Tag:Angels
Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:57 pm
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Five active surefire Hall of Famers



By Matt Snyder


With the Hall of Fame voting results revealed this coming Monday, it's always a perfect time to look at ahead at future Hall of Famers. Sure, we'll debate about them when the time comes, but why wait? We've got time -- as it's a slow time of the year for baseball.

Thus, Eye On Baseball will do a five-part series about current players who may or may not eventually be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. The first part, this one, will deal with players who could retire right this second and be a sure bet to be voted into the Hall. While the resume isn't necessarily complete -- one of these guys' is far from complete -- it's already Hall-worthy.

Anyway, considering we're saying a player can retire right this instant and still easily get into the Hall, this list is short. It's just five names. We'll go in alphabetical order. To reiterate, this isn't players who we think will get in one day (which would certainly include someone like Roy Halladay). This list is of guys who could call a press conference and retire right now and still make the Hall.

Hall of Fame coverage
Derek Jeter: The Captain was already headed to Cooperstown regardless, but the 3,000th hit this past summer completed his first-ballot resume. He has a career .313 batting average with 240 homers, 339 steals, a Rookie of the Year award and five World Series rings. His postseason line -- .307/.374/.465 with 20 homers in 152 games -- along with seven top-10 finishes in MVP voting further cements his legacy.

Chipper Jones: Jones joined a division-winner and was one of the key members of 11 more division championships, winning the World Series once. The seven-time All-Star won the 1999 MVP -- pretty darn tough to do in those days for a presumed non-juicer -- and finished in the top 10 in voting five other times. He has 454 home runs and over 1,500 runs and RBI. Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Jones' game is he's walked more times than he's struck out in his career, helping to give him a .402 career on-base percentage. His .935 OPS ranks him 31st in MLB history.

Albert Pujols: Will the "longevity" crowd go nuts over this pick? Maybe. But c'mon. The guy has been one of the three best players in baseball for 11 years and the best since Barry Bonds retired. To randomly select a recent inductee, Jim Rice played 2,098 games in 16 seasons; winning one MVP and finishing in the top five six total times. Pujols? He's played in 1,705 games. In his 11 seasons, he's won three MVPs and finished in the top five 10 times. He already has 445 career home runs and his rate stats are insane. Pujols' .328 career batting average ranks him 33rd of all-time. His .420 OBP ranks him 19th and his .617 slugging percentage ranks him fourth ever. Only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig had a higher mark. Yes, those rate stats tend to decline with age, so then I'd go back to the prime and point to the top five MVP finishes. Oh, and the two World Series rings, along with several huge postseason hits.

The point is, while he hasn't played 15 years, for example, few in the history of the game have ever put up 11 seasons at any point in their career as Pujols already has, so he's in right now. The only thing that could possibly keep him out is an unfortunate test at some point, but we're talking facts here, not baseless speculation.

Mariano Rivera: Obviously there's a spot for the best reliever in major-league history. Not only does Rivera hold the all-time record with 603 regular-season saves, but he's closed down 42 of 45 postseason save chances with a sparkling 0.70 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. Small sample? Not really. It's 141 innings, which is roughly twice as many as he'll throw in a given regular season. The 12-time All-Star also has those five rings, like Jeter does. Rivera's consistency, dominance and longevity mean he's a sure bet, even if other relievers have had trouble getting in.

Jim Thome: Is 600 the new 500? It used to be that hitting a 500th home run was like punching one's ticket to Cooperstown. That club has grown to 25 guys now, and will be adding one more pretty soon (Pujols). That's still pretty exclusive and might remain a barrier that always gets guys voted in -- assuming the PED cloud of suspiscion doesn't hang over their heads the way it does McGwire and Manny Ramirez, to name two. For good measure, though, Thome just went past 600 home runs this past season. Only seven have ever hit more homers in a career, three of which (Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez) will have to deal with those PED questions.

Thome doesn't just hit home runs, either. He's drawn 1,725 career walks (eighth all-time), which has helped him garner over 1,500 runs and a .403 career OBP. He also ranks 26th in history with 1,674 career RBI. Even if most of Thome's value does stem from hitting home runs, that's the best possible outcome a hitter can have. That's like saying all a football player does is score touchdowns -- more than all but seven have in the game's history. How is that bad?

Coming Thursday: Borderline candidates among older veterans
Friday: Players over 30 who have a shot of getting there with a few more good years
Saturday: Players under 30 building a good foundation
Sunday: Asterisk candidates -- on-field numbers good enough but PED issues cloud matters

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 4, 2012 10:42 am
 

Rodney signs one-year deal with Rays

By Matt Snyder

The latest bullpen reclamation project in Tampa Bay? Walk-plagued Fernando Rodney. The 34-year-old right-hander will sign a one-year contract worth $2 million with the Rays either Wednesday or Thursday, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned.

Rodney has been a late-innings reliever throughout his career with flashes of promise. He's always had a good strikeout rate and sometimes it's been outstanding (10.9 K/9 in 2008). Rodney's also saved 87 games in his career. However, he just can't stay out of his own way, allowing far too many baserunners (career 1.46 WHIP). Last season, it got worse, as he walked 28 hitters while striking out just 26 in 32 innings. He also hit three batters and threw two wild pitches. Poor control has led to a 4.29 career ERA and a 4.50 mark last season. Advanced stats (FIP, xFIP, WAR) show Rodney was even worse last season than those numbers indicate, too.

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Then again, we've seen the Rays turn things around for struggling relievers before. Last season's biggest example was Kyle Farnsworth. Rodney certainly won't be the closer or initially leaned upon as strictly an eighth-inning guy. He'll just be in the mix late with the likes of Joel Peralta, Jake McGee and J.P. Howell.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 11:19 am
 

And the Bloggies go to...



By C. Trent Rosecrans

No need to get dressed up -- but the Bloggies are here and they're best viewed in sweatpants or pajama pants. The winners, the winner get nothing. But we get to fill out a post and bring something new.

So, Monday (Part I) and Tuesday (Part II), we put up the nominees in several categories and let the fans vote. Well, we couldn't just stick to that, because we all know the internets is for disagreement over awards, so Matt Snyder and I will chime in with our picks, as well.

Best Moment(s) of 2011
Fans: World Series Game 6
Snyder: Game 6
Rosecrans: Sept. 28

Most Historic Milestone
Fans: Derek Jeter's 3,000th
Snyder: Jim Thome's 600th
Rosecrans: Jeter's 3,000th

Biggest Surprise
Fans: Cardinals
Snyder: Albert Pujols to the Angels
Rosecrans: Cardinals

Biggest Disappointment -- Individual section
Fans: Ryan Braun's failed test
Snyder: Braun
Rosecrans: Coco Crisp not sticking with the 'fro

Biggest Disappointment -- Team
Fans: Red Sox
Snyder: Red Sox
Rosecrans: Red Sox

Most Bush League Moment
Fans: Carlos Zambrano quitting on his teammates
Snyder: Carlos Guillen's celebration in the Jered Weaver/Tigers feud
Rosecrans: Zambrano

Worst Call
Fans: Jerry Meals
Snyder: Billy Butler's "inside the park" home run
Rosecrans: Meals

Biggest "Can't-Look-Away" Character
Fans: Ozzie Guillen
Snyder: Nyjer Morgan
Rosecrans: Guillen

Best Twitterer
Fans: @DatDudeBP (Brandon Phillips)
Snyder: @BMcCarthy32 (Brandon McCarthy)
Rosecrans: @BMcCarthy32

Biggest bonehead move
Fans: Mike Leake been caught stealing
Snyder: Leake
Rosecrans: Leake

Best celebration
Fans: None: They're all lame
Snyder: None
Rosecrans: None

Weirdest injury
Fans; Matt Holliday and the moth
Snyder: Holliday
Rosecrans: Holliday

Most impressive home run
Fans: Francisco

Snyder: Upton

Rosecrans: Upton

Best defensively play
Fans: Phillips

Snyder: Revere

Rosecrans: Revere

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: December 29, 2011 6:50 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 7:19 pm
 

Report: Pujols contract heavily backloaded

By Matt Snyder

We already knew Albert Pujols signed a gargantuan 10-year contract worth over $250 million to play for the Angels. What we didn't know initially was how the contract would break down. Considering the Angels went into the offseason saying they couldn't drastically increase payroll, it's not overly surprising that Pujols' contract is reportedly backloaded pretty heavily. From Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com:
Pujols will make a base salary of $12 million in 2012 and $16 million in 2013, said a source. His salary will gradually increase until it surpasses $30 million annually near the end of the deal.
Crasnick also notes that Pujols agreeing to have a lower salary in the next two seasons helped the Angels afford to sign starting pitcher C.J. Wilson. Then again, getting paid over $30 million when he's surpassed 40 years of age doesn't exactly sound too shabby for Pujols.

Also, Crasnick reports the deal has taken a while to finalize because the it includes a "personal services contract with the Angels once [Pujols'] playing days are done."

Pujols turns 32 this coming January, so he'll turn 42 before the final year of this contract. And, again, he'll make over $30 million that season. While Pujols has been the best player in baseball for a while -- finishing in the top five of MVP voting 10 of his 11 seasons, it's hard to see him being worth anywhere close to that salary in 10 years. The Angels are obviously counting on him earning back the entirety of the deal in the first five to seven years.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Voting for the 2011 MLB Bloggies, Part II



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With just a few days left until 2012 brings us a whole new year, it's only fitting to look back at the year that was. Sure, there's an actual baseball season, including spring training, the regular season and the postseason, but things happen nearly every day throughout the entire calendar year. So we're going to create a fake award and call it a Bloggie. 

We'll set the table with some nominations and let you, our readers, vote for the winners. We did Part I on Monday and this is Part II: Electric Boogaloo. Friday, we'll post the winners and our staff picks. Without further ado ...

Best Twitterer
• @JGuthrie46 (Jeremy Guthrie): The Orioles starter loves his Air Jordans and often gives updates on his newest kicks, but he also trash talks with his teammates in an entertaining feed.
• @BMcCarthy32 (Brandon McCarthy): The A's right-hander may be the most prolific tweeter of English Premier League analysis in baseball. He also shows off a great sense of humor.
@LoMoMarlins (Logan Morrison): The Marlins' brass may disagree, but Morrison is candid and entertaining with his tweets, even if it got him in trouble with the front office.
@DatDudeBP (Brandon Phillips): Phillips not only engages with his fans on Twitter, but also brings them into his real life. He's held contests to give away not just merchandise, but also a trip to spring training and even asked fans what to do on a day off, and when a kid invited him to his baseball game, Phillips showed up.
@str8edgeracer (C.J. Wilson): The off-season's most sought-after starter tweeted during the season, throughout the World Series and even in free agency.



Biggest bonehead move
• A-Rod's popcorn snafu: Usually having a famous actress feed you popcorn is a badge of honor -- unless you're Alex Rodriguez. Not only did Fox cameras catch then-girlfriend Cameron Diaz feeding A-Rod popcorn during the Super Bowl, but then Rodriguez made it worse by allegedly was upset about the shot.
Mike Leake's shopping spree: The second-year Reds pitcher was arrested for taking $60 worth of shirts from a downtown Cincinnati Macy's in April. He eventually pled guilty to a lesser charge.
• Distracted baserunner: The Reds and Phillies went 19 innings on May 25, but the game could have ended earlier -- with a different winner -- had Phillips been playing more attention to pitcher J.C. Romero than to his conversation with Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. While gabbing with Rollins, Romero picked Phillips off at second. What made it worse was that the Reds had two on and one out -- and were a ball away from loading the bases -- before Phillips got picked off. After walking Scott Rolen, Romero walked Jay Bruce to load the bases with two outs, but David Herndon replaced Romero to get out of the inning.
Beer and chicken: Beer and fried chicken are great things -- unless you're consuming those two in the clubhouse as your team is playing on the field. The backroom hijinks got Terry Francona fired and may have cost the Red Sox a shot at the playoffs.
Tony La Russa's communication breakdown: If the Cardinals hadn't come back to win the World Series, Tony La Russa's gaffe in Game 5 would go down as one of the worst of all time. La Russa claimed the crowd noise at Rangers Ballpark prevented him from communicating with his bullpen. He said he wanted his closer, Jason Motte, to get warmed up, and instead Lance Lynn was told to get warm. When Lynn came into the game, his manager was surprised and the Cardinals went on to lose the game.



Best celebration:
Brewers: Milwaukee's "Beast Mode" was inspired by Prince Fielder's kids and the movie Monsters, Inc.
Diamondbacks: Was the team's "Snake" inspired by the movie Dodgeball?
Yadier Molina: The Cardinal catcher either did a "cry baby" or motorcycle celebration during the NLCS.
Rangers: Texas' "claw and antler" started in 2010 and started the signaling to the dugout trend.
None, they're all lame.



Weirdest injury:
Jeremy Affeldt: The Giants left-hander suffered a deep cut that required surgery on his right hand when he used a knife to attempt to separate frozen hamburger patties.
Sergio Escalona: The Houston reliever suffered a spraining ankle when he tripped over a glove during batting practice.
Matt Holliday: The Cardinals left fielder left a game after a moth flew into his ear.
Zack Greinke: The Brewers' ace debuted on the disabled list after he broke a rib in a pickup basketball game before spring training started.
Chris Narveson: Another Brewer pitcher with an odd injury, the left-hander cut himself while fixing his glove.

 

Most Impressive home run:
Juan Francisco

Justin Upton

• Prince Fielder

Mark Trumbo

Mike Stanton




Best defensive play:
Asdrubal Cabrera

Brandon Phillips

Ben Revere

Jeff Francoeur

Sam Fuld




So, cast your vote and check back Friday for not only the winners, but also the choices from our staff.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Voting for the 2011 MLB Bloggies, Part I



By Matt Snyder


With just a few days left until 2012 brings us a whole new year, it's only fitting to look back at the year that was. Sure, there's an actual baseball season, including spring training, the regular season and the postseason, but things happen nearly every day throughout the entire calendar year. So we're going to create a fake award and call it a Bloggie.

We'll set the table with some nominations and let you, our readers, vote for the winners. This is just Part I. Tuesday, we bring you Part II. Friday, we'll post the winners and our staff picks. Without further ado ...

Best Moment(s) of 2011
No-Hitters: Justin Verlander, Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano all tossed a no-hitter during the 2011 season, with Verlander doing so for the second time in his career.
10-year anniversary of 9/11: The Cubs and the Mets played the Sunday Night Game on September 11 in New York's Citi Field, with the game itself taking a backseat to the pre-game memorial for the victims and the honoring of service men and women. 
September 28th: Rarely -- if ever -- has the final day of the regular season provided so much drama, as the Cardinals and Rays completed epic comebacks to steal the respective wild cards. Evan Longoria put the cherry on top of an all-around amazing night of baseball with his walk-off home run.
Cooper Stone throws out first pitch: Months after losing his father, Shannon Stone, to a tragic fall, young Cooper Stone threw out the ceremonial first pitch of ALDS Game 1. The catcher? His favorite player, Josh Hamilton, who then embraced Stone just in front of the pitcher's mound.
Game 6: Eleven innings. Nineteen runs. Fifteen pitchers. Beltre and Cruz go deep back-to-back. Freese's triple. Hamilton's homer. Berkman's clutch single. And Freese's walk-off. This was one for the ages in one of the best World Series in recent memory.



Most Historic Milestone
Jeter's 3,000th: On July 9, Derek Jeter hit a home run for hit number 3,000, becoming the 28th player in baseball history to join the elite group.
Thome's 600th: On August 15, Jim Thome went deep twice, the second home run being the 600th of his illustrious career. Only seven other players in big-league history have reached that plateau.
Rivera's 602nd: On September 19, Mariano Rivera locked down the save with ease. It was the 602nd of his career, making him the all-time leader.
Triple Crowned: Verlander led the American League in wins, strikeouts and ERA. Clayton Kershaw pulled off the same feat in the National League. The last time each league had a pitcher take the triple crown was 1924.
Most Valuable: Verlander won both the Cy Young and the AL MVP awards, marking the first time a starting pitcher won the MVP since 1986 and the 10th time in history a player won both the Cy Young and MVP.



Biggest Surprise
The Cardinals: Not only were the eventual World Series champions virtually left for dead in late August, but they went all season without their ace, as Adam Wainwright suffered a season-ending injury in spring training.
The D-Backs: The Arizona Diamondbacks were predicted to finish last in the NL West by nearly everyone. They had finished last the past two seasons, too. But these Snakes came out and won the West by a whopping eight games and took the Brewers to the limit in the NLDS.
The Rays: Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays had won the AL East two of the previous three seasons, but they also lost several key pieces and the payroll was $30 million less than it was in 2010. And the Rays still took the AL wild card from the mighty Red Sox on the final day of the regular season.
Pujols to L.A.: Albert Pujols was a St. Louis Cardinals icon. While he appeared to be flirting with other teams, it only seemed like a ploy to get the Cardinals to pay him more. He wouldn't really leave, would he? Well, he did, signing with the Angels on the final morning of the Winter Meetings.
Marlins' spending spree: For years we've watched the Florida Marlins deal potential high-salary players and be one of the most notoriously frugal clubs around. And then, in less than a week, the newly-named Miami Marlins inked three big-name free agents -- Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle.



Biggest Disappointment -- Individual section
Dunn is done: Adam Dunn has one of the most historically awful offensive seasons ever, and he's a DH. And it was only the first year of a four-year, $56 million contract.
No mo fro? Coco Crisp let his dreads out twice to reveal an incredibly awesome afro. But he didn't stick with it. And, yes, we realize this is a disappointment on a different level, but the Bloggies don't necessarily have to be serious.
Fractured: Marlins bench player Scott Cousins leveled star Giants catcher at home plate, a play in which Posey suffered a season-ending broken leg.
Juiced? NL MVP Ryan Braun failed a drug test and is facing a 50-game suspension, if his appeal is not upheld.



Biggest Disappointment -- Team
Red Sox: You may have heard of a collapse ...
Braves: You may have heard of a collapse ...
Twins: Lots of injuries and underperformance left the two-time defending AL Central champs with 99 losses.
Giants: The defending World Series champs finished eight games back in the NL West and four out in the wild card, sporting one of the worst offenses in baseball.



Most Bush League Moment
Weaver vs. Detroit: Magglio Ordonez watches a home run to see if it's fair or foul. Jered Weaver misinterprets it and thinks he's been shown up, so he has some words for the Tigers. Then Carlos Guillen hits a home run and basically stands still, staring down Weaver. Weaver then threw at Alex Avila and was tossed from the game while screaming at the entire Tigers dugout. You can place blame with Weaver, Guillen or both of them. However you slice it, though, at least one person was far out of line.
Big Z(ero): Carlos Zambrano gets knocked around by the Braves, throws at Chipper Jones -- getting himself ejected -- and then bails on his teammates. Some overheard him talking retirement, but he now is trying to work his way back.
Molina's "spittle:" Yadier Molina may not have intentionally spit on umpire Rob Drake back on August 2, but he did freak out far too much over a called strike and get himself suspended for five games during a pennant race.
Nyjer's mouth: Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan was a polarizing figure all season and that was solidified after the Brewers beat the D-Backs in the NLDS. Morgan was overheard screaming f-bombs right behind a field reporter. OK, maybe he didn't realize it was on live TV. But then when he was summoned for an interview on national TV, he made sure to say it loud and clear right into the microphone.



Worst Call
No pitching inside: Clayton Kershaw was ejected September 14 for (barely) hitting Gerardo Parra with a pitch on the elbow. Kershaw had been seen jawing with Parra the previous night, but he also had a one-hitter going and the pitch wasn't very far inside. It definitely seemed like an overreaction by home plate umpire Bill Welke.
Let's go home: An epic 19-inning game ended on a blown call at home plate by Jerry Meals, calling runner Julio Lugo safe at home and giving the Braves the victory over the Pirates on July 26.
Home run? On August 17, Royals DH Billy Butler hit what appeared to be a double in the gap. It bounced high off the outfield wall, hitting some fencing above padding on the wall. The umpires initially ruled a home run, but the play was put under video review. Replays pretty conclusively showed the ball staying in the park -- even the hometown Kansas City announcers were discussing that when the umpires emerged Butler would be ordered to head to second base. Butler was standing on the top step of the dugout with his helmet on when the umpires emerged and upheld the ruling.
Missed tag: In Game 3 of the World Series, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler made an errant throw that pulled first baseman Mike Napoli off the bag. Napoli made a swipe tag that very clearly got Cardinals baserunner Matt Holliday in time. First base umpire Ron Kulpa, however, blew the call, opening the door to a big inning for the Cardinals.



Biggest "Can't-Look-Away" Character
These don't really need an explanation, so we'll jump right to the poll ...



Coming Tuesday: Part II, including Boneheaded Moves of the Year, Weirdest Injury and Most Impressive Home Run
Coming Friday: Voting results and staff picks

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.



Posted on: December 22, 2011 11:53 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:19 am
 

Homegrown Team roundup: Who is our champ?



By Matt Snyder

Well that was fun. An entire month of Homegrown teams has now been concluded. Now it's time to see how this thing would play out -- and let's avoid any "realistic" talk. Nothing about this is realistic. It's an exercise intended for fun and entertainment.

If you need to review the teams, go check out our landing page, where there's a link to the Homegrown unit from each of the 30 teams.

We'll run through this thing division by division, then the playoffs and then pick a Homegrown World Series champion. I encourage the comments section at the bottom of this post to be used for you readers to do this on your own as well, doing as much as every single divisional breakdown or as little as simply posting your World Series picks. Let's get interactive and discuss, as this is a truly subjective exercise. I also have no doubt some people will post comments telling us we're idiots for predicting the Mariners to win the AL West, for example, thinking this is predictions for the real 2012 season. When that happens, please direct them to this paragraph. Thanks in advance for your help.

[Note: I'll put our staff rankings in parentheses, but those are the average of rankings by three of us -- editor Michael Coulter and bloggers C. Trent Rosecrans and myself. The picks below are only mine, so there could be some differences.]

AL EAST
1. Blue Jays (5)
2. Rays (6)
3. Red Sox (7)
4. Yankees (16)
5. Orioles (30)

We do an exercise like this and we end up right back where reality is: With the AL East having three of the best 10 teams in baseball. Of course, the Yankees aren't included this time, so there is some variety here ... except for last place.

AL CENTRAL
1. Royals (10)
2. Indians (11)
3. Tigers (17)
4. White Sox (24)
5. Twins (27)

The division lacks elite teams and I could see arguments for either the Royals or Indians. Maybe even the Tigers. I ultimately went with the Royals because I like their lineup and getting Zack Greinke back atop the rotation gives a boost.

AL WEST
1. Mariners (1)
2. Angels (15)
3. Rangers (23)
4. A's (26)

I feel like Seattle would have this thing clinched in early September. The other three aren't even close here.

NL EAST
1. Braves (2)
2. Phillies (8)
3. Nationals/Expos (9)
4. Mets (14)
5. Marlins (20)

Very strong division here, as I wrote that the Mets Homegrown unit would challenge for the NL wild card. It's just that three teams in this division (and two more in the West) happen to very clearly be better.

NL CENTRAL
1. Cardinals (13)
2. Pirates (12)
3. Astros (21)
4. Reds (18)
5. Brewers (25)
6. Cubs (29)

Like the AL Central, this is a sub-par division. In the rankings where three of us voted, the Pirates edged out the Cardinals, but I still think the Cardinals' Homegrown team is a bit better and these are my picks. Definitely feel free to do something different in your own picks below -- and I know my boy Trent would. I do think 83-85 wins would take this thing, though, and the winner would be destroyed in the first round of the playoffs.

NL WEST
1. Diamondbacks (3)
2. Dodgers (4)
3. Rockies (19)
4. Giants (22)
5. Padres (28)

Two-horse race here, as both the D-Backs and Dodgers came out ranked in our top four overall. The other three teams in this division aren't even .500 ballclubs in this exercise.

PLAYOFFS

AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays
NL Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers

ALDS
Blue Jays over Royals in 3
Mariners over Rays in 5

NLDS
D-Backs over Cardinals in 3
Braves over Dodgers in 5

ALCS
Mariners over Blue Jays in 7

NLCS
Braves over D-Backs in 6

THE HOMEGROWN WORLD SERIES
Mariners over Braves in 7

Can we say it was a pitchers' duel for the ages in Game 7 with Adam Wainwright vs. Felix Hernandez? Sure, why not? This is just for fun anyway.

So those are my picks. Again, make your own below and we can compare.

CONCLUSION

I probably don't have to do this, but I felt like clarifying a few things. First of all, you know how sometimes people leave comments like "it must be a slow news day!" like it's some kind of huge insult? Yeah, it's actually true some of the time -- especially in the offseason. Aside from the whirlwind that is the Winter Meetings -- and this year's version was insane -- the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas in baseball can be a collective "slow news day." And we knew this. So we came up with the idea to run this series, as it would give us something of substance every single day for 31 days (including this recap).

Now, we didn't just do it to kill time. That would be a waste of readers' time. We wanted to do something that was a bit unique, interesting and also fun. Making fictional lineups is pretty fun for any die-hard baseball fan. Think about, is an "All-Star team of players over 30 years old" really worth anything but a fun discussion? No. It's entertainment for those of us who love talking baseball. That's what the Homegrown series was all about. If you aren't a die-hard fan or hate ever thinking about something unrealistic, it's not for you, and that's OK.

Most of the feedback we got was good. Some was really bad, but that's the way things go. No exercise is ever going to be universally accepted, especially when the Internet provides the cloak of anonymity and someone can just type "this is awful, you suck" and then move along to the next page. For everyone who weighed in, thanks for the feedback. We appreciate all comments, both good and bad -- but mostly, we were happy to see that so many did find it interesting and fun. That was the goal.

As for any "flaws" in this exercise, if one was trying to draw some broad, sweeping conclusion, there would be many flaws. The Yankees, for example, are generally always picking in the last few picks of the first round in the MLB Draft and also lose picks frequently as they sign top-shelf free agents. On the other hand, teams like the Rays, Pirates and Royals have enjoyed quite a few chances to pick toward the top of the draft and to also nab supplemental picks as free agents depart. Plus, there's a reason there are real-life trades: Because no team could possibly have enough foresight on how prospects turn out and put together a well-rounded roster from draft/international signings only.

Also, in an effort to avoid inconsistency, we only used the 40-man rosters and major-league free agents. If a player is retired or in the minors and not yet on a 40-man roster, we didn't use him. Several Giants fans, for example, really wanted prospect Gary Brown to be used as the center fielder, but he's not on the 40-man (yet). I understand that if this was a realistic scenario, the ballclub might more quickly promote a guy to fill a hole, but, again, this wasn't meant to be "realistic" in any stretch of the term. And on Brown specifically, he spent 2011 in High-A ball, so he's hardly big-league ready.

We knew all of these so-called "flaws" heading in. I cannot possibly stress enough that the object of this series was for entertainment and nothing more. There's no need to go thinking too hard about it or getting worked up about your favorite team being either over- or underrated. Who cares? This isn't reality. Take the series for what it's meant to be.

Most of all, we thank our readers for taking part in this fun little exercise and encourage each and every one of you to post your rankings or standings or simply pick a World Series champion below. The beauty of it is there's no wrong answer, as it is entirely subjective. Get the discussion going as you sit in the office with nothing to do on the last day before Christmas weekend.

We have had a few requests for possibly doing these again next year -- but instead placing the players on the team they debuted in the majors with. That's definitely something we'll look into. We take all feedback seriously here at Eye On Baseball.

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:06 pm
 

La Russa talks about 'unavoidable' Pujols signing



By Matt Snyder


The Cardinals losing Albert Pujols was "unavoidable," says former manager Tony La Russa, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The now-retired manager seemed to defend both the Cardinals and Pujols -- who signed a 10-year, $254 million contract with the Angels -- and La Russa instead specifically blamed "the system."

"I know it was a painful decision and it pains [Pujols] now," La Russa said (Post-Dispatch). "He deserves what he got. He earned it. There's no bad guy here. I think the Cardinals went where they thought they should go. If they can't go farther, they shouldn't."

Albertageddon
The full story, written by Joe Strauss, is definitely worth a read and I'm not going to sit here and copy and paste the thing. Just go read his original version. La Russa was mostly being political in trying to defend both sides, though he certainly seemed intellectually and emotionally honest. It sounds like he truly loves the Cardinals organization, Cardinals fans and Pujols, so La Russa obviously wasn't going to bash anyone. He did point out one glaring mistake, though.

"I think he made a mistake when he said it wasn't about the money," La Russa said (Post-Dispatch). "If the Angels had offered the same exact thing he would have gone back to the Cardinals. I think his point was he was ready to sign for less than the best offer. I think he's sincere. I think he was trying to make it work. But you had a club that made an overwhelming offer."

And that's the point. People who make five figures a year don't want to hear about how it's not about the money when a player signs with the highest bidder. We aren't stupid. If you are going to say it's not all about the money, you better be like C.J. Wilson and actually leave money on the table -- putting your money where your mouth is, if you will. Taking the most money doesn't make someone a bad person. Far from it. I've long defended athletes who take the highest offer because most human beings would do the same. But if you sign the contract with the most money, patronize the fans in a different manner -- saying it's not about the money just doesn't sound honest. And there's no way to prove otherwise.

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