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Under The Radar Free Agent Position Players

Monday, December 15th, 2014

We’re in the middle of December, which means we’ve already passed the Winter Meetings. There was quite a bit of movement going on (Jon Lester signing with the Cubs, Jeff Samardzija heading to the White Sox, Yoenis Cespedes being shipped to Detroit) which will only get the ball rolling for the rest of the offseason. While there are still some big names out there, like Max Scherzer and James Shields, there are a few names that aren’t quite getting the press that they deserve. These three players will be able to contribute to a team next year and they won’t cost you and arm and a leg.

Mike Morse (1B/OF)

Last year, Morse came into the offseason off of one of the worst years of his career, hitting just .215 over the course of the year and compiling 13 home runs in only 88 games played. It wasn’t the contract year that he was looking for, but things wound up paying off.


He signed with the San Francisco Giants and it ended up being a great deal for both sides. For Morse, he re-established his value by posting a .279/.336/.475 slash line with 16 homers in 131 games and for the Giants, they received a power threat who helped them take home their 5th World Series title in 5 years.

While Morse won’t be mistaken for one of the game’s top sluggers, he does really well for himself at the plate. He is not an all-or-nothing power hitter like many role players are, as he’s able to get on base pretty consistently. He’s played quite a few positions in his career, but he realistically should try to find a home in the American League where he can DH. He’s an impressive hitter, but he’s one of the worst defensive players in all of baseball.

Alex Rios (OF)

After signing a big contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008, Rios saw his career take a huge step downward, much like his former Jays teammate Vernon Wells. This led to the team trading him to Chicago, where after a few up-and-down years (culminated by a 2012 season that saw him receive MVP votes) he found his way to Texas to play for the Rangers.

He once again proved that he had turned his career around and helped the Rangers in their playoff push (they ultimately missed the playoffs in Game 163). Unfortunately, things just weren’t the same last year as they were the year prior, both for the team and for Rios. The team fell into the cellar of the American League West and Rios seemed to lose all of the power that was once in his bat.

Even without any power, however, Rios could still play an important role on a contending team. He killed left-handed pitching last year (with a .325/.353/.545) and dealt with a few nagging injuries, so the lack of power could have been a fluke. Another added bonus is that he has never played in the playoffs, so he may be willing to take a pay cut for the right team.

Stephen Drew (SS/2B/3B)

Stop laughing; I’m serious.

After sitting out half of last season due to a first round pick being attached to him, it was clear that Drew was pretty rusty when he signed with the Boston Red Sox in late May. He never really got it going at the plate, to say the least, even after being traded to a more favorable hitters park in Yankee Stadium.

While he didn’t get his bat up to par, his glove kept him on the field. He’s known around the league as one of the better defensive shortstops in all of baseball, but his versatility is also a plus. He’s capable of playing second and third in addition to shortstop, which adds to his value.

Coming off of the season that he had last year he won’t be looking to cash in for a big payday. His value that he prevents on defense is enough reason to sign him, but he could be a bounce back candidate with the bat. Even if he hits just .230 or .240 he immediately becomes a consistent above-average middle infielder, so I’d take my chances on a one-year deal with him.

Are there any other players that aren’t receiving the attention that they should be? If so, why should they be getting more press?

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Breaking Down The Free Agent Pitching Market

Monday, December 8th, 2014

After a bit of a layoff, I’m back at it. Given that the season has come to a close, my weekly story is going to have to switch up a little bit. With free agency in full swing and the Winter Meetings underway, this seems like the perfect time to take a look at what the market has to offer over the next few months.

The Cream of The Crop

Max Scherzer

Living in Michigan, I’ve had the opportunity of watching essentially every Scherzer for the Tigers over the past 5 seasons. He’s had some pretty good teammates in the rotation with him (Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister, etc.) but over the past three years it’s safe to say that he’s really taken his game to a different level.

Coming to Detroit, Scherzer had a bit of a control problem and really wasn’t able to command his pitches all that well. He’s figured that out now, which makes him one of the more lethal pitchers in all of baseball.

He’s not mentioned with the Clayton Kershaw’s and Felix Hernandez’s of the league, but he’s still more than capable of anchoring a rotation. At 30 years old you have to wonder how well his repertoire is going to age (given that he works off of his mid-90’s fastball), but for the next few years, at least, he should be a solid investment.

Jon Lester

Though it’s debatable as to who is the best starter on the market this offseason between Lester and Scherzer, it has become clear that Lester is going to be the first one to sign. With Scott Boras representing Scherzer, he’s going to wait to see how the market plays out before accepting anything, which makes Lester’s signing all the more important.

Whichever team signs Lester is going to acquiring one of the best left-handers in baseball and much like Scherzer, a bonafide ace. He was at the top of the Boston Red Sox rotation for the past 6-½ years (with two World Series titles under his belt) and they reluctantly shipped him off to the Oakland Athletics, where he shouldered the load in their playoff push.

He’s 31 years old, but given the fact that he doesn’t rely on overpowering hitters and has had no injury problems throughout his career, Lester should be as safe a bet as any on the free agent market this offseason.

James Shields

He doesn’t belong in the same conversation as Scherzer and Lester, but he was the leader of the Kansas City staff that wound up leading the team to an improbable World Series appearance.

His regular season was impressive (though he somewhat drastically outperformed his FIP), but his numbers took a dip when October rolled around. “Big Game James” didn’t live up to his nickname this year, which may end up hurting him in negotiations; even it is an incredibly small sample size.

He will be 33 once the 2015 season begins, which will also work against him. I don’t see him getting $100+ like the two aforementioned starters will, but I will say that he’s the most likely to leave the team he played for in 2014.

Second Tier

Ervin Santana

After waiting out the market last year and going without a contract until March, you have to believe that Santana will be a bit more eager to get a deal done within the next month or two. With the way that he pitched last year, he shouldn’t have any problems finding a suitor.

He will soon be 32, but it’s clear that he has quite a few more innings left in him. He pitched far better than his 3.95 ERA from last year indicates and although he has had quite an inconsistent career, he could easily plug into a #2 or #3 spot in most team’s rotations.

Francisco Liriano

It’s been quite a whirlwind of a career for Liriano, who many saw as the future of the Minnesota Twins rotation while he was a youngster behind Johan Santana. Following a few surgeries to his elbow, Liriano’s stock massively fell off the table as he failed to get back on track.

Now 31, Liriano has reinvented himself over the past few seasons in Pittsburgh and is looking to cash in. His track record and injury history might hurt him, but what is working against him the most is the draft pick compensation that is tied to him. He’ll still get in the $40 million range, but I don’t know if I’d personally be comfortable with that.

Kenta Maeda (If posted)

It seems like every year there are a few international players that draw the eye of the scouts around the league and this year is no different. Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas has already signed a big deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda could be the next domino to fall.

He’ll be just 27 years old when next season rolls around and he’s been one of the best pitchers in Japan over the course of the last 3 seasons. He has a low to mid 90s fastball, a big 12-6 curveball, a decent slider and a major league-ready slider in his arsenal and although he won’t be in the Yu Darvish/Masahiro Tanaka level of starter, he could fit in the middle of a rotation.


Justin Masterson

Once a top prospect in the Red Sox organization, Masterson has had a tumultuous last few seasons. From a breakout All-Star campaign in 2013 to a disappointment of a 2014 season; it’s tough to tell what he’s going to bring to the table. At his best, Masterson will keep the ball in the park and eat innings, but at his worst he won’t find the strike zone and would be useless to a team.

Josh Johnson

It’s starting to feel like Johnson is going to be in this section every year, but I just can’t bring myself to give up on him, which seems to be the attitude of most general managers in the league. He was once one of the top pitchers in baseball, but injuries have derailed his promising career. It’s not going to take much, but if Johnson can get healthy after another Tommy John surgery, he can be very, very productive.

Brandon Beachy/Kris Medlen 

The Atlanta Braves turned some heads recently when they declined to bring back this pair of oft-injured starters, but it’s not hard to see their line of thinking. Beachy is coming off of a second Tommy John procedure and Medlen is rehabbing from one, as well. When healthy, either of these two can provide support at the back end of a rotation. I’d prefer Medlen to Beachy given their medical records, but either can be seen as a low-risk, medium-reward type of player.

How do you rank the top pitchers in this year’s free agent class? Are there any under-the-radar names that you have your eye on?

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Giants Win World Series, Maddon Kicks Off Offseason & More

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

We’ve reached the end of the line. It was yet another incredible season from start to finish with highlights scattered all throughout. The season ended this past week, but it didn’t take long for things to get going in the offseason. Let’s get to it.

Giants Win World Series…Again

For everyone who complains that baseball features the same World Series teams over and over again (normally mentioning the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox when they say it), they may have some added ammunition with the result of this year’s championship.

The San Francisco Giants completed their quest for their third World Series win in the last five years, with a 7-game victory over the underdog Kansas City Royals. Viewers didn’t exactly take to the series but for those who watched, they definitely got a boatload of entertainment.

After a decisive 10-0 victory at home in Game 6, the Royals were riding high coming into Game 7. It was unclear going into the game as to who would pitch for San Francisco, but Bruce Bochy eventually decided on veteran Tim Hudson, who didn’t even last two innings. Jeremy Affeldt quieted a rally then postseason hero Madison Bumgarner put their bats to sleep to clinch it.

Bumgarner’s performance has to be considered one for the record books and he showed the country that he deserves to be talked about amongst the top arms in the game. If the Giants history provides any pattern, you’d have to bet that they’ll somehow manage to miss the playoffs next season but as for now, they’re World Series champions once again. What were your thoughts on this series? Did you find it entertaining?

Maddon Hired By Cubs

Though the Chicago Cubs weren’t exactly looking for a manager heading into the offseason, with Rick Renteria doing an adequate job for the 2014 season, they were presented with an opportunity to make a move that they just couldn’t pass up. In this case, the Tampa Bay Rays loss was the Cubs’ gain.

With the hiring of former Rays manager Joe Maddon, the Cubs have to be seen as seriously taking a step forward in their rebuilding process. They’ve spent the last few years ridding the team of it’s bad contracts and strengthening the farm system and the hiring of Maddon should drastically help those young players once they get to the big leagues.

Maddon, long known as one of the best managers in the league, will finally be paired with a front office that doesn’t mind throwing around money when the circumstances call for it. With the Cubs rumored to make a run out of some of the big name free agents this year, this could be a quick turnaround.

While it was unfortunate that the Cubs had to let go of Renteria after only one year, it just wouldn’t have made sense for them to pass on a manager of Maddon’s caliber. With top-flight managers adding at least a handful of wins each year, the addition of Maddon should be a big one. How much closer do you think the Maddon hire pushes the Cubs towards contention?

Twins Choose Gardenhire’s Replacement

Along with the Maddon and the Rays separating, the Minnesota Twins decided to fire long-time manager Ron Gardenhire a couple of weeks ago. Much like the Cubs, the Twins didn’t waste much time in finding a new skipper.

In a move that may draw some ire from fans of Twin Cities baseball, the team is reportedly set to hire Hall of Famer Paul Molitor to be their new manager. Molitor has been a part of the coaching staff for the last year, which is something that upset many Minnesota fans.

While he has an extensive track record as a player, the fact that he has been within the organization that has struggled through four 90-plus-loss seasons in a row is a mark against him. Some new blood probably would have been preferred, but Molitor has the baseball acumen to be able to help facilitate this rebuild.

I personally think that someone like Dave Martinez, who extensively uses analytics and connects well with younger players, would have been a better choice, but Molitor should be a pretty safe option. With the talent that the twins have coming through system, Molitor should have them competing within the next couple of years. Was the hire of Paul Molitor a smart one for the Twins?

This Week’s MVP: Hunter Pence (.444/.500/.667, 1 HR, 5 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner (2-0, 1 SV, 0.43 ERA, 17 K)

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MLB Suffers Great Loss, Pivotal Game Of World Series Is Played & More!

Monday, October 27th, 2014

By this time next week, this year’s baseball season will be over. The World Series has been a phenomenal battle to this point, with each team doing their best to get a leg up on their opponent. As exciting as the series has been, though, this week will be clouded in tragedy.

Taveres Killed In Car Accident

While Madison Bumgarner was putting on another show during Game 5 of the World Series, Twitter exploded with a baseball-related bombshell that had nothing to do with the game.

Oscar Taveras, a 22-year old outfielder and top prospect for the St. Louis Cardinals, was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic. His passenger in the car, his 18-year old girlfriend Edilia Arvelo, was also killed in the crash.

There aren’t many words that you can say about a tragic event like this one, other than it’s a terrible loss both on and off of the field. Taveras was known as one of the most lighthearted players in the game and his teammates have remarked that he always had a smile on his face.

Baseball truly lost a large part of it’s future with the death of Taveras and it’s a shame that we’ll never get to see what he could have accomplished. After hitting a huge home run in the NLCS and being a genuinely nice person off of the field, Taveras left a big impact on a wide variety of people and will be sorely missed by many. RIP Oscar Taveras.

Bumgarner Rolls Through Royals Again

Despite the tragedy involving Taveras taking center stage, there was some very entertaining baseball that was played this week. The Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants went neck and neck through the first 4 games, which made Game 5 pivotal.

Luckily for the Giants, Madison Bumgarner was taking the mound for them. Simply put, he has been lights out this postseason and has put on a performance that will be remembered generations from now. He has cemented himself as one of the best postseason pitchers in baseball and Sunday’s game furthered that notion.

After hurling 7 innings (and allowing one earned run) in Game 1 to get the win, Bumgarner one-upped himself in Game 5. He threw a complete game shutout and fanned eight Royals along the way. With this start, Bumgarner’s ERA this postseason dropped to 1.13 over six starts.

While he may not have been nationally recognized as one of the best pitchers in the game, this postseason has certainly changed that. At just $3.7 million this year, Bumgarner’s current salary has to be seen as one of the best in baseball, if not the best. If you had to win one game in the playoffs, which pitcher (active or retired) would you make the call to?

Maddon Leaves Rays 

If you’ve ever read the book The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri, you’ll know that the Tampa Bay Rays have relied on a variety of Wall Street strategies to be able to compete with the larger market/payroll teams in their division and across the league. With Wall Street in mind, my advice would be to “Sell” on any Rays stock that you may own, especially with this most recent news.

With Andrew Friedman leaving for the Los Angeles Dodgers last week, the team was already wobbling, but the news of manager Joe Maddon leaving may just be the knockout blow. After weeks of negotiation the team and Maddon were unable to come to an agreement, which is going to leave a large void within the organization.

Maddon, generally considered one of the top 5 managers in all of baseball, has suddenly become the hottest name on the market. Some teams that may have seemingly been set with their manager might even take a look at him. For me, however, the one team that stands out is the Chicago Cubs.

They have the money behind them that Maddon never had with the Rays and they have a ton of young talent that will be coming up over the next couple of years. It seems like a perfect fit and we’ll see how it progress. As for the Rays, they may be in for some rough times without their front office leader, and now their manager. If the Cubs wind up hiring Joe Maddon, who do you think will finish with a better record next year; the Cubs or the Rays?

This Week’s MVP: Hunter Pence (.474/.545/.737, 1 HR, 5 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner (2-0, 0.56 ERA, 13 K)

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World Series Matchup Carved Out, Ishikawa A Hero & More!

Monday, October 20th, 2014

We’ve nearly reached the end of the line. With the League Championship Series’ behind us and the World Series set to commence, let’s take a look at what happened in the last week to get here.

Friedman Hired By Dodgers

Before we get to the games, there was some action in the management front last week. Aside from the Texas Rangers hiring a new manager (Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Jeff Bannister), the big news was a personnel move by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were eliminated in the NLDS.

Looking for the extra push that was needed to get their team in World Series contention, the Dodgers turned to Tampa Bay Rays General Manager/Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman to be their new President of Baseball Operations.

Friedman, who had been in his position with the Rays for the past 8 years, is one of the best minds in baseball, to say the least. He has consistently been able to keep the Rays in playoff contention year-in and year-out despite a shoestring budget. The situation that he’ll be walking into is almost a polar opposite.

The Dodgers, who sport the highest payroll of any of the four major professional sports teams, offer much more freedom financially, which could be scary given Friedman’s eye for talent. The team’s heavy spending on any and every big name player that hits the market may have come to an end, but I expect their decisions to be much more wise with Friedman at the helm. What do you think of this move? Who do you think the best General Manager in baseball is?

Ishikawa Catapults The Giants To The World Series

You could find an example of it every week, but the phrase “You can’t predict baseball,” has never rang more true for the finale of Game 5 of the NLCS between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals.

To give a bit of background, Travis Ishikawa, a natural first baseman, was playing left field for the Giants (a position he had never played prior to this year). Earlier in the game, he had misjudged a fly ball in the outfield, which allowed a run to score. Luckily for him, however, he would have a chance to rectify his mistake.

With Michael Wacha on the mound and two men on base, the 31-year old journeyman turned on a 2-0 pitch and drilled it over the wall in right field to send the Giants to their third World Series in 5 years. Fittingly, it was the first home run of his postseason career.

It’s great to see someone like Ishikawa, a player who has been up and down from the minor leagues throughout his career, make a play on a big stage like that. It’s certainly a moment that he, his family or Giants fans will never forget. What are some of your favorite examples of surprising players who make a big impact?

World Series Matchup Set

Coming into this season, the odds on the Giants facing off with the Kansas City Royals in the World Series were 38,000 to 1. Looking back, I wish I had thrown the entirety of my bank account at that one. The series is set, but the favorite is far from clear.

The Giants come into this one riding the high of the previously mentioned Ishikawa walk-off home run to close off the Cardinals. The pitching is certainly there, with Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson manning the rotation. The question is if they’ll have enough hitting, but that problem has not arisen at any point throughout these playoffs.

The Royals, on the other side of things, have all the momentum in the world coming into this matchup. They have not lost a game thus far throughout the postseason and they’ve also done that on the backs of some solid pitching performances, namely a lights out bullpen.

While this doesn’t feature any big name, high spending teams, this has the makings of one of the better World Series’ in recent memory. I wouldn’t bet on either of these teams given that it should be such a toss-up, but if I had to I think that I would lean towards the Royals in 6 or 7 games. Who’s your pick to win the World Series?

This Week’s MVP: Lorenzo Cain (.533/.588/.667, 1 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Wade Davis (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 K)

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Royals Keep Rolling, Big Name Retires and More!

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Wow! What a week of baseball. For those that say, “baseball is boring” I would instruct you to watch any game from this postseason and see if that argument holds up. We’re in the middle of LCS’s, but let’s take a look at the past week.

Royals Take Commanding Lead

After missing out on the postseason for nearly three consecutive decades, the Kansas City Royals are sure making up for lost time. They won their play-in game against the Oakland Athletics and followed that up with a sweep over the Los Angeles Angels (who were the top American League team this year).

There success has carried on into the ALCS, where they’ve taken a commanding 2-0 lead over the Baltimore Orioles. This feat is impressive on it’s own, but what makes it even more surprising is that both games were in Baltimore. They’ll head home on Monday where they hope to finish off the series and be on their way to the World Series.

This team has really come out of nowhere to be a playoff force and their reliance on small-ball is a throwback of sorts. They’re never going to outslug you (aside from Game 2 of the ALCS), but they have an endless amount of speed as a team, their starters are solid and their bullpen has been lights out throughout the entire season (Wade Davis and Greg Holland, especially).

The whole country (aside from Baltimore, San Francisco and St. Louis) appears to be rooting for these underdog Royals. With their scrappy style of play and prior playoff drought, I can definitely see why. I doubted their ability going into the playoffs, but it’s clear that this team has a very good chance of going all the way. Are you rooting for the Royals currently? If not, which team are you supporting (if any)?

Bumgarner Blanks Cards 

If the country wasn’t aware of who Madison Bumgarner was prior to the playoffs, they are now. The 25-year old has been under the radar for a majority of his career, as many haven’t noticed that he took the reigns as the ace of the Giants as opposed to Matt Cain, but this postseason has changed that.

He was shaky as a 23-year old in the 2012 postseason (other than a phenomenal start over the Detroit Tigers in the World Series), but he’s turned that around in a big way this year. After blanking the Pittsburgh Pirates over 9 innings in the one game play-in, Bumgarner stepped up against the red-hot Cardinals and silenced their bats over 7.2 innings, which sent his name into the record books.

With his playoff dominance, Bumgarner has set the record for most consecutive postseason shutout innings on the road with 24, which dates all the way back to the 2010 playoffs. He’s been impressive all season long, but it feels as if he’s pitching his best when it matters most.

We’ve seen many players collapse under the pressure of the postseason, but its clear Bumgarner is not one of those guys. Every time he steps on the mound you know you’re in for a performance and I can’t wait until the next time he’s on the rubber. Has he been the best pitcher from this postseason? Historically, what’s the best pitching performance over the course of a postseason that you can remember?

Beckett, Dempster Call It A Career

The retirements in baseball keep mounting. We knew at the start of the season that this was Derek Jeter and Paul Konerko’s last season, but we’ve had Adam Dunn surprisingly announce that he was finished and just this week we added another two names to that list.

First was Ryan Dempster, who decided to hang up the cleats after sitting out all of this season. He was owed $13.25 million from the Boston Red Sox, but he had nagging health issues that he didn’t want to, or couldn’t, play through. He spent his time as an analyst with MLB Network, so he won’t be far from the game.

Josh Beckett, another former Red Sox player, turned a few heads with his decision to call it quits, too. He had thrown a no-hitter this past season and was still capable of quality starts, but at 34 he had had enough. He retired with 138 wins over 14 years and has 2 championship rings to his name.

With the season a few weeks from coming to a close (I don’t want to think about it, either), we’ll probably see even more retirement announcements. For the sake of entertainment, let’s hope 43-year old Jason Giambi is not one of those names. Are there any other players you could see retiring at the end of this season?

This Week’s MVP: Lorenzo Cain (.750/.800/1.000, 1 RBI, 1 SB)

This Week’s Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 K)

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Playoffs Are Underway, Coaches Get Axed & More!

Monday, October 6th, 2014

We’re now into October, believe it or not. All of the regular season records can get thrown out the window because postseason baseball is its own animal (Clayton Kershaw can attest to that fact). Let’s see what the last week has brought us!

Playoffs Are Underway

If you would’ve told me at the start of the season that we could be looking at a Kansas City Royals/Baltimore Orioles showdown in the ALCS, I would’ve immediately called you crazy. Sure, the Royals were expected to be improved and the Orioles had playoff aspirations, but I don’t think anyone saw this coming.

In Los Angeles, the Royals took two from the Angels in a pair of thrilling games that both went beyond nine innings. That, coupled with their huge comeback victory over the Athletics, has shown many that they might be the hottest team in baseball at the moment.

Over in Baltimore, the O’s have used huge 8th innings (and some crucial mistakes by Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus) to take a commanding lead in the series. Just a little ways away in Washington, the Nationals have dropped their first two games to the Giants and are on the verge of elimination.

There is one series that did not go 2-0, which is the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals matchup. From the way that those games have been decided, I fully expect that this will go the full 5 games. As we’ve been able to see, I’m pretty terrible at predicting how each series is going to go. If things hold up in the series that are 2-0, I will be 0-3 with my picks; Yikes. How are your predictions going, and what have you thought about the playoffs thus far?

Giants/Nationals Go 18 Innings

As noted in the previous section, the San Francisco Giants managed to steal two games on the road in the NLDS against the Washington Nationals. In these two games, however, they’ve managed to play enough innings for three full games.

That’s because on Saturday night, the teams went punch-for-punch in a pitcher’s duel that lasted an astounding 18 innings, and qualified itself as the longest postseason game in MLB history (not a great game to watch for those who complain about the length of games).

It was a 1-1 game all throughout extra innings, until Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who had been 0-6 leading up to his final at-bat, took Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark out of the park for the team’s second run of the game. Hunter Strickland, who was brought in to close out the game in the bottom half of the 18th, certainly made things interesting (needing 29 pitches to end it) but he wound up getting the job done.

I had personally tuned into the game right around the 3rd inning, but eventually ended up leaving my house in the 7th. I came back (assuming the game was over) and started watching football, when, to my surprise, I saw on the bottom ticker that the game was in the 16th inning. I was incredibly pleased with my decision, as every pitch had you on the edge of your seat. Did you watch any of the game?

Teams Make Managerial Decisions

One of the best managers that this generation of baseball fans has seen is now on the open market, as the Minnesota Twins decided to let go of their longtime skipper Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire, who had been with the team for 13 years, is surely at the top of many team’s wish lists.

Along with Gardenhire, Kirk Gibson was let go in Arizona. He got off to a hot start his first year in the desert, leading the team to the playoffs as well as being named Manager of the Year, but things went south pretty quickly. He went 81-81 the next two years and finally bottom out this year at 64-98.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Houston Astros announced their new manager. A.J. Hinch, also a former manager of the Diamondbacks, was signed on to lead the slowly improving team. His stint in Arizona left a lot to be desired, but he should be able to follow the plan that management sets in place for him.

We’ve just begun October, which means there will certainly be more moves to be made in the coaching world. The Atlanta Braves announced that Fredi Gonzalez would be back, so whom do you think will be the next manager to get fired?

This Week’s MVP: A.J. Ellis (.625/.667/1.125, 1 HR, 2 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 1.04 ERA, 6 K)

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Playoffs Set, Jeter Finishes Career & More!

Monday, September 29th, 2014

It feels like just yesterday I was writing this article to recap the first week of the season, but somehow we’ve already reached the end of the regular season road. This week was one of the most action-packed, emotion-filled weeks of the year, so let’s get right to it!

Jeter Calls It A Career

If you’ve been under a rock for this whole year, you may have missed that Derek Jeter decided this season would be his last. After trotting around from stadium to stadium, receiving gifts and showings of respect, Jeter has finally reached the end of the line.

This storybook career had an ending that couldn’t have been better even if you scripted it. In Jeter’s last at bat in New York, the town that he has spent half of his life in, he hit a walk-off single to help the team down the division leading Baltimore Orioles.

If you weren’t a fan of Jeter this week may have been a tough one to handle. Clips of his highlights were being displayed endlessly, drawing responses from both sides of the argument. In my opinion the attention was warranted given his standing in the game and everything that he has done over the course of his career, but I can definitely see how it would get tiring.

With his retirement, the Yankees lose not only their captain, but also a top-50 all-time player and one of the ten best players in their team’s history. The impact that he has left on the Yankees is simply irreplaceable and he’ll be remembered for generations beyond this one. Where do you rank Jeter all-time amongst position players? Shortstops?

Playoff Matchups Are Set

Normally by the last week in the season all of the playoff matchups are set, but that obviously was not the case in this chaotic MLB year. Two of the division winners, the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals, didn’t lock up their playoff seed until the last possible day.

Starting in Detroit, the Tigers had stumbled through two games with the Minnesota Twins, which allowed the Kansas City Royals some life. The Tigers desperately needed to come out on top Sunday, and they did on the back of ace David Price (it still feels weird to type that).

Over in Arizona, the Cardinals needed a win against the Diamondbacks in order to kill the Pittsburgh Pirates chances of taking home the division crown. With a 1-0 win, the team captured the top spot in the division for the second year in a row.

With these games coming to their conclusions that they did, it now sets up the Los Angeles Angels to play the winner of the Royals/Oakland Athletics play-in game and the Orioles to play the Tigers. On the National League side, the Nationals will face off with the San Francisco Giants/Pirates winner and the Los Angeles Dodgers will take on the Cardinals.

After seeing how the pieces have fallen and looking at the matchups, I think it will be the Tigers taking on the Angels in the ALCS, with the Nationals taking on the Dodgers in the NLCS. From there, I’ll take the Tigers and Dodgers to square off in the World Series with the Tigers eventually coming out on top. Who are you taking to win the World Series?

Zimmermann No-Hits Marlins

The Washington Nationals, already riding high having clinched the top spot in the National League, have even more reason to be thinking that they can make a deep run in this year’s postseason.

In the team’s final game of the season, Jordan Zimmermann (who has been one of the team’s most consistent pitchers over the last two seasons), tossed his first career no-hitter against the Miami Marlins.

The 104-pitch, 10-strikeout affair was almost tainted with one out to go in the ninth inning. Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich came to the plate and lined a hit into the left-center field gap. It looked like a hit that typically drops for extra bases, but left fielder Steven Souza, a defensive replacement, made a gorgeous diving catch and preserved history.

This no-hitter was undoubtedly one of the biggest moments of Zimmermann’s now 5-year career and it goes to show the unbelievable depth that the Nationals have behind Stephen Strasburg in the starting rotation. Do the Nationals have the best rotation out of the playoff teams?

This Week’s MVP: Andrew McCutchen (.429/.567/.810, 2 HR, 8 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 10 K, No-Hitter)

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AL Central Battle, Ron Washington Update & More!

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Somehow we’ve almost reached the MLB Postseason. It’s been a long ride to get here and there’s still quite a bit of entertaining baseball yet to be played. Let’s get caught up with the biggest headlines from this past week.

Battle For AL Central Crown In Kansas City

Going into the season, the American League Central division wasn’t expected to be a closely contested race. The Detroit Tigers possessed one of the highest payrolls in the league, and they were expected to steamroll their competition. Unfortunately for them, games aren’t decided on paper.

The Tigers have struggled through large chunks of this season, due to both bullpen issues and occasional no-shows by their offense. With them faltering at times, the Kansas City Royals have capitalized. Kansas City, a team who hasn’t seen the playoffs in nearly 30 years, is now within striking distance.

This weekend, the two teams squared off in a three-game series that will have drastic implications for who ends up on top. The Tigers won the opening game on Friday and snuck by on Saturday due to a base-running error by catcher Salvador Perez. They picked up the win on Sunday, but that game that they lost in the overall series could come back to haunt them.

In the end, I think it will be the Tigers that wind up coming out on top of the division. They have had long stretches of poor play, but it seems as if they’re finally playing up to the level they should have been at the whole season. The impending return of Anibal Sanchez should help, as well. Who do you think ends up taking the AL Central?

Washington Explains Resignation

In one of the weirder managerial moves in recent memory, long-tenured Texas Rangers skipper Ron Washington stepped down a couple of weeks ago amidst one of the worst seasons in team history. Management stated it had nothing to do with the team’s record, so many people were left wondering.

The details of his resignation have finally come out following a press conference this week, but it appears that there will be much more to the story that Washington told. According to Washington, he was unfaithful to his wife and he felt that he needed to get his personal life in order.

With a little deeper digging, you can see that Washington hired two crisis management firms prior to his holding of the press conference. Many considered it an odd move and it has drawn questions regarding the truth of his initial story.

This whole situation has felt odd to me from the start and I can nearly guarantee that there is more to this story than what has currently been released. I wouldn’t go as far as to agree with the Texas beat writer that rumored he will be involved in a sexual assault case, but I feel like it does go deeper than just him being unfaithful to his wife. What are your thoughts on this situation?

Stroman Suspended 5 Games

One of the most promising rookie pitchers in the game will be forced to miss a start, after the league offices ruled that he intentionally threw at a batter. Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays was certainly not agreeable with the ruling, but it seems as if it was justified.

For a little context, Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes had his hand stepped on by Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph in a play at the plate in Monday’s game between the two teams. In response, Stroman threw a pitch over the Joseph’s head when he came to the plate.

The league originally suspended Stroman for 6 games, but dropped the ban down to 5 following an appeal. He adamantly stated that the pitch just got away from him, but that’s essentially meaningless, as almost any pitcher would say the exact same thing.

I’m all for defending your teammates, but I think Stroman is pushing a fine line here. He regularly sits in the mid-90’s with his fastball and who knows what would happen if he hit Joseph in the head with that. There’s absolutely no reason to throw above a guy’s shoulders in any situation. I’m completely fine with the 5-game suspension the MLB leveled against him. What are your thoughts on Stroman’s suspension? Should it have been longer?

This Week’s MVP: Wilin Rosario (.706/.706/1.176, 2 HR, 9 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Andrew Cashner (2-0, 1.06 ERA, 14 K)

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