Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Ultimate World Series Guide

2009 World Series Website


World Series Championships: 26

Manager: Joe Girardi- 0 World Series Championships

Pitching Staff coached by Dave Eiland:

Staff Ace: CC Sabathia- 19-8, 3.37 197 K's; Postseason: 3-0, 1.19, 30 K's

Closer: Mariano Rivera- 3-3 44/46 saves/save opportunities, 1.76 ERA, 72 K's; Postseason 0-0, 3/3 saves/save opportunities, 0.84 ERA, 11 K's

Probable Starters:

A. J Burnett- 13-9, 4.04, 195 K's; Postseason 0-0, 4.42 ERA 13 K's

Andy Pettitte- 14-8, 4.16, 148 K's; Postseason 2-0, 2.37 ERA, 15 K's


Joba Chamberlain- 9-6, 4.75, 133 K's; Postseason 0-0, 2.70, 3 K's

Phil Hughes- 8-3, 3.03, 96 K's; Postseason 0-1, 5.79, 6 K's

Phil Coke- 4-3, 4.50, 49 K's; Postseason 0-0, 0.00, 2 K's

Hitters coached by Kevin Long:


Jorge Posada- 22 HR's, 85 RBI's, .285 AVG; Postseason 3 HR's, 5 RBI's, .258 AVG

Jose Molina- 1 HR, 11 RBI's, .217 AVG; Postseason 0 HR's, 0 RBI's, .250 AVG


1B-Mark Texiera- 39 HR's, 122 RBI's, .292 AVG; Postseason 1 HR, 5 RBI's, .205 AVG

2B- Robinson Cano- 25 HR's, 85 RBI's, .320 AVG; Postseason 0 HR, 5 BBI's, .229 AVG

3B- Alex Rodriguez- 30 HR's, 100 RBI's, .286 AVG, 14 SB; Postseason 5 HR's, 12 RBI's, .438 AVG

SS- Derek Jeter- 18 HR's, 66 RBI's, .334 AVG, 30 SB; Postseason 3 HR's, 5 RBI's, .297 AVG


RF- Nick Swisher- 29 HR's, 82 RBI's, .249 AVG; Postseason 0 HR, 1 RBI, .125 AVG

CF- Melky Carbera- 13 HR's, 68 RBI's, .274 AVG, 10 SB; Postseason 0 HR, 4 RBI's, .314 AVG

LF- Johnny Damon- 24 HR's, 82 RBI's, .282 AVG, 12 SB; Postseason 2 HR, 5 RBI's, .238 AVG


DH- Hedeki Matsui- 28 HR's, 90 RBI's, .274 AVG; Postseason 1 HR, 5 RBI's, .233 AVG

PH- Jerry Hairston, Jr- 10 HR's, 39 RBI's, .251 AVG; Postseaon 0 HR, 0 RBI's, .500 AVG

PR- Brett Gardner- 3 HR, 23 RBI's, .270 AVG, 26 SB; Postseason 0 HR, 0 RBI, .667 AVG, 1 SB

Util- Freddy Guzman- 0 HR, 1 RBI, .167 AVG; Postseason 0 HR, 0 RBI, .000 AVG

The Philadelphia Phillies

World Series Champinships: 2

Manager: Charlie Manuel- 1 World Series Championship.

Pitching Staff coached by Rich Dubee:

Staff ace: Cole Hamels- 10-11, 4.32, 168 K's; Postseason 1-1, 6.75 12 K's

Closer: Brad Lidge- 0-8, 7.11, 31/42 saves/save opportunities, 61 K's; Postseason 0-0, 0.00, 3.3 saves/save opportunities, 4 K's.

Probable Starters:

Cliff Lee- 14-13, 3.22, 181 K's; Postseason 2-0, 0.74, 20 K's. Pitched at Meridian CC.

Pedro Martinez- 5-1, 3.63, 37 K's; Postseason 0-0, 0.00, 3 K's

Joe Blanton- 12-8, 4.05, 163 K's; Postseason 0-0, 4.66, 3 K's


Ryan Madsen- 5-5, 3.26, 78 K's; Postseason 1-0, 4.50, 8 K's

J.A. Happ- 12-4, 2.93, 119 K's; Postseason 0-0, 7.36, 4 K's

Hitters coached by Milt Thompson


Carlos Ruiz- 9 HR, 43 RBI's, .255 AVG; Postseaon 1 HR, 7 RBI, .346 AVG

Paul Bako- 3 HR, 9 RBI, .224 AVG; Postseason 0 HR, 0 RBI, .000 AVG


1B- Ryan Howard- 45 HR, 141 RBI, .279 AVG; Postseason 2 HR, 14 RBI's, .355 AVG

2B- Chase Utley- 31 HR, 93 RBI, .282 AVG, 23 SB; Postseason 1 HR, 2 RBI, .303 AVG, 2 SB

3B- Pedro Feliz- 12 HR, 82 RBI, .266 AVG; Postseason 1 HR, 2 RBI, .161 AVG

SS- Jimmy Rollins- 21 HR, 77 RBI, .250 AVG, 31 SB; Postseason 0 HR, 3 RBI, .244 AVG


RF- Jayson Werth- 36 HR, 99 RBI, .268 AVG, 20 SB; Postseason 5 HR, 10 RBI, .281 AVG

CF- Shane Victorino- 10 HR, 62 RBI, .292 AVG, 25 SB; Postseason 3 HR, 7 RBI, .361 AVG, 2 SB

LF- Raul Ibanez- 34 HR, 93 RBI, .272 AVG; Postseason 1 HR, 9 RBI, .226 AVG


DH- Ben Francisco- 15 HR, 46 RBI, .247 AVG, 14 SB; Postseason 0, HR, 0 RBI, .000 AVG

PH- Matt Stairs- 5 HR, 17 RBI, .194 AVG; Postseason 0, HR, 0 RBI, .000 AVG

PR- Eric Bruntlett- 0 HR, 7 RBI, .171 AVG, 2 SB; Postseason o HR, 0 RBI, .000 AVG, 0 SB

Util- Greg Dobbs- 5 HR, 20 RBI, .247 AVG; Postseason 0 HR, 0 RBI, .000 AVG

Who's going to win?

Well, the Yankees have been pitching a little bit better than the Phillies, but the Phillies have been hitting better. I have to give the Yankees the edge as far as pitching because Hamels has been struggling, I think Sabathia can match Lee at home, and while Pedro Martinez pitched well against the Dodgers, he can not pitch a complete game. You also have to wonder about Brad Lidge, and you have to wonder if he demons will show up. I think the Phillies are going to try to run on the Yankees and Posada whenever they can and that should help the rest of their offense, so it's going to be key for the Yankees to keep Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Chase Utley off of the base paths. I would also be really worried about Ryan Howard and the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees need to be very, very careful with him and make sure that they do not go down and in where he likes the ball. They also need to be careful with Raul Ibanez for the same reason. On the other side, the Phillies need to be really careful with A-Rod right now, and hope that Texiera stays cold. Both teams are very sound defensively, with the Phillies having the edge at catcher and in the outfield, and the Yankees having a slight advantage on the infield. Overall defensive advantage goes to the Phillies.

In conclusion, I think we will see a Minnesota type World Series where the home team wins each game. Since the Yankees have home field advantage, I'm going with the Yankees in seven.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Ultimate American League Playoff Guide

NEW YORK YANKEES (aka The Evil Empire)

Manager: Joe Girardi

Staff ace: CC Sabathia- 19-8, ERA 3.37, 197 K's

Closer: Mariano Rivera- 3-3, ERA 1.76, 44 saves, 72 K's

Probable Starting Pitchers:

A.J. Burnett- 13-9, ERA 4.04, 195 K's

Andy Pettitte- 14-8, ERA 4.16, 148 K's

Joba Chamberlain- 9-6, ERA 4.75, 133 K's

Top Relief Pitchers/Other Significant Pitchers:

Phil Hughes- 8-3, ERA 3.03, 3 saves, 96 K's

Phil Coke- 4-3, ERA 4.50, 2 saves, 49 K's


Jorge Posada- 22 HR's, 81 RBI's, .285 AVG

Jose Molina- 1 HR, 11 RBI's, .217 AVG


First Base: Mark Texiera- 39 HR's, 122 RBI's, .292 AVG

Second base: Robinson Cano- 25 HR's, 85 RBI's, .320 AVG

Third Bsae: Alex Rodriguez- 30 HR's, 100 RBI's, .286 AVG, 14 SB

Shortstop: Derek Jeter- 18 HR's, 66 RBI's, .334 AVG, 30 SB


Right Field: Nick Swisher- 29 HR's, 82 RBI's, .249 AVG

Center Field: Melky Cabrera- 13 HR's, 68 RBI's, .274 AVG, 10 SB

Left Field: Johnny Damon- 24 HR's, 82 RBI's, .282 AVG, 12 SB


Designated Hitter: Hedeki Matsui- 28 HR's, 90 RBI's, .274 AVG

Pinch Hitter: Eric Hinske- 8 HR's, 25 RBI's, .242 AVG

Pinch Runner: Brett Gardner- 3 HR's, 23 RBI's, .270 AVG, 26 SB

Utilityman: Jerry Hairston, Jr.- 10 HR's, 39 RBI's, .251 AVG, 7 SB

Why they will win the World Series: Uh, because they're the Yankees. And they're loaded with a very nice blend of veterans like Jeter, Posada, and Pettitte who know what being a Yankee is all about, some blue collar players like Nick Swisher that allow the team to have some fun, and some incredibly talented players like A-Rod, CC Sabathia, and Texiera. They will be a popular pick to win it. And Joba Chamberlain won't be attacked by hordes of insects like Egypt in Old Testament.

Manager: Ron Gardenhire
Staff ace: Scott Baker- 15-9, 4.37 ERA, 162 K's
Closer: Joe Nathan- 2-2, 2.10 ERA, 47 saves, 89 K's
Probable Starting Pitchers:
Carl Pavano- 14-12, 5.10 ERA, 147 K's
Nick Blackburn- 11-11, 4.03 ERA, 98 K's
Brian Duensing- 5-2, 3.64 ERA, 53 K's
Top Relief Pitchers/Other Significant Pitchers:
Matt Guerrier- 5-1, 2.36 ERA, 47 K's
Jose Mijares- 2-2, 2.34 ERA, 55 K's
Joe Mauer- 28 HR's, 96 RBI's, .365 AVG
Mike Redmond- 0 HR's, 7 RBI's, .237 AVG
First base: Micheal Cuddyer- 32 HR's, 94 RBI's, .276
Second base: Nick Punto- 1 HR, 38 RBI's, .228 AVG, 16 SB
Third base: Matt Tolbert- 2 HR's, 19 RBI's, .232 AVG- Played at Ole Miss and Centreville Academy.
Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera- 9 HR's, 77 RBI's, .284 AVG, 13 SB
Right Field: Jason Kubel- 28 HR's, 103 RBI's, .300 AVG
Center Field: Denard Span- 8 HR's, 68 RBI's, .311 AVG, 23 SB
Left Field: Delmon Young- 12 HR's, 60 RBI's, .284 AVG
Designated Hitter: Carlos Gomez- 3 HR's, 28 RBI's, .229 AVG, 14 SB
Pinch Hitter: Jose Morales- 0 HR's, 7 RBI's, .311
Pinch Runner: Alexi Casilla- 0 HR's, 16 RBI's, .198, 11 SB's
Utilityman: Brendan Harris- 6 HR's, 37 RBI's, .261 AVG
Why they'll win the World Series: This team has had to overcome injuries- Justin Morneau, and Joe Crede, and a seven game lead by the Detroit Tigers to win. They're the underdog, and they're hot, which could make them very dangerous.


Manager: Mike Scioscia

Staff Ace: Jared Weaver- 16-8, 3.75 ERA, 174 K's

Closer: Brian Fuentes- 1-5, 3.93 ERA, 48 saves, 46 K's

Probable Starting Pitchers:

John Lackey- 11-8, 3.83 ERA, 139 K's

Joe Saunders- 16-7, 4.60 ERA, 101 K's

Scott Kazmir- 10-9, 4.98 ERA, 117 K's

Top Relief Pitchers/Other Significant Pitchers:

Darren Oliver- 5-1, 2.71 ERA, 65 K's

Nick Adenhart- 0-0, 0.00, 5 K's


Mike Napoli- 20 HR's, 56 RBI's, .272 AVG

Jeff Mathis- 5 HR's, 28 RBI's, .211 AVG


First Base: Kendry Morales- 34 HR's, 108 RBI's, .306 AVG

Second Base: Howie Kendrick- 10 HR's, 61 RBI's, .291 AVG, 11 SB

Third Base: Chone Figgins- 5 HR's, 54 RBI's, .298 AVG, 42 SB

Shortstop: Erick Aybar- 5 HR's, 58 RBI's, .312 AVG, 14 SB


Right Field: Bob Abreu- 15 HR's, 103 RBI's, .293 AVG 30 SB

Center Field: Torii Hunter- 22 HR's, 90 RBI's, .299 AVG, 18 SB

Left Field: Juan Rivera- 25 HR's, 88 RBI's, .287 AVG


Designated Hitter: Vladimir Guerrero- 15 HR's, 50 RBI's, .295 AVG.

Pinch Hitter: Gary Matthews, Jr.- 4 HR's, 50 RBI's, .250 AVG

Pinch Runner: Maicer Izturis- 8 HR's, 65 RBI's, .300 AVG, 13 SB

Utilityman: Reggie Willits- 0 HR's, 6 RBI's, .213 AVG

Why they'll win the World Series: This team has perhaps the best blend of speed and power throughout their entire lineup, and they have a somewhat underrated, but very good pitching staff. And you have to pull for a team like this after the untimely death of Nick Adenhart.


Manager: Terry Francona

Staff ace: Josh Beckett- 17-6, 3.86 ERA, 199 K's

Closer: Johnathan Papelbon- 1-1, 1.85 ERA, 38 saves, 76 K's- Former Mississippi State pitcher

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Jon Lester- 15-8, 3.41 ERA, 225 K's

Clay Buchholz- 7-4, 4.21 ERA, 68 K's

Tim Wakefield- 11-5, 4.58 ERA, 72 K's

Bullpen/Other Significant Pitchers:

Billy Wagner- 1-1, 1.98 ERA, 22 K's

Daniel Bard- 2-2, 3.65 ERA, 63 K's


Jason Varitek- 14 HR's, 51 RBI's, .209 AVG

Victor Martinez- 23 HR's, 108 RBI's, .303 AVG


First Base: Kevin Youkilis- 27 HR's, 94 RBI's, .305 AVG

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia- 15 HR's, 72 RBI's, .296 AVG, 20 SB

Third Base: Mike Lowell- 17 HR's, 75 RBI's, .290 AVG

Shortstop: Alex Gonzalez- 5 HR's, 15 RBI's, .284 AVG


Right Field: JD Drew- 24 HR's, 68 RBI's, .279 AVG

Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury- 8 HR's, 60 RBI's, .301 AVG, 70 SB

Left Field: Jason Bay- 36 HR's, 119 RBI's, .267 AVG, 13 SB


Designated Hitter: David Ortiz- 28 HR's, 99 RBI's, .238 AVG

Pinch Hitter: Rocco Baldelli- 7 HR's, 23 RBI's, .253 AVG

Pinch Runner: Brian Anderson- 4 HR's, 18 RBI's, .243 AVG, 3 SB

Utilityman: Nick Green- 6 HR's, 35 RBI's, .236 AVG

Why they'll win the World Series: The Red Sox have certainly had their share of turmoil throughout the year, but this team has also been here and won before. It would not be shocking at all if the Red Sox pull it together in the end, as the postseason may very well be the fresh start that they need.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Scooter's Southern Fried Specials

I named these specials after my parents dog, Scooter because I had to take care of Scooter, and it prevented me from blogging as much as I would have liked. Don't get me wrong here- I LOVE Scooter, and maybe more importantly, Scooter loves me. She's the best dog ever. Anyway, here are some things that have happened in the baseball world since I was tending to my beloved Scooter-

  • The new wave of batting helmets is the new S100 from Rawlings. It is built for safety, and is allegedly the only batting helmet designed to withstand 100 MPH pitches to the noggin. It will be the required batting helmet of all minor leaguers in 2010. So, we should see them at Trustmark Park next year. And the S100 has already made its Major League debut. You would think that these companies would get people like Albert Pujols to be the their guinea pig, but the first Major Leaguer to wear the S100 was none other than the feared Chicago Cubs slugger/pitcher Ryan Dempster, with a career batting average of .090. I guess that makes him a pioneer just like Charlie O'Brien, formerly of the Atlanta Braves and Greg Maddux's personal catcher, who debuted the hockey style catcher's mask in 1996, when he was appropriately with the Toronto Blue Jays. David Wright will wear the S100 tonight. For those who don't remember, Wright was placed on the disabled list after he was beaned by the Giants Matt Cain- unintentionally. The biggest drawback to the S100 appears to be it's very large size, mainly due to it's large amount of padding. Check out this video on the S100. (It's no NuttyBuddy)

  • Some MSU Bulldogs had a big weekend recently. Craig Tatum hit his first Major League home run for the Cincinati Reds, and Brandon Medders was the winning pitcher in a huge game over the Colorado Rockies where Edgar Renteria hit a grand slam to help the Giants tie for the Wild Card lead.
  • MSU fans, you want someone to watch for next year? Pitcher Devin Jones was named the top prospect in the New England Collegiate League by Baseball America. He is also a right handed pitcher, and could figure into the MSU weekend rotation. Reportedly, he has also been doing very well in John Cohen's four on one drills as well.
  • More four on one drills news- as has been speculated, Cody Freeman has been practicing at the catcher position for MSU. Allegedly, his arm strength has improved, which is a great thing to hear. As many of you know, I am of the opinion that his best position is catcher.
  • Congrats to Joey Gathright of Hattiesburg for getting called up by the Red Sox when the rosters expanded today.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Southern Fried Specials Arizona Style

Today, the Arizona Fall League, the premier winter league for Major League prospects, announced their rosters today. It is a very high honor for a player to be selected to play in this league. Here are the Mississippians, or those with Mississippi connections that made the league.

  • Mitch Moreland, outfield for the Texas Rangers- Amory High School and Mississippi State
  • Lance Lynn, pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals- Ole Miss
  • Cody Satterwhite, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers- Hillcrest Christian High School and Ole Miss
  • Zack Cozart, shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds- Ole Miss
  • Jason Heyward, outfielder for the M-Braves
  • Freddie Freeman, first baseman for the M-Braves
  • Brandon Hicks, shortstop for the M-Braves
  • Lee Hyde, pitcher for the M-Braves
  • Craig Kimbrel, pitcher for the M-Braves
  • Jeff Lyman, pitcher for the M-Braves

And one more tidbit- released their top 50 prospects for all of baseball today, and Jason Heyward of the M-Braves was named the #1 prospect in all of baseball.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tips on Tipping Pitches

This Sunday, John Smoltz had a markedly improved performance against the weak-hitting San Diego Padres. Nonetheless, striking out nine hitters, including seven in a row, over five innings and allowing zero runs and only three hits is pretty good for a rehab start- or any start. So, how did Dave Duncan work his magic this time? Well, according to Tony LaRussa, the Cardinals manager, they made some slight mechanical adjustments, but the thing that I found really interesting was that they believed that Smoltz was tipping his pitches.

As baseball fans, many of us have heard about pitchers tipping pitches, but many don't know exactly what the pros (and everyone else) are looking for. Well, today, I'm going to talk about some very common ways that pitchers tip pitches. Of course, a pitcher could literally do any little thing and tip a pitch, but there are some things that are more common than others. And I also need to make note that in some rare instances, tipping pitches may not be that bad of a thing. Case in point- Sandy Koufax used to tip that he was throwing his curveball by snapping his wrist before his wind up. The thing was, his curve was so good that even though the hitters knew it was coming, they still couldn't hit it. It was almost to the point where Koufax used his pitch tipping to intimidate hitters- "Here it comes, let's see if you can hit it." Case in point, here is a quote from Joe Torre, who had to hit against Koufax-

"There were some coaches who were good at picking things up. You always look for it," he said. "Then you had a guy like Sandy Koufax. You could call his pitches, but it wouldn't do you any good." - Joe Torre

But that's the exception rather than the rule. But anyway, here are some common things that players look for with pitchers that tip their pitches:

  • How the pitcher holds his glove. This is fairly self explanatory- sometimes pitchers will hold their glove vertically, like Johan Santana is doing in this picture for their fastball.

And then they will hold their glove horizontally for a curveball, like the pitcher in this picture is doing.

  • Another common thing that pitchers will do to tip pitches is noticeably wiggle their fingers in their glove. What the pitcher is trying to do is line the seams up so that he can get his fingers on the ball correctly to throw a certain pitch, usually a breaking ball.
  • Along those same lines, sometimes a pitcher will widen his glove when throwing a certain pitch.
  • And tipping pitches can sometimes be just from the wind up or just from the stretch. Andy Pettitte of the Yankees was known to bring his hands straight down in the stretch for a fastball and when he was going to throw a curveball, his hands would go in a more circular motion to his waist before going to home plate.
  • One of the most common, and potentially amusing is a pitcher's body habits. There was a pitcher that would wag his tongue before throwing his fastball. Dwight Gooden would wiggle his index finger on his glove hand before throwing his curveball.

So, what are these poor pitchers supposed to do? Well, pitch tipping can go unnoticed for a long time- often years. A lot of times what will happen is someone will get traded to the team that the pitcher is on, or vice versa, and they will inform the pitcher. At that point, it basically becomes a matter of breaking habits, which can sometimes be very difficult. Sometimes it can be rather simple- to fix Gooden's pitch tipping problem, the Mets had someone put a cover over the index finger hole in his glove. Problem solved.

In closing- pitchers, watch your habits. Because it might come back to haunt you one day. Unless you're Sandy Koufax, of course.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Conner Powers Doesn't Wanna Be Your Monkeywrench

OK, MSU fans, let's rewind to June. Russ Sneed was going to play first base. Jarrod Parks was going to play third and the coaching staff really liked him. Cody Freeman days behind the plate were done, and he was definately going to be either a corner outfielder, or a first baseman, and Conner Powers was gone thanks to the draft- but wait.

All right, we now know that Conner Powers was not only drafted lower than he expected in the 11th round, but we later learned that he couldn't come to terms with the Dodgers, and ended up going back to the Cape Cod League to prove his mettle. Powers started off slowly, but recovered won the Cape Cod League Home Run Derby, and eventually never came to terms with the Dodgers.

Don't get me wrong, I am very fired up that Conner Powers is coming back to MSU, but it certainly creates some other issues at other positions. Powers has to play. There is no doubt about that. He is a bona fide possible All-SEC and maybe even All-American at first base. He has the potential to hit 20 home runs and hit .350. That's certainly not a problem, especially given the fact that Powers plays very good defense as well. The problem is everyone else's defense. In particular, Russ Sneed and Jet Butler. We'll get to them later, but I'm going to start at the catcher position.

OK, word on the street is that John Cohen loves JUCO transfer Wes Thigpen from Meridian CC. Fair enough. Thigpen was signed out of high school by LSU, so he obviously has some talent. Ironically, he went to Nicholls State, a team that MSU had some issues with last year, this off season for summer school, but that's neither here nor there. Despite Thigpen's crdentials and Cohen's endorsement, he has no SEC experience. And the back-ups have even less. Kolby Byrd is a True Freshman, Carlos Leal is a True Freshman walk-on, and Jet Butler is learning how to catch with very mixed results to say the least. Ryan Duffy has experience behind the plate, but his defense was so atrocious that Cohen benched him in the middle of an inning last year and he has not seen any more action behind the dish since. Then you have Cody Freeman. Freeman has had some injury issues since he has been at MSU. Last year, I do not believe he was very healthy either. Cody was a very good catcher at high school super power West Lauderdale in Meridian, and he has had some success at the plate while at MSU- particularly when he was healthy. I sincerely hope that John Cohen looks at Cody Freeman at catcher this fall. I don't think that Cohen has seen what he can do when he's 100%. And the depth issues and the current Conner Powers situation may force him to give him a long look, which I think might be beneficial to MSU. And I'm not necessarily knocking Thigpen. I personally believe that any team should have at least two capable catchers that they can depend on becuase of the physical demands of the position. I'd rather have two capable juniors than a junior and a freshman.

Now, on to the infield. Conner Powers has first base locked up. The other positions are very unsettled. Jet Butler is the incumbant at second base. While he is not exactly a great defender, and is an even worse baserunner, he can hit and has pretty good power. I really wouldn't be shocked if he hit 10 home runs next year as a senior. The other options are Frank Rawdow, who can play defense, but is still learning how to hit, and JUCO transfer Johnathan Ogden, who is more of a defensive specialist. I wish there were a way to morph Butler and Ogden, but that would probably screw the scholarship situation up too much. Powers coming back also probably throws Russ Sneed back to third base, where he had a fielding percentage below .900. Sneed is similar to Butler in that he can hit for power and average, but he is a better baserunner than Jet. I think Sneed can put up similar numbers at the plate as Butler as well, maybe even a little bit better. I would have to think that Jarrod Parks would come in as a defensive replacement late in games, as he has not shown that he can hit SEC pitching yet. State's shortstop position is the only one that has no one with any real experience at the postion in the SEC. I think Nick Vickerson, a Florida State, Shelton State CC, AND Meridian CC transfer is going to likely get the nod there. The scary thing, according to someone who has seen him play is that he "airmails every four throws to first base". I expect some of the glove players like Ogden and Rawdow to get looks at short as well. If I were John Cohen, I would really, really, really focus on infield defense. They were not good last year, and it was overshadowed by the lack of a pitching staff. But if State can shore up their defense, they could five more games this next year. Remember, the old saying is pitching AND defense win ballgames.

Finally the outfield, with the DH position thrown in. The outfield is every bit as crowded as the infield, but there are players that are a little more established. Ryan Collins is a very good outfielder, and I think he has to start. He could have a very good junior season next year. The centerfielder is probably going to be former Reds draft pick Jaron Shepherd, the son of former Toronto Blue Jay outfielder Ron Shepherd. I expect Collins and Shepherd to be at the top of MSU's lineup next year. Left field is a lot more crowded. Luke Adkins has a lot of experience, and had a pretty good year last year. Then there's JUCO transfer Trey Johnson and Brent Brownlee, another Cohen favorite. I like Adkins, but I think he might be the odd man out here. I think it's going to be either Johnson, who showed some pretty good power last year in JUCO, and then Brownlee, who is developing as a hitter and is a very good defensive outfielder with speed. The designated hitter for State is probably going to be senior Ryan Duffy, who may be the best clutch hitter on the team.

So, that's what State is looking at right now going into fall camp. And then there are going to be some players that are going to get cut, so that's going to answer some questions right there. As for me, I'm ready for October and some banana splits.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Captain Obvious Playoff Predictions

OK, I know these picks are going to be hardly Earth shattering considering that the season is almost over and the fact that most of the pennant races this year aren't that close. But one of my friends asked me who I thought would make the playoffs, and I thought it was a good enough topic.

Here are the picks:

National League

East- Philadelphia Phillies- No Roy Halladay, but it's not going to matter. Cliff Lee and Pedro are more than enough to pad their lead and get them in to the playoffs.
Central- St. Louis Cardinals- This team is one of, if not the hottest team in baseball right now, and they have a very favorable schedule the rest of the way. They play the Cubs three more times in St. Louis.
West- Los Angeles Dodgers- Their hot start has carried them over, and while the Giants and Rockies are making runs, I think they have enough to hold them off. If someone is going to fade in the National League, it will probably be the Dodgers.
Wild Card- San Francisco Giants- I like the Giants pitching over the Rockies, and I think that could be the difference. Not only that, but the Ginats also play the Rockies nine more times- including six in San Francisco. And the Giants actually have a pretty legit shot at the Dodgers as they play them three times in San Francisco as well and could do some damage there.

American League

East- New York Yankees- If the Cardinals aren't the hottest team in baseball right now, it's gotta be the Yankees. They have built a solid team with probably the best defensive infield in the game. They've found answers to any questions that they might have had in the bullpen as well.
Central- Detroit Tigers- I'm picking them over the White Sox because I think that their schedule is a little bit easier, although they have a big stretch next week with the Angels on the road and the Rays. If they can navigate through that stretch well, I think they win it. And something to look out for- the last series of the year for them is against the White Sox in Detroit. That could be for the Division.
West- Los Angeles Angels- They have a fairly comfortable lead in the West, and they have more than enough to hold off the Rangers.
Wild Card- Texas Rangers- My main reason for picking the Rangers is because they have a much easier schedule and the fact that the Red Sox are struggling right now, and I think that they lack confidence. The Rangers are young, and they're just having a good time. I think that's going to keep the pressure off of them.