December 17, 2013

2014 Hall of Fame - Part III - Ballot Time

In my previous posts, I reviewed the former Red Sox on the ballot and my thoughts on them, as well as my thoughts on players of interest to Canadians.

To recap, I had said the following eight players would get a checkmark on my ballot:
  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Edgar Martinez
  • Fred McGriff
  • Tim Raines
  • Curt Schilling
  • Lee Smith
  • Frank Thomas
  • Larry Walker

This leaves two open spots.   Players who I hadn't reviewed in these previous posts include Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Tom Glavine, Luis Gonzalez, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Alan Trammell and others who in a less crowded ballot might get some serious consideration.

I'm going to have to get some liquid paper and erase some of the checkmarks off of my in progress ballot. My ballot will need room for Barry Bonds, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Craig Biggio.  Lee Smith and Fred McGriff will need to come out.  I feel awful that I don't have room for Alan Trammell.

My final ballot:

  1. Jeff Bagwell
  2. Craig Biggio
  3. Barry Bonds
  4. Tom Glavine
  5. Greg Maddux
  6. Edgar Martinez
  7. Tim Raines
  8. Curt Schilling
  9. Frank Thomas
  10. Larry Walker
For some more reading, you can take a look at The Hall of Nearly Great to read some great stories about several players that are not in Cooperstown.  This book has a compilation of some excellent writers talking about players who have not been elected, including some Red Sox favorites such as Luis Tiant, Dwight Evans and Ellis Burks.

December 13, 2013

2014 Hall of Fame - Part II - Canadians

In my last post, I previewed all the former Red Sox on this year’s ballot.  Today I take a look at the Canadians and other players of interest to Canada:


Eric Gagne – As already discussed in the Red Sox post, no. Just no.  NO

Larry Walker Starting his career in Montreal, he is a favorite of many Canadians.  He ended his career with a .313 batting average, an even .400 OBP and 383 home runs, for an OPS+ of 141. A lot of people discredit him for his offensive output in Colorado, but keep in mind that the “+” in OPS+ is adjusted for ballpark effects.  And besides, in his MVP 1997 season where he hit .366 with 49 home runs, he only hit 20 out of Coors Field. Some park effect(!). 

December 10, 2013

2014 Hall of Fame - Part I - Red Sox players

There is a large list of solid Hall of Fame candidates on this year's ballot. Several sportswriters are struggling with the maximum of 10 votes per ballot. Even if you want to exclude the known cheaters  from consideration there are several names who will be left off ballots who are much more worthy than some recent questionable inductees.  Among these are several former Red Sox players as well as Canadians or players with a strong Canadian connection.

This post will include my thoughts on the Red Sox on this year's ballot (alphabetically). My next post will look at the Canadians and the players who played in Canada, and finally I will have a wrap up post with my full ballot. 

RED SOX players

Sean Casey - If there was a Hall of Fame for nice guys the Mayor would be an easy 1st year inductee. He was voted the friendliest player in baseball and I never heard anyone say a bad word about him.  And although his time with the Red Sox was brief, with him just being a backup 1st baseman for a season, he was a 3 time all-star with some power who finished his career with a .300 batting average. He's also made the Irish Hall of Fame and the Reds' one which includes all time greats such as Johnny Bench, Tom Seaver and Frank Robinson.  His friendliness may garner him a few thank you votes from the BBWAA, but he will drop off the ballot this year.  NO

Roger Clemens - if you just look at the stats, this is a no-brainer. But the Hall of Fame criteria also includes integrity, sportsmanship and character. And I'm not quite totally sure how to handle the whole PED thing yet. But not even considering that issue, in my opinion, Roger Clemens never exhibited much integrity, sportsmanship or character on or off the field.  He's not getting my vote.  NO

November 10, 2013

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Award Winners

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance has chosen annual award winners in both leagues.  Unsurprisingly this group of well-informed baseball devotee's picks mirrored mine very closely.

Here are their winners in the order they were posted with links to their announcements:

Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)
AL: John Farrell
NL: Clint Hurdle

I had the same picks, although I had Francona in 3rd place while in the BBA they were a very close 1-2. Much as I love Tito I feel like he had more to work with than Kansas City's Ned Yost.

Willie Mays Award (Top Rookie)
AL: Wil Myers
NL: Jose Fernandez

Again, we matched, although I'm a little surprised at how much of a landslide the BBA gave to Wil Myers, and very pleasantly surprised that Fernandez easily bested Puig.

Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)
AL: Koji Uehara
NL: Craig Kimbrel

Again, two perfect picks. Kimbrel received 90% of the votes and I really didn't hesitate at all in putting his name on my ballot, so I can see why.  Koji edged Greg Holland 52% to 36% and I also had them 1-2.  In 3rd place I infamously picked the Twins' Joe Nathan, and as I've been told numerous times now, he spent the season in Arlington. But I'm not going back to edit that post now.  I deserve all the mocking cast my way.

Walter Johnson Award (Top Pitcher)
AL: Max Scherzer
NL: Clayton Kershaw

No surprises there. I am curious as to who received the vote(s) that didn't go to Kershaw, as he only ended up with 98% of the votes.  Then again, I was the village idiot who didn't cast his vote for Scherzer so there's always some in the crowd, I guess.

Stan Musial Award (Top Player)
AL: Mike Trout
NL: Andrew McCutchen

Again, both RSN Alberta and the  BBA picked Trout over Cabrera. In my mind, however, this year Miggy has a better case.  As I outlined in my voting post, he had a better season than in 2012, and Trout's year wasn't quite as good as his rookie campaign.  But Trout was still better and rightfully received this award.   McCutchen was also a deserving recipient in the NL.

All in all, a great job by the guys and gals of the BBA.  Unlike the BBWAA, I don't think we've ever made grossly negligent picks.  I'm waiting to hear what the more established group picks for its awards.  I won't be as upset this year if they pick Miggy over Trout, last year was inexcusable, this year I can see it.  But I will be fuming when they pick Puig over the much more deserving Fernandez for NL Rookie.  Let's wait and see, maybe they'll prove me wrong and make the right picks this year.

Enjoy the offseason! It will be a good one for all us Red Sox fans!!  I'm going to be watching the below over and over again :)

October 22, 2013

2013 Stan Musial Award - AL Player of the Year

My final award in the Baseball Bloggers Alliance year end voting, is the Stan Musial Award for the player of the year. Last year in a slightly controversial vote I ignored Miguel Cabrera's triple crown, and cast my ballot for Mike Trout instead.  Well, this year, with a lot less media hype Cabrera had an even better season!  His batting average went up from .330 to .348. He hit the same number of home runs and only 2 less RBI in 67 fewer at-bats.  His walk ratio increased from below 10 to 14%.  He led the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging, to obviously lead in OPS / OPS+ as well. He led in OPS last season as well with .999, but this year he was at 1.078, the highest mark in the American League since 2006. Maybe I can make it up to Tigers fans by voting for him this year, when he'll need more of a push as he didn't get the glitzy (but meaningless) triple crown.

October 21, 2013

2013 Goose Gossage Award - AL Reliever of the Year

In my series of Baseball Bloggers Alliance award winners, today I am revealing my vote for the Goose Gossage Award for reliever of the year.  On a side note, there is an Alberta connection here as Mr. Gossage was in Calgary earlier this year.

This award always seems to stay in the East. In 2011, in a vote that was controversial with many of my readers, I selected the Yankees David Robertson over our own Jonathan Papelbon.  Last year, despite Baltimore's Jim Johnson leading the world in saves, I voted for the Tampa's Francisco Rodney.  This year is no different. In early August I might have needed to pore over stats carefully to determine who was most deserving, but after the way Koji Uehara finished the season, this one is a no-brainer.  

First some raw numbers:

October 18, 2013

2013 Walter Johnson Award - AL Pitcher of the Year

My series of Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) award winners, continues with the American League Walter Johnson Award for Pitcher of the Year.   The past two seasons I selected Detroit's Justin Verlander, one year quite easily, the other one in a closer race.  This year it looks like the award will go to a Tiger again, but one of his teammates instead.  The big question is which one?

Max Scherzer is everyone's obvious choice.  He started off 13-0, deservedly started the all-star game and ended up 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA.  Last time a pitcher was so dominating and didn't win the Cy Young, was probably 1985 when John Tudor also won 21 games, including 10 shutouts and a sub 2 ERA, and lost to some kid named 'Doc'.  (In fact, Tudor didn't get a single first place vote!)

October 15, 2013

2013 Willie Mays Award - AL Rookie of the Year

After naming Boston manager John Farrell the winner of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) Connie Mack Award, today I cast my ballot for the BBA's Willie Mays Award.   This is really the Jackie Robinson Award for Rookie of the Year.

Last year Mike Trout lapped the competition and was an unanimous winner receiving all the first place votes by BBA members. This year's rookie crop in the AL isn't quite as deep as last year's.  Nobody is breaking any Jackie Robinson like barriers, there are no Fred Lynn MVP type seasons, or players that captivated a nation like The Bird or Fernandomania in the past.  But there were several good players worthy of mention:

October 13, 2013

2013 Connie Mack Award - AL Manager of the Year

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I have the privilege of casting a ballot for all the end-of-season awards.  I did the National League ones earlier, and now I'll be doing American League one at a time.  I'll be going in order from the easiest to the toughest. The first one I am announcing this year is the Connie Mack award for Manager of the Year.  (No, it's not named for the Republican Senator from Florida, but this guy).

I had a feeling I knew who the winner would be before the season started.  In my preseason predictions I had some teams that I thought would win quite a few more games than last season, including Kansas City, Minnesota and Boston.  But I only saw one of these teams making the playoffs.  And yes, I may have a slight bias, but that hasn't stopped me from picking Joe Girardi for this same award in 2011 or even Yankee David Robertson over Papelbon for the reliever award in 2011.

October 10, 2013

National League Award Voting

Now that the regular season is over it’s once again time for my votes for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) Awards.  In previousyears I have selected winners in all the American League categories.  This year I will also pick the National League winners.   Check back after the World Series to the BBA site to see who the award winners are.

This post will present all of the National League picks with limited commentary.  Between now and the World Series I will post the AL winners, one award at a time with a detailed post and more explanation for each one.

Walter Johnson Award (Pitcher of the Year)
Not a lot of suspense with this one.  Lots of hurlers had seasons that would be deserving of an award in other years including Cliff Lee, Adam Wainwright, Rookie Jose Fernandez (more on him in a minute) and even Matt Harvey until he was injured. But this year’s winner is unquestionably Sandy Koufax.  I mean Clayton Kershaw.

October 07, 2013

Results of Predictions from 2500 miles away

In this post, I made my annual season predictions. I don’t have the luxury of being in or close to any MLB markets, but in this electronic age with the ability to lookup any information and listen to any sports radio station from anywhere in real time, I'm not sure that’s a detriment.  In fact, seeing how the Boston Globe's own Dan Shaughnessy predicted the AL East standings with all his inside information and access to players and front office, I'm thinking that being away from the action may actually be a benefit.  
Here were CHB’s thoughts:

Screenshot courtesy of SoSHer BannedByNYYFans
Against all odds he managed to predict his own division exactly backwards! Maybe he should stick to writing books.

Anyhow, in my predictions I was aiming for a 75% confidence interval.  That means that when selecting a range of wins for all 30 teams, I should have had 22.5/30 correct.  I had 11 right – about half of what should be expected.  On the surface it doesn’t look that good but going team-by-team, I think my forecasts were better than most of the ones published by the so-called “experts”.   Everyone had the Blue Jays as World Series favorites, except for the dissenters who saw the Angels winning the American League.  And in the National League, the only question was who the Nationals had to beat in the NLCS to advance to the Fall Classic.  

Here is how each team did relative to my forecasts. Numbers in bracket are my original guess, comments in quotes are in reference to what I said in March.

AL East:
Boston -97 (83 to 89)  After winning only 69 games in 2012 I committed in writing that I thought they’d improve by up to 20 games. Well, they ended up being 28 games better.  “If everything goes right they could win the division with over 90 wins”.  If you saw that coming, put your hand up. If your hand is up, you are a liar(*). So even though I missed on my win interval, I am fairly pleased with my prediction.
Tampa – 92 (85 to 91) I missed by 1 using a fairly narrow range. Meh.
Yankees – 85 (77 to 87) I had a wide range here because although I expected them to have a down year I wasn’t quite sure as down. To be honest I thought the final results would be worse than they were, but it was within my predicted range.
Baltimore – 85 (72 to 84) As with Tampa I missed by 1, but I had thought they had the potential to do quite a bit worse.
Toronto – 74 (82 to 95) When everyone else had them as World Series favorites I thought they’d struggle to get past .500 (although I hedged my bets by having a large upper range). I was fairly certain they would underperform the lofty expectations given to them, but thought they would make more moves during the season to try and fight for a playoff spot.

Overall, I am giving myself a B+ on this division’s predictions. Only had one team within my expected range, but I feel like I correctly saw the direction that every team’s year would take.
It could have been much worse.   I could have curly hair and Carl Everett could have given me a malicious nickname that has stuck for over a decade.

 (*) Unless, Ras is reading this. You I believe.

AL Central:
Detroit – 93 (90 to 99) Predicting them to win the division with a win total in the 90s isn’t exactly Nostradamus like.
Cleveland – 92 (69 to 83). Did not see this coming. I had a huge range in wins for them, spanning from awful to respectable, and they won nine more than the most I had envisioned. Well done, Tito, I may have misspoke when I predicted you’d be “thinking fondly of the good old chicken wing and beer days”
Kansas City – 86 (76 to 86) “Lots of games against weak opponents will help them get to .500” I mused. I also erroneously said they wouldn’t seriously contend for a wildcard spot.  Still, their win total fell in the range.
Minnesota – 66 (75 to 85) I thought they’d be better. They weren’t.
Chicago – 63 (74 to 85) I correctly foresaw a down year for them. Didn’t quite expect it to be that bad.

I think the only area where I outpicked the experts was the White Sox, who many saw as the 2nd best team in the division after winning 85 games the previous season.  D+

AL West:
Oakland – 96 (88-95) – I said 2012 was not a fluke and they’d repeat as division champs. Missed their win total by 1 game.
Texas – 91 (84-92) – “They should still win about 90”.
Anaheim – 78 (84-90) – “Again, the Angels will miss the playoffs”. I wasn’t buying into the improvements made and hinted that Scioscia’s job might be in jeopardy. Still, they managed to do even worse than I had prognosticated (I’m making liberal use of Mr. Roget today).
Seattle -71  (79-85) – “They could catch the Angels but I don’t think they will”.  Still, I expected them to win a few more games, given that they had 19 games within their own division where they were the clear favorites.
Houston – 51 (50-64) – “If I miss, it will be because they undershoot the low end’. Luckily the Astros won their 50th game just prior to finishing the season on an uninspired, but not totally uncharacteristic 0-15 run.

I’m giving myself a solid A for this division. I had the correct order when everyone else had proclaimed the Angels champions with Texas the only possible obstacle.

NL East
Atlanta – 96 (83-90) “Closer to .500 than 100 wins”. Um, no.  15 and 4 respectively.
Washington – 86 (85-94) “They’ll be lucky to win 90”. They were the media darlings, but I didn’t fully buy in.  If I slapped myself for being off on the Braves, I deserve a pat on the back for this one.
Mets -74 (67-75)I thought they’d have a hard time reaching 70, but they were within my forecasted range.
Philadelphia – 73 (86-96)I made fun of Ruben Amaro’s offseason but still picked them to be at the top of this division.  I should have read what I wrote more closely before predicting their win total.
Miami – 62 (70-75) Thought they’d overcome trading away all their above-replacement level players (other than a certain highly coveted Mr. Stanton), and still win a respectable 70 games.
Good picks on the Mets and Washington, missed the rest of the division badly. C+

NL Central
St. Louis- 97 (79-83) “No wildcard is coming from the Central this year”. If by “No” I meant “All” then I would have hit the bullseye with that statement. 
Pittsburgh -94 (79-85) Correctly predicted they’d break the .500 barrier, didn’t expect them to be quite so good.
Cincinnati – 90 (95-101) “Rest of division is getting weaker, should run away with it”.  I said of a division with 3 playoff teams on it. I should never underestimate Dusty Baker’s incompetence. I could have taken this team to the 100 win level myself.
Milwaukee – 74 (83-88) I don’t even have a comment for them.
Cubs – 66 (58-70) “Astros aren’t around to keep them out of last place”. Hey, I got this one right!
If the NL East was a C+, no way I get more than a D here.

NL West
Dodgers – 92 (85-92) – “their offense is much better than the Giants”.  So is everyone else’s, I suppose.
Arizona – 81 (84-90) – I said they’d improve but not enough to win their division. They ended up with the exact same 81-81 record two years in a row
San Francisco – 76 (90-99) – “They’ll hit some rough patches”. Yeah, I didn’t think it would be for 6 months.
San  Diego – 76 (71-79) -  “Will battle Colorado and Mets for the worst pitching staff in the league”. Ended up with a 3.98 ERA. Only 2 NL teams (Colorado was one of them) ended up > 4.00.  Not a bad forecast.
Colorado – 74 (66-74) “Can’t stop other teams from scoring runs”. League worst 4.44 ERA.
I whiffed on the Giants, but was on or close with the rest of the teams.  B.

Overall I’m giving myself a B- grade.   I picked a Rays vs Reds World Series and at least both those teams made playoffs, as opposed to all those Blue Jays/Angels vs Nationals picks that seemed to dominate the media in the spring.   Tell me what you think of my picks in the comments below, and leave your World Series predictions there.  On the line are bragging rights.  I’m updating my pick to Red Sox over Cardinals.

October 01, 2013

The Best got Better!

Obviously I must be talking about our Red Sox.  The best team in the league last year got better and they’re among the favorites to go deep in the playoffs.  What’s that you say? They weren’t the best team last year – they only won 69 games?  How’s that possible?  On paper they surely were preseason picks to get a shot at a ring.  Oh yeah, Bobby V got involved.....  

No, I’m taking about the latest version of OOTP.  Unlike the Red Sox, last year’s version was also very good.  But somehow, almost unbelievably, it’s even better this year.   I love the depth of this game and all the different ways you can play it as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews. This year’s version has a lot of subtle improvements.  There is a new player origin system - not only a customizable draft but also international free agents, both amateurs and established players, and ability to scout internationally and in the indy leagues for that diamond in the rough.  In fact the entire scouting engine has been improved.  Also the trading AI is much better. In the past I used to be able to "cheat" by making trades that maybe only Ruben Amaro Jr. would realistically accept. 

Anyhow, I just recently started a game to try and see if I could do as well at managing the Sox as John Farrell has.

June 06, 2013

2013 MLB draft

The MLB draft starts tonight. The Red Sox have the 7th overall pick, and then pick again at #45 (in round 2), and then the 7th pick of each round.   Last year, they did draft a Canadian, Keaton Briscoe, who is now playing for the Greenville Drive. This year, there are several promising Canadian players eligible for the draft, including several from Alberta. I have a rundown of the top Albertans here.  Hoping the Red Sox select one of them.  I will update this if/when the Sox do pick a Canadian player.

2013 MLB Draft: Alberta Preview

The MLB draft is coming up the next three days. Here's a preview on some Albertans to keep an eye on.  Last year four players from our province were drafted and all of them signed and are now playing professional ball.  This year once again there are several local players on the Canadian Baseball Network's draft list including the top Canadian who was born in Edmonton.

Here is a rundown on some of the players expected to be drafted:

June 01, 2013

Canadian Red Sox News

Haven't posted much lately. The Red Sox are off to a great start and there's lots to talk about, but again I want to focus my writings on this blog to be about items that are of particular interest to us Canadian Red Sox fans. For more general Red Sox news, please follow one of the many other Red Sox blogs that I have listed here. For daily updates in particular, I like reading some other Red Sox BBA member blogs, including Christine's posts at Boston Red Thoughts Allan's updates at  Joy of Sox, and Cyn's musings at Toeing the Rubber. Of course, readers from South of the 49th and anywhere else in the world are welcome and even encouraged to read my ramblings and leave comments.

Anyhow, a few Canadian related notes of interest for Red Sox fans:

April 25, 2013

Albertan signed as first baseball recruit for TRU Wolfpack 2013-14 season

Nelson Lipszyc, Calgary, Alberta
RHP Thompson Rivers University
Calgary's own Nelson Lipszyc is the first baseball recruit signed by the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack for next season.

editor's note: This is a repost of a story written by Larry Read, originally appearing on the CCBC official website. Due to it being about a local player (who happens to share my last name), I thought it important to repost it. You can see the original one here.

Kamloops, BC---Their season might still be going, but that isn’t stopping the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack baseball team from looking towards the future.  The Canadian College Baseball Conference team and head coach Ray Chadwick are pleased to announce the commitment of their first recruit for 2013-14.
Pitcher Nelson Lipszyc (pronounced: lip-sick) of Calgary, Alberta will join the squad in September.
“I think I have good control,” he says about his strengths. “ I am not going to blow you away with speed but I have a lot of movement on the ball.”
His main pitch is a cutter and believes that his curve ball is coming along.  He is currently playing with the Pro Baseball  Force “AAA” Midget  Redbirds.  He was part of the gold medal winning team at the Alberta Summer games when he was U-15 and last year, won a bronze at the 2012 Provincial chamkpionships.
Joe Sergent has coached the 5’10” Lipszyc for the last three seasons in the Pro Baseball Force. “He is not going to be overpowering as a pitcher but he competes really tough. He throws a lot of strikes.  He gets guys out and doesn’t back down from a challenge and always wants the ball.”
Lipszyc was the Redbirds number one pitcher this Spring.  “He is our ace and has been throwing excellent and progressing great. He also plays a little bit of second base,” says Sergent. “ He is not a power guy—even at the plate. But its funny, he has led our team the last three years in on base percentage” Sergent adds. “ He is kind of deceiving.  He is one of those guys who frustrates other teams—he plays hard .  You don’t think that he is going to beat you and suddenly it is the sixth inning and you are losing.”

His combined 2012 fall/2013 spring record is 7-1 with five complete games, two shutouts, 46 strikeouts and an earned run average of 2.32.

Lipszyc says he doesn’t model his pitching style after any particular major league pitcher but is partial to the mechanics and work ethic of Tim Lincecum of the San Fransisco Giants.  “ He is an undersized little guy but still throws well.”

Lipszyc is looking forward to making Norbrock Stadium his permanent home for the next five years. He has fond memories of his first appearance there.    “Last fall (2012) at the Best of the West tournament, I tossed a no hitter there,” he said.  “It is a great facility.  Good sightlines and the field is great to play on. The no hitter came against the South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association.
He  believes he is joining the WolfPack at a good time with starter Danny Moore (RHP, Victoria, BC) set to graduate. “ Hopefully I can come in and contribute right away.”
Sergent believes that Lipszyc will have a bit of an adjustment moving to the CCBC. “ It is just like anything in life, going from one phase to another. Not only playing baseball but the whole going to University thing will be a change for him.  I feel confident in the way he handles himself now that it will be a smooth transition.”
 “This school has everything that I was looking for,” he said about choosing Thompson Rivers as a place to continue his education and play baseball. “ I had the chance to meet up with one of the assistant coaches—Frank Ingram this summer.  I really liked him and wanted to come.”
Lipszyc will be taking courses with an eye to earning a Bachelor of Arts degree looking at the Education program and becoming a P.E. teacher.
“He will be a great addition to our program,” said Chadwick about his first signing. “ Nelson is a quality pitcher and comes from a solid organization.  We are pleased that he made Thompson Rivers his choice for his scholastic and baseball career.”

March 31, 2013

2013 Predictions

In previous years I have forecasted how the MLB season would play out.  Some predictions were good (Giants / Tigers World Series last year) some not so much (A's / Rockies in 2011).  I've been questioned, mocked and ridiculed but that's not enough for me to stop.

Anyhow, this year, I'm going to take a slightly different approach. Instead of predicting exactly where each team will finish, I am going to go with a 75% confidence interval on number of wins per team.  I will also make some observations and a few unexpected specific predictions along the way. I welcome fans of any of these teams to mock me.  I had a preview on four teams last week, that I have repeated here along with the rest of the MLB teams, listed by division in the order that the teams finished last year:

AL East:
NY Yankees - Their infield DL payroll is higher than several teams' entire payroll. But unlike previous years where the Evil Empire (go ahead and sue me for copyright infringement) would just spend more money on buying some more all-stars, it looks like their opening day lineup may actually include long time Yankee legends such as Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli, as well as the newly added Vernon Wells. This team is really hard to project. If this wasn't the Yankees, they’d be reasonably expected to be a solid 70 win team. But I know better.

March 26, 2013

2013 Predictions Preview

In previous years I have forecasted how the MLB season would play out.  Some predictions were good (Giants / Tigers World Series last year) some not so much (A's / Rockies in 2011).  I've been questioned, mocked and ridiculed but that's not enough for me to stop.

Anyhow, this year, I'm going to take a slightly different approach. Instead of predicting exactly where each team will finish, I am going to go with a 75% confidence interval on number of wins per team.  I will post my expected win interval for each team along with some other observations before Opening Day.

Here is a preview of what you will see, revealing my predictions on a few teams:

NY Yankees - Their infield DL payroll is higher than several teams' entire payroll. But unlike previous years where the Evil Empire (go ahead and sue me for copyright infringement) would just spend more money on buying some more all-stars, it looks like their opening day lineup may actually include long time Yankee legends such as Eduardo Nunez, Francisco Cervelli and Juan Rivera, as well as the newly added Vernon Wells. This team is really hard to project. If this wasn't the Yankees, they’d be reasonably expected to be a solid 70 win team. But I know better. I have no confidence they are going to stick to their self imposed spending limits for next year. I'll believe it when I see it. My (not-so) bold prediction is that they are going to pay to acquire some much needed pieces and explain that they had to due to all the unexpected injuries. When they do and if all their stars come back healthy and produce, 95 wins is not out of the question. Of course, if they stubbornly refuse to spend and Cano gets injured 70 wins may be a stretch. I have narrowed my guess to a 10 game win interval between 77 and 87 wins.

Toronto - Everyone (north of the border anyways) has already anointed them World Series Champions.

March 23, 2013

Calgary teams have great experience in Florida

Redbirds playing at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg
 (Photo courtesy of Bev Paulhus)
From March 8th to 12th, the Calgary PBF Redbirds Varsity(18U) and Junior Varsity (15U) teams had the opportunity to go to St. Petersburg. Not only did they get to play some good ball in the type of beautiful weather that is rarely never seen in Alberta winters, but there were several other activities that made this a memorable trip to Florida.  Each team had eight games scheduled into this extended long weekend, as well as the opportunity to meet with some former MLB players, and watch some Spring Training games.

On the first day, both teams played games at the Walter Fuller baseball complex, which is an excellent facility which has been used by the Tampa Bay Rays as their minor league spring training facility as well as Team Canada and has 5 MLB sized fields.

Post-game celebration
The day started with the Varsity team playing a morning game against the Ontario Terriers Gold team.. Behind the strong pitching of Nelson Lipszyc who threw a complete game against this potent lineup, Jake Derwent who scored twice, and a clutch 2 run pinch hit double in the 7th inning by Joel Campbell, the Redbirds were victorious in their first game, 4-2.
At the same time, the JV team was taking on the 16U Terriers Blue team.  The Calgary bats were  quiet, with Blake Enders driving in the only 2 runs in a 9-2 defeat.

March 06, 2013

Now pinch-running, #93....

... followed by awkward silence. Yes, the announcer at JetBlue Park also had no idea who the gentleman wearing a Red Sox #93 jersey was. This is one of many things you see in a spring training game that you don't see in meaningful games. To be fair to Kevin Millar's brother, Jensen, who served as the public address announcer this afternoon, I also had no idea who #93 is.  And I may not have a cool brother who was a key part of the first Red Sox Championship since World War I, but I'm fairly confident in my ability to name most Red Sox by sight.  And I don't just mean the starting 9 or just the ones on the 40 men roster, but most players in the high minors and key prospects at lower levels.

Still... when a player enters the game and is going to officially appear in a boxscore, you would think someone in the pressbox would have a cheat sheet with a list of names and numbers. This was only one of many moments that gave fans a chuckle at today's game.  Anyhow, I have confirmed that this was Portland centerfielder Shannon Wilkerson.

Other light moments from the game:

March 05, 2013

Notes from Red Sox Spring Training trip

Here's a review of day 1:
4:15 AM - depart home to go to Calgary airport.  For those of you that know me, you know how major of a commitment it is for me to get out of bed before 8 AM.  Very few things get me up before dawn. Baseball is on that shortlist. (Very short. It has exactly one item on it).
7:00 AM - Flight departs towards DFW (Dallas) where I'll catch a connection to RSW (Fort Myers)
6:00 PM - We arrive at RSW, after a pair of uneventful flights.
7:00 PM - after getting luggage and rental car check in at the hotel.

I check my phone, and see on my twitter feed that the Red Sox have an exhibition game against Puerto Rico's WBC team starting in 5 minutes.  Fenway South is about a 5 minute drive away.  Is the game sold out, will I be able to buy tix from a scalper?  I'm tired and hungry, but only one way to find out.

We head towards the game, and quickly buy a pair and make our way to our seats.  I'm going to be in Fort Myers less than 48 hours in total, but will get to watch the Red Sox play three times.  As Macklemore would say "This is ***ing Awesome!"

February 22, 2013

Playing Pepper Answers

As mentioned previously, the Cardinals blog C70 at the bat at hosts an annual series where bloggers from each team answer some specific questions in previewing their team's seasons.

To see how other Red Sox bloggers, Steve from BosoxInjection, Christine from Boston Red Thoughts and Rebecca from Fenway Fatales answered these questions, take a look at the Red Sox "Playing Pepper" page at C70 at the bat.

Below are the questions with the answers that I provided. As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts, hate mail....

February 20, 2013

World Baseball Classic Alberta Connections

The World Baseball Classic is starting soon, and Team Canada is hoping to add to its accomplishments in the International stage.  In the inaugural WBC in 2006, they shocked the world by upsetting Team USA.  More recently they won bronze at the World Cup in 2009 and again in 2011 and beat the US to take Gold at the Pan-Am Games in 2011.  Last fall Canada's Junior Team won Silver at the IBAF 18U World Championships.

Now they are ready to compete in arguably the world's biggest international baseball stage in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

February 12, 2013

Playing Pepper Preview

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled... oh, wait. I'm distracted by the title. Let me get back on track:

Every year, Daniel Shoptaw, who runs a Cardinals blog at C70 at the Bat, and is the former President of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, does a project he calls Playing Pepper, where he gets other teams' bloggers to preview their team.   As a member of the Boston chapter of the BBA  I am honoured that once again he has asked for my input in previewing the Red Sox.

Last year I was eerily Nostradamus like in forecasting the 2012 version of the Red Sox. You don't need to look here to see for yourself how accurate me and my fellow Red Sox bloggers predictions were, you can trust me.

This year I will be answering the following questions:
  1. How would you grade the offseason?
  2. What are the expectations for this club throughout the fan base, besides much less drama than the last couple of years?
  3. Who do you expect to be the most pleasant surprise to be for the coming year?
  4. What rookie will make the biggest impact in 2013?
  5. What will be the final record of the team and where will they finish in the division? 
  6. What one thing from your team are you most looking forward to watching?
I expect that this will be posted sometime over the next couple of weeks.  Stay tuned and I'll update this post with my responses, or keep checking at C70 at the Bat as other team's previews start being posted.

UPDATE: my responses here

January 26, 2013

Counting down the days

I can't wait!
Not for Opening Day...
Not for Spring Training...
Until the release of OOTP 14!

I just got an e-mail announcing that pre-orders for the latest version of this game have started.  I have previously written about this game (more than once),  and even though I haven't gotten my hands on this one yet (hence the counting down the days), I am very excited for this latest version.

First of all, it will feature the 2013 opening day rosters, so we can see right away if the changes the Red Sox made in the offseason will be enough to counter the improvements the Blue Jays made.

January 18, 2013

Former Professional Teams in Alberta

The other day I saw a Calgary Cannons card of Ryan Dempster, and that inspired me to write an article on my Red Sox blog about how many Red Sox players used to play in our Province.  In researching that I learned about a lot of teams that used to play here that I was unaware of.   I'm sure most people fondly remember the Cannons or Trappers, or even the Med Hat Blue Jays of the Pioneer League, but there have been many more Minor League and other semi-professional teams that have played in Alberta.  No less than 12 MLB franchises have had minor league affiliates here.  And there have been hundreds of stars who have played here including Alex Rodriguez (left - pictured batting for Calgary) and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson who started his professional career in Lethbridge.

Here are all the teams I found, listed with the name and level of their league and affiliation. If you are aware of other professional teams that have played in our Province, please let me know.

January 17, 2013

More Red Sox - Alberta connections

Ruben Lipszyc / BMC
If you're a semi-regular reader of this blog, you know I frequently mention Canadian associations to the Red Sox. Whether it's Jason Bay scoring a playoff series winning run, Eric Gagne closing out a Series win, or Kevin Youkilis hitting his first career home run in Toronto, there have been many Canadian connections to the Red Sox recently.  But connections specific to Alberta are a bit rarer.  Calgarian Chris Reitsma  was drafted in the 1st round, and a couple of years ago, the Sox drafted another player who played High School ball in the province, but otherwise there hasn't been a lot linking the Red Sox directly to Alberta.

But the other day as I was flipping through some old baseball cards, I came across a Kevin Millar and a Ryan Dempster (left) card in Calgary Cannons uniforms.  So that got me thinking, what other Red Sox (players and coaches) called Alberta home on the way to The Show (or were sent down after a playing in the Bigs)?  I did some quick research and came up with a fairly lengthy list.  From all-stars who were integral part of Red Sox teams, to part time players, who just made a brief stop in Fenway. My research was not exhaustive so I may have missed someone, and if so, please let me know in the comments below and I'll amend the post.

Without further ado, here is the list of former (and current!) Red Sox who played in Alberta.  I counted over 75 players including a Hall of Famer and several all-stars, and that's without any of these teams being affiliated to us!

Calgary Cannons (AAA - Pacific Coast League)
Mike Lowell
Kevin Millar
Ryan Dempster

January 16, 2013

Three Top Red Sox Players In Fantasy

As the baseball season nears, fans are starting to think about Fantasy Leagues.  Below is a guest article which focuses on Fantasy Baseball Red Sox players:

Most people outside of Boston might be down on the Red Sox in 2013, but there is plenty of talent still in Beantown. Fantasy owners will be eyeing a number of their every day players and pitchers, even if they lack that first or second round star. Here’s a look at when the right time is for a person to take three of their top players.

Dustin Pedroia
The second baseman for the Red Sox has been a steady producer for quite some time, so it is no surprise that he is the top fantasy baseball player heading into 2013. Last season, he posted solid overall numbers of 15 home runs, 65 RBI and 20 stolen bases to go with a .290 average. If he can stay healthy for an entire season, those numbers can go up even more. He is a top 30 overall fantasy baseball player heading into the year, and only Robinson Cano is better amongst second basemen.

Jacoby Ellsbury
When the outfielder is healthy, few provide the type of overall value Jacoby Ellsbury does. What hurts him is that he plays a loaded position where his numbers do not stand out as much. His numbers are pretty insignificant to talk about in 2013 since he missed so much time, but his 14 steals in limited action shows that his wheels are still there. He might be a bit of a risk, but he will probably last until the 35th-40th overall pick in most drafts. Amongst outfielders, he is in the 10th to 15th range.

Jon Lester
A guy who went 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA in 2012 might not seem like much of a reliable fantasy pitcher, but his track record and lack of other options make him the best pick out of the Red Sox. The left-hander had a terrible season by his standards last year, but at 29 years old, most of it could be corrected. Wins are out of his control to a degree, but when an ERA is near five, there is not much that can be done. He still strikes out enough guys that he will make a solid 4th or 5th starter on most fantasy squads.

January 05, 2013

Come see Goose Gossage or Brent Sutter and support local baseball

Once again, the Calgary Dinos will have a former MLB star who will be joining them at their baseball and fastball teams annual fundraising dinner.  Rich "Goose" Gossage has been announced as this year's keynote speaker.  As well, Brent Sutter will be the featured guest for Badland Baseball Academy's fundraiser.

Gossage is a Hall of Fame reliever, best remembered for his trademark Fu Manchu moustache and a blazing fastball. His resume includes helping the Yankees win a World Series in his first season in New York, and being only the second pitcher (after Rollie Fingers) to amass 300 career saves.  Aside from his time in New York, his storied career also took him through Chicago (both the North and South side), Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Texas, Oakland and Seattle on the way to Cooperstown.  After retiring he also wrote his memoirs in his very humorous autobiography "The Goose is Loose" and is sure to be an entertaining speaker at this event.

Brent Sutter is very well known to hockey fans in the area.  A native Albertan (from Viking), he played 18 seasons in the NHL before switching gears and becoming a very well regarded coach. Twice he led Team Canada to the World Junior Hockey Championship, and also won the Memorial Cup with Red Deer, as well as coaching in the NHL with New Jersey and Calgary.
Jeff McIntosh / Associated Press
The Dinos fundraising dinner featuring Goose Gossage will be held on Thursday January 31st at the Red & White Club at McMahon Stadium. To purchase tickets ($175) please call U of C Kinesiology Client Services at (403) 220-7749 and for more information on the event you can contact Mike Boyles at or (403) 220-4413.

The Badgers Gala evening with Sutter will be on Wednesday January 30th. The reception starts at 5:30 followed by dinner and a silent and live auction.  Tickets are $75 and can be purchased by contacting the Academy Office at (403) 664-2200.

Both of these events promise to be very entertaining and are a great way to support local baseball.