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Mike Trout vs. Albert Pujols: Who Will Have the Better Season?

After a dominant 10-0 victory on Saturday, for the first time this season, the Los Angeles Angels bats and pitching came together for their most complete win of the season, bringing them to 6-10. 

Not that their bats haven’t been hitting well (with the exception of a horrifically slow start for newly acquired Josh Hamilton), but it’s been the Angels pitching that has faltered in this early part of the season.  

Saturday, however, they looked great as a team.  And two players, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, hit the ball like the players everyone expects them to be.

So who will have the better season of the two this year?  

Reigning National League Rookie of the Year Mike Trout went 2-for-5 with a home run, four RBI and two runs scored.  Though he got off to a relatively slow start this season, he now has a slash line of .304/.347/.522 with two home runs, a triple, seven doubles, 11 RBI, 11 runs scored and a stolen base.  Starting to look pretty good, isn’t he?

Pujols, on the other hand, went 2-for-4 with a double, one RBI and one run scored.  Though he’s been notorious for getting off to slow starts in his career, he currently has a slash line of .322/.431/.508 with two home runs, five doubles, 11 RBI and seven runs scored.

Both players are dominant forces in any lineup and are arguably already considered candidates for the American League’s Most Valuable Player award.  And while he may not put up the power numbers that Pujols will, Trout will surely see plenty more triples and is always a huge threat on the basepaths.

I’ve always thought that after Pujols’ first year in Los Angeles, he would settle down and regain his power stroke after hitting only .285 last season with 30 home runs.  Weird thinking that those numbers would be underachieving for most players, but let’s be honest now, this is Prince Albert we’re talking about here.  

Trout, on the other hand, had a season for the history books last year, but unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anyway he can replicate the numbers that he put up in 2012, especially after missing almost the first whole month of the season.  

Sure, there’s always the argument that many players suffer from the “sophomore slump,” but I don’t think that will be the case for Trout in his second full season with the Angels.   

Whatever happens, both players should put up monster numbers in 2013.  Especially with this lineup surrounding them and with Josh Hamilton’s bat inevitably coming back to life in the near future.  

So who will it be: Pujols or Trout?

My guess is Pujols will have the more impressive numbers this season, especially hitting behind Trout and in front of Hamilton and Mark Trumbo.  He’s just too good of a player and will not have a third season in a row hitting under .300.  

Will he have 40 or 50 home runs this season?  My guess is he’ll be somewhere in the high 30s, but his batting average should be around his lifetime average of .324, if not higher.

Now I’m not saying that Trout will have an off-year by any means, but I just don’t think he’ll achieve the same numbers he put up last season, though he should certainly have a tremendous season as well.

What do you think?  Am I wrong?  Who’s going to have the better season of the two: Pujols or Trout?

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David Ortiz: Big Papi Makes Emotional and Powerful Return to the Red Sox Lineup

In a day marked by emotion and remembrance for the victims and families of the Boston Marathon bombings, David “Big Papi” Ortiz made a memorable return to the lineup this Saturday afternoon when the hometown Boston Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals for their sixth straight win.

As the longest tenured Red Sox player, Ortiz gave a heartfelt speech prior to the game in front of a sellout crowd of over 37,000 fans.  And though his statement was quick, it was clear and directly to the point.  

Not only that, but it included some very colorful language as he described who the city of Boston belonged to (NSFW video can be seen here).

And while his choice of words may not have been the most appropriate thing to say in front of a large group of attendees that surely included its fair share of children, you have to admire his emotion and pride for the city where he has made his home for the past 10 seasons in the majors.

Ortiz knocked in Boston’s first run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with a single that brought Jacoby Ellsbury in to score and went 2-for-4 on the day with two singles.  

No other Red Sox player had more than one hit.

The Red Sox are now first place in the American League East with an 11-4 record, lead Major League Baseball in opposing batting average (.209), are second in team ERA (2.69), are fourth in WHIP (1.13) and are starting to hit the ball consistently in the early part of the 2013 season.  

And while many were skeptical about how the Red Sox would perform this season, they, like the city of Boston, are proving all wrong and are showing the world just how “strong” and resilient this team and their fans really are.  

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Nationals vs. Braves: Who Is the Better Team in the National League East?

As the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves set to go head-to-head this Saturday, one question remains on everyone’s mind: Who is the better team in the National League East?

The Braves are off to a blistering start with a 9-1 record, and not only are their bats on fire, but their entire pitching staff (with the exception of Julio Teheran and Christian Martinez) is pitching like they already have October in their sights.

However, the 7-3 Nationals may just be the better team. Led by phenoms Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, the Nats have one of the most complete teams on paper. Not only is their lineup stacked with talented bats, but they arguably have the most dominant pitching staffs in all of baseball.

So who will prevail as the season goes on?

This weekend’s games should offer a lot of insight as to how these two teams will fare against each other. I think the most interesting thing will be seeing whose bats perform better against each team’s pitching staffs.

If I were to pick a clear-cut winner now, I think I would have to go with the Nationals. 

Harper is arguably hitting better than anyone in baseball right now, Denard Span is looking great at the top of the lineup and even Ian Desmond and Jason Werth are starting to heat up and look good. And though Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche aren’t off to blazing start as of yet, both guys are way too talented to not rebound and start regularly contributing sooner than later. 

So who will win the National League East this year?

It’s way too early to start speculating this early in the season, but one thing is for sure: there’s going to be a lot of exciting games between these two teams as the season goes on.

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Atlanta Braves: The Hottest Team in All of Major League Baseball

The 9-1 Atlanta Braves are without doubt the hottest team in Major League Baseball right now.

Not only are their bats on fire, but their pitching staff has been firing on all cylinders. 

Just take a look at their standout offensive players:


Freddie Freeman – .412/.474/.647, 7-for-17, 1 home run, 1 double, 7 RBI, 3 runs scored.

Justin Upton – .385/.419/.949, 15-for-39, 6 home runs, 4 doubles, 10 RBI, 9 runs scored.

Chris Johnson – .357/.400/.500, 10-for-28, 1 home run, 1 double, 2 RBI, 4 runs scored.

Ramiro Pena – .357/.357/.643, 5-for-14, 1 home run, 1 double, 6 RBI, 3 runs scored.

Evan Gattis – .333/.400/.704, 9-for-27, 3 home runs, 1 double, 6 RBI, 3 runs scored.

Gerald Laird – .333/.429/.500, 4-for-12, 2 doubles, 1 RBI.

Jordan Schafer – .571/.571/.714, 4-for-7, 1 double, 2 runs scored.

Juan Francisco – .310/.333/.414, 9-for-29, 1 home run, 5 RBI, 2 runs scored.


Sure, Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons and B.J. Upton are off to slow starts, but it’s early in the season and these guys are sure to rebound soon.  However, the way the rest of the bats on the team are currently performing, even if it takes time for these guys to find their form, the Braves offense doesn’t look like it’ll slow down anytime soon.

So how about their pitching?  Let’s just say that their standout performers are doing just as well if not better than their offense.


Paul Maholm – 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 12.2 IP, 13 strikeouts, .156 average, 0.87 WHIP

Mike Minor – 2-0, 0.69 ERA, 13 IP, 11 strikeouts, .213 average, 0.85 WHIP

Kris Medlen – 1-1, 1.50 ERA, 12 IP, 4 strikeouts, .209 average, 1.25 WHIP

Tim Hudson – 1-0, 3.27 ERA, 11 IP, 10 strikeouts, .214 average, 1.27 WHIP

Craig Kimbrel – 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 IP, 5 strikeouts, .067 average, 0.60 WHIP

Luis Avilan – 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 3.2 IP, 3 strikeouts, .214 average, 1.09 WHIP

Cory Gearrin – 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 3.1 IP, 4 strikeouts, .000 average, 0.60 WHIP

Anthony Varvaro – 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6.1 IP, 2 strikeouts, .217 average, 0.95 WHIP

Jordan Walden – 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 4 IP, 4 strikeouts, .313 average, 1.25 WHIP

Eric O’Flaherty – 2-0, 3.18 ERA, 5.2 IP, 2 strikeouts, .158 average, 1.06 WHIP


Other than Julio Teheran and Christian Martinez, every single player on this staff is performing like they already have the playoffs in sight. 

So are the Braves equipped to take it all this season? They sure look like it at this point. 

Are they bound to hit some bumps in the road throughout the season?  Of course they will, but the way they’re playing right now, they sure look unstoppable.

I’m most impressed with the way the younger guys are producing.  Evan Gattis looks like the real deal.  His work behind the plate has been exceptional and his bat looks incredible.  Mike Minor is pitching just as good as anyone in baseball. Craig Kimbrel has picked up right where he left off last season and is arguably the most talented and dominant closer in the majors.  

You also have to like the fact the Tim Hudson is still pitching well late into his career and is a great veteran fixture to have supporting some of the younger guys in the rotation.

So where will the Braves be in the standings at the end of the season?

The way they are playing right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them taking the National League East and making a competitive run for the World Series. 

If they can keep up this trend and avoid injuries, I don’t see how they can be stopped.

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Carlos Quentin: Was 8-Game Suspension and Fine the Appropriate Punishment?

Joe Garagiola Jr., senior vice president of standards and on-field operations for Major League Baseball, announced the punishments for both Carlos Quentin and Jerry Hairston Jr. today for their participation in Thursday night’s bench-clearing brawl in San Diego that left Dodger co-ace Zack Greinke with a broken collarbone. 

Quentin, who initiated the fight, will receive an eight-game suspension and fine, while Hairston Jr. will receive a one-day suspension and fine for their roles in the incident.  Both players are looking to appeal their suspensions; however, both could realistically play in a three-game series between the Padres and Dodgers starting this Monday in Los Angeles.

Don Mattingly, Matt Kemp, Jerry Hairston Jr. and the entire Dodger organization have every right in the world to be mad at the outcome of brawl, but did Quentin’s punishment fit the crime?

Look, it’s never easy losing a player to injury, especially when the player is your newly acquired staff co-ace that was expected to start 33 games this season.  And sure, it’s unfortunate that Greinke broke his collarbone in the event, an injury that could potentially keep him out from one to three months, but this is baseball. Accidents happen, as unfortunate as they can be sometimes.

I’m not defending Quentin and his actions, but Greinke didn’t look very apologetic after he hit Quentin, and whatever words came out of his mouth immediately after didn’t look like words of remorse to me. 

And though these two have had a history of beanballs in the past, in Quentin’s defense, it must be frustrating to be hit by the same pitcher time and time again (this was Greinke‘s third plunking of Quentin). 

Quentin is an emotional guy; I think we all saw that last night in his reaction to being hit.  Does that justify his actions?  Of course not, but these guys are young and passionate and sometimes emotions can get the best of you. 

So does Quentin deserve to be suspended as long as Greinke is on the disabled list? 

I don’t think so.  Eight games and a fine is fair, and I’m sure there will be further retaliation at some point during the Padres/Dodgers series this coming Monday.  However, regardless of what happens, we need to remember that this is a rivalry that will always have bad blood, high emotions and heated exchanges as long these two teams play.  That’s what makes divisional rivalries so fun and exciting.

So Dodger fans, I’m very sorry that Greinke went down, but I guess the ball is now in your court.  Let’s see what happens next; it should be fun.

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Can Toronto Blue Jays Overcome Jose Reyes Injury After an Already Slow Start?

If you were already starting to get a little concerned about the current performance of the Toronto Blue Jays, things just got much worse today. 

Newly acquired Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes had to be carted off of the field during Friday’s game against the Kansas City Royals after injuring his left ankle while stealing second base shortly after delivering a two-run single in the sixth inning.

Reyes, who was in obvious pain after the injury, grimaced and pulled his shirt over his face as medical officials tended to him.

The Blue Jays, whom many predicted to be the favorite to win the American League East, were already off to an incredibly slow start this season with a 3-6 record, good for fifth place in the division.

Reyes, who was their hottest hitting player, was off to a great start this season, hitting .412/.487/.559 with a home run, two doubles, three RBI, five runs scored and four stolen bases before going down. 

Not only was he their hottest bat, but aside from Melky Cabrera, there is also no other player on the team batting over .300.  Their heavy-hitting sluggers, led by Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, have a combined three home runs in 58 at-bats.

If this wasn’t bad enough, Toronto’s newly redesigned starting rotation (with the exception of J.A. Happ) is also off to a horrible start:

R.A. Dickey: 0-2, 8.44 ERA, 10.2 IP, .326 average, 1.97 WHIP

Josh Johnson: 0-1, 11.05 ERA, 7.1 IP, .421 average, 2.73 WHIP

Mark Buehrle: 0-0, 10.24 ERA, 9.2 IP, .326 average, 1.76 WHIP

Brandon Morrow: 0-1, 5.59 ERA, 9.2 IP, .357 average, 1.97 WHIP

J.A. Happ: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5.1 IP, .059 average, 0.75 WHIP

The Blue Jays and general manager Alex Anthopoulos sent shock waves through the baseball world this offseason when they acquired Reyes, Johnson, Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio from the Miami Marlins in exchange for a group of prospects, Yunel Escobar and Henderson Alvarez.

They also followed that up by signing Melky Cabrera to a two-year, $16 million deal and acquired reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey (along with Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas) in exchange for the previously mentioned John Buck and prospects Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard and Wuilmer Becerra.  The Blue Jays also agreed to a three-year extension with Dickey as part of the deal. 

Adding those pieces to a team that already featured hitters Bautista, Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus and Adam Lind and starting pitchers Ricky Romero, Morrow and Happ gave the Blue Jays the most complete and imposing lineup on paper going into the 2013 season.

So with such a talented team on paper, can the Blue Jays overcome the Reyes injury after an already slow start to the season?

Of course they can.  It’s way too early to start predicting this team will not perform as the season goes on.  They just have way too many tools and talented players to not come out of their current slump.

Sure, they’ll lose a great hitter and speed at the top of the order, but with veteran infielder Maicer Izturis looking to fill in with Reyes out, they still don’t have to be too concerned about having a major gap on the field or in the lineup. 

And do I even need to say anything about the other bats in their lineup?  Sure, they’re off to a rather slow start, but there is just way too much power and talent in this group for them not to rebound sooner than later. 

Their pitching staff may be a bit of concern, but it’s also not too late for them to turn it around.  Buehrle is a good pitcher and should rebound soon.  Johnson is a talented guy, and though he’s had his difficulties in the past, he’s bound to find his form and have a decent year.  And while Dickey had an amazing 2012 season, I don’t think anyone expected him to match his success from last season, though putting up decent numbers is bound to happen.

Perhaps this team is just struggling due to the high expectations everyone had out of them for this year.  Chemistry does go a long way and is evident if you look at the San Francisco Giants as a team.  And though there are plenty of great names in this lineup, combining a bunch of players who are not used to playing together doesn’t always seem to work, as evidenced by the Miami Marlins of 2012.

It’s unfortunate that Reyes went down.  He’s a great player and an exciting guy to watch, but the Blue Jays should be okay without him for a while, even if his injury does keep him out of the lineup for a long period of time. There is just way too much talent for them not to perform.

What do you think?  Can they come out of their current slump?  Let me know your thoughts.

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Zack Greinke, Carl Crawford Among Many Question Marks the Dodgers Face

On paper, the Los Angeles Dodgers look great.  When you look at their current roster, it looks menacing and capable of winning the National League West.  But let’s be honest: The team has plenty of question marks going into the 2013 season, and player injuries are at the top of that list.

Outfielder Carl Crawford has yet to take a spring training at-bat. He will most likely start the season on the DL with continual setbacks to his reconstructed elbow.

Now, to make matters worse, newly acquired starting pitcher Zack Greinke has become unable to pitch due to elbow inflammation.  And no one yet knows how he will respond to a platelet-rich plasma shot he received to hopefully settle the issue down.  

You also have to factor in that Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Andre Ethier, Jerry Hairston Jr., Javy Guerra, Dee Gordon, Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe all spent time on the DL at one point or another last season.

Sure, they look great on paper, but as it stands right now, it’s still a lot star power with a lot of question marks.  And if you’re a Lakers fan as well, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see a new ownership group step in and make the kind of moves that Magic Johnson and his fellow group of owners made.  You have to admire their passion for putting a winning team on the field, for bringing so much star power to Los Angeles and for taking the honors for having the highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball.  

But you also still have to look at the facts: The current Dodgers team is riddled with uncertainty, and if it can’t stay healthy, 2013 could be a long year for the boys in blue.  


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San Diego Padres: Will Carlos Quentin Ever Be Healthy Enough to Play Everyday?

Carlos Quentin has never been completely healthy his entire career.

Ever since being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 29th overall pick in 2003, Quentin has been plagued with constant injury.

This spring in San Diego Padres camp has been no exception.

Quentin has still not officially appeared in a spring training game, as the only two at-bats he had were not registered due to a rain-out against the Chicago White Sox on March 8.  

Since then, he has been sidelined due to an aggravation in his surgically repaired knee. 

According to a conversation Quentin had with Corey Brock of

“I’m doing all right, working through some stuff,” Quentin said. “I feel like I’m getting closer. I’m looking forward to that.”

Manager Bud Black still seems to be optimistic that Quentin will be able to go come opening day, but once again it makes you think just how long it will be until he gets injured again.

When he’s healthy, Quentin puts up great numbers and is the perfect number-four hitter behind third baseman Chase Headley.  

In his first year with the Padres in 2012, Quentin hit 16 home runs, 46 RBI, 44 runs scored and had a .261/.374/.504 slash line in a once-again injury-shortened season.

So does Quentin have what it takes to stay healthy over a full season for the Padres?

At this point in his career, I still think he is better suited to DH somewhere in the American League.  

Sure he’s a solid hitter and drives in runs, but he’ll never be able to stay consistently healthy and will always be making trips to the DL.

And while I appreciate his production while he’s healthy, I also wonder how some younger players in our system would produce if given the opportunity to play on a regular basis.  

Mark my words, Triple-A Tucson outfielder Daniel Robertson will make an appearance with the team earlier in the season, and he will be the consistent bat in the lineup that the Padres desperately need.

Robertson has been nothing but consistent in his entire minor league career and has the perfect mix of bat, defense and speed that the Padres need in Petco Park.

Regardless of what the front office decides to do, it still seems blatantly clear to me that Quentin will not be in the lineup the entire season for the Padres, and the team should start exploring other opportunities much sooner than later.

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Los Angeles Dodgers 2013: Will Adrian Gonzalez Have a Monster Year?

With Adrian Gonzalez entering his first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a lot is expected out of the first baseman going into 2013.

Gonzalez came over to the Dodgers last year in a massive blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox that sent him, along with pitcher Josh Beckett, injured outfielder Carl Crawford and utilityman Nick Punto to Los Angeles in exchange for first baseman James Loney and four prospects.

Gonzalez played well in 36 games with the Dodgers last season (.297/.344/.441, three home runs, 10 doubles, 22 RBI and 12 runs scored in 145 at-bats), but has clearly been missing his power stroke ever since being dealt from the Padres to the Red Sox in 2011.  

Now back in the National League, I expect to see huge things out of Gonzalez’s bat this season and am confident that he will find his power stroke once again.

Not that he wasn’t surrounded by bats in Boston but, with a completely revamped, potent Dodger lineup this year, Gonzalez will have plenty of RBI and run-scoring opportunities.

But, at 30-years-old, has he lost some pop in his bat?

Remember, before Gonzalez was shipped off to the Red Sox, he played in cavernous Petco Park in San Diego and still managed to hit over 30 home runs per year and had close to four straight seasons of 100-plus RBI (he had 99 in 2009).

With his consistent swing and above-average patience at the plate, I’m sure the native Southern Californian will have no problems regaining his stroke in Los Angeles and should put up some huge numbers for the Dodgers in 2013.  

What do you think? How will A-Gon do this year?

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New York Yankees 2013: 197 Hits X 2 Seasons = 3,000 Hits for Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki is the greatest Japanese baseball player to ever play in the United States.

Before we get into this, let’s take a brief look at some of the storylines for the New York Yankees going into 2013.

Year by year, sports writers have written the Yankees off but somehow they keep making the playoffs. 

This season due to age, injuries and an older rotation, it’s easier than ever to write the Yankees off going into 2013.  

Beloved pitcher Mariano Rivera—probably the greatest player ever at his position—is in the sunset of his career and will retire at season’s end.

This will inevitably be followed by the retirement of an even more iconic Yankee legend—Derek Jeter.  

However, as is perpetually the case with most storied franchises in American sports, there are still plenty of reasons to tune into the Yankees this year.  

One of the primary ones is the chance to watch Ichiro play the next two years of his career in the media frenzy that is New York City.  

The 39-year-old has a .322 lifetime batting average, 308 doubles, 80 triples, 452 stolen bases and 2,606 hits in only 8,085 career at-bats.  He was also an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 10 consecutive seasons (2001-10), won three Silver Sluggers and was both the Rookie of the Year and American League Most Valuable Player in his rookie season.

Not only that, but he’s made the transition to playing in the Bronx look effortless and seems to relish the fact that he plays in such a media-hungry environment.

But what’s most impressive of all of Ichiro’s accomplishments in his 12-year major league career is the fact that he will most likely accomplish something in 14 years that have taken most players in baseball a quarter of a century of play to achieve.

So when you tune into the Yankees this season, remember that not only are you watching history in the making, but you are also witnessing the greatest Japanese baseball player ever walk into the record books faster than anyone who has ever played the game. 

Special Thanks: I appreciate the insight and dedicate this article to my friend Bryan Valvana who for years has been a die hard Yankee fan that won’t shut up!

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