Results tagged ‘ White Sox ’
Now that the 2013 Minor League Baseball season is over, and with no shot at attending any more MLB games this year, I can finally post a blog entry recapping my season out at the ballpark.
I managed to make it to 16 baseball games this season. Two of those were major league games — one up in Baltimore and one in Seattle — with the remaining fourteen being minor league games. In those minor league games, I saw numerous top prospects, as well as future Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones, on August 20th, at his number retirement ceremony in Durham. It was a great season, full of fun, and I thought I’d take the time to recap it all:
April 5th – Carolina Mudcats Vs. Winston Salem Dash
I went into this game looking forward to seeing Indians’ top prospect, Francisco Lindor, and White Sox’ top prospect, Courtney Hawkins. Both are sure to be future MLB stars, and both are exciting players to keep an eye on. I didn’t get an autograph from Lindor at this particular game, but I did receive the bat that Hawkins cracked during his second at-bat of the game, in which he got a bloop-single:
April 9th – Durham Bulls Vs. Gwinnett Braves
Having one of the best opening day Bulls lineups ever — including Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer, and Hak-Ju Lee — I was excited to attend this game. I didn’t get Myers, but I ended up with an autograph from both Lee and Brandon Guyer….:
….as well as a game home run ball hit by the Braves’ Ernesto Mejia:
(This was my first ever home run ball.)
April 24th – Durham Bulls Vs. Toledo Mud Hens
I was hoping to get an autograph from Wil Myers at this game, since I was unsuccessful the last time, but I failed, once again. I did, however, get an auto from Mike Fontenot….:
….as well as a game homer from Tigers’ number one prospect, Nick Castellanos:
May 9th – Durham Bulls Vs. Syracuse Chiefs
Not much to say about this game. Just that I finally got Wil Myers to sign for me; once on a program, and once on a card:
May 14th – Carolina Mudcats Vs. Salem Red Sox
I didn’t have the chance to get an autograph from Indians’ top prospects, Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin, as I was too busy getting autos from all the Red Sox’ top prospects. Salem was loaded with great players when I saw them in May, and I ended up getting an auto from Garin Cecchini, Blake Swihart and Brandon Jacobs:
Then, after the game, I picked up a game used, unbroken bat from Deven Marrero:
May 30th – Carolina Mudcats Vs. Wilmington Blue Rocks
I was able to get an autograph from Cheslor Cuthbert, however, due to a mistake on my part, I missed out on Royals’ top prospect, Kyle Zimmer. Although, I did manage to finally get an autograph from Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin after the game — both are super-nice guys. I was happy to finally get those:
June 3rd – Durham Bulls Vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
I was really hoping to get an autograph from Chien-Ming Wang, but I never saw him in the dugout before the game, so I figured he wasn’t there. But after the game, I ended up running into him on my way out of the ballpark. Turns out, Wang had been in the stands, charting the game. So I was thankfully able to get him:
I also got a game home run ball hit by Ronnier Mustelier:
June 15th – Durham Bulls Vs. Indianapolis Indians
With the great year he was having, I was looking to get an autograph from Vince Belnome, since I had finally gotten his card. Not only did I get Belnome, but I also got Jake Odorizzi; as well as Wil Myers, for the third time:
(Little did I know that this would be the last time I’d ever see Myers with the Bulls, as he was called up the next day.)
June 17th – Durham Bulls Vs. Louisville Bats
I had been planning on attending this game since before the season even started. The record holder for most stolen bases in a single season, with 155, Billy Hamilton, was set to be there, and I was looking to get his autograph. I was able to get it, as well as an auto from Reds’ prospect Henry Rodriguez:
(Two things: Hamilton is now in the majors, and Rodriguez needs to work on his auto.)
June 25th – Carolina Mudcats Vs. Frederick Keys
I didn’t think I’d be going to this game, but I got an offer from Orioles’ prospect, Nick Delmonico, for free tickets, and I couldn’t pass it up. I was able to thank him in person, as well as get him to sign a card, making it a great time:
June 29th – Baltimore Orioles Vs. New York Yankees
Didn’t get any autographs, but had a great time.
Check out my recap HERE.
July 26th – Seattle Mariners Vs. Minnesota Twins
As with the Baltimore game, nothing too exciting.
Check out my recap HERE.
August 20th – Durham Bulls Vs. Charlotte Knights
Third straight game without an auto, but Chipper Jones was there, so it was fun anyway.
Check out my recap HERE.
August 24th – Durham Bulls Vs. Norfolk Tides
This game turned out to be the most successful game of the season; as I got four out of the five guys I wanted an autograph from to sign for me. Those players include Orioles’ top prospects, Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop, as well as Alex Liddi and Eric Thames. All were extremely nice about it, and I was surprised with the number of autos I got:
September 3rd – Durham Bulls Vs. Indianapolis Indians
As if this game wasn’t exciting enough, being a playoff game, I was able to get autos from Pirates’ number one and two prospects, Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco:
September 10th – Durham Bulls Vs. Pawtucket Red Sox
Didn’t get any autographs or home run balls — bad way to end the season.
But what a season it was.
I can’t wait for next year; when the auto collecting, home run chasing, and prospect scouting can start all over again.
By the Numbers
Though you could take the time for yourself to add it all up, I figured I’d make things a bit easier. Here’s a numbers recap of my 2013 MiLB & MLB season:
Games attended: 16
Win-loss record for the home team: 12-4
Total runs scored (Home Team-Visitor): 102-44
Top 100 prospects seen in person: 16
Autographs from top 100 prospects: 8
Total autographs: 26
Game used gear: 2 bats (Courtney Hawkins & Deven Marrero — both signed.)
Game homers: 3 (Ernesto Mejia, Nick Castellanos & Ronnier Mustelier)
Total miles traveled to & from games: 7,740 (Including Baltimore & Seattle)
Twenty-one years since playing for the Bulls, Chipper Jones is returning to Durham.
Jones is set to join Crash Davis, Joe Morgan and Bill Evers as the only players to ever have their number retired by the Bulls, in a retirement ceremony on Tuesday. Morgan currently holds the distinction of being the only Bull to go on to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but that’s likely to change, once Chipper becomes eligible a few years down the road.
Jones played with the Bulls for a total of 70 games during the 1992 season, in which he batted .277 with four home runs and 31 RBIs. This coming back when the Bulls were the Class-A affiliate of the Braves, Jones would go on to become an eight-time All-Star, playing for the Braves his entire career.
Jones’ career MLB stats of 468 home runs and 1,623 RBI’s, coming over 2,726 hits, will go down as one of the best careers of anyone to ever don a Bulls uniform.
The uniform number retirement ceremony for Chipper Jones is set to take place at around 7:00, before tomorrow night’s Bulls game. And I’m planning to be there.
Gates are set to open at 5:30, and I’m hoping to be one of the first inside. This will more than likely be my last time seeing Chipper, and I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to get his autograph. (I’m going to try to get it on a 2012 All-Star baseball, that I won last year in a Twitter contest.) But no matter what happens, it’s sure to be an exciting night, and I’ll be sure to blog about it all on Wednesday.
But as if that’s not enough baseball excitement for one week, I’m also planning to attend Saturday’s Bulls game, versus the Norfolk Tides (AAA affiliate of the Orioles).
The Tides are loaded with great players and prospects, with the most notable being Orioles number one and number five prospects, Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop, who have both been having great seasons. I’m hoping to pick up an autograph from both. (Eric Thames, Zach Britton, Danny Valencia and Freddy Garcia being the other players I’m after for an auto.)
I haven’t yet decided whether or not I’ll be blogging about Saturday’s game, but you never know. It really depends on if anything out of the ordinary occurs, and how much else is going on around the rest of the baseball world. So, stay tuned….
Opening Day for Major League Baseball took place on Monday, however, Opening Day for the Carolina Mudcats (A+ affiliates of the Indians), of the Carolina League, is taking place later tonight. For the second season in a row, I’m attending tonight’s game, once again versus the Winston Salem Dash (A+ affiliates of the White Sox), and I’m extremely excited. This year’s Opening Day game is packed with top notch talent.
For the Carolina Mudcats, while their pitching staff isn’t too fantastic, their position players include the organization’s number one prospect, Francisco Lindor, 2012 1st round draft pick, Tyler Naquin, along with top prospect, Tony Wolters, who is making the transition this season from short stop to catcher. Wolters played with the Mudcats last season, and I really enjoyed watching him play. I’m looking forward to seeing how the move to behind the plate plays out.
As far as the Dash go, the highlight of the team is undoubtedly Courtney Hawkins, who was drafted 13th overall in last year’s draft; doing a backflip afterwards. Though Hawkins won’t be doing any backflips (as far as I know), I’m looking forward to seeing the White Sox’ number one prospect in action–maybe he’ll even blast a home run. If nothing else, I’m certainly going to try for his autograph, as I’m also planning to do from the Mudcats’ Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin.
But when it comes to autograph collecting, no other game throughout the entire rest of the season will have more highly ranked prospects than the April 9th Durham Bulls game I’m planning to attend. Having been traded from the Royals’ organization to the Rays, in the 2012 offseason, the number four prospect in all of baseball, Wil Myers, will be there and is sure to draw a huge crowd, so autographs may be hard to come by. I’ll just have wait and see how it goes.
A few other Bulls’ players worth mentioning, that I’m hoping to get autographs from on Tuesday night, include Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee, who are the Rays’ third, fourth and fifth ranked prospects, respectively. In all, the Bulls are beginning the season with 7 of the top 20 prospects in the organization. I can’t think of a team in all of minor league baseball with more talent, which is why I’m going to be blogging about the game. It will likely be posted on Wednesday afternoon.
So that’s the basic plan for my first two minor league games of the year. I’m not sure when, or where, the rest of the year will have me going to games; the only game set in stone is the June 3rd Bulls day game, when they take on the Red Barons (Yankees affiliate). But one of the games during the series when Billy Hamilton comes to Durham with Louisville is almost a sure bet, as well. Other than that, I don’t know.
Last year was the first time I ever made actual predictions as to how the MLB standings would look at the end of the regular season. To say I did poorly would be an understatement, but this is a new year, and with it comes a new shot at getting the predictions right. So I’m up for the challenge once again.
Unlike 2012, when I posted both my American League and National League predictions in the same blog entry, this year I’m doing separate posts for each league. As the title states, I’m giving my 2013 American League standings predictions today, starting with the AL East:
4. Blue Jays
5. Red Sox
With the Yankees’ season uncertain, I see this as the year the Rays need to make their move. With the lineup they have, the Rays have the ability to win their division, but it’s going to come down to if their starting pitching begins and ends with David Price, or if their potential superstar pitchers in Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson can get things going. That’s the deciding factor, for me.
Although the Yankees’ season is up in the air, I still have them finishing second in the AL East. Why? Because they’re the Yankees; a team that seems to be able to always find a way to win. But it’s going to come down to Derek Jeter, in my opinion. If he misses a large chunk of the season, at any point, it could send my predictions way off course. Right now, I’m not too worried about him missing the first few games; but that could change.
The Orioles surprised everyone last season with the way they were able to put things together, however, I still think it’ll be 2014 before they stand a good chance of winning the division. Their phenom prospects are still far from ready, with top prospect Dylan Bundy beginning the season in AA Bowie, and I just don’t see everything clicking together in their favor this season.
I’m hesitant to place the Blue Jays all the way down in fourth, with so many people seeing them finishing near the top, but it’s the way I foresee their season panning out. Even with the offseason additions of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, etc., I don’t see the Jays putting together a season much over .500. You just can’t buy chemistry, and with so many new faces, I don’t see them gelling from the start of the season.
What can I say about the Red Sox? They were once major competitors in the division, but after a couple of horrible seasons, by their standards, I don’t see this year being any better. They didn’t do much to improve their team in the offseason, and it’s going to show once the season starts up. I’m looking down the road, when their key prospects such as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts arrive, before I can see them getting things going in the right direction again.
3. White Sox
There’s truly no reason the Tigers shouldn’t run away with things in the AL Central division. With one of the best lineups in all of baseball, including sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, along with newcomer Victor Martinez, their lineup should be there. The only question mark is their pitching. Justin Verlander is going to dominate–that’s a given–but the remainder of the rotation is a bit uncertain. But all in all, I think they’ll be just fine.
Coming in second, I have the Indians, as they did a great job of signing guys in the offseason to fill key spots they were missing last year, and I feel it’s bound to pay off in the coming season. The only concern would be their starting pitching. Without a true Ace, you don’t know who to look to for to carry the team throughout the season. It’s definitely something worth watching, however, they should be able to have enough decent pitching to make things very interesting in the division.
It was really a toss up between me placing the Indians or White Sox in third place (with the other in second) but I decided to have the Sox finishing third in the division. The Sox have a future Cy Young winner, in Chris Sale, but with the remainder of the pitching, as well as the lineup, a question mark, I can’t see them winning too many games over .500 in the 2013 season. They still have too many holes to fill.
I’m still questioning the Royals’ decision to trade away their phenom prospect, Wil Myers, along with a few other prospects, to the Rays, in exchange for a couple of middle of the rotation starting pitchers, on most teams, in James Shields and Wade Davis, but it is what it is. I see the move doing more harm than good. The Royals certainly needed starting pitching, but to trade away your top prospect is a poor choice, in my opinion, which is why I have them finishing next to last in the division.
The Twins are a team that have the potential to be very good a year or two down the road, but for right now, I see them having to endure another last place season, in their division. They just don’t have enough top notch guys, both in their pitching rotation and lineup, to make any sort of a run this season, as far as I can see.
For the Angels, the AL West division is theirs to lose. With the addition of Josh Hamilton in the offseason, along with their already potent lineup of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, there is no reason the Angels shouldn’t dominate the division. Although they lost Zack Greinke to the Dodgers, their rotation is still really good, and it should all combine to be enough to lead them to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
The Athletics were one of the big surprises of last season, but I don’t feel it was a fluke. They’ve put together a really great team out in Oakland, and with the majority of the other teams in the division (with the exception of the Angels) still trying to figure things out in the coming season, the Athletics stand a good shot of making the playoffs for the second straight year.
With the loss of Josh Hamilton during the offseason, I don’t see the Rangers doing much of anything this year. While they have a few big bats in their lineup that can change the outcome of a game with one swing, I don’t see their rotation as being strong enough to overcome the uphill climb they face. It’ll be interesting to watch unfold, but I don’t like their chances in 2013.
The Mariners are one of the most interesting teams to keep track of. While I don’t see them having all that impressive of an upcoming season, with all of the talent they have knocking on the door of the big leagues, I feel they’ll be major contenders as early as next season. They don’t have all of the necessary pieces, just yet, to put together a playoff run, but starting in 2014, keep a lookout for the Mariners to do big things in the AL West division.
Last season was flat out ugly for the Astros, as they finished in dead last, with a league leading 107 losses. Being that they’re making the transition from the National League to the American League this year, I don’t see things being any better for them; but when you lose over 100 games in a season, it can’t really get all that much worse.
Leave a comment below with whether or not you agree with my predictions.
Click HERE to be taken to my National League predictions for 2013.
Courtney Hawkins was drafted out of high school by the Chicago White Sox in the 1st round of the 2012 draft. Initially catching the attention of baseball fans everywhere after performing his “signature” backflip on draft night, Hawkins was able to make a name for himself this past season.
In Hawkins’ first (partial) season as a pro ballplayer, he put up some impressive numbers. Combined between three different teams/levels (Rk, A and A+), Hawkins posted a batting average of .284 to go along with 8 home runs and 33 RBI’s, over the course of 59 games; Certainly living up to the expectations that come with being a first round draft pick.
If Courtney Hawkins can continue to post the same type of numbers, it shouldn’t be too terribly long before he’s big league ready–he’s truly that good. Hawkins’ showed signs of his above average power this past season, and will be well worth watching in 2013 and beyond.
Courtney Hawkins–number 2 prospect in the White Sox organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:
1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball?
Age 4, but my dad wouldn’t let me play until I learned the basics of baseball. So I started at the age of 5.
2.) Who was your favorite baseball player growing up? Why?
Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds [and] Frank Thomas, because I felt these guys had it all; the ability to hit and play defense. And definitely Griffey, because I try to play like him. Just balls to the walls, full tilt the whole game!
3.) You’re known for the backflip you did after being drafted by the White Sox on draft night, but that wasn’t the first time you’d ever done one. When did you first master the skill, and where did the inspiration come from?
Haha. I was asked to do a high school pep rally skit and I was at practice one day, playing around doing front flips, and the instructor came over and said try this; and 30 minutes later I was doing flips, and didn’t stop until after draft night.
4.) This was your first (partial) season of professional baseball. What did you take from it, in terms of how it differs from any level of ball you’d ever played in before?
Basically just playing every single day and throwing every single day–it’s a grind. It was fun when I first started; then I got tired; then I was good again. I found my routine, and it was good.
5.) What do you feel went well in 2012? What do you feel you need to work on for 2013?
I feel everything went well, but [I] could always be better. I feel I have to work on every thing because I’m not in the bigs yet, and even then I will still have to work on stuff.
6.) What does your average day consist of at the moment?
Just working out twice a day and traveling. That’s it.
7.) Is there any one player that you model your game after?
Like I said, I try to play like Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds. Just balls to the wall everyday. Grinding, battling and trying to produce in the field, at the plate and on the bases.
8.) Favorite food?
Any seafood or southern Cajun–country food.
9.) Favorite TV show?
MLB Network [and] ‘Walking Dead’.
10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something; or you won’t; or that you’re not good enough. If you set your mind to it, you can do it.
Big thanks to Courtney Hawkins for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow him on twitter: @CHawkins10
I stated in my last blog entry that I was going to attend this past Friday’s Durham Bulls game versus the Pawtucket Red Sox; which I did. I didn’t however announce that I’d be attending yesterday’s game versus the Charlotte Knights as well. There’s a good reason for that. At the time, I didn’t know I’d be going. It was a last minute decision, which turned out to be a great one.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about either game, but I thought I’d give a brief overview of my time spent at the ballpark over the past few days. I normally wouldn’t blog about a MiLB game but considering the fact that the 2009 World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui, is currently playing with the Bulls, I thought I’d type up this little entry.
May 18th: Durham Bulls vs. Pawtucket Red Sox
The moment I heard that Kevin Youkilis was going to be rehabbing with the PawSox I knew I’d be attending this game. But going back even further in time, I knew I’d be attending one of the four games versus the Sox from the day the schedule was first released.
My day at the ballpark started out like every other game of my life: With me standing in line outside of the ballpark, waiting for the gates to open up. It’s one of the things that is a MUST for me. Showing up early to be one of the first inside is something I’ve always enjoyed doing.
Once the gates opened up I made my way past the mobs of the people in Red Sox gear and down to the PawSox dugout. I then proceeded to wait for the players to make their way up the steps from the clubhouse. It seemed to take them longer than usual.
The first player out of the clubhouse was Jose Iglesias, but he flat out ignored my autograph request. Next up was Lars Anderson. I was promptly denied again. I couldn’t help but think that it wasn’t going to be a good day for autograph collecting, and for the most part, I was right. I only got two autographs at this game. One from Kevin Youkilis, and another from Gerald Perry. Not a great day, but at least I got Youk.
Moving on to the game itself.
It was really exciting to say the least. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th, Jesus Feliciano stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and proceeded to clear them on a 3 run triple. The ballpark was electric. You should’ve been there.
After the game I dashed back to the PawSox dugout to ask their manager for the lineup cards, but was told that they never give those out. I know for a fact that’s a lie, but I just let it be. I didn’t want to cause a scene.
All in all it was a great game. The Bulls won. I was successful in getting an auto from Kevin Youkilis. And I got to see Matsui play. I’ll take that kind of game every day of the week.
I know what those of you who aren’t big on reading are thinking: Where are the pictures?! Well, don’t worry, I took some, I just wasn’t sure how I could incorporate them into the entry without giving a pitch-by-pitch recap, which I know would’ve been unnecessary. So here you non-readers go:
Hideki Matsui walking away after signing autograph for a few kids.
Kevin Youkilis getting ready for the game.
Lars Anderson in his first at bat.
Hideki Matsui in his first at bat.
‘Godzilla’ in left field.
And that’s all she (or in this case, *he*) wrote.
May 20th: Durham Bulls vs. Charlotte Knights
I hadn’t planned on attending this game, but I REALLY wanted to get an autograph from Hideki Matsui. This was going to be my last Bulls game until June 8th, and who knows if Matsui will still be on the team then. I knew it wasn’t a guarantee that I’d get him to sign for me, but I at least had to try.
The day started out with me making friends with a relatively nice usher down by the Bulls’ dugout. This would turn out to be important. More on that a little later.
My main autograph target for the day, as stated earlier, was Matsui, but there were a few other guys I wanted as well. Leslie Anderson has been tearing it up this year, and Tampa Bay Rays number 3 prospect Chris Archer has been having a good year as well, so I was going for their autos too.
I was all by myself down by the dugout for the first ten or so minutes after the gates opened. After that, however, people showed up in bunches, and before long there were 10 or so fellow autograph seekers, including a young kid who decided it was necessary to continuously kick me in the back of the legs. But I digress.
I completely missed the arrival of Leslie Anderson from the clubhouse. He came out while I was looking at something that was happening on the field, and by the time I noticed him he was heading onto the field to warm up. I made sure not to turn my head after that. I didn’t want to miss Matsui.
Several minutes passed by and still no sign of Matsui. Finally, after 30 minutes of standing there waiting, he appeared. I was the first one to notice him, and proceeded to hollar “Hideki!!” all while holding out my card and sharpie (which apparently isn’t the universal sign for “can I have your autograph”?). Matsui looked up at me and nodded, but an acknowledgement is all I got. He ran up the steps and onto the field. No auto love from Matsui, but I did get Chris Archer just before I went to my seat. So I was glad about that.
This game wasn’t as exciting as Friday’s. It was ALL Bulls the entire game, which lasted a mere two hours. As soon as the last out of the game was made I rushed over to the Bulls dugout but was stopped by an usher who said I couldn’t go down there because the kids were going to run the bases. But my usher friend came to the rescue and told me I could go down their for just a couple of minutes. Haha! Take that mean usher guy. (This particular usher has always been grouchy to me. If you ever make it to a Bulls game, don’t think you’re going to get past him unless you talk to my usher friend. Haha.)
The only other people down by the dugout were people who had nearby seats. They were all after Matsui’s autograph, and to my surprise he actually stopped to sign. He only signed for four people, but I am happy to state that I WAS one of the lucky few. I have my usher buddy to thank for that.
Here’s a random pic of Matsui in the Bulls alternate home uniform:
If you’re ever in the area I highly suggest you make a trip to Durham to see a ball game. It’s an awesome ballpark, and you’ll have the time of your life. Guaranteed.
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.
Today’s Q and A entry, is on Brent Lillibridge. Outfielder for the Chicago Whitesox.
Lillibridge made his major league debut on April 26, 2008 for the Atlanta Braves. Since being traded to the White Sox, Lillibridge has belted eleven home runs as well as collected 45 RBI’s. Although his stats can be found in two seconds through a Google search, there are other interesting things about him that can’t be found as easily. If at all. The type of things the questions below were meant to unveil:
1.) Favorite type of music.
2.) Favorite song.
“These Hard Times. (By NeedToBreathe.)”
3.) Favorite food.
4.) Favorite T.V. show.
5.) Favorite movie.
6.) Favorite book.
“Heaven. (By Randy Alcorn.)”
7.) Favorite thing to do in free time.
“[Be] on a boat.”
8.) Favorite time of year.
“Summer. (In Seattle.)”
9.) Favorite sport, besides baseball.
10.) Favorite player growing up.
11.) Favorite shoe brand.
12.) Favorite car.
13.) Favorite subject, when in school.
14.) Favorite quote.
“John 3:30-He must increase, but I must decrease.”
15.) Favorite moment of baseball career, thus far.
“Robbing Cano of a game winner. And [robbing] Crisp of a home run.”
I hope this helped you to learn more about Brent Lillibridge of the Chicago White Sox.
Big thanks to Brent Lillibridge for answering my questions.
You can follow Brent Lillibridge on twitter: @BSLillibridge
The next Q and A entry will be posted Saturday, August 13th, on Daniel Hudson, of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It’s been two weeks since my last update of my favorite players, and a lot has happened:
Since my last entry, Heath Bell earned another two saves. This brings his career saves to 96. Heath is off to a great start this year, as he is still perfect in saves versus save opportunities. (5 for 5.) Heath’s most recent top play included him striking out Phillies slugger Ryan Howard. When Heath gets to 100 saves I’m going to write a blog entry about him, so check back when he reaches the milestone. (The Padres are currently 9-17.)
Derek Jeter currently has 2,949 hits for his career. (See my milestone tab to the right.) This leaves him just 51 hits away from 3,000. It’s hard to predict when exactly Jeter will reach the milestone. Reason being, is that he’s not consistent. On one night he might not get any hits. And on another, he might get 4 hits. He’s that unpredictable. Unpredictable or not, Jeter’s average is currently .258. Not horrible, but not great either. (The Yankees are currently 14-9.)
Tim has had three starts since my last entry. Lincecum was pitching just like him nickname, “The Freak”, would suggest he should on April 18th. He came close to a no hitter, taking it into the sixth inning. Since that great game, Lincecum’s last two starts have been terrible. Giving up 8 runs combined over the last two games. Tim’s current ERA is 2.90, with a win-loss record of 2-3. (The Giants are currently 12-13.)
Albert Pujols is currently tagged with a .255 batting average. The bad part about his batting average is that it doesn’t reflect how well he’s been playing lately. Since my last entry Pujols has been hitting the ball a lot better. He is up to 7 home runs this season. Giving him 415 home runs for his career. It is rare to see Albert batting under .300, though I feel he’ll get it above the .300 mark before the beggining of June. (The Cardinals are currently 15-11.)
Mariano Rivera has a current saves to saves oppotunity ratio of 8 for 10. Yes, that means Mo’s not perfect. He did blow two saves since my last entry. But hey, he’s still leading the AL East in saves with 8. So he’s still the best closer in baseball. Just not perfect as we ALL thought. (Or at least, I did.) Mariano currently has 567 career saves. Which means he’s just 35 away from the all time saves record.
OTHER GENERAL BASEBALL NEWS
Ozzie Guillen was suspended for two games after tweeting about the ejection call by home the home plate umpire, during the game.
Andre Ethier has a current hitting streak of 25 straight games. (Let’s hope I don’t jinx it.)
Johnny Damon had a 16 game hitting streak until losing it in last nights game versus the Angels.
I’ll try to post a new entry every Saturday for the rest of the season, but I can’t promise it. I’ll do my best to do so, but I am sometimes REALLY busy on the weekends. But hopefully I’ll be able to get the job done.
I’m adding a new feature to the bottom of my updates. A days ’til my next Major League ballgame stat. And it’s starting in this entry:
Reds Vs. Yankees– 52 days
I realize that only a few games have been played of this 2011 baseball season. But the games that have been played have been exciting. Every few games, I’m going to take a look at the stats of my top 5 favorite players(see the list to the right side). This is progress update number one.
He has only pitched in one game, but that one game pitched led him to his first save of the season. This leaves him 8 saves away from 100 lifetime saves. He’s someone to keep an eye on. (The Padres are currently 2-1.)
Having only achieved 2 hits in the 3 game series versus the Tigers, his current batting average in .200. But I have confidence that Jeter will turn this slow start around. The two hits he achieved(both being singles) puts his official hit count up to 2,928. Only 72 away from 3,000. A milestone that is well within reach for this season. (The Yankees are currently 2-1.)
Having also just pitched one game, versus the Dodgers. Tim looks to be off to a strong start. He lasted 7 innings with no ERA. (1 unearned run.) He did however get the loss. With the Giants winning the World Series last season, and with two Cy Young awards under his belt. I expect Lincecum to continue the elite pitching. (The Giants are currently 1-3.)
I don’t think anyone saw Pujols going 2 for 13, to start off the season. Although one of those two hits was a homerun,(putting him at 409 for his career). Pujols is not connecting with the ball all that well. I still believe that Pujols will quickly improve his game. Anything above the .154 average that he currently holds, is an improvement. (The Cardinals are currently 1-2.)
Although he is considered to be ancient, in baseball years, at age 41. Rivera is showing no signs of losing his killer cutter, and thus pitching ability. Rivera is 2 for 2, in save opportunities and saves achieved. This leaves him 41 saves away from passing Trevor Hoffman, on the all time saves list. Rivera’s current number of 561, is an amazing accomplishment, that not many closer achieve.
OTHER GENERAL BASBALL NEWS
Boston goes 0-3 against the Rangers.
Mark Teixeira hits a home run in his first three games.
White Sox ground into triple play for first time since 1978.
Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz become first teamates ever to hit a home run in each of the first three games.
From now until the occuring date, I will have a tab to the right side with an updated road to milestones. (Derek Jeter’s 3,000 hit, and Mariano Rivera’s 602 save.)