While names like Mike Piazza and Barry Bonds highlight the list of players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot to be announced on Jan 9, Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians legend Julio Franco is among them. Franco began his career in 1982 with the Philadelphia Phillies with 3 rbi’s in 29 AB’s. Franco finished his career in 2007 with the Atlanta Braves at age 49. Franco finished with a career line of 2,586 hits, 173 homeruns, 1,194 rbi’s, and 281 stolen bases in 23 big league seasons that spanned 7 MLB clubs. Franco is best remembered for playing until the age of 49. Franco was also the oldest player in MLB history to post a homerun, a grand slam, a pinch-hit homer, two homers in one game and two stolen bases in one game.
The AL Central has always been noted as one of the worst divisions in baseball, but in the next month there could be a lot of AL Central talk. With three of the five teams in the division close in record and conveniently all playing each other in the next few weeks, teams could be shifting daily. For now, this how the AL Central stands.
Dave Dombrowski and the Detroit Tigers made some huge moves before the trade deadline on Monday night on their off day while sitting in first place.
The Tigers picked up Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante from the Florida Marlins for pitching prospect Jacob Turner, who just picked up his first win as a Tiger a couple of days prior.
Omar Infante left Detroit five years ago after shifting to the Atlanta Braves and then down to Miami. Infante was the second baseman years ago with Carlos Guillen at shortstop and Brandon Inge at third. Needless to say a lot has changed in five years, but Infante is back at second base for the Tigers.
Since the All-Star break Detroit has come back hot, going 8-3. Batters three through six in the lineup have been unstoppable. Austin Jackson and Quintin Berry are getting on base and Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch have been moving everyone around.
Detroit’s pitching staff is coming together a little more than during the first half. Justin Verlander leads the squad with 11 wins, Scherzer has nine and Porcello has seven.
As long as the Detroit Tigers lineup stays hot and the pitching staff can keep striking out the opposing team like they have been best in baseball at doing, Detroit will be okay.
To keep up with the Tigers, visit Motown Lowdown.
So the American League Central standings are the same as they were two weeks ago, at least in terms of the order of the teams but some things have changed. The White Sox are still in first place and the Twins are still bringing up the rear but the Twins have picked it up a bit are now only a half a game out of last place.
Anyway, let’s get to the division recap and see what’s happening in the middle of the country, shall we?
Chicago White Sox
The South Siders are still on top of the division standings with despite being only 5-5 in their last 10 games. They have actually lost two out of the first three series this month. They won their first series against Seattle but then lost two out of three to both the Blue Jays and to the Houston Astros this past weekend. They’re in the midst of a series with the St Louis Cardinals this week and won the first contest.
The big story so far this season for the White Sox? Well, there are several: Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Chris Sale. Paul Konerko is winning a battle against Father Time, Adam Dunn is winning a battle against the Grimm Reaper — he has pretty much come back from the dead — and Chris Sale is mowing people down whenever he pitches.
Want to find out more about the pale Sox? Visit South Side Hit Girl.
Hanging in there in second place is Cleveland. They are also 5-5 in their last 10 but only have one series loss so far this month. This weekend they took two out of three from the St Louis Cardinals behind good pitching. Even in their one loss on Saturday, they held the Cardinals to two runs. Unfortunately for the Indians, they didn’t score any and were shut out by Kyle Loshe. But there is good news for Cleveland. They’re in the midst of a nine game road trip and are 4-3 so far. They have two more games against the Cincinnati Reds before they finish up their road trip. After that, they will be welcoming the Pittsburgh Pirates for a three game set and will have a rematch against the Reds at home.
The Tigers are definitely the team who has not lived up to expectations so far this season. They’re in third place, they’re five games under .500 and are currently six games back in the standings. After dropping their first two series of the month to the New York Yankees and Indians, they were able to win two out of three this weekend against the Reds. Including a big win on Sunday that saw the Tigers rally from a 6-3 deficit to win 7-6. The big story of that game was their ability to score runs late against hard throwing Aroldis Chapman which resulted in his second loss of the season.
One would think a win like that would spark a team but the Tigers ended up losing to the Chicago Cubs last night at Wrigley. To be fair, the Tigers are dealing with their fair share of injuries this season but as they say, it’s getting late early.
To read up on everything Tigers, please visit Motown Lowdown
Kansas City Royals
Poor Kansas City. They are dreadful at home. They are 9-20 at Kauffman Stadium which is by far the worst home record in the majors and they’re 4-6 in their last 10 games.
You know things are rough for your team when this is what gets you headlines:
That’s Bruce Chen being interviewed while teammate Humberto Quintero is, well, he’s doing something that you usually see children doing because they don’t know any better.
At least started this week off right for the Royals, with a 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at home last night.
For everything royal blue, visit Drinking the Royals Blue Aid
The Twins who are still in last place, have made a bit of a run in the past week winning seven of their last 10 games. In fact, of all the teams in the AL Central, they’ve had the best run so far in June. How about that? Despite that ran, they’re five games under .500 and still eight and a half games out of first place but they are only half a game behind the Royals in a battle of the cellar dwellers.
The Twins beat the Phillies last night with a 17-hit barrage that included home runs from Denard Span, Trevor Plouffe and Josh Willingham. With any luck, the Twins will beat up on the equally hapless Phillies and maybe move up into fourth place!
When last we looked at the standings, the order of the AL Central was Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City and Minnesota.
Things have shuffled again and are definitely getting interesting. A sign that the AL Central is the worst division in baseball or that it is most competitive? You decide.
Chicago White Sox:
The Sox have been the hottest offense in all of baseball of late. The team has also finally started winning games at home. On their most recent homestand, the team went 5-1, including a sweep of the then division-leading Indians. They are briefly on the road where they so far have taken two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays. » Continue reading “AL Central Recap: Worst Division In Baseball? Or Most Competitive?”
Social media has become a popular communications tool. More and more people and business are using social media and now Major League Baseball is too. Social media nights at various stadiums across the US have become popular for social media savvy fans.
An article in the New York Times highlighted a few clubs that have had success with social media nights. While programs for social media nights differ from park to park, discounted tickets are usually common among each of these nights. Social media nights are a way to get social media savvy fans not only interacting with the club but also with each other.
In addition to social media nights, teams have begun to monitor their feeds closer for fan interaction. The New York times article states that Kevin Saghy, a public relations and marketing specialist for the Cubs, monitors the Cubs Twitter feed Cubs fans celebrating their birthday or making their first trip to Wrigley Field, then put together a bag of free goodies to place under their seat before they arrive. The Cleveland Indians have a special social media suite at Progressive Field. Other teams have put together scavenger hunts for memorabilia and tickets or have upgraded seats using social media
I live in St. Louis and am an avid Cardinals fan. I’ve attended two social media nights at Busch Stadium, once in 2010 and again in 2011. Each time they have been different. The 2010 season was the first social media night hosted there. They had a panel of Cardinals beat writers and the general manager as well as local social media professionals speak on a pre-game panel about how they use social media. The general manager, John Mozeliak even answered questions submitted via the Cardinals twitter account.
During the 2011 season they had two social media nights. I attended the one in May where they gave away a tshirt to the attendees. There was pre-game networking with all those who bought a ticket through the promotion.
I personally love social media night. I have met so many great fellow fans and have been able to keep in touch with them through Twitter.
Social media is a great way to reach out and interact with fans. I hope more and more MLB teams have these programs for their social savvy fans.
Once again, we see a bit of a shakeup in the AL Central.
The Tribe has settled into a good rhythm, taking two of three from the powerhouse Angels and Rangers over the past couple weeks. They’ve also done well within their division, dominating the White Sox in a pair of series. Swinging the bat particularly well is young second baseman, Jason Kipnis, who is sporting a .274/.352/.487 line so far in 2012. His 150 wRC+ is third among Major League second basemen.
The Indians are also encouraged by starter Ubaldo Jimenez’ progress after making some changes to his mechanics. In his most recent start against the Rangers, Jimenez threw seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball. He did scatter five walks, but was able to escape jams with the aid of a season-high six Ks. Collectively, Indians pitching have posted a respectable 3.36 ERA over the past two weeks.
These standings look decidedly different than they did two weeks ago.
The Tribe have risen to first place, largely on the strength of winning series against the scuffling Royals, Marlins, and A’s. The series in Kansas City saw a bit of drama when Royals starter Jonathan Sanchez plunked Cleveland outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in the knee. The hit brought back bad memories, as it was Sanchez, pitching for the Giants at the time, who broke Choo’s thumb with a pitch and sent him to the DL for six and a half weeks last season. Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez earned an ejection and a five-game suspension when he retaliated.
The other bit of excitement out of Cleveland is the signing of ex-Ray and 3,000th-hit-chaser Johnny Damon. The veteran will DH at first, but is ultimately expected to play left field. Damon is working out at the Indians’ Spring Training complex in Arizona, and is on track to join the team in the next couple of weeks.
Much like the recent AL East division standings, the AL Central has a couple surprises for us during our first week of the season.
So far, the dominant Central team continues to dominate, as-yet undefeated at 4-0. Last year’s Tigers had superb pitching and a strong offense. This year, with Prince Fielder adding his bat to the mix, “strong” is an understatement. Detroit has scored more than 10 runs in two of their games so far: a 10-0 shellacking of Boston’s Josh Beckett, and a 13-12 extra-inning walkoff, anchored by a Miguel Cabrera long ball.
Speaking of Miggy, there were concerns about his defense as he moved to third to make room for Prince Fielder. In spring training, we saw him injured when a ground ball hit him in the face. But so far, he’s committed only one error, and definitely hasn’t been the disaster the skeptics were expecting. And he’s more than making up for it with the bat: so far he’s hit .462/.579/1.231 with three home runs and eight RBI, garnering him AL Player of the Week honors.
For more on the Tigers, visit Motown Lowdown.
- Righty Dustin McGowan and the Blue Jays have agreed on a contract extension, resulting in a 3yr/$4.1 million deal. The fragile pitcher celebrated with a trip to the DL for a foot injury that could keep him out until May. Ouch.
- The Brewers signed young catcher Jonathan Lucroy to a 5yr/$11 million extension. If Lucroy reaches Super 2 arbitration status – which is likely – the contract jumps to $13 million. It buys out his remaining non-arbitration year and all of his arbitration years.
- The Cubs and Red Sox finally, finally finished their dance of compensation, with Boston sending 19-year-old prospect Jair Bogaerts, brother of the organization’s top prospect, to Chicago. Of course, the drama continues, as (Not That) Chris Carpenter will require surgery to remove bone spurs, a condition that was apparently unknown before he was sent to Boston as compensation.
Spring Training is just about finished for the year. Final cuts are being made, lineups are being determined, position battles are being won … all because the start of the season is just days away. Of course, that means massive discussions — debates, even — over who is ready for what. This week, too, there was plenty of front office drama around the Major Leagues! We’ll get to it all in this week’s Wrap Up.
Good news, Halos fans — Kendrys Morales is cleared for take off! He’s back from a broken left ankle, and finally ready for Major League action. Just in time!
With Morales’s progress … what happens to Mark Trumbo? He’s had a solid enough season at third base that it’s making the decision to take him out of the starting lineup more difficult.
Nyger Morgan isn’t a guy well known for good behavior and random acts of kindness. Nevertheless, he’s using his … “fame” for good in a new PETA ad encouraging people to adopt pets. After all, his cat Slick Willie is his best friend!
Earning attention in a different way is teammate Rickie Weeks. Despite his injuries and the challenge he’s had getting back to 100%, Weeks proved his toughness and earned great respect. » Continue reading “Weekly Wrap Up: Injury Updates And Front Office Drama”