A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I had received back from Spring Training, having received back an auto from Mark Appel and Sam Tuivailala. At the end of the post, I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post once I had received back a few more autographs, and now that I’ve successfully gotten back some more of the requests I sent, I figured I’d go ahead and type this entry up:
DUSTIN ACKLEY — SEATTLE MARINERS
Dustin Ackley has been up and down over the course of his big league career, but he really broke out last season. Hitting a career high 14 home runs and 65 RBI’s, Ackley had a great season for the Mariners in 2014, and is looking to continue that into this year. If he can perform the way he is capable of, combined with the rest of the Mariners living up to their potential, Seattle could have a very formidable team this coming season.
JOE KELLY — ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
It’s truly a mystery how Joe Kelly will pitch this season for the Red Sox. Coming over from the Cardinals in 2014, Kelly had a fall back season of a 4.20 ERA over 17 starts after a good 2013 of a 2.69 ERA over 15 games started. But despite the downfall in stats, I look for Kelly to have a good 2015. Though he won’t likely win Cy Young award — as he jokingly predicted awhile back — Kelly will still have a noteworthy year.
TONY LA RUSSA — HALL OF FAME MANAGER
This one is rather self explanatory. Receiving induction into the Hall of Fame in 2014, Tony La Russa is truly one of the best managers of all time — and a personal favorite of mine. A three time World Series championship manager, racking up 2,728 wins over his 33 years, La Russa was absolutely amazing at what he did. Though he didn’t put together all that great of stats as a player, batting just .199 for his career, his managerial stats will likely stand the test of time.
I still have autograph requests out for Rob Kaminsky, Jacob Gatewood, Scooter Gennett and Doug Fister. When/if I get any of those back, assuming it’s before Opening Day on April 6th, I’ll be sure to post another update. Though, there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.
For the fourth season in a row, I’m making predictions (you should too) as to how I feel each Major League Baseball team will fare throughout the coming season. Although I haven’t come close yet to predicting the exact finishing order of each division (I had the Angels finishing fourth in their division last year and they made it to the postseason), it’s a new year, and with it comes a new chance to luck out and get everything right.
I’ll be posting my predictions for the National League in the next few days, but for now, I’m going to give my predictions for the American League (along with my reasoning), starting with the American League East:
1. Red Sox
4. Blue Jays
It was somewhat difficult to pick the Red Sox to win the division. For a team that went from last to first to last again, it would only make sense that they would once again be a first place team. But that isn’t why I designated them at the top. Although their pitching staff is somewhat of a question mark, their lineup is really good. With veterans David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli, combined with newcomers Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the Red Sox are stacked top to bottom with talent; and there’s plenty more on the way in the minors that could make impacts at any moment during the season. Their pitching isn’t the best, but it isn’t the worst either. They still have recently dominant closer, Koji Uehara, and despite losing John Lackey and Jon Lester in 2014, they picked up Joe Kelly, Justin Masterson, Wade Miley and Rick Porcello. Everything combined together, it should lead to a lot of wins.
As hard as it was for me to put the Red Sox at number one, it was equally as difficult for me to place the Orioles in second. I was one of the people ranting when they lost Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and Andrew Miller that the Orioles would do badly in 2015. But with careful consideration to their roster, and looking at the ball clubs of the other teams in the division, I placed them near the top. With Kevin Gausman, Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris, among others, the Orioles rotation is fairly decent. And despite the loss of Miller, their bullpen is pretty good as well, so the run prevention should be there. The question mark is what kind of impact will losing Cruz have on their offense. The subtraction of 40 home runs is sure to have an impact, but they still have Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado to put together runs. While it won’t lead to a division title, a second place finish isn’t impossible.
The Yankees could wind up being really good or really bad, all depending on the production and health of each player on their team. So I feel confident with placing them in the third place slot. They have the ability to finish higher, with several above average players on their squad, but I’m not confident that it will happen. Still, with a rotation that consists of players such as CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, and a bullpen that ends with Dellin Betances slamming the door in the ninth, their pitchers alone could win them a good amount of games. But pitching isn’t any good if your offense can’t score runs. Brian McCann needs to step things up after a below average season, as do Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Beyond that, the return of Alex Rodriguez should be . . . well . . . interesting. With so much uncertainty, the Yankees’ season will be one of the most intriguing to watch.
I might could see the Blue Jays edging out the Yankees, but I’m placing them at four in the division anyway. With the pickups of Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson to help strengthen their overall lineup — a lineup that already had star hitters Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion — the Jays will be good enough to score a lot of runs. But the question is whether or not their pitching staff will be able to prevent them on a consistent basis. Mark Buehrle will likely have another great year, with R.A. Dickey having a mix of good and bad starts throughout the season. What it comes down to for me is Daniel Norris. With Marcus Stroman now out for the season, it’ll take a great year from Norris to overcome Stroman’s loss. He has the potential to do so, but it will take him living up to expectations. That is going to be the difference maker in a fourth place team and a team that makes a few good runs at the second wild card spot.
The Rays won the American League East division as recently as 2009, however, I don’t think they’ll be able to pull out anything over a last place finish in 2015. Like the Blue Jays, the Rays could easily make a jump in the division rankings, but a lot of things can go wrong to keep them from getting there. First off, while their pitching staff still consists of Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi, the loss of David Price last season and having Matt Moore out until midseason while rehabbing his Tommy John surgery will have an impact on their ability to shutout opposing teams. On the flip side, their lineup is merely decent, as with the exception of Evan Longoria, they have no proven big time bats at all. The Rays have James Loney, Asdrubal Cabrera and Kevin Kiermaier, among others, who can help the club out significantly, but no one on the team can carry it by themselves. It will take a team effort for the Rays to have any big success in 2015.
3. White Sox
The Royals may or may not actually outplay the Tigers in the upcoming season, but it sure will be fun to watch them go back and forth in the division rankings. The Royals proved to everyone in 2014 that they weren’t messing around anymore, making it to the World Series and putting up a good fight against the Giants. In 2015, expect them to perform close to the same. While I’m not guaranteeing a World Series appearance, they still have a rotation that consists of Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Jason Vargas, among others. And if their rotation can get to the sixth inning, it’s basically a lock for a win, as their bullpen, with Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and dominant closer, Greg Holland. Their lineup is still strong, despite the loss of All-Star designated hitter, Billy Butler, with Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain to lead the way. They should be a great team this season.
As far as the Tigers are concerned, they could turn out to be the winners of the division when all is said and done, but I’m placing them in second, nonetheless. For me, their pitching will be the key in where they place in the division. Their downfall in the 2014 postseason, their bullpen, isn’t any better than it was back then. In addition, their starting rotation is somewhat of a question mark now with Doug Fister and Max Scherzer both in Washington. But what they lack in pitching they more than make up for in offense. That’s why they’re as high as they are. Consisting of J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Yoenis Cespedes, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez (once he returns from injury), the Tigers are loaded from top to bottom in their lineup. But if their pitching doesn’t come through, offense can only go so far. Even so, I believe the Tigers will win far more than their far share of games in 2015, making yet another return to the playoffs.
The White Sox did more than their share to get better throughout this offseason. Picking up Jeff Samardzija to go along with an already decent rotation that includes Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, among others, and adding David Robertson to their bullpen, the Sox pitching staff is good enough to compete in 2015. What things will come down to is if their offense can perform. Jose Abreu will likely have another year close to that of his impressive rookie debut in 2015, and that alone will go a long way in making the Whit Sox competitive. But in addition, the White Sox picked up Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera to go along with Alexei Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio and Adam Eaton. If everything goes as planned, it could turn out to be an exciting season in Chicago. But even so, I don’t think they are a good enough team to win the division. They’ll have to battle it out for a Wild Card spot at best.
Playing in such a strong division, I don’t feel the Indians can finish any better than fourth, despite being a good team. Their lineup is strong, with Yan Gomes set to have a breakout year, along with Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley as well as established veterans Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. With players like that set to take the field each and every day, the Indians should be able to score their fair share of runs. However, while they can score runs, they may not be able to consistently prevent the opposition from scoring them. Beyond Corey Kluber, who is undeniably their ace after he won the Cy Young award in 2014, the Indians have Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar and Gavin Floyd, but none of them have been able to prove they can be good in the majority of their outings. Whether or not their pitching can come through will tell the tale for how their season turns out.
Unfortunately, the Twins are likely facing a last place finish, yet again. Minnesota has tons of pitchers who have shown flashes of greatness at times over the course of their career, but they currently rest as a huge question mark. Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Tommy Milone and Ricky Nolasco all have great potential to have a good 2015, but none are a slam dunk by any means. On the flip side of the coin, their lineup could be either good or bad this season, all depending on numerous factors. With guys like Joe Mauer to lead the way, along with Torii Hunter, Brian Dozier and Aaron Hicks, there is always the chance that the Twins make some sort of run during the season and wind up doing better than I am expecting. However, it would take nearly everything going right for them, and with so much unpredictability, I just don’t see that happening for them — at least in 2015.
When all is said and done, the Mariners could turn out to be the best team in all of the American League. From top to bottom, they are an extremely solid team, and will win a ton of games in 2015. For starters, their rotation is terrific. With Felix Hernandez leading the pack, and Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton also in the mix from one night to the next, any team facing the Mariners will inevitably have a battle on their hands to score runs each and every night. But Seattle should have no problem with that. Just missing the playoffs last season, the Mariners proceeded to get better in the offseason, picking up Nelson Cruz to go along with fellow slugger, Robinson Cano. Also possessing Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, Kyle Seager, etc., the Mariners have very few holes in their entire roster. For me, if they fail to win the division in 2015 they didn’t live up to their full potential.
But with all of that said for the Mariners, the Angels will certainly do their part in giving them a run for their money in the American League West. After posting a near 100 win season in 2014, the Angels are looking to have another postseason push this time around. I think C.J. Cron is going to have a breakout season, with David Freese having a bounce back year. In addition, the Angels got a bit stronger by adding long time Ray, Matt Joyce, to go along with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, both of which will have another star year. It’s their pitching, though, that controls how they do in 2015. Last season, Garrett Richards truly made a name for himself, and he should have another good season this year. But after that, things are truly unpredictable. C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker and Jered Weaver all have a lot of potential to be good, but whether or not they actually do will determine how the Angels finish 2015.
A lot of people — myself included — gave the Athletics a hard time this offseason when they made several moves that seemed to weaken their team. However, now that the dust has settled, and people have been given the chance to look at those moves, they truly didn’t hurt them that bad. Even so, a finish any better than third in 2015 would truly stun me. The Angels and Mariners are simply too good. Nonetheless, with Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez and Jarrod Parker leading the pitching staff, the A’s will still be able to find a way to hang in the mix. I liked the offseason pick up of Josh Phegley to go behind the plate, as well as the acquisitions of Brett Lawrie, Billy Butler, and Marcus Semien. All are good players, and each will give a little something to the club. But despite the amazing ability of the A’s in recent years to have an average team on paper that blew away the competition, I don’t think that will happen this season.
The Rangers are somewhat of a disappointing team. A recent powerhouse team in the division, the Rangers aren’t likely to do much better this season than they did in 2014. But they could end up surprising a lot of people if everything happens just right. After all, they have several players looking to redeem themselves from a down 2014 season. Prince Fielder being the biggest example of that, as he came over from the Tigers to the Rangers only to play in 42 games all year. I look for him to have a much needed bounce back season, however. But while Fielder may have another star caliber year, the Rangers took a true hit this past week, with Yu Darvish undergoing Tommy John surgery, meaning he will miss the entire 2015 season. That is a true blow to the Rangers, even with Derek Holland and Yovani Gallardo to fall back on. I don’t think things will turn out well enough for them to finish very high in the standings.
Year after year, the Astros have been promising to have a great team that can compete with all of the other teams in the division. But despite visible improvement in 2014, I don’t feel that they stand a chance at taking on the Mariners, Angels or Athletics. If anything, they may compete for fourth place with the Rangers, but that’s as good as I could possibly see them doing. But it’s not for a lack of talent. The Astros have a good lineup, with sluggers Chris Carter and George Springer, along with Jon Singleton, Jose Altuve and pickup Evan Gattis, but their pitching will likely be too below average for them to post any big win numbers. Beyond Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh, the Astros truly don’t have much pitching to speak of. The Astros as a whole will likely have their moments, with some great games coming here and there, but the Astros postseason bound season will have to wait at least one more year.
Leave a comment below with whether or not you agree with my predictions.
Below you’ll find a list of the home run milestones that *should* occur in 2015. 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. I’ve made the same type of list the past three seasons, and they have been well-received, so I figured I’d post another one for this season.
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.
You have to have hit at least one home run in the major leagues. There are several dozen players going into 2015 that haven’t hit an MLB home run, but adding them to the below list just didn’t make sense.
You have to be closing in on an even milestone, like 100, 200, 300, etc. I didn’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:
2015 Home Run Milestones
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox — Home Run Number 100 (1 home run away)
Michael Morse, Marlins — Home Run Number 100 (1 home run away)
Carlos Santana, Indians — Home Run Number 100 (2 home runs away)
Mike Trout, Angels — Home Run Number 100 (2 home runs away)
Miguel Montero, Cubs — Home Run Number 100 (3 home runs away)
Stephen Drew, Yankees — Home Run Number 100 (3 home runs away)
Yadier Molina, Cardinals — Home Run Number 100 (4 home runs away)
David Ross, Cubs — Home Run Number 100 (5 home runs away)
James Loney, Rays — Home Run Number 100 (5 home runs away)
David Dejesus, Rays — Home Run Number 100 (6 home runs away)
Chase Headley, Yankees — Home Run Number 100 (7 home runs away)
Matt Wieters, Orioles — Home Run Number 100 (8 home runs away)
Brandon Moss, Indians — Home Run Number 100 (9 home runs away)
Carlos Gomez, Brewers — Home Run Number 100 (9 home runs away)
Ian Desmond, Nationals — Home Run Number 100 (9 home runs away)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marlins — Home Run Number 100 (11 home runs away)
Melky Cabrera, White Sox — Home Run Number 100 (12 home runs away)
Asdrubal Cabrera, Rays — Home Run Number 100 (13 home runs away)
Freddie Freeman, Braves — Home Run Number 100 (14 home runs away)
Chris Carter, Astros — Home Run Number 100 (15 home runs away)
Buster Posey, Giants — Home Run Number 100 (17 home runs away)
Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks — Home Run Number 100 (17 home runs away)
Brian McCann, Yankees — Home Run Number 200 (1 home run away)
Nelson Cruz, Mariners — Home Run Number 200 (3 home runs away)
Josh Hamilton, Angels — Home Run Number 200 (8 home runs away)
Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox — Home Run Number 200 (9 home runs away)
Victor Martinez, Tigers — Home Run Number 200 (11 home runs away)
Michael Cuddyer, Home Run Number 200 (13 home runs away)
Jayson Werth, Nationals — Home Run Number 200 (14 home runs away)
Mike Napoli, Red Sox — Home Run Number 200 (14 home runs away)
Hunter Pence, Giants — Home Run Number 200 (15 home runs away)
Evan Longoria, Rays — Home Run Number 200 (16 home runs away)
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals — Home Run Number 200 (16 home runs away)
Jay Bruce, Reds — Home Run Number 200 (18 home runs away)
Matt Kemp, Padres — Home Run Number 200 (18 home runs away)
Prince Fielder, Rangers — Home Run Number 300 (12 home runs away)
Adrian Beltre, Rangers — Home Run Number 400 (5 home runs away)
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers — Home Run Number 400 (10 home runs away)
For the first time in awhile, the Cubs could be relevant in 2015.
A big reason for that is their young, future superstars who showed signs of their potential in the Cubs’ Spring Training game against the Indians on Tuesday afternoon.
Hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs off of the Indians’ Trevor Bauer — a player who really needs to figure out once and for all if he’s ever going to be the star pitcher he was once hyped as –, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant each gave the Cubs reason to look forward to this year.
But there is a really good chance that Bryant (the number 2 prospect in all of baseball) may not begin the season in Chicago. For several reasons — none of which really involve talent level — the Cubs have made known that their likely plan is to send Bryant to Triple-A for the first portion of the season. To me, although I can comprehend the reasoning, that could turn out to be a mistake.
I understand that leaving Bryant in the minors for a few weeks allows them another full year of control over him, and that leaving him in the minors through June would save the Cubs some money. But that’s major production that the Cubs could truly use this year, in my opinion, if they want a true shot at the postseason.
The Cubs owe it to their fans, after so long without a World Series, to put out the best team possible on every given day of the regular season each and every year. In order for that to happen, the Cubs need to have Kris Bryant playing third base on Opening Day.
A couple weeks ago, I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during Spring Training. At the end of the post, I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a few autographs, and now that I’ve successfully gotten back some of the requests I sent, I figured I’d go ahead and type this entry up. Of the nine total TTM requests I sent off so far, I’ve received two of them back, with them being from:
MARK APPEL — ASTROS’ ORGANIZATION
The number one overall draft pick by the Astros in 2013, Mark Appel was regarded as one of the best college pitchers in the country coming off a strong senior season at Stanford. However, he hasn’t yet lived up to those numbers. Posting a 6.91 ERA over the course of 18 games started in 2014, Astros fans will surely be watching to see whether or not Appel can get things going this year. Ranked as the number 30 prospect in all of baseball, there are still plenty of people that believe he can . . . and will.
SAM TUIVAILALA — ST. LOUIS CARDNALS
It’s very possible that you’ve never heard of Sam Tuivailala. But that’s not because he isn’t a valuable asset of the Cardinals’ organization. Able to reach 100 miles per hour on his fastball, Tuivaila is an under the radar player in every sense of the word. With 170 strikeouts over the course of 108.1 career relief innings pitched in the minors, Tuivailala has already been able to show his talents on the major league level, making his big league debut last season. Expect him only to get better in the years to come.
I still have autograph requests out for Rob Kaminsky, Jacob Gatewood, Dustin Ackley, Joe Kelly, Scooter Gennett, Tony La Russa and Doug Fister. When/if I get any of those back, assuming it’s before Opening Day on April 6th, I’ll be sure to post another update. Though, there’s no guarantee I’ll get any more back at all.
It’s finally March, which means baseball is finally here.
Over the course of the next few days, each and every team around Major League Baseball will put their team on display in live games for the first time in 2015. With some teams being completely different than they were last season — some have improved, some have gotten worse — it gives fans the chance to see glimpses of what to expect and look forward to when the regular season begins next month.
As has been the case over the course of this blog, March also brings my predictions and overall thoughts leading up to the new year in baseball. This year is no different. Therefore, to kick things off, I’m going to allow you, the reader, to let your opinions be known by giving you the opportunity to vote for which team you think has the best shot at winning each division. (Be sure to vote for all six, and not just the top few.)
I’m going to be doing a separate couple of blog posts (one for the American League and one for the National League) on my predictions for how I feel each team will fare this season sometime in the next week or two, but for now, I want to hear what you all think. Cast your vote below for which team you feel is most likely to win each division in 2015:
The offseason between the 2014 and 2015 Major League Baseball seasons truly flew by. Four months after the Giants won their third World Series title in five years, official Spring Training games leading up to the 2015 regular season are set to begin on Tuesday, March 3rd. I’m very ready for baseball to get going again.
With the coming Spring Training games comes a guarantee that there will be a lot of blogging topics to choose from, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t already predetermined certain things I plan to write about. That’s what I’ll be briefly covering in this blog post.
Sometime during the first week of the new month, I’ll be posting a blog entry with a poll for each of the six individual divisions around Major League Baseball asking you the reader to make your predictions for which teams you feel are most likely to win each division. Surprisingly, the fans have done a decent job picking the actual division winners in the polls from years past, so it should be interesting to see how they project the 2015 season playing out.
I’ll also be making my own predictions for the American League divisions as well as the National League divisions a week or two afterwards, trying my hand at placing each team exactly where they’ll rank at the end of 2015. Will I be exactly right? No, probably not even close. But that’s what makes it so fun.
After that, I’m going to publish my annual list of players who will likely reach major home run milestones (100,200, 300, etc.) during the 2015 season. This year the list is full of some great players going for some impressive numbers. It really shocked me, and I’m sure it will amaze some of you as well when I publish the list.
Towards the end of March, I’m hoping to publish a blog post recapping the autographs I’ve received back from Spring Training at that point. If you recall my previous blog post, I have sent — and have a few more I plan to send — through the mail autograph requests to various players at their given camp. Hopefully, I’ll have some great successes like I did last year.
Other than that, I’ll just be writing about things as they happen. There’s now just one full month left of blogging until the most exciting part of the baseball blogging year: The 2015 regular season.
Spring Training has officially begun for the majority of teams around baseball. Over this past week, pitchers and catchers have made their way to either Florida or Arizona to start their training for the long 162-game 2015 season. Meaning, there are a mere ten days until Spring Training exhibition games get under way and just 43 days before Opening Night between the Cardinals and the Cubs on April 5th.
But I’m not quite ready to jump ahead to the start of the regular season just yet, as I still have a lot I want to talk about in the coming weeks on this blog. Therefore, for the time being, I’d like to take a minute to discuss something I love to do this time of year (besides watch Spring Training games on TV.)
Every Spring Training, for the past three or four years, I’ve sent out a handful of through the mail (TTM) autograph requests to different players around the league. This year, I’m going to be sending out several TTM’s, with the best player I’m sending to being the Astros’ 2013 number one pick, Mark Appel.
Other top prospects that I’m planning to send to throughout the spring include Sam Tuivailala (an under the radar, underrated flamethrower in the Cardinals’ farm system), Jacob Gatewood (41st overall pick in the 2014, known for his extreme power), Rob Kaminsky (a highly praised pitching prospect with St. Louis), and D.J. Peterson (a breakout slugger in the Mariners’ system who hit 31 homers in 2014).
As far as major leaguers are concerned, I’m sending to just a few of those this year. I got tired over the past few years of taking the time to put together an autograph request and wasting stamps to not receive anything back in return. So this time around, I’m only sending to big league players that I feel confident will return the cards signed, either because they have a good record of signing TTM or because they told me they would on Twitter.
Players who fall into that category include Patrick Corbin, Scooter Gennett, Joe Kelly and Dustin Ackley. They won’t wind up being the only MLB players I send to before Spring Training is over, but right now that’s all I’m sending out. I’ll keep an eye on who’s signing very well over the coming weeks and if they’re a good enough player, I’ll likely send something out to them like I did with James Paxton last year and Mark McGwire a few years back. (Both were returned signed, just as had been advertised those springs.)
Last year I sent off fourteen total autograph requests to Spring Training and received back six of them, from Eddie Butler, Clayton Kershaw, Albert Almora, Kyle Zimmer, James Paxton and David Robertson. That’s pretty good as far as TTM’s go, but not getting back the other eight really made me think about who I sent to in 2015. So I’m sending off just nine to start off, with there being a good possibility I’ll add a few more to the list of autograph requests before Spring Training ends.
No matter what I decide to do, and no matter how many I successfully receive back signed, I’m planning to post a blog entry every time I receive back 2-3 autographs from the players I’m sending to, just as I did last year. Hopefully it won’t be all that terribly long before I start getting them back (maybe a few weeks?). So be sure to check back over the course of the next couple months to see how well I do this Spring Training.
If my memory serves me correctly, it’s been over a year since I last wrote a blog post focused on Alex Rodriguez. I’ve discussed him a bit in portions of posts over the past few months about the Yankees and their surrounding team, but nothing just about him. That was mainly because he was out of the baseball picture for that period of time, serving a 162-game suspension for further use of performance enhancing drugs, but quite simply, I didn’t care to discuss Rodriguez at all anyway.
That, however, has changed.
With a letter released on Tuesday, A-Rod once again shook up the baseball world. Although it was meant to be a positive thing, not a lot of people are taking it that way. The handwritten letter itself read as follows:
To the Fans,
I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season. I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be. To Major League Baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and you, the fans, I can only say I’m sorry.
I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why and that’s on me. It was gracious of the Yankees to offer me the use of Yankee Stadium for this apology, but I decided that next time I am in Yankee Stadium, I should be in pinstripes doing my job.
I served the longest suspension in the history of the league for PED use. The Commissioner has said the matter is over. The Players Association has said the same. The Yankees have said the next step is to play baseball.
I’m ready to put this chapter behind me and play some ball.
This game has been my single biggest passion since I was a teenager. When I go to Spring Training, I will do everything I can to be the best player and teammate possible, earn a spot on the Yankees and help us win.
The first thing that jumps out at me from the letter is A-Rod’s acceptance that baseball fans will likely never forgive him. That’s important, in my opinion, because he understands that he doesn’t need to put on a show to win back the fans — there’s no point. In his own words, he just needs to “play some ball”.
However, with that said, I would like to see A-Rod do a little something to give back to the fans; not with the hopes of winning them back, but just because it’s the right thing to do after all Rodriguez has done. Take pictures with the fans; sign autographs for those who still want it. Rodriguez needs to do something to show that he actually cares and that the letter wasn’t just a formality, even knowing it won’t do a lot of good. He owes the fans that much.
But one little apology letter and a lot of fan friendliness won’t matter much if A-Rod isn’t producing for the team at the plate. In the end, now that they’re stuck with him, the Yankees and their fans have to root for Rodriguez to put up good numbers. Not so he can further add to his tainted career stats, but so he can help the Yankees regain a competitive ball club. In my mind, they need some sort of impact from A-Rod for the Yankees to stand a chance at a playoff push.
Without Derek Jeter on the team, like it or not, Rodriguez has become the face of the team. Maybe not the most popular player, but the most well known player on the club. The Yankees are looking to him to help carry a good chunk of the team, even if it does mean that six home runs this season would earn him a 6 million dollar bonus — on top of the huge amount still remaining on his contract — for tying Willie Mays’ career mark of 660 home runs (Rodriguez would also earn $6 million each for tying Babe Ruth (714), tying Hank Aaron (755), tying Barry Bonds (762) and surpassing Bonds down the line).
Even so, I’m not expecting him to do much. Rodriguez is now 39 years old. He hit just .244 in 2013 over the course of 44 games leading up to his season long suspension in 2014, and has been going downhill since 2010 — the last year he hit 30+ home runs and/or 100+ RBI’s. A-Rod hasn’t hit .300 since 2008, and he seemingly won’t do hardly anything in 2015.
Supposedly, though, Alex Rodriguez has been working out and is in the best baseball shape he’s been in for years. Supposedly, he is sorry for his actions (or at least as sorry as he can bring himself to be). But then again, he was supposedly done for good with performance enhancing drugs back when he came clean in 2009.
I’ll leave it at that.
After a busy offseason of moves that included trading for speedy Dee Gordon, signing free agent outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, and locking up slugger Giancarlo Stanton on the biggest contract in sports history, the Marlins have officially been named as the hosts of the 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star game.
Set to come in the 25th year of the Marlins’ existence, this is the first time in their franchises history that they have been awarded the Midsummer Classic — they were supposed to host the game in 2000, but it was given to the Braves instead — making it sure to be a game full of excitement for the fans in the area.
But there is one thing on everyone’s mind that a lot of people are posing issue with.
Generally, the All-Star game has alternated between American League and National League hosts each year, with the host team having home field advantage. With the All-Star game holding a lot of value, in that the winning league receives home field advantage during the World Series, the stakes have become very high. However, with the Cincinnati Reds set to hold the surrounding festivities this year, the Padres in line to do the same in 2016 and now with the Marlins getting named the site for 2017, that makes for three straight years in a National League teams ballpark.
However, there is a solution to the problem that new commissioner, Rob Manfred, has put into place. “We will alternate years, in terms of who bats last,” said Manfred on Friday. “We will be making that change going forward.” Meaning, in 2016, when in San Diego, the American League team will be the “home” team and bat in the bottom half of the order to make things a bit more fair.
As far as the Marlins are concerned, after spending 19 seasons in a football stadium — they shared a venue with the Miami Dolphins, finally receiving a park of their own in 2012 — they are extremely deserving of the All-Star game. Although attendance has been up and down (mainly down) over the course of time since, they will undoubtedly do a great job of hosting the event.
But before Marlins fans get too excited about the looming All-Star game, they need to enjoy focusing on the season at hand. Their team is really, really good, and they stand a shot at doing some big things in the National League this coming season. While getting the All-Star game for 2017 is a big story, the Marlins could be making plenty of headlines throughout the season as 2015 rolls along.