Tag Archive: baseball

Could Mariano Rivera Return This Season? Rehab Doc Likes Chances

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NEW YORK (WFAN) – Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has insisted all along the target for Mariano Rivera’s return is 2013.

“It’s all about next year,” Cashman said in early May, days after the closer injured his right knee while shagging fly balls at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.

But what if “the immortal” one is ready this season? Is that even possible?

Rivera’s rehab doctor seems to think so. Dr. Keith Pyne recently told the New York Post that the 42-year-old is “working his butt off” and “itching to get back.”

Though the decision will belong to the Yankees, Rivera and renowned surgeon Dr. David Altchek, Pyne said the one-month delay before surgery may have actually helped the timetable for baseball’s saves leader.

“This is a very detailed guy and he did everything right (pre-surgery),” Pyne told the Post. “He strengthened, he got range of motion. He was very functional before surgery. I don’t want to put a percentage on it, but he reduced recovery time by a lot.”

Surgery to repair Rivera’s torn ACL was put on hold until June 12 due to a blood clot in his right calf. He was able to log pre-rehab work on the knee, which also turned out to have a partial tear, not a full one, according to Pyne.

Pyne gushed over the hard-working Rivera, who he called “special” and “in the top 10 percent of athletes I have worked with.”

“He’s got everything it takes to accomplish that,” Pyne said of Rivera returning in 2012. “If I was putting money on it, I would put my money on Mo.”

The doctor did admit to the paper, “Right now, he’s shut down until next year.”

Emphasis on “right now.” The five-time World Series champion may have a fighting chance to make his mark this October after all.

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Justin Verlander, the Most Over-Rated MVP in History

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Justin Verlander, the Most Over Rated MVP in History

If you know one thing from reading my Blog, I am not a hater by any stretch of the imagination. I do poke fun at any situation and there is not a line I wouldn’t cross. However, when it’s all said an done…Get Your Money! What do I care if people are successful? It doesn’t make or break anything in my life.

With that said, I have to disagree with the voters decision to make Justin Verlander this years AL MVP. While he is one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball, I feel he is extremely over rated. Making him the MVP is not only a joke, but an insult to anyone who follows this sport. Here are a few bullet points you must consider before jumping on the Verland-wagon.

He Pitches in the American League Central

When I bring this argument up to the Verlander supporters it’s immediately countered with “what do you want him to do?!? that’s the league he pitches in, and he is dominating.” Listen, I NEVER once said he is not doing what he has to do. My argument was simply that he faces nobody all year. Let’s Examine the wins from late in the season to early (I am listing all appearances). We can also go deeper into opposing ball parks and opp BA, but here is the shortened version :

September
[AWAY]Oakland (74-88) Sub 500 ( 20th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY]White sox (79-83) Sub 500 ( 18th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY]Cleveland (80-92) Sub 500 (16th in the league in runs scored)
[Home] White sox (79-83) Sub 500 (18th in the league in runs scored)

August
[AWAY]Twins (63-99) Sub 500 (25th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY]Rays (91-71) +500 (15th in the league in runs scored)
[Home]Twins (63-99) Sub 500 (25th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY]Indians (80-92) Sub 500 (16th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY]Royals (71-91) Sub 500 (10th in the league in runs scored)

July
[Home]Angels (86-76) + 500 (17th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY]White Sox (79-83) Sub 500 ( 18th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY]Twins (63-99) Sub 500 (25th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY]Royals (71-91) Sub 500 (10th in the league in runs scored)

June
[Home]Mets (77-85) Sub 500 (12th in the league in runs scored)
[Home]Diamondbacks (94-68) +500 (9th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY]Rockies (73-89) Sub 500 (8th in the league in runs scored)
[Home]Indians (80-92) Sub 500 (16th in the league in runs scored)
[Home]Mariners (67-95) +500 (30th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY]White sox (79-83) Sub 500 (18th in the league in runs scored)

May
[Home]Redsox (90-82) +500 (1st in the league in runs scored)
[Home]Rays (91-71) +500 (15th in the league in runs scored)
[Home]Royals (71-91) Sub 500 (10th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY] Blue Jays (81-81) +500 team (6th in the league in runs scored)

April
[Home]White Sox (79-83) sub 500 ( 18th in the league in runs scored)
[AWAY] Baltimore (69-93) sub 500 (14th in the league in runs scored)

Now looking at the above, does this by any stretch of the imagination look like a taxing bunch of games? 18 of the 24 wins in 2011 were against teams that could not win half of their games. That leaves 6 games against top flight offenses, only 1 in top 5. Granted, he beat the Rays and defeated the Redsox , but after the way you seen that team finish off the season by getting owned by Baltimore and the Tampa Bay Rays AAA team, Are you really surprised ? This guy hasn’t faced anyone. This combined with pitching about half the games at Comerica Park, which is historically known to be a pitcher’s paradise ( even still after the adjustments made to the ballpark a few years back). One could see how these factors could add up to quite the season for the veteran.

*please note* I am not going to sit here and say that I could prove that he wouldn’t have had this success in the AL East (although I love to scream it when I’m drunk at ballgames). With only a few game to use as a reference, I don’t feel there is enough evidence to back that point. Naysayers, could point to his wins against the AL East in 2011 and trump a discussion. However, I really do feel based on the offense from the Redsox and Yankees alone, an argument could be made. Facing both those ball clubs a handful of times a year can change a lot. Those two line-ups can make a pitcher go from dream season to slump with a swing of the bat.

Let’s also remember The Detroit Tigers had the number 4 offense in the league, which is why I find it funny that people say ” Not only would he have 24 wins he would probably have more with that Yankees or Red Sox offense” give it a break. The Tigers have a AL east Offense in a weak central.

How the FUCK can someone who is responsible for 1/5 of regular season games played receive an award over a position player who runs out there everyday ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Again.. the man has had an unbelievable season and deserves the Cy Young. But really MVP. Why? because of the low ERA against nobodys and the high win total against scrubs. Gimmie a break voters..

But then again, these are the same writers that called the 2011 Boston Redsox “The Greatest Team Ever” lol

Whatever man,

AC
@AConDEMAND

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Why Trading AJ Burnett for Carlos Zambrano Makes Sense by @Christopherb609

Yankees Twins Baseball RARE

Redsox Supporter @Christopherb609 is a contributor here at Rareunlimited.com. Although we disagree on almost everything (including the below article) he offers a good, knowledgeable insight on the MLB. Here is his thoughts on why trading Yankee pitcher AJ Burnett for Cubs hurler Carlos Zambrano Makes Sense. Keep in mind he sent me this on Sept 15th, I slacked a little on posting. I’m looking forward to the next article about the Redsox 2011 collapse.-AC

This is sure to be an unpopular trade scenario at first, once you read the names you’ll say no way, but allow me to state my case before you slam the gavel and dismiss this idea.

Defendant A. AJ Burnett the most unpopular player in NY since “American Idle” Carl Pavano.

Defendant B. Carlos Zambrano a player that disgusts fans as much as the evil Bart Man.

And here’s why this deal would make sense…..

Looking strictly at the whole numbers their performance is somewhat on par with each other. Both pitchers have been far too hittable, the K’s are down from what is expected resulting in a 2-1 K/BB ratio for both pitchers. Zambrano’s era is slightly lower than Burnett’s which NL lineups could certainly be used as the excuse and both pitchers have had their woes in the second half. Factoring in lineups/league, parks, and more there maybe be no real difference in their performance. In fact #’s wise the only clear advantage Zambrano has over Burnett is more quality starts in less appearances, but that’s if you are just looking at the results and not the entire picture.

Zambrano is widely considered a head case, those who know him best (teammates and friends) label him misunderstood. He’s said to have an intensity that’s unmatched, even if it is uncapped at times. He may no longer be the 200+ K guy he was in ’06 but there’s nothing that suggests he is a 4.81 era type of pitcher either. His previous career high was 3.95 in ’07 and he’s coming off a year where he pitched to a 3.34 era. In fact he lowered his era each year from ’07 through 2010. He’s never been a K per inning guy, always slightly below, as was the case with his hits per innings. His swing and miss rate is roughly at his career norm, he’s simply suffering from a higher contact rate of pitches outside the zone. His approach is vastly different than any other year, he’s throwing a higher percentage of change ups and cutters than in any other season with a career low percentage of fastballs. This could be a result of a dramatic decrease in velocity, however I was not able to find the data that proves this. Reuniting with the only major league pitching coach he knew prior to this season, Larry Rothschild, could be the only answer to getting Carlos Zambrano back on track. I’m not saying top four in CY Young voting (which would trigger his 2013 option) but a great improvement over AJ Burnett’s past two seasons is a certain possibility if he is able to pitch in the same fashion. More quality starts mean he’s keeping his team in contention longer, the improved bullpen + offense could result in far more wins for Zambrano in 2012. He also has been less home run prone than Burnett this season.

For AJ Burnett’s argument I’ll use a pitcher who is similar in age, posted similar results in 2010, but has benefited greatly from a shift over to the National League.

Pitcher A (2010 Season):
K/9 6.99 – BB/9 3.76 – K/BB 1.86 – HR/9 1.21 – AVG Against .279 – WHIP 1.51 – ERA 5.25

> Almost identical
Pitcher B (2010 Season):
K/9 6.92 – BB/9 3.72 – K/BB 1.86 – HR/9 1.83 – AVG Against .254 – WHIP 1.40 – ERA 5.30

Pitcher A (2011 Season):
K/9 8.24 – BB/9 4.00 – K/BB 2.06 – HR/9 1.43 – AVG Against .257 – WHIP – 1.46 – ERA 5.28
> Vast improvement by Pitcher B
Pitcher B (2011 Season):
K/9 7.49 – BB/9 2.50 – K/BB 3.00 – HR/9 1.02 – AVG Against – 2.47 – WHIP 1.25 – ERA 3.92

As shown by the data provided above, pitchers A and B had almost identical 2010 seasons in comparison. In fact both pitchers not only played in the same league, they both played in the same division, facing the same competition. To take it one step further they pitched in the same park donning the same uniform, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, Pitcher B is, drum roll please, Javier Vasquez.

In 2010 Burnett pitched 30 more innings, over the course of 7 games, resulting in 4 more quality stars and 5 more losses, however their peripheral stats are as close as can be.

As seen by the 2011 data, the switch to the more favorable league/park has greatly improved Vasquez’ peripherals. The results in a like amount of innings pitched have lead to 8 more quality starts an ERA improved by 1+, less hits, and a more favorable K to BB ratio. Now I am not saying AJ’s jump to the Cubs/National League would be as extreme as Javier’s, but given both Wrigley and Sun Life Stadium rate below 1.000 on the home run scale for major league parks 14th and 15th respectively (side note: below 1.000 constitutes a pitcher’s park) it appears his fly ball tendencies would result in far less runs scored. Currently, Yankee Stadium ranks as the 3rd most hitter friendly park in Major League baseball.

Looking ahead to the Cubs 2012 rotation currently Matt Garza, Randy Wells, and Andrew Cashner are projected for the rotation. Given that Zambrano won’t be returning to a starting pitching role under any circumstance and assuming Ryan Dempster will decline his player option for a multi year deal there will be two spots that need to be filled. Burnett will give the Cubs what Dempster has provided, a veteran pitcher who is capable of eating innings, however given that Burnett’s contact rate is 3 % lower than Dempster’s already I believe a transition to the National League would produce far greater results. As I stated worse case scenario is a split difference between his and Vasquez’ 2011 seasons which would result in a better year than both Dempster and Zambrano, the Cubs would also have him locked up for 2013 at a discounted rate, I propose the Yankees split the 15 million dollar difference in contract totals and kick in 7.5 million to be paid however the teams see fit. The Cubs would also gain 1.5 million for their 2012 payroll, the difference between Burnett and Zambrano’s salaries.

The ultimate benefit for the Yankees would be to get out from under Burnett’s contract as it has became apparent that he can no longer compete and win consistently in that environment.

Thank You,

Christopher B.
twitter: @ChristopherB609

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Contrary to All the “Experts” Predictions, The New York Yankees Clinch the AL East

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NOT ONE! I REPEAT, NOT ONE! OF THESE “EXPERTS” PICKED THE YANKEES TO WIN THE EAST! FAIL

ESPN predicts the 2011 season

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Marty Bernoski,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Twins
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Giants
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Aaron Boone,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Steve Berthiaume,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Astros
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Dodgers
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Dave Cameron,
FanGraphs East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Jim Caple,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: A’s
Wild card: Rays
Champion: White Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Giants
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: White Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Jason Churchill,
ESPN Insider East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Tigers
West champ: A’s
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Tristan Cockcroft,
ESPN Fantasy East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Yankees East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Dodgers
Wild card: Rockies
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Phillies over Yankees

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Jerry Crasnick,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Angels
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Braves over Red Sox

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Richard Durrett,
ESPNDallas.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Tigers
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Phillies over Red Sox

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Gordon Edes,
ESPNBoston.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Angels
Wild card: Tigers
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Brewers
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Doug Glanville,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Cardinals
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Jason Grey,
ESPN Fantasy East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Twins
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Rays
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Giants
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Giants

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Steve Goldman,
Baseball Prospectus East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Pedro Gomez,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Twins
West champ: A’s
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Orel Hershiser,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Brewers
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Tony Jackson,
ESPNLA.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Giants
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Giants

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Eric Karabell,
ESPN Fantasy East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Twins
West champ: A’s
Wild card: Rays
Champion: Rays East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Cardinals
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Phillies over Rays

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Jonah Keri,
FanGraphs East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Brewers
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Rockies
Champion: Brewers
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Brewers

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE John Kruk,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Angels
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Brewers
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE David Kull,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: A’s
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Rockies
WORLD SERIES: Rockies over Red Sox

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Tim Kurkjian,
ESPN The Magazine East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Twins
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Keith Law,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Brewers
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Andrew Marchand,
ESPNNY.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Twins
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Brewers
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Phillies over Red Sox

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Joe McDonald,
ESPNBoston.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Twins
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Blue Jays
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Cardinals
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Brewers
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Matt Meyers,
ESPN Insider East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Twins
West champ: A’s
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Mark Mulder,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Angels
Wild card: A’s
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Brewers
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Cardinals
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Phillies over Red Sox

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Amy K. Nelson,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: A’s
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Braves over Red Sox

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Dave O’Brien,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Buster Olney,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Giants
WORLD SERIES: Giants over Red Sox

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Doug Padilla,
ESPNChicago.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Nick Pietruszkiewicz,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: A’s
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Brewers
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Rockies
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Phillies over Red Sox

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Karl Ravech,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Angels
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Nate Ravitz,
ESPN Fantasy East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Rays
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Mark Saxon,
ESPNLA.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: A’s
Wild card: Rangers
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Brewers
West champ: Dodgers
Wild card: Giants
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE David Schoenfield,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: A’s
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Giants
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Jon Sciambi,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: A’s
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Cubs
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Dan Shulman,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: A’s
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Braves
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Braves

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Mark Simon,
ESPN Research East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Twins
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Cubs
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Jayson Stark,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Tigers
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Rick Sutcliffe,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Giants
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Matt Szefc,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Reds
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Giants
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Peter Pascarelli,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: Tigers
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Braves
Central champ: Cardinals
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Phillies
Champion: Giants
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Giants

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Bobby Valentine,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Cardinals
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Phillies over Red Sox

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Dave Winfield,
ESPN East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Yankees
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Cardinals
West champ: Giants
Wild card: Braves
Champion: Phillies
WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies

AMERICAN LEAGUE NATIONAL LEAGUE Gene Wojciechowski,
ESPN.com East champ: Red Sox
Central champ: White Sox
West champ: Rangers
Wild card: Tigers
Champion: Red Sox East champ: Phillies
Central champ: Cubs
West champ: Rockies
Wild card: Giants
Champion: Phillies

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Boston Red Sox 2011 Season Preview by Christopher B.

2011 Boston Redsox Preview

What can be said about the BoSox that hasn’t been said already? We know what the winter was like, Theo (the best GM in baseball regardless of what Showalter thinks) made two huge splashes, one was done via trade the other through free agency. With these two simple moves our offense and defense was improved tremendously. Yet I believe too many fans don’t realize how these acquisitions really change our system. Yes they will impact our success this year, but the effect it has on 2012 and beyond is going over looked, that’s where I come in. I’m here to shed light on the ripple effect and why I believe the team to beat in the AL East (obviously us) will be even better in 2012. I also included a stunner of a scenario that if it were to happen we could have a championship run in Boston that would rival the Celtics 1957-1966 winning streak.

Key Additions:

Adrian Gonzalez (1b)- Acquired via trade with San Diego. He plays Gold Glove defense at first and gives us the power bat we’ve been seeking since Manny was shipped out of town. They say his swing is tailor made for Fenway and his power numbers project to increase now that he no longer has to deal with the cavernous Petco Park. This deal obviously impacts our future directly as we gave up the following prospects #1 Casey Kelly, #3 Anthony Rizzo, #6 Reymond Fuentes and player to be named later Eric Patterson. (*note the rankings are via Baseball America’s top 10 compiled prior to the deal). Gonzalez is supposed to sign a long term contract after the season begins some where in the range of 7 yrs and 148 million. It’s not easy to acquire a hitter with 40 home run power and Gonzalez very well could hit 50 this year. Lets hope the shoulder injury that sidelined him some last year is a thing of the past.

Carl Crawford (LF)- Acquired via free agency Crawford cost us 142 million over 7 years + our first rd pick to the Rays in this year’s coming draft. They say speed/power players age gracefully and while I don’t love the length of the deal to get a superior player for 16 mill more than what the Nats paid Werth is an absolute steal. He’s the best defensive left fielder in the sport, offensively he’s a game changer wreaking havoc on the base paths, stealing bags and turn

Andrew Miller (SP)- Miller was acquired through a trade with the Marlins sending relief pitcher Dustin Richardson to the fish. In a stunning turn of events Miller was then non tendered. Many casual fans do not understand why the Sox would trade for a player then not offer him a contract. Miller has spent time pitching in the majors since ’06 (the same year he was drafted #6 overall by the Tigers) he was out of options and would have to be exposed to waivers if the Sox tried to send him to the minor’s. Theo being the brilliant GM that he is knew Andrew would not pass through unclaimed and therefore released him, allowing him the opportunity to sign him to a minor league deal. Under his current contract Andrew does not take up a spot on the 40 man roster as he is being sent to the minors to work on mechanics and control. He’s still only 25 with a high ceiling and the Sox still see his long term future as a starting pitcher though his immediate impact this season might be as a reliever.

Alfredo Aceves (SP)- Alfredo was signed to a minor league contract after the Yankees released him. It wasn’t about performance but more about injury as their projected time table had him returning much later than expected. This is a signing that could work out in our favor big time. Aceves pitched to a 10-1 record in ’09 for the Yanks pitching mostly out of the pen while posting a 69-16 k to walk ratio. Aceves is being stretched out at Triple A and will be insurance should any of the starters suffer from injury (*crosses fingers*) or poor performance (cough cough Dice K).

Bobby Jenks (RP)- If it hadn’t been for the Crawford deal this would’ve been the most surprising signing. Jenks the former White Sox closer was jettisoned after posting his worst statistical season as a major leaguer. Injury, lack of focus, and obvious problems with the manager all could be to blame as you can’t really point the finger at either one. Immediately afte this deal rumblings were sent through the sport that Papelbon would be on the move, what further fueled these talks was the reported Sox pursuit of lengendary closer Mariano Rivera. What Jenks provides for us is depth and experience. Last year was Papelbon’s worst and while The Nation hopes that both these relievers return to form this year neither one can be truly counted on. Closer to be Daniel Bard is waiting in the wings and many expect he will take over the duties in 2012. Having Jenks in the pen allows Bard one more year to grow while providing us with the necessary depth we need. Besides our injuries last year we suffered many times late in the game due to our pen imploding. Lets hope that Robert Scott Jenks can help turn it around.

Signifcant Departures:

Adrian Beltre (3B)- Beltre’s fate was sealed with the addition of A-gonz. Obtaining Adrian meant our incumbent first baseman Kevin Youkliss would be shifted to third and while Adrian is superior defensively (he ranks as one of the greatest all time) his dedication is always in question. His most prolific offensive year’s have came in contract seasons and one has to wonder where his priority lays. Texas signed Beltre to a 5 year 80 million dollar deal with a 6th year 16 million option, a far cry from the 1 year 9 million dollar contract he signed with us last year. The deal also meant the Sox would be getting Texas’ first round pick evening out the loss of ours to Tampa.

Victor Martinez (C)- Many Sox fans were sad to see Victor go, I was not one of them. I don’t believe he’s worth the contract given to him by Detroit, as a dh he’s merely average as a catcher his offensive skills are well above. He doesn’t have the best skills at handling a pitching staff and teams love to run on him, just ask the Yankees or Rays. By Detroit signing him we also received their first round pick but even without that perk this was addition by subtraction. Victor might have provided us with more consistent out put behind the dish but he would’ve been our dh next season after Ortiz goes, we don’t need him clogging up that position for the next four years, that’s for sure. Dave Dombrowski GM of the Detroit Tigers, on behalf of The Nation I sincerely thank you!

John Farrell (Pitching Coach)-We knew it was only a matter of time before Farrell received a manager’s job, I don’t think many expected to lose him to an AL East team however. John decided to take his talents to Toronto where he’ll get his first crack at managing. With that young pitching staff they have the Jays are a legitimate threat in the east. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to the role of manager though and we did we replace him with Curt Young, the former pitching coach of the A’s, the team that had the best team era last season so he himself is no slouch, whether or not he can replace Farrell means to be seen.

Starting Pitching:

Lester is my early prediction for the CY Young this year, I’m projecting 215 innings another 225 strike outs and 21 victories. I feel Buchholz will regress a little, his era will jump a tad while his strike outs improve and he will give up more hits, this will be due to him pitching more in the strike zone. Lackey greatly improved last year during the second half, it’s up to him to transfer that success over. Dice K could easily be moved this season come the all star break, if one of Wakefield/Doubront/Aceves prove to be healthy and pitching effectively we will ship Daisuke off to whoever will take him, he is not in our future plans and arbitration will not be offered to the 100 million dollar bust. Last but certainly not least we have Josh Beckett, the former ace, former opening day starter. The success of our rotation relies mainly on him, if he can get back to dominating form then the east is ours! If 2010 was a precursor to his down fall, hey it’s ok, we only have him signed through 2014.

The Rebuilt Pen:

So now that we’ve analyzed a few of the major moves let’s look at some of the other additions that weren’t as high profile but just as important. Going into spring training we knew Papelbon/Jenks/Bard all had spots and roles, it was perceived Wakefield would be our long reliever and emergency starting pitcher, though some are calling for him to replace Matsuzaka, the other spots however a complete mystery. Our bullpen has been made over beyond the addition of the aforementioned Bobby Jenks we now feature Matt Albers and Denny Reyes. Who? The most controversial position battle in spring training this year has been who will the Sox pick for these middle relieft spots. Miller and Aceves were candidates but seeing as they are on minor league deals and can be sent there without penalty we all knew their chances were slim. The Sox resigned Okajima last year, a move I find to be questionable, he was looked at as a favorite to regain one of the spots, he’s familiar with how the Sox operate, has had past success, and up until last season he was a proven commodity against the Yanks (2010 was pretty much bombs away when they stepped to the plate against him). Hideki however has an option left and was sent to the minors without being exposed to waivers. The decision to keep Albers & Reyes was a mood made for depth. We will enter the season with Papelbon/Jenks/Bard/Wakefield/Reyes/Albers/Wheeler a far more dangerous group than last year, and if they can stay healthy and hold to form they could be the best bullpen in the majors, then again Papelbon and Jenks could continue to slide and if that happens we are serious trouble folks!

Position Battle to Watch:

Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie. Jed came into his own down the stretch finally living up to expectations. He was healthy, filled in at first, second, and short, while swinging a hot bat. Whether or not Jed starts in 2012 depends on if he can stay healthy again, the interesting thing is even if he is our starting short stop to end the season he may not start there the following year. Jose Iglesias is defensively ready to take over at short, a move that could push Lowrie to 3b and shifting Youk to dh. It is no secret Theo loves Lowrie at thrid comparing him to Bill Mueller.

2012 and Beyond:

Ok so we have now reviewed this season’s changes but lets look at how this year’s moves alter the future. Besides the immediate loss of talent in our minor league system with the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford’s signing changed the future for several minor leaguers. By us acquiring another outfielder we were able to shift Mike Cameron to the position of 4th outfielder/pinch hitter, a spot that truly fits him at this point of his career. With the ever fragile JD Drew in right and the lefty heavy line up I’m sure Mike will see plenty of action. By us removing Cameron from the starting outfield position we are now able to give young outfielders like Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick more time to develop. We added more outfield depth when Jose Linares defected from Cuba and signed with us. He was the talk of spring training opening eyes all over the major leagues and was the target for many clubs, thankfully the Sox didn’t have any holes that need plugging. Since Cameron and Drew are in the last year of their contracts it is safe to assume that 2 of the 3 mentioned young outfielders will be with us next year, with one starting at right field. The fact that they can all get seasoning, full time at bats, and prepare for major league duty in 2012 is extremely important. I believe that Linares will be the starter if he can build upon this spring, he’s 26 much older than Kalish and has more professional experience playing in Cuba for several years. Reddick most likely will be out 4th outfielder, Kalish will continue to improve his skills and will most likely take over for Ellsbury in center field after the 2013 season. The fact that we have the best left fielder in baseball allows their progression to happen naturally instead of being rushed, of course another injury riddled season like last and you can kiss this game plan goodbye. Gonzalez anchoring first this season and beyond means that the power hitting Lars Anderson can finally relax, he no longer has worry about being the answer at first, he no longer has to look over his shoulder and see Anthony Rizzo breathing down his neck either. Anderson simply has to work on his hitting now as he will have an opportunity to take over dh duties for Ortiz after this season (spoiler alert Sox fans, he’s not coming back). We also acquired Saltalamacchia to take over at catcher, resigning Varitek to tutor the young catcher. Salty should prove to be an excellent backstop as long as his Rube Baker like throwing problems don’t return.

2012 Dream Scenario:

Before I give you my final prediction on our performance this year, let me just throw an idea out there. The Sox let Ortiz walk, we have Lowrie start at short, keep Youk at third, keep Iglesias in the minors, this would leave us an opening at dh if say Lars isn’t ready. Looking ahead there aren’t as many impact bats in this upcoming free agent class as there are available closers, what if we signed a guy named Pujols and had him split time between first/dh with Adrian? I forget where I read this originally but it could work. Is it unlikely? Yes. Improbable? Indeed. Worth dreaming about? Absolutely!

Bold Predictions:

I won’t say we will the WS, that’s a jinx, you get bad mojo by saying that, we will however, win the AL East totalling 101 regular season victories! The Rays will take the wild card as the Yankee’s age finally catches up to them, A-Roid/ Mr. Rescue Me/ and their .250 hitting first baseman will all severely underperform for what they are paid. Their rebuilt rotation containing Freddy Garcia/Ivan Nova/ and emergency starter Bartolo Colon will also under perform for what they are paid (this is pretty sad since they aren’t paid that much on minor league deals) and CC Sabathia & Soriano will opt out of their contracts realizing the reign of the Evil Empire is officially over. 2011 will be the Return of the Nation!

-Christopher B.

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New York Yankees 2011 Season Preview by AC

New York Yankees Preview RAREUNLIMITED.com

I am finally in Baseball Mode. Spring training/Pre-season Baseball drains me. With all the games I watch during the season, I can’t afford to sit there and watch an additional 30 something. However, I get all the updates, catch the innings I can, and always stay up on the progress of my Yanks and individual player stats in preparation for the regular season (Yes, I call them MY YANKS. With all the Money I Spend on Gear, tickets and food at the Stadium, I should own a percentage of the team). With that said, lets take a look at the 2011 New York Yankees and and make some early predictions, shall we ? Lets first break down the key additions and subtractions the off-season brought us.

Players Added:

Rafael Soriano – What’s there to say? The Best closer in the league in 2010, setting up the greatest closer of all time. This has potential to be the best 1-2 punch in MLB history. If you’re facing the Yankees this year, just pray you’re leading after 7. If not Good night, see you in the morning!

Bartolo Colon – OLLLL Bart-Gordo Fro-lon. I’ll admit when I first heard we signed him, I hit up my boy Somma and laughed. I mean we abused this guy his whole career, why sign him now??? I do like his roll in the pen as a long man though.

Freddy Garcia – A lot of writers bashed this move, I’ll be honest- with the current state of the rotation, I liked it. Garcia pitched 28 games for the White Sox last year, with a below average 4.64 ERA, and finished 12-6. Vazquez was your fifth starter last year, I’d take the actor who played the kid in rookie of the year over him. This is an improvement in that area.
*NOTE* Cliff Lee ended the 2010 season 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA.

Pedro Feliciano – who will not be joining the team for what he says will be “a couple of weeks” should be a positive addition to the squad. This work horse has lead the league in relief outings for the last four seasons and will fit right into the 7th inning spot. He gives lefties a tough time holding them to a career 214 batting average. After all why wouldn’t I want another Boriqua on the team.

Russell Martin – Yanks acted quick on Martin beating out the Jays and Redsox, and I feel it was a good risk taken. Not so long ago Martin was one of the best all-around catchers in baseball, hitting .285 with a .373 on-base percentage and .433 slugging percentage in 427 games through age 25. He’s still just 28 years old and will bring plenty of value to the table with his defense and on-base skills even if the rest of his game lags behind.

Andruw Jones – I love this pick up. Jones Hit 19 homers in 278 at-bats last year for the White Sox and slugged .558 against left-handed pitching. He also provides dependable defense in all three outfield positions.

Justin Maxwell- Another outfielder/utility guy, I don’t know much about him. I don’t know how much playing time he will get. Demoted to AAA

Eric Chavez- Injury prone muilti year gold-glove winner, who can provide help off the bench when Alex and Tex need a rest. Not mad at this as long as he stays healthy and off the operating table.

Mark Prior- Injury prone right hander, did not make the team. Although he was sent down, he could very well make an appearance this year if the stars are aligned.

Players Lost:

Andy Pettitte- We are definitely going to miss the all time winningest Playoff pitcher in history. Not only was he a great mentor for the younger guys, but his flare for the dramatic in big games could mean missing that “Go To” guy in key situations. Something tells me Andy will be back sooner, than later.

Javier Vazquez- Fuck him. Never forgave him for 2004. I never wanted him back, glad to see him go. He will be better in the NL, he is not build for the American League.

We will not miss the injury prone Nick Johnson or the replaceable Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns. I would have really like to keep Marcus Thames, he had some big hits for us last season. The addition of Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez should prove to be an improvement as the utility roll from both sides of the plate.

Randy Winn- See ya Randy, it was dumb while it lasted.

Juan Miranda- No room for Juan with Tex locked in at first. With the rotating designated hitter position Miranda was expendable. No telling how young buck Scotti Allen will perform (player acquired from Diamond back for Miranda). We will see.

Kerry Wood- At first I was very upset we didn’t make a stronger play to bring Wood back in the off season.. Little did I know, Cashman was only signing the Second Best Closer (1st Stats wise) in the league to set up the sandman, Mariano Riviera. Thanks for the good times Kerry.

Chad Gaudin – I am a big Chad Guadin supporter. He never hurt us, got some big outs and was there in 2009. I wish him the best of luck in all his endeavors in Washington.

Player to Watch

Alex Rodriguez – This is the first off-season in a couple years where Alex is able to actually approach the season in healthy form. His numbers this spring were not human and judging by the amount of grapes Cameron Diaz has been feeding him, Mr. Rodriguez seems pretty relaxed.

Pitcher to watch

A.J. Burnett- He will be the one dude in the rotation to really watch. Coming off his worst season career wise, his private matters coming to fruition and his drive to do better, I feel this should be a very eventful season for the tatted, pie chucking tosser. Hopefully he wears the Bluejays jersey under the pinstripes and brings back some of that 2008.

Breakdown:
The Yankees’ offense remains one o
f the best in the league, but the pitching is the question. Then again, who besides the Phillies doesn’t search answers in that dept. That’s why they play the games.

CC is your main man, Hughes is good for at least 6 every outing but the rest of the rotation is a big question mark.

Hopefully AJ Burnett is over the drama at home and Posada hang-ups and can start to act like a big leaguer again.

Ivan Nova seems promising and has looked good this Spring, however his in-experience can cause problems down the stretch. After all this is a LONG season.

Can Bartolo Colon be productive as a long man ?

Can Freddy Garcia give any sort of production in the very competitive AL East?

The Yanks will be very competitive in 2010, especially with a much improved bullpen that shapes up to be among the tops in the league.

The key, however, will be getting six quality innings from everyone who is not CC Sabathia. I feel this much scrutinized rotation will surprise a lot of people.

2010 Finish:

95-67 (2nd Place, AL East), Won AL Wild Card, Lost ALCS 4-2

2011 Prediction:

1st Place, AL East

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