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Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Category Archives: American League

NL Demolishes AL in All-Star Romp

KANSAS CITY — The lineup was more dominant on paper. The pitching was more dominant on paper. And they had the crowd to their back.

Unfortunately for the American League, the National League stole the show in KC. Backed by a bases-clearing triple in the 1st by Pablo Sandoval, the NL squashed AL starting pitcher Justin Verlander en route to an 8-0 shutout win in KC, guaranteeing homefield advantage for the NL team in the World Series.

Sandoval crushed a 1-1 offering from Verlander with the bases loaded, giving the NL a 4-0 lead and blowing the game wide open only two outs in.

The Phillies featured three participants in the Midsummer Classic.

Carlos Ruiz caught for R.A. Dickey in the 6th, Cole Hamels in the 7th, Craig Kimbrel in the 8th and Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th. He had one plate appearance, flying out.

Hamels pitched a perfect 7th inning and Papelbon pitched the final out in the 9th inning, hugging Ruiz as the NL celebrated it’s third straight win of the All-Star Game.

Boxscore.

MLB News: Astros to AL West in 2013

In a tweet by Matt Gelb under an hour ago, it was brought to some attention that the Houston Astros will be moving to the American League West in 2013.

The two league’s don’t carry an even amount of teams, with the National League boasting 16 teams and AL having 14 to keep a balance within league play. But with the change, the NL Central, which holds six teams, will lose the Astros, who will be going to the four-team AL West.

This move will also create 30 interleague games for teams in 2013.

It will be interesting to see how this move affects interleague play, especially when it comes down to the designated hitter rule. NL teams will now be designing their bench around those 30 games, giving the NL teams either a good fielder to replace a slugger in the line up so they can DH or a designated hitter-type bench player that’s usually used in pinch-hitting situations.

RELEVANT LINKS

CBS has more on the Astros’ apparent move, which will be made official by tomorrow. This is also coming in the wake of a new owner for the Astros coming into fruition. All of this has been talked about the last six weeks.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch weighs in on why this is a good idea for baseball.

The Natch: The Designated Fence Sitter

Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano is leading the NL among pitchers with a .313 average (10-for-32).

It’s the most wonderful time of year, but this isn’t Christmas.

It’s that time of the baseball season when the Phillies are in Seattle, the Yankees are in Wrigley, and Ben Francisco is a designated hitter.

Ah, Interleague play, my favorite time of year. The only time of year that almost breeds as much anger, frustration, and debate as the All-Star game (Thanks, Bud Selig).

I love turning on ESPN this time of year, only to hear the exact same arguments I have heard debated for the last decade:

“Should Interleague play be abolished?” “Is it fair that the Mets have to play the Yankees every year, while the Phillies, Braves, and Marlins do not?” “Which league is better?” “Should the designated hitter be abolished?” “Should the National League grow up, put down the Walkman, turn off the VHS, and adopt the designated hitter?” “Was George W. Bush a good president?”

Alright, I made up that last one, but every time I see interleague play I think of Bush Jr. because he was the only owner at the time to vote against interleague play. Maybe he saw all of this coming – the debates, the criticism, the uproar.  Maybe he was just choking on another pretzel, and couldn’t raise his hand to vote “yes” for interleague play.

Either way one thing is for certain: Interleague play isn’t going anywhere. You know why? Because it’s a cash-cow.

Read more of this post

Season Preview: AL Central

Chicago White Sox

Expectations: Ozzie Guillen tweets every lineup change from the dugout.
Key addition: 1B/OF Adam Dunn (.260, 38 HR, 103 RBI with Washington)
Key loss: RP Bobby Jenks (1-3, 27 Saves, 4.44 ERA)
Projected record: 92-70

Summary: Most of the puzzle pieces remain from last year’s team, with a power addition of Adam Dunn.  The team has speed (Juan Pierre, Alex Rios), power (Dunn, Paul Konerko) and pitching (John Danks, Mark Buherle).  Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin are all solid ballplayers. The White Sox have a question mark in the bullpen, as they will have Chris Sale or Matt Thornton closing.  Jake Peavy’s injury concerns are troublesome, but as an end of the rotation guy, he won’t be relied on as an ace.

Minnesota Twins

Expectations: Increased amount of man-crushes on all-star catcher Joe Mauer.
Key addition: 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (.260, 14 HR, 41 RBI with Chiba of the Japanese League.
Key loss: 2B Orlando Hudson (.268, 6 HR, 37 RBI)
Projected record: 89-73

Summary: Mauer leads the Twins, who are bitter after two straight first round exits to the Yankees.  The core of the team returns, although key component 1B Justin Morneau missed the second half of last year with a concussion, and has only played six spring training games thus far.  The Twins rotation is decent; no stud ace, but some solid pitchers to get the job done.  One of the biggest question marks is the bullpen.  Joe Nathan is coming off Tommy John surgery, and if he is the Joe Nathan of old, the Twins will be fine.  If not, Matt Capps will be their go-to guy.

Detroit Tigers

Expectations: Leading the league in DUI arrests.
Key addition: C/1B Victor Martinez (.302, 20 HR, 79 RBI with Boston)
Key loss: OF Johnny Damon (.271, 8 HR, 51 RBI)
Projected record: 85-77

Summary: The Tigers underachieved last season going 81-81, finishing 13 games behind the first place Twins.  They added Boston’s Victor Martinez, who is a .225 career hitter at Detroit’s Comerica Park.  Will Martinez continue his struggles at his new spacious home?  He will likely DH for the team, hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, so RBI opportunities will be there.  Detroit’s pitching is good with Justin Verlander, Matt Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

Cleveland Indians

Expectations: The Indians beg Pedro Cerrano and Rick Vaughn to come back and play for the team.
Key addition: OF Austin Kearns (.263, 10 HR, 49 RBI with Cleveland and New York AL)
Key loss: Uhhhh…. I guess 3B Andy Marte (.229, 5 HR, 19 RBI)
Projected record: 70-92

Summary: Carlos Santana has recovered from a knee injury he suffered last August, only two months after being called up to the major league club.  The Tribe are going to rely on their young catcher and OF Shin Soo-Choo, who hit .300 last year, with 22 HR and 90 RBI.  Other offensive weapons, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore, have had trouble staying healthy in recent years.  Pitcher Fausto Carmona had a good year last season (3.77 ERA), despite losing 14 games.

Kansas City Royals

Expectations: Could contend for the AAA Championship.
Key addition: OF Jeff Francoeur (.249, 13 HR, 65 RBI with New York NL and Texas)
Key loss: SP Zach Greinke  (10-14, 4.17 ERA, 181 K)
Projected record: 65-97

Summary: The Royals fortunately have a deep minor league system, stocked up from many years of top draft picks.  However, that won’t help them this year.  They do have 1B Billy Butler, who hit .318 last year.  Top prospect 3B Mike Moustakas is ready for a promotion, and might get one this season.  Unfortunately the Royals traded away their best player, SP Zach Greinke for a boatload of prospects.  It’ll be a while before Kansas City is a competitor again.

5 Teams to Watch in the AL

Yankees – They’re the 2009 World Series champions and still kept intact the solid nucleus that got them there. They traded top prospects to land centerfielder Curtis Granderson, a much better defensive asset than Johnny Damon. They also traded Melky Cabrera to the Braves for Javier Vazquez to bolster the starting rotation. With guys like C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Brunett, and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees boast a very good pitching unit. Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in the game and the aging offense led by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira can still put a ton of runs up on the score board. If things go right, they could have another parade down Broadway.

Red Sox – The pitching is truly phenomenal. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka form the best top-four in baseball. The offense is led by top young stars Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Marco Scutaro is hoping to end the revolving door at the short stop position and Adrian Beltre is an offensive upgrade at third. Offensive depth is the only thing that should concern the Sox but they have the pitching to get the job done. David Ortiz is a shell of his old self but it still the DH.

Twins – It’s safe to say that Joe Mauer is the scariest hitter in the AL. The reigning MVP is one of the reasons Minnesota is buzzing prior to the 2010 season. Along with a new outdoor park and a very dangerous lineup featuring Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer, the fans and Twins have high expectations for this year. The only problem with them this year though is pitching. If their starters can have decent years, they could beat out Detroit for the division.

Mariners – Seattle is truly going to be a serious contender in the AL. The addition of Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, and Milton Bradley will revamp a pitching staff and offense in need of fire power. Lee became a hot pitcher again after his last season transformation with the Phillies and will look to create a formidable 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez. Figgins will add speed and Bradley will look to add power to a Mariners lineup that hit 160 homer (12th in the AL) last season.

Angels – Surely they make their case for a serious playoff contender every year but there has to be a breaking point. They improved an already solid lineup with Hideki Matsui and bolstered their bull pen with Fernando Rodney but the team still doesn’t jump out at anyone. The core of the offense is aging in Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Matsui and they lost Figgins to the division rival Mariners. Jared Weaver, Joe Saunders, and newly acquired Joel Pineiro will need to have season like 2009 to give the Mariners a fighting chance in an AL crowded with contenders.

East: Yankees
Central: Twins
West: Mariners
Wild Card: Red Sox

Pennant: Yankees over Mariners

NL Loses Again

For the 13th year, the National League has failed to beat the American League in the mid summer classic. For the third straight year, the NL lost by one run. Curtis Granderson of the Tigers hit a triple to left in the eighth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones of the Orioles to give the AL the 4-3 lead and win.

The NL hasn’t won since 1996 at Veterans Stadium. Since then, they are 0-12-1 (the tie came in 2002 in Milwaukee. With yesterday’s win, the AL will receive home field advantage once again in the World Series. I still believe that home field advantage should go to the team with the best record in baseball.

All five Phillies got to play as Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, and Shane Victorino started and Jayson Werth replaced Victorino and Howard pinch hit. Utley had a great game in the field despite going 0-2 at the plate. Ibanez also went 0-2. Victorino made the most of his appearance, going 1-2 with a base hit and then scoring the game tying run (at two) in the second off an error. Werth came in and struck out but made a great running catch in center to ironically bail out Francisco Rodriguez of the Mets. Howard struck out on a half swing trailing by one with runners on second and third with two outs in the eighth.

Here’s the official box score:

Victorino to Start in ASG

Shane Victorino won the Final Vote and now sees himself starting in center for the NL team tomorrow. The game will be at 8 PM ET on Fox tomorrow night. Watch as Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez join Victorino in the starting line up and Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hopefully see some action in later innings.

AL line up:
RF Ichiro Suzuki – SEA
SS Derek Jeter – NYY
C Joe Mauer – MIN
1B Mark Teixeira – NYY
LF Jason Bay – BOS
CF Josh Hamilton – TEX
3B Evan Longoria – TB
2B Aaron Hill – TOR
P Roy Halladay – TOR

NL line up:
SS Hanley Ramirez – FLA
2B Chase Utley – PHI
1B Albert Pujols – STL
RF Ryan Braun – MIL
LF Raul Ibanez – PHI
3B David Wright – NYM
CF Shane Victorino – PHI
C Yadier Molina – STL
P Tim Lincecum – SFG

Bran-Torino Win Final Vote!

Brandon Inge and Shane Victorino got together to form a nick name in their co-campaign for the MLB Final Vote for the 2009 All Star Game in St. Louis. Well it worked as Inge will represent the American League and Victorino in the National League as the 33rd players on their respective squads.

Victorino edged out Pablo Sandoval for the final spot on the NL roster. Sandoval will likely make the team if Carlos Beltran is too hurt to play. With Beltran’s absence, Victorino may start as he would be the only true center fielder for the NL.
Congrats to Shane and Inge and hopefully to the “Kung Foo Panda” as Giants fans affectionately call Sandoval.

AL Preview Link

Here is the Whit publication on my AL preview.

The Whit’s NL Preview

As I stated earlier, I was going to post a link to my NL and AL Preview when they got run. Well the NL went up first and here is the link from the Whit. Next week will feature the AL Preview and I’ll have a link up for that.

Read the comment. I already got one angry poster who is obviously a Mets fan. I guess he thinks the choke artists will pull it off again….. NOT!

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