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American League Gets Home Field, Home Run Derby Flops & More!

Monday, July 21st, 2014

With the MLB All-Star game taking place this week, there was a bit of a shortage of baseball news. Fortunately for us, there was more than enough storylines to hold us over until real games started back up.

AL Trumps NL Again

The American League continued their recent dominance over the National League in this year’s All-Star game, as they picked up their seventh win in the last ten contests with a 5-3 win.

The NL was done in by a pair of St. Louis Cardinals pitchers, with Adam Wainwright and Pat Neshek combined to allow all 5 runs. It was Wainwright who started the game and he got in trouble quickly. He allowed a leadoff double to Derek Jeter, followed by a triple by Mike Trout and then two batters later, a home run to Miguel Cabrera.

On the other side, the pitching for the AL was stellar (aside from John Lester’s bumpy two-run second inning). Reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer picked up the win, while Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins had a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up the save.

After losing 3 games in a row to the NL during the past decade, the American League now has it’s second straight win. Based on this year’s roster and every team’s prospects, however, I doubt that the games will continue to swing towards the American League so consistently. Overall, what were your thoughts on this year’s All-Star game?

Home Run Derby Flops

It used to be one of the most exciting events in sports, but the Home Run Derby has really died down in recent years. This year was no different, and the rain delay to kick things off really did nothing to help the cause.

Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes took home the trophy for the second year in a row, defeating Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier 9-1 in the final round. To get to the finals, he had to run through his American League teammates in the new bracket-style format.

Unfortunately, even this new format didn’t help the Derby from dragging on, much like it has in recent years. The TV ratings seem to support that, as they were there lowest since at least 1997 (ratings aren’t available prior to that) and down 17% from just last year.

It isn’t that baseball is getting less popular (ratings are actually up a decent amount), it’s just that the Home Run Derby lasts too long and really just doesn’t have the excitement that it once did. While I wouldn’t say that the MLB should get rid of the event, something needs to be done to liven things up a bit. Did you enjoy this year’s Home Run Derby? What improvements would you make to it?

Halos Bolster Bullpen

Currently sitting atop the American League Wildcard standings and a game and a half back of the Oakland Athletics in the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels made a move to improve one of their most glaring weaknesses.

The team picked up reliever Huston Street from the San Diego Padres, who will replace Joe Smith at the back end of the team’s bullpen. While Smith has certainly been impressive this year, the addition of Street should add even more consistency at the end of games for a team that needed it.

In exchange for Street, the Padres picked up a top 100 prospect in Taylor Lindsey, a flame-throwing reliever in RJ Alvarez, a high-upside shortstop in Jose Rondon and the Angles fourth round pick from last year, Elliot Morris.

Even with the addition of Street, it’s tough to argue that the Angels got the better end of this deal. Prospects often don’t turn out as expected, but the team just sent four solid one’s over and their depleted farm system is now essentially empty. Street will help them in the short-term, and this deal might have even been a necessary evil just considering the make-up of their roster, but the Padres definitely get the W in this one. Do you think the Angels over-payed for Street?

This Week’s MVP: Chris Johnson (.500/.533/.786, 2 HR, 6 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: David Price (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 14 K) 


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All-Star Teams Are Announced, Another Ace Goes Down & More!

Monday, July 14th, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but the MLB All-Star break is now upon us. So much has happened in the first half of the season, and this week was no different. Let’s get to it!

All-Star Teams Finally Set

After being released towards the beginning of last week, the All-Star rosters are finally set following the All-Star Final Vote and the adjustment of the teams due to injuries and starting pitchers having thrown to close to Tuesday’s game.

Fans in Chicago had to be elated at the results of the Final Vote, as it was a clean sweep for the Windy City with Chris Sale and Anthony Rizzo both earning a spot on the respective teams. Rizzo, especially, has a reason to be proud, as he was the leading vote getter among all of the players eligible.

Much like every year, there were a few players who have a right to be upset about the results of the voting. Los Angeles Angels starter Garrett Richards has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball this year but didn’t get the nod, and Miami Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee didn’t make the cut even though he leads all third basemen in hits, and leads National League third basemen in RBI’s.

It’s impossible to create a team like this without leaving out some worthy players, however, so it’s tough to get too upset. With as much talent as there is in baseball, this would be a difficult game to bet on, but if I had to guess I’d say that the National League will wind up taking this one home. Who do you think was the biggest ASG snub? And what are your predictions for the game?

Home Run Derby Contestants Named

One of the best parts of baseball’s All-Star weekend is undoubtedly the Home Run Derby. This year should be no different in terms of excitement, especially considering the heavy hitters that are on both squads.

For the American League, Jose Bautista and reigning champion Yoenis Cespedes should be considered the favorites, but Brian Dozier, Adam Jones and Josh Donaldson certainly won’t be pushovers. With the new bracket-style format, I expect that Cespedes will again make his way to the finals.

Over on the National League side of things, youngsters Giancarlo Stanton and Yasiel Puig headline a team that’s full of pop. They also have a former champion on their side in Justin Morneau, but Todd Frazier and Troy Tulowitzki can’t be forgotten. Ultimately, I think Stanton’s raw power will allow him to advance to take on Cespedes.

If the final ends up being Stanton and Cespedes like I predict, we’re going to be in for quite a show. Stanton has become known for the light tower power that he exhibits, and Cespedes put himself on the scene last year with his performance. When it comes down to it, though, I’m taking Stanton to win it all. Who’s your pick in this year’s Derby? How do you feel about the new bracket format?

Tanaka To Miss Time With Elbow Issues

The dreaded injury bug has taken claim to yet another promising young arm, this time being New York Yankees star Masahiro Tanaka. After leaving against Cleveland this week, the initial reports aren’t that promising, though they could definitely be worse.

It was reported that Tanaka has a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. This is the last thing you want to hear about a pitcher, as it’s tears in this ligament that often result in the infamous Tommy John surgery, which can keep players out for over a year.

Fortunately for the Yankees and Tanaka, it doesn’t appear to warrant surgery at this point. They’re going to go with a six-week plan of rest, rehab and platelet-rich-plasma therapy, which is known to drastically improve recovery times in injuries involving tendons.

It’s far too early to make any judgment regarding the injury, but this could doom the Yankees. Their starting pitching took a hit with the loss of CC Sabathia last week, and Tanaka has been infinitely more important to the team thus far. You have to wonder if the years of strain placed on his arm in Japan had anything to do with this injury. If this injury winds up being season-ending, do you think it could affect the contracts of others making the jump from international leagues to the MLB?

This Week’s MVP: Andrew McCutchen (.357/.406/.929, 4 HR, 8 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0, 1.15 ERA, 18 K)

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Cy Young Winner’s Career Possibly Over, Big Trades & More!

Monday, July 7th, 2014

We’re right around the corner from the MLB All-Star game, but let’s not think too far ahead. This week was full of big news and even included a blockbuster trade. Let’s get caught up!

Sabathia’s Season, Possibly Career, Over 

Throughout his entire career, people have criticized New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia for his weight, and they’ve said time and time again that his excess baggage would eventually cause his career to end sooner than it should. This offseason, he took that criticism to heart and changed things.

Coming into this year, Sabathia had trimmed down to 275, which is quite a bit less than the 300+ he was carrying just a year or two before. Unfortunately for CC, this reduced strain on his knees wasn’t enough to prevent the possible microfracture surgery that he could be facing.

Manager Joe Girardi has already said that he doesn’t expect him back this season, but this surgery could potentially end his career. It’s more typical in the NBA, with players such as Greg Oden and Amar’e Stoudemire having gone through the same procedure, and the results for those players haven’t really been all that promising.

If we’ve now seen the last of Sabathia, we can safely say that he can look back and be proud of the career he’s had. With 208 wins he’s currently one of the active leaders, and someone who was once seen as having an outside shot at 300 wins. Given my disdain for the Yankees, I can’t say I have too many fond memories of him in pinstripes, but I can say it was a joy to watch him during his run with Milwaukee where he carried the Brewers to the playoffs. Was that stretch the most dominant half season of the last decade?

Red Sox, Orioles Exchange Insults

In a bit more AL East news, the Baltimore Orioles are once again at the heart of some non-baseball related drama. First, it was Manny Machado throwing his bat at the Oakland Athletics, and now it’s their manager, Buck Showalter, trading insults with Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey.

Admittedly, this one is at the fault of Lackey. After being roughed up by the Orioles (his third consecutive poor start) Lackey made an underhanded comment about Nelson Cruz, who went 5-for-5 in the game and 3-for-3 off of him. “I’ve got nothing to say about him. There are some things I’d like to say about him, but I’m not going to. You guys forget pretty conveniently about stuff.”

This, of course, was a reference to Cruz’s suspension last season for PED use. Showalter didn’t take long for to respond to this, saying that, “everybody needs to make sure that their own backyard is clean.”

While this has provided for some headlines across the sporting world, it all could have been avoided if Lackey would have just kept his mouth shut. There was really no reason for him to make the comments that he did, other than just being bitter about getting rocked by him. He’s had a great year, but he needs to focus on baseball rather than getting into a war of words. Who do you think is in the right in this situation?

The Shark Is Finally On The Move

Watch out, Bay Area, a shark is coming to the area.

…I can’t believe I just wrote that. Terrible headlines aside, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel heading to Oakland may be the biggest blockbuster that we’ll see this season, and it occurred after months and months of speculation.

Some Cubs fans may not be happy with the return of Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily, but as Joe Aiello noted the other day, you just can’t be sure of what other teams were offering for them separately without having been involved in the trade discussions personally.

In my mind, both teams won here, but this largely favors the Cubs in the long run. Russell is one of the top prospects in all of baseball and adds to an already stacked farm for the team, and that’s not even mentioning that McKinney was the Athletics number 2 prospect.

Sure, it may be tough to see current talent moved for future prospects, but I don’t think the Cubs were going to get a better return than this. Samardzija is going to want big money on the open market and he probably wasn’t going to return to Chicago, and Hammel was just a one-year rental that they were going to flip regardless. After having a few days to think about it, what are your thoughts on the trade?

This Week’s MVP: Steve Pearce (.379/.406/.793, 3 HR, 10 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 21 K)

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Lincecum Blanks Padres Again, $9 Billion Lawsuit Coming & More!

Monday, June 30th, 2014

After a couple of the weeks out of this month featured some big names passing on, we get to open up this week’s article with some great news regarding a retired pitching legend.

Schilling Receives Good News

Let the 5-year clock for Curt Schilling begin, as he announced on Twitter this week that he is now in remission from the cancer that he was diagnosed with earlier this year.

He has not indicated what form of cancer that he was diagnosed with, but the fact that he has made this step is huge news for him, his family and the world of baseball. This has been another obstacle that has been thrown Schilling’s way since his retirement from baseball, but he’s been able to overcome each and every one of them.

First, it was a heart attack that he suffered in 2011 while his wife Shonda (also a cancer survivor) was running the New York City Marathon. Then, it was a failed investment in a video game studio that cost him a reported $50 million.

If there’s one thing that can be said about Curt Schilling that applies to both his on-field and off-field career, it’s that he’s a fighter. From the “Bloody Sock Game” to beating cancer, Schilling is one tough human being. What’s your favorite Schilling highlight from his career?

Lincecum Displays Dominant Ways

It’s been a rough couple of seasons for Tim Lincecum, who was once referred to among the best arms in all of baseball. He’s fallen off the table quite a bit due to a drop in velocity, but every once in awhile he reminds us of the pitcher that he once was.

Such was the case for him against the San Diego Padres last week, as he no-hit them for the second time in less than a year. While this performance didn’t quite have the flash of his 13-strikeout performance in the first one, he accomplished it in much fewer pitches.

It took Lincecum just 113 to complete this one, as opposed to an astounding 148 in the first. Some may try to discredit this feat just because they both occurred against the weak-hitting Padres, but a no-hitter is impressive no matter which way you cut it.

It’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever see sustained dominance from Lincecum ever again, but it’s clear that he can be lights out every once in awhile. With his impending free agency, would you offer him a contract if you were running a team? If so, what type of contract would you offer him?

Cleveland Indians Face Large Lawsuit

With all of the legal action that has been surrounding the NFL’s Washington Redskins, it was only a matter of time before this drama trickled its way into Major League Baseball.

Unsurprisingly, the first target has been the Cleveland Indians and their mascot, Chief Wahoo. While you won’t find many that will say their mascot is inoffensive, the $9 billion lawsuit that is going to be heaved their way is a bit excessive, to say the least.

In recent years, the Indians have been proactive in phasing that part of their identity out and have moved almost primarily to the Block-C logo is present on their hats. They’ve done this somewhat quietly, however, so it’s almost gone unnoticed by the general public.

I can definitely understand being offended by the Chief Wahoo logo, but trying to sue the team for $9 billion is absolutely egregious in my mind. I know that that figure isn’t even realistic to them (it’s just there to draw attention to the issue), but I feel like there’s plenty of other ways to go about this. What are your thoughts on the mascot/name changing issue?

This Week’s MVP: Ian Kinsler (.519/567/.852, 2 HR, 8 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Tim Lincecum (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 K, No-Hitter)

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Baseball Loses Another Legend, Kershaw Makes History & More!

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

For the second week this month, we have some terrible news to report. Fortunately, it wasn’t all bad, but this loss was a big one to take.

Gwynn Gone Too Soon 

After losing Don Zimmer a couple of weeks ago, baseball was rocked with yet another tragedy as 54-year old San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn passed away after a long bout with mouth cancer.

Over the course of his 20-year career (all for the Padres), he hit below .300 just once, and it was his rookie year where he hit a still impressive .289. That 19-year streak of hitting over .300 is one of the best in history, topped only by names like Ty Cobb.

His high level of baseball ability was matched only by his kindness and work off of the field. He was generally known as one of, if not the nicest man in baseball and he always did what he could to give back to the game. With Gwynn gone, baseball has truly lost one of its biggest legends.

The troubling part about his passing is that it seems as if it was relatively preventable, as chewing tobacco caused the mouth cancer he had. With this being known, are there any further steps that the MLB could take to prevent the use of chew?

Kershaw Throws First No-Hitter

If it weren’t already clear, Clayton Kershaw took the hill Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies and yet again established himself as the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. While he is normally dominant, he took it to a new level in this game.

Throwing 107 pitches (79 strikes), Kershaw struck out 15 of the 28 batters that he faced. The lone base runner for the Rockies was Chris Dickerson in the 7th inning, who reached on a throwing error by Hanley Ramirez. With that, Kershaw threw the first no-hitter of his already storied career.

At 26 years old, Kershaw should have quite a future ahead of him. He’s as dominant as ever this season, and he should be on his way towards another Cy Young Award, or at least be in contention for it. His FIP of 1.59 shows that things might even improve for him this year, too, if that’s even possible.

Kershaw highlights this new era of the pitcher and it’s truly a joy to watch him take the mound (as long as he’s not pitching against your team). Is there any pitcher in the league that you would rather have than Kershaw? If so, who and why?

Samardzija Talks Heat Up

After strong performances in each of the last three seasons, Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija has really taken a step forward this year. While that can’t be seen in the win column, it’s safe to say that Theo Epstein & Co. have taken notice. In fact, they reportedly already threw a contract his way.

It was recently reported that Samardzija turned down a 5-year, $85 million contract from the Cubs and given the money that is hurled at pitchers every offseason on the open market that was probably the correct decision for him.

While he can’t yet be considered one of the elite pitchers in the game, he will certainly have quite a bit of value if the Cubs decide to trade him. His impressive work this year will certainly net the Cubs at least a top prospect, and probably more.

He will still be under team control until the 2016 offseason, so the team that eventually trades for him won’t have to worry about him bolting right away (which will also increase his trade value). As Cubs fans, how tired are you of hearing the constant rumors about Samardzija, and what do you hope the team does with him?

This Week’s MVP: J.D. Martinez (.444/.429/.963, 4 HR, 10 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 15 K, No-Hitter)


by Joe Aiello

Over the last three drafts, we’ve seen the Cubs draft hitting, despite being in need of pitching. Of those last three drafts, all three of the players selected, have become part of the core five guys in the system that our offense is waiting for. Usually a college bat is the safest pick you can make, and the Cubs have done that two out of the last three drafts, but let’s take a quick look at a college hitter selected just a little further back, whose stock has sunk and sunk fast.

Brett Jackson was the 1st round selection by the Cubs in the 2009 draft, selected 31st overall because the Cubs were actually good the year before. For the next several years not only did Jackson find himself on top whatever lists, he often found himself near the top of most of them. He even got a cup of coffee in the Majors in 2012. Since then, Jackson has done little to show he still even belongs in the system, let alone in the Majors.

So far this season, his third at AAA, Jackson is hitting .197 / .279 / .341. At what point do you stop giving him regular at bats and look elsewhere? I think the time is coming soon.

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Machado Throws A Fit, Rollins Sets A Record & More!

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Here we are again, and back with even more action-packed baseball news. We saw some benches-clearing brawls and some records being broken, so let’s get to it!

Machado Has Some Growing Up To Do

After making a splash in his debut season at 19 years old a couple of years ago, things seemed to be heading in the right direction for Manny Machado. He made the All-Star team at just 20 years old last year and even received a few MVP votes. Though he tore a ligament in his knee at the end of last year, he was still expected to continue his ascent towards becoming a top player in the league.

Unfortunately, things haven’t gone as well as he or the Orioles would have liked. He’s played in just 40 games this season, and when he’s had the opportunity to get in, he hasn’t looked like himself. He currently sits at 214th among position players as far as WAR, with a dismal 0.4.

Things continued to head downhill this week for him, as he made national headlines for his actions against the Oakland Athletics. First, he grossly overreacted to a tag placed on him by A’s third basemen Josh Donaldson (which led to Donaldson being beaned) and then the following game he completely went overboard.

After taking catcher Derek Norris out with two hits to the head from his backswing, Machado threw his bat at Donaldson. He couldn’t have made his intentions more blatant, and it was absolutely childish. He clearly had no respect for the safety of the people around him, and for that he was hit with a 5-game suspension. He clearly doesn’t understand the professionalism aspect of the game, which is unfortunate considering the amount of talent he has. As of this writing, where does Machado rank amongst the most disliked players in baseball?

Rollins Heads To The Record Books 

Though he may be nearing the end of his career, Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins added yet another feather to his cap this week. In the 5th inning of the Phillies game against the Cubs, J-Roll became the all-time hits leader in the team’s illustrious history.

With this record, he passed one of the greatest third basemen of all-time in Mike Schmidt, and he did so in just 21 fewer at bats. This only adds to Rollins’ historic career in Philly, as his name is scattered all across the team’s record books.

He currently ranks in the top 10 in essentially every major category, ranging from home runs to stolen bases. This will be the case when you’ve put together as consistent of a career as he has, and playing 15 years for the same ball club certainly can’t hurt either.

While it’s been rumored that Rollins may be heading out of Philadelphia this season as the Phillies struggle to win games, it’s safe to say he’ll always have a place in the team’s history. If Rollins ends up getting traded, where do you think would be a good fit?

Pair Of Players Make Season Debuts

We’re already over a third of the way into the season (shocking, I know) and yet some players had yet to make their season debuts. No, these weren’t highly anticipated rookies, but rather established veterans who had been forced to sit out for one reason or another.

First was in Milwaukee, as Cincinnati Reds ace Mat Latos finally made his first appearance after missing the first few months of the season due to offseason knee surgery, as well as a strain in his elbow. He pitched incredibly well, holding the potent Brewers offense to just two hits over 6 innings, and didn’t surrender any runs.

The lesser of the two anticipated debuts was in Seattle, where the Mariners got back slugging designated hitter Jesus Montero from a 50-game PED suspension. While he certainly hasn’t lived up to expectations after coming over from New York (in a trade that somehow neither team won), his power should be able to find himself a place on a Mariners team that is just 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot.

While Latos may be the better player, Montero’s return will probably pay more immediate benefits, just because of the sole fact that he’ll be in the lineup every day. Though both sides have already disappointed, whom would you anoint as the winner of the Yankees/Mariners Pineda for Montero deal to this point?

This Week’s MVP: Andrew McCutchen (.483/.545/1.069, 4 HR, 13 RBI)
This Week’s Cy Young: Jordan Zimmerman (1-0, 0.53 ERA, 17 K)

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Baseball Loses A Legend, Cubs Shock The World & More!

Monday, June 9th, 2014

It was a good week to be a fan of Cubs baseball to say the least. Unfortunately, not all the news this week was positive.

Baseball Mourns The Loss of Don Zimmer

We’ll begin this week’s article by getting some of the bad news out of the way first. Don Zimmer, known most for his time with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Chicago Cubs passed away this week at the age of 83, and with that we lost one of the best men in baseball.

A servant of the game for seven decades, Zimmer was one of the most well respected guys in the entire league. To many, he was more than just a teammate or a coach; he was a close personal friend and basically a family member, as noted by Joe Torre early this week.

With a career that spanned from winning a World Series with Jackie Robinson to advising a Tampa Bay Rays team that also went to the big dance, it’s safe to say that Zimmer experienced just about as much baseball as anyone ever has.

The loss of Zimmer is one that will impact many lives in and out of the game of baseball, and it’s unfortunate to see a man of his caliber go. What was your favorite memory of Don Zimmer?

Santana Done For The Season, Possibly Forever

I decided to try to get all of the bad news out of the way first; I promise this is the last sad story! After signing with the Baltimore Orioles this offseason in an attempt to come back from a variety of injuries, Johan Santana has suffered a huge setback, this time in the form of a torn Achilles tendon.

This injury happens to be one of the more devastating in sports, especially to an athlete of Santana’s age. He’ll be out at least until the end of this year and many are speculating that this will end up being a career-ending injury for one of the game’s most dominating pitchers of the 2000’s.

If this does happen to be the end for Santana, we’ll have to unfortunately look back and think about what could have been. He was lights out for the Twins and in his early years for the Mets, as evidenced by his multiple Cy Young awards. Injuries took their toll, however, and he hasn’t been at peak form since 2011.

While he didn’t have the longevity to be considered as a Hall of Fame candidate, we’ll be able to look at his career fondly in retrospect. If he had remained healthy, where would you rank Santana among the top pitchers in today’s game?

Cubs Are On A Roll

Since this topic has been covered at length on here, I won’t go too deeply into it other than saying that the Cubs had an extended winning streak for the first time in what feels like forever. Oh, and according to ESPN and FanGraphs, they currently have a better chance of making the playoffs than the defending World Series champion Red Sox.

Morales Finally Signs

What Kendrys Morales experienced this offseason may become more and more common with the new terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. After being unable to reach a deal with the Mariners this offseason, any team that signed Morales before the MLB Draft would have to forfeit their first round pick.

While he is a productive player, it’d be tough to reason giving up a first round pick for someone of his caliber. Because of that, he waited and waited until the draft, and found himself signed within a day of the first round ending. While that was no surprise, the team that signed him certainly was.

Currently sitting in last place in the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins didn’t seem to be much of a “win-now” type of team. With the signing of Morales, it appears that they are serious about making a run this year. He should add some pop in their lineup and he might actually help them contend for a Wild Card spot this season.

If all else fails, he’ll be able to be put on display for about a month, after which the Twins could turn around and deal him to pick up some prospects. Can Morales help the Twins make the playoffs this year?

MLB Draft Actually Draws Some Coverage

Speaking of the draft, after years of being dwarfed by the NBA and NFL drafts, it appears the MLB is actually making some headway into making itself a spectacle like the other two. Full coverage from the MLB Network and sites like Bleacher Report were definitely a step in the right direction in terms of getting noticed on a wider scale.

As for the draft itself, there were some surprises early on, with the Miami Marlins selecting hard-throwing high school right-hander Tyler Kolek rather than highly touted lefty Carlos Rodon. Along with that, the Cubs turned a few heads by selecting catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber with the fourth pick, as he was expected to wind up in the middle of the first.

Much like in every draft, there were quite a few legacy picks, and a few big names taken late. Cal Ripken, Mariano Rivera and Magglio Ordonez all saw their sons go off the board in the middle-late rounds, and new Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel had his name called, too, despite not having played since his junior year of high school.

While some say picks like Manziel marginalize the importance of the draft, I really don’t see the problem with it. With as many rounds as there are, I think it was a smart move publicity-wise, and one that will probably pay off more than an actual selection. What are your thoughts on picks like these, and which team do you think had the best draft?

This Week’s MVP: Adam Jones (.444/.429/.815, 3 HR, 9 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Tanner Roark (1-0, 0.60 ERA, 15 K)

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Tanaka The Great, Dr. James Andrews Speaks Up & More!

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but we’re already into June. This past week, we saw the first no-hitter of this young season and a little bit of roughhousing in Boston.

Even with those two things mentioned, there was much more that went on this week. Let’s get to it!

Tanaka Continues To Shine

I’ll admit it; I was someone who doubted Masahiro Tanaka’s ability to make the transition from Japan to the MLB. Clearly I, and everyone else who made that assumption has been proven incorrect thus far by the Japanese sensation, as he’s dazzled everyone in his first couple of months in the league.

Up to this point, he’s currently sitting second in the majors in wins and fourth in ERA, with 8 and 2.06 in each category, respectively. Even for his biggest fans, these incredible results have to come as a bit of a surprise as most players have a little bit of a transition period before they start to take off.

That has not been the case for Tanaka, obviously, and that’s due to his impressive ability to keep the ball in the strike zone and make hitters miss. In K/BB, he’s in good company right now with names like David Price, Cliff Lee and Zack Grienke surrounding him in the standings and that’s something that should prove to stay constant if his track record in Japan holds up.

While I still think that the amount of pitches that he threw in Japan over the last seven years (as well as more scouting reports that will be available as the season wears on) will catch up to him, it’s quite impressive to see what he’s done to this point. How did you feel about Tanaka coming into the year, and do you think he’ll be another fluke like Dice-K?

AL East Sluggers Find Power Stroke

In another instance where I’m going to have to admit that I’m wrong, Nelson Cruz has put together quite an unbelievable season thus far. Along with him, Edwin Encarnacion has been one of the hottest hitters in the game this entire month and he picked things up this last week especially.

Starting with Cruz, an Orioles-signee this past offseason, he has completely broken the mold of the player he has been to this point in his career. I have previously written about why teams should avoid signing him (poor average, poor defense, strikes out too often, etc.) but he’s completely proven me wrong. He’s hitting .315 currently with a league-leading 20 home runs and the surprising part is that he doesn’t really show too many indicators of regression.

Next is Encarnacion, who emerged as one of the best power hitters in the game with his 2012 breakout season. He started off slow in April, but he’s came out swinging in May, to the tune of 16 home runs in the month. That number was tied for the highest in American League history, and it was only 2 away from the league record.

In what has become known as a bit of a pitcher’s era in baseball, it’s refreshing to see guys like Cruz and Encarnacion still make a living off of hitting the deep ball. Who is your favorite power hitter in the game today, and why?

Dr. James Andrews Speaks Out About Tommy John Surgery

In a topic that has been covered by every baseball website known to man, the rise in Tommy John surgeries has become quite a problem for pitchers throughout the game of baseball. This has especially been made an issue due to the quality of pitchers that have recently gone down (Jose Fernandez, Matt Moore, etc.).

Dr. James Andrews, the man who performs most of these surgeries (as well as many others throughout the four major American sports) has made some news over the past week regarding his thoughts on the issue, as well as suggesting a few ways that it could be avoided in the future.

A few of the key notes of a position statement that he released were that (in disagreement with many youth coaches over the years) throwing curveballs at an early age doesn’t necessarily hurt the arm. The real factors that need to be focused on, according to Andrews, are that winter ball should be discouraged, PED’s should be avoided, as should throwing at maximum effort at all times.

Along with this position statement, Dr. Andrews is also releasing an iOS app that will help prevent pitching injuries. There will be tips for warm-up routines and workouts, as well as a pitch counter that will give feedback on when it would be safe for the pitcher to throw again. This is a huge step in preventing future Tommy John surgeries and it’s great that such a highly esteemed name such as Andrews is at the forefront. If you were a pitcher (or parent, or coach) would you download this new app?

This Week’s MVP: Khris Davis (.522/.577/1.130, 3 HR, 6 RBI)

This Week’s CY Young: Josh Beckett (1-0, 1.29 ERA, 11 K, No-Hitter)

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World Champs Struggling, Big Names Come Back & More!

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Another week, another load of baseball news to wrap up. This week was no different, and there were certainly some out-of-the-ordinary stories that deserved some attention.

Red Sox Sink Deeply Into Slump

To say that things haven’t went how the Red Sox expected this year would be a drastic understatement. They currently sit in last place in the AL East (one of the weaker divisions in baseball this year) and are on a horrific losing streak.

They’ve lost 9 games in a row, including a heart breaker against the Rays on Saturday in which they led at one point 5-0. They went on to lose that game in 15 innings, and that game serves as a good example of how their season has went as a whole.

Injuries have played a role in this, with Xander Boegarts and Shane Victorino both missing extended time this season. Overall, though, the team has just been completely incapable to string hits together.

The team didn’t lose it’s 28th game until June 14th last season, and they’re digging a hole that will be incredible difficult to get out of. Signing Stephen Drew was a step in the right direction in my mind, but more than a few players are going to have to get hot for them to have a chance this year. Do you think the Red Sox will end up making the playoffs?

Cubs Defeat Tanaka


Two Aces Return To Form

Unfortunately to start off this season, we had two of the best left-handed pitchers in the game put on the shelf after just a few starts. Both are obvious Cy Young contenders, and they each showed that as they made their way back from injury.

First, Clayton Kershaw returned to his award-winning form after getting roughed up last week. Against the Phillies, Kershaw threw 6 innings of 2-hit baseball, and struck out 9 batters on his way to his third win of the season.

Over in Chicago, Chris Sale came back with a bang after suffering a flexor muscle strain back in the middle of April. In 6 innings against the AL East-leading Yankees, Sale racked up 10 strikeouts and surrendered just 1 hit for his 4th win of the year.

It’s truly enjoyable to watch both of these guys pitch, and the fact that they’re only 25 (Sale) and 26 (Kershaw) makes it even better. What are the odds that each of these two win the Cy Young in their respective leagues this year?

Olivo Takes Notes From Tyson

Miguel Olivo, a career major leaguer, has found himself toiling in the minors over the past couple of seasons. Understandably, this shot to the ego could be a bit frustrating, but his actions towards a teammate were completely unexpected.

Olivo, who was playing in AAA for the Albuquerque Isotopes (Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate), reportedly got into an altercation with infielder Alex Guerrero, who the team signed for $28 million this past offseason.

While clubhouse fights aren’t all that uncommon, the fighting style of Olivo was certainly out the ordinary. In a page taken straight out of the Tyson vs. Holyfield playbook, Olivo bit a piece of Guerrero’s ear off.

Of course, the Dodgers released him. At 35-years old, this might be it for the veteran backstop. While he had a pretty solid career that spanned a few organizations, he’ll undoubtedly be remembered for this incident. Is this the weirdest story from baseball this year?

Fielder Done For The Year

The baseball world was stunned this offseason when the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers completed a trade that sent Prince Fielder to Texas straight up for second baseman Ian Kinsler. So far, the early returns heavily favor the Tigers.

While Kinsler has become a steady bat at the top of the lineup for the World Series favorite Tigers, Fielder has gotten off to a slow start, hitting just 3 home runs and batting a lowly .247.

If the reports coming out lately are true, this season will be getting even worse for Prince. It is being reported that he will need season-ending neck surgery to correct a herniated disk in his neck, which is a big blow for both him and the team.

The Rangers have struggled to keep pace in the competitive AL West, and the loss of Fielder might cripple their chances of making the playoffs. After being expected to be one of the biggest bounce-back players of 2014, it’s safe to say that things haven’t gone Fielder’s way. Is there any way that he can return to the level of play that he was at in Milwaukee?

This Week’s MVP: Michael Brantley (.419/.500/.742, 2 HR, 7 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: C.J. Wilson (2-0, 0.59 ERA, 10 K)

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