Time for more bobblehead madness. In case you missed part one on the AL West, check it out here. Again, 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. Which bobbleheads in the AL Central will be crowned the king? Let’s find out!
Cleveland Indians (amount of giveaway varies)
Saturday, May 3rd, Orel Hershiser: Interesting choice for a throwback bobblehead as Hershiser had a 4.21 ERA in his three seasons with the Tribe. He is a big name though. This giveaway is for 10,000 fans. ** 1/2
Saturday, May 31st, BrOhio: I have no idea where this is going, but it has potential to be the most creative bobblehead in Cleveland’s crop. They also up the giveaway to 12,500 for this one. *** 1/2
Tuesday, June 3rd, Michael Bourn: Pretty standard stuff here. Back down to 10,000 fans on this giveaway **
Tuesday, July 8th, Jason Kipnis: See, Michael Bourn. But a slightly better player and 12,500 fans get this one. ** 1/2
Monday, September 1st, Michael Brantley: Another average to slightly above average player getting his bobble on. Still 12,500 fans for this one, but still a low number compared to other teams. A lot of quantity, but not much quality from the Indians in 2014. **
Total: 12 1/2 stars
Minnesota Twins (10,000 fans)
Friday, June 20th, Harmon Killebrew 1965 All-Star Game: I had a feeling the Twins would go the route the Mets did in 2013 and honor players that appeared in All-Star Games with the team. The Twins are hosting the 2014 All-Star Game. This would be a huge boost if the Twins also featured the three Minneapolis stadiums to host the All-Star Game as well. Killebrew is one of my favorite players of all-time. ****
Friday, July 4th, Lou Gehrig: This giveaway is with the Yankees in town and corresponds with the 75th anniversary of Gehrig’s farewell speech. Great tip of the cap to history by the Twins. ****
Saturday, July 5th, Tom Brunansky 1985 All-Star Game: Brunansky picked a great year to be the only Twins All-Star and make his only appearance in the Midsummer Classic. The career .245 hitter does have a sweet mustache, but it’s not enough to probably be the worst bobblehead of 2014. *
Saturday, September 6th, TBD 2014 All-Star Game: Fake Vegas odds on who this bobblehead will be. Joe Mauer -2000, Glen Perkins +500, anyone else +1500. If it’s Mauer…….. ***
Total: 12 stars
Kansas City Royals (10,000 fans)
Saturday, June 28th, James Shields: This is going to be tough to dole out stars with a measly 10,000 fans getting each bobblehead. Shields is a solid pitcher, but not a big star. **
Saturday, July 12th, Salvador Perez: Perez isn’t even on Shields’ level, yuck. * 1/2
Sunday, August 10th, Alex Gordon: Gordon is the “star” of the team. We’ll see if they make it with a Gold Glove variation, that’d be a nice addition. ** 1/2
Saturday, August 30th, Mr. Royal: This one could actually be fun! This throwback mascot will get a bobblehead on retro night. I’m in. *** 1/2
Total: 9 1/2 stars
Detroit Tigers (amount of giveaway varies)
Thursday, June 5th, Max Scherzer 2013 Cy Young Award: No picture yet of the the bobblehead, but I’d suspect it’ll be him holding the Cy Young award. Maybe they’ll throw in the WWE Title belt that Scherzer was given for winning Cy Young. This giveaway is for 15,000 fans. ***
Thursday, August 14th, Justin Verlander Mini-Bobblehead: Mini-bobblehead? Can’t give him a normal sized one? I’ll only accept this if there’s a mini-Kate Upton on it too. This giveaway is for just 10,000 fans. Dislike. * 1/2
Friday, August 15th, Miguel Cabrera 2-Time MVP: Apparently to get a normal-size bobblehead you have to win an award the previous season. I want Cabrera to be wearing his Triple Crown crown while holding two MVP’s in his arms. I’d bet it won’t look like that. This giveaway is also for 10,000 fans. ****
Total: 8.5 stars
Chicago White Sox (20,000 fans)
Saturday, May 24th, Chris Sale: Sale is the current and future ace of the White Sox. The extra 5,000 fans that get to take this home compared to the Yu Darvish bobblehead in part one, gives this an extra 1/2 star. ***
Saturday, August 30th, Tony LaRussa: Many people forget that LaRussa started his managing career on the Southside. In his Hall of Fame induction year, I like that they’re giving him a bobblehead. I hope it’s in this classic throwback uniform. *** 1/2
Total: 6.5 stars
That’ll do it for the AL Central. I’m quite disappointed that there were no pictures of any 2014 bobbleheads in this division. The Indians win on quantity, but the Twins win on quality. Unless, it’s Tom Brunansky of course.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
In the wake of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon on Monday, MLB teams showed their support for the city of Boston by playing “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. The song is a staple at Fenway Park and is sung by Red Sox fans before the bottom of the 8th inning. The song was played at home games by the Braves, Marlins, Reds, Cubs, Twins, Dodgers, Indians (who were playing the Red Sox), and even their biggest rival, the Yankees. Here is the video of “Sweet Caroline” being played at the end of the 3rd inning at Yankee Stadium.
Here’s the Target Field version:
Down in Miami at Marlins Park:
All the way on the other coast at Dodger Stadium:
And at O.co Coliseum in Oakland:
Turner Field in Atlanta where the Braves went on to hit three homers in the bottom of the 8th:
The Brewers showed their support by playing another famous Boston song, the theme from “Cheers”. That can be heard at the 1:40 mark of this video.
You have to love the support that Boston is getting from across the country. It’s the little things like this that add up to big things. It really is “so good, so good, so good.”
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
It’s only April 15th, but we may already have the winner of Catch of the Year. Check out the extension Phillies center fielder Ben Revere gets on this robbery Cincinnati Reds Todd Frazier.
Jay Bruce thought there was absolutely no chance Revere could make that play and is easily doubled off at first base. This isn’t the first time Revere has had a catch of the year nominee, let’s flash back to 2011.
Revere is simply amazing.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
2012 didn’t work out the way the Philadelphia Phillies expected. The pitching is still strong with the big three of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels in the rotation, but it was time to reconfigure a lineup that was middle of the pack offensively. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are back for Opening Day 2013, however Carlos Ruiz is suspended for the first 25 games of the season. The entire 2012 Opening Day outfield of Juan Pierre, Shane Victorino, and Hunter Pence are gone. The Phillies also said goodbye to near-.300 career hitter Placido Polanco at the hot corner. With the free agent pool looking slim, it was up to trades to upgrade the offense for next season.
Phillies acquire CF Ben Revere
Twins acquire RHP Vance Worley and RHP prospect Trevor May
Phillies acquire 3B Michael Young
Rangers acquire RHP Josh Lindblom and RHP prospect Lisalverto Bonilla
It is going to be weird to see Michael Young wearing anything but a Texas Rangers uniform. No one has played more games in their career for the Rangers than Young. With the emergence of Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, the studliness of Adrian Beltre, and super-prospect Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings, it was time for the Texas’ clubhouse leader to look to greener pastures for a full-time role. Young last season hit .277 (his worst since 2002), but is still just one season removed from leading the American League in hits and batting .338. Philadelphia will be pleased if they get something the middle, plus Young’s great clubhouse leadership.
Revere is a vital cog for the new-look Phillies outfield and is the second centerfielder that the Twins have traded for pitching in a week. Revere was known more for his speed and defense in his rookie season, but evolved into a better hitter in 2012 (hitting .294). Revere will now be the Phillies table setter atop the lineup and does well in not striking out, with only 100 in 989 career at-bats. That should only get better as the 24-year-old continues to grow and enters his prime. Revere was also one of only six players with 40 or more stolen bases last season.
The Twins have been looking for pitching. A lot of it. Minnesota only has Scott Diamond set for a rotation and Worley will factor into the mix if not be assured a spot of his own. May had a rough 2012 in the minors, but was one of the top Phillies pitching prospects prior to that.
Lindblom will factor into the bullpen needs for the Rangers. More importantly though, it sheds $10 million off their payroll in an attempt to bring back Josh Hamilton.
-Bryan Mapes ( @IAmMapes)
Chicks may dig the long ball, but it’s fielding that makes for the most exciting highlights in the game of baseball. What have been the best displays of defensive excellence this season? Let’s see if I can only limit Mike Trout to one play.
Let’s start it off with Mike Trout with what I believe is the best play of the year. Look at the leap. Look at the extension. I don’t think there is anyone else that makes this play in the Majors. Trout has taken away five home runs this season, but this one was the best.
Trout’s catch was given a run for it’s money though by Blue Jays Rajai Davis. He uses the wall to catapult himself up over a 10-foot wall to rob Casey McGahee. This one is a thing of beauty.
This is one of the top infield plays of the season by Diamondbacks do-it-all man Willie Bloomquist. He ranges to the other side of 2nd base and flips the ball backward almost in a somersault position to Aaron Hill for the force out. Bonus points for getting out Emilio Bonifacio, one of the fastest players in MLB.
Speaking of somersaults, here’s Twins Ben Revere making a great catch in the 9th inning and rolling into a somersault. Revere is one of the best in the league at spectacular plays.
I’m impartial to this play because I was at the MLB Fan Cave when it happened. Tigers Quintin Berry gets turned around, goes back and make a leaping catch over his head. I’m still not sure how he got to it. It was a huge save for the Tigers as they kept the lead at one and took the lead in the 9th inning. Without this catch, they lose.
Who has the best right field arm? My answer has been Jeff Francouer since he was an Atlanta Brave. Look at that laser rocket arm throwing out Alexei Ramirez.
Why has Brandon Phillips won two straight Gold Gloves at second base? Plays like this are part of the reason. He makes a behind-the-back flip look easy.
I promised my fellow podcast host Jeremy Dorn that I would get a Dodgers play into this. Check out Justin Sellers going full sprint over the shoulder and going head first into the stands. If you can get Vin Scully to go “Whoa!” and “Gee whiz!” that works for me.
A late addition to this blog. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher almost end up on the dirt to make a play in no-man’s land going the wrong way like J.P. Howell.
The hands-down Minor League play of the year. Jason Repko robs a grand slam from Kosuke Fukudome for the Pawtucket Red Sox. He even tumbles OVER the wall to complete the play.
Bottom of the 12th, up by one with runners on 1st and 2nd, Roger Bernadina saves the day as he becomes one with Minute Maid Park to win the game for the Nationals.
I’ll close with a double-dip of amazing Giants plays. The first was an amazing, diving catch for Gregor Blanco. This catch was the most important on this list as it preserved Matt Cain’s perfect game. The second is the kookiest play of this list as Pablo Sandoval bobbles a catch in foul territory, dives, tips it up and is caught by a diving Brandon Crawford.
Everyone goes with a top ten list, but I love defense so much that I went with a top thirteen! I can’t resist the urge though, here’s another Mike Trout home run robbery! This one to end the game off the bat of Prince Fielder.
Did I miss anything? What’s your favorite play of the year? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Down to the wire time! You’re looking for anything that can help you win on Sunday in the playoffs. Here’s what could help out your pitching staff on Sunday, September 15th.
Here’s a pitcher that is available in 94% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. A’s rookie Dan Straily has been very good in three of his four starts since getting called up. He also has great strikeout potential if you’re facing an uphill climb in that category. I also like that this was Jason Hammel’s rotation spot for Baltimore and Hammel unfortunately got hurt. This means the Orioles will have to go with a spot starter or someone on short rest on the road. Advantage: Athletics.
If You’re Desperate: Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco (31% owned) has given up just one earned run over his last three starts with two shutouts against the 1st place Nationals. He gets another 1st place team in the Reds at home. If you’re truly desperate you can do worse than Nolasco’s upside. Twins rookie Scott Diamond (38% owned) has been pretty great at home this season with a 3.13 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, but he has limited strikeout potential. Diamond faces the White Sox, who tagged him for four earned runs in 5 innings, just ten days ago in Chicago. I like him to be better in the confines of Target Field. Braves Mike Minor (44% owned) has bounced back after a disastrous start to the season. Minor hasn’t given up a earned run in his last two starts, with 15 strikeouts in 12.2 IP. He gets the Nationals and 19-game winner Gio Gonzalez, so if you’re looking for a W, it might be better to look elsewhere. Padres rookie Andrew Werner (7% owned) has been amazing for San Diego giving up two earned runs or less and six innings or more in all four of his career starts. You have to like the combo of Petco and the Rockies. He also has provided strikeouts with 23 in 24.1 innings this season for San Diego.
Good luck in your fantasy leagues!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
The Twins have had enough of Francisco Liriano. The starter has been arguably the biggest Jeckyl and Hyde pitcher in the Majors. He’s been marvelous at times with a 12-3 record and 2.13 ERA in 2006 or the no-hitter in 2011. He’s been down right awful at times with a 12-20 record and a 5.18 ERA over the past two seasons. It’s the latter that finally caused the Twins to cut bait instead of hoping Liriano would return to his former self.
The White Sox were looking for another starter in the rotation as Cy Young candidate Chris Sale is battling fatigue. Honestly though, you can never have enough starting pitching, just ask the Yankees. It was shocking that the Twins traded Liriano in their own division, but maybe that shows how little they thought of Liriano now. They think that he can’t hurt them.
The Twins picked up two prospects in the deal with infielder Eduardo Escobar and pitcher Pedro Hernandez. 23 year-old Escobar was called up by Chicago this season and has hit only .207 in 87 at-bats. Escobar’s value is in his fielding where scouts have him rated as having above-average range and a fantastic arm. Escobar was the 8th ranked prospect in the White Sox system coming into 2012 by Prospect Corner and 7th by ESPN prospects guru Kevin Goldstein. He will battle Brian Dozier to be the Twins shortstop of the future. Hernandez is also 23, but the lesser of the two prospects. Hernandez got rocked in his 1st start in the Majors giving up 8 earned runs over 4 innings at the Red Sox, but has been good in the minors this season going 8-2 with a 2.94 ERA over 85.2 IP in AA and AAA.
The key to this deal though is if Liriano just needs a change of scenery to rekindle his former magic. Liriano has shown that he can still strike batters out with a great 9.8 K/9 this season, but with that comes the wildness. The past two seasons have been the worst for Liriano’s control as he has given up 5.0 BB/9, that stat has been the biggest in contributing to Liriano’s woes the past two years. It will be an interesting project for White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper to try and be the one to fix Francisco Liriano.
The way I’m seeing the trade presented right now, I think the Twins got the better end.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
The AL Central is composed of the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins. If I was going to build a line-up consisting of AL Central players ONLY, here is my starting 9, DH, set-up man, and closer. Consider this the AL Central fantasy draft. I take in consideration the ability to play this year and only this year and I am not trying to build for the future.
Leading off and playing Center Field: Austin Jackson (Detroit)– He batted .294 with 34 doubles his rookie season and is off to a scorching start this year.
Batting 2nd and playing Right Field: Brennan Boesch (Detroit)– His power is up there with Miguel and Prince and batting in front of those two, he will see his fair share of fastballs.
Playing 3B and batting 3rd: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit)– This year shapes up for him to win the AL MVP giving the fact Prince is protecting him (in real life, not just this lineup). Strong arguments support he IS the best hitter in baseball.
Batting clean-up and playing 1B: Prince Fielder (Detroit)– Couple options at 1B but Prince needs to be the everyday guy. Butler and Morneau are possibilities, but Prince will out-homer them. Grand Slams? Yes please.
The DH and batting 5th: Billy Butler (Kansas City)– Tough to choose between Billy and Morneau but taking in consideration age and current health (Justin’s injury last year), Billy is the guy I want hitting everyday.
Batting 6th and catching: Joe Mauer (Minnesota)– Joe’s track record is better than recent AL All-Star, Alex Avila. I have to take the experience here and also not be such a homer.
Playing Shortstop and batting 7th: Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland)– He rakes and makes at least one ridiculous play a week. I would take him purely because of his glove, he also happens to be a stellar hitter.
Batting 8th and playing Left Field: Alex Gordon (Kansas City)– Alex shows pop in the bat, speed on the bases, and a strong arm from the outfield.
Playing 2B and batting 9th: Gordon Beckham (Chicago)– Good young player that shows life on his bat from time to time and a consistent glove. Also not much to choose from at this position so he wins by default.
Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander (Detroit)– AL MVP. CY Young. Need I say more?
RP: Vinnie Pestano (Cleveland)– Bullpen mafia O.G.. Lights out and is a trusty arm in the 8th inning.
Closer: Jose Valverde (Detroit)– Papa Grande didn’t blow a save all year in 2011, but blew his first chance in 2012. Due to injury to Soria, he is the only real candidate. At least he’s consistent.
Honorable mention: Ricky Vaughn (Cleveland) and Jack Parkman (Chicago)
How did I do? What are your thoughts? Who would you plug in where?
Don’t forget to follow me @GODF_TH_R and Three Up, Three Down @3U3D
Opening Day Thursday is almost in the books. I sit here watching the Dodgers and Padres with the masterful Vin Scully calling the game taking in all that we already saw. Great pitching matchups in the afternoon games, a walk-off win for the Detroit Tigers after Jose Valverde blew the save after not messing up a chance in all of 2011, and the longest game in Opening Day history with the Blue Jays and Indians going SIXTEEN innings after Chris Perez coughed up a three-run lead for Cleveland in the top of the 9th. It’s gonna be hard for Friday’s matchups to top all of that. Let’s see what we have on tap.
White Sox at Rangers 2:05 ET
The Rangers begin their march for a 3rd straight AL pennant, something that hasn’t been done since the 1998-2001 New York Yankees. Important for John Danks to get through the 1st inning unscathed as the Rangers top 4 hitters in the lineup all hit .350 or better off of Danks in their career.
Twins at Orioles 3:05 ET
Possibly the worst opening day pitching matchup between Carl Pavano and Jake Arietta. Twins fans will just be excited to have their M&M boys (Mauer and Morneau) back in the lineup together after they missed a combined 173 games for Minnesota in 2011.
Yankees at Rays 3:10 ET
New York and Tampa Bay start off the 2012 regular season the same way the 2011 one ended at Tropicana Field. If the drama for this game is anything like game #162, we’re in for a treat. My AL MVP prediction Robinson Cano hits .386 lifetime against James Shields and makes for a solid Beat the Streak pick on MLB.com
Cardinals at Brewers 4:10 ET
Ryan Braun doesn’t have to face the road crowd after a tumultuous offseason. The real story here though is Yovani Gallardo, who sports a 1-7 record with a 5.66 ERA in his career against rival St. Louis. A stat that will not make my co-host Kurt Peter very happy at all.
Rockies at Astros 7:05 ET
Jeremy Guthrie gets the Opening Day nod for Colorado after being traded for in the offseason. Guthrie was solid in spring training and is the Mapes Special for fantasy streaming pitcher of the day (owned in just 5% of Yahoo! leagues). Rules for the Mapes Special are they must be available in more than half of leagues, I’ll have another one coming up.
Giants at Diamondbacks 7:10 ET
Two Cy Young candidates on the hill in Tim Lincecum and Ian Kennedy, so expect a pitcher’s duel like we saw in many games Thursday. The big story though, is the return of catcher Buster Posey to the Giants lineup after a devastating ankle injury last season. If Posey is 100% he makes the Giants lineup average instead of subpar.
Dodgers at Padres 10:05 ET
The only two teams that play both Thursday and Friday. For those of you that get to listen to Vin Scully again, I’m deeply jealous. Cory Luebke and Chad Billingsley make for an interesting pitching matchup in Petco Park has both have had success against their opponent.
Royals at Angels 10:05 ET
Alright, I guess you should be watching Albert Pujols debut for the Halos. I’m not going to get cute on this one.
Mariners at Athletics 10:05 ET
Welcome back to America. Not a rematch that we saw in Japan as Brandon McCarthy will take on Jason Vargas instead of Felix Hernandez. Both McCarthy and Vargas were impressive in their 2012 debuts in Japan, with the Athletics ballpark coming into play Jason Vargas (7% owned) is the 2nd Mapes Special of the day!
Enjoy opening day #4!