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Don’t sleep on the Rays!

April 28, 2010

The American League East is starting out in a crazy way this season.  Sure Baltimore is at the bottom of the heap like always, no surprise there. However, The Blue Jays and the Red Sox are locked in 3rd place with a 10-11 record. Not the scorching start Bostonians had in mind. The most glaring statistic is that with a 12-7 record and winning their first 5 out of 6 series The Bronx Bombers are still only in second place. The Tampa Bay Rays are holding down the top spot with a 15-5 record. They are hotter then Oliva Wilde right now. Of course it’s early. Of course everything could be different in a month. Say what you will, right now the Tampa Bay Rays are the team to beat.

If we take a closer look at the Rays you can see that their winning ways are no fluke. They are clearly talented earning a trip to the World Series two short years ago. Twenty games into the season and the Rays lead the AL East in Runs, RBI, Stolen Bases, and are tied for first in batting average.  Not to shabby. They are winning games with their bats right now.

Don’t worry though they are also winning games with their arms as well.  They lead the entire American League in wins. They are tops in the AL East in ERA and except for the Yankees have let up the least amount of hits. Pretty solid all the way around.

I am not an expert on anything but I do know that if you score more runs then everyone and let up the fewest you are going to win about 15 out of your first 20 games ya heard! Will the Rays fall off? It’s sure possible. Do they have some turmoil right now? sure. Their catcher Dioner Navarro was just suspended two games for making contact with an umpire. That is the type of distraction that can really affect a team over the marathon season if it keeps happening.

All in all don’t sleep on the Tampa Bay Rays. They are tearing it up right now and are playing as well as anyone in the big leagues.

Spring Training is upon us!

February 27, 2010

spALDSdlp23 You couldn’t tell up here in North Jersey but baseball’s spring training is under way down in Florida and Arizona. Baseball is America’s pastime. Kids dream of playing in the big leagues, hell I still dream of playing in the big leagues and rest assured there is and never was any chance of that happening. In the dead of winter things are cold, soaked, and dark. Nothing is very exciting it seems. There are plenty of sports to be had including this years Olympics and college basketball. Oh yeah that’s right there is that junk league called the NBA as well. However, it just never feels like Spring until the players report to their spring training homes. That’s when you know this horrible winter is about to come to and end and finally baseball is back.

This year features my New York Yankees as defending world champions. They have a lot to prove this year as well. Their two biggest stars in Derek Jeter and Mo Rivera are both going to be free agents after this season. Granted, most likely they will re-sign but for how long and how much will be determined by how they play this season.

There are also some new faces in pinstripes this years. Curtis Granderson, Javier Vasquez, Randy Winn, and Marcus Thames, and Chan Ho Park are all new to the team. The Champs will be without Melky Cabrera and Johnny Damon from last years championship squad. The Yankees still have the best team on paper and it will be up to skipper Joe Girardi to bring it all together for another World Series win. No pressure for Joe though, who is also in the last year of his deal.

The rest of the league has some very interesting stories as well.

Mark McGwire, fresh off of his steroid admission (wow shocker) is the new hitting coach for a very talented Cardinals team that features a one two punch in Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Can McGwire help an already talented lineup reach it’s full potential? I think he has a wealth of knowledge to share with the team. Sure, he cheated. He also has learned a ton over the years on how to hit. He helped out Holliday before he was with the Cards and it is only going to carry over for the rest of the guys this year. It’s good for baseball for McGwire to be back in the game.

There are some high profile rookie pitchers that for the first time in a long time could make an impact on their big league clubs this season. Stephen Strasburg, the first overall pick of last years draft could be ready by June of this year. That’s just sick. The kid is 19 years old and ready to pitch in the big leagues already. I can’t wait to watch him pitch.

The Cincinnati Reds acquired Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman. He has never pitched in the big leagues but he was outstanding in the last baseball classic. The Reds are betting on this kids success. They signed him to a 30.25 million dollar deal.  A little crazy for a team that has a total payroll of 70 million but hey what do I know right.

Johnny Damon is the new example of what happens when a player listens to an idiot agent. He wanted to be a Yankee. The Yankees wanted him back at two years 20 million dollars. His agent Scott Boras told him he could get him a 4 year 40 million dollar deal. Of course that was a joke and he is now on the Tigers for 1 year 8 million. Pretty costly mistake if you ask me.

The last thing that interests me is how the blockbuster Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay trade is going to work out in the end. I felt right from the go that the Phillies are actually a worse team now that Lee is gone and Halladay is in. I also feel like the Seattle Mariners will win the AL West with Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins on the team now.

Only time will tell but the season is upon us and winter is almost gone! Thank god because I can’t wait to get to the ball park this year.

Big Mac finally comes clean

January 11, 2010

mark-mcgwire-hitting-coach-thumb-300x300-12772 Mark McGwire has come clean. He has finally admitted today that he has done steroids. This is like Cher admitting that she has had some work done. Nobody in the sports world is surprised that Mark McGwire did steroids. We were shocked when he denied it five years ago in front of congress because it was so obvious. We were disgusted when he hid from the public eye as the steroid drama unfolded in the form of the Mitchell Report, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, and the list goes on and on and on.

Yet I find myself disappointed once again. Every time a name comes out about steroids another childhood hero is destroyed. Another guy I looked up to, and shed a tear for when his 62nd home run went over the wall in 1998 was really just a fraud. It’s good that McGwire is going to get back into baseball. He can teach guys how to be better hitters. It is also great for McGwire the man to move on and put this behind him. With that being said, no matter what when people look back on his playing days they know he cheated.

The issue really isn’t Mark McGwire or any of the guys already mentioned here, it’s about an entire era of baseball. The game of baseball is an extreme passion of mine. I was at game six of the World Series this year and I shed a tear at the end of that game. It was emotional for me to be a part of that great moment in America’s past time. Every time a another superstar falls from grace a fan like myself realizes that the moment that you remember, that lifted your heart and gave you an extreme amount of joy wasn’t real. It was manufactured in a lab and shot into the back end of these superstars with a needle. When Roger Clemens pitched his heart out in the World Series it wasn’t real. When Barry Bonds blasted number 71 over the wall it was a fraud. When Sammy Sosa hit 60 plus homeruns three season in a row it was a sham.  When the Boston Red Sox ended their World Series draught they did it by cheating. It’s sad and it’s greatly disheartening.

I am glad that in today’s game we know who cheats and who doesn’t. I am glad that a guy gets a fifty day suspension when he tests positive the first time. I am glad that for the most part the game is cleaned up. However, a part of me will always feel betrayed by ball players that were suppose to be super heroes.

By Michael Genovese

Boston Finally Strikes!!!

January 5, 2010

The Red Sox have finally made a splash, sort of. Several news reports have said that Adrian Beltre has signed with the Red Sox. The free agent third baseman signed a one year $10m deal. Beltre only played in 111 games last year and hit 8 HR and had 44 RBI. Beltre doesn’t hit well in AL East parks and has been picked up as a defensive replacement for Mike Lowell who is all but done in Beantown. According to ESPN some teams are interested in Lowell including the NY Mets. 

We will see how this all pans out but Beltre is an excellent third baseman. Lowell can still flash the glove but overall this is a defensive improvement. The Red Sox will have to figure out what to do with Lowell and quickly as they have a ton of money locked up at third base right now. If Beltre can get back to his 2007 offensive form and still flash the glove this is an upgrade at 3rd base.

However, Lowell is a gamer and I always loved his heart. He was a throw away in the Josh Beckett deal and in turn helped propel Boston to the World Series. I have some die-hard Mets fans I know who would love to see him switch to 1st base and come on down to Queens!

Yankees Make a Move!

December 8, 2009

They made a dumb move is more accurate. The logic in this trade is absent. I just don’t understand why you send your best 22 year old center field prospect (best major league ready prospect in the Yankee farm system period), your best left handed reliever, and what you hope to be a starter this coming year and into the future for a .272 lifetime hitter who hit .187 against lefties last season. Granted he has a powerful bat and is an extreme upgrade defensively in center field but the Yankees didn’t even need help in the outfield. The platoon of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner was good enough to win a championship. If Johnny Damon comes back and Nick Swisher stays put the Yankees were just fine in the outfield. Also all signs pointed to Joe Girardi making Gardner an outfield staple for the Yankees.

Austin Jackson on the other hand batted .300 in AAA Scranton last year. He was an all-star down on the farm and by all accounts major league ready at 22 years old. Why you trade him, your best left handed reliever (regardless of his postseason woes), and Ian Kennedy for a 29 year old center fielder you don’t really need just blows my mind. Of course I am aware that with the Yankee lineup will raise Granderson’s average and the rest of his offensive numbers will go up as well, but I still think it’s an awful trade. I am also not doubting that Granderson is an all-star center fielder and valuable. I just don’t see why the Yankees needed him.
What the Yankees really needed was starting pitching. The pieces that they had to trade for a guy like Roy Halladay are long gone now. This trade didn’t help the Yankees. It hurts them and it hurts them bad. The bullpen is once again suspect. Cashman might think that the Damaso Marte that showed up in the playoffs will be around for the whole year next season but I doubt it. He is often injured and I don’t see next year being any different. Now the Yankees are still missing that starting pitcher and the bullpen is up in the air. What do they do with Joba and Hughes? The only thing this trade did was raise more questions for next season then answers.
D- on this trade Cashman.

A Penny for the Cardinals

December 7, 2009

Brad Penny has reached a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. According to the AP it’s a one year deal worth 7.5 million. Penny is a better National League pitcher. Last year he struggled with the Red Sox. However, Penny made 6 starts for the Giants after clearing waivers last year. In the National League he started 6 games and went 4-1. He also had a complete game for the Giants as well.  Penny belongs in the National League and this could prove to be a huge pick up for the Giants.

Chone Figgins Closing in on Dead with Seattle

December 4, 2009

ESPN is reporting that Chone Figgins may be close to signing with the Seattle Mariners. How he would fit in Seattle is a little unclear. Seattle already has a leadoff hitter that is pretty good. You may have heard of him he is that Japanese guy. Either way the deal appears to be all but done. How does this impact the World Champs among other teams who had an interest in Figgins remains to be seen.  Most importantly the Hot Stove is really starting to heat up. Placido Polanco, Marco Scutaro, and now Chone Figgins have all signed with new teams. 

After next weeks winter meetings in Indianapolis things should really catch fire. Just because there is no baseball doesn’t mean things aren’t exciting. Stay tuned!