Favorite Playoff Moment

Thumbnail image for buckner.jpgEven though it’s the off season, I find myself unable to stop thinking about October, the
greatest month of the year.  So I think it’s the perfect time to recall some of the best
playoff moments ever.

As a Yankees fan, it’s no surprise that
some of my favorite playoff moments are centered around Derek Jeter,
especially because I’m a child of the 90′s.  You have to love the
Jeffrey Maier incident in the 1996 ALCS and the Flip and Mr. November
moments in 2001.  To go with that, the Aaron “Bleepin’” Boone walk off
home run against the Red Sox in 2001 is another personal favorite. 
But, with the exception of the Jeffrey Maier incident, the Yankees
failed to win the World Series in the same seasons the events took
place, and thus the greats moments were somewhat spoiled.

When
you’re a Yankees fan, it comes with the territory to hate the Red Sox. 
It’s part of the contract to hate Boston when you accept the duties of
a Yankees fan.  Because of this, it’s pretty obvious that I would
rather see the Yankees lose the World Series than see the Red Sox
become champions.

Having said that, I would say my favorite
moment in playoff history would have to be Bill Buckner’s error.  How
awesome was that?  There’s nothing more pleasing than enjoying the
misfortunes of the Red Sox.  They had a solid hold on the game with a 2
run lead and just 1 out away from winning their first World Series
since 1918 and threw it all away with a botched slow-rolling ground
ball.

What do you guys think?  We all have our own favorite
playoff moments that are special to us in certain ways.  Please post a
comment and share you favorite moments with us and explain why they are
special to you.

Where Will They Go?

Everybody is at the edge of their seat wondering where this off season’s top free agents and other players on the move will end up. And at this point, one can only speculate…so I have decided to do the same thing. Here are my predictions of what jerseys some of the big name players will be wearing next season.

Mark Teixeira: Los Angeles Angels

C.C. Sabathia: New York Yankees

A.J. Burnett: Atlanta Braves

Brian Fuentes: New York Mets

Raul Ibanez: Philadelphia Phillies

Jake Peavy: Chicago Cubs

Andy Pettitte: Los Angeles Dodgers

Francisco Rodriguez: Los Angeles Angels

Rafael Furcal: Oakland A’s

Derek Lowe: New York Yankees

Manny Ramirez: Los Angeles Dodgers

Braves Ready to Send Offer to A.J.

aj.jpgThe endlessly injured pitcher A.J. Burnett is looking for a new home after opting out of the final two years of his contract with the Blue Jays. The only question is: where will end up?

It’s kind of interesting what goes through general managers’ minds when they decide they want to make an offer to Burnett. It’s obvious that going into each season Burnett is always at a high risk of getting injured. But when healthy, Burnett is one of the top pitchers in the game.

And clearly, Burnett’s performance when he is rarely healthy is good enough as many teams are highly interested.

According to MLB Rumor Central, the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Phillies and Braves are considered the front runners in acquiring the 31-year-old right hander.

While the Yankees and Red Sox appear to be sitting back and waiting for top free agent C.C. Sabathia to make his decision of where he will end up next season, the Braves seem to be ready to make the first move in the Burnett sweepstakes.

It is being reported that the Braves are prepared to make a five-year offer to Burnett in the recent future. But where he ends up will most likely be decided in the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas which start Monday.

Hometown Ties

tex.jpgAlthough the last three baseball-less months have been very slow, it will soon prove to be
one of the biggest off seasons in baseball history as the Winter Meetings are set to start
Monday in Las Vegas.

One name in particular that is on top of every team’s list is first baseman Mark Teixeira.

Over the last few years, Teixeira has established himself as one of the best
hitting and fielding corner infielders in the game. Coming off a 2008
season with a .308 batting average, 33 home runs, and 121 RBI, Teixeira
is certainly the apple in every team’s eye.

At this point, it is uncertain where exactly Teixeira will go, but
it is very likely he will find himself with the New York Yankees, the
Boston Red Sox, or end up resigning with the Los Angeles Angels.

But two teams who have not been known as big spenders are also joining
the hunt. These two teams are the Washington Nationals and the
Baltimore Orioles.

With the Yankees offering top free agent pitcher C.C. Sabathia a
contract worth $140 million, it is expected that Teixeira will receive
a contract, while not as high, still in the $100 million area.

Spending this money would be a huge financial burden on both the
Nationals and Orioles,  so both teams are focusing less on the money
and trying to stress the importance of hometown ties.

Teixeira was born in Annapolis, MD., less than an hour from the Washington and Baltimore areas. Both teams feel this fact is their strongest and possibly only shot at luring the switch hitting slugger into their respective clubhouses.

On top of his 54 game stint with the Angels, Teixeira has also played for the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves. Playing for three different teams in only six years is quite a large number. However, no matter where Teixeira plays he has continuously proven to be one of the best players on
each team. He has also continuously failed to win a World Series ring with each of these teams.

Teixeira knows his place in the majors at this point and the only thing
on his mind right now is a championship. Neither the Orioles nor the Nationals
have a legitimate shot at winning the World Series at this point nor
are really in line to even make the playoffs.

While playing so close to home is definitely a juicy offer, playing elsewhere is clearly the better and more likely decision.

Yankees Rout Royals

jetrod.jpgThe Yankees, who have been struggling as of late, have come back strong winning two games in a row including this afternoon’s 15-6 slaughter over the Kansas City Royals.

After pitcher Mike Mussina surrendered three runs in the top of the first, the Yankees came back strong scoring six runs in the bottom of the first.

This inning was nothing less than a hitting clinic.  Alex Rodriguez started off the scoring with a three-run home run.  Then Xavier Nady and Jose Molina followed with solo shots of their own and recently recalled outfielder Brett Gardner drove in a run with a triple.

The game was then put out of perspective when Jason Giambi hit a Grand Slam in the bottom of the second, making the score 10-3.

The Yankees never looked back and went on to score five more runs on RBI singles by Rodriguez, an RBI double by Bobby Abreu, and a two-run home run by Cody Ransom.

Top to bottom, the entire Yankees lineup came through and had strong games.  Derek Jeter finished the game going 4-4 with three runs scored.  Jeter has been scorching hot as of late.  In his last four games, Jeter is 12-19 and is now batting .295 on the season.

Although all the players had great games, the player of the game goes to Rodriguez.  A-Rod went 3-3 with three runs scored, two walks, and five RBI.

Mussina, who went six innings, surrendered no walks, six hits, three earned runs, and struck out five, has improved his record to 16-7 and is getting closer to potentially having the first 20-win season of his great career.

Player to Watch (8/12/08)

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for markham.jpgMark Hamilton: 1B, St. Louis Cardinals Farm System
MLB Comparison: Connor Jackson
MLB Ready: 70/100
Needs to Improve: Speed, increase SB

Upon request, the player that will be profiled is St. Louis Cardinals minor league first baseman Mark Hamilton.

Mark Hamilton, who is in this third season in the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system, is thriving quickly and becoming a top prospect.

One thing that stands out in particular is Hamilton’s strong fielding.  He has a career .991 fielding percentage and has yet to commit more than 11 errors in an entire season.

In 2006, Hamilton’s first season, he began with the State College Spikes of A- Class.  With State College, Hamilton drove in 24 runs, hit 8 homers, and had a batting average of .264 in 30 games.

Hamilton then moved up to A ball and finished the 2006 season the Swing of the Quad Cities, now the Quad Cities River Bandits.  With the Swing, he produced very similar numbers as he did in the first half of the season.  In 38 games, Hamilton had 8 home runs, 11 RBI, and a .254 batting average

His 2006 numbers totaled up to 11 home runs, 49 runs driven in, and had a respectable .258 batting average.

Hamilton then started the 2007 season with the Palm Beach Cardinals where his offensive numbers improved greatly.  In just 60 games, Hamilton had a .290 batting average, had 64 hits, 13 long balls, and 49 RBI.

After great production with Palm Beach, Hamilton was quickly moved up to the AA Springfield Cardinals.  Since joining Springfield in the middle of last season, Hamilton’s numbers have dropped off a bit.  In 138 games with the team, Hamilton’s batting average has dropped to .246.  This season alone he has only 59 hits, 8 home runs, and 29 RBI in 70 games.

Even though Hamilton is struggling, he is in fact a very talented ball player and there is no doubt that he will do well in the Majors.  The only problem is that he plays first base, the same position as Cardinals’ slugger Albert Pujols.  Because the Cards won’t be parting ways with Pujols anytime soon, Hamilton will either need to change positions or be traded if he expects to see much playing time once he is called up.


**Submit your requests for players to be profiled now by posting a comment**

MLB Power Rankings: August 11th

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Rawlings_baseball.jpg30. Washington Nationals (Last week #30, +0): The Nationals continue to stink up the joint.  They have lost four in a row and still hold the worst record in baseball.

29. Seattle Mariners (Last week #29, +0): With a
.381 winning percentage, a three game losing streak, and trailing the
Angels by 29.5 games, the Mariners are still stuck as one of the worst
teams in the Majors.

28. San Diego Padres (Last week #28, +0): What I
could write about the Padres would pretty much be on the same lines of
what I wrote for the Nationals and the Mariners. The Padres are simply a bad team that isn’t improving.


27. San Francisco Giants (Last week #27, +0):
The
Giants have a modest two game winning streak going and have won 6 of
their last 10 games.  However, they are still 16 games under .500 and
trail the Diamondbacks by 9 games.


26. Cincinnati Reds (Last week #24, -2): The Reds
have lost six in a row, the longest losing streak in baseball and are
1-9 in the last 10 games.  They traded away Ken Griffey Jr. two weeks
ago and dealt slugger Adam Dunn today, thus losing essentially all of
their offensive production.

25. Cleveland Indians (Last week #26, +1): The Indians are playing well lately.  They have a three game winning streak and are now “only” 13 games back in the division.

24. Colorado Rockies (Last week #25, -1): After
showing signs of possibly making another late playoff run, the Rockies
have tapered off a bit and have dropped two in a row and six of their
last 10.



23. Pittsburgh Pirates (Last week #23, +0):
The
Pirates are 10 games under .500 and aren’t getting better.  They are
4-6 in their last 10 and have no chance of making the playoffs.



22. Oakland Athletics (Last week #19, -3): The
A’s are sinking in the Power Rankings and the standings very fast. 
They have a two game losing streak and are 1-9 in their last 10 games.  
 

21. Kansas City Royals (Last week #21, +0): Over
the last couple of weeks the Royals have played .500 baseball.  They
are having one of their strongest seasons in the last few years, but
that still isn’t good enough as they play in one of the toughest
divisions in the MLB.

 
20. Atlanta Braves (Last week #22, +2): The Braves
are simply just a bad team.  They cannot hold onto winning streaks nor
have they shown any improvement after the Mark Teixeira trade.



19. Baltimore Orioles (Last week #20, +1): The Orioles are playing better baseball as of late and are now 56-60 and trail the Blue Jays by just 2 games.



18. Toronto Blue Jays (Last week #16, -2): The Blue Jays have lost three in a row and are barely avoiding dropping to last place in the American League East. 

17. Detroit Tigers (Last week #17, +0):
For about
the fifth straight week, the Tigers cannot get away from the .500
mark.  At the end of each week they are either one game over or one
game under .500.  Right now they are one game under.


16. Houston Astros (Last week #18, +2): The Astros are very hot right now.  They have won four in a row and eight of the last 10.    



15. Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week #15, +0):  The Dodgers have lost two in a row and still remain in second place in the NL West.


14. Arizona Diamondbacks (Last week #14, +0):
The
Diamondbacks are in first place by 1.5 games and with the acquisition of
Adam Dunn, Arizona received a player they desperately needed, a
left-handed power hitter.


13. New York Mets (Last week #12, -1): The
Mets, who just a few weeks ago were really showing that they can be a
playoff team, have fallen off track and are now 2.5 games back.


12. Texas Rangers (Last week #13, +1): Assuming the Angels don’t suffer a collapse that would go into the record books, the Rangers will not be winning the AL West this season  

11. Florida Marlins (Last week #11, +0): The Marlins are still playing pretty well and are tied for second place in the NL East. 

10. New York Yankees (Last week #7, -3): The
Yankees have lost three in a row, six of their last 10, and 10 of their
last 15 and are yet again falling back in their playoff hunt.


9. St. Louis Cardinals (Last week  #10, +1):
The Cardinals are sinking fast and are now seven games behind the Cubs and 3.5 behind the Brewers.

8. Philadelphia Phillies (Last week #9, +1): The Phillies have won two in a row, remain in first place in the division, and continue to play well on both the road and home.  When you add that all up, you have a playoff team.  

7. Minnesota Twins (Last week #5, -2): Although the Twins have lost their short run as division leaders, they remain hot and are just 1.5 games behind the Red Sox for the Wild Card.


6. Chicago White Sox (Last week #6, +0): The White Sox have retaken the lead in the Central and are looking strong as the season winds down.

5. Boston Red Sox (Last week #4, -1): The Red Sox have hit some minor bumps in the road lately but are just 4.5 games behind the Rays and have the lead in the Wild Card race.





4. Milwaukee Brewers (Last week #8, +4): The Brewers are the hottest team in baseball right now.  They have won six in a row and eight of their last 10.  They are running smoothly and have a 3.5 game lead ahead of the Cardinals in the Wild Card hunt. 

3. Chicago Cubs (Last week #3, +0): The Cubs have the third best record in baseball and are 7-3 in their last 10.  If they can keep up their great play they will be the NL Central champs and will be a scary presence in October.  

2. Tampa Bay Rays (Last week #2, +0): The Rays have won three straight games, eight of their last 10, and have a strong 4.5 game lead in their division.

1. Los Angeles Angels (Last week #1, +0): The Angels continue to plow over their opponents with ease.  They are 7-3 in their last 10, have won four in a row, and for the fourth straight week remain in the number one spot in the Power Rankings

Manny in Pinstripes?

manny.jpg
A close friend of Manny Ramirez told the New York Post that the right-handed slugger really wants to play for the New York Yankees.

“He wants to play for the Yankees so he can get at the Red Sox,” the friend to the Post.

Although Yankees General Manager has yet to speak about this situation, there is no doubt that at least some of the team’s interest is sparked.

Ramirez, who up until he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers a couple of weeks ago, had been with the Boston Red Sox for the previous 8 season and had been a Yankee killer in each of those years.

It is, however, interestng to think whether or not the Yankees would be interested in signing Ramirez.  His lack of hustle is most definitely a turn-off but there is no getting around the fact that he is one of the best hitters in baseball.

The Yankees are also no stranger to acquiring former players of the Red Sox.  Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, and most recently Johnny Damon just to name a few, all hopped onto the Boston to New York train.

Ramirez is a free agent after this season and he will definitely be wanting a hefty contract.  The Yankees are just one of few teams that can afford to pay what Ramirez is looking for and are one of even fewer teams who can afford to throw away that kind of cash if for some reason things don’t work out.

Dunn in Cincy

dunn.jpgAdam Dunn is parting ways with the Cincinnati Reds as the long-ball slugger was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Minor League pitcher Dallas Buck and two more players to be named later.

Dunn has spent his entire career with the Reds so he is definitely upset to be leaving after Cincinnati is where he’s called home for the last 10 years.  However, Dunn should keep his chin up as he goes from one of the worst teams in baseball to the Diamondbacks who are the NL West division leader with a 1.5 game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers and are making a serious playoff run.

The Reds have not been good in about a decade.  The last time they had a winning record was 2000.  Dunn, who is earning $13 million this year, will be a free agent after this season.  Because the Reds have been so bad, it is likely that Dunn would have signed elsewhere after the conclusion of this season and the Reds would have been left out to dry.  Thus, trading Dunn was essentially their only option.

Dunn is tied for the National League lead with 32 home runs and is easily on pace to reach 40 home runs.  If Dunn stays healthy and avoids falling into a horrific slump, he will have his 5th straight 40 home run season.

Although Dunn has received a lot of criticism over the years because of his very low batting average and high number of strikeouts, he is still a very valuable hitter.  He does have the most strikeouts since his Major League debut on July 20, 2001 with 1,212, but he is also 3rd in the Majors with 270 home runs and 2nd with 755 walks in that time.

The Dodgers, who are battling the D-Backs for the division lead, recently acquired Manny Ramirez.  The Diamondbacks were desperately in need of a left-handed hitter with pop.  With the acquisition of Dunn they have filled that hole and have countered the Dodgers move. 

The Reds are 19.5 games back and in last place in the very tough NL Central.  By trading Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. only 11 days ago, the Reds have dealt away two key components in their line-up and appear to be giving up on this season and preparing for the future.

King of the Hill [Updated August 11th]

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for carlos.jpgKing of the Hill is a point system to determine the best hitters in
the game today.  Points will be awarded for each statistic the player
puts up.  The point distribution will look like this:

Hit = 1 pt
Run = 1 pt
Home Run = 3 pts
Run Batted In = 2 pts
Stolen Base = .5 pts

The
standings will be updated every Monday.  The results of the standings
will be determined based on how each player performs in the previous
week.

1. Carlos Lee* – 80 points (+5): (11/20, 7 R, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB = 49 points)
2. Ryan Ludwick – 79 points (-1): (8/25, 4 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB = 30 points)
3. Matt Holliday – 72.5 points (-1): (9/25, 10 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB = 29 points)
4. Albert Pujols – 70 points (+4): (10/22, 6 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB = 41.5 points)
5. Carlos Quentin – 64 points (+4): (9/23, 5 R, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB = 38 points)
6. Josh Hamilton – 57 points (+1): (6/27, 5 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB = 27 points)
7. Alex Rodriguez – 55.5 points (-3): (4/23, 4 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB = 20.5 points)
8. Chase Utley – 50 points (-5): (4/22, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB = 14 points)
9. Grady Sizemore – 43 points (-4): (3/21, 1 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB = 8 points)
10. David Wright – 40.5 points (+5): (10/26, 3 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB = 31.5 points)
11. Ian Kinsler – 33.5 points (+2): (9/27, 4 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB = 22.5 points)
12. Nate McLouth – 31 points (-2): (7/21, 3 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB = 14 points)
13. Lance Berkman – 30 points (+1): (7/24, 5 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB = 21 points)
14. Hanley Ramirez – 27.5 points (-2): (6/23, 3 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 SB = 14 points)
15. Jose Reyes – 24.5 points (-4): (5/25, 2 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB = 9.5 points)

* = on DL

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