Currently browsing category

Chicago White Sox

AL Central Preview: Can Anyone Beat the Detroit Tigers?

Much like the their Senior Circuit brethren, the question for the AL Central is easy: can anyone beat the Detroit Tigers?
 
The answer is: no. No, they can’t.
 
Probably.
 
The Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins are all just playing for second…and hopefully an accompanying Wild Card berth.
 
Baseball writers and bloggers all across the inter-web are quick to anoint the Tigers, but without proper recourse. And that’s why you come to MAMBINO, right? So that we can make you sound smarter than you are. Let’s take a second to describe the reigning American League Champs. They run out a very good, very healthy starting five headed up by the best (or second best, depending on who you ask) pitcher on the planet, Justin Verlander. Behind him, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister are walking no-hitters ready to happen. 24 year-old former first rounder pick Rick Porcello has disappointed in the past, but if you believe reports out of spring training, he’s poised for a breakout year.
 
On the other side of the ball, the Tigers are mighty similar to the Anaheim Angels in that they can beat you in almost every single way. They’ve got Gamma-powered mashers (2012 AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, 1B Prince Fielder), speedy leadoff men (OFs Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter) and patient hitters that can spray the ball all over the field (DH Victor Martinez, OF Andy Dirks and 2B Omar Infante).
 
The bullpen is the only real question for the extremely well managed Tigers, as skipper Jim Leyland is currently without a closer. Phil Coke was certainly overextended as the team’s 9th inning man last October, but managed to look the part even though his stuff never really has. Detroit will close by committee for the moment, with Joaquin Benoit, Coke and Octavio Dotel all getting shots. However, the Tigers are all-in this season; if one of the incumbent relievers (or Triple-A closer-in-waiting Bruce Rondon) don’t claim the role, the front office is certain to go out and pay whatever price necessary to bring in a shut down hurler.
 
Make sense now? You’re welcome!… Read more...

MAMBINO Fantasy Mondays: The Kevin Youkilis Non-Trade Fall-out

In the move that everyone saw coming, the Boston Red Sox finally traded Kevin Youkilis on Sunday. After rumors flew around fast and furious like a CC Sabathia batting practice, GM Ben Cherington shipped his third baseman to the Chicago White Sox for reliever Zach Stewart and utility man and First Team All-MLB Ugly member Brent Lillibridge.

The trade fallout has been discussed all over the internet: the deal has largely been called a great one for the White Sox, who get a former All-Star third baseman to man their MLB-worst hot corner, who hit to a combined .466 OPS. Boston has rookie Wil Middlebrooks handily playing third and mashing, so at this point, an unhappy Youkilis wasn’t doing any favors sulking in the BoSox locker room and creating an uncomfortable situation for everyone. RP Stewart was one of the main pieces Chicago got back in the Colby Rasmus/Edwin Jackson/Marc Rzepcynski deal with the Cardinals and Blue Jays last summer, but has so far not panned out on the South Side. He’ll be sent to Triple-A Pawtucket, while Lillibridge will largely serve in the same utility man capacity when on the White Sox.

The impact that this deal will have on both side is pretty clear: the White Sox get a formerly great hitter to play a position that was absolutely killing them day-to-day. On top of everything else, the Red Sox foot nearly $5.5 million of his salary, so unless Stewart turns into the next coming of Jonathan Papelbon, the White Sox largely gave up nothing for a guy who could potentially help them win the division. For Boston, this clears the way for Middlebrooks, and to a lesser extent DH David Ortiz and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, to play every day, and hopefully Stewart will be able to help a beleaguered Red Sox ‘pen down the line.

What’s more interesting though is how this trade impacts the teams that didn’t quite have enough to acquire Youkilis. According to mlbtraderumors.com, the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Indians, Pirates and Braves were all involved in talks with Boston to some extent. Let’s take a look at how this non-move will affect these teams going down the line.


Los Angeles Dodgers

How badly did they need him? Pretty badly. The Dodgers third base situation has been tenuous from the onset, with offensive millstone Juan Uribe taking his historically bad season right into 2012. Adam Kennedy (.616 OPS), Elian Herrera (.716 OPS) and Ivan DeJesus (.708 OPS) have all taken their shots at the hot corner, with only Jerry Hairston (.821 OPS, .311 average in 36 games with 11 extra base hits) having any success there. However even Hairston, a lifetime utility man, can’t be counted on for production over the long term. LA has no third base prospects in the pipeline, and considering the cheap price the White Sox paid, it’s hard to believe that another game-changing third baseman will come along in a month that could potentially replicate Youkilis’ production (especially, keeping in mind that he’d be going from the AL East to the NL West).

So what do they do now? Jerry Hairston is the answer for the next month or so, but a very expensive (prospect-wise) inter-division trade for Chase Headley could be coming down the line.

Fantasy Spin: If you’re in a deep NL-only league, you’ve already got Jerry Hairston on your roster. I do think Headley is going right out of San Diego’s door in a month, as he won’t be under team control whenever they’re ready to compete. I’d most expect him to head to the Dodgers, but wouldnt’ be surprised if he g… Read more...

MAMBINO Fantasy Mondays: Who’s in First?

 Hello friends, we’re back (finally) with another edition of MAMBINO Fantasy Mondays. We give our (supposed) weekly updates and thoughts on Major League Baseball, and of course, the fantasy spin from some rugged veterans of the internet.

The NBA is winding down it’s season with the championship round, while the NHL and NFL lie dormant until the fall. If your attention hasn’t fully been on baseball the past few months, who could blame you? The NBA Finals is shaping up towards being one of the all-time greats, while the Los Angeles Kings’ surprising romp through a supremely entertaining Stanley Cup playoffs kept us all distracted since essentially opening day.

So if you’re just cracking open the sports page, you’d probably take a look at these standings and your face would be contorted into a mess reminiscent of Jack Wilson’s unfortunate mug. Some of the division leaders are as predictable as a Matt Cain quality start – the Yankees and Rangers are in first, while the Giants and Braves currently hold serve as the NL Wild Card reps and Tampa Bay Rays one part of the AL Wild Card.

But the rest of the standings? Your other divsion leaders (ordered by winning percentage) are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox.

How…is this happening?The Los Angeles Dodgers, left for dead by even Chavez Ravine sycophants here on this blog before the season began, have the best winning percentage in the majors? The supposedly “rebuilding” Chicago White Sox are in first, three games ahead of the presumptive AL Central champions in the Detroit Tigers? The Washington Nationals aren’t just the best team in the ultra-competitive NL East…they’re the most exciting team in the game?

The world is not round my friends. It is a cube, whose answers are in the form of clown questions, bro. It’s MAMBINO Fantasy Monday. Let’s unravel how this has happened in the last 12 weeks of Major League Baseball.

Cincinatti Reds – 38-27, leads Pittsburgh by 4 games in the NL Central

How are they doing this?: By pretty much doing what every good AL team should do – mashing, pitching and fielding. The 2012 Reds were a preaseason pick to be built on solid starting pitching and great hitting in a weak division. However, both sources are somewhat surprising.

The pitching has been great in southern Ohio, but not because of the Reds’ two big offseason trades. Mat Latos, acquired in a blockbuster deal with the San Diego Padres last winter, was supposed to be the savior ace that the Reds had lacked for the past two decades. Quite the opposite once spring training got underway – Latos has surprisingly been the team’s worst starter. His rotation mate Johnny Cueto will be an All-Star in a month with his dominant arm, while Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey continue their solid, if unspectacular play. The Cincy ‘pen, thought to be decent in the preseason, has exceeded all expectations, but not because of import Sean Marshall. Led by destroyer of all men Aroldis Chapman (1.06 ERA and 58 K’s in 34 innings), relievers Alfredo Simon and Jose Arredondo have been damn near unhittable.

The Reds’ lineup is doing things the old school way: hitting the ball really, really hard. The Reds are third in slugging, first in doubles and fifth in homers, but a tepid ninth in on-base percentage and tenth in hits. Joey Votto might damn well be the best first baseman in the Majors and replacement third baseman Todd Fraz… Read more...