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Opening Day Predictions: Favorites and Contenders for MLB Awards in 2011

It’s here! It’s finally here! The day all baseball fans begin counting down towards once pitchers and catchers report in February: Opening Day! Hope springs eternal for all 30 teams and their fans.

Maybe this will be the year the Twins finally get over the hump and win a playoff series. This may be the year we see the first $300 million player in Albert Pujols and maybe this will be the year that somebody knocks Roy Halladay off as the best pitcher in the game today platform.

In this installment, I will name my favorite to win the respective AL and NL Cy Young Award, MVP, and Rookie of the Year and who I think the top three contenders will be. As always, feel free to disagree and state your reasons. Good luck to all fans and teams this year!

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MLB Rankings: Who All 30 Teams Wish They Had Back

Whether it be free agency, trades or the inability to sign draft picks, all 30 teams, at some point in their history, have made mistakes with regards to who could have been on their team. This segment will look at the history of all 30 major league teams and the players who “left” their team either by not signing, being traded, leaving via free agency or in some cases, death. Hopefully, there will be some lively debate and disagreements with the people I have selected, so fire away. 

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Spring Training 2011: Alex Rodriguez and 25 Aging Stars Ready to Shine

All major league teams are now full bore in camp and the countdown until March 31st can’t get here quick enough. With teams going through their full workouts and games starting last weekend, who are the “old timers” that came into camp maybe a little more fit than last year? Bleacher report will look at these aging stars and see if they can regain or increase their numbers from last year.

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MLB Predictions: Josh Hamilton and the 2011 AL West Preseason All-Stars

The AL West in 2010 was full of “firsts.” The Texas Rangers played in their first Fall Classic. The Oakland A’s Dallas Braden threw the season’s first perfect game.

The Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim lost their first baseman on a celebration at home plate after a home run, and the Seattle Mariners…well, the Seattle Mariners spent a lot of money last year and didn’t finish first, but they did have the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner in Felix Hernandez.

This installment will look at the preseason All-Stars for the AL West. The team makeup will be as follows: five starting pitchers, three relief pitchers, and then one DH, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman and a shortstop.

Undoubtedly somebody will get left off, so make your argument for your player to be a member of this AL West All-Star team.

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MLB Predictions: 10 Unfamiliar Names Who Will Make Huge Impacts in 2011

Pitchers and catchers report in a little over three weeks. It’s been a short offseason for the Rangers and the Giants, but for everybody else, Spring Training can’t get here quick enough. In this latest installment of MLB Predictions, we will look at players that we think will make a huge impact on their respective teams this upcoming season.

Some of the players you are going to see have already been up to “the show” and some even had significant time last year, but some of the players you may not be familiar with because of the smaller markets they may play in or may wonder who will be taking over for departed free agents. Undoubtedly there will be omissions so feel free to add who you think should be on here. Enjoy!

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MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Starting Pitchers the Minnesota Twins Should Target

After missing out on Zack Greinke, though it was unlikely he’d be traded in-division, who is a second top SP the Twins can get to team with Francisco Liriano (assuming the Twins sign him long-term)?

The Twins have enough power to win with good pitching and defense, but they need another postseason-dominant pitcher as opposed to their typical control-based rotation.

The following are 10 starting pitchers that would look good as the No. 1 guy ahead of Liriano or behind him in the No. 2 slot.

It is important to note that at the time of publication, Carl Pavano and the Twins were in discussions on a two-year contract.

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MLB Trade Rumors: 10 Deals for Minnesota Twins to Hold Off White Sox and Tigers

Two months until pitchers and catchers report. Baseball can’t get here soon enough!

With the Tigers and White Sox being active in the early free agent market and loading up to chase the Twins in 2011, it is setting up to be a three-team race in the American League Central.

In this installment, we will look at some deals the Twins should look at to maintain their hold on the division and earn their third straight division title (and maybe even get into the ALCS or World Series).

The deals are based on trades with other teams or being active the last couple months in free agency going into spring training.

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Minnesota Twins: Rating Their Chances of Landing Prince Fielder or Other Stars

With Zach Greinke off the board signing with the Milwaukee Brewers, what if the Twins were in a position to grab their neighbor to the east’s other prized possession, Prince Fielder? Bleacher Report will examine this possibility and rate it on a scale of one to 10 with one being the least likely. We will also look at a few other stars in major league baseball and their chances of playing the Twin Cities in the near future.

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MLB Rumors: 10 Players the Minnesota Twins Would Love To Land This Offseason

With most of the big name free agents signed, sealed and delivered to their respective teams, it’s time to look at what is still out there for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins still have plenty of questions at the major league level with the departure of Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, J.J. Hardy, and Orlando Hudson. Will GM Bill Smith promote from within as is widely speculated to patch the bull pen together or will be go out and be aggressive as he were last January landing Hudson and Jim Thome? Let’s take a look at the ten players the Twins would still love to land this offseason.

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Jesse Crain Is Leaving: Should Minnesota Twins Fans Be Upset or Grateful?

Earlier this week, Jesse Crain signed a three-year, $13 million contract with the Chicago White Sox.

As I mentioned in a previous article, the Twins are going to really need to bolster their bullpen in order to three-peat as Central Division champions.

But is losing Crain such a bad thing? Let’s examine this question.

First, Crain had a tough start to the 2010 season, and it can be said he would have had a tougher finish if it weren’t for his talk with Jon Rauch. Rauch gave him some mechanical as well as pitch selection advice, and Crain took off in early summer and continued through the final days of the regular season.

He was almost unhittable in August and September but again fizzled out during the playoffs (the bomb hit by Mark Teixeira comes to mind).

Second, Crain is a one-pitch pitcher. He has fallen in love with the slider, and anytime you fall in love with a pitch that takes that much physical toll on your body, you are asking for arm problems. Crain has had surgery already in his brief career, and throwing the slider as your primary pitch doesn’t help things. Yes, it is a strikeout pitch, but you don’t want to rely solely on one pitch, which Crain had certainly done.

Third, Crain wanted to close. Even if Joe Nathan comes back at 80 to 90 percent of what he was prior to the Tommy John surgery, he’s better than Crain. Throw in Matt Capps and Crain wouldn’t have closed anyway. He has stated numerous times that he wants to close, and being in the situation that he was in, it wasn’t going to work out for him.

Which leads me to the last point: Did Jesse Crain really want to be a Twin anyway?

Looking into his quotes from his press conference, my thoughts are he couldn’t get out of here quick enough. “I’m not sure what they are doing” comes to mind when asked what he thought the Twins were doing by not re-signing him. That quote alone makes me wonder, do we want you in a Twins uniform anyway? Just because you aren’t closing, don’t throw your former team under the bus.

Judging on past performances, the Twins will be licking their chops to get a look at No. 26 this year.

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