RSS

Tag Archives: Washington Nationals

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.

Please share your responses and follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ClarkStSports), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports), Pinterest(http://pinterest.com/clarkstsports/), Google Plus (Clark Street Sports), and now Flickr(http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkstreetsports). Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com/

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MLB: The AL Central featured the best starting pitching over the past 8 years…but what about now?

Can you name the only division that’s had 6 of the past 8 AL Cy Young Award Winners? If you guessed the American League Central you’d be right. A large number of people feel the American League Central is a below average division shown by the number of Pennant (2005 Chicago White Sox and 2006 Detroit Tigers) and World Series winners (2005 Chicago White Sox) during those 8 years. Even though only 2 of the 5 teams from this division reached the World Series, it still doesn’t take away from the quality of arms that were thrown out during this 8 year span.

So for all those wondering, the 5 different pitchers (6 overall as one player won the award twice), who won this award from the AL Central were Johan Santana (20042006), CC Sabathia (2007), Cliff Lee (2008), Zack Greinke (2009), and Justin Verlander (2011). An even more astonishing stat then that four of the five teams (Chicago White Sox) had at-least one player win a Cy Young Award during this amazing stretch. In addition to that, only 1 of the 5 players is still on the team they won their Cy Young Award with: 2011 winner Justin Verlander. The teams from the American and National East might of receive the most attention over the past decade, but it was the AL Central that routinely threw out the best pitchers each day.

That was the past, what about now? Which division has the best starting pitching in baseball? Below is a breakdown each division’s starting staff’s from worst to best.

6. NL Central: Over the past decade, the National League has seen a number of quality arms come through this division (Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano, Roy Oswalt, Rodger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Zach Greinke) but all of them have one thing in common: there no longer in the NL Central. So who are a few of the top starting pitchers as of now: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Adam Wainwright (2010 All-Star), Kyle Lohse, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, A.J. Burnett, and Yovani Gallardo (2010 All-Star). All of the pitchers mentioned in the previous sentence are quality starting pitchers but not elite as shown in the 2 combined All-Star Game appearances.

5. AL Central: What used to be the division with the best starting pitching in baseball has since turned into a division with a few quality starters. Even with Santana, Sabathia, Lee, and Greinke leaving this division, the AL Central is still led by three excellent arms in Justin Verlander (2011 AL Cy Young Award winner), Jake Peavy (2007 NL Cy Young Award Winner), and Chris Sale (2012 All-Star). In addition to those three individuals, the AL Central also has Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Justin Masterson, and Scott Diamond. This list doesn’t come close to the quality of arms that the AL Central had in the past but it’s not that a bad list of starters.

4. AL East: I know the majority of people believe that because the Red Sox and Yankees it should equate to making the AL East the best at everything, but if you look at the starting pitchers in the other division’s, its easy to realize the AL East doesn’t have nearly the quality of starters that make up the other three divisions. The two elite pitchers in the AL East are CC Sabathia (2007 Cy Young Award Winner) and David Price (3 time All-Star). However, the reason this division is ranked fourth (and not 5th or 6th) is due to the depth of quality starters in this division which includes Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Jeremy Hellickson (2011 AL Rookie of the Year), James Shields (2011 All-Star), Matt Moore, Wei-Yin Chen, Clay Buchholz (2010 time All-Star), Josh Beckett (3 time All-Star), Ricky Romero (2011 All-Star), and Brandon Morrow. There’s bunch of solid pitchers in the AL East but not enough Ace’s to put make this one of the top three divisions for best starting pitching in baseball.

3. NL West: I went back and forth when deciding the three best starting pitching divisions in all of baseball but in the end I decided to put the NL West third on my list. At the beginning of my article, I mentioned that 6 of the past 8 Cy Young Award winners came from the AL Central which was most within that timeframe. However, during those same 8 years, the NL West saw 5 of 8 and 10 of the past 13 NL Cy-Young winners come from this division. As impressive as that is, like the AL Central, the majority of the previous winners have moved on from their this division as Tim Lincecum (2008 and 2009) and Clayton Kershaw (2011) are the lone Cy-Young winners who are still on a NL West Team. In addition to those two pitchers, the NL West also has one of (if not the most) underrated pitchers in all of baseball in Matt Cain who threw a perfect game this year in addition to not allowing an earned run during the 2010 MLB Playoffs as he helped lead the Giants to their first World Series Championship in over 50 years. Aside from those three pitchers, the National League West also includes Ryan Vogelsong (2011 All-Star), Madison Bumgarner, Chad Billingsley (2009 All-Star), Wade Miley (2012 All-Star), Trevor Cahill (2010 All-Star), and Ian Kennedy. This division currently has the third best starting pitching in all of baseball but in about 2 years, I believe the NL West will feature the best starting pitching in baseball.

2. NL East: The NL East is a division that’s made up of both younger and older elite starters. The NL East has 3 former Cy Young Award winners: Roy Halladay (2003 and 2010), Johan Santana (2004 and 2006), and Cliff Lee (2010) along with a number of other Ace’s. Included in the next line of starting pitchers from the NL East areStephen Strasburg (2012 All-Star), Gio Gonzalez (2 time All-Star), Jordan Zimmerman, Tim Hudson (3 time All-Star), Tommy Hanson, R.A. Dickey (All-Star 2012), Cole Hamels (3 time All-Star), Mark Buehrle (4 time All-Star), and Josh Johnson (2 time All-Star). Its pretty remarkable to see the amount of All-Stars that are apart of this division as over the past few seasons this has transformed into one of the best divisions for starting pitching in all of baseball.

1. AL West: As impressive as the starters in the NL East are, I still feel the division that features the best starers in all of baseball is the American League West. As of now, the AL West has 2 former Cy Young Award winners in Zack Greinke (2009) and Felix Hernandez (2010) along with the frontrunner for the 2012 AL Cy Young Award in Jarred Weaver who threw a no hitter earlier this season. Along with those three hitters, the American League West (which unlike the other divisions has only 4 teams until next year) also includes Yu Darvish (2012 All-Star), Ryan Dempster (2 time All-Star), Matt Harrison (2012 All-Star), Brandon McCarthyC.J. Wilson (2 time All-Star), Dan Haren (3 time All-Star), and Jason Vargas. In addition to the names listed above, the AL West has a number of young and exciting arms in the minors that will be household name within the next few years in Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, Jarrod Parker, Danny Hultzen, and Taijuan Walker. With the majority of these starters still in their prime, I feel the AL West will continue to be known as one of the best divisions in baseball.

Please share your responses and follow us on Twitter(https://twitter.com/ClarkStSports), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports), Pinterest(http://pinterest.com/clarkstsports/), Google Plus (Clark Street Sports), and now Flickr(http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkstreetsports). Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com/

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

October 3rd, 2012 will be Alfonso Soriano’s Last Game as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

The 2012 Trade Deadline has passed and Alfonso Soriano is still a member of the Chicago Cubs. With that said, this past Trade Deadline was the first time Soriano’s name was mentioned in legitimate trade rumors since the 2006 MLB Trade Deadline when he was a member of the Washington Nationals.

So why will the Cubs trade Soriano before the start of the 2013 season?

3 Reasons:

1) Soriano has shown  that he still has something left in the tank: Quietly, Alfonso Soriano has put together a strong 2012 season on the North Side hitting .270 with 19 HR and 64 RBI on the year. For any other player, those stats would equate to a productive season however, because his first 2012 Home Run came on May 15th, it shows that had Soriano hit a few Home Runs in the month and a half of the season, he could have been in the top 10 for Home Runs on the season. To put this into perspective, Soriano has hit 19 Home Runs in his last 70 games while Home Run Leader (Adam Dunn) has 31 HR’s since Opening Day. Because of this, I feel Soriano has a few quality  year left in him as he can be a productive player to a number of lineups. With that said Soriano’s has a one problem: he struggles to playing in the field which I feel limits him to only American League team. This leads me to my second reason why I feel Alfonso Soriano will be traded…

2) A number of American League teams need to upgrade from their current DHThere’s a handful of teams that feature quality DH’s…and a number of teams that need to trade for a player of Soriano’s skill set .

Here’s a list of Teams that don’t need to upgrade from their current DH: Chicago White Sox (Adam Dunn), Detroit Tigers (Victor Martinez), Kansas City Royals (Billy Butler), Boston Red Sox (David Ortiz), and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Kendrys Morales if they decide to not trade him to a team that needs a first baseman).

So that takes 5 teams off the list, what about the other 10 AL Teams (remember Houston will be moving to the American League starting in 2013). In the past, Soriano has said he doesn’t want to play for a West Coast team which eliminates three AL Teams: Oakland, Los Angeles Angels (even though he said he would play for the Dodgers so I feel he’d add them to his list), and Seattle. In addition to that, I’m not sure the Texas Rangers or New York Yankees need him on their roster as both teams already feature strong lineups while already having a significant amount of older players on their respective rosters: Derek Jeter (38), Alex Rodriguez (37), Mark Teixeira (32) for the Yankees and Michael Young (35), Adrian Beltre (33), Nelson Cruz (32), and possibly Josh Hamilton (31) if they resign him. Lastly, a few other teams won’t be interested in acquiring Soriano as these teams would look to either rebuild (Astros) or play the younger players in their Farm System (Blue Jays). After taking 11 American League teams, there’s 4 realistic options left for Alfonso Soriano to be traded to during the offseason.

Below are the four realistic trade options for Alfonso Soriano:

Minnesota Twins: I believe there’s a realistic landing spot for Soriano because I think the Twins will look to trade Justin Morneau (if he passes his physical) during the offseason to a team that needs a quality First Baseman. In addition to that, I also feel Minnesota will look to play Joe Mauer at First which will force them to acquire an additional quality bat in their lineup… enter Soriano. Alfonso would give them the DH they’ve been looking for since deciding to let David Ortiz leave over a decade ago.

Cleveland Indians: Cleveland has a number of quality bats in their lineup: (Carlos SantanaAsdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, and Michael Brantley) but might have a hole at DH as Travis Hafner’s scheduled to be a Free Agent following the 2012 season. The Indians are a possible landing spot for Soriano as a trade here would allow for him to stay in the Midwest and would give this team an additional bat they’ve been missing.

Baltimore Orioles: Outside of the Angles (if they decided to trade Kendrys Morales), I feel the Orioles are the most likely team to trade for Soriano. Baltimore has a few key impact hitter’s on their roster in Adam Jones, Matt Wietersand top prospect Manny Machado. That’s a nice start, but I still feel the O’s are missing at least one more additional power bat in their lineup, and that’s where Soriano would fit in. With his power bat added to their lineup, I feel the Orioles would be provided an additional dimension to their lineup.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have a number of quality hitters on their roster in Evan LongoriaDesmond Jennings, and Matt Joyce. Like division rival Baltimore, Tampa Bay’s lineup’s includes three quality bats but they still need to add additional depth to fill out the rest of their lineup. Soriano sounds like a good option for the Rays but there’s one key problem with this situation… Manager Joe Maddon likes having a rotating DH so Soriano would have to play he field a few time a week. If Soriano and the Rays both feel he’s able to play the field a few times a week, then this would become a realistic option for the Rays and would provide them the bat there currently looking for.

And finally, the third reason and final reason I feel October 3rd, 2012 will be Alfonso Soriano’s last game as a Chicago Cub:

3) The Cubs will look to take on the majority of his contract: During the past week, the Cubs made it clear they want to see what’s in their Farm System by playing Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Brett Jacksonand Josh Vitters everyday. 

Below are the 5 most likely teams to trade for Alfonso Soriano:

1) Baltimore Orioles

2) Minnesota Twins

3) Cleveland Indians 

4) Tampa Bay Rays

5) Los Angeles Angeles 

Please share your responses and follow us on Twitter(https://twitter.com/ClarkStSports), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports), Pinterest(http://pinterest.com/clarkstsports/), Google Plus (Clark Street Sports), and now Flickr(http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkstreetsports). Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com/

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Merchandise of all 30 MLB Teams

Make sure to order Merchandise of your favorite MLB teams before the All-Star Game so your ready for the Mid-Summer Classic. At Clark Street Sports, we sell Hats, Jackets, Jerseys, Sweatshirts and T-Shirts of each MLB Team. Our customers have the option of personalizing their own t-shirt and jersey or creating merchandise with no name or number on the back. There’s a great variety of merchandise to choose from so make sure you order your MLB products before All-Star Weekend is here.

Please share your responses and follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ClarkStSports), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports), Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/clarkstsports/), Google Plus (Clark Street Sports), and now Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/clarkstreetsports). Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com/

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

MLB Top 5 Teams

I know that the season is young and just one month in, but I felt it was a good time to look at who I feel are the 5 best teams in the early parts of the shortened baseball season.

5. St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals have the fourth best record in baseball (and have a better record then two of the teams listed below (Nationals and Braves), but I still have a few questions about this team before I place them higher on this list. As everyone knows, St. Louis had a crazy offseason (celebrating a World Series, lost one of the best players of All-Time, and then signed Carlos Beltran) but quietly got off to a great start this season. After one month, the Cardinals rank 1st (as a team) in baseball in runs and on baseball percentage and second in the league in batting average. So how are the Cardinals doing all of this without Albert Pujols? St. Louis has been able to do this with a consistent offense, as they have a different player at each of the top major categories: Average (John Jay), Home Runs (Carlos Beltran), and RBI’s (David Freese). It’s amazing that not one of these players listed on above is one of the team’s top hitters from last year (Pujols, Matt Holliday, and Lance Berkman), and yet they still rank as one of the best offense’s in all of baseball. Even more amazing with the Cardinals is that the teams number one and two starters have been ineffective so far (Chris Carpenter has been on the DL and Adam Wainwright has an ERA of 6.75 on the season) and are still a top 5 team. St. Louis has been able to receive a great amount of help from the other starters in their rotation which includes: Jame Garcia (2-1 and a 2.78 ERA), Jake Westbrook (3-2 with a 2.12 ERA), Kyle Lohse (4-0 with a 1.62 ERA), and fill-in Lance Lynn (5-0 to go along with a 1.60 ERA).

Will this continue? Yes, I do feel the Cardinals will continue their solid play and will be at the top of the National League Central when the May ends. Why do I feel this way? Because I believe they feature a good veteran led roster that will continue to only get healthier as the season goes on.

4. Washington Nationals: The Nationals felt they had one of the best young pitching staff’s in all of baseball, however, I’m just not sure they thought it would all come together so quickly. At the end of the 2011 season, Washington decided to have Stephen Strasburg make a few starts at the end of the 2011 season to see what the Strasburg-Zimmerman combination would look like in the future. After the season, the Nationals needed a young left-handed starter that would be able to pitch alongside the two young righties they already feature on their roster. In late December, they Nationals were able to add this player to their roster by trading for 2011 All-Star Gio Gonzalaez. With those three pitchers intact, the Nationals decided to add a veteran to the mix by signing Edwin Jackson to add depth to their roster. As the season was starting, Washington realized that they featured a really good young 5 man rotation when 5th starter Ross Detwiler got off to a great start and has arguably been the teams best pitcher in the early part of the season. This is one of the few teams in baseball that features an entire rotation that’s under 30 years old: Edwin Jackson (28), Ross Detwiler (26), Gio Gonzalez (26), Jordan Zimmerman (25), and Stephen Strasburg (23). As good as their starting pitching’s been so far, the teams bullpen and hitting haven’t been nearly as successful. A few of the National hitters have had good years (Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ian Desmond) but they need for others player to step up and for those three to continue their play as of late.

Will this continue? I feel the Nats will continue to feature a good record but I’m not sure if they can continue this throughout the entire summer and into the fall. With that said, Washington’s offense will be much better in the future as they’ve decided to bring up top prospect Bryce Harper and will soon have one of the teams best hitters returning in Michael Morse (who had a .303 Average, 31 Home Runs, and 95 RBI’s on the season). Washington should have a great young pitching staff to go along a solid lineup that will compete with teams in the future. Washington is a team that will be there for the longevity of the season; however, I’m not sure if their ready to compete for a playoff spot and play into October.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers had a great end to the 2011 season and have continued this into the 2012 season. Many felt that Matt Kemp should have won the 2011 National League MVP Award (finished 2nd to Ryan Braun) and but has proven that it’s only motivated him to be better than ever as he’s had an incredible start to the 2012 season (.411 Average, 12 Home Runs, and 25 RBI’s). In addition to Kemp, the man who bats behind him, Andre Ethier (.287 Average, 6 Home Runs, and 27 RBI’s (which leads all of baseball)) have combined to form one of the best right-left combinations in baseball. The rest of the Dodgers team has been productive this year being in the top 1/3 in batting average (10th) and top 1/2 in runs (14th) but its Ethier and Kemp who have turned the Dodgers into such a good offense. As for their pitching staff, the five of them have been productive all season long featuring a combined 3.45 team ERA on the season. The starting rotation includes the reigning CY Young Award winner in Clayton Kershaw, who once again got off to another solid start (2-0 with a 2.63 ERA). As good as Kershaw is and has been, if the Dodgers want to win the National League West and be a contender for a World Series, they know they need to receiver help from other places. Fortunately for the Dodgers, they’ve received great pitching from all of their starting pitchers which include Ted Lilly (3-0 and a 1.38 ERA), Chad Billingsley (2-1 with a 3.22 ERA), and Chris Capuano (3-0 and a 2.73 ERA).

Will this continue? I don’t see why not. The Dodgers have the best hitter in baseball, the one of the best pitcher’s in baseball, along with a few other MLB Players on their roster (Ethier, Loney, Gordon, Lilly, Billingsley, Jansen, and Guerra). In the end, I believe the Dodgers will be a playoff team and with their new ownership grouo will look to add another pitcher at the deadline.

2. Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays made an incredible run in 2011 by coming out of nowhere and making the playoff as a Wild Card winner. Unlike the 2010 offseason, Tampa Bay knew that the majority of their roster would stay intact or improve for the 2012 season as they only had a few free agents after the 2011 season. As for their roster, the Rays feature an incredible 5 man rotation that includes Jeremy Hellickson, David Price, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, and Matt Moore as it seems that you never get a night off when facing this Rays pitching staff. Like the Nationals, Tampa Bay has a staff that only features one starting pitcher above 30 years old (Shields is 30), as the other are all below 30: Niemann (29), Price (26), Hellickson (25), and Moore (22). Lastly, their offense, has one of the best third basemen in all of baseball (Evan Longoria) to go along with B.J. Upton, Matt Joyce, Carlos Pena, Desmond Jennings, and Ben Zobrist.

Will this continue: If the offense is able to continue their ways with Longoria on the DL for a few weeks, then yes, if not, then it will be tough. The Rays are a team that usaualy doesn’t depend on great offense as they instead rely on pitching and defense so yes, I do feel they will be in the thick of things as the season continues.

1. Texas Rangers: There are a lot of good teams this year, however, there’s one team that seems to be head and shoulders above the others: the two time defending American League Champion Texas Rangers. First, the Rangers lineup is as good as ever with 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton (.381 Average, 9 Home Runs, and 26 RBI’s) to go along with All-Stars Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli (hasn’t made an All-Star Game yet, but will make one in the future), and Nelson Cruz. This lineup is so balanced that their offense can beat you with power, speed, or a combination of the two. As for their pitching rotation, its not the most overpowering rotation, but they do a solid job which nicely complement’s their offense. The rotation has a nice mixture of righties (3) and lefties (2) and is led by Derek Holland to go along with newly signed Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz, and Matt Harrison. In addition to their starting staff, Texas has one of the best bullpens in the Majors which includes Mike Adams, Aleci Ogando, Mark Lowe, along with closer Joe Nathan. The Rangers have a great combination of offense and pitching on their roster and will be tough team beat in 2012.

Will this continue: I would be shocked if the Rangers didn’t continue to be one of the best teams in 2012 as I feel Texas is determined to get back to the World Series and finally bring the state of Texas their first World Series Championship. The majority of the Rangers players are in the prime’s of their career and their roster has learned from the mistakes that they made from their previous two playoff appearances.

Team to watch: Atlanta Braves: The Braves got off to a slow start (loosing their first four games) but since then, have gone 18-7 to take over second place (a 1/2 game behind the Nationals in the NL East) and will soon become the NL East Division Leaders. Atlanta features one of the best offenses (4th best team average (.271) along with the most runs (162)) in all of baseball. As for the teans pitching staff, they feature a good combination of veterans in All-Star’s Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens to go along with youngsters Brandon Beachy, Tommy Hanson, Randall Delgado, and Mike Minor. Their offense also includes a lot of youth (Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward) veterans (Michael Bourn and Martin Prado) and All-Stars (Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla, and Brian McCann) on their roster. Earlier this season, Braves great Chipper Jones announced that this would be his final season playing in the majors and I feel this will motivate the Braves to go far in the Playoffs for their captain so he can go out on top.

Please share your responses and follow us on Twitter (@clarkstsports), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports), and now our Clark Street Sports Google Plus Page. Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

MLB Players to watch in 2012

There are a lot of players that should be watched for the 2012 season and can change the landscape of the baseball season.

Howie Kendrick (Angels): Everyone knows about the big names in the Angles lineup (Pujols, Hunter, Wells, and Trumbo), but I feel it’s the teams second baseman (Howie Kendrick) that can transform this offense from being a good to a great offense. In 2011, Kendrick made the All-Star team and for only the second time in his career, he played in more than 110 games (the other four seasons he played in under 110 games). If Kendrick can stay healthy and progress into an even better hitter in 2012, then Pujols and the other players in their lineup will be provided with more protection in the future.

Stephen Strasburg (Nationals): Towards the end of the season 2011, (after having Tommy John surgery), former number one overall pick, Stephen Strasburg, returned to the rotation and had a 1-1 record to go with a 1.50 ERA in 5 starts. The big question surrounding Strasburg this year is if he can prove that he’s recovered from having Tommy John surgery which would provide the Nationals  with one of the best young rotations in baseball (Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Gio Gonzalez) to go along with a solid offense (Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Jayson Werth, Michael Morse, and soon top prospect Bryce Harper) in the future. If this core can perform in 2012 and Strasburg can recover and become the pitcher he was seen as, then the Nationals could be a surprise team in 2012 and a dangerous team in the future.

Johan Santana (Mets): Many people don’t know what to expect from the former 2-time Cy-Young Award winner after not pitching in a MLB game since September of 2010. In the 2010 offseason, Johan had shoulder surgery and wasn’t able to pitch in any games throughout the 2011 season. I’m not sure the Mets can compete in the NL East in 2012 or for the next few years (the NL East includes: Phillies, Braves, Nationals, Marlins), however, if Johan is healthy and can prove he’s still a solid starting pitcher, I feel the Mets can look to eat part of Santana’s contract for next year (he also has a team option for the 2014 season or a buyout) and trade him after the season so they can add few more prospects to their minor league system. If Santana can prove that he’s back to being the pitcher he once was, then the Mets will have a player that everyone wants on their team and more importantly a left-handed starting pitcher that has a great change-up.

Max Scherzer (Tigers): The Tigers have the best pitcher in baseball (Justin Verlander) but they need someone else in their rotation to step-up and show that they can support Verlander and become a true number two starter on a team that’s capable of winning a World Series. The Detroit rotation currently features the best pitcher in baseball (Verlander), along with 2 solid starters (Scherzer and Doug Fister) and a pitcher that has the capability of being a very good number 3 or 4 pitcher in their rotation (Rick Porcello). Which brings me back to my first point, if Max Scherzer can step-up and show he can become a true number two starting pitcher (which means a All-Star caliber starter), to go along with one of the best rotations in the league, then the Tigers will be one of the top teams in 2012 and will be playing baseball deep into October.

B.J. Upton (Rays): The Rays and the rest of baseball have been waiting for B.J. Upton to become the player we saw during the 2008 playoffs when it looked like the Upton and Longoria combination would be one of the best 3-4 combination’s in all of baseball. Four years later, Upton’s offense still hasn’t returned from his 2008 season postseason dominance as he’s never had an average above .243 since the end of the 2008 playoffs. With that said, Upton’s still one of the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball, but if he can become a solid offensive center fielder, he’ll make himself a lot of money (he’s a free agent after this season) and the Rays will have a good offense to go along with the best young starting rotation in all of baseball. In my mind, B.J. Upton could be the key to the Rays going deep in the playoffs this season.


Derek Holland (Rangers): Yes, I did chose Derek Holland over Yu Darvish as one of the players to watch in 2012 (even though I’m excited to see what Darvish has to offer during the 2012 season. Back to Holland, with C.J. Wilson signing with the rival Angels, its time for Holland to step up and show that he’s not just a pitcher that can just throw complete games (4 last year), but that he can be a pitcher that can be counted on as a  legitimate number one pitcher. Currently, the Rangers have one of the best offenses (Hamilton, Beltre, Young, Andrus, Cruz, Napoli), a good bullpen (Nathan, Adams, Ogando), and a rotation that has a ton of question marks, but still has the capability of being a great rotation this year (Lewis, Holland, Harrison, Darvish, and Feliz). If Derek Holland can be a dominate pitcher in 2012, the Rangers might find themselves back in the World Series.

Josh Johnson (Marlins): The Marlins went out this offseason and signed Mark Buehrle to a four-year deal as he’ll become the number 2 starter in the Marlins rotation. The rest of Miami’s rotation should be solid with Sanchez and Nolasco to go along with a good bullpen (highlighted by Heath Bell) and a lineup that’s as good as any in the league (Reyes, Ramirez, Sanchez, Morrison, Stanton). However, if the Marlins want to be a true contender in 2012, they need for Josh Johnson to prove he’s healthy and show he can be a the ace they thought he would be a few years ago. Before he got hurt last year, Johnson had a 1.64 ERA and since the start of the 2008 season, he’s never had an ERA above 3.70. In my opinion, the Miami Marlins will only go as far as their star pitcher takes them.

Chad Billingsley (Dodgers): The Dodgers have two of the best players in all of baseball (Kemp and Kershaw), one of the most clutch hitters in the game (Ethier), solid relief pitching (Guerrier, Jansen, and Guerra) and one of the fastest players in the league (Dee Gordon). In 2007, 2008, and the start of the 2009 season (when he was named an All-Star) it seemed that Chad Billingsley was on his way to becoming one of the best young pitchers in baseball, however, since the 2009 All-Star break, Billingsley hasn’t been nearly the same pitcher as many times he’s struggled and hasn’t come close to mirroring the same pitcher from the past. If Billingsley can return to the pitcher he was a few years ago, then the Dodgers will be able to keep up with the Giants rotation (who have the best 1-2 duo in the league with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum) and at the same time feature a solid lineups to go with Billingsley and Kershaw.

Please share your responses and follow us on Twitter (@clarkstsports), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports), and now our Clark Street Sports Google Plus Page. Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

National League East Spring Training Preview

The National League East features three possible teams that can compete for a division title in 2012, and another team that should become one of the most improved teams in baseball.

Philadelphia Phillies: Once again, the Phillies surprised the baseball world by quietly signing 4-time All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon of the Boston Red Sox. Since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, Philadelphia’s signed at-least one big name free agent each of the past 4 off-season’s (Raul Ibanez 2008-2009, Roy Halladay  2009-2010, Cliff Lee 2010-2011, and Jonathan Papelbon). Unfortunately for the Phillies, the last out of their seasons was costly in more ways than one as star first baseman Ryan Howard tore his Achilles while attempting to run to first base and will likely miss part of the 2012 season. As insurance for Howard, Philadelphia signed former Phillie Jim Thome along with utility infielder Ty Wigginton. If everyone on their roster comes back healthy this year, the Phillies still features a solid lineup (Howard, Utley, Rollins, Victorino, and Pence) to go along with the best four man rotation in baseball. Their rotation features Cy Young Award Winner’s Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee along with 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP Cole Hamels (in a contract year), and second year starter Vance Worley. This Phillies should be one of the most competitive teams in baseball and once again be a contender for another World Series Title.

Atlanta Braves: Last year, the Braves suffered through the second greatest September collapse in baseball history (Braves fans can thank the Red Sox for not being known as the organization who suffered through the greatest collapse in baseball history). If this Braves team can recover from last year’s collapse and move forward, Atlanta will be a playoff team and once again a contender for a World Series Title. Just as the offseason was getting underway, the Braves traded veteran starter Derek Lowe to the Cleveland Indians and decided to feature one of the youngest but most talented rotations in baseball. Atlanta’s pitching staff is led by 3-time All-Star Tim Hudson,  2011 All-Star Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, and Brandon Beachy to go along with the best young bullpen in baseball with lefties Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty alongside rookie of the year winner Craig Kimbrel. As for the fifth spot in the Braves rotation, there will be a great competition between talented young starters Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, and Julio Teheran to see who joins the other four pitchers at Turner Field. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, to go alongside one of the best young rotations in baseball, the Braves also feature one of the best hitting cores in the league. Led by the best catcher in baseball, Brian McCann, the Braves have Freddie Freeman (runner-up to teammate Craig Kimbrel for the 2011 rookie of the year), Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, Michael Bourn, Martin Prado, and the ageless Chipper Jones. Atlanta features the best young talent on any 25 man roster in baseball and should be at the top of the NL East in 2012 and beyond.

Washington Nationals: Most people don’t realize this, but the Washington Nationals finished the 2011 season one game behind the .500 mark (80-81). The Nationals featured one of the most bizarre June’s in the history of baseball as it started on a high note winning 11 of 12 games. As their streak reached double digits, then manager Jim Riggleman (yes the former Cubs manager) decided to resign during the winning streak after not receiving a contract extension and then a few days later deciding to hire former World Series winning manager Davey Johnson. In the off-season, the Nationals were reportedly one of the teams interested in signing former Brewer Prince Fielder to help bolster their lineup but unfortunately for the Nats they were outbid by the Detroit Tigers. A few weeks later, Washington decided to extend all-star 3rd baseman Ryan Zimmerman for an additional 6 seasons, making him the face of the franchise. The Nationals weren’t completely quiet this offseason as they decided to upgrade their starting rotation by signing the well-traveled Edwin Jackson to a one year deal and traded for 2011 All-Star Gio Gonzalez (a few days later Gonzalez agreed to terms on a 4 year extension). Like the Braves, the Nationals feature a lot of great young talent led by pitchers Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg along with Gonzalez, Jackson, and John Lannan. As for the Washington lineup, they feature a nice mix of both young and old veterans on their roster led by Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Roger Bernadina and veterans Mark DeRosa, Michael Morse, and Jayson Werth. The Nationals organization has two key questions they need to address before the end of spring training as it involves two of the best young prospects in baseball        (Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon). Harper, the number one ranked player in the minor’s, is still a teenager (19, and doesn’t turn 20 until October) and has people wondering if he’s ready to break camp and start the season with the Nationals. As good as Harper will be in the future, I feel it would be in the best interest of Harper and the Nationals organization if he waited until after the trade deadline and started the season at AA or AAA. The other question Washington needs to address is last year’s number one pick, third baseman Anthony Rendon. Washington also needs to find a new position for Rendon as Zimmerman (27) is now signed though the 2020 season and includes a no-trade clause. The Nationals have an interesting team as although they aren’t quite ready to compete for a playoff spot in 2012, the Nats are a team on the rise that will only improve in the future. In two years, I believe the Nationals will compete for a playoff spot and become one of the most competitive teams in baseball.

New York Mets: The Mets are now in a transition phase and have finally realized that its time to start over. Throughut the 2011 season, New York decided to start the new Mets era by trading closer Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee and All-Star Carlos Beltran to San Francisco for prospects (in that trade the Mets received the best prospect currently in their organization, Zack Wheeler). A few months after the season, New York saw star shortstop Jose Reyes leave for the division rival Miami Marlins. The Mets  still have a few long-term contracts on their payroll (Jason Bay and Johan Santana until after the 2013 season) and then will be 100% prepared to start the rebuilding stages of the Mets. The other key issue the Mets need to address this year is to decide what to do with David Wright and his contract. Wright has one more team-option remaining on his current contract (for the 2013 season), however, if the Mets do decide to trade him during the season, his 2013 team option can be voided and Wright has the option to  become a free agent. The Mets need to ask themselves a few questions. First, the Mets need to  determine if they want David Wright to become the face their franchise. Second, if New York does decide they want him to become the face of their franchise, they need to see what type of contract he would want to stay in New York. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, the Mets should  look at the possible trade options to add more depth to their farm system. After Jose Reyes decided to sign with the Miami Marlins, the rest of their offseason was quiet as they only made a few other minor moves to their roster. For Mets fans, this season, along with the next few will be difficult for the Mets to watch as they continue to revamp their organization.

Miami Marlins: The most interesting team in baseball this year will most certainly be the Miami Marlins. The busy off-season started a few days before the end of the regular season when the White Sox agreed to trade manager Ozzie Guillen to the Marlins for two minor league prospects. As for the other moves made this offseason, the Marlins decided to start the Winter Meetings off by agreeing to terms with Padres closer Heath Bell on a 3 year deal. A few days later, the Marlins made their most significant free agent signing since Ivan Rodriguez signed with the Marlins prior to the 2003 season when they signed Jose Reyes to a 6 year deal. The Marlins ended the Winter Meetings by signing another former White Sox in starting pitcher Mark Burhrle to a 4 year deal, hoping to improve the front of their rotation. The final major move the Marlins made this offseason was by trading for the talented, but unpredictable Carlos Zambrano. Unlike other managers, Guillen in the past stated that the former Cubs pitcher would be fine if he managed Zambrano. First, on the field the Marlins are a vastly improved team that features one of the best leadoff hitters in the league (Reyes), the best young power hitter (Stanton), along with All-Star Hanley Ramirez and Logan Morrison. As for the pitching staff, if everyone stays healthy and in-check, the Marlins should have improved rotation led by Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, and Carlos Zambrano. Now for the fun part, the Marlins will be must see TV everyday with the personalities shown within their organization. From the Ozzie being Ozzie, the unpredictable Carlos Zambrano, the opinionated Logan Morrison, goofy Heath Bell along with the Hanley not wanting to play third debate, this will be the must see off the field team in 2012.

Please share your responses with us on Twitter @clarkstsports and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports. Remember to also check out our merchandise at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 1, 2012 in MLB, Sports

 

Tags: , , , , ,