Is there any better ballpark promotion than the bobblehead? The answer is no. This is part one of a six-part series, giving you the breakdown of what bobbling wonders will be at the stadium this spring and summer. 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. Let’s start it off with the AL West!
Seattle Mariners (Each giveaway is 20,000 fans)
Saturday, May 31st, Robinson Cano: You knew the Mariners had to give a bobblehead to their new superstar player. This is (surprisingly) the first bobblehead giveaway for Cano in MLB. ***
Thursday, June 12th, Macklemore: I’m not a huge Macklemore fan, but I love the Mariners creativity for the local musical star. I’m not sure what it looks like yet, but at least they have Macklemore in a M’s jersey to go off of. **** 1/2
Saturday, July 12th, Hisashi Iwakuma: I’m a sucker for Iwakuma and would rate this higher for my collection. In the overall scheme, nothing too spectacular. **
Saturday, August 9th, Lou Pinella Mariners Hall of Fame: Lou Pinella is one of my favorite managers of all-time and I’m glad they’re comboing up a bobblehead with his induction day. Should be a fun day in Seattle. I truly hope it involves him kicking his cap. *** 1/2
Saturday, August 30th, Felix Hernandez: Another year, another Felix Hernandez bobblehead from the Mariners. Wish they had made a Jesus Montero bobble belly instead. **1/2
Total: 15 1/2 stars
Texas Rangers (Each giveaway is for 15,000 fans)
Saturday, April 19th, Yu Darvish Strikeout King: Standard fare, the teams best player in a standard pitching bobblehead. Would’ve been fun if they had the “strikeout king” have a crown with a K on it. **1/2
Sunday, May 18th, Prince Fielder: Another pretty standard bobblehead, but with the team’s best and newest hitter. **1/2
Saturday, July 12th, Eric Nadel: Now we’re having some fun! Nadel has been with the Rangers since 1979 as their broadcaster and is the winner of the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award. And now, his own bobblehead too. Love it! ****
Tuesday, August 12th, Pudge Rodriguez Gold Glove: I’ve got nothing against this one honoring one of the best players in Rangers history. I also like that they’re honoring his defense. There isn’t a picture of it yet, but it get a bonus 1/2 star if his glove is actually gold. ***
Thursday, September 4th, Shin Soo-Choo: Choo is also a new Rangers acquisition, but he’s not quite on Darvish or Fielder’s level. It’s going to be tough for the Rangers to top the greatest Shin Soo-Choo bobblehead of all-time. **
Total: 14 stars
Houston Astros (10,000 fans each giveaway)
Saturday, April 26th, Jason Castro All-Star: A nice honor to add on to Jason Castro’s all-star to give him his own bobblehead. He’s not a major star though, yet. **
Friday, August 1st, Lance Berkman: A great player in Astros history gets honored, because there aren’t many players on this current roster to give a bobblehead to. ** 1/2
Sunday, August 3rd, Roy Oswalt: See, Lance Berkman. I do like that they made these the same weekend for fans. ** 1/2
Saturday, August 30th, Nolan and Reid Ryan: Not many executives get bobbleheads and I would go out on a limb to say that this is the first double executive bobblehead in MLB history. I want to rate it higher, but only 10,000? Then again, the Astros attendance isn’t the strongest. ****
Total: 11 stars
Oakland Athletics (various amounts of fans)
Saturday, April 19th, Josh Donaldson Diorama: First off, kudos to the Athletics for increasing their giveaways from 10,000 to 20,000 for Donaldson and 15,000 for the Catfish Hunter one. Donaldson was the breakout star for the A’s in 2013 and the diorama is a nice little bonus. ***
Saturday, May 31st-Catfish Hunter: Athletics have had a Hunter bobblehead before, but that was in 2002. Here’s to hoping that they’ll add an Eric Sogard bobblehead giveaway if he wins the #FaceOfMLB contest. A’s fans love that guy. ** 1/2
Total: 5 1/2 stars
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (amount of giveaway, not available)
Tuesday, April 1st, Mike Trout: One of the games brightest stars gets his second bobblehead in two years. This one doesn’t top last year’s edition, though. Why is he not wearing a cap? *** 1/2
Friday, May 2nd, Josh Hamilton: If I’m an Angels fan and Hamilton’s 2014 starts off like his 2013, am I really going to want this bobblehead? **
Total: 5 1/2 stars
What’s your favorite bobblehead set in the AL West? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
There’s a new trend in bad first pitches: the college quarterback. Is there something that incredibly different between the throwing motion of a football to a baseball that we can’t get a strike over the plate on a ceremonial first pitch?
Exhibit A: Texas A&M QB and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel
An airmailed pitch to Mitch Moreland. “Johnny Football” said afterwards that he had been warned by many people not to bounce it. That’s why he was a little wild with the throw.
Exhibit B: Michigan QB Denard Robinson
Someone should have given “Shoelace” the “don’t bounce it” advice. He better hope that this doesn’t affect his NFL draft stock in a couple weeks. UPDATE: Robinson actually played baseball in high school and apologized to his former teammates on Twitter.
To all my high school friends that I played baseball with at DBHS I’m sorry for not showing my skills yesterday. Lol
— Denard Robinson (@DenardX) April 10, 2013
Both should’ve taken advice from the Indiana quarterbacks Cameron Coffman, Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld. Standing in front of the mound and taking a three-step drop might be the way to go for future QB’s making a ceremonial first pitch.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
The Rays/Rangers game on Monday night ended in controversial fashion. Ben Zobrist had a full count, with two outs in the top of the 9th, and a runner on first base. A walk would put a runner in scoring position with Evan Longoria coming up in a one-run game. Instead, this was called strike three to end the game, click to watch.
UPDATED: Here’s the video of the call.
Needless to say, Rays manager Joe Maddon was not pleased about the call. He tweeted this after the game.
That can’t happen in a major league game.
— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) April 9, 2013
Evan Longoria was slightly more understanding.
To error is human…still doesn’t take any of the sting away. #Rays2013
— Evan Longoria (@Evan3Longoria) April 9, 2013
While Jeremy Hellickson has already moved on to his birthday plans in Texas tonight it seems.
Thank you all for the birthday wishes..I appreciate every single one of them!!
— Jeremy Hellickson(@JHell58) April 9, 2013
I know you don’t argue balls and strikes, but Marty Foster, you’ve got some explaining to do. UPDATED: Foster explains himself.
HP ump Marty Foster on call to end #Rays game: “Had I had a chance to do it again I wouldn’t call that pitch a strike.”
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 9, 2013
Before I forget, congrats to Joe Nathan on his 300th career save! As he said after the pitch, WOW!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
As many of you know, or more likely didn’t know. 3U3D came together through friendships and a love of baseball formed from the 2012 MLB Fan Cave competition. We all can’t imagine what it’d be like now if we had never met last year. The MLB Fan Cave is back for it’s third season and while we’d love and hope for us all to get in (along with a lot of our other friends), that might just be a pipe dream. We can assure you that we’re going to give it our best shot and we think any of us would be a great fit on 4th and Broadway. Without further adieu, enjoy our application videos!
Jeremy Dorn: Los Angeles Dodgers Fan
I’ve always loved baseball. From coach pitch to Little League to Varsity in high school, it’s been my favorite thing to do. Once the “become the next Derek Jeter” dream died, I turned my attention to another passion: writing. Eventually, I married sports and writing together on the blogosphere and worked my way up through the Bleacher Report ranks to become a Dodgers Featured Columnist. In 2012, my love affair with baseball really took off when I made the Fan Cave top 50. There, I met my girlfriend of 10 months now, my lovely 3U3D co-hosts, and many other great people who I’m lucky to call friends. Now, I spend most of my non-working hours watching, talking, writing, reading, and thinking baseball. And after much debate I decided to campaign again for this year’s Cave! Despite my location in San Francisco, my undying loyalty to the Dodgers will never waver. I hope you like my video and I would be thrilled to have your vote! Here’s to hoping you see and hear a lot more 3U3D from New York City this summer.
Brian Boynton: Texas Rangers fan
I have always been a baseball fan. I mean what kid didn’t pretend or even dream that they were pitching in a tie game, in the ninth inning, of Game 7, of the World Series? All kids have that dream and then most realize they will not get the opportunity to play baseball forever. I have always wanted to work in and around baseball. I may not have the ability to play baseball but watching every game on the Cave Monster has to be the next best thing, right? Making the Fan Cave Top 50 in 2012 really just made me like baseball that much more. Even though I wasn’t a Cave Dweller last season with every game I watched on T.V. I pretended I was. Meeting my 3U3D co-hosts has proven to me that there are people out there who enjoy discussing sports and especially baseball as much as I do. All year I have been thinking of skits I want to do and have a folder on my computer dedicated solely to those skits. I hope you enjoy my video and help me live out my adult dream of watching every game of the upcoming season live from the Cave. Lastly, who doesn’t want to hear a 3U3D recording from the Fan Cave?
Bryan Mapes: Atlanta Braves fan
I think that I would be perfect for the MLB Fan Cave not just because of my love of baseball, but my love of the Fan Cave as well. I was able to visit 4th and Broadway on a few occasions, including seeing The Fray and Young the Giant perform. I’ll never forget when Isaac Slade, the lead singer of The Fray, made a reference to Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive games streak and asked how long it was. I instinctively just blurted out “2,632 games” from the audience. Even funnier is that many of the Cave Dwellers knew it was me that had yelled out the answer. I also love social media from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tout, and more I enjoy them all. I was lucky enough to attend game 3 of the ALDS between the Yankees and the Orioles, when Raul Ibáñez hit the pinch-hit game-tying home run. I captured the moment from the bleachers and posted it to YouTube. It was seen by ESPN, they contacted me through Twitter, and used the footage their “Social Highlight” on SportsCenter the next day. That’s the power of social media. I also would love to find creative ways to raise money for baseball charities like Stand Up To Cancer and Baseball Assistance Team. Finally, I have so many ideas floating in my head I have a whole place in my phone filled with skits, interviews, and promotions to do in the Fan Cave should I make it. I would be ecstatic for that opportunity.
Angelo Fileccia: Detroit Tigers fan
I would be the ideal fan to be in the MLB Fan Cave because on top of what some might call an unhealthy infatuation with baseball, I’m able to network extremely well and have already built rapport with several major leaguers. I am completely comfortable talking to anyone, making him or her feel welcome and engaged in anything that we are doing. I’m very well rounded when it comes to topics like of pop culture, sports, and world news to name a few. I have a unique way of socializing with people and have been told by many people that I have a contagious personality. When it comes to meeting, interacting, and getting to know the MLB stars, I’m not the type to get star struck and act unprofessional by any means. While I wish I had the lifestyle, I understand what a MLB star goes through on a day-to-day basis. I feel it’s that type of knowledge that not everyone has but people want to know. It can also make for better interviews, skits, and all other interactions. In all, I’m passionate about what I do in life and I’m passionate about baseball. When baseball becomes my life, the greatest things will happen.
The 5th member of 3U3D, Kurt Peter, decided not to apply this year, but he had great things going on for him. Make sure you check him out on Twitter too @FalconKP! We would love to have your support in our quests for the Cave! Thanks from all of us at 3U3D!
2012 didn’t work out the way the Philadelphia Phillies expected. The pitching is still strong with the big three of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels in the rotation, but it was time to reconfigure a lineup that was middle of the pack offensively. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are back for Opening Day 2013, however Carlos Ruiz is suspended for the first 25 games of the season. The entire 2012 Opening Day outfield of Juan Pierre, Shane Victorino, and Hunter Pence are gone. The Phillies also said goodbye to near-.300 career hitter Placido Polanco at the hot corner. With the free agent pool looking slim, it was up to trades to upgrade the offense for next season.
Phillies acquire CF Ben Revere
Twins acquire RHP Vance Worley and RHP prospect Trevor May
Phillies acquire 3B Michael Young
Rangers acquire RHP Josh Lindblom and RHP prospect Lisalverto Bonilla
It is going to be weird to see Michael Young wearing anything but a Texas Rangers uniform. No one has played more games in their career for the Rangers than Young. With the emergence of Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, the studliness of Adrian Beltre, and super-prospect Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings, it was time for the Texas’ clubhouse leader to look to greener pastures for a full-time role. Young last season hit .277 (his worst since 2002), but is still just one season removed from leading the American League in hits and batting .338. Philadelphia will be pleased if they get something the middle, plus Young’s great clubhouse leadership.
Revere is a vital cog for the new-look Phillies outfield and is the second centerfielder that the Twins have traded for pitching in a week. Revere was known more for his speed and defense in his rookie season, but evolved into a better hitter in 2012 (hitting .294). Revere will now be the Phillies table setter atop the lineup and does well in not striking out, with only 100 in 989 career at-bats. That should only get better as the 24-year-old continues to grow and enters his prime. Revere was also one of only six players with 40 or more stolen bases last season.
The Twins have been looking for pitching. A lot of it. Minnesota only has Scott Diamond set for a rotation and Worley will factor into the mix if not be assured a spot of his own. May had a rough 2012 in the minors, but was one of the top Phillies pitching prospects prior to that.
Lindblom will factor into the bullpen needs for the Rangers. More importantly though, it sheds $10 million off their payroll in an attempt to bring back Josh Hamilton.
-Bryan Mapes ( @IAmMapes)
Wow, what a whirlwind week of baseball wheelin’ and dealin’ we’ve had. I’m exhausted just from trying to keep track of all the trades that went down in the past week or so. Some teams look completely different (helloooooo, Dodgers) and some we thought would get a face lift, look exactly the same (what’s wrong, Rays?).
But this is your home for all things deadline – where you can get every dirty detail of every trade that went down, plus a quick analysis of the deals. For the sake of brevity, only trades from July 24th through the end of the deadline are included. But, I won’t keep you waiting any longer…let’s get it rolling:
7/24 – Pittsburgh Pirates + Houston Astros
Pittsburgh acquires Wandy Rodriguez (SP)
Houston acquires Rudy Owens (SP), Colton Cain (SP) and Robbie Grossman (OF)
The Pirates’ pitching staff has been stellar all year, but they felt they needed more depth. In Rodriguez, they get a veteran who has been pedestrian at times, brilliant at others, overall one of the better catches on the pitching market. And Houston is on the fast track to 100 losses, so any young talent helps. They snagged three guys who were in the top 20 of the Pirates’ very deep minor league system.
Tampa Bay Rays + Arizona Diamondbacks
Tampa Bay acquires Ryan Roberts (3B)
Arizona acquires Tyler Bortnick (IF)
Roberts, otherwise known as Tatman by his legions of fans in Arizona, was designated for assignment before being traded to the Rays. It gives Tampa a much-needed bat with some pop at a position they don’t necessarily need help at when Evan Longoria is healthy. The D’Backs like what they see with Bortnick, but he was sent to Triple-A, so it clearly wasn’t a move they expected to impact the club in 2012.
7/25 – Los Angeles Dodgers + Miami Marlins
Los Angeles acquires Randy Choate (RP) and Hanley Ramirez (3B/SS)
Miami acquires Nathan Eovaldi (SP) and Scott McGough (RP)
The dividends of this trade has already paid off for both squads – the Dodgers swept the rival Giants in San Francisco last weekend, largely in part to Ramirez and his clutch hits. Choate has already come in and fended off opposing lefty hitters in a couple of appearances. And Eovaldi made a good first start in Miami. McGough is a bit of a project but has a high ceiling in Single-A. The Dodgers traded long-term guys for immediate help. Read more about this trade HERE.
7/27 – Los Angeles Angels + Milwaukee Brewers
Los Angeles acquires Zack Greinke (SP)
Milwaukee acquires Juan Segura (SS), Johnny Hellweg (SP), Ariel Pena (SP)
The Angels bolstered an already-scary rotation with the addition of former Cy Young winner Greinke. He joins Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver in Anaheim. The Brewers got quite a haul in return, as all three prospects were top ten in the Angels’ system. Pena’s name stands out because he had a 216.00 ERA in his Futures Game appearance this year. Oops! Just for the sheer ridiculousness of the Angels’ new rotation, they win this trade. Read more about this trade HERE.
Colorado Rockies + San Francisco Giants
Colorado acquires Charlie Culberson (2B)
San Francisco acquires Marco Scutaro (IF)
Neither team needed to make this move, but it happened anyway. Scutaro gives the Giants a quality, veteran utility player who will definitely not solve their offensive woes. At best, Scutaro will find random ways to be in the lineup as soon as Pablo Sandoval returns from injury. Culberson is a good prospect and has a shot at stardom if he continues to progress. This one is a toss-up.
7/29 – Chicago White Sox + Minnesota Twins
Chicago acquires Francisco Liriano (SP)
Minnesota acquires Eduardo Escobar (IF) and Pedro Hernandez (SP)
If the Sox think Liriano will be the added depth they need in the rotation to compete down the stretch, they are sorely mistaken. Brilliant occasionally, awful usually, Liriano was let go by the Twins because they just couldn’t take it anymore. They were able to pry a light-hitting, yet slick-fielding top-10 hitting prospect and a left-handed pitcher from Chicago. But the ultimate victory was ridding themselves of Liriano. Read more about this trade HERE.
Arizona Diamondbacks + Houston Astros
Arizona acquires Chris Johnson (3B)
Houston acquires Marc Krauss (1B/OF) and Bobby Borchering (3B/OF)
If you’re Houston…why not? You are selling everyone and their mothers anyway, so if a corner infielder is shipped away, bring in two others who are younger and can be molded however you see fit. Johnson hit a huge grand slam yesterday against the division rival Dodgers, so he’s already a D’Back hero. But this trade didn’t really hurt either team. Again, a default winner.
7/30 – Texas Rangers + Chicago Cubs
Texas acquires Geovany Soto (C) and cash
Chicago acquires Jacob Brigham (SP)
Another NL Central team going full fire sale, the Cubs gladly took the Rangers up on their offer to rid the club of a former Rookie of the Year in Soto, who had steadily declined both in health and production. Brigham is a pitcher the Rangers had pretty high hopes for that just wasn’t panning out. It looks like he’ll have to earn his way to the majors as a relief pitcher now. Texas designated Yorvit Torrealba in response to getting Soto.
Atlanta Braves + Chicago Cubs
Atlanta acquires Reed Johnson (OF), Paul Maholm (SP) and cash
Chicago acquires Arodys Vizcaino (RP) and Jaye Chapman (RP)
The Braves got a veteran utility outfielder and an underrated big league starter for two minor league relievers. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal. That being said, Vizcaino has an exceptionally high ceiling. He was the number two prospect in the Braves organization coming into 2012, but was sidelined and needed Tommy John surgery in March. Not yet 22, we could see the hard-throwing right hander closing out games at Wrigley Field by 2014.
Pittsburgh Pirates + Toronto Blue Jays
Pittsburgh acquires Travis Snider (OF)
Toronto acquires Brad Lincoln (RP)
This was a surprising and somewhat strange trade, but the Pirates got another high-potential bat in Snider, in exchange for a pretty solid reliever in Lincoln. Snider has great power potential but hasn’t put it together yet in the Majors. If he does, the Pirates got a steal. Lincoln is no slouch though. His 2.73 ERA in the Pirates’ bullpen this season opened some eyes, and the Blue Jays intend to let him try his hand as a set up man.
Seattle Mariners + Toronto Blue Jays
Seattle acquires Eric Thames (OF)
Toronto acquires Steve Delabar (RP)
I actually like what the Blue Jays are doing. They know they have the offense, but need to bolster the pitching staff in the rotation and bullpen. So they are trading high-potential, excess bats to bring in some quality bullpen help. Delabar is a good pick-up, and Thames won’t be missed in that lineup. For the Mariners, who are always looking for bats, they are hoping Thames continues to improve and becomes a legit power threat from the right side of the plate.
Seattle Mariners + Los Angeles Dodgers
Seattle acquires Logan Bawcom (RP) and Leon Landry (OF)
Los Angeles acquires Brandon League (RP)
The only reason the Dodgers made this move was because they were planning to move one of their current right handers in the bullpen, Josh Lindblom. League replaces Lindblom and is a slight upgrade, though it’s not a hugely noteworthy trade overall. The M’s pulled in a pretty good pitching prospect who needs a lot of work and a young, fast outfielder who has put up HUGE numbers at Single-A.
7/31 – Los Angeles Dodgers + Philadelphia Phillies
Los Angeles acquires Shane Victorino (OF)
Philadelphia acquires Josh Lindblom (RP), Ethan Martin (SP) and Player To Be Named Later/Cash
A trade between the two biggest movers netted each team a pretty good haul. The Dodgers were in desperate need of an upgrade in the outfield and at the very top of the lineup, and came away with both in one guy. Philly received a good set up man who can become great with some consistency in Lindblom. But Martin may be a steal, considering the solid year he’s having in Double-A. Read more about this trade HERE.
San Francisco Giants + Philadelphia Phillies
San Francisco acquires Hunter Pence (OF)
Philadelphia acquires Nate Schierholtz (OF), Tommy Joseph (C), Seth Rosin (SP)
The Giants needed to answer their rivals’ big pick ups of Victorino and Ramirez, so they swung a move for a great all-around player in Pence. They lost a back up outfielder with a great arm in Schierholtz and their number two propsect in Joseph, but the immediate returns should more than make up for it. San Francisco is plenty deep at catcher for the foreseeable future, so Joseph was expendable. Great pick up for the Phils there though. Read more about this trade HERE.
Miami Marlins + St. Louis Cardinals
Miami acquires Zack Cox (3B)
St. Louis acquires Edward Mujica (RP)
This trade was completely unnecessary for the Redbirds, as their bullpen had been nearly impenetrable as of late. After slow starts, Mitchell Boggs and Mark Rzepczynski had turned it around and that relief corps was hot. Not that Mujica won’t just bolster it further, but did they really want to give up a top-five offensive prospect for a middle reliever? Miami scores again. Fire sale mode has worked wonders for the disappointing new-look Marlins.
Arizona Diamondacks + Boston Red Sox
Arizona acquires Scott Podsednik (OF) and Matt Albers (RP)
Boston acquires Craig Breslow (RP)
This isn’t much of a trade, despite all three players being Major League level. The Sox and D’Backs essentially swapped pretty good relievers, though Breslow is a lefty, Albers is not. So the Red Sox get the edge there. And while Arizona doesn’t necessarily need any help in the outfield, Podsednik can get on base and provide some speed. It’s the little things that will allow the D’Backs to climb back into the NL West race here.
Pittsburgh Pirates + Miami Marlins
Pittsburgh acquires Gaby Sanchez (1B) and Kyle Kaminska (RP)
Miami acquires Gorkys Hernandez (OF) and 2013 competitive balance draft pick
The Pirates continue to make under-the-radar moves that should help their playoff push in 2012. Sanchez was replaced by Carlos Lee in Miami, despite being mired in a similar slump as El Caballo. Hernandez goes to the Fish in a trade that really helps both sides. Sanchez has put up big numbers in the Majors in years past, while Hernandez has been a top prospect for Pittsburgh for a few years. Time will tell which team comes out on top.
Cincinnati Reds + Kansas City Royals
Cincinnati acquires Jonathan Broxton (RP)
Kansas City acquires J.C. Sulbaran (SP) and Donnie Joseph (RP)
I understand that the Reds didn’t want to be left out, but this is an embarrasment of riches. They didn’t need bullpen help. That being said, you can never have enough quality bullpen arms. I also understand that the Royals need pitching, but what if Joakim Soria isn’t back to full strength after he returns next season? They better hope Sulbaran, Joseph and Soria pan out, or they let a good closer walk for cheap.
New York Yankees + Pittsburgh Pirates
New York acquires Casey McGehee (1B/3B)
Pittsburgh acquires Chad Qualls (RP)
At the last second, the Yanks just had to do something. Anything. And they actually made a pretty shrewd move, getting someone the Pirates felt they didn’t need, in return for a veteran reliever. Qualls is good, he’s always been steady – but the Yankees might be laughing if McGehee can actually step in and fill the shoes of the crippled Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez for them. Pirates get another bullpen arm, Yankees get a power bat. Close call.
Texas Rangers + Chicago Cubs
Texas acquires Ryan Dempster (SP)
Chicago acquires Christian Villanueva (3B) and Kyle Hendricks (SP)
After weeks of drama, the curtain finally fell on the Cubs’ ace Dempster, who wound up in Texas. It makes you wonder if the Rangers already assumed Neftali Feliz was seriously injured (announced earlier today that he would need season-ending Tommy John surgery) before the trade was made. The Cubs stack the minor league system with two more guys who can be molded into very good players a couple of seasons down the road. Read more about this trade HERE.
Boston Red Sox + Cleveland Indians
Boston acquires Steven Wright (SP)
Cleveland acquires Lars Anderson (1B/OF)
Um. Who? I don’ t know. So I did a little research. The last trade before the deadline hit looks on paper as if it favors the Red Sox. Wright is a 27-year-old knuckleballing reliever who had a pretty nifty ERA in Double-A this season. If he comes around late like R.A. Dickey, who knows? And Anderson was formerly thought to be a top prospect, but has struggled in the minors. At only 24 years old, the Tribe is willing to take their chances.
Winner: Red Sox
There you have it folks. A run down of the last week of trading in Major League Baseball, leading up to the crazy finale of the trade deadline. Are you surprised at some of these trades? Anyone still in the same uniforms who you thought would have been moved?
– 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)
Three Up, Three Down comes back this week to recap the big news in baseball. We hit the DL and also attack ‘Mapes Too Early Awards’. It also wouldn’t be a “Three Up, Three Down” without our 3U3D Fantasy segment, which continues to provide you with some very good picks. Sit down, grab your favorite beer, and take a listen to this week’s episode. Thanks for listening!!
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Earlier edition of Weekend Watch this week. Only three games on a Thursday night? Something seems off with that, I’m currently filling my time with the Women’s College World Series and Scripps National Spelling Bee. Would it kill them to make sure there is a day game every day? Here’s what I’m excited for this weekend.
5) Braves at Nationals
I’ve decided to stop putting the Braves near the top spot in these rankings every week, but this match-up is still too juicy to not include at all. Nationals befuddled the Braves at Turner Field this weekend while Atlanta was in the midst of a 8-game losing streak. Taking two of three from the Cardinals put some spring in their step heading on the road. Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman’s returns were sorely needed for the Braves offense. Almost the same pitching duels as last weekend as we’ll see Mike Minor/Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Beachy/Gio Gonzalez part deux, along with Tommy Hanson/Jordan Zimmermann on Sunday. Gonzalez was the most impressive last Sunday shutting down the Braves to one hit over seven innings with 10 strikeouts. He now leads the NL in strikeouts and K/9. Was that start enough to take my NL Cy Young in the “Too Early MLB Awards”? Answer coming this weekend. Weird but true stat: Michael Bourn already has five home runs this season, he had four in 2010 and 2011 combined.
4) Yankees at Tigers
The Tigers have been the biggest team disappointment in the Majors this season sitting at just 23-27 so far in a weak AL Central. Doug Fister is heading back to the DL to join teammate Austin Jackson. Tigers might be in some trouble with the Yankees coming to town. CC Sabathia is heading to the hill for the opener against Casey Crosby, who has a 4.26 ERA in AAA this season. What does bode well for Tigers fans is the Yankee lineup typically has trouble with pitchers they have never seen before. I’m excited to watch Justin Verlander on Sunday take on the Yankee lineup in a rematch from the 2011 ALDS. Not weird but true stat: CC Sabathia has more losses against the Tigers (12) than any other team.
3) Marlins at Phillies
There is no team hotter in the Majors than the Miami Marlins. Their 21 wins in May set the franchise record for wins in a month. The Phillies were dealt a tough blow with the loss of ace Roy Halladay for 6-8 weeks, but still have enough rotation goodness to survive. Kyle Kendrick has filled in admirably thus far and Vance Worley should be due back shortly. Cole Hamels with his 8-1 record and 2.43 ERA is also in the running for the “Too Early MLB Awards” NL Cy Young. Two plugs for a future blog in this blog? Oops. Weird but true stat: Giancarlo Stanton is 3 for 4 this season with two outs and the bases loaded with two grand slams. He loves the pressure. Please vote for him to go to Kansas City for the All-Star Game.
2) Orioles at Rays
Typically, I would put the battle of teams tied for the division lead in the AL East in the top spot, but A) I don’t want to hear about any East Coast bias and B) there’s a match-up that intrigues me slightly more. Orioles are hitting a rough patch right now, just 2-8 in their last 10 games, but did take two of three from the Rays, three weeks ago. Wei-Yin Chen has been a find for Baltimore and will take on David Price in the Friday opener. I’m also intrigued to see if shutting down a then-hot White Sox offense on Memorial Day is enough for Matt Moore to turn the corner. Would make me feel a lot better about picking him to win AL Rookie of the Year and AL Cy Young in the preseason. Signing a new extension hasn’t slowed down Adam Jones as he’s hitting .385 with two home runs since the press conference before last Sunday’s game. Not weird but true stat: Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson has beaten the Orioles more times (4) than any other team in his young career.
1) Rangers at Angels
So why this series over Orioles/Rays? I want to watch how the Rangers respond to getting 20+ runs put up on them by the Mariners. I want to see if Albert Pujols hot streak continues. I want to watch Mark Trumbo demolish pitches. I want to see Mike Trout do everything. (Told you I’d rather have him than Bryce Harper this season.) I want to see Yu Darvish pitch against C.J. Wilson. I want to see if Mike Trout can chase down Yu Darvish for AL Rookie of the Year. I want to see if Dan Haren has really turned things around. I want to see if the Angels can get over the .500 hump and make the AL West interesting. Last but definitely not least, I want to watch Josh Hamilton. Weird but true stat: Yu Darvish has given up 9 ER in 9.2 IP against the Mariners and 13 ER in 50.1 IP against every other team he’s faced. I asked for votes for Giancarlo Stanton before for the All-Star game, now it’s Mark Trumbo’s turn. He’s hitting .348 this season with 10 home runs this season while bouncing around from 3B to 1B to RF, to LF, to DH. If that doesn’t convince you, let my friends at the MLB Fan Cave try and do it.
Mapes Fantasy Special
A great 3-0 week last week as Ivan Nova, Mark Buehrle, and especially R.A. Dickey came through with starts that helped your fantasy team. These are now 15-5 on positive starts on the season. Sadly, Dickey and Buehrle have moved over the 50% owned threshold for Mapes Fantasy Special, so let’s see what I can find for this weekend.
6/1 Wade Miley at Padres (45% owned), Might as well go with our Three Up player on the podcast this week. Miley has been great and you have to like facing the Padres at Petco even with the return of Carlos Quentin.
6/2 Brandon McCarthy at Royals (45% owned), I’m not feeling too strong about this one with McCarthy just coming off the DL. It is a nice spot though against a KC team that is just 5-17 at home this year. McCarthy gave up 2 ER in 6 IP earlier this year against the Royals.
6/3 Barry Zito vs. Cubs (22% owned) I really like Zito here at home coming off a good start against the Diamondbacks. Cubs are 27th in the league in runs scored and are pitching Travis Wood, who hasn’t been great.
Coming soon is my “Too Early MLB Awards” now that June is upon us. Who do you think should be taking the hardware at this point in the season?
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Hope everyone enjoyed their first taste of interleague play last weekend. I know I did with the Braves taking two out of three from the AL East leading Rays. Now that we’re back in traditional league play let’s see what this week has in store. I’ll try to not put the Braves match-up with the Nationals in the top spot, but before I look at everything else, it’s a fair warning it’s going to end up there.
5) Padres at Mets
This match-up would never crack the top five usually, but it makes it for one reason, Banner Day. What is Banner Day, you ask? It used to be a Mets tradition that fans would make giant banners and after the game would walk in a parade around the stadium. Living in Connecticut, I get SNY which airs Mets games. They’ll occasionally show “Mets Yearbook” chronicling a past season and my favorite part to randomly watch is Banner Day footage. The puns are always hilarious. I’m setting the over/under at “We Like Ike” or “He’s got the Wright stuff” at 24.5. Might go under with the way Ike Davis and played this year. Watch this and enjoy!
4) Giants at Marlins
Might have to make the four spot the “Marlins” spot as they’ve now been here each of the last two weeks. The series started Thursday night with a Giants 14-7 victory. Two struggling starters take the hill on Friday in Tim Lincecum and Josh Johnson. The other two pitching battles are solid though as well with Madison Bumgarner and Mark Buehrle on Saturday and Matt Cain taking on Ricky Nolasco on Sunday. I really would like to take this time to make sure you endorse Giancarlo Stanton for the 2012 Home Run Derby. First, he breaks the scoreboard on a grand slam off of Jamie Moyer.
Then follows it up Thursday night with a bomb over the Clevelander nightclub into the Budweiser Balcony in left field.
I’ve said it from the start of the new Marlins Park. Stanton will put one off the glass in left field at some point.
3) Phillies at Cardinals
Another series that started Thursday with a high-scoring affair 10-9 in favor of the Phillies. This series also features two solid pitching duels with Cliff Lee and Kyle Lohse on Friday and Roy Halladay/Adam Wainwright on Sunday. As we discussed on Kelsey’s Kardinals Injury Korner the Cardinals offense is in shambles and add Matt Carpenter to the disabled list. Halladay and Lee should be able to pick apart the depleted Redbirds lineup. This series also features two of the best catchers in the National League in Carlos Ruiz and Yadier Molina. National League catcher might not the deepest, but also the most difficult position to choose for the 2012 All-Star Game. Who do you send home from Molina, Ruiz, Brian McCann, Buster Posey, and I’m being serious with these last two, Jonathan Lucroy and A.J. Ellis. There are going to be a lot of disappointed backstops.
2) Blue Jays at Rangers
Here’s a chance for the Jays to make a statement and show the rest of the American League that they are for real and can contend for the playoffs. Brandon Morrow goes in game one for Toronto after becoming the 1st pitcher in MLB to have two shutouts this season. Yu Darvish should be in line for a good start on Sunday for Texas, seeing as he’s dominated every team not named the Mariners in his short career. No home runs in the past 11 games for Josh Hamilton, ugh what’s wrong with that guy. Please note sarcasm.
1) Nationals at Braves
The battle for NL East lead. I tried to promise not making it number one, but it’s the only series that will decide who is leading a division come Monday. I’ll keep it short, but the Sunday match-up of Gio Gonzalez and Brandon Beachy may decide the winner of the NL Cy Young in my “Too Early MLB Awards” coming at the start of June. This is my favorite game of the weekend, no bias I promise.
Mapes Fantasy Special
I hit a rough patch going 1-2 last week with Henderson Alvarez and Jarrod Parker getting crushed at home, while John Danks through 6 shutout, go figure. Naturally, Parker’s next start was fantastic. Here’s what I have for this weekend, remember they must be 50% owned or less. 12-5 record on the season.
5/25 Ivan Nova (48% owned) at Athletics, 2-0 in his career against Oakland, the ERA isn’t great, but Nova is coming off the best strikeout performance of his career. He should be solid in that ballpark.
5/26 Mark Buehrle (47% owned) vs. Giants, Going back to the well with Buehrle who performed admirably for me at home in a Mapes Fantasy Special two weeks ago. Hard to expect a win against Madison Bumgarner or a ton of K’s, but good peripherals will carry the day.
5/27 R.A. Dickey (49% owned) vs. Padres, I might be copping out a little bit taking three guys really close to the 50% threshold, but I didn’t think Dickey would be available. He never gets enough credit and is a quality start machine. Plus, it’s Banner Day! Kudos to any Mets fans to can sneak in a Dickey pun on the field.
What would your Mets banner say? Let me know in the comments. Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and take some time to thank a soldier for their service to our country.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)