Thursday, April 6, 2006

Now With Music

Added for your listening pleasure. On the left, press play.
Special thanks to Dennis, who sent me an e-mail about the song I mentioned in an earlier post. It gave me the idea to add it to the site. Enjoy.
Do you think I should make it play automatically when the page is accessed or should I leave as is. Let me know what you think? I appreciate the feedback.

We're In The Money

Another winner for my Father-in-law yesterday. The Orioles over the D-Rays. It wasn't even a contest. That's makes me 3 out of 4.
Today, I told him that the magic word was "Pedro." Mets over Nats.
Speaking of the Nats, what is up with Alfonso Soriano? Not running out a popout? Actually, not running at all. Frank Robinson was totally in the right for benching his problem child. There is no excuse for not running out a batted ball, regardless of where you think the ball is headed. Whether or not you think the ball is foul, anything can happen and often it does. We've seen this from Alfonso before. I would think a guy in his contract year would be hustling out everything, trying to rise the value of his stock. I'm interested to see if he does it again.
I'm still reeling from the Yankees loss last night. The more I think about it, the more I feel that we gave that game away. Defense wins ballgames and we played poor defense last night. 2 costly errors that changed the entire course of the game. I like to think it's just first week jitters. For the Bombers' sake, I hope it is. #27 will be hard to come if it's not.

What Went Wang?

Such an obvious title to a post, don't you think? Boy the Yankes blew that one.
I thought Wang had a good outing. If not for a defensive miscue by Jeter/Cano, he might have put up zeroes. There's this guy in one of my Diamond Mind leagues that doesn't like Wang because he's a soft tosser. Hey, whatever gets the job done. His ability to induce a ground ball will come in handy.
I was terrified that Sturtze was going to give up a first pitch grand slam when he came in. Thankfully, he didn't. Wright is another one that makes me worry when he pitches, and I think it's justifiable. I wouldn't necessarily pin the loss on him because if Cano fields that grounder, who knows how events would have unfolded? Wright is still not a guy I want to see on the hill in a close game come the late innings. I was a little surprised he started the 8th. I guess it didn't matter who started the inning as the bullpen imploded.
The bats at the top of the lineup continue to look good. Let's hope they don't slump. I don't know how Sheffield doesn't strike out more? He's all over the place when he swings, but boy does he hit the ball hard! That ball left the yard with the quickness. See ya!
I think in Japan they spell Matsui: M-V-P? He's certainly playing like one. I'm glad the Yankees locked him up for a few more years.
I like Cano in the 9-hole. He's starting off a little slow but when he starts to heat up, watch out. Getting him on a base is a good way to turn the lineup over.
Message to Bernie Williams: You have to swing the bat to hit the ball! 3 backwards Ks and a game ending foul out. Ouch. Not what we need. I like Bernie, I really do. But I hope Torre doesn't continue to pencil him in the lineup every day out of loyalty. Give Bubba and Phillips a shot. Heck, throw Cairo in at 2nd and let Cano DH. Maybe then we wouldn't have as many costly errors. I'm not giving up on Cano. It's just frustrating to see plays like that.
How A-Rod hit .385 in the series is beyond me? It seems like every time he's up he strikes out with a runner in scoring position. Is it just me?
A dinger from Giambi would be nice.
Will we ever see Mike Myers face a righty? Let's hope not. His numbers are terrible.
Man, Jorge is so slow. I think my Grandma could have beat out that grounder in the 9th.
Message to Robinson Cano: Stay down on the ball and keep it in front of you! Defense wins championships. Just ask Bill Buckner, he'll tell ya.
Not a great finish to the series. Defense cost us that one. It doesn't help either that the Yankees struck out 25 times in the 3 game set. We should have saved some runs for games 2 and 3. But as a whole, I'm pleased with their performance, but winning the series would have been nice. But I'm encouraged about what I saw. There's just a few wrinkles that need smoothing out. It's the first series of the season. It's no indication of what's to come. No need to worry.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Highway Robbery

I was checking out fellow Yankee blogger Da Bronx Bomber's site. He's out in Cali and was in Oakland for the opener. It sounds like he had a good time and he has some stories to share so go check them out. Anyway, the ever-present Lord of the Blogosphere left him a comment, which directs you to Barry Bonds' website to check out their take on the famous "Trade Barry" sign outside AT&T Park. It really is marketing genius.
Being an autograph collector, I thought I'd check out Bonds' store to see how much money a signed Barry Bonds baseball was. There are 4 to choose from. The cheapest, which has just his signature, goes for $600. $600!!! He has to be kidding right? That has got to be the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. The other balls range from $700 up to $1300, the $1300 is actually for two balls -- one signed by Bonds, the other by Willie Mays. Let me know if I'm the only one who thinks that this is absurd? Who comes up with these prices?
I thought I'd check out balls signed by A-Rod and those, while still expensive, were a little cheaper than Bonds'. Alex's cheapest ball, which is just his signature and uniform number, goes for $359. The most expensive ball was $2500, which is a signed game-used ball from the game he hit #300. To quote Phil Rizzutto, "Holy Cow!"
Somebody is making a lot of money. This is what makes it impossible for the average fan to ever own a piece of memorabilia signed by their favorite player. I've heard that A-Rod will sign before some games, though I've yet to see it in person when I'm in Toronto. And believe me, I'm there well before the gates open. With any luck, this might be the year. I've seen Jeter sign for quite a while before a game.
It's always good to see anyone sign, it really is. It's nice to see a player give back. In the age of E-Bay, I can understand why they don't want to b/c they are basically giving people free money. It makes it tough for people like me to build a nice memorabilia collection (currently about 60 signed balls, all within the last 2 years). I was at an Orioles game two years ago when they were playing the Red Sox. I was standing right in front when Pedro started to sign. i was very excited as he's one of the game's greatest pitchers, but he skipped right by me and said he only would sign for kids because adults sell his stuff. Bummer.
I really wonder how a $600 price tag can be slapped on a signed baseball? More so, I wonder if anyone ever ponied up the cheddar to buy one? $600! To put that in perspective, I can go to an autograph show in Cooperstown on Induction Weekend, spend $665 and walk away with 15 signed balls by some of the greatest players to ever play the game. Still a lot of money, but break it down ball by ball, and it's not a bad value.
How do you spell rip off? B-a-r-r-y.

They Can't Win 'Em All

Tough one to lose.
Mussina looked sharp. He had pretty good control. The only thing that concerned me was the 2 HRs he gave up. We saw a little of that in spring training. Let's hope it's nothing that haunts Moose all season.
The offense wasn't as stellar as they were in the opener, but how could they be after that performance? Timely hitting. We didn't have that tonight. The Yanks could have broke the game open in the 1st, but Harden struck out Sheffield, then A-Rod, then Giambi. The Yankees left a lot of runners on base. We had plenty of baserunners, just couldn't move them around. Same problem that plagued the lineup early last year. That baserunning blunder was totally on A-Rod. You have to check the runner on 3rd before you commit. I know Sheffield got the hold sign a little late, but the replay made it look like A-Rod was following the throw and not checking out Sheff. If Jeter and Damon can continue to get on base, watch out. Damon is looking real good so far! He excites me (get your head out of the gutter).
We got a decent glimpse of the bullpen tonight. Myers looks good. That walk to Chavez was questionable. He'll serve the Yankees well against lefties. Farnsworth looked good considering he only faced two batters. A fly out and a pop out. Good stuff.
At least A-Rod didn't strike out in the 9th with runners in scoring position. Am I the only one that thinks he has a tendency to do that? Don't get me wrong, he's well deserving of the MVP, but I'm sick of seeing him K late in the game with runners on.
Can someone tell me why Scott Proctor is a Yankee? Can someone tell me? The guy gave up 10 HRs last year in 44 innings and his numbers are horrible. Why he's used in a tie-game in the 9th inning is beyond me? Cashman needs to put him on a bus from Oakland to Columbus ASAP. Matsui may have been playing a little too shallow, but you can't walk the leadoff hitter on 4 straight pitches in a game situation like that. I understand you can't give the ball off to Mo in that situation, but Scott Poctor? He and Sturtze are the only ones I worry about. On a related note, I wish Scott and his wife the best with respect to their daughter.
Small ball wins games.
Wang gets the call tomorrow. Another late game. I can't wait for the off day so I can get a good night's sleep. Who I'm kidding? I live for this. What a great motto!

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Can't Win 'Em All

If you've been keeping up on your reading, you'll know i suggested to my Father-in-law that he lay his money on the Brewers and the Astros again today. Boy was I off on the Astros! Who would have thought Pettitte would get rocked like that? And by the Marlins no less. Who called their offense anemic? Oh yeah, that was me. Just goes to show that you can't judge a team on 1 game. Marlins hitters knocked Pettitte around for 10 runs on 13 hits. Hanley Ramirez goes 4 for 5 with 3 RBI. How's that one taste Beantown?
At least the Brewers came through and gave me a split. Turnbow made things interesting though, allowing the tying run to reach 2nd w/ only 1 out. and what's up with Prince Fielder? 0-9 w/ 7 K. Not a good way to start the season. Maybe he needs to ask his Dad for some tips. The Brewers are going to have a good year. I picked them to finish 2nd in the Central behind the Astros. I still stand by those predictions.
Tomorrow I told my Father-in-law to take the Orioles over the D-Rays. Erik Bedard vs. Seth McClung. I feel confident in the pick. Cross your fingers.

NY Closer Controversey

Some people apparently feel that Mariano Rivera should be the only closer able to use Metallica's "Enter Sandman" as his entrance music. The city of New York's newest closer, Billy Wagner, uses the song as well. Apparently, the city is not big enough for the both of them to use it. There were discussions today on WFAN's "Mike and The Mad Dog" and "The Don Imus Show" as to whether or not Wagner should be allowed to use the song (There's audio from the show available on their site. You need to have the Real Player installed).
Personally, I have no issue with it. It's a song. Wagner has been using the song for about 10 years. He used it in Houston. He used it in Philly. It's not as if he came to the city of NY and said I want to use Rivera's "Enter Sandman." Mike Francesa, host of "Mike and The Mad Dog" thinks it's "lame" that the Mets are allowing Wagner to use the song. He made it sound as if no one in the Mets organization, their announcers, or even their fans, were aware that Wagner used the song as his entrance music. Francesa ranted and raved and went as far as suggesting that the soemone get together with the Mets, and have them call Wagner and tell him to change the song. His argument is that the song belongs to Rivera and Yankee Stadium, and that Wagner is "stealing" the song and should be forbidden from using it and needs to get some originality. Blah blah blah.
Francesa went on and on and on, blah blah blah blah blah. Blow hard. I find it hard to believe that a "sports guy" such as Francesa didn't know that Wagner used the song. I knew Wagner used the song for crying out loud and all I do is write a silly blog. Francesa was coming across as if no one in the world knew Wagner used the song. Now I like listening to "Mike and The Mad Dog." I normally catch the YES Network broadcast of the show as I live in Buffalo. I find Francesa to be an idiot, but they talk Yankees and that's why I listen. Mike needs to realize that life, and baseball, exist outside of NYC. It's a song. What's the big deal?

Knuckle Bumps For All

Yankees win! Thaaaaaaaaaa Yankees Win!!
Now that's what I'm talking about! What a way to open up the season!
I've mentioned it several times throughout my blog. The Yankee lineup is going to put up some serious runs. They have 5 of the top 12 leaders in runs scored in the American League for 2005. They batted A's pitchers around for 15 runs on 17 hits. Expect to see a lot more of that during the season. 1000 runs is within the realm of possibilities. But it's game 1 of 162. I'm getting ahead of myself.
Now we all know Barry Zito isn't the greatest April pitcher. And he hasn't been too successful against the Yankees recently and tonight's opener was nothing different. The Yankee bats chased Zito after an inning and a third, the shortest outing of his career. But he is Barry Zito, and April or not, that is nothing to scoff at. Zito was having some serious control problems and it was good to see the Yankees show some plate discipline, even after Zito left the game. 9 walks in total. If only we didn't;t have 8 K's to go with them.
I was impressed with third base Coach Larry Bowa showing some smarts in the second inning by not trying to send guys home on singles into the OF. With no outs and the lineup about to turn over, he didn't give the A's any outs by trying to create runs by sending the runner home. Larry is going to be an asset to the Yankees. He's already 10x the third base coach Sojo was.
The Unit looked sharp and it was encouraging to see he and Posada work well. 7 strong innings with his only mistake being the HR to Frank Thomas. He showed good control. No walks. That's always good. After Thomas' HR, I was worried that we'd see more HRs yielded by Johnson. I saw him pitch once when he was with the D-Backs. The game was in Pittsburgh. He gave up 2 hits, both of which were solo homers and the D-Backs lost 2-0. The game lasted 1.5 hours. It was amazing. Johnson has always given up the long ball, last year being no different. Thankfully, he has the Yankee lineup supporting him and not the D-Backs. Too bad Jorge didn't get a hit, the only Yankee starter not to.
Cano impressed me with the sac bunt he laid down in the 2nd. Near perfect. Torre looks like he's not afraid to interject some small ball into the Yankee offense. After watching the WBC, I can't blame him.
The middle of the line-up had a huge night, knocking in 10 runs. A-Rod looked like the MVP. 3-5 w/ 5 RBI and he didn't strike out (Da Hamburglers thank you). Matsui reached based every time he stepped to the plate. Giambi struck out 2x but that's to be expected. He of course got hit by a pitch. There's a shocker! Now if only he could dig out throws in the dirt.
Johnny Damon had a good start to the year, something he's not used to according to a pre-game stat they flashed on the YES network. A career opening day average of .100 (or something close to that). 3-7 w/ 2 doubles. One down the right field line, the other down the left. Way to use the whole field Johnny -- but stop making unnecessary throws into the crowd! Save your arm! You know Red Sox fans are crying in their pints of Sam Adams. I'm sorry for you loss. Yeah right.
I'm glad the Yankees were up by 14 runs when Sturtze came in. If they can just keep him out of close games, we'll be alright. I'm not a Sturtze fan. I think he's garbage. But I'm glad he didn't give up any runs. The bullpen is going to be solid, even with Villone giving up a run.
I think what we saw tonight is a good sign of what's to come. It's a great start to the year. Yankee fans should definitely be encouraged. I know I am. I'm sure fellow Yankee blogger G-Deuce had a good time, even without his scoreboard message. Take that Oakland!

Monday, April 3, 2006

We're 2 For 2!!

Brewers win! Astros win! My Father-in-law is happy as he won both bets and a separate two-team parlay. His winnings: $25. He's such a high roller. I suggested he take the same teams tomorrow.
Man was Florida's offense anemic. I predicted Oswalt to be the NL Cy Young winner, but come on. 5 singles is all they managed. Pettite is on the hill tomorrow against the very deadly Sergio Mitre. Astros in a cake walk, assuming they can score some runs.
Did anybody catch the Giants/Padres game on the Deuce? Someone threw a syringe at Bonds! Classic. I'm sure it won't be the last time.
Less than a half-hour until Yankee baseball. I've been walking around all day singing the old school Yankee broadcast music from the WPIX days. Feel free to sing along: "Ba ba. Bada da da. Ba da da. Ba ba. Bada da da." You get the picture.
"Let's Go Yank-ees!"

Looks Like They Learned Their Lesson

If anyone saw last year's Yankee season preview on the YES Network might remember the round table discussion at the end of the broadcast, where the announce crew gave their prediction for how many games the Yankees would win. They all made guesses that the win total would be well over 100 games. If memory serves me correctly, Michael Kay threw out a number around 120. I just got finished watching "Yankees 2006: Pride, Power and Pinstripes" on DVR. The last segment of the show was another roundtable discussion made up of the same crew from the year before (was it me or did Michael Kay look like he put on a few pounds? -- and put some socks on, would ya?). The first thing that popped into my head was whether or not they'd all make the same ridiculous predictions again? I think they learned their lesson because they didn't even go there. The big question was, and I'll paraphrase: Will the East be a two-team race? Nothing about a win total. After the inane predictions they all made last year, I can't blame them. And of course, they all took the Yankees to win the East. And I can't blame that for that either.
I get the impression that this year is going to be special for the Yankees. Not only do the Yankees look good on paper, but they also seem to have a little of that chemistry back that's been missing since 2000. Am I the only one that has that feeling? I think that was something that started last season during the huge comeback they made from their horrendous start. The way they all came together to claw their was back to .500 and then winning the division title in Boston was just the beginning. Even the addition of Damon seems like a fit. God knows that the Yankees and Damon have seen quite a bit of each other over the last few seasons.
I can't wait until 10pm!! I wish I lived on the west coast. You wake up in the morning and sporting events on the east coast are starting. No staying up until 1-2 in the morning to watch a game with a 3-hour rain delay. Sports all day and a good nights sleep. I could live with that.

1 Down, 1 To Go

If you read my post "Jinxed" you saw that I suggested to my Father-in-law that he bet on the Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros today (he's made his annual pilgrimage to Vegas for a month). The Brew Crew pulled it out late to win him game 1. I wish I knew how much he laid down on each game.
Shoot. I probably just jinxed an Astros win. I realized it after I typed the above so there's no going back. Oswalt vs. the D-Train. Should be a good one. Go 'Stros.
Yanks in 4 hours!! YES coverage kicks off at 8:30 with the "YES Ultimate Road Trip." Something tells me I'm going to be annoyed at the cast again. I'll admit it. It's purely out of jealously. It must be nice not to have jobs or obligations. Lucky jerks. Again, I'm just jealous.

Da Hamburglers Need Your Help

If anyone reads my posts regularly, you no doubt came across my posts on my fantasy team: Da Hamburglers. Our biggest area of concern is our rotation, which is currently, Francisco Liriano, Daniel Cabrera, Paul Maholm, Jarrod Washburn, and Nate Robertson. Yikes. Our bullpen is solid with Joe Nathan, Brad Lidge, Ryan Dempster, and Huston Street. I've been working on trades and I'm soliciting advice on my options. Here is what I'm working on:
Trade Joe Nathan for Barry Zito
Trade Huston Street for Noah Lowry
Trade Ryan Dempster and Dannys Baez for Kelvim Escobar/Brandon Backe and Derek Lowe
Trade Huston Street and Dannys Baez for Scott Kazmir and Derek Lowe.
I'm trying to trade 2-3 relievers for 2-3 starters. I'm pretty sure that Zito for Nathan is a done deal. I'd rather make the 2 for 2 trade then the trade for Lowry as I can live without Baez because closers are more valuable than middle/late inning relievers. So I'm likely deciding between the last 2 on the list. Breaking it down, my decision is do I want to trade Street for Kazmir, or Dempster for Escobar/Backe? If the latter, do I want Escobar or Backe? I'm leaning to keeping Street and trading for Escobar and Lowe. I appreciate anyone's input.


Every April my in-laws go to Vegas for a month. Last year they left after the Yankees beat the Red Sox on Opening Day. While they were gone, the Yankees were absolutely terrible. When they returned, the Yankees started winning. I totally blamed them for that, telling them that they jinxed the Bombers. I totally believe in jinxes. The announcer makes a comment that so-and-so has never hit a home run off the pitcher. If he's on the opposing team, he no doubt will go yard. If he's on your team, he'll whiff. It happens way too often. Stupid announcers.
My wife and in-laws think it's funny. I won't let them leave the room if the Yankees are winning, or I'll make them sit in the same spot if they're doing well or switch things up when they're not. Superstitious? Yes. But aren't most baseball players/fans? Check out the book "Jinxed: Baseball Superstitions From around The Major Leagues." It's a good read. Rather interesting.
They just made it to Vegas last night (they drive from Buffalo). My Father-in-law asked me if there were any games he should bet on. I only saw pitching matchups for Monday so I told him to lay it on the Brewers, and also the Astros. Also, I told him to bet the house on the Cardinals and Yankees for their home openers. Those are my 5-star locks of the year. Take 'em to the bank.
Can't wait until tonight!!

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Calling It A Night

Looks like the weather service was a little off with their 10:30 estimate. Work comes early so I'm calling it a night. Tomorrow night I'm in it for the long haul to watch the Yankees/A's.
Watching Rob Schneider run the bases was the funniest thing I've seen in a while. "Benchwarmers" looks pretty funny. I'll have to check it out.

Stop Freaking Raining

I hate Mother Nature. How does she expect me to stay up to watch the end of this game? Doesn't she know I have to work tomorrow? I should have taken the day off, then it wouldn't be an issue.
I had noticed on the Buffalo Bisons website (AAA affiliate of the Indians in case you didn't know) that they were having an "opening night" party down at the restaurant in their stadium. $5 admission (which went to charity) got you in the door. You also got a ticket to their 2nd home game, door prize drawings every half inning, and best of all....FREE CHICKEN WINGS! The Bisons coaching staff as well as some of the players were going to be there as well. It sounded cool so my friend Jeff and I made a late decision and decided to go down for part of the game (we ended up leaving when the delay started). I was hoping Andy Marte would be there as I'm hoping to get his autograph before he gets the call to The Show, which knowing my luck, will be the day before I get to one of their home games (the free ticket was for the 2nd home game of the season against the Columbus Clippers-SCORE! Go Yanks!). Well anyway, I didn't do my research before we went so I had no idea as to what Marte looked like and he wasn't announced as being in attendance but guys kept showing up. We saw a guy that we thought might be Marte, but we weren't sure. After the 1st inning, Jeff won one of the door prizes. You got to pick what you wanted off a table. Assorted prizes were t-shirts (the crappy ones they shoot out of those air guns), hats celebrating the Bisons 2004 championship, a media guide, and bobblehead/figurines. He chose the media guide (I would've chose the Jhonny Peralta figurine). So we're sitting there looking at the photos in the guide and the guy we thought was Marte, closely resembled the photo in the book. I still wasn't sure. We were talking about having him sign the media guide to see if it was him, but before we got that far we found out it was catcher Eianr Diaz. Marte wasn't in attendance so I was bummed. But I left with a ticket to an upcoming game to a game against the Yankees farm team and a belly full of chicken wings. Good times.
Now we just need Mother Nature to cooperate so we can get back to some baseball!! When I was driving home, they mentioned on the radio (the White Sox feed on XM) that they were estimating that around 10:30 the delay would be over. Well, it's 10:35 and I'm still waiting. Aaargh. When it comes on, I hope the wife won't mind me kicking her off the TV so I can watch the game in HD. Who cares about Grey's Anatomy?? It's baseball season baby!

2006 Predictions = Playoffs & Awards

If you've kept yourself up-to-date on my preseason predictions then you should know who I've chosen to win each division. If you're popping in for the first time and don't feel like reading through each post, here's a recap:
AL East: New York Yankees
AL Central: Cleveland Indians
AL West: Oakland A’s
NL East: Atlanta Braves
NL Central: Houston Astros
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
Having decided on the division winners, all that leaves to predict is the each league's wild card winner. It's only logical that the wild card winner is one of the teams I chose to finish 2nd in their division and starting in the NL that would leave the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers, and the San Francisco Giants. Now if you've read my NL West prediction, you shouldn't be surprised I'm dismissing the Giants right of the bat. There just won't be enough wins there to give them the 4th best record in the league. So that leaves the Brewers or Mets? The Brewers are my surprise team for 2006, but I still think they're a year away from the postseason. So that would mean:
NL Wild Card: New York Mets
Jumping to the AL, we're left with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. There are no clear cut reasons why any of these teams can't field the 4th best record in the AL. In my opinion, there is better competition in the AL East and AL West which will cost the Red Sox and Angels some wins. The White Sox won it all last year and are certainly capable of winning it all again. I don't the think the White Sox face as many tough opponents and they'll field a better record than the Angels or Red Sox (Sorry Beantown, you have quite a while until you win again! Click here for the Beantown Victory Counter)
AL Wild Card: Chicago White Sox
The next questions to answer are: Who earns the home field and who will play who in the Division Series. I think in the American League, the best record will be earned by the New York Yankees (their offense is just too strong) and they'll be followed by the Cleveland Indians and the Oakland A's respectively. The National League's top team will be the the Atlanta Braves, followed by the Astros, then the Dodgers. Taking all things into account the Division Series matchups would look like:
ALDS: Chicago White Sox @ New York Yankees
ALDS: Oakland A’s @ Cleveland Indians
NLDS: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves
NLDS: New York Mets @ Houston Astros
For the Yankees to win their series with the White Sox, they'll need to be able to overcome the White Sox rotation in a short series, which we saw last year how dominant they could be. The Tribe will have the same obstacle to deal with in their series with the A's. Each series will be close but I think that the Indians and Yankees will survive to meet up in the ALCS.
ALCS: Cleveland Indians @ New York Yankees
In the NL, the Dodgers will need to get big performances from their rotation to hold the Braves at bay because Atlanta's staff will make it hard to score runs. The Astros need "White Sox-esque" starts from Oswalt, Pettite, and possibly Clemens to shut the down the Mets potent lineup. One team will be successful, the other won't.
NLCS: New York Mets @ Los Angeles Dodgers
The final four! Man this a tough. While another Subway Series would be nice, I don't think it will happen. Either of the 4 teams have the potential to win the series, so I'm going with my gut on this one. And the AL will win the All-Star game (again) giving them the home-field advantage in the World Series. I'm thinking old-school so:
World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers @ New York Yankees
I know some of you are wondering how I can pick the Dodgers to make it to the Series when I've dogged the NL West in my prediction posts. Call it a gut feeling. It just feels right. As for the Yankees, it all comes back to the lineup. It's just too potent. They should be able to overcome any pitching woes they may encounter.
World Series Champion: New York Yankees
And again, I'm not picking them because I'm a Yankee homer. They have everything needed to win it all. From top to bottom the lineup is stacked. The bullpen is going to be awesome. The Big Unit will have an awesome year. Even every major oddsmaker is making the Yankees almost 2 to 1 favorites to win it all. And they will, for the 27th time, ending the current drought. It'll be awesome.
So now that I've laid it all out for you there is no reason to play the season, right? I wish it were that easy. One of the common phrases I've used throughout my predictions is "if healthy." Who knows what will happen to whom and when? Health is important to any team's success. Any injuries could certainly jeopardize that success. And that's why they play the games, because you just never know. I could be totally way off base with my predictions. It'll be fun come October to see how I fared.
At the conclusion of every postseason, they hand out the hardware to the league's best. Why not try and predict those as well? I'm not going to justify the selections, just throw them in a list:
MVP: Travis Hafner (AL) + Albert Pujols (NL)
Cy Young: Roy Halladay (AL) + Roy Oswalt (NL)
ROY: Ian Kinsler (AL) + Josh Barfield (NL)
Manager of Year: Eric Wedge (AL) + Ned Yost (NL)
One last prediction: If Jimmy Rollins can get through his first 9 games with a hit, he'll have a shot at DiMaggio's record. He won't make it.
We're just about 6 hours away from the opener!! Hope you enjoy the season. Baseball is back!!

Saturday, April 1, 2006

2006 Predictions = AL East

Finally the AL East. The home of the greatest franchise in sports history, the New York Yankees. The Yankees though are in a little bit of a title drought as they haven't won the World Series since 2000. We Yankee fans are hungry for our 27th world title. Will this be the year? Well, they have a tough division to contend with. A newly improved Toronto Blue Jays. Baltimore's pitching staff gets a boost from Leo Mazzone. The Devil Rays are on the rise. And the Red Sox, well, they're the Red Sox. As much as I hate to say it, they're always a tough foe. This year shouldn't be any different......
1)New York Yankees: Now I'm not picking the Yanks to win the division because I'm a Yankee homer. I actually believe they have an offense that is second to none, a bullpen that is greatly improved over seasons past, and a deep rotation that provides many options in case of injury. With the addition of Johnny Damon, the Yankees lineup consists of 5 of the top 12 leaders in runs scored for 2005, 3 of the top 4, and the top 2. That's pretty impressive. It's very possible the Bombers will break the 1000 run mark. The one hole they had going into the offseason was filled when Damon signed. He brings a bonafide leadoff hitter to the lineup and that allows Jeter to take the 2 spot, a position in the order he is better suited for. Randy Johnson had an impressive spring and any problems with his mechanics seemed to have been corrected. Their bullpen is greatly improved and everyone knows that Rivera is the game's best closer. You can't argue with that. There are enough arms in the rotation that any injury shouldn't hurt too badly. If they didn't have such a cold start in 2005, they would have easily run away with the division. They've improved themselves with the offseason acquisitions and should win the division again, for the 9th straight year.
2)Boston Red Sox: As much as I want to pick them to finish behind the Blue Jays, I can't. For that to happen, several things have to go Boston's way. Coco Crisp needs to provide enough punch that losing Johnny Damon won't sting as much. Beckett needs to avoid blister problems. Schilling and Foulke need to bounce back. And Manny needs to avoid his yearly "trade me" request. Enough will go right to outlast the Jays, but not enough to catch the Yankees. Their offense will suffer with the loss of Damon.
3)Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto did a total offseason overhaul and have made themselves a legitimate contender. But being in the AL East, they have a lot to contend with. Halladay, if healthy, can easily run away with the Cy Young award. Glaus, Overbay, and Molina bring a lot of added punch to the line-up. I wonder about the pitching staff with the exception of Halladay. Will Chacin have another good year? Can Burnett be more than a .500 pitcher? How will Ryan do? These questions, and others, can only be answered through the course of the season and the Jays will be lucky to get favorable answers for each question. They'll miss O-Dog's glove and range.
4)Baltimore Orioles: I'd be lying if I said the Baltimore Orioles didn't scare me. They started off well enough last year to show any doubters that they do have the potential to win. Bringing in Leo Mazzone as pitching coach scares me even more. With his guidance, the sky could be the limit for Daniel Cabrera, Erik Bedard and Rodrigo Lopez. Mazzone has had enough success stories that dominating performances are not of the question for the Orioles. The O's could make a splash, but still don't have enough to battle the Yanks and Red Sox. The biggest question in Baltimore is what's going to happen to Anna Benson?
5)Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The division bottom feeders since their inaugural season will likely again end up on the bottom looking up. They aren't though anything to scoff at. A new GM, new manager and plenty of young talent acquired through the years will make the D-Rays a team to be reckoned a year or two. They have loads of young talent, some of which are still lingering down in AAA. Integrating Gathright into the lineup as an everyday player will add to the Rays success. Look for a big year from Jonny Gomes. When Delmon Young and BJ Upton arrive on the scene, the rest of the league will be taking notice.
Opening Day is tomorrow night. At long last, baseball is back. Prior to the game tomorrow, I'll post my postseason predictions. Who will win the wild card? Who'll win the pennant and ultimately the World Series? Cy Young? MVP? Rookies and Managers of the Year? All that answered sometime tomorrow. I hope you come back to check it out.
Peace. See ya later. Later. Later. Later alligator. (Bonus points to anyone who can name the song that lyric is from)

Your 2006 Hamburglers

If you read my last post, then you know my fantasy league had its draft last night. Again, it was an auto-draft based on pre-rankings. I'm pleased, but I didn't quite get what I was expecting.
I ended up with pick #2. My friend Dan, who landed the first pick, drafted Pujols. He and I were on the same wavelength as we had Albert as our number one. With the 2nd pick of the draft I selected A-Rod. How can I complain about that? He's a guarantee to put up MVP type numbers.
The draft is in snake format so I had quite a ways to go before my team's 2nd pick. I ended up with Travis Hafner, who I had moved up to #11 on my list. It's funny to use the phrase "ended up with," as it makes it sound as if he's not wanted. Since I had such a low pick in the round, my 3rd round selection was almost right after the 2nd. The system selected Chone Figgins, who I had ranked at 19. I was very pleased to get 3 guys who I had in my top 20. Not a bad way to start things.
I was really hoping to land a #1 starter in the early part of the draft as well, but ended up falling victim to my "closer" strategy. Rounds 4 through 6 had my team acquiring Lidge, Street, and Nathan. I also landed Ryan Dempster in round 13, so I no doubt have the best set of closers in our league. There are some teams that didn't get any so I'll definitely have the ammo to make a trade or two, as even having two of the closers gives me an edge over most of my foes.
The first SP I drafted was Francisco Liriano in round 7. I had moved him up in my list but honestly thought I'd get him as a 3rd starter later in the draft. I guess I messed something up. Hopefully the pending DWI doesn't hinder his playing time. My starters are definitely my team's weakest area. The rest of my staff is made up of Daniel Cabrera, Paul Maholm, Jarrod Washburn, Nate Robertson, Dannys Baez, Rudy Seanez, Anthony Reyes, Rick Helling, Gil Meche and Fernando Rodney. Nothing to write home about. I'll need to make a trade to better myself as free agent pickings are slim.
The last thing I wanted to accomplish was to draft a bench made up of "rookies" who either will be in the starting line-up with their respective teams, or have the potential to be at some point during the year. My bench is made up of Ian Kinsler, Jeremy Hermida, Hanley Ramirez, Joey Gathright and Jeff Mathis. Mission accomplished. Most of the guys I wanted are still off everyone's radar and can always be picked up when I go the free agent route. The system selected based on my team's need for backups. I've already waived Gil Meche in hopes to land Ryan Zimmerman. That shouldn't be a problem when the system runs the request through the waiver wire. My bench is rounded out with Sean Casey, which isn't bad either.
My offensive line-up is pretty solid as well. In addition to A-Rod, Hafner, and Figgins the 2006 Hamburglers will feature Kenji Johjima behind the plate. Prince Fielder at 1b. Mark Ellis at SS. Preston Wilson, JD Drew and Geoff Jenkins make up my OF. It's not the best team I've ever fielded but it still should contend.
All things considered I'm pretty satisfied. Every team has a weakness. I unfortunately need to ensure that I can get 45 innings pitched every week. I think I need to pound the pavement and trade for one or two number 1 SPs in order to make that happen. With any luck I can do a deal today and have it pass through review before Opening Day. Wish me luck.