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2011 MLB Team Preview: The Champion San Francisco Giants

As the reigning champs, the San Francisco Giants have a lot more to lose in 2011.

If the team thought last season was tough, get ready for life to get harder repeating it all over again.

Unlike being crowned champs, keeping that title again successfully is when a team becomes a dynasty.

For the Giants it would cement them in sports history; as no National League team since the 75’-76’ Cincinnati Reds, also known as ‘The Big Red Machine” has been able to accomplish the feat of repeat.

Well, the Giants do have their own ‘Machine’ whose ass is whiter than Powder. Still, whether San Fran’s version can keep his thong for 162 games is a whole different story.

Let’s take a look at the self-proclaimed ‘Castoffs and misfits’:

The Positives:

PITCHING

The young staff is lead by 26-year-old Tim Lincecum, who in his first four seasons has been an All-Star three times and won back-to-back CY Young Awards in 08’ and 09’. This guy is called ‘the freak’ because he is that good; posting career stats that read 907 strikeouts, a 3.04 ERA over a total of 811 innings pitched.

Look for Lincecum to only get better with the added experience and a newly added slider that debut in September to be thrown for a full season. As the saying goes, “where there’s dope, there’s hope.”

Three more youngsters in Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner follow Lincecum and if they can all maintain 2010 performances that would be welcomed. It would be ideal and more likely that they all take steps forward this rotation is not one any team will want to face.

The bullpen is pretty solid. Closer Brian Wilson racked up a major league-leading 48 saves last season and my dreams say he remains one of the best in baseball again.

BUSTER POSEY IS THE REAL THING

Catcher Buster Posey is a player that doesn’t come around often, as haven’t heard “the Giants version of Derek Jeter” said about anyone. Posey is just 23 and only became the full time Giants catcher on July 1, 2010, but that was all the time needed.

In 108 games, Posey posted a .305 batting average; hit 18 homeruns, 23 doubles, 67 RBIs and 124 hits. He also guided the pitching staff and the team to a record of 63-37, with 11 being postseason wins. Posey’s stats without question go from great to superior, but that is not why he is already a household name.

Posey displays a personality well beyond his years. He is a leader, humble, not attention seeking but holds guys accountable, as well as himself. Posey has baseball fans everywhere watching him for all the right reasons; he is what every team dreams to find. Well, the Giants certainly have found theirs in Posey.

THE FANS

The City of San Francisco hadn’t seen a playoff game since 2003 and since the team’s arrival in 1969 the city had never won a World Series Championship until last season.

Now that fact is just ancient history, and the City by the Bay has caught baseball fever. Nothing inspires a team more than the fans.

A lot has been written that it is the Giants team chemistry that is the glue, but who doesn’t get along when you’re winning? Fact, the fans are the oil when chemistry causes rust.

QUICK NOTES

Look for Giants top prospect 1B Brandon Belt to debut mid-season, as he is major league ready.

Following a dreadful 2010, Pablo Sandoval got to work in the off-season. Sandoval dropped 38 pounds and if he can get back to 2009 form of hitting 25 homeruns, that is good news.

The Negatives:

NO MOVES IS BAD NEWS

There was no comfort provided by the Giants only off-season moves of adding Miguel Tejada to be their shorting shortstop, resigning Pat the Bat and handing Audrey Huff $22 million bucks for two more seasons for what he did in 2010.

Pat Burrell might lose his regular outfield spot to Huff and we have all witnessed how unproductive Pat is with the bat as a DH. Huff’s deal prolongs seeing 1B prospect Brandon Belt promotion, and Tejada playing the most athletic position on the field for $6.5 million bucks….need I say more? Actually yes, it was a big waste of money, except Burrell inking a 1 for $1 million.

Wouldn’t getting an extra starting pitcher in case of injury have been a smarter move?

THE PHILLIES AND ROCKIES

Fact is the Phillies got much better and I don’t think they meant to lose to the Giants in the 2010 NLCS. Actually, the Phillies should have won because they were better last season. If the Giants want to look at an NL team as models for success, look to all aspects of what goes on in Philadelphia.

The Rockies off-season was even better than Philadelphia’s by inking stars SS Troy Tulowitzki and OF Carlos Gonzalez to long-term deals. Also, the Rockies were injury riddled last season and seemed more determined than ever. The Rockies bullpen is awesome, pitching is good enough and the bats can hit which makes for a very competitive team.

TOO MUCH ATTENTION

Champions draw media attention, but when players are acting more Hollywood than athlete it doesn’t fare well. Look I am all for having a personality, growing a beard and even a ‘Machine’ for a mascot, but having Showtime cameras documenting a team’s every move for a reality show will not fare well. Especially, in addition to the added media interest that comes with every championship team. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: The Champion San Francisco Giants’ »

New York Yankees: Finally Baseball Starts On Saturday

Baseball is about to start, as the New York Yankees will play their Spring Season opener against the Philadelphia Phillies this Saturday at Steinbrenner Field.

It looks to be a nice change from all the usual drama that comes with being a Yankee and playing in New York. Sometimes you forget why the team is in Tampa in the first place.

Skipper Joe Girardi announced that Bartolo Colon would start Saturday’s game, which is mind-numbing.

Colon showed up to camp, which has been a problem for the 2005 CY Young winner in the past. He came in 25 pounds heavier, which is almost unimaginable considering he has never been accused of being skinny prior.

Colon hasn’t pitched in over two years for a Major League team, but has been playing in the Dominican League over the winter.

Here is the rest of the pitching order:

Saturday vs. Phillies: Bartolo Colon

Sunday at Phillies: Ivan Nova

Monday at Tigers: CC Sabathia

Tuesday at Pirates: A.J. Burnett

Wednesday vs. Astros: Phil Hughes

Thursday at Rays: Freddy Garcia

The press is already starting World War III against the Bombers, asking Girardi why Burnett is behind Sabathia and not Hughes.

I would more concerned with why Colon is starting, but Girardi stated it was because he had been pitching the most recently. This is the same Colon that cannot partake in drills because he is so out-of-shape, right?

For crying out loud, it is just Spring Training and even I am guilty of acting as if this is the Yankees post-season rotation. Continue reading ‘New York Yankees: Finally Baseball Starts On Saturday’ »

New York Yankees Spring Training: First Week News And Notes

2011 New York Yankee camp is in full swing down in Tampa, Florida.

As usual, Yankees are never short of drama and this week was no different, but both good and bad; with some heavier and some lighter notes.

The Yankees first Spring Training game is against the Phillies, this Saturday at Steinbrenner Field with first pitch at 1:30pm, which will force mouths to shut and baseball to finally be played.

Positive things to note:

  • Derek Jeter doesn’t seem to be done quite yet. The Captain went to work way before Spring Training and it was the first time in his career he met with hitting coach Kevin Long about three weeks prior to Spring Training to work on his swing. It is time for everyone to layoff Jeter, as a few bad months can be put to rest on the field and trust me Jeter will prevail.
  • All of A-rod’s jet setting paid off, as the slugger showed up seven pounds lighter and is in complete health. Rodriguez said he is ready to get back to work and is ready for a big season. Controversy free, minus Page Six on occasion, this A-rod seems ready for business, as the only number he is focused on is #28.
  • Robinson Cano worked out six days a week this off-season. Minus some plane ticket confusion, as Cano showed up a day late to camp, this season has MVP written all over it. Cano is ambitious and with his natural talent, he could put up numbers that will be mind-boggling.
  • Joining Cano in the Dominican Republic was Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli, who credits Cano for his guidance in his off-season workouts. Coach Cano pushed Cervelli to help prepare the catcher to win the competition to be the back-up catcher on Opening Day.
  • The team seems hungry and motivated to win following what in Yankee Universe is considered a failed 2010 season. This is all great news for Yankee fans that still have a bad taste from Cliff Lee’s rejection.

  • Pitching prospect Andrew Brackman put on a talent show for Joe Girardi and the coaching staff in a bullpen session.

Not-so-positive things to note:

  • Brian Cashman said Yankees prized pitching prospects lefty Manny Banuelos and righty Dellin Betances will be headed for Double-A Trenton at the end of Spring Training. It would seem the rotation competition is not as open as originally thought, which is disappointing to think that Bartolo Colon is still a possibility.
  • Speaking of Bartolo Colon, it would seem that his chance to pitch at the major league level again wasn’t motivation enough for him not to show up 25+ pounds overweight. Colon has never been fit but now the Yankees have to put him on a special cardio workout, which is just another distraction and extra work. Attitude hasn’t changed much, as Colon stated: Continue reading ‘New York Yankees Spring Training: First Week News And Notes’ »

Breaking News: Big Apple Welcomes Carmelo Anthony To Knicks

Great news for the New York Knicks tonight….as it is official Carmelo Anthony has officially been traded to the team from the Denver Nuggets.

This trade puts the Knicks in the top five conversations for this season and for years to come.

New York having great basketball has been long overdue and MSG will be on fire once again.

Here is the exact outline of the three-team trade:

Knicks get: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman, Corey Brewer

Nuggets getTimofey Mozgov, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Raymond Felton

Timberwolves get: Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph.

Today Was One For The Ladies

Today, Monday February 21, 2011 will go down as the first time in baseball history a lady threw to Major League hitters.

Congratulations to Justine Seigal, for sticking to her passion and making her dreams come true.

Here is the story, as reported by Jordan Bastian on MLB.com:

Ladies’ first: Siegal makes history at Tribe camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Justine Siegal reached into the green basket to her left, placed three baseballs in her left hand and one in her right, and then tried to keep her emotions in check as she prepared to throw to a professional hitter.

Siegal then fired off four-seam fastballs, doing her best to give a group of Indians prospects some nice targets for this historic round of batting practice on Monday. It was a moment Siegal had been dreaming about for years — becoming the first woman to throw to a Major League ballclub.

“I’ve been thinking about this almost every hour for the past month,” Siegal said. CLICK HERE TO KEEP READING…..

New York Yankees Camp Is About To Get Crazy

Look for the big press tent to be erect at Steinbrenner Field today, as the press frenzy is about to begin.

The New York Yankees position players officially arrive at Spring Training, which entails media darlings Alex Rodriguez and the Captain Derek Jeter.

A-rod has done a number on himself over the last month starting with his lady pal Cameron Diaz and the infamous Super Bowl feeding.

Then three days later on February 9th, gossip hounds TMZ filmed A-rod on a shopping spree with Diaz back in NYC. What started out as signature A-rod checking himself out in the mirror, turned into him picking his nose.

This last week A-rod has been seen working out with Diaz and now the unfortunate couple is rumored to have bought an apartment together at the Rushmore over on Riverside Boulevard. This seems more like an A-rod buy, as Diaz would never buy at 64th-65th street on the Westside Highway, as it is not exactly a glamorous section of the city.

Regardless, as long as A-rod plays well this season the tabloid jargon will get forgotten about quick, just not today.

As for the Captain, he doesn’t want any of this attention and readily doesn’t deserve it. Jeter’s contract negotiations caused a media shi*-storm, and quotes were taken out of context to generate headlines before knowing the whole story.

For Captain Class, it will be business as usual and he won’t even address what is not even relevant anymore.

I can already hear the Captain stating that he is the Yankees shortstop now and that is what matters.

My prediction is Jeter puts up great numbers in 2011 and what can be said than?

Yankee fans get ready for media circus today.

Please remember don’t bring your popcorn until Monday, February 21st because according to Steve Marcus of Newsday, that is when A-rod is scheduled to speak with the press.