Return of the Big Unit

12 March 2008

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So Randy Johnson made his Spring Training debut for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  It was a classic case of good news/bad news.

The good news for Diamondback fans and his fantasy owners (future if you haven’t drafted yet) is that his back wasn’t a problem.  At the tender age of 44 any setback could officially close the door to his future Hall of Fame career.  If he can stay healthy, he has a nice cushy spot in the rotation between Brandon Webb and Dan Haren.  If he is anything like the Unit of old, they could very easily form the best pitching trio baseball has to offer.

I did mention there was bad news.  That bad news comes in the form of four hits and three runs in 1-1/3 innings of work. I use the term bad news loosely because I don’t put too much stock in the 20.25 ERA or 3.75 WHIP he posted in his debut.  Sure, it would be nice if didn’t hit hit around so much, but that will come.  He only walked one batter.  I’d be more worried if his control was an issue more than serving up meaty pitches.  At least he’s in the ballpark.  With more work he’ll be able to pick his spots better.  The key is for him to make sure his back holds up.

So as a fantasy player, what do I expect from the Big Unit?  Thats’s a tough question.  To answer it, I have to decide whether or not I think his surgically-repaired back will hold up.  You know what?  I think it will.  He may miss an occasional start because of back spasms or something, but I’ll guess that he starts 28 games this year.  I’ll give him a 14-9 record with 145 strikeouts and a 3.85 ERA.  Depending on how far he lasts in my draft, I’ll take a chance on him.  I’ll just have to hope I’m not seeing a lot of this.

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Photos courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

Derrick Eckardt, a friend of mine and creator of RotoNation, offered me an idea for an entry.  He asked me what would the Twins have been like if they chose Mark Prior in the 2001 June Draft rather than Joe Mauer.

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The landscape of the Twins would be much different than it is today.  Judging by how the Twins treat their pitching prospects with kid gloves, Prior likely doesn’t suffer through all of the injuries that have plagued his career.  He hasn’t been effective since 2005 so at first glance the Twins are way ahead in this trade.  Prior has had one good season (2005 – 11-7, 188 Ks, 3.67 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) and one great season (2003 – 18-6, 245 Ks, 2.43 ERA, 1.10 WHIP).  Mauer has two above-average years (2005 – .294, 144 hits, 55 RBI & 2007 – .293, 119 hits, 60 RBI) and one great year (2006 – .347, 181 hits, 84 RBI).  It’s not quite as one-sided as you may have thought.

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So, if the Twins take Prior, do they still deal A.J. Pierzynski?  That’s a good question.  In dealing A.J. the Twins got Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano, and Joe Nathan.  They are pretty vital to the Twins’ success this season and going forward. 

Even if they don’t trade A.J. perhaps things are a little different for the Twins in 2003 or 2004.  Perhaps the combination of Santana, Radke, and Prior would have been enough to knock off the Yankees, who sent them packing both years.  Maybe the Twins win another World Series with that excellent starting pitching.  Perhaps my favorite baseball moment (Red Sox coming back from 3-0 deficit to the Yankees) never occurs.  Maybe the Curse is still waiting to be reversed.  What if the Twins decide to draft Brian McCann in the 2002 draft instead of Denard Span?  Perhaps they still make the A.J. deal.  Maybe they figure a way to keep Torii Hunter.  There are so many scenarios that could have played out had the Twins opted to go with Prior over Mauer.  Do they decide to keep Johan and/or Prior since with the duo they could be favorites to win World Series titles every year?  I know we didn’t solve anything with this discussion, but it’s fun to think “what if?” sometimes.

Photos courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

Here are some catchers that should break out this year.

Geovany Soto
Soto hit .389 in 18 games last year for Chicago.  He added 12 runs, 6 doubles, 3 HRs, and 8 RBI.  The starting job is his to lose.  I don’t forsee him doing so.

Kurt Suzuki
He’s got the starting gig in Oakland so that’s a start.  His batting average could use improvement (.249), but he did score 27 runs, have 13 doubles, 7 HRs, and 39 RBI in 68 games, which is pretty impressive.  He’s going to be a great value in the late rounds. 

J.R. Towles
J.R. hit .375 in 14 games with Houston last year.  He scored nine runs to go along with his 5 doubles and 12 RBI. While your opponents are picking up guys that will be lucky to bat .240, you could be leaving them scratching their heads asking who’s J.R. Towles?

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When it comes to drafting your fantasy team, there won’t be a riskier player than Albert Pujols.  Any time a potential first round pick is linked to the phrase “high-grade tear”, and they aren’t talking about him ripping a fast ball down the line, I get nervous.  Anytime the phrase Tommy John surgery is associated with a guy who’s supposed to be the backbone of my team, I clamp up. 

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He has basically has become untouchable for me.  I would still draft him, but there is no way he’ll be available when I am willing to take him.  He’s just too much of a risk for me.  Even if he borrows Barry Bonds’ armor (he’s not going to need it anytime soon), ices it, and gets Cortisone injections I still can’t imagine this injury not taking a toll on him.  I would imagine his power numbers would take a hit.  I would imagine at some point it will become so sore that he will require a few extra days off, and a 15 day trip to the DL isn’t out of question.  What worries me most though, is the Cardinals being mostly out of it by July.  If the Cardinals are double-digit games out of the Division and Wild Card races, who’s to say that Pujols won’t go under the knife to get a jump on his rehab for next year.  It will take him at least seven or eight months to rehab his elbow when he has the surgery.  If this is a lost season anyway, he might as well get the surgery done in order to be ready for the start of next season. 

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Perhaps, I’m being pessimistic, however I think I’m being a realist.  Swinging a bat is a violent action.  There is a lot of pressure put on the elbow.  I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I just can’t.  Unless the other owners in my league are more cautious than I am with Phat Albert, there is no chance I will have to worry about him, which is to bad because I do like him.  If you’re less concerned than I am and are willing to stake your fantasy season on him, I wish you the best of luck.  If he’s not there for you down the stretch, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

Friday Tidbits 3/7/08

7 March 2008

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Kobe Bryant poured in 52 points in a win over Dallas.  Anything you can do, I can do better.  LeBron went for 50 and added 10 aasists and 8 rebounds.  Minnesota bought out Theo Ratliff’s contract, and he quickly joined Detroit.  Like C-Webb and J-Kidd Theo’s career has come full circle.  The Sixers cut Gordon Giricek.  Rajon Rondo handed out 16 assists in a win over Charlotte. Chris Paul matched him in a win over Utah.  Miami won another game.  Danny Granger was suspended a game for busting Andres Nocioni.  Dwight Howard had 26 points and 22 rebounds in a win over New York.  Deron Williams handed out 19 assists in a win over Memphis and 20 against Dallas.  Yao’s out, but Houston keeps winning.  Make it 17 straight. Zydrunas Ilgauskas has a bad back that cost him some games.  Chris Bosh will sit out a few games with a sore knee.  Sam Cassell joined the Celtics.  Miami lost Dorell Wright for the year (knee). Chris Andersen, who oddly looks like a long-haired version of my friend Eddie D, was reinstated by the league following a drug suspension.  Gilbert Arenas has been cleared to return to practice.  Gordon Giricek signed with the Suns.  The Spurs won their tenth straight game.  Chris Webber is out of action because of a sore knee.  Tyronn Lue signed with the Mavs.  Dirk was suspended a game for his flagrant foul on AK47.  Jason Richardson dropped 42 on Golden State.  Houston won its 16th straight game.  Kendrick Perkins hauled in 20 boards as the Celtics beat the Pistons.  Chris Paul had 18 assists in a win over Atlanta.  Tyrus Thomas got suspended for two games for missing practice.  They really need to trade him.

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Alexander Ovechkin netted a hat trick in a win over Boston.  He also became the first to 50 goals this year.  Sid the Kid is back.  Pittsburgh won in his return game.  Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec recorded a hat trick vs. Buffalo.  Nashville’s Martin Erat scored a hat trick as well vs. Edmonton.  Tampa’s Chris Gratton will be out for a while following hip surgery.  This Week’s Shutouts:  Washington’s Cristobal Huet vs. New Jersey.  San Jose’s Brian Boucher vs. St. Louis.  Florida’s Craig Anderson (53 saves) vs. the Islanders.  Florida’s Craig Anderson vs. Boston.  Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury vs, Tampa Bay.  Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff vs. Columbus.  Chicago’s Corey Crawford vs. Anaheim.  Colorado’s Jose Theodore vs. Vancouver.  L.A.’s Erik Ersberg vs. Ottawa.  Colorado’s Ryan Smith and Marek Svatos will miss time with injuries.  St. Louis signed Brad Boyes to a multi-year contract.  Peter Forsberg made his season debut with Colorado.  Detroit activated D Brian Rafalski from IR.

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Brett Favre is hanging it up.  John Madden is on suicide watch.  Randy Moss is staying in New England.  Asante Samuel is not as he signed with Philly for six-years.  Derek Anderson signed a multiyear deal with Cleveland.  The Jets traded Jonathan Vilma to the Saints for a 4th round pick.  I wish New England made that deal.  The overrated Jerry Porter signed a six-year $30 million deal with Jacksonville.  They just traded for Troy Williamson, so I don’t know why they would need any more WR help…hah.  The Vikings overpaid for S Madieu Williams.  He got $33 million for six years.  They alos added Bernard Berrian for six years at $42 million.  Keeper league owners are going to be saddened by the retirement of Jeff Wilkins.  Kidding aside, he probably did help some owners win a fantasy title.  LB Kawika Mitchell signed with Buffalo (five-years, $17.5 million).  Clevelend sent a third rounger and Leigh Bodden to Detroit for Shaun Rogers.  They signed him to a six-year, $42 milllion deal.  Cincinnati signed LB Dhani Jones.  Isaac Bruce signed with San Fran for two years. Four years and $32 milllion…that’s what it cost the Jets to get Alan Faneca.  S Gabril Wilson reached a six-year, $39 million deal with Oakland.  San Fran signed Justin Smith to a six-year $45 million deal.  Randall Gay and Bobby McCrat signed with New Orleans.  Alge Crumler signed a two-year deal with Tennessee.  His former team, Atlanta, signed Michael Turner.  Donte Stallworth signed a seven-year deal with Cleveland.  Big Ben signed an eight-year, $102 million deal with Pittsburgh.  The Jets signed Calvin Pace to a six-year, $42 million deal and Damien Woody to a five-year $25.5 million deal.  Warrick Dunn got the boot in Atlanta.  Denver DT Marcus Thomas was arrested for cocaine and handgun possession.  Chicago traded Brian Griese to Tampa for a draft pick.  The Giants signed Sammy Knight.  New Orleans re-signed WR David Patten.  DE Antwan Odom signed a five-year deal worth $29.5 million with Cincinnati.  Arizona signed Travis LaBoy to a five-year, $22 million deal.  St. Louis signed LG Jacob Bell to a six-year deal.  Javon Walker signed a six-year, $55 million deal with Oakland.  T Kwame Harris will join him.  T.J. Duckett signed a five-year deal with Seattle. New England signed CB Jason Webster.  Marty Booker signed with Chicago.  Denver re-signed DE John Engleberger.  The Vikigns signed Maurice Hicks.  Houston signed Will Demps to a two-year deal.  Atlanta cut Joey Harrington.  New England re-signed Jabar Gaffney.  Oakland cut Barry Sims and restructred Dominic Rhodes’ contract.  Jevon Kearse re-joined Tennessee.  Maurice Williams re-signed with Jacksonville for four years, $16 million.  The Eagles cut Takeo Spikes.  Tony Richardson signed with the Jets.  Are they hoping to draft McFadden?

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Hank Steinbrenner talked some trash about Red Sox Nation.  Good.  I want them to dislike each other.  John Henry invited Hank to be member of Red Sox Nation.  Hank declined.  Alfonso Soriano fractured his finger.  He won’t be out long.  Cincy SS Alex Gonzalez has a fracture on his knee.  He’s going to miss some serious time.  The facts are coming out.  Barry Bonds did fail drug tests.  I wonder how his ostrich fans will react? Colorado signed Brad Hawpe to a three-year, $17 million deal.  Brandon Inge is whining because he doesn’t want to play catcher.  Just like Soriano when he was asked to switch to the outfield, I say shut up Inge.  You’re being paid A LOT of money.  You play where they want you to play.  Cincinnati signed Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Corey Patterson to minor league deals.  Moises Alou will miss the start of the season following hernia surgery.  Albert Pujols has a torn elbow, and he’ll need Tommy John surgery.  He’s going to play through it, but know that if the Cardinals aren’t in the hunt he may shut it down to prepare for next season.  Noah Lowry will likely miss the first month of the season after wrist surgery.

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Coach K won his 800th game.  John Wooden broke his wrist and collarbone.  Bobby Knight will work with ESPN during March Madness.  Kentucky lost Patrick Patterson for the year because of a stress fracture in his ankle.  I’m sure that was Tubby Smith’s fault too.  Boston College’s Tyrese scored 46, but still lost to North Carolina.  Texas Tech upset #5 Texas 83-80.  Michael Beasley scored 39 in a loss to Kansas.  He’d look great on the Timberwolves.  #8 Stanford beat #22 Washington State 60-53.  #10 Georgetown beat #21 Marquette 70-68.  Arkansas beat $14 Vanderbilt 78-73.  Gonzaga beat #23 St. Mary’s 88-76.Bowling Green upset #24 Kent State 89-83.  #15 Michigan State pounded #12 Indiana 103-74.  Ohio State beat #15 Purdue 80-77.  #16 Vanderbilt beat #25 Mississippi State 86-85 behind Shan Foster’s 42 points.  He drilled nine threes. Providence beat #14 UConn 85-76.  St. Joe’s beat #11 Xavier 71-66.  #2 UCLA beat #7 Stanford 77-67 in OT to win the Pac 10.

SMU suspended QB Justin Willis from spring practice.  Auburn DE Antonio Coleman was injured in a scrimmage.  South Carolina suspended DB Carlos Thomas for rule violations.  Georgia gave Coach Mark Richt an $800K raise annually.  Iowa kicked WR James Cleveland and QB Arvell Nelson of the team for drug charges.  Syracue’s Paul Chiara and Mikhail Marinovich (yep, Todd’s brother) were arrested for breaking into the equipment room.  Penn State DT Chris Baker has been cleared of charges in an assault case.  That didn’t stop Penn State from their sixth suspension this offseason.  You know when parents have kids really late in life, and they are too old to know what the kids are up to?  I wonder if that’s what’s going on in Penn State or if they just recruited a different type of kid so they could compete?  Indiana suspended QB Kellen Lewis for rule violations.

Ernie Els won the Honda Classic.  Tripp Isenhour was charged with killing a bird for making too much noise while he was recording a show.  He claims he was just trying to scare the hawk away.  Bart Bryant leads the PODS Championship by a stroke.

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Carl Edwards won again.  This time it was at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  His car failed the postrace inspection though.  He was docked 100 points dropping him to 7th on the points list.  Kyle Busch took the top spot.

That concludes the Tidbits. As always feel free to add any stories you liked this week in sports or discuss any of the stories I mentioned.

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Photos courtesy of Icon SMI

Here’s a look at some pitchers who could break out this year.

Clay Buchholz/Jon Lester
With Schilling out for an extended period Buchholz and Lester round out the back end of the rotation.  Buccholz was lights out in his brief stint, even throwing a no hitter.  He had a 1.59 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and a 1.84 BAA.  Lester wasn’t nearly as dominating, but he still sports an 11-2 career record.  He’ll need to get his WHIP (1.57) and BAA (2.78) down.

Matt Cain
Last year was supposed to be Cain’s breakout year after his 13-12, 4.15 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .222 BAA season he produced in 2006.  He was snakebitten last year though.  His 3.65 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and .235 BAA don’t translate into the 7-16 record he produced.  Baseball is a game of inches, and I’m guessing this year some of the bad breaks go Cain’s way.  I see him rebounding nicely in a 16+ winner with a low 3.00 ERA.

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Joba Chamberlain/Phil Hughes/Ian Kennedy
The Yankees were desperate last year and turned to the trio of rookies to breathe life into an aging pitching staff.  This year, they will be asked to take on even bigger roles.  Odds are all three won’t have breakout seasons, but I’d guess that you can cue up the Meatloaf because “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad”.  If I had to choose, I’d say Ian would be the odd man out.

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Felix Hernandez
I believe this is the year that King Felix joins the ranks as one of the game’s best pitchers.  He was unbelievable in his first taste in the bigs at the tender age of 19.  He was sloppy and struggled in his rookie year.  He took the game more seriously last year, and the results (14-7, 3.92 ERA) were evident.  This is the year I think he’ll win 17+ games and have an ERA around 3.50.

Hiroki Kuroda
In 271 games with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp Hiroki posted a 103-89 record with a 3.69 ERA.  He’ll likely earn a spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation, and could be a nice surprise for Dodger fans and fantasy owners alike.

Ubaldo Jimenez
He could stand to get his ERA down a little (4.28), but his WHIP (1.30) and BAA (.228) were very solid.  He struck out 68 in 82 innings.  He was solid in the playoffs (2.25 ERA, .183 BAA).  Surprisingly, he was better at home (3.81 ERA vs. 5.01 on the road).

Tim Lincecum
Lincecum had a decent rookie season going 7-5 with 150 Ks and a 4.00 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, and a .226 BAA.  I think he’s poised to become one of the best pitchers in the National League this year.  I love the fact that he improved after the All-Star break (3.39 ERA as compared to 4.63)

Dustin McGowan
Dustin was decent last year going 12-10 for Toronto with 144 Ks with a 4.08 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, and a 2.30 BAA.  He also showed steady improvement after the All-Star break with a 3.67 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and a .217 BAA.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

Before we dive into baseball, I want to direct your attention to a fantasy basketball interview I did on NBA Roto.  Pop on over and watch the video.  My pal Jimmy did a great job on it.

Ok, on to baseball.  Here are some outfielders who could explode this year.

Rick Ankiel - St. Louis Cardinals
As long as he doesn’t let the PED issue distract him, Ankiel should have a very solid season.  Last year he was one of the league’s best stories (before the HGH talk) with 11 HR, 31 runs, and 39 RBI in 47 games.

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Ryan Braun
– Milwaukee Brewers
I fully expect Braun to improve on the .324, 24 HR, 97 RBI season he had last year in 113 games.  That will be big time.

Chris Duncan - St. Louis Cardinals
Duncan didn’t make the progression that everybody expected last year, but he did have good power numbers.  Perhaps this is the year he puts it together.

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Jacoby Ellsbury -
Boston Red Sox
One can’t ask more out of Ellsbury than he did last year when he hit .353 with 20 runs, 18 RBI, and 9 SBs in 33 games.  That is unless you ask him to top the .360, 8 run, 4 RBI he turned in during the Red Sox playoff run.

Kosuke Fukudome - Chicago Cubs
Kosuke should jump right in the Cubs starting lineup (perhaps hitting 3rd) and deliver immediately.  He is a gap hitter that should do well in Wrigley.

Matt Kemp - Los Angeles Dodgers
Kemp delivered in his 98 games with the Dodgers last year hitting .342 with 47 runs, 12 doubles, 10 HRs, and 42 RBI.  He even added 10 SBs.  In a full season I see Kemp scoring 80 runs with 30 doubles, 20-25 HRs, and 70 RBI.

Nick Markakis - Baltimore Orioles
I’m not sure where Markakis will get his protection from, but he should have a solid season to follow up the .300, 97 run, 191 hit, 43 double, 23 HR, 112 RBI season he turned in last year.

Hunter Pence - Houston Astros
In 108 games last year Hunter hit .322, with 57 runs, 30 doubles, 17 HRs, and 69 RBI.  With a full year’s work he could score 80 runs, hit 40 doubles and 25 HR while driving in 80 or better. 

B.J. Upton - Tampa Bay Rays
B.J. showed his worth last year hitting .300 with 86 runs, 25 doubles, 24 HRs, 82 RBI, and 22 SBs.  I think he builds on that success and scores 100 and joins the 30-30 Club.

Justin Upton - Arizona Diamondbacks
He struggled last year hitting .221 in 43 games, but has plenty of talent to produce like the first pick of the 2005 draft.  He’s not ready to outproduce his brother B.J., but he should be a decent 3rd or 4th OF for fantasy teams this year.

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Chris Young -
Arizona Diamondbacks
Young scored a decent amount of runs (85), hit for power (29 doubles, 32 HRs), and was a force on the basepaths (27 SBs).  He has plenty of room for improvement with his average (.237) and run production (68 RBI).  I would not be surprised if Young challenges entry into the 40-40 Club.  His ceiling is that high.

Delmon Young - Minnesota Twins
The talented Young was dealt to Minnesota for Matt Garza.  He’ll have a chance to make a name for himself hitting near Mauer and Morneau.  I expect him to build on the .288, 65 run, 186 hit, 38 double, 13 HR, 93 RBI season he had last year.  He’ll have to show more hustle though to avoid Ron Gardenhire’s dog house.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

Here are some middle infielders who could break out this year.

Yuniesky Betancourt – Seattle Mariners
Yuniesky has hit .289 in each of the last two years.  He scored 72 runs, had 38 doubles, and 67 RBI last year.  In his third full season he’ll hit 40 doubles and drive in 75 runs.

Asdrubal Cabrera – Cleveland Indians
If Asdrubal can beat out Josh Barfield for the starting 2B spot, he could end up being a nice late round/waiver wire bargain.  In 45 games last year he scored 30 runs, hitting .283 with 22 RBI.  I could see 80 runs, 25 doubles, and 60 RBI.

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Stephen Drew – Arizona Diamondbacks
I expect Drew to build on a decent rookie season that saw him producee 60 runs & RBI, 28 doubles, 4 triples, 12 HRs, and 9 SBs.  His average (.238) was awful, but I expect him to improve dramatically as a Sophomore.  He shined in the playoffs last year hitting .387 with 6 runs, 2 HR, and 4 RBI in seven games.

Yunel Escobar - Atlanta Braves
Yunel made the most of his 94 game stint in the Bigs last year hitting .326, scoring 54 runs, with 25 doubles and 28 RBI.  A 90 run, 40 double season is not too far of a stretch for Yunel.

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Howie Kendrick
– Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, U.S., Earth
Howie hit .322 in 88 games last year scoring 55 runs, slugging 24 doubles, and driving in 39 runs.  If he’s able to reproduce that for a full season you’ll have a 100 run, 40 double, 70 RBI guy that was drafted in the late rounds.  Not too bad if you ask me.

Jayson Nix - Colorado Rockies
Nix hit .292 with 80 runs, 33 doubles, 11 HR, 58 RBI, and 24 SBs for Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League last year.  He’s got a great glove, which helps as he’s trying to win the starting base job.  He helped Team USA beat Cuba in the World Cup by hitting .387.

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The sky’s the limit for Tulo.

Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies
I don’t expect a sophomore slump fro Troy, who hit .291 with 104 runs, 177 hits, 33 doubles, 24 HR, and 99 RBI while playing near flawless defense.  I expect him to make the All-Star team, win a Gold Glove, rack up close to 200 hits, 30 HR, and 100 RBI.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

It’s time for a look at the Corner Infielders that could be in for breakout years.

Daric Barton - Oakland A’s
Barton hit .347 with 4 HRs and 8 RBI as a September call-up.  Just as impressive was the ten walks he accumulated in his 18 games. 

Josh Fields - Chicago White Sox
Josh showed some pop last year hitting 23 HRs in 373 at bats.  If Joe Crede gets dealt, the third base gig is his.  He’ll have to improve on the .244 average though. 

Ryan Garko – Cleveland Indians
I look for Garko to build on the .289, 21 HR, 61 RBI season he produced last year.  I’m expecting an RBI total in the high 80′s to low 90′s.

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Alex Gordon
– Kansas City
Gordon did OK in his rookie year considering the hype he came with.  He hit .247 with 15 HR & 47 RBI.  With a full season under his belt, look for Gordon to improve dramatically.

Andy LaRoche - Los Angeles Dodgers
He’ll have to push Nomar for playing time, but LaRoche has big-time potential.  He didn’t show it last year when he hit .226 in his 35 game stint, but it’s there.  Perhaps he’s still a year or more away. 

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James Loney
– Los Angeles Dodgers
Loney had an outstanding season last year hitting .331 with 15 HR and 67 RBI in 96 games.  He’s primed for a 30 HR, 100 RBI season.

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Evan Longoria
- Tampa Bay Rays
No, not Eva, although some think he’ll have a rookie season as hot as Mrs. Parker. 

Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
He hit well as a call-up last year.  Now he’ll get the chance to earn the starting 1B job.  He’s not going to hit the .321 he did in his 84 at bats last year, but he could be a nice bargain in the late rounds.  He’s got decent speed for a first basemen.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB | Tagged: Eva Longoria |

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Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI

Roger Maris was suggested by aaJjoe7, a friend of mine from Sporting News.  Here are my findings.

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Image courtesy of Icon SMI

The Numbers
1463 Games 
5101 At Bats
.260 Batting Average
826 Runs
1325 Hits
195 Doubles 
42 Triples 
275 Home Runs
851 RBI 
2429 Total Bases 

World Series:  41 games, 33 hits in 152 at bats (.217), 26 runs, 5 doubles, 6 HRs, 18 RBI 

Awards
1960 & 1961 MVP
4 All-Star Games
1 Gold Glove
MVP votes in three seasons

Top Ten Finishes
Slugging % – Three times (Led league in 1961)
OPS – Three times
Games – Twice
At Bats – Once
Runs – Three times (Led league in 1961)
Doubles - Once
Triple – Twice
Home Runs – Four times (actual all-time single-season record in 1961)
RBI – Three times (Led league in ’60 & ’61)
Total Bases – Four times (Led league in ’61)
Extra-base Hits – Four times (Led league in ’60 & ’61)
Walks – Twice
Hit by Pitch – Twice
Intentional Walks – Once

This one is tough.  Yes, he did win back-to-back MVPs.  Yes, he did have a three year stretch where he was one of the very best in the game.  Yes, he did break Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a season (with or without the asterisk).  Looking at the numbers my head says ”no way”.  However, my gut says something different.  My gut says that Roger Maris endured a lot in his pursuit of the home run title.  Let’s be honest, the asterisk he wore like the Scarlet Letter was much less deserved than the ones we want to pin on steroid users such as Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens.   The back-to-back MVPs brings him to the doorstep for me.  The three World Series wins (and 7 World Series appearances) is what kicks the door in for me.  My gut says that we owe Roger a big apology in the form of a Hall of Fame pass. 

References
Baseball-reference.com

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Jim Rice
Ted Simmons
Lee Smith
Jack Morris
Al Oliver
Steve Garvey
Jim Kaat
Pete Ro$e
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Dave Concepcion
Lou Whitaker
Alan Trammell
Ron Santo
Ron Guidry
Gil Hodges
Dave Parker
Tony Mullane
Keith Hernandez
Don Mattingly
Dwight Evans
Ralph Houk (Manager)
Jimmie Dykes (Player/Manager)
Charlie Grimm (Player/Manager)
Billy Martin (Player/Manager)
Harold Baines
Gene Mauch (Manager)
Whitey Herzog (Manager)
Tom Kelly (Manager)
Joe Carter
Rusty Staub
Gary Gaetti
Jimmy Ryan
George Van Haltren

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