Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Yesterday we previewed the AL WEST, today we move onto the AL CENTRAL.

Last year, the White Sox won the division coming from behind by winning a one game playoff against the Twins. Both the Tigers and Indians had disappointing seasons as both were favorites to compete for the division and a lot of people (full disclosure time, including myself) had the Tigers in the World Series.

The Indians ended up with a much better second half then first half, even after trading their superstar pitcher CC Sabathia to the Brewers. In the offseason, they have gotten much better (especially due to the addition of two former Cubs, Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa).

The Tigers have an offense that can be spectacular, but their pitching, especially in the bullpen, has been very questionable. If their starting rotation can become healthy, it can once again be a strength for this team, and unlike a lot of people, I think that last year was an aberration and that the Tigers will once again compete this year. (I'll be seeing them in their third game of the year this season in Toronto, so I'll have a better idea about them after seeing them in person.)

The Twins and White Sox have each taken steps back (and the White Sox overextended themselves last year anyway) and the Royals are still the Royals, although they have a young team that might be a little fun to watch, although expecting them to pull a Tampa Bay Rays might be a little premature.


Cleveland 90-72
Detroit 87-75
Minnesota 80-82
Kansas City 76-86
Chicago 72-90

Tomorrow will be the AL EAST.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I've decided to spread out my predictions post one a day culminating with the NL Central on Opening Day.

So we'll start in the AL West.

Last season the LA Angels won the division running away, over 20 games better then the second place Texas Rangers who finished just ahead of the third place Oakland A's. The Mariners finished dead last, out of contention almost immediately.

This division will most likely be among the leagues weakest this season. I think that the Angels will once again win the division, but it will be much closer this time. The Rangers and A's will finish just a few games behind, while Seattle will once again finish far behind the rest.

Despite winning the division, I don't like the Angels going very far in the playoffs, especially since I predict that at least one AL team that misses the playoffs will actually finish with a much better record.


Los Angeles 84-78
Texas 82-80
Oakland 81-81
Seattle 71-91

Tomorrow will be the AL Central

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The World Baseball Classic

Japan repeats as WBC Champions with a two run single by Ichiro in the 10th inning and the second World Baseball Classic is in the book.

The US certainly had a better (or perhaps we should say further) run in this installment, and lost in the semi-final to the Country that ended up winning the whole thing, but clearly there are still problems with what could be something that is very special.

A lot of the talk about the WBC these last couple days leading up to the championship hasn't been about Japan and South Korea and who had the better chance to win it, but more about the reasons that Americans didn't seem to be as interested in the WBC as the rest of the world and why the US team wasn't able to dominate.

There were lots of complaints (especially after the semi-final loss to Japan) about the manager, Davy Johnson. People complained about how he left Roy Oswalt in too long as he got shelled for 5 runs in the 4th inning effectively ending the US's chances. There were complaints about Evan Longoria pinch hitting as the tying runner after Mark DeRosa's (DeRo!!!!!) two run triple brought the US back to within 2. Critics felt that since Japan had no left handers in the bullpen Johnson should have sent up Shane Victorino to bat as a left hander. Longoria struck out and Victorino came in in his place to play center field in the bottom half of the inning so the critics pointed out what a useless waste Longoria's at bat was. These are legitimate concerns if this were in the regular season, but what has to be remembered (and it pains me to say it, but Joe Morgan did make some of these points during the game) is that for these US players it is Spring Training and they all are on a regiment to get ready for the season, ready for their jobs and livelihood.

The Astros would have been pissed if Roy Oswalt didn't get in at least 60-65 pitches regardless of what the Japanese batters were doing off of him. The Rays would have been angry if they sent off Evan Longoria to the WBC causing him to miss at least 3 days of camp and then he didn't even get one at bat. (Longoria joined the team for the semi-final as an injury replacement). The other countries don't mind as much if they piss of the MLB teams. Venezuela for instance told the Texas Rangers that Max Ramirez would be getting a majority of the time for them behind the plate (work that he needs as he hopes to win the backup catcher job for the Rangers). Instead, Ramirez saw very little playing time in the WBC and the Rangers were upset. But there isn't much that they can do against Venezuela. USA on the other hand is a lot more likely to feel the teams wrath and be disposed to pay attention to their demands.

Davy Johnson was effectivaly managing the US team as if it were a spring training club. He had to get everyone a specific amount of work and keep the major league teams happy. I'm sure that it wasn't an easy line to walk, making sure everyone got their work and trying to win the World Baseball Classic.

As long as this is the attitude that the major league clubs (and make no mistake, the majority of the players as well) USA will be hard pressed to compete with many of the other countries who not only have a lot of major league talent as well, but also are far more committed to winning the WBC.

Personally, I greatly enjoyed the WBC, but I acknowledge that there are a lot of problems with it as currently constructed. The timing is horrible as many players are not in a position to be able to compete at a high level, that is what this time is generally for to prepare them so that they are ready to compete when the season begins. Derrick Lee complained at the pressure put on players to get them to participate. The people behind USA pretty much smeared Lee for not joining the team as an injury replacement when he was currently not even able to play for the Cubs due to an injury.

I believe the WBC could be an awesome event, but some problems need to be worked out first. They have four years in which to perfect it before we try it all again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lance Berkman's Thoughts on the NL Central

Lance Berkman, or the Big Puma (yeah, I know, pretty lame for a nick name), was on the Mad Dog show today on Sirius XM before his Astros took on the Cincinnati Reds and gave a great interview. Included in that interview, he gave his thoughts on how the NL Central would end up this year. Here are some of his thoughts...

(I was in the car, so I didn't get to write down exactly what he said as he said it, but these "quotes" are exactly how he put things if not worded exactly how he said them)

On the Cubs...

"Clearly the Cubs are the favorites. Not only on paper, but what they did in the offseason as well, with Bradley. They have great starters, a great bullpen, and great balance in the lineup. Everyone will be trying to replace them as the best."

On his own Astros...

"I really like our lineup, we're going to score runs. I think our pitching can be good baring injuries, but obviously that's our big question mark. Mike Hamilton and Russ Ortiz might both be great if they can stay healthy. I mean Ortiz won 17 games a year with a 3 era for five seasons. Then Wandy Rodriguez and Brian Moheller, and he was great for us last year. Pitching is our question mark, for sure, but I think we can be good. Definitely we're right there in that next tier of teams."

On the Cardinals...

"With Tony LaRussa, they'll always compete. And with a guy like Pujols and with Chris Carpenter coming back from injury, they could be good. And obviously with Tony LaRussa as their manager, they'll compete. LaRussa's teams always compete."

On Cincinnati...

"I think they're going to be real good. Obviously the pitching. They have great young arms, and they have a lot of young talent. I think they're going to be good, right there with us."

On Milwaukee...

"I think they're going to take a step back. They lost guys. They're not going to be what they where last year, I'd put them below us and the Reds and the Cards."

And on Pittsburgh...

"Well. They're the Pirates."

You can't argue with him there.

Very interesting thoughts, and I agree with a lot of them. Just thought I'd share the thoughts of Houston's Berkman on our division.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cubs Baseball on WGN Tonight and other thoughts

You read that right! Cubs baseball returns to WGN tonight with a split squad (meaning that only half the club is making the trip as the other half played the Indians and Woody and DeRo earlier today) matchup against the cross town rival White Sox! I am very happy to get to see Cubs baseball on television once again as the last time wasn't so happy. (Game 3 of the NLDS against LA if you must know).

Also, yesterday marked the release of this years slate of MLB video games including MLB 09 The Show (available on PlayStation 2, 3, and Portable) and MLB 2K9 available on pretty much everything. I was going back and forth on which to purchase (as I have both a XBOX 360 and a PS3). MLB The Show is supposedly the better game (and I don't have many games for the PS3 as it is mainly my Blu Ray player), but 2K9 on the 360 has the ability to continuously update the rosters with any signings or trades, keeping it current. That was too awesome to turn down, so I ended up going with 2K9. After playing a few games last night I have no complaints about my choice, I think that this is the best version of baseball that 2K has put out so far, far and away better then last years version. So even if The Show is the better game, I can't imagine that it is that much better then this years 2K product is. And the updating of the rosters more then makes up for any deficiencies that 2K9 does have.

Finally, I thought that I would let you know that I have tickets to see the Cubs and Astros on Opening Day as well as the second game of the season between these two rivals! I'm very pumped about that! I promise to try and get some good pics for the blog. Also, on Thursday April 9th, I should be going to see the Detroit Tigers take on the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto, so that should be fun.

Closer to home, this Saturday I'll be seeing my first live baseball of the season as I check out the #11 TCU Horned Frogs (Go Frogs!!) hosting Wichita St.

Baseball is here my friends. (As I write this, Pat and Ron are on my speakers as the split squad Cubs are tied up with the Indians 4-4 in the 6th inning.) Baseball is here!!!!!