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2011 MLB Team Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

Whether things are good or bad in Milwaukee, the Brewers have a devout and loyal fanbase that shows-up.

Heading into 2011, the Brewers look the best they have in years but the fans are used to getting excited but know that their team is famous for being the kings of almost.

Could 2011 be the year of the Brew Crew?

Maybe, let’s take a look at the Brewers heading into the season:

The Positives:

The Brewers had a great off-season, fixing up an ineffective pitching staff to match their potent offense by adding two ace arms in Zach Greinke and Shaun Marcum.

The Brewers 1-4 starters are good enough to rival the Phillies for best in the NL.

Offensively remaining one of the most feared line-ups in the games with Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks. Weeks and Fielder can hit the open market at the end of 2011, so regardless if they stay or go their numbers will determine their paycheck, so expect big years from both. Ryan and Braun need to get on base a lot because these to can steal 20+ bases in 2011.

Look for an MVP season form Braun, who is in my top five list of possible players to win the award in 2011. Braun will be hitting clean up in a potent line-up and with the team being in the hunt for October and the above factors my bet is the team will produce, which Braun will benefit from.

New manager Ron Roenicke was a coach with the Angels for the last 10 seasons. The Brewers are hoping he follows in his old ex-Angel colleagues’, Joe Maddon and Bud Black’s footsteps. Roenicke will surely bring the Angels base-stealing mentality as that is inevitable after being under Mike Scioscia for so long. Hey it does work and the Brewers have the players to be a threat, so let’s see if he can bring some energy back to the Brew Crew.

The Negatives:

The pressure is on in Milwaukee, as all the off-season moves have depleted the team’s farm system.

Add that to Fielder and Weeks both in contract season’s makes 2011 a do or die situation in Milwaukee.

The improvements could be short lived if the team misses the playoffs. This is no secret and inevitably will weigh on the players shoulders and Milwaukee’s loyal fanbase will make sure they don’t forget it.

Neither will new skipper Roenicke, as he has made it clear that he has one set of rules for every player and that the team is always playing as a contender, with the World Series in mind.

As positive as Roenicke has been as the Brewers are showing some life again in Spring Training…could he be to overwhelming for a group who is used to never living up to expectations?

It is too early to tell, but it is the last six weeks that Roenicke’s effectiveness will be judged.

Players To Watch:

2B Rickie Weeks is what makes this Brewers offense so deadly. Weeks is in his prime at age 27 and just watching him play is enough to realize that he is a superstar. Problem is Weeks cannot stay healthy long enough to transform into a household name, but he did manage to start to display consistency in 2010. Last season, Weeks’ bat posted 29 home-runs, 32 doubles, 83 RBIs, 175 hits and four triples. He needs to lower his strikeout numbers, as Weeks he had 184 in 2010. The Brewers rewarded Weeks with a four-year, $38.5 million dollar contract with a fifth year option in this off-season, so he is being paid like a star. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Milwaukee Brewers’ »

New York Yankees: If Captain Derek Jeter Goes Moving On Down

hen the idea of moving New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter down in the batting order and letting Brett Gardner take over as the line-up’s leadoff hitter, I got pretty ticked off.

Honestly, my initial reaction was to immediately go on the defense. Considering this is after being subjected to the harsh words used all off-season about the Captain. I just wanted the man to catch a break, after skipper Joe Girardi made it clear that Jeter would be the at the top on Opening Day.

Now that I have had time to digest this idea, it might actually be a good one.

Jeter has only been lead-off since the start of 2009, other than filling in on occasion. He was cemented for the majority of 14 seasons as the Yankees #2.

Moving Jeter doesn’t concern me as much as whether Brett Gardner will be able to handle it. Last season Gardner struggled when atop the Yankee line-up.

Is Gardner speed going to hurt such an offensively dominant group and will his speed get wasted?

This made me wonder with batters like Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano at the heart of your order, wouldn’t attempting to steal a base in essence become redundant?

Jeter has never been a power batter, so what if he starts hitting into double plays, as he did do that more in 2010? That immediately closes the door for Teixeira to hit a sac-fly to move the runners with two outs already.

Question remains if Jeter can still be a pest on the base-pads because we know that Gardner is one of the fastest guys in the league.

Jeter stole 48 bases in 2009-2010, which is almost double what he had in 2007-2008 when he posted 26 combined.

So now my alternative suggestion is, why can’t Curtis Granderson hit leadoff?

Granderson did it for the Detroit Tigers and even though he struggles a lot against lefties, Granderson sustains both power and speed.

Over his career, Granderson has an 81% stolen base rate and against right-handed pitchers he can flat out hit, averaging 25 home-runs, 13 triples and 28 doubles a season over his seven big league seasons. Continue reading ‘New York Yankees: If Captain Derek Jeter Goes Moving On Down’ »

New York Yankees Rumor: Please Pass On Kevin Millwood

Free agent pitcher and ex-Baltimore Oriole Kevin Millwood is back or never left the New York Yankees radar.

According to Joel Sherman of the NY Post the Yankees attended a showcase for pitcher Kevin Millwood on Wednesday at UC-Irvine, according to a source.

Early in the winter, Millwood rejected a minor league offer from the Yankees that was rumored to be in the six figures. Millwood wants a major-league deal somewhere around $4 million bucks, which is way more than he is worth.

Millwood has been a durable pitcher throughout his 14-seasoned career, making an average of 34 starts a season. In 2010, as an Oriole, Millwood had a 5.10 ERA, over 190 innings but posted a record of 4-16. He also gave up 30 home-runs and 108 earned runs, not conducive numbers to bring to Yankee Stadium.

It comes as no surprise that Millwood would be asking for such a high salary since his agent is Scott Boras, who tends to inflate his clients true worth to a point where they believe it. Millwood is not getting any offers at the price he wants and that should speak loudly enough in itself about his unrealistic terms.

Supposedly, Cashman even gave in a little offering Millwood a salary in the low-seven figures but would not budge on signing him to a minor league contract.

All I can say is thank God because the Yankees have better options in Colon, Garcia and Nova. Boras is trying to sell Millwood as an innings eater, but when you lose games because a pitcher is allowing runs to score cancels out that possibility.

No Millwood in pinstripes….PLEASE

New York Yankees: Manny Mania, Manny Rules

I took this picture of Joba Chamberlain on 8/1...

Image via Wikipedia

By now, most of baseball has heard or witnessed New York Yankee pitching prospect Manny Banuelos.

Facing the Red Sox a-lineup this past Sunday night, Banuelos maintained such poise, considering skipper Joe Girardi told him just hours before that Sergio Mitre was scratched with stiffness.

Even though Banuelos gave up three walks against Boston’s best, the 20-year-old looked good. Banuelos didn’t allow a run to score and struck-out two batters. He throws mid-90’s and has a sick change-up.

Banuelos has left quite an impression this Spring Training, and not just with Yankees. Here are a few quotes about Banuelos:

“That guy’s 20 years old? He’s really good, and he seems to have an idea. Shoot, when I was 20, I was swinging with an aluminum bat.” – Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia NY POST

“I like everything about him. The makeup and how he keeps his composure. I notice situations and how you react in situations. Where you make your pitches in tough situations, where you spot your pitches, he has the ability to do that.” - Yankees closer Mariano Rivera ESPN

“I think for this young man’s future they should go slow with him, very slow,” - Red Sox manager Terry Francona said with a smile NY POST

It is confirmed from GM Brian Cashman that Banuelos will start in Double A. He has only made three starts total with Trenton, so it makes sense not to rush him.  Banuelos needs to pitching more innings, but it would seem impossible that the Yankees can resist not letting him into the Bronx at all in 2011. Continue reading ‘New York Yankees: Manny Mania, Manny Rules’ »

New York Yankees: Manny Banuelos Update

Thanks to the YES Network, the New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox game was blacked out in New York despite being advertised to be showing on ESPN2.

This was ridiculous of YES to blackout one of the most relevant games of Spring Training and one that fans were very excited to watch. YES had the Nets vs. Celtics game on and ESPN ran SportsCenter for two straight hours.

So, Yankee fans missed watching prospect Manny Banuelos pitch against Boston’s A-line-up. This was announced last yesterday after slated starter Sergio Mitre couldn’t go due to stiffness in his left oblique. The injury is not of any concern according to the Yankees.

Skipper Joe Girardi decided to start Banuelos in place of Mitre, which means the Yankees have faith in this kid. Banuelos is  something for fans to definetly be excited about, as the just turned 20-year-old has been impressing throughout Spring Training.

Will we see Banuelos in the Bronx during 2011?

Knowing the Yankees it would be doubtful because of he needs more innings in the minors.  Post-All-Star break it would not surprise me if that sentiment changes because Banuelos is that talented and keeping him in the minors is wasting his talents.

Since I could not watch the game here is the NY Post writer Brian Costello’s article of how Banuelos outing went.

Yankees prospect Banuelos hangs tough vs. Red Sox regulars

FORT MYERS, Fla. — With all the hype around Manuel Banuelos, you expected the Yankees prospect to levitate to the mound, turn the water in the cooler into wine and throw lightning bolts from his left hand against the Red Sox last night.
He didn’t quite do all that, but Banuelos was impressive in his first start of the spring. The 20-year-old left-hander struggled with his control, but showed poise when he got into jams and gave glimpses of a filthy fastball and a nasty changeup. He allowed two hits in 2 2/3 shutout innings, striking out two and walking three.

Read the rest of article HERE….

2011 MLB Team Preview: Texas Rangers

There were a lot of ‘firsts’ for the Texas Rangers in 2010.

The team won their first post-season berth, played in their first World Series and for the first time are the reigning AL Champions.

Expectations have certainly gone up for the Rangers heading into 2011, as both the fans and the players got a taste of what it takes to get to the World Series only to lose.

The opportunity to highlight a reputation as one of the best teams in baseball is now deep in the heart of Texas. Let’s take a look at the AL Champs as they try to do it all over again.

The Positives:

The Rangers can hit lead by Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler, who all had a batting average above .280, which is not a great stat, as it doesn’t really tell the whole story. Still the Rangers offense can produce big time and will have too.

Also, Rangers rookie Neftali Feliz emerged as one of the best closers in baseball in 2010. At just 22 years old, Feliz had 40 saves and proved to not break under pressure in the post season. Feliz is an asset for the Rangers for years to come.

Leading the rotation are starting pitchers CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis, who both proved to be solid starters at the end of last season. The stuff is there for both and they can both eat 200+ innings in 2011.

Following Wilson and Colby is a new addition, former CY Young winner Brandon Webb. Webb is coming off a major arm trouble could really help the Rangers rotation if he stays healthy. Webb hasn’t pitched in the majors in two years, but so far so good in Spring Training.

Things internally were on shaky ground for the first half of the season, until Nolan Ryan took control of the team. Ryan was one of the best pitchers in baseball back in his heyday. You could not ask for a better owner and Ryan can provide experience to a team who is not used to having success.

The Negatives:

The Rangers lost their ace Cliff Lee, who only brought his talents for second-half of last season. That was long enough for Lee to make a huge difference. Trying to make up for the loss of Lee is no easy task and the Rangers will be noticeably hurt by his absence. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Texas Rangers’ »