Results tagged ‘ Baseball ’
After around a dozen Baltimore Orioles players from the 2014 season declared free agency, you knew it was only a matter of time before the O’s began to lose at least a few of those players to other teams.
However, that doesn’t make things any easier for the Orioles or their fans, as after losing breakout slugger Nelson Cruz to the Mariners they are now losing long time Oriole Nick Markakis to the Braves.
Cruz officially departed the team a few days ago, when he signed a four-year contract with the Mariners worth 58 million dollars, choosing to head to Seattle after a mega-breakout season with the Orioles in 2014.
Coming off a performance enhancing drug scandal in 2013, Cruz proceeded to dominate last season, blasting a major league leading 40 home runs while driving in 108 runs and hitting a solid .271.
While those numbers came at Camden Yards, Cruz should still have a good deal of power at Safeco Field — a place known to not be a very hitter friendly ballpark. Combined with a lineup of Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, who just recently signed a seven-year extension worth 100 million dollars, the Mariners look to be in good shape for 2015.
Another team that would appear to be improving and shaping up for a good 2015 season is the Atlanta Braves. Picking up Nick Markakis — the second big free agent loss for the Orioles thus far — to fill the right field spot left vacant by the trade of Jason Heyward, the Braves found themselves a nice replacement in the outfield.
Markakis continued a string of solid statistical seasons last year, hitting .276 while blasting 14 homers and recording 50 RBI’s. Getting a four-year, 44 million dollar deal from the Braves, Markakis should provide them with a good leadoff option beginning in 2015.
By also adding former Orioles pitcher Jim Johnson to their bullpen for a mere 1.6 million dollars, the Braves should see some improvement in 2015 if all goes as planned.
But while the loss of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis are sure to have an affect on the Orioles moving forward, things seemingly aren’t over yet.
Dominant free agent reliever Andrew Miller is also going to be on the move following a 62.1 inning season in which he posted a 2.02 ERA while striking out 103 and limiting opponents to a .153 batting average, after coming over from the Red Sox midseason. He will undoubtedly be a valuable pickup for whichever team signs him.
With the key losses that have already occurred for the Orioles, and with there soon to be even more triming to their overall roster, many people are wondering where it all will cause the Orioles to fall in 2015. In my opinion, that’s a very good question.
The Orioles still have a solid depth of starting pitching, including Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, and Kevin Gausman, as well as a decent bullpen, consisting of pitchers such as Zach Britton, Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day. However, while they could get by with the pitchers they have, you can never have too much pitching.
In my mind, the Orioles need to add a bit more depth to their bullpen. With the looming loss of Andrew Miller, the Orioles have a hole or two to fill in the back end of games. But they still have plenty of time to do so and plenty of options to choose from.
What the Orioles currently have none of, however, is outfield depth, after the loss of Markakis. With Adam Jones performing at an All-Star level being a given, the rest of their outfield options, including Steve Pearce, who had a career high 21 homers in 2014, remain a question mark. (Reportedly, there have been talks of a trade to bring Matt Kemp over from the Dodgers, but that’s yet to take off.)
Coming off a 96-win season, the Orioles very well could play to that level if the season began tomorrow, especially with the return of Matt Wieters and Manny Machado, who both experienced some health issues last season. However, in the more likely scenario, they would take a bit of a fall in the standings, which is why some changes need to be made.
Reaching the playoffs in 2014, only to be swept by the Royals in the American League Championship Series, the Orioles certainly have to make some moves to help counteract the missing production of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. Lucklily for them, we’re just 36 days removed from the World Series, leaving around four months until the start of the 2015 season for the Orioles to throw together another championship-caliber team.
A little over eight years ago, back in June of 2006, I took a trip with my family to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, as part of a two week journey around the Northeast. I wasn’t extremely into baseball back then, but I enjoyed it just enough that I would’ve gotten a decent experience out of the visit. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Due to major flooding in the surrounding area, the Hall of Fame was closed, and we had to settle for a visit to a nearby baseball wax museum — an interesting place, but one that obviously paled in comparison to the main attraction in town.
In the years since, I’ve become one of the biggest baseball fans you’ll ever meet, constantly following the game and studying up on the stars of today and years past. Therefore, it had slowly become a must for me to make it back to Cooperstown at some point during my life. Although I imagined a return trip would take place a couple of decades or more from the time I last made the long trek up to New York from North Carolina, a plan for my dad, grandpa and I to take another trip to the Hall of Fame was quickly orchestrated over the past few months. And thus, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the three of us made our way to New York.
On Saturday, November 29th, we got up early and made the drive from our hotel in Binghamton, NY, over to Cooperstown, arriving at a little bit after 9:00 in the morning:
As you may have noticed, there was snow on both of the trees to each side of the doors, as well as icicles hanging at various lengths from the roof. The cause of the snow and ice is one element of the trip that wasn’t present in June of 2006: cold weather. Far from the warm summer temperatures of our last visit, it was fairly cold (as is to be expected in late November), with the day starting off at around 10 degrees. But, thankfully, the Hall of Fame doesn’t close for cold temperatures, and we were actually able to make it past the front door this time around.
Upon entering the Hall and purchasing our tickets, we walked up the stairs to the second floor, where we caught a brief introduction movie, before beginning the tour of the museum.
One of the first pieces of memorabilia that we saw, and one of the most interesting of the day, was an old baseball that was used to “prove” that Abner Doubleday was the inventor of baseball, back in 1839:
However, contrary to popular belief, Doubleday didn’t invent baseball. As the display discussed, Doubleday was given credit for the sport’s origin, but a version of baseball had been being played for numerous years prior to 1839. Although the exact inventor of baseball isn’t fully known, credit for the rules of today’s version of the game — 90 feet between bases; 9 innings; 9 players per team — was awarded to Alexander Cartwright, the “Father of Modern Baseball”.
But while the invention of baseball wasn’t Abner Doubleday’s, there was an interesting non-baseball item that was in fact his own:
As a lover of history, including the Civil War era, these shoulder epaulets belonging to Doubleday during the war were very cool to see. Though not directly related to baseball, I came to find that the off the wall items such as these — not just baseballs, bats, jerseys, etc. — were some of the most interesting things to see.
But the baseball memorabilia was amazing as well; especially that of baseball’s well known all-time greats, such as Honus Wagner. Playing from 1897 through 1917, mainly for the Pittsburgh Pirates, there was a locker filled with Wagner stuff, such as one of Wagner’s full uniforms (used while he was a manager):
Wagner’s 1909 T206 baseball card holds the record for the most valuable sports card in existence, having sold for a whopping 2.8 million dollars back in 2007. So seeing the rare items tied directly to Wagner was amazing.
But things kept getting better and better as the journey through the museum continued. Next up was an entire section dedicated to the most well known player in baseball history: Babe Ruth. Among the items on display were a baseball estimated to have been hit by Ruth over 500 feet (picture 1); Ruth’s glove from the 1926 World Series (picture 2); a display of various things, such as one of Ruth’s bats (picture 3); and an autographed Babe Ruth baseball (picture 4):
Following the Ruth exhibit, there was an exhibit dedicated the Negro Leagues, titled “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience”. The most well known Negro League player has to be Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier back in 1947, going on to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. However, the exhibit focused on more than just Robinson. Also included in the exhibit, that helped tell the story of the Negro Leagues, were uniforms worn by Satchel Paige (left) and James “Cool Papa” Bell (right):
Paige is likely the most widely known Negro League pitcher, having pitched three shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox in 1965 at the age of 59, becoming the oldest player ever to play in the majors. Bell, while not as much of a household name as Paige, was just as amazing in his own way. Possessing blazing speed, it was said that Bell could “turn off the light and be under the covers before the room got dark” and that Bell once “hit a ball up the middle of the field and was struck by the ball as he slid into second base”. Though merely stories people liked to tell, it goes to show just how much Bell’s speed stood out to people.
Next in line on the path through the museum was “Diamond Dreams”, which showcased the many roles that women have played throughout the history of baseball, including playing the game themselves. The 1992 movie ‘A League of Their Own’, staring Tom Hanks, Geena David and Madonna, among others, covered this very topic of women playing the baseball. And therefore, the exhibit included costumes from the movie itself:
After spending some time reading about the history of women in baseball, the three of us then made our way through a collection of items from 1930-1970, including things used by all-time greats, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle, before finding ourselves in a portion of the museum dedicated to Latin American baseball players, entitled ‘Viva Baseball’:
Although everything in the exhibit was interesting and fun to learn about, there were some items that interested me more than others. Two of the key items for me were David Ortiz’s 2004 World Series jersey (left), from the year the Red Sox broke their 86-year Championship drought, as well as a jersey worn by Albert Pujols (right) during his 2001 Rookie of the Year winning season:
The next section we came upon covered baseball up through the year 2000. Some of the top things around the exhibit were a Tom Seaver display (Seaver holds the record for highest Hall of Fame induction voting percentage, with 98.8 %) that included the red cleats from his 300th career win (picture 1); George Brett’s pine tar bat from 1983 (picture 2); Robin Yount’s batting helmet from his 3,000th hit (picture 3); and Derek Jeter’s 1998 World Series cleats (picture 4):
That’s one of the reasons I most enjoyed the last room of the second floor that had items from the last decade or so of the game. One of the great things about these items was that I could remembered seeing a lot of the unique events they were tied to take place on TV, either live or in a recap of the game. The room was organized into thirty different lockers (one for each team) positioned around the walls, with several items for each team in each locker.
Remember back in 2012 when Orioles’ slugger Chris Davis came on to finish out the marathon 16 inning game on the mound against the Red Sox after beginning the game as the designated hitter? Well, the cap Davis was wearing was there:
In fact, pretty much anything of significance that has happened within the past number of years was included in this exhibit. The cleats Miguel Cabrera was wearing the night he secured baseball’s first Triple Crown since 1967 (picture 1); the cleats Mike Trout wore when he recorded his first career cycle (picture 2); Jim Thome’s 600th career home run (picture 3); and the cap Mariano Rivera wore during his final All-Star outing of his career in 2013 (picture 4):
It was all there.
Also in the room — in a display case in the very center — was an arrangement of items specifically from the 2014 Major League Baseball season. Although a bat from Jose Abreu’s rookie year was awesome to see, as were the cleats Albert Pujols was wearing when he blasted his 500th career home run, the thing that stood out to me the most was the jersey worn by Mo’ne David during the Little League World Series:
Having watched Davis pitch on T.V. throughout the series, as well as seeing her on the cover of Sports Illustrated and basically anywhere you looked, it was awesome to see the jersey used by the first girl to earn a win in Little League World Series history.
After taking in all the things from this season, and doing my best to photograph it all, we all made our way up to the third floor of the museum. There, in a Hank Aaron exhibit, we saw another unique item not directly related to baseball, like the Abner Doubleday epaulets talked about earlier — bricks from Aaron’s childhood home in Alabama:
That was pretty remarkable to see after watching him hit that historic blast over and over on T.V.
However, as we all know, Aaron’s career mark of 755 home runs didn’t stand. Barry Bonds went on to pass Aaron, with his 756th home run coming on August 7, 2007. The helmet Bonds was wearing when he hit the homer was on display, as was the ball itself:
You may have noticed that the ball has an asterisk cut out of the cover. The story behind that lies with Marc Ecko — the person who bought the ball online for $752,467. After purchasing the baseball, Ecko held an online contest to determine its fate. Voters had three choices: put an asterisk on the ball; leave it alone; or shoot it to the moon. Around half of the ten million votes said an asterisk should be added before the balls donation. And thus became the ball you see above.
Also in this room, focusing on records and such, were some pretty incredible things. Among them was Derek Jeter’s batting gloves from his 3,000th hit game (picture 1); a cap from each of Nolan Ryan’s record seven career no-hitters (picture 2); first base from Armando Galarraga’s infamous near-perfect game (picture 3); a ball from the 2007 game in which the Rangers defeated the Orioles 30-3 (picture 4); the jersey from Roy Halladay’s postseason no-hitter in 2010 (picture 5); and, my personal favorite item, possibly of the entire museum, the glove Willie Mays used to make “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series (picture 6):
In all, I took more pictures in this one section of the museum than any other section. It was truly amazing stuff.
Towards the end of items on the third floor was a display with memorabilia solely from the 2014 World Series between the Giants and the Royals. Watching every single inning on T.V. as it happened, is was awesome to see some items from the series in person. But the one thing that stood out the most was rookie pitcher Yordano Ventura’s cap that he wore for his game six start:
In addition to being a standout item because of the great outing Ventura had, it’s the inscription on the cap that makes it stand out the most. After the tragic death of 22-year-old Cardinals’ prospect, Oscar Taveras, Ventura took to the mound with “RIP O.T # 18” written on his hat as a tribute to his native Dominican Republic friend. It was touching on T.V., and even more so in person.
Once we had viewed all there was to see on the third floor, my grandpa, dad and I headed down the street to grab a bite of lunch at a nearby restaurant before returning to continue walking around the Hall of Fame. Believe it or not, after over three hours spent at the Hall (and after 35 pictures and 2,000 words in this blog post), there was still more to see and do.
After returning to the Hall of Fame, we headed over to an art exhibit, which normally isn’t my thing but really intrigued me this time around. Following that, we headed through a room dedicated to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees — Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux — before arriving to the Hall of Fame’s main point of interest: The Hall of Fame Gallery:
With the current number of Hall of Famers standing at 306 total people — 211 players, 35 negro leaguers, 28 executives, 22 managers and 10 umpires — there were a lot of plaques to cover, but we made our way around to every single one.
As with every part of the museum, there were a few portions (in this case, people) that stood out the most.
The first of such was the inaugural class of five plaques (located at the far end of the picture above), being of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, all of which were inducted in 1936 — three years before the Hall of Fame’s opening in 1939:
Standing out as a member of the Hall of Fame that isn’t necessarily as known as the everyday players such as Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Cy Young, etc., was Wesley Branch Rickey (left), accompanied by Jackie Robinson (right):
Rickey was the person who brought Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers in 1945, making him the first African American player to break baseball’s color barrier when he made his debut two years later.
Another lesser known member is Effa Manley — the only woman in the baseball Hall of Fame:
Manley was greatly involved in the Negro Leagues as the only woman owner among an industry of male owners. Her induction came in 2006 as a “reflection of her commitment to baseball and civil rights”.
One last person who is more known for what he did than who he was is Bill Veeck:
Mostly known for his stunt of bringing the shortest player in MLB history to the plate in 1951 — 3 foot 7 inch tall Eddie Gaedel — Veeck made a major impact on the game, stating, “I try not to break the rules but merely to test their elasticity”.
Upon completion of viewing all of the plaques, we made a brief stop by the gift shop, where I picked up a T-shirt and a magnet to commemorate my second trip and first successful visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Following that, after half a dozen hours or so spent at the Hall of Fame, my dad, grandpa and I swung by historic Doubleday Field, which was covered in snow . . . :
I didn’t fully know what to expect from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sometimes you can get your hopes up so high that the actual experience fails to meet those lofty expectations. But I can honestly say that the Hall of Fame completely blew away all my expectations. It was so well set up and so greatly stocked with some incredible pieces of baseball history that there was no way I could document it all — both with my camera or in this blog post.
So, if you haven’t, go see the Hall of Fame for yourself. It’s truly something that every single baseball fan should do at least once in their lifetime. You’ll never forget it.
The 2014 Major League Baseball season ended nearly a month ago, but the team changing deals that take place every offseason are already taking place. The biggest trade that has happened so far is undoubtedly Jason Heyward going to the Cardinals in exchange for Shelby Miller, however, there is a good chance that there will be several more before 2015 begins.
But despite that, not too many of the 100+ free agent players have signed yet — just over a dozen are off the market, having signed with a team or retired — but there’s still plenty of time left for a lot of exciting deals to go down. (The trades that could be made are nearly impossible to predict, but every free agent has to find a home somewhere — either with their same team or a new one — so that’s what I’ll be talking about.)
Notable current free agents include Jon Lester, James Shields, and Nelson Cruz, among others, but I’m only going to be discussing the top ranked player available at each position (in my mind), and which team I feel they’d fit the best with.
Keep in mind, these are the teams I feel would be the best fit for each player/team, not necessarily a team that’s interested in them, or subsequently will sign them.
2014 MLB TOP FREE AGENTS
Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski
Team I feel should sign him: Pirates
Losing their catcher from 2014, Russell Martin, to free agency, A.J. Pierzynski would be a decent pickup for the Pirates. Though they have a few options for the catcher position, including former first round draft pick Tony Sanchez, who has been waiting and waiting to take over the spot, Pierzyski could serve at least as the backup. His veteran presence, along with his overall offensive production, would give the Pirates a slightly better lineup in 2015.
Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz
Team I feel should sign him: Mariners
Although Nelson Cruz has played both outfield and designated hitter over the course of his career, he would best serve as a primary DH, in my mind, going to the Mariners. After falling just short of the playoffs in 2014, adding Cruz to protect Robinson Cano in the lineup would go a long way in making the Mariners contenders in 2015. Given, moves that seem to make sense don’t always work out, but taking a chance on Cruz is more than worth the risk.
First Base: Michael Morse
Team I feel should sign him: Rays
This move would be a better fit for the Rays rather than Michael Morse, however, it could end up benefiting Morse in the long run. Having played numerous positions, Morse could answer a lot of problems for the Rays, even if he serves as a platoon player and part time DH, as Morse’s bat could go a long way in helping the Rays next season. All they need is a little more offensive pop, as their starting pitching is already good. Morse could be a great addition to the Rays.
Second Base: Jed Lowrie
Team I feel should sign him: Marlins
Jed Lowrie didn’t have the best season in 2014, but he’s one of those players that is just good enough to have an impact. Though that impact can vary from game to game, Lowrie has been a good player over his career, and could fill the Marlins’ second base slot. After locking up Giancarlo Stanton to a record deal, and with the young players the Marlins are adding to the roster, Lowrie at second could help the Marlins finally make a push in 2015.
Third Base: Chase Headley
Team I feel should sign him: Giants
With Pablo Sandoval off the market, and the Giants’ backup option for third base, Yasmany Tomas, out of the running as well, Chase Headley is their best free agent option. While he can’t completely replace Sandoval, Headley would fill the spot well. Headley had decent offensive numbers this past season with the Yankees, and he plays a decent hot corner. Everything together, the Giants could solve their problem at third base relatively cheap.
Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera
Team I feel should sign him: Yankees
Now that Hanley Ramirez off the market, the best remaining free agent shortstop is Asdrubal Cabrera. Although he played second base for a good part of last season with the Nationals, he’s a natural shortstop and would do a good job of filling the Yankees’ empty spot at short, now that Derek Jeter has retired. Although it wouldn’t be a long term solution for the Yankees, Cabrera taking over the shortstop role would help for the time being.
Left Field: Melky Cabrera
Team I feel should sign him: Athletics
Melky Cabrera had a bounce back season in 2014, and could be a valuable pickup for the Athletics if they decide to snag him. While the Athletics aren’t the favorite to sign Cabrera, and aren’t really in the running at all, after the loss of their previous left fielder, Yoenis Cespedes, to the Red Sox for Jon Lester last year, getting Cabrera would make the A’s a better all around ball club, in my opinion. That is, if he can have a year close to the one he put together in 2014.
Center Field: Colby Rasmus
Team I feel should sign him: Braves
Despite being a solid outfielder, Colby Rasmus heading to the Braves is admittedly a long shot, but I feel he would fit in nicely. With Justin Upton in center field, Rasmus would have to move around in the outfield throughout the season, but he’s a good enough defender with a decent amount of pop in his bat. Rasmus isn’t a player that would completely transform the Braves, but after they missed the playoffs in 2014, he could help them over the hump.
Right Field: Torii Hunter
Team I feel should sign him: Orioles
The Tigers have made it clear that they don’t plan to bring back Torii Hunter to play right field in 2015, and therefore he’ll be on the move this offseason. Although Hunter has been around for years, he’s still a very consistent player, both offensively and in the outfield. With only a year or two left from Hunter, he’ll likely be looking to head to a playoff contender. Thus, I feel Hunter would be a good fit with Orioles (assuming they lose Nick Markakis).
Starting Pitcher: James Shields, Jon Lester and Max Scherzer
Team I feel should sign them: Red Sox (Shields), Cubs (Lester) and Rangers (Scherzer)
With the free agent market overflowing with great starting pitching, it was impossible to narrow the options down to a single top choice. In the end I got it down to three, with James Shields, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester coming out as the best statistical starters available.
For Shields, the Royals would fare well to resign him, but it will likely be another team. In my opinion, the Red Sox would benefit from a signing of Shields as a cheaper version of Jon Lester. As far as Lester is concerned, he is reportedly in talks with a number of teams, including the Cubs, who, with their great, young lineup, would really be an intriguing team with Lester’s addition. Max Scherzer is yet another front of the rotation starter on the market, and if the Rangers are looking to compete again in 2015, signing Scherzer long term would put them into position to do so.
Relief Pitcher: Andrew Miller
Team I feel should sign him: Tigers
Some would place David Robertson ahead of Andrew Miller in terms of value, however, I have to put Miller first. He has turned into one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the game today, and would make any teams’ bullpen immediately stronger. With the Tigers being a solid bullpen short of a World Series Championship caliber team, a reunion with Miller could help them make that type of playoff run in 2015.
So, there are my thoughts on which players are the best remaining free agents at each position, and which team should sign them. Odds are that everything won’t go exactly, if at all, how I feel it should, but this is just the way I see things working out best.
26 days after winning it all with the Giants, Pablo Sandoval is heading to Boston.
Receiving a five-year deal from the Red Sox, reportedly worth around 100 million dollars, Sandoval is set to don a uniform other than that of San Francisco for the first time in his career, going to the Red Sox after three World Championships won with the Giants.
Reportedly offered around the same deal, both in years and dollar amount, by the Giants as was given to Sandoval by the Red Sox, a lot of people question why Sandoval, coming off a World Series title, would leave and join a team that was one of the worst in baseball in 2014. But despite the Sox’ down 2014 season, there are many predicting a bounce back year for them in 2015.
A two-time All-Star, Sandoval will certainly help the Red Sox moving forward. Though Sandoval hasn’t hit 20 or more home runs since 2011 — his best all around year came back in 2009, when he blasted 25 homers (career high) and recorded 95 RBI’s (career high) to go along with a .330 average (career high) — that’s not to be expected from Sandoval each and every year. He’s still a respectable .294 career hitter, and a great defender at third base.
Staying healthy this past season, playing in a career best 157 games, Sandoval was able to record 16 home runs and drive in 73 runs, all while batting .279. While that’s certainly solid numbers for a third baseman, and around what you should expect Sandoval to produce from season to season, his most value comes in the postseason, where Sandoval has proven to be one of the most clutch hitters in baseball history.
If the Red Sox can find a way back to the playoffs in 2015, they should see a level of Pablo Sandoval that far exceeds his regular season statistics.
But Sandoval isn’t the only player that could help the Red Sox return to the postseason. Another player who should help the Red Sox’ playoff hopes is Hanley Ramirez, who the Sox also picked up on Monday.
Coming over from the Dodgers, where he hit .283 with 13 homers and 71 RBI’s while manning the shortstop position this past season, Ramirez is receiving a four-year deal from the Red Sox, coming out to 88 million dollars. However, for Ramirez, who has played the infield for all of his career, there’s a slight catch in the contract.
Due to an already set infield, with newly signed Pablo Sandoval at third and Xander Bogaerts holding at shortstop, the Red Sox’ current plan involves moving Ramirez to left field — a postion he’s never played before. Getting placed in front of the Green Monster at Fenway Park, it will surely be interesting to see how Ramirez fares in the outfield, especially with the 37-foot wall looming behind him.
More importantly, however, sending the three-time All-Star, Ramirez, out to left field takes away the spot of Yoenis Cespedes, who the Sox acquired via trade for Jon Lester in the second half of the 2014 season.
With Cespedes an odd man out, and numerous other outfield options, including Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, etc., Boston will definitely have to move at least a couple of their players. Desperately in need of pitching, many feel it would best serve the Sox to trade away a non crucial outfielder (possibly Cespedes?) in return for some good pitching. And they’re rumored to be looking into doing just that.
But although Boston still needs to do some more work on their pitching situation, the signing of Ramirez would appear to be a good deal. The 2006 Rookie of the Year with the Marlins and Most Valuable Player runner up in 2009, when he hit a staggering .342 with 24 home runs and 106 RBI’s, Ramirez will likely be a nice fit for the Red Sox, regardless of the fact that he won’t be playing his favored position.
A .300 career hitter, Ramirez hasn’t been a superstar level player in a few years, but the potential to be one still remains. Ramirez in set to be 31 years old when the 2015 season begins, but he still can be a big impact on any team he’s on, and that’s more than you can say about a lot of players in baseball.
A Red Sox team that finished last in 2012, only to come back and win the World Series in 2013, and then wind up near the bottom of the pack in 2014, it will be intriguing to see what happens with them in 2015. Signing Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez will definitely go a long way in improving their record, but it will take a few more changes to get the Red Sox where they want to be.
However, if the signings of Sandoval and Ramirez are any sign of things to come this offseason, the Red Sox could be setting themselves up to make another playoff push in 2015 and beyond.
We’re still around six weeks away from the end of the calendar year, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to begin putting plans into place for the schedule of blog entries I’m going to be posting over the coming weeks. Although a good number of posts will be on topics I don’t discuss, I wanted to go over the main things I’m going to be writing about.
First of all, the ballot for the 2015 Hall of Fame class is set to be revealed on Monday, the 24th, and I’ll possibly be writing something about that. Although several of the bigger names are already known, it should be interesting to see who all is on the ballot.
Then, towards the end of the month, I’ll be posting another interview with an up and coming prospect, like the most recent one I did with Tyler Danish, with plans to do two more in December to finish out the year.
On the 28th-30th of this month, I’m heading up to Cooperstown, New York, to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I actually visited the Hall of Fame around eight years ago, but it was closed upon arrival due to flooding in the area, so I didn’t get inside to see anything. Therefore, I’m thrilled to be going back.
In preparation, I took the time recently to read a brief biography on every single person currently in the Hall of Fame — yes, 306 biographies in all — so I feel I’m ready for the full experience. (And, obviously, I’ll be blogging about the trip.)
Following that, other than the Greatness In Baseball Yearly awards (GIBBY) that are set to be announced in early December, there isn’t much to write about; at least things that you can plan. Hopefully there will be some trades/deals going down by then — like the mega deal Giancarlo Stanton reportedly just signed with the Marlins, coming to 13 years and 325 million dollars — to discuss, but who knows? The offseason can be unpredictable.
The Most Valuable Player award was first given out in 1911 to Ty Cobb of the American League and Frank Schulte of the National League. Originally known as the Chalmers award, named after Hugh Chalmers, the award didn’t catch on as well as had been hoped, and therefore was discontinued after the 1914 season.
In 1922 the League Awards were established to honor the baseball player in the American League (National League began being recognized in 1924) who provided the greatest all-around service to their club. The winner — who received a medal and cash for winning — was voted on by a committee of eight baseball writers, with a player not being able to win more than once. Like the Chalmers awards, these awards didn’t last long, stopping in 1929.
Finally in 1931 the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Most Valuable Player award was established, which is the award still given out today.
Sixty-five players who have won the Most Valuable Player award have gone on to the Hall of Fame up until this point — several of those winners are still active players, however. The current record for most MVP awards is held by Barry Bonds, with seven, but thirty total players have won multiple Most Valuable Player awards in their career.
Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.
Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Most Valuable Player award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player fourteen points, a second place vote gets nine points, a third place vote receives eight points, a fourth place vote is worth seven points, and so on, all the way until tenth place for one point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.
The 2014 Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Thursday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:
AMERICAN LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Original Pick: Mike Trout
Finalists: Mike Trout, Michael Brantley and Victor Martinez
Winner: Mike Trout
Thoughts On Mike Trout Winning
After finishing runner up in the American League Most Valuable Player award voting to Miguel Cabrera the past two seasons, it was finally Mike Trout’s turn to receive the honor. With Cabrera having a down year, by his standards, Trout finally picked up his first career MVP award on Thursday night, joining Mickey Mantle as the second player ever to win their first MVP after having placed second in the previous two MVP votes.
Picking up all 30 first-place votes, Trout received a total of 420 points, beating out Victor Martinez, who finished in second with 229 points, and Michael Brantley, with his 185 points.
Despite batting just .287 on the year — a full 48 points lower than Victor Martinez — and finishing third in strikeouts (184) in all of baseball, Trout did more than enough to take home the MVP. Blasting a career high 36 home runs and 111 RBI’s, while scoring over 100 runs for the third straight season, Trout had the “most valuable” season of any other player in the American League.
Although Mike Trout needs to work on putting the ball into play a bit more, which will subsequently bring his average up to around .300, there’s little argument that he’s the best player in baseball at the moment. And at just 23 years old, the remarkable thing is, he’s going to get better and better.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Original Pick: Clayton Kershaw
Finalists: Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton and Andrew McCutchen
Winner: Clayton Kershaw
Thoughts On Clayton Kershaw Winning
Clayton Kershaw was hands down the best pitcher in baseball this past season. The only question up for debate was whether or not Kershaw was the most valuable player in the National League. While some people simply don’t believe that a pitcher should win the MVP award, with them playing every fifth day instead of everyday, enough of them wound up voting for Kershaw, earning him the honor.
The ninth player to ever win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season, and the first National League pitcher to win the MVP in 46 years, Kershaw definitely had a historical season. Although he missed the first full month of the season, Kershaw still ended up with the most wins (21) in all of baseball, in addition to posting the best overall ERA (1.77) and the highest strikeout per nine innings rate (10.8).
Kershaw’s dominance gained him 18 of the 30 first place votes, totaling 355 points. Giancarlo Stanton, who many felt had a great shot at winning the MVP after blasting 37 home runs this season, finished runner up with 298 points and 8 first-place points, with Andrew McCutchen getting the remaining 4 first-place nods, good for 271 points altogether.
Having pitched just a total of 198.1 innings in 2014, Kershaw breaks the old record for fewest innings tallied by a pitcher to win the MVP award, previously held by the last pitcher to win the MVP award, Justin Verlander, who threw 251 innings in 2011.
Although it’s difficult to predict from season to season which player will win a given award, there’s the chance that Kershaw could eventually become the fourth pitcher to ever win more than one Most Valuable Player award in their career. Given, that’s somewhat unlikely. But if anyone can do it, Clayton Kershaw surely can.
The 2014 Silver Slugger award winners were announced Thursday night on MLB Network. While the Gold Glove awards given out on Tuesday focused on the defensive side of baseball, the Silver Slugger awards are given annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League.
Marking the 34th annual Silver Slugger awards, which began in 1980, the awards are voted on by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (managers can not vote for their own players), with voters considering several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, in addition to coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value.
Barry Bonds’ 12 career Silver Slugger awards stand as the most all-time by a single player at any position, and no one from this season’s winners are even close. Here are the list of winners with my thoughts on each:
Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Bonds holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as an outfielder, with twelve.
NL Winners – Andrew McCutchen (3rd career), Giancarlo Stanton (1st career) and Justin Upton (2nd career)
AL Winners – Mike Trout (3rd career), Jose Bautista (3rd career) and Michael Brantley (1st career)
All six winners of the Silver Slugger award for the outfield position between the American League and National League were very deserving. Michael Brantley picks up his first award after the great season he put together, as does Giancarlo Stanton, who surprisingly has never won one before. Justin Upton and Jose Bautista take home their second and third career Silver Slugger awards, respectively, for their good offensive numbers posted this year, and could win several more between them in the years to come. Both Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout each picked up their third career and third consecutive Silver Slugger, with Trout having won one each of his full seasons in the majors.
Most Silver Slugger Awards: Todd Helton is tied with Albert Pujols for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a first baseman, with four.
NL Winner – Adrian Gonzalez (2nd career)
AL Winner – Jose Abreu (1st career)
Shockingly, this is just Adrian Gonzalez’s second career Silver Slugger award, despite having some great seasons over the course of his time in the majors. However, Jose Abreu winning the award in his rookie season came as no shock. He was absolutely terrific for the White Sox this year, and should also add the Rookie of the Year award to his list of accomplishments.
Most Silver Slugger Awards: Ryne Sandberg holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a second baseman, with seven.
NL Winner – Neil Walker (1st career)
AL Winner – Jose Altuve (1st career)
Both winners of the Silver Slugger award for second base received the honor for the first time in their careers. Neil Walker had a breakout offensive year, as did Jose Altuve, who led all of baseball in hits and set a new franchise record for hits in a season for the Astros. Anytime you do something like that, a Silver Slugger award is almost a sure thing.
Most Silver Slugger Awards: Wade Boggs holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a third baseman, with eight.
NL Winner – Anthony Rendon (1st career)
AL Winner – Adrian Beltre (4th career)
Anthony Rendon showed signs this season of just how good of a player he can become, and was rewarded with a Silver Slugger for his efforts. One of the best players on the Nationals all year long, Rendon will be a big part of their team for seasons to come. The Rangers’ Adrian Beltre takes home his fourth career award, putting together a solid offensive year of his own at third base.
Most Silver Slugger Awards: Barry Larkin holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a shortstop, with nine.
NL Winner – Ian Desmond (3rd career)
AL Winner – Alexei Ramirez (2nd career)
For the most part, shortstops aren’t known for terrific offensive productivity. However, there always seem to be a few each season that put together great numbers. This season, those two players were Ian Desmond and Alexei Ramirez. Picking up his third straight Silver Slugger award, Desmond has quietly become one of the best hitting shortstops in baseball. As has Alexei Ramirez, who picks up his second career award.
Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Piazza holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a catcher, with ten.
NL Winner – Buster Posey (2nd career)
AL Winner – Yan Gomes (1st career)
Buster Posey won the third World Series Championship of his short career this season when the Giants beat the Royals in the Fall Classic, being a big reason the Giants made it there. One of the best hitting catchers in baseball, Posey adds a second Silver Slugger to his extensive list of career awards. Yan Gomes picks up his first Silver Slugger, slowly showing all of baseball that he has the potential to become a star catcher.
Most Silver Slugger Awards: Mike Hampton holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a pitcher, with five.
Winner – Madison Bumgarner (1st career)
Pitchers are terrible hitters; everyone knows that, right? Well, surprisingly, some of them aren’t. In fact, a few pitchers around Major League Baseball can hit fairly well. But no other pitcher was as good at the plate in 2014 as Madison Bumgarner, who hit two grand slams during the season, and therefore picks up the first Silver Slugger award of his career.
Most Silver Slugger Awards: David Ortiz holds the record for the most Silver Slugger Awards as a Designated Hitter, with six.
Winner – Victor Martinez (2nd career)
Breaking out to have one of the best offensive years of anyone in all of baseball this past season, Victor Martinez surprised many with his great production as the Tigers’ designated hitter. For his efforts, Martinez was awarded his second career Silver Slugger award, truly having a marvelous offensive season that put him back on everyone’s radar.
2014 SILVER SLUGGER AWARDS FAST FACTS
- There were eight first time Silver Slugger award winners.
- There were three Silver Slugger award winners that also won last year.
Five different teams had two players receive Silver Slugger awards.
Adrian Gonzalez was the only Silver Slugger winner that won a 2014 Gold Glove.
Heading into game six of the 2014 World Series, I was fairly confident that my prediction of the Giants winning it all in six games was nearly a sure bet. Coming off of a strong, shutout start by Madison Bumgarner in game five to take a 3-2 series lead, I figured the Giants would have the momentum to take the championship in the first game back in Kansas City. But I was wrong — very wrong.
Game six turned out to be a blowout by the Royals, as by the second inning the game was basically over. Jake Peavy, the starting pitcher for the Giants, allowed five hits in the inning, including an RBI-double to Mike Moustakas and an RBI-single to Nori Aoki before he was removed from the game for the recently unhittable Yusmeiro Petit.
But even Petit isn’t perfect, as he allowed a two-run single to the first batter he faced, Lorenzo Cain, followed by a two-run double to Eric Hosmer and a Billy Butler RBI-double. When the dust finally settled, the Royals had scored seven runs in the inning, and every Royals’ starter, with the exception of Omar Infante (he would get a single in the next inning), had at least one hit.
Royals’ starter, Yordano Ventura, fared much better than the pitchers on the Giants’ side of the game. Going seven innings and giving up only three hits while allowing zero runs to a good Giants’ lineup, Ventura was simply remarkable. Leaving the game with a 9-0 lead over the Royals, it’s evident that the Royals have a potential superstar on their hands for years to come.
Up nine runs going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Mike Moustakas took the score to an even 10-0, blasting a solo shot to right field. Coming off of Giants’ reliever, Hunter Strickland — the sixth home run allowed by Strickland in the postseason, a playoff record — Moustakas provided the first home run of the series since game two of the Fall Classic, and would be the final run scored of the game, which became the fifth game out of the series decided by five or more runs.
Taking game six with ease, the Royals forced a World Series game seven for the first time since 2011 — just the 37th World Series game seven in history. With the home team having won the Fall Classic in the past nine game sevens dating back to 1982, including the Royals’ last World Series win in 1985, you had to wonder if history would come through for the Royals or if the Giants terrific elimination game record would prevail.
With game seven of the World Series being a win or go home game for both teams, both starting pitchers — Tim Hudson for the Giants and Jeremy Guthrie for the Royals, who was fantastic in his last outing — were subsequently on very short leashes. (Meaning, should they struggle early they wouldn’t be allowed to continue for very long.) However, both looked fairly sharp to begin the game, posting a scoreless first inning.
But the second inning brought problems for both pitchers. Guthrie gave up a couple of runs via two sacrifice flies that scored the given runner from third, but, surprisingly, he was allowed to continue. Hudson, though, after allowing a couple runs of his own, was replaced after just 1.2 innings pitched — the shortest game seven outing of a World Series game since 1960.
Guthrie pitched a good third inning but allowed a leadoff single to Pablo Sandoval in the fourth (Sandoval went 3-3 on the night, bringing his hit total for this World Series up to a staggering 12), followed by a Hunter Pence single and a flyout that allowed Sandoval to advance to third. Showing signs of struggle, Guthrie was quickly replaced by Kelvin Herrera who immediately gave up a single to Michael Morse, scoring Sandoval from third, and giving the Giants a 3-2 lead. Neither team would find a way to put anything together after that.
On just two days rest, Madison Bumgarner, who threw a complete game shutout in game five, came on in the bottom of the fifth — his first relief appearance since the 2010 National League Championship Series. It was originally thought that if Bumgarner was brought on in relief, it would be for a couple of innings. But Bumgarner was so dominant that he remained in through the final out of the game, surpassing the old MLB postseason record of 48.2 innings pitched and lowering his World Series career ERA down to a measly 0.25.
While the Royals threw out their heart of the order in the bottom of the ninth, with Alex Gordon technically singling but winding up at third on a couple of outfield bobbling errors, they didn’t have a comeback in them. Salvador Perez, although he put up a battle against Bumgarner, stranded Gordon at third, popping out to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, and securing the Giants the 2014 World Series Championship.
The third World Series title for the San Francisco Giants in the past five year, and their eighth overall in franchise history, the Giants were fairly impressive over the course of the seven games it took to decide a winner, despite outscoring the Royals overall just 30-27. But they would be nowhere without their dominant lefty, Madison Bumgarner, who received the Most Valuable Player award for his dominant pitching during the Fall Classic.
With game seven now decided, thus concludes another exciting Major League Baseball season. But hang in there. There are only 158 days until Opening Day 2015.
Going against preseason predictions and beating all the odds just to make it into the postseason, the Royals and Giants seemingly breezed their way through their given division series and championship series rounds on their way to the World Series. So evenly matched, as teams with a great pitching staff, lineup and bullpen, you had to figure that this year’s Fall Classic was going to be a great one. And, as I predicted, it surely has been exciting so far.
In game one on Tuesday night in Kansas City, Madison Bumgarner of the Giants took on the Royals and their best pitcher James Shields. For the Royals’ fan base, this game was something that they haven’t been able to experience in a long time, with the Royals last having made the postseason in 1985. But unfortunately for them, things didn’t start off too well, with three runs being scored in the very first inning by the Giants, off a Pablo Sandoval RBI-double and a Hunter Pence two-run home run.
From there, things simply got worse for the Royals. The Giants scored yet again in the fourth and the seventh, plating a couple of runs each inning, to take the score up to 7-0. With Madison Bumgarner on the mound, the Royals faced an impossible climb to reclaim the game, as despite a solo home run from Salvador Perez in the seventh, that would be the only run Bumgarner allowed, giving up just a total of three hits.
With the Giants taking the decisive 7-1 game one victory, you began to wonder whether or not this was going to be as competitive of a World Series as it had been advertised to be. But all thoughts of that were erased in game two, as things were much more thrilling for the better part of the game.
However, things didn’t start off looking too good for the Royals once again. The first batter of the game, Gregor Blanco, blasted a solo home run off the Royals’ flamethrowing Yordano Ventura, who became the first rookie to start a World Series game for the Royals in their history. From there, though, the Royals answered back, scoring a run in both the first and second innings off of the Giants’ Jake Peavy.
The Giants would tie the game in the top of the fourth inning, before the wheels came off in the sixth. Jake Peavy, who had been fairly good through this point in the game, was lifted after allowing the first two batters of the inning to reach base. His replacement, Jean Machi, allowed an RBI-single before being lifted for Javier Lopez, who recorded one out before he was replaced by Hunter Strickland. That would turn out to be a big mistake.
Strickland, who hasn’t done much of anything in the postseason for the Giants, gave up a two-run double to Salvador Perez, followed by a two-run homer by Omar Infante — the fifth home run Strickland has allowed this postseason, tying the postseason record.
Jeremy Affeldt would come on following Strickland’s removal, finishing out the inning without any more runs, but over the course of the 32 minute inning, the damage had been done. The Royals’ unbelievable bullpen subsequently shut down the game, securing them the 7-2 win.
The Royals and Giants now head to San Francisco tied at a game apiece. If either team can sweep the three games, which begin on Friday, the 2014 World Series Champion can potentially be crowned at AT&T park. But although baseball is unpredictable, it’s likely that the series will head back to Kansas City for game six and (possibly) seven in the final days of October.
After a fantastic outing by their starting pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann, the Washington Nationals appeared to be on their way to tying up the National League Division Series at a game apiece with the San Francisco Giants when they held a 1-0 lead heading into the top of the ninth inning on Saturday night. But a Pablo Sandoval RBI double, which extended his postseason hitting streak to thirteen straight games, quickly let the air out of an ecstatic Nationals team.
And things only got worse from there.
With the Nationals failing to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, the game proceeded to remain scoreless for the following eight innings. Upon reaching the 18th inning, the game subsequently tied the record for number of innings in postseason game history, set back in 2005.
Following the extended run drought, the Giants finally changed things in the top of the 18th inning with a solo shot off the bat of Brandon Belt, who was previously 0-6, giving the Giants a 2-1 lead.
The Nationals would send Danny Espinosa, Denard Span, Anthony Rendon — whose four hits on the night set a new franchise playoff record — and Jayson Werth to the plate in the bottom half, but they did little of anything against the Giants’ flamethrower, Hunter Strickland.
With the final out recorded, the game officially broke the playoff record for game length of 5 hours and 50 minutes set in 2005, lasting a staggering 6 hours and 23 minutes. The series now heads to San Francisco, with the Giants one win away from advancing to the National League Championship Series.
Although it’s not decided yet who the Giants will play if they wind up overtaking the Nationals, either the Dodgers or the Cardinals will be in for a battle. I have to admit I didn’t give the Giants, who have now won ten straight postseason games, nearly enough credit with my postseason predictions. They really have impressed me so far.
Having won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, they’re somewhat jokingly (and somewhat seriously) in line to possibly win the World Series again, in this yet another even calendar year. Although the Fall Classic is another couple of weeks away, and the Giants have several key games to get through first before they have any shot at World Series glory, you have to be happy with how things are looking if you’re a fan of the Giants.