Last month, I reviewed the top 50 MLB Fan Cave Finalists, and wrote what I thought about each one. You can see that post here.
Today, MLB unveiled the winners. Last season it was two people who inhabited the fan cave – this season it will be nine.
The winners are:
I found Ashley’s video to be boring, Benjamin’s video to be okay, but not superior, and Lindsay’s video to be dull.
Shaun’s video was boring and monotone, Gordon’s video was annoying with a God-awful rap song, and Ricardo Marquez was actually funny, which is why he made my top 10.
Ricky Mast also made my top 10 – the guy was funny and collects baseball cards. Eddie came off as super passionate, but almost seemed desperate in his video. Kyle was creative in his video, altering the lyrics to ‘Like a Boss’ to ‘In the fancave,’ which became annoying after awhile.
I ranked the finalists as to who I thought were the funniest and would be the best for the Fan Cave.
So only two of my top 10 made it.
I’m not sure why they have chosen 9 winners, rather than one winner and a wingman. What’s wrong with having Ricardo by the winner and Ricky his wingman?
With 9 people it will seem like a reality show.
I don’t get the MLB Network because I have basic cable, so I probably won’t see many of the characters throughout the season, but when thinking about a baseball reality show, my mind started to wander.
If the MLB wanted some more programming for the baseball season, I’ve got some reality shows for them:
Meet the Ballhawks: A show that would chronicle the ballhawking seasons of several ballhawks and their race to be the top ballhawk on mygameballs. It would show the near misses of home runs, the circus catches during BP, interactions with the players, etc. I think it would be really interesting.
Juiced: Put Jose Canseco in a house with players that he threw under the bus in his book ‘Juiced,’ and make them coexist. Canseco, by the way, was kicked out of the Mexican League today for taking testosterone. If you follow him on twitter, you probably saw a flurry of crazy tweets from Canseco challenging his ‘haters’ to MMA fights, etc.
Keeping the Dream Alive: Follow former major league players such as Armando Benitez as they continue to play baseball far away from the spotlight in lowly independent leagues. By the way, besides Benitez, what other players have turned to independent ball after the majors. I know there’s got to be a bunch.
Any other ideas?
Will anyone else be visiting the Fan Cave website to watch the winners throughout the season? I probably won’t, I got interested in the whole Fan Cave thing when fellow ballhawk Zack Hample applied, and I figured he would be a shoo-in.
That’s all for today folks, time to watch the Office, run five miles, and play MLB the show for the rest of the evening.
There’s only 28 days until Opening Day, and you have until Sunday to win this Ryan Zimmerman shirt.
Its been a great week for baseball. My Pirates season tickets arrived on Monday. I blogged about them here. On Tuesday, MLB The Show came out, and my Reds season tickets arrived in the mail. I bought Reds season tickets this year – a full season’s worth, after only being a 13 game plan holder in 2010. The Reds underperformed in 2011, and will compete with the Cardinals and Brewers for the Division title this year without question. I obviously can’t attend all 81 games since I live far away, but reselling the games I can’t make on stubhub has been rather easy so far via stubhub.
Plus, as a full season ticket holder, I get to take batting practice on the field of Great American Ballpark.
Here’s the contents of my Reds season package:
It looks very similar to the contents of the Pirates package that I got the day before, doesn’t it? Once main difference, is that it includes a Reds Season Ticket Calendar.
Most important to me, was the season ticket book itself. It had a nice design featuring the Reds stars.
Inside, the first page was fully dedicated to Opening Day, which is virtually a city-wide holiday in Cincinnati. Look how freakin’ nice the Reds Opening Day season ticket is:
It’s a collector’s item!
The rest of the tickets are really nice too. They look a bit like the Pirates tickets in the fact that they have a gray background and feature players. However, these tickets are vertical. Rather than focusing on four players like the Pirates did, the Reds picked their top 7.
The Reds also included a letter from their president.
Dear Season Ticket Holder,
On behalf of the entire Cincinnati Reds organization, thank you for purchasing a Reds season ticket plan for 2012. As a season ticket holder, you are truly the foundation of Reds baseball and we hope you understand how important your commitment is to all of us.
Although the 2011 season did not meet expectations we had when the year began, I am confident that our club has a much more exciting campaign ahead in 2012. General Manager Walt Jocketty and his staff have worked hard throughout the offseason to upgrade our roster and provide us with the best chance to win. The acquisition of Mat Latos gives us another talented young pitcher, who we believe will combine with Johnny Cueto to anchor our starting rotation for many years to come. Also, the additions of Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall will strengthen our bullpen, particularly in protecting leads in the late innings. These changes combined with the potent lineup that returns 2011 All Stars Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips have us all eager for the 2012 season to begin.
Enclosed with this letter you will find your 2012 season tickets. This season’s tickets highlight many of your Reds favorite players in a unique way that we hope you enjoy. This design is exclusive to our season tickets and another example of our efforts to reward you with something special for choosing to become a Reds Season Ticket Holder.
Once again, thank you for your loyalty and support of Reds baseball. We look forward to welcoming you to the Home of the Reds this summer.
Robert H Castellini
Reds President and CEO
I’ll make it out to Cincinnati in April, which still seems like a long way away.
However, Opening Day is just 29 days away, and you still have until Sunday to win this Ryan Zimmerman Shirt.
Recently, the Nationals made news when they signed Ryan Zimmerman to a $100 million, six year contract extension that runs through 2019. The deal featured a full no trade clause, and made him the highest paid third baseman in the game behind Alex Rodriguez.
I’m giving away a shirt each week as we head to opening day.
To date, I’ve given away away a Matt Wieters shirt to Joey Orr,
a Brandon Phillips shirt to Matt Jackson,
a Dustin Pedroia shirt to Stephen D,
a Phillies shirt to Connor,
and this Dodgers shirt shirt to Matt Jackson.
This week, I’m giving away this Ryan Zimmerman shirt:
It says Nationals across the chest:
And has Zimmerman’s name and number on the back.
A great shirt for a Nats fan, or for a ballhawk that might want to throw this on when the Nationals are taking BP to get a few balls tossed their way. (If you’re in Pittsburgh, that would be early Mat when the Nationals visit PNC Park).
The winner can choose their shirt in a Medium, Large, or 2XL.
With the option, the contract will keep Zimmerman in a Nationals uniform through 2020, his age 35 season. What does everyone think of the contract? Too much?
The Nationals handed out a $126 million, 7 year deal to Jayson Werth, and it turned out to be disastrous after only one year. Werth is a mere shadow of the player he was before signing the deal. Hopefully Zimmerman doesn’t become injured or just fade – because that would seriously hinder the Nationals ability to compete for the next six years. The Nats are going to need to come up with big time cash to keep Stephen Strasburg in a few years, and will probably want to lock up Bryce Harper too.
By the way, here’s how you win the shirt:
I post blog entries every day. All you have to do is leave a comment or retweet my blog link on twitter.
So, again, to enter:
1) Leave a comment.
You can enter up to seven times per week simply by leaving a comment. Non-pertinent, spam, or inappropriate comments will not be accepted. If you comment multiple times on the same blog entry, it still counts as one entry. For example, if you commented on three different blog posts from this week, you’d have three entries. If you’d comment three times on the same blog posting, it would could as one.
2) Retweet (RT) my posts on Twitter
You can find me on twitter under 333greystreet. Simply retweet my daily posts of my blog link and I’ll count that as an entry. My blog is connected to my twitter so that I automatically tweet once I post a new entry. Each day, I’ll search who’s retweeted me and enter those users into a hat along with the commenters. By the way, you do not need to retweet my every tweet, only the tweets that announce a new blog post and url. For example, if I tweeted, ‘Rerun of the Pirates Opening Day 2011 on tonight,’ if you retweeted it, it wouldn’t count as an entry.
At the end of the week on Sunday, I’ll have Olivia, Amy or myself choose a name from a hat and announce the winner.
It’s been a busy day around here with more season tickets arriving, buying MLB The Show 2012, and keeping up with spring training box scores!
There’s only 30 more days until Opening Day!
I won’t have the shirt contest posted until tomorrow (Tuesday), as I’ve been really busy today, but I’ll count any comments on this post or the last one about Pirates season tickets towards that contest.
Also, I just bought Orioles season tickets to six games. I didn’t buy a plan, but bought tickets from a connect that I’ve used for a couple years to get my season tickets in Baltimore. As you know, they must say ‘Season Plan Holder’ on them to get into the stadium early for batting practice.
There’s a couple new baseball games coming out tomorrow too…
I got my Pirates season tickets in the mail today.
I love how every spring I get so pumped when I see this package.
When I got home Amy said that a package was waiting for me at the door. She said she thought it was my season tickets. She proceeded to say that she’s never seen me run so fast in her life.
I opened it up and laid out the contents. Three season ticket books, with 81 tickets each, for a grand total of 243 tickets, as well as a few inserts:
The inserts I just discarded, as I was most interested as to what was inside the season ticket books.
There was the all important season ticket holders card, that allows me into batting practice before the general public:
Then I started leafing through the book. The first page has season ticket holder and individual game pricing. Most frustrating – additional tickets cost $9 each, rather than $5 like it has always been in the past. (My season tickets cost $4.93 a ticket, I don’t see why extras shouldn’t cost the same amount.)
The next page features the Pirates schedule along with the Promotional Schedule.
The next pages outline the season ticket benefits along with the ticket exchange program. The Pirates have one of the best ticket exchange program, allowing fans to exchange tickets to 71 of the 81 home games.
But anyhow, the most important part is the tickets themselves and the ticket design. This year’s design features four Pirates players in color, while the background is in gray.
Andrew McCutchen was first:
Then Joel Hanrahan:
and Jose Tabata:
I’m still not sure if I like the tickets or not. They seem rather dull. I don’t know, I’d rate them as mediocre. Maybe they’ll grow on me.
The letter reads:
While it has been a relatively mild winter here in Pittsburgh, even warmer weather and the 126th season of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball are both right around the corner. The beginning of Spring Training games in sunny Bradenton Florida means that Opening Day at PNC Park is less than one month away.
We are extremely excited to begin the 2012 season. Last season gave us all a taste of how electric PNC Park can be as we battled for the division lead through the end of July. Our team learned valuable lessons last season and is determined to execute at a championship level for 162 games in 2012. We are extremely happy that you will be part of the excitement and fun that together we will create at PNC Park in 2012.
Enclosed you will find your season tickets for the 2012 season, which is packed with great games and promotions. The season starts off with a bang as we host our in state rivals and Eastern Division Champion Philadelphia Phillies for a three game set beginning on Opening Day, Thursday April 5. The rest of the season features exciting matchups against our NL Central foes, including the defending World Series Champion St Louis Cardinlas and the Central Division Champion Milwaukee Brewers, and exciting interleague visits from the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins. Plus, we also have some great promotions lined up, including an exciting Summer Concert Series featuring Boyz II Men, Daughtry, Styx, and Lifehouse.
On behalf of the entire Pirates organization, thank you for your dedication and support of Pirates baseball. I look forward to seeing you on Thursday April 5 at 1:35 PM as we officially get the 2012 season started.
What do you all think of the ticket designs?
Are your team’s better?
If you’re looking for the shirt I’m giving away, I’ll try and post it soon.
Amy and I just made the LA Dodgers Shirt video. And here’s your winner:
Here’s your past winners:
I’ve given away a Matt Wieters shirt to Joey Orr,
a Brandon Phillips shirt to Matt Jackson,
a Dustin Pedroia shirt to Stephen D,
a Phillies shirt to Connor,
and this Dodgers shirt shirt…
Check back tomorrow for the next giveaway.
There’s only 32 more days until Opening Day!
The February leaders have been posted on MLBlogs and yours truly came in 5th place for the month of February.
Thank you to all of my readers who have been checking in on my blog. A lot of you are fellow bloggers that have left comments. Whenever you leave a comment, feel free to link your blog so I can check it out, or other readers browsing the comments can take a look.
Here’s the complete top 50 list:
1. Rays Renegade
2. The Baseball Collector
3. Red State Blue State
5. Counting Baseballs
6. Cook & Son Bats’ Blog
7. Beisbol 007
8. Rockpile Rant
10. Blogging ‘Bout Baseball
11. The Brewer Nation
12. A’s Farm
14. Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend
15. The Unbiased MLB Fan
16. Pinstripe Birthdays
17. Phillies Phollowers
18. The Ballpark Guide
19. Brewers Rumors
20. Crzblue’s Dodger Blue World
22. The Pittsburgh Peas
23. The Rays Rant
24. Bleacher Boy
25. Observing Baseball
26. The Phillies Girl Tells All
27. I’m Not A Headline Guy…
29. The Future Blog of the Red Sox
30. If You Write It, They Will Come
31. Rockin’ Redlegs
32. Cream City Cables
33. The Baseball Haven
34. Evan’s Daily Opinion
35. Los bigleaguers
36. Bjarkman’s Latino and Cuban League Baseball History Page
37. You’re Killin’ Me, Smalls!
38. DYNASTY League Baseball from designer of Pursue the Pennant
39. This is a very simple game…
40. The Phanatic Addict
41. Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts
42. Unfinished Business
43. Brewers Today
44. Minoring In Baseball
45. Sarge’s Phillies Phantasy Camp Diary
46. The Closer
47. La Pagina de Tony Menendez
48. Fish Fry
49. Collection of Baseball
There’s a few missing blogs that I’ll mention in an attempt to get them more views and onto the leader board.
Nick Pelescak’s blog is great, as he puts up in depth summaries of each game he attends. He’s been inactive in terms of blogging during the offeseason, but his blog should pick up again soon.
Zac Weiss is another ballhawk who writes about the games he attends. He also has been relatively inactive. Check his blog out during the season.
CLangan posts daily on a Phillies blog. He’s not among the top leaders yet as his blog is new, but he did win last week’s T-shirt.
As a side note, the Pirates lost their grapefruit league opener to the Blue Jays 7-1 today.
Remember, that you can listen to the game tomorrow on the radio, and watch the Buccos on TV on Monday.
Here’s their Spring Training schedule:
|Saturday, March 3||@Toronto||1:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Sunday, March 4||vs. Toronto||1:05 PM||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Monday, March 5||@Baltimore||7:05 PM||MLB.TV||MLB.com|
|Tuesday, March 6||vs. NY Yankees||1:05 PM||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Wednesday, March 7||vs. Toronto||1:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Thursday, March 8||@Philadelphia||1:05 PM||MLBN (delay), MLB.TV||MLB.com|
|Friday, March 9||@Boston||7:05 PM||MLB.TV, MLBN||MLB.com|
|Saturday, March 10||vs. Minnesota||1:05 PM||ROOT SPORTS, MLBN (delay)|
|Sunday, March 11||@Tampa Bay||1:05 PM||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Monday, March 12||vs. Philadelphia||1:05 PM||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Wednesday, March 14||@Baltimore||1:05 PM||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Thursday, March 15||@Minnesota||1:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Friday, March 16||vs. Philadelphia||1:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Saturday, March 17||vs. Tampa Bay||1:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Sunday, March 18||@Minnesota||1:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Tuesday, March 20||@NY Yankees||7:05 PM||MLBN (delay), MLB.TV||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Wednesday, March 21||vs. Boston||1:05 PM||ROOT SPORTS, MLBN (delay)||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Thursday, March 22||vs. Tampa Bay||1:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Friday, March 23||vs. Detroit||1:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Saturday, March 24||vs. Houston||1:05 PM||ROOT SPORTS, MLBN (delay)|
|Sunday, March 25||@Houston||1:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Monday, March 26||vs. Baltimore||7:05 PM||ROOT SPORTS, MLBN (delay)||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Tuesday, March 27||@Philadelphia||1:05 PM||MLBN, MLB.TV||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Wednesday, March 28||@Tampa Bay||7:05 PM||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Thursday, March 29||vs. Minnesota||1:05 PM||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Friday, March 30||vs. Tampa Bay||1:05 PM||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Saturday, March 31||vs. Baltimore||1:05 PM||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Sunday, April 1||@Toronto||1:05 PM||MLB.TV, MLBN (delay)||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Monday, April 2||@Philadelphia||7:05 PM||MLB.TV, MLBN (delay)||KDKA-FM 93.7|
|Tuesday, April 3||@Philadelphia||7:05 PM||KDKA-FM 93.7|
Also, does anyone have any ideas for a new team shirt to give away. Tomorrow is the drawing for the Dodgers shirt. Yankees? Pirates? Twins? Mariners? Brewers? Nationals? What do you think.
There’s only 33 days until opening day, and tomorrow is the drawing to win this LA Dodgers shirt.
As many of you know, I am from Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Pirates are my team. As such, I’ve decided to dedicate an entire blog entry to their 2012 preview, rather than lumping them in with a division preview. In case you missed my division previews, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview, AL West and NL Central preview by clicking on the links provided.
I’ve decided to post this preview now, on the eve of the Pirates first grapefruit league game – tomorrow vs Toronto.
The Pirates were in first place in late July last year before everything fell apart. A blown call by Jerry Meals at the plate in the 19th inning of a game in Atlanta seemed to trigger a monumental collapse, as the Pirates finished the season with a 19-43 record.
The National League Central is a weaker division in 2012, having seen the departures of its two best hitters via free agency; Albert Pujols from the Cardinals to the Angels and Prince Fielder from the Brewers to the Tigers.
Let’s see what the Pirates have heading into the season.
The catching position was a bit of a mess last year for the Pirates. They used EIGHT different catchers last year. Michael McKenry received the most at bats, but struggled by and large, hitting .222. Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, Jason Jaramillo, Dusty Brown, Eric Fryer, Matt Pagnozzi, and Wyatt Torregas also saw time at catcher in 2011.
To add stability, general manager Neil Huntington added catcher Rod Barajas during the offseason.
Barajas has been a durable major league catcher throughout his career and brings power to the table. His troublesome spot is hit batting average and on base percentage. On the whole, this is an upgrade over what the Pirates had last year.
Fox has seen time in the majors before, playing most recently with the Orioles last year. He is a career .237 hitter in the big leagues with 20 home runs in 489 at bats. He’s got some power. He has also had years in the minor leagues where he’s hit 21, 24, 25, and 31 home runs. He’s got more pop, so I personally hope that he makes the team over McKenry, just from a batting practice perspective. I’ve seen the guy hit in BP in Baltimore. He does very well in BP. He can also play first base.
Last year at first base, the Pirates had Derrek Lee for the last two months, who took over for an inept Lyle Overbay, who was ultimately released. Lee broke his wrist and missed time, but did have a good month with the Pirates, hitting .337 with 7 homers in 101 at bats. The Pirates wanted him back, but Lee snubbed the city of Pittsburgh and turned down the Pirates arbitration offer, hoping to play for a ‘better’ team or get more money. He’s still currently unemployed, which should please many Pirates fans.
So without Lee, the Pirates are turning to plan B. At first base this year, there will be a platoon situation with Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee.
When looking at the splits, McGehee, acquired by the Pirates for Jose Veras over the winter hit just .169 against lefties in 2011. That defies convential wisdom, since he is a right handed batter. In his career, he is a .261 hitter vs lefies, so hopefully ’11 was an aberration.
Both Jones and McGehee are coming off of down years. McGehee hit .223 with 13 home runs last season. In 2009 he hit .301 with 16 homers, and .285 with 23 homers and 104 RBIs in 2010. He has reported to camp much lighter than last season, which could result in better athleticism and a better season.
Jones burst onto the scene in 2009 with 21 homers in 314 at bats and followed it up with another 21 homer season in 592 at bats in 2010. Last year he lost his way a bit, hitting 16 in 423 at bats. Hit batting average was also a career low .243.
My thoughts about this platoon? I think it’s a slight upgrade over last year. Overbay was just terrible for the first three months of the season. If the Jones/McGehee tandem can hit .260/30/100 while they play the 1B position collectively – it’ll be huge.
Third base was a major problem area for the Buccos last year. Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates #1 draft pick, and #2 overall was a complete bust. He looked completely lost at the plate and his season was a disaster. He was hurt with a strained quad, and then was demoted to the minors. The Pirates once envisioned Alvarez as a guy that could hit 30-40 homers by taking advantage of the short porch in right field at PNC Park. Alvarez certainly has the power – I’ve seen him launch bomb after bomb over the right field wall in batting practice, but has had problems mentally and with conditioning.
Last season the Pirates relied on Josh Harrison to fill the void at third while Alvarez was out. Harrison was a good replacement, but he is just that – a replacement level player.
During the offseason, the Pirates let Ronny Cedeno walk, disappointed that the shortstop never reached his full potential. Cedeno was often distracted and not always focused on the game. As a result, he often had lapses on both sides of the ball and often times found himself in the manager’s doghouse.
Huntington signed Clint Barmes to take Cedeno’s spot as the starting shortstop. Barmes is a sound defender and an okay hitter. He hit .244 last year with 12 homers – no where near his career high of 23 homers in 2009. However, 12 actually was his second best home run season. A lot of fans are expecting a lot of power from Barnes. I would advise them not to be too optimistic. If Barnes can give the Pirates .250 with 15 homers, we should all take it. By the way, Cedeno hit 2 homers with a .249 average last year, so Barmes represents a slight upgrade.
In the outfield, the Pirates are set in left field with Alex Presley in left, Andrew McCutchen in center, and Jose Tabata in right. The fourth outfielder position will go to Nate McLouth. Last year, the Pirates had Ryan Ludwick/Jose Tabata/Alex Presley in left for most of the season, and a failed Garrett Jones/Matt Diaz platoon in right field.
McCutchen is the face of the franchise. Last year he hit just .259 with 23 homers – perhaps pressing a bit to jump start the anemic offense. McCutchen has a new stance in 2011 – an open one – and hopes that it will help him stay on the ball better.
Jose Tabata was signed to a six year contract during the 2011 season despite playing just a year in the big leagues. Many fans question his age – he is listed as 23 – and power – career high in the big leagues is 4 (in the minors his best HR year was 8).
Nate McLouth will receive plenty of at bats as the team’s fourth outfielder. He was an All Star for the Pirates in 2008 before being traded away for Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, and Jeff Locke (all of whom are still with the Pirates.) McLouth was awful in Atlanta. He hit .198 and .228 there with virtually no power. Even seeing him in batting practice was painful. It was like watching a high schooler hit.
The Pirates most important part of their team in regards to their success will be their starting pitching. Last season, the Pirates were in first place or in contention for much of the first half because their starting pitching was over achieving. The second half, the starting pitching crumbled, as did the Pirates season.
This year, the Pirates brought in AJ Burnett to be the ace. They are paying him $13 million over 2 seasons. Fans in Pittsburgh were excited. It’s been a long time since we had a big name starting pitcher, even if Burnett had struggled a bit the last few seasons. Burnett’s arrival was going to bump one of the Pirates pitchers from the rotation and create a competition for a rotation spot – likely between Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens. However, it never happened, as Burnett bunted a ball off of his face, breaking an oribital bone.
He’s now out for 8-12 weeks, and the Pirates don’t expect him back until June. Terrible luck.
Without Burnett, the Pirates will look to another new starter in their rotation to help right the ship. Erik Bedard was brought in via free agency to give the Pirates depth. Bedard has had some success in his career, but is often injured. He’s only pitched over 150 innings in his ten year career twice. Last season he went a combined 5-9 with a 3.62 ERA and 125 K’s in 129 innings for the Mariners and Red Sox. He brings the strikeout to a rotation that often pitched to contact last year.
James McDonald was acquired two years ago from the Dodgers for Octavio Dotel. McDonald was 9-9 with a 4.21 ERA last year with 142 K’s for the Pirates last year. He struggled at the outset of the season, but was one of the Pirates better starters late in the season. I think he is the most likely to have a breakout season in 2012.
Charlie Morton was a complete surprise in 2011. He was 2-12 with a 7.57 ERA in 2010. Last year, he was ace-like. He went 10-10 with a 3.83 ERA and induced ground ball after ground ball. He became nicknamed ‘Ground Chuck.’ He LED the National League in home run ratio – allowing just 0.3 homers per nine innings. Morton had hip surgery in the offseason, and is participating in Spring Training, but is a few days behind the other Pirates pitchers. It stands to reason that he likely will open the season with the club, but may start out as the team’s fifth starter just as a precaution.
Jeff Karstens was another complete surprise last year. Karstens bounced back and forth between the bullpen and rotation in 2009 and 2010, posting losing records and ERA’s of 5.42 and 4.92. When an injury to Ross Ohlendorf gave him a chance last year, Karstens ran with it. He never stopped. He was the Pirates ace last season, often among the top 5 in the National League in Earned Run Average. He finished up the season at 3.38. It will be very interesting to see what Karstens does to follow up his breakout campaign.
Kevin Correia was an All Star in 2011, but the completely tanked. He finished with a 4.79 ERA, but tanked it in the second half, becoming injured and posting a 7.23 ERA. He also could not perform at PNC Park. His ERA at home was 7.71 with a 2-8 record. To me, if Burnett would’ve stayed healthy, he was most likely to be demoted from the rotation to a long relief role in the bullpen. However, Correia gets a chance to prove that he belongs in April and May in 2012.
Brad Lincoln, the Pirates #1 pick in 2006 serves as insurance if a starter gets hurt. He has a minor league option left and will likely begin the season in the minors. I know hindsight is 20/20, but guess who was taken after Brad Lincoln in the draft? Clayton Kershaw, Tim Linecum, Max Scherzer, Ian Kennedy, and Chris Perez.
The bullpen looks pretty set. Joel Hanrahan will close games.
Evan Meek, returning from an injury in 2011, will likely be the set up man. Meek’s injury hurt the team last year, as the team struggled to find someone to be successful in the set up role.
Chris Resop could serve as the 7th inning guy if he can be consistent. Rounding out the bullpen would be Jason Grilli, Daniel McCutchen, and Tony Watson. Daniel Moskos or Chris Leroux could also be in the mix.
The bullpen was very solid last year for the Bucs. It looks to be the same in 2012.
So now it’s time for a prediction.
Taking into account the losses and using the stat WAR (wins above replacement):
Paul Maholm, Ronny Cedeno, Derrek Lee, Ryan Ludwick, Jose Veras, Xavier Paul, Matt Diaz and Ryan Doumit are attributed with 6.6 wins. Meaning that they were worth 6.7 wins more than a typical replacement player. Maholm was most valuable with a WAR of 2.6.
The Pirates have 6 new players:
AJ Burnett, Erik Bedard, Rod Barajas, Casey McGehee, Nate McLouth, and Clint Barmes . Those six are worth 7.1 wins. Clint Barmes was most valuable at 2.9 WAR in 2011. McGehee was -1.0. Burnett was worth 1.1, although he had a down year.
On paper, the Pirates look like they should go 73-89, a one win improvement from 2012.
That’s not what you want to hear though. That’s not what I want to hear. So, I’m going to get away from the stats and project that Andrew McCutchen improves over a bit of a junior slump, and that Evan Meek returns to his dominant 2010 self, and that Pedro Alvarez finally breaks out.
My prediction is 81-81, which will bring an end to 19 seasons of losing, and mark the Pirates first winning season since 1992.
2012 Statistical Projections (from baseball yearbook. Avg-HR-Rbi)
C Rod Barajas .233-21-63
1B Garrett Jones .247-18-66
2B Neil Walker .278-11-68
3B Pedro Alvarez .219-5-32 (Alvarez isn’t even a starter in the BY projections)
3B Casey McGehee .243-16-74
SS Clint Barmes .253-14-5
LF Alex Presley .291-9-43
CF Andrew McCutchen .262-20-77
RF Jose Tabata .278-5-32
SP Jeff Karstens 10-12, 3.77 ERA, 177 IP, 110 K
SP Charlie Morton 9-13, 4.57 ERA, 167 IP, 130 K
SP James McDonald 10-12, 4.14 ERA, 185 IP, 159 K
SP Erik Bedard 6-8, 3.35 ERA, 116 IP, 115 K
SP Kevin Correia 10-10, 5.01 ERA, 147 IP, 92 K
SP AJ Burnett 12-12, 5.19 ERA, 186 IP, 163 K
RP Joel Hanrahan 2.81 ERA, 35 saves, 67 IP, 74 K
RP Evan Meek 2.54 ERA, 3 saves, 64 IP, 55 K
The season basically rests on if Alvarez can finally perform or not. No pressure Pedro.
What are your thoughts on how the Buccos will finish? I think they’ll finish 4th.
There’s only 34 days until opening day, and 1 day (TOMORROW) until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). And, just 2 more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.
The Baltimore Orioles are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards this year. Its a big season for the Orioles as they attempt to fight their way out of the cellar while celebrating the stadium that started the ballpark revolution of the 1990′s.
I did some poking around some websites and found some great pictures of Camden Yards as it was being built.
I hope you enjoy.
Also, I’ll be in Baltimore on opening day, in hopes of snagging one of these commemorative baseballs that the Orioles will be using this year:
Camden Yards looks like this now:
But it once was a pile of dirt
and a vacant warehouse that would be transformed into one of the most beautiful ballparks in the US.
Incorporating the B&O Warehouse, which was built in 1899, was a fantastic idea. It brought us back to the old days of baseball, where stadiums were built to fit into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Here’s the outer side of the B&O Warehouse, facing away from the stadium. Just ahead, you see the building that now houses the Babe Ruth museum.
The Warehouse sat dormant for over 20 years, rotting… until 1992.
That’s when the Orioles completely renovated it to house offices, a team store, restaurants, a ticket office, etc. What a view.
Here’s the foundation of where the center field seats would later be built:
The unfinished exterior of Camden Yards… (is that a real kid in the picture?)
Construction began in 1989
And it took 33 months of work to get the stadium completed.
It was built by HOK Sport, and was the first of the retro ballparks.
There’s really not a bad seat in Oriole park. The field is beautiful, the layout is gorgeous, and the Warehouse looming beyond right field is awesome.
Anyone have any idea what part of the stadium this is? A possible hidden chamber underneath the field or seats?
It looks like the upper deck was the first structure put in place. The lower level still looks a mess in this picture:
The stadium by the way cost $110 million to build. By today’s standards, that’s about $180 million. In contrast with other stadiums that have been built, that’s pretty cheap.
Could this be a flag pole out in the famous right field ‘flag court?’
How excited were the people of Baltimore when this stadium was being built? Anyone have any personal stories that lived in Baltimore during this time?
The playing surface at Camden Yards is Kentucky Bluegrass.
Once the grass starts getting installed, you know that the end of construction must be close.
A worker takes a breather to look at the beauty that surrounds him:
A view from center field. The upper level looks just about finished.
Looking towards left field into center field.
A view down the left field line from the second deck:
The stadium looks almost complete except for the lower level seating bowl.
One of the final touches is constructing the giant scoreboard in center field.
Since the stadium opened in 1992, millions have people have enjoyed baseball there, including me. I’ve been there 9 times, making the four hour drive from Pittsburgh.
Maybe one day soon, the Orioles will get their organization turned around like the Rays did in 2008 to be an annual contender. In the meantime, at least they have a beautiful venue to play ball in.
There’s only 35 days until opening day, and 2 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). And, just 3 more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.
By the way, welcome to March. Opening Day will be here before we know it.
Also, thank you for reading! February 2012 was my second busiest month in the history of this blog. We logged 11,000 views in the month. I’ll keep turning out the entries daily as long as you keep reading. I’m looking forward to doing some ballhawking entries soon! Opening weekend is going to be very busy for me.