Now that I have finally de-thawed after attending the coldest game of my life at Yankee Stadium, I can tell you that the New York Yankees looked good in their first win of the season.
Beating the Detroit Tigers to open the season 6-3 at home is the best way to start a season.
Let me tell you that Tiger line-up is frightening, with the new Miguel Cabrera sandwich of Magglio Ordonez and Victor Martinez. Cabrera drunk, sober or stoned really doesn’t matter because this guy can hit. Even after the numerous times I have been to a Tigers/Yankees game, Cabrera still amazes me with his natural talent.
Yes, but Cabrera is better, which is tough to proclaim considering Cano’s numbers but it is the truth.
In his first at-bat today against CC Sabathia, Cabrera hit a bullet of a line drive. Cabrera luckily only made to to first-base, which any in-shape player would have turned into a double.
Sabathia managed to get through six innings and the Yankees ace looked great.
After CC, the Yankees bullpen shutdown the Tigers bats Joba in the seventh, Soriano to Mariano in the eighth and ninth. This is a bullpen in charge, with dominance not seen in over a decade when Rivera was Garland’s set-up back in the mid-90’s.
Two sluggish off-seasons, sandwiching a missing 2010 post-season, which had only happened once before in the previous seven seasons, is not being taken lightly out in Los Angeles.
So, can the Angels take back the division they have owned for years? Or is the AL West heading into the post-Angels era?
Let’s take a look at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim heading into the 2011 season.
From the moment 1B Kendry Morales jumped in celebration with his teammates to celebrate his walk-off homerun, things took a turn for the worst in Los Angeles. Morales spent the rest of 2010 on the DL with a broken leg and his absence showed how vital he was to the team’s success.
Morales is finally back. Maybe not at 100% yet, but Morales’ presence alone and at the plate is something that the Angels have clearly been missing.
The only move worthy of Halo headlines was trading catcher Mike Napoli, who happen to led the team in home-runs last year with 26. Napoli was sent to the Blue Jays for outfielder Vernon Wells. Wells had 31 home-runs, 44 doubles, 88 RBIs with a .273 batting average. Those are the numbers that made the Angels trade for Wells. I think he will have a great season, revived by a new city that actually likes baseball and a stadium where fans come to games.
The clear strength of the Angels is their starting rotation, as it is solid from one to five. The top trio led by ace Jered Weaver who in 2010 followed right behind King Felix’s 30 quality starts with 27, led the AL in strikeouts with 233, and posted the fifth best ERA with 3.01 over a total just shy of 225 innings pitched.
Weaver is followed by another ace in Dan Haran, who the Angels picked up in July of 2010. Haran struggled at first, but the stats over his first nine starts are not totally trustworthy because he got no run support. Haran last eight outings were terrific going 4-0, over eight starts, posting a whopping 1.70 ERA. That is the Haran, the All-Star ace that the Angels were looking for. Now the Halos have Haran for an entire season now.
The Angels #3 is Ervin Santana won 17 games in 2010, posting a 3.92 ERA and is another innings eater throwing for 222 in total. Santana is trailed by a solid Joel Pineiro and the only uncertainty is Scott Kazmir but the top four are so good that Kazmir just has to get by without imploding.
Bullpen additions Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi make this bullpen legit, which is a staple of all successful Scioscia teams. The problem is the Halos don’t have a closer and this tends to present a problem no matter the team. Scioscia is a known magician, as he is one of the best managers in the game and this might be his biggest test yet. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’ »
Talk about a ruff regular season, and then having to watch your bitter rivals win the World Series definitely put the icing on the cake for the Dodgers.
Overall, not a good year for such a talented ball-club, whose loyal fans show up game, after game, year after year. If anything the Dodger fans deserve better, and if that isn’t enough to motivate a team, last year should be.
The Dodgers are skilled enough to compete and this is the year to do it, but will they step it up? Let’s take a look at the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into 2011.
Even though skipper Joe Torre said goodbye last season, his timing couldn’t have been better to hand the reigns over to his most loyal employee Don Mattingly. Mattingly knows a thing or two about working hard, after spending his entire career in Yankee pinstripes and never playing in a World Series. Mattingly was a fearless player, an absolute role model and the definition of a true team player.
Growing up watching Mattingly, I can guarantee he will bring the same attitude to his role as the Dodgers skipper; and without question, the players will respond.
The Dodgers have a certifiable ace in lefty Clayton Kershaw, who will be 23 at the start of 2011 season. Last season, in the midst of a mess, Kershaw posted a 2.91 ERA, struck out 212 batters, gave up just 13 home-runs, threw one complete, one shut-out and pitched just shy of 205 innings total.
Following Kershaw, is another young and talented pitcher named Chad Billingsley. Billingsley has the stuff of an ace, as he proved in 2007-2008 with a record of 28-15, but the last two seasons he has been inconsistent and careless. At just 26, Billingsley needs to pitch to his potential again and surely has the chip on his shoulder to do it.
The backend starts with veteran Ted Lilly, who is finally healthy again and should have a big year. After only making 12 starts in 2010, where Lilly managed to record 77 strikeouts over 77 innings pitched, this season he should be back to his innings eating regular self. After Lilly, the Dodgers have Jon Garland and Hiroki Kuroda who both just chip away at innings and are as solid a backend as any team could want.
The Dodgers line-up underachieved to say the least in 2010. Matt Kemp, James Loney and Andre Eithier are three studs that need to grow up now and play to their potential. With Mattingly, comes Donnie Baseball and his attitude should light the fire for the trio. In my opinion, the fact that Kemp hit 28 homeruns and Eitheir was a 2010 All-Star, which leads me to believe the reason for last year’s second-half slump is purely because they stopped loving the game.
Closer Jonathan Broxton second half of 2010 has to make everyone question his ability to be effective. Even with the team’s internal drama, Broxton imploded and his lack of confidence was evident. This is not a trait any closer can have, as believing that game is over when you tae the ball, along with a little anger are key characteristics for any player in this role.
The only reason Broxton is under the negatives, is because he does not have the track record of the core hitters. Also, in a division like the NL West where games outcomes are decided daily by just one or two runs, a team’s closer has to be a one-man army that no matter what will not mentally collapse and be able to fake it on the occasional off-day.
Players To Watch:
OF Matt Kemp numbers dropped so much in 2010 it was disturbiana (LOL). Now that he is not dating super-singer Rihanna anymore, it is time for Kemp to get back to baseball. Kemp is a five-tool player and expect Kemp’s pathetic .249 batting average from 2010 to jump back to what the 26 year-old is capable of, which is .300+. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers’ »
For the Twins and their loyal fans, the postseason has been bittersweet, not being able to get past the ALDS or more specifically the New York Yankees. The Evil Empire has the Twins number, sweeping the series both in 2009 and 2010.
So, the Twins enter this season with a monkey on their backs, in a division that got a lot tougher during the off-season.
Can the Twins defy odds, win another AL best 94 games and not get hung out to dry in the playoffs…again?
Is three times really a charm?
Let’s take a look at the Minnesota Twins heading into the 2011 season.
Catcher Joe Mauer and 1B Justin Morneau, Minnesota’s M & M boys are two of the best players in baseball, that is when they are not on the DL. If these two can stay healthy that will be a big step forward in Minnesota.
Mauer has to return to his 2009 MVP form, where he hit 28 home-runs and drove in 96 RBIs with a batting average of .365.
Morneau, the 2006 MVP just has to be able to play, as this guy has produce, as he hit 18 home-runs and 56 RBIs in 2010 playing in just 81 games. So, imagine double those numbers as Morneau’s career full season norm. Concussions have not allowed for Morneau to even touch a field until about two weeks ago when he got cleared to go.
Getting closer Joe Nathan back, after losing him for the entire 2010 season to Tommy John surgery is something the whole city of Minneapolis is happy about. Nathan has not looked like his normal ace-like self in Spring Training, but this is expected with any pitcher just coming off Tommy John.
Even though the Twins lost key bullpen guys in Joe Rauch and Jesse Crain, they still have Matt Capps who is a solid set-up man. Capps can close if need be, but with the rest of the bullpen being young and inexperienced; Nathan’s return will be the difference maker.
The Twins skipper has proven he can tweak a team to win. Ron Gardenhire took a severely damaged 2010 Twins team, led them to the playoffs with the most wins in the AL. Gardenhire was without question the 2010 Manager of the Year, for making the impossible, possible.
The Twins rotation is not without questions, but is good enough to have a winning year, as the bats have been the problem. The starters are not going to make or break the team, as they will just go with the flow.
Led by ace Francisco Liriano and a solid #2 Carl Pavano provide a solid punch atop the rotation and three reliable youngsters to finish out the back-end follow them. This is a nice group that can eat innings. The starters posted the fourth best ERA in the AL last season with a 3.95, throwing nine complete games and three shout-outs.
Are Nathan, Mauer and Morneau going to be able to stay off the DL in 2011? If history dictates anything this would be a miracle.
Nathan is coming back from Tommy John surgery, so expect some road bumps. That means everyone in the bullpen is bumped up a spot to adjust and makes the team’s strength a lot weaker.
Morneau’s concussion caused dizziness and blurred vision for that last eight months. He was rumored to be able to play last October and only just got cleared. This is a life-impacting situation for Morneau, as he was out for so long with no activity allowed. This is a reason for concern and mainly that you don’t want to see the slugger do any more damage to his brain. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Minnesota Twins’ »