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My 2015 Awards Predictions

The last of my five blog predictions series for the United Cardinal Bloggers is here, or is it? I get to be in top guessing mode here with my awards thoughts. There will be a bonus blog tomorrow with my Postseason predictions. I have might have given you a few hints in the previous blogs this week so let’s see who I’ve picked for these awards.

American League MVP – Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Until someone dethrones him or he misses a bunch of game with injuries, Trout should be the choice. There is no other player like him in the game today. He is the true five tool player and the best the American League has to offer. Other candidates include Jose Abreau, Chicago White Sox and Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners.

American League Cy Young – Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians. Yes, I know he won it last year. I believe he is not done getting better. Who knows how good he can be. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, and David Price, Detroit Tigers will also have really good years.

American League Rookie of the Year – Steven Souza, Tampa Bay Rays. Souza will have a chance to grow into a star inside the Trop if they let him. Other possible candidates include Daniel Norris, Toronto Blue Jays and Rusney Castillo, Boston Red Sox.

National League MVP – Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres. I am just a bit excited about Matt Kemp in San Diego. He will be a happy baseball player and a happy baseball player plays relaxed and usually at their highest level. Add Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins, and Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals an there is a lot of talent in the National League.

National League Cy Young – Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals. This will be the shocker pick of the year. Max Scherzer gets all the hype in D.C. but he will not even be the best pitcher on the staff. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers and James Shields, San Diego Padres also have a great chance.

National League Rookie of the Year – Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers. If you trade the guy that could be the MVP, his replacement better be pretty good. I think he is. He will sneak into the award as the other votes are split between Chicago Cubs stars of the future, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler.

Comeback Player of the Year – Brandon McCarthy, Los Angeles Dodgers. The story of the comeback of McCarthy will be awesome to watch. Catch those late night sports shows and new MLB Network show MLB Central each day to hopefully see his story of triumph bloom.

You get a bonus blog tomorrow for Postseason Predictions. Monday will also be a Cardinals specific preview blog even though one game was played. Remember, these thoughts are just my opinion. I hope they make you think and pay attention to the wonderful game of baseball.

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My 2015 National League West Predictions

Continuing with my March assignment for the United Cardinals Bloggers, it’s my National League West Predictions blog. This could be one of the most watched divisions in baseball. I think it could be one of the best.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers – Not my favorite team due to the attitude of some of their players, but I know good baseball when I see it and it is happening in Chavez Ravine. Clayton Kershaw is one of the best pitchers in baseball. The additions of Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick up the middle improve this team both at the plate and in the field. I just hope they have enough pitching and my pick for NL comeback player of the year, Brandon McCarthy should help.

2. San Diego Padres (WC) – I think the Padres are a lot closer to the Dodgers than most people do. I think these two teams will be fighting at the top of the division all season. The Matt Kemp acquisition was brilliant in keeping him in the same division. He should be back in form and is my early pick for NL MVP. Add Justin Upton and Wil Myers to that outfield and the Padres should be very much improved. Oh yeah, their rotation is pretty dang good also, being led by newcomer James Shields.

3. San Francisco Giants (WC) – The Giants are going to squeak into the playoffs. Maybe even by default. They have enough pitching to survive the fight in the West. I also believe that Joe Panik will have a big year for them. He will step up until Hunter Pence returns from injuries. I think Casey McGhee will be an outstanding replacement from the Panda dude. He may even be better. Other guys will need to step it up for this prediction to come true but I have a feeling the team by the bay can figure it out.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks – I think the DBacks will be exciting to watch. But exciting doesn’t always mean that they will win more games than they lose. Their pitching will have to step up. Paul Goldschmidt is a really good player on not that great of team. Adding Mark Trumbo and hopefully letting Cuban import Yasmany Tomas learn in the majors brings that excitement that’ll cause me to flip to see a few of their late games.

5. Colorado Rockies – Not enough pitching and there are rumors that you want to trade your two best players. This is Rockies baseball. If they keep all their good players like Justin Morneau, Charlie Blackmon, and Nolan Arenado healthy, they may not finish at the bottom of this division. I just think we will see Troy Tulowitzki in some American League jersey before the trade deadline.

Another wacky division in baseball is the National League West. Many will miss a lot of these late games but I suggest you check the highlights. It will get interesting and another reason why they play the games. Please come back tomorrow for my postseason picks and awards.

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My 2015 National League Central Predictions

Continuing with my March assignment for the United Cardinals Bloggers, it’s my National League Central Predictions blog. I will be doing an extensive Cardinals preview blog next week, so here is my brief take on them and the rest of the NL Central.

1. St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals seem to be the unanimous choice for the top of the heap in the Central, and they should be. If the pitching holds up, there should be no stopping them. They are good enough offensively to compete with most teams and are even better defensively this year than in recent ones.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates – I am not as sold on the Pirates as a lot of people because of what Russell Martin meant to that team. I am on board with their outfield led by possibly overrated Andrew McCutchen, along with Starling Marte and a full season of the exciting Gregory Polanco. A.J. Burnett was brought in to help shoulder the loss of Martin in a leadership role and pitching hole left with the departure of Edison Volquez. He won’t be able to do either. Pirates are just out of the playoff picture.

3. Milwaukee Brewers – The Brewers were in first place for 149 consecutive days last season. They may be there only once this year and that is in the first week of the season. I am not a fan of many of the players on this team. But Wily Peralta could have an All-Star season pitching for this team. Will his defense back him and will he have enough offense to help him? Adam Lind hopes to provide a bit of that but in the end you can only do so much to make a pig look pretty.

4. Chicago Cubs – Oh the Cubs. The team that made a lot of noise in the offseason. They can’t even get their stadium ready for opening day so what makes anyone think they can put together a competitive team. Their best player this spring, Kris Bryant, is starting the season in the minors because of a stupid MLB control of player rule. He should be back up in two weeks barring injury. I do like Anthony Rizzo and he should have a good year for them. Joe Maddon helps them as a manager and Jon Lester helps their pitching staff. But, in the end they are just the Cubs. There are flashes of brilliance here but not enough of the right pieces.

5. Cincinnati Reds – I like Joey Votto and I hope he can recover from his 2014. Aroldis Chapman should be exciting to watch close games for them if he stays healthy. With Johnny Cueto headed towards free agency, he is rumored to be moved at some point. I think Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce are on the backside of their careers. There just is not enough here in Cincinnati to put together enough wins to compete with the big guys. They may end up being the best of the last place teams in baseball.

This division could go so many ways. If Chicago gels as a team or the Milwaukee players stop thinking about themselves they could make things interesting. There could be less than 10-15 games separating this whole division.

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My 2015 National League East Predictions

Continuing with my March assignment for the United Cardinals Bloggers, it’s my National League East Predictions blog. This is the first time I’ve done a division at a time predictions. The team at the top of the NL East seems to be a unanimous choice but after that it gets all messy 

1.  Washington Nationals – The Nationals had five pretty good starters last year before adding Max Scherzer into the mix this offseason. He makes their rotation go from really good to great. I have always been a big Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann fan so this rotation will be exciting to watch. I think Bryce Harper will have a better offensive year and Ryan Zimmerman will calm down and do much better at first base. Adam Laroche’s leadership on this team will need to be replaced, but they should be just fine. I believe they may acquire a better second baseman at some point before the trade deadline to make a postseason push. 

2.  Miami Marlins – The Marlins will finish in second place by a wide margin, probably double digit games back. They should stay a bit above .500 though. Mat Latos and Dan Haren need to have pretty good seasons for this to happen, so nothing is guaranteed here. A really good outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna will help their cause. I think the addition of Dee Gordon to bat leadoff and play second base was brilliant. He should fit in well and could fill a good leadership role. The Marlins will not be good enough to make the Wild Card.

3.  New York Mets – I had the Mets in 2nd in this division and fighting for a Wild Card until Zack Wheeler was lost for the season. Now, they should be right at .500. One of my favorite non-Cardinals, Captain America David Wright, should be better this year. I think Michael Cuddyer should help this team a bunch. Matt Harvey does look like he is back to form this spring, but with the Mets being cautious with him this year, I assume their bullpen will blow a few of his games. Give the Mets one more year.

4.  Atlanta Braves – Let the rebuilding for the new stadium begin. The good things about this Braves team are few. Freddie Freeman is one of the nice guys in baseball. Craig Kimbrel may be the best closer in the game today. I will pay attention when I see a Shelby Miller start since he is a former Cardinal. I am a huge Nick Markakis fan, but he can only do so much. This team will not be good enough to compete, yet they still won’t be at the bottom of this division. 

5.  Philadelphia Phillies – Wow, what is left of this team is old. Cliff Lee is too far too gone. Management has said they want to trade Ryan Howard. Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon have been rumored to be traded to many teams. The rebuild is under way. There is not much else to say about the Phillies except that they may be the worst team in baseball in 2015.

This is not a hard division to evaluate. Sure, another pitcher could emerge in New York. Every elbow could fall apart in Washington. That is why they play the games.

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My 2015 American League Predictions 

My 2015 American League Predictions

I am really excited that baseball season is almost here. I am doing my predictions blogs this week as part of this year’s March assignment for the United Cardinals Bloggers. In an amazing five part daily blog series, today I am starting with the American League. Then I will be going thru every division in the National League, and then postseason and awards.  

I do not believe the AL East should be very good this year. The Yankees are old and still have A-Rod to deal with. As much as I love Joe Kelly, he is not the ace the Red Sox need. Tampa Bay has traded away almost everyone including a manager. Toronto made some moves. Seriously, the Red Sox will find a way and may be the only team over .500 in this division. 

AL East:

Boston Red Sox

Toronto Blue Jays

Baltimore Orioles

New York Yankees

Tampa Bay Rays

Boston has enough to win the division because no other team wants it. Toronto has made some moves that will help them but they didn’t really address their pitching needs.  New York will be bad but not as bad as Tampa Bay, who may be the worst team in baseball. 

The AL Central is going to be fun. As I have said before, I root for these teams when they aren’t playing each other and I have friends who are fans of these teams.  

AL Central:

Chicago White Sox

Detroit Tigers (WC)

Cleveland Indians 

Kansas City Royals 

Minnesota Twins

The excitement in this division is fun to me. Yes, I picked the Royals to make the playoffs last year. They hurt their team this offseason and I do not see them recovering. Age is catching up a bit with Detroit and they will squeak into the Wild Card. Very tough division this year with even the Twins being better. This might be the tightest division in baseball and a few injuries or gutsy pitching performances could make the difference.    

The AL West to me is a two team race. Both of those teams should be good enough to make the playoffs and may be the top of the charts in the American League this year.

AL West:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Seattle Mariners (WC)

Houston Astros

Oakland Athletics 

Texas Rangers

Mike Trout of the Angels will be better this year than last year and last year he was the AL MVP. The top two teams in this division will score a lot of runs unless they play each other. I give the Angels the edge because of a little more of experience and discipline. I think Houston is going to cause lots of teams fits and will be better than the sinking Rangers and no chemistry A’s. 

Thanks for reading blog one in this five blog prediction series.

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If I Could Go Back to Any Game

The January United Cardinal Blogger project is a fun one. If I had a ticket and a time machine which game in Cardinal past would I attend? I went to the last regular season game at old Busch Stadium and the first at the new Busch. I got to experience the final game of the 2004 World Series. I saw Albert Pujols’ first game at Busch and Mark McGwire’s last. In my heart I had two choices left; to see Lou Brock’s last game or Game 7 of the 1982 World Series. I chose the World Series game because I actually remember that one.

In 1981 in a divided strike altered season, the St. Louis Cardinals had the best overall record. They did not make the playoffs due to the split standings that decided that year. There was lots of excitement going into the 1982 season. At one point in the offseason of 1980 the Cardinals had both stud closers Bruce Sutter and Rollie Fingers on their roster. Fate had it that Fingers would get sent to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Pete Vuckovich and Ted Simmons. The Cardinals would meet them again in the 1982 World Series. Fingers did not get to pitch in the World Series due to an injury.

I was a young boy. I listened to Cardinals games in the backyard with my Grandpa. We watched the Saturday Game of the Week on NBC. I think I got to go to one game all season in person. But the playoffs were all on TV. The World Series featured then young local St. Louis native Bob Costas doing in game reporting for the first time. This is TV back when there were only 6 channels to watch at the most. Willie McGee was leading the Cardinals as a rookie with his homeruns and jumping catches. I remember staying up through the rain delayed game 6 and John Stuper’s magnificent performance leading into game 7. He pitched a complete game despite over 2 ½ hours of rain delays. My mom let me stay up and watch every World Series game. I was 12 and in 6th grade.

Game 7 was a rematch between Joaquin Andujar and Pete Vuckovich. Andujar pitched seven strong innings and Bruce Sutter finished the rest of the game then ended in the arms of World Series MVP Darrell Porter. It was a great game with the silent leader George Hendrick giving the Cardinals the lead in the bottom of the 6th and they never looked back winning the game 6-3.

The Hug

The Hug

Why that game? The Cardinals were underdogs. The Brewers were the mighty powerful Harvey Wallbangers with their 216 homeruns while the Cardinals only had 67. Whiteyball was the Cardinals mantra. That was solid pitching, great team defense, aggressive base running, and all around manufacturing runs. This was a Midwestern city battle World Series. They referred to the series as the Suds Series since both towns were huge beer producers. The Cardinals swept America’s team, the Atlanta Braves to get to the Series. I wanted to be there in person to see the marquis on the scoreboard that made me cry as a boy. It simply said ‘WE WIN’.


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2015 Winter Warm-Up Preview

With the weather warming up here in St. Louis, I have decided to get back to this blogging thing. Let’s just say it was better for me not to blog during the month of November. Between being busy at work and not really being able to share my opinions, I silenced my own public forum of opinion. Christmas got me busy and involved with friends and family. It was a good time to step away.

This weekend marks the 19th annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch Saturday, January 17th through Monday, January 19th (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) with appearances from nearly 70 current and former Cardinals players. For the most complete schedule and up-to-date Winter Warm-Up information, visit cardinals.com/winterwarmup. This year I will again be working in Operations wearing the hat pictured so say hello if you see me running around. Most of my work will be behind the scenes but I frequently walk the crowds to check on things. Throughout the Winter Warm-Up, fans can stay connected by following the Cardinals on Twitter (@Cardinals), Facebook (Facebook.com/Cardinals) and Instagram (@Cardinals) for the latest news, event updates and behind-the-scenes content. Each day, the team will have Twitter Interviews with players, exclusive videos, photos and more. Fans should join the conversation, and share their own photos and experiences by using the hashtags #CardsWarmUp, and #CardsCare.

My 2015 Winter Warm-Up Hat

My 2015 Winter Warm-Up Hat

I am excited about the upcoming season already. Jason Heyward, Jordan Walden, and Mark Reynolds are enough to get me excited. My hope is that the Cardinals do not go all in for another frontline starter and let Marco Gonzales win the 5th spot in the rotation. He should beat out Carlos Martinez for the job and Martinez can stretch at Memphis or be another late inning option. I hope to never see Jaime Garcia pitch in the regular season for the Cardinals again but I am expecting to see that at some point this year or he will get dumped.

If you will be at the Warm-Up say hi. If not, follow it on social media. I will post what I am allowed to and hope to have a wrap up blog sometime next week.