Remember when the Colorado Rockies of old had the Blake Street Bombers (Larry Walker, Vinny Castilla, Andres Galaraga and Dante Bichette) and still couldn’t muster many wins in the mid-90s?
Well it looks like the Rockies curse of never having any pitching has bitten the Minnesota Twins in 2013. When comparing those aforementioned Rockies teams to what the Twins are now, the similarities are quite glaring. Minnesota has a plethora of pop at the plate with players like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham, but without a decent staff of hurlers, the Twins currently sit at the bottom of the barrel in baseball. Sure, Mauer and Morneau are not the players they once were when the pair were winning MVP awards, however, this pitching staff doesn’t look even close to when the squad won six AL Central division titles from 2000-2010.
There’s a huge difference in those former rotations that carried players such as Johan Santana, Brad Radke, Eric Milton, Kyle Lohse and Joe Mays. The 2012 Twins’ starting five seem more like a hodgepodge of pitchers rather than a dominant force like the club had as little as two seasons ago. And the numbers further my case. The Twins are literally the worst team in baseball with a 8-22 record (Thursday, May 10).
So that automatically makes the pitching staff last in the league for wins and first in the MLB for losses. Furthermore, the Twins are last in the majors with a dismal 151 strikouts and are also the worst for ERA at 5.48. Minnesota is second to last for opposing team’s batting average at .287; runs at 165; and earned runs. That’s not exactly something manager Ron Gardenhire wants to write home to mom about. (more…)
Anybody who remotely follows baseball knows that Chicago Whitesox designated hitter Adam Dunn had a historically awful season. Last season, he set a new record for lowest batting average at .159. Having only contributed 42 RBIs with 11 home runs, suffice it to say it was a massive blemish on an otherwise fantastic career.
In addition to his woes at the plate, Dunn had to go through something no pro athlete should have to endure and that’s getting booed by the hometown fans. The heckling was especially brutal following the All-Star break as the White Sox began to fall out of contention. Just having Dunn in the on-deck circle made Sox fans vocal with their disapproval that he was still suiting up every day. It also didn’t help that Dunn admitted before the season that he participates in barely any offseason training.
However, here we are in 2012 and I’m just going to put it out there, Dunn is doing very well (I’m knocking on wood of course). His BA is a bit low at .246, but he never did hit for a high average. What is important is his contributions to run production. He has 13 RBIs and that ties him for seventh in the American League. He also has hit three balls out of the park which puts him on pace to have the 30-plus home runs that the Sox paid for. I know it is very early and evaluating these stats in terms of the season doesn’t hold much weight, but I can be optimistic.
Chapman dazzled baseball fans when he hit 103 MPH on the gun during his first outing on American soil. It seemed as if the 24-year-old Cuban Missile was destined for greatness. But injury and uncertainty plagued the young lefty early in his career. Although he tossed at speeds that are pretty much unheard of (including a 105 mile per hour pitch, which would be a Major League record), Chapman’s control was a question mark. Many predicted he would be a dominant starter, yet he couldn’t prove it to his own manager, Dusty Baker. And maybe Baker was right after he witnessed his 6-foot-4 hurler walk a disappointing 41 hitters in 50 innings last year.
But Baker better be second guessing what Chapman can do for his club in 2012. After losing out on a back-end of the rotation job to the formerly highly-touted prospect Homer Bailey in Spring Training because of control issues, Baker elected to throw Chapman back into the bullpen. The manager’s decision only proved to be a wake up call for the velocity-driven youngster.
It’s never easy to quit something you love.
Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones know that all too well, announcing his retirement effectively after the 2012 season. There’s really no question that the hours following that warm afternoon must have been hard after the 40-year-old declared his decision when his beloved Braves wrapped up what would be one of Jones’ final games at Atlanta’s camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The choice was one that had been coming and one that any press member following the team was salivating to hear.
The Braves came into the Spring with the same ‘ol team that fell flat on its face during a September collapse that ended one game short of yet another playoff birth. Yet, the spring training attention wasn’t focused on how Atlanta would bounce back. Instead, for about the third year in a row, all eyes were on No. 10. And all ears were waiting to hear if Jones would continue to play another season despite his constant leg problems that have haunted the corner infielder. (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer
The 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks were one of my favorite individual teams ever to track and follow throughout the season; they provided everything you wanted out of an upstart, surprise team. There was an equal share of surprise pitching performances (Ian Kennedy), an emerging star coming into his own (Justin Upton), a fan favorite with a unique perk (“Tatman” Ryan Roberts) and a bullpen that saw significant improvement from the previous year. Their torrid streak starting somewhere in mid-May, along with some lucky breaks in the division (Rockies giving up on Ubaldo, Buster Posey breaking his ankle, and the Dodgers being financially incompetent) allowed for one hell of a ride. Of course, as many remember, it all came to an end in game 5 of the NLDS in Milwaukee as Njyer Morgan lined a J.J. Putz fastball up the middle, and thus a run at the World Series title was over.
This offseason, general manager Kevin Towers decided not to rest on his laurels and continue to improve an already good team in an attempt to make them great. Did he succeed in this? Let’s examine his most significant moves. (more…)