Tagged: St. Louis Cardinals

Love the Home Run Derby! Go Young, Cabrera, and Holliday!!

So, the Home Run Derby is going on right now. 

I just think that this is a great event.  Can’t help it.  I know that some people whine about it being meaningless or messing up guys’ swing, but I think it is great entertainment and I love watching it each summer.

Maybe I love it because guys’ I have rooted for have taken part in the derby over the years.  Sammy Sosa, Andre Dawson, George Bell, Carlos Pena, and, of course, my favorite player of all time, Ryne Sandberg.

So I’ve had lots to cheer for over the years. 

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Who Ya Pickin’?

I decided to chronicle the derby as it goes along.  Why?  Mainly for my own fun rather than anybody’s real entertainment.

Here are my picks to win it:

            Chris Young

          Matt Holliday

            Miguel Cabrera

I went with 3 guys just because it’s my blog and I can do what I want.

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Round 1

Chris Young            Wow, this guy did not look comfortable at all.  He hit one nice dinger, and that was it.  I think he has a ton of talent and is going to be in more All-Star Games in the future, but this was a dismal display. 

Outcome:  

 

 

Matt Holliday        Wow, that was awesome!  He had 9 outs and 1 dinger.  Then he proceeded to fire up the launch pad!  Wow.  He only ended up with 5, but one of those homers was 497 feet!!  He is in second place right now.  We’ll see what happens. 

Outcome:

 

Miguel Cabrera        He really launched some long balls.  Wow.  He sure showed what kind of a hitter he is: complete.  I loved the long ball in the water that Big Papi said, “In the water…you see that?”  Funny.  Overall, a great performance.

Outcome:

 

Other Ruminations

        Corey Hart put on a great display in Round 1.  Honestly, I did not think he would do well at all.  He blasted 13 homers and boy, oh boy, were they long!  He had a 464-foot shot that was just majestic.  Man, was it annoying to listen to A-rod talk while Swisher was hitting.  I do not respect that guy at all, and to hear him try to talk about respect for the game makes me want to puke.  Hanley Ramirez was great.  I have to admit, though, after his disrespect of the game earlier this season, I was rooting against him.  He sure showed me.

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Round 2

So, all I’ve got left is Miggy.  I suck.

Miguel Cabrera        Damn.  This has been great to watch, but none of my guys did anything!  Right now my wife is rubbing it in that she chose Big Papi and that he might win.  There is a foot rub riding on it!  Miggy really let me down.  Don’t know who to root for now.  Maybe Corey Hart.

Outcome:

 

Other Ruminations

 Ramirez looks good.  Wow.  He is really surprising me.  Not the biggest surprise, though.  Corey Hart’s first round was something else.  I’m rooting for Hart to move on to the finals and win it all.  (Wow, Hart really stunk it up!)

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Finals

Ruminations

Big Papi did not disappoint, that’s for sure.  Man, that guy just launched moon shot after moon shot.  Incredible.  Ramirez just had nothing left in the tank (good!) and he could not find a rhythm in that final round.  What I thought was pretty cool was watching Ortiz interact with his kid.  It was really sweet. 

Well, I’ve got a footrub to administer.  I’m a loser…

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Obligatory (and fun) 2010 MLB Predictions: National League

Pretty much every blog in the universe remotely related to baseball has been making its predictions for what will happen in the majors in 2010.  Some have done it division by division, and some have done it in one big shot. 

I’ll be subscribing to a combination of both as I go league by league.

I will not be including records because, well, I’m just not that smart. 

I see 2010 as a season that will have more than just a few surprises.  Sure, teams such as the Phillies and Yankees will be right there until the end, but there are other squads that I think possess much intrigue because of their offseason moves and the emergence of their younger players.

More than likely this is an effort in futility, but it sure is fun.

Today I will break down the National League.  Tomorrow the American League.  Tuesday I’ll put out my playoff predictions.

NL East

Phillies                        Nobody’s better in the NL.  They would be better with Cliff Lee AND Roy Halladay, but they are pretty darn strong as they stand.

Braves                        I like their mix of youth and experience.  Their pitching will be a strength for them, especially if Tim Hudson can turn in a strong season.

Marlins                       How can you pick against them?  Nobody knows how they do it, but they win every year.  Ricky Nolasco is back and Josh Johnson is solid. 

Mets               How can you pick FOR them?  The addition of Jason Bay would seem to bode well for the offense, but the recent injury to Daniel Murphy won’t help.  Neither will the fact that they seem to have given up on their pitching.

Nationals         I don’t want to pile on.  They are not a good team.  But their offseason moves and slow dedication to a youth movement points them in the right direction.

Playoff team:

 

NL Central

Cardinals         Makes me sick to say it, but they are darn good.  Their offense will more than make up for any pitching deficiencies.  They have the potential for closer problems this year, though.

Cubs                I love this team, but it seems no matter how much talent they get on the squad they do not win.  Sure, they won the division for three straight years, but that was about it.  Last year was an abomination.  Marlon Byrd, and a healthy Aramis Ramirez, will really help the offense.

Reds                They could be the surprise of the division in 2010.  I like their staff (and the addition of Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, even though he is in the minors now) and their bats.  Might sound crazy, but I think these guys could push for a playoff spot this year.

Astros             Sure Lance Berkman is hurt, but this team has some talent.  They are getting older at some positions (Carlos Lee, Berkman, Oswalt) and injuries could derail their season.

Brewers          Their pitching is horrendous.  Yovani Gallardo can’t stay healthy and one of their starters, Jeff Suppan, is already out.  Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are not enough.

Pirates             Andrew McCutcheon will be fun for the entire league to watch and will more than likely represent the Bucs in the All-Star Game.  That’s about it.

Playoff teams:  

 

NL West

Giants              As fans of the Tampa Bay Rays know, pitching wins.  And there are few staffs (provided Barry Zito is actually good this year) as strong as the Giants’.  “Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval will really shine this year.

Dodgers          Why won’t they win the division?  Health.  I just think that they are going to have some big injuries this year and that Manny will do all he can to distract the team from winning baseball games.  I like their young starting pitching, but it won’t gel enough this year. 

Rockies                       Coors Field seems like a great place to watch a baseball game.  Its offensive stats seem to have calmed down a bit.  The rise of Ubaldo Jimenez and his ability to induce ground balls will help this team have a solid season.

Padres             I love their youth.  Everth Cabrera, Mat Latos, Chase Headley.  I like ’em.  This will be a big surprise if they don’t finish in the basement of the division again.  I think they have some surprises in them.

Diamondbacks            It will be a surprise if these guys DO finish in the basement.  I like Dan Haren and their emerging catcher, Miguel Montero (he’s on my fantasy team!).  But I don’t see a lot to get excited about in the desert.

Playoff team:

 

Well, that was fun.  No doubt, some of my picks might be debatable. 

 

And, if they are debatable, feel free to tear me apart.

 

Let’s play some baseball!

 

A Rays Saturday Night

    VS   

While not entirely rested from the debacle that was Wednesday night’s trip to see the Charlotte Stone Crabs play in the FSL championship game (post forthcoming), I still ventured forth to the ol’ Trop to catch some big league action Saturday night. 

It was worth it.

It was Matt Garza figurine night, and, strangely, the real Garza was on the mound pitching. 

(I believe it to be much more fun to watch Matty on the mound in person than on the tv primarily because you see far less spit emitting from his mouth when you are sitting 30 rows away.)

I’ve never done a post where I include pics of a trip to a ballgame, so I hope that this is effective.  I have seen many of your posts so I’ll be pretty much imitating the mix of pic and story.

It was Hispanic Heritage night at the Trop and there were all things latino in attendance from mariachi bands to maraccas to beautiful Latin Ladies parading around the stadium. 

DSC00772.JPGThroughout the game players were announced alternatively in English and Spanish, which was different and, therefore, kind of neat.

I bought a few things at the team store (lots of clearance stuff): a World Series hoodie–yeah, we need those alot down here in Florida–and a Jonny Gomes t-shirt.  Still love the guy.  Still miss the guy.

Pedro Guerrero was there signing autographs.  I wasn’t terribly enthused as I can recall his days in St. Louis haunting the Cubbies. 

DSC00774.JPGI was there early with some friends and was sporting an ensemble of Evan Longoria jersey and Charlotte Stone Crabs hat.  I love that hat.  Very cool.

DSC00776.JPGThere were some strange sights at the stadium.  This guy must have thought it was ’70s night instead of Hispanic Heritage night.  He was decked out in brown suit, butterfly collared shirt, and…mutton chops.  Weird.

DSC00778.JPGEventually it was game time and we made our way to our seats on the third base line.  The crowd was amped up and the first inning provided lots of fireworks. 

Longo got a hit (that’s him at first).

DSC00779.JPGBen Zobrist came through too.

DSC00780.JPGThe Rays plated player after player after player after player, with Akinori Iwamura ending the inning after 4 runs had scored and the Rays had batted around.

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We certainly gave Matty a nice margin of error to work with.

He wouldn’t need any but one of those runs.

Garza was dominant throughout the night, striking out batter after batter and helping the crowed to get coupons for a free pizza the next day when he hit the 10 strikeout mark. 

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The crowd was raucous every time Garza set down a Blue Jay, and I found my own voice strained before the night was over.

Joe Maddon eventually lifted Garza in the 8th inning

DSC00799.JPG–nobody knows why, really–and the bullpen made it hold up with Russ Springer getting a nice strikeout,

DSC00801.JPGRandy Choate ending the 8th, and Dan Wheeler locking it down in the 9th.

The result?  A nice 4-0 Rays win. 

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Of course, the game was peppered throughout by the usual stuff that just makes me laugh:

Raymond being Raymond

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(Raymond is on top of the dugout in the Lucho Libre outfit)

The Chik-Fil-A “Find the Cow” contest

DSC00794.JPGand the Pepsi race (Aquafina won).

DSC00792.JPGI love that stuff…

The Rays win was memorialized, of course, by the Trop’s roof being lit orange, and that was that.

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It was a perfect night for a less than perfect team in a not even perfect season.  But no matter what, it was fun.

Fun.

And much more so because I could get home BEFORE 2:30 AM!

The only downfall of the night?

DSC00812.JPGGarza’s arm was missing!!! 

Luckily, the real Garza’s arm was on display all Saturday night at the Trop, and the Rays were able to ride it to a needed victory.

Gradin’ the Tradin’: Part II

The first post I put out a few days ago was only to rate the trades that occurred on Friday, the trading deadline day. 

However, I got a few e-mails asking me why I left out one trade or the other.  They got me to thinking….why NOT go through the notable trades from the trading deadline and just before? 

I enjoyed arguing with some of you through comments and e-mail about what you thought of some of the trades.  Good times…

This post might be more for me than anybody since I LOVE trades and how they affect teams.  I think they are something that is utilized by baseball better than any other sport and is part of the reason why this game is so grand.

Again, I’m primarily looking at the team that is the bigger part of the deal, though in some cases I grade both teams.

So without further adieu….here is part deux. 

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Deal:  Reds trade Edwin Encarcion et al to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen

Analysis:  It seemed that Encarnacion never really got it going in Cincinnati.  He hit a load of dingers last year, but the average the last few years was never really what Dusty Baker wanted (.209 in 2009).  I don’t see him being the 3B of the future for the Jays, unfortunately.  However, from what I’ve read about the two young pitchers who were also sent to the Jays, the real value might be there.  These two pitchers might make an impact on Toronto this season, which would make the Jays winners here.  The Reds get an aging 3B who might be able to help out a little next year.  While the Reds play in a strong offensive park, the fact is that Rolen is 34 and has seen his best years pass him by.

Grade:  Reds–C+   Jays–B+

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Deal:  Jerry Hairston, Jr. to the Yankees for a Single-A catcher

Analysis:  This just doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.  Of course, the Rays are notorious for making the “not a big deal” trades that end up getting them a bunch of wins.  Maybe the Yankees have been taking notes.  They already went into the Rays’ playbook to make a deal for Eric Hinske earlier in the year, after all.  Hairston, Jr. has speed and versatility.  For those reasons he might be a nice guy to have on a team.  A National League team.  I don’t see him helping the Yanks out too much.  Then again, New York didn’t give up much, either.

Grade:  B-

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Deal:  Brewers deal to get Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers

Analysis:  The Brewers needed a starter.  A good starter.  They needed somebody to help them contend with the Cubs, Cardinals, and, suddenly, the Astros.  Instead they dealt for a bullpen guy in LA who they actually had not that long ago and dumped because of his ineffectiveness.  They didn’t give up much, but they didn’t get much, either.

Grade:  D-

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Deal:  Cubs get John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from Pirates

Analysis:  This is a case where I think both teams won out.  The Pirates got a young hurler in Kevin Hart and a strong piece of the bullpen in Jose Ascanio.  The Cubs needed a starter in Gorzelanny (he’ll start this week) to fill in for Ted Lilly and they needed a strong lefty in the ‘pen in Grabow who will take the place of the Tommy John-bit Neal Cotts.  Grabow will complement Sean Marshall in the bullpen and add some stability to a shakey group.

Grade:  A for both teams (especially because of the mad kung fu skills of Gorzelanny)

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Deal:  Royals get Josh Anderson from the Tigers

Analysis:  This guy was got for cash.  That’s it.  Typically these deals are non-issues.  This one fits in with that characterization.  So why are we talking about it?

Grade:  Who cares?

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Deal:  The Giants get Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates

Analysis:  The Pirates are becoming to be old hat in these trade discussions.  With that said, the Bucs are doing the right thing.  Sanchez was scheduled to make $8 mill next year.  That’s too rich for a team with so many holes.  I was hoping that the Rays would get this guy–he’s one of my faves–so that they could move Ben Zobrist’s rocket arm and huge bat to right field.  Alas, not to be.  This move will probably lead to the Giants releasing Rich Aurelia and his salary.  Sanchez will help the Giants.  The Pirates got a pitcher in Tim Alderson who will help them–in the future.

Grade: B+

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Deal:  Phillies land Cliff Lee from Indians 

Analysis:  C’mon, do we have to talk about this one?  I was hoping the Rays might get active here, and they were, but not as active as the Series champs.  They got Lee, gave up some guys they’ll miss, and promptly saw him throw a complete game shutout.  ‘Nuff said.

Grade:  A

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Deal:  Mariners get Jack Wilson from Pirates for a bunch o’ guys

Analysis:  The M’s got the shortstop they had hoped they had in Yuniesky Betancourt.  When they realized Betancourt was a flop defensively, they shipped him to Kansas City–where he’s struggled.  Wilson is a solid piece of the future puzzle for the M’s and will get them some wins in the future.  The guys the Pirates got will be helpful, but not too helpful right away.  Ronny Cedeno is flopping right now and catcher Jeff Clement was not sparking the way the Mariners wanted.  I thought that the addition of Clement might lead to the Bucs moving Ryan Doumit–to the Rays.  Not so.  Oh well.

Grade:  Mariners–B+    Pirates–B

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Deal:  White Sox get Mark Kotsay, Red Sox get Brian Anderson

 

Analysis:  No doubt, the White Sox won this trade–right now.  The White Stockings got a premiere pinch hitter who can play almost any corner position.  He is a veteran who can fit in immediately with is new team and pay dividends as they push for October.  The Red Stockings got a supreme underachiever in Anderson.  He might develop, though, into a guy who might be the utility outfielder Rocco Baldelli is supposed to be.  With JD Drew on his way out (c’mon, folks, he’s hurt, like, ALL THE TIME) this might be a good add–next year.

Grade:  White Sox–B+    Red Sox–B+ (potentially)

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Deal:  Giants get Ryan Garko for Single-A pitcher

Analysis:  Garko was a fan fave in Cleveland, but he was going to be up for big money in the off season.  So he was shipped.  He was taking playing time away from guys the Indians really wanted to see and they did not view him as a piece of the future.  He has a gift for being offensive–in a good way–and should help the Giants offense get going.  The guy Cleveland got will be good two years from now.  That’s something to be happy about in Clevelend–and there isn’t much these days.  However, the move will give more AB’s to superstar-in-the-making Matt LaPorta

Grade:  B

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Deal:  Matt Holliday goes to St. Louis

Analysis:  Waste of time to talk about.  He’s hitting .529!!! 

Grade: A+ (and it sickens me to say that)

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Sorry if the pics got a little weird there at times.  I’m as distracted by the strange moments of our favorite sport as anybody.

I think that runs down most of the more notable trades that have occurred the last few weeks (and a couple of not-so-notable trades). 

I think that this time of year is the most captivating of any sport out there.  Teams are fighting for division titles.  Others are scrambling for wildcard berths.  Franchises are deciding whether to buy or sell.  Squads are scouting for both this and next year–and with a do-or-die attitude.

It’s just great.

And the waiver-wire trades are going to get going soon too.  Teams have to make waiver deals before August 30th if they want that guy to be eligible for the post season.

And the countdown begins.

 

And if anybody asks me about the Julio Lugo deal……..

Home Run Derby Time! Who’s Gonna Win It? Your Thoughts…

 

Ok, so this is kind of a FLUFF post.  I’m going to be asking your opinion about tonight’s Home Run Derby.  I know, I know…

I am really looking forward to tonight’s Derby.  I think that most fans love this night because it ain’t just “chicks” who dig the long ball. 

And tonight will be full of plenty of ’em. 

While I don’t think we’ll see the spectacle that was Josh Hamilton knocking 28 home runs in the first round again, I think we will see some serious competition–taken with a grain of salt, of course.

I am quite jazzed about the whole thing because the guy who I thought could do a great job in the derby in the first place made it. 

Barely.

And he happens to be a Ray. 

Mr. Carlos Pena!

I’m hoping that Mr. Pena will provide the fans with something to cheer about and justify Maddon’s bringing him aboard.  He really should have a good chance.  His uppercut swing is tailor made for this kind of competition. 

The other guy I’ll be rooting hard for will be Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers.  I know that Jonestein over at Baseball, Apple Pie, and Lobster is just as thrilled about Cruz being involved in the Derby as I am.  His 22 home runs are not a fluke.

There are lots of big hitters participating tonight, so here is a quick rundown of their credentials so that you can get an idea of who you will be pulling for.

NL

Ryan Howard, Phillies      22 hrs

Albert Pujols, Cardinals    32 hrs

Adrian Gonzalez, Padres  24 hrs

Prince Fielder, Brewers    22 hrs

AL

Carlos Pena, Rays         24 hrs

Nelson Cruz, Rangers    22 hrs

Brandon Inge, Tigers     21 hrs

Joe Mauer, Twins          15 hrs

 

So there’s the lineup.

The Cowbell is pulling for a Pena/Cruz final with Carlos Pena representing the Rays well and winning the trophy.

Here’s the question:

Who do you think will be the final 2 in the Derby and who will win it all?

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Here is an updated list of your votes thus far. 

Ryan Howard, Phillies      1    

Albert Pujols, Cardinals    1   

Adrian Gonzalez, Padres  2  

Prince Fielder, Brewers    1

Carlos Pena, Rays             2

Nelson Cruz, Rangers        0

Brandon Inge, Tigers        0

Joe Mauer, Twins           

 

To the North! Cubs and Cardinals

I just wanted to take a few moments to comment on the HUGE upcoming series between the Cubs and Cardinals.

It seems when you read things and watch tv that these are two teams headed in totally opposite directions: The Cardinals are dominating the division while the Cubs are languishing in mediocrity.

Yet, when you look at the standings and see that the Cubbies sit only 3 1/2 games behind the Cards, the picture starts to clear a bit.  In fact, when you consider the significant injuries the Cubs have suffered this season and the fact that they sport one of the worst offensive infields in the majors, the picture clears even more.

The Cubs are not as far off of winning their third straight division title as people may think.

Granted, the loss of Geovany Soto and Ryan Dempster the last few days doesn’t help, but Soto has been seemingly “lost” all season so far and Dempster has underachieved.

I think that the Cubs have alot of great baseball left in them and that it will manifest in the second half of the year.  The Cardinals have played some great baseball so far and stand only 3 1/2 games in front of the North Siders.

This is going to be a great series.  Consider that these two teams a big time rivals (one of the best in sports, in my opinion) and this is going to be some memorable baseball going into the break.

I’m ready for the game!