Sunday, April 29, 2012

April All-Stars

This week I will post my April All-Stars. These are the players that I think would be deserving if the All-Star game were to happen today. All stats are as of Friday evening April 27th 

A couple weeks ago I had posted that I would be posting an interview with Mike Adams the next week. That interview will now be posted in two weeks, as I will be posting my April Awards next week.

American League: 


C: AJ Pierzynski, CWS (.339 AVG, 4 HR, 16 RBI) – AJ leads AL catchers in both batting average and RBIs, so I think this is a pretty obvious choice. 

1B: Paul Konerko, CWS (.365 AVG, 4 HR, 14 RBI) – Like AJ, first base was a pretty clear-cut decision, as Paul leads AL first basemen in batting average by a wide margin, and has some of the best power numbers. 

2B: Ian Kinsler, TEX (.304 AVG, 5 HR, 12 RBI) – With Cano struggling, second base has been a fairly weak position in the AL so far this year. Kinsler, however, has been fantastic, hitting over .300 with solid power numbers. 

SS: Derek Jeter, NYY (.420 AVG, 4 HR, 13 RBI) – Jeter leads the American League in batting. That pretty much locks him into a starting spot. But even on top of that, he has 4 homers and 13 RBIs, some of the best power numbers of any shortstop so far. 

3B: Evan Longoria, TB (.309 AVG, 4 HR, 14 RBI) – In a position that has been very strong by far, Longoria has been the best all-around player despite him not leading his position in any category. 

DH: David Ortiz, BOS (.420 AVG, 3 HR, 16 RBI) – Ortiz is tied with Jeter for AL batting average lead, and that coupled with the 1 home run and 3 RBI he has over Michael Young gives Big Papi the starting nod. 

OF: Josh Hamilton, TEX (.390 AVG, 8 HR, 19 RBI) – Hamilton has been the AL MVP so far this year, leading the league in homers and close to the lead in batting average and RBI. 

OF: Nolan Reimold, BAL (.353 AVG, 5 HR, 10 RBI) – Reimold is having a good bounce-back year so far, hitting over .350 with very solid power numbers. 

OF: Josh Willingham, MIN (.333 AVG, 5 HR, 13 RBI) – While he struggled against the Rangers (something he didn’t do last season with Oakland), Josh had lots of success against everyone else, giving him solid to great numbers in all three major categories. 

SP: Matt Harrison, TEX (3-0, 1.66 ERA, 13 K) – Matt is tied for second in the AL in wins (behind Robbie Ross) and leads the league in ERA. That no question makes him the All-Star starter. 


C: Mike Napoli, TEX (.271 AVG, 7 HR, 14 RBI)

    Matt Weiters, BAL (.288 AVG, 6 HR, 13 RBI)

1B: Adrian Gonzalez, BOS (.300 AVG, 2 HR, 14 RBI)

       Carlos Pena, TB (.284 AVG, 4 HR, 13 RBI)

2B: Dustin Pedroia, BOS (.303 AVG, 3 HR, 7 RBI)

SS: Mike Aviles, BOS (.324 AVG, 4 HR, 13 RBI)

      Alcides Escobar, KC (.286 AVG, 1 HR, 5 RBI)

      Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE (.294 AVG, 2 HR, 3 RBI)

3B: Adrian Beltre, TEX (.313 AVG, 3 HR, 10 RBI)

       Miguel Cabrera, DET (.288 AVG, 6 HR, 15 RBI)

       Mark Trumbo, LAA (.342 AVG, 3 HR, 8 RBI)

DH: Michael Young, TEX (.356 AVG, 2 HR, 13 RBI)

OF: Adam Jones, BAL (.316 AVG, 6 HR, 10 RBI)

       Matt Joyce, TB (.322 AVG, 4 HR, 8 RBI)

       Nick Swisher, NYY (.264 AVG, 5 HR, 17 RBI) 

SP: Justin Verlander, DET (2-1, 1.72 ERA, 31 K)

       Jason Hammel, BAL (3-0, 1.73 ERA, 25 K)

       Jake Peavy, CWS (3-0, 1.88 ERA, 26 K)

       Tommy Millone, OAK (3-1, 2.00 ERA, 13 K)

       Colby Lewis, TEX (2-0, 2.03 ERA, 24 K)

       Yu Darvish, TEX (3-0, 2.42 ERA, 24 K)

       Kyle Drabek, TOR (2-1, 2.25 ERA, 18 K)

RP: Jim Johnson, BAL (7 SV, 0.00 ERA, 6 K)

       Brandon League, SEA (7 SV, 1.69 ERA, 5 K)

       Fernando Rodney, TB (6 SV, 1.08 ERA, 7 K)

       Grant Balfour, OAK (5 SV, 1.50 ERA, 7 K)

       Robbie Ross, TEX (4-0, 2.25 ERA, 7 K)

Players per Team:

Texas Rangers – 9 (3 starters)

Baltimore Orioles – 5 (1 starter)

Boston Red Sox – 4 (1 starter)

Tampa Bay Rays – 4 (1 starter)

Chicago White Sox – 3 (2 starters)

New York Yankees – 2 (1 starter)

Detroit Tigers – 2

Oakland Athletics – 2

Minnesota Twins – 1 (1 starter)

Cleveland Indians – 1

Kansas City Royals – 1

Los Angeles Angels – 1

Seattle Mariners – 1

Toronto Blue Jays – 1

National League: 


C: Buster Posey, SF (.362 AVG, 3 HR, 7 RBI) – While Buster only has 7 RBIs, the catching position in the NL has overall had very poor power numbers, which allows Buster’s stellar average to earn him the starting job. 

1B: Bryan LaHair, CHC (.364 AVG, 4 HR, 11 RBI) – LaHair has been a big surprise early on in the year, and he leads NL first basemen in batting average. Bryan also has very good power numbers. 

2B: Jose Altuve, HOU (.377 AVG, 1 HR, 8 RBI) – As surprising as LaHair is, Altuve is probably a bigger one through the first month of the year, and has a very rare batting average at higher than .370. 

SS: Starlin Castro, CHC (.333 AVG, 0 HR, 9 RBI) – Starlin has no homers, yet still has the most RBI of any of my National League All-Star shortstops with a very mediocre nine. This weak competition combined with Castro’s good batting average allow Starlin to be my starting shortstop. 

3B: David Freese, STL (339 AVG, 4 HR, 18 RBI) – Despite the pain that goes into even seeing this name, He Who Shall Not Be Named has had a great start to the year and is very deserving to be the starter. 

OF: Matt Kemp, LAD (.449 AVG, 10 HR, 23 RBI) – Kemp has been far and away the best player in baseball through the first month, as he leads all of baseball in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. 

OF: Chris Young, ARI (.410 AVG, 5 HR, 13 RBI) – Chris is second to Kemp in the NL in batting average, hitting over .400 and displaying very good power. 

OF: JD Martinez, HOU (.313 AVG, 3 HR, 18 RBI) – JD is another Astro who is off to a surprisingly good start, hitting over .300 and being in the top 5 in the NL in RBI. 

SP: Ted Lilly, LAD (2-0, 0.90 ERA, 11 K) – While Lilly lacks the third win that many other pitchers have, he also lacks the loss, but, most importantly, lacks even the 3-digit ERA which is incredible, especially for a pitcher that’s getting close to 40. 


C: Josh Thole, NYM (.362 AVG, 0 HR, 4 RBI)

    Carlos Ruiz, PHI (.302 AVG, 2 HR, 5 RBI)

1B: Adam LaRoche, WAS (.324 AVG, 2 HR, 14 RBI)

       Freddie Freeman, ATL (.288 AVG, 3 HR, 15 RBI)

2B: Omar Infante, MIA (.314 AVG, 5 HR, 7 RBI)

       Darwin Barney, CHC (.294 AVG, 1 HR, 7 RBI)

SS: Rafael Furcal, STL (.338 AVG, 0 HR, 8 RBI)

       Ian Desmond, WAS (.278 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI)

3B: Pablo Sandoval, SF (.333 AVG, 3 HR, 13 RBI)

       David Wright, NYM (.362 AVG, 3 HR, 10 RBI)

       Chase Headley, SD (.275 AVG, 4 HR, 13 RBI)

OF: Corey Hart, MIL (.305 AVG, 6 HR, 13 RBI

       Andre Ethier, LAD (.288 AVG, 4 HR, 22 RBI)

       Michael Cuddyer, COL (.303 AVG, 2 HR, 11 RBI)

       Andrew McCutchen, PIT (.329 AVG, 0 HR, 6 RBI) 

SP: Kyle Lohse, STL (3-0, 0.99 ERA, 16 K)

       Brandon Beachy, ATL (2-1, 1.05 ERA, 20 K)

       Stephen Strasburg, WAS (2-0, 1.08 ERA, 25 K)

       Joe Saunders, ARI (1-1, 1.29 ERA, 14 K)

       Jake Westbrook, STL (2-1, 1.31 ERA, 10 K)

       Lance Lynn, STL (4-0, 1.33 ERA, 24 K)

       Gio Gonzalez, WAS (2-0, 1.52, 27 K)

       Jordan Zimmerman, WAS (1-1, 1.33 ERA, 16 K)

RP: Craig Kimbrel, ATL (7 SV, 1.13 ERA, 14 K)

       Rafael Betancourt, COL (6 SV, 1.13 ERA, 6 K)

       Jonathon Papelbon, PHI (6 SV, 1.13 ERA, 7 K)

       Henry Rodriguez, WAS (5 SV, 0.00 ERA, 10 K)

       Aroldis Chapman, CIN (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 20 K)

Players per Team:

St. Louis Cardinals – 5 (1 starter)

Washington Nationals – 5

Chicago Cubs – 3 (2 starters)

Los Angeles Dodgers – 3 (2 starter)

Atlanta Braves – 3

Houston Astros – 2 (2 starters)

Arizona Diamondbacks – 2 (1 starter)

San Francisco Giants – 2 (1 starter)

New York Mets – 2

Philadelphia Phillies – 2

Cincinnati Reds – 1

Colorado Rockies – 1

Miami Marlins – 1

Milwaukee Brewers – 1

Pittsburgh Pirates – 1

San Diego Padres – 1

Come back next week for my April Awards.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Robbie Ross Interview

During spring training, I interviewed Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross on the backfields in Surprise after workouts one morning.

Robbie is a great guy and was really nice throughout the whole process. After agreeing to do the interview early in the week, there were multiple mornings where he took the time to look for me after the workouts to try and do the interview. On the day that the interview took place, he was completely focused on the interview, even while a crowd was starting to develop for autographs. He then signed for everyone there after we were done. I was very impressed with Robbie. He is a really good guy.

Note that this interview was done prior to Robbie learning that he had earned a spot on the major league team.

Me: What did you change after the 2010 season in order to change your 5.37 High-A ERA in 2010 to a 2.26 High-A ERA in 2011?

Robbie: Well, I just approached it like it was another game, focused a little more, and just tried to just get in there and learn what I did the year before that was wrong and kind of figure out what I needed to do. I just focused in on that and tried to hone in on my skills again. So I just really focused on the little things that I might have done wrong that I needed to work on.

Me: What is the biggest difference you have noticed between Single-A and Double-A hitters?

Robbie: Double-A hitters are a little more patient. They focus a little better than some of the high-A hitters. Guys come out hacking in high-A, but in double-A they become a little more patient and become a little more students of the game because they can see what’s going on in the games and what they need to do.

Me: Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard from a lot of different pitchers. What made you decide to sign with the Rangers and go pro instead of going to play college ball at Kentucky?

Robbie: Well, I really prayed about it. I’m a Christian and I just prayed about it. I talked to my family and I talked to my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, about what I wanted to do and told her, if the opportunity comes and I feel like it’s right and I feel like God’s pushing me in that direction, I should go. I ended up going in that direction.

Me: That’s always a good reason to make a decision.

Robbie: Yeah

Me: Which means more to you, being named the 2008 Kentucky Player of the Year, or being named last year’s Carolina League Pitcher of the Year?

Robbie: I’ve never really been a big fan of those things, titles and stuff like that. I’m playing to have fun and I enjoy it. Both of them were an honor and I appreciate the titles, but it’s really just that I’d love to get to the big leagues at some point. If I could get to the big leagues, I’d sacrifice all of the awards I’ve ever gotten, so that’s really what I’m focusing on right now.

Me: What have you been working on so far this offseason and why?

Robbie: I’ve just really been working on getting my fastball on both sides of the plate. And I’ve been working on a curve ball recently and trying to get that going a little bit in my pitching repertoire, I guess you could say.

Me: You’ve been named to a lot of ʽTop Prospectsʼ lists recently. What does that mean to you? I guess you’ve really already kind of answered that. I guess you just try to ignore those?

Robbie: Yeah, it’s really just a bunch of people trying to say that you’re doing this, and this, and this right. They’re good things, you know. It’s nice to be named to those but at the same time, you can’t focus too much on that because you’ve got to grind it out every day and try to do what you have to do. It’s just a bunch of numbers and things like that that lead to those lists, but in the end, we’re all working to get to the big leagues. If we get these accolades or whatever, it’s just another writing or whatever it is. We’re just trying to get to the big leagues at some point.

Me: What do you think has been your best professional game and why?

Robbie: I don’t really know actually. Whatever I’m doing, I try to go through it every day and I’m trying to pitch. I really don’t know what my best game was. There have been bad games and there have been good games. I learn from my good ones and I learn from the bad. That’s pretty much it.

Me: Who are your three favorite teammates since you joined the Rangers organization and why?

Robbie: (laughs) Well, I’ve met a lot of new guys. A lot of them are on the minor league side, like Ben Henry. I knew him from the very beginning. Joe Wieland just got traded and he was one of my best buddies, too. Those guys were a big part of my life and dudes that I’ve been hanging out with. Then Chad Bell also is another good guy. Actually, all three of those guys were in my wedding. So those are probably the guys that I’ve hung out with the most.

Me: Can you please rate the ballparks in the Rangers organization that youʼve played in from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) and explain your ratings?

Robbie: 10 probably is being in Frisco, because Frisco’s probably the best place to play at. Myrtle Beach was amazing also. But nothing beats being in Spokane in rookie ball because, for me, it’s been the most people I’ve been around. So that’s probably the best so far.

Me: What is the toughest thing about minor league life and why?

Robbie: Just the daily grind, in and out of going to practice. Traveling, being away from your family, is the toughest part. Because I have younger siblings that I don’t get to see, so that’s pretty tough. Missing friends and family and that atmosphere is the hardest part.

Me: What was your favorite team growing up?

Robbie: Probably the Reds.

Me: Oh, really? My dad’s from Cincinnati and I’m a Reds fan too.

Robbie: Really? I’m from Kentucky (Lexington) so that’s the closest team around us.

Me: So are you a Kentucky Wildcats fan?

Robbie: Oh yeah

Me: Ugh

Robbie: Not like extremely huge but I like them a lot.

Me: OK, well, I like Louisville, so…

Robbie: Yeah? Sorry (laughs)

Me: What sports did you play growing up and which were you best at, other than baseball?

Robbie: Soccer. I loved soccer. I would have liked to have played in college but I ended up going with baseball.

Me: What is the worst injury you’ve had to deal with?

Robbie: A twisted ankle. Knock on wood. Hopefully that’s all I have to deal with but if it ends up being something else, that’s part of it. Life goes on.

Me: Thank you so much for doing this.

Robbie: No problem, man.

I would like to thank Robbie for giving so much of his time for this interview.

Come back next for an interview with Rangers pitcher Mike Adams.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Season Predictions

This week, I’ll provide my predictions for the 2012 season.

AL West:

1. Texas Rangers – The Rangers have made the World Series two straight years and have yet another great team this year. With Derek Holland on the verge of a breakout year and a stellar offense, they should run away with this division even with the Angels improving.
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (wild card) – While I don’t think they can keep up with the Rangers due to their lack of hitting around Albert Pujols, they have one of the best rotations in baseball, and that should be good enough to get them one of the two wild card spots.
3. Oakland Athletics – There is a huge gap in between the Angels and the A’s. It is the difference of a playoff team and one of the 5 worst teams in baseball. The A’s have no hitting or pitching, as they traded away their two best starters and have never had any real threats at the plate the last few years.
4. Seattle Mariners – As bad as Oakland is, the Mariners are even worse. Seattle has better pitching, with Felix Hernandez, but an even worse offense, even with two young prospects in Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero.

AL Central:

1. Detroit Tigers – I really don’t think this is a very good team, but the Tigers are in a weak division, and a rotation of Verlander, Fister, and Scherzer should be able to fight through the pitiful defense Detroit will have and do a good enough job to pull out the division title.
2. Kansas City Royals – Before their closer, Joakim Soria, got injured and was declared out for the year, I was going to predict Kansas City to win the division. I still think they have a chance, with their young line-up anchored by Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Jeff Francoeur.
3. Cleveland Indians – The Indians are also an improving young team, and over the next few years it will most likely be Cleveland and Kansas City fighting for the AL Central. While they have some good young hitters in Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis, the Indians’ strength is in their pitching rotation, where they have Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, and bullpen, with Chris Perez and Rafael Perez.
4. Minnesota Twins – The Twins just have a bad team. They have a poor rotation and a mediocre lineup. There is a good chance that Justin Morneau will be traded by the end of the year, which will make them even worse. They have no chance.
5. Chicago White Sox – The White Sox are definitely about to go into rebuilding mode. The problem is that some of their veterans have contracts too big to trade away, like Adam Dunn, and they have a weak farm system. This is a team that will be terrible for years.

AL East:

1. New York Yankees – The Yankees improved their rotation this off-season with the addition of Michael Pineda, who is currently on the 15-day DL, but I don’t think that the signing of Hiroki Kuroda was a good one for them. Kuroda is in his upper thirties and his fly ball to ground ball ratio took a huge jump from good to okay last year, and going into the Yankees’ hitter-friendly park from the Dodgers’ pitcher-friendly one, he should struggle.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (wild card) – A lot like the Angels, Tampa Bay has a weak lineup around one great hitter, this one Evan Longoria, but, also like the Angels, they have an amazing pitching staff. They have a rotation made up of three aces, with a possible fourth, in David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, James Shields, and Matt Moore. And also like the Angels, I have the Rays as a wild card.
3. Toronto Blue Jays – I think Toronto is a very underrated team. They are right around .500 every year. They have an ace in Ricky Romero, and another pitcher who I think will have a breakout season in Brandon Morrow. They also have an anchor in their lineup with Jose Bautista, surrounded by solid hitters like Adam Lind, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, and JP Arencibia. I could easily see Toronto making a playoff run this year.
4. Boston Red Sox – Boston has a solid lineup, but a weak rotation and a dysfunctional lineup. After Jon Lester, their rotation consists of an injury-prone and inconsistent Josh Beckett, another injury-prone and inconsistent pitcher in Clay Buchholz, a career relief pitcher that doesn’t have what it takes to be a starter in Daniel Bard, and a consistently mediocre Alfredo Aceves.
5. Baltimore Orioles – Baltimore is another one of those bad teams that has absolutely no chance. They have some good hitters sprinkled in their lineup with Matt Weiters, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis, but they don’t have any great ones. And they certainly don’t have any great pitchers, as their rotation is just awful. There’s always next decade, Baltimore.

NL West:

1. Arizona Diamondbacks – The D’Backs have one of the best rotations in all of baseball, headed by Ian Kennedy (21-4, 2.88 ERA in 2011), Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49 ERA), and Trevor Cahill (18-8, 2.97 ERA in 2010), and rounded out by Joe Saunders (3.69 ERA in 2011) and Josh Collmenter (3.38). They also have one of the top pitching prospects in baseball set to come up mid-season in Trevor Bauer. They should be a fantastic team this year.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers – The Dodgers aren’t a great team by any stretch of the matter, but after Arizona, this is a weak division. Los Angeles is good enough for second because they have four solid to okay pitchers after Clayton Kershaw to go along with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier leading the mediocre offense.
3. San Francisco Giants – The Giants just aren’t a very good team. They have a great top three in their rotation with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner, but Ryan Vogelsong can’t be expected to repeat his 2011 season, and Barry Zito is extremely mediocre. Also, their third best hitter is Melky Cabrera, and their best is Pablo Sandoval. That is a horrendous lineup.
4. San Diego Padres – Even after trading Mat Latos to the Reds, the Padres are still better than Colorado. San Diego has a decent rotation, with Cory Luebke, Clayton Richard, Tim Stauffer, Dustin Mosely, and Edinson Volquez. But the real reason they aren’t in last place is because the Rockies are absolutely awful.
5. Colorado Rockies – I haven’t seen a rotation as bad as Colorado’s since, well, I can’t remember one. Their “ace” is Jeremy Guthrie, who had a 4.33 ERA last year. Their #2 pitcher is Jamie Moyer, who didn’t play last year after having a 4.84 ERA in 2010. He’s 49 years old. Their #3 pitcher is Juan Nicasio, who posted a 4.14 ERA last season. Their #4 and #5 starters combine for 57 career starts. Oh, and their offense stinks, too.

NL Central:

1. Cincinnati Reds – Despite the Reds losing their closer, Ryan Madson, for the year, they still have a very good pitching staff. Their rotation sports Mat Latos (3.47 2011 ERA, 2.92 2010 ERA), Johnny Cueto (2.31 2011 ERA, 3.64 2010 ERA), Mike Leake (3.86, 4.23), Bronson Arroyo (5.07, 3.88), and either Homer Bailey (4.43, 4.46) or Aroldis Chapman (3.60, 2.03). That goes along with a very solid lineup, with Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, and Scott Rolen along with a couple of good rookie prospects.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (wild card) – The Cardinals get Adam Wainwright back this year after missing all of 2011, but also lose Chris Carpenter for an undetermined amount of time. St. Louis has a solid rotation and a solid lineup, and are a solid overall team. But solid is all that they are.
3. Chicago Cubs – The Cubs aren’t a very good team. They have a decent top two in their rotation with Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, but they then finish the rotation with Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad, and Paul Maholm, with Maholm being the only one rotation-worthy. Their lineup has some good players sprinkled in, but lacks a great hitter.
4. Milwaukee Brewers – The loss of Prince Fielder is a killer for the Brewers, as he was a huge part of that lineup. I don’t expect Rickie Weeks to have the same kind of season he had last year, and the same goes for Nyjer Morgan and Aramis Ramirez.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates’ rotation is made of five #4 starters, with AJ Burnett, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton, and Erik Bedard. They have a solid bullpen and a solid lineup, with underrated players like Garrett Jones, Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, and Andrew McCutchen. But they don’t have a rotation to finish much higher than fifth.
6. Houston Astros – Houston is by far the worst team in the league. I have talked about how bad the Rockies, Orioles, Mariners, and White Sox are, but none of them compare to the disaster that is the Astros. After Wandy Rodriguez, their rotation consists of Bud Norris (#3 Triple-A starter talent level), JA Happ (long relief talent level), Jordan Lyles (Triple-A starter talent level), and Kyle Weiland (Double-A starter talent level). At catcher they have Jason Castro, the worst catcher in the majors, including backups, Carlos Lee, an aging veteran who is just okay now, Jose Altuve, a utility infield talent at best, Jed Lowrie, also a utility infield talent, Chris Johnson, a .260 hitter with about 10 homers a year, JD Martinez, who is also not deserving of a big league role, Jordan Schafer, who isn’t good enough to be a backup outfielder, and Brian Bogusevic, who would be in Triple-A with any other franchise. They are truly awful.

NL East:

1. Philadelphia Phillies – I think this is the last year that the Phillies will be a playoff contender for a while. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are both aging, and Cole Hamels is a free agent this offseason, and is probably leaving for the highest bidder. That means their rotation is sliding quite a bit. And their hitting is subpar already, and will just deteriorate more. Philadelphia has to have the oldest lineup in baseball. Their window of opportunity is closing fast, but they’ve got one more year in them.
2. Washington Nationals (wild card) – While the Phillies are falling downhill, the Nationals are skyrocketing in talent, with a really good young rotation, and a solid lineup to go along with it. The Gio Gonzalez trade they made this offseason should help them tremendously, and I think, will be a huge reason they make the playoffs.
3. Atlanta Braves – The Braves are like the Phillies. They are an aging team that has about one more good year in them before their window closes. However, I don’t think their year this season will be good enough, because they are just an okay team. They have an okay rotation with an okay lineup with a fantastic bullpen. If they make the playoffs, their bullpen will have to carry them there.
4. Miami Marlins – Miami made a big splash this offseason. They have a new stadium, new players, new ugly uniforms, a new manager, but not a new amount of success. The players they got (at ridiculous prices) are either injury-prone, old, or overrated, or all. I also don’t see that group of guys meshing well in a clubhouse and I see them being more of a circus than a baseball team.
5. New York Mets – The Mets are the only team that could make a claim to being worse than the Astros. They aren’t worse, but you could make an argument. They have no players that are All-Star worthy, and only about half of their team is major league worthy. They should finish double-digit games behind fourth place.

AL Awards:

MVP: Evan Longoria, TB
Runner-up: Jose Bautista, TOR

Cy Young: David Price, TB
Runner-up: Jeremy Hellickson, TB

Rookie of the Year: Jesus Montero, SEA
Runner-up: Matt Moore, TB

Manager of the Year: Ned Yost, KC
Runner-up: Ron Washington, TEX

NL Awards:

MVP: Joey Votto, CIN
Runner-up: Matt Kemp, LAD

Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, LAD
Runner-up: Mat Latos, CIN

Rookie of the Year: Zack Cosart, CIN
Runner-up: Devin Mesoraco, CIN

Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker, CIN
Runner-up: Davey Johnson, WAS


Wild Card Round:

Tampa Bay Rays over Los Angeles Angels

Washington Nationals over St. Louis Cardinals


Texas Rangers over Tampa Bay Rays

New York Yankees over Detroit Tigers


Cincinnati Reds over Washington Nationals

Arizona Diamondbacks over Philadelphia Phillies


Texas Rangers over New York Yankees


Arizona Diamondbacks over Cincinnati Reds

World Series:

Texas Rangers over Arizona Diamondbacks

Come back next week for an interview with Rangers pitcher Robbie Ross.