Tag Archives: Bartolo Colon

Royals Are Hollywood’s Dream

It’s been nine hours since game one of the World Series and to quote the great Jack Buck “I don’t believe what I just saw”. I don’t know if there is anyone in Hollywood paying attention to this Kansas City Royals team, but if there isn’t they should get here immediately. I’m starting to think the Angels in the Outfield has a more believable plot than this Royals team. Last night’s game was enough for a full summer blockbuster.

It all started with Royals shortstop Alcedes Escobar in the bottom of the first inning. It’s almost a joke at this point at how Escobar always swings at the first pitch. I think Fox announcer Joe Buck might fall out of his press box if Escobar didn’t swing at the first pitch of the game. Lucky for Buck he was safe, as Escobar swung at first pitch fastball down the middle of the plate and hit a deep fly ball to left center field. The two Mets outfielders had some miscommunication allowing the ball to not only drop between them, but bouncing off Yoenis Cespedes leg shooting into left field. Escobar, running the whole way, scored easily for the first inside the park homerun since Mule Haas in 1929. It was the first ever inside the park homerun to leadoff game one of a World Series and only the second leadoff inside the parker in WS history in any game. Just like any great movie, the Royals started fast to suck you in and put you on the edge of your seat early.

The game then settled down for a few innings, good time to get some popcorn. Then the bad guy showed up in the movie as the Mets scored a run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth the Royals do what they do and made a comeback. A couple hits, stolen base and sacrifice fly later the Royals tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth. The Royals coming back in the late innings is becoming as predictable as a hero defeating fifty people by himself.

Then came the twist and surprise plot turn that you never saw coming. In the top of the 8th with two outs and a runner on second, an easy grounder bounced over the glove of Eric Hosmer into right field scoring the runner from second. Hosmer is a two time Gold Glove Award winner who makes that play 99 out of a 100, but unfortunately that one time happened to be in the World Series. The crowd was shocked into silence, not that we were losing but just the fact that Hosmer missed it. Of course last night just happened to be the 29th anniversary of the Bill Buckner play against the Mets in the 1986 World Series. I don’t think Steven Spielberg could make this stuff up.

So we head to the bottom of 9th with the Royals down 4-3. With one out and the Mets dominant closer Jeurys Familia on the mound, Alex Gordon walks to the plate. While the Royals haven’t named an official Team Captain since Mike Sweeney, everyone knows Gordon is the unofficial Captain of this team. Drafted number two in the 2005 draft, Gordon was projected to be the next George Brett. Being blunt, he was a major bust before the 2011 season. That year he was moved to the outfield in one last ditch effort to get something out of him. What they got was a four time gold glover outfielder with a consistent bat and leader of the team. So the old man of the team steps to the plate and crushes a ball 438 feet over the center field wall to tie the game at 4. It was the first time a player hit a homerun to tie or take the lead in the 9th inning of game one of the World Series since Kirk Gibson hit his walk off against the Oakland Athletics.

The stadium is in a frenzy as the Royals once again come back from what looked like certain doom. The game went into extra innings as bullpen battled bullpen. It all came down to a pitchers’ duel between starters turned relievers; Chris Young for the Royals versus Bartolo Colon of the Mets. They dueled until the bottom of the 14th inning. The man who started it all, Escobar, hit a hard grounder to third which was bobbled by the Mets team Captain David Wright causing a wide throw allowing Escobar to reach first. A single by Ben Zobrist and intentional walk to Lorenzo Cain loaded the bases with no outs as Hosmer came to the plate. After being just two outs away from being the new Buckner he would have his chance to be the hero. He didn’t disappoint as he hit a long fly ball to right field plenty deep enough to score Escobar from third for a walk off win. The fourteen innings tied the record for longest WS game played by inning and the over five hours of game time was good enough for the second longest game in WS game history by time.

The stadium erupted as fans high fived everyone within reach and hugged people they’d never met. Fireworks were going off, the W sign was being hung on the Royals Hall of Fame and Salvador Perez was dumping a Gatorade bucket of water on Hosmer during an interview. Is there a better ending to a movie than a crazy walk off turning the hitter from goat to hero in one of the longest games in WS history?

This isn’t just a one game series though; there are at least three more to go, maybe as many as six. So we all knows what that means; sequels! The sequel to this amazing movie that was game one was set in motion when the news broke that the Royals starter Edison Volquez father had passed away just hours before the game started. The family however told the Royals to not tell Eddie because they wanted him to pitch. The Royals agreed to the family’s wishes and only told coaches and pitcher Chris Young so he could be prepared to come in for relief if Eddie found out and wanted to leave early. The news however did make its way to social media and by the second inning the only people who didn’t know was Eddie and the rest of the players. Fox and the Royals radio team did a great job of not talking about it on air just in case Eddie was in the clubhouse and hear the news that way.  When he came out of the game after the sixth inning he spoke with his wife and got the devastating news. He left almost immediately to fly to the Dominican Republic to be with his family. Manager Ned Yost told the rest of the team after the game turning a great celebration to a more subdued affair. Despite winning one of the greatest WS games in history, the players first thought in every interview was on Eddie and his family. The Royals family has had a tough year with now the third parent passing away joining Mike Moustakas’s mother and Chris Young’s father who both passed away in August.

This series was already going to be a fight with every game sure to be close; now you mix in the heavy hearts of the Royals players wanting to win for their brother and something special is building. Game one was a summer blockbuster for the ages that had everything a good movie needs. There was drama, heart break, redemption, good versus evil and an emotional roller coaster from the highest of highs to the absolute lowest of lows. Fans are screaming for a sequel because they want more of this amazing theatre. Unlike the movies, you won’t have to wait a year or two for the sequel; game two starts in just a few hours. So get your popcorn ready, get in that comfortable seat and sit back and enjoy the show.

 

MLB Thoughts Through the Post-Season

The 2015 post-season has been one of my favorites, at least when the Boston Red Sox were not in the mix. One of the major reasons is that 7 of the 8 teams who made it through to the L.D.S.1St. Louis excepted have not won a World Series title since at least 1993.  That makes for exciting viewing, knowing that there is likely to be ‘new’ blood when it comes to who will hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy at the end of October.  With the Cubs managing to take out the *best* team in baseball, it is now a guarantee that there will be a new title holder when the MLB post-season comes to a conclusion.  As I’ve enjoyed the tournament, here are some of the main thoughts that have run through my mind.

Continue reading MLB Thoughts Through the Post-Season

References
1 St. Louis excepted

The Tribe is Alive!

The Tribe is alive. I can’t believe it either.

The Cleveland Indians are just 4 games back of the second wildcard spot entering the final month of the season.

A month ago, I, and many others, were counting the Tribe as out. The bats were dead, the starting pitching wasn’t keeping the game in check and the bullpen was suspect. Add to that the lack of moves by the front office at the deadline and our suspicions weren’t unfounded.

This season was over, in every sense of the word.

And then, slowly but surely the Tribe won a few games.

Then the won a few series and then, they got a sweep.

The bats have been working lately, the starting pitching has been keeping opposing hitters at bay, and the bullpen, when they’ve been needed, have delivered.

The defensive play has been the hidden lynch pin to the Indians streak of success as of late. Who would have known that the addition of Abraham Almonte (seriously?) in centerfield and the return of Lonnie Chisenhall in RF along with the play of Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela on the left side of the infield.

After the current series with the Blue Jays, the Indians have games within and only within the AL Central. Those games include 6 against the Tigers (3/3 Home/Away), 6 against the White Sox (3/3 Home/Away), 7 against the Royals (4/3 Home/Away), and 6 against the Twins (3/3 Home/Away). They are going to need to win approximately 80% (20) games to cement themselves in the wildcard playoff for the American League. There is no chance anyone in the American League Central will catch the Royals. Currently, they are 13 games ahead of the second place team, the Minnesota Twins and 16 games ahead of the Indians.

The next month of baseball could be very interesting. Undoubtedly, memories of 2013 have begun to whimsically drift into the back of my head as I reminisce about one of the greatest months of baseball in recent memory.

While the next month will be interesting, the big Indians-related news of the week occurred late Sunday night

Shapiro back, back, back and gone to Toronto

Reports surfaced last week of an impending offer of the Presidency/CEO duties of the Toronto Blue Jays to current Indians President Mark Shapiro. The collective interwebs and social media were aflame with ifs, ands, and buts about the whole thing before it went quiet for a few days.

Then on Sunday, the hammer was dropped. Multiple well-known and respect sports journalists reported that Mark Shapiro would accept the offer from the Blue Jays effective at the end of the 2015 season. Soon after, the team confirmed it and a press conference was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

At the presser, Mark said he was excited about the opportunity for growth in Toronto and addressed (barely) issues he faced here in Cleveland. When asked about attendance, he side-stepped the issue and moved on to other topics of interest.

Direct reports to Shapiro will now report to Paul Dolan and Dolan also stated he will not look outside the organization for a successor for Mark. It would appear that the next era of the Cleveland Indians Presidency will take effect from within the organization and speculation has begun about who that individual will be.

When looking back over Shapiro’s impressive 24 year career in Cleveland, one can’t help but feel bad for the guy.

When John Hart left the organization in 2001 and Shapiro ascended the GM throne, he was left with a very bad situation: a fan base used to winning and winning a lot, a minor league system devoid of any serviceable talent ready for the majors, and owners who didn’t want to spend much money on talent.

With that, Mark began the process of shaping the Indians from the ground up into the team he envisioned. Unfortunately for him, his drafts were awful. In the early to mid-portions of the first decade of the 2000s, you would be hard-pressed to name one decent major leaguer that came up through the Indians farm system (and no, Matt LaPorta isn’t decent. At all). Where Mark really shined was in his ability to leverage current team assets towards futures of other teams’ farm assets.

Case and point: the Bartolo Colòn trade of 2002:

In 2002, the Cleveland Indians were out of contention and Shapiro pulled the trigger on a deal that sent staff ace Bartolo Colòn to the Montreal Expos for Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Phillips.

I don’t need to tell you about the contributions and accolades that group of players have garnered over the course of their MLB careers to prove to you how fantastic that trade was.

When Shapiro stepped aside for Chris Antonetti to assume the role of GM, he took over as team president and was able to turn his attention things outside of personnel and baseball operations. His role in the new construction at the ballpark which debuted this season and his work in making Progressive field more fan and family friendly have been enormous. I love what has been done to Progressive field and I feel way more connected to the team and the game when I’m at the stadium than when I was younger.

Mark Shapiro has been around the Indians organization for longer than I’ve been alive. He has been there with us during the highs (1994-2001), the lows (2002-2006), and the playoff runs and appearances (1995-1999; 2001; 2007, and 2013). He has felt the heartache we’ve all experienced at one point or another. He’s felt the exhilarating highs of Tom Hamilton’s walk off calls in the lazy summer evenings and the lows of a Matt Underwood curse before an opposing player does something great.

Sure he’s a part of the organization, but he is also one of us. He did the very best he could with the resources he had, and I for one, can’t blame him for anything. He’s going to a great organization north of the border with deep pockets and a handful of great hitters. I wish him nothing but the best, and hopefully, he’ll come back around Cleveland from time to time to check in on us.

Cleveland Indians Thanksgiving

 

First off, I want to wish all of you readers out there a Happy Thanksgiving!

For the first time in several years, Cleveland sports fans can actually be thankful for their teams. That got us thinking at MTAF: Cleveland — What would different members of the professional organizations be thankful for as they sat around the table sharing Thanksgiving dinner?

As a fan of the Cleveland Indians, I attempted to delve into the mindsets of several different members of the organization, trying to ascertain what they would be giving thanks for.

Chris Antonetti & Mark Shapiro

My first thought with regard to what Chris and Mark would be thankful for would be getting Terry Francona to come on board and coach the Tribe. But then I sat back and looked at the larger picture. If I was Chris or Mark, I would be thankful for how well the trades they’ve made over the past ten years have worked out. Just look at how a handful of the following trades worked out (in terms of production) for the Indians:

Year CLE Sends CLE Receives
2002 Ryan Drese & Einar Diaz Travis Hafner
2008 Casey Blake Carlos Santana
2009 Victor Martinez Justin Masterson & Nick Hagadone
2006 Ben Broussard Shin-Soo Choo
2006 Eduardo Perez Asdrubal Cabrera
2002 Bartolo Colon Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips & Cliff Lee

And those are just a few of the trades that have been made. Think about this: In a three team deal involving the Cardinals and the Padres, we gave up veteran pitcher Jake Westbrook and received 2014 AL Cy Young Winner Corey Kluber. Had Matt LaPorta worked out better, the Sabathia deal (which included 2014 MVP finalist and Silver Slugger award winner Michael Brantley) would have been seen as more genius than the Colon deal.

As Mark and Chris pass the gravy boat, they’re going to be giving thanks that so many of their trades worked out so well.

Terry Francona

As Terry Francona rides his scooter to the store to pick up cranberry sauce, I imagine he too will think about what he’s thankful for. I would venture a guess that he’s thankful for several things:

1. His health

2. Mickey Callaway

Tito has probably never worried about his health (see: Urban Meyer). I’m not old by any stretch (I’m 23). I’ve found out that older men are thankful for their health, regardless of how healthy they actually are. Next, Tito should be counting his lucky starts that he has Mickey Callaway sitting on his bench coaching up his pitchers. Think about 2013. Mickey Callaway turned around a struggling Ubaldo Jimenez into quite possibly the best pitcher of the second half in the American League. I feel that if Tito had started Ubaldo in the place of rookie Danny Salazar, the Indians may have gone on to be World Series champions. Then we look back at 2014 and (channeling my innermost LeBron here) not one, not two, but THREE examples of what Mickey Callaway can do. First, Corey Kluber. Mickey has said that he really didn’t have to do much with Klubes this past season. As much as I’d like to believe that, there’s a reason he’s the pitching coach. Mickey worked with Corey to develop his secondary pitches and propel him into the upper echelons of pitching talent in the MLB. Next, there is Trevor Bauer. Bauer’s problem in 2013 was consistency and immaturity. Unfortunately for Trevor, he is young and often impatient. He need time to develop under more mature, accomplished pitchers. He got that with Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber. This year, while he had his troubles, Bauer was much more consistent and flashed some of the greatness that made the front office go out and get him. Finally, we have Carlos Carrasco. Known affectionately as “Cookie” among die-hard Tribe fans, Cookie experienced many of the same issues that Bauer faced — inconsistency and maturity. Remember his ejection and subsequent suspension in 2011 against Kansas City? How about his ejection for plunking Kevin Youkilis in 2013? That wasn’t a wild arm. Tito and Mickey worked with Carrasco and put him in the bullpen in 2014 and boy, did he deliver. Carrasco was electric out of the pen and proved to be the long-reliever we needed, especially when one of our starters couldn’t make it out of the 4th or 5th inning. How many times can you remember Carrasco putting in three to four quality innings, saving our bullpen arms for the home stretch?

Finally, The Indians are thankful for YOU, the fans.

When you go to a game or buy a jersey, you help finance the continued journey toward that elusive World Series title. When you get on Twitter or Facebook and talk about the Indians, you help them make a branding impact on new fans or fans who just don’t know it yet. When you write odes to Tom Hamilton or romanticize what the Tribe means to you on a t-shirt, you help the Indians build an regional identity. In a city like Cleveland, our professional sports teams need their fans as much as we need our teams. In some ways, we define one another. The Indians wouldn’t have much meaning without us and we wouldn’t have much meaning without them. So when the front office, the coaching staff and the players sit around their respective tables to share food and make memories, they will probably reflect, even if it’s only for a moment, on what it means to put on the Tribe uniform day in and day out for the best fans in the major leagues.

As for me, I’m thankful for football, a lot of food and a day off to enjoy it all with my family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving fans. Enjoy your turkey.

You See a PED Cheat. I See a Gigantic Loophole.

If you’re mad at individual players for using PEDs, you’re missing the point and misplacing your anger. Focus on the penalty, or lack thereof, not the perpetrators.
Even on the off chance a guy gets caught, he only has to serve an 80-game suspension. And if he’s dumb enough to get caught twice he gets slapped with a season-long ban. That’s a 162 game, summer-long break that could actually rejuvenate a baseball player during a strenuous career.

[RELATED: You See Nelson Cruz, 20+ HR Guy. I See a PED Cheat. ~ From Matt Kline]

It really is, “3 Strikes and you’re out,” according Major League Baseball’s Performance Enhancing Drug Policy. Now to be clear, the Major League Baseball Players Association also helped shape these rules for repercussions, agreeing to them in a joint effort with MLB. A lifetime ban from the game is the result of being caught thrice. I think that’s one too many chances.

As Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager Michael Scott once mistakenly said, “You know what they say: fool me once, strike one. Fool me twice… strike three.” That’s obviously not the way the old cliché goes, but I think it’s appropriate in these cases.

There’s a difference between Ryan Braun, who lied about not taking PEDs yet ended up testing positive again later, and the other guys who have tested positive and served the suspension that was handed to them. Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Jhonny Peralta and many others have all served their time and since come back to slightly decreased numbers, but still solid Big League production.

You can’t blame these ultracompetitive guys for taking something they think might give them the extra edge they think they need. On more occasions than not (at least according to the players), the banned substances are hidden in seemingly normal supplements that they try out. And you can’t fully understand how confusing proper supplement taking can be unless you’ve recently looked at the ingredients on the bottles in GNC.

Home run totals are down anyway.

Barring crazy breakout seasons from Chris Davis last year and Jose Bautista in 2010, nobody has hit 50+ dingers since Prince Fielder and twice caught PED-user Alex Rodriguez did it back in 2007.

I’m sure a lot fewer guys are using PEDs and not being found out too. Just think how many sluggers of the 90s were never caught. Plenty of guys were successful yet overshadowed by the spectacle of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa going head-to-head with each other repeatedly while they played in the same division.
You honestly think anyone who really cares doesn’t already know who’s tested positive for PEDs? I certainly hope each and every GM in MLB would know something so important when making a decision on a player.

Singling players out in the field is silly. And in a city like Detroit where our team has maintained a consistent classic look for decades, the proposition of sewing on distracting extra letters to individual players would be considered more a defilement of art than any sort of justice. Of course, you’ll needlessly embarrass countless fathers who take their curious youngsters out to the ballparks but can’t field their questions about the strange letters only one or two players have all over them.

Again, the real issue is with the penalization, not the players. If you want to punish the guilty players, that’s fine. I’m all for that, but let’s do it in the right way. Kick them out immediately after they are proven cheaters. If they weren’t worthy of a second chance, why give them a third?

You See Nelson Cruz, 20+ HR Guy. I See a PED Cheat.

In the 109 games that Nelson Cruz played for the Texas Rangers in 2013, he belted 27 HRs and drove in 76 runs.  He also had a fairly healthy .833 OPS and 209 total bases.  He did all of this WHILE WE KNOW HE WAS A PED CHEAT!!  That’s not speculation, that’s pure and simple documented fact.  He spent the last 50 games[1. Not technically true.  He played in game 163, which counts as a regular season game.  He did miss the last 50 regularly scheduled games due to his PED ways, though.] of the regular season at home, because he failed a PED test.  He is a Cheat.

Continue reading You See Nelson Cruz, 20+ HR Guy. I See a PED Cheat.

Revamped Pitching Staff has Athletics Poised for Pennant Run

The Major League Baseball season has reached it’s first quarter, and one of the bigger surprises of the season, is the play of the Oakland Athletics. As of Sunday, the A’s are chugging along with a record of 28-16, good enough for the second best record in all of MLB.

Why this is fantastic start such a surprise considering the A’s have reached the playoffs each of the last two seasons? While the standings tell you the A’s finished last season with a 96-66 record, (which was good enough to win the American League West Division), the standings fail to mention the vast difference in the composition of the A’s pitching staff.

The 2013 A’s staff was led by All Star pitcher Bartolo Colon,14 game winner AJ Griffin, along with Jarrod Parker, and Tom Millone whom finished with 12 wins apiece. Of those 4 pitchers, the only remaining member of the current rotation is Millone. Colon left the team in the off season to sign with the New York Mets as a free agent, while Griffin and Parker tore ligaments in their elbows that required the dreaded Tommy John Surgery, therefore ending their seasons. Along with the changes in the starting rotation, the A’s bullpen also was in for a big change, as the A’s lost All Star Closer Grant Balfour in free agency to the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2013 Balfour was once of the best closers in all of baseball saving thirty-eight games out of forty-one opportunities.

In order to offset the losses in the starting rotation and bullpen, the A’s went to work exploring every possible avenue to fill the vacancies. Their first move was to acquire closer Jim Johnson from the Baltimore Orioles. In 2013, Johnson recorded a league high 50 saves for the Orioles, and had accrued over 100 saves in the past two seasons combined. The A’s also added relievers Luke Gregerson from the San Diego Padres and Fernando Abad from the Washington Nationals to solidify their pen.

Johnson Had back to back 50 Save seasons with the Orioles
Johnson had back to back 50 save seasons with the Orioles

After filling their bullpen voids, the A’s went to work on the rotation by signing free agent pitcher Scott Kazmir from the Cleveland Indians. Kazmir, who had been out of Major League Baseball for over 2 seasons, resurrected his once promising career in Cleveland under the tutelage of pitching coach Mickey Callaway, and regained the form that made him one of the most dominating left handed starting pitchers in baseball. The A’s also made an under the radar trade acquiring left handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz from the Colorado Rockies. Pomeranz, was a former first round selection of the Indians who had been very inconsistent since being traded to the Rockies in 2011 in the Ubaldo Jimenez blockbuster trade. The last two additions to the A’s rotation were already with the team in the person of young phenom Sonny Gray and journeyman pitcher Jesse Chavez. Gray joined the A’s late in 2013 and helped pitch them into the post-season while Chavez spent 2013 in the A’s bullpen.

Sonny_Gray_August_20,_2013
Sonny Gray leads the revamped A’s rotation

With the exception of Jim Johnson, all of these moves have panned out very well for the A’s. Gray, Kazmir, and Chavez are near the top of the pitching leaderboards in wins, batting average against, and earned run average. Meanwhile Pomeranz, who has been dominant in the bullpen, recently made the transition to the starting rotation and has yet to give up a run in his two starts.

Johnson on the other hand, started off the season poorly, losing two games and blowing a save in the first week. Since then, He was removed as the closer and has been trying to work his way back into the good graces of manager Bob Melvin. Despite Johnson’s struggles, and the uncertainty of the closer situation, the rest of the A’s bullpen has been phenomenal. Newcomers Abad and Gregerson, have joined forces with existing stalwarts Dan Otero and the Bearded wonder that is Sean Doolittle, to create one of the most dynamic bullpens in all of baseball.

Sean  Doolittle Fired up after recording an out
Sean Doolittle is fired up after getting out of a jam

Despite the vast changes in the pitching staff, the A’s seem poised to make noise come October. Will the pitching staff hold up and continue their early season splendor? Or will the opposing hitters make the necessary adjustments?  Either way, the A’s may finally have the necessary talent to advance past their Division Series nemesis, and make a long October run towards glory.

Bartolo Colon, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, and Alex Rodriguez Can All Go To Antenora

If the Boston Red Sox hadn’t played the Oakland Athletics over the weekend, and if Bartolo Colon hadn’t pitched yesterday, I might have let the subject matter drop.  It had been my intent to write about PEDS last week, and in particular this bunch of players, but Comcast’s [1. They currently rival local power company WMECO for my most despised ‘utility’.] 3-day outage saw to it that I was unable to post.  Nearly always, I would take such an incident as a cosmic sign that perhaps I should just let it be.

However, the Sox did play the Athletics, and I had to hear both the Red Sox radio and television guys blather on about how great Colon had pitched this year, all the while avoiding the fact that he is a known cheater.  Not one word about his 50 game PED suspension in 2012, all the while talking up just how amazing it was that he was still able to get his fastball up in to the 90s despite his increased age.  Meanwhile, Sox rookie Brandon Workman had a no-hitter into the 7th inning in only his 2nd game (and first start) that was largely ignored.

Continue reading Bartolo Colon, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, and Alex Rodriguez Can All Go To Antenora

Did Bartolo Colon Cost Mike Trout the MVP in 2012?

I happen to think that if a guy hits for the Triple Crown, he should nearly always win the MVP.  I also happen to think that just about every time a guy hits .406 in a season, he should almost always win the MVP, too.  Of course, there are exceptions.

When Miguel Cabrera captured the Triple Crown last season, it was a reason to be excited.  In my lifetime, I have born witness to a lot of memorable baseball moments.  Perfect games, no-hitters, 20 strikeout games, the Red Sox winning not one, but two World Championships.  Heck, I was even at this game, which was the first time in history that the same team had hit in to two triple plays in one game.  Through all that, though, I had never seen a Triple Crown winner until Cabrera came through last season.

Continue reading Did Bartolo Colon Cost Mike Trout the MVP in 2012?

AL West Spring Training Edition: Oakland Athletics

Continuing with my American League West coverage I am going to take a look at the Oakland Athletics today. Just a week and a half ago I wrote about the A’s signing Yoenis Cespedes. Normally that one headline would be enough for the A’s for the entire 2012 season. But luckily for me and much to the excitement of Dennis Eckersley, Oakland chose to shock the league again by signing veteran Manny Ramirez to a minor-league contract and inviting him to spring training. But other than Manny and Cespedes coming into spring training, did the A’s make any other moves to compete with the contenders in the AL West? Let’s take a look.

2011 Finish: 74-88, 3rd in American League West

Key Signings/Re-Signings:

Manny will be wearing number one this year because as he puts it, “everything starts with the number one.” Ramirez has come into spring training with a “new beginning” mentality after retiring instead of serving a fifty-game suspension. He will still have to serve the suspension and as long as he stays healthy and is ready to play, we will likely see him at the plate in late May or early June. By that time he will be forty years old. The A’s did not invest much in the aging power-hitter, so if he does not pan out it will not set Oakland back too far. No matter how much Manny has changed, I am sure we will see at least one case of “Manny being Manny.”

Signing Cespedes and re-signing Coco Crisp added a great deal of defense to the A’s outfield and gives them a more threatening front half of the lineup. The two of them will have a lot of pressure to produce, being the two highest paid players on a team of “moneyballers.” That’s not saying much about their contracts, but on a team known for cutting costs while maximizing efficiency, if Crisp or Cespedes have an awful year Billy Beane may find cheaper alternative outfielders.

Continue reading AL West Spring Training Edition: Oakland Athletics