Every year there seems to be a preseason frontrunner to win the AL Rookie of the Year for , and this year is no exception. A lot of people predicted that the award would go to Jesus Montero, Yu Darvish, Yoenis Cespedes or even Mike Trout. However, there’s someone else that you should be watching closely.
Drew Smyly came out relative obscurity (unless you’re a baseball nerd like myself) to having himself a phenomenal year. I don’t want to over hype anything he’s done so far, but the numbers just don’t lie.
In four starts with the Tigers, Smyly is 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA. What’s more impressive, is the fact that two of his starts have come against arguably the best two teams in the American League.
His last start was in Yankee Stadium where he pitched six innings while allowing only two hits and one run en route to earning his first Major League win. In the start before that, he held the Rangers to just one run in six innings, only to get a no decision.
As a Detroit fan, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with what I’ve seen so far, and it’s a shame that he hasn’t gotten the recognition that he deserves. I’m not worried, because if he keeps like pitching like this, he’ll have an excellent chance of winning the AL Rookie of the Year.
Last weekend I got a chance to go to New York, and in just three days, I got to experience more than I had in the previous month. Seeing as my entire trip revolved around baseball, I wanted to share my experience with you.
Things didn’t exactly start off smoothly for me, but I eventually found my way. Thanks to the advice of some friendly people sitting around me, I found a way to get to my destination without paying 45 dollars for a cab.
Saving thirty dollars in the first half hour sounded like a great idea to me, but the only problem was that despite saving money, it ended up costing me about two hours. That was mainly due to some traffic, an accident, and a shuttle bus that felt the need to block off two lanes of traffic. Oh well, I guess that’s New York for you.
Eventually I made it to the apartments that I was going to spend the weekend at, thanks to some very generous friends. My first destination: The MLB Fan Cave.
I won’t go into too much depth about it, since I’ll be posting another blog completely about it, but it was nice to get a chance to spend some more time with friends I’ve made. It was interesting to see the life that I came so close to living, but there’s always next year, right?
A few of us went out to a bar afterward, and got my first overpriced Coca-Cola of the trip. Eventually we made it back home, and that was it for night number one.
It’s not often that a city will love and hate a player as much as they did Brandon Inge, so I’m sure the announcement of his release will be talked about quite a bit in the next few days. Seeing as I’m from Michigan, I thought it was only right that I should chime in and say a few words about it.
For the record, I have always defended Brandon Inge, and I will always continue to do so. Although there’s certainly questions of his ability to perform offensively, the Tigers knew fully well what they were getting themselves into when they signed last signed Inge.
Inge has never hit for average, so it is hard to understand why exactly everyone was suddenly so upset by the fact he has hit .227 over the course of the last three years when he’s only has a .234 career average. That’s also not taking into account the fact that he had and played with mononucleosis during a good portion of the 2011 season.
If you’re interpreting this to mean that I think his performance on the field warranted him every day playing time, or me attempting to justify that he deserved to be paid 5.5 million dollars this year, then you’re mistaken.
The biggest issue I have is why people seem to be unwilling to root for Brandon Inge. He’s been made out to be the bad guy on the Tigers and unjustifiably has been given more then his fair share of blame for Detroit’s recent struggles. The Tigers weren’t losing because of Brandon Inge–but they’re definitely going to suffer from losing him.
I’d think it’s fair to guess that there were few players who were more looked up to in the Tigers organization than Inge. You often heard stories of Inge taking rookies under his wing and doing things like buying them a bottle of champagne when they hit their first Major League home run. From reading the reactions from the team, you can tell how much the players respected and appreciated him.
He was a guy that was forced to change his position and swing on numerous occasions, but still always managed to work hard and find a way to get playing time. For the people who criticized him when he mentioned that he wanted to play everyday, I simply don’t get it. Would you rather have a guy on your team who is content with sitting on the bench collecting a paycheck, or a guy who is working everyday to prove that deserves to be there? I don’t think that should even be a debate.
I think the biggest loss in all of this may very well be all the non-profit organizations that Inge was involved with. Countless times during the course of the year you’d hear stories of Inge visiting kids at a children’s hospital, or volunteering his time somewhere in the community. It’s not often that you find professional athletes continually going out of their way to try to make a difference in the world, but Inge always seemed more than willing to do his part.
If you want to say that Brandon Inge was an underperformer on the field, that’s one thing, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t like or support him as a person. Whether you loved him or hated him, there’s no doubt you’ll miss him.
First of all, I want to quickly apologize for not posting a blog yesterday, but New York City left me without internet access until now (3:20 AM as I start typing this). Don’t worry, I’ll make it up to all of you when I get a chance.
As far as what I’ve got to experience and see so far, the answer is not much. Thanks to the lovely assistance of several people on my plane, I was given a suggestion of how to get from LaGuardia Airport to the apartment I’m staying at for 15 dollars.
Even though I did save a bit of money taking this route instead of a cab, one thing that I did not save was time. Due to a few delays and an accident, it ended up taking me over two hours to get from the airport to my destination (according to Google Maps it’s a 25 minute drive).
The important thing is that I made it safely and I’m thankful for that. I also got a chance to check out the MLB Fan Cave, watch four baseball games there and meet Yankees pitcher Cody Eppley.
I’ve only been here one night so far, but if today gave any indication of what’s in store for the next few days, it should be amazing. I’m doing my best to document as much as I can of the voyage and will definitely have a full write up either on Sunday or Monday. If time permits, I’ll try to post something later in the day.
In 2010, the Texas Rangers made it to the World Series and they lost. In 2011, the Rangers once again made it to the World Series, only to lose again. Will 2012 be the year that the Rangers finally win it all, or will there be disappointment once again?
I’m sure you’ve all heard it by now, but if you haven’t, the Rangers twice came within one strike of winning the World Series last year. Unfortunately those strikes were never recorded, and the St. Louis Cardinals ended up being champions. The Rangers refused to sit idly by, and made a few big moves during the offseason.
After losing C.J. Wilson to free agency, the Rangers went all out and signed Yu Darvish to a six year sixty-million dollar contract. That’s also not including the nearly 50 million dollars the Rangers had to pay in order to negotiate with Darvish.
It’ll be interesting to see how Darvish will fare in Major League Baseball, as we’ve witnessed his potential control problems, as well as his ability to be dominant against even the best hitters in baseball. In his last outing against the Yankees, Darvish struck out ten hitters in eight innings without allowing a run. If Darvish can be consistently dominant, he’ll be more than worth every dollar they spent on him.
In another surprising move, the Rangers signed Joe Nathan to a two-year deal to be their closer and moved Neftali Feliz to the rotation. I’m curious if that’ll be a good move in the end, as Nathan hasn’t pitched a full season since recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Feliz hasn’t thrown more than 70 innings in any season of his career.
Perhaps the best part of the Rangers is their lineup, and that’s why I’m saving it for last. From top to bottom, the Rangers have arguably the best offensive team in all of baseball. You have Ian Kinsler leading off who will likely hit at least 25 home runs and steal 25 bases. When you have players such as Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Michael Young in your lineup, you’re not going to find any weaknesses.
As much as it pains me to say this, I do think that the Rangers are currently the best team in all of Major League Baseball. This isn’t to say that they can’t be defeated, but it’s not going to be easy.
Fun fact: The Texas Rangers have only retired the number of one former player, and that’s the number 34 of Nolan Ryan.
If you followed baseball last year, you’re probably well aware about how the Chicago White Sox were one of the biggest disappointments in the American League. The White Sox were expected to compete with the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, but instead finished in third place with a record of 79-83. The White Sox made plenty of changes for the 2012 season, but will it be enough for them to win their division?
The biggest change took place in September of last year, when the White Sox traded their manager (Ozzie Guillen) to the Marlins. They hired Robin Ventura as their manager during the offseason, despite having no previous managerial experience at the professional level.
It almost seemed like the White Sox were having a fire sale during the offseason, as they lost numerous players to free agency and a few questionable trades. Some of these key losses included Mark Buehrle, Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin and Jason Frasor.
You look at all the talent they lost, and you would imagine they’d at least be getting a lot of impact players in return. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at all. The White Sox instead chose to stockpile a lot of prospects, many of who could make a significant impact in the upcoming years. The only player who entered the 2012 season as a proven veteran is Paul Konerko, who should continue to be one of the best hitting players in all of baseball.
I think two of the biggest factors in determining whether or not the White Sox can get back to their winning ways are Adam Dunn and the starting rotation. In 2011, Dunn had statistically one of the worst offensive seasons in the history of Major League Baseball, hitting .159 with 11 home runs. If the White Sox are going to compete, they desperately need some sort of production from Dunn.
There’s also a lot of questions in regards to the White Sox rotation. With pitchers like Jake Peavy, John Danks and Chris Sale, the White Sox could end up having either the best or worst rotation in the division. There’s a lot of concerns specifically with Sale, with critics wondering if he can hold up as a starting pitcher for the entire season. For Peavy, the question is going to be can he stay healthy. When Peavy has been healthy, he’s got good enough stuff to be a top of the rotation kind of guy.
Overall, I think the White Sox are going to still be on the outside looking in. Unless they make some big moves during the course of the year, I think they’re no better than a third place team in a rather weak division.
Fun fact: The White Sox have had to un-retire two different numbers. The first was number 11 (Luis Aparicio) when Aparicio requested the Omar Vizquel wear it when he played with the White Sox from 2010-11. The number 3 (Harold Baines) has been un-retired three times, once for each time he’s returned to the team.
When you’re young, it’s not uncommon to want to have a dream job. Some kids want to be doctors, lawyers, astronauts or even the President. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, in fact I encourage it wholeheartedly.
As a child, I dreamed of being a baseball broadcaster. This was fueled by many things, such as my love for the Tigers, baseball and listening to Ernie Harwell perfectly calling games for the Tigers on the radio. I never thought I‘d have a chance, but as I got older, I realized that anything is possible.
When I was around ten, I was told that my cousin’s godfather (current Tigers TV play-by-play broadcaster Mario Impemba) was working as the play-by-play broadcaster for the Angels on the radio. It seemed inconceivable to me that someone I knew (only through association at that point) was living the dream I wanted so desperately. I asked myself why couldn’t that be me?
We often find inspiration in the most bizarre of places, but I never thought I’d find it so close to home. Being so young and naïve, I didn’t fully understand how hard it was for Mario to get to where he was professionally. Through the years, I learned of the challenges he faced long before he ever had his first break as a broadcaster. It seemed like the odds were against me, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I was doing nothing more than chasing a dream that would only lead me to a path of disappointment.
Once I got to college, I struggled with finding a path that made sense to me. I thought about getting in business management, but that felt like too safe of an option. I contemplated getting in marketing or advertising, in hopes of being able to show of my creative side. I considered being a teacher, hoping that I could one day inspire kids to chase their dreams.
That’s when it really hit me. Why wasn’t I giving myself a chance to live my own dream? Ultimately I got my bachelor’s degree in journalism for one specific reason–I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life wondering if I could’ve made it. How could I live with myself knowing that I never tried? I’d rather try and fail at something, rather than to not attempt it at all.
Time will tell whether or not my dream of working in professional baseball will ever come true. I can’t predict the future, but I do know that I’m going to do everything I can to at least try. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll finally get a chance to live the dream. The way I look at it, if you’re not willing to dream, you’re not willing to live.
If you ever talk to a Cubs fan, they always seem to think that next year is going to be the year they finally break the curse. Last year, the Cubs disappointed their fans once again, coming in fifth place in the NL Central, finishing only ahead of the Houston Astros. Do the Cubs have what it takes to improve on the 71-91 record they posted last year, or should we expect much of the same?
Call it a curse, bad luck or whatever you’d like, but the Cubs haven’t found themselves in serious contention for quite a few years and it doesn’t seem like they’re getting any closer to doing so. In one of the more surprising moves in the offseason, the Cubs acquired Boston’s general manager Theo Epstein and named him President of Baseball Operations.
I’ll be honest, the move didn’t really make a lot of sense to me. Nothing against Epstein, but I don’t necessarily understand how he’s going to be able to make the 2012 Cubs a whole lot better than they were last year. Of course the argument will likely be made that the move was made looking at the long-term situation for Chicago, but I’d imagine that people in Chicago want to see the North Siders win now.
The NL Central has proved to be one of the more competitive divisions in recent years, and it’s going to be incredibly difficult for the Cubs to outperform the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers, but it’s not impossible.
Even though he’s no longer a rookie, Bryan LaHair has played in so few games that I’m sure not a lot of people are familiar with who he is. LaHair has gotten off to a solid start at first base for the Cubs, hitting .361 through the 13 games of the season. Obviously it’s not likely that he’ll keep hitting at that pace for the duration of the season, but he fills the vacancy left by Carlos Pena quite nicely.
Another player that people need to be more aware about is the very young, but talented Starlin Castro. At 22-years old, Castro is playing his third year at shortstop. All he’s done is quietly hit better than .300 the last two years. If he’s this good right now, imagine how good he can be.
For me, the biggest question mark for the Cubs is their pitching. They have Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza at the top of their rotation, but after that, it goes downhill quickly. For this reason, it wouldn’t shock me if the Cubs trade away Garza before the deadline, and try to pick up a couple young starting pitchers in return.
Then there’s the bullpen. The Cubs have Carlos Marmol as their closer once again in 2012, and I’m sure they’re desperately hoping that he’ll have a year more comparable to his 2010 season than the one he had last year. Even if you have a lead entering the ninth inning, you don’t want to see your closer have an ERA of over 4.00, because that means you’re not going to come away with too many victories.
The good news for the Cubs is that they’re going to win more games this year than last year. The bad news is that it likely won’t be enough for them to make it to the playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see if Theo Epstein can bring enough talent here in the next few years to allow them to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2008.
Fun fact: Wrigley Field has the distinction of being the first place where the “Star Spangled Banner” was performed during a professional sports game. It happened during the 7th inning stretch of game one during the 1918 World Series.
In 2011, the San Diego Padres finished with a record of 71-91, which was tied for the fifth-worst record in all of Major League Baseball, and second worst in the National League. Is there any reason to think that the 2012 Padres will fare any better?
After a very disappointing season, the Padres traded away Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso and two minor-league prospects. In doing so, the Padres lost the ace of their rotation, but in return got a quality pitcher (Volquez) as well as Alonso, who if it wasn’t for Joey Votto, would have been the starting first baseman for the Reds.
The Padres didn’t go out and sign a bunch of free-agent talent, but rather decided to try to bolster their team by making several more trades. Through these moves, they were able to acquire a new closer (Huston Street) as well as outfielder Carlos Quentin. Both of these moves were made to address and improve their team, as they lost their closer Heath Bell to free agency, and desperately needed to find some way to improve their offense.
Unfortunately for the Padres, Quentin injured his knee before the season started and has yet to make an appearance for them. Once he returns from the disabled list, he will immediately make a dramatic impact on their lineup.
As much as I like to be optimistic, it’s hard for me to see a whole lot of upside with the Padres this year, especially after owner John Moores announced that he was putting the team for sale. It’s hard to imagine him willing to invest a lot of money into a team that he’s no longer going to be a part of, but hopefully the new owner(s) will be willing to spend the money to make the Padres competitive once again.
Fun fact: When the Padres initial owner went to sell the team in 1974, he almost sold it to Joseph Danzansky. Danzansky planned on moving the franchise to Washington D.C., but much to the surprise of everyone, the deal fell through. Instead, the Padres were sold to McDonald’s co-founder Ray Kroc, who had absolutely no interest in moving the team.
After last night’s game was rained out, the Tigers and Rangers played a doubleheader to make it up. The Rangers looked dominant in the first game, but the Tigers came roaring back in the second.
To say that Rick Porcello struggled in the first game is putting it nicely, but if you can’t bring you’re A-game against the Rangers, they’re going to make you pay. After scoring eight runs in the first inning, Porcello’s day was over. Home runs by Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera brought the Tigers closer, but it was too little, too late.
There’s really no need to panic about Porcello, as you’re going to your ups and downs as the season goes on. Porcello looked great in his first two starts, so let’s not forget that.
Looking to avoid losing their third straight home game, Justin Verlander did what he did so many times last year, and that’s put a tally in the win column.
It was obvious that the Rangers were trying to drive up Verlander’s pitched count and that approach nearly worked.
After six innings, Verlander had allowed only one run on four hits, but had thrown 115 pitches. That meant his day was done and the Tigers headed to their bullpen. Octavio Dotel held the Rangers in check, but Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde definitely provided a bit of late-inning excitement for all the fans watching the game.
But all that matters is that we were able to get the win and split the doubleheader. Hopefully the Tigers can continue to roll tomorrow so we can split this four game series before the Mariners come to town.