Friday, March 2, 2012

Going Wild!

Things are about to get a bit more "wilder" in the Major League Baseball world come 2012. By wild, I mean MLB has just okayed its plan on adding another wild card for both leagues. This not only makes things more interesting it also puts a premium on winning every game possible, and makes teams want to win their respective  division outright avoiding a possible upset, where both wild card teams would meet in a single elimination winner take all game, hosted by the team with the better regular season record.

This is why baseball is so great, they are always trying different ideas, and a quirky one such as this is just the icing on the proverbial cake. I for one love the idea of an added wild card for both the National and American league. I think it makes what happened to end last years epic final day/night that much more interesting. Not only that, but this will create a ratings explosion for t.v revenues such as FOX or TBS, whichever has the broadcasting rights to broadcast these games! 

"I greatly appreciate the MLBPA's cooperation in putting the new postseason format in place this year," Commissioner Bud Selig said on Friday. "The enthusiasm for the 10-team structure among our clubs, fans and partners has been overwhelming.

That enthusiasm will lead to more nail-biting for hardcore baseball fans as they know they have a greater chance of reaching the playoffs or a chance to maybe go further then expected! With the added two wild card berths the League Championship Series as well as World Series format will remain the same. Another change has it possible for a team in the same division to meet in the League Championship Series, where this wasn't the case in the old playoff format. So it will increase the divisional rivalries that much more. Teams who win their respective divisions will get at least two off days to prepare and rest up while the wild card teams battle it out for contention, this is the incentive for the team who wins the division.

I think everyone will adapt to the new additions and it will make for a very exciting season to come and even greater playoffs this year.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Houston Astros 2012 preview

Houston, we have a problem. Who here wants to venture a guess at what the Astros starting lineup will be on opening day? Anyone? Ok well neither will I. It can be a very long summer for the Astros, and their fan base. With a 2011 record of 56-106 mark it is quite possible that this Astros team might be close to that number although I am going to say they wont hit the 100 loss mark this season, but will be very close. They do have a few good starting pitchers in Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris. Astros general manager Brad Mills has his work cut out for him. 
After losing two thirds of their outfield through trades last season seeing Hunter Pence going to the Phillies, and the speedy Michael Bourn going to the Atlanta Braves. The Astros had to fill in a lot of holes. They will now have youth in the outfield in; J.D Martinez, Jordan Shaefer, and Brian Bogusevic patrolling the outfield. You might be asking yourself who are these guys? I found myself asking the same question! J.D Martinez is a rookie and had some playing time with the Astros last year he played in 53 games and had a .274 average with 57 hits and 35 rbi. Jordan Shafer is the player who came in the Michael Bourn deal. He is a raw outfielder with speed and a subpar bat. Shafer swiped 22 bases with Atlanta/Houston last year, but only a short sample size he played in 82 games and only had a .242 average with 73 hits and 13 rbi's. Power has to come up for Shafer to be in the lineup everyday, he only hit 2 homeruns last year, albeit in limited time. Brian Bogusevic is another young talent drafted by the Astros in 2005 in the first round 24th pick overall. Bogusevic saw playing time last year and made the most of it hitting at a .287 average, 4 homeruns but just 15 rbi's. Bogusevic is an average type hitter not known for his power but can get a hold of one every now and again.
The usual suspects are back in the fold in that of; Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris, Carlos Lee and Brett Myers. Wandy Rodriguez is considered the ace of the team. He went 11-11 for the Astros last year with a 3.49 era and struck out 166 batters. Bud Norris is the trailer to Wandy Rodriguez, or 1a. Norris has similar splits the only difference is he doesn't get quite the same run support as does Rodriguez. Norris went 6-11 last year for the Astros with a 3.77 era and fanned 176 batters. Carlos Lee is the grandfather of the ball club. He has been through all the high's and lows with the Astros. Lee is entering his 13th season in the MLB and the 6th with the ball club. He had a great season last year with absolutely no protection in front of him once Pence and Bourn left. Lee went on to have a respectable year with a .275 batting average and he drove in 94 rbi's and clubbed 18 homeruns. I look for Lee to have a similar year around .270 average and 15-20 homeruns 85 rbi. The shocker of group has to by Brett Myers. Who as of this week will start the season as the Astros closer. This amazes me because Myers is an innings eater and can give the Astros pitching staff length in the games in which he starts instead of relying on the pen to come into games after 5 innings practically every game not started by Wandy and Bud!
I see the Astros finishing last in the NL Central with some growing pains but no worse then last year.

New York Mets 2012 preview

Well the 2012 Major League Baseball season is just over a month away before getting started and the Mets are roaring to go. With the anticipation of a new season and new optimism with any season, comes the excessive questions; are we good enough, will Johan pitch like an ace, etc! I will do my best to break down this years preview of the Mets.
With a relatively quiet offseason the Mets really didn't make any moves to speak of, outside of a major loss in Jose Reyes leaving and bringing his talents to "South Beach". The Metropolitans did sure up their bullpen with the addition of a few good arms in that of. John Rauch, Frank Francisco, and Ramon Ramirez. Ramirez came in a deal which also included new Mets Centerfielder and potential lead-off hitter Andres Torres. The Mets acquired both Torres and Ramirez in a deal that sent Angel Pagan to San Francisco. The long winter after those signings would come to a screeching halt and the Mets would stand pat and consider themselves ready for battle. The Mets are cutting payroll significantly this year, with a starting 2012 payroll of 92 Million dollars. It is definitely the doing of the Madoff scandal, and horrible previous long-term bad contracts from the Manaya tenior. That is why the Mets are operating like the Pirates, Astros, Padres organizations. With David Wright and Johan Santana anchoring the ball club this year as the only true "stars" of the team. Their is still uncertainty about Johan Santana's shoulder after last years surgery he had. Santana is trying to get back to his old ways but age and inactivity might be working against this ace. With only 20 games started and not playing last year, Santana was 11-9 in 2010 and he saw his K/9 rate drop to 6.5, and his fastball lost 2mph as well. So that is just one of the many questions working against the Mets this year. 
The good news is that David Wright, Daniel Murphy are healthy and ready to have monster years in the newly renovated Citi-Field! During the offseason the Mets bought in the outfield walls to make it more of a homerun friendly ball park for the Mets. Jason Bay, David Wright and Ike Davis should feast off the new dimensions of the field. The last question I have is will the Mets trade David Wright at the trade deadline in July? Wright has a club option for 2013, but the Mets are in financial straights, and dont want to see him walk for nothing. I expect the Mets to trade him for major league ready top prospects and possibly a starting pitcher or two in return.
Whatever the record if you are a Mets fan just enjoy the park get a good seat, because there will be many to be had and just have a fun summer at the ballpark,