland Indians
Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
Billy Butler – Kansas City Royals
Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham – Minnesota Twins
Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers
James Shields – Kansas City Royals
Rookie of the Year
Aaron Hicks – Minnesota Twins
Will the Tigers run away with this division? Is this the last time you can see the M&M boys in Twins uniforms? Comment below!
– Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R)
If you missed our most recent podcast, which officially kicks off-season number two for Three Up, Three Down, then you’re tacky and I hate you. Also, you can find the aforementioned work of art right HERE.
The majority of this episode was dominated by the five guys at 3u3d taking their hypothetical bets on whether to go over or under the Vegas betting lines for team wins this season. After the first two divisions (the AL West and NL West, respectively), had been discussed, it was noted that I had picked nine of the first 10 teams to outperform the betting line.
When all was said and done, 20 of my 30 decisions went in the positive direction. Apparently, nobody is going to lose any games this year.
But in all seriousness, there are a lot of very good teams this year. I believe 11 of the 15 National League teams could finish above .500 in 2013, and there is an argument to be made for 13 of the 15 in the junior circuit, too. Of course, that won’t happen. This won’t stop me from invoking another one of the podcast’s favorite pastimes, “DEFEND YOSELF,” and explaining why I picked certain “tweener” teams to go over the line this year.
For context, there will be only a handful of teams selected here. I think it’s a safe bet that the Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, and Colorado Rockies will go under. Similarly, it’s safe to say that both Los Angeles teams, the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, and Detroit Tigers will go over.
That leaves me with 18 teams to choose from, 13 of which I said would go “over” the total set by Vegas for wins. I’ve chosen the five most controversial picks of mine and explained further, below. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to pry that golden jock off last year’s winner, KP, and I’ve got goggles and gloves at the ready.
Feel free to rip me a new one in the comment thread, and VOTE in the poll at the bottom! For a full list of everyone’s picks, go HERE.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks (Line: 82.5 wins)
Enough with this two-horse division race crap. The more we ignore the venomous snakes lying in the grass, the more their bite will hurt. Yes, they got rid of Justin Upton this winter which significantly depleted their power. Except that they still have Jason Kubel, added Cody Ross, and can expect even more production from Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero. We know the bullpen is solid, and bringing in Brandon McCarthy makes the rotation sneakily, ridiculously dangerous.
When you have three candidates fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation who are all number three’s on most staffs, complaints will be at a minimum. Adding McCarthy and Martin Prado were two of the more underrated moves of the off-season, and when all is said and done, the D’Backs will not only destroy that 82.5-win line, but they might settle closer to 90.
2. Kansas City Royals (Line: 78.5 wins)
My man-crush team tried really hard to put together a pitching staff this winter that would make my Wild Card prediction not look so foolish in 2013. I was burned last year by the Royals, but I’m sticking with my guns this season. James Shields is the ace they’ve been missing since whatever they had in Zack Greinke back in 2007, and they’ve added so many arms that last year’s number-one starter might not even make the Opening Day rotation. Frankly, I’m insulted by the below-.500 projection from Vegas, and I pledge never to give them my business again (straight up LIE).
I don’t need to tell you about the offense, but I will. Especially Billy Butler. Because I think I’m in love with the man. Anyone who can hit .300 consistently on a diet of what I presume is strictly tobacco, PBR, and steak deserves a couple MVP votes every year. And Butler’s young, talented supporting staff is chock full of breakout candidates like catcher Salvador Perez. This applies to almost every batter in the lineup. Almost. Because Jeff Francoeur still starts for KC. There’s no fixing that.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (Line: 86 wins)
Contrary to popular belief, I did not pick the Cardinals to win over the allotted 86 games because my girlfriend loves the team more than Barney Stinson loves suits. I can think for myself, guys! I realize Chris Carpenter is out for the season, and likely for his career, that Jason Motte, David Freese, and Rafael Furcal are injured, and that Grandfather Beltran could kick the bucket any day now. But I’ll take a banged-up Cardinals team to contend over many teams, and here’s why.
Not only is St. Louis likely the most well-coached and well-run organization in the National League, but the depth of their farm system is preposterous. If Beltran does go down, MLB’s number three overall prospect Oscar Taveras is there to pick up the slack. If the starting rotation struggles, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha ride to the rescue. Matt Adams can take over if Allen Craig has to cover second base duties in the event of a true disaster. A dynamic offense, a great bullpen, and good starting pitching makes me a believer.
4. Seattle Mariners (Line: 77 wins)
I’m higher on the Mariners than most of their own fans. Right, right!? No? Marijuana-is-legal-in-the-state-of-Washington joke? Fine, whatever. That brilliant line still holds true, because I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the M’s top .500. By a couple of games, even. For the first time in years, they have an offense capable of supporting the always-strong rotation, and I can’t understate the value that two bats like Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales bring to the heart of the order.
Let’s say, in a worst-case scenario, that some of the young talent (Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, for example) don’t pan out. Well, they can still count on the return of Franklin Gutierrez, and the impending arrivals of Nick Franklin at shortstop and Mike Zunino behind the dish. In short, Seattle is a time bomb waiting to explode all over the AL West, much like the A’s did in 2012. The farm system is overflowing with Major League-ready talent, and ace Felix Hernandez pretty much guarantees them a win every fifth day. Be optimistic, Seattle. Your time is coming.
5. Philadelphia Phillies (Line: 84.5 wins)
Really? The Phillies’ clubhouse may double as a nursing home, but those are the most wise, shuffleboard-dominant, sexually active old men at (Senior) Citizen’s Bank Park. Just in case that comparison went over your head, I’m stating that the Phillies are old and injury-prone in general, but still have a talent-laden roster. Look at who the Phillies are returning from injury in 2013, and tell me they aren’t going to improve by at least four games on their 81-win campaign a year ago.
The heart of the order is back in Chase Utley and Ryan Howard–both of whom can still crush–and Roy Halladay will rejoin Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee in the most fearsome rotation this side of Washington D.C. I know what you’re thinking: But Jeremy…Halladay is struggling SO much this spring! Yeah, well Lonnie Chisenhall is also hitting over .400 this spring. Whoop-de-doo. The Doc is back in town, and he’s helping bring Philly closer to 90 wins than that lowly 84.5.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
In about six weeks, the World Baseball Classic will be upon us again and Team USA will look to win its first title in the competition’s history. They’ve got a good shot — manager Joe Torre released his roster on Thursday, and they are absolutely loaded.
Unfortunately for fans of Team USA, one glance at a few competing rosters will stop the celebration in its tracks. Can someone unseat two-time defending champions, Team Japan? Will Team USA improve upon their 4th-place finish in 2009?
We can’t predict the results down to the wire, but we’re here to do what we do best at Three Up, Three Down. We rank the rosters! So strap in, baseball fans, and see if your favorite team stands a chance:
**The “Stick to Soccer” Group**
Notable player(s): Barry Larkin, Manager (and Hall of Fame Reds SS)
International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Ranking: 20
Breakdown: Good thing for their dominance on the international soccer scene, because Brazil isn’t going anywhere in the Classic. Yan Gomes was the first Brazilian player to ever reach the big leagues, and the country itself only has 14 players signed to Major League contracts. How they will win: They won’t. Why they won’t: See “How they will win.”
Notable player(s): Bruce Chen, SP, Royals
IBAF Ranking: 18
Breakdown: The Chinese baseball team is a decade away from being a serious contender, but they are headed in the right direction. They’ve made steady improvements over international tournaments since a decent showing at the 2009 WBC, in which they eliminated Chinese Taipei. How they will win: Hustle, starting pitching. Why they won’t: Not enough of either.
Notable player(s): Paco Rodriguez, RP, Dodgers/Engel Beltre, OF, Rangers
IBAF Ranking: 16
Breakdown: I’m not sure what to think about Spain. They lack star power, but did knock off Israel and South Africa in qualifiers. The roster is dotted with promising Major League prospects, but I don’t foresee Spain winning more than a game, maybe two in the WBC. How they will win: Breakout tourney from Beltre. Why they won’t: Their Pool C competition is stacked (Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic).
Notable player(s): Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates/Francisco Cervelli, C, Yankees/Nick Punto, IF, Dodgers/Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs/Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres
IBAF Ranking: 9
Breakdown: Not only did we miss out on a Hall of Fame induction for Mike Piazza, but he won’t be participating on Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic either. Props to the Italians for back-to-back Euro Championships, but the competition is pretty weak over there right now. I think they will be humbled in the WBC. How they will win: Play with a chip on their shoulder. Why they won’t: Even the MLB-level hitters are thin.
#12: KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS
Notable Player(s): Jair Jurrjens, SP, MLB Free Agent/Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox/Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers/Jonathan Schoop, 3B, Orioles/Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves/Roger Bernadina, OF, Nationals/Andruw Jones, OF, MLB Free Agent
IBAF Ranking: 7
Breakdown: The Dutch soccer team is one of my favorites to watch. And for the first time in recent memory, so will their baseball team. They just missed my “dark horse” cut, due to sheer overall talent of the rest of the field. But the Major League potential of some youngsters on this roster is extremely intriguing. They’ve won 20 of 32 Euro Championships ever played. How they will win: Infield of dreams breaks out. Why they won’t: Not all the youngsters will perform.
**The Dark Horses**
#11: SOUTH KOREA
Notable player(s): Jae Seo, SP, former Met, Dodger, Ray in MLB
IBAF Ranking: 4
Breakdown: I feel ridiculous ranking Korea this low, considering their past successes in the WBC. But, it’s the third time this tournament has been played and each team has scouting on the opposition now. I don’t think South Korea will sneak up on anyone this time around. How they will win: High on-base percentage, good defense. Why they won’t: Too much good competition.
Notable player(s): Peter Moylan, RP, Dodgers
IBAF Ranking: 10
Breakdown: There’s a handful of good Major League players (like A’s closer Grant Balfour) who hail from the land down under, but there isn’t a whole lot of MLB experience on this roster. Team Australia still has a shot at advancing, but they may have more trouble than in years past. How they will win: Pure grit. Why they won’t: Not enough runs, upstart opposition in Pool B.
Notable player(s): Jesse Crain, RP, White Sox/John Axford, RP, Brewers/Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates/Russell Martin, C, Pirates/Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays/Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins
IBAF Ranking: 6
Breakdown: We all know that Canada produces some bona fide stars in MLB (Joey Votto, anyone?), but not all are present and accounted for on this roster, similar to Team Australia. They still have the talent to make a run with Lawrie, Morneau and Martin in the middle of the lineup though. How they will win: Dominant bullpen, good middle of the lineup. Why they won’t: Too much youth in the rotation.
#8: CHINESE TAIPEI
Notable player(s): Chien-Ming Wang, SP, MLB Free Agent
IBAF Ranking: 5
Breakdown: There’s a reason that Team Chinese Taipei is a top-five ranked country right now. But their proudest current professional representative (Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen) is not on the team yet. This team is still legit, and has a very winnable pool group. How they will win: Small ball. Why they won’t: Overall talent is lacking.
**The “Justtttt A Bit Outside” Group**
#7: PUERTO RICO
Notable player(s): Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals/Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals/Angel Pagan, OF, Giants/Mike Aviles, IF, Indians/Javier Vasquez, SP, MLB Free Agent
IBAF Ranking: 12
Breakdown: There may be no more high-ceiling-yet-average team in the WBC this year. Team Puerto Rico has finished fifth at both tournaments preceding this, and killed Team USA in 2009 before being ousted by them two games later on a walk-off hit. Even with players such as Molina, Beltran and Pagan, they won’t even be favorites in their own pool. How they will win: The Major League talent they have is relentlessly good. Why they won’t: Lack of depth in the rotation.
Notable player(s): Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers/Luis Cruz, 3B, Dodgers/Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers/Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals/Sergio Romo, RP, Giants
IBAF Ranking: 11
Breakdown: In their pool, Team Mexico will have to deal with Team USA, but other than that they should be favored to top Team Canada and Team Italy to move on. They have a decent infield, top-of-the-line ace, and one of the best closers in baseball. How they will win: Adrian Gonzalez goes off, Gallardo is dominant. Why they won’t: Romo is neutralized unless they have a lead late.
Notable player(s): None
IBAF Ranking: 1
Breakdown: Don’t let the lack of notable players deceive you — this team is good. Really good. They have played in the IBAF World Cup 29 times and won 25 gold medals, finishing second the other four times. In the WBC, Team Cuba has finished second and fourth (which, at the time, was their lowest finish ever in international competition). They just can’t legally have players like Aroldis Chapman or Yoenis Cespedes on their squad, otherwise they might be even better. How they will win: Hard-throwing starters, handful of five-tool prospects. Why they won’t: The top four teams are just too stacked.
Notable player(s): None
IBAF Ranking: 3
Breakdown: Again, don’t let the lack of Major League firepower fool you. Much like Cuba, Team Japan has been a hotbed for MLB stars over the years (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish). Even though none of them joined the fray in 2013, this team is stacked. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of future MLB players come off this roster after good WBC performances. After all, they are two-for-two in WBC titles up to this point. How they will win: Ichiro-style on-base scavengers, deceptive pitching. Why they won’t: Not having Ichiro and Darvish, among others, will end up costing Team Japan.
#3: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Notable player(s): Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants/Octavio Dotel, RP, Tigers/Alexi Ogando, RP, Rangers/Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays/Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Pirates/Edinson Volquez, SP, Reds/Carlos Santana, C, Indians/Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers/Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees/Edwin Encarnacion, DH/OF, Blue Jays/Hanley Ramirez, IF, Dodgers/Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays/Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers/Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays
IBAF Ranking: 13
Breakdown: The only reason Team Dominica is ranked so low by the IBAF is because all those notable players are stars in the big leagues, and don’t regularly compete internationally for their country. But now that the WBC has rolled around again, this is one unbelievably good team. My only concern is their starting pitching depth. How they will win: Scoring 15 runs per game (no…really). Why they won’t: Like I said, starting pitching depth. Will Volquez and Rodriguez be enough?
#2: UNITED STATES
Notable player(s): Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants/R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays/Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves/Kris Medlen, SP, Braves/Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants/Chris Perez, RP, Indians/Joe Mauer, C, Twins/Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds/Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies/David Wright, 3B, Mets/Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees/Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers/Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins/Adam Jones, OF, Orioles/Joe Torre, Manager
IBAF Ranking: 2
Breakdown: I didn’t even pick all the “notable players” I could have for this team. It’s Team USA’s equivalent of the MLB Dream Team, and Justin Verlander still is undecided as to whether he’ll join the rotation. This team is already a favorite with a balanced lineup and very strong pitching staff, but adding JV would be a coup. Check out fellow Three Up, Three Down host Bryan Mapes’ grades-by-position for Team USA. How they will win: Veteran experience, explosive pitching. Why they won’t: The bane of their existence, Team Japan, will come along eventually.
Notable player(s): Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers/Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners/Francisco Rodriguez, RP, MLB Free Agent/Ronald Belisario, RP, Dodgers/Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks/Salvador Perez, C, Royals/Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers/Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians/Miguel Cabrera, 3B/1B, Tigers/Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants/Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants/Carols Gonzalez, OF, Rockies/Gerardo Parra, OF, Diamondbacks
IBAF Ranking: 8
Breakdown: The quantity of star power on Team Venezuela might not match up to Team USA or Team Dominica, but the quality is far and beyond. When you start your rotation with Hernandez and stack the middle of your lineup with the reigning Triple Crown winner between Gonzalez and Sandoval, you are a very, very scary team. Even though their WBC pool is very tough, it would be a momentous upset to not see Team Venezuela make moves in the 2013 tournament. How they will win: A large margin of victory. Against anyone. Why they won’t: Slumping hitters or being outplayed by one of the other favorites.
And that’s a wrap. This writer believes Team Venezuela is the team to beat, with Team USA, Team Dominica and Team Japan not far behind. But in all honesty, there are about 10-11 teams who could potentially take home the title in 2013. Root for your team and country to take home top honors, and stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down because we’ll have all your World Baseball Classic coverage.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
As far as the hot stove is concerned, this move is luke warm; but when all is said and done in 2013, we could see the players involved paying big dividends for their new teams.
In what will undoubtedly be the trade with the coolest names involved this off-season, the Cleveland Indians are trying to add a little young punch to their lineup. Let’s break it down:
C/IF/OF Yan Gomes
IF Mike Aviles
Blue Jays Get:
RP Esmil Rogers
Both Gomes and Aviles are right-handed hitters, something the Indians sorely lacked in 2012. Both are relatively young and promising, with the ability to play multiple positions. With the exception of pitching, you can pretty much cover the entire diamond defensively with Gomes and Aviles.
In Rogers, the Blue Jays get a promising, young, right-handed reliever to add to the ‘pen. With multiple starters going down with injuries in 2012, this blogger wonders if Rogers will get a shot to start a little bit in Toronto? In his second full season in Colorado, Rogers started 13 times – since then he’s been used strictly out of the ‘pen.
Last season with Cleveland, Rogers had the most impressive portion of his pro career. In 44 appearances, he held a 3.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and a nifty 4.5 K to BB ratio. Rogers struck out over a batter per inning, but his past performance is questionable.
For someone with as much talent as the 27-year-old Rogers, his career numbers don’t reflect what he’s capable of. In 185 innings as a reliever in Colorado, his ERA was nearly 7.00 and his WHIP hovered around 1.82. Then again, that’s in Colorado, where pitching stats go to die.
A quick glance at his home/road splits tell me that his numbers away from Coors Field were better, indicating that he may have been a victim of that crazy mountain air in Denver. I doubt Rogers will actually be considered for a set-up or closing role, but if he continues to improve in a normal atmosphere like he did in Cleveland, you never know.
The Indians land a couple young bats that I personally like a lot. Yan Gomes (pronounced: “Yawn”) is more than just an awesome name. He only got a taste in the bigs last year, compiling a .204 average with four home runs and 13 RBI in 98 at-bats for the Jays.
But, he started 24 games, appeared in 41, and split time at all the following positions: first base, catcher, third base, DH, and two outfield spots. He seems to be a good defender regardless of where he’s placed, and only made one error in 119 innings at first base.
Before being promoted, Gomes hit .328 with 13 homers and 59 RBI in 79 games at Triple-A, and tossed in a nice .380 on-base percentage to complement a .938 OPS. Clearly, the kid can hit. If the coaches in Cleveland can get him used to playing every day at the Major League level, they may have a very good player on their hands by the time he hits his prime.
We all know Aviles, too. He’s been around for five seasons now, and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting as a Kansas City Royal back in 2008. Though he’s always been considered a role-playing utility man, his career average is .277 and he has started multiple games at shortstop, second base, and third base.
Even though Aviles is likely in Cleveland to play that utility role again, he can provide some pop and is a guy that plays the game the right way. Personally, I’m a big fan of Aviles and think he’s a very good spark guy, much in the mold of Nick Punto or David Eckstein.
It’s a tough call, but I think I’m going to give the slight edge to the Indians in this trade, because they acquired two bats that can make immediate impacts. While Rogers has all the tools to become a good bullpen arm in Toronto, it remains to be seen if he can continue to improve.
If you like hot stoves, and we don’t mean the ones you cook on, follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
We have our first, legitimate off-season trade (Diamondbacks-A’s-Marlins swap was technically before the World Series ended), folks! In a move that proved the Kansas City Royals are serious about shoring up their starting rotation, they traded a minor league pitcher to the Los Angeles Angels for right-hander Ervin Santana on Tuesday.
Let’s break it down:
SP Ervin Santana
RP Brandon Sisk (Triple-A)
The Angels were expected to either trade Santana before the deadline for his $13 million option was up, or to trade him. They went with the latter and came away with a decent haul. You can never have enough bullpen depth, especially lefties. In Sisk, Los Angeles receives a young, impressive southpaw.
According to multiple scouting reports I read, Sisk has a great K to BB ratio, a 2.60 ERA in his minor league career, and averages 10 K/9. It looks to me like he projects as a lefty specialist in the Major Leagues, but a good one of those is invaluable.
Santana had been wearing out his welcome in Los Angeles anyway – the 29-year-old never lived up to his full potential in an Angels uniform, though he had flashes of brilliance. A no-hitter in 2011 helped keep him in favor for another season and a half, but for the $13 million price tag, he was easy trade bait.
For the Royals, this is a great pick up. I couldn’t find a figure on how much of the $13 million the Angels are picking up in the deal, but I’m assuming it’s going to be around $5 million at least to make it affordable for the smaller-market Royals. [UPDATE: The Angels sent just $1 million along with Santana, meaning the Royals are responsible for $12 million – very surprising to me. Severely limits KC’s ability to test pitching market in free agency.]
Some dummy picked the Royals as a fringe playoff team in 2012 (okay, it was me) because I fell in love with their offense. Nothing has changed as far as the lineup is concerned; I’m still incredibly impressed with Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez, and Alex Gordon. But what really killed the Royals this year was the pitching staff.
After trading away Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez before the season (oops), they made up for it partially by swinging Sanchez to Colorado for Jeremy Guthrie. He looked good for the Royals down the stretch, and kind of fits the mold like Santana. That is, a righty starter in his prime with dominant stuff that hasn’t quite put it all together.
The Royals are apparently going to let Guthrie test the free agent market, but I personally think they’d be smart to bring him back. He pitched well in Kansas City after coming over mid-season, and would pair nicely in the middle of the rotation with Bruce Chen and Santana.
With plenty of payroll room now that they declined their option on closer Joakim Soria (replaced admirably by Greg Holland), the Royals can spend a little bit on another starter. This blogger thinks they should try to make a play at Kyle Lohse.
I like the offense and bullpen in Kansas City, but I’d like to see them shore up the rotation even a little more. On paper, Chen, Santana, Luke Hochevar, Luis Mendoza and Chris Volstad is nothing to get excited about. But with Will Smith and Jake Odorizzi just waiting to claim permanent spots in the rotation (they might even win spots in Spring Training) and Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy expected back from Tommy John in the second half, this rotation might be better than people expect in 2013.
Now, the Angels mostly got rid of Santana to clear up cap space to re-sign Zach Greinke. They’d also like to trade Dan Haren to clear even more room, and I’m sure they are exploring options for that right now. As an Angel fan, you’d have to like a top three of Greinke, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson.
But, after signing Wilson and Albert Pujols to mega-deals before last season, the Angels were a major disappointment, finishing third in the AL West. They need to do something to fall back into favor with the fan base. No matter what, you have to expect the Angels will be gunning hard to make amends and reach the playoffs in 2013.
That being said, I think both teams made out evenly in the trade. Because question marks loom for both rotations, I’ll put them each around a B+, with room to move up depending on the rest of the wheeling and dealing the respective GM’s do.
Yesterday, we posted our All-“You Don’t Know Me But You WILL” team for the National League. Pay attention, because those guys are the ones who will make you look like a genius in future fantasy drafts.
They are the ones who will be the next Giancarlo Stanton. The next Mike Fiers. Young guys that aren’t known to the casual baseball fan but are absolutely ripping it up in 2012 and show big flashes of potential for the years to come.
You’ll thank us later, when you can tell your friends that you knew who Josh Rutledge was before anyone else and knew he would be an All-Star. Here is our American League version of the All-Unknown team – one stud you probably haven’t heard of yet, at each position:
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (.312/11/45 in 89 games)
I can do this because – well, let’s be honest – nobody really cares about the Royals outside of Western Missouri. That being said, you should know who Perez is. The 22-year-old will be a huge part of that offense in K.C. for years to come.
1st Base: Chris Carter, Oakland A’s (.274/12/31 in 48 games)
Here’s another case of “unknown-by-location.” If Carter was on the Red Sox or Yankees, he would be a household name. Luckily for A’s fans, he plays in Oakland and all he does is hit the ball very, very far. He will hit 30 homers some day.
2nd Base: Ivan De Jesus, Boston Red Sox (.273/0/4 in 23 games with Boston and LA Dodgers)
Clearly, this was a very weak position for our team. That being said, I watched De Jesus a lot in Los Angeles and he’s got all the makings of an above-average Major League infielder. If the BoSox develop him right, he could be a .300/25 steals kind of guy.
3rd Base: Alex Liddi, Seattle Mariners (.231/3/10 in 31 games)
The Italian-born prospect has absolutely lit minor league pitching up, and though he struggled a bit in his call-up, I fully expect stardom in the next few years. He’s blocked in Seattle by Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Seager though.
Shortstop: Pedro Ciriaco, Boston Red Sox (.336/2/16/10 for 10 SB in 46 games)
I just feel ridiculous including a Red Sox player here, but considering they aren’t in contention and are getting less national attention, some people might night know about the fantastic job Ciriaco has been doing in Boston this season.
Outfield: Moises Sierra, Toronto Blue Jays (.284/2/5 in 24 games)
This is going to be the Toronto Blue Jays show in the outfield. Get used to it. And Sierra is finally getting a shot at playing full-time with super star Jose Bautista injured. This 24-year-0ld outfielder needs a little seasoning but could turn into a 20/20 player.
Outfield: Jarrod Dyson (.270/0/9/25 out of 28 SB in 87 games)
Dyson is not on the big league club for his power bat. He is a terrific defender who steals bases at will. Look at those base-swiping numbers; with a full-time gig, Dyson could legitimately steal 50 bases in his prime.
Outfield: Anthony Gose, Toronto Blue Jays (.183/0/2/10 SB in 28 games)
I know the stats aren’t very good. But he stole 70 bases twice in the minor leagues. Gose just turned 22 and the Blue Jays know they have a future star in him. Give him another couple of months against Major League pitching.
Starting Pitcher: Samuel Deduno, Minnesota Twins (5-2/3.72/1.50 in 10 starts)
Deduno went 7 strong against Seattle in his most recent start, allowing no runs, no walks and striking out 9. But one start isn’t why he’s on this list. He has filthy stuff. The elder statesman on this list at age 29, Deduno might be a late-bloomer in Minnesota.
Relief Pitcher: Sean Doolittle, Oakland A’s (30.2 IP, 45 K, 3.23 ERA, 1.21 WHIP in 28 appearances)
Doolittle is doing a lot in Oakland for that magical Wild Card run they are attempting to make. The kid is only 25 and all he does is strike people out. A lot. Doolittle could be a future closer if he gets a little more sink on his breaking ball.
You’ll thank us when these guys become rich and famous and awesome in the next few years. Did we forget anyone? Snub your team’s young star? Let us know in the comments below, but remember it’s unknown players. So don’t yell at us for omitting someone like Will Middlebrooks or Manny Machado. Thanks!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
My first official MLB game of 2012 came with quite a few surprises. Despite the rain-delayed first pitch and the game being called due to that very same storm 7 and a half innings later, it was a fun time. The A’s lost 3-0, but the action on the field was nothing compared to the gloriousness that took place in the right field bleachers.
Here’s the back story for all you unfortunate fools who have yet to experience a Bacon Tuesday at o.Co Coliseum in Oakland:
As I understand it, the right field bleacher crew, (some of the most die hard fans in baseball, I assure you of that) started a tradition last year of bringing bacon treats to Tuesday home games. When the Royals strolled into town, their right fielder was intrigued by the tradition.
Because A’s fans are the coolest kids around, they developed a unique bond with Mr. Francoeur (aforementioned right fielder), and donated some bacon to his mouth. He responded by tossing them a baseball with a $100 bill wrapped around it.
Needless to say, the right field bleacher crew at A’s games is now in love with Francoeur, and it seems as if the compassion is shared equally. I was at the game on Tuesday, and every time Francoeur came out to the field, the fans chanted his name and he turned around and smiled or waved.
He seemed to be having a legitimately great time with those fans, a rare spectacle for a visiting player. By the way, Frenchie (as he’s affectionately known) scored major points with me. I thought he was just a “blah” player with below average stats, but he’s clearly the greatest player in the game today. I mean…he loves bacon!
Anyway, when they came back to the Coliseum this week, the right field bleacher crew had shirts ready, reading “2nd Annual bacon Tuesday,” and below that, “Sponsored by Jeff Francoeur.” Yes, he got a shirt. Duhh.
My friend Taylor and I went up to the bleachers around the fourth inning to meet the guys and gals up there and laugh about the tradition and talk a little baseball. Little did I know that adventure would lead me to the most delicious oral extravaganza of my life. Whoa. Re-word that. Uhh…
I chowed down on chocolate-covered bacon. Incredible, of course. Chocolate. And bacon. A match made in heaven. Then I was handed a bacon-wrapped jalapeno stuffed with peanut butter. It was a little strange, naturally. But entirely enjoyable.
The most memorable treat came in the form of a pretzel stick. Ready? Wrapped in…candied bacon. No, there’s more…DIPPED IN NUTELLA. My mouth just started watering like Niagara Falls remembering that finger-lickin’ morsel.
A’s fans, and baseball fans everywhere – let’s be real. The A’s could use a little revenue. So go to o.Co, especially on Tuesdays. You might get to share in the epicness of the bacon treats. Which may very well be the greatest things ever created. Hashtag: NOM.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)