Total Pageviews

Monday, March 28, 2011

Poll Closed

Well the poll is closed and Alex Rodriguez wins it with 55% of the vote! I think Arod is the obviously choice considering he's finally healthy again and raking this spring! New poll coming up!

So close!

We're so close! Yankees first game is only 3 days away! CC Sabathia against Justin Verlander! It should be amazing! unfortunately I'm going to miss most of it coaching a middle school team but since I'm forming the Yankees of the future I don't mind! That's a joke because the team is lame, but it's nice to hope! We currently have 9 players on the team which is really not enough but it looks like we're going forward with it. Of those 9 only one of them is really a ball player and he's young and small and cocky. However he is talented and hopefully we'll get a team mind set in his head and he'll do great! Of the other 8, 5 of them have hardly ever played baseball. I spent today's practice teaching about proper bat grip and how to load and swing. It tries my patience but I like the kids and they are improving so it's fun! Umpiring is less than two weeks away as well! Besides adoring the job it's really nice to get some extra cash! I will be at the little league fields just about every evening and all day Saturdays between umpiring and being the division coordinator for the oldest division and a board member! It's a lot but it's so much fun! I love little league baseball! Get out there and support your local leagues! Kids love being watched and it's fun to watch!

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Well the rotation is set. Ivan Nova will be #4 and Freddy Garcia is #5. Girardi said that even though Colon had better numbers this spring than Garcia he would rather have the pitcher who pitched in the majors last year. Understandable reasoning. Colon will be in the pen as the long man and newly signed Kevin Millwood may be as well. Curtis Granderson is doing well in his recovery and hit batting practice today. Newly acquired Chris Dickerson will most likely be the 3rd starting outfielder until Granderson returns and Andruw Jones will be the 4th outfielder off the bench and likely play against left handed pitchers. Manny Banuelos' velocity has been in the mid nineties today touching 99! The control has been a little sketchy but he has worked around it and only given up one run through 3. Alex Rodriguez continues his torrid spring! He has a two run HR today over the batters eye on a first pitch fastball that he just completely mashed! Alex will have another great year and be a pleasant surprise to those who thought him on the decline!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Training 3/23

Well I got my first look at Phil Hughes tonight. He looked pretty decent. There was no gun on the broadcast but I would guess he was throwing 91-92 and he had a pretty good curve ball. The location wasn't always there but he was throwing a fastball, cutter, curve, and I think I saw a couple change ups. He got hit a little but he got some hitters out while making them look very bad. His stuff looks good he just needs to sure up the location a bit and he will be good to go! Also he needs to hold base runners a little better because teams in the AL East will definitely run. Jo-Jo Reyes for the Blue Jays looked very good. Brandon Morrow will start the season on the DL and so Reyes will become an important part of the rotation at least for a little while. Through 5 innings he shut down the Yankee line up which had almost all of the regulars playing.

A-Rod continued to have a great spring with a double and a single tonight and may be headed towards another great season! It will be tough for him to win an MVP again in the AL which is loaded with talent but if he can hit .290 with 35 HRs and 120 RBI I think every Yankee fan will be thrilled. On a bad note Curtis Granderson, who I think was primed for a huge year after putting in lots of work with Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long, had an MRI and it showed an oblique strain. It seems unlikely he will be ready for opening day which moves Andruw Jones into the starting line up and that does not thrill me. Hopefully Granderson won't be out too long!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Yankees Pitching

Well it looks like Bartolo Colon is going to be the Yankees 5th starter. He was very strong tonight for the Yankees against the Rays and may have secured the spot. Hopefully he can continue that into the regular season. If Colon can go every 5th day and be strong through 6 innings, even if he allows 3 or 4 runs, the Yankee bats should have a shot to win the game and the strong pen should be able to finish it off. Ivan Nova will be the number 4 starter and I think he will put together a nice year. As a long shot he may even contend for Rookie of the Year honors, but that may just be wishful thinking. Manny Banuelos is struggling a bit tonight. He has given up 3 runs in 1.1 IP so far and has two runners on. Dan Johnson got the best of him in the 8th with a two run homer (I still think it was foul, but oh well). As for the first 3 Yankee starters CC was nasty yesterday and seems ready for opening day. I haven't seen anything on Phil Hughes this spring but A.J. Burnett hasn't walked a batter all spring! Walks have always been an issue for him and the mechanical changes seem to be paying off. Let's hope it continues.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fantasy Baseball

In 24 hours I'll be in the midst of a fantasy draft! I can't wait! This draft is the league that I care about the most out of the 4 that I'm in so its a big deal! 20 teams! It's gonna be epic! A few good friends in the league are coming over to draft and we'll be out on the patio with a fire and beer! What could be better huh?!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ivan Nova

NOVA! One of the great hopes for a success pinstriped pitching rotation this year had a promising day! After a rough outing last time the young Ivon Nova responded by going 6 innings today allowing no hits and no walks! He was not facing a complete Orioles team but most of the regulars were in the line up. I was not able to watch the game but a source I have who did watch, who I trust greatly, said it this way.    He was 89-93 with the fastball and had good movement and great location. His curveball was inconsistent, threw a few good ones. one got away from him which hit a batter. I think he only threw a hand full of changes but he k'd markakis on one. He was hitting his spots really well and got a lot of ground balls.

If this continues into the season it will be a huge boost for the Yankees and could mean the difference between playing in October or not. I feel much better about taking him in the 18th round in my fantasy draft last night. If this keeps up he will be a great sleeper! Fingers crossed!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Birthday Baseball

Well it's my birthday and I get to watch Yankees Red Sox! It is of course only spring training but we're half way through and inching closer to the regular season! Spring training is fun but I really am ready for the real thing! I love this time of year. The pros are getting ready, guys are gettin sent down, others trying to win spots on the big club. Little League is gettin ready to rock and roll and I'm back to umpiring this season! So excited. I can't wait! The team I play on doesn't start till the middle of May which is gay but I'll live. Spring softball starts soon too! So many chances to be on a field! Then we have the non-field baseball activities. FANTASY! Got three drafts coming up in the next two weeks it's time to do home work! Let me know who you think will be the biggest break out star of 2012! Personally I'm thinking Austin Jackson will be one of break out bats and (hopefully) Ivan Nova will get some big wins!

........It's so close!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why Baseball is Unique

I just want to take a little while to think about what makes baseball so special. I will to avoid blanket statements like "baseball is the best game ever invented" or "all other sports are stupid" but baseball has several aspects that separate it from other major sports. I will focus on, what I consider the "major" sports in the United States, baseball (MLB), football (NFL), Hockey (NHL), basketball (NBA), and soccer (MLS). I am, for now, limiting my arguments to team sports that involve an object shared among players, such as a ball or a puck.

I will start with what might be the most obvious difference between baseball and the other 4 sports. In baseball there is no time limit and therefore the game is truly never over until it is over. In hockey, basketball, football, and soccer there comes a point in almost every game where it is simply impossible for the losing team to win. You cannot score 3 touch downs or 4 goals with 15 seconds left, it just ain't gonna happen unless The Flash is on your team and even then it'd be tough. In baseball both teams have the exact same chance no matter what. The odds may be insane, you may be down by 10 runs with two outs in the 9th, but it is still POSSIBLE to come back and win. You can't down the ball to waste 90 seconds. There is no anti-climax. It always comes down to the last out!

Baseball is the only one of the 5 major sports where the object doesn't score the points! The players do! Now, like hockey and soccer, you can only score one point at a time, which is my preference in a sport, but it is different in that when you have men on base, you have points waiting to be scored! Though one ball in play may score more than one run each run counts as one point. There are no extra points for hitting the ball further or multiple points for no reason........6? really? wtf? (then you can add one more!..........?). Anyway, no sport besides baseball has points being put in a "more likely to score" situation as with runners on base.

There is no possession of the ball in baseball and if you'd like to argue that the team in the field has possession than it is the only sport where the DEFENSE is in control of the ball! I'd like to pause here to say that when I say "ball", "puck" is also valid most of the time. Furthermore because there is no set "possession" there are no steals or take-aways. The team controlling the ball will control the ball until they accomplish there goal of getting 3 outs.

The baseball field is different from the courts and fields played on in other sports as well. All 4 of the others have set dimensions and two distinct ends and each team defends one end and tries to score on the other. In baseball, while the baselines and pitching mound are universal, all the other dimensions may be whatever the creator's heart desires! This gives a baseball field and stadium a hugely unique feel and taste unlike any other sport. Both teams defend the same plate and both score on the same plate. I would be interested to see a mirror image baseball field where you play both ways though like football or soccer, I think cricket is kinda like that? I could be wrong.

While I will admit that baseball probably requires the least pure athleticism of these 5 sports, I would argue that baseball requires the most precision in finely tuned skills. Pitching and hitting require a tremendous amount of athletic ability but they require even more honing and repetition to master. I'm sure many great athletes can throw a baseball very hard, but to able to hit a spot while pitching and create the movement we see by great pitchers is closer to art than sport. Watch film of Greg Maddux pitching in the late 90s and tell me that's not art. Also the speed and quickness required in the hands to hit major league pitchers and to make some of those spectacular defense plays is unique to most other sports.

This next point may raise some argument but I also think that baseball requires the most mental ability to excel at. I will take nothing away from an NFL quarterback. The quickness of their thought process and decision making in excellent, however there are so many variables and new situations in baseball every day that it takes an incredible amount of awareness and adaptability to do well. In football, basketball, soccer, and hockey, you have a play list. You memorize your job and you focus on what you are supposed to do and you do it. Most games follow a similar pattern. You find a man to pass to and you shoot or in football you block and get the ball across the line. In baseball every aspect of the game can take on a completely new appearance. There are so many different situations on defense and at the plate and even as a pitcher that you have to know exactly what is going on and be completely alert to everything around you. I would say that baseball players have the most to think about during the course of a game.

I'm sure there are more and if I wanted to get insanely specific I could go on and on but for now that sums it up. Now, in my opinion, these are some of the reasons baseball is the best! I respect the athletic ability of all the other players in the other sports but baseball is my game!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New York Yankees Starting Rotation

There has been a lot of worry this year about the Yankees starting rotation. I think most if not all Yankee fans would agree this will be the biggest question mark for boys from the Bronx in the 2011 season. The top 3 starters are set, it will be C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett. Both C.C. and Hughes had very good years in 2010 and if Hughes can get his ERA down a half a run or so I think the front end of the rotation will stack up well with the rest of the division. However, A.J. Burnett had the worst season of his career and needs to bounce back for the Yankees to be successful. A.J. has changed his delivery a bit this off season and his control seems to be much better. He has stopped wrapping his left leg arounad his body and has much more straight line movement toward home plate. From what I've seen of him this spring he has looked great and his control has been excellent which is very important for Burnett. A.J. has a very strong mental side to his pitching also and however great his mechanics looks if he gets his head in the wrong place during the season he may be in for more trouble. We won't know how that will manifest itself until the season starts, but as of now I am excited to see A.J. Burnett bounce back and be a very good third starter. Now, the big questions are the fourth and fifth positions in the rotation. There are 4 pitchers in the mix for these 2 spots, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova, and Sergio Mitre. These 4 guys have all taken up the challenge and so far this spring they have allowed only 1 run with 14 Ks and only one walk. Garcia threw 3 hitless innings today in his start and though I didn't see it I've heard he was locating and mixing speeds well. Everything I've been hearing from the Yankee experts and officials has seemed to lean on Nova being the front runner for the 4th starting spot but the 5th spot is wide open. I am optimistically biased on these issues since my hope is for the Yankees to do well but I think that if Burnett bounces back and two of the four potentials are able to be serviceable then Yankee fans can look to have a better season than originally anticipated. You all can smell the "IF" coming off of this situation but there is a possibility for a strong Yankee rotation!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Yankees vs, Red Sox...Round 1/2

Well with previews complete its time to start talking about actual baseball games! As I write this the Red Sox take a 4-1 lead over my Yanks. No big deal. It's Spring! The big thing today was the two great innings throw  by Manny Banuelos! I am very excited about this 19 year-old pitching prospect as many Yankee fans are. He was sitting 92-95 with the fastball and at least twice gasses it up 96. His curve ball looked very good once and just okay a few others, he seemed to be overthrowing it a bit. His change up was devastating and that is big for a young kid. Curve balls are overrated. The best off speed pitch is a good change up. Man Ban has it! His poise is way beyond his years and even though its crazy early I look forward to seeing him progress! A good friend of mine, Yubin, made a great comparison. I've already heard a few people say Banuelos reminds them of Johan Santana, which I can see, but Yubin compared him to Jon Lester of Boston which I think is the better answer. Banuelos hasn't developed the stuff to the point of Lester yet but the mid-90s heater and the good curve and change are very similar between these two guys. If Banuelos can pitch like Lester, I'll be thrilled! For the fans of the Santana comparison, they look exactly the same standing on the rubber before they move! Another great sign from Banuelos was a 2-0 curve ball he threw to Jason Varitek for a strike to get back into the at bat. Whether it was Russel Martin calling the pitch or Banuelos wanting to throw it, it was a great sign from the battery as a whole. Many young pitchers with good arms like to try and throw harder and harder when they get in trouble. The ability to slow it down and focus is huge!! Also his mechanics are excellent and if he trains properly should be able to avoid major injuries. Expect to see him start in Trenton, which I live 5 minutes from and will be going to see the games, and MAYBE pitch a few innings in September but I wouldn't count on seeing Manny Banuelos in Yankee Stadium until 2012.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A.L. East Preview

Well it's time.....finale divisional preview.....and it's the American League East. I am a Yankee fan. It is going to be very hard for me to be objective about this. My predicted stats will be as objective as I can make them but my individual team previews may be a bit biased. Also I know a lot more about the Yankees than any other team so my predictions about them should be more accurate than other teams (also I have a lot more to say about them, so bear with me). Last year, the A.L. East appeared like this......

Rays: 96-66
Yankees: 95-67
Red Sox: 89-73
Blue Jays: 85-77
Orioles: 66-96

So the flat fish....the Tampa Bay (no longer devil, perhaps soon to be heavenly?) Rays. I think flat might be the way the Rays come out this year. The key word there is might. They won't have a high team batting average BUT they will score runs. Some of the young talent that was on display last year will have a chance to fill out that line up, Sean Rodriguez, Matt Joyce, and Reid Brignac among them. The biggest hits to the Rays offense will be the loss of Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, and Jason Bartlet. These players brought a couple of different approaches to the plate and a different strength. Pena hit the bombs, Bartlett got on base and got into scoring position and Crawford did what Bartlet did only better. Although the team has lost a few key bats they have also added former Red Sox teammates Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. Pausing briefly for a personal statement, I can't wait for these two guys to come back to the Bronx! Okay, so, will Damon and Ramirez replace Crawford, Bartlet and Pena? Well I think they will. Manny is one of, if not the best right handed hitters I have ever seen. This is the first time he has come into spring training expecting to be a full time DH. I think he will flourish in the role and have a great season. Damon is not Crawford but he will get his hits and maybe even steal a few bases. He is no where near the defensive outfielder that Crawford is but aside from a very poor arm, Damon is a serviceable replacement. I have heard many times that the Rays have the best rotation in the American league. I just don't buy that. I think David Price has proven he is a front end starter and will continue to do so, however I think James Shields is very questionable. Wade Davis and Jeff Nieman I haven't formed an opinion on yet. Without Garza and with the young Hellickson being unproven this is not the best rotation in the A.L. I will concede that with the inconsistency that has plagued all the starting pitching the this division the Rays might have the best starting pitching in the division. I would talk about the bull pen but it's gone. They all left. If anyone has an idea of the plan for the Rays pen please let me know.

The New York Yankees......I will not hide that this is my team. I am a Yankee fan. I am scared. First, lets look at the bad stuff. Last year A.J. Burnett, who was great in 2009, was terrible. In the month of June he was 0-5 with an ERA over 11.00!!!! He had by far the worst year of his career with highs in losses and ERA. As I am writing this I am watching the Houston Astros blow a 4 run lead to the Yankees in the bottom of the 9th on errors which is how they got the lead in the first place. Gotta love the spring. Anyway, Burnett started this game and I will say the mechanical tweaks are noticeable and seemed to make a big difference. Burnett had excellent control of the fastball and one of the two curves he threw looked good. I know, it's very very early. This is by no means conclusive. However I am hopeful for an A.J. Burnett rebound year which would be enormous for the Yankees. C.C. Sabathia had a great season in 2010 winning 20 games for the first time in his career and barring injury should be able to repeat something similar. Phil Hughes had 18 wins but an ERA over 4.00. He got great run support but he needs to keep the ERA down a bit to be a real 2 or 3 role starter. The back end of the rotation is going to be interesting. Ivan Nova will likely be the 4th starter and he showed he could get major league hitters out last year but would get lit starting around the 5th inning. He needs to develop stamina and take a good start into the 6th at least if not the 7th. Nova has a great opportunity to be a hero in New York this year. With the greatness that will be the Boston line up the Yankees will have a very hard time making the post season without a solid 4th starter. If Nova can come through he will be well on his way to being a beloved Yankee. For the 5th spot I think Brian Cashman may have put up an ad in the local retirement home. I know that's a little harsh, but Freddy Garcia and especially Bartolo Colon are very, well, "experienced". The other man in the mix is Sergio Mitre who will probably end up as the long man in the pen. One way or another I don't expect much from the 5 starter. The pen however I think is one that the Yankees can be proud of. Mo is still Mo and will convert at least 9 out of 10 save chances. Cashman also brought over the best closer in the American League last year to set up for Mo. In the 7th inning the Yankees will look to a mix of left handers Pedro Feliciano and Boone Logan along with righties Dave Robertson and Joba Chamberlain to get the game to Soriano and Mo when the starters can't get 7 innings. I think the line up will go through some changes throughout this season. The starting line up on opening day, if written down tonight, would probably look like this: Jeter, Swisher, Tex, Arod, Cano, Posada, Granderson, Martin, Gardener. By the All-Star break I wouldn't be surprised to see something more like this: Gardener, Swisher, Cano, Arod, Tex, Montero, Posada, Granderson, Jeter. I realize that if Jeter is able to rebound from last year, which was on the heels of the best year of his career and may have just been a fluke, he may retain the lead off spot. Similarly if Brett Gardener doesn't have the season he is capable of Jeter may be the best choice either way. I think Curtis Granderson made huge progress working with new hitting coach Kevin Long last year and I expect a big year out of him, however I would still keep him down in the order for some late pop and a base runner for the top. Robinson Cano is the best hitter on the team and I like him in the three hole from opening day but that change will not be made swiftly. Tex has been there for a few years and will keep the job if he doesn't struggle too much early on. Arod looks lean and quick this spring and may be able to pull off another few "Arod"ish years before age gets him. Jesus Montero is probably the biggest question among Yankee fans right now when it comes to know will be the Yankee catcher in 2011. Montero's bat is great and while his defense has been criticized he has been working hard on it and made great improvement. The Yankees are very deep at the catcher position with Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez also in the minors behind Montero. I won't be surprised to see one of them traded for a pitcher, especially if the rotation is struggling mid season. The other question is will the "Killer Bs" log any major league innings this year. Banuelos, Betances, and Brackman are the 3 biggest Yankee pitching prospects and while Brackman hasn't thrown yet this spring due to a minor groin twinge Banuelos and Betences have both looked excellent for this early and I think we can expect to see all three at least in September in 2011. Sorry for so much detail but I know the most about these guys. Moving on....

The Boston Red Sox may be the most improved team offensively in all of baseball heading into the 2011 season. Not only will they regain offensive threats Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jacoby Ellsbury, who were injured for much of the 2010 season, they have added two great hitters in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Adding the speed of Crawford to Ellsbury's at the top of the line up and the pop in A-gonz's bat this line up could be historic. I am not convince that Ellsbury will stay healthy because he has been injured several times in a short career but even with Ellsbury hurt it almost makes line up decisions easier when it comes to the top 3 spots. The only chink I can find in the Boston line up is that with Crawford, Ellsbury, A-Gonz, Drew, and Ortiz it is a bit left handed and may be able to be held down by a good lefty. However the great majority of the pitchers in baseball are right handed including 4 of the 5 Yankee starters. With the added bonus of hitting in Fenway this team may score an obscene amount of runs and I think new comer Adrian Gonzalez will add close to 10 home runs to his total last year. He is great at hitting fly balls the other way and moving from Petco to Fenway could send many of those from outs to HRs increasing his batting average as well. If you go to a Yankee Red Sox game this year prepare to be there for awhile and see a lot of hits. Unless Sabathia is pitching against Lester the Yankee Red Sox games have great slug fest potential. The Red Sox rotation, like the Yankee's, outside of John Lester, is full of questions. Will John Lackey stay healthy? Will Josh Beckett remember how to pitch they way he used to? Will Matsuzaka ever be worth the millions the Sox spent on him? Is Clay Bucholtz for real? Will the offense score so many runs that they could win Christopher Reeve on the mound? We shall see. Real quick, I'm not sure the Red Sox will have many games where the score is closer than 4 runs but if they need saves who will it be? They added Bobby Jenks to last year's closer Johnathon Papplebon and set up man Daniel Bard and I think whichever pitcher proves they can handle the job will get it.

I have never had a problem with the Toronto Blue Jays but I think there is something funny going on in the locker room. It seems that in the off season between 2009 and 2010 Adam Lind and Aaron Hill left their "mojo" lying around and Jose Bautista stole it. In 2009 Hill and Lind both seemed to have break out seasons and then in 2010 they both had break down seasons. Meanwhile in 2010 Jose Bautista hit 54 HRs while batting .260 and made a name for himself. I'm not sure what to expect from the Jay's line up this year, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. The rotation should be solid with Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero, Kyle Drabek, Brett Cecil, and Jesse Litsch. With the loss of closer Kevin Gregg we'll have to wait and see who gets that job. This team is a bit of a mystery this year and I am excited to see how they compete is this tough division.

If the Boston Red Sox are the most improved line up, the Baltimore Orioles are a close second. Last year the Orioles had a great turn around during the last month of the season and now with a full season under Buck Showalter I am hoping they will compete. An entire division over .500? I haven't done the math to see how bad that would require the other division to be but it would be very impressive to see. With new sticks, Vladamir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, and Derrick Lee to go along with Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, and the potential upside of Matt Weiters, this team could score serious runs. I would not be surprised to see two teams in this division score 1,000 runs and a third get close. Following the trend of this division the pitching is an unknown. Over the last few years pitching has been the real issue for Baltimore and I'm not sure they have solved it even though they have added closer Kevin Gregg and starter Justin Duchscherer may add some stability. The returning starters, Jeremy Guthrie, and youngster Brian Matusz, with some added run support, may be able win more games than they have the last couple years.

These predicted standings will be based on no assumed injuries and no speculation about rebounding players or unproven youngsters. Here we go....

Red Sox: 92-70
Yankees: 90-72
Rays: 89-73
Blue Jays: 85-77
Orioles: 79-83

This hurts me and I hope its wrong but that's how I see it right now.

Now that we've come to the end of the divisional previews lets take a brief look and how baseball will go down in October. The Red Sox will play the Wild Card Tigers and the White Sox will play the Athletics. The White Sox and Tigers will win and play each other in the ALCS with the Tigers achieving revenge over losing the division and defeating the Phillies in the World Series and becoming the champions of baseball in 2011!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A.L. Central Preview

What do an "entertaining" manager, an unreal farm system, a superstar catcher, an alcoholic future hall-of-famer, and a big dude named PRONK! have in common? THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL! WOOT! Last year it went down like this....

Twins: 94-68
White Sox: 88-74
Tigers: 81-81
Indians: 69-93
Royals: 67-95

The Minnesota Twins get it done. It's amazing. They may not impress on paper all the time but they make it happen. I think a huge part of that is Ron Gardenhire, the Twins' manager. I love his approach to the game and unity he inspires in his players. Now it hasn't all been mystical managerial success. This team has talent. Joe Mauer is such a great hitter. He seems to have had a flukey (professional term) power season in 2009 but even without his home run stroke returning he will continue to hit for average and drive in runs, not to mention being great behind the plate. I think he may start to have some injury problems but if not look for another .320 BA and 100 RBI season. This is a line up of scrappy players who love to compete. Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, and Delmon Young are all, I feel, underrated players. I think Delmon Young will add to the progress he has already made as a hitter and put some great number this year. Kubel and Cuddyer are both clutch hitters and Cuddyer especially is very versatile on defense. As I Yankee fan its hard for me to talk about Carl Pavano in a positive way but he did have a good year last year. I'm bitter about it but he seems to have to starter a new chapter of his career and if it continues he will be key for this team. There are three players with recent injury problems that will make or break this team. Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Justin Morneau. If these three guys are healthy, this division will be epic, if they aren't, its a two team race.

I don't like Ozzie Guillen. I don't like the Chicago White Sox. I think they will be very good this year. :) Okay, moving on......The pen, the rotation, and the line-up are all nasty! Mark Buehrle is the best non-ace ace in baseball. He doesn't have front end stuff, but he carries himself like a front end pitcher and KNOWS how to pitch. I like both Gavin Floyd and John Danks and I think they will both continue to improve and be fantastic pitchers. Jake Peavy could be a key for them. If he is healthy he could add 15-18 wins to the club but even if he's not healthy I think the rotation is good enough to survive. Edwin Jackson came over from Arizona and will work out his issues and be a great back end guy. Chris Sale may end up making a few starts and is a nasty hard throwing south paw. Sale may also contribute to a fire filled bull pen. With Jenks gone to Boston Matt Thorton will assume the closing role and he should dominate. Along with (possibly) Sale, Scott Linebrink, a flame throwing righty, will set up for Thorton. With the addition of Adam Dunn to an already strong line up this team should compete heavily for the division.

Motor City Kitties! Tiger fans probably aren't thrilled with that nick name but it's cute! The Tigers will attempt to be anything but cute this season. Miguel Cabrera probably should have tried being cute with the cops butttt he didn't. Whether or not pro athletes should be accorded leniency for poor decision is not what I want to discuss. This incident will not effect Mcab on the field. He will hit .320 and hit 40 HRs while driving in 120 runs. Ahead of Mcab, Austin Jackson. I was looking forward to him being a star Yankee but I will root for him in Detroit also. I think he will prove to be a great acquisition for the puttey tats. Behind Mr. Cabrera, Victor Martinez. Martinez won't throw anyone out from behind the plate but the man can hit. Going from Fenway to Tiger Stadium won't help his home run total but his average may climb and he may add a few more doubles. Either way he'll drive in the runs that Mcab doesn't. Valverde will get his saves and the new set-up man Joaquin Benoit along with Joel Zumaya (no more guitar hero or saving your parents from fires man!!!) will make for a solid pen. What I really want to talk about with the Tigers is their rotation. I've written about the youthful brilliance of the Oakland and San Fransisco rotations and some teams with one or two great young arms. The team with the best combined stuff among their top 3 starters is the Detroit Tigers. Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Max Scherzer. These three young horses are all at different levels of consistency. Justin Verlander has a fastball that sits at 98 or 99 and he can hit 100 through the entire game! He hit 101 with his 100th pitch in one start last year and his curve ball is just filthy. He had some problems in the last couple seasons, especially in 2009, but he made some mechanical tweaks and seems to have solved the issue and became one of the nastiest pitchers in baseball. Porcello had a great season in 2010 and although he is younger than Scherzer, seems to have surpassed him in his ability to maintain a quality start. Scherzer will get it together. Last year he went 12-11 with a 3.50 ERA. Not a bad year by any standards. However his stuff projects a much better upside. If he can gain some better control and maintain his stuff longer into a start I think he can put up some great numbers. As a sinker ball pitcher he needs to keep the ball down and get ground outs and not worry about trying to strike batters out. This team will be right in the thick of the division race.

I am going to preview the Royals and the Indians together because well, there ain't much to say.....To any Royals fans I say hold one a couple more years guys its about to get sooooo good! The Kansas City farm system is unreal. Just to mention a few, if you want to look them up for yourself, check out Mike Moustakis, Eric Hosmer, Wil Meyers, and Mike Montgomery. For the Indians I don't see a bright future. Carlos Santana, a big catching prospect, comes up and very quickly has a season ending knee injury? Not good. Grady Sizemore is not going to be ready for opening day and if history is any example, he won't stay healthy long even when he gets there. The bright spot? Shin-Soo Choo! If you don't know who he is, look him up and then draft him in the third round of your fantasy draft. I think the Indians will need to make a move dealing Choo and Santana for a new core of 4 or 5 young players.

I am really hoping the Twins compete because along with the improved Tigers and White Sox this division could challenge the A.L. East for the best division in baseball. With a healthy Twins team it will definitely be the most fun division. Don't be surprised to see this division end in a one game play-off....again! Here's how it will wrap up....

White Sox: 94-69 (defeats Detroit in a one game play-off)
Tigers: 93-70 (American League Wild Card Winner)
Twins: 88-74
Royals: 60-102
Indians: 58-104