Results tagged ‘ Indians ’

Q and A With Jeremie Tice

Jeremie Tice signed with the Cleveland Indians after they drafted him in the 6th round of the 2008 draft. Since the initial draft Tice hasn’t been able to make it out of A ball, though I have a feeling it’s only a matter of time before he’s going to finally move up another level–one of the major goals for Tice this year.

Tice is currently the DH for the Carolina Mudcats. He’s played in 32 games so far this season, and has put up some pretty good numbers: 9 home runs and 36 RBI’s, off of 33 hits. That all coming in 111 at bats, which converts into a .297 batting average, as well as a .388 on base percentage. Not bad at all.

Jeremie Tice–designated hitter in the Cleveland Indians organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence?

I have played baseball since I was three years old. I always loved it more than other sports. Biggest influence growing up was Brian Jordan. I was a big braves fan and I loved how he played the game. Great athlete.

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

Favorite players were Mark McGwire and Brian Jordan. They were both beasts in the batters box and that’s what I wanted to be.

3.) You signed with the Indians after they drafted you in the 6th round of the 2008 draft. What was that process like? Where were you when you found out? Initial thoughts?

The draft process in ’08 wasn’t that bad cause I had already gone through the draft process with the Marlins, but it was still a little nerve racking, but very exciting. A lot of talking to teams on the phone and just praying I went to a good team. When I found out I was at my apartment, in Charleston SC with my dad, and I was very releaved. Crazy day. Will never forget it.

4.) This is your 5th season of professional baseball. What are your goals for this year? Anything that you’re currently working on to enable you to reach those goals?

Biggest goal for this season is to get out of A ball, but there are only certain things I can control. I’m just trying to play the game the right way and get better than I was the day before. The rest will take care of itself.

5.) When’s the first time someone asked for your autograph? Oddest thing you’ve ever signed?

First autograph was in college, at the College Of Charleston. Craziest thing I have signed was definitely a cell phone.

6.) Favorite thing to do on an off day during the season?

Off days I like to fish if I can, or just take it easy. Most of our off days are filled with a lot of work, so anything relaxing is good.

7.) Favorite TV show?

Favorite TV show is ‘Gold Rush Alaska’. If that’s not on anything on the Discovery Channel. Definitely my favorite channel to watch.

8.) Favorite food?

Favorite food is a tough one because food is a big passion of mine, but I have to choose probably a fat steak with potatoes.

9.) Most memorable moment of your baseball career thus far?

Most memorable moment so far I would have to say was getting drafted by the Indians; knowing that I was going to sign with them. A major goal met. That was a great feeling. Knowing all the work I put in just to be in that position. Next goal is to get to the big leagues.

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

I would say don’t take the game too seriously. This is a game of failure and you will fail a lot. Always work hard, and always play the game the right way. If you do that there is no telling what you can do. Sky is the limit.

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Big thanks to Jeremie Tice for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can follow him on twitter: @BigOleChunkyBoy

Q and A With Dwight Childs

Dwight Childs was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 18th round of the 2009 draft. Since the initial draft in 2009, Dwight has played for teams as high as Triple-A, and as low as Single-A. It’s been a roller coaster ride of sorts for him thus far, but I have a feeling that he’s going to slowly start working his way back up through the ranks, and this time it’ll be to stay.

Dwight Childs is currently playing for the Carolina Mudcats (A+) in the Carolina league. He’s batting a mere .091 (1-11) so far this season, but there’s still a lot of time left for him to prove himself. He has the ability to be really good. It’s just a matter of getting out there and performing well.

Dwight Childs–catcher in the Indians organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:

1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence?

I first became knowledgably interested in baseball when I was four years old. My father always wanted me to be a baseball player, so he got me a bat and ball as soon as I could walk.  My biggest baseball influence besides my father was a guy named Ted Hererra. He was my travel ball coach from age 11-16.  He took the time to teach us the game fundamentals as well as developing the mental aptitude needed to play this game.  He ran our team like a big league squad, and treated us like men, and told us nothing would ever be given to us in this game, and that we’d always have to earn “it”.  He truly made the difference in my baseball career, and the best thing he ever told us was: “When you stop learning in this game, your career will be over. Keep your mind and your eyes open because the game will, and is, always trying to teach you something.”

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

I was a big “Pudge” Rodriguez fan! I always wanted to throw, block and have the career he has had. I like his intensity in the game as well. Pete Rose is one of my all time favorites because he played every out and every pitch as hard as he could everyday.

3.) You were drafted by the Indians in the 18th round of the 2009 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you found out? Initial thoughts?

The draft was very stressful for me after the first day. Like every player, I thought I was going to get drafted higher than I did. At an older age now, and with a more mature outlook on the business of baseball, I realize that the draft only plays a small part in what’s going to happen in your career. I can only thank God for blessing me with the opportunity to play this game professionally.  When I found out, I was at my house in Arizona, where I had lived after college.  I was with my Dad, Aunt, Uncle, cousin and grandmother! It truly was a special day!  My initial thought when selected by the Cleveland Indians was: “This is sweet. I get to play for my favorite childhood team!”

4.) This is your 4th season of professional baseball. What are your goals for this season? Anything specific that you’re currently working on to enable you to accomplish those goals?

My goal this year is to develop into a baseball player that this organization wants in the big leagues. Same as it is every year. I want to win wherever I am. I want to hit well, and be the best teammate I can be.  I want my pitchers to perform well, and want them to want to throw to me everyday. I want to build a trust and relationship with them, to help us all get to the next step in our careers. I do all this with a work ethic and determination.

5.) When’s the first time someone asked for your autograph? Oddest thing you’ve ever signed?

I was 14 the first time someone asked my autograph. I was at the Olympic trials in Phoenix, and I’ll never forget it. Hank Conger, Brett Anderson and a few other guys and I were leaving the field after a workout and people wanted us to sign their Team USA shirts, and other apparel they had. I’ve never had anyone ask me to sign anything to odd. My favorite though, is the random joe shmoe who wants you to sign a 3×5 card. Team USA lectured us on not signing these because they can forge your signature on checks, memorabilia, etc., and the people get SO mad when I won’t sign them. It’s like: “Bro, you’re 35 and want me to sign a 3×5 card? Spend the $1.35 to get one of my cards, and I’ll sign that!” It’s always a pet peeve when people want you to sign something and don’t know your name. Unless its a young kid of course. I’ll always sign for the kids!

6.) Favorite thing to do on an off day during the season?

I’m the odd ball who doesn’t like days off. They are so long and boring. If my fiancé is in town we’ll go see a movie and grab breakfast and dinner somewhere. But if it’s me and the boys we’ll usually play PS3 for a bit until we get bored.

7.) Favorite TV show?

I like all the shows on MLB Network, but my fiancé and I watch ‘Friends’ a lot in the offseason. ‘Parenthood’ is a good one too.

8.) Favorite food?

My favorite food used to be Macaroni and Cheese. Now I think it’s my Fiancé’s Taco Bar.

9.) What’s the most memorable moment of your baseball career thus far?

Obviously playing with Team USA was very memorable. Playing Miami (at Miami) in the 2008 Super Regional was another one. But I’ll never forget taking Preston Guilmet 8.2 innings with a no hitter, and going 3 for 4 at the plate, in my first ever collegiate game. (I called that whole game [behind the plate].) Preston and I still talk about it to this day because we had the last hitter down to his last strike to get the no-no and he shook me off and gave up a jam job hit. Haha.

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

I would tell them that it’s not even close to what they think it is like. They need to work on mental toughness, develop a good work ethic and always play with something to prove. Professional baseball is cutthroat and it’s an everyday grind. I will forever thank Andy Lopez (my manager at U of A) for making me mentally tough.  There’s no free passes in this game. Your talent will only take you so far, but if you’re mentally tough and smart, you’ll get a shot at the big leagues. I’d also tell them to enjoy everyday they get to wear a jersey and play in between those chalked lines, because you never know when your last pitch, play or inning will be. Play every day like it’s your last, and find the childhood love for the game.

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Big thanks to Dwight Childs for agreeing to answer some questions for my blog.

You can follow him on twitter: @DCLaserShow4

Most Recent MLB Related Things On My Mind

For once I’m not using an entry to get caught up on the things that I’ve failed to blog about. There really hasn’t been much for me to write about since the last time I blogged. The three things that I’m going to discuss in this entry are things that have happened very recently in baseball, and I just want to get my personal opinion out there.

Please leave a comment if you have anything further you’d like to say about the topics being discussed.

ALBERT PUJOLS’ HOME RUN DROUGHT

Albert Pujols homered 37 times in 579 at bats last season. That’s once every 15.6 at bats, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll round it up to 16. So far this year Pujols has had 45 at bats, and has hit a grand total of zero home runs. If you go by last year’s trend of 1 homer per 16 at bats, he should have 2-3 home runs already. So what’s going on?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Albert physically, nor do I feel it’s the mental emotion of being with a new team. In my personal opinion, I just think it’s a streak of bad luck. Every player goes through a rough patch from time to time. It’s just that Pujols has had so few in his career that when a long streak of bad luck like this hits him, it’s big news.

Now I’m not saying that Pujols will get his first home run this week or even this month, but I am saying that he won’t end the season still stuck at zero home runs. For a guy like him, once he gets that first one past him, the pressure will be gone, and he’ll become the old Pujols that the Angels were looking for when they shelled out big money for him.

One thing’s for sure. If Albert Pujols wants to keep of his steak of at least 30 home runs in every season of his career, he needs to figure things out, and start getting hot.

JAMIE MOYER WINS AT AGE 49

Jamie Moyer made his start last night against the Padres with the hopes of becoming the oldest pitcher in MLB history to win a regular season game. He would achieve his goal, as although he never even reached 80 miles per hour on the gun, he was still able to have a successful outing and record the win at age 49 and 150 days.

To record a win in a MLB game at age 49 is truly incredible. To give you an idea of how long Moyer has been playing, the starting pitcher for the Padres, Anthony Bass, was born a year after Moyer’s debut. Pretty insane if you think about it.

The oldest pitcher to ever play in a MLB game was Satchel Paige at age 59, though he didn’t record the win.

JOHNNY DAMON MAKES IT OFFICIAL

I talked about the Damon deal a little while ago, but now that he’s officially an Indian I thought I’d bring it up again.

Damon joins the Indians just 277 hits shy of 3,000 for his career. If he hopes to reach the milestone he’ll have to play at least one more season longer that his 1-year 1.25 million dollar contract from the Indians. It’s unclear as to whether or not he plans to do that, as he has to make it through this season first.

The plan for Damon is for him to continue working out at the Indians’ spring training facility in Arizona. He’s then expected to join the Triple-A affiliate of the Indians (the Columbous Clippers) for a short while, before joining the Indians up in Ohio in early May.

It should be interesting to see if Damon still has the ability to help his team win. According to Damon, that’s his main goal for the year, as he made the following statement after signing:

My track record shows that I play hard and I play to win. That’s why I’ve helped teams win championships, and I’ve helped some teams that aren’t so good be better…I play for the organization, not for myself.

I hope things work out between Johnny Damon and the Cleveland Indians. Damon can be a really exciting player to watch when he’s performing well.

My Thoughts On the Latest MLB News

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile then you know I sometimes like to take little breaks from blogging. I tell myself I’m going to post an entry every few days, but even when something interesting happens I fail to blog about it. Not every time, but at least once a month I can’t seem to motivate myself to post a new entry.

What I’ll usually do (as I’m doing now) is post an entry after the several day break to recap the things that have happened since the last time I blogged. I’m not going to go over everything that’s happened. I’m just going to talk a little bit about the main things on my mind.

Chipper Jones Returns To the Braves’ Lineup

Chipper Jones made his 2012 regular season debut on Tuesday against the Houston Astros. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as he had just gotten over surgery from an injury he sustained during spring training. I was hoping he’d get at least one hit (which he did) but I never expected him to perform as well as he did. Jones went 2-4 in the game, with one of his hits being a home run. (Number 455 of his career.)

I thought Chipper looked great deffensively as well. During Tuesday’s game Jones made a fantastic bare handed play to throw out the batter at first. He moved fairly swiftly, and didn’t appear as if he was feeling any pain. A great sign for Braves and Chipper fans alike. It didn’t appear to be luck either, as Jones went 2-5 in the very next game. It should be interesting to see how he does in today’s home opener against the Brewers.

Tim Lincecum’s Rough Start To 2012

After a less than stellar 2011, I was fully expecting Tim Lincecum to have a bounce back year, domintating the way he did in past years, but so far that’s not the case. If anything, Lincecum’s going down hill. Now I’m not saying he can’t, and won’t, turn things around. All I’m saying is that he really needs to hurry up and figure it out. (As a fan of Lincecum, I’m hoping he does.)

Tim Lincecum has made a total of two starts so far this season, and looked overmatched in both. In his latest start on Wednesday, Lincecum lasted only 2.1 innings (the shortest outing of his career) giving up 6 runs off of 8 hits, while striking out three.

Lincecum’s next start is scheduled for Monday against the Phillies. Let’s hope he can finally show us at least a glimpse of the old Tim Lincecum.

Johnny Damon Signs With Cleveland Indians

When I first heard that the Cleveland Indians were looking to sign Johnny Damon I didn’t know what to think of it. To tell you the truth, I had lost all track of Damon once the 2012 season got underway. I recalled that Damon hadn’t found a team during the offseason, but once spring training ended I thought nothing more of it.

I for one think it’s an interesting move by the Indians. Damon can be a great player (future hall of famer?) but he’s a guy you need to keep a very close eye on. He could go either way.

Johnny Damon agreed to a 1-year, 1.25 million dollar contract with the Cleveland Indians. This makes the seventh team of Damon’s career, and the fourth different team for him in the past four years. I truly hope Damon performs well this season. I look forward to seeing him play again.

April 3rd Indians vs. Mudcats Game

Yesterday’s game between the Cleveland Indians and the Carolina Mudcats was by no means one for the ages but it was however an exciting day for people like myself from the area that don’t get to see Major League teams that often. Living in the middle of nowhere, in terms of MLB, I have two choices: Drive 250 miles to see the Nationals, or drive 300 miles to see the Braves. Neither is a trip I can take too often, so this was a must attend game.

I arrived at the ballpark at 11:00. The gates weren’t due to open until 11:30 for the 2:00 game but as stated in my last blog entry I wanted to arrive early to give myself a good chance of getting autographs from Major League players. (Even with it being the Indians, and not a team like the Yankees.)

After getting my ticket scanned at 11:30 on the dot, I made my way towards the Cleveland Indians field house. You can’t get all the way to it due to a fence, but since the players have to walk RIGHT past you to get to the field, it’s fairly easy to get autos. As a matter of fact, it was easier than I thought it would be.

Autograph one of the day came from Travis Hafner:

While he signed for nearly everyone, he didn’t seem to be in the best of moods.

My next three autographs came within a five minute span, coming from Vinnie Pestano, Josh Tomlin and Sandy Alomar Jr. Sandy Alomar was the exact oposite of Hafner, as instead of acting like signing autographs was a pain, he spent the time cracking jokes, as he signed for everyone:

The next auto came from Indians manager Manny Acta, who was also fairly friendly, and signed for everyone:

Then things slowed down, in terms of players willing to sign autographs. Plenty of players continued to come by, but they didn’t stop to sign for the fans. It was during this time slot that the coolest thing of the day happened. I was standing against the fence watching for players to come by when I heard a guy behind me say “excuse me”. I was fully expecting to find a random person behind me when I turned around but to my surprise I found myself staring at a well dressed guy, with long brown hair. If you follow baseball at all, then you probably already know who it was. Yes, it was Indians closer Chris Perez. Awesome!

Perez had a line of players following behind him, including Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson and a few other players that I didn’t recognize. To be THAT close to MLB players was extremely cool.

As Jimenez walked by a fan asked if he’d sign autographs, to which he replied “I don’t feel like it, man”. I found myself thinking that was the end of that. I hadn’t expected Jimenez to sign, so his response was no shock to me.

Here’s a picture of the players shortly after they had walked by:

They entered and exited the field house within five minutes, coming out in their uni’s:

None of them signed as they walked by. They were “in a hurry”, as they put it. But I suppose they did have somewhere to go. Although none of them were going to play today, they warmed up anyhow:

I don’t know if you noticed him in the above photo, but Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the players who was warming up:

After about 10 minutes of throwing, stretching and running, the players left the field. To my surprise, three guys stopped to sign autographs. The first being Chris Perez:

Followed by Ubaldo Jimenez, who drew a large crowd:

With the third player to stop and sign being Asdrubal Cabrera:

Shortly before I left for my seat, Carlos Santana stopped to sign, but only for around three people. As did Shin Soo-Choo. After they quit signing, I made my way to my seat. Here was the view of the Indians team just before gametime:

I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the game itself. (If you can call it a game.) The Indians, as expected, dominated the Single-A Mudcats, with the final score being 13-0. Here are just a few of the pictures I took during the game itself:

Travis Hafner.

Carlos Santana.

Jason Kipnis.

Half of the starters were removed from the game in the third inning with the second half coming out in the fourth. Lou Marson replaced Santana, after he was removed in the fourth:

As I stated, the game wasn’t THAT exciting. I left my seat and headed back over to try for more autgraphs after the game. What I saw made me laugh out loud. I’ll show the picture first, and then I’ll explain, in case you can’t tell what it is:

It’s kind of hard to see, but the Indians players that had left the game early were sitting at picnic tables chowing down on food served on paper plates. Don’t ask me why I find that funny. I just do.

Anyway, I was only able to get one more autograph after the game. It came from Chad Huffman, who gave also away his hat and batting gloves to a couple of little kids.

Here’s a recap of the 14 autographs that I got at the game:

1. Bruce Fields

2. Chris Perez

3. Jeanmar Gomez

4. Chad Huffman

1. Vinnie Pestano

2. Sandy Alomar Jr.

3. Aaron Cunningham

1. Travis Hafner

2. Ubaldo Jimenez

3. Asdrubal Cabrera1. Dan Wheeler

2. Josh Tomlin

3. Jack Hannahan Manny Acta signed the sweet spot.

All in all I had a great time at the game. As I said earlier, this isn’t the type of game that happens often. I’m planning on attending another Mudcat’s game on Friday. It’s the first real game of the season for them. I’m also going to a Durham Bulls game on Saturday. I’m not planning on blogging about either of those games however. The next game I blog about will more than likely be the June 23rd game in Cincinnati between the Reds and the Twins.

My Upcoming Week of Baseball

It’s officially that time of year again. The calendar reads April 1st which means the MLB regular season is just days away, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ve got a busy week of baseball games coming up, so I thought I’d type up a brief overview of my schedule for the coming week.

Five County Stadium. Home of the Carolina Mudcats.

My first game of the year is Tuesday, April 3rd. It’s an exhibition game between the Cleveland Indians and my local minor league team, the Carolina Mudcats. Game time is set for 2 o’clock, but with gates set to open at 11:30, I’m planning on arriving at 11:15. While it might seem crazy to some of you that I’m showing up nearly 3 hours early, I feel that showing up early is half the fun. If you ask me, being one of the first through the gates is the only way to go. I’ll never understand the people that show up in the third inning and leave in the seventh. Why even come at all?!

Part of the reason I’m showing up as early as I am is to go for autographs. I’m not a big autograph collector, but I don’t plan on passing up the opportunity to get autos from some of today’s up and coming stars like Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc. Living nearly 300 miles from the nearest MLB stadium, this is a MUST attend game for me. It’s not that often that a Major League team “comes to me”.

Game two of the week comes three days later, on Friday April 6th. It’s another Mudcat’s game. (Opening night to be specific.) I wouldn’t be attending this game under normal circumstances, but when I bought my ticket the the Cleveland Indians exhibition game I received a FREE ticket to Opening Night. So I mean, why not? It’s a baseball game after all! Even if it is against a team in the White Sox organization, baseball is baseball. (There is a chance of rain that day however, so hopefully they’ll be able to get it in.)

The game I’m probably looking forward to the most is game three of the week. That game sees the Durham Bulls taking on the visiting Gwinnett Braves. There are tons of future Atlanta Braves stars on the team including newly acquired Joey Terdoslavich, who made the jump from Class A advanced ball to Triple A. Terdoslavich is more than likely going to take over for Chipper Jones at third base once Jones retires, so it’s pretty neat to get to see him play.

That’s pretty much it. Three games, five teams, and two stadiums, all within a five day span. Pretty exciting stuff, in my opinion. I’m pumped!!

My 2012 MLB Predictions

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

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

1- New York Yankees

2- Tampa Bay Rays

3- Boston Red Sox

4- Toronto Blue Jays

5- Baltimore Orioles

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL 

1- Detroit Tigers

2- Cleveland Indians

3- Kansas City Royals

4- Minnesota Twins

5- Chicago White Sox

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST 

1- Texas Rangers

2- Los Angeles Angels

3- Seattle Mariners

4- Oakland Athletics

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

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST 

1- Philadelphia Phillies

2- Atlanta Braves

3- Miami Marlins

4- Washington Nationals

5- New York Mets

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

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1- St. Louis Cardinals

2- Milwaukee Brewers

3- Cincinnati Reds

4- Pittsburgh Pirates

5- Chicago Cubs

6- Houston Astros

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

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

1- San Francisco Giants

2- Arizona Diamondbacks

3- Los Angeles Dodgers

4- San Diego Padres

5- Colorado Rockies

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

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

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

AL East: New York Yankees

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies

AL Central: Detroit Tigers

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

AL West: Texas Rangers

NL West: San Francisco Giants

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

AL Wild Card: Los Angeles Angels

NL Wild Card: Arizona Diamondbacks

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

Extra AL Wild Card Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Extra NL Wild Card Team: Atlanta Braves

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

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

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

Top 5 Favorite Players-2011 Update # 6

There’s a lot to talk about this week. It has been a very productive one for my favorite players. So let’s get started:

HEATH BELL
Heath Bell has had three save opportunities since my last entry. He however only converted two out of the three of those opportunities into saves. And last night was a big one for his career. Getting one more save meant passing Trevor Hoffman for the all time Padres consecutive saves leader. But it wasn’t meant to be. With two out in the top of the ninth, Heath got a ground ball to third base. Easy play right? Wrong. The ball was bounced and the first baseman couldn’t snag it. The streak of 41 consecutive saves, was over. But Heath Bell has another milestone coming up that is also exciting. His 100th save. He is currently at 98 saves. So it won’t take him long to reach triple digits. (The Padres are currently 13-19.)

DEREK JETER
Since last Saturday’s entry, Derek has gotten five more hits. This brings his career total to 2,954 hits. Only 46 away from 3,000. (See my milestone tracker on the right side.) Jeter has been a little more consistent lately in his hitting. He has gotten a hit in his last four games played. Maybe he will finally get into a groove, and help to speed along the process of getting him to 3,000 hits. It’s one of those milestones that when you’re in a slump can seem so far away. But when you start to see the ball better, and get hits, can approach fast. (The Yankees are currently 18-12.)

TIM LINCECUM
Tim has had only one start since my last entry. In that one start he accomplished a great deal of things. First of all, he got the win. That’s always important. Second of all he got TWELVE strikeouts, putting him past Christy Mathewson for the most double digit strikeout games in Giants history. His career strikeouts is also very impressive. Tim currently has 964 career strikeouts. So look out in his next few starts for Tim to hit 1,000 strikeouts for his career. (The Giants are currently 16-16.)

ALBERT PUJOLS
Although still not the slugger so far that he was last year, Albert Pujols is starting to increase his batting average. His current average is .264 for the season. His hits have come mostly off of singles, and have been rather consistent lately. Around one every game. Although Albert did have three hits against the Marlins Thursday night. Pujols has a milestone as well that is approaching. 2,000 career hits. He currently has 1,926 career hits. So he’s only 74 hits away. I know that sounds like a lot, but if he starts to hit like the old Albert, it will be here in no time. (The Cardinals are currently 19-14.)

MARIANO RIVERA
Mariano currently has 571 saves for his career. (See my milestone tracker to the right.) This brings him 31 away from passing Trevor Hoffman for the most saves ever. The way Mariano Rivera is pitching lately, it will take something drastic for him to not reach the record. He is just so dominating on the mound, and nine times out of ten, gets the job done. Last nights save was the twelfth of the season for Mo.

OTHER GENERAL BASEBALL NEWS

  • Since being arrested on DUI charges on Monday, Shin-Soo Choo has gone 0-11 in plate appearances.

  • Willie Mays turned 80 years old yesterday.

  • Andre Ethier has a current hit streak of thirty games.

I more than likely won’t be able to write an update next Saturday. Reason being, that MLBlogs is undergoing a conversion from Movable type pro to WordPress. During that time I won’t be able to access my blog. So I may have to do a two week entry the next Saturday, like I did last Saturday.

Reds Vs. Yankees– 45 days

Also, if you didn’t read about me winning tickets to a Padres game from Heath Bell, read about it HERE.

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