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2011 MLB Team Preview: Chicago White Sox

Don’t underestimate the Chicago White Sox heading into 2011, because this team is well-rounded enough to win ballgames.

The White Sox lack the star power names that their division rival Twins and Tigers have with Joe Mauer and Miguel Tejada respectively, but they make up for this in depth.

Led by one of my personal favorite personalities in baseball, Manager Ozzie Guillen makes this one wild group. Tough as nails and never short of drama with Guillen’s no-hold-bard remarks, the White Sox look better than they did heading into 2010.

Whether the White Sox can utilize all their skills is another thing. They have the pieces, but it will take an concerted team effort to have seasonal success.

The Positives:

White Sox fans should be ready to witness home-run mania in 2011.

Acquiring powerhouse hitter Adam Dunn from the Nationals brings a monster bat to an already powerful line-up.

Just how serious?

Well, Dunn had back-to-back seasons hitting 38 home-runs at Nationals Park, which is not a hitting friendly venue. Prior to that Dunn had four seasons of 40 home-runs between 2005-2008. This guy is just 31-years-old and he can flat out hit, expect 45+ from his bat at welcoming US Cellular Field.

Than add the bat of 1B Paul Konerko, who led the team in 2010 with a .312 batting average, 39 home-runs and 111 RBIs. Konerko is 35-years-old, so repeating those numbers is unlikely but he will still produce close to them. Dunn also takes pressure of Konerko.

Round off the line-up wit Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Quentin A forgettable factor is if Quentin can stay off the DL for the whole season, it could be the silent difference maker. Rios can pop up 25+ homers and he is a threat on the bases stealing 34 in 2010, while Ramirez had 29 doubles, 18 home-runs and 70 RBIs making him one of the strongest bats at the shortstop position.

Outfielder Juan Pierre stole 68 bases last season, which makes him a pain for any pitcher on the mound but he has to stay base. Pierre was early to Spring Training, as he wants to improve so this could be an asset. That is if Guillen really works on bunting with Pierre.

The White Sox pitching is made up of innings eaters. Not one stands out from the next and don’t expect too much out of Jake Peavy who is returning from serious shoulder surgery. The good thing for Peavy is he doesn’t have to be the team’s ace because with a staff of Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and with Edwin Jackson’s newfound form, Peavy doesn’t have to be anymore.

Some might think that they lost Bobby Jenks to the Red Sox, but the White Sox didn’t need him with Chris Sale and Matt Thornton. Guillen has yet to name the closer of the two, but regardless that is a nice one-two combo coming out of the bullpen. My bet is Sale will be the starting closer.

Catcher AJ Pierzynski who is a solid defender and is familiar with the staff. He has been a stud behind the plate for Chicago since arriving in 2005, the year they won a World Series. His production with the bat has not been great, but at 35-years-old he is a team leader in the clubhouse.

Finally, how can you not love Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie, I absolutely adore him the way he does Derek Jeter. Colorful, doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and just oozes emotions that he must be a trip to play would be my guess.

The Negatives:

Between injuries, wasted money on former high draft picks and slumps the White Sox have a tendency to wildly inconsistent. Last season’s ups and downs were so severe that it had to be emotionally draining for the players.

The White Sox still have no clear ace in their rotation, which means there is never that semi-guaranteed win every five games.  It just can’t be Buehrle, though he will probably pitch Opening Day, as he easily had the play the year when he launched the 2010 season. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Chicago White Sox’ »

A Story That Makes You Hate The New York Yankees A Little Less

On Friday night the New York Yankees hosted rivals Boston Red Sox down in Tampa, FL at Steinbrenner Field.

The game’s results are meaningless, but the Red Sox won the game 5-3.

Even as everyone continued to drool over the second stand out performance by Yankee pitching prospect Manny Banuelos, there was a story told about something off the field that captivated anyone who was listening. The fact that this was kept quiet makes it all the more meaningful.

It is well worth reading and knowing, as it made me proud not only to be a Yankees fan but a baseball fan. Here is the story PART OF ONE BIG FAMILY written by Daniel Barbarsi of the Wall Street Journal:

TAMPA—Hours before a game last September, word went around the Yankee clubhouse that hitting coach Kevin Long wanted to gather the entire team for a rare meeting.

Soon, the players were huddled up, and Long told them about Bridget, an 11-year-old girl they had never met, the daughter of Ron Johnson, the first base coach for the Red Sox.

Bridget, Long said, had been in an accident. She was riding a horse alongside the road in August, near the Johnsons’ Tennessee home. A driver came around the corner a little too fast and plowed into Bridget’s horse, severing the young girl’s leg above the knee.

Bridget survived, and doctors re-attached the leg—but her body rejected it, and it had to be removed. She would need a prosthetic leg, and although the Red Sox had been financially generous to Johnson, money was still a problem, Long told the roomful of Yankee players.

Johnson had been Long’s minor-league manager in the mid-1990s. When Long’s playing career was winding down, Johnson helped Long get his first coaching job, with the Kansas City Royals—even going to management on Long’s behalf when a promised job offer didn’t materialize. It was a debt Long always wanted to repay.

“Our friendship is deep. It goes way, way back,” Long said. “Friends aren’t just there for the good times, they’re there when things go backwards on you. Anything I could help him with, I wanted to do.”

Bridget’s story touched the Yankees. It didn’t matter one bit that Johnson worked for the rival Red Sox, A.J. Burnett said.

“He came to us, and you could hear it in K-Long’s voice how important it was to him,” Burnett said. “You just wanted to help in any way you can. We’re a huge family here. Whether you’re a Yankee or anybody else, we’re all in it together.” Continue reading ‘A Story That Makes You Hate The New York Yankees A Little Less’ »

2011 Spring Training: Yankees Lose Cervelli, New York Finally Gets A Manny

Friday, March 4th…. was the first match-up between the oldest rivals in sports, New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox won 5-3, but that doesn’t matter because it is Spring Training and half the Red Sox starters didn’t make the two-hour trip to Tampa.

Still, lots to report from Yankee Camp.


It was pleasant to see the out-of-shape Bartolo Colon impress once again in his second outing. Colon isn’t likely to get the job, but he sure is keeping himself in the race.

Clearly, the most notable performance of the evening came from Yankee pitching prospect Manny Banuelos.

I have written about Banuelos on Lady Loves Pinstripes numerous times before because the 19-year-old, southpaw is that good.

Developing into a certifiable star, Banuelos displays poise, confidence and control on the mound way beyond his years. He attacks the strike zone with a fastball clocking at 95+ mph. His arsenal includes a fastball with remarkable movement; an absurd change-up and a most recently added curve-ball.

This kid is turning into the real deal, but the Yankees have to stick to a game plan this time, as Banuelos is way to precious to risk anything near a Joba Chamberlain outcome.

Yankees new catcher Russell Martin, whose knee felt great after catching for the first time against Boston, had this to say about Banuelos:

“He’s tremendous. He’s poised out there. You forget that he’s 19 years old. He’s not scared at all. He just gets the ball and throws it, whatever you put down. He actually has an idea; he’s not afraid to shake off. He has a good idea how to pitch and he’s only 19, but he knows how to do it.”

Martin also went on to compare Banuelos to 22-year-old Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who posted a 2.91 ERA in 32 starts in 2010.

When Girardi was asked about the possibility of promoting Banuelos in 2011, his answer left the door open. Well, nothing else could be presumed after witnessing this 5’9 kid throw like a giant. It would be a waste if he were left down in the minors all season long.

I truly hope the Yankees bring Banuelos up halfway thru the season, pending all is in order. These uber-talented prospects have proved to make huge differences for teams down the stretch and in the post season. Banuelos self-assurance reminds me of the look San Francisco Giants Madison Bumgarner had in the World Series last year.

Another old star trying to reclaim some glory, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning was ex-Cub and new Yankee Mark Prior.

I remember seeing Prior at Shea Stadium back in his glory days and other than Cliff Lee; I have never witnessed a better pitcher. Well, those will be forever just memories for me and for Prior, but he could be relevant in the bullpen at some point.

Also, look for Rafael Soriano to throw a live inning soon, as Soriano was absolutely nasty in his first BP session prior to the game.

Injury Updates:
Continue reading ‘2011 Spring Training: Yankees Lose Cervelli, New York Finally Gets A Manny’ »

Who Said New York Has Pitching Problems? Projecting Yankees Starting Rotation

The critics have spoken, actually they haven’t shut-up about potential troubles facing the New York Yankees pitching heading into 2011.

There are viable reasons behind the endless debating about the Yankees rotation following this off-season’s reality check.

Does it justify such a dramatic stance that the Yankees might not contend in 2011?

Absolutely not, but things got a little scary before Spring Training with the moves GM Brian Cashman was making. Like the day Cashman signed Bartolo Colon and the now fact he made an offer to Carl Pavano just shy of $10 million to bring his talents back to the Bronx, again. It was embarrassing and New York does not wear desperate well or ever.

So, what will the Yankees starting rotation be at the start of 2011 on March 31st? Well, let’s take a look:

  1. CC Sabathia
  2. AJ Burnett
  3. Phil Hughes
  4. Ivan Nova
  5. Freddie Garcia

The Obvious:

Opening Day, CC Sabathia will be on the mound without question. Sabathia is the team’s ace and one of the top 10 pitchers in all of baseball.

Following Sabathia will undoubtedly be AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes. Knowing Skipper Joe Girardi’s typical way of thinking is the reason Burnett is listed as the team’s #2.

It displays confidence and respect towards a pitcher who posted a 10-15 record last season. Look, Burnett needs all the support he can get, and hope Yankees fans are listening.

A HUGE positive is Burnett seems to be in a great place since arriving in Tampa. My bet is Burnett will have a big year, as the stuff is there that is for sure.

Reality is Hughes probably deserves to follow Sabathia based on last season’s results, but the mild manner 25-year-old is just happy to help out in anyway he can.

The Initial Mess:

Where to begin?

Anyone hearing his or her team had no fourth or fifth starter to solidify the back-end of the starting rotation would be rather troubled, but in New York it was as if the sky fallen down.

Following an off-season where Yankee fans egos got trampled on not once, but twice (not getting into Pettitte and Lee again) caused complete panic. When in actuality it was a very needed reality check for an over privileged fan-base, me included.

The New Reality:

Just 17 days into Spring Training and this presumed mess has turned promising.

As the Dalai Lama once said: Continue reading ‘Who Said New York Has Pitching Problems? Projecting Yankees Starting Rotation’ »

New York Yankees Projected Starting Lineup

It’s too early in Spring Training to presume anything yet, but the New York Yankee bats still remain strong and easily one of the most lethal line-ups in baseball.

The batting order doesn’t have any holes to fill, but once the regular season gets underway, some tweaking here or there is possible. My guess is that Skipper Joe Girardi’s Opening Day (March 31st)  line-up card will look very familiar to Yankees fans, as it will be almost identical to 2010.

Derek Jeter
Curtis Granderson
Mark Teixeira
Alex Rodriguez
Robinson Cano
Jorge Posada
Nick Swisher
Brett Garner

What could potentially change?


Swapping Swisher and Granderson in the order last season when an opposing lefty was up wasn’t an uncommon occurrence.

Granderson has struggled against Southpaws over his entire career, but that demon seemed to fade over the last six weeks of 2010—but Girardi still wasn’t completely convinced.

In his first Spring Training game, Granderson hit an opposite field bomb, which must cement Girardi’s confidence level in keeping Grandy in the two-hole for good.

Fact is, switch-hitting Swisher is more productive in the middle-bottom of the order than at the top. Granderson’s speed and continued improvement against Southpaws makes him perfect for the slot behind the Captain.

The Captain:

As for the Captain maintaining the leadoff spot—it’s already a given. No one should even acknowledge the drama over whether Derek Jeter is capable of being productive in the role.

It’s outlandish that Jeter’s livelihood is getting chucked under a pile of dirt so rapidly. It’s not like he’s just some regular player who’s been in a steady decline. Continue reading ‘New York Yankees Projected Starting Lineup’ »

MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees Want To Bring Twins Francisco Liriano To New York

The rumor that New York Yankees have been interested in Minnesota Twins Francisco Liriano has reappeared again over the last week, according to ESPN’s Andrew Marchand Trade Watch.

It is no secret that the Yankees are in the market for another starting pitcher, which I am not opposed too but not right now.

My understanding was GM Brian Cashman motto is ‘to be patient’ and at this point there are reasons I jumped on Cashman’s slow bandwagon. Let’s apply the power of patience to this specific situation:

  1. Liriano came to Spring Training complaining of a sore shoulder; no one heard a word from him during the off-season where he usually plays winter-ball; and gets an MRI from some doctor in Miami that nobody in the Twins organization knew about. When asked if he did his shoulder exercises in the off-season, Liriano said no, and so that is the reason for the tendentious. He is almost 28-years-old, with a not so great attitude and the Twins haven’t hidden the fact they were not happy. He has potential to be an ace as in 2010 posted a 14-10 record, with a 3.62 ERA, 201 strikeouts and throwing just shy of 192 innings. Still, this just doesn’t feel right.
  2. The Yankees will have to over pay BIG for Liriano’s hurt arm. Rumor has it not Joba Chamberlain, but touted prospect Jesus Montero or Phil Hughes plus god knows how many other prospects. It is not worth it, at least not now. If fans get robbed of seeing Montero there might be a riot, especially after Austin Jackson got traded last season to the Tigers.
  3. Even though it is not happening now or maybe at all in 2011, the Yankees should hold on to their young arms. Specifically, 22-year-old Dellin Betances, 23-year-old Andrew Brackman, and 19-year-old Manny Banuelos, this is presuming that Ivan Nova is not going to be made available, as he shouldn’t be. These kids have shown tons of potential and impressed in Spring Training. Remember the current World Champion San Francisco Giants won with their dynamo young pitchers, maybe the Yankees should take note. Continue reading ‘MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees Want To Bring Twins Francisco Liriano To New York’ »