Tag Archive | "Miguel Cabrera"

Run For The Rawlings

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Run For The Rawlings

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

This weekend marks the annual Run for the Roses. The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby is this weekend with the quest for the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 still out there. Major League Baseball currently has a Triple Crown winner of its own in the Tigers Miguel Cabrera. With the season now a month complete how are the ponies lining up at the one month pole?

Miguel Cabrera

The Atlanta Braves and Justin Upton got out to a fast start. Upton was named National League Player of the Month and appears to be enjoying the new scenery. He hit double digit home runs in the month, but the one negative was not very many guys were on base for the long balls. If his brother and Jason Heyward can start to get on base in front of him, look out National League. At one point the Braves were 13-0 when scoring a run and 0-3 when not. To this day, no team has ever won a ball game without scoring a run.

A surprise start came out of the Boston Gate. After the down year of 2012, Boston raced out to a fast start and the best record in the American League. They are healthier and currently Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are a combined 10-0.

It was a good month for pitchers named Matt as Matt Harvey and Matt Moore raced out to several wins. They are a combined 9-0 with an ERA under 2.

Also strong early runs have to go to the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates. One horse that has been doing it for years Mariano Rivera had 11 saves along with Jason Grilli of the Buccos.

Currently stuck in the middle of the pack is World Series favorites the Washington Nationals, and CY Young aces Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw. The two work horses are a combined 6-4 which is not quite elite numbers.

Could the Los Angeles Angels start to become the San Diego Chargers of baseball? The Chargers for the last few years on paper are always a team that is built up as a contender and every year they fall from grace and are home for the post season. The Angels with all of that offensive talent are under .500 and off to another slow start. Could a second straight year with an unimpressive April keep them out of the post season?

What could be viewed as an under the radar team in the middle of the pack is the Kansas City Royals. You will not find any Royal stats at the top of the lists, but collectively they currently are division leaders in the Central.

Still stuck in the gates for the 2013 race are a few surprises. The revamped team in Toronto has not quite showed up for their post position. Interestingly, two teams have team batting averages under .200 in the seventh inning on: the Blue Jays and Washington Nationals.

Los Angeles stars Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp currently have 3 home runs combined and the batting averages are missing as well.

As the season turns into a new month, May will likely bring more moving and positioning for the summer run. And on the track for the run for the roses, have a little Goldencents. Enjoy the Mint Juleps and oversized floppy hats.

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Triple Play: Miguel Cabrera, Mitchell Boggs, Roy Oswalt

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Triple Play: Miguel Cabrera, Mitchell Boggs, Roy Oswalt

Posted on 06 May 2013 by Chris Caylor

In this week’s edition of the Triple Play, we look at the most consistent hitter in the game, a closer banished to the minors and more. Off we go:

Miguel Cabrera

Who’s Hot?

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

Talk about en fuego. In the past week, he smashed four homers, drove in 13 runs and punished opposing pitchers to the tune of a .461/.562/1.038 batting line. Prepare to roll your eyes: Cabrera is on pace to drive in 201 runs. While that obviously isn’t happening, what is happening is that the 30-year-old is continuing to prove he is the most consistent hitter in baseball. For the season, Cabrera is hitting .389/.467/.627, with six home runs, 36 RBI and 26 runs scored. If you drafted Miggy with your first-round pick in your fantasy draft or you spent the big bucks required in your auction league, you are likely having no buyer’s remorse pangs. Credit must be given, of course, to Austin Jackson for doing a terrific job getting on base in front of Cabrera (30 runs scored already) and to Prince Fielder hitting behind Cabrera. Going into Sunday’s games, the Jackson/Cabrera duo had scored 56 of the Tigers’ 155 runs, while Cabrera and Fielder have teamed up to drive in 64 of the team’s 152 RBI. The key to it all, though, is Cabrera – the best hitter in baseball (including fantasy baseball). Period.

Who’s Not?

Mitchell Boggs, St. Louis Cardinals

I hate to pile on Boggs here, but my goodness, has he ever been awful. After a 2012 season in which he was one of the best setup men in baseball, Boggs has cratered. In his first 10 appearances, Boggs tallied two blown saves, two losses, and a 12.66 ERA. He allowed a ghastly 30 baserunners in just 10 2/3 innings. The final straw came last Thursday, when he walked the only two batters he faced against Milwaukee. With usual closer Jason Motte now facing Tommy John surgery and out until midseason 2014, Boggs was supposed to provide stability in the Cardinals bullpen. He did not. The instability was further compounded when left-hander Marc Rzepczynski was demoted last week as well. It is fortunate for St. Louis (and fantasy owners) that Edward Mujica has stepped up to fill the void at closer. As the Cardinals try to rebuild their bullpen on the fly, it is worth remembering that the same thing happened in 2011. If Boggs is trying to find a bright side in his demotion, perhaps this will help: Boggs was last sent to the minors in 2011. When he returned, he was a key cog in the retooled bullpen that helped propel the Cards to their 11th world championship in 2011. General manager John Mozeliak hinted that Boggs’ stay at Triple-A Memphis would be short. Cards fans and fantasy owners hope that Boggs can return and be the pitcher he was in 2012.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: 1-0, 3.00 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, 12 IP, 16/2 K/BB ratio
Player B: 1-0, 1.63 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 11 IP, 13/4 K/BB ratio

Player A is Reds’ rookie pitcher Tony Cingrani. Player B is the Marlins’ own rookie, righty Jose Fernandez. What a pair these two are. Cingrani has been everything the Reds expected and then some in his four starts in 2013. His six-inning, 11 strikeout performance against the Nationals was nothing short of dominating. I don’t see how the Reds can justify sending their prized southpaw back down to the minors even when Johnny Cueto returns from the disabled list. He has proven he belongs. Meanwhile, in Miami, Fernandez, who was born the year before the Marlins came into existence, is becoming the only reason to watch the Marlins while Giancarlo Stanton is injured. After scuffling his past three starts, Fernandez was brilliant over the weekend in earning his first career victory. He struck out nine Phillies, allowed one hit and one walk during seven shutout innings. At age 20, Fernandez is likely to be strictly monitored this season, but the strikeout potential is there for fantasy owners if you can live with the shorter outings and occasional spells of inconsistency. If he’s available in your league, he’s worth a look.

Player A: 4-2, 1.59 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 51/7 K/BB ratio
Player B: 3-1, 1.61 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 42/8 K/BB ratio

Player A is Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. Player B is his teammate Hisashi Iwakuma. It’s no secret that I’m a big Iwakuma fan. The numbers above illustrate why. Iwakuma is King Felix Lite. You can pay big auction dollars or use an early draft pick on Hernandez and be satisfied with the numbers he provides. Or, you could have spent that early pick/auction cash on a hitter like Prince Fielder and then picked up Iwakuma many rounds later and enjoy the similar stats at a bargain-basement price. Obviously, it’s early in the season and Iwakuma does not have King Felix’s track record. But don’t dismiss this as a fluke. Iwakuma has great stuff, doesn’t walk many batters and pitches in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the game. I believe he’s the real deal

Random Thoughts

News: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Chris Carpenter thinks the nerve pain in his throwing arm has improved enough that he wants to try to come back as a reliever. Views: If anyone can do it, it’s Carpenter. But the man has nothing to prove to anyone. He was as fierce a competitor as anyone you’ll ever see.

So, Roy Oswalt signed a minor-league contract with the Rockies. This tells me two things: 1) that ol’ Roy isn’t looking for the best chance to win, but rather a team that would stick him in the rotation as soon as possible, and 2) his pouty antics last year in Texas really damaged his reputation. I find it very difficult to believe that Oswalt couldn’t have hooked on with a better team than the Rockies if he hadn’t been such an unprofessional whiner with the Rangers. If he hadn’t acted that way, doesn’t it seem reasonable that teams like the Yankees, Angels, or Mets (all teams in dire need of starting pitching depth in spring training) might have kicked Oswalt’s tires if they thought he would do his job like a pro and not complain to the media constantly like a prissy NFL wide receiver?

Congratulations to Scott Kazmir, who earned his first major-league win since September 2010 this past Saturday. The lanky lefty is only 29. It would be a major, if unlikely, boost for the Indians if he could recapture the success he enjoyed with Tampa Bay. Still, he’s not going near my fantasy team’s roster.

Yu Darvish is receiving in tons of accolades in Texas, but let’s not lose sight of what Pirates starter AJ Burnett has done so far this season. The 36-year-old Burnett has whiffed 57 batters in 42 innings so far this season with a 1.12 WHIP.

Speaking of the Pirates, they’re going to be a real handful for everyone once Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker start hitting. McCutchen is off to a .259/.319/.444 start, while Walker is hitting (or should I say, NOT hitting) .253/.352/.342. Meanwhile, left fielder Starling Marte is putting up McCutchen-like numbers (.328/.394/.513, while leading the NL with 10 steals).

Wainwright Walk Watch: In 49 2/3 innings pitched this season, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has walked three batters. Or, about what the Padres’ Edinson Volquez averages per inning of work.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Fantasy Forecast

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Fantasy Forecast

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

In Florida and Arizona all spring training camps are now kicked into gear. Along with that, Fantasy Baseball leagues are forming and drafts are being prepped for.

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This year, my fantasy career becomes a teenager. I have been competing in various fantasy leagues since the year 2000, and with that I have managed several championship teams, have also had a few down teams, and a whole bunch in the middle with heartbreak and triumph.

For me, fantasy football and baseball leagues have always been about fun. The chance to have bragging rights over friends, maybe win a few bucks, and watching the games from a different perspective is a great learning tool. I can still remember having those drafts in friend’s basements and jokingly hearing from the peanut gallery that every player would be a bust. Or, making a draft day trade that was crazy ridiculous, yet still managing to win a championship that same year. Gathering around big boards with magazines fanned out and a dozen pizzas ordered, hoping that you will create that winning club for the upcoming season are like mini Christmas’ for some.

With that in mind, here is a little forecasting to hopefully set the 2013 season off on the right track. For me, the top pick overall this season has to be a guy that has yet to play on an Opening Day. The Angel’s Mike Trout is the guy this season. His rookie season was one of the best seasons in history and not just by a rookie. He is a five tool player. Trout edges out the Detroit Tigers’ Triple Crown man, Miguel Cabrera. Rounding out my overall top 5 would be Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, and Andrew McCutchen.

Next on the clock, the top pitcher would be Justin Verlander of the Tigers as well. He just turned 30 but he is a true ace. He wins games, eats up innings, and dominates the strike outs. Two other aces to headline a staff would be the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw or the Rays’ David Price. Stephen Strasburg, while he is a star attraction, is not quite a top three pitcher just yet. Personally, I still have questions about his arm. Coming out of college I suspected that he may be prone to a major surgery and that is what happened a few seasons ago. After last year’s well publicized inning limit he should have a solid season and hopefully will pitch a full year. The top catcher would definitely be the Giants’ Buster Posey and top closer to rack up saves would be the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel.

Many times, seasons are won and lost on those draft day risks and reaches. The sleepers or rookies you hope will pan out because you want to jump at them first before the guy on his ninth slice of pizza does. These picks may have you booed into the next beverage run, but they could also lead to a victory dance at the end of the season too.

ChrisSale

On the mound, sleepers may include the White Sox Chris Sale who last year was a starter, then closer, then starter again and turned in a heck of a season. This year he will likely be the ace and have another good season while many still may have doubts. Also, Madison Bumgarner continues to develop and improve out by the bay. He is overshadowed by others out there but his talents and skills are right up there. Mike Minor in Atlanta could also put together a nice season as well.

Offensive sleepers include the Houston Astros Jose Altuve. When it comes to the Astros, there are not very many good things but Altuve is one. From another club that could struggle all year is the Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario. Finally, it may be my turn for the drink run, but Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs will be a guy to get dibs on. I am confident in that. Let the big names go early, sit back, wait, and grab Rizzo mid draft.

The top rookie on draft day will likely be the closer of the Tigers, Bruce Rondon. He is a young flame thrower and will surely get plenty of chances with that offense in support. Also, likely making a debut this year will be the New York Mets top prospect pitcher Zack Wheeler.

As draft days near, may the force and luck be with you. Best of luck constructing that winning club, but most importantly have fun! The best thing about baseball is that it is everyday for 162 games and the weather is mostly sunny.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts for draft strategies and Play Ball!

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Detroit Tigers Quintin Berry – A Dirtbag?

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Detroit Tigers Quintin Berry – A Dirtbag?

Posted on 15 February 2013 by Jennifer Gosline

There is no shortage of big names on the Detroit Tigers. Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander may grab the headlines on one of the most polarizing teams in the league, but what about the other guys?

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The other guys whose names do not litter the media; the players with the not so glamorous roles of base stealing, sac bunting, and quick footed pinch runners, like Quintin Berry. Manager Jim Leyland once referred to these players as “Dirtbags”, the little guys who do not have reporters anxiously waiting for an interview or to snap a photo of their victory smiles. The ones that stand in the shadows of their celebrity teammates, but play hard and make a difference for their team. Dirtbags are the underdogs. With the cameras, lights, and articles swirling around the hype of the All Star starts and MVP awards, the media overlooks players like Berry.

Berry has something that a lot of other players do not have or else they just keep it buried deep within them. He has an affection for baseball that is pure and raw, the feeling that every baseball fan and probably every player gets when it is the start of the season. I am not sure why some other players do not show this emotion. Perhaps, it is because they are nervous of it being seen as weak, or that it will overshadow their ability as a ballplayer. All I know is that Berry wears his heart on his sleeve and he does not hold back.

On May 23, 2012 Berry made his Major League debut with the Tigers at Cleveland where he went 1-5 with 1 Run. He came onto the field bright-eyed and with the unbridled enthusiasm of a little leaguer. His first hit in a Tiger’s uniform resulted in a double… on a bunt. It was an unconventional bunt double, but nonetheless, his speed was proven. His quick feet and boundless energy caught the attention of the team and the fans. It is guys like Berry that help make a team thrive. The outfielder’s spark was infectious with every move he made. Even watching from the dugout his facial expressions showed it all. He put the child-like excitement back into the game.

He may not have had the most appealing slash line at .258/.330/.354 but it was the entertaining factor and of course his hustle, that was simply invaluable. Baseball needs more than just those big hitters. They need a team to work together. The animated Tiger proved himself over the season to be a hard working replacement for the injured Austin Jackson. It was Berry’s dirtbag quality and timely plays that kept him on the roster even after the veteran starting center fielder returned.

Berry had 44 Runs and 29 RBIs after the Tigers called him up last season. But the magnitude of stolen bases might be what lands Berry a spot on the 25 man roster in 2013. Last season, he swiped 21 bags out of 21 attempts, leading the major leagues in stolen base percentage with 100%. The next Tiger with the most steals in 2012 was Austin Jackson, with 12. However, Jackson’s injury definitely decreased his numbers last season; he finished with 22 in 2011.

With little hitting power, this speedy outfielder has a Spring Training invite to battle for a coveted spot on the active roster. I agree that Berry has some work to do to prove he deserves that place. Passion can only go so far, but there is more to Berry than being a cheerleader and he is dying for every opportunity to prove it. He will be competing with outfielders Don Kelly and Brennan Boesch who, along with Berry, are left handed hitters. Boesch may be the stronger hitter, and Kelly may be more versatile, but no one has the speed and energy of Berry.

While no one can ignore a Triple Crown or a Home Run Derby winner, nor should they, Berry may just be that gritty player that gives the Tigers an edge. He gives hope for every underrated career minor leaguer who just wants a chance in the bigs. This season, Comerica Park might once again be filled with the echoing chants of “Berry, Berry”. However, the 28 year old would be happy to fly under the radar and be lost in the shadows of the star studded Detroit Tigers. He just wants to be a part of the team. Every club should have a player like Quintin Berry, a guy with an honorable title of: Dirtbag.

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Why Does Baseball Not Respect Team USA Like Basketball Does?

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Why Does Baseball Not Respect Team USA Like Basketball Does?

Posted on 17 January 2013 by Trish Vignola

Derek Jeter has been the face of American baseball for nearly two decades. When the World Baseball Classic (WBC) came knocking, he played not once…but twice. Jeter batted a combined .347 in the 2006 and 2009 tournaments.

JeterUSA

Jeter will not play in this year’s WBC. It’s barely six weeks away, and he’s still recovering from a broken ankle. Otherwise, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports, he would play. Morosi reports that the decision would be based heavily on the fact that his mentor Joe Torre is managing Team USA.

Team USA’s roster will include young, charismatic stars including the Orioles’ Adam Jones. However, what’s shocking is who is not there. Are they getting pressured from their teams? Are they considered with injury? Morosi reports that MLB research shows there were more April disabled list assignments, by percentage, in ’06 and ’09 for players who did not play in the WBC than for those who did.

We haven’t done well in the tournament. Team USA’s WBC performance has, to date, is 7-7 with zero appearances in the title game. Shouldn’t we want redemption? Who cares that you’re in your walk year?

For every other participating nation, the opposite is true: Players offer an immediate yes unless they are injured. Miguel Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval were the first players to commit for Team Venezuela. They will be joined by ace Felix Hernandez, who is as close to free agency as Kershaw and Verlander. The later two are still wavering about joining the roster. What are they waiting for?

Morosi presents a theory. “How about we lend greater legitimacy and profile to the event by sending the best of our best, the way the other countries have, and then accept the results as they are?”

We present to you USA Basketball. After a highly disappointing 2004 Olympics, they have a 16-0 record and two gold medals. How did that happen? They demanded it. Kobe and LeBron got an edict, and they came through.

Is it time for baseball to demand more? Morosi calls for a LeBron-type figure to emerge as a “Captain America.” It’s not going happen in 2013.

So, we’re due for another ho-hum WBC. Why should we fully invest if they don’t? It’s probably easier to take the loss that way. America, when it comes to our national pastime, the world is catching up to us.

Yes, the US remains the technical center of the baseball universe. It still produces more than 70 percent of current major-league players. It also serves as the base for 29 of its 30 teams. Nonetheless, game is more diverse than it’s ever been. This is positive.
Nonetheless, because of how the history of our nation is intertwined with the history of the sport, Morosi feels that the US bears a unique responsibility to grow the WBC as the sport’s premier international tournament. I agree. I also agree that a big part of that obligation is showing up.

It would also be nice to win.

For more on Jon Paul Morosi’s work, check him out on Fox Sports.

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