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Tag:Johnny Damon
Posted on: March 30, 2010 8:50 pm
 

The End All for 2010 MLB Predictions

With the start of the baseball season less than one week away (yes, a week , with Red Sox vs. Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball), it means only thing: it is time to dust off the magic eight-balls, look into the future and predict where the 30 teams will end up at the end of the season.

(I should point out that I won a pool last season in which we made predictions about the 2009 season before its start, and so needless to say, when I use the word "prediction" I am really meaning "cerifiable locks and spoilers" for the 2010 season.

Let's start with the American League East:
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays

Comments:
Yes, I know the Yankees are defending champs, and they had a great 2009 season. But I am not impressed with the moves that they made to stay atop the best division in baseball. CBSSports.com has the Yankees, Sox, and Rays as the top three teams in baseball heading into Opening Day, and with those other teams, the Yankees needed to do better than Javier Vasquez and Curtis Granderson. Vasquez will disappoint again as he did during his first tour in New York (he's simply an N.L. pitcher) and Granderson has to fill the roles of three outfielders (Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Melky Cabrera - also with no Xavier Nady returning). As for the rest of the team, well this year simply makes them one year older. The Sox will indeed have enough offense to back the best all around pitching staff in baseball. The Rays remain essentially the same, but will get more from Pat Burrell and B.J. Upton. The Orioles have good, but raw, young talent (this will be Adam Jones' coming out party), enough to leapfrog the Blue Jays out of last place, who will be the designated whipping-boy of the mighty A.L. East.

A.L. Central
1. Minnesota Twins
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Detriot Tigers
4. Cleveland Indians
5. Kansas City Royals

Comments:
Traditionally a mediocre division, the Central is shapping up to be... well, mediocre, again . Last year, the Twins made a late run to win the division last season, and they have improved by adding players such as Orlando Hudson, and have enough to overcome the loss of closer Joe Nathan. (This only means that the Twins will not have to wait to the last day of the season to win the division with only 85 wins.) The White Sox have gotten better, with a very strong rotation headed by Mark Buerhle and Jake Peavy. But their success is not automatic, with Buerhle falling off after his perfect game, and Peavy struggling from injuries recently, and offensively, they will be forced to rely on busts (Alex Rios), aging veterans (Paul Konerko, Andruw Jones) and still developing youngsters (Gordon Beckam, Alexei Ramirez) to fill in around Carlos Quentin. Detriot remains a couple of starters away from the playoffs, while Cleveland and Kansas City will compete for "quickest A.L. team to 100 losses."

A.L. West
1. Seattle Mariners
2. Texas Rangers
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
4. Oakland Athletics

Comments:
Possibly the most interesting and exciting division in baseball in 2010. The Mariners stand as one of the most improved teams in all of baseball, adding Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman. The Lee-Felix Hernandez 1-2 punch is one of the best in baseball. The Rangers also figure to be stronger, with ample pitching and an always impressive offense. But, perhaps most importantly for the Mariners and Rangers is what is absent from the Angels, long the dominant team in this division. They lost depth everywhere, but remain the same fundamental team of the small ball philosophy, which can always prove to be difficult to play against in September. They have a decent lineup, but no power outside of Kendry Morales, and Matsui and Joel Piniero were not the solutions to the holes in the lineup and rotation left by Figgins and John Lackey, and their bullpen also remains an issue. As for Oakland, not all is as bad as it seems. They have serious young pitching depth and a their first real base-stealer/leadoff hitter since Rickey Henderson in Rajai Davis. They, like the Orioles, are definitely moving in the right direction, but luckily for the Athletics they play in sunny California in the now suddenly wide-open A.L. West, which could start to attract a free-agent bat or two.

A.L. Wild Card:
New York Yankees

Is there any chance that the Wild Card will come out of any division besides the A.L. East in the forseeable future? I really cannot envision a situation where that would come about. Although the Rangers and White Sox may be worthy of post-season play, there is no way that two teams from the Central or West will win more games than either the Sox, Yankees, or Rays. Whoever wins the East should do so with around 100 wins, where the second place team will likely have at least 95, and that is just too many games for anyone else to keep pace.

ALDS Matchups:
Red Sox vs. Twins              
Mariners vs. Yankees

These teams matchup well with each other, but it comes down to the Red Sox and Yankees having more talent in the bottom half of their roster. The Twins do not have the depth in the rotation to hang with Boston, and the Yankees overpowering style of offense will lead to another ALCS rivalry.

Result: Red Sox, Yankees, both in 4

ALCS Matchup

Red Sox vs. Yankees

The two best teams in the A.L. will feature two of the best rotations in baseball. The Yankees have the advantage on the offensive side, but the Red Sox have the pitching depth. The Yankees would likely have to use CC Sabathia twice in the ALDS, while the Sox can afford to only use their starters once, which means that the Beckett/Lackey/Lester order is preserved for this series. The Sox bullpen is also stronger, as is their bench.

Result: Red Sox in 6

N.L. previews coming soon.
Posted on: April 16, 2008 11:39 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-16-08

The Red Sox lost a marathon full of poor pitching to the Yankees, the first of a two game series. Some thoughts on the game:

After such a long game where the offenses dictated the game, it is almost difficult to remember who the starting pitcher was. Clay Buchholz had his worst start of his professional career, allowing seven runs in three plus innings. Buchholz never had it from the start, allowing back-to-back home runs to Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez in the first. Buchholz’s worst problem this season, and it was manifested very clearly against the Yankees tonight, was the ineffectiveness of his fastball. His fastball is regularly 90-91 MPH and will occasionally top out at 92. But most of the damage that the Yankees did against Buchholz was against his fastball. The two home runs in the first were on fastballs, as was Derek Jeter’s and Chad Moeller’s lined shots that drove in runs. Buchholz has above average off-speed stuff, and there is no question that his change-up and curveball are his best pitches. But he needs to work on locating his fastball better, because in the low 90s and straight as an arrow, the hitters can simply lay off of the off-speed stuff and wait to connect on the fastball.

Kevin Youkilis fouled a ball off of his toe, but remained in the game for a few innings, and even took his next at-bat. But he did get it tapped, and was wearing a toe guard on it when he came up to the plate. He was replaced after that at-bat by Jed Lowrie. Youkilis was favoring his left foot very heavily when he was walking back to the dugout after he looked very uncomfortable striking out. It looks as though this will not turn out to be serious for Youkilis, but it is going to leave a serious amount of discomfort on his left foot. It will be the type of injury that a player can play through, as Johnny Damon did a few years ago, and Youkilis is the type of player to grind it out, especially as the Sox are now short on infielders.

Speaking of injured infielders, in a not-so-surprising move, the Sox placed utility back-up infielder Alex Cora on the 15 day disabled list. The move comes after the Sox had already called up rookie Jed Lowrie, a middle infielder from Pawtucket, to fill the spot of Mike Lowell, on the disabled list with a sprained thumb. Cora is a good guy to have on any ball club. He has a very high baseball IQ, and will definitely be a coach when he decides to retire. He is a great help to Boston's young infielders and always has a positive influence on the team. And he is a very sound fielding infielder and a left-handed bat off of the bench. Before the Sox signed Julio Lugo two off-seasons ago, Terry Francona and Theo Epstein had both voiced that they would be satisfied if no replacement was found and Cora was the opening day shortstop. That may seem like it is stretching it a bit, but it is always good to have a guy like Cora on the bench, especially when Lugo is struggling, which unfortunately seems to be most of the time.

Mike Timlin was ineffective for the third time in four appearances this season. He gave up four runs in one inning, with Jason Giambi once again paying his respects to Timlin. In fact, if Giambi’s three at-bats against Timlin are removed from his stats this year, then his numbers of .139 BA, two home runs and six RBIs, drop to .111-0-6. As was said in the recap from Monday, when Julian Tavarez came in and limited the damage, the job of Timlin and Tavarez is to come in and stop the bleeding while keeping these types of games close when the Sox are behind. Tonight, neither came anywhere close to doing that, both totaling eight runs allowed. Truth be told, Tavarez still looked burnt out from his two and two-third innings effort on Monday. However, with David Aardsma looking increasingly sharp and reliable, it is going to be up to Tavarez and Timlin to hold their weight over this stretch of 20 consecutive games.

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game when the Sox try to earn a split of this two games series with the Yankees. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 16, 2008 11:38 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-16-08

The Red Sox lost a marathon full of poor pitching to the Yankees, the first of a two game series. Some thoughts on the game:

After such a long game where the offenses dictated the game, it is almost difficult to remember who the starting pitcher was. Clay Buchholz had his worst start of his professional career, allowing seven runs in three plus innings. Buchholz never had it from the start, allowing back-to-back home runs to Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez in the first. Buchholz’s worst problem this season, and it was manifested very clearly against the Yankees tonight, was the ineffectiveness of his fastball. His fastball is regularly 90-91 MPH and will occasionally top out at 92. But most of the damage that the Yankees did against Buchholz was against his fastball. The two home runs in the first were on fastballs, as was Derek Jeter and Chad Moeller’s lined shots that drove in runs. Buchholz has above average off-speed stuff, and there is no question that his change-up and curveball are his best pitches. But he needs to work on locating his fastball better, because in the low 90s and straight as an arrow, the hitters can simply lay off of the off-speed stuff and wait to connect on the fastball.

Kevin Youkilis fouled a ball off of his toe, but remained in the game for a few innings, and even took his next at-bat. But he did get it tapped, and was wearing a toe guard on it when he came up to the plate. He was replaced after that at-bat by Jed Lowrie. Youkilis was favoring his left foot very heavily when he was walking back to the dugout after he looked very uncomfortable striking out. It looks as though this will not turn out to be serious for Youkilis, but it is going to leave a serious amount of discomfort on his left foot. It will be the type of injury that a player can play through, as Johnny Damon did a few years ago, and Youkilis is the type of player to grind it out, especially as the Sox are now short on infielders.

Speaking of injured infielders, in a not-so-surprising move, the Sox placed utility back-up infielder Alex Cora on the 15 day disabled list. The move comes after the Sox had already called up the rookie Lowrie, a middle infielder from Pawtucket, to fill the spot of Mike Lowell, on the disabled list with a sprained thumb. Cora is a good guy to have on any ball club. He has a very high baseball IQ, and will definitely be a coach when he decides to retire. He is a great help to Boston's young infielders and always has a positive influence on the team. And he is a very sound fielding infielder and a left-handed bat off of the bench. Before the Sox signed Julio Lugo two off-seasons ago, Terry Francona and Theo Epstein had both voiced that they would be satisfied if no replacement was found and Cora was the opening day shortstop. That may seem like it is stretching it a bit, but it is always good to have a guy like Cora on the bench, especially when Lugo is struggling, which unfortunately seems to be most of the time.

Mike Timlin was ineffective for the third time in four appearances this season. He gave up four runs in one inning, with Jason Giambi once again paying his respects to Timlin. In fact, if Giambi’s three at-bats against Timlin are removed from his stats this year, then his numbers of .139 BA, two home runs and six RBIs, drop to .111-0-6. As was said in the recap from Monday, when Julian Tavarez came in and limited the damage, the job of Timlin and Tavarez is to come in and stop the bleeding while keeping these types of games close when the Sox are behind. Tonight, neither came anywhere close to doing that, both totaling eight runs allowed. Truth be told, Tavarez still looked burnt out from his two and two-third innings effort on Monday. However, with David Aardsma looking increasingly sharp and reliable, it is going to be up to Tavarez and Timlin to hold their weight over this stretch of 20 consecutive games.

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game when the Sox try to earn a split of this two games series with the Yankees. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 14, 2008 12:19 am
Edited on: April 14, 2008 12:22 am
 

Red Sox Recap 4-13-08

The Red Sox got enough where it counted and won the series against the Yankees, two games to one. Some thoughts from the game:

Daisuke Matsuzaka reverted to the 2007 version that we knew of, as opposed to the much improved version we had seen in the last two starts. Matsuzaka had been pitching very effectively, spotting his off-speed pitches and being aggressive with his fastball. However, tonight, we saw much of what agonized Sox fans last year, a pitcher with explosive stuff, but instead of going after hitters, he nit-picked on the corners and tried to get hitters to help him out. The Yankees, however, are just as patient as the Sox, and that led to six walks given up by Matsuzaka, which ran his pitch count to 116 through five innings. He had a significantly higher ERA at home last year, and also posted an ERA over 6 against the Yankees last year, which are two areas that he has to pick up. He can pitch shutout ball away from Fenway for the entire season, but if he can get it done at home and against the Yankees, he is in for some rough times in Boston.

Mike Timlin made another appearance tonight, and had another disaster. Much in the way that Manny Delcarmen had his troubles against Frank Thomas in the Toronto series, Timlin has now surrendered both home runs that Jason Giambi has hit this season. He gave up three hits and did not record any outs, and was saved by Javier Lopez from giving up any more runs as Lopez induced Johnny Damon to ground into a double play. He has now given up three runs, including the two homers to Giambi, while only recording one out, which results in an astronomical 81.00 ERA. Conventional wisdom would say that he was rushed back too quickly, having only made two appearances during a rehab assignment in Pawtucket. But, it may be that, at 42 and one of only thirteen pitchers with over 1,000 appearances in the history of major league baseball, he just does not have much left in the tank. Eventually, if his woes continue, he may be headed back to the disabled list.

Speaking of the bullpen, Lopez pitched the most effective, and his most important inning, of the short season thus far. This was exactly the reason why Lopez was held while the Sox had to go through roster issues. Lopez, criticized because although he is on the team as a lefty specialist, the numbers have shown him to be more effective against righties, will always play an important role against the Yankees. The Yankees employ five lefties and two switch hitters, and Lopez was brought in to retire Johnny Damon, who grounded into a double play, and Robinson Cano. Lopez is the classic example of a pitcher who will always have a job in the big leagues simple because he is a left-handed pitcher who has a deceptive delivery. But, if he does what he did tonight, there will be no complaints from the Sox. It is also very encouraging that on a night, as expected, where Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima are unavailable, the rest of the bullpen can at least hold on and get the important outs. Other than Timlin, Delcarmen, who finished the game, along with performances by Lopez and David Aardsma, all had great outings, and at this point of the season, that will be a big advantage over other teams, like the Yankees and Tigers, as we have seen.

As was anticipated, David Ortiz was given the night off, albeit the rubber game of the first series of the season against the rival Yankees. The Sox next scheduled day off is not until April 28, which, beginning on April 8, would have been a stretch of 20 straight games. Manny Ramirez was in the lineup as the designated hitter, and with the still hot J.D. Drew was moved up to the number three spot, Jacoby Ellsbury replaced Ramirez in left and picked up a hit and an RBI. There is no question that the Sox looked much more consistent on offense tonight because there was finally some consistency at the top of the lineup. Since coming back from Japan, the Sox have won back-to-back games twice this season, and Ellsbury has started all of those games. It may not be that Ellsbury is that much better than Coco Crisp, who has a higher batting average this year than Ellsbury, but it is clear that the offense will respond more when the lead-off man can start getting into a routine.

Look for this recap as the Sox open a bizarre two game series with the Indians, their only trip to Cleveland this year. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com