March 2012

Q and A With Jason Adam

Jason Adam was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 5th round of the 2010 draft. Not having played any after being drafted, this past season was Adam’s first year of professional baseball. Although he didn’t post mind boggling stats by any means, he was still able to hold his own.

Adam spent 2011 with Class A Kane County. There he went 6-9, with a 4.23 ERA, through 104.1 innings pitched, recording 76 strike outs along the way. Not terrible for his first year of pro ball, but I look for Adam to really show off his talents in the coming 2012 season. He certainly has the ability to become a pretty dominant pitcher.

Jason Adam–top 20 prospect in the Kansas City Royals organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Did you always want to be a pitcher?

I’ve always loved baseball as long as I can remember. I started playing competitively at age 8. Honestly though, I was more of a hitter growing up. It wasn’t until a year or two into high school time that my pitching started to become my main focus.

2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?

I had always wanted to be a hitter so I was a big fan of all those home run guys like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

3.) You were drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you found out? Initial thoughts?

It was a crazy process but it was a lot of fun. I was huddled around the computer with my family watching the draft when I found out the Royals would be taking me. It was a very special moment for me especially since it was my favorite team and I knew we have such a great minor league system.

4.) This was your first year of professional baseball. What do you feel went well? What do you feel you need to work on for 2012?

I thought it was a fairly successful year but it definitely left me with a lot to work on. A huge thing for me will be working on getting faster to the plate to control the running game. I also want to get really consistent with locating all three pitches.

5.) Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?

Nothing in particular, but I do try to remind myself every time that it’s a blessing that I get to play this game and to be thankful for it. You will get humbled very quickly if you start putting yourself on a pedestal.

6.) When was the first time someone asked for your autograph? What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever signed?

Right when I got drafted my buddy asked me to sign a bat, but other than that nothing too strange.

7.) Favorite TV show?

Entourage. I watched every episode in one road trip last year, and I’m in love with Sloan.

8.) Favorite food?

Definitely salmon.

9.) Do you collect anything?

I don’t really collect anything. Maybe if I was super rich I’d collect cars.

10.) What advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?

Have fun and don’t let anybody tell you what your dreams should be. No matter how successful you are or aren’t at something stay humble and be thankful for the people that help you along the way.

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Big thanks to Jason Adam for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on twitter: @Jason_Adam9

My 2012 MLB Predictions

After watching several Spring Training games to try to get a feel for how teams will perform this season, I finally feel I can post my MLB predictions blog entry that I’ve had on hold for the past month. I’ve never attempted to make predictions for an entire year of Major League Baseball, but I’m going to give it a shot. I’ll probably be way off, but who knows, I might get lucky.

I’m going to start off by giving my predictions for each division, starting with the AL East:

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

1- New York Yankees

2- Tampa Bay Rays

3- Boston Red Sox

4- Toronto Blue Jays

5- Baltimore Orioles

Reasoning: I have the Yankees just edging out the Rays for the number one spot in the American League East. Both are going to be great teams this year but I think the Yankees have a slightly better team than the Rays. As far as the Red Sox go, I don’t see them having a repeat year from last. They’re bound to do much better this season. I don’t see them doing better than the Rays however, who are really getting their team together. I’ve got the Blue Jays finishing fourth in the AL East. While they have a decent pitching staff and power slugger Jose Bautista, as well as several young stars, I don’t think their team is quite there yet. Give them a few more years, and I think they’ll be a real threat in the division. As far as the Orioles go, I don’t see them doing any better than last year. They didn’t make any drastic changes to their team to warrant a belief that they’ll move up even one spot.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL 

1- Detroit Tigers

2- Cleveland Indians

3- Kansas City Royals

4- Minnesota Twins

5- Chicago White Sox

Reasoning: If you had asked me back when the 2011 season ended if I thought there was a team that could beat out the Detroit Tigers for the number one spot in the AL Central, my answer would’ve been yes. Now that the Tigers have Prince Fielder, and the transition for Miguel Cabrera from first to third base seems to have gone smoothly, I’d say there’s no chance of any team coming close to the Tigers. With their Ace Justin Verlander leading the way, I could easily see the Tigers winning 100 or more games this year. I have the Cleveland Indians finishing second in the division. I feel that they’re a good team, but not good enough for the number one spot. The number three spot goes to the Kansas City Royals. I feel that it’s just a matter of time before this team really starts to leave its mark. They have a great team, as well as several great prospects still in the minors. I think the Royals will be good enough for the number two spot in a couple years. I would’ve placed the Twins higher on the list had it not been for the great ammount of uncertainty. The Twins have a decent team, however their star players Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau didn’t have their best stuff last season due to injury. I’m not sure they can beat out the Royals for numbethird in the AL Central. As far as the White Sox go, they’re good engough for dead last on my list.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST 

1- Texas Rangers

2- Los Angeles Angels

3- Seattle Mariners

4- Oakland Athletics

Reasoning: It was very difficult for me to decide between the Rangers and Angels for that number one spot in the AL West. Both have great pitching staffs, as well as great players in their line ups, but in the end I felt that the Rangers and Yu Darvish would just beat out the Angels by one or two games. I have the Mariners taking that number three spot. Although the Athletics signed cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes, as well as Manny Ramirez, I feel the Mariners are a better team when it comes down to it.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST 

1- Philadelphia Phillies

2- Atlanta Braves

3- Miami Marlins

4- Washington Nationals

5- New York Mets

Reasoning: Choosing between the Phillies and Braves for the number one spot was difficult. They both have injured players going into the season, however both have a good team even with the injuries. The only reason I picked the Phillies for first is their pitching rotation. The Braves have a good one as well, but I don’t think it’s as developed as the Phillies, who have their Ace Roy Halladay. The Marlins I have coming in third. While I feel they’ll deffinitely do better than last season–with the additions of Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano–I don’t think they can compete with the Braves or Phillies in the very tough NL East division. Another team that I feel is going to do a lot better this season than last is the Washington Nationals. If Bryce Harper performs well once called up, and Stephen Strasburg can stay healthy, I think the Nationals stand a chance of beating out the Marlins for third in the division. For now, however, I’m still sticking with my prediction of fourth for the Nat’s, but give them a year or so and they’ll be a really good team. The Mets are last on my list, as I don’t feel they’ll do any better than last year, even with a healthy Johan Santana.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1- St. Louis Cardinals

2- Milwaukee Brewers

3- Cincinnati Reds

4- Pittsburgh Pirates

5- Chicago Cubs

6- Houston Astros

Reasoning: Depending on how healthy their star players can stay throughout the season, and how well the teams as a whole perform, I could see the Cardinals, Brewers or Reds placing first in the NL Central. They all have decent pitching rotations, as well as decent lineups. Since I couldn’t pick all three to put in the top spot however, I decided to go with the Cardinals after much debate. I’m not only choosing the Cardinals because they were 2011 World Champions, but also because I feel that even with the loss of their superstar Albert Pujols, they’re a good enough team to win the division. The second place team on my list, the Brewers, took a similar hit as the Cardinals, loosing their star player Prince Fielder. Without the loss of Fielder, the Brewers would run away with the  division, but I feel it’s pretty even between the top three teams the way it stands. The Reds are a team that’s good enough for the top spot, but I have them finishing third in the NL Central just for the fact that I don’t think they’ll put everything together to finish any better; but they might just surprise me. The Pirates, who I have finishing fourth, are a team similar to the Nationals. They’re getting better everyday, and have a bunch of star prospects still in the minors, including top prospect pitcher Gerrit Cole, but it’ll be a few more years before they’re good enough for third place or higher. They’re deffinitely a team to keep a close eye on in the future though. I have the Cubs finishing next to last just ahead of the Astros. Nothing stands out to me that makes me think they have a shot at cracking the 103 year World Series drought, none the less finishing any better than fifth. The good news for the Astros is that I think they’ll be no worse than last season. The bad news is they were terrible last season. But that’s nothing new. They’re good enough for last place.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

1- San Francisco Giants

2- Arizona Diamondbacks

3- Los Angeles Dodgers

4- San Diego Padres

5- Colorado Rockies

Reasoning: After winning the World Series in 2010 the Giants had a terrible season last year. They were plagued with injuries to many of their stars, including Brian Wilson and Buster Posey, and while not injured, their Ace Tim Lincecum didn’t perform all that well. I look for the Giants to really dominate this coming season. I think Lincecum will have another stellar year, and I look for Buster Posey to have a bounce back year after being injured in 2011. Combine that with Wilson coming in to close things out, and I think you’ve got a team that’s good enough for first place in the division. The Diamondbacks, who won the division last season, are sure to have another fantastic season however I don’t think they’ll be quite good enough for the top spot. Matt Kemp and the Dodgers are sure to make a push at the number two spot. Kemp–who ended one home run shy of a 40/40 last season (40 home runs, 40 stolen bases)–made the bold prediction that he’ll record a 50/50 this year. While that seems a little far fetched, I still look for Kemp to help his team win a ton of games this year, and possibly end up winning the NL MVP, which he should’ve received after his 2011 performance. The Padres are another of my teams that I feel you should keep a close eye on. They’re not quite talented enough yet to finish any better than fourth (a step up from last season) but I feel that they’re really getting their act together. They made several great trades during the offseason, and their pitching staff is going to get better in the next couple of years. The Rockies in my opinion will finish last in the division. While they’re a good team, who also made some good trades during the off season, I feel that the Padres are going to be the slightly better team this year.

That’s my predictions for how the standings will look at the end of the 2012 Regular season. You may agree with me, or you might think I’m insane for some of my picks, but that’s just how I see it ending.

Here’s a quick review of the teams I have winning their divisions:

AL East: New York Yankees

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies

AL Central: Detroit Tigers

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

AL West: Texas Rangers

NL West: San Francisco Giants

Those are the teams that I have winning their divisions and moving onto the 2012 playoffs. Now moving onto my Wild Card Predictions. These are the teams I have recieving those:

AL Wild Card: Los Angeles Angels

NL Wild Card: Arizona Diamondbacks

Those are the teams I feel aren’t quite good enough to win their divisions, but will make it to the playoffs via a Wild Card slot. As you know, MLB is adding an extra Wild Card this season. So here are my picks for those:

Extra AL Wild Card Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Extra NL Wild Card Team: Atlanta Braves

If it comes out the way I predict, the Rays and Angels, and the Diamondbacks and Braves will have a one-game play off to see which will move on, and which one’s season will come to a dramatic end. It’s sure to be exciting.

I had originally planned on predicting all the way down to the World Series, but to be honest, there’s too much that can, and will, happen to have any success in doing that. I mean, when the Cardinals were 10 games back of the Braves for the Wild Card last year, who would’ve predicted that they’d go onto win the World Series? I will say this: I like the Tigers and Rangers chances.

So there you go. Those are my predictions for the division winners as well as the Wild Card, and extra Wild Card recipients. Only time will tell if they play out as I foresee.

Home Run Milestones that Should Occur In 2012

I decided to do something a little different today. Instead of blogging about the latest news, or my opinion on something, I decided just do an entry on home run milestones.

Below you’ll find a bulleted list of the home run milestones that *should* occur in 2012. I say should because there’s no guarantee that any given player on the list will reach the milestone; they could get injured, have a bad season, or whatever.

In order to make the list, the player had to meet the following criteria:

  1. You can’t be a pitcher. Although there are some pitchers that can hit home runs, you won’t find any on my list. Reason being is that they’re not everyday players.
  2. You have to have hit at least one home run in the Major Leagues. There are around 50 players going into 2012 that haven’t hit an MLB home run, but adding them to the below list just didn’t make sense.
  3. You have to be closing in on an even milestone, like 100, 200, 300, etc. I din’t include anyone that’s a few homers away from number 50, 75, 125, etc. It just didn’t seem necessary.*

The list is organized by player name–team–milestone they’re going for–and how many home runs they are from that particular milestone:

2012 Home Run Milestones

Geoff Blum, Diamondbacks–Home Run number 100 (1 home run away)

Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks–Home Run number 100 (2 home runs away)

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners–Home Run number 100 (5 home runs away)

Mark Ellis, Dodgers–Home Run number 100 (8 home runs away)

Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays–Home Run number 100 (8 home runs away)

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks–Home Run number 100 (9 home runs away)

B.J. Upton, Rays–Home Run number 100 (10 home runs away)

Orlando Hudson, Padres–Home Run number 100 (10 home runs away)

Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies–Home Run number 100 (23 home runs away)

Adam Jones, Orioles–Home Run number 100 (25 home runs away)

Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox–Home Run number 200 (5 home runs away)

Dan Uggla, Braves–Home Run number 200 (10 home runs away)

Travis Hafner, Indians–Home Run number 200 (11 home runs away)

Chase Utley, Phillies–Home Run number 200 (12 home runs away)

Justin Morneau, Twins–Home Run number 200 (15 home runs away)

Nick Swisher, Yankees–Home Run number 200 (15 home runs away)

David Wright, Mets–Home Run number 200 (17 home runs away)

Curtis Granderson, Yankees–Home Run number 200 (33 home runs away)

Jose Bautsta, Blue Jays–Home Run number 200 (44 home runs away)

Ryan Howard, Phillies–Home Run number 300 (14 home runs away)

Bobby Abreu, Angels–Home Run number 300 (16 home runs away)

Torii Hunter, Angels–Home Run number 300 (19 home runs away)

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers–Home Run number 300 (23 home runs away)

Paul Konerko, White Sox–Home Run number 400 (4 home runs away)

David Ortiz, Red Sox–Home Run number 400 (22 home runs away)

Jim Thome, Phillies–Home Run #610 to pass Sammy Sosa (6 HR’s away)

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees–Home Run #631 to pass Ken Griffey Jr. (2 HR’s away)

I don’t know whether or not you noticed the asterisk on criteria number three, but I did it because Jim Thome and Alex Rodriguez don’t meet the criteria of having to be going for an even number such as 100, or 200. Thome and A-rod were included in the list just for the fact that they’ve hit SO many home runs that they’re going for milestone home runs such as passing the games greats.

Whether or not you found the above information useful, I hope you at least found it enjoyable to read. I’m planning on doing a stats blog entry the first day of every month during the season, of the leaders of different categories from month to month. Similar to the one I did last season. So be looking out for that starting May 1st.

I apologize for being lazy and not blogging for nearly two weeks. I couldn’t seem to motivate myself to type one up, but I’m back now, and ready to go. Look for at least three blog entries a week starting Monday.

My Case for Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez

Going into Sunday’s Spring Training game against the Phillies, the number one thing on the minds of the Yankees–owners, players, and fans alike–was whether or not their highest paid player and power slugger, Alex Rodriguez, was going to perform well. After having a less than satisfactory end to the 2011 season, A-rod had to do something to get the fans back on their feet again. They needed a reason to cheer, and aiming to please, Rodriguez delivered.

The first pitch to Rodriguez–a fastball from Phillies Ace, Roy Halladay–was drilled the opposite way for a home run. Given the wind was whipping in that general direction, which no doubt helped carry the ball further than it would have traveled on a less blustery day, it was impressive none the less; and he wasn’t done yet.

Rodriguez reached base safely in each of his next two plate appearances. Recording a single and an RBI double, before being plucked from the game. Just a short glimpse at the old, injury free, Rodriguez, was a sight for sore eyes.

The problem with Rodriguez is that he can’t seem to stay healthy for very long, and using last year as an example, takes a while after recovering from an injury to get back into the groove of things. Taking all of this into consideration, many people foresee A-rod having a season similar to 2011, but I for one don’t see that taking place.

First of all, Rodriguez is too good of a player to not put up impressive stats, while healthy. He obviously wasn’t his normal self last season, due to injuries. However, if his first game of the year is any indication, Rodriguez seems to be fully healthy, and ready to go for 2012. Subsequently, that should equal a season with similar stats to years past. Yes, Rodriguez is older than he was back in the day, but he’s still not THAT old. At age 36, Rodriguez more than likely still has two or three more good seasons left in him; if he can stay injury free.

If in fact Rodriguez can avoid the injury bug for the full duration of the season, he should be able to reach several milestones. Currently one home run shy of tying Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all time home run list, A-rod should be able to check that off his list of things to do before he retires within the first week of the season. The next stop would be Willie Mays, who is currently fourth on the list with 660 career home runs. While I feel Rodriguez will come close, I don’t think he’ll quite reach it this year.I could however see Rodriguez tying (or passing?) Lou Gehrig for first on the all time grand slams list, with 23. (Rodriguez currently has 22 for his career.)

Moving onto a few other milestones that I could see A-rod achieving this season. Needing to drive in 107 base runners I could easily see Rodriguez reaching the 2,000 RBI mark. However, just like with passing Willie Mays in all time home runs, he might have to wait until 2013 to do so. 500 doubles is pretty much a guarantee, however, as he needs a mere 5 to reach the milestone.

I’m not trying to be unrealistic. Rodriguez isn’t going to come out and hit 40 home runs, and drive in 130 runs, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for him to have a 30 home run, 100 RBI year. He still has the determination, and most importantly the talent, that he’s had in years past.

I look for Alex Rodriguez to surprise a lot of people this year. He’s no longer 20, and thus is never going to play at the same level he was playing at in the prime of his career, but even a healthy 36-year old Rodriguez is enough to put fear into any opposing pitcher’s eyes. Or at least it should be.

My Thoughts On the Latest MLB News

I wanted to post a blog entry, as it’s come to my attention that I haven’t done so in 6 days. (Sorry about that.) I’m not going to focus on any one topic, or any particular team, but just a few of the latest things that have happened in MLB since the last time I blogged:

JASON VARITEK RETIRES

First it was Tim Wakefield, now it’s Jason Varitek. Two guys who have been with the Boston Red Sox for years, have called it quits within the past two weeks.

Varitek, who officially announced his retirement in a press conference yesterday, spent his entire 15 season career with Boston. Varitek ends his career just seven home runs shy of 200. While he wasn’t able to hit the 200 home run mark, he was able to crack the 1,000 hit mark, as he recorded 1,307 in his career.

Varitek was an icon in Boston, and was able to accomplish a lot in his career. Here’s just a few of the impressive attributes Varitek has:

  • Only player to play in Little League World Series, College World Series, MLB World Series, Olympics, and World Baseball Classic.

  • Played in more post season games than any other player in Red Sox history.

  • Only player in MLB history to catch four no-hitters.

Truly remarkable stuff.

INJURIES, INJURIES, AND MORE INJURIES

A.J. Burnett fractured his orbital bone on a fould tip while bunting during batting practice yesterday. Burnett, who underwent surgery earlier today to repair the damage, is expected to be out for 8-12 weeks.

This is a huge blow to the Pittsburgh Pirates, as Burnett was due to make the start on opening day. Now, with the injury, the Pirates will be forced to rethink their options. Although they have a few other decent pitchers in the rotation, you know they have to be disappointed, as they just acquired Burnett from the Yankees in return for a couple of minor leaguers. It doesn’t help the Pirates if Burnett’s on the bench.

After being hit by a fastball the fear by the Tampa Bay Rays was that Evan Longoria’s hand would take time to heal. Considering the fact that he was the major reason they made the play offs in the first place last year, that obviously wouldn’t be good news.

Luckily, after an x-ray, there are no broken bones, and Longoria’s hand swelling should decrease by Monday, which is when the Rays hope to have him ready to go for Spring Training.

It wasn’t looking very likely for Grady Sizemore that he’d make the Opening Day roster due to a back sprain, but after surgery was performed today, it is certain. Sizemore is expected to miss 8-12 weeks.

It’s a real shame for both the Cleveland Indians and Sizemore. The poor guy can’t seem to catch a break. Plagued by injuries over the past couple of years, Sizemore has gone from “future hall of famer”, to present day flop. Hoperfully, once his surgery scars have healed, Grady can get back to playing the way he used to, but unfortunately, as Kevin Millar put it, “back injuries are hard to come back from.”

MLB ADDS EXTRA WILD CARD

When I first heard that an extra wild card was going to be added to each League this season I wasn’t a big fan of the idea. Not because I’m not a fan of change–change is a good thing, sometimes–but for the fact that I really didn’t understand it all. To tell you the truth, I still don’t understand it completely, but as I begin to slowly understand what’s going to happen this season, I’m starting to become a fan of the idea.

Since I’m not 100 percent sure of how things are going to work, and how the play off schedule is going to work, the best thing I can do is tell you to go take a look at the EXCELLENT article detailing everything you’d ever want to know about the extra wild cards: CLICK HERE

SPRING TRAINING GAMES BEGIN

Spring Training games have already begun, however the first MLB Network broadcasted game isnt’ until Saturday at 1:05. The game, which features the New York Yankees taking on the Philadelphia Phillies, is sure to be exciting. Not only is it the first time you’re getting to see Jim Thome play first base, but you’ll also get to see how A-rod does. Whether Rodriguez has a come back year, or a repeat year, has a major impact on how the Yankees do this year. I for one, think that Rodriguez is going to do well this year, but it’s one of things you can’t really predict.

ALL PLAYER AUDIO MLB SPRING TRAINING GAME

If you don’t find this cool, you might want to check yourself for a pulse. Coming up on Wednesday March 7th, at three o’clock eastern standard time, MLB Network is going to broadcast an all player audio game, seeing the Cleveland Indians take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. In other words, no announcers doing play by play. Instead, every player and upmire will be mike’d up, and you’ll have to use their audio to guide yourself through the game. I think it’s an awesome idea. Very cool stuff.

UPCOMING ENTRIES

This time of year is when blogging gets exciting. During the off season there were a bunch of big trades and signings to talk about, but now with Spring Training kicking off, the topics to blog about are endless. That’s good news for you the reader. The more I have to blog about, the more often I’ll post a new entry, and thus the more you have to read.

I’m going to do my best to keep up with what’s going on around MLB. I really don’t have anything planned, except for one blog entry that I’m working on at the moment. Friday or Saturday of next week I’m going to post my 2012 MLB predictions blog entry. It’ll include how I think each team will place in their divisions, all the way down to who I feel will win the World Series. So be sure to check back for that.

Here’s what I’d suggest to you. If you’re not already, go ahead and enter you email address, and click the follow button, on the right side of the screen. Doing so ensures that you’ll never miss a word of what I have to say about what I’m thinking, as you’ll recieve an email with a link every time a new entry is posted. It’ll make it a lot easier then having to check back in every few days.

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