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Yorkshire Blue

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Ah, spring training.

The sound of rubber or cork wrapped in yarn and covered with leather thumping into leather mitts or the rifle crack of corked ash. Ahhh.

There is something magical about the phrase "pitchers and catchers report". It sounds so innocent but at the same time so alluring. I'm definitely going to have to get myself out to the States and down to the desert (my Reds have moved from Florida to a brand spanking new complex out in Arizona) one March to watch some Cactus League action.

It's that time when optimism runs higher than a Ron Martin IOU. Why couldn't it be our year this year? It's all the excitement and anticipation of a 162 game season that promises so much without all the drudgery and tedium of a 162 game season when you are effectively out of the running by the All-Star break.

Indeed, it is around this time of the year that I traditionally start a thread saying that this could finally be the year for my Reds.

And with Aroldis Chapman*, the $30m fire-balling defector scorching radar guns with triple figure readings - in early March! And he's a lefty! - it would be amiss of me not to. So here goes.....

The Reds' rotation could be something special. It's not just Chapman and his three-digit velocity, there also young, live arms in former no.1 overall prospect Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto and once he returns from Tommy John surgery Edison Volquez. There are also a couple of other young pitchers in last year's 1st round draft pick, Mike Leake and Travis Wood who are nearly ML ready and the Reds are absolutely stacked with young arms. Oh and this is without mentioning Harang and Arroyo, their top two pitchers of the last handful of years. They aren't quite yet Atlanta or the early 90s, but they could be. It's probably a year too soon for this group, but when you have young talent, who knows?

The Reds don't just have pitching talent, their defence is looking something special as well: gold gloves at 2nd, 3rd and short-stop means the infield isn't too shabby, and an outfield with Drew Stubbs in centerfield, Jay Bruce in right and Chris Dickerson platooning in left has to be amongst baseball's best. The catching situation isn't bad with two defensively above average catchers there. Overall that is a pretty tidy defence at a time when defence is being regarded as the biggest inefficiency in baseball, following on from OBP (read Moneyball).

I'm just not convinced about the offence. Votto is quality, Bruce will rebound after last year's freak BAPIP but it's probably lacking an extra quality bat in there. Still with that pitching and defence, you never know. I think 2011 is more likely to be the Reds' year but the Reds seem to be everyone's dark horses this year, and I haven't felt this optimistic about their prospects before.

*My favourite columinst Joe Posnanski writes about him here.
 

Yorkshire Blue

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Oh yeah, the bloody Yankees will probably win it again (or Albert Pujols by himself for the Cards, because he is that good) but come on the Rays in the AL East.
 
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They aren't quite yet Atlanta or the early 90s, but they could be. It's probably a year too soon for this group, but when you have young talent, who knows?

Young talent got the Rays to the Fall Classic in '08, and it was their 'Braves in the 90s' rotation that was largely responsible. I like the Reds as a dark horse a lot more than the Mariners, who seem to be the fashionable outsider pick for many pundits.

Oh yeah, the bloody Yankees will probably win it again (or Albert Pujols by himself for the Cards, because he is that good) but come on the Rays in the AL East.

I don't see the Yankees winning anything this year, except maybe a wild card spot. If Wade Davis and David Price are half as good as I think they are, the Rays should dominate, especially after picking up the best free agent closer available, Rafael Soriano.
 

Yorkshire Blue

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Young talent got the Rays to the Fall Classic in '08, and it was their 'Braves in the 90s' rotation that was largely responsible. I like the Reds as a dark horse a lot more than the Mariners, who seem to be the fashionable outsider pick for many pundits.



I don't see the Yankees winning anything this year, except maybe a wild card spot. If Wade Davis and David Price are half as good as I think they are, the Rays should dominate, especially after picking up the best free agent closer available, Rafael Soriano.

I like what the Mariners are doing with their commitment to defence and the top of their rotation looks rather handy. It would be great for Junior if he got to go to a World Series, but I don't quite see it.
 

chaco27saf

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There is a huge amount of optimism surrounding the Rockies this year, and it isn't difficult to see why. The Rox have one of the best top to bottom starting rotations in the majors, the offense is potent, and their defense, with only a couple of exceptions, is full of potential gold glovers.

The rotation is the biggest reason the Rockies seem poised to be successful, there doesn't seem to be a glaring weak link in the five. Ubaldo Jimenez is quite possibly the first legitimate ace in Rockies' history. He generally works his fastball at around 95 or 96, but he can touch triple digits. his breaking pitches are all above average and last season he finally put it all together by showing very good command.

#2 Jorge de la Rosa posted 16 wins last season, all coming after June 1st. If he can pick up where he left off he can be just as good as Jimenez, although his command does seem fleeting at times.

#3 Aaron Cook has one of the best sinkers in the game, which is a huge plus at Coors Field. He can sometimes struggle to locate the bottom of the zone and when he does he gets battered, but he was deservedly an all-star two years ago.

#4 Jeff Francis was the staff ace of the pennant winning '07 team, but has been hampered by injury ever since and missed all of '09. However, as he is the fourth starter, he just needs to be effective, returning to '07 form would just be a huge bonus.

#5 Jason Hammell had a massive home/road split last year ( 5-plus ERA home/ sub-3 ERA away) so he obviously isn't a "Coors" pitcher, but he didn't get that road ERA by accident. He could very well be trade bait as the Rockies have several nearly major league ready pitchers waiting for their shot.

The rest of the team is impressive, but there are some flaws such as an over reliance on lefties at the plate, a potentially shaky bullpen, and no true utility player. But the team is young and improved greatly last season, if they can continue to improve there might not be a better team in the majors this season. On the other side of the coin, if the young guys regress the Rockies will be on the outside looking in come October.
 

chaco27saf

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I do agree that the Reds could very well find themselves in contention this year; I see a lot of parallels with them and '09 Rockies. If the Reds are going to make the postseason they need a healthy dose of luck on their side in terms of avoiding injuries and avoiding team-wide slumps at the plate, both of which the Rockies were able to do last season. The Reds' margin of error is small, but I do think they have a legitimate shot at the Wild Card. I think the Cards will win the division, but I doubt the NL West will produce the wild card again as the division looks to be incredibly competitive. I think the Reds' will be fighting with the Braves and Brewers for a chance at October baseball.
 
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There is a huge amount of optimism surrounding the Rockies this year, and it isn't difficult to see why. The Rox have one of the best top to bottom starting rotations in the majors, the offense is potent, and their defense, with only a couple of exceptions, is full of potential gold glovers.

The rotation is the biggest reason the Rockies seem poised to be successful, there doesn't seem to be a glaring weak link in the five. Ubaldo Jimenez is quite possibly the first legitimate ace in Rockies' history. He generally works his fastball at around 95 or 96, but he can touch triple digits. his breaking pitches are all above average and last season he finally put it all together by showing very good command.

#2 Jorge de la Rosa posted 16 wins last season, all coming after June 1st. If he can pick up where he left off he can be just as good as Jimenez, although his command does seem fleeting at times.

#3 Aaron Cook has one of the best sinkers in the game, which is a huge plus at Coors Field. He can sometimes struggle to locate the bottom of the zone and when he does he gets battered, but he was deservedly an all-star two years ago.

#4 Jeff Francis was the staff ace of the pennant winning '07 team, but has been hampered by injury ever since and missed all of '09. However, as he is the fourth starter, he just needs to be effective, returning to '07 form would just be a huge bonus.

#5 Jason Hammell had a massive home/road split last year ( 5-plus ERA home/ sub-3 ERA away) so he obviously isn't a "Coors" pitcher, but he didn't get that road ERA by accident. He could very well be trade bait as the Rockies have several nearly major league ready pitchers waiting for their shot.

The rest of the team is impressive, but there are some flaws such as an over reliance on lefties at the plate, a potentially shaky bullpen, and no true utility player. But the team is young and improved greatly last season, if they can continue to improve there might not be a better team in the majors this season. On the other side of the coin, if the young guys regress the Rockies will be on the outside looking in come October.

I like Hammell a lot and was disappointed when he left the Rays' organisation. It's impressive that you have a number five with that his make-up (nearly as impressive as the Rays rolling out Niemann in the five hole). On the MLB Predictor, I've taken the Rox as the NL West champs, and I've also picked them for the NL Pennant. Unfortunately, I can't see anyone defeating the team that wins the AL East in the Fall Classic, as it contains probably the three best teams in the Majors.
 

chaco27saf

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I like Hammell a lot and was disappointed when he left the Rays' organisation. It's impressive that you have a number five with that his make-up (nearly as impressive as the Rays rolling out Niemann in the five hole). On the MLB Predictor, I've taken the Rox as the NL West champs, and I've also picked them for the NL Pennant. Unfortunately, I can't see anyone defeating the team that wins the AL East in the Fall Classic, as it contains probably the three best teams in the Majors.

I like Hammell as well, but I think other teams might value him more and the Rockies are the kind of team that need to constantly restock their system to stay competitive.

And I agree that the Sox, Yanks, and Rays are all very good teams (I'm stoked none are in the NL actually!), but I think the Rockies, Cards, and Phillies could all match up well against any of those teams and provide at least a good fight.

For what it's worth here are my picks for this season:

AL East: Yankees - Too good all around, they will be pushed but they possess too much talent. I think their offense will be the difference as no one in the majors can match it.
AL Central: White Sox - The rotation is very good and the offense is good enough to carry them to the postseason.
AL West: Mariners - The Angels aren't as good as previous years and no team is as improved as Seattle.
AL Wild Card: Twins - I think with the O's on their way to becoming a respectable team the AL East is too competitive to produce the wild card, while the Twins will have extra games against the likes of Kansas City and Cleveland.

NL East: Phillies - The two time defending NL champs got better this offseason with the addition of Halladay.
NL Central: Cardinals - Pujols. Enough said I feel!
NL West: Rockies - The Dodgers didn't improve at all, the Giants still lack an offensive punch and the D-backs are too inconsistent. Still should be a wildly entertaining division.
NL Wild Card: Braves - They have the pitching and while their offense isn't top tier (unless Heyward is as good as advertised) it's good enough.

Playoffs (yeah, it is pretty much impossible to predict at this point but just in case it comes true I can point to this post and act like I'm some kind of genius.)

LDS:
Rockies over Braves
Phillies over Cardinals
Yankees over Twins
Mariners over White Sox

LCS:
Rockies over Phillies
Yankees over Mariners

WS:
Rockies over Yankees (maybe wishful thinking, but it is possible!)
 

Not In Mohave Shrimper

formerly Drastic™
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The Cubs could actually benefit from their comparatively poor season last year, expectations are lower this year, they’ve had a decent spring in the cactus league, but the NL Central will be tough, and merely an improvement on last years record would be considered a success by most.​

This winter has seen Jim Hendry spend most of his time getting rid of last season’s acquisitions, and the off-season trade that Cubs fans were most pleased with was Milton Bradley’s exit to Seattle, we didn’t really care who we got in exchange. Also leaving Wrigleyt Field were the hapless Kevin Gregg (Blue Jays), veterean Reed johnson (Dodgers) and Rich Harden to the Rangers, that one was a disappointment for most. Joining the Cubs has been Marlon Byrd from the Rangers providing some more power in the batting lineup, Carlos Silva (Mariners) whose spring training form has indicated he may be getting back to his form of a few years ago, and Xavier Nady (Yankees) who is expected to challenge Fukudome for his spot once he recovers from surgery.
Zambrano & Dempster need to bounce back from disappointing 2009 season's if the Cubs are to have any hope.​


Projected Rotation: 1. Zambrano 2. Dempster 3. Wells 4. Silva 5. Gorzelanny Closer: Marmol​
Projected Lineup: 1. Theriot 2. Fukudome 3. Lee 4. Ramirez 5. Byrd 6. Soriano 7. Fontenot 8. Soto

I'll be interested to see what you chaps with far superior knowledge to me think of the Cubs chances.
 
Joined
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Messages
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The Cubs could actually benefit from their comparatively poor season last year, expectations are lower this year, they’ve had a decent spring in the cactus league, but the NL Central will be tough, and merely an improvement on last years record would be considered a success by most.​


This winter has seen Jim Hendry spend most of his time getting rid of last season’s acquisitions, and the off-season trade that Cubs fans were most pleased with was Milton Bradley’s exit to Seattle, we didn’t really care who we got in exchange. Also leaving Wrigleyt Field were the hapless Kevin Gregg (Blue Jays), veterean Reed johnson (Dodgers) and Rich Harden to the Rangers, that one was a disappointment for most. Joining the Cubs has been Marlon Byrd from the Rangers providing some more power in the batting lineup, Carlos Silva (Mariners) whose spring training form has indicated he may be getting back to his form of a few years ago, and Xavier Nady (Yankees) who is expected to challenge Fukudome for his spot once he recovers from surgery.
Zambrano & Dempster need to bounce back from disappointing 2009 season's if the Cubs are to have any hope.​


Projected Rotation: 1. Zambrano 2. Dempster 3. Wells 4. Silva 5. Gorzelanny Closer: Marmol​
Projected Lineup: 1. Theriot 2. Fukudome 3. Lee 4. Ramirez 5. Byrd 6. Soriano 7. Fontenot 8. Soto

I'll be interested to see what you chaps with far superior knowledge to me think of the Cubs chances.

I think the Cubs will contend as normal, but I think St Louis will just have a little too much for them in the NL Central. I see their right-handed relief pitching as their major achilles heel, and it might cost them a wild card berth.
 

Benji91

American Idol
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Jan 25, 2007
Messages
806
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NYC
Got my tickets to see the World Champs on 17Apr against the Texas Rangers with their colombian influenced manager.
Will be interesting to see how the old guys hold up over the season. Sabathia has looked strong in pre season, its the 5 spot that will be interesting to watch - its Hughes' for now but that could change as im not too sure how happy Joba will be playing 8th inning set up.
 
Joined
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Got my tickets to see the World Champs on 17Apr against the Texas Rangers with their colombian influenced manager.
Will be interesting to see how the old guys hold up over the season. Sabathia has looked strong in pre season, its the 5 spot that will be interesting to watch - its Hughes' for now but that could change as im not too sure how happy Joba will be playing 8th inning set up.

It was really bad luck for Ron Washington that his first dabble with blow, at the age of 57, happened to coincide with a random drug test. I totally believe that it was his first try, I really do.
 

Yorkshire Blue

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I think the Cubs will contend as normal, but I think St Louis will just have a little too much for them in the NL Central. I see their right-handed relief pitching as their major achilles heel, and it might cost them a wild card berth.

That sounds about right. Don't know much about the Cubbies' relief pitching and IMO relief pitching is a bit of a lottery anyway with pitchers often following stellar years with crap years and vice versa but I'd have thought the Cubs will be in the wild card hunt and looking to capitalise if the Cards slip up, with my Reds the outside bet.

It was really bad luck for Ron Washington that his first dabble with blow, at the age of 57, happened to coincide with a random drug test. I totally believe that it was his first try, I really do.

:D

That was certainly one of the more bizarre off-season stories. You've got to think he was just experimenting in an attempt to emphasise with his ex-heroin addict star outfielder (sorry for bringing him up Rusty, know that must be a sore spot him not working out for your boys). What I particularly like about that story is the idea that managers are drugs tested for PEDs, WTF is that all about?
 

dashman

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Anyone with cheap idea's for a trip over the pond for some baseball games?
Have done old Yankee (spits) stadium, Boston and Trop - really need cheap flights, hotels, car (depends on location) and then might get some half decent seats!
 

Yorkshire Blue

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Anyone with cheap idea's for a trip over the pond for some baseball games?
Have done old Yankee (spits) stadium, Boston and Trop - really need cheap flights, hotels, car (depends on location) and then might get some half decent seats!

I for some reason fancy doing spring training more than the actual season when the games matter! I think it might be the weather that attracts me. If you want to wait 12 months you could then get yourself over to either Florida or Arizona for some Grapefruit or Cactus League action.

Have only been to one MLB game at the old Cinergy Field (was Riverfront Stadium before they sold out on the name).
 

chaco27saf

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Anyone with cheap idea's for a trip over the pond for some baseball games?
Have done old Yankee (spits) stadium, Boston and Trop - really need cheap flights, hotels, car (depends on location) and then might get some half decent seats!

It depends on what you're looking for really. If you want to go to several different ballparks the mid-Atlantic cities (DC, Baltimore, and Philly) are your best bet as tickets at those stadiums will likely cost less than the NY/Boston route. Chicago is also another possibility with both the Cubs and White Sox in town and Milwaukee not too far away, as is southern California with the Dodgers, Angels and Padres.

If you are happy only going to one ballpark you might want to look into less expensive cities that have larger airports. Lodging, dining, etc could be cheaper in these places. Off the top of my head Atlanta, Dallas, Cincinnati and Denver come to mind since these are hub airports and flights might not be as steep.
 
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