Baseball

A Look at the Cleveland Indians

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When looking at who the Royals have to face in their division you can understand why fans are so excited for this 2012 season. With teams that have around the same amount of competition, a break here and a break there could push the Royals into the playoffs. With the new addition of Prince Fielder, the Detroit Tigers have been set above the competition. The Royals, Twins, and Indians will look to sneak up and snatch the divisional championship. We will start by looking at the Cleveland Indians.

Line up

1. Grady Sizemore OF

2. Jason Kipnis 2B

3. Asdrubal Cabrera SS

4. Carlos Santana C

5. Travis Hafner DH

6. Shin-Soo Choo OF

7. Casey Kotchman 1B

8. Jack Hannahan 3B

9. Michael Brantley OF

When looking at the line up you must keep in mind injuries. This team has been plagued with injury every year (usually with more then one player). If the Cleveland Indians can stay healthy, they will be dangerous. The addition of Casey Kotchman was a huge addition because of his consistent play. Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santa will look to carry most of the load as they did last year. While there isn’t an All-Star in the line up, each hitter fits well in the role they have. This team can hit for average and power. When healthy, Travis Hafner is one of the best power hitters in the league. Also, look for the young Carlos Santana to assert himself as one of the better catchers in the league. Many scouts have him becoming one of the best hitting catchers in the majors.

Picture from: http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Carlos+Santana+(baseball+player)/Detroit+Tigers+v+Cleveland+Indians/opqJebnvQ_v

Starting 5

Ubaldo Jimenez – 10 wins 13 loses ERA 4.68

Justin Masterson – 12 wins 10 loses ERA 3.21

Derek Lowe – 9 wins 17 loses ERA 5.05

Josh Tomlin – 12 wins 7 loses ERA 4.25

Kevin Slowey – 0 wins 8 loses ERA 6.67

While Ubaldo Jimenez struggled last year, I predict him having 14 wins and have a bounce back year. While he will not put up monstrous numbers like he did in 2010 (finished 3rd in Cy Young Award). I expect the other starting pitchers numbers to be around the same. Justin Masterson has major room to improve because of the “stuff” that numerous scouts rave about. Josh Tomlin put together a very nice year and I expect around the same numbers. Derek Lowe Brings leadership to the staff. Last off-season he was caught racing his car while drunk. Although the charges were later dropped, the quality of his leadership is in question. Kevin Slowey will most likely be replaced due to his horrendous numbers. There is no place in major league baseball for a pitcher with those numbers.

Key players

Grady Sizemore– It’s clear, if Sizemore can stay healthy he is an All-Star center fielder. For some staying healthy is easy but by viewing his history of injury, it is his biggest flaw. He has the speed to steal 30 bases as he has done twice already in his career. What separates Sizemore from most center fielders is his power, in 2008 he hit 33 home runs and 39 doubles. The Indians took a chance on signing Sizemore back for a one year deal. Sizemore is already expected to miss opening day due to a strained lower back. Expect this injury like that to stay with him throughout they year.

Ubaldo Jimenez – The former ace was traded from the Colorado Rockies to the Indians. The Indians expected to get the same pitcher that could carry a starting rotation to new heights. With dominate pitches Ubaldo can make the adjustment and dominate like he did in the National League. If he can turn the corner and dominate again, he can dominate the “down” division. When the Indians traded for Jimenez, they thought that he would dominate just as C.C. Sabathia did when he won the AL CY Young Award in 2007.

Carlos Santana – The 25 year old looks to build on a powerful 2011 season. Last year he hit 35 home runs but had a .239 batting average. I expect his average to jump above .250 because of experience and help around him in the lineup. Although he managed to belt out 35 home runs, he only had 79 runs batted in. I also expect that number to jump into the lower 90’s for the same two reasons. Along with playing catcher, Santana has the ability to play first base if needed.

Sleeper

Justin Masterson has yet to display his full potential. With his huge frame of 6’6” 250lbs. Masterson should be able to blow hitters away with his stuff. A former prospect for the Boston Red Sox was once highly regarded for his dominance in the minor leagues. Do not be surprised if Masterson can quitly collect over 15 wins.

When this team is healthy the can compete and win this division. But, health is the main downfall to the Indians. Expect the Indians to make a major run at first place at some point in the year. Their momentum will slow up due to a major injury and they will slide under .500.

Final prediction: 74-88

Spencer Montgomery

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“The Old Man” Jeff Francoeur

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On most teams the veterans are 35-38 years old, but for the Kansas City Royals, Jeff Francoeur at 28, is the leader of the clubhouse. Frenchy has the challenge of leading the youngest team in baseball to the playoffs. Dayton Moore and the Royals saw the excellent Francoeur did for the young squad last year and rewarded him to a 2-year deal worth $12.5 million. While this may be overpaying for the stats he may put up, his leadership abilities will be priceless when showing the “kids” how to go about doing their job of playing baseball at a championship level.

http://royalsblog.kansascity.com/?q=node/902

When GM Dayton Moore signed Francoeur to a 1-year deal with the Royals, he had an idea of the productivity he might receive. Along with the Melky Cabrera signing, Moore cashed in with the two 1-year deals. While the Royals had an idea of what Francoeur could do on and off the field for the club, I don’t think anyone expected the stats Frenchy managed to put up. He managed to surprise almost everyone by hitting .285 with 20 homeruns and 87 runs batted in.

Leadership can be described in numerous ways and Francoeur would fit every mold of leadership. He demands respect of the young players and unlike some leaders who are hard on others, Francoeur is an easygoing guy who leads mostly by action. When watching Frenchy play you can’t help but notice the little kid in him. He is actually doing what he always dreamed of. How many people can say they are getting paid to do what they always dreamed of. With the pressure surrounding the prospects that the Royals have, Francoeur shows that it’s just a game and the young players need to stay loose but still play hard. Francoeur is a huge fan favorite because he is not flashy; he just gets the job done.

I expect Frenchy to duplicate numbers close to the ones showed earlier in his career. I see nearly everything staying the same except the outfield assists; teams won’t be likely to run on him again after this throw.

            When most fans think of key players for the Royals their first thought will be Eric Hosmer, but no fan will forget what Francoeur means to the success of players such as Hosmer and Moustakas. Fans have high expectations due to the weak central division the Royals are in. The addition of Prince Fielder clearly puts the  Detroit Tigers as the contender, I just hope the Royals do not fit the mold of a “playoff pretender”.

Eric Hosmer

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Eric Hosmer was drafted 3rd in 2008 for his rare combination of size and tools. He’s viewed primarily as a potential slugger, but his game offers much more than home runs. His swing is level and smooth, and he covers the plate well considering his size. He has power to all fields, and he is almost too willing to take outside fastballs to the opposite field rather than waiting for a pitch that he can pull over the right field fence. Last year, Hosmer displayed his ability to hit the other way with most of his 27 doubles going through the gap in left field.
His batting eye fits his size and swing perfectly, making him a complete power-hitter. While he has 30 home-runs potential, his strength rests in his well-rounded offensive abilities. Besides his potential plus-plus power, Hosmer will offer batting average, on-base skills, and is adept at racking up doubles to both gaps. I believe at this point of his career, Hosmer is more of a contact hitter then power hitter.
In addition to his bat, Hosmer has gained respect throughout the league because of his glove and arm. Hosmer in high school could throw 95 mph. While that doesn’t matter at first base much, it can still be useful when turning two. Furthermore, Hosmer has displayed his leather skills with numerous scoops. His long length helps him to be able to snag more balls then usual. He is no Big Poppa Fielder (Prince Fielder). He actually has movement to both his left and right.
As long as he develops as planned, Hosmer’s ability at the plate and in the field will make him a perennial All-Star. While he has plus-plus power potential, he has yet to consistently show his HR power. So far in his career he has mostly displayed his power for doubles. According to J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, many in the Royals organization see a likeness between Eric Hosmer and 1989 NLCS MVP, Will Clark. Will Clark was just on the ballot for the Hall of Fame.

Hosmer covers the strike zone very well, and he’s always been solid in the BB/K area although this year he struggled with (34/820) (Not great, but what is expected of a rookie). Hosmer also hits them where they are pitched spraying the ball all over the field. Hosmer has the rare ability to fight off pitches he really can’t handle allowing him to extend at-bats. To hear some scouts talk about how his approach and swing remind them of a combination of Joe Mauer and Joey Votto, is a promising sign for Hosmer and Royals fans alike.

Hosmer didn’t have a problem in hitting for a decent average right off the bat (Yes, I meant for that pun, and, yes, I’m witty). Given that he plays first base, patience could wear thin if he is does not hit 25 home runs. Of course, he is not where he will be in five years especially with his power.

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer finished his rookie season with 19 homers, 11 base swipes, 78 RBIs, 66 runs scored and a .293 batting average. Hosmer has the most potential out of any player for the Royals. Keep in mind Hosmer was in contention for rookie of the year although he was called up on May 5th. I predict Hosmer will have a .301 batting average with 25 Home Runs. Hosmer will score 90 runs while driving in 100 RBI’s. He will snag 13 bases. Expect his slugging percentage to be around .500, and he will improve with his ability to see the plate as he will be walked 41 times. I predict him to strike out 84 times.

 Hosmer won’t be a free agent until after the 2017 season, and Royals fans should be extremely excited when thinking about the future mostly because of Hosmer. He is for sure the piece the Royals will be looking to build around.

Spencer

A fan’s shame

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Oh, my Ryan Braun, what did you do to me? My favorite team. My favorite player. Oh, what art thou done?

Everything that could be good in a baseball player, you ruined-and for what-a couple more homers?

Your swing was so smooth, smoother than Keith Stone, smoother than a baby’s bottom, smoother than my pinewood derby car after hours of sandpapering (Did anyone else do that or was that just me? It’s like I had a disorder: the car had to be perfectly smooth)

And don’t think for a moment I forgot about your hair. It’s as if the flow gods took a chunk of hair from Zeus and said, “This mortal is going to have some sick flow.”

We had such a good year. We won our first division title since 1982. You had a healthy .332 batting average complimented by 33 homers. You won an NL MVP. For once, I was proud of my team, proud of the players on my team.

But you shamed me. When I first heard the allegations, I felt embarrassed. Embarrassed that one of my favorite players actually broke such an important rule. I felt naked. I wanted to go home and wrap myself in a blanket and cry. I’ve always wondered how it felt to be a fan of a player accused of using PEDs, but I never liked Manny’s antics or Roger Clemens’s I’m-the-better than you attitude. I laughed at others when I heard such allegations. I shouted, “Cheater!” at my TV. I yelled. I yelled because of players like you. Because, I thought you were clean.

You seemed so sure of yourself. I never thought for a second, you, out of all players would even think of taking such drugs, much less actually using them. I was in denial. I cheered you on when you said you would appeal. Hey even a drug test can go wrong, right?

But as time passed, I moved on to acceptance. Oh, it hurts too much to say, but I must. Ryan Braun, you should be banned from baseball. It’s in the best interest of all of us for this to happen. You broke my heart, and for that I cannot forgive you. The game needs to remove the steroid culture that has permeated it since the days of Jose Canseco. It needs to remove any desire or even the remotest thought of using PEDs by players. What better way to stop such thoughts by banning a player who used it at the height of his career? What better way to prevent steroid use, with a strong, absolute ruling? If the game wants to be serious about moving on from the steroid era, it must set an example, and here’s a perfect opportunity.

I realize Ramirez was only given 50 games, and A-Rod was only given 15 games, but Commissioner Bud Selig has a chance to crack down on the use of steroids and you, Ryan, must be the sacrificial lamb. I’m all for second chances, but Ryan, a second chance you don’t deserve.

I wanted to tell my sons about the “Great Ryan Braun” leading the Brewers to prominence, but now I cannot even think of such ideas, for you left a void in my heart- a void that cannot be filled by a mere suspension.

Blase