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Chicago Cubs Home Opener April 8, 2013

Cubs Home Opener: Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs

The Cubs Home Opener at Wrigley Field is 3 weeks from today as the Chicago Cubs will host the Milwaukee Brewers at 1:20 on Monday, April 8, 2013. The start of the 2013 baseball season will mark the 99th Anniversary of the Cubs Historic Ballpark and Clark Street Sports has all your favorite Cubs and Wrigley Field merchandise throughout the 2013 baseball season.

Cubs fans, remember to pickup all your favorite Cubs and Wrigley Field Merchandise at Wrigley Field before the start of the 2013 Baseball Season.
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MLB: MLB Players Who Could be Traded During the 2012 Offseason:

With Free Agents Jake Peavy (Chicago White Sox) and David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox) resigning with their respected teams, the MLB Free Agency pool seems quite limited but there’s still a few significant players to watch this offseason as the Free Agency period gets underway. Below are a list of the top free-agents and which team I feel they will sign with during the offseason:

1. Zach Greinke: (Los Angeles Angles): With Zack Greinke being the only elite level pitcher on the Free Agent Market, there’s no question that he will be the most sought after free agent this winter. The 2009 Cy-Young Award winner will have numerous teams interested in signing him during the offseason and that list will start with Greinke’s 2012 Team: the Los Angeles Angeles. With Bobby Abreu, Dan Haren, Torii Hunter, and Ervin Santana off their payroll, I feel the Angels will have the necessary money they need to resign Zack Greinke to the biggest Pitcher contract this offseason. The other teams that would be interested in signing Zack Greinke this offseason are the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.

2. Josh Hamilton: (Washington Nationals): The Nationals already feature a sold core of hitters (Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman) but have been looking for an additional left-handed impact bat to add to their lineup so they can be that much more deeper from both sides of the plate. If the Nationals were able to sign Hamilton, then they could move Morse from the outfield to First Base and feature one of the best offensive and defensive outfields in Hamilton, Harper, and Werth. In addition to the Nationals, I feel the Baltimore Orioles and Hamilton’s current team, the Texas Rangers, would still be interested in bringing him back to Texas.

3. Michael Bourn: (Philadelphia Phillies): The Braves would love to bring back the 2-Time All-Star and Gold-Glove winner however it seems unlikely they would be able to afford his reported asking price. With the Phillies dropping almost 40 million dollars from

last years and in addition to trading 2 of the teams 3 starting outfielder from last years team, I feel Philly will be one of the most active teams during

the offseason. Other teams that will look to sign Michael Bourn are his former team, Atlanta Braves along with the Washington Nationals if there unable to sign Josh Hamilton.

4.  AJ Pierzynski: (Texas Rangers): At 35 (and soon to be 36 years old) the 2-Time All-Star Catcher had his best statistical season of his career winning his first silver slugger award and still looked to be at the top of his game. With that said, as much as Pierzynski has ment to the White Sox organization, it seems like the White Sox have decided to go younger and start last year backup catcher Tyler Flowers. Flowers proved last season that he can do a solid job at calling a game in addition to having a great deal of power from the catcher position. I feel the Rangers will sign Pierzynski who has proven to be a much more durable catcher behind the plate than 2011 Ranger Mike Napoli (Napoli has never caught 760 innings in a season while Pierzynski has caught 1,000 Plus innings 11 times in his career). The other teams that also might look to sign Pierzynski this offseason are the Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

In addition to the Free Agency Process, there’s 5 other significant players that I feel will be mentioned in a number of trade rumors this offseason.

Alex Rodriguez: (New York Yankees): The Yankees expensive 3rd Baseman had another injury plagued season and showed that he’s still having some durability issues as A-Rod hasn’t played in 140 games in season since the 2007 season and in three of those season he played in under 125 games. Even with all his injuries and problems throughout the MLB Playoffs, I still feel A-Rod will be a Yankee when the 2013 season starts. On the other hand, will the Yankees at-least test the Trade Market… absolutely. So which teams will the Yankees talk with A-Rod about: before the Blockbuster Trade on Tuesday I would have said the Miami Marlins, but now I feel there’s only two teams that would consider trading for the former 3-Time AL MVP Winner: Chicago White Sox (however, with Rick Hahn now the GM, the White Sox might have a new perspective on A-Rod) and drs. In the end, I feel Rodriguez will once again be in Yankee Pinstripes when the 2013 Baseball season begins.

Chase Headley: (San Diego Padres): The Padres have a ton of solid prospects in their organization and with the Giants, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks in their division, I’m not sure there ready to win now so I feel they should look to trade their best asset; Chase Headley. Headley had by far his best season, Hitting .286, to go along with 31 Home Runs and an NL High 115 RBI’s while playing in arguably the toughest hitting ballpark in all of baseball and because of this he’s a finalist for the 2012 NL MVP Award. In addition to having such a great season, Headley is just hitting his prime (28 years old) and has 3 more Arbitration Eligible Seasons left on his contract. Because of his age, contract status, the chances of him replicating this season and the state of this franchise, I feel the Padres should look to trade Chase Headley this offseason. Some of the places that have enough assets to acquire Headley and look to trade for him are the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, and the Oakland Athletics. In the end, I feel the Padres will ask for too much and not trade the 28 year old 3rd Baseman whose also proven he can play First Base and Left Field.

Gavin Floyd: (Milwaukee BrewersWith White Sox 2012 Third Baseman Kevin Youkilis most likely departing from the South Side of Chicago this offseason, its very clear that the Chicago White Sox have a significant void to fill at the hot corner that they’ll look fill via a Trade (the Free-Agent Market is quite thin). With that said, a number of teams are looking for veteran pitchers that haven’t had any significant injuries in the past. Fortunately, Floyd fits the criteria as he’s thrown over 180 innings for of the past 5 seasons showing that he can take the ball at any time. Because of this, I feel the White Sox will either trade Floyd straight up for a 3rd Baseman or trade Floyd for a number of prospects that they can then flip the prospects for a third baseman. I feel the White Sox number one option would be moving Floyd and a few other prospects for either top prospects Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals) or Mike Olt (Texas Rangers). So why would Texas or Washington be in such a hurry to trade one of their top prospects? Because both teams have a log jam at third base in Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) and Adrian Beltre (Ranges). Zimmerman, (who agreed to a new contract last offseason), and Beltre, (who hit .321 to along with 36 Homers and 102 RBI and has 4 more years left on his contract) might feel they don’t need one of these elite level prospects and instead might look to acquire a quality veteran pitcher. Both teams have the two different options for these two players: either move one of the top prospects in baseball so they can fill other holes on their roster or have them change positions because nethor will be playing 3rd Base in the near future. In the end, do I foresee the White Sox acquiring one of these two young 3rd Base prospects…no and because of this I feel they will trade Floyd to the Milwaukee Brewers for a number of prospects to help improve their farm system. With that in mind, I also feel the Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Texas Rangers will also make a run at Floyd.

Matt Garza: (Chicago Cubs): The Cubs 28 year old right hander had an up and 2012 season that unfortunately ended with him on the DL from July 21st until the completion of the Season. With Garza being in the prime of his career, a proven winner, and having no significant injuries in the past, its a forgone conclusion that a number of teams will look to trade for Garza this offseason. So what teams will look to trade for Garza? I feel the list for Garza will include the Baltimore Orioles, AL Champion Detroit TigersKansas City Royals (who feature a great Bullpen and Offense but need to upgrade their starting rotation), New York Yankees, and Texas Rangers. In the end, I think Garza will start the season with the Cubs so they can show he’s recovered from his triceps injury and then decide wither or not to trade him depending on where the Cubs are in the standings around the July 31st Trade Deadline.

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3 teams to watch at the MLB Trade Deadline:

There’s a number of teams to watch at the trade deadline that could be making a few moves within the next 11 days. Below are 3 teams that should look to make a move along with who the player they should trade for:

1. Detroit Tigers: The Tigers have a great offense, the best pitcher in baseball, to go along with a number of solid Number 3-5 starters. So with that said, I feel the Tigers need 3 things at the trade deadline: 1. A number 2 starting pitcher; 2. a second baseman; and 3. Bullpen help. In the last 14 games, the Tigers are 15-2 and look like the team we thought they were going to be. With that said, I feel there’s a number of teams that make sense for the Tigers to trade with which include: Cubs, Brewers, or shock the baseball world and trade with the Mariners for one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Before I discuss the possible Mariners trade, lets start with the Cubs, who have a number of parts that can help the Tigers out which include Darrin Barney and Matt Garza . Garza and Barney would solidify two of the biggest holes on their roster and at the same time the Chicago would be able to receive a few young pitchers. The Tigers have a number of quality arms on both their major league roster and in the minors. On their major league roster, the Tigers feature former first round draft picks in Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello while also having a number of quality arms in the minors in righties Jacob Turner and lefty Andy Oliver. It seems like the Tigers and Cubs could be a good match to make a trade before the Trade Deadline.

So what about the Milwaukee Brewers? Like the Cubs, Milwaukee features a very good starting pitcher that would give Detroit one of the best top of the rotations in baseball in soon to be free agent Zack Greinke. Like the Cubs, the Brewers would be looking to get a package that includes a lot of young pitching talent. In addition to that, the Brewers could also look to trade second baseman Rickie Weeks in a trade and give the Tigers the second baseman they’ve been looking for while also allowing the Brewers to shed payroll at the same-time.

So what about a huge blockbuster trade that would give the Tigers two of the top 5 pitchers in all of baseball (and the reigning Cy Young Award winners) in Felix Hernandez (2010) and Verlander (2011). If this trade were to happen, 4 things would have to occur: 1. The Mariners would want to acquire a lot of young pitching talent; 2. Seattle would also be looking for young hitting talent as they need to add hitting depth to their lineup; 3. The M’s would want the Tigers to take back a bad long term contract that there currently holding onto; and 4. The Tigers would need to sign Felix to a Long-Term deal. As mentioned above, the Tigers have a number of quality arms in their system along with a few hitting prospects in Nick Castellanos and Quintin Berry. So here’s a trade proposal that would work for both teams: Tigers trade Jacob Turner, Nick Castellanos, Andy Oliver and Quintin Berry for Felix Hernandez and Chone Figgins. If this trade were to occur, then the Tigers would feature both the best 1-2 hitting and pitching combinations in baseball.


2. Los Angeles Dodgers:
 The Dodgers have two of the best outfielders in baseball in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to go along with a pitching staff that includes 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton KershawChad Billinglsey, and Chris Capuano, With that said, I feel the Dodgers need to look to add a few more bats along with a good number 2 starting pitcher if the want to hold off the Giants and win the NL West. The starting pitcher that I feel they need to look into acquiring is Ryan Dempster as Kershaw and Dempster would make for one of the best righty-lefties 1-2 combinations in the league. In this trade, the Cubs could look to acquire a number of different prospects which include Zach LeeAllen Webster, and Chris Reed. In addition to trading for an additional pitcher, I feel Los Angeles need to look into acquiring more power to their lineup. An intriguing names for the Dodgers to look into acquiring would be Minnesota Twins First Baseman Justin Morneau as he would provide them a legitimate left-handed power-bat in the middle of their lineup while not having to trade a lot to get him. The Dodgers thought they had their future 1st Baseman in James Loney but unfortunately he hasn’t developed the power they thought they would from him. If both James Loney and Justin Morneau were to trade places, then each player would be able to receive a fresh start so they could start over in their new respective situations.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pittsburgh Pirates are .5 Game out of first place and have a ton of great minor league pitching depth on the way within the next few years in Gerrit ColeJameson Taillon, and others. The Pirates currently have the 6th best team ERA’s in baseball, however, as good as their pitching has been, (outside of MVP Candidate Andrew McCutchen), the rest of the Pirates offense has been less than impressive as their team’s batting average is .247 on the season. Because of this, I feel the Pirates should look into trading for soon to be 25 year old outfielder Justin Upton who last year finished in the top 5 (4th in fact) for the NL MVP and would give Pittsburgh one of the youngest and most talented outfields in all of baseball. The Diamondbacks would most likely ask for either Cole or Taillon in return, however, if the Pirates were able to keep both Cole and Taillon while still being able to acquire Upton, then Pittsburgh would feature one of the best young cores in all of baseball. Upton has had a tough 2012 season, yet I still think with him being so young that he can still find the old Justin Upton.

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National League Central Spring Training Preview

Baseball’s regular season is just around the corner and now its time to preview the 2012 National League Central Division. There’ve been a ton of story lines throughout the 2011-2012 offseason that helped shake up the baseball world and should be interesting to how they play-out in the future. Before the season starts, I wanted to break down each division and examine what I feel will happen with each team in the future.

National League Central

Milwaukee Brewers: What a crazy offseason for the reigning National League Central Division Champions. After the Brewers were eliminated from the playoffs last season by the division rival Cardinals, soon after the madness began. First, in early parts of the offseason, the Brewers decided to sign former Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a 3 year deal and just about signaling the end of Prince Fielder era in Milwaukee. A few days later, a major story broke that 2011 league MVP Ryan Braun had tested positive for a banned substance, leaving the baseball stunned. The Brewers were shocked and left in a difficult situation as the face of the organization was apart of one of the ugliest cases in baseball history. If that wasn’t enough for the Brewers, reliever Francisco Rodriguez surprisingly decided to accept the salary arbitration that the Brewers offered him a few months before. This might become a problem later in the season as K-Rod felt that he, and not current closer John Axford should have been the Brewers closer.  Like last year, this is a situation that baseball fans around the league need to monitor as if Rodriguez becomes angered with being the set-up man again, it could lead to a distraction to the team and the Brewer organization. The final part of the off-season for the Brewers ended on a positive note when Ryan Braun won his appeal and his 50 game suspension was lifted. The Braun situation will be a topic of debate throughout the season and one that everyone in baseball will watch throughout the baseball year. If Ryan Braun and the rest of the Brewers can leave the distractions off the baseball field, they should have a nice season and will be a contender once again for the division title.

St. Louis Cardinals: Only one team has had a more tumultuous offseason than the Brewers; the St. Louis Cardinals. St.Louis started the offseason by celebrating their 11th World Series Championship and were optimistic about signing Albert Pujols in the future. First, a few days after winning the world series, long time manager Tony La Russa decided to retire as manager of the Cardinals and left the city of St. Louis in shock. About two weeks later, the Cardinals decided to name former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny manager of the team, even though he had no previous managing experience. Then, as the winter meetings were about to conclude, on the morning of December 8th, news broke that 3-time National League MVP, and quite possibly the best first baseman of all time Albert Pujols decided to go west and sign with the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim. The city of St. Louis and the baseball world was stunned and couldn’t believe one of the greatest players of all-time decided to leave the organization. Unlike the rest of the league, the Cardinals realized they had to move on and started the post Pujols era by signing All-Star Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal. As for next year, the Cardinals will have pitcher Adam Wainwright return to the rotation after they lost him to Tommy John Surgery for the entire 2011 season. The Cardinals will feature one of the best rotations in baseball this year with Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jamie Garcia, Kyle Lohse, and Jake Westbrook along with a solid offense with Berkman, Holliday, Beltran, Molina, and Freese. St. Louis still has a competitive team and should be a contender in the NL Central Division.

Cincinnati Reds: The Reds have decided to go for it all this year and quietly have been one of the busiest teams this offseason. The Reds offseason started by trading pitchers Edinson Volquez and first baseman Yonder Alonso along with others for Padres Ace Mat Latos. The Reds then decided to bolster their bullpen by trading for former Cubs reliever Sean Marshall along with signing closer Ryan Madson. Cincinnati sould have a solid offense in 2012 as it features 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen, Jay Bruce, and Drew Stubs along with a rotation lead by Latos, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Bronson Arroyo, and wild card Aroldis Chapman. With Joey Votto’s contract almost up (signed through the 2013 season), the Reds know they have two seasons to “go for it all” before they might lose Votto to free agency.

Pittsburgh Pirates: At one point in July, the Pirates, (yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates) were in first place in the NL Central before having one of the worst second half records in the league. The Pirates had a quiet off-season (only significant moves were trading for A.J. Burnett and Casey Mcgehee) as the organization decided to build around the young draft picks they accumulated throughout the year. The Pirates core includes: Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, and Jose Tabata along with having a great deal of prospects in their minor league system in system headlined by pitchers Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole, and Stetson Alllie to go along with outfielder Starling Marte and infielder Josh Bell. The Pirates have a great young core for the future but as for the 2012 season, they will most likely once again finish apart of the  bottom half of the NL Central Division.

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs had a tremendous amount of pressure on their hands this offseason after deciding to part ways with former General Manager Jim Hendry. At the start of the off-season, the Cubs decided to go about their search in a private manor and came away from the search by hiring Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein as the president of baseball operations for the organization and Jed Hoyer as the General Manager. After the signing of Epstein and Hoyer, the Cubs were then able to move froward as they then decided to relieve Mike Quade as manager of the Cubs. After a lengthy managerial process, the Cubs decided to hire Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum as the manager of the organization. The Cubs then decided to sign outfielder David Dejesus to a two-year contract with the Cubs to play alongside Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano in the outfield. The Cubs then decided to make a few trades as they traded on of the biggest distractions in all of baseball (Carlos Zambrano) to Miami for Chris Volstad and acquired Anthony Rizzo from San Diego for Andrew Cashner. Chicago has a nice minor league core that features Rizzo, Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt along with others. The Cubs might not win the division this year however, I do believe the Cubs will play a better brand of baseball and become a much smarter baseball team.

Houston Astros: The Astros are entering their last season as members of the National League Central because next season they will move to the American League West Division alongside Oakland, Los Angeles (Angels), Seattle, and Texas. For the Astros, I feel they made the correct decision by trading both All-Star outfielders Michael Borun (Atlanta) and Hunter Pence (Philadelphia) and allowing the rebuilding stages to begin in Houston. The Astros do also have a few nice young pieces with Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson along with veteran Carolos Lee (whose is a free agent after the 2012 season).  If Lee has a nice first half of the year, the Astros might look to trade Lee along with pitchers Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, and Brandon Lyon at the trade deadline and acquire even more assets for the future. Houston might not be ready to win this year, but like other teams in the NL Central, the Astros will stockpile good draft picks and eventually become a contender again.

*(Each team is placed where they finished after the 2011 season)

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in MLB, Sports

 

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