Baseball is Back! Part: 2

National League Outlook

                As the changing of the guard in power  and pitching has shifted to the National League, one can expect all three leagues to be very competitive in 2013. Starting in the East, many would say Nationals………………………… and no more explanation would be needed. Though the Nationals may be a lock to win the division again, the Chipperless Braves may stand in the way. In the National League especially, the additional wild card will push teams to fight for the division title putting a bulls eye on the division leader all year long. The Nationals have strong pitching behind their one and two, Strasburg and Gonzalez, but also have a strong offense led by phenom, Bryce Harper. If they give Strasburg the benefit of the doubt this year and don’t limit him on innings or at least spread it out more they could have a deep playoff run. The Braves, however, are even more loaded on offense than the Nationals with a power punch of four to five players that could hit twenty home runs. Their weakness, however, is their pitching. Known for producing great pitchers, this year’s team doesn’t quite have the same power that the Nationals will have. Beyond the Nationals and Braves, the East should be very quiet as the Phillies are getting old, the Mets need help, and the Marlins are now the Blue Jays, I mean….yeah you get the point.

                The National League Central will probably be a lot like that of the East’s battle; two teams fighting for the division, hoping they don’t get left out in the wild card. The Reds and Cardinals, bitter rivals, will clash for the best record not only in the division but overall in Major League Baseball. They will be going about it in two very different ways though. Overall, the Reds look to have a tougher schedule while the Cardinals seems to be fairly easy schedule. However, at the end of the year when it counts most, the Cards have to face Washington in the last week whereas the Reds have to worry about the Pirates who depending on which Pirates team shows up, could be a big challenge for the Reds. As much as I would like to say hands down the Reds take the division I think it will come down to the last week or two of the season because they are very evenly matched  offensively, defensively, and pitching wise. Furthermore, I would expect to see a number of records broken in Cincinnati this year as Chapman will be the full time closer. Just like in recent years, the Brewers and Pirates will battle for third with the edge probably going to the Pirates as they have a good balance between quality pitchers and hitters. With the Astros over in the American League, the Cubs will take over as the last place team in the Central until Epstein builds them into a strong powerhouse team in the next couple years.

                Like the other two divisions, the National League West will come down to the final weeks of the season. The World Champion Giants will have to use the their strong pitching and big bats from last year to keep their hopes in check of winning a third title in four years as the new ownership in LA has different ideas for the west. According to SI.com, the Dodgers will pay out over $200 million in salaries this year with nearly $160 million in ten players alone. All of this to pay talents such as Zach Greinke, Ryu Hyun-Jin, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez to lead them to a world championship, something the Dodgers haven’t had since 1988. With the big bats and arms calling San Francisco and LA home, it’s a wonder if the other California team, the Padres, have even a remote chance to impress the baseball world. The Padres, who haven’t been much of a force in recent memory look to set on the outside looking in yet again.  They need their pitching to step up in order to compete with the division, otherwise they will likely see worse numbers than last year in the win bracket. What happened to the Rockies? Since there last playoff run in 09’ they have won nearly ten less games each year. Sure their big arm got traded to Cleveland in Ubaldo Jimenez, but are they really hurting that bad? All I can say is I hope they have a turn around like that of the Diamondbacks, who after they won the World Series against the Yankees back in 2001, had a couple good years, hit rock bottom and then were back in the playoffs in 2011. Speaking of the Diamondbacks, I believe they have the chance to be the team that causes problems for those teams you expect to make the playoffs. The D-Backs are the Baltimore Orioles/ Oakland A’s of the National League. They have a lot of great talent in Cody Ross, Aaron Hill, Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley, Martin Prado, and more that could derail the Giants and Dodgers hopes of either making the playoffs or making it very far in the playoffs.

Overall, the National League will be very fun to watch this year as you have at least seven or eight teams that will be very competitive for the five spaces available for the playoffs and if you look back at the American League it is the same. So unofficially, I can say there will be over half the teams in baseball vying for ten spots and for my picks see part 3!

Baseball is Back! Preview Part:1

 

 

The sound of pop as the ball hits a glove, the crack of a bat as another batter crushes a ball, the roaring of the crowd as baseball has returned to center stage after a 154 day hibernation. Yes, there was the World Baseball Classic and Spring Training, but those were just the catalyst for baseball fever awakening the millions and millions of baseball fans around the world. Finally, baseball is back and here to stay for another seven months!

For the next seven months, we will see a display of some of the best baseball we have seen in years, as the Astros move to the American League sets up even leagues across the American League and National League. This in turn has allowed for there to be more interleague play than ever before and allowing for fans to experience the likes of players such as Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, Aroldis Chapman, Joey Votto, Justin Verlander, R.A. Dickey,  and others that they may have never had the opportunity to see. With the increased velocity that many of today’s pitchers have established and the power that many of the young players have established, the chase for October will not just start in September but could last most or all of the year in most of the leagues. With that said, let’s dig into my previews for the year.

American League Outlook

In the American League East what more can you say about the Blue Jays all in mode? Their blockbuster trade with Miami, signing of Melky Cabrera,  and signing of reigning Cy Young Award Winner R.A. Dickey put them in major contention of the AL East Crown.  By taking the burdensome weight of those contracts, Canada and the rest of the baseball world will be watching to see if we will be singing “Oh Canada” come October. Though they traded  big arm James Shield to Kansas City and lost B.J. Upton to free agency, it is ultimately the Rays who have the strongest  and greatest chance of taking a fairly weak AL East.  In  what could be a complete reverse of last year, you will ultimately have three teams fighting for third place in the East. The damaged, beat up, and weakened Red Sox look to use experienced pitching and experienced hitters to vie for a better than last place finish. In Baltimore, you have a still fairly young lineup with inexperienced pitching that led them to a playoff run last year, could they do it again? Time will only tell as Buck Showalter takes the helm for a fourth season. Then there is the Yankees. You can never count the Yankees out, though they are trying to get under the luxury-tax, they still have money to throw around, but their overall success relies on their top players being healthy and their pitching to be Cy Young good. If they can do both of those they will make the playoffs and knock out the idea that any other division has a chance to get a wild card.

The American League Central got a bit of a facelift this offseason and looks to be more competitive than ever unless you’re the Minnesota Twins. The Twins have the household names of Mauer and Morneau but will have a hard time trying to contend but should fare better than their new basement buddy, Houston Astros. On the flip side, with the Detroit Tigers giving Verlander a historic extension coupled with the Triple Crown winner Miggy Cabrera and Prince Fielder all on board, it looks promising for the Tigers to take the AL Central again. Though promising for the Tigers, the Francona Indians, the revamped Royals, and the White Sox are all suitors to win the title as well. Being away from baseball as a manager for only a season, Terry Francona comes back to baseball as the Cleveland Indians new skipper. In just under six months he has helped put a number of trades and signings in place to strengthen the Wahoo Nation’s support of their beloved Indians. Though they need to make some adjustments pitching wise, they have a chance to challenge Detroit for the Central Title. In the last decade, if asked who the worst team in baseball is, many would say the Kansas City Royals, however, as last year and the offseason showed the Royals aren’t having it. After acquiring James Shields, Ervin Santana,  and Wade Davis their pitching is the best it has been in years and offensively they could be the biggest threat to the Tigers. Then there is the White Sox who seems to not get much love since they fell from first to second after only winning three of their last thirteen. They have some power hitters in the lineup and decent pitching, but that won’t get you past the Tigers and Royals this year.

How will the west be won?Just look at the Angels payroll. At a whopping 154.94 Million the Angels have nearly $60 million more in payroll this season than their across town National League foes the LA Dodgers.  With the addition of Josh Hamilton’s big bat, Tommy Hanson’s young arm, and the fact that they have the reigning AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout this team is going to be hard to beat. Yes, we were all surprised that they struggled so much last year, but things will be different this year.  In the middle of the division you will have a hard time telling the Oakland A’s that they don’t have what it takes to make the playoffs two years in a row and telling the Rangers that they can’t do it with Hamilton. The A’s had their first 90 win season in six years and have only got stronger. Their rookies are seasoned and like years past, Billy Beane has implemented his Moneyball theory that could have them challenging the Angels for the crown.  However, some 1700 miles away the Texas Rangers look to move on without the powerful bat of one, Josh Hamilton, and feed of their shocking fall in the final days of the season and quick exit by the hands of the Orioles. For the Mariners, they will be a force pitching wise, but I don’t expect them to come even close to finishing in third place. In the case of the newest member of the American League West, the Houston Astros, good luck! They will more than likely be fighting to get the same number of wins they got last year as they will the prey of most of the American League.

So, that was a bit exhausting! I would love to keep going but feel that the AL, NL, and my picks should be split up into separate blogs. With that said checkout Part 2!

Winter Meetings: From the Eyes of a Job Seeker

Image

From December 2nd through December 5th people flooded the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee for the 111th Baseball Winter Meetings. For most, the Meetings serve as the time of year in which the biggest trades, signings, and deals go down, for me however, I was there for the PBEO Job Fair.  The PBEO or Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities Job Fair is the chance for all of us young sport professionals to reach out to the baseball executives and do one of three things:

1) Find a Job

2) Find an internship

3) Network

The Job Fair started Sunday Morning with the Business of Baseball Workshop which featured stories and discussion from some of Minor League Baseball’s finest.  Speakers included:

workshop

1) Rob Crain- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders President and General Manager

2) Martie Cordaro- Omaha Storm Chasers President & General Manager

3) Elizabeth Martin- Bakersfield Blaze General Manager

4) Lee Folger- Baseball America President and Publisher

Lee Folger

5) Juliana Paoli- San Jose Giants Chief Marketing Officer

Juliana Pioli

6) Giovanni Hernandez- Detroit Tigers Scouting Assistant & International Operations

7) Pat O’Conner- Minor League Baseball President and CEO

President O'Conner

8) Chris Kemple- Wilmington Blue Rocks General Manager

9)PANEL DISCUSSION

Discussion

Katie Dannemiller- Greensboro Grasshoppers VP of Baseball Operations

Rachel Fink- Ripken Baseball, Inc. PHR, Human Rescources, and Recruiting Manager

Steve Gilner- Fort Myers Miracle President

Cookie Rojas- Pawtucket Red Sox- General Sales Manager

10) Dr. Jan Bell- St. Thomas University Professor

11)  Todd “Parney” Parnell- Richmond Flying Squirrels VP & COO

Parney

Their stories were all very inspiring as many showed the adversity that they had to overcome in their careers to get where they are today. For many, they began their careers as an intern while others had some luck on their side or in their definition- Hard Work and an Opportunity to take high positions such as general manager. With their advice and “FUNN” they provided us during the day long workshop, myself and others were able to begin a week long effort to try and begin our adventure in the baseball world.

Over the four days, nearly five hundred internships and jobs were posted and four hundred or more of us, tirelessly worked to get interviews and earn our first position in professional baseball. Beyond the high stress level of invading the Job Posting Room and waiting to find out if you got an interview, there were a number of other activities that were going on. As a Job Seeker, we had the opportunity to almost freely roam around the Hotel/ Resort where one could eat at the Jack Daniels Restaurant or Fuse Sports Bar, visit the Trade Show, or stand outside the sets of MLB.tv, MLB Network, and Baseball Tonight. Through all of these, the best part was that myself and the others could find ourselves talking to executives from various teams at any given moment. While the executives or front office staff may not mean a whole lot to the everyday baseball fan, to those of us who haven’t “made it” yet, they are our mentors and stars that make every game run. Below are a few photos featuring some of baseball’s brass including media star- Peter Gammons, Indians New Manager Terry Francona,  the man that the Moneyball movie is about Billy Beane, and the set of the ESPN/Baseball Tonight set featuring Curt Schilling and John Kruk. Beyond these photos I had the opportunity to talk to many others including Tim Kurkjian, Ken Rosenthal, Buster Olney, Mike Fischlin, Mike Elias, Stu Cole, Bart Braun, Mike Nutter, Jim Leyland, Dusty Baker, George Grande, Joe Girardi, Charlie Manuel, and so many more. So, why should you consider going to the Winter Meetings?

Peter Gammons Terry Francona Billy Beane espn

Beyond these photos I had the opportunity to talk to many others including Tim Kurkjian, Ken Rosenthal, Buster Olney, Mike Fischlin, Mike Elias, Stu Cole, Bart Braun, Mike Nutter, Jim Leyland, Dusty Baker, George Grande, Joe Girardi, Charlie Manuel, and so many more. So, why should you consider going to the Winter Meetings? Let me explain to you my successes and what you could do to be prepared.

For myself, the job fair was a success in the fact that I had seven first interviews, two second interviews, and finally two internship offers. Let me say right now as someone that has worked extremely hard to work in sports, especially baseball, the chance to work in any level of baseball had me beyond excited and ready to get started. Unfortunately for myself and for the one team that I was ready to up and move across the country for, I had to turn down both offers because of the cost it took me to reach my dreams, aka-School Loans. The cost of my loans are holding me from my dream for now, but I want to help you be more prepared than I and get to that initial position.
Steps to follow and/or observe if you are willing to go to the Winter Meetings/ PBEO Job Fair are as follows:

1) Register on PBEO.com to have access to all of the Minor League Baseball Listings and get a discounted price to go to the Baseball Winter Meetings (Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort Dec.9-12,2013).

2) Research positions that match your preferences and/or go outside your comforts zone and research other areas and begin applying, weeks and maybe months prior to the Meetings.

3) Keep in contact with the teams you apply with in the days/week leading up to the Meetings

4) Prepare 70 or more resumes, not cover letters, for the job fair. Use relevant experience on your resume for each position you apply for!

5) Be sure before you apply to different places, that you are prepared and able to move if you are offered a position. Last thing an employer wants to hear is that the pay is too low or the job is too far from home. Be willing to work and give your best wherever you go. If you don’t give your best then they won’t do anything for you!

6) Attend the Business of Baseball Workshop and anything else you can afford to attend. The Gala is one of the best opportunities to make new contacts as well as going up and down any elevator. Guarantee you will meet someone new every time. Many of the people I listed above, I met in elevators.

7) Don’t oversell or undersell yourself in interviews.  Tell the truth about what you have done and make sure you are ready for all questions. “Tell us about yourself”, “What will you do different than others?”, “Why would you be a better candidate than others?”, and etc.

8) Always send out written thank you cards to those who gave you an interview.

9) Try and remember everyone’s name that you meet whether it is a Job Seeker or Front Office Staff.

10) Keep in contact with those that you meet. This line of work is all about networking.

I hope this helped you learn a little bit about the Winter Meetings and the experience it can provide you as well as learn a little on how to prepare for the PBEO Job Fair.

Firsts are Done, Whose Ready for Some Seconds?

While the All-Stars invade Chase Field for the Home Run Derby and All- Star game the next two days, we can’t help but think where did the first half of the season go? With a season that seemed to have  started ages ago, lets look back on a very interesting beginning to the 2011 season.

Where to begin? How about the surprising surge of the Baltimore Orioles early on in the season while their counterparts the Red Sox and Rays faltered and were just trying to keep their heads above water. The Orioles started out exactly how they ended the 2010 season, hotter than a day in Sunny California. However, all good things must come to an end and they quickly saw a demise back to the back of the AL East, only to be surpassed by a season favorite Boston Red Sox and their foes the Tampa Bay Rays. The AL East has surely shown some fireworks too beyond just the Orioles great run, including the Sox and Rays battle back to the top after starting out 2-8, Jeter just hitting, hit number 3,000, Jose Bautista eclipsing 30 HR’s pre-all star game, and much more. Needless to say, for this division it has been nothing short of a battle but each team has something that they can reflect some success on! With roughly nine players representing the division in the All-Star game it goes to show how tough this division really is.

Anyone remember back in April when Kansas City and the Indians were at the top of the AL Central? Yes, that was this season, but only one team has survived the test of time and that is the Indians. They came out battling like no other and for the longest time had the best record not only in the AL but in all of the Major Leagues. To date the Indians are still playoff contenders being only a half game behind those pesky Tigers who have seen some great success as well this year. Not only do they own one of only two no-hitters this year but they also own five all-star spots. What has happened to the White Sox though? It has been a quiet year out of them so far but once this long break ends their bats and arms may light up. Then there is the Minnesota Twins who are in their second year at Target Field. My favorite to win the division pre-season well has struggled.  If I remember correctly they were nearly ten games out at one point, but with the only other no-hitter coming from the arm of Francisco Liriano their still seems to be some life in this almost lifeless team.

While having a cinderella year last season, the Rangers are fighting valiantly to hold on to their first place lead. In a division where it has been very quiet, the LA Angels are looking to make some noise. The Rangers Organization is still mourning over the recent death of a fan, but in his honor the Rangers are still fighting on to honor the fallen hero  and firefighter. While the entire division looks to make the media and get some news coverage, Ron Washington looks to try and bring the AL their first All-Star win in two years.

As the AL looks to bring back and All-Star win, the National League looks to show them why they lost last year. Looking at the NL East, it is not surprise to see those Philly Phanatics to be jumping up and down with great pleasure. They are setting in first place with the biggest lead  at 3.5 games ahead of the Resurgent Atlanta Braves. With Bobby Cox retired, the Braves have still found renewing power and are providing the Phillies with a fight but with the pitching core of Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels it is hard to slow them down. While a little over half of the  season is over it looks to be a two team race to the finish as the Mets, Marlins, and Nationals just can’t keep up. Those three teams have had their ups and downs, but Jose  Reyes is the best hitter in the game right now, Jack McKeon is making a splash in Florida, and Tyler Clippard is showing why the Nationals will someday be contenders especially when Strasburg returns.

Skipping to the NL West, this is the most unpredictable division ever. Last year you have the Padres and Rockies come out of nowhere only to have the Giants sweep in and steal the show and win  it all. It is full of  very good teams that no one knows what will happen next. For instance the Arizona Diamondbacks were at one point on a 15-2 trek! That is outstanding baseball! Then you have the Giants who start the season battling really hard with the Rockies and Dodgers only to see both of them just fall. The Dodgers, faltering may come from a number of things but we all know what they are and it doesn’t t need to be discussed anymore.  Then the Padres who had and exciting run last year are just trying to make something of this season.

On to the NL Central which I always like to save for last because I’m a Reds fan through and through and this is the division I follow the most. With the All-Star break here it seems we have many surprising stories in this division. The biggest of these comes with the Pirates being one game out  of first place! Yes, you read right the Pittsburgh Pirates are over .500 and are one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers for first place. The second big story out of the NL Central is the fact that the Cardinals have lost Adam Wainwright to Tommy John Surgery and he won’t be back until next season, however, they are still fighting ( even with Pujols not resigned yet). It comes without saying this is the tightest division in all of baseball right now. you have three teams in a one game view of first place and four teams within four games of first place.What is more is that three different scenarios starting this past Thursday could have had all four of these  teams tied for first place going into the break and as we all witnessed that isn’t the case. That being said while the Pirates are within distance of first place it should be noted that the Reds have held first place as well this season and look to regain composure and have a fight to the finish. Also, to those Cubs and Astros fans that may read this don’t give up hope! They both have had rough years and just as I’m not giving up for some decisions in the Reds Clubhouse you shouldn’t give up on them because they are both really tough and really are rebuilding to explode out onto the scene in the next couple years. If the Pirates can turn things around after such a long drought of sub-par baseball the Cubs and Astros can turn it around too. They play in the biggest division in all of baseball and it is going to be a rough road for all of them but keep your heads up.

Well I hope with a bit of a recap from the first half of the season, everyone is ready for the second half to take off on Thursday/ Friday. Good Luck to all of your teams and oh yeah I must say it GO REDS AND NATIONAL LEAGUE!

Down the Stretch, We Have Five Weeks To Go! Oh and Votto is a Cover Kid!

     With the season winding down players are being shuffled around, teams are improving, teams are losing talent but getting prospects, and the standings leave a lot of breathing room for a good majority of teams. With the waiver wire shaking, its gonna be a bumpy last month.

      In the American League we once again saw the Yanks stir the pot and add a bunch of talent before the trade deadline and has allowed them to fight back in front of the Rays. However, there lead is the smallest in all divisions where they are only a half a game up and both of those two teams are the top in all of baseball. In every other division, the leaders are up at a minimum of three games as of twenty till midnight. The Rangers still hold the biggest lead over anyone else at 8.5 games up. So unless they slip up the Rangers will be in the playoffs no ifs ands or buts. Then there is the Minnesota Twins who have pulled ahead of the once White hot White Sox.  The White Sox have had at least two 10 game winning streaks just fell of the radar and are hoping to start  to win a few more games. The one for sure thing that can be said is the Yankees,Rays, or maybe Red Sox will make the playoffs via wild card because no other division has anyone close.

     Now heading over to the National League where nearly every division is close other than the fact the Padres are up six games.  The East holds the Bobby Cox Braves in first and showing the prowess that they showed in the fourteen consecutive years that they made the playoffs. They are now just hoping that they can hold off the healthy Phillies and take the division no problems. The West there is nothing to say the Padres will more than likely take it with the Giants fighting for the Wild Card. Then we have the the Central. My Cincinnati Reds who I gave them all the support I could since I saw what all the young players could do last September. I predicted a playoff run and now they are right in it with a three game lead on the Cards. This of course all came after the Reds swept the Cubs, got swept by the Cards and then with losing first place, the Reds went on to win seven straight sweeping both the Marlins and the Diamondbacks and then taking two of three from the Dodgers. Within that streak of wins they broke the 101 game streak in which there had been a three game difference between the Reds and Cardinals.

    The streak either broke a record or got close to it but the Reds will say they were relieved to have an even bigger lead on the Cards. With these two teams facing each other here in a couple weekends it will certainly show the beginning of the end for one team. If one team takes two of three the other team may be out of it. However that brings in the Wild Card. I believe unless the Phillies stay hot the Reds and Cardinals will make the Playoffs.  With great streaks rolling for the Reds they gotta hope they can keep it up and know when they run out there in the next few weeks that taking it game by game is the most important. One game at a time until the final week of the season and then its just win or hope otheres lose.

On a side note I saw on tonights broadcast of the Reds game that Joey Votto will be getting National Recognition  by Sports Illustrated as he will grace this weeks cover! The MVP candidate has helped keep this team in check and as he is seeking MVP status he may get the first Triple Crown in over thirty years.

With time slipping away all i can say is LETS GO REDS

 

DREAMING OF REDS SERIES

Big Stars Find New Homes, Reds Remain Quiet, Fighting for First

For the second year in a row  the Phillies snag a veteran pitcher to try and keep their playoff hopes alive. With the acquisition of Veteran Roy Oswalt, the Phils may have saved Reds fan a lot of stress as their main NL Central foe, the Cardinals were stymied from picking up the Reds Killer. Decent sized trades have already gone down with Oswalt on the move, former teammate of his Lance Berkman reportedly is going to take off his prized Astros Jersey and throw on the Pinstripes. He too will be joined by former Red, Austin Kearns.  The No-hitting Edwin Jackson is also on the move to join the Streaky White Sox.  Though part of their staff he may not be there long as another deal involving him could be made within the next fifteen hours. As these stars settle into their new homes the Reds have been quiet  not putting up any big indications of trade since possible deals with Cliff Lee were disrupted by the Rangers. The only thing the Reds have done to help try and bolster their staff is add veteran Jason  Isringhausen and Russ Springer both might I add are former Cardinals.

With teams on the trading  block its hard to tell who will be where in the next 24 hours, but what we do know is that additions or not the Reds are currently in the tightest division race in all of  baseball with only a half game separating them from the Cards. With late heroics from Heyward the Reds fell to the Braves again, while late heroics gave St. Louis the lead back. As this battle continues between these division rivals the only answer seems to come from the fact that in two weeks these two will battle in Cincy and one (Cincy) will finally pull up enough lead to take a stab at the playoffs. One can only  hope that a significant lead will begin to appear for the fighting Redlegs because the playoffs are looking a little Blue time to give this baby a dose of some oxygen and Let the REDS NATION take over!

Computer Fixed, Let’s Talk Baseball!!

After a long absence due to computer trouble, work, and various other actions I am back and ready to talk baseball! In my absence the baseball world has witnessed a lot especially the Yankees Club.  With the loss of Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner there was a somber mood in New York, but they have all adjusted and are playing with a renewed passion. We as baseball fans also got to witness the National League get their first All-Star Win in fourteen years. Though I missed the game because of work I watched the game later on DVR and got to witness my Cincinnati Reds light up the defense and offense a little bit. Phillips showed why he a gold glove winner and Scott Rolen showed why the Reds are battling for the National League Central by running first to third on a single.  Speaking of the Reds, let us explore what the Reds have done since my last blog!

                While the Reds lost the bid to pick up All-Star pitcher Cliff Lee they have shown their own pitching prowess especially when Rookie sensation Travis Wood had a Perfect Game until he gave a double in the ninth in a game in which the Reds lost in extras. L  Though the Reds took only a half game lead into the All-Star Break after being swept by the Phillies they came out firing on all cylinders taking two of three from Colorado. In that process they also had the return of Edison Volquez who didn’t disappoint in his return. After a successful but loss of first place finish with Colorado, The Reds split the series with the Nationals and got to witness the pitching power of The Kid Stephen Strasburg who shut the Reds down. Then to top The Kid, Livan Hernandez held the Reds in check to only one run while getting seven runs to back him. Though the Reds lost three games this week they now only sit a half game out of first and look to take it to the Astros the rest of the weekend

                In my absence the Reds have also lost some players to the DL/Injury/ or lack of good playing. Sam LeClure got sent back to the Minors, Micah Owings was sent to Louisville in a chance to get him some innings, Harang is on the DL with Back Spasms, Dickerson is playing in the minors getting ready to come back, Gary Matthews Jr. has rejected his contract, Bailey is working on getting back to his full form, and Scott Rolen  isn’t on the DL that I know of but is taking things easy trying to get back into playing form after his minor injury. In the mean time though, the Reds have Arroyo, Cueto, Wood, Leake, Volquez, Bruce, Votto, Cabrera, Phillips, and you fill in the blanks.

                With the Cardinals on a two game losing streak after an eight game winning streak the Reds must hope for the Cubs to dominate the Cards this weekend. The biggest challenge comes to the Reds this weekend when Roy Oswalt toes the rubber tonight.

O No-No , Teams Went Streaking, and Divisions get a Shake-Up

 

The season of the pitcher continues as Edwin Jackson blanked the Rays this past Friday for the fourth no-hit(perfect game) performance of this season. The madness doesn’t start there though “The Winning Kid” Ubaldo Jimenez got his 14th win of the season which show his rescilence as he took another no hitter into the sixth. This is a pitcher looking to knock Lincecum off his Cy Young wins and become the new reigning king. Jimenez is on pace to have what 15-16 wins before the all-star break. Unbelievable!!!  By seasons end he could see as much as thirty wins plus (knock on wood). He has potential to break a lot of records and I hope he does it, it  has been a ridiculous pitching season and I truly love it. To Ubaldo Jimenez , please keep it up your the man! Would love to see you in a Reds uniform( no offense Redlegs pitching staff).

   What has been even better than the stellar pitching, is the recent streaks that teams(players) have been on. The Texas Rangers have went from a no show to winning twelve straight and holding onto the division lead. The White Sox also went streaking winning ten before their cross town rivals the Cubs beat them this past weekend. The Reds also, went streaking winning five straight after a disappointing weekend in Seattle a weekend ago. Though the Reds did win the Ohio Cup the Indians still took two games in which Choo was amazing. He forced the Reds into some tight corners and two of them they couldn’t get out of. Now being a Reds fan I obviously am more up to date on the Reds streaks than other teams but recently a couple of Reds players have had some pretty awesome streaks. Joey Votto has been in a streak that I believe is still going of going over thirty plus games of getting on base in some shape or form. This in all cases has led to a rather high OBP in the last month!! Then there is Sir Arthur Rhodes who has been stellar out of the bullpen having recorded 30 innings of no runs allowed to tie a record. Unfortunately, this old man got beat up tonight by a late inning rally by the Phillies stifling his record hopes for now.

   With all these streaks beginning and ending it isn’t a surprise that things have been shook up in many of the divisions. The largest shake up is the Rangers who were literally in like third place and after several loses by others and their streak thriving they leapfrogged into first place and have stayed. Also, the Padres who were barely hanging onto first place ran into some wins of late while the rest of the division has continued to struggle. Back to the American league, the White Sox with their big streak turned their near last place standing into a fight for first where they now lay just a game and half out of first!  While they have witnessed success the Rays have had a lot of tension on and off the field between players and slowly watched their lead dwindle and now lay in third place in the division. Though things could be worse the Yanks and Red Sox areloving it because now one of the biggest rivalries in baseball is battling for that coveted lead. Then we come back to the National League Central where it has been nothing but a Roller Coaster ride between the Reds and the Cardinals. The rest of the division is just waiting out the storm as the two top dogs this season are right in the middle of it constantly battling  to keep that lead. The Reds lost first place last week gained it back by mid week and held on until tonight when their comeback effort against the Phillies was cut short causing the loss and loss of the lead in the Central.

    Rumors are soaring around the Reds Clubhouse though that Volquez is near ready and could be up before All-Star break( if his suspension is up by then), Homer Bailey is nearly ready to come back,  Ryan Hanigan is nearly back to playing form, oh and then Cuban sensation Aroldis Chapman may make his major league debut from the bullpen. The Reds are stacked and as it has been said  bringing Volquez back in midway through the season  is like a free trade that doesn’t cost the Reds anything! It is very much something to be excited about in Reds Nation. All Star Break is nearing and if the  Reds can stay in the battle with the Cards then these last few months of baseball are going to be something else!

 

15 Days, A Lot of Baseball, Where Have You Been?

     As it has begun to warm outside it has done the same on the ballfield! Since my last blog the Rookie Sensation Stephen “Strikeout” Strasburg has started his professional career and certainly hasn’t disappointed. The kid has just three starts under his belt and already has 32 strikeouts. In his first outing he was compared to Nolan Ryan with his 14 K’s, and no walk appearance. At the rate he is going, if he could last long enough the phenom could potentially break several of Nolan Ryan’s records the biggest of those being the 5,714 K’s in a career. However, unmatched by anyone else, Nolan Ryan played in 27 seasons so though records aren’t Strasburg’s thing, if he wants to keep making them that is a big one that him and his changeup could certainly do.

     Though Strasburg has been exciting to hear about what about the different divisional races. The Tampa Bay Rays went from being several games up on their divisional foes to now almost being in a three way tie for first. I know at one point they did lose first place to those Damn Yankees but now they have Boston right on their tale only back a game.  So if the surprising Rays wanna swim away with one they better first stay out of the gulf and then get the oil slick off and play the baseball they had been playing.

      Moving to the American Central we see the Twins up top the division but they have  got to watch out because them Tigers are about to eat the Twins up as they are riding a seven game winning streak into what has put the Twins up only a half game. Then in probably one of the hottest areas in the country, the Rangers with their, Hall of Fame owner Nolan Ryan, are riding a six game winning streak and a lead 2.5 games up. Everyone is use to seeing those Angels up there but Ryan’s past is with the Rangers and his team is giving everyone a run for their money.

     In what will be Bobby Cox last season as a manager  and reportedly Billy Wagner and possibly Chipper Jones too the Braves are Vying for a  division title and Bobby Cox last World Series ring. As the surging Braves shoot for the stars the Mets have come out of no where to come within a half game after winning eight straight. The Phillies who of late have been the favorite to win the division had a rough late May and now are stradling third place 3.5 back. They aren’t out of it but they better get their act together.

    Skipping to the NL West the surprising Padres have overtaken first and hold a one game lead over the Dodgers. The Padres have been putting up numbers and impressing everyone but they can’t slip up because the Dodgers are thirsty for another playoff bid as they have shown when they have went on several winning tears and too have held first place. The Reds saw their power and gusto in Cincy so the Dodgers are for real again, so Padres keep it up and you may just see the playoffs.

    Now to my beloved NL Central, since my last blog the Reds hadn’t slipped out of first place until last night after a tough loss to Cliff Lee and the Mariners. As Lee was stellar on the mound the Reds just couldn’t muster any offense which has seemed to be the case this month  as last month they were scoring machines. However, even with a rough start to this June month, the Cardinals have been right there with the Reds losing a lot of games which allowed the Reds to perserve first place for so long. Now, though for the first time in weeks the Reds have to sit in second and hope they can rough up the Mariners while the A’s can do their bidding with Cards.

     As the season heats up there will be much more to talk about and I hope personally I can talk more on here because it’s a great experience and something I trully love. Also, to all of those Reds fans out there, go to Reds.com and vote for your Cincinnati Reds. The entire infield is currently in the running for an All-Star bid so please vote if you have more than one email please vote on all of them!!!

Another Whacky Day in Baseball

     As many people take aim at the government to get control of the oil spill, who can say that about this baseball season? Yesterday marked what would of been the third perfect game this year!!!! Unfortunately for Tigers rookie Galarraga was presented with the worst call in baseball history when first base umpire Jim Joyce called the player safe when he was indeed out by at least a stride at best. Though Joyce will never let that down, he may have put the move to bring more instant replay to baseball. Currently the only replays available is to check homeruns/foulballs. Though I’m personally against instant replay in baseball at all I can see as this would be beneficial in some cases, I really just hope it doesn’t become an every game affair. This is baseball, not football. Baseball went what nearly 140 years with out any sort of replay and now it may pull in more chances that would taint the game a little more. First it was steriods, then it was homerun/foulball review/ and now instant replay a possibility? If it instated it should be used very little!!! That is all I have to say about that. To Galarraga, hell of a game kid, in my books you threw the twenty first perfect game in history and the third one this year.  Ridiculous numbers pitching wise but pitching in the Major Leagues has been phenomenal this year as there have been many missed chances at a perfect game or no-hitter. Johnny Cueto nearly threw one minus the one hit he gave up but no one seemed to mention that middle of last month.

 

  Beyond what would of been another perfecto, a legacy has left baseball. Wednesday afternoon “The Kid” Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement at the age of 40. Finishing his career as fifth all time on the career homerun list with 630 big ones. Griffey who put everything into the game enjoyed every aspect and you know he was always up for some shenanigans but on the ball field he was a baseball player. I was greatful to see him play in Cincy because quite frankly Seattle is on the other side of the U.S.  Idk which homerun it was but I recall seeing him hit one of his 590’s. He was always fun to watch and though he was injury plaqued for the last 8-9 years he still is one of the greatest that every played the game and had he stayed healthy I believe he would have over 800 homeruns. I once again thank Griffey for his legacy he left behind and I hope to one day see  him as  manager or somerthing.

 

Thank you Griffey for the memories!!