Overreaction Tuesday…err…week.

How would you feel if I told you the Yankees were 1-4, the Rockies were 4-0, the Braves were 5-0, and the Pirates were 1-4? It would probably surprise you and if you are a fan of those teams, you are probably freaking out a little bit. Or a lot. I’m freaking out a lot. As a Yankees fan, I am totally losing my marbles over the team’s horrible start, even though I have no need to. “It is not the time to panic,” Bae-Rod reminds me. Okay, if Alex Rodriguez tells me not to panic, I’m still probably going to panic anyway, even though I have no need to.

Welcome to Overreaction Week, the week where everyone assumes their team should just give up on the season or that their team will win the World Series. It’s a stressful week for the former because no one wants to see their team spinning out of control at any point during the season. But really, how am I supposed to react when my team’s best player is A-Rod?? Take a deep breath and remember that there are still 157 games left on the season. Cool, I feel a little better, but not really.

Sometimes, it takes a little bit for teams to start clicking and for nature to take order once again. I mean, c’mon, at the rate this is going A-Rod will be the AL MVP and the Rockies will be duking it out with the Braves for a World Series spot against the Royals. Does ANY of that seem plausible? Except for the Royals, not at all. Natural order will take place once again, but we have to give it a few weeks, even a few months for teams to get their stuff together. In the mean time, fans can freak out all they want but it won’t change anything.

So, to all the broadcasters out there: STOP SAYING TEAMS ARE IN THE CRAPPER FIVE GAMES IN. I’m looking at you Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds, and Tom Verducci. You guys called the Yanks/Sox game earlier today and it was a 3-hour Yankees bash-fest. Stop it. It’s been five games. Calm down. Yes, my pinstriped boys are not great right now, but for crying out loud! Don’t say they suck until a little further in the season. If it’s the end of June and they still suck eggs, then we’ll talk.

And to all the fans: CHILL-AX. We have a nice, long season ahead of us, so let’s not freak out yet. Baseball is a funny sport and we should let it take its course before we lose our minds.

As Bae-Rod says, “It is not the time to panic”.

Oh, What a Night! Late July, Back in 2014

I don’t think any of you will catch my Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song title spoof, but for those of you who do get it, you’re awesome. My brain is too fried from this crazy trade deadline to come up with something more clever.

WHAT A CRAZY NON-WAIVER DEADLINE. Holy crap, I am still trying to wrap my brain around everything that happened over these last few weeks, especially what transpired in the final 24-hours. Rarely have we seen such an eventful deadline with such big names. Since I love making lists, let’s go over my picks for winners and losers, both short and long-term! Let’s do this.

Long-Term Winners
Boston Red Sox – This is a team who gave up 4/5 of their starting rotation, the rotation that WON them the World Series last year, but they got some good prospects, good offense, and unloaded contracts, which will really help them in 2015, much to the chagrin of this Yankees fan.

Arizona Diamondbacks – While I am super bummed about the departure of Gerardo Parra, the loss of Martin Prado is cushioned because I get to watch my favorite Venezuelan in pinstripes. D-Backs nation is a little stunned by the moves, but one has to remember that they have one of the best farm systems in MLB. With all of the prospects they got in these trades, the D-Backs will be set for awhile…just not any time soon.

Tampa Bay Rays – I know, I know, they just gave up their superstar pitcher David Price, but I think they will recover just fine. They got some good stuff in the three-team trade, and, although I think they should have gotten more, I bet they will do more in the off-season to become a viable threat again.

Short-Term Winners
New York Yankees – I am mad impressed with what this team did. There were no splashy moves, no big name trades, but they were able to vastly improve without surrendering team talent and only one top prospect. They got Brandon McCarthy, Martin Prado, Chase Headley, Chris Capuano, and Stephen Drew while surrendering Vidal Nuno, Yangervis Solarte, Kelly Johnson, and prospect Peter O’Brien. Not bad, Bombers, not bad…

Oakland Athletics – I put them in “short term” because they built this rock star team to win the 2014 World Series. I do not know how much of this team they will keep after this season is over, but dear God, watch out. When your rotation is Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija (I spelled it right on the first try!), Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, and Jason Hammell, you don’t have much to worry about. Yes, they traded some hot prospects and Yoenis Cespedes (yes, I spelled that one correctly, too), but as I am sure Billy Beane is thinking, “YOLO”.

Detroit Tigers – I also put them in “short-term” because it seems like they will be losing Max Scherzer after this year. Yes, they got David Price, but my guess is that they will be looking to give him the long-term contract instead of Scherzer because of the inability to agree on a deal with Mad Max. Their rotation is killer, like, could probably strangle bears, but they will need to duke it out with Oakland to get to the World Series. My goodness, that will be a ridiculous October matchup.

St. Louis Cardianls – While I am a bit concerned that they so readily dealt Allen Craig, they did get John Lackey from Boston, which is never a bad thing. Lackey will do well there and he will probably get to go back to October, something his former Red Sox teammates will probably not be able to say.

Seattle Mariners Again, as is a trend here, Seattle did well during this trade, but I don’t know how it will shake-up long-term. They got some much needed offensive power and didn’t have to part with much to get it. I am not convinced that Seattle will be a contender this year, but they made some very smart moves at the deadline.

Losers
Boston Red Sox Yes, they are winners AND losers. Them trading away their whole rotation was a bit of a white flag for me, saying that they are not too confident about the rest of the season. Think about it: Clay Buchholz is now the “ace” of their staff. Yikes.

Philadelphia Phillies They REALLY needed to move some contracts and after a disastrous season, this was not an ideal way to end the deadline. So many of their players were in the trade rumors, yet nothing was able to come of it.

San Diego Padres They got rid of Huston Street (best baseball name ever, BTW) and Chase Headley, but didn’t really do much to improve themselves. With the mess they have in the front office, it’s not really surprising, but I think they could have done a smidge more to help themselves.

Pittsburg Pirates In a division like the NL Central, you would think the Pirates would do something! But nope. They did diddly squat, which was disappointing.

San Francisco Giants This is a team who really needed some help in the infield and could not get anything done. They got some pitching reinforcement in the Red Sox’s Jake Peavy, but Peavy can’t get San Fran to the post-season all by himself.

Los Angeles Dodgers – They sure don’t need the help, but they were mentioned in SO many deals that it is hard to believe they really only walked away with the Cubs’ Darwin Barney, who was claimed on waivers. They will be playing in October, no doubt, so I don’t think you can really think of them as total deadline losers.

Okay, that is a lot of teams. And yet, it’s still not all the teams involved in the trades! Good lands, I could be here all night. I think these are teams that really stuck out in my mind, for better or worse. This was probably the most exciting July trade deadline that I have seen and it is GOOD for baseball. I am so excited to watch the rest of the season unfold and watch how these teams compete for a post-season berth.

Okay, I need to unwind and reflect some more on these trades…just kidding, I’m already watching more baseball.

For the Love of Brawls

I love bench-clearing brawls. 

I really do. They are probably one of my favorite things on planet earth and I make no apologies for it. One of my favorite past times is pointing out the stupidity in others and bench-clearing brawls make for some prime target practice. Very rarely have I seen a brawl that did not emerge from something stupid and unavoidable. After today’s skirmish between Carlos Gomez of the Brewers and the Pittsburg Pirates, I figured I should explain why I get so excited when something like this happens. But first, let’s look at some of my favorite brawls (in no particular order):

Dodgers v. Diamondbacks, June 2013: This brawl was insane. Benches cleared twice. TWICE. Multiple fines were issued and the #FreeHinske movement got underway (if you live in AZ, you totally get that reference). After six (SIX!!) hit batters, the dam broke when Ian Kennedy (AZ), plunked Zack Greinke (LA). Cue flying fists and Mark McGwire’s neck vein! This battle didn’t seem to end, no matter how ridiculous it was. People were getting thrown into camera wells, Puig was exploding all over the place, and no “adults” were present. I went to bed too steamed to sleep, which is actually really embarrassing to admit. As it turns out, the brawl was the tipping point for the Dodgers and they went on a tear for the rest of the season. Bum deal, bro.

Brewers v. Braves, 2013: Hark! Carlos Gomez at the heart of another brawl! Gee, I’m sensing a pattern…Anyway, CarGo admired a homer for WAY too long and then proceeded to stare down the pitcher as he trotted around the bases. Braves catcher Brian McCann (who is quickly becoming my new favorite Yankee, BTW), took great exception to that, and by that I mean he never even let CarGo get to home plate. I would not want to run into a McCann-wall. I don’t know anyone who would. Yes, he seems like a super nice guy and a really great ballplayer, but dear God, do not piss him off.

That time Jason Varitek glove-smooshed A-Rod in the Face, 2004: Out of principal, I had to include this. I mean, c’mon. I HAD to (I love A-Rod, I can’t help it: He’s better than the best soap opera and cooler than a cucumber wearing Ray Bans). Let’s face facts: it was a Kodak moment. Literally. I just checked and you can buy a framed photo of the glove-shoving moment on Amazon for $40. Not only that, it was a GREAT fight and cranked up the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. The rivalry has actually cooled off considerably this year in the small sampling of games I’ve seen. Where’s A-Rod when you need him to spice things up?!?

Here’s the thing: Brawls are usually caused by egos. Duh. If you admire a long home run (or what you perceive to be one), you should expect to get some jawing from the pitcher. Don’t get all butt-hurt when he starts chirping at you! If you don’t want chirping, don’t grandstand. I mean, seriously. Get with the program.

So what if the brawl is caused by getting hit by pitches? Well, the unwritten rule of the game is that the team who did not get hit receives a “free plunk”. Basically, you hit my batter, I get to hit yours. There. Even Steven. All balance is restored and the only thing that happens is the benches get warned. When it escalates from there, that’s when you have a problem. Hitting batters isn’t always avoidable, but anytime there is a whiff of purposeful plunking, watch out. Don’t retaliate after your one allotted revenge hit.

There are plenty more reasons why brawls start, but I would say 97.32% of brawls are totally avoidable. Brawls are bad for baseball! I know, I love them, but I love the game more. Baseball is a gentleman’s game, not a hockey game. Mind your manners. Remember, the person who just gave up a homer to you is feeling pretty crappy, so don’t make it worse. And if you do make it worse, don’t be surprised when they let you know.  

Yes, I will enjoy watching fights when they happen, but I never root for them to occur. I’ll take a civil game over a brawl any day.

Unless A-Rod is involved. All bets are off when A-Rod is involved, and I mean that in a totally good way. Love ya, Alex… 

 

My Picks for the Post-Season!

I am of no authority to make my picks for who will win a division. No matter how many stats you look at or how many injuries you take into account, predicting the outcomes of the standings is far from an exact science. Too many factors are involved over the course of 162 games per team to make any kind of accurate prediction. But for now, I will look into my crystal ball and tell you how I think things might shape up…

National League:

NL EAST: Washington Nationals. Hands down, I think these guys are gonna take it. After the Braves went down with numerous injuries and so many players coming off bad years, I can’t see them winning the division. Washington has the offense, pitching, and leadership to take this team into the post-season.

NL CENTRAL: St. Louis Cardinals. This one is a bit trickier because the Pirates are looking good so far this spring, but I just don’t think the Pirates can win the division. The Cardinals have done everything right during winter break and acquired good pieces to fill holes left vacant. Add a bomb farm system and you have yourself a great team.

NL WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers. I hate to say it, but they are so good. If they can keep their front-line starters healthy and keep Puig from making embarrassing gaffs, this team is a lock for the post-season. Yes, there are a million huge personalities to tame, Don Mattingly’s included, but if they don’t all kill each other first, they will be just fine. Oh, and I just saw that they are now baseball’s highest spenders this year, taking away the Yankees’ 15-year run, so they REALLY better not suck.

WILD CARD(S): Pittsburg Pirates, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, or San Francisco Giants. All of these teams are good, but I doubt they are “win the division” good. Pittsburg has the momentum, the Braves always scrap their way in, the Reds have everything to prove, and the Giants have pitching for days. How these teams will preform if they do get into the post-season is not in their favor, but gosh darn it, they will try. Also, look for the Arizona Diamondbacks as a sleeper team. If the Goldschmidt/Prado/Trumbo sandwich works out, the offense could be insane.

American League:

AL EAST: Tampa Bay Rays. Talk about the hardest division in baseball! Good Lord, this is going to be a knock-out drag-down fight until the end, I can feel it! Honestly, any team could take it, but I would put money on the super awesome Joe Maddon and the Rays.

AL CENTRAL: Detroit Tigers. A perennial contender, the Tigers will be great this year. There have been some question marks with injuries and front office crap, but I think they can pull it out. But this one will be close because the Indians are really good, as are the Royals.

AL WEST: Oakland Athletics. This is the one division I was most unsure about. On paper, the Angels and Rangers look the best, but Oakland has a way to quietly dominate. Add the injuries to the Rangers and the uncertainty about the Angels, Oakland still looks the best. Seattle may have sold their soul to get Robinson Cano, but their offense is still weak and I doubt they will be contenders this year.

WILD CARDS: Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, or Kansas City Royals. There is a reason there are 3 AL East teams. All of them could take over the division with no problem, so don’t be surprised if three or four of them hit the post-season. I view the Yankees as the dark horse team, a team that will be very dangerous offensively and off the mound. Boston still looks great so far and they have to motivation from winning the World Series, but back-to-backs Series wins are rare. The Royals have everything to prove here, so I expect them to work their butts off this year. I was tossing up between Baltimore and Texas, but just because of injuries, I have to go with Baltimore.

So, there you have it. I have the right to change my picks, not that I will because I don’t care. You can just read newer posts. Psh, this post will be on the elusive second page by the time I need to change my picks. Anyway, enjoy the picks I have made and let’s hope they don’t just suck baseballs by the time the season gets going…

 

 

Spring Training is Awesome (and so are my Mini-Reviews)

Spring training is awesome.

It’s the one time of the year where you can sit back, watch a game, and not have to worry about the politics of baseball or how crappy your team is doing. We have had two full days of spring training games and I have been able to watch a few, thanks to MLB TV. Seriously, best investment ever. No joke. And no, they are NOT paying me to say that.

Anyway, I got to see seven teams play so far and because I am an over-achiever and part-time mind reader, I am going to talk about what I saw from the teams and what kind of indicators I got that will play out in the regular season. So, don’t take too much stock in this, but as a blogger, I am now obliged to give my opinion without a care because that’s how the Internet works.

All right, let’s get crackin’:

Philadelphia Phillies: Okay, so I only saw part of this game, but I think the Phillies might actually do better this year. I am hopeful, but c’mon, they have to deal with the Nationals and the Braves. I think a third-place finish is a totally acceptable goal.

Toronto Blue Jays: Color me impressed. The Jays actually didn’t suck in the partial game I saw. Jose Bautista spanked a homerun like he was a pimp and that ball was his…erm…I’ll just stop there before I get in trouble. Okay, anyway, after last year, the Jays can only go up, right? Well, I liked what I saw in the few innings I watched. Because as we all know, a few innings is totally a good way to gauge the rest of the season (enter sarcastic tone).

Pittsburg Pirates: After watching them whoop up on my Yankees, I can say that the Pirates will be good this year. Good enough for play-off run? I dunno. They will have to contest with that Cardinals and that shall be no easy task. It would be fun to see them do well this year, but we gotta stay realistic: I don’t know that they are any better than the teams they could potentially face in the post-season.

New York Yankees: Well. They actually didn’t play that terribly these past two games against the Pirates, but they most definitely did not play up to half their potential. Seriously. It was as though none of their core players were playing (which is totally the point of spring training games) and I think that really bummed out the offense. I think we will need to watch a few more games before judgments are made. They can be a super great team, so long as the lingering question marks go away. Yes, the bias is oozing out of me, don’t hate.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Beating up on the Dodgers is a wonderful feeling, but losing to them the next day is a bummer. Arizona got Kershaw’s number on Tuesday and didn’t let up, but in the split-squad game, the latter part of the game slipped away from those Diamondbacks. That trend really hurt them last year. Of course, they did the exact opposite against the Cubs this afternoon. A slow start led to a poppin’ finish. So, yeah. This year the D-Backs should finish above .500, but I don’t know how well they will do in the post-season, if they make it that far. Prado’s bat was explosive and Goldschmidt pulled through in the clutch, just like always. I really REALLY want them to pull off something special.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Obviously the biggest thing about the Dodger’s spring training is Zack Greinke. First, he spouts how unexcited he is for the Australia trip, and now, he might not even have to go. This afternoon against Arizona, he felt something pinch in his leg and was taken out preventatively after 4 or so pitches. So will the Greink-ster have to go to the land down under? If he has his way, probably not. Milk it, buddy! The Dodgers looked hot and cold these past two games, so I am projecting they will still be great this year, but maybe not quite as good. Like, they will be in the post-season, but probably not the World Series. But the best part of these games was listening to Vin Scully call the game. The dude is funny in an I-don’t-mean-to-be-funny-I-am-just-old kind of way.

Chicago Cubs: Oh, Cubbies. You get a brand new park and a home run to christen it. Except the homer wasn’t yours. It belonged to the Diamondbacks. You guys set the record for Cactus League attendance and had so many fans cheering for you to win! And you lost. I hate to say it, but dudes, you’re not making into the post-season. This whole spring training game pretty much sums up your life: it started strong and everyone was filled with hope, and then it all fell apart. But we still love you. We have to, if only because we feel sorta bad for you.

So there you have it, folks! My mini-analysis of these wonderful (and evil…Dodgers) teams is complete. I will try to have more mini reviews as I watch these games.

Sit back and enjoy spring training, because it is awesome. We get to see players we normally wouldn’t and we get a taste of baseball before the games actually matter. Enjoy spring training because the season will be here before we know it and I will become consumed with baseball. But now, I have to do homework because I have time. In a few weeks, I will not have time because I will be watching baseball. Sorry Mom and Dad for the inevitable tanking of my grades.

Priorities.

RECOMMENDED ARTICLE

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/major-league-baseball-execs-open-to-signing-gay-player-021014

With football prospect Michael Sam coming out of the closet, the NFL is poised to sign its first openly gay player. I, for one, couldn’t be happier. If the guy is good, it shouldn’t matter who he goes home to after the game. Is the NFL ready? I hope so. Is MLB ready? I hope so. I think this article gives me hope that a person’s sexuality should not matter when it comes to getting drafted. If he can hit a baseball or pitch like a fiend, it should never matter. 

Winning and Losing Starts Before the Season Does

With the off-season coming to a close and spring training starting this week (YAHOO!!!!!), it is that time when everyone is really analyzing the off-season moves made by all of the teams. I decided to look into who made the best moves and the worst moves. Here is a list of the teams who I think won the off-season and the teams who didn’t make much of a splash:

Winners:

New York Yankees: Dumping almost half a billion dollars during the off-season is a great place to start for a team who has money and really needed to make changes. They needed offense, so that’s what they got (okay, bought). They needed pitching, so that’s what they got. I think they made a lot of smart moves and put some much needed power in their lineup. I mean, spending that much money should be a good thing…right? Please?

Boston Red Sox: I’m including them because they covered their butts by getting AJ Pierzynski to catch for them once Saltalamacchia left. Clearly, the Sox have a pension for catchers with long last names. They just won the World Series and look poised for another post-season run. Besides, they have Mike Napoli’s beard to remind them of their success, and as a warning to never grow those nasty things ever again.

Tampa Bay Rays: They did not get rid of David Price. Forget all the good moves they made and extensions they signed. They are winners this off-season because they kept Price.

Texas Rangers: They picked up Prince Fielder (granted, he was not his best in 2013) and Shin-Soo Choo, so they are already looking better. With some post-season trips and near misses, they are poised to use that momentum to propel themselves forward. It would be fun to see them do that.

Honorable Mentions:

– Seattle Mariners: Giving Robinson Cano an arm, leg, and their soul was an interesting way to start the off-season, but hey, I guess they mean business.

– Kansas City Royals: Will they be Royal this year? Can I call them Queen Bee (get the Lorde reference? I think I tried too hard, but can you blame me??)? I sure hope so. 2013 was such a turn-a-round year for this club, it would be fun to see them really let loose.

– Los Angeles Dodgers: They didn’t really lose any key players and gave Clayton Kershaw a massive, yet deserving, extension. Now how funny would it be if they bombed like they did the first half of last year?

– Arizona Diamondbacks: Getting Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed was huge, but they had to surrender some prospects to get there. Hopefully, this will work out in their favor because I really want to see these Trumbombs everyone keeps talking about.

– Atlanta Braves: Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. That’s all.

– Washington Nationals: A new manager (Matt Williams) and a new pitcher (Doug Fister) poise the Nats to give Atlanta a run for their money.

Losers:

Baltimore Orioles: In a division as hard as the AL East, you’d think Baltimore would have made some more moves. I was optimistic when they picked up Grant Balfour, mostly because I think he is awesome, but to see them drop him like a hot, Aussie potato was surprising. And they didn’t need that, either. Without any moves made, I can’t see how they can be contenders for 2014.

Toronto Blue Jays: Again, the AL East is a nasty place to be. Last off-season, Toronto made some rocking moves, but it never happened for them last year. I want to be optimistic, but I really doubt they will make magic. Really, the only cool thing about the Jays are the knuckle balls that will supposedly come out during Spring Training.

Cincinnati Reds: They lost Shoo, Dusty Baker, and will probably lose Bronson Arroyo. Bum deal, huh?

Pittsburg Pirates: I include them because they didn’t really do much this year. They lost some good players and might lose AJ Burnett, but they have a great farm system. Will it be enough to propel them into the post-season? Eh…it’s a little up in the air.

All remaining free agents: Geez, it must really suck to be a free agent and not be signed by now! I thought that once Masahiro Tanaka signed, the other pitchers would be prime real estate. As it turns out, no one wants to surrender a first-round pick for these guys and I don’t really blame them. It’s kinda of messed up that a solid pitcher is punished because a team won’t give up a draft pick, but that’s how it works.

Not-so-Honorable Mentions:

– Atlanta Braves: Yes, they are in both categories because while they gave extensions to the players who needed it, they lost good players. They better hope BJ Upton gets hot again and Dan Uggla can bounce back.

– Houston Astros: LOL.

– Miami Marlins: see Houston Astros.