Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jackie Robinson Day April 15

I originally wrote this post for my NYCHistory blog page entitled Jackie Robinson Day April 15 on April 15, 2009. Since today is once again April 15th, I decided to re-post this in honor of Jackie Robinson:

April 15 is known to many people as the day that the TaxMan gets his due. But for baseball people, April 15th has a different significance. On April 15th, 1947, a young 28-year-old man took the field at Ebbets Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in a game against the Boston Braves. While playing first base, he had no hits in three at bats. Though this description is somewhat ordinary, the player was anything but. For the first time since the late 1800’s, a black man was allowed to play professional baseball within the ranks of Major League Baseball. That man was Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 13, 1919-October 24, 1972).
"It kills me to lose. If I'm a troublemaker, and I don't think that my temper makes me one, then it's because I can't stand losing. That's the way I am about winning, all I ever wanted to do was finish first." Jackie Robinson
Robinson brought an energy and excitement to both the field of play that was only seen on the fields that the Negro Leagues baseball was played on. His determination on the field translated to a form of baseball that emphasized speed and aggressive base running that many of the fans of Major League baseball had not seen. Where Robinson was aggressive on the field he was patient with the abuse that was hurled towards him from not only fans but from fellow players who often insulted him and threatened to not take the field if Robinson played in the game.
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."Jackie Robinson
The significance of Robinson’s playing for the Dodgers was not only felt within the baseball ranks. In terms of society, Robinson would become one of the icons of the growing civil rights movement. As Buck O'Neill says in the documentary Pride and Preserverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues:
"Jackie Robinson, that was the beginning of the civil rights movement. That was before Brown vs. The Board of Education. That was before Sister Rosa Parks said 'I'm not going to move to the back of the bus today'. Martin Luther King was a sophomore at Spellman at the time. That's what got the ball moving."
Robinson’s playing of professional baseball, gave many young black men and women a positive role model. If Jackie could do it, why couldn’t they do it.
"The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time." Jackie Robinson
His later life was devoted to the enhancement and advancement of the civil rights movement not only for African American but for all Americans.

"With all major league players, coaches and umpires wearing Jackie's No. 42, we hope to demonstrate the magnitude of his impact on the game of baseball, Major League Baseball will never forget the contributions that Jackie made both on and off the field" Commissioner of Major League Baseball Allen H. “Bud” Selig
"The way I figured it, I was even with baseball and baseball with me. The game had done much for me, and I had done much for it." Jackie Robinson
Today, every Major League player will wear number 42 as their uniform number in honor of the breaking of the color barrier by Robinson 62 years ago.
"When Jack stepped foot on the field on April 15, 1947, and broke the color barrier in baseball, he became a catalyst for social change in America," Rachel Robinson
That he did Mrs. Robinson, and thank you for all that your husband and family have done. The world would not be the same without it.

Here are some links to check out about Jackie Robinson:
- The Official Jackie Robinson Page
- Time Magazine 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century Listing for Jackie Robinson
- U.S. Library of Congress Baseball and Jackie Robinson Page
- Afro-Am Listing for Jackie Robinson
- The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum listing for Jackie Robinson
- The Jackie Robinson Foundation

What Ever Happened to Charles Johnson?

With all the discussion of the lack of African-American ballplayers in the MLB, a particular African-American player came to mind. I remember this person being a very dynamic catcher in the National League. Even though I thought he was a very good catcher will always be known for the trades that involved him and other players. The player that I'm thinking about is Charles Johnson.

I first remember seeing Charles Johnson while he was playing for the Florida Marlins. I always thought his style was reminiscent of Tony Peña who is currently a bench coach for the New York Yankees. Johnson was originally drafted in the first round of the 1989 draft and was picked by the Montréal Expos with the 10th pick. He declined to sign with Montreal choosing instead to attend the University of Miami. He once again was drafted in the first round this time in the 1992 draft with the 28th pick in the draft by the Florida Marlins. He decided to sign within a couple months after being drafted.

Johnson's potential was so promising that he spent a very short time in the minor leagues. Johnson spent the 1993 season playing for the Kane County Cougars of the Single A Midwest League. He was promoted to the Portland Sea Dogs of the Double A Eastern League for the 1994 season where he continued to impress. The impression made by Johnson even got him a call-up to the parent Marlins team where he played in 4 games before the players strike halted and eventually ended the 1994 season. Johnson would play in 2 games for Portland in 1995 before getting the permanent call-up to the majors. Johnson would by-pass Triple A entirely. To show you the impact made by Johnson in the minors, here is a description of Johnson from the article Charles Johnson to Return to Portland on April 18th from the Portland Sea Dogs website:
Johnson was a member of the Sea Dogs' inaugural team in 1994.  He opened the season as the Florida Marlins top prospect and he did not waste any time in making an impact in Portland.  In the Sea Dogs' inaugural game, Johnson belted two home runs including a game winner in the 14th inning as the Sea Dogs defeated the Reading Phillies 2-1.  The catcher hit .264 with 28 home runs and 80 RBI for the Sea Dogs in 1994 and was named to the Eastern League All-Star squad.  His 28 home runs led the league and were the most by an Eastern League catcher since Tony Peña hit 34 in 1979.
In making the jump to the Marlins, Johnson would be the first Marlins minor leaguer to reach the majors. In his rookie season of 1995, Johnson would end up 7th in the National League Rookie of the Year voting by hitting .251 with 11 homeruns and 39 RBI. He also made only 6 errors in the field and threw out 43% (38 of 89 runners) of would be basestealers earning the 1st of 4 straight N.L. Gold Glove awards for the catcher position. Johnson's performance would steadily improve during his seasons with the Marlins. Here is when things get a bit hectic for Johnson.

As part of the salary purge of the 1997 World Series Champions Johnson would be traded on May 14, 1998 with Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich and Gary Sheffield to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile (Piazza himself would be traded by the Marlins on May 22, 1998 to the New York Mets for Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall and minor leaguer Geoff Goetz). Johnson would finish out the 1998 season with the Dodgers and once again get traded.

On December 1, 1998 Johnson would be part of two trades. In the first transaction, Johnson was traded by the Dodgers with Roger Cedeno to the New York Mets for Todd Hundley and minor leaguer Arnold Gooch. Then he would be traded to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Armando Benitez. You would think that being traded to the American League would afford Johnson the opportunity to grow some roots with the Orioles. Not so. After spending the 1999 season with the Orioles where Johnson hit .251 with 16 homers and 54 RBI while throwing out 38% of would be base stealers, he would be traded once again.

On July 29, 2000 Johnson would be traded with Harold Baines to the Chicago White Sox for Brook Fordyce and minor leaguers Jason Lakman, Juan Figueroa, Miguel Felix. Finally after being traded four times in three seasons, Johnson would be granted free agency and re-signed with the Florida Marlins. Johnson's homecoming would be temporary.

In two seasons with the Marlins, Johnson would average 12 homeruns with 56 RBI while hitting .245 and throwing out 42% of base stealers in 2001 and 40% of base stealers in 2002 with his second All-Star appearance in 2001. After the 2002 season Johnson would once again be backing his bags. On November 16, 2002 Johnson would be traded by the Marlins along with Vic Darensbourg, Pablo Ozuna and Preston Wilson to the Colorado Rockies for Mike Hampton, Juan Pierre and cash (Hampton would be traded to the Atlanta Braves on November 18, 2002 for Tim Spooneybarger and minor leaguer Ryan Baker).

Johnson would spend two seasons in Colorado where he would find his career stalled by the Rockies pledging to play rookie J.D. Closser as their everyday catcher. After deliberations with a failed proposed trade with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Johnson would be traded for the last time in his career. Right before Spring Training camp broke on March 30, 2005 Johnson was traded by the Rockies along with Chris Narveson to the Boston Red Sox for Byung-Hyun Kim and cash. That same day Johnson was released by the Red Sox and would sign with the Devil Rays on April 4th. Johnson would only appear in 15 games for the Devil Rays before he was released on June 13, 2005 effectively ending his professional career.

In total of 12 season, Johnson had the following statistics:

Charles Johnson
475997610.330 .433.245 .762 
Johnson was a two-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and won a World Series Championship with the 1997 Florida Marlins. 

Sisco Kid.

For Further Reading

Thursday, April 11, 2013

283 Wins with 16 Gold Gloves AND Most Wins in the 1960's AND NOT in the Hall of Fame

This question from Pete was two questions that I rolled into one since the answer is the same for both. At first the question of who is the pitcher who has 283 career wins with 16 Gold Gloves and is NOT in the Hall of Fame led me to initially say that the answer was Mike Mussina. The answer was incorrect. Mussina had a career 270-153 record with 7 Gold Gloves. My next answer would prove correct.

Jim Kaat had a 283-237 career record with a total of 16 Gold Gloves in a row from 1962-1977. 14 were in American League with the Twins and White Sox while his last 2 were with the Philadelphia Phillies. The only pitcher with more Gold Gloves than Jim Kaat is Greg Maddux who has a total of 18 Gold Gloves.

For the second question: Who won the most games in the 1960's, I joked to Pete that it surely couldn't have been Jim Kaat which got a big laugh out of him. It is Jim Kaat with a catch. The question wasn't quite correct. Pete says he said A.L. but I didn't hear it.No matter, the following is still interesting.

Jim Kaat led the American League in wins during the 1960's with a record of 142-119 during that decade. The amazing thing is that with 142 wins during the 1960's and a total of 283 wins, Kaat is not in the Hall of Fame. There are 40 pitchers that are in the Hall with less wins than Kaat. I'm not totally sure why he didn't garner the 75 percent vote needed for enshrinement into Cooperstown. Kaat pitched the bulk of his career in an era where pitchers started and finished their games regardless if they won or loss. Kaat has a total of 180 complete games to his name.

The honor of the most wins among all pitchers within the American AND National Leagues belongs to "The Dominican Dandy" Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. Marichal posted a 191-88 record from 1960-1969 winning 20 games or more 7 times for an average of 19 wins and 9 losses per season. Another astounding fact of all this is that Marichal NEVER won the Cy Young Award. The Cy Young award was given to one pitcher for both leagues from 1956-1966. From 1967 on, the award was awarded to the best pitcher in the American League and the best pitcher in the National League.

There you go. Until the next round of trivia questions.

Sisco Kid.

For Further Reading
- Click Here to Access Jim Kaat's Career Statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to Access Juan Marichal's Career Statistics from Baseball Reference.com

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

UPDATE: The Yankees Should Trade Robinson Cano If...

Back on March 7, 2013 I posted the following statement concerning Robinson Cano and the Yankees:
If the Yankees are in third place or worse by the deadline they should trade Robinson Cano. His agent, Mr. Scott Boras, is going to want to fleece the Yanks for a contract of over $200 million with at least 7 or 8-years. A 5-year deal would be much more economical but knowing how Scott Boras is when negotiating deals for his clients, economical isn't a word that he would use.
Well, now that Cano has fired Boras and signed on with Jay-Z's Roc Nation Agency I need to amend my statement somewhat. Like I stated in the original post, I'm a big Robinson Cano fan and I don't make my call to trade Cano lightly. I'm not making this amendment because Cano is hitting lights out (8 for 19 with 7 RBIs, 8 Runs scored with 3 Homers) while leading the Yankees in scoring 32 runs on 44 hits during their current three-game winning streak. I'm looking at this logically.

I do believe that with the change in representation for Cano a deal between him and the Yankees will happen. I believe Jose Cano (Robinson's father) when he says: I know he will sign for six or seven years. I've always believed that a deal within those number of years would work out the best for both sides. I think a deal similar to Josh Hamilton's 5-year $133-million would work out best. At 30, Cano can get paid top dollar with the potential for another payday at the age of 36 (similar to how Jeter signed with the Yankees in 2011). Give him $30-million a year but $30-million over five years is much more manageable than $30-million over eight to ten years.

For the Yankees, it helps to streamline their payroll in terms of number of years signed and avoid possibly having a repeat of the negative impact of a long contract like Alex Rodriguez's. In generally I feel that Baseball is better served if players signed contracts with in the five or six year range rather than the eight to ten year age, especially for players who are already 30 years old. I think the benchmark for that will be how Albert Pujols continues to perform during the length of his 10-year $240-million deal. Pujols was recently quotes as saying: "God has given me ability and talent, but the day I feel like I can't compete any more on this level, I'm not going to embarrass myself," "I'm going to walk off. Whether that's next year, two years from now, only God knows." 

I personally feel that in signing players to shorter contracts helps to limit the amount of stagnancy that might eventually accrue on rosters from older players being locked into multi-year deals that feel like there is no end in sight.

Like I said above, I do think the Yankees will sign Cano either during the season or in the offseason. I think more rational heads will prevail in the form of Cano's new representatives. I always hinged the talk of trading Cano on the Boras-effect. I'm truly glad to see that effect gone from this situation. We'll see how it Cano's contract situation plays out over time.

Sisco Kid

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Only Player to Play For The Boston Milwaukee AND Atlanta Braves

This question from Pete proved to be quite the tricky question to answer. For those of you who don't know, the Atlanta Braves started out in the city of Boston. After a number of monikers, the name of the team settled on The Braves from 1912-1935 and 1941-1952. They were called the Boston Bees from 1936-1940. Why? I haven't been able to find out as of yet. But for an interesting history on the Boston Braves check out Home of the Braves? 50 years after the Boston Braves' departure, it’s worth asking: did the wrong team leave town? by Mike Miliard. Back to the trivia question. So the Braves left Boston for Milwaukee for a period of 12 years before moving to Atlanta for the 1966 season. The player would have had to have played for the team for a window of at least 14 years from 1952 to 1966 to have played for the team in all three cities.

At first my mind gravitated to Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, which was the incorrect answer. Spahn played for Boston in 1942 before losing three seasons to military service. Spahn rejoined the team in 1946 and continued with the franchise through their move to Milwaukee. His contract was purchased by the New York Mets in 1964 and would become a free agent after being released during the 1965. Spahn would sign with the San Francisco Giants during the same season and be released at season's end.

Though Hall of Famer Hank Aaron signed as a free agent with the Boston Braves in 1952, he never played in Boston coming up with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954. He would play with the Braves in Atlanta until 1974. Aaron would play for two more seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. After Aaron, the next logical choice for me was Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews which was indeed the correct answer.

Eddie Mathews' rookie season was 1952 with the Boston Braves and came into his own with the Milwaukee Braves as a potent tandem with Hank Aaron. While in Milwaukee, Mathews hit 452 of his 512 home runs. He would combine with Aaron to hit a total of 850 home runs while playing in Milwaukee. That is one crazy number considering that in 12 years, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig would combine for a total of 859 home runs.

Mathews would play the 1966 season in Atlanta before he was traded to the Houston Astros on December 31, 1966 with a player to be named later and Arnold Umbach for Bob Bruce and Dave Nicholson. Sandy Alomar Sr. was the player to be named later. He would later be traded to the Detroit Tigers during the 1967 season and play with them until the end of the 1968 season. He would be released and retire after the 1968 season.

Thanks to Pete for that one.

For Further Reading
- Click Here to read Guest Article: Looking Back at Aaron and Mathews by Andrew Godfrey from the Los Angeles Times blog page Bleacher Report: Los Angeles dated October 7, 2009
- Click Here to Access Eddie Mathews' Career Statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to Access Hank Aaron's Career Statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to Access Warren Spahn's Career Statistics from Baseball Reference.com

Sisco Kid

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Chris Davis Is En Fuego

In the first four games of the 2013 season, Chris Davis has become a fantasy baseball dream. At a glance he is what Davis has done: 9 for 15 (.600) with four homers and 16 RBI. According to Eduardo A. Encina in his article Chris Davis' grand slam gives Orioles 9-5 win over Twins on Opening Day from the Baltimore Sun  website dated April 5, 2013:
Davis drove in a career-high five runs on the day, giving him 16 RBIs this season, the most of any player through his team's first four games since RBIs became an official stat in 1920, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That shattered the record of 12 set by the St.Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire (1998) and Philadelphia Phillies' Dolph Camilli (1935)...Davis also became just the fourth player in major league history to homer in his team's first four games — joining Willie Mays (1971), McGwire ('98) and Nelson Cruz (2011).
Of the 9 hits, 7 are extra base hits (3 2B and 4HR) which has his Slugging percentage at an astronomical 1.600 and his OPS is 2.211. Ok, he's not going to continue at that torrid pace for the whole season. Perhaps this is a sign of what was expected of him after his rookie season of 2008. Lee Singer of ESPN Stats & Info wrote an article in March 22, 2010 entitled One2Watch4: Rangers 1B Chris Davis which goes in depth where Davis stood after the disappointing 2009 season.

It should be interesting to see what Chris Davis continues to do. Will he hit another homerun today to make it five homers in the first five games of the season? Will the Twins even pitch to him? We'll have to wait and see.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading
- Click Here to Access Chris Davis' Career Statistics from Baseball Reference.com

Friday, April 5, 2013

Three Players Who Are The Team Leaders in Total Hits Doubles Triples AND Homers For One Franchise

My good friend Pete and I do alot of Baseball trivia during the season and last night the first question came out. As I get them, I'll write a post profiling the question and answer(s). Here is the first question:
Three Players Who Are The Team Leaders in Total Hits, Doubles, Triples AND Homers For One Franchise. 
Now I thought about it and immediately thought about who ranks on top of the list in hits and homers and immediately said Hank Aaron. Pete just shook his head. Willie Mays was my next guess and again a head shake. I also thought about which younger franchises in the league could have one player hold the franchise record in singles, doubles, triples AND homeruns but nothing came to mind. Then Pete gave me a hint:
Each player only played for ONE team during their career
The first player immediately came to mind. Hall of Famer George Brett was the first correct answer. In 21 seasons with the Kansas City Royals, Brett hit a total of 3,154 hits with 665 doubles, 137 triples and 317 home runs. The nearest players to Brett in hits is Frank White at 2,006. In doubles it is Hal McRae at 449. In triples Willie Wilson is second with 133. In homers Mike Sweeney is at 197. Unless one of the new Royals players like Moustakas or Hosmer plays their entire career with the Royals, it seems that Brett's place atop the Royals hits, doubles, triples and homers list is safe.

- Click Here to Access George Brett's Career Statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to Access a sortable list of the Kansas City Royals career leaders by category

Something told me that number two would be a contemporary of Brett's who also played for one team during their career. After briefly flirting with Pete Rose (Rose played for Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Montreal), I took a stab in the dark with the guess of Robin Yount which got a resounding "Yes" from Pete.

Hall of Famer Robin Yount played 20 seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. Yount hit a total of 3,142 hits with 582 doubles, 126 triples and 251 homers. The nearest players to Young in hits is fellow Hall of Famer Paul Molitor with 2,281. Molitor also follows Yount in doubles (405) and triples (86). In terms of home runs, second to Yount on the All-Time Brewers list is Prince Fielder who has 230. Yount is in jeopardy of falling from this trivia list since Ryan Braun is rapidly approaching the 251 home run plateau. He currently sits at 203 and it would be safe to say barring any major injury that Braun will reach 251 next season.

- Click Here to Access Robin Yount's Career Statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to Access a sortable list of the Milwaukee Brewers career leaders by category

The last one on the list proved to be much harder especially when Pete gave me a last hint:
He played for one of the classic teams not a newer team. 
Now this would prove to be a bit more difficult. My mind gravitated to Babe Ruth but remembered that Derek Jeter is the Yankees All-Time hits leader and Babe played for more teams than just the Yankees. I thought about Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers but he doesn't lead the franchise in home runs (Al Kaline does). So after a few minutes of "flipping baseball cards in my head" (When I think about different Ballplayers, I see them as Baseball cards in my head), I nailed the correct answer on the nose.

The third player is none other than Stan "The Man" Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals.The recently deceased Hall of Famer hit a total of 3,630 hits with 722 doubles, 177 triples and 477 homeruns in 22 seasons. The nearest players to Musial on the Cardinals All-Time hit list is Lou Brock with 2,713. In terms of doubles Albert Pujols had 455 as a Cardinal. In terms of triples Rogers Hornsby follows Musial with 143. Albert Pujols trails Musial with 445 homers. With the departure of Pujols to the Angels last season, Musial's place at the top of each category seems to be safe.

- Click Here to Access Stan Musial's Career Statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to Access a sortable list of The St. Louis Cardinals career leaders by category

So there you have it. I have a bunch of other trivia questions that I will be turning into blog posts during the upcoming season. Have a trivia question for me? Email me, Tweet it to me @BaseballSisco, or post it to my Facebook page Baseball Sisco Kid Style. I look forward to being stumped by you all.

Sisco Kid

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Beasts of the National League

Here's Part II of who I think the best team in each division in the National League.

National League East
 If yesterday's performance of Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg is any indication, the Washington Nationals and their fans are having dreams of October World Series baseball in Washington D.C. This team was loaded last season and as hard as it is to believe they actually improved themselves. Gone is Michael Morse in a trade with the Oakland A's right-hander A.J. Cole (who was the pitching prospect of the trade that brought Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland A’s to the Nationals). Added is Denard Span who will give veteran support to an outfield that is made up by phenom Bryce Harper and the bearded wonder Jason Werth. The Infield is anchored by Adam LaRoche who resigned with the Nationals after a career season along with Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinoza and Ian Desmond. Mid Season acquisition Kurt Suzuki will be manning the rotation from behind the plate.

If the starting rotation was good last season behind Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman it will only get better with the addition of Dan Haren. Haren comes over from the American League with something to prove. If he can stay healthy, this gives the Nats a formidable four man front. Ross Detwiller seems to be the fifth starter for now.

Where the Nats seemed to improve the most was with the signing of Rafael Soriano to be the closer. Soriano shined in his opportunity to close for the New York Yankees last season and will be backed up by 8th inning man Tyler Clippard and former closer Drew Storen.

With the innings cap removed from Strasburg and with Bryce Harper continuing to mature into the dominant player that many think he will be, the only real opponent the Nationals might have is themselves.

- 2013 Washington Nationals Projected Lineup

National League Central
The Reds will try to rebound from last season's collapse in the NLDS by once again winning the National League Central division. The team led by franchise player Joey Votto will be a dominant force in the NL. Backed up by Brandon Phillips, Shin Soo Choo, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazer, the Reds lineup is able to quickly pile up runs on opposing pitching. Ryan Ludwick is also a part of the force but after yesterday's injury to his shoulder while sliding into 3rd base, it remains to see if they lose him for a significant amount of time.

The rotation is headed by Johnny Cueto with Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey. The team finally ended the experiment of Aroldis Chapman becoming a starter by definitively stating that he will be the closer. Enough is enough. Leave him in the pen where he belongs. He will be backed up by free agent signing Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall and Jose Arredondo.

Dusty Baker has himself a well rounded squad that barring injury should make quick work of the National League Central

- 2013 Cincinnati Reds Projected Lineup

National League West
The San Francisco Giants have quietly put together what you might call a dynasty for today's modern game with two World Series titles in the last three seasons with a young group of players who seem to be destined to play together for years to come. Led by NL MVP Buster Posey the Giants are the team to beat in the NL West. The youth of this team can be seen with their infield of Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval on the corners and Brandon Crawford at short. Veteran Marco Scutaro will be the everyday 2nd baseman for the Giants this season after having injury prone disappointment Freddy Sanchez at 2nd.

The outfield is led by Angel Pagan, who I have stated in my post Angel Pagan Esta Encendido (from my other  Baseball blogpage Latinoball) will have a breakout season based on the way he played last season and in this year's World Baseball Classic. Joining him is Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco and the returning Andres Torres who spent a disappointing season with the New York Mets.

The rotation is the backbone that this team is built on. Led by Matt Cain, the rotation is made up of Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Baumgarner and the rejuvinated Barry Zito. I mean no disrespect whatsoever to two time NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum by not listing in above or next to Cain. But it seems that his troubles from last season (post season domination notwithstanding) seem to have carried over into this season. Coming into his final year of 2-year $40.5-million dollar deal there have been some rumors that he might not be with the Giants after this season. Though I would say losing Lincecum would be a mistake, if he doesn't pitch up to the standard that he established in the past his days in San Francisco might be numbered.

The closer role is Sergio Romo's with the seemingly upset Brian Wilson out of the picture. Wilson was not offered a contract by the Giants after only pitching one game for the Giants last season and season ending Tommy John surgery. Wilson rejected the team's minor league contract overture and remains a free agent. Backing up Romo is last year's bullpen group of Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez.

As I have told many people in the last few weeks, the San Francisco Giants (and the Tampa Bay Rays to a lesser degree due to a lack of financial resources that the Giants have) are building the team in the proper way. They are building from within, locking in those homegrown players and filling the blanks with timely trades and budget free agent signings. This method will prove to be main reason the Giants keep winning titles.

- 2013 San Francisco Giants Projected Lineup

Just a few points on the rest of the National League. In the East, there is only one real threat to the Nationals and that's the Atlanta Braves. Though the addition of the Upton brothers will definitely help ease the loss of Chipper Jones to retirement I'm not sure that is enough to match up toe to toe with the Nats. They need Dan Uggla to have a rebound season in order to have a chance. The Phillies are slowing down as the seasons go by falling into the same kind of pattern as the Yankees have with the reliance on primarily older veteran players. The Mets are in a positive rebuilding mode and their young players will get considerate playing time this season that will help separate those who are ready for the big leagues from those who aren't. The Marlins? Let's just say that Giancarlo Stanton can't do it all on his own.

In the Central, the St. Louis Cardinals are always a threat. The injury to David Freese and the loss of Chris Carpenter might loom large, as well as the loss of Kyle Loshe to division rival Milwaukee Brewers. Speaking of the Brewers, they seem to be stuck in a homing pattern of sorts. I'm not sure they are ready to make the next step. The Pittsburgh Pirates are still taking their baby steps to respectability and I think this season is the year they finally finish over .500. The Chicago Cubs are starting from the bottom up and Theo Epstein has his hands full but does have shining stars in Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija.

In the West, the cash flush Los Angeles Dodgers are spending to win now with a flurry of free agent signings in addition to last season's blockbuster trade with the Red Sox. Is it enough to displace the World Series champs as NL West Champions? Time will dictate that. The Arizona Diamondbacks will try to play for the Wild Card while the Colorado Rockies will rest their hopes on the health of franchise players Troy Tulowitzski and Carlos Gonzalez. The San Diego Padres continue to rebuild and hope that 3rd baseman Chase Hedley doesn't miss more time to his thumb injury than is already expected.

So there you go folks. What do you think. Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line to my email.

Sisco Kid.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Elvis Got Paid

Like I posted earlier on my BaseballSiscoKidStyle Facebook page:
Unless this is an April Fool's joke by CBS Sports' own Jon Heyman, The Texas Rangers and Elvis Andrus have a deal on a $120 million, eight-year extension that will bring Andrus' commitment to $131 million over 10 years through 2022.
I know this was a subject of rumor talks during Spring Training, especially with the rise of prospect Jurickson Profar. This is the kind of move that I have been in favor of. Instead of waiting for your players to reach the age of 30+ to lock them into a multi-year deal, you take your young talent (Andrus is only 24) and you lock them in. Make them part of your future. Andrus will be only 33 by the time that deal ends and in line for another payday. As per Heyman:
Andrus' total guarantee will be precisely $131.275 million over 10 years, including the $11.275 million he had left on his three-year deal through 2014. He would have been a free agent after '14.
What the Rangers do now will be interesting. Do they move Profar to 2nd Base? If so, what happens to Ian Kinsler. I have read that maybe he gets moved to 1st base or even traded. Kinsler is locked in with the Rangers until 2017 owed $70-million with the team has an option in 2018 for $12-million or a $5-million buyout. So it would make sense that the team try and move Kinsler to another position instead of trading him. A foundation made up of Andrus, Kinsler and Profar playing together for five or more year is really an attractive thought, except if you're a fan of a team other than the Rangers in the A.L. West. =)

Time will decide what course of action the Rangers take. Once again, another team is opening their wallets and locking in their players. And that is good for the game and for the fans of the Rangers.

Sisco Kid

- Click Here to Access Elvis Andrus' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to Access Jurickson Profar's career statistics from Baseball Cube.com
- Click Here to Access Ian Kinsler's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com