It's February: pitchers and catchers are reporting and Jaime can't wait to start talking baseball.
One thing I love about living in Florida is that this is one of first places you get to experience a new baseball season.
OK so, technically it’s not a new season yet. Technically, it’s not Opening Day. Technically. But it feels like Opening Day down here with pitchers and catchers reporting for duty and position players set to report to their spring training facilities in the coming days. It’s exciting. It’s a rush. It feels like we just closed the books on an amazing World Series and here we are again, set to play another new season of baseball.
One of the things I loved about this off-season was how so many teams shook up the league. Players moved, managers moved, whole teams moved! It’s so boring year after year hearing about how the Yankees are going to win another World Series. It’s the equivalent of hearing the Patriots are going to win another Super Bowl (not this year Tom Brady!). Having the same teams win over and over again is a total snorefest. Yawn.
So this year’s changes are welcome, at least in in my books. I’m not saying they’ll all work out but I like what’s happening in the league. Here’s my take on what we can expect.
Albert In The Infield: So, a lot of people are making the case that the Angels were the big off-season winners. I disagree. There is no denying that Pujols and Wilson are two great players but where do they fit on this team? The bats around Pujols are pretty shaky, without much pop or power and as good as player as Wilson can be, I think we saw some of his true control colors in last year’s playoffs. He was all over the place with the ball. I don’t think more pressure on him to win will be a good thing. I’m not so sure this team will be standing when the World Series rolls around.
Marlins Makeover: I pretty much take every opportunity I can get to talk about my Marlins. New team, new coach, new stadium, new name and new jerseys (that are still super, super ugly). Between LoMo, Mike Stanton, Jose Reyes and a pretty talented rotation, I think we have a good shot at the wild card. The Phillies are still going to be the team to beat, but I think we can give them a run for their money. My only concern is with Hanley Ramirez who with the position change and new blood around might become a tad disagreeable. I don’t know. Something about him says he’s not really a team player. He might be a bad clubhouse guy to have around, but let’s cross our fingers and hope I’m wrong.
After The Collapse: Last season we saw one of the weirdest meltdowns in history when the Red Sox blew a nine game lead in September. It was practically unheard of. You would think after something like that some changes would be made, but it’s been pretty quiet in Boston. A few low end starters here, an injury prone closer there, but nothing of note on the field. Nadda. They did clean house upstairs in the front office but I don’t know if that’s going to be enough to repair what went wrong last year. Hmm…maybe we could be in for a Rays/Marlins World Series. I could go to all the games!
And I’ll finish off my little pre-season preview with a few honorable mentions. Sort of like calling my shots if you will.
Best Rotation - Tampa Bay Rays: These guys are young, talented and got a taste of success last year. They’re going to be sitting guys that would be starters in almost every other rotation.
Best Lineup – Detroit Tigers: Even with V-Mart on the shelf these guys have all the power they need with Prince Fielder and Miggy. Those two are going to put up more homeruns than any other 3-4 in the game.
Best Overall Team – Texas Rangers: Texas has made two trips already to the World Series and their team hasn’t changed, only improved with age and experience. I think the third time might be the charm.
I’d just like to take a time out here to honor a baseball legend. Gary “The Kid” Carter passed away this week at the age of 57. The 19 year veteran of the game was an 11 time all-star, a two time all-star MVP, three time gold-glover, five-time silver slugger and the first catcher to ever win the Roberto Clemente award. His resume speaks for itself and I think all baseball fans can appreciate what he did for the game and what a tragedy it is to lose him at a young age. We’ll miss you Kid.