Archive | February 2013

AL Central Division: Chicago White Sox

In 2012 the Chicago White Sox hired Robin Ventura as their new manager and General Manager Kenny Williams called the season a rebuilding year.  Manager Ozzie Guillen was now in Miami and Ace pitcher Mark Buehrle was also there with him.  They traded Closer Sergio Santos and starting OF Carlos Quentin, who was a 2011 All Star, while Juan Pierre left for Philadelphia.  Even with barely anyone giving them a shot they almost came away with the Central Division title.  The White Sox had surprised the Detroit Tigers, who were clear favorites, by leading the race until they lost 10 out of their last 12 games during the season.  They were in first place for 126 days out of the season but ended up being three games behind the Tigers who went on to win the AL Pennant.  They have a lot of the same guys as last but lost AJ Pierzynski who had arguably his best year last season from behind the plate.  Here is what I think would suit the White Sox best for this upcoming year in baseball.

 

1. CF – Alejandro De Aza – hit .281 last year in 131 games while stealing 26 bases in his first full season in the Majors.  Prototypical CF, has a lot of range

2. 3rd – Jeff Keppinger – Career .288 hitter that hit .325 last year in 115 games with Tampa Bay, can play 2nd, 3rd and SS. 

3rd. RF – Alex Rios – Hit .304 with 25 home runs last year in 151 games.  Good range in RF and a power arm.

4th. DH – Adam Dunn – Huge power bat who came back strong last year after a terrible slump year in 2011.  Will strikeout a lot but will make up for them with home runs.

5th. 1st – Paul Konerko – I think he is the best pure hitter on the team, knows what to do with the ball and when to do it.  Had a lot of speculation about becoming a player/manager before last years season.  I was contemplating about switching Rios and Konerko but ultimately went with Rios, who I think will have a more complete season with power and average.

6th. LF – Dayan Viciedo – 23 year old that hit 25 home runs last year in his first full season. 

7th. SS – Alexei Ramirez – Great glove at SS.  Hit .290 with 21 home runs in his rookie campaign but in the past two years he hit .269 and .260 with 15 and 9 home runs.  Seems to be struggling more at the plate every year. 

8th. C – Tyler Flowers – Unproven player that hit .213 last year in 52 games but I’ve heard a lot about his potential.  Nervous about a full work load for him.

9th. 2nd – Gordon Beckham – Career .245 hitter with 49 home runs in 4 years.  Can play 3rd and 2nd but is a lot better defensively at 2nd.  Only had seven errors last year with a .990 fielding percentage.

 

Chris Sale was a stud on the mound last year and probably will be again this year.  Peavy has been fairly good but I think that he is more of a number 3 starter than number 2, especially in the AL.  John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Jose Quintana are going to be the rest of the rotation but they are average pitchers at best.   Quintana is only going to be in his second year and could work his way up the rotation for next year.  Addison Reed was a surprise last year by earning the closer role in his age 23 season.  He completed 29 saves in 33 opportunities but did have a 4.75 ERA.  I expect this team to struggle due to higher expectations from their overachieving year last year.  They seem to have a lot of players who have been inconsistent in the last few years which usually comes down to coaching.  Ventura could get things in motion in years to come but I am not seeing it this year, especially with an improving Royals and Indian teams.  They will finish fourth in the American League Central Division.

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AL Central Division: Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals have won the World Series more recently than the Detroit Tigers.  That was in 1985.  That was also the last time that they have even made the postseason.  Since that time they have had 18 top ten draft picks and seven top five draft picks in the last eight years.  For that reason they are loaded with young talent that are starting to pop up in the big leagues.  Some of those names are Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Aaron Crow.  Their whole lineup will be younger than 30 years old on Opening Day. 

They have a very nice build of speed and athleticism up the middle and a mix of power bats and power arms in the corners.  They also made a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for some much needed starting pitching.  Here is a look at the lineup that I think would suit the Royals the best during this season. 

1. SS Alcides Escobar – Very fast and sure handed SS that will be able to hit .270-.280 and steal 25+ bags a year

2. CF Lorenzo Cain – Not as good of a hitter or base stealer as Escobar but has tremendous range in Center (Look for Left handed CF Jarrod Dyson to get a lot of swings here in the lineup especially vs. Righties)

3. LF Alex Gordon – Has been the poster child for the Royals since his debut in 2007.  One of the best arms from the outfield in the MLB and can do just about anything you ask of him at the plate, will hit .300 with 15-20 home runs. 

4.  DH Billy Butler – Best hitter on the team, hit .313 last year with 29 HR’s.  I could see him winning a batting title at some point in his career, has been doing it since 2007 and is only in his age 27 season. 

5. 3rd Mike Moustakas – 24 years old, only hit .246 last year but did have 20 home runs.  Good 3rd basemen that will solidify the left side of the field.  Should hit for a better average than last year.

6.  C Salvador Perez – only 22 years old, lost a lot of time early last year with an injury.  In the 76 games he played last year he hit .301 with 11 HR’s.  Has great potential and will be the Royals starting catcher for a long time. 

7.  1st Eric Hosmer – 23 year old that is great with his glove at 1st base.  Is a potential Gold Glove winner that has hit .262 with 33 HR’s and a .730 OPS in his two year career so far.   

8.  RF Jeff Francouer – 29 year old that will be entering his 9th season in the big leagues.  Has a cannon from RF and struggle last year at the plate, hitting .235 with 16 HR’s but the year before he hit .285 with 20 HR’s.  I expect he will do better further down in the lineup and with better hitters throughout the lineup to support.

9. 2nd Chris Getz – Former Michigan Wolverine that is the oldest player in the lineup, will turn 30 on August 30th.  Never has been a for sure starter in the big leagues, I expect him and Johnny Giavotella to split time with Getz a lefty and Giavotella a righty.  Has speed to steal bases and hit .275 last year but has only hit a home run in one season, 2009, when he only hit two.

 

The new Royals starting five are more solid than they were a year ago.  They acquired three new players one of which is going to be their Opening Day starter.  Danny Duffy probably won’t make the starting rotation at the beginning of the year but he will make his way into the rotation at some point, he is a very good young prospect.  Here is what I think will be their starting rotation over the year.  

1. James Shields – Big pick up with Shields, will make the Royals rotation a lot better, former All-Star.

2. Jeremy Guthrie – Traded for him during last season, through 14 games he was 5-3.

3.  Ervin Santana – Acquired him in a trade from the Angels, was 9-13 last year but has a 96-80 career record.  Is usually hit or miss during the season.

4. Wade Davis – another guy they picked up with Shields. Got pushed out of the rotation last year because of Matt Moore.  Was 3-0 in 54 games with a 2.43 ERA.

5. Bruce Chen – led the team in wins last year with 11 but had 14 losses. 12-8 the year before.

 

They will not be the best rotation in the division but they look a lot better than last year.  I expect the Royals to finish 3rd in the AL Central, hanging in the top for a while but then falling out of the race late in the year.  I do expect them to be getting a lot better and contending in the next few years though.  But that is what 20 years of top picks should do.

AL Central Division: Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians started last year leading the American League Central division through 40 games with a 23-17 record.  Through 81 games last year the Cleveland Indians were 42-39, being two ahead of the Detroit Tigers and two behind the Chicago White Sox.  They were still in a good spot for the rest of the season and were a surprise team that could potentially win the division.  They went on for the rest of the year only winning 26 games and losing 55 to finish in fourth place with a 68-94 record, only two games ahead of the pitiful Minnesota Twins. 

They had some spurts were they were good but could not get consistent.  Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Kipnis and Chris Perez were some bright spots of the club but they just didn’t have enough to take advantage of a weak AL Central.  This year is going to be a different story.  They have brought in some very good players that will make them a better team and a legitimate contender for the AL Central Title. 

They came out this winter with one of the biggest moves of this offseason by hiring Terry Francona as their Manager.  They then acquired Bret Myers, Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds through free agency.  They made a big trade with the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Indians traded away RF Shin-Soo Choo with IF Jason Donald and acquired CF Drew Stubbs, the 3rd pick in the 2011 draft RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Matt Albers and RHP Bryan Shaw.  Most recently, the Indians made a big splash and signed CF Michael Bourn who was a number three rated free agent during this offseason.  Bourn and Stubbs give the Indians two more outfielders that can run very well on the base paths.  Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley will also give the Indians a group of players that can wreak havoc in the running game. 

This is the projected lineup that I believe would suit the Indians best.

1. CF – Michael Bourn – Hit .274 last year with 44 stolen bases. Arguably the best defensive CF in the league.

2. 2nd – Jason Kipnis – Has power and speed, will be able to get a lot of fastballs with Bourn on the base paths.

3. SS – Asdrubal Cabrera – Very good switch hitter that will benefit a lot from Bourn and Kipnis in front of him.

4. DH – Nick Swisher – Another switch hitter that shows some power, good arm in RF and can play 1st.

5. C – Carlos Santana – A below average arm behind the plate but makes up for it with the bat, yet another switch hitter in this lineup.

6. 1st – Mark Reynolds – Has a ton of raw power but won’t get on very much and will strike out a lot, has led the league 4 times in strikeouts.

7. LF – Michael Brantley – played CF last year and has good speed and great range. 

8. 3rd – Lonnie Chisenhall – Will finally not have to split time at 3rd, young player with good potential.

9. RF – Drew Stubbs – Good defensive outfielder, struggled last year at the plate but has a lot of speed on the base paths.

 

This lineup will not have a great batting average but it has good mix and match of speed and power.  Their ability to run the bases will get them in position so the big guys can hit them in.  I expect them to finish 2nd in the AL Central with the player additions and a great coach.  They will have a pretty good defensive team with Cabrera and Kipnis up the middle in the infield.  Bourn, Stubbs and Brantley are very good defensive outfielders who usually play CF and then Swisher has a great arm to add to that.  They will not have a problem no matter who they put in the outfield.  Mike Aviles is another good addition that will be coming off the bench to play 3rd, SS or 2nd base.  He can run and plays very good defense, will be a great guy to have for small ball when it is needed.  I expect the Indians will be the second best team in the AL Central and will compete for the division title.

Detroit Tigers Projected Pitching Staff

Starting Pitchers

Justin Verlander – as Jim Price says every time he talks about JV, “best pitcher in the world.” Will make $20,100,000 this year but worth it. Hopefully they will get him extension during Spring Training.

Max Sherzer – avoided arbitration with a 1 year 6,700,000 million dollar deal.  Hopefully they will be able to lock him up for a long time.  I still think that the Tigers are huge winners in the Granderson deal because for a while last year he was better than JV.

Doug Fister – Dougie Fresh is a great move that the Tigers made to get him away from Seattle. Dombrowski also avoided arbitration with Fister with a 1 year 4,000,000 million dollar deal. 

Anibal Sanchez – has to be the highest paid 4th starter ever with his new 5 year 80 million dollar contract.  I did not think that the Tigers would resign him because of the money involved but I also didn’t think the Tigers would sign Prince Fielder until V Mart got hurt, Mr. Illitch really wants to win.  Love to have him back, especially since it’s not my money.

Drew Smyly – I really like Smyly better as the 5th starter vs Porcello at this point in their careers. I like the left handed pitcher in the rotation too.

 

Relief Pitchers

Rick Porcello –  Last year he had about 2 good innings and then the flood gates opened. Shows great potential and at this point I would love him in long relief because he has not learned how to be effective consistently in a whole game.  If he doesn’t get traded might I add.

Duane Below – Will be a good left handed long reliever for specific situations.

Al Albuquerque – Great slider and I love the way he pitches.  Will be a great guy to have, will get a chance to pitch in some big situations. 

Octavio Dotel – Great guy who can pitch in any situation; close, set up man, or any other.

Bruce Rondon – Young pitcher who has been hugely rumored to be the closer.  I am not a big fan of having young players in the closer position.  I see it in his future from what I’ve heard about him but the closer has to be a guy who is has incredible mental toughness.

Joaquin Benoit – Set up guy, struggled with giving up home runs last year but hopefully he will get it back this year.

Phil Coke – A lot of people may disagree with me but I loved what I saw in the playoffs last year and he has the mental toughness and the bulldog mentality that you need in a closer.  Another guy that came in the Granderson deal that makes the Tigers huge winners.

 

I love their pitching staff, they have some young guys with talent that will have to prove themselves and they have veterans who know that they deserve to pitch in the league.  I think that the Valverde loss is a big one. I was in the minority being a supporter of him, but I really enjoyed the closer who has the highest save percentage and the most saves in in the league over his tenure with the Tigers, the last 3 years. 

Papa Grande did struggle in a few games last year but it seemed like everyone was on his case the previous year when he did not blow a save in 49 opportunities.  Tigers fans have never liked closers, from Todd Jones who was a pretty good closer in his career to Fernando Rodney who has great stuff and showed last year that he is a great pitcher .  Last year Valverde blew 5 saves all year which isn’t bad when a fan realizes that 15 relief pitchers blew 5 or more saves last year, including All Star Aroldis Chapman.  I agree with the Tigers getting rid of him because there is no possible way that Valverde could have pitched effectively with most of Comerica Park booing him when he is coming in.  I think it’s best for Valverde too because I would never want to play for a city that boos me every time I come in to play.  I am excited to see what Leyland does with the closer position.  It seems that every one wants Rondon to become it.  I am weary that if he struggles in the first part of the season that Tiger fans will become anxious and boo him.  He could become one of those players who never recover from underperforming in their rookie season and can’t recover in a less than supportive atmosphere.  I would prefer Coke because of the way that he carries himself and I think his mental toughness is perfect for a closer.

 

Feel free to comment and tell me your ideas.  This is my opinion and I would love to hear yours too.  Make sure to follow me and read the other articles about the World Baseball Classic, the Tigers and many more to come.

 

~ Benjamin Brown

2013 Detroit Tigers Projected Line Up

Spring Training is right around the corner and this year’s Detroit Tigers team is looking pretty solid.  They are one of the favorites to win the World Series in the fall.  They still have a lot of the same players but there are a few spots that will look a bit different.  The big parts of the lineup are still intact; such as Austin Jackson leading off, Miguel Cabrera hitting 3rd with Prince Fielder cleaning up.  Today, I will go over the lineup that I think they should put out there and later I will talk about their pitching staff.

Line Up

1st – CF Austin Jackson – Typical leadoff hitter and a great centerfielder.  Love that he changed his swing last year.

2nd – RF Torii Hunter – I love this signing, a little more money but hey it’s not mine.  Great defender, great clubhouse guy that will take Jackson under his wing and good with the stick.  Might not do as well hitting as last year but I love it.

3rd – 3rd Miguel Cabrera – Triple Crown…  Enough said…

4th – 1st Prince Fielder – .313 BA, 30 HR .940 On Base Plus slugging. I’ll take it in the 4 hole.

5th – DH Victor Martinez – He will be a huge addition to the line up again, just like he was two years ago.  I think a year off will be beneficial for his career, look for a huge year out of Victor.

6th – LF Andy Dirks – Had a big year last year and earned a starting job.  A hitter with versatility that can hit pretty much anywhere in the lineup.  Adds a little speed in the middle of the order.

7th – SS Johnny Peralta –  Last year he slumped a lot but I think Peralta is a guy who should hit .270-.280 a year with 15-20 HR’s and 65-75 RBI’s in his career and will do so this year.

8th – C Alex Avila – Another guy who struggled last year.  But I think he pretty much the same hitter as Peralta but left handed.

9th – 2nd Omar Infante – A great addition last year that shored up the 2nd base spot.  Could see him hitting 2nd if Hunter needs a break.

Bench Players

OF Avisail Garcia – Will get starts against Lefties for Dirks in LF and could see him get some starts when Hunter needs a break.

OF Quintin Berry – Will be a great asset off the bench in late innings for a defensive replacement or when the team needs a base stealer.

IF Ramon Santiago – Love Ramon, best defensive IFer and can play 2nd, SS, and 3rd. I’ll also add that he’s a switch hitter, perfect guy for a bench role.

C Brayan Pena – Switch hitting catcher that is a great addition to be a backup.  Hard working guy that could play the IF as well.

Don’t forget to come back to read about the 2013 Detroit Tigers pitching staff and also read earlier articles that I have written.

~ Benjamin Brown

Going For Gold: Extra Innings

United States Line Up Predictions

1.  Jimmy Rollins – SS – I wish they had a better option here that has a higher batting average.  I’d love to have Rollins hit in the 9 spot.

2.  Brandon Phillips – 2nd – typically hits 4th for the Reds but he does have a wide range of assets so he can also hit in the 2 hole.  Good fastball hitter and will get a lot of fastballs if Rollins gets on to try to keep him from stealing. 

3.  Ryan Braun – LF – Probably the best all-around player on the team, can hit for average with power and he also has speed.

4.  Giancarlo Stanton – RF – the best pure power on the team, Rod Allen would describe him as Country Strong, will be a nice option to protect Braun.

5. David Wright – 3rd – A very good hitter, could be a number 3 hitter also but I like Braun power and average better and then Stanton’s power in the 4 hole.

6.  Mark Teixeira – DH – his injury during last year might move him to the DH spot even though he is a better defensive player than Zobrist. 

7.  Adam Jones – CF – Could potentially be put into the 1 spot with his speed but he hasn’t hit there in a few years and he did not perform as well there.

8.  Joe Mauer – C – arguably the best pure hitter on the team but a lack of power moves him back to the 8th hole.

9.  Ben Zobrist – 1st – has a very good on base percentage and also the pop to hit 20 home runs in a year; if Teixeira is healthy I could see Zobrist playing RF and Stanton as the DH

Mauer could also see a lot of DH time too to give him rests and Laury or Arencibia involved in the game plans.  Bloomquist will be optional at LF, 3rd and SS for the team and would probably hit in the lead off or 9 hole.   I would have loved to see Michael Bourn on this team in centerfield and hitting lead off and have Rollins hit in the 9 hole.

If you missed any of the other Going For Gold’s make sure you read them.  Feel free to comment and input your ideas I enjoy hearing what other people opinions are.

SUPER BOWL!!!