According to the official Oakland A’s twitter account (@Athletics), the team will be giving away “Grant Balfour Ragin’ Gnomes” on Father’s Day to the first 10,000 fans. So if you live in the Bay Area like me, go ahead and stop by o.Co Coliseum on June 16th to pick up one of these gnomes (pictured below)–and tweet me while you’re at it (@Jamblinman) so we can meet up and talk baseball for a minute!
— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) April 9, 2013
Hang on, though. Let’s get real here. The A’s have some pretty awesome giveaways, and this one will certainly be popular with the right-field bleacher crew. But would you really say this gnome is “raging?” I mean, Grant Balfour RAGES, and he looks nothing like a svelte, human version of this…this creature.
To me, it looks more like the gnome is dropping a deuce or earning a post-game “Oh face.” Does that mean I won’t be attending the game with my Dad and downing beers and seeds, watching the Mariners square off with the green and gold? Of course not. I’m just saying if I’m fan number 10,001, I won’t be too heartbroken.
Hope to see you all there!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
If you missed our most recent podcast, which officially kicks off-season number two for Three Up, Three Down, then you’re tacky and I hate you. Also, you can find the aforementioned work of art right HERE.
The majority of this episode was dominated by the five guys at 3u3d taking their hypothetical bets on whether to go over or under the Vegas betting lines for team wins this season. After the first two divisions (the AL West and NL West, respectively), had been discussed, it was noted that I had picked nine of the first 10 teams to outperform the betting line.
When all was said and done, 20 of my 30 decisions went in the positive direction. Apparently, nobody is going to lose any games this year.
But in all seriousness, there are a lot of very good teams this year. I believe 11 of the 15 National League teams could finish above .500 in 2013, and there is an argument to be made for 13 of the 15 in the junior circuit, too. Of course, that won’t happen. This won’t stop me from invoking another one of the podcast’s favorite pastimes, “DEFEND YOSELF,” and explaining why I picked certain “tweener” teams to go over the line this year.
For context, there will be only a handful of teams selected here. I think it’s a safe bet that the Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, and Colorado Rockies will go under. Similarly, it’s safe to say that both Los Angeles teams, the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, and Detroit Tigers will go over.
That leaves me with 18 teams to choose from, 13 of which I said would go “over” the total set by Vegas for wins. I’ve chosen the five most controversial picks of mine and explained further, below. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to pry that golden jock off last year’s winner, KP, and I’ve got goggles and gloves at the ready.
Feel free to rip me a new one in the comment thread, and VOTE in the poll at the bottom! For a full list of everyone’s picks, go HERE.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks (Line: 82.5 wins)
Enough with this two-horse division race crap. The more we ignore the venomous snakes lying in the grass, the more their bite will hurt. Yes, they got rid of Justin Upton this winter which significantly depleted their power. Except that they still have Jason Kubel, added Cody Ross, and can expect even more production from Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero. We know the bullpen is solid, and bringing in Brandon McCarthy makes the rotation sneakily, ridiculously dangerous.
When you have three candidates fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation who are all number three’s on most staffs, complaints will be at a minimum. Adding McCarthy and Martin Prado were two of the more underrated moves of the off-season, and when all is said and done, the D’Backs will not only destroy that 82.5-win line, but they might settle closer to 90.
2. Kansas City Royals (Line: 78.5 wins)
My man-crush team tried really hard to put together a pitching staff this winter that would make my Wild Card prediction not look so foolish in 2013. I was burned last year by the Royals, but I’m sticking with my guns this season. James Shields is the ace they’ve been missing since whatever they had in Zack Greinke back in 2007, and they’ve added so many arms that last year’s number-one starter might not even make the Opening Day rotation. Frankly, I’m insulted by the below-.500 projection from Vegas, and I pledge never to give them my business again (straight up LIE).
I don’t need to tell you about the offense, but I will. Especially Billy Butler. Because I think I’m in love with the man. Anyone who can hit .300 consistently on a diet of what I presume is strictly tobacco, PBR, and steak deserves a couple MVP votes every year. And Butler’s young, talented supporting staff is chock full of breakout candidates like catcher Salvador Perez. This applies to almost every batter in the lineup. Almost. Because Jeff Francoeur still starts for KC. There’s no fixing that.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (Line: 86 wins)
Contrary to popular belief, I did not pick the Cardinals to win over the allotted 86 games because my girlfriend loves the team more than Barney Stinson loves suits. I can think for myself, guys! I realize Chris Carpenter is out for the season, and likely for his career, that Jason Motte, David Freese, and Rafael Furcal are injured, and that Grandfather Beltran could kick the bucket any day now. But I’ll take a banged-up Cardinals team to contend over many teams, and here’s why.
Not only is St. Louis likely the most well-coached and well-run organization in the National League, but the depth of their farm system is preposterous. If Beltran does go down, MLB’s number three overall prospect Oscar Taveras is there to pick up the slack. If the starting rotation struggles, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha ride to the rescue. Matt Adams can take over if Allen Craig has to cover second base duties in the event of a true disaster. A dynamic offense, a great bullpen, and good starting pitching makes me a believer.
4. Seattle Mariners (Line: 77 wins)
I’m higher on the Mariners than most of their own fans. Right, right!? No? Marijuana-is-legal-in-the-state-of-Washington joke? Fine, whatever. That brilliant line still holds true, because I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the M’s top .500. By a couple of games, even. For the first time in years, they have an offense capable of supporting the always-strong rotation, and I can’t understate the value that two bats like Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales bring to the heart of the order.
Let’s say, in a worst-case scenario, that some of the young talent (Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, for example) don’t pan out. Well, they can still count on the return of Franklin Gutierrez, and the impending arrivals of Nick Franklin at shortstop and Mike Zunino behind the dish. In short, Seattle is a time bomb waiting to explode all over the AL West, much like the A’s did in 2012. The farm system is overflowing with Major League-ready talent, and ace Felix Hernandez pretty much guarantees them a win every fifth day. Be optimistic, Seattle. Your time is coming.
5. Philadelphia Phillies (Line: 84.5 wins)
Really? The Phillies’ clubhouse may double as a nursing home, but those are the most wise, shuffleboard-dominant, sexually active old men at (Senior) Citizen’s Bank Park. Just in case that comparison went over your head, I’m stating that the Phillies are old and injury-prone in general, but still have a talent-laden roster. Look at who the Phillies are returning from injury in 2013, and tell me they aren’t going to improve by at least four games on their 81-win campaign a year ago.
The heart of the order is back in Chase Utley and Ryan Howard–both of whom can still crush–and Roy Halladay will rejoin Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee in the most fearsome rotation this side of Washington D.C. I know what you’re thinking: But Jeremy…Halladay is struggling SO much this spring! Yeah, well Lonnie Chisenhall is also hitting over .400 this spring. Whoop-de-doo. The Doc is back in town, and he’s helping bring Philly closer to 90 wins than that lowly 84.5.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
You have to give Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduirneckenckeicnckine (upon further review, it’s actually “Zdurineck,” but who’s counting?) credit for recognizing a weakness and aggressively pursuing a solution.
It’s no secret that the Mariners have needed offensive punch for a long time, but this off-season they finally did something about it. In December, they traded starting pitcher Jason Vargas to the Angels for slugger Kendrys Morales. And this week, they put together a three-team trade to snag Michael Morse from the Washington Nationals.
This lineup hasn’t had two middle-of-the-order power threats in it since Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson — and we all know how that turned out.
Add in the fact that Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero will presumably improve on their 2012 seasons, as well as a handful of top prospects on the verge of promotion (shortstop Nick Franklin and catcher Mike Zunino for example), and this Seattle team might be very, very real.
Let’s break it down:
OF/1B Michael Morse
SP A.J. Cole (AAA)
SP Blake Treinen (Class A+)
Player to be Named Later
C John Jaso
To me, the clear winners are the Mariners. That being said, all three teams do improve in one way or another. The Nationals can afford to trade away a power bat for prospects with the re-signing of Adam LaRoche recently and the addition of Denard Span to the outfield (which will push Bryce Harper to left field, most likely).
Washington actually traded Cole, a top pitching prospect, to Oakland originally for Gio Gonzalez. Getting him back may be a coup, even though they have solid pitching depth already. If the player to be named later is of any consequence, the Nationals could potentially win this trade. And while Treinen isn’t an uber-prospect, the 24-year-old has some upside (92 to 23 K to BB ratio last season).
Fear not, A’s fans — your team did good, too. Oakland was forced to designate George Kottaras for assignment to make room for Jaso, but they landed the good bat behind the plate that Billy Beane has been pursuing for years. In 2012, Jaso hit .276 with 10 homers and 50 RBI in just under 300 at-bats.
But as Beane always does, he scored a hitter who gets on base at a ridiculous clip (.394 last season). Jaso will battle it out with Derek Norris for the starting job, but it should be a very good platoon for the A’s lineup in 2013.
But back to the man of the hour, Morse. This may be a one-year experiment for the Mariners, who sorely need the offense, because Morse will be a free agent after the season. But it might be well worth it.
In 2012, Morse hit 18 homers and 62 RBI in just 102 games. Since getting regular playing time in Washington (Morse had his first four seasons in Seattle, but didn’t see much time), he has become a legit power threat.
In just over 350 career games as a National, Morse hit about 70 home runs (he’s good for just under 30 in a full season, essentially). But the real gem is what this does for the Mariners’ lineup.
It’s this writer’s opinion that the Mariners are an under-the-radar club who may be next year’s Oakland A’s. Why? Last season they were buried in the best division in baseball, so people might not remember they won 75 games. With two legitimate bats bolstering the lineup, plus the aforementioned prospects, the M’s could be very scary in 2013.
And lest we forget Felix Hernandez anchoring an above-average rotation with three star pitching prospects just waiting for a shot at the big leagues. Even if one of the prospects pans out, the rotation more than replaces Vargas.
Assume Morse and Morales stay healthy, and I think the Mariners are good for a .500 season in a very worst-case scenario. In a division where it will take 90 wins to sniff the playoffs, they would have to get incredible production from other members of the lineup too, but we saw it happen in Oakland last season.
Either way, the Mariners are going for it and I respect that. Seattle has improved, as is the goal with any trade. Therefore, they win this trade for me.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
It’s that time of year again. That time when you realize your resolution to lose 30 pounds failed – in fact, we gained 30, didn’t we? When your declaration that your vampire novel would finally be finished and sent to the publisher, never got off the shelf.
Or that your dream of visiting Tahiti ended up being a shady motel for a weekend in Oakland on business.
Now that we’ve set a bleak mood, here’s the point: It’s New Years resolution time. We will all be making them, whether it’s private or public. And likewise, our favorite MLB teams must have one resolution they are aiming to accomplish in 2013.
Since we survived the apocalypse for now, here are Three Up, Three Down’s resolutions for every MLB team:
Texas Rangers – Make a new friend – The Rangers either shopped in the wrong place or got screwed over for every player on their Christmas wish list. It’s not too late to snag Justin Upton from the D’Backs, though it gets less likely with each passing day. Texas should be going after the powerful right fielder hard in January.
Los Angeles Angels – Make a little money – Hear me out. Everyone knows that Arte Moreno and his Angels are filthy rich, but do they really have enough left over to re-work the decimated starting rotation? Trading for Jason Vargas was a nice touch, but will Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson really replace Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana?
Oakland A’s – Move to a better ‘hood – Lew Wolff is fooling nobody. Because everyone and their mother knows that o.Co Coliseum is not a viable venue for a professional baseball team. Wolff claims he wants at least another half-decade in Oakland, but I’m calling his bluff. Their resolution should be to get OUT, and fast.
Seattle Mariners – Bulk up – No, not on the Bartolo Colon diet. The M’s took a good first step toward that workout regimen by trading for Kendrys Morales. But just because that punch-less offense now benches the bar doesn’t mean opponents will quiver with fear. The M’s need to go out and get some more power to legitimize those playoff hopes.
Houston Astros – Graduate – It’s no secret that the ‘Stros are a big work in progress. Moving to what was last year’s best division in baseball isn’t going to help things. While the other four teams in the division are – at the very least – grown men, Houston is struggling to graduate from a student to a serious businessman. Can they take that step in 2013?
Detroit Tigers – Learn to close – Take this as you may. There are thousands of frat boys in America resolving to improve in the same fashion next year. But I meant it as a nod to the Tigers getting handled in a sweep in the World Series in 2012. Adding Torii Hunter and bringing back Anibal Sanchez were big steps, but 2013 will be a failure without redemption.
Kansas City Royals – Become a “cool kid” – Oh, don’t pretend like you weren’t aspiring to be one your whole academic life. The Royals got some nice clothes and a haircut over the winter vacation, and are looking to butt their way into the “in” crowd. In baseball speak, that means they are aiming to be the new playoff darlings after adding much-needed pitching.
Cleveland Indians – Get along with Dad – The relationship wasn’t that bad before, but the Indians sure would like to impress new skipper Terry Francona in 2013. Cleveland is loaded with untapped potential, and they are hoping to play well for a full season to show their manager and fans that they are serious about this job.
Chicago White Sox – Prove everyone wrong – Wait, didn’t they do that last year? Sure, but people like me are still unconvinced. Their numbers were unexpectedly good, but that just makes the boss curious. Can they repeat? Do they actually deserve the promotion? The Chisox sure would like to move on up, but they will have a tough road.
Minnesota Twins – Get back on their feet – Plenty of people have to resolve to do this every year. Whether it be an economic downturn, family problem, or injury, some years are just destined to be awful. The Twins know they won’t contend in 2013, but they can start the grueling process of getting back to a stable place.
New York Yankees – Forgiveness – They better learn how, because former public enemy number one, Kevin Youkilis, will be manning third base for the Yanks in 2013. What this really means, is that if Youk bounces back and has a good year, the Yanks will forget all about their problems, and likely return to the postseason.
Boston Red Sox – Get cleaned up – This kind of resolution is usually reserved for a junkie of some kind, but it’ll fit nicely with the BoSox here. Boston got so far off track last season that they traded away millions of dollars in bad contracts for below-average prospects. Once they finish cutting out the rot, the Sox might contend again, even in this division.
Toronto Blue Jays – Build an empire – Such a wish is much more foreboding when applied to business in the real world, but opponents of the Jays should really be terrified of the changes this team has made. Their one and only goal with so many major acquisitions must be to not only make the playoffs, but to dominate everyone on the way.
Tampa Bay Rays – Try something crazy – I want to go skydiving, or hike a volcano, or start a band. The Rays, however, should do a whole different kind of crazy. Start Wil Myers in the big leagues, and see if it takes off. The kid is ready, and the lineup needs a boost. Anything remotely good from Myers may mean a playoff berth for Tampa.
Baltimore Orioles – Update the security system – In this day and age, you can’t be too careful with home security. I’m not talking a drawbridge and moat, but we’ve learned that the best teams are thriving because of good pitching staffs, to protect any other weaknesses they may have. Baltimore NEEDS a couple starting pitchers.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Give to charity – I swear, this isn’t even a “rich ownership” joke. Okay, it kind of is. But with all the money this team has shelled out over the past ten or so months, why isn’t their most deserving commodity seeing any of it? They keep talking about an extension for Clayton Kershaw, but show the fans you mean business!
San Francisco Giants – Share with friends – Not the World Series title itself, although this Dodgers fan would appreciate them passing that honor along next season. I’m talking about the Giants sharing with their San Francisco cohort, the 49ers. As the new year starts, the 49ers will be in contention for a title of their own, and any advice would be great.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Cut ties with a family member – Sometimes it’s just necessary. You hate to see anyone secede from the clan, but signing free agent outfielder Cody Ross makes it inevitable. Will it be Upton? Adam Eaton, Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra? One will need to go, and it’s only a matter of time before they get dumped.
Colorado Rockies – Get health insurance – I know, I know. It’s not affordable in this country anymore. That’s one thing I won’t argue! But you have to think, given the regularity of major injuries to Colorado’s best players (Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, etc.) they would find any way to keep everyone off the DL.
San Diego Padres – Earn a promotion – Any opponents who take the Padres lightly in 2013 are foolish. With Chase Headley, Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso backing an underrated pitching staff, San Diego could be the A’s of 2013. They will have to fight and scrap their way to get there, though.
Cincinnati Reds – Follow through – This is a tough one for any given person to accomplish. We make all sorts of promises to ourselves that oftentimes go unfinished. The Reds have made a silent pact to be even better than they were last year, and finally achieve what they’ve been on the brink of for years now. They might be the team to beat in the NL next year.
St. Louis Cardinals – Rekindle the flame – In a non-romantic way, of course. One of the reasons the Cardinals were able to shock fans everywhere and make that insane title run in 2011 was the clutch gene. They weren’t missing it last year, but everything was just too inconsistent in St. Louis. If they rediscover their balance and passion, watch out everyone else.
Milwaukee Brewers – Be a good parent – Confused? Good. The Brewers almost clawed their way all the way back into a Wild Card slot in 2012 after a dismal, bullpen-failure-laden start to the year. With a loaded lineup and above average pitching staff, this should not happen again. So their resolution is to help tutor young shortstop Jean Segura into a star.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Improve their grades – The Pirates were so close to being eligible last year. Not for the playoffs, or any nonsense like that. But to finally getting over the hump. Pittsburgh needs a 2.0 to be eligible – in this case, they need 81 wins – to be taken seriously. Will they reach the .500 mark? A slight improvement in 2013 will do it!
Chicago Cubs – Change their image – There really is no changing an entire image built around loss and devastation, as Cubs fans have known all too well for over a century. But even a slight uptick in wins and a breakout season from one of their young stars (Brett Jackson, maybe?) will at least give people hope that they can change.
Washington Nationals – Make up – Adam LaRoche needs to be back in D.C. for 2013. All he wants is one extra year on a contract he has more than earned. Without a doubt, he was the most consistent hitter on the best team in the league in 2012, and should get paid as such. My New Years advice to the Nats is to make up with him. Sign the guy for three years.
Atlanta Braves – Learn acceptance – I remember being taught in psychology that the standard grieving process goes Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Braves fans and any good fan anywhere are surely coming out of the Depression stage right now (I know I am) and trying to transition into Acceptance at the fact that Chipper Jones has retired.
Philadelphia Phillies – Become more patient – This is easier said than done for anyone, but it’s especially pertinent in Philadelphia. From an outsider’s perspective, I thought Philadelphia was caving into a sinkhole given the fans general reaction to last season’s debacle. Patience, Phillie fanatics. Your team is still very, very good. They are close, too.
New York Mets – Have more fun – I presume life as a Mets fan hasn’t been very enjoyable for the past three seasons – well, at least after the All-Star break. But they re-signed poster boy David Wright and gained some really solid prospects in the R.A. Dickey trade. Everything is headed in the right direction, Mets fans. Just calm down and have a little fun with it.
Miami Marlins – Make amends with people – Strange, you say? Au contraire! The smaller fan base that follows the Marlins are no doubt let down by the shocking fire sale that took place this winter. No more executive-speak, front office. Give it to the fans, and your best remaining player Giancarlo Stanton, straight. What is the plan? Honesty will take you far.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Well, the San Diego Padres are the newest organization to give a big middle finger to traditionalist baseball fans by announcing they would move their outfield fences in for the 2013 season. Petco Park will follow Safeco Field in Seattle, Citi Field for the New York Mets before the 2012 season, and the ridiculous right field porch at the new Yankee Stadium.
What happened to the good old days? What happened to stadiums like the Polo Grounds (483 feet to the center field wall)? Okay, that’s a bit extreme. But still, since when does giving in to the fan’s thirst for the long ball take precedence over classic, fundamental baseball?
I’ll tell you when. It was 1998 when a juiced-up Mark McGwire hit a then-record 70 home runs in the same season Sammy Sosa hit 66. In 2001, Barry Bonds got so big it looked like he would have trouble lifting his arms above his shoulders, and he smacked 73 home runs in a single season.
Even though everyone and their mothers know those numbers were inflated, Americans really fell in love with the home run. And it’s understandable – to most fans, there is nothing more majestic than a perfectly squared up fastball hitting the upper deck on the fly. It’s the biggest, hardest, farthest, most impressive feat a batter can accomplish.
But we have the Home Run Derby every July, so why can’t we get our fix then? When the Mets decided to move their fences in to a more attainable distance, for lack of nicer terms, it didn’t help. They still finished in fourth place in the NL East, and star third baseman David Wright didn’t see a huge jump in his power numbers.
So what’s the big deal? Personally, I think it’s a cop-out. Did the Yankees really need a joke of a right-field fence? Did the Mariners really finish in fourth place because their fences were too deep? If the Padres get better in 2013, is it going to be because the fences were 11 feet closer? Or because they have a better team in general, regardless of the stadium?
Mets GM Sandy Alderson admitted that when the Mets decided to move the fences in at Citi Field, it was because “scoring brought excitement.” Well Sandy, so does winning.
The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have two of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball, and neither team were a power threat in their own stadiums in 2012. They finished 1-2 in the NL West and now the Giants are in the World Series.
Let’s ban the moving of the fences (and the wave while we’re at it…sheesh), and put together teams that thrive on base hits, good base running, bunting, defense and pitching.
You know…how baseball is supposed to be.
Alas, chicks dig the long ball. Fences will continue to move. But are you for or against it? This blogger says nay. Vote below:
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Imagine my poor blood pressure this morning when I woke up to a headline like THIS today.
Something like what Derek Jeter is alluding to would be disastrous if it actually came to fruition. I’m no Yankee fan by any measure, but I truly respect Jeter and have looked up to him since I was a little kid. And I just can’t imagine him wearing anything besides the pinstripes.
None of that Joe Montana-to-the-Chiefs, desperate-to-keep-playing, end of the career crap from Jeter, please.
Sure, the unthinkable has been done before – Ken Griffey, Jr. moved to Cincinnati from Seattle even though he looked like a super hero in the silver and teal. Heck, we had one happen this past off-season when Albert Pujols jumped ship to Anaheim, despite looking so damn good in Cardinal red.
But the super fan in me would like to keep that kind of olé B.S. to a minimum. I don’t know what it is…the players themselves, the jersey/color combo of the teams they represent, or just the nostalgia of a childhood long-gone (okay, I’m not that old), but I identify Jeter and the rest of this list as players who I could never, ever see in a different jersey:
*Disclaimer: Mariano Rivera and Chipper Jones not included because they are guaranteed to stay a Yankee and Brave, respectively, for the remainder of their Hall of Fame careers*
1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Let’s start with the Captain himself. Jeter has played all 18 seasons as the shortstop of the Yankees, number two plastered on his back. Needless to say, Mr. November will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the next great Yankee to have his number retired. There is no more iconic jersey in sports than those of the Yanks, and even imagining Jeter in an Angels, Cubs, Red Sox (god forbid) or any other jersey is painful.
I know he’s only been around a few years, but damn if Posey hasn’t made himself a celebrity in San Francisco at Usain Bolt-esque speed. There is no way the team will let this guy walk away as long as he’s physically able to play the game. It’s really hard to predict this early, but we could be seeing the next great “one-team” lifer in Posey, who should be representing that awful orange and black for another decade and a half.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if Mariners GM Jack Zdurineck trades Felix, he should not only be fired, but tarred, feathered and forced to watch Jack and Jill on loop. Hernandez is the King of Seattle and it should stay that way forever. I dig the silver and teal uni’s up there in the Pacific Northwest, and Hernandez wears it best. Plus, he wants to stay a Seattle Mariner. I’m sure Brian Cashman has visions, but I just can’t see this guy in Yankee garb.
When I say Rockies, you say Helton! “ROCKIES!” “HELTON!” Thank you. But seriously, Helton is about as synonymous with Colorado baseball as macaroni is with cheese. He’s played all 16 years of his career manning first base at Coors Field, and will most definitely have his number retired there whenever he hangs up the spikes. Todd Helton in anything but purple would be straight criminal.
I know a few Cardinals fans who would actually sob uncontrollably if Yadi ever slips on another team’s jersey. And they should, because it would arguably be more devastating than the loss of Pujols to that devoted fan base. Whereas Pujols was the power and glam of the team, Molina is the heart, soul, lungs and kidney of the franchise. I know NL catchers have a short shelf life, but just trying to picture him as a Dodger or Phillie makes me want to elbow drop a baby penguin.
Last, but certainly not least, we have arguably the best all-around player in the National League. I don’t know what it is with him and that black and gold, but McCutchen just looks so right in a Pirates uniform. Maybe it’s the dreads, or the blindingly white smile, or the elegant physique over which the Pirates’ jersey falls. No matter, McCutchen can never go play for the Indians or Orioles or anyone else. He needs to be in Pittsburgh for life.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Mike Trout (Angels), David Price (Rays)
Comment below if you think someone else should be considered for this list! And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Yesterday, we posted our All-“You Don’t Know Me But You WILL” team for the National League. Pay attention, because those guys are the ones who will make you look like a genius in future fantasy drafts.
They are the ones who will be the next Giancarlo Stanton. The next Mike Fiers. Young guys that aren’t known to the casual baseball fan but are absolutely ripping it up in 2012 and show big flashes of potential for the years to come.
You’ll thank us later, when you can tell your friends that you knew who Josh Rutledge was before anyone else and knew he would be an All-Star. Here is our American League version of the All-Unknown team – one stud you probably haven’t heard of yet, at each position:
Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals (.312/11/45 in 89 games)
I can do this because – well, let’s be honest – nobody really cares about the Royals outside of Western Missouri. That being said, you should know who Perez is. The 22-year-old will be a huge part of that offense in K.C. for years to come.
1st Base: Chris Carter, Oakland A’s (.274/12/31 in 48 games)
Here’s another case of “unknown-by-location.” If Carter was on the Red Sox or Yankees, he would be a household name. Luckily for A’s fans, he plays in Oakland and all he does is hit the ball very, very far. He will hit 30 homers some day.
2nd Base: Ivan De Jesus, Boston Red Sox (.273/0/4 in 23 games with Boston and LA Dodgers)
Clearly, this was a very weak position for our team. That being said, I watched De Jesus a lot in Los Angeles and he’s got all the makings of an above-average Major League infielder. If the BoSox develop him right, he could be a .300/25 steals kind of guy.
3rd Base: Alex Liddi, Seattle Mariners (.231/3/10 in 31 games)
The Italian-born prospect has absolutely lit minor league pitching up, and though he struggled a bit in his call-up, I fully expect stardom in the next few years. He’s blocked in Seattle by Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Seager though.
Shortstop: Pedro Ciriaco, Boston Red Sox (.336/2/16/10 for 10 SB in 46 games)
I just feel ridiculous including a Red Sox player here, but considering they aren’t in contention and are getting less national attention, some people might night know about the fantastic job Ciriaco has been doing in Boston this season.
Outfield: Moises Sierra, Toronto Blue Jays (.284/2/5 in 24 games)
This is going to be the Toronto Blue Jays show in the outfield. Get used to it. And Sierra is finally getting a shot at playing full-time with super star Jose Bautista injured. This 24-year-0ld outfielder needs a little seasoning but could turn into a 20/20 player.
Outfield: Jarrod Dyson (.270/0/9/25 out of 28 SB in 87 games)
Dyson is not on the big league club for his power bat. He is a terrific defender who steals bases at will. Look at those base-swiping numbers; with a full-time gig, Dyson could legitimately steal 50 bases in his prime.
Outfield: Anthony Gose, Toronto Blue Jays (.183/0/2/10 SB in 28 games)
I know the stats aren’t very good. But he stole 70 bases twice in the minor leagues. Gose just turned 22 and the Blue Jays know they have a future star in him. Give him another couple of months against Major League pitching.
Starting Pitcher: Samuel Deduno, Minnesota Twins (5-2/3.72/1.50 in 10 starts)
Deduno went 7 strong against Seattle in his most recent start, allowing no runs, no walks and striking out 9. But one start isn’t why he’s on this list. He has filthy stuff. The elder statesman on this list at age 29, Deduno might be a late-bloomer in Minnesota.
Relief Pitcher: Sean Doolittle, Oakland A’s (30.2 IP, 45 K, 3.23 ERA, 1.21 WHIP in 28 appearances)
Doolittle is doing a lot in Oakland for that magical Wild Card run they are attempting to make. The kid is only 25 and all he does is strike people out. A lot. Doolittle could be a future closer if he gets a little more sink on his breaking ball.
You’ll thank us when these guys become rich and famous and awesome in the next few years. Did we forget anyone? Snub your team’s young star? Let us know in the comments below, but remember it’s unknown players. So don’t yell at us for omitting someone like Will Middlebrooks or Manny Machado. Thanks!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
It’s like choosing between Christmas and 4th of July. Or Batman and Spiderman. The most badass actor in The Expendables. Coffee cake or angel food cake. Bieber or Miley!
The point is, both Felix Hernandez’ perfect game, and Matt Cain’s perfect game…were equally, legitimately, epically, incredibly awesome.
But which was more impressive?
Let’s break it down:
Hernandez was untouchable. One would have to be to throw one of only a couple dozen perfect games in the 140-something year history of Major League Baseball.
But striking out 12 batters on 113 pitches (77 for strikes) with a 1-0 lead has to count for something, regardless of how bad the opposing team’s offense is. And that opposing team’s offense just dropped 36 runs on an Angels team widely-hailed for having the best pitching staff in the league. And swept them in four games. On the road.
Hernandez had the 1-0 lead which adds a ton of pressure to the pursuit of perfection. Having a one-run lead will add pressure to the pursuit of anything. Although Felix probably takes the mound every day expecting he will have to toss a no-no just to get a win, the fact that he had to be flawless also garners extra consideration.
The stadiums in which the perfect games were thrown is a wash – AT&T Park and SafeCo Field are two of the best parks for pitchers in all of baseball. We can toss that factor out. But one stat that really stood out to me about Hernandez’ perfect game is that he struck out the side in the 6th and 8th inning, and had 8 of his 12 strikeouts in the last four innings.
That tells me that Felix realized part way through the fifth (he would later say he realized he had a shot at it in the fourth inning) that in order to maintain perfection, retain a shutout and win the ball game, he would have to turn up the after burners and go all Verlander on the Rays.
There is one big negative – the new trend of “Felixing?” Not cool. Not cool at all.
Matt Cain – Wednesday, June 13, 2012 – SF 10, HOU 0
Let’s start with the basics. Naturally, there were 27 up and 27 down. So like nine of us. Nine 3 up, 3 downs. No hits, no walks, no runs, no base runners, no errors (errorless…also like us!).
Cain struck out 14, so two more than Hernandez, and used an extra 12 pitches (125 in total, 86 for strikes) to do so. That being said, he had a 10-0 lead. The score differential both works for and against Cain. It means he had to sit in the dugout thinking about the perfect game, getting cold, etc. for much longer between innings. It also means that the only pressure-packed part of that performance was finishing the perfect game.
He didn’t have to worry about securing a win with such a big cushion. And why was the cushion so large? Let’s just say the Astros aren’t as…um…”offensively proficient”…as the Rays are.
Also, factor in the fantastic running, diving catch Gregor Blanco made in the 8th inning to preserve the perfecto, or the ball that was hit about 550 feet in the later innings that hit a wall of wind in deep left and nestled into Melky Cabrera’s mitt on the warning track.
Both pitchers were brilliant in their respective, historic outings. Hernandez threw more first-pitch strikes and got more swings-and-misses. Cain induced more foul balls, meaning the hitters likely were just more terrible at squaring pitches up in general. But they were close.
That being said, the Cain perfecto featured two more strikeouts overall, and there wasn’t as consistent a flow to the game.
In King Felix’s perfecto, he struck out the side in the sixth and eighth and still had less K’s than Cain. Also, Hernandez didn’t have to hit for himself and waste energy getting ready to hit, swinging in the on-deck circle, or having at-bats.
So you be the judge. Keep personal emotions out of it, people. Mariners fans, contemplate everything. Giants fans, be impartial and look at just the numbers and quality of competition.
Which perfect game was better. Felix Hernandez? Or Matt Cain? (sorry Phil Humber – just didn’t make the cut this year, buddy)
Comment on the issue here below, and VOTE in the poll!
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– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
When the Dodgers’ new ownership said they would spend money and make whatever move it takes to win a championship…they weren’t kidding. After acquiring Hanley Ramirez last week, they jumped in and got another former All-Star in Shane Victorino from the Phillies this morning.
Let’s break it down:
OF – Shane Victorino
RP – Josh Lindblom
SP – Ethan Martin (Double-A)
A player to be named/cash
Once again, the Dodgers trade away high-ceiling prospects in return for an established veteran. Sounds good to me. And at first, I was worried about the sheer volume of young talent the Dodgers were shipping away. But as Ken Rosenthal pointed out on Twitter, the organization’s top 7-8 prospects are still intact.
But the Phils really do make out well, as Lindblom has shown flashes of brilliance in the set up role. Though he’s had his ups and downs this season, Lindblom has a ton of potential and room to grow. A good fastball just needs to be coupled with a little improvement on the off speed stuff and his overall control.
The long ball has plagued Lindblom this year, but that is something the Phillies can fix. Martin is the gem of this trade for Philly. They got a 23-year-old stud starter, who is almost Major League-ready. He’s really improved his overall arsenal of pitches over the past season and has put up very good numbers in Double-A this season.
As for the contenders, the Dodgers picked up that left fielder and top of the order guy they were thirsting for all year. With Dee Gordon on the DL, the Dodgers really had zero speed at the leadoff spot. With Victorino in place (possibly moves to the two-hole after Gordon returns), that lineup has a lot more options with Victorino’s speed on base in front of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Ramirez.
It’s really hard to say who won this trade, mostly because Lindblom and Martin haven’t played long enough to garner a fair scouting report. As it stands now, the Dodgers get a high “B” from me for adding another good bat to the lineup and hanging on to some of their more prized prospects. The Phillies get an initial high “B” from me too, but that could go down to a “C” or worse if Lindblom and Martin don’t pan out. Depending on who the player to be named later is, the Phils could bump up into the “A” range.
All I know, as a Dodger fan, is that a lineup of Victorino-Ellis-Kemp-Ethier-Ramirez-Hairston-Rivera-Cruz-Ellis looks a hell of a lot better than it did about a week ago. This may be the push the Dodgers needed to surpass and hold off the rival Giants.
Side note: The Dodgers also acquired former Mariners closer Brandon League for minor leaguers Leon Landry (OF) and Logan Bawcom (RP). This allowed them to move Lindblom and deal for Victorino, but both players they gave away also have very high ceilings. That trade looks like a push to me, depending on how League performs in the Dodger pen.
So what do you think? How would you grade the Victorino trade for the Dodgers? For the Phils? Vote in our polls below, and comment with your opinions!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)