According to CSNBaltimore.com Orioles insider Rich Dubroff, MLB is not allowing Nick Markakis and Trevor Plouffe to use specialized bats with pink labels this Sunday to celebrate Mother’s Day and symbolize the fight against cancer. Check out the tweet here:
Markakis, and Plouffe wanted to use specially designed bat with pink label to symbolize fight against cancer. MLB said no.
— Rich Dubroff (@RichDubroffCSN) May 10, 2013
Before we get all up in arms and send a screaming, pitchfork-wielding mob to the Commissioner’s office, there may be a reason that the idea was rejected:
MLB says Louisville Slugger has exclusive rights to pink bats on Sunday. Markakis and Plouffe’s mothers are both cancer survivors.
— Rich Dubroff (@RichDubroffCSN) May 10, 2013
I’m not one to go back on my word or break off a contract, but this seems to fall under the category of “special exemption,” especially given that both players’ mothers have survived cancer. To me, it looks like a very cool, coordinated effort by Markakis and Plouffe to make MLB Mother’s Day even more unique and intimate.
The money and the media attention should focus on Louisville Slugger per the terms of the agreement, but it would be very nice to see a one-time exception made for Markakis and Plouffe. Can those two not at least use the same bats as other players and write their own message on to the wood?
As politically correct as the rules are, this sucks. Thoughts?
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
You could go to his Twitter page and find all the answers easily, but then the “quiz” aspect of this blog is completely ruined. So don’t do that. Don’t be that guy. Let’s do this without cheating, huh?
Let’s just break it down one photo at a time to test your baseball knowledge. I’ll put the three scouting reports below (with names deleted), and give three hints about each.
If you guess the correct player without hints, give yourself 4 points. For each hint you need to use thereafter, take off one point and only reward yourself with points if you guess the player correctly before the end. (Example: If I guess the first player after reading two of the hints, I’m down to two points total for that photo.)
At the bottom, you can see answers to all three and add up your total to determine what level of baseball awesome you really are. If those instructions are too unclear still, there’s nothing I can do to help you. And sorry, no prizes. We don’t make money. So you just get the honor of knowing you are a brilliant human being and baseball fan.
Let’s get this thing started. First, Idelson tweeted this ancient report on a young shortstop who ended up in the Hall of Fame after a long, successful career (4 points):
Hint #1 (3 points): This player was his team’s first black player and formed the first-ever black double play combination in MLB history.
Hint #2 (2 points): He won the NL MVP in 1958 and 1959 and retired with 512 home runs, yet never won a World Series ring.
Hint #3 (1 point): The mystery player above was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1977 and is one of only six players in franchise history to have his number retired (#14).
Did you figure that one out? Let’s skip ahead a few decades to the only current player on this quiz. Like our first player, this guy has played his entire career with the same team and will likely end up in Cooperstown as well. Remember, the team listed on each report isn’t necessarily the team they were drafted to (4 points):
Hint #1 (3 points): The Houston Astros’ failure to draft him first overall in the 1992 draft (Phil Nevin was their eventual choice) caused one of their best talent evaluators and scouts, Hal Newhouser, to quit his job in protest. This player went later in the first round to the team he still plays for today.
Hint #2 (2 points): Despite numerous top-ten finishes in the MVP voting, this player has never won the hardware. He has, however, won a Rookie of the Year award, All-Star Game MVP, World Series MVP, five Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers and the Hank Aaron Award so far over his career.
Hint #3 (1 point): This player has been his team’s captain since 2003, and holds the franchise record for hits and stolen bases. The five-time World Series winner registered his 3,000th career hit off David Price in 2011 and is commonly known as “Mr. November.”
That one was a bit easier, huh? If you didn’t get the answer right, chances are you’re either a toddler or very, very lost in the blogosphere right now. The last entrant is our only pitcher, who also entered the Hall of Fame after an illustrious career with three teams (4 points):
Hint #1 (3 points): This 1983 Hall of Fame inductee won more games than any other pitcher in the 1960’s, but was often overshadowed by Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson during that time frame. Though the report lists him as “Cuban or Puerto Rican,” he is actually Dominican.
Hint #2 (2 points): Well known for intimidation techniques involving throwing at batters’ heads, this backfired on the pitcher in a 1965 game against a rival club. After he threw at a player early in the game, tensions rose and a brawl ensued, in which this pitcher used a bat to hit the un-helmeted head of the opposing team’s catcher.
Hint #3 (1 point): The ten-time All-Star threw a no-hitter in 1963 and had his number (#27) retired by the team he spent all but two of his professional seasons with. That same team now honors this pitcher with a statue outside its ballpark on the West Coast, depicting his iconic leg kick.
There you have it! Add up your points from the three reports and follow this graph below to determine how baseball savvy you really are:
11-12 points: You ARE a demi-god. Like Yoenis Cespedes, but with baseball trivia instead of a bat.
9-10 points: You are Mr. Consistency. Pretty much Todd Helton, minus the DUI (we assume).
7-8 points: You are a scrapper, much like Bryce Harper. Very impressive, but still room to improve.
4-6 points: You really let us down. We might as well call you Matt Bush, Jr.
1-3 points: You can’t be serious. You strike out more often than Mark Reynolds blindfolded.
0 points: You need to leave. Exit our blog, right now.
Thanks for taking our scouting report pop quiz! We appreciate all feedback, positive or negative, in the comments section below!
1. Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs)
2. Derek Jeter (New York Yankees)
3. Juan Marichal (San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers)
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
This golden nugget of greatness occurred before the bottom of the fourth inning began at Petco Park on Wednesday, in a game that the Dodgers would eventually win 4-3 over the Padres.
Scully continues to go on a slightly nonsensical, yet thoroughly enjoyable, ramble about a new DirecTV service called “DogTV. Then, the 85-year-old, smooth-voiced legend concluded with a relevant question: “Does that mean cats can’t watch it?”
Scully’s ability to be at the top of a difficult profession for decades upon decades and master his craft with grace, style, and accuracy is why he will forever be remembered as the greatest announcer who ever lived. The fact that Scully was able to tear viewers’ eyes away from game action to tune in with full attention to his brief tangent and end up just smiling with amusement, is beyond impressive.
He has the charm of a guffawing grandfather, the wit of a very old fox, and the voice of God (sorry, Morgan Freeman). Go ahead and watch the clip linked below and try not to smile as Scully giggles and gasps his way through a very troubling set of questions for someone who was born when Babe Ruth was still playing (though I’d argue his general knowledge of all this doggone technology us whippersnappers use these days is far superior to most people his age).
And, in fairness, the questions remain–what IS a hashtag? They really don’t make sense, beyond the “trendability” of such things. And though DirecTV’s concept is marvelous, what happens to my poor cat when all he sees on the tube all day is those dumb dogs chasing their tails? I can only imagine.
Take a look at Vin’s hilarious diatribe RIGHT HERE. Is this one of the best announcer moments in recent memory? Tell us in the comments below!
Oh…and for what it’s worth? After Scully’s little speech, #VinScully began trending on Twitter. Naturally.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
After the Houston Astros dis–hey…stop laughing…it really happened–dismantled the Texas Rangers last night at Minute Maid Park, we had our first full day of baseball today.
Naturally, ESPN kicked it off with proof that they are extremely stubborn as a network, pitting C.C. Sabathia and the hobbled Yankees versus Jon Lester and the completely average Red Sox.
There were so many amazing moments in a long day of ball that it was hard to narrow down to just five. But here is our best shot at it. This is what we do at Three Up, Three Down. We write stuff on baseball-related activities for your enjoyment. So, enjoy!
5. Justin Jacks One
Welcome to Atlanta, where the playa’s play and Upton hits bombs like every day. No disrespect to Freddie Freeman, who also went mammo today, but this Justin Upton blast was put in orbit. And it’s not just a top moment because of the distance–the Braves outfield is the most freakish in baseball, and this is just the first sampling. The Braves faithful have been waiting for this moment since the original trade was made, and the little bro definitely didn’t disappoint.
4. Brewers Bailed Out
One of KP’s least favorite memories of the 2012 season was any blown save by John Axford and Co. If you see our tallest group member, give him a hug. Because Axford was at it again on Opening Day, giving up a no-doubter with two outs in the ninth to the Rockies’ Dexter Fowler, which tied the game. Fortunately for Milwaukee and the home fans, the Rockies pitching staff is deplorable and Jonathan Lucroy was able to score a walk-off sac fly and bail the bullpen out.
3. Bryce Decides Twice is Nice
If there was any debate that last year’s NL Rookie of the Year would suffer from a sophomore slump, he killed it quick. In his first two at-bats of the 2013 season, Bryce Harper absolutely crushed two Ricky Nolasco pitches and put them in the right field bleachers. I’m not buying that his second one has landed yet. In fact, it might currently be traveling over the Atlantic Ocean. Keep an eye out for it. The 20-year-old phenom is on pace for 324 jacks this year.
The late Cardinals legend and Hall of Famer Stan Musial is being honored by the team with a cool, classy patch (pictured to the right) on their left sleeves in 2013. But the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hosted the Cards on Opening Day, pulled off a fantastic move by paying homage with a video tribute to Musial between innings. Unfortunately, I don’t have video for you, but the gesture itself was a true act of sportsmanship and remembrance of one of the greatest hitters and humans the world has ever seen.
1. Kershaw Goes Krazy
Let me set the stage: The defending champions travel to their heated rival’s new stadium and face their fancy new team in a battle between two of the best pitchers in the league. A pitcher’s duel turns into a one-man show as Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw not only throws a complete game, four-hit shutout, but hits a go-ahead home run that breaks a scoreless tie in the eighth inning. Unbelievable. And in a game that began with a well-choreographed first pitch skit from Dodgers heroes Sandy Koufax and Orel Hershiser. I have to take a second to brag, as humbly as possible. I tweeted THIS about five minutes before magic occurred. Of course it was a coincidence but it makes me believe in fairy tale endings, and reinforces our love of this magical sport.
Buckle up, baseball fans. This was just day one. Only 161 more regular season games to go! Vote below on which one of these moments should have been in the top five, or comment about any moments we missed!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
We couldn’t just stop with the opening round of pools C and D! Jeremy and Mapes of course had to delve into the 2nd round of pools A and B. It will give Mapes something more to root for than just saying the word “honkbal” over and over and over. The first WBC fantasy draft and rules can be found here.
There are only four teams in this round two so the rules change to where we need at least two players from every team and a maximum of four from each team. The same positions and point scoring system applies! We’re choosing from Cuba, Japan, Chinese Taipei, and the Royal Kingdom of the Netherlands. Jeremy had the first pick in the pools C and D draft so, Mapes will take the opening pick in this draft Let’s roll!
Cuban. Barry. Bonds. Let’s just move on.
Pick #2 – Team Jeremy: Shinnosuke Abe, C (Japan)
Did you really have to go the “Barry Bonds” route? Why not the Cuban Babe Ruth? In any case, this guy is the Japanese Buster Posey. No, seriously. He won MVP on the champion team, named the Giants. And he’s just as good with the bat, better with the glove.
Pick #3 – Team Jeremy: Alfredo Despaigne, OF (Cuba)
What more do you want? This guy has a 1.636 OPS in the World Baseball Classic so far, which was capped off by an absolute monster three-run homer against Japan in the opening round. Despaigne is en FUEGO right now.
Pick #4 – Team Mapes: Chien-Ming Wang, SP (Chinese Taipei)
I really loved what I saw from Wang in his first start of the WBC. His sinker ball was really working and I expect him to go for a full six innings and contend for a win in this round.
Pick #5 – Team Jeremy: Danny Betancourt, SP (Cuba)
My team will be stocked full of Cubans. There’s good reason. Yes, these guys can mash on offense, but if you watched Danny Betancourt’s first round performance (eight strikeouts, by the way), you know this dude is straight filth.
Pick #6 – Team Mapes: Andrelton Simmons, SS (Netherlands)
Homer pick! I wasn’t letting Simba get away from me with my love of the Braves. He hit over .300 in the first round, plus gets plenty of at-bats atop the Dutch lineup.
Pick #7 – Team Jeremy: Diegomar Markwell, SP (Netherlands)
Depending on Markwell’s matchup in the quarterfinals, this could come back to haunt me. But he was downright nasty in the first game of the tournament against a powerful Korea team, so I’m hopeful he’ll score me some big points.
Pick #8 – Team Mapes: Jose Fernandez, 2B (Cuba)
I wanted to ensure that I was strong up the middle and also take as much of Cuba’s powerhouse lineup. I’m doubling down on those with Fernandez, who led Pool A and B in the first round with a .625 batting average. I hope it carries over to round two.
Pick #9 – Team Jeremy: Yoshio Itoi, OF (Japan)
Itoi had a big first round, hitting .300 with four RBI and two stolen bases. He has a unique blend of speed, power and contact hitting abilities, which I hope he will continue to ride into round two for my team.
I thought about going symmetry and taking the other “Ching-Ming” on Chinese Taipei, but instead I’ll go with Dai-Kang Yang who played in all three games for Chinese Taipei. He led the team in total bases in round one, which is what I need to rack up points!
Pick #11 – Team Jeremy: Frederich Cepeda, OF (Cuba)
My outfield is just unfair. Itoi, Despaigne, and now the latter’s Cuban teammate, Cepeda. He tied for the team lead with 9 total bases in their first three games, including two doubles and a triple. The .500 batting average and .615 on-base percentage sealed the deal for me, though.
Pick #12 – Team Mapes: Kazuhisa Makita, RP (Japan)
Can’t resist a submarine-throwing closer. Just can’t do it.
Pick #13 – Team Jeremy: Loek Van Mil, RP (Netherlands)
This picture is not photoshopped. Van Mil is 7’1″ and comes at the hitters from seemingly inches away. He got the job done for the Netherlands in the first round, and I expect him to close out any games that they lead in round two.
Pick #14 – Team Mapes: Hung-Wen Chen, RP (Chinese Taipei)
I needed to grab another reliever, with Van Mil gone and my strategy of only grabbing Cuban offensive players, that leaves me with Hung-Wen Chen who picked up a save in round one.
Pick #15 – Team Jeremy: Curt Smith, 1B (Netherlands)
I think this is a big sleeper pick. I love this guy filling in at first base. If there’s one player who was unknown among other big names on this team’s roster, it was Smith. He only had seven at-bats in the first three games (thanks to four walks), but hit .286 in that span.
Pick #16 – Team Mapes: Yulieski Gourriel, 3B (Cuba)
I know, I know. Gourriel went 1 for 13 in round one, but he still hits in the heart of the Cuban lineup. I’ll gladly take his upside, when I need a third baseman anyway this late!
Pick #17 – Team Jeremy: Xander Bogaerts, 3B (Netherlands)
You can have your Cuban missile launcher, I’ll take my all-around stud in Red Sox top prospect Bogaerts. If defense counted, he’d be even more valuable. But so far with the bat, Bogaerts has been relatively quiet. That won’t last long for the career .296 minor league hitter. I hope he breaks out when he’s on my team.
Pick #18- Team Mapes: Hisayoshi Chono, OF (Japan)
This is where I panicked, but I like Chono’s upside. I think he bounces back after hitting .200 in round one, but will get all the time in left field for team Japan.
Pick #19 – Team Jeremy: Chih-Sheng Lin, SS (Chinese Taipei)
At this point, I’m still in need of two Chinese Taipei representatives. With middle infield to fill, I looked at Lin to provide some offensive pop for my team. He hit .300 in the first round, and also got on base quite frequently (.417 OBP).
Pick #20 – Team Mapes: Andruw Jones, OF (Netherlands)
My other Braves homer pick! I love that Netherlands has control of Curacao so they can use Simmons and Jones in the WBC. I can’t resist not having a player I grew up watching in Atlanta on my team and he was even pretty good in round one.
Pick #21 – Team Jeremy: Alexei Bell, OF/Util (Cuba)
With my utility pick, I had to go back to the bats of Cuba. I could have closed my eyes and picked any of the hitters, but I settled with Bell because I still can’t get his ridiculous homer the other night out of my memory. Hopefully there’s more where that came from.
Pick #22 – Team Mapes: Erisbel Arruebarruena, SS/Util (Cuba)
The guy can hit and I really just took him so I would have more reason to learn how to pronounce his last name.
I ruled out the Cuban closer by selecting Bell with my previous pick, but that’s all fine and dandy. I don’t know if Settsu will get me any saves, but he did lock down one of Japan’s two wins in round one. He’s unhittable and could score me a few sneaky points.
Pick #24 – Team Mapes: Dashenko Ricardo, C (Netherlands)
Well I have to take a catcher and Ricardo hit .400 in round one. Honk if you love honkbal!
Pick #25 – Team Jeremy: Yen-Wen Kuo, 2B (Chinese Taipei)
Well, I wasn’t going to leave his double play partner alone on my roster! I fill out the team with a necessary pick of the Taipei second baseman, and can’t complain about his .333 average in round one!
Pick #26 – Team Mapes: Masahiro Tanaka, SP (Japan)
With Jeremy taking his starting pitchers super early it let me take my choice of Japanese starters to round out my team. I like Tanaka’s upside, even though Kenta Maeda had the better numbers for Japan in round one. Plus, this opens me up to plenty of “you have no marbles” jokes like Tanaka from Major League 2.
Now all four pools are represented, even if we showed up a bit late to the party (Can you blame us? We’re still waiting for Jose Abreu’s home run ball to land, okay?). We have our teams and will let fate dictate this the rest of the way. Follow along with us on Twitter at the tags below, and don’t forget to vote for who you think has the best team below!
Last time, we told you that four of the five members of this blog and podcast were trying out again for the MLB Fan Cave. While we were hoping to get all four of us to 4th and Broadway, we did have two of us make the top 52. We would love your support as we continue our dream of representing our teams in New York City.
Bryan Mapes: Atlanta Braves Fan
You can vote for Bryan by going here!
Jeremy Dorn: Los Angeles Dodgers Fan
You can vote for Jeremy by going here!
We’ll have more on our journey as it progresses. I can personally say day one of the top 52 has been a whirlwind for me to say the least. I almost drove off the highway when I found out from my brother that I had made it. I wasn’t able to do anything at work, and having my bar guests vote for me while I worked was so nice of them. I ended up gaining 100 Twitter followers because of the support of the best fans on Twitter: Braves fans! (Sorry Jeremy) I posted two promotional videos that you can watch here and here. Plus, I got retweets from Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm, the Braves, and Adam Greenberg. The latter two even followed me on Twitter. Almost forgot the part where I pulled Troy Tulowitzki and Bruce Sutter game-used memorabilia out of Topps packs on a live video, crazy! Day one has been a blast, and I can’t wait for the next 13 of top 52 voting!
Jeremy woke up to the good news and was running on pure adrenaline all day because of it. He also got a ton of love from the Twitterverse (follow @Jamblinman), and was able to secure what will hopefully be the first of many interviews. He even convinced his fellow interns at San Francisco Magazine to tweet on the Giants-friendly publication on his behalf. Jeremy was in the top 50 last year and remembers well the difficulties, pressures, and sleepless nights involved with campaigning for the top 30 cut. It was a great start to a great campaign, and he hopes to continue the posivibes all the way into New York to represent 3u3d and the Dodgers in the Fan Cave!
Angelo and Brian both put out awesome videos and have our utmost respect. They were great candidates for the MLB Fan Cave as well.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
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)
Something new is happening in MLB this year. Instead of your typical four-team format in each league, we’ve added an extra Wild Card team to make five in each league and ten total. Something else new to life in general is the popularity of social media, specifically Twitter.
Twitter and baseball go together like pancakes and syrup. Or Brad Pitt and goatees. Bobby V and the Red S– oh…wait. Too soon?
And now each team has their own designated hash tag on Twitter to make sure their October quests get trending among the fan base. Some teams are handed easy ones (i.e. the Colorado Rockies’ “Rocktober”). Some have to stretch for it (i.e. the Milwaukee Brewers’ potential “OctoBrewfest”).
So without further adieu, here is the Three Up, Three Down power ranking of every MLB team’s playoff hash tag:
10. San Francisco Giants – #OrangeOctober
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) October 5, 2012
I don’t care if anyone calls me biased for this one. My goodness, this is a bland, boring, unoriginal hash tag. The Giants have the benefit of winning the World Series two years ago, so they don’t have to try to impress the Twittersphere anymore. But making your pump-up hash tag for the playoffs simply #OrangeOctober is a pretty big cop out. First of all, yes, they wear orange. Yes, the O’s roll off the tongue together nicely. But of course October is orange. Come on, are we all too old to have forgotten about Halloween? That is a straight up robbery of America’s sugariest holiday.
9. Texas Rangers – #TexasLegends
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) October 3, 2012
What? Are the Rangers implying that they, themselves, are legendary? Because unless choking away two straight World Series titles and then collapsing under the pressure of a pennant race in 2012 is considered “legendary,” I’m missing something. I know that everything, including egos, can be bigger in Texas but this is just ridiculous. Besides, it’s not a cool hash tag. I thought it was a minor league affiliate of the Rangers. Geez, that was harsh. Sorry, Brian!
8. Detroit Tigers – #EveryGameCounts
Yes, yes it does. And the Tigers really should have had a couple week’s worth of games that actually didn’t matter. But they brought it down to the bitter end anyway. Detroit loses points for dominating their Twitter timeline with #TripleCrown. I understand why, as the achievement should be celebrated heavily. But the ultimate goal is to win the World Series and I’m sure Miguel Cabrera would gladly trade his Triple Crown for a ring.
7. New York Yankees – #27AndCounting
Is it Sunday yet? #27andCounting
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) October 4, 2012
You can’t really argue this hash tag. The Yankees can pretty much hash tag whatever they want and get a free pass because they are the Yankees. It doesn’t make sense and it is incredibly frustrating, but it’s true. That being said, in terms of pure originality, the guy or gal in charge of the team’s account is clearly one of those people who enjoys time spent over a term paper in the library on a Friday night.
6. Washington Nationals – #Natitude
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 3, 2012
Normally, I’d rank this a bit higher. Unfortunately, the Nationals have been freakin’ bombarding us Twits with that hash tag since Opening Day and frankly…we’re tired of it. And usually it was in all caps. Why are they yelling? It’s clever and it accurately portrays the way the team plays, but after a while you just want to yell “SHUT UP!” I think the Nats could have geared their very important hash tag playoff campaign towards something with the color red or involving America, since they are in the nation’s capitol. #Natitude just leaves a lot to be desired.
5. Cincinnati Reds – #RedsOctober
Remember Opening Day? 162 games later. 97 wins. NL Central Champions. What a team!! #RedsOctober
— Reds (@Reds) October 4, 2012
Boring? Sure. Bland? Definitely. Unoriginal? Cha. But there are a couple of reasons that the #RedsOctober hash tag cracks the top five for me. First of all, the Reds are a funky, old-school, boring team. They always have been. The franchise has been around since the world started spinning (sorry – in my mind, that’s the day that baseball officially was born…yeah, we’re nerds) and they’ve been very successful over that time span. The Reds seem like the most focused, confident team in the playoffs right now, just like their hash tag. And second, I like the vague reference to The Hunt for Red October.
4. St. Louis Cardinals – #12In12
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 4, 2012
It’s like when you see the clock on 11:11 and yell “MAKE A WISH!” Well, the Cardinals’ wish came true in 2011, and they are trying to repeat in 2012. I’m convinced that they purposely waited until 2011 to win their 11th world title, just so they could troll the crap out of Twitterville for years to come with an annoyingly clever hash tag like #12In12, #13In13, and so on. Of course to continue the trend of this type of hash tag, the Cardinals will have to make another crazy run. Don’t put it past them.
3. Baltimore Orioles – #BUCKleUp
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) October 4, 2012
Hah! HAHA! GET IT?! Because their manager’s name is BUCK Showalter?!?! I promise I’m not even mocking them – I actually laughed out loud when I first saw that hash tag. It’s caught fire among Baltimore fans, as it should. Not only does it emphasize one of the most important individuals to the team, but it acknowledges that it’s going to be a bumpy ride. If the O’s are going to do the improbable and win the World Series in 2012, it’s going to be a panic-filled roller coaster ride just like their regular season was.
2. Atlanta Braves – #OctoberIsWhyWeChop (#Choptober for short)
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) October 3, 2012
The Braves probably would have slid down the list a little bit for sheer character volume if they didn’t have that cute little #Choptober nickname to fall back on. Regardless of how possibly offensive the whole chopping deal is, it has become a symbol of unity and hope for a dedicated Braves fan base. They chop for everything and everyone, and what better reason than for a World Series ring in Chipper Jones’ final season? Oh, and “Choptober” sounds like “October” if you say it really fast. Clever points!
1. Oakland A’s – #OctoBERNIE
— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) October 4, 2012
This is not only the best hash tag on the list, but might be the greatest hash tag ever created in the history of the Twitter world…ever…of all time. If you don’t know yet what the “Bernie” is, then grab your nearest YouTube and type it in. You’ll find Weekend at Bernie clips, some pretty bad, hilarious hip-hop videos and a lot of green and gold crazies in the right field bleachers. The A’s have reinvigorated the Bernie movement and reinvented the October hash tag, all by simply adding an “N-I-E” to the end. There is no denying the magic that the world’s easiest, laziest dance move has brought to MLB’s best story in 2012.
Comment below if you think this order is just whack! And don’t forget to vote for your favorite postseason team hash tag in the poll below. If you like what you read, follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
It’s official. The Dodgers and Red Sox have completed a ridiculous nine-player swap that sends first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and a whole bunch of crappy contracts to Los Angeles, in exchange for James Loney and some prospects to Boston.
Holy cow. Let me get this out of the way as a Dodger fan: WOOOOOHOOOOOO!
Okay, thanks. That being said, let me explain how this trade affects both teams, and then I’ll leave it up to you to vote which team got the better deal.
Here’s how it breaks down:
1B James Loney
SP Rubby De La Rosa (AAA)
SP Allen Webster (AA)
OF Jerry Sands (AAA)
IF Ivan De Jesus (AAA)
Los Angeles receives:
1B Adrian Gonzalez
SP Josh Beckett
OF Carl Crawford
UTIL Nick Punto
If you’re a casual baseball fan, you might think Wow, the Dodgers just scored 3 All-Stars!
Little do you know, Beckett and Crawford are owed big money for little production and spotty health over the last year or more. Punto is simply a utility player but a great clubhouse guy who can contribute to a winning team (just ask the 2011 Cardinals). Besides, it’s a huge upgrade over Juan Uribe and Adam Kennedy.
If Crawford comes back healthy from Tommy John surgery in 2014, he could be worth the money. Before being signed by Boston, Crawford was annually one of the better all-around players in baseball. Who knows – maybe a change of scenery does him well, but I don’t expect anything out of him.
Beckett has a chance to shine in L.A., but that’s based on a bunch of big “if’s” as well. IF Beckett stays healthy. IF he keeps the ball down. Worst case scenario, the Dodgers have a seasoned veteran with tons of postseason experience to help guide guys like Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang through a potential playoff berth. But, with Chad Billingsley’s possible elbow injury, adding a usually mediocre, formerly incredible starting pitcher is something sorely needed right now.
And do I really have to explain why Gonzalez was a great pick up? He hit .338 last year in Boston and has also been a perennial All-Star throughout his career. He can hit 30 homers, drive in 100 runs and bat .300 as his career numbers will attest to. Plus, he’s won multiple gold gloves at first base. So you’re telling me the Dodgers swapped a .250-hitting, powerless, smooth-fielding James Loney for a .300-hitting, powerful, smooth-fielding Gonzalez? I’ll take it.
Before I move on to analyzing what the Red Sox obtained in this deal, let me remind everyone of two things. If the Twitter world is the collective opinion of baseball fans, I’m seriously worried for the sanity of the sport’s fan base. So, here goes:
1) Money doesn’t matter. The new ownership of the Dodgers paid $2 billion to buy the team, and will be securing a $4 billion TV deal soon. They will over pay, and they openly admit it. Money is NOT an issue. They can take on all those big contracts and blow their noses with the $100 bills.
2) Telling me the Dodgers don’t have the pitching to win the division is not backed up by statistics. As of today, the Dodgers still have the second-best ERA in the National League as a team, two spots ahead of the pitching-heavy San Francisco Giants (also leading them in batting average against, strikeouts and quality starts). Until that changes, please don’t tell me the Dodgers have no pitching, because five months into the season those numbers are no longer “flukes.”
Back to business. Some of the prospects the Red Sox received might be no-names to the casual baseball fan. But let me tell you, Boston received a pretty good haul. In addition to ridding themselves of about $78.5 gazillion in salary, they picked up two high-ceiling starting pitchers and two hitters who have a shot at developing into legitimate every day players.
James Loney could also benefit from a change of scenery. Once considered an elite prospect, he looked well on his way to becoming a star about five years ago with the Dodgers. Then came a dip in power. Then a dip in average. A dip in RBI. Now, he’s one of the most average offensive bats you’ll find. Except he’s not even going to reach 10 home runs this season.
I love James Loney. He’s been one of my favorite players on the Dodgers for a number of years (I even have his jersey – oh, what to do with it now?!) and I hold a high value on defensive prowess, which he possesses a lot of.
I truly hope Loney does well in Boston. But with free agency looming in 2013, chances are he won’t be around for them anyway. Guys that will hang around are these three AAA and one AA players they acquired.
The one with the highest ceiling in my opinion is Allen Webster, the AA starter. He was an 18th-round draft choice in 2008 that many thought might have a better career down the road than Dodgers’ top prospect Zach Lee after both started to develop in the minors.
MLB.com ranks Webster their 65th best prospect in baseball right now, mostly due to a mid-90’s sinker, plus-curveball and plus-change. He really does have a great chance to be a future star in Boston.
De La Rosa is in the same boat – he just made his first appearance back with the Dodgers after a lengthy recovery from Tommy John. But before, during and after the surgery reviews about him were rave. He throws very hard: about an average of 95, just a bit higher than Justin Verlander’s average, and he has topped out at 99.
De La Rosa needs to work on his willingness to work the inside part of the plate, and gain confidence in his secondary pitches so hitters can’t sit on the heater. As he matures, these issues should be sorted out and De La Rosa could become a poor man’s Pedro Martinez if he doesn’t stray from the path mentally or physically.
Jerry Sands can play outfield or first base and has shown tons of promising power in the minors. That being said, the Pacific Coast League is notorious for inflating young players’ numbers because it’s such an offense-friendly league. In a few stints in the Majors with Los Angeles, Sands showed very infrequent flashes of potential. Most of his time was spent trolling around the Mendoza line with little power and plate discipline to show for it.
The same can be said for De Jesus. I believe he has more potential than Sands overall, but is a smaller-name player so goes unnoticed. De Jesus had some big appearances for the Dodgers in 2012 and could become a spark player for the Red Sox down the road if developed properly.
It’s hard to tell in a trade like this who “wins” per se. Loney for Gonzalez is an obvious win for the Dodgers. And for right NOW, I have to say L.A. won the trade. They are going for a World Series title, no matter the cost. But the fact that they got a huge left-handed bat, a potential number two starter and an improvement on the bench AND were able to keep Dee Gordon and Zach Lee, speaks for itself.
But, if Boston develops the four young players they received in the deal properly, we’re talking about one or two potential impact bats and the possibility of two middle of the rotation starters. Down the road, the Red Sox may be reloading for another big run.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)