April 2011

Pittsburgh Pirates Offseason Recap and Preview

Sorry Bucs fans, I have to go here:
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It has been what? 18 losing seasons put together.

Grade: C

 
 
Notable Additions:

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Lyle Overbay, Scott Olsen, Matt Diaz, Garrett Atkins, Jose Veras, and Joe Biemel.

 

Notable Subtractions:

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Joe Martinez, Brandon Moss, Brian Bass, Delwyn Young, Zach Duke, and Chan Ho Park.

Why?: The best way to describe the offseason is, eh. Not fantastic but not devastating. They lost some faces of the past and solid players but also gained solid players. Although unlike other teams, the Pirates gained and lost the talent in different places. They might have lost
some stability in the outfield but also became stronger in the infield.

 

Right now they are in the seemingly never ending stage of rebuilding. I warn Pirates fans that for this particular organization this stage will never end until they invest some into the ball club. What the Pirates ownership is doing at the moment is cost cutting and making money off of the league’s revenue sharing. This may be a way to beat the system and make a profit but it does not do them well when it comes to winning.

 

Predicted Record Range: 60-65 wins. Just put in the last part of my last paragraph of “Why?” here. The Pirates will not win until the ownership stops trying to beat the system.

 

Up Next: San Francisco Giants

Chicago Cubs Offseason Recap and Preview

They were doing well until:

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From then on out not much winning.

 

Grade: B

 

Notable Additions:

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Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Kerry Wood, Reed Johnson, and Todd Wellemeyer.

 

Notable Subtractions:

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Tom Gorzelanny, Xavier Nady, Christopher Archer, and Mason Tobin.

 

Why?: I understand that the Cubs did give away a lot of prospects for Matt Garza but I don’t exactly remember the quality of those prospects so I will judge the Cubs’ offseason just by the number of prospects and the net talent.

 

They got: front-of-the-line starter, set-up man, power hitting lefty, outfielder, and solid bullpen pitcher. They lost: middle-of-the-rotation starter, solid hitting righty and a bushel of prospects. To me, this evens out to a B grade but again, I don’t know how good the prospects were so I can’t judge this that well.

 

Predicted Record Range: 77-82 wins. This is one of those overhyped big market situations… I think. They only reason I can see them improving is if the pitchers previously on the team (mainly silva and Zambrano) stabilize and become more consistent.

 

Next up: Pittsburgh Pirates

Houston Astros Offseason Recap and Preview

The two faces of the Franchise:
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Now the two former faces of the franchise.

Grade: C

Notable Additons:
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Bill Hall, Ryan Rowland-Smith, and Clint Barmes.

Notable Subtractions:
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Matt Lindstrom, Felipe Paulino, and Tim Byrdak.

Why?: Really nothing to report here. There won’t be anything to report until the prospects they received in their garage sale come to fruition. They had the most uneventful offseason I have reported so far.

Their rotation is young and can be a good one for years to come headed by Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ. Those two still have room for improvement and will be helped by sharing a staff with, now veteran leader, Brett Myers. This is where I think future success will come from if any exists in the next few years.

Predicted Record Range: 60-65 wins. I don’t know how they will wins besides pitching. This record is a product of my ignorance to their players. If I weren’t two weeks behind I would bother to learn them but now no.

Up Next: Chicago Cubs

4/14/11 Orioles at Yankees: New Yankee Stadium

As I entered the Stadium, I saw this:
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Great day for great bp right? At first it was.

As soon as I took that picture a security guard said something that I thought was “Hi”. After a round of unsuccessful bp I headed over to left field for the second Yankee group. As I was headed out, the security guard:
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pulled a ball out from behind the upper left seat of this section and handed it to me for #1 on the day.

I then went through a patch where neither Yankee nor Orioles were hitting balls to my part of left field. It was a group made out of all lefties except for one weak hitting righty. Since I wasn’t getting any toss-ups from the Orioles it was a tough bp. I think I probably should have been louder because it seemed like they always just missed my Orioles cap when scanning the crowd. Me not having my Orioles t-shirt didn’t exactly help either.

Then the power group came up. The group consisted of: Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee, Caesar Izturis, and either Robert Andino or Adam Jones. This led to plenty of Home Runs to make up for the previous group. Most were out of my reach but several came into my axises of power. A few went over my head yadah, yadah.

Though, two came into my row. The first was hit by Derrek Lee two sections to my right (left if looking from home plate). I ran over and scooped it up as it trickled down back to my row for ball #2 on the day. The second, was hit by Mark Reynolds and actually landed in my row. So, I slid to get it before it rolled into the row in front of me. In the process of sliding I actually ripped the knee of my pants:
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In the process of putting my glove over the ball mid slide, I pushed the ball into the row in front of me where another fan grabbed the ball right before I could have gotten up.

Although the pants were double layered, I can still say I would have been much happier on this specific ball if I had gotten it because I pretty scraped up, not on the slide but on banging my knee on the seat getting up.

I was in no mood to keep running around in the outfield. So seeing as it was the last group of bp, I got a head start on the end portion of bp. Nothing came of that.  There I met up with Zack Hample and another ballhawk I had never met before named, Ben Weil (boys and girls, this is why you wear long pants even when it is warm outside:
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(Can’t you tell a high quality camera picture when you see it. That would be both high quality photography and high quality camera.)

I stayed behind the Yankee dugout before the knee started hurting again and I knew I had to start moving to have it ready for the game (it was about 6:40 at the time). I abruptly left for right field because I knew there were two righties on the mound that day and the Yankees have many switch hitters.

From my spot in right I took time to laugh at those trapped in the bleachers I had been on my last trip to Yankee Stadium:
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Mwhahaha!

This would be my view from right:
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The man in right field would be Nick Markakis, who hit a Home Run in the third inning (the link is here. I don’t know if that link takes you to the actual video or to the highlights in general but the specific video is titled “Markakis’ homer puts Orioles on top”). In the video, I am the hooded figure in maroon who goes down the steps while the Home Run is far away and then goes back up the stairs. I got to the right row but unfortunately I was blocked from catching the ball in the air so I waited for the rebound off the fan with no glove but he caught it on the fly.

To give you an idea of how close it came:
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The fan that caught the ball was right behind the guy in the picture with a red and blue Yankee hat.

As far as the rest of the game goes, it was pretty good but for some reason the more I go to Yankee Stadium the less I am a fan of the Yankees themselves. Through this game, I was actually more disappointed that the Twins lost in a devastating fashion than the win the Yankees had. I was looking up here all game:
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The Yankees win, though. I had plenty of documentation for.

The catch and throw:
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The run scoring/ed:
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The celebration:
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The pie:
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For those of you who don’t know what just happened, the Yankees won on a walk-off Sacrifice Fly by Nick Swisher (which is nice because from being in right field for the whole game I learned how much he interacts with the fans throughout the course of the game).

After the end Rafael Soriano threw a ball into my part of right field as he left the bullpen:
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I didn’t want to get in front of the person who it was intended for so I let him try and catch it but he missed it completely and so neither of us got it.

Yankees 6 Orioles 5

Stats:

  • 2 Balls at this game

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Which would be #66 and 67 for the young career:
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  • 2.0 Balls Per game
  • 28 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 5 straight games at Yankee Stadium with at least 1 ball
  • Competition Factor: 81,034
  • Time at Game: 4:30-10:30 Six hours

Milwaukee Brewers Offseason Recap and Preview

Although the result was not what they would have wanted, one good thing came out of the 2010 season for the Brewers:

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Grade: B+

 

Notable Additions:

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Zack Greinke, Shawn Marcum, Yuniesky Betancourt, Sean Green, Takashi Saito, and Mark Kotsay.

 

Notable Subtractions:

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Dave Bush, Chris Capuano, Todd Coffey, Carlos Villanueva, Brett Lawrie, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, Lorenzo Cain, Gregg Zaun, Doug Davis, and Trevor Hoffman.

 

Why?: Yeah, sure they got two front-of-the-line pitchers (yes I do consider Shawn Marcum front-of-the-line when he is not in the AL East) but also look at all the players they lost. They lost: 4 starters, 3 relievers, two infielders, an outfielder, a catcher, and one prospect I didn’t bother to look up.

 

I think their rotation should be fine despite losing those four starters as they are a strong five… but if (read: when) one of their starters goes down in the season this offseason has created a canyon of talent between the 5 starter and next in line.

 

Their offense should be great as always and might even increase seeing as Prince is in a walk year and might get up a little extra for it. I am not saying he doesn’t try hard but for many stars it enables them to use their family as motivation to do well.

 

There is also the factor of good pitching affecting the hitting. It will be interesting to see whther this hurts or helps. As far as I can see, it will either help to not feel like they have to score 10 runs a game and they will relax/ hit better or they will relax too much and not score enough.

 

Predicted Record Range: 85-90 wins. I am not expecting that much of them because they did only win 77 games last year and didn’t imporve that much when you think about it. This is still giving them an improvement of 8-13 wins which is a lot for a team to accomplish (and in retro spect might be a bit much).

 

Up Next: Chicago Cubs

St. Louis Cardinals Offseason Recap and Preview

They thought they were the champs. They fought the Reds strongly:

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They took the competition late into the season. Then this happened:

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Grade: B-

 

Notable Additions:

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Jim Edmonds, Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman, Gerald Laird, Miguel Bautista, Ian Snell, and Nick Punto.

 

Notable Subtractions:

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Brad Penny, Randy Winn, Pedro Feliz, Brendan Ryan, Aaron Miles, and Jeff Suppan.

 

Why?: Initially I was going to give them a C- but then I typed in all the notable additions and they are all solid players. I then looked and saw they didn’t have many subtractions worth crying about. They boosted each of the four Cardinal (pun intended) categories of Relief Pitching, Stating Pitching, Infield, and Outfield.

 

The losses are also solid players but everywhere they replaced the players and then added some more. This entry was supposed to be before Wainwright went out so I won’t count him as a subtraction but looking at these players they did decently in the offseason.

 

Predicted Record Range: 80-85 wins. The Wainwright isn’t enough alone to lower the wins THAT much so I say with his actual stats gone and the emotional blow it adds, 3-5 wins should be expected off of last year’s win total.

 

Up Next: Milwaukee Brewers

4/9/11 Nationals at Mets: Citi Field

So, I was on 67th street at 2:00 and had yet to pick up my Mets/Nationals gear. Long story short I showed up waay late to the game… but wait why haven’t the gates opened?
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Did I actually show up late?
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Yeah, by almost a hour (last year I got to Citi Field 4:00-4:10 for a 7:10 game. If you can’t see that says 4:55)

Apparently the ever endearing Mets thought it best to open the gates a mere 2 hours before game time. This put me both at the back of a line of people and will take half an hour away from me every time I go to Citi Field. Why are both New York teams horrible at dealing with fans?

Anyway, the gates opened at 5:10 but I didn’t get until probably 5:20 because of the line delay.

As the gates opened I quickly identified the fans racing up the escalator as ballhawks Zack Hample and Joe Faraguna. Since they were probably going to go right to left field, I figured I should pray that the pitchers were still throwing in right.

They weren’t so I went to center field in hopes of getting a ball from the posse that shags balls there. At first, it seemed like that would never happen. Pedro Beato was cutting everything way in front of the wall (wasn’t that hard considering I was about a thousand feet from home plate). One then finally made its way to the wall. A group of kids was yelling at him and he didn’t turn around. Finally, I accused him of being racist towards Colombians. He laughed and threw me the ball.

On to left field. I got there and literally every feasible landing sector had a ballhawk patrolling it. There must have been half a dozen ballhawks. Let’s see how many I remember. 1+2 the ones listed two paragraphs above. 3. Tony Bracco. 4. Oliver Rowles. 5. Gary Kowal. 6. Ross Finkelstein. It must have been the fact that it was the first 7:10 game of the season but take my word for it there are almost never ballhawks at weekend games (which is why I like them). Just check the day of the week I made this major snag on. I think that was everyone but I can’t be that sure seeing as I didn’t talk to many on account of me moving around so much.

Nevertheless, none of the ballhawks dared to be in the corner of left field amongst a sea of weekend fans. So when Michael Morse hit a homerun behind that sea, I ran through my aisle to the ball. I was late because of a few fan but the ball hit off a seat and stayed in the air for what seemed like minutes before I caught it on that fly (technically it is not on the fly but it didn’t hit the ground so that’s good enough for me. If you haven’t picked up, I stink at tracking fly balls). I then got a toss up from a player I later identified as Chad Gaudin. I gave that one away to a kid who had missed the previous toss-up.

I then moved over to right field for the rest of Nationals bp. Seeing as I was the only Nationals fan in the section, you would think I would get a ball quickly:
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Nope. The two players: Tyler Clippard  and  Drew Storen were tossing up balls galore. Except not to me. It was so bad that even other Met fans started vouching for me as “#1 Nats fan up here”. One appeared to be thrown to me by Clippard but he under-threw it and another fan in the row in front of me reached it front and grabbed it. Solid day but could have gone way better. I seem to have a problem with finishing bps. I get a few early but then run dry in the closing minutes.

Though my seat for the game was pretty good:
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I would have gone to the third base side but since I am stubborn and was determined to get a ball from the two Nationals, I didn’t have time to run over there (security doesn’t let you enter after bp ends). There was no shot at getting an Ike Davis 3rd out ball. He threw them solely to the front to rows, which the security guard at the bottom of the stairs wasn’t giving access to.

Although, had a person not gone down the staris mid at-bat, I would’ve had my second foul ball at Citi Field:
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Imagine the two or three fans standing up are the fans that got in my way. The ball went where the two or three fans are and I ran down the stairs with plenty of fans but couldn’t reach out the extra three feet because of the fans and couldn’t run around them because of the railing. This left the ball going into the row of fans where it was dropped and recovered. It was actually a great night for foul balls on this side because of the two lefty pitchers but not that many balls went into my section.

I then missed out on an opportunity for an umpire ball because I was again, seated on the wrong side of the stadium (but it may be good security doesn’t know me, though. I saw the adverse affects this can have with Greg Barasch being essentially banned for the last few games of the season a year ago.)

The game was actually a decent one with the Mets winning 8-4. I would have a more detailed recollection of the game but I am doing this entry five days later.


Stats:

  • 3 Balls snagged (2 pictured because I gave one away )

    
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A different side if you prefer below.

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  • 2.0 Balls Per Game
  • 27 straight games with at least 1 ball
  • 16 ga
    mes straight at Citi Field with at least one ball.
  • Time at Game: 4:55 to 10:30= 5 hour and 35 minutes
  • Competition Factor= 95,088

Cincinnati Reds Offseason Recap and Preview

For so long they had struggled at the bottom of the NL Central with the Brewers and Pirates but last year:

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Grade: D
Notable Additions:
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Edgar Renteria, Jeremy Hermeida, and Dontrelle Willis (if he ever figures it out again).
Notable Subtractions:
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Jim Edmonds, Arthur Rhodes, Aaron Harang, Micah Owings, and Orlando Cabrera.
Why?: Let’s calculate the net worth relative to last year, shall we? A colombian for a colombian makes me more likely to see a Reds game, but hinders them defensively and does not do anything for their offense there. An Edmonds for a Hermeida does not help them in any aspects except maybe future production. Aaron Harang and Micah Owings for Dontrelle Willis lowers the pithing talent substantially and slightly lowers the offensive production of the position (Owings is great hitting pitcher but Willis was pretty good himself).
Then there is the outright loss of Arthur Rhodes. He had a career year last year but if he returns to anywhere near that it will be a big loss to their bullpen that might be covered by the emergence of Aroldis Chapman.
Overall, they had an answer to all their losses but they were lower quality versions. When you replace parts of a high quality machine (that may or may not be red) with lower quality parts then the quality of the machine as a whole will be lower.
Predicted Record Range: 85-90 wins. Like I said in the above paragraph, the team will be of lower quality. Granted, they still have the no-fluke MVP of last year but they also had A LOT of comeback wins which are not easily repeatable.
Up Next: St. Louis Cardinals

Washington Nationals Offseason Recap and Preview

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The image of the year and perhaps the decade for the Nationals. Though they hope not.

 

Grade: B

 

Notable Additions:

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Jayson Werth, Matt Stairs, Rick Ankiel, Chad Gaudin, Adam LaRoche, Jerry Hairston Jr., Tom Gorzelanny, Todd Coffey, and Alex Cora.

 

Notable Subtractions:

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Adam Dunn, Lastings Milledge, Josh Willingham, Scott Olsen, Miguel Bautista, and Willy Taveras.

 

Why?: Now I know that the Jayson Werth deal was excessive and I would not have done it. To put it in perspective, they could have gotten Adam Dunn and a fourty million dollar pitcher or Adam Dunn and two twenty million dollar pitchers. I factored this into the grade, which is why the grade is not a B+ instead of a B.

 

What I saw though, was a team that is MUCH improved on defense (Adam Laroche, Rick Ankiel, and Alex Cora). Remeber that in the last few years this has been a problem. They also *improved* their lineup despite the loss of Dunn’s power bat with the signings of Adam Laroche (25 HRs a year) and Werth (who knows in the National’s line-up). They also got some bullpen and rotational stability with Gorzelanny, Coffey, and Gaudin acquired.

 

Predicted Record Range: 70-75 wins. Out of the Cellar baby!! I think that this number can actually be higher because of the stability they have now that they are a bit older and will be more consitent instead of many players that should be in AAA botching plays and pitching on hot and cold streaks.

 

Up Next: Cinncinati Reds

New York Mets Offseason Recap and Preview

Normally I provide a picture at the beginning of an entry to describe the team’s last season. The Mets are no exception:

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Grade: B-

 

Notable Additions:

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Chris Young, Chris Capuano, Boof Bonser, Chin-lung Hu, and Scott Harriston.

 

Notable Subtractions:

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Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Pedro Feliciano, Hisanori Takahashi, Sean Green, Henry Blanco, John Maine, and Fernando Tatis.

 

Why?: Had I done this entry when I planned, I would have given them a C. With the subtractions of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo they actually did not hurt their chances of winning this year by that much. It also set them up for the future rather well not having to worry about the contracts of those two.

 

The only thing that it could be interpretted negatively as is, as a declaration of defeat by the Mets (that would be Mets fans that say this). Yes, it is a declaration of defeat, but come on, did Mets fans really expect them to get to the playoffs this year (some do).

 

Maybe this is just my talk radio trained ear overreacting to Mets fans expecting their team to do well. I wish them well for all the Mets fans in New York (Although, a worse team does mean more empty seats) but I just don’t see it this year… at all.

 

Predicted Record Range: 65-70 wins maybe they go on more extended versions of the tears last year because of injured players coming back but I also see two players in contract years that could act as trade bait. This number is assuming either Calos Beltran or Jose Reyes gets traded mid-season. If not, see this number go up maybe even by double digits.

 

Up Next: Washington Nationals

 

To try and hide this entry (as to not get hate mail from Mets fans) quickly I will try and get the Nationals Recap and Preview up ASAP.  

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