Posts tagged “baseball blog

Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five second basemen for 2012


BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com writer

We are well into the 2012 spring training season and continuing with our theme of previewing each position in the big leagues, Brett Murdock turns his attention to the second basemen. Here is what he has to say about the spot.

 

Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia hit .307 with 21 home runs and 91 RBIs last season. Photo by: Jonathan Pape / Flickr

 1. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

The diminutive player out of Arizona State may be small in stature, but is possibly the Red Sox’s most important player. He does a little bit of everything and plays with a fiery passion. Pedroia won the AL MVP in only his second full year in the bigs and is also a 3-time All-Star. Last year, he finished with a .307 average with a career high 21 home runs and a .990 fielding percentage, committing only seven errors in 722 defensive chances. He is probably the most complete second basemen in the game.

 

 

 

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Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five first baseman for 2012


BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com writer

In part three of Couch Side’s 12 part series on the best position players going into 2012, we’ll take a look at what could be the deepest position in the MLB – first base. Although this is my top five, one guy you won’t see on the list is Miguel Cabrera, who is expected to move across the infield to third with the Tigers’ addition of Prince Fielder.

With that said, let’s take a look at my top five first basemen heading into the new season.

Former St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols landed Couch Side's No. 1 spot for the best first baseman in baseball after he landed a ground-breaking deal with the L.A. Angles this offseason. Photo by: Michael Noirot / Flickr

1. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

When a season consisting of a .299 batting average, 37 home runs and 99 RBIs, is considered a “down season,” you know you’re one of the game’s best. That was Pujols’ line from a year ago and it snapped his 10-year streak of hitting .300 with 30 home runs and driving in 100 runs. This season, Pujols moves out West following 11 seasons with the Cardinals fresh off his second World Series title, but nothing short of a “bounce back” season is expected from him. Pujols is a career .348 hitter in interleague play, so although the jersey may have changed, the colors haven’t and if there’s such a thing as a sure-bet, Pujols is just that. There’s a reason why he’s called The Machine. “El Hombre” or not, the Angels need their new $240 million acquisition to the man if they hope to reclaim their spot atop the AL West.

 2. Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox

Until last year, A-Go had spent his previous five seasons in the spacious confines of Petco Park and still managed to knock out 32 dingers a season as a Padre. So expectations were sky-high moving to the American League where he could swat balls over the short right field porch at Fenway with that sweet lefty swing. Well, Gonzalez actually only managed to hit 27 balls out of the park, but in exchange he hit a career-high .338, more than 30 points above his previous career-high, and topped 200 hits for the first time. This year, the batting average might dip a little, but I expect an increase in his home run production between 30-35 in that murderer’s row that is the Red Sox lineup. Oh and he’s also won three Gold Gloves in the last four years, so there won’t be any Bill Buckner moments with this guy.

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Spring Training Teasers: Couch Side’s top five MLB pitchers for 2012


BY TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com writer

As pitchers and catchers reported to their respective camps during the past few days, Couch Side also has Spring Training fever.

And with the Major League Baseball season about a month away, we’ve decided to begin a look into the top players at each position. So here is our fist in a series of 12 blogs in which we will break down the top five players at each position during the next few weeks. Couch Side’s own Trevor Gould appropriately chose to start our series off with starting pitchers. Here is who he sees as this year’s movers and shakers from the hill.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander won the A.L. MVP and CY Young awards last season. Photo by: SD Dirk / Flickr

1. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Last year, Justin Verlander almost singlehandedly redefined the definition of domination. The right-handed fire-baller posted a league high 24 wins along with a stellar 2.40 ERA, scintillating 250 punch-outs, and a .92 WHIP, the lowest in the league. Major League Baseball rewarded Verlander handsomely for his accomplishments by handing him both the AL Cy Young and league MVP award. Verlander’s pitches often exceed 100 MPH, and he is able to accurately pinpoint all areas of the strike zone, keeping hitters constantly guessing. Thanks to the Tigers’ offensive potency and the recent addition of power bat Prince Fielder, Verlander has a very good chance of racking up an equally gaudy number of wins this season.

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Tribute to Gary Carter: The passing of a good guy


BY VIN CAPPIELLO, ballino.blogspot.com contributor

Gary Carter is in the MLB hall of fame as a member of the Montreal Expos, but he is also a member of the New York Mets hall of fame as shown in this plaque. Carter sadly died at the age of 57 last week and will forever be known as "The Kid." Photo by: Up Along First / Flickr

Gary Carter’s unfortunate, and to some of us, unfair death due to brain cancer has left us with questions. It’s never fair when anyone dies of cancer; on this I’m sure most of us agree. However, one cannot help but press our lips together and shake our collective heads in wonder as the major news outlets, while scrolling news of Carter’s death along the bottom of the TV screen, spent last week camped out adjacent to New Hope Baptist Church in hopes of finding out the latest details of the late Whitney Houston’s imminent funeral.

Houston’s death, while tragic, has resulted in the deification of a woman who could sing like no other. But she played too hard. Period.

Carter, on the other hand, played hard because it was his job. Playing catcher is considered by most baseball writers, fans, players and coaches as the toughest, most demanding position on the diamond. But Carter, a Hall of Famer, when he left the locker room after a win or loss, went home to his wife, his children, and his Bible.

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Out of left field: Cespedes agrees to terms with A’s


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

After the Texas Rangers signed japanese phenon Yu Darvish last month, all eyes shifted to Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to make the next big overseas signing in professional baseball.

It seemed like the young outfielder’s decision wouldn’t be made until Spring Training rolled around and it appeared like the Miami Marlins had the bait to sway Cespedes to Florida. But in a surprising move, the Oakland Athletics shocked the baseball world by signing Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal Monday. For the entire offseason, the A’s looked as if they were going to settle into their ways of dumping young talent while trying to build a competitive roster with a very low payroll. This signing was the complete opposite of that, throwing the entire MLB a major curveball that not a lot of people saw coming. (more…)


Give Hamilton a break … it’s just beer


BY JON FRANK, Couchsideshow.com contributor

The mainstream media says Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, left, "relapsed" Monday simply for getting drunk at a bar. Photo by SD Dirk / Flickr

So what’s the deal with all the coverage on this Josh Hamilton relapse? Anybody else find it a bit, odd?

So the guy has a drinking problem, “relapses”, whatever that means, and it makes headlines on ESPN and SI.com. Dude has to come out and have a press conference addressing media, explaining that he had “a moment of weakness”.

This is ludicrous.

Does anybody, outside the Texas Rangers clubouse and Hamilton’s family and friends, really care? Nobody even seems to know what happened, other than that he went to a bar for X amount of beers. Must be a slow day in sporting news. I get it. Hamilton’s had issues in the past, he’s about to be a free agent and nobody wants to deal with an alcoholic on their team. But how does a guy struggling to keep his shit together going to a bar, having a few and catching himself wind up on Pardon the Interruption? Mind you, Hamilton didn’t do anything illegal, within the vicinity of illegal, or even immoral. He went out for a beer.

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Athletes should learn from Posada


New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada retired last week after 17 seasons with the Yankees. Photo by: Jay / Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Athletes like major league catcher Jorge Posada are truly a thing of the past.

The 40-year-old backstop hung up his cleats last week, officially retiring from baseball and the New York Yankees, a team he spent all 17 years of his professional career with. Like many of the Yankee greats before him, Posada stuck out every single minute of his major league tenure in one uniform. It doesn’t happen often, but ball players who wear the Yankee pinstripes seem to know a thing or two about being faithful.

In the completely unusual instance that the Yanks actually bring up a minor leaguer from their own farm system, it seems that player will stay in the Big Apple until they’re ready to call it quits. It must be the nostalgia of the pinstripes or just the history behind the team. Whatever it is, players who come up through New York’s system are some of the most faithful athletes to one team than literally any other sport I can think of. It’s somewhat hard to believe considering the Yanks are regarded by most fans as the Sith Lords of baseball with their high-dollar spending. But the proof is out there for anyone to validate my claim.

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Tigers roar with Fielder deal


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Free agent first baseman Prince Fielder finally landed with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by: (♥♥!$#@♥9~KkjeNn~9♥@#$!♥♥) / Flickr

Looks like I’ll have to eat my own words that Prince Fielder was going to be a Washington Nationals. I was so far off, I didn’t even guess the right league as the Detroit Tigers swooped in — completely out of left field — to sign the free agent first baseman to a nine-year, $24 million contract Tuesday afternoon.

Fielder and the Tigers shocked the baseball world by coming to terms to the fourth largest contract in MLB history. The historic deal also proved that Fielder won’t be settling after teams like the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals persuaded him heavily, but didn’t dish out the dough quite like Detroit. It seemed and was reported that Washington was the front runner, offering the 27-year-old a deal a little less lucrative than the one he landed. But instead, the former Milwaukee Brewer will be in the motor city — where his father shined for seven year — until he is 36. Here is how this blockbuster move could upstage Albert Pujols‘ deal and how it makes the Tigers quite possibly the best team in the American League.

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Braves bring back Jack


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Put a mark on the wall.

The Atlanta Braves agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with free agent shortstop Jack Wilson. Photo by: Matt McGee, Flickr

The Atlanta Braves finally made a move this offseason, signing free agent shortstop Jack Wilson to a one-year deal Friday. The move brings Wilson back to the Braves after Atlanta acquired the 10-year veteran late in the season. Inking Wilson to his $1 million deal is just the third major league transaction Braves General Manager Frank Wren has made this winter and it was more like a resigning than a true free agent deal because Wilson actually started in Atlanta’s 162nd game last season.

So once again, Atlanta’s inactivity has left fans yawning at best. However, some are happy with the deal because it was a cheap solution to one of the Braves’ glaring holes. Signing Wilson is safe. He is durable and plays good defense, hence his .977 lifetime fielding percentage. It’s just hard to get excited about a guy who knocked in just 11 runs in 214 bats last season.

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MLB needs Selig to retire


BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer

A wise man once said “This Bud’s for you.”  While I do enjoy a Bud(weiser) every now and then, this Bud (Selig) isn’t for me.  And I hope MLB fans agree.

Rumors are out that Selig will be offered a new contract extension as MLB commissioner.  As a devout fan of the game, I cringe at the thought of this.  Many could argue that Selig has been great for baseball.  After an amazing finish to September and perhaps one of the best post seasons we have had in decades, baseball is growing its fan base and gaining popularity in younger generations.  But I would argue that Selig has little to do with where baseball currently stands.

Selig was named commissioner in 1992, making him the second longest commissioner in the history of the game.  But it’s time for a change.  Many of the decisions he has made have been controversial, such as calling the 2002 All-Star game a tie after 11 innings or granting home field advantage in the World Series to the division that won the All-Star game.  But he has also been a key player in improving the game as well.  Adding the wild card in 1994 and interleague play in 1997 have undoubtedly improved the game and helped gain popularity.

So while Selig has improved baseball in many ways, the game still needs fixed and Bub’s not the man for the job.  We just saw the current NL MVP Ryan Braun test positive for performance enhancing drugs which earns him a 50 game suspension.  That’s it?  50 games? That sounds like a lot, but it’s obviously not enough.  Braun knew what the penalty would be if he was caught and yet he still chose to break the rules and use steroids.  Ultimately this falls on the shoulders of the commissioner.  Selig has been an advocate for stricter PED use penalties, but when the stars of the game are getting busted, Bud needs to step up.  Sure he would encounter a lot of obstacles (owners, the players union, etc.), but he needs to show the fans that he is absolutely serious about this.  After the Braun incident, it would have been nice to see Selig discussing stricter penalties (perhaps a suspension of 80+ games for first time offenders) and more rigorous drug testing.

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N.L. West doesn’t need Albert or Prince


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

With the departure of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder from the National League Central, fans are probably wondering who will be the team to emerge for the pennant next year.

The St. Louis Cardinals aren’t automatic favorites anymore with Pujols not in the picture. And the magic will have probably left Milwaukee — along with Fielder — when the final months of the 2012 season unfold. There’s no doubt the N.L. West will never be the same. But don’t be discouraged. The largest division in baseball should still create some late-season drama. The Cards and the Brew Crew did lose some big bats, but have bright stars in the waiting. And don’t count out the Chicago Cubs or the Cincinnati Reds, either. As usual, those four teams should be in a dead heat toward the end of the season for the division crown. Each club definitely has a shot and the division should be as competitive as ever.

Here’s Couch Side’s early preview of the N.L. Central and the top four clubs could finish out 2012:

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Angels fans can finally rejoice


BY STAYSON ISOBE, Couchsideshow.com special contributor

The signing of Albert Pujols made Anaheim Angels fan believe in their front office once again. Photo by: Artolog/Flickr

During the last handful of years, as a fan of the Anaheim Angels (yes get that Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim crap out of here), the hot stove portion of the MLB offseason hasn’t been kind to my beloved team.

After all, I’ve seen Chone Figgins, John Lackey, Mark Teixeira and Vladimir Guerrero walk for a variety of reasons and seen my Angels squander opportunities to sign the likes of C.C. Sabathia, Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre.

All of this despite constant claims from owner Arte Moreno about being ready to open up his checkbook. Granted last offseason’s marquee free agent acquisitions, Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi, were vital components to the Angels’ bullpen in 2011, they weren’t exactly the big signings us Angel faithful were clamoring for. Add in poor trades by former general manager Tony Reagins for the likes of Scott Kazmir and the Vernon Wells deal, and there’s a plethora of reasons why Angels fans were chomping at the bit for off season excitement.

That’s why I approached this winter with cautious optimism. Who could blame me? I knew where the weaknesses laid within the roster, namely at the back end of the starting rotation and at the hot corner. However, with a combination of a relatively weak free agent crop and a team payroll cash-strapped due to the albatross that is Vernon Wells’ contract, what could I really expect?

Then came the morning of December 9. That’s the morning that Moreno described as a “monumental day for Angel fans.” That’s the morning that Moreno and new general manager Jerry Dipoto brought Albert Pujols to Southern California. That’s the morning the Angels franchise, regardless of what you want to call them, changed forever.

Granted Pujols didn’t fix one of the aforementioned weaknesses on the roster, but how often do you get a chance to add a three-time MVP who only once in his 11-year career failed to knock in 100 runs and hit better than .300? For the record, he missed those marks this past season by batting .299 with 99 RBIs. This is a guy who’s won two World Series and is already in the conversation of becoming one of the greatest players of all-time up there with Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, you name it.

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Is Fielder headed to the Nats?


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

First baseman Prince Fielder is still somehow on the free agent market, but the Washington Nationals are making a serious push at the 30-year-old slugger. Photo by: Steve Paluch/Flickr

Only one big name still stands after players like Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson were plucked off the Major League Baseball free agent market for big bucks.
And that big name comes with perhaps the biggest body and burliest beards in baseball. Yes, for some reason, Prince Fielder hasn’t found a team yet — despite easily being the second-best hitter on the market this winter. There’s been rumors about the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners and even the Texas Rangers trying to woo the 275-pound first baseman. But this week the Washington Nationals, an unusual suitor, came out as the top team in pursuit of Fielder.
So why did it take so long for one squad to step up as frontrunners for a 30-year-old who hit .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs last season? Probably because Fielder’s agent is the dubious Scott Boras. It also likely had something to do with the amount of zeros in Pujols’ ground-breaking contract. And if you’re a team dealing with those two factors, deals aren’t going to happen fast.

Boras has made things tough by changing his mind at least a handful of times, trying to get what’s best for Fielder. At first, the pair thought it would be an Pujols-like deal. Interested teams didn’t. Then, the duo wanted a deal slightly less than Pujols’ hefty $240 million, 10-year contract — so somewhere in the $200 million range. Clubs also didn’t see eye-to-eye on that idea. So Boras thought Fielder could land a shorter contract, but still make the big bucks. That’s about where prospective negotiations are at now, but the asking price for Prince may still be too high, for some teams.

Enter the Washington Nationals.

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A’s continue spending cuts, deal closer


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

The Oakland Athletics traded closer Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday evening. Photo by: ztil301/ Flickr

The Oakland Athletics were back at ruining their chances of ever sniffing the playoffs for at least the next ten years by trading all-star closer Andrew Bailey on Wednesday evening.

Oakland General Manager Billy Beane shipped the 27-year-old to the Boston Red Sox after trading starting pitchers Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzales earlier this offseason. The third major move by the Athletics this winter has now left the team’s pitching staff depleted and it doesn’t look as if Oakland will have one household name on its roster by the time spring training rolls around. They still could have guys like Daric Barton and Kurt Suzuki still around, but don’t pencil them in on your scorecards until at least opening day because Oakland changes its makeup more times than Lady Gaga at a sold out concert.

Once again, the A’s received a heap of very young prospect and the organization should be delighted that their farm system should be one of the best in baseball. But none of the guys Oakland has acquired yet, are considered everyday Major Leaguers by anyone’s standards. For Bailey, the A’s received outfielder Josh Reddick, first base prospect Miles Head and pitching prospect Raul Alcantara from the Red Sox. Oakland also shipped Ryan Sweeney to Boston after the outfielder spent the past four years with the A’s, primarily as a starter.

So it looks like Boston received the better end of the deal. No duh. That should be expected by this point by any Oakland fan. These moves seem like MLB suicide, but the transactions are completely necessary for Oakland’s future plans. It’s reported the A’s will move to San Jose sometime in the near future and to help pay for a new stadium, the club is trying to save money anyway possible.

That has left Beane in quite a predicament. I don’t think he’s ever seen a budget this small and now he’s going to have to fill a roster with only peanuts to offer. His three mega moves this offseason are just the start. And don’t be surprised if his highest paid player makes somewhere in the $4 million per year range. It’s always been like this is Oakland and it always will be, at least in the baseball market where money rules.

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Nats bolster rotation, land Gio


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

The Oakland Athletics have reportedly traded starting pitcher Gio Gonzales to the Washington Nationals on Thursday for four prospects. Photo by: Mark Terranova/Flickr

It seems like the Washington Nationals of all teams could have the best rotation in the National League East next year.

After weeks of rumors about several teams trying to acquire Oakland Athletics starter Gio Gonazles, it was the Nats who swung in and got the deal done. Via Twitter, ESPN.com’s Keith Law reported the Athletics will ship Gonzales to our nation’s capital for prospects A.J. ColeDerek NorrisBrad Peacock and Tom Milone. The acquisition of Gonzales gives the Nationals another strong arm to go with a projected rotation that also includes Stephen StrasburgJordan ZimmermannJohn Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang.

I predict Gonzales will probably wind up as the club’s No. 3 starter behind Strasburg and Zimmerman, but having him in the middle of the rotation is a lot more than most teams have. And if Gonzales pitches like he did in 2010, the Nats might end up as the winners of this deal after dealing four highly-touted prospects. Last season, he started out great, but blundered in the second half after making his first AL all-star team in just his second year in the pros. That might make the trade a bit scary for Washington if Gonzales continues down the path of mediocrity. However, if Gonzales can eat up 200-plus innings like he has done for the past two seasons and stay consistent with his 3.23 ERA during that same span, it will be the Nationals who reap the benefits.

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Ring ‘Em Up: Forgetting free agency


Atlanta Braves utility plater Martin Prado has been on the trade block this offseason and the Colorado Rockies are major players for the veteran. Photo by SD Dirk/Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

I absolutely love mlbtraderumors.com.

It’s a big reason why I started this website and it keep me leaps and bounds ahead of other Braves fans. Mlbtraderumors.com has an interesting sidebar on the right where you can search for the latest rumors about your team. I’m a Braves fan, but this offseason has been incredible slow for the choppers. So each time I make one of eight daily visits to mlbtraderumors.com to see the latest about Atlanta, I’m usually disappointed.

Today’s latest was especially gloom. To my surprise, after I clicked on the “Braves rumors” tab, two new rumors have came up about the team. At first, I though maybe the Braves were finally going after someone or making a trade. Unfortunately, one post was barely two sentences about a possible Martin Prado trade and the other was about how the Braves are one of four teams “sitting out of free agency.”

Still, like any baseball fan during the offseason, any piece of news about your team is exciting. Here are my thoughts on the latest from the Atlanta Braves:

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Couch Side Episode 1: The Pilot


In the premiere of the sports podcast, Couch Side, hosts Wade McMillin and Jordan Wheeler explore NFL playoff hopes for teams in the tightest divisions; debate if players are still loyal in the NBA; and react to Albert Pujols’ monster contract. Click below to beginning listening to Couch Side.

Couch Side Episode 1: The Pilot


Ring ‘Em Up: Braves may sign Cedeno, put fans to sleep


Ronny Cedeno may be the Atlanta Braves' first signing of the 2011-2012 offseason. The bad news for Braves fans is the nine-year veteran has only 33 career home runs. Photo By: Scott Ableman/Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

If the Braves make a move for shortstop Ronny Cedeno in the coming weeks, Atlanta fans will have to uncomfortably welcome in the team’s new No. 8 hitter.

The signing of Cedeno will be a move of mediocrity, failing to create any offseason excitement for the team’s followers. And no one could blame fans for feeling that way. If any team signed a nine-year veteran shortstop like Cedeno, it probably wouldn’t create any buzz. Fans can’t exactly start pumping their fists in excitement for a player who carries a .246 career batting average with a dismal 33 home runs.

But if Cedeno commits to the Braves, at least the front office will have fulfilled its goal of signing a veteran shortstop as insurance for rookie Tyler Pastornicky.

Cedeno’s arrival would serve its purpose, but the Braves need an older shortstop to mold the 22-year-old prospect. It’s just extremely tough to get excited about that temporary mentor being Cedeno.

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