Tagged: Rays

2014 MLB Bobblehead Battle: AL East

Time to finish up the American League with the American League East where the Red Sox finally bring back bobblehead giveaways in 2014.  While you’re here check out the AL Central and AL West bobblehead battles.  As a reminder, 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.

Boston Red Sox (all fans in attendance)

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Monday, April 7th, David Ortiz: You couldn’t ask for a better Red Sox player to start the bobblehead giveaways with.  This would’ve been a perfect ***** if it had been of Ortiz raising his fist telling Boston to stay strong.  Red Sox are going to rate highly giving these away to every fan. ****

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Wednesday, April 30th, Dustin Pedroia: And if you were going to pick a 2nd player on the current Red Sox to immortalize on a bobblehead, it would be former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia.  Better have real dirt stains! ***1/2

Tuesday, September 9th, Pedro Martinez: Come on Red Sox!  No bobbling goodness in May, June, July, or August?  For shame!  You get some redemption with the best pitcher in Red Sox history and the man who asks “Who is Karim Garcia?” ***1/2

Total: 11 stars

New York Yankees (18,000 fans)

Thursday, June 19th, Mark Teixeira: Yankees bobbleheads in 2013 were a murderer’s row (unfortunately not the actual Murderer’s Row) with Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, Yogi Berra, and Mariano Rivera.  This years crop?  Not so much, starting off with the oft-injured Yankees first baseman. **

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Wednesday, July 2nd, Lou Gehrig: I love this bobblehead and is by far the best one in the Yankees crop.  It celebrates the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man” speech, it’s a must have, especially if you can get the Twins one to pair with it.  ****1/2

Sunday, July 27th, Paul O’Neill: A solid Yankees player that has found a home in the YES broadcasts with the team, so he’ll be in attendance for this one.  Don’t think there will be as much excitement for this one than Matsui last year. ** 1/2

Wednesday, August 20th, Joe Girardi: Has Yankees World Series rings as a player and as a manager and is worthy of a bobblehead, but I can’t get too excited for it.  **

Total: 11 stars

Tampa Bay Rays (20,000 fans)

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Saturday, April 5th, Wil Myers Rookie of the Year: I just like the way that this bobblehead looks.  Props to the AL East for having larger giveaway numbers.  ***

Friday, May 23rd, Alex Cobb Military Themed: I’m interested to see how this one ends up looking, but it sounds pretty solid.  For now, though. ** 1/2

Saturday, September 6th, Evan Longoria 80’s Hair Band: Another Rays bobblehead that I need to see to believe.  I want to have faith that this is going to be spectacular though.  *** 1/2

Total: 9 stars

Toronto Blue Jays (20,000 fans)

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Sunday, April 27th, R.A. Dickey: This Dickey bobblehead would’ve meant more if he had repeated his 2012 performance north of the border, but it’s a good effort and he deserves it.  ** 1/2

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Sunday, June 8th, Jose Reyes: I can basically say the same thing for Reyes that I said for Dickey, right? ** 1/2

Sunday, August 24th, Mark Buerhle: Let the 2013 Blue Jays disappointment bobblehead train continue! **

Total: 8 stars

Baltimore Orioles (Promotion schedule not posted as of 3/7)

What do you think is the best bobblehead collection in the AL East?  Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Rays/Rangers Ends in Controversial Strike Call

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.

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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.

Evan Longoria was slightly more understanding.

While Jeremy Hellickson has already moved on to his birthday plans in Texas tonight it seems.

I know you don’t argue balls and strikes, but Marty Foster, you’ve got some explaining to do. UPDATED: Foster explains himself.

Before I forget, congrats to Joe Nathan on his 300th career save! As he said after the pitch, WOW!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

3U3D Break it Down: The A.L. East

A ton happened in the American League East this offseason, the Blue Jays traded for and signed everybody under the sun, the Yankees can’t stay healthy, the Red Sox have a new manager, the Rays said goodbye to James Shields and hello to Wil Myers, and well the Orioles, they didn’t do much.  Who will win possibly the most unpredictable division in the Majors?  Let’s take a look!

Projected Order of Finish: Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles

Why the Rays could win the A.L. East: Let’s start off with defending Cy Young winner David Price anchoring a young and talented starting rotation.  James Shields may be gone, but there is still plenty of firepower with maturing Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb, and Jeff Niemann.  Not to mention Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi waiting in the wings.  The bullpen is the best in the division with Fernando Rodney coming off the lowest ERA in the history of the league, plus excellent setup men in Joel Peralta and Jake McGee.  We’re still waiting on the superstar break out season from Evan Longoria.  If it happens in 2013, the Rays are in great shape.  I’ve also now gone this entire paragraph without mentioning Joe Maddon, who is the best manager in the game today.

Why the Rays wouldn’t win the the A.L. East:  The young rotation guys aren’t quite ready.  Evan Longoria spends more than half the season on the disabled list like in 2012.  Fernando Rodney reverts back to the Fernando Rodney before 2012 and doesn’t carry over the “magic plantain” powers from the World Baseball Classic.  Desmond Jennings still isn’t ready to take the next step.  Yunel Escobar gets himself in trouble.  The Blue Jays really are that good.

Why the Blue Jays could win the A.L. East: The talent the Jays assembled is the best that they’ve had since their 1993 World Series championship team.  The starting rotation is talented and experienced with Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, the spectacular, but oft-injured Josh Johnson, the bulldog Mark Buerhle, and “awesome when his stuff is on” Brandon Morrow.  It’s not just the rotation that’s revamped though.  Jose Reyes now sits atop an explosive lineup with two-time home run champion Jose Bautista and WBC teammate Edwin Encarnacion, who hit 42 home runs last season.  The Jays also added Melky Cabrera, who was leading the National League in batting average, before he was suspended for fifty games.

Why the Blue Jays wouldn’t win the A.L. East:  It’s not very often the team built to succeed immediately actually succeeds.  Just ask the Angels and the Marlins last year.  The bullpen still has a ton of question marks.  Is Casey Janssen ready to be a big-time closer on a winning team?  Is Sergio Santos completely healthy?  Can Darren Oliver keep it up at 42 years-old?  The Blue Jays better hope the answer is yes to two of three of those.  Edwin Encarnacion could have had a fluke season instead of a breakout one.  Plus, can Colby Rasmus and Adam Lind keep their heads on straight and hit the way they were supposed to as highly touted prospects?

Why the Red Sox could win the A.L. East:  First off, maybe they really just disliked Bobby Valentine so much that they went into tanking mode to ensure he was gone.  John Farrell will provide an upgrade in the dugout and in the clubhouse.  Jon Lester looks ready to return to form after a terrible 2012.  The lineup is solid enough, especially when David Ortiz is healthy.  Shane Victorino provides enough of a clubhouse presence and more importantly, enough of a bat, to keep Boston in contention.  Jackie Bradley is everything Red Sox fans think he really is.

Why the Red Sox wouldn’t win the A.L. East:  The heels of David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury get the Sox off on the “wrong foot”.  Jonny Gomes is primarily involved defensively.  The starters after Jon Lester (and even Jon Lester if he’s in 2012 form) aren’t top-notch.  Ryan Dempster needs to be the first half of 2012, not the second half.  Clay Buchholz has fallen apart after showing so much promise in 2010.  John Lackey is John Lackey.  The bullpen is revamped with closer-quality pitchers in Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, and Koji Uehara, but they all need to stay healthy.

Why the Yankees could win the A.L. East:  They’re the Yankees and you can never count them out.  They rally around Mariano Rivera, who’s retiring at the end of the season, to get him one more chance in the playoffs.  The injuries that they’ve experienced in Spring Training aren’t as bad as originally thought for Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Phil Hughes, and Alex Rodriguez and they can provide enough, especially in the 2nd half.  The pitching keeps it together (minus Hughes) with experience at the top (CC Sabathia, Huroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte) and youth at the bottom (Ivan Nova and David Phelps).  The bullpen with a returning Rivera, David Robertson, and a fully-healthy Joba Chamberlain could be the best in the division.  Robinson Cano plays completely out of his mind for a contract and is the clear-cut AL MVP.

Why the Yankees wouldn’t win the A.L. East:  The injury bug is just too much.  The names “Vernon Wells”, “Juan Rivera”, “Lyle Overbay” and “Travis Hafner” are predominantly involved in the lineup after the All-Star break.  They stick to their payroll to stay under the luxury tax and it prevents them from going after what they need at the trade deadline.

Why the Orioles could win the A.L. East: Winning one-run games (MLB best 29-9 in 2012) was actually skill and not luck.  The bullpen of Darren O’ Day, Pedro Strop, and Jim Johnson doesn’t wear down in a bullpen than threw the 4th most innings in MLB last season.  Buck Showalter continues to work his magic in Charm City and wins A.L. Manager of the Year.  Baltimore calls up Dylan Bundy and he immediately becomes a lights-out staff ace.  Manny Machado excels in his first full year in the Majors, while Adam Jones continues his path to super-stardom evolving into a near 30-30 player.

Why the Orioles wouldn’t win the A.L. East:  The statistics guys are right and the Orioles regress to the mean in one-run games.  The starting pitching doesn’t hold up like it did last year.  Seriously though, this is the worst rotation on paper in the division.  With the lineups in the A.L. East it might be tough for them to keep afloat.

Awards Watch

AL MVP

Robinson Cano-Yankees

Evan Longoria and David Price-Rays

Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista-Blue Jays

Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia-Red Sox

Adam Jones-Orioles

Cy Young

David Price and Fernando Rodney-Rays

CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera-Yankees

Jon Lester-Red Sox

R.A. Dickey and Brandon Morrow-Blue Jays

Rookie of the Year

Wil Myers and Chris Archer-Rays

Dylan Bundy-Orioles

Jackie Bradley and Jose Iglesias-Red Sox

Who do you think takes the crown in the A.L. East?  Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

#MapesFantasySpecial For September 19th

The choices for the #MapesFantasySpecial are pretty slim on Wednesday, but I think there are a couple options that could help your fantasy team.

We featured his Brewers teammate Wily Peralta on this week’s podcast, but Marco Estrada has been just as great as Milwaukee has made a push for the playoffs. Estrada has given up just 1ER or less in four of his last five starts, with three of them giving up no earned runs at all. Estrada takes on a Pirates squad that he gave up just one earned run in seven innings with 10 strikeouts just three starts ago. If he puts up even slightly worse numbers, it’s a worthy pick-up that’s available in 73% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

If You’re Desperate: Rays rookie Chris Archer has great strikeout potential (28K in 22.1IP) if you need a boost there. If you’re worried about the match-up against Boston, in Archer’s last start he shut down Texas over 7 innings with 11 strikeouts. Archer is owned in just 5% of leagues. Reds Mike Leake (10% owned) has good numbers in his career against the Cubs, but gave up 3ER in six innings last time he pitched at Wrigley. Orioles Joe Saunders (12% owned) has a juicy match-up at the Mariners and has settled down since getting roughed up in his first start with Baltimore. Unfortunately, he’s going up against King Felix, so don’t go in expecting a win. John Lannan (4% owned) was great in his 1st start back in place of Stephen Strasburg tossing 5.2 shutout innings. The Dodgers lineup still hasn’t been great and Lannan is 4-1 in his career against Los Angeles. Don’t expect to get many strikeouts though.

If You’re Desperate Rankings: Archer, Saunders, Leake, Lannan

Good luck in your fantasy leagues!

9/18 4 PM Update: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was scratched from his start Tuesday night and will start Wednesday 9/19 instead. I like him more than any of these.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Weekend Watch! Interleague Style Part Two!

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)

Weekend Watch!

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)

Weekend Watch!

Thank God it’s Friday!  Time for a new set of matchups this weekend.  Here are the series I’m looking forward to watching this weekend in descending order.

5) Athletics at Orioles

I didn’t have both of these teams at .500 or better on April 26th before the season and neither did you.  These have been two pleasant surprises and deserve some love.  I really wish that Yoenis Cespedes was left-handed to see if he could make a run at hitting the warehouse beyond the right field wall.  The pitching matchups are pretty decent, especially the opener with Brandon McCarthy and Jake Arrieta, Arrieta is my #MapesFantasySpecial for 4/27.  *cough follow me on Twitter @Mapes4FanCave cough* While Bartolo Colon was very good against Baltimore in 2011 with the Yankees having a paltry 1.52 ERA and sub 1.00 WHIP in 23.2 innings.

4) Brewers at Cardinals

Brewers are still looking to get back to .500 and are tossing their two aces, Gallardo and Greinke, on Saturday and Sunday.  The Cardinals have had the best offense in the National League so far.  They lead the NL in batting average, OPS, and OBP, while being 2nd in runs scored behind Atlanta.  St. Louis has also had the best signing in the senior circuit in 2012 so far in Carlos Beltran who’s filled the Albert Pujols void admirably with 5 home runs and pitching in 5 stolen bases on top of it.

Those two matchups are just the appetizers this weekend.  Here’s what MLB is serving up in the main course.  I can’t even rank these matchup 3-2-1, we’re going with 1 A, B, and C.

1C) Nationals at Dodgers

Two teams that were picked by many to most people to finish 4th in their respective divisions.  Instead, both are sitting pretty in 1st place as we speak.  I said in the offseason that the Nats had put together the most underrated rotation in the Majors.  The results so far?  The Nationals pitching staff has the best ERA in the league.  Ross Detwiler has been a great addition in place of John Lannan.  Stephen Strasburg is being Stephen Strasburg.  Gio Gonzalez is proving that he wasn’t just a product of Oakland’s ballpark as he has 20 straight scoreless innings.  The Dodgers?  Well they have Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw, that’s generally been enough so far.  Dee Gordon is among the league leader in stolen bases, but needs to start getting on base more for the Dodgers lineup to truly start clicking.  I just don’t think it will happen this weekend.

1B) Rays at Rangers

Both teams are riding momentum waves.  Rays picked up a walk-off win Thursday courtesy of Brandon Allen, while the Rangers took two of three from the Yankees.  In a rematch of last years 2011 Division Series the Rays seemingly have the pitching matchup advantage in sending James Shields (Friday) and David Price (Sunday) to the hill, while missing out on Yu Darvish.  Darvish was sparkling in his last start against New York and seems to have put his control issues behind him.  The pitching advantage might be nullified however by Texas’ fantastic offense.  Led by Josh Hamilton’s .390 AVG and 8 homers, the Rangers currently lead the Majors batting average, OPS, runs scored, and home runs.  This is a classic case of great pitching vs. great hitting.

1A) Tigers at Yankees

It’s a rematch of the other 2011 ALDS!  Both teams are reeling after the Yankees lost the series in Texas, while the Tigers got swept at home by the Seattle Mariners.  You read the 2nd half of that right.  Further proof that you can’t predict baseball, so I’m going to try anyway!  Can Justin Verlander and the Tigers end Ivan Nova’s run of franchise record of 15 straight winning decisions on Friday? (I think so.)  Will there be 20 runs in the Saturday matchup of Drew Smyly and Freddy Garcia? (Maybe.  Yankees do have problems facing a pitcher for the 1st time, see Yu Darvish.)  Can Derek Jeter keep his batting average over .400?  (Currently .420, I’ll say yes.)  Will Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder enjoy the confines of Yankee Stadium vs. spacious Comerica Park?  (Yes, I think they both homer, maybe even multiple times this weekend.)  Should be a great series in the Bronx.

What matchup are you excited to see this weekend?  Do you think Matt Kemp, Josh Hamilton, and Derek Jeter keep up their torrid pace to start?

-Bryan Mapes

The All-AL East Team

We continue our series on All-Division teams with arguably the most stacked division. When you put together teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles only good things can happen. Here’s how I see the AL East team shaking out.

The Starting Lineup:

1)       Jacoby Ellsbury, Center Field, Red Sox

Curtis Granderson or Adam Jones probably could start in center field for most of the divisions in the league.  In the AL East, they’re overshadowed by 2011 AL MVP runner-up.  Ellsbury had his first 30-30 season and when coupled with his Gold Glove defense, he’s the easy choice.

Honorable Mention: Curtis Granderson, Yankees and Adam Jones, Orioles

2)       Derek Jeter, Shortstop, Yankees

Jeter is getting up there in age, but no other shortstop in the AL East has come up to remotely his level.  I’ve always thought that Jeter was more suited for the #2 hole than the lead-off spot he bats for New York.  He can do all the little things like moving runners over and taking pitches to allow Ellsbury room to steal.  Jeter still gets on base at a good rate to set up for an incredible middle of the order.

Honorable Mention: Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays

3)       Adrian Gonzalez, First Base,  Red Sox

Four straight All-star games, a silver slugger in 2011, and the only player that could get the AL 1st base Gold Glove away from Mark Teixeira.  I still believe that Adrian Gonzalez is one of the more underrated players in the game.  He led the AL in hits in his first season in Boston, while hitting an astounding .338.  Gonzalez has said that his shoulder feels much better for this season and can now swing through the ball, potentially making him even more dangerous.

Honorable Mention: Mark Teixeira, Yankees

4)       Jose Bautista, Right Field, Blue Jays

I threw around the idea of letting David Ortiz hit cleanup, but you just can’t go against the player that has led the Majors in home runs each of the last two seasons.  Bautista has been quite the find for Toronto, seemingly coming out of nowhere to turn into the player that Blue Jay fans think is better than Santa Claus.  With a slugging over .600 the past two years, Bautista is the right choice for the four hole.

Honorable Mention: Ben Zobrist, Rays and Nick Markakis, Orioles

5)       Evan Longoria, Third Base, Rays

Longoria or A-Rod?  A-Rod or Longoria?  It was a tough decision, but I leaned towards the continued growth of Evan Longoria.  The power is there as he hit 31 home runs in just 133 games in 2011, but the improved plate discipline has been helpful.  Longoria also had a career-high 80 walks last season despite missing almost 30 games.  That helped Longoria have a respectable OBP, despite hitting a career-worst .244.

Honorable Mention: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees and Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays

6)       Robinson Cano, Second Base, Yankees

This was the toughest decision in the division.  Having the top of the order set, I felt that Cano was better suited for the six hole than Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia probably has the better overall credentials with his MVP award and two Gold Gloves compared to Cano’s one.  Cano has finished top six in MVP voting each of the last two years and is a .300 average with 25-30 home runs, 100 runs and 100 RBI’s in the bank.

Honorable Mention: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

7)       David Ortiz, Designated Hitter, Red Sox

No offense to Edgar Martinez, but David Ortiz will go down as the best designated hitter in the history of the game.  Even at age 36 he’s still cranking out .300 average seasons with almost 30 homers.  There was no other choice for this spot, so let’s move on.

8)       Matt Wieters, Catcher, Orioles

I did it!  I got an Oriole in the All-AL East lineup!  Wieters has finally developed into the offensive threat that Baltimore fans thought he would be when he was a highly touted prospect.  Wieters had his first 20 home run season to go along with his first All-Star game nod and first Gold Glove in 2011.

Honorable Mention: J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays

9)       Desmond Jennings, Left Field, Rays

A toss-up pick on which speedster to I want at the bottom of the lineup.  I went Jennings over Brett Gardner for the greater power potential.  Jennings hit 10 home runs in 247 at-bats last season, Gardner has 15 career home runs in 1390 AB’s.  I think we’ve already seen Gardner reach his potential, while Jennings has some room to grow.  I’ll believe in Carl Crawford again one day I’m sure.

Honorable Mention: Brett Gardner, Yankees and Carl Crawford, Red Sox

Starting Rotation:

CC Sabathia, Yankees

Jon Lester, Red Sox

James Shields, Rays

David Price, Rays

Ricky Romero, Blue Jays

There’s not much to say about CC Sabathia.  He’s an absolute workhorse with five straight seasons of at least 230 innings pitched.  Jon Lester still doesn’t get as much love as he deserves after making two straight All-star appearances.  Shields and Price are the best 1-2 combo in the division.  Shields became “Big Game James” once again bouncing back from a terrible 2010 to lead the AL in complete games and shutouts.  Ricky Romero gets the edge over Matt Moore for the #5 spot, for now.

Honorable Mention: Josh Beckett, Red Sox and Matt Moore, Rays

 

Setup Men:

David Robertson, Yankees

Francisco Cordero, Blue Jays

Robertson was a revolution for the Yankees, becoming the 8th inning pitcher, the Yankees were looking for when they signed Rafael Soriano.  Robertson was rewarded with his 1st All-star appearance.  Cordero has been suited for the closer role during most of his career, but makes for a great setup option for the Jays.

Closer:

Mariano Rivera, Yankees

 What you thought I’d take someone different?  I won’t go against the greatest closer of all-time even if he is 42 years old.  Looking at the current closer situation in this division, no one touches the great Rivera.

Who would you have on your All-AL East team?  Let us know in the comments!

 -Bryan Mapes

Five Things I Think I Think

Well the first “Five Things I Think I Think” went so well (we got a comment!) that I’ve decided to make this a recurring thing.  Going to do it Wednesday and Sunday nights.  Here’s what’s gone on in this silly, little brain of mine since we last spoke.

1)      There will be more closer turnover this year than ever.  Here’s the list of closers that have gotten hurt this season Andrew Bailey, Joakim Soria, Kyle Farnsworth, Drew Storen, and Ryan Madson.  The closer situations for those teams look pretty fluid right now, especially in Kansas City where current closer Jonathan Broxton became the 1st pitcher in 46 years to end a game with consecutive hit-by-pitches.  Everyone thought it would be Joel Peralta in Tampa Bay, not Fernando Rodney who is now 3 for 3.  Who saw Hector Santiago getting the first two saves for the White Sox?  Don’t lie and say you did.  On the north side of Chicago, Carlos Marmol is being Carlos Marmol and blowing leads in spectacular fashion for the Cubs.  There will be plenty of pitchers getting saves this season, I’ve got a feeling.

 

2)      I want to see Dee Gordon race Peter Bourjos.  Both of these speedsters are burning up the basepaths.  Gordon has an MLB leading five stolen bases (tied with Starlin Castro) and seemingly has a green light any time he’s on base.  Bourjos on the other hand had the first inside-the-park home run in the season against the Twins, circling the bases in a ridiculous 14 seconds.  The link to that is underneath.  Both of these players are in the Los Angeles area.  Can’t we set this up for a LA charity.  Bonus points to Miami Marlins teammates Emilio Bonifacio vs. Jose Reyes in the undercard.

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=20541799&topic_id=8878746&c_id=ana&tcid=vpp_copy_20541799&v=3

3)      The Tampa Bay Rays won’t go away.  If getting one-hit over eight innings by Justin Verlander doesn’t bury them, then nothing will.  They came back in the 9th against the reigning AL MVP and then continued the onslaught on “Papa Grande” Jose Valverde.  Matt Moore was effective in his first start against a lethal Tigers offense, just another weapon in that rotation.  I’ll continue to say that Joe Maddon is the best manager in the game.

4)      I wish Erik Bedard could stay healthy.  When he is, he’s one of the better starting pitchers in the game.  I’m currently watching him pitch effectively the Dodgers on the road.  If the Pirates get 25 starts out of him, they will be well on their way to .500 for the first time since 1992.  Fantasy owners should have him rostered until he gets hurt.  He was the Mapes Fantasy Special today.  Shameless plug to follow me on Twitter @Mapes4FanCave or just search #MapesFantasySpecial for a starting pitcher to pick up that’s owned in less than 50% of leagues.

5)      Bacon Tuesday is the greatest thing ever.  It’s bacon.  It’s baseball.  Leave it to Oakland fans to come up with something so awesome.  They have great fans.  Just wish more of them would show up at the ballpark.   Jeremy will have more on his Bacon Tuesday experience on the blog soon.

-Bryan Mapes

Which Jersey Should YOU Buy?

Today, Major League Baseball released the list of the 20 best-selling jerseys in 2011.  Derek Jeter to no one’s surprise led MLB in jersey sales (He also was tops in 2010).  His Yankee teammate Mariano Rivera still cracked the list at #18 despite being north of 40 years old.  However, which jerseys are the best investments for the common baseball fan?  One that collects items from all teams, not just their favorite team.

Jeremy Dorn and I are going to do this draft style.  He won the toss and will pick 1st, while I get the 2nd and 3rd and then alternate after that. What we’re looking for in our jersey investments are quality of player, potential time in uniform, and overall awesomeness.  Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera would have been high on this list in 1997.  Now lets see if they can crack out top 20 as their careers wind down.

Pick #1: Matt Kemp, Dodgers

You know I have to go with my boy Matt Kemp. He was one home run shy of 40/40 last season, and just signed a long-term deal with the Dodgers. So to meet the criteria, we have the quality, we have the time spent in uniform, and the overall awesomeness speaks for itself. But I’ll elaborate anyway, because I have an unhealthy bromance with Kemp. Undoubtedly the best five-tool player in baseball today, Kemp hits for average (.324 in 2011), power (39 home runs, 126 RBI last year), steals bases (40), plays defense, and guns people from the outfield (NL Gold Glove for center field). He does all these things while being incredibly handsome. That’s all. Go buy a #27 jersey, everyone.

Pick #2: Joey Votto, Reds

A pick I don’t think you saw coming.  After signing a long extension, Votto will be in a Reds uniform potentially through the 2024 season.  That’s what I’m looking for in my picks.  It’s much easier for me to buy a jersey, when I have the security that player won’t be gone any time soon.  Votto is no slouch of a player either.  He is the 2010 NL MVP and his 162 game averages of .313 BA/31 HR/105 RBI will only get better as he continues in his current prime.  He’ll end up on a short list of greatest Reds of all-time especially if he leads the Queen City to their first World Series title since 1990.  What also helps Votto’s case is what other Reds jersey would you buy?  Brandon Phillips?  Johnny Cueto?  Jay Bruce?  Drew Stubbs?  Give me Votto all day.

Pick #3: Albert Pujols, Angels

The player you probably thought I was going with at #2, but the extra length on Votto’s contract gave him the nod over Pujols.  It’s always nice to get in on the ground floor of a new player that has just joined a team.  Especially when he signs a NINE-year contract.  Angels fans won’t go wrong having a Pujols #5 jersey in their closet as he passes milestone after milestone and ends his career in Anaheim.  Pujols’ credentials speak for themself, 3-time MVP, 9-time All-Star, 2-time World Series champion, and 445 home runs and counting.  You gave me potentially the greatest player in MLB history in my closet, hope you can recover from that.

Pick #4: Matt Cain, Giants

Hah! Gotcha, Mapes. I hate the Giants with all my might, but I can’t deny greatness when I see it. Cain just signed a long extension in San Francisco and should be at the top of the rotation, dominating poor National League hitters for almost another decade. If you want a guy who not only oozes talent and will be in one place for a long time, but is also generally accepted as one of baseball’s good guys, go buy a Matt Cain #18 jersey. Even if it is that ugly orange and black.

Pick #5: Ryan Braun, Brewers

Hah!  Gotcha, Dorn.  That wouldn’t be the Giants jersey I would buy AND I just got the Dodger fan to take a Giants jersey.  I’ll take Ryan Braun last year’s NL MVP.  With Prince Fielder now in Detroit, it doesn’t leave many options for a Brewers jersey in your closet.  Braun is signed in Milwaukee through the 2020 season with a mutual option for 2021, or as I like to call it “longer than Matt Cain.”  I love that I have now locked up the last four years worth of National League MVP’s in my closet while you’re sitting with your favorite player and not even the best pitcher on your hated rival.  Advantage Mapes.  Bonus point for Braun is you get the sweet, baseball mitt style Brewers uniform.

Pick #6: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

First of all, I only took Cain because I’m butt hurt that the Dodgers can’t sign him. It makes sense, just let the logic sink in. I guess we’ll see which Giants jersey you WOULD take here soon *cough, Posey, cough* and that’s nice that you want to represent a player who roids. Well done. I’m taking Miggy for Detroit and his yearly MVP quest. I recently ranked him as the second best player in all of baseball and his numbers back that up. I don’t even care to look how long he will be with the Tigers under his current contract. Why? Because if he moves to a new team, I’ll gladly go out and get the new jersey anyway! That’s how badass this guy is.

Pick #7: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Sure go buy a new Cabrera jersey after 2015, maybe he’ll even go to the Dodgers.  Nah, he’ll probably be another free agent they don’t sign.  I’m taking the best shortstop in the game, Mr. Troy Tulowitzki.  Rockies lock up their players long-term, if you had bought a Todd Helton jersey in 1997, you’d still be wearing it proudly today. (Top 4: Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Helton)  I’ll take nine years of Tulo than 4 years of Cabrera any day.  He hasn’t even hit his peak and has batting titles in his future hitting in Coors Field.  Plus, chicks dig the purple.  It’s science.

Pick #8: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

Who doesn’t love a little Cutch? McCutchen is locked up for the next half decade at least with Pittsburgh, and when the Pirates finally climb back above .500 and start to contend again, McCutchen is going to be the face of the new era. He plays a solid center field and can rake with the best of them. He’s still young too…give him another two or three years and you’ll be seeing #22 jerseys everywhere. Not just in Pittsburgh.

Pick #9: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

You finally have a pick I like.  I have to go with my man Giancarlo Stanton before you snap him up on me.  Hell, I’m wearing his jersey t-shirt in my favorite color (orange) right now.  I don’t have to worry about the Marlins changing their uniforms so I know I’m getting full tenure of the jersey when he’s in Miami.  Stanton isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, where I might get worried that he moves on in free agency.  Even then he’ll just be entering his prime and I have no qualms of getting another Stanton jersey, preferably a Braves one.

Pick #10: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

Bring on the girlfriend jokes. I know, I know. But is there really a cooler catcher to get a jersey of in baseball right now? Not only is he far and away the best defensive catcher in baseball, but he really brought on his offensive game in 2011. Talk all you want about Pujols and Freese and Carpenter from last year’s World Series run, but Yadi is the heart and soul of that team. There’s a reason he looks so angry all the time – he’s a very intense, focused player. And even though he wouldn’t care, I’d love to rep his jersey. That #4 is going to be the backstop for the Cards through at least 2017.

Pick #11: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

I’ll even let you take Jose and Bengie Molina’s jerseys too.  You could’ve had Molina in the last round if you wanted, but I’m sure you do look good in Cardinal red.  I’m gonna go with the jersey t-shirt I actually bought today.  I had a Jonathan Papelbon jersey t-shirt and we had a good run from 2006-2011, I picked Gonzalez today over Jacoby Ellsbury.  The Red Sox have A-Gon in the lineup through 2018, I’ll take a solid seven years out of this shirt.  There are no worries about the Red Sox changing uniforms.  There’s a guy sitting out there that I thought would go top 5, but I can’t bring myself to take him yet.  Maybe next round.

Pick #12: Felix Hernandez, Mariners

King Felix is still one of the most underappreciated pitchers in baseball. Mostly because he’s been buried on bad teams in Seattle. You’ve to go love this guy. He’s already established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game, and he’s still surprisingly young. If you have any baseball fashion sense (says the guy wearing jeans, $25 Nikes and a 10-year-old sweater), you know the Mariners jerseys are sick. And when you throw the “Hernandez” across the shoulders, you’re really stylin’! Felix loves living in the Pacific Northwest and is already signed there for a while longer. But I feel like by the time he’s due a new deal, the M’s will be contending, so I’ll take my chances.

Pick #13: Prince Fielder, Tigers

You really just picked a guy who’s rampant in trade rumors and is more than likely gone after 2014?  You’re gonna go poor with all the jersey you have to buy.  I’ll take the player I thought was going to go in the top 5 picks, the Tiger you should have picked, and a slugger that’s signed in the uniform through 2020, Prince Fielder!  Chicks dig the long ball and Fielder provides that.  Tigers also have a timeless uniform and worst case if he leaves, I can always pretend it’s a Cecil Fielder jersey.

Pick #14: Eric Hosmer, Royals

I have so much bro love for Hosmer that it hurts. He’s still on his rookie deal and will more than likely be the next long-term deal handed out by Royals management. You know I have to get a Hosmer jersey in that powder blue, too. As for the Fielder jersey, it’s a solid choice. He’s going to be a popular choice though, and I am more of a dark horse jersey kind of man. For example, I rep my James Loney Dodger jersey proudly all the time. Now imagine another pretty blue jersey with another first baseman’s name across the back? Hosmer is the best young first baseman in the game, Freddie Freeman be damned.

Pick #15: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

That is the first pick you’ve made that made slam something in anger.  I should’ve gone Hosmer over Prince because you already had a Tigers jersey.  That was a misstep on my part.  I’ll redeem myself with taking the ONLY pitcher jersey I would buy and that is Strasburg.  I fear the big injury with pitchers and they never recover, but I think Strasburg already has that out of the way.  There is no player in MLB that gets the attention he does when he’s on his game.  He’s under contract until 2016 and I look really good in red.

Pick #16: Matt Moore, Rays

Whoa, calm down there buddy! Strasburg is the ONLY pitcher’s jersey you would take? I think the fact that he’s already been injured is reason to NOT take him. What if the same problem crops up again? Once you’re damaged goods, you will literally always have the injury questions following you. So I’ll go with a guy who’s very young, very talented and going to be a breakout star in Tampa in 2012. He’s still on a rookie deal so he should be around for at least four more years, and he will have a chance to contend for a Cy Young by 2013 in my opinion. Moore, Felix and Cain. I dig my pitcher jerseys!

Pick #17: Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays

You’re right, I’d probably take a Matt Moore jersey too.  I even picked him to win AL Cy Young this year somewhere on this blog.  You took Hosmer, so I’ve to get a young stud in a blue jersey too and none better than Brett Lawrie.  Toronto just updated their uniforms coming into this season, so hopefully they stick with them for a while.  Lawrie is also a Canadian born and bred, so I have a feeling he can be a lifetime Blue Jay, unless they stick a team in Vancouver in the next 15 years, making this a safer investment.

Pick #18: Carlos Santana, Indians

You can’t take a guy who hasn’t actually proved anything yet…can you? I’m going with a sure bet. I don’t know if Santana will ever bring his average up, but the power game alone is going to keep fans in love with this young catcher. Plus, I’m still a little bitter that the Dodgers traded him away for Casey Blake. Talk about a bad decision. Right now, I’ve got the best young catcher in the AL Central, the best young first baseman, and the best overall player in the division all tied up on my team. I’m not a huge fan of that division, but I’ll gladly wear these guys’ jerseys.

Pick #19: Buster Posey, Giants

I’ll take the guy I knew you wouldn’t pick or be ridiculed for being a Dodgers fan with two Giants jerseys in his closet.  Posey went to my favorite college when I was little (Florida State) and we have the same birthday!  How do I NOT take him?  As previously mentioned, orange is my favorite color too.  Posey is on his way to super stardom and being the best catcher in the game, unless Joe Mauer can get himself back on track.  A steal this late in the jersey draft as Posey’s jersey was in the top 20 sold in 2011 and he was hurt for the 2nd half.

Pick #20: Robinson Cano, Yankees

How can you have an epic jersey collection without a Yankee in there? I know they are the Evil Empire but if you think those classic threads are ugly, you are a sad, sorry person. If I’m going to take a Yank, it’s gotta be Cano. He’s the future of their franchise and has already established himself as a legit MVP candidate. He’ll be there for life more than likely as all great Yankees are. When I put that on, I’ll get evil glares until they see the big #20 on my back.

Clearly, I’ve out-drafted you tonight, Mapes. I’ll give you props for taking Giancarlo, Tulo and Strasburg. They are bold picks and we could be talking about those three for years to come. But Votto, Prince, Pujols and A-Gon? Come on, I know you’re more original than that! Everyone already has those ones, and while they look pretty, you’ll be matching about 5,000 other fans at any given game.

My team is clearly the more solid one, what with a classic Yankee jersey, the best young star in baseball (Kemp), and three awesome pitchers included on the rack. When making these choices, one must consider first how the jersey looks, then how relevant the player is. And anyone who thinks a Yadi Molina Cards jersey won’t just be pure glory is clearly in contact with Ryan Braun’s dealer.

Robinson Cano was going to make my honorable mention list, but they fact that he’s a free agent after next season kept me at bay.  If he got signed to a 7-year extension tomorrow, he catapults to top 3.  I was for players that I know I will get many years of enjoyment out of.   You will be buying jerseys left and right while I’ll still slip on my Votto, Pujols, Fielder, and Gonzalez late into this decade.  Gonzalez isn’t as owned as you think in Boston, I’ve actually been to Fenway Park.  Plus, I have the color wheel completely covered red, purple, navy blue, bright blue, black, and orange.  My quality of player is also far better and I didn’t pick a jersey of my biggest rival with my 2nd pick, what kind of fan are you?

Here are our honorable mentions!

Jeremy: Yonder Alonso (Padres), Justin Upton (Diamondbacks), and Jose Bautista (Blue Jays)

Bryan: Starlin Castro (Cubs), Jason Heyward/Freddie Freeman (Braves), and Joe Mauer (Twins)

Final Jersey Rosters:

Jeremy: Kemp (Dodgers), Cain (Giants), Cabrera (Tigers), McCutchen (Pirates), Molina (Cardinals), Hernandez (Mariners), Hosmer (Royals), Moore (Rays), Santana (Indians), and Cano (Yankees)

Bryan: Votto (Reds), Pujols (Angels), Braun (Brewers), Tulowitzki (Rockies), Stanton (Marlins), Gonzalez (Red Sox), Fielder (Tigers), Strasburg (Nationals), Lawrie (Blue Jays), Posey (Giants)

The fact that we got through twenty players and there are still a bunch of players that I would proudly wear on the street, shows what a great place America’s pastime is in.

Who would you want in your collection?  Vote in the poll, eave a comment or yell at us on Twitter @Mapes4FanCave for Bryan or @Jamblinman for Jeremy!