MLB Thoughts on the DH and Early Season Surprises

Max
Max

Max Scherzer sprained his thumb while batting and he thinks the National League needs the DH because of it.

If you want to see the ultimate in knee-jerk reaction than I give you Major League Baseball. Two pitchers in the National League both went down with injuries and both did so while batting. Cue the “We need the DH in the National League” screams.

In St. Louis, Cardinals’ fans are dealing with the loss of star pitcher Adam Wainwright. He is out for the season with an Achilles’ injury suffered while legging out a struck ball to first base. His injury is far worse than that of Washington Nationals’ pitcher Max Scherzer who suffered a sprained thumb while batting today against the Miami Marlins.

“If you look at it from the macro side, who’d people rather see hit: Big Papi or me?” Scherzer told CBS Sports. “Who would people rather see, a real hitter hitting home runs or a pitcher swinging a wet newspaper? Both leagues need to be on the same set of rules.”

Actually, Scherzer has it backwards. What I’d like to see is pitchers actually take hitting more seriously and I’d like to see the American League do away with the designated hitter altogether.

Wainwright

Adam Wainwright is likely out for the season after an injury suffered while batting.

God forbid we actually force American League managers to have manage a game rather than just send guys up to hit bombs all the time. That may be a stretch but I think you know exactly what I’m talking about. Look at Joe Maddon for example, the new skipper of the Chicago Cubs. He came over from Tampa Bay which is an American League team.

He’s already batted pitchers in the eighth spot rather than the traditional ninth in order shake things up increase the chances of an actual fielder in the ninth hole serve as a “second lead-off man.”

Another reason you have pitchers bat is to shorten games. Ya I know, time is money right? The longer fans are at the ball park the more beer, soda, food and merchandise they buy. Well count me as one who would much rather watch a 2 hour and 30 minute game than a three or four hour slugfest. I’m probably in the minority on that but too bad. I get more out of watching a good 4-3 game then I’ll ever get out of 10-7 one.

Want to eliminate the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox brawling every other game? Get pitchers up there in the box. I’m not saying for one minute that pitchers batting would eliminate benches clearing or guys getting beaned but I would be willing to bet that you’d see a drastic reduction in such actions. Teams are not going to sacrifice one of their starting arms just for “revenge.”

At the end of the day, I get it; chicks really do dig the long ball don’t they? I’ll bet they’d also dig being able to get out of the stadium in under five hours too.

MLB a Month In – With baseball about a month old, here’s what I’m seeing so far in the early season.

Biggest Surprises: Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets and Houston Astros. Did you see any of these three teams leading their divisions even this early?

Biggest Disappointments: Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians. It’s early, but there are some disturbing trends already emerging with these teams.

Manager on the Hottest Seat: Matt Williams, Nationals. This team was basically penciled in as the NL East winner from day one and many experts had them winning the World Series.

Best Offseason Acquisition: Alfredo Simon, Tigers. With Justin Verlander still not ready to go, Simon’s 4-0 record has been a welcome sign for the Central leading Tigers.

 

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Fearless Predictions for Major League Baseball 2015

Scherzer
Scherzer

Max Scherzer's presence in the rotation makes the Nationals even tougher to beat.

American League

AL East – Baltimore, Boston, Toronto, NY Yankees, Tampa Bay

I like the combination of arms and bats on the roster for the defending division champs from Baltimore. I expect both Boston and Toronto to be in the thick of the race all season long while the Yankees and Rays bring up the rear.

AL Central – Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, Minnesota

This will easily be the most difficult race to call and I can see any of the top four teams winning the division. The Twins will be in rebuilding mode and should improve as the season wears on. In the Motor City, I have concerns about the health of both Miguel Cabrera and Jason Verlander. If either of those two miss significant time that could spell trouble. The defending AL Champion Royals have some pitching holes to fill and that concerns me while the White Sox need to stay the course throughout the season and could find themselves in the playoffs if things break right.

Trout

Mike Trout will have another big year but he won't be able to do it alone for the Angels.

AL West – Seattle, Anaheim, Oakland, Houston, Texas

I believe this to finally be the Mariners’ time to shine. The hitting now matches the pitching and I think they’ll take advantage of that. The Angels should be very good but they can’t rely on Mike Trout to carry them by himself. Oakland is Oakland… The A’s always seem to be there despite the lower payroll and this season appears to be no different yet I think they take a step back. I do see improvement from the Astros while the Rangers will sink with injuries to both Profar and Darvish.

Prediction: Joining the four division winners will be wild-cards Detroit and Boston. I like the Mariners and Indians to advance to the ALCS where Seattle wins the pennant.

National League

NL East – Washington, Florida, NY Mets, Atlanta, Philadelphia

Is there any title easier to call than the one the Nationals will win? Substantial injuries will have to occur in order for this not to happen. I see only the Marlins giving the Nats any type of challenge but wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mets shake things up a bit either. Both Atlanta and Philadelphia are playing to get better for the future. It’s going to be a long year in those two cities.

NL Central – St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati

It was a fitting opening night win for the Cards over the Cubs as they won with timely hitting and good pitching. This is exactly what will carry them to another title. I like the Pirates and Cubs to battle for second place while the Brewers and Reds will see who can stay out of the basement.

NL West – LA Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco, Arizona, Colorado

Despite the Giants being the defending World Champions, I think they take a step back this season. Conversely, the Padres are clearly “all-in” as they have made one move after another to get better. Both teams will battle for second because the Dodgers just have too much talent not to win the division again. This race could be a solid three-team race throughout the season. Both Arizona and Colorado will be battling for basement duty.

Prediction: I like Pittsburgh and San Diego to earn wild-card berths but don’t be surprised to see Florida and the Cubs push hard for those spots. In the end, I like the Pirates and Nationals in the NLCS and I see Washington winning the NL Pennant.

World Series: Mariners in six games over the Nationals.

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Odds to Win the 2015 American League Pennant

Tanaka
Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka's health will be of extreme importance if the Yankees are to be in the running for the AL Pennant.

Boston Red Sox 11/2 – Pablo Sandoval may have shown up to Spring Training looking like Barney from “The Simpsons” but he is still being relied upon to deliver after the BoSox acquired this offseason. Offensively I think Boston will be fine. I am a tad concerned about the lack of a stud leading the rotation but this should be a good team in 2015.

Los Angeles Angles 6/1 – The Angels racked up 98 wins last season and the team appears to be largely the same. Even with Josh Hamilton’s pending suspension, LAA should be right there in the mix for the pennant.

Chicago White Sox 7/1 – This should be one of the more entertaining teams in the AL to watch. There’s plenty of offensive firepower now and the only question is how far can the pitching take them? Chris Sale will miss the opener after he injured himself getting out of a pool. Either way, this could be the team to beat in the AL Central.

Seattle Mariners 7/1 – Robinson Cano has some help in the lineup now and that’s something he didn’t have last year. Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith should both give Cano better looks at the plate. If the pitching can follow the lead of King Felix then this could be a team right there at the finish.

JV

If the Tigers are going to win the AL Pennant then Justin Verlander must be much better than he has been the last two seasons.

Detroit Tigers 8/1 – The Tigers have had a wonderful run dating back to the arrival of Dave Dombrowski but is age finally catching up to them? Both Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera are banged up entering the season and what can they expect from Justin Verlander who has been average the last two seasons?

Cleveland Indians 9/1 – The Indians return Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and a lot of youth that gained valuable experience last year as the Indians pushed both Detroit and Kansas City to the brink. I can see this team winning the division or finishing well back in the pack. That’s how hard they are to figure out right now.

Toronto Blue Jays 10/1 – The Jays added Josh Donaldson and field general Russel Martin but how much will they improve the team? Toronto was right there for a good part of the season in 2014 so can they see this year to the end?

Oakland Athletics 12/1 – Count me as one who thinks the A’s take a step back this year. Yes, there are some new faces, the outfield is the same and there are two good starters leading the rotation but this division will be a bear and I don’t see the A’s winning the pennant.

Baltimore Orioles 14/1 – Most people would say the Orioles did more than expected last year especially with Chris Davis having a brutal year. The Birds do get both Manny Machado and Matt Wieters back so perhaps they will be in the race again but pitching depth will be vital.

Kansas City Royals 14/1 – The Royals aren’t returning to the World Series this year but they should still be competitive despite the loss of James Shields. If the bullpen is as successful as it was last year than anything is possible but I see a step back here.

New York Yankees 14/1 – The Yanks have potentially deep rotation and solid bullpen. If they can get through the early portion of the season where all the talk will be “A-Rod” they could be right there. The first season without Derek Jeter in the locker room will be curious to watch as well.

Texas Rangers 22/1 – The Rangers were devastated by injuries last season and this year isn’t starting much better. Shortstop Jurickson Profar is likely out for the season with a shoulder injury. Yu Darvish is expecting a big season but how much can he do?

Houston Astros 28/1 – Houston added guys like Jed Lowrie and Evan Gattis but at the end of the day this will continue to be a team on the rise rather than one that will compete.

Tampa Bay Rays 33/1 – Beloved manager Joe Maddon is in Chicago and these Rays have very little depth. This will be nothing short of a miracle if the Rays can even get to .500.

Minnesota Twins 50/1 – Well, at least the fans have a lovely stadium to attend games in…. Sorry, this isn’t happening in the Twin Cities in 2015.

My Favorite: I love the Mariners. They’ll fly under the radar in the Pacific Northwest before it’s too late for most opponents to notice.

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MLB Win Projections for 2015

Royals
Royals

Can the Royals duplicate their success of last year?

Can you believe teams have already reported for spring training in Florida and Arizona? Seems like the season just ended doesn’t it? Here are you season total win total projections from our friends at Bovada.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      71½ (-115)

Under                                   71½ (-115)

Despite the changes, I like the UNDER.

Atlanta Braves – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      73½ (-115)

Under                                   73½ (-115)

The Braves always seem to find a way to succeed. Take the OVER.

Baltimore Orioles – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      82½ (-115)

Under                                   82½ (-115)

I think they take a step back but go with the OVER.

Boston Red Sox – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      86½ (-115)

Under                                   86½ (-115)

The BoSox have upgraded in all the right places. Take the OVER.

Chicago Cubs – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      82½ (-115)

Under                                   82½ (-115)

Will the Cubs be better? Yes, but I’m not ready for over .500 so take the UNDER.

Chicago White Sox – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      81½ (-115)

Under                                   81½ (-115)

I’m just not convinced this team is ready for recovery yet. Take the UNDER.

Cincinnati Reds – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      77½ (-115)

Under                                   77½ (-115)

Take the UNDER as the Reds are still reshuffling the deck.

Cleveland Indians – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      83½ (-115)

Under                                   83½ (-115)

Take the OVER. I like the direction of the Indians.

Colorado Rockies – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      71½ (-115)

Under                                   71½ (-115)

I don’t see much to be positive about here. Take the UNDER.

Detroit Tigers – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      84½ (-115)

Under                                   84½ (-115)

It’s really hard to see them doing as well as recent years with injuries and pitching losses. Take the UNDER.

Houston Astros – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      74½ (-115)

Under                                   74½ (-115)

Arrow up on the Astros. I like the OVER.

Kansas City Royals – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      79½ (-115)

Under                                   79½ (-115)

Can they repeat last year’s success? I say no. Take the OVER.

Los Angeles Angels – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      89½ (-115)

Under                                   89½ (-115)

Take the OVER. Big year coming from the Halos.

LA Dodgers

Can the Dodgers get over the hump and get to the World Series?

Los Angeles Dodgers – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      92½ (-115)

Under                                   92½ (-115)

It’s a big number but I’ll take the OVER.

Miami Marlins – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      81½ (-115)

Under                                   81½ (-115)

I really like the OVER here as new additions boost the Marlins.

Milwaukee Brewers – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      78½ (-115)

Under                                   78½ (-115)

Take the UNDER in a super-competitive NL Central.

Minnesota Twins – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      70½ (-115)

Under                                   70½ (-115)

Managerial change brings instability. Take the UNDER.

New York Mets – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      81½ (-115)

Under                                   81½ (-115)

What reason have they given me to be excited? Take the UNDER.

New York Yankees – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      81½ (-115)

Under                                   81½ (-115)

If A-Rod can contribute without being a problem, I like the OVER.

Oakland Athletics – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      80½ (-115)

Under                                   80½ (-115)

They stumbled to the finish last year and it continues in 2015. Take the UNDER.

Philadelphia Phillies – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      68½ (-115)

Under                                   68½ (-115)

Can they really be this bad? Yes, take the UNDER.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      83½ (-115)

Under                                   83½ (-115)

Playoffs for two straight years in Pittsburgh and things look as good this season. Take the OVER.

San Diego Padres – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      85½ (-115)

Under                                   85½ (-115)

Fantastic additions but I’m still going UNDER.

San Francisco Giants – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      84½ (-115)

Under                                   84½ (-115)

The defending champs have some offense to replace but I still like the OVER.

Seattle Mariners – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      86½ (-115)

Under                                   86½ (-115)

Could the Mariners be the cream of the crop in the AL? Maybe and I’m taking the OVER.

St. Louis Cardinals – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      88½ (-115)

Under                                   88½ (-115)

This number is really close for me. I’ll take the UNDER but barely.

Tampa Bay Rays – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      78½ (-115)

Under                                   78½ (-115)

I just don’t see this team improving much. Take the UNDER.

Texas Rangers – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      77½ (-115)

Under                                   77½ (-115)

With Profar likely out for the season I’ll take the UNDER.

Toronto Blue Jays – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      82½ (-115)

Under                                   82½ (-115)

Lots of excitement in Canada about this team and rightfully so. I’ll take the OVER.

Washington Nationals – Total Regular Season Wins in 2015

Over                                      92½ (-115)

Under                                   92½ (-115)

I see no reason why this shouldn’t be a World Series team. Take the OVER.

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A-Rod is Just Pathetic Plus The Tigers Two Big Bats are …

A-Rod
A-Rod

With a hand-written apology, A-Rod proves once again he just doesn't get it.

Well thank the lord almighty! Alex Rodriguez has formally issued an apology for his year-long suspension and performance-enhancing drug use!

A-Rod wasn’t apologizing for those things as much as he was apologizing for getting caught for cheating. It’s easy to dislike Rodriguez and that in and of itself is troubling. We shouldn’t want or need to dislike our fellow man but sometimes people do things so arrogantly and so recklessly that it becomes difficult to find anything becoming about them.

Earlier this week, Rodriguez told the New York Yankees he was ready to issue his formal apology to the fans, the Yankees’ Organization and Major League Baseball. They offered him the opportunity to host the press conference at Yankee Stadium but A-Rod had something else in mind. Or at the very least, the people calling the shots for him did.

Rodriguez decided to forgo the presser and instead went with…. A hand-written letter.

Apparently Rodriguez’s advisors must include a daycare provider who convinced him that he needed to write down his feelings. He mistook this as the actual issuing of his apology and ran with it.

Actually I don’t think it went down like this at all. A hand-written apology is right up the alley of A-Rod and is typical behavior. I have to give him credit because his penmanship was pretty good!

His sentences tended to move upward to the right but all in all it wasn’t bad for a baseball player who never went to college. But in all honesty, this was pathetic. I honestly feel bad for both the New York Yankees and their fans. The fact that they have to put up with this narcissist jackass for another season really is quite a sad development.

Because Major League Baseball has guaranteed contracts, the Yankees are still on the hook for about $60 million for A-Rod. They have insurance in case he were to get injured again which is entirely possible considering the hip surgery and his age. Still, the Yankees would love nothing better than for A-Rod to just walk away but he won’t.

He’s like that bad penny that just keeps showing up . Perhaps a more relevant analogy is that of George Costanza from ‘Seinfeld.’ If you recall, George, who worked for the Yankees on the show, once had to climb through the ducts in order to get to his office. That’s because his employer was doing everything he could to make George quit.

So far, it appears A-Rod has the same type of staying power as George Costanza did.

Tigers in ER

The Detroit Tigers since 2006 have been one of the better teams in baseball reaching the World Series twice but losing. As the Tigers head into the 2015 season, they know they will already do so without Max Scherzer who has signed with Washington.

They are also going to be a bit behind the eight ball offensively because Victor Martinez has a knee injury he’s recovering from and Miguel Cabrera is recovering from a bad foot. Both could be ready by opening day but it’s unlikely they’ll get many swings if any in spring training.

With team owner Mike Ilitch not getting younger, the time is now for the Tigers to give him the World Series title he’s been hoping for. Ilitch’s Red Wings have more than delivered in terms of Stanley Cups but Ilitch is desperate for the title. He’s brought a re-birth to Motown that wasn’t there for many years and whether the Tigers can deliver for him is based in large part on the health of two of his superstars.

 

 

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Christmas Wishes for Your Favorite Athletes and Teams

Woods
Woods

Maybe my Christmas wish will come true and Tiger will actually just admit he played poorly for once.

First of all, Merry Christmas to everyone! Hope your day is filled with all kinds of good food, family and fun. Today I’m giving you some Christmas wishes for any number of teams and athletes.

My Christmas wish is…

for Tony Romo to get at least one playoff win.

for Michigan to land a head football coach who wants to be there.

for Roger Goodell to resign.

for ESPN to cancel First Take and no longer allow Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless on television.

for you to win every bet, on every game this coming year. (giggles a bit)

for Tiger Woods to walk off the course just one time and say, “I played like crap” rather than blame it on everything else.

for the Kansas City Royals not to be one-hit wonders.

for college football to immediately move to an eight-game playoff.

for high school athletes to enjoy being “high school athletes” and not be forced to specialize by club sports.

for ‘Mike and Mike’ to use more of my tweets.

for the National Basketball Association to become interesting again.

for Coach K to get one more title before he hangs up the whistle.

for soccer to go back to being a world sport and not an American one.

for Marshawn Lynch to actually give a decent interview after a game.

for Steelers’ Coach Mike Tomlin to drop a few of his cliches.

for MMQB’s Peter King to finally admit he’s just a shill for the NFL.

O'Bannon

Thanks Ed O'Bannon for ruining my family's favorite video game!

for the NCAA and EA Sports to find a way get the NCAA Football video game back for us.

for NFL people stop using the word “elite” when it comes to quarterbacks.

for Antonio Brown to go up against Richard Sherman in the Super Bowl.

for Peter Edward Rose to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

for all of us to just admit that college football and basketball is nothing more than a minor league for the pros.

for Mike Emrick to call every game in every sport for the rest of his life.

to never see another pro athlete charged with domestic violence.

for the Super Bowl to be a national holiday and everyone gets the next day off.

for the Atlanta Hawks to the NBA Title.

for the Detroit Tigers to win a World Series before owner Mike Ilitch dies. No one has been more important to Detroit sports than he has.

for group celebrations to be allowed after NFL touchdowns.

for a “Gretzky-like” figure to reappear in the National Hockey League.

for the Cleveland Cavaliers to lose in the NBA Finals. Let’s face it; it makes for more interesting sports talk.

for the Lakers and Celtics to continue being irrelevant.

for defensive backs so they can actually play defense again.

for Jerry Jones’ plastic surgeon who must be tired of seeing him walk through the door.

for Larry Fitzgerald to get a Super Bowl title before he retires.

for Al Michaels to narrate my life.

for someone in a Santa suit today at an NBA game to do something ridiculous.

for officials at all levels and in all sports to remember it isn’t about them, it’s about the game.

for Oregon to settle on a uniform or 50.

for Devon Still’s daughter to make a complete recovery.

for karma to show up at Jameis Winston’s door.

for the NFL Playoffs to be as great as ever.

for your favorite teams to do as well as they can!

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Royals, Tigers are Ships Passing in the Night

Butler
Butler

Billy Butler and the Royals are in the World Series and strangely enough they are similar to the team they lost the division too.

Sports brings out the best in people and while it can often bring out the worst too, it’s moments like Wednesday evening in Kansas City that make sports great. After 29 years the Kansas City Royals are returning to the World Series.

This is a team with no superstars which probably makes them even more enticing to the common fan and what I find most interesting about them is that they almost seem to be the very team they have pursued in the American League Central.

Brett

George Brett was a part of those great KC teams in the 70's and 80's and now gets to enjoy this as well.

What I mean is that eight years ago, the Detroit Tigers stumbled into the playoffs for the first time since 1987. They had the division wrapped up until these Royals came to Detroit and swept them forcing Detroit into the wild-card spot. While the Tigers had more “stars” then these current Royals do, the feeling around the Motor City in 2006 was total pandemonium.

The same craziness was on display in Kansas City Wednesday night as the Royals swept the Baltimore Orioles in four games. The Royals, who lost the division to Detroit by just one game, have now won eight straight playoff games. A dramatic, extra-inning win over Oakland in the play-in game, followed by a three-game sweep of the best team in the American League in the Angels.

While those 2006 Tigers didn’t sweep their first two opponents, they did defeat the New York Yankees three games to one and then beat the Oakland A’s four games to win the AL Pennant. Despite the two losses, the momentum never the left the Tigers much in the same way it hasn’t left the Royals.

Both organizations were very competitive throughout the 1980′s. The Tigers won the 1984 World Series while Kansas City won the ’85 Fall Classic over favored St. Louis. The Royals had actually advanced to the World Series in 1980 before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. Ironically in ’84, the Tigers defeated the Royals to advance to the World Series.

The Tigers would also win the American League East in 1987 but lost to the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS. While the Royals playoff run ended in 1985 with the title. They did have great success in the 1970′s with division titles in ’76, ’77 and ’78. All three of those years the Royals lost the ALCS to the Yankees.

With both the Tigers and Royals having good success from the 1970′s through the ’80′s, the decade plus that followed was anything but successful. The Royals struggled to stay below 90 losses at times while the Tigers would actually reach total futility in losing more games than any American League team in history in 2003.

Today these two teams may in fact be two ships passing in the night. The Tigers are likely to lose Cy Young winning pitcher Max Scherer as well as Victor Martinez in free agency. Miguel Caberera looked mortal in 2014 as he dealt with injuries and while some of the youth was good, the Tigers overall took a step back.

The Royals may be peaking at the right time with a great blend of seasoned veterans and young players who are a great fit together. Kansas City also has tremendous bullpen strength which is a great foundation for the future. Look no further than the Yankees during late 1990′s and 2000′s.

For all I know, the Royals will do just as the 2006 Tigers did in the World Series which was completely tank but this team just seems different. Win or lose, I think we are starting to see the changing of the guard in the American League Central.

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