Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Thoughts On the Trade Deadline

     The trade deadline has come and gone and I must say, I am a bit disappointed . There weren't as many moves made as there usually is during the trade deadline and the trades that did go down were only minor trades. I mean, I'm sure that Ian Kennedy going to the Padres won't do much for San Diego and the biggest trade of the whole thing didn't even happen on the day of the trade deadline. was a three-team deal that sent starting pitcher Jake Peavy to the Red Sox. No offense to Peavy or the Red Sox, but Peavy's 32 years old and although they are stacked at the shortstop position (They traded SS Jose Iglesias to the Tigers in the 3-team deal), Peavy does have an ERA of 4.28. Compared to last year, which saw Ryan Dempster get traded to the Rangers, Shane Victorino go to the Dodgers, and Hunter Pence going to the Giants, this hasn't had as many deals going down. No one wanted to take Cliff Lee and his massive contract. No one was willing to take a shot with Michael Young or Chase Utley. As a matter of fact, you could say that the Phillies are the biggest story of this trade deadline because they didn't do anything. Like many other teams, the Phillies weren't willing to give up certain prospects in proposed deals.
     Overall, this was one of the more disappointing trade deadlines to date. Instead of being a special day that was a lighter version of the NFL draft, it just came off as another day. Hopefully, next year won't disappoint and there will be more fireworks.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Trade Deadline Needs

     With the MLB Trade Deadline just around the corner, an array of contending teams are looking to make trades to fill voids for the playoffs. Here's a look at the various needs that certain teams will need in order to experience October baseball.

  • Detroit Tigers: Although Joaquin Benoit is 10 for 10 in save opportunities this season, he seems better suited as an 8th inning set-up man. Luke Gregorson of the San Diego Padres and Glen Perkins of the Minnesota Twins are possibilities if they don't get or go after Jonathan Papelbon.
  • Atlanta Braves: They lost Tim Hudson for the season to an ankle injury, so they could need a starting pitcher. Bud Norris of the Houston Astros will be a cheap pick-up, but Jake Peavy of the White Sox and Ervin Santana of the Kansas City Royals could also be available. Getting a right-handed bat could also help Atlanta immensely.
  • Boston Red Sox: Losing Clay Buchholz (9-0, 10 quality starts) really hurts the Red Sox rotation, so don't be surprised if Boston acquires Cliff Lee. Peavy's another possibility and Papelbon could make a return to Beantown.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: The Bucs are 26th in baseball in runs scored and could use someone like Justin Morneau of the Twins. Nate Schierholtz of the Chicago Cubs is another possibility as is Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies. They could also shop for a temporary closer with Jason Grilli out with an arm strain. 
  • Oakland Athletics: The A's don't really need much, but getting a right-handed bat like Alex Rios of the Chicago White Sox won't hurt. There's also a chance that the A's could get Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets.
  • Arizona Diamondbacks: With the red-hot Dodgers in first place in the NL West, the D-Backs are suddenly in danger of falling out of contention. They need a reliever, so Jesse Crain of the White Sox is a possibility. They also need a starting pitcher, so they should be looking at Kyle Lohse of the Milwaukee Brewers and Ervin Santana.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Best Team Logos Ever

     During this offseason, the Dallas Stars unveiled their new logo. Out went the gold and in came the silver as the main logo consists of a silver star with a "D" in the center outlined by a black border and a green border.

     If you thought their primary logo looked sweet, check out the alternative logos:

     It got me thinking of some of the best logos in all of sports. Some of these you might agree with and some of them you might not. So here's the list (Thank you to for the info on these):

  • Baltimore Orioles Cartoon Bird II (2012-Present): 
      A more symmetrical version of the original Cartoon Bird that existed from 1966 to 1989, the new Orioles logo might've been a good luck charm for the team; Baltimore made the postseason for the first time in fifteen years.

  • Boston Patriots/New England Patriots Hiking Patriot (1965-1992):

    This logo was an more no-nonsense upgrade over the previous logo in which the Patriot's face was more cartoonish.

  • Notre Dame Fighting Irish Leprachaun (1973-Present):

     You've all seen this one and some of you are big fans of it. But one of their alternate logos, which lasted from 1963 to 1983, had a much more Gaelic look than this logo.

  • Hartford Whalers Whale Tail (1979-1997):

     Before they relocated to North Carolina, the Hartford Whalers were one of the more popular teams amongst true NHL fans. Cool logo, great hockey location, and the "Brass Bonanza" were all reasons to get behind the Whalers.

  • Atlanta Braves Native American (1967-1989):

     This logo has been synonymous with Braves baseball for almost half a century. Now an alternate logo, this is the logo that the great Hank Aaron donned for the majority of his career.

  • Chicago Bulls Raging Bull (1967-Present):

      The only logo on this list to haven't been altered for almost fifty years and one of the few logos to be the sole primary logo for a team, the Bull has withstood the test of time. Michael Jordan and company made this logo famous during the 1990's.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Power of Brotherhood

     On Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes signed right winger Jared Staal to a one-year, two-way deal. The two-way part is Staal making $550,000 on the NHL level or $60,000 at the minor league level this season. He spent most of last season in the minors before making his NHL debut on April 25. So why is this news significant?
     Well, it's because of the fact that Jared Staal isn't the only Staal playing for the Carolina Hurricanes. He'll get to play alongside his brothers Eric and Jordan. Eric Staal is the team captain of the Canes while Jordan Staal is a forward. Jared is the youngest of four Staal brothers and his April 25th debut marked the fourth time in league history that three brothers played for the same team during the same season.
     So does the strategy of literal kinship on a team actually work? Well, Eric Staal did have 53 points (18 goals, 35 assists) in a lockout-shortened season last year. That was good enough for sixth in the league. He also averaged 1.10 points per game last year in an average time on ice of 21 minutes, which was good for Carolina. On the other hand, his brother Jordan didn't fare as well. He amassed only 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) last year while having a plus/minus rating of -18. He averaged almost as much ice time as his brother Eric, having been on the ice for an average of 20:06. Considering that Jared Staal hasn't seen much ice time in his career, you can say that the glass is half full for the brotherly experiment. But at least they aren't the Upton brothers of the Atlanta Braves.
     Both B.J. and Justin Upton were signed by the Atlanta Braves this offseason in hopes of boosting the lineup that would be without a retiring Chipper Jones for the first time in almost two decades. The Braves are currently in first place in the NL East, holding a six-game lead over the Nats (largest in baseball). This is in spite of the Upton brothers, who have underachieved for most of the season for Atlanta. Justin Upton did get off to a hot start, batting .298 with 12 home runs and 19 RBIs for the month of April. But he has cooled off since then, batting .255 with 16 home runs and 45 RBIs. His brother hasn't been too successful, either. B.J. Upton is currently batting .177 with eight home runs and twenty RBIs. In fact, the brothers have combined for a whopping 202 strikeouts this season.
     Other examples of brotherly companionship on the same team includes Cal and Billy Ripken (Both played together for the Baltimore Orioles from 1987 to 1992) and Phil and Joe Niekro (Both pitched together for the Atlanta Braves from 1973 to 1974 and both reunited with the New York Yankees in 1985). There's more out there, but these are a few of the examples of brothers playing on the same team. Remember, two (or more) heads are better than one!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Great Home Run Derby Performances and Moments

     Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics put on a show in last night's Home Run Derby. He jacked 32 homers en route to his victory over the likes of Bryce Harper, Prince Fielder, and Chris Davis. In honor of Yoenis's stellar performance, here are some other great Home Run Derby performances and memorable moments to watch:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Midseason Report: The AL West

     AL West: The Los Angeles Angels were expected to be on top of this division this year. However, they've started off slow and have been under .500 for most, if not all, of the first half. But now, the Halos seemed to have turned things around and are slowly climbing up in the division. Meanwhile, the Oakland A's and the Texas Rangers have been duking it out for the top spot in the division. What will happen in the AL West during the second half of the season?

  1. Oakland Athletics: Oakland hasn't lost a step from last year's surprising AL West division title, sitting on top of the AL West once again. But this time, the bats are making noise as well. The A's are 8th in runs scored with 423 runs this year. They are also 3rd in the majors against left-handed pitching in runs scored with 135. All of this run scoring is thanks to third baseman Josh Donaldson (.310, 15 HR, 58 RBI), who has been a huge contribution. Donaldson, first baseman Brandon Moss (16 HR), and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (15 HR) have been Oakland's primary mashers in 2013. Throw in a surprising starter in ageless wonder Bartolo Colon (12-3, 2.69 ERA, 15 BB) and an elite closer in Grant Balfour (24 saves, 1.72 ERA) and you have an Athletics team that could make it to the Fall Classic. Must Fix: As good as the A's have been in scoring runs this season, their ability to create base hits has been a problem. The reason for why Oakland's 8th in MLB in runs scored is mainly due to a combination of taking a lot of walks and timely hitting. Their pinch-hit batting average is a mere .123, good for last in baseball (Their team BA is .246, good for 20th). They'll need some hitters that can come into late-game situations and provide some key hits.
  2. Texas Rangers: The Rangers have proven that they do not miss Josh Hamilton one bit. Nelson Cruz is still in Arlington and he's got 115 hits, 22 home runs, and 68 RBIs. Also providing offense for the Rangers is third baseman Adrian Beltre (.314, 20 HR, 53 RBI, 53 runs), Ian Kinsler (.290, 9 HR, 36 RBI), and rookie Leonys Martin (.291, 5 triples, 18 SB). There's even some good news for Nolan Ryan's squad concerning team ace and AL strikeout leader Yu Darvish. Tests on Darvish's trapezius muscle came back normal, meaning that Darvish will be back in the minimum 15 days from the 15-day disabled list. Must Fix: Texas is fortunate to have dodged a bullet with Darvish, because they already have enough players on the disabled list. Players like Lance Berkman (hip) and Alexi Ogando (shoulder) are missing from this Rangers' roster. Texas needs to stay healthy and get their injured players back as soon as possible.
  3. Los Angeles Angels: In spite of a slow start from star acquisition Josh Hamilton (.204 BA in the month of April) and from the entire Angels team (27-38 in their first 65 games), the Halos are now hovering around .500. Albert Pujols (15 HR, 57 RBI), young phenom Mike Trout (.323 BA, .402 OBP, 15 HR, 59 RBI, 21 SB, 117 hits), second baseman Howie Kendrick (.305, 11 HR, 40 RBI), and designated hitter Mark Trumbo (20 HR, 56 RBI) have all kept the Angels' season alive. In fact, it isn't far-fetched to say that Trout is a legitimate MVP candidate once again in 2013. Must Fix: Ironically, Josh Hamilton hasn't been the main reason for the Halos' early woes. They were without Jered Weaver for a couple of months with left elbow issues and opponents are batting .274 against their starting pitchers. If they want to make a challenge for the AL West crown or even a wild-card spot, their starters need to strike out more batters and give up less hits.
  4. Seattle Mariners: The All-Star pitching duo of Felix Hernandez (9-4, 2.69 ERA, 136 SO, 1.11 WHIP) and Hisashi Iwakuma (7-4, 2.97 ERA, 106 SO, 0.92 WHIP) has been must-see MLB for the Puget Sound. They also have one of the best farm systems in baseball with guys like Danny Hultzen throwing well in Triple-A. There have also been a pleasant surprise from an older Mariner; Raul Ibanez has 24 home runs and 54 RBIs this year. 16 of those were hit at Safeco Field, which isn't really known to be a home-run park. Must Fix: The only way that Seattle can compete with the rest of the AL West is if they can find a batter that can adjust to Safeco's cavernous dimensions. Kyle Seager (.290, 15 HR, 44 RBI) and offseason acquisition Kendrys Morales (.281, 14 HR, 54 RBI) have provided the lineup with some spark. However, the rest of the bats need to find a way to create runs in a pitcher's park.
  5. Houston Astros: Expected to be the AL West cellar dwellers, the Astros have lived up to their billing with a record of 33-59. This is a young team that needs a few years to develop in order to compete in the MLB. Luckily, they have a number one pick in Mark Appel that they will look forward to seeing in the near future along with plenty of other great prospects. Once players like Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart come up, this will be a fun team to watch. Must Fix: There's nothing that Houston can really do right now. They'll just need to wait out the season and probably next season in order to give their current guys some experience under their belts.
Revised Predictions

     AL East Champions: Baltimore Orioles: If Chris Davis continues mashing home runs and the rest of the lineup keeps up its offensive production, then Baltimore will take a ride to the top of the AL East.
     AL Central Champions: Detroit Tigers: There's a small chance that Cleveland will win the Central. With Victor Martinez heating up, Max Scherzer blowing through batters, and Miguel Cabrera tearing the league up, the Tigers should come out on top.
     AL West Champions: Texas Rangers: It's going to be a dog fight for the AL West this time around, but Texas should win the AL West crown this time. Don't be surprised if Oakland wins back-to-back AL West titles, however.
     AL Wild-Cards: Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics: Both teams will have stiff competition coming down the stretch. But they have enough pieces to clinch the final playoff spots.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Midseason Report: AL Central

     What seemed like it was the Tigers' division to lose on paper has turned into a two, maybe three, team race in the AL Central. The Cleveland Indians have gotten off to a hot start and are giving the Tigers a good run for their money thanks to the likes of new manager Terry Francona, Jason Kipnis, and Carlos Santana. Can the Indians keep up and possibly overtake Detroit or will they suffer from their annual second-half swoon?

  1. Detroit Tigers: Detroit is the talk of the MLB community with the likes of third baseman Miguel Cabrera and starting pitcher Max Scherzer. The reigning MVP and last year's Triple Crown winner hasn't lost a step, hitting .363 with 29 home runs and 92 RBIs. As for Scherzer, he's 13-0 this season with an ERA of 3.06, a WHIP of 0.95, and 146 strikeouts. What's more is that this is a down-year for Justin Verlander (9-6, 3.71 ERA, 122 SO). Must Fix: The Tigers have had closer issues for the majority of the 1st half. Jose Valverde (5.59 ERA, 9 for 12 in save opportunities) has been mundane this year and Bruce Rondon doesn't appear to be ready assume the closer's role yet. Fortunately, Joaquin Benoit (1.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 7 saves) seems to be the solution for the Tigers currently.
  2. Cleveland Indians: Surprise!!! Cleveland's 47-43 right now and is sitting in 2nd place in the AL Central. Why? Because of second baseman Kipnis (.293, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 20 SB), left fielder Michael Brantley (.283, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 9 SB), and catcher Santana (11 HR, 40 RBI). Fun fact: The Tribe is tied with Boston for 3rd in the majors in stolen bases with 70 swiped bags. Must Fix: Someone not named Justin Masterson (10-7, 3.69 ERA, 134 SO) needs to step up in the rotation. As a matter of fact, Cleveland pitching in general (4.41 team ERA) needs to improve. The Indians have walked the most batters in the majors this season with 327 walks. 
  3. Kansas City Royals: Getting James Shields from the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason has appeared to have paid off for the Royals at the moment. His record might be 4-6, but he has an ERA of 3.12 and has struck out 112 batters. He's also holding opponents to a .246 batting average this year. Kansas City has also gotten help from its pitching. Shields hasn't been the only pitcher that has been great for the Royals. Ervin Santana (94 SO, 1.05 WHIP, 2.90 ERA) has been a great help for Kansas City. They also have a great bullpen (2.94 ERA, .226 BA for opp.) and a great closer in Greg Holland. He's saved 22 games for Kansas City this year and has an ERA of 1.80 and a WHIP of 0.91. Must Fix: In spite of the fact that they're sending two players from their lineup to the All-Star Game (left fielder Alex Gordon and catcher Salvador Perez), their lineup ranks 22nd in baseball in runs scored this year with 353. Granted, they have three guys with 40+ RBIs (Gordon, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler) and four guys hitting above .280 (Perez, Hosmer, Gordon, and David Lough). But they have a team OPS of .693 and a team slugging percentage of .381.
  4. Minnesota Twins: Good news for Twins fans: Minnesota's farm system is touted as being one of the best in baseball by many baseball scouts and executives. Meanwhile, catcher Joe Mauer (.311 BA, .392 OBP, 104 hits) has been Joe Mauer and first baseman Justin Morneau (7 HR, 51 RBI) is showing signs of life after suffering a concussion a few years back. Minnesota also has a valuable trading piece in closer Glen Perkins. In 32 2/3 IP in 2013, Perkins has struck out 45 batters while only walking seven batters and saving 20 games. He also has an ERA of 1.93. Must Fix: It'll take some time for the prospects in the farm system to develop, so the Twins will have to work with what they got. But you can guarantee that Minnesota is excited about its future.
  5. Chicago White Sox: Chris Sale has picked up where he left off from last year. He has a 2.78 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 123 strikeouts this year. Jose Quintana has also been productive for the rotation with a 3.67 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP this season. Their bullpen has also been terrific; Addison Reed has 22 saves and 42 strikeouts in 39 IP and Jesse Crain (0.74 ERA, 19 holds) was named an All-Star before shoulder problems sidelined him. Must Fix: In spite of Sale's outstanding statistics, he has a record of 5-8. This is due to the fact that White Sox pitchers have one of the lowest run support averages in the majors (0.13 RS per start). As a matter of fact, Chicago's South Side ballclub ranks 29th in runs scored with 325 runs scored and 28th in on-base percentage with a team OBP of .299. Another issue for Chicago has been injuries. Losing Paul Konerko to a strained lower back hurts this club immensely.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Midseason Report: The American League East

     Now that I've looked at the National League, I'm going to get in depth on how the American League has fared so far and what's to come division by division.

     AL East: The AL East has lived up to its billing as being one of the toughest divisions in baseball. Anyone can win this division and everyone has a shot at the postseason. There's a good possibility that this division will claim both wild cards by the end of the regular season.

  1. Boston Red Sox: Under new manager John Farrell, the Red Sox have the best record in the AL. They have scored the most runs in baseball (458) thanks to the likes of David Ortiz (.313, 17 HR, 61 RBI, .399 OBP), second baseman Dustin Pedroia (.321, 111 hits, 50 RBI, .401 OBP, 13 SB), Mike Napoli, (10 HR, 55 RBI), Jacoby Ellsbury (.301, 107 hits, 36 SB), Daniel Nava (.294, 10 HR, 50 RBI), and rookie Jose Iglesias (.395, 1 HR, 12 RBI, .446 OBP in 152 ABs). In the rotation, Clay Buchholz has been outstanding (9-0, 1.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 81 SO), but is on the 15-day DL with neck problems. Must Fix: Losing Buchholz hurts the Red Sox immensely. John Lackey (6-6, 2.80 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) has been the best starter on the staff this year aside from Buchholz. Jon Lester (8-4, 4.41 ERA) hasn't pitched as well as his record indicates and Ryan Dempster (5-8, 49 BB, 100 SO, 4.04 ERA) has the most walks on the team (and the most strikeouts on the team). There's no timetable for Buchholz to return, so Boston needs Lester and Dempster to turn it around. They could also use a closer.
  2. Baltimore Orioles: First baseman Chris "Crush" Davis has made a solid case for AL MVP so far. He's hit .320 with 33 home runs, 85 RBIs, and an 1.106 OPS. Third baseman Manny Machado (.312, 119 hits, 42 RBIs, 39 doubles), center fielder Adam Jones (.289, 16 HR, 61 RBI, 9 SB), and second baseman J.J. Hardy (15 HR, 46 RBI) have also fueled the second-best offense in the MLB. Must Fix: Baltimore has had a below-average rotation throughout the season. But they just acquired Scott Feldman from the Cubs, which is a nice addition. But they'll need more help than that if they're to become a legitimate World Series contender.
  3. Tampa Bay Rays: Tampa Bay is 49-40, but not because of its pitching. First baseman James Loney (.317, 9 HR, 43 RBI) has been impressive and third baseman Evan Longoria (.289, 17 HR, 49 RBI) has been Evan Longoria. Starting pitcher Matt Moore has been quite as impressive, if not more. He started the season 8-0 with an ERA of 2.18. Must Fix: Moore might've been impressive to start off the season, but he's gone 3-3 in his last six starts. He went 2-3 with an ERA of 8.39 throughout the month of June. Last year's Cy Young winner David Price has been an utter disappointment the entire season. He's 3-4 with an ERA of 4.18, but that was due to triceps issues. The Tampa rotation needs to return to form in order to become a legitimate contender in the AL.
  4. New York Yankees: Projected by many to fall off the map, the Yankees are fortunate to be at 45-39. Robinson Cano (.293, 20 HR, 58 RBI) is to thank for keeping the Bronx Bombers afloat along with the second-best fielding in baseball (34 errors, .989 fielding percentage). But still, New York has been hampered by injuries to the likes of Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and even Derek Jeter. To make matters worse, the whole A-Rod drama is swirling above the team's head like a massive dark cloud. Must Fix: The Yankees must stay healthy. Teixeira is out for the rest of the season, so that doesn't help. But the Yankees must keep themselves from suffering any injuries that'll set them back. They must also resolve the A-Rod controversy.
  5. Toronto Blue Jays: Predicted to be a World Series team by plenty of analysts, the Blue Jays have been an enigma. Jose Bautista (20 HR, 52 RBI) has turned it up and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (23 HR, 68 RBI) has provided a lot of pop. The Jays (2.93 ERA) also have the 3rd best bullpen in the majors. Must Fix: Toronto's rotation has the third highest ERA in baseball (5.02), which has been a reason for why the Jays started off so slow. Pitchers like Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey need to pick up the slack.