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What Is Every Teams Spring Training Nightmare? Injuries.

Spring Training is supposed to be a time for teams smooth out the edges, while players prepare themselves for the demanding 162-game season ahead.

Wins and loses are meaningless; stats posted by key players don’t forecast anything, as guys mindsets change once things start to matter.

There is one thing that counts from the spring that can impact a team’s season, and that is injuries.

Injuries happen in sports, no matter if it is the World Series, Spring Training or playing a pick-up-basketball game with your teammates. It is a harsh reality that bites.

This year is no different, as teams cannot buy luck with the idea of keeping everyone healthy.

A few unfortunate ball-clubs will be leaving Spring Training in worse shape than when they arrived. Regardless if a player is out for the season or has the real possibility of returning, the baseball season will move forward, and crying is not an option.

Below are key five players whose injuries will cause both fans and teammates to have that dreaded Spring Training nightmare:

SP Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals – biggest blow in Spring Training thus far, as the team’s ace, Wainwright got shut down almost immediately. He had Tommy John surgery a week ago, so he won’t return to St. Louis until 2012.

2B Chase Utley – Philadelphia Philles – Utley missed a majority of 2010 and now might miss 2011, as he hasn’t partaken in a Spring Training game yet. Utley’s has tendonitis in his knee and first it was must-have surgery and now it rehab heavily so the change of story is never a good sign. Phillies are going to missing the days of Jayson Werth, as Howard has no protection without Utley behind him.

SP Zach Greinke – Milwaukee Brewers – Milwaukee will have to wait to welcome their new ace, who broke a rib off the field playing in a pick-up basketball game with his new teammates. Let’s hope Greinke can keep his mental game in tact while on the DL.

Continue reading ‘What Is Every Teams Spring Training Nightmare? Injuries.’ »

2011 Spring Training: Pitching Audition Rumors You Are Not Going To Like

Entering 2011 Spring Training, the New York Yankees had no back end in their pitching rotation, as the four and five spots were wide open.

GM Brian Cashman decided to go with the motto of quantity over quality, which was far from comforting. Names like Bartolo Colon, Mark Prior and Freddie Garcia were the solutions that felt like you had swallowed something and it went down the wrong pipe.

Let’s not forget about Sergio Mitre, who is getting his millionth chance at a starting spot.

Mitre would be the Kyle Farnsworth of the rotation, as he shouldn’t be even considered with his track record.

Luckily for Mitre, his love affair with Joe Girardi has completely blinded the skipper to his true lack of effectiveness as a starter. Over his seven-year career, Mitre has a 13-29 record, with a 5.27 ERA over 64 starts total. Translation is when Mitre is not stinking it up on the mound; he spends an ample amount of time on the DL.

The highlight of the Spring was getting introduced to the Yankee youngsters, who Cashman should feel very good about after all the hard work gone into revamping the team’s farm system since 2004.

Yankees have a herd of talented arms stockpiled in the minors who most fans just got a taste of these last few weeks, watching Andrew Brackman, Delin Betences and the crown jewel Manny Banuelos shine.

Come mid-season Cashman’s phone will be ringing off the hook if the Yankees are in need of a trade but my guess is these three will not be on the table.

This is where rookie Ivan Nova, the best pitcher by a landslide this spring comes into play. Nova is a step ahead of the other three as he pitched nicely in the bigs at the tail end of 2010. Continue reading ‘2011 Spring Training: Pitching Audition Rumors You Are Not Going To Like’ »

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...

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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’ »