2013 Minnesota Twins Team Preview

What the hell is this?

 

 

Not sure what picture I’m showing you above, but it appears to be friendly Minnesotans(?) – possibly twins, smiling and giving each other a hand hug.  Bad news guys, the Twins are not going to give you much to smile about, except the overwhelming flavor bomb you’ll get when you shove a jucy lucy in your cold weather thickened body.  Outside of Joe Mauer and (maybe) Josh Willingham, this team is void of any star power.  It feels like the Twins were on the verge several years and were trying to hang on too long in hopes of making a run.  It’s hard when a seriously tradeable chip is a homegrown hero who is impossible to trade.  This team is a long way away from the team that  stole won the 1991 World Series.

Let’s take a closer look at the Twins.

Major Off-Season Moves:

  • Acquired Vance Worley

The Twins traded their highest WAR player player in Denard Span and another talented OF in Ben Revere for what they hope will be a deep starting rotation of the future.  The only SP of note for this season is Vance Worley, who has been the “other” pitcher in Philadelphia behind Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels.  Worley is no doubt talented and we’ll touch on the other pitchers later.  All small market teams will go through this rebuilding process, but it’s unfortunate when their “up” cycle doesn’t produce more than a spattering of playoff appearances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s take a look at the details after the jump. Continue reading

When Love Came to Town

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Since you’re all my friends and we all have another month to wait out until the regular season begins, I’m going to introduce you to a little modern miracle aided by technology.

I want to direct you over to MLB.com’s Classic Highlights.

Go ahead, have a look. You’ll find everything you need there. Also make sure to say goodbye to your spare time. Scroll through the pages and you’ll see a lifetime of memories. Some you’ve seen before and know well and some that will be new to you.

Baseball’s most dramatic moments captured in video form, dating back all the way to when your father was young. If there’s anything you highly recommend, post it in the comments section.

This will keep you busy until the first pitch of opening day and probably beyond. Speak highly of me. If you want to thank me, watch every Darryl Strawberry clip you can find.

The Quest for 2000 Innings

This season I vow to do one thing. I want to watch more innings of baseball than I’ve ever watched before.

I stated this on twitter weeks ago, and I mean it. I don’t always stick to plans, but I can honestly say I am going to watch more baseball in 2013 than I’ve ever done before, my wife be damned. She won’t like it, and a lot of things won’t get done around here. But you only live once and this is the year I’m going to really push the numbers.

I haven’t documented my past baseball watching before. This will be a case study of sorts, and I’m going to document every single time I watch innings on this very blog. We’re going to keep a running tally.

To watch 162 full Major League games would be 1,458 innings. Well I’m going to go a step further than that. That’s what the diehard fan would do. I don’t believe in doing the bare minimum. I’m going to shoot high and go for 2000 innings flat. There are rules to abide by in this quest:

  1. Every time I watch baseball, I’m going to document the innings that I watch right here. You’ll be able to see it because it will say “Watch Report:” followed by the game(s) I watched the night of or before.
  2. If I don’t get it up on the blog within 24-48 hours, it doesn’t count. Sorry Charlie, cheaters aren’t allowed in this club.
  3. I am allowed to have two games going at once. For instance, the Reds can be on my living room television while another team is on the computer or iPhone.
  4. No flipping channels in the middle of an inning or the inning doesn’t count. This includes pitching changes and Joey Votto 17-pitch at bats. If it is in the middle of an inning I can flip to another game or channel but that inning doesn’t count on another channel.
  5. I’ll keep other off the wall stats just to make things interesting.
  6. The count only goes during the regular season. Postseason games won’t be part of the tally, however I will count the All-Star Game.
  7. Live innings count if I’m at the game.

There are few things in the world I love more than baseball so I figure setting out on this little vision quest will be something of a test for me but I know I can accomplish it. Feel free to follow along at home with your own 2000 innings club quest, if you think you’re man enough or don’t plan on having a real life for six months.

Someone contact the Guiness Book of World Records or something. Get them ready. I can’t go to the MLB Fan Cave because I’m not interesting enough and because I have to have a real job to provide for my family. But that doesn’t mean I can’t knock off work early on a Friday to catch a few innings of the Cubbies getting smoked at Wrigley to kick off a weekend of nothing but baseball watching.

 

I love you, Kid

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Bryce Harper collected three more hits today. I don’t want to jinx the kid too early or anything but he’s started spring training by going 6 for 8. He’s already in his manager’s ear about not wanting to sit. He doesn’t know these games don’t count. And this guy is too good to be true.

Keep sitting him now and again, Davey. He’ll wear himself out by July at this pace. Every spring there’s inevitably one player I really like who has a monstrous spring. Then the stats disappear in April and somehow he gets off to a really slow start. I hope this isn’t the case with Harper.

Buster Olney also said recently on his podcast (18:40 mark): “Joey Votto on Harper: Essentially, he can’t be beaten. He has a “slump proof swing.”

Colorado Rockies 2013 Team Preview

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Barring something unforeseen taking place, the Colorado Rockies won’t get a ton of posts on this blog this season. Please enjoy this one.

The reason I don’t think the Rockies are due for a lot of run-time is because they have a pitching staff with flies circling it, and a lineup that is in dire need of another true threat.

The Rockies have a double edged sword in the way of a ballpark. They can dress a few Joe Random’s up and generate decent stats if the guy has an ounce of talent with the bat. But Coors Field; with all it’s beauty, does no favors to help an organization build a pitching staff. I’m of the belief that talented arms enter the Rockies rotation each year and slowly have their confidence chipped away because of the home park they make roughly half their starts in. I know the Rockies have had a few good runs, but it’s hard to ever sustain consistency without anything solid in the starting staff each year.

I guess at least Walt Weiss is the manager. Anyone remember how much Peter Gammons used to wash Walt Weiss’ balls on the old school Baseball Tonight? He loved the guy. He used to waste air-time to tell us Walt Weiss had cabbage stew for lunch and then went 2 for 4, like that somehow correlated to Walt Weiss’ ‘huge’ offensive output. I don’t know, he has to be better then Jim Tracy. Tracy was a nice guy I’m told from several friends that have spent time with the man and I always tried to have his back on a count of that. It’s just that, most baseball people thought he was a horrible manager.

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Los Angeles Dodgers 2013 Team Preview

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Flat nasty.

That’s what I think of the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers as things begin. It’s not a bad thing for baseball if these guys are restored to relevancy.

It would be unrealistic to think that all of these former superstars will put together superstar seasons at the same time. However, if just a few of them manage it while the others become solid contributors, the Dodgers are going to be one tough out in the National League.

Major offseason moves:

  • Signed SP Hyun-Jin Ryu
  • Signed SP Zach Greinke to a 6-year, $147 million contract
  • Traded minor leaguer Jake Lemmerman to St. Louis for Skip Schumaker
  • Signed RP JP Howell
  • Signed RP Brandon League to a 3-year, $22 million contract

Of course, let’s not forget all the damn moves they made at the end of last season. They acquired a small army of misfit toys in getting Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett for basically nothing.

After the jump, we’ll take a look at the Dodgers from top to bottom.

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San Francisco Giants 2013 Team Preview

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The San Francisco Giants caught lightning in a bottle for the second time in three years last season in winning the World Series. They parlayed a ragamuffin lineup and a makeshift pitching staff with a couple aging former stars into a title. They’ve been spoiled. There were about a four other teams last year that entered the postseason looking better on paper than the Giants.

And I’ll admit, I’ve got a little bit of a sore spot because they took the title that should have belonged to my Cincinnati Reds. At least, the NL title should have belonged to Cincinnati. We had them down two games to zero and heading back to Cincinnati for three. And then it all fell apart. Or it all came together if you’re looking at it from the San Francisco viewpoint.

They had a quiet, Giants-like offseason. They’ll be there all season long, pesky and ready to slip in and steal another title that should belong to another team and another fan base.

Major offseason moves:

  • Re-signed Angel Pagan to a 4-year, $40 million dollar contract
  • Re-signed Marco Scutaro to a 3-year, $20 million dollar contract
  • Re-signed Santiago Casilla to a 3-year, $15 million dollar contract
  • Re-signed Jeremy Affeldt to a 3-year, $18 million dollar contract

Really, the Giants offseason consisted of retention of the key components of their title run in 2012. There are few teams in baseball that underwent less change than the Giants this past offseason. This roster of familiar faces will remain competitive but will fail to capture another championship in 2013. No one can be that lucky.

Let’s look at the Giants in-depth after the jump.

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There are real Spring Training Baseball Games Today

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It’s been a long wait and February isn’t over yet, but baseball games are going on as we speak. If you haven’t updated your MLB At Bat subscription, now is the time.

It’s days like today and times like this that I wish I was still able to play down in the warm Florida sun.

If you’re just sitting around today getting ready for the weekend, I suggest you read Pat Jordan’s post over at SB Nation about Spring Training. If you’re not ready for baseball yet you will be when you get done reading the article. It embodies everything a Spring Training story should.

The Reds and Indians kick off their spring slate at 3:00 PM today. I can almost smell the pine tar. This is a great time of year to be a baseball fan.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks 2013 Season Preview

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I am Bear Jew, hear me roar.

It wasn’t long ago that the Diamondbacks were the feel good story in all of baseball. It seemed like that 2011 team was Justin Upton and a bunch of guys, and they rolled into the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers where they came ever so close to advancing to the 2011 NLCS. The model worked as it should, a team built around a young superstar overachieved a year ahead of schedule. Bruce Springsteen was being played on the stadium organ. Good times were had by all. With some luck and decent moves, a supporting cast would be built around Justin Upton for years to come.

It would never be more than a mirage for Arizona. This offseason wasn’t about who they added, but rather the trade that sent their franchise player to Atlanta to play with his brother. The package the Dbacks received in return for Upton wasn’t all that exciting, and it’s clear that they settled for much less than they could have yielded at other points if they were so set on trading Upton.

The organization continually remarked behind closed doors that Upton wasn’t “a winning player”. Go ahead and Google it now, you won’t find any other reasons behind why Upton was dealt. That’s because there were no good reasons. It was a stupid move and even when Arizona makes it back to the postseason in another eight or so seasons, it still won’t be a good move. It didn’t have to go down this way, and the Dbacks have unofficially stuck their flag in rebuild mountain.

They traded Trevor Bauer for being a dipshit, too.

Major offseason moves:

  • Traded Justin Upton for Martin Prado and Randall Delgado
  • Signed Eric Chavez
  • Traded for Tony Campana
  • Signed Rod Barajas
  • Traded Trevor Bauer for Didi Gregorius
  • Signed Brandon McCarthy to a 2-year, $15.5 million dollar contract

After the jump we’ll take a look at the 2013 Diamondbacks projected lineup and pitching staff.

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Yu Better Not let me down, you 4.19 BB/9 SOB

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It will either make me feel the part of fantasy baseball genius or fantasy fool.

In my big money, bigger pride fantasy baseball rotisserie league I made a trade last night for Matt Moore to add to my staff that will already feature my keeper Chris Sale. Today, I dealt a pair of round 11 draft picks that I acquired throughout last season for Yu Darvish.

I wanted the guy last year and couldn’t get it done. After intense study of his Fangraphs page, I’ve seen enough. I don’t like the walks, but I’m willing to bargain with the guy. A couple of projection systems have him dropping his walks per nine total to the 3.5 range. One of these guys includes my offense-happy friend Bill James. One system even had Darvish under 3.00 per nine.

I am counting heavily on Yu this season. It won’t be the first time a well laid plan didn’t execute but I’m all in and firing every bullet in this league until the end.

2013 San Diego Padres Team Preview

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The Padres current centerpiece, Chase Headley

Who better to begin previewing the National League with then the San Diego Padres? The answer is probably just about anyone excluding the Marlins.

Do they still have a giant Taylor Made golf club as their foul pole? Does anyone know? If so, this moves them up a peg in my book. If not, the roster isn’t much to look at. In fact, if I was honestly a Padres fan I would probably be more excited about golf season soon picking up steam or where the San Diego State Aztecs finish in the NIT tournament if they’re lucky enough to make it.

Here’s a closer look at the beauty within the San Diego Padres.

Major offseason moves:

  • Signed SP Jason Marquis
  • Signed Carlos Quention to a 3-year, $27 million dollar extension

The Padres changed ownership groups last August when the sons of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O’ Malley bought the team. You probably didn’t know this because the Padres former ownership group has done little to make them relevant in recent years and they’re probably one of the least most interesting teams in baseball as it stands.

The cupboard isn’t completely bare–and they’ve moved in the fences at Petco! I didn’t know how many more of those 2-1 yawners in the San Diego sunshine that I can take. The truth is, there are two main pieces I really love on the Padres roster, and we’ll get to them after the jump.

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Adam Dunn is a Hollywood Movie Star

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Adam Dunn has long been one of our favorite athletes of all-time. Nothing can ever change that, not time nor space or argument from opposing fan about him being wortless defensively or a beer league softball player. He is spoken of as icon status on this blog, do you understand?

We always knew Dunner was capable of big things, and now he’s about to delve into a new realm and unleash his talents on the silver screen. Adam Dunn is going to be in a movie directed by Matthew McConaughey this summer.

Matthew McConaughey has a new movie coming out this summer called “Dallas Buyer’s Club” that, according to IMDB, tells “the true-life tale of Ron Woodroof, a drug taking, women loving, homophobic man who, in 1986 was diagnosed with full blown HIV/AIDS and given thirty days to live.”

Dallas Buyer’s Club sounds like an unbelievable movie in the mold of Boogie Nights or something close. I would want to see it even if Dunn’s part was played by Casey Affleck or someone else who can’t act. To get Dunn is just a bonus. Hopefully he’s one of Ron Woodroof’s skirt-chasing, hard drinking sidekicks. This would be a natural role for Dunn that he played well in his years in Cincinnati before he settled down (it happens to us all around age 30).

This is the highlight of my very sad, boring day.

UPDATE: Dunn is cast as a bartender in the movie. This is perfect.

2013 Houston Astros Team Preview

The Houston Astro embark on a new journey in the AL.  Many years ago (not that many, but more than some) the Milwaukee Brewers left the AL Central and ventured into the NL Central giving the NL 16 teams to the AL’s 14.  In order to rectify this great inequity, the Astros are being moved to the AL.  It’s not too tragic.  They were an expansion team, have never won the World Series for the NL, and will get a great regional rival with Texas.  Unfortunately, the rivalry won’t be much to speak of for the next few season.  While the Rangers have plenty of talent, the Astros are trying desperately to acquire it.  They have a minuscule payroll and their highest paid player makes $3M.  Felix Hernandez now makes $25M.

Let’s take a closer look at the Astros.

Major Off-Season Moves:

  • Cut salary.
  • Cut salary.
  • Cut salary.
  • Signed SP Erik Bedard.
  • Signed 1B Carlos Pena.
  • Acquired OF/DH Chris Carter from Oakland.

The Astros traded away what they could to acquire prospects.  It’s tough to evaluate an off season like this except that it was necessary.  The Astros have been going down hill for several years and it’s time to flip the switch.  They had nothing at the major league level that they could build around.  Carter is a good pickup but Pena and Bedard are stopgaps until they can get some newer players there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now on to who is going to take the field this year.

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