Did you hear that? It sounds so close. Oh, there it is again. It’s freedom from the work week, and it’s calling your name. You’re almost there, champ. You’re in the homestretch. I know it’s been a long, hard week, but the weekend is so close. I know you can make it. All you need to get you through to the final minutes is the latest edition of Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday.
Making predictions isn’t normally my cup of tea, but they don’t call these “stray” thoughts for nothing. In terms of division winners, from the American League, I’m going with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and the Oakland A’s surprising the Texas Rangers. In the National League, I like Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Colorado. As far as wild card teams go, I’d think that the Rangers, Rays, Twins and Yankees are the front runners in the AL, while the Braves, Giants and Reds stand the best chance in the NL. I think Oakland’s pitching, both rotation and bullpen, are going to surprise a lot of people this year.
An AL Central team winning the wild card? Hang on, and read below.
El Sacko Predictions
I’m guessing that the Cleveland Indians will lose more games than the Kansas City Royals this year, but not a whole lot more. Other cellar dwellers will be the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros and, wait for it, the Los Angeles Dodgers, most likely due to a lack of leadership.
Dollars Make Cents
If you take the $86 million that the Blue Jays saved by trading Vernon Wells, subtract Juan Rivera’s contract ($5.25 million), Frank Francisco’s salary (who was flipped for Mike Napoli) ($4 million), and the rumoured $5 million that the Jays are said to have given to the Angels, then add back the cash that they received from the Rangers for the Napoli / Francisco flip, you have roughly $73 million dollars. Toss in the money that the Blue Jays saved by trading Shaun Marcum to the Brewers for Brett Lawrie ($4 million) and you get $77 million. If the Blue Jays pick up the option for Jose Bautista’s sixth year they will end up paying him $78 million over six years. That’s pretty close.
McGowan On My Mind
Still on the Blue Jays: Every time I see a tweet or sentence in a column mentioning Dustin McGowan throwing in a bullpen during Spring Training, I’m filled with a little bit of hope. I’m not even really hoping that he’ll find the success that he had during his first two years in the league. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that he finds some reward for trying so hard to come back after injuries seem to continually mount against him. There would be few better stories in Toronto this year if he were to come out of the bullpen and pitch effectively in relief.
Retirements Equal HoF Speculating
We got two major retirements in two days when Jim Edmonds announced that he won’t be playing anymore baseball one day after Gary Sheffield did the same. Whenever a good player retires, it’s the sworn duty of baseball bloggers to argue about their Hall of Fame eligibility. I haven’t thought it through precisely, but comparing how many years Sheffield played to Edmonds’ seven seasons of 5.5 WAR or better baseball, including four above 6.5, makes me think that the latter is more deserving than the former.
Drew Fairservice and I were having a conversation about college baseball yesterday, and we both agreed that it’s about time that it take it’s place in popularity among college basketball and college football. Maybe this is only the case in Canada, but isn’t it a bit strange that college baseball has never been as accepted as the other two sports have been?
The thinking has always been that the short, early season contributed to athletic programs not considering it on par with basketball and football, but as warmer weather schools began investing more into their programs, popularity has been on the rise.
Here’s a very interesting article on the new rules governing the baseball bats that college players are allowed to use. I’m not sure if this is going to help a whole lot with the sports popularity, at least in the short run.
The Hard Way
Beyond The Boxscore has an excellent post about the players who get on base the hard way, through the hit by pitch. The story reminded me of the former Blue Jays resident black and blue player, Reed Johnson. Between 2003 and 2006 (inclusive), Reed Johnson was hit by 69 (!) pitches, second only to Jason Kendall’s 76. However, Kendall had 631 more plate appearances than Johnson.
So, um, does anyone know when Albert Pujols is up for free agency?
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I’ve been putting off reading The Bullpen Gospels since it came out last year because I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like it and that I’d have to say bad things about it. Dirk Hayhurst seems like such a nice guy, who has gone out of his way to engage with fans, that I didn’t want to risk having anything bad to say about him. All that’s about to change with Getting Booked: The Second Chapter. For those wishing to participate in our book club on Monday, March 7th, I’d really encourage you to read or reread the book with a critical eye that separates the nice guy who’s talked with you on Twitter from the words he’s written in his book.