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2011 MLB Team Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays haven’t seen the post season since 1993.

Just like the Baltimore Orioles, the Blue Jays suffer from AL East syndrome.

The AL East Division was tough enough when it housed the two best teams in baseball, the Red Sox and Yankees. Than, in the last few seasons the Tampa Bay Rays jumped onto the elite list, which made baseball life in Toronto only harder.

What is so frustrating is the Blue Jays would have made the playoffs many times, if they played in any other division. In 2010, the Blue Jays won 85 games and in four of the last five seasons prior have won 80+ games. That amount of W’s has been enough to make the playoffs many times and even clinch a division title outside of the AL East.

For the Blue Jays, even with their major-league leading home-run total of 257 from last season, heading into 2011 things look to be the same…meaning anything is possible.

Blue Jays fans blamed not making the postseason on unfortunate circumstances for a darn good team, until the Rays proved that theory wrong.

The Positives:

With the sad departure of skipper Cito Gaston, the Jays hired Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell that was a great move. The Jays have a young pitching staff with a lot of potential and under Farrell’s guidance they could flourish.

Trading ace Roy Halladay prior to last season was not a popular move, but the starters finished with an ERA of 4.30, which top the Yankees 4.35 ERA.

The starters have the potential to make Toronto a 2011 surprise story, lead by Rickey Romero who looks to replace the traded Shaun Marcum. Romero finished last season with a 14-9 record and an ERA of 3.73. Three other youngsters Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil and Kyle Drabek will follow Romero.

The Jays had the most homeruns, 46 more than the Red Sox who had 211. Jose Bautista led that charge being accountable for 54 of the 257 total. Bautista should have a big year, as the 30-year-old is a free agent at the end of 2011, and players know the better play, the bigger contract. He also had 124 RBIs last season.

Joining Bautista is rookie Travis Snider, who displayed power in the minors and so moving Bautista to third base frees up a spot in the outfield for Snider to move in full time.

Also, the Jays were the slowest team in baseball, finishing 2010 with a pathetic 58 steals. So, signing Rajai Davis who stole 92 bases for the Oakland A’s the last two seasons is be a huge improvement. Look for Davis’ RBIs and total runs to jump because of the massive power bats behind him in the line-up.

The future of the Blue Jays looks very promising, as their outlook has changed under second-year GM Alex Anthopoulos. Instead of trying to compete with the ‘win now’ attitude of their peer teams, Anthopoulos’ is putting the money into acquiring the top young talent, by adding more scouts all over; in California alone the team has five. This attention to detail seems to be right on track so far. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Toronto Blue Jays’ »

2011 MLB Team Preview: Baltimore Orioles

Over the last 13 seasons, the Baltimore Orioles have been the bottom-feeders of the AL East; often referred as “the toughest division in baseball.”

The O’s started last season 2-16, which added to an already the diminishing fan base at Camden Yard.

Looking for an answer, the O’s made three managerial changes. I guess three times a charm, as on August 1st, Buck Showalter took over in Baltimore and they O’s finally got their man.

Under Showalter, the team went 36-23, the best record in the AL East. The pitching staff made 36 quality starts and the bats averaged .300; so whatever Showalter was cooking, the O’s players were eating.

So, how do the Birds look heading into 2011?

The Positives:

Showalter could not have been a better fit, as his confidence became infectious, proved by O’s ending the 2010 season winning. The fans started showing up again at the Yard and the O’s displayed resilience.

The O’s needed a power bat at third base, so they sent some prospects to the Diamondbacks and got 3B Mark Reynolds in return. Reynolds averaged nearly 35 homers for the last three seasons, but the tradeoff is his 200+ strikeouts each season.  The O’s enhanced their infield defense by signing 1B Derek Lee and trading with the Twins for shortstop JJ Hardy.

The O’s finished their off-season just like they did the 2010 season, as without question the $8 million one-year deal with future Hall-of-Famer and perennial All-Star Vladimir Guerrero was their biggest upgrade. Vlad had a .300 batting average, with 29 homers and 115 RBI last season with the Rangers. Bringing in Vlad makes a statement not only at the plate, but also with his influence. This move was owed, as the O’s have one of the best fan-bases in sports who needed a jump and Vlad’s name does that.

The Birds have young pitching with a lot of promise; so adding veteran SP Justin Duchscherer even with his injuries makes a lot of sense. Also, adding two Blue Jays, Jeremy Accardo and Kevin Gregg solidify their bullpen.

The O’s made a lot of moves this off-season, paying attention to detail in filling the major holes for the immediate season. They were already above average in the outfield with Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, so focusing in on players to surround 2B Brian Roberts was exactly what the doctor ordered. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Baltimore Orioles’ »

Super Bowl XLV Giveaway: Congrads To Lisa Swan Of Subway Squawkers

Lady Loves Pinstripes had a Super Bowl XLV Giveaway, where the two winners (picked at random) each receive a $50.00 gift card from Fansedge.com, which has the biggest section of officially licensed sports products on the planet.

Our first winner happens to be the brains behind one of my favorite New York baseball sites. Trust me, you will thank me later after you visit winner and Yankee fan Lisa Swan at Subway Squawkers.

Subway Squawkers appeals to both Yankees and Mets fans, with Lisa writing about the Bombers and her partner Jon Lewin talking about life with the New York Mets.

Both New Yorkers, and diehard fans that love to argue about their teams – and each other.

Subway Squawkers is a favorite read of mine, as it is enlightening, straightforward, and can keep all New York baseball fans up-to-date with the latest news. This is a must read for New York Yankees and Mets fans alike.

New York Yankees Invite Eric Chavez To Spring Training Is One To Watch

Eric Chavez about to swing, May, 2005. Photo b...

Image via Wikipedia

Third-baseman Eric Chavez is the latest player invited to the New York Yankees 2011 Spring Training.

Chavez has a potential contract ready to be signed if he lands on the Yankees 40-man roster at the end of camp; but for now he is another non-roster invite so it costs the Yankees nothing.

This is Chavez shot at making a comeback, as he has been plagued with injuries over the last three seasons. Chavez has undergone two back operations and three shoulder surgeries in his career; and the most current being bulging discs in his neck.

Once a great player before all the injuries, Chavez had won six Gold Gloves from 2001-06 and a 2002 Silver Slugger. Chavez has played all his 13-seasons with the Oakland A’s, but was let go resulting from inactivity. From 2007-10 he only appeared in 64 games.

Wow, is anyone else thinking this sounds like a broken record?

Look, no one is denying that Chavez is just another name on GM Brian Cashman’s growing list of free agent ex-stars.

Chavez also falls into the category of being plagued by injury, which has kept him from baseball in recent seasons; but this signing is one with potential and here is why:

3 reasons Chavez might work out the Yankees:

1) He is a great teammate, as Chavez gets all thumbs-up from baseball’s biggest critics. Susan Slusser who covers the Oakland A’s for the SF Chronicle wrote this about Chavez back in May 2010:

“Chavez is among my favorite players I’ve ever covered – and one of my favorite people, period. It’s impossible not to like him: He’s honest, he’s accessible, he’s quotable, he treats everyone around him with respect. He’s just a genuinely nice person, and I have seen how hard he’s tried to get onto the field and stay on the field over the years, much of it without ever even mentioning how much pain he was in.”

2) The job of backing Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira comes with minimal pressure and tear on the body; Chavez would make an overly solid substitute for A-rod or Tex on their occasional days off. He could also be penciled in at DH for Jorge Posada if he is behind the plate or needs a rest.

3) When healthy, Chavez can hit and he draws a lot of walks. Over his career, Chavez has a .267 batting average, with 282 doubles, 230 homeruns, 565 walks and an on-base percentage of .343. Chavez is a great defender when everything is feeling good.

3 reasons why Chavez might not work for the Yankees: Continue reading ‘New York Yankees Invite Eric Chavez To Spring Training Is One To Watch’ »

Pre-Spring Training Already Started For Derek Jeter and Phil Hughes

Just a quick update on the New York Yankees….

It was reported over at LoHud Yankees Blog, pitcher Phil Hughes and the Captain Derek Jeter are already down in

Tampa, Florida at the Yankees minor league facility.

Nothing wrong with a little pre-Spring Training and it is always great to know that the players are just as hungry as ever.

It is definitely getting me excited for the start of the 2011 baseball season, as with every off-season you start to get the baseball blues. Continue reading ‘Pre-Spring Training Already Started For Derek Jeter and Phil Hughes’ »

Lady Loves Pinstripes SuperBowl Giveaway Winners

Just to update everyone who entered……the winners of the $50.00 Gift Card from Fans Edge have been notified.

Once each winner responds, Lady Loves Pinstripes will congratulate both winners officially.

Thanks again and look for another Lady Loves Pinstripes Giveaway very soon.