Results tagged ‘ 2013 ’

Mapes vs. Jeremy Returns: 2013 Home Run Derby Draft

HR Derby 2013We’re back! And what better way to break back on to the scene than with a joyous barrage of 500-foot home runs? In case you missed our first Home Run Derby Draft last year, check out the teams here. We see a couple familiar names in there, including A.L. captain Robinson Cano. But how will the results turn out in 2013?

Just like last season, this is all based on points. Whoever hits the most home runs accumulates the most points for his team, and determines the winner of this Mapes vs. Jeremy challenge. The draftees are Cano, Yoenis Cespedes, Prince Fielder, and Chris Davis on the A.L. side. The senior circuit rolls with captain David Wright, Michael Cuddyer, Bryce Harper, and Pedro Alvarez (who recently replaced Carlos Gonzalez).

The scoring system is simple. For each home run by a player on our team, we get points. In the first round, it’s one point per home run. In the second round it’s two points, and the third round is three. The bonus for drafting the winning slugger is five points, and could make or break this battle.

So check out our draft, and vote in the polls below. Who is going to win the 2013 Home Run Derby, and which of our teams will be crowned 3U3D champions?

*If anyone pulls out of the competition, their replacement will be added to that team’s roster.*
1st pick: Prince Fielder, Tigers (Team Mapes)
I want revenge for losing to you last year and taking the safest pick on the board, two-time Derby champ Prince Fielder.  Only him and Robinson Cano understand the preparation in between rounds to take home the title.  Prince will be launching them over the Pepsi Porch in right field all night.  He’s the clear favorite to become the 2nd three-time Home Run Derby champion, joining Ken Griffey, Jr.  I’ll be in attendance and I’m really hoping to be able to track down a Fielder home run in my glove.
2nd pick: Bryce Harper, Nationals (Team Jeremy)Harper HR Derby
There are many who think Harper doesn’t deserve a spot on the squad this year. Nonsense. Harper was pinging the top of the scoreboard (yes, the one behind the right-field bleachers) at Tropicana Field in HIGH SCHOOL. He’s young, aggressive, and has a powerful home run swing. He’s also aching to win this thing. I’d be shocked if Harper isn’t at least in the second round.
3rd pick: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates (Team Jeremy)
I got my wish. When I found out Carlos Gonzalez hurt his finger, I crossed mine and hoped that “El Toro” would replace him. It may be true that Alvarez isn’t the best all-around hitter, but this is a home run contest, and there are few who can hit a ball harder or further than the Pirates’ third baseman. I have a feeling he’ll rack up a big number, but if not, he will at least put on a good show.
4th pick: Chris Davis, Orioles (Team Mapes)
Harper is going to be boom or bust, but I would’ve taken him if I have picked 2nd/3rd.  That being said I’ll gladly take the current MLB home run king in Chris Davis, who I thought about taking at #1 overall.  Davis has always been a batting practice show since he was a rookie and the home run derby is pretty much glorified batting practice.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Davis hits the longest home run of the night.
Chris Davis HR Derby5th pick: Robinson Cano, Yankees (Team Jeremy)
Cano has been there, done that, with his suave attitude and sweet swing. He’ll be hitting in a mostly friendly atmosphere at Citi Field (because Mets fans don’t actually exist, amirite?), and might find himself repeating his 2011 win. Like everything he does, Cano will calmly sail into the second round and will be the overwhelming favorite to go to the finals. I’ve already seen one pundit (okay, so it was just a dude on Twitter) predict a Fielder vs. Cano final. And yes, I know he hit zero last year. Shut up. He’s due.
6th pick: Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics (Team Mapes)
Speaking of guys that put on shows in batting practice, Cespedes certainly fits that bill.  I’ve never seen a ball be hit into the 3rd deck of left field at Citi Field, but if someone can do it, it’s Cespedes (or Evan Gattis).  I am a little worried that he’ll just let it rip and wear himself down to where he won’t go deep into the competition.
7th pick: David Wright, Mets (Team Jeremy)
There is a reason we saved the three right-handed batters for last. Since 2003, Miguel Tejada (20o4) and Vlad Guerrero (2007 – at AT&T Park vs. Alex Rios…REALLY?? No lefties in the final with McCovey Cove sitting there, hungry? Sigh.) are the only righties to win the Derby. Wright has been golfing low and away pitches out all year, so he won’t have to be picky, and has a familiarity with this stadium. He’s the best bet of the right-handed hitters in my opinion, and we all know he comes up clutch.
8th pick: Michael Cuddyer, Rockies (Team Mapes)The Oakland Athletics' Yoenis Céspedes hits a two-run homer against the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo
Oh come on, you knew from the start Cuddyer was being picked last.  Domonic Brown or Paul Goldschmidt might have been better picks.  But, you have to respect David Wright for sticking to his guns and taking his friend and fellow Virginian in Cuddyer.  Now, we’ll see if Cuddy makes Captain America look smart.
There you have it! Vote in the polls below, and don’t forget to watch the 2013 Home Run Derby on Monday.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your 2013 MLB news!

The 2013 MLB All-Bloodline Prospect Team

2013 draftFor those of you living under a rock, or maybe hiding behind Scott Van Slyke’s mustache, the MLB amateur draft starts tomorrow. While it lacks the glitz and glam of the NFL draft (thank god), and bust potential is very high with so many picks (where ARE you Tim Beckham?), it’s still an exciting event for baseball nerds like us.

The stars of tomorrow (if you’re Bryce Harper…but more likely the stars of 2016) are all waiting in the wings of this draft. Follow along on MLB Network or MLB.com tomorrow, starting at 6 p.m. EST, to see which young player you need to know as he tears up your farm system over the next couple seasons.

So what is this nonsense we are spamming your timeline with tonight? Oh, just the dream team of MLB family genes! Using this article as a reference, we’re picking the all-bloodline team of the prospects who could get drafted this week, purely based on how said family member performed in his career. We probably won’t find the next Barry and Bobby Bonds or either of the Griffey’s, or any of the Boone’s, but it will be fun either way.

Enjoy:

Catcher: Kean Wong (brother of Cardinals #3 prospect Kolten Wong)

As much as this Warriors/Dodgers fan wanted to pick Ryan McCarvel (nephew of former NBA first-round pick Chris Mills) or Chad Wallach (son of current Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach), you can’t deny the exceptional talent that is evident in the Wong family. Kolten is one of the best prospects in baseball, and that alone made this an easy choice. We’ll see if Kean (I’ll give you a bag of corn nuts and a fist bump if you can tell me how to pronounce this name) lives up to his brother’s reputation.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Lidge (brother of former reliever Brad Lidge)

First base: Cameron Berra (“relative” of Yankees legend Yogi Berra)

I almost went with Manny Ramirez (yes, it’s the dreaded one’s son) here, but word on the street is that he’s joining pops in  Taiwan to ensure that the family dominance continues there. That’s a completely made up rumor. But how can you pass on the relative–even if the connection looks sketchy–to one of the greatest personalities and players in baseball history? I mean, the man has a World Series ring for each finger. And, yes, he has all 10 fingers. If Cameron is even one-fifth as successful, somebody made a good draft selection.

Honorable Mention: Preston Palmeiro (son of former slugger Rafael Palmeiro)

Second base: Cavan Biggio (son of snubbed Hall of Famer and lifelong Astro Craig Biggio)

Dad joined the 3,000 hit club, retired, and was immediately left out of the Hall of Fame this year. I’m over that. Totally. Can’t you tell? Anyway, I’m less concerned about why Craig named his son “Cavan,” than I am about the offspring actually matching Dad’s success. It’s a tall order, but even if he plays good defense and is a HBP magnet, we’ll be saying “like father, like son.” Too bad the ‘Stros already have a franchise second baseman. It would have been nice to see that name on the back of an Astros uni again.

Honorable Mention: JJ Franco (son of former reliever John Franco)

Third base: Luke Borders (son of former catcher Pat Borders)

To be honest, I was never a huge follower of Pat Borders’ career. I knew who he was and it seemed like he was around forever. So at the very least, if Luke can give that longevity, he’s worthy of this spot. His dad was extremely average, but enjoyed two rings and some good years defensively in Toronto. And with all apologies to Ruben Amaro and his hot-corner-handling nephew, I had to give the ‘stache potential points to the Jones family in the honorable mention category.

Honorable Mention: Alex Jones (son of former reliever Todd Jones)

Shortstop: Dillon Moyer (son of MLB’s father time Jamie Moyer)

Imagine my disappointment when I found out Jay Buhner’s son Gunnar qualified here but was not the kid on the epic SI cover shot. He gets the axe. We already gave JJ Franco, who can play both middle infield positions, an honorable mention elsewhere. And as much as I like BJ Surhoff (nephew Colin Moran is the #6 prospect in the draft and has an outside chance to go first overall), the rest of the group is better. Carl Crawford’s cousin J.P. is hanging around, but won’t quite make the cut. And because Walt Weiss has too many w’s in his name, his son Brodie is out (sorry not sorry). It’s simple subtraction, people. Plus, Jamie Moyer rules.

Honorable Mention: Ali Rodriguez (nephew of A-Roid A-Rod)

Left Field: Jacob Heyward (brother of talented Braves outfield Jason Heyward)

Topping his older brother’s first at-bat heroics is not going to happen, but Jacob could eventually become an All-Star and Gold Glove winner, too. Maybe the Braves can just move Jason to centerfield and replace another member of a brotherly duo in B.J. Upton, with the younger J-Hey. But if Braves GM Frank Wren has his choice between another Heyward and either of his sons, will he really slap family in the face like that? Spoiler: he definitely should.

Honorable Mention: Kyle and Jordan Wren (sons of Frank)

Center Field: Torii Hunter, Jr. (son of Tigers outfielder and notorious badass Torii Hunter)

Anyone else not realize until now that Torii Hunter was Torii Hunter, Sr.? The only reason I chose baby Torii over the bloodline of a Hall of Famer (see: Yount, Robin) is because there is a more direct DNA track between the two. If Hunter, Jr. is even a shell of his father, the team that drafts him is not going to be sorry. Hunter, Sr. has been one of the elite outfielders in baseball for almost two decades, and has been a helluva hitter as well.

Honorable Mention: Cody Yount (nephew of Robin)

Right Field: Mike Yastrzemski (grandson of Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski)

Please don’t tell Paul O’Neill that his nephew is merely an honorable mention for this position. But…really? What do you want me to do? NOT start a relative of the great 19-time All-Star? I don’t care how good this Mike kid is — if the Red Sox draft him, people are going to go absolutely nuts in Boston. But now that I jinxed him, the Yaz of the younger variety is probably going to get picked up by the Yanks. Uh-oh.

Honorable Mention: Mike O’Neill (nephew of hot-headed Yankee Paul O’Neill)

Starting Rotation:

1. Kacy Clemens, RHP (son of genetically-enhanced strikeout machine Roger Clemens)

2. Dalton Saberhagen, LHP (son of two-time Cy Young winner Bret Saberhagen)

3. D.J. Sylve, RHP (grandson of Bay Area and MLB legend Willie Stargell)

4. Ben Verlander, RHP (brother of best-pitcher-in-baseball Justin Verlander)

5. Chad Hockin, RHP (grandson of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew)

There were plenty of good options for the rotation, and you can see how clotted the bloodlines are (I should really work on that word choice) if the Leiter and Pettitte families get snubbed. Despite any steroid allegations, you can’t ignore the Clemens family dominance at the top of the rotation, followed by the studly southpaw in Saberhagen (really the only lefty worthy of consideration). Even though Killebrew and Stargell were hitters–very, very good hitters–it made sense to include their relatives here, as both are in the Hall of Fame. And naturally, even if he can never live up to big brother’s successes, leaving the name “Verlander” out of the starting rotation would be blasphemous.

Honorable Mentions: Mark Leiter, Jr. (nephew of Al Leiter), Josh Pettitte (son of Andy Pettitte), 

Closer: Jordan Sheffield, RHP (nephew of free-swinging hero Gary Sheffield)

As far as I know, all the pitchers on the list are starters anyhow, but I had to find a way to get Gary Sheffield’s DNA into this group. I’m just imagining his nephew Jordan having a violent arm waggle when he’s in the stretch before a pitch. With the violence that uncle Gary played with, I expect Jordan to at LEAST touch 123 MPH on average with his fastball. Really, Quantrill or Hunter Brothers (Rockies’ reliever Rex’s little bro) would have been the more sensible choice, but it’s GARY SHEFFIELD, people!

Honorable Mention: Cal Quantrill (son of former reliever Paul Quantrill)

What do you think? Will any or all of these guys get drafted today? Who would YOU include on your all-bloodlines team for this year’s draft? Did I include too many mustache pics in this blog? Follow along with Three Up, Three Down on Facebook or tweet us @3u3d with input.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

3u3d Power Rankings: April 15th, 2013

Welcome to the first installation of the 3u3d cumulative MLB Power Rankings! We figured ranking teams on their first three or four games last week was a little bit premature. But you can re-visit these rankings every week to see how they shape and evolve as the season progresses.

Below, you will find all five of our individual rankings, as well as the overall tally which will represent the official 3u3d power rankings. We have taken into account the early season performance of these teams, as well as how good–regardless of current record–we think they are. Please post your comments below and vote in the poll!

If you want to see our “literal power rankings” (HR leaders by team) for week one, check out this link here.

2013 Rankings Week 1

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)/Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R)/Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)/Kurt Peter (@FalconKP)/Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your 2013 MLB news.

Ranking the World Baseball Classic Rosters

World-Baseball-Classic-2013In about six weeks, the World Baseball Classic will be upon us again and Team USA will look to win its first title in the competition’s history. They’ve got a good shot — manager Joe Torre released his roster on Thursday, and they are absolutely loaded.

Unfortunately for fans of Team USA, one glance at a few competing rosters will stop the celebration in its tracks. Can someone unseat two-time defending champions, Team Japan? Will Team USA improve upon their 4th-place finish in 2009?

We can’t predict the results down to the wire, but we’re here to do what we do best at Three Up, Three Down. We rank the rosters! So strap in, baseball fans, and see if your favorite team stands a chance:

**The “Stick to Soccer” Group**

Brazil hat wbc

#16: BRAZIL

Notable player(s): Barry Larkin, Manager (and Hall of Fame Reds SS)

International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Ranking: 20

Breakdown: Good thing for their dominance on the international soccer scene, because Brazil isn’t going anywhere in the Classic. Yan Gomes was the first Brazilian player to ever reach the big leagues, and the country itself only has 14 players signed to Major League contracts. How they will win: They won’t. Why they won’t: See “How they will win.”  

china wbc cap

#15: CHINA

Notable player(s): Bruce Chen, SP, Royals 

IBAF Ranking: 18

Breakdown: The Chinese baseball team is a decade away from being a serious contender, but they are headed in the right direction. They’ve made steady improvements over international tournaments since a decent showing at the 2009 WBC, in which they eliminated Chinese Taipei. How they will win: Hustle, starting pitching. Why they won’t: Not enough of either.

Spain wbc cap

#14: SPAIN

Notable player(s): Paco Rodriguez, RP, Dodgers/Engel Beltre, OF, Rangers

IBAF Ranking: 16

Breakdown: I’m not sure what to think about Spain. They lack star power, but did knock off Israel and South Africa in qualifiers. The roster is dotted with promising Major League prospects, but I don’t foresee Spain winning more than a game, maybe two in the WBC. How they will win: Breakout tourney from Beltre. Why they won’t: Their Pool C competition is stacked (Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic).

italy wbc cap

#13: ITALY

Notable player(s): Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates/Francisco Cervelli, C, Yankees/Nick Punto, IF, Dodgers/Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs/Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres

IBAF Ranking: 9

Breakdown: Not only did we miss out on a Hall of Fame induction for Mike Piazza, but he won’t be participating on Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic either. Props to the Italians for back-to-back Euro Championships, but the competition is pretty weak over there right now. I think they will be humbled in the WBC. How they will win: Play with a chip on their shoulder. Why they won’t: Even the MLB-level hitters are thin.

kingdom of netherlands wbc cap

#12: KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS

Notable Player(s): Jair Jurrjens, SP, MLB Free Agent/Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox/Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers/Jonathan Schoop, 3B, Orioles/Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves/Roger Bernadina, OF, Nationals/Andruw Jones, OF, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 7

Breakdown: The Dutch soccer team is one of my favorites to watch. And for the first time in recent memory, so will their baseball team. They just missed my “dark horse” cut, due to sheer overall talent of the rest of the field. But the Major League potential of some youngsters on this roster is extremely intriguing. They’ve won 20 of 32 Euro Championships ever played. How they will win: Infield of dreams breaks out. Why they won’t: Not all the youngsters will perform.

**The Dark Horses**

south korea wbc cap

#11: SOUTH KOREA

Notable player(s): Jae Seo, SP, former Met, Dodger, Ray in MLB

IBAF Ranking: 4

Breakdown: I feel ridiculous ranking Korea this low, considering their past successes in the WBC. But, it’s the third time this tournament has been played and each team has scouting on the opposition now. I don’t think South Korea will sneak up on anyone this time around. How they will win: High on-base percentage, good defense. Why they won’t: Too much good competition.

Australia-WBC-hat

#10: AUSTRALIA

Notable player(s): Peter Moylan, RP, Dodgers

IBAF Ranking: 10

Breakdown: There’s a handful of good Major League players (like A’s closer Grant Balfour) who hail from the land down under, but there isn’t a whole lot of MLB experience on this roster. Team Australia still has a shot at advancing, but they may have more trouble than in years past. How they will win: Pure grit. Why they won’t: Not enough runs, upstart opposition in Pool B.

canada wbc cap

#9: CANADA

Notable player(s): Jesse Crain, RP, White Sox/John Axford, RP, Brewers/Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates/Russell Martin, C, Pirates/Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays/Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins

IBAF Ranking: 6

Breakdown: We all know that Canada produces some bona fide stars in MLB (Joey Votto, anyone?), but not all are present and accounted for on this roster, similar to Team Australia. They still have the talent to make a run with Lawrie, Morneau and Martin in the middle of the lineup though. How they will win: Dominant bullpen, good middle of the lineup. Why they won’t: Too much youth in the rotation.

taipei wbc cap

#8: CHINESE TAIPEI

Notable player(s): Chien-Ming Wang, SP, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 5

Breakdown: There’s a reason that Team Chinese Taipei is a top-five ranked country right now. But their proudest current professional representative (Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen) is not on the team yet. This team is still legit, and has a very winnable pool group. How they will win: Small ball. Why they won’t: Overall talent is lacking.

**The “Justtttt A Bit Outside” Group**

puerto rico wbc cap

#7: PUERTO RICO

Notable player(s): Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals/Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals/Angel Pagan, OF, Giants/Mike Aviles, IF, Indians/Javier Vasquez, SP, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 12

Breakdown: There may be no more high-ceiling-yet-average team in the WBC this year. Team Puerto Rico has finished fifth at both tournaments preceding this, and killed Team USA in 2009 before being ousted by them two games later on a walk-off hit. Even with players such as Molina, Beltran and Pagan, they won’t even be favorites in their own pool. How they will win: The Major League talent they have is relentlessly good. Why they won’t: Lack of depth in the rotation.

mexico 2013 wbc cap

#6: MEXICO

Notable player(s): Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers/Luis Cruz, 3B, Dodgers/Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers/Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals/Sergio Romo, RP, Giants

IBAF Ranking: 11

Breakdown: In their pool, Team Mexico will have to deal with Team USA, but other than that they should be favored to top Team Canada and Team Italy to move on. They have a decent infield, top-of-the-line ace, and one of the best closers in baseball. How they will win: Adrian Gonzalez goes off, Gallardo is dominant. Why they won’t: Romo is neutralized unless they have a lead late.

cuba wbc cap

#5: CUBA

Notable player(s): None 

IBAF Ranking: 1

Breakdown: Don’t let the lack of notable players deceive you — this team is good. Really good. They have played in the IBAF World Cup 29 times and won 25 gold medals, finishing second the other four times. In the WBC, Team Cuba has finished second and fourth (which, at the time, was their lowest finish ever in international competition). They just can’t legally have players like Aroldis Chapman or Yoenis Cespedes on their squad, otherwise they might be even better. How they will win: Hard-throwing starters, handful of five-tool prospects. Why they won’t: The top four teams are just too stacked.

**The Favorites**

japan wbc hat

#4: JAPAN

Notable player(s): None

IBAF Ranking: 3

Breakdown: Again, don’t let the lack of Major League firepower fool you. Much like Cuba, Team Japan has been a hotbed for MLB stars over the years (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish). Even though none of them joined the fray in 2013, this team is stacked. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of future MLB players come off this roster after good WBC performances. After all, they are two-for-two in WBC titles up to this point. How they will win: Ichiro-style on-base scavengers, deceptive pitching. Why they won’t: Not having Ichiro and Darvish, among others, will end up costing Team Japan.

dominican republic wbc hat

#3: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Notable player(s): Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants/Octavio Dotel, RP, Tigers/Alexi Ogando, RP, Rangers/Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays/Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Pirates/Edinson Volquez, SP, Reds/Carlos Santana, C, Indians/Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers/Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees/Edwin Encarnacion, DH/OF, Blue Jays/Hanley Ramirez, IF, Dodgers/Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays/Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers/Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays

IBAF Ranking: 13

Breakdown: The only reason Team Dominica is ranked so low by the IBAF is because all those notable players are stars in the big leagues, and don’t regularly compete internationally for their country. But now that the WBC has rolled around again, this is one unbelievably good team. My only concern is their starting pitching depth. How they will win: Scoring 15 runs per game (no…really). Why they won’t: Like I said, starting pitching depth. Will Volquez and Rodriguez be enough?

USA wbc hat

#2: UNITED STATES

Notable player(s):  Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants/R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays/Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves/Kris Medlen, SP, Braves/Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants/Chris Perez, RP, Indians/Joe Mauer, C, Twins/Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds/Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies/David Wright, 3B, Mets/Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees/Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers/Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins/Adam Jones, OF, Orioles/Joe Torre, Manager

IBAF Ranking: 2

Breakdown: I didn’t even pick all the “notable players” I could have for this team. It’s Team USA’s equivalent of the MLB Dream Team, and Justin Verlander still is undecided as to whether he’ll join the rotation. This team is already a favorite with a balanced lineup and very strong pitching staff, but adding JV would be a coup. Check out fellow Three Up, Three Down host Bryan Mapes’ grades-by-position for Team USAHow they will win: Veteran experience, explosive pitching. Why they won’t: The bane of their existence, Team Japan, will come along eventually.

venezuela wbc cap

#1: VENEZUELA

Notable player(s): Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers/Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners/Francisco Rodriguez, RP, MLB Free Agent/Ronald Belisario, RP, Dodgers/Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks/Salvador Perez, C, Royals/Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers/Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians/Miguel Cabrera, 3B/1B, Tigers/Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants/Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants/Carols Gonzalez, OF, Rockies/Gerardo Parra, OF, Diamondbacks

IBAF Ranking: 8

Breakdown: The quantity of star power on Team Venezuela might not match up to Team USA or Team Dominica, but the quality is far and beyond. When you start your rotation with Hernandez and stack the middle of your lineup with the reigning Triple Crown winner between Gonzalez and Sandoval, you are a very, very scary team. Even though their WBC pool is very tough, it would be a momentous upset to not see Team Venezuela make moves in the 2013 tournament. How they will win: A large margin of victory. Against anyone. Why they won’t: Slumping hitters or being outplayed by one of the other favorites.

And that’s a wrap. This writer believes Team Venezuela is the team to beat, with Team USA, Team Dominica and Team Japan not far behind. But in all honesty, there are about 10-11 teams who could potentially take home the title in 2013. Root for your team and country to take home top honors, and stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down because we’ll have all your World Baseball Classic coverage.

Like what you see? Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for more WBC and MLB news and analysis.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Every Team’s New Years Resolution

new-years-resolutionsIt’s that time of year again. That time when you realize your resolution to lose 30 pounds failed – in fact, we gained 30, didn’t we? When your declaration that your vampire novel would finally be finished and sent to the publisher, never got off the shelf.

Or that your dream of visiting Tahiti ended up being a shady motel for a weekend in Oakland on business.

Now that we’ve set a bleak mood, here’s the point: It’s New Years resolution time. We will all be making them, whether it’s private or public. And likewise, our favorite MLB teams must have one resolution they are aiming to accomplish in 2013.

Since we survived the apocalypse for now, here are Three Up, Three Down’s resolutions for every MLB team:

AL West:

Texas Rangers – Make a new friend – The Rangers either shopped in the wrong place or got screwed over for every player on their Christmas wish list. It’s not too late to snag Justin Upton from the D’Backs, though it gets less likely with each passing day. Texas should be going after the powerful right fielder hard in January.

Los Angeles Angels – Make a little money - Hear me out. Everyone knows that Arte Moreno and his Angels are filthy rich, but do they really have enough left over to re-work the decimated starting rotation? Trading for Jason Vargas was a nice touch, but will Vargas, Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson really replace Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana?

arte morenoOakland A’s – Move to a better ‘hood – Lew Wolff is fooling nobody. Because everyone and their mother knows that o.Co Coliseum is not a viable venue for a professional baseball team. Wolff claims he wants at least another half-decade in Oakland, but I’m calling his bluff. Their resolution should be to get OUT, and fast.

Seattle Mariners – Bulk up – No, not on the Bartolo Colon diet. The M’s took a good first step toward that workout regimen by trading for Kendrys Morales. But just because that punch-less offense now benches the bar doesn’t mean opponents will quiver with fear. The M’s need to go out and get some more power to legitimize those playoff hopes.

Houston Astros – Graduate – It’s no secret that the ‘Stros are a big work in progress. Moving to what was last year’s best division in baseball isn’t going to help things. While the other four teams in the division are – at the very least – grown men, Houston is struggling to graduate from a student to a serious businessman. Can they take that step in 2013?

AL Central:

Detroit Tigers – Learn to close – Take this as you may. There are thousands of frat boys in America resolving to improve in the same fashion next year. But I meant it as a nod to the Tigers getting handled in a sweep in the World Series in 2012. Adding Torii Hunter and bringing back Anibal Sanchez were big steps, but 2013 will be a failure without redemption.

Kansas City Royals – Become a “cool kid” – Oh, don’t pretend like you weren’t aspiring to be one your whole academic life. The Royals got some nice clothes and a haircut over the winter vacation, and are looking to butt their way into the “in” crowd. In baseball speak, that means they are aiming to be the new playoff darlings after adding much-needed pitching.

torii hunter

Cleveland Indians – Get along with Dad – The relationship wasn’t that bad before, but the Indians sure would like to impress new skipper Terry Francona in 2013. Cleveland is loaded with untapped potential, and they are hoping to play well for a full season to show their manager and fans that they are serious about this job.

Chicago White Sox – Prove everyone wrong - Wait, didn’t they do that last year? Sure, but people like me are still unconvinced. Their numbers were unexpectedly good, but that just makes the boss curious. Can they repeat? Do they actually deserve the promotion? The Chisox sure would like to move on up, but they will have a tough road.

Minnesota Twins – Get back on their feet – Plenty of people have to resolve to do this every year. Whether it be an economic downturn,  family problem, or injury, some years are just destined to be awful. The Twins know they won’t contend in 2013, but they can start the grueling process of getting back to a stable place.

AL East:

New York Yankees – Forgiveness – They better learn how, because former public enemy number one, Kevin Youkilis, will be manning third base for the Yanks in 2013. What this really means, is that if Youk bounces back and has a good year, the Yanks will forget all about their problems, and likely return to the postseason.

Boston Red Sox – Get cleaned up – This kind of resolution is usually reserved for a junkie of some kind, but it’ll fit nicely with the BoSox here. Boston got so far off track last season that they traded away millions of dollars in bad contracts for below-average prospects. Once they finish cutting out the rot, the Sox might contend again, even in this division.

Toronto Blue Jays – Build an empire – Such a wish is much more foreboding when applied to business in the real world, but opponents of the Jays should really be terrified of the changes this team has made. Their one and only goal with so many major acquisitions must be to not only make the playoffs, but to dominate everyone on the way.blue jays new players

Tampa Bay Rays – Try something crazy – I want to go skydiving, or hike a volcano, or start a band. The Rays, however, should do a whole different kind of crazy. Start Wil Myers in the big leagues, and see if it takes off. The kid is ready, and the lineup needs a boost. Anything remotely good from Myers may mean a playoff berth for Tampa.

Baltimore Orioles – Update the security system – In this day and age, you can’t be too careful with home security. I’m not talking a drawbridge and moat, but we’ve learned that the best teams are thriving because of good pitching staffs, to protect any other weaknesses they may have. Baltimore NEEDS a couple starting pitchers.

NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers – Give to charity – I swear, this isn’t even a “rich ownership” joke. Okay, it kind of is. But with all the money this team has shelled out over the past ten or so months, why isn’t their most deserving commodity seeing any of it? They keep talking about an extension for Clayton Kershaw, but show the fans you mean business!

San Francisco Giants – Share with friends – Not the World Series title itself, although this Dodgers fan would appreciate them passing that honor along next season. I’m talking about the Giants sharing with their San Francisco cohort, the 49ers. As the new year starts, the 49ers will be in contention for a title of their own, and any advice would be great.

Arizona Diamondbacks  v San Diego PadresArizona Diamondbacks – Cut ties with a family member – Sometimes it’s just necessary. You hate to see anyone secede from the clan, but signing free agent outfielder Cody Ross makes it inevitable. Will it be Upton? Adam Eaton, Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra? One will need to go, and it’s only a matter of time before they get dumped.

Colorado Rockies – Get health insurance – I know, I know. It’s not affordable in this country anymore. That’s one thing I won’t argue! But you have to think, given the regularity of major injuries to Colorado’s best players (Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki, etc.) they would find any way to keep everyone off the DL.

San Diego Padres – Earn a promotion – Any opponents who take the Padres lightly in 2013 are foolish. With Chase Headley, Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso backing an underrated pitching staff, San Diego could be the A’s of 2013. They will have to fight and scrap their way to get there, though.

NL Central:

Cincinnati Reds – Follow through – This is a tough one for any given person to accomplish. We make all sorts of promises to ourselves that oftentimes go unfinished. The Reds have made a silent pact to be even better than they were last year, and finally achieve what they’ve been on the brink of for years now. They might be the team to beat in the NL next year.

St. Louis Cardinals – Rekindle the flame – In a non-romantic way, of course. One of the reasons the Cardinals were able to shock fans everywhere and make that insane title run in 2011 was the clutch gene. They weren’t missing it last year, but everything was just too inconsistent in St. Louis. If they rediscover their balance and passion, watch out everyone else.

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

Milwaukee Brewers – Be a good parent – Confused? Good. The Brewers almost clawed their way all the way back into a Wild Card slot in 2012 after a dismal, bullpen-failure-laden start to the year. With a loaded lineup and above average pitching staff, this should not happen again. So their resolution is to help tutor young shortstop Jean Segura into a star.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Improve their grades – The Pirates were so close to being eligible last year. Not for the playoffs, or any nonsense like that. But to finally getting over the hump. Pittsburgh needs a 2.0 to be eligible – in this case, they need 81 wins – to be taken seriously. Will they reach the .500 mark? A slight improvement in 2013 will do it!

Chicago Cubs – Change their image – There really is no changing an entire image built around loss and devastation, as Cubs fans have known all too well for over a century. But even a slight uptick in wins and a breakout season from one of their young stars (Brett Jackson, maybe?) will at least give people hope that they can change.

NL East:

Washington Nationals – Make up – Adam LaRoche needs to be back in D.C. for 2013. All he wants is one extra year on a contract he has more than earned. Without a doubt, he was the most consistent hitter on the best team in the league in 2012, and should get paid as such. My New Years advice to the Nats is to make up with him. Sign the guy for three years.

Atlanta Braves – Learn acceptance – I remember being taught in psychology that the standard grieving process goes Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Braves fans and any good fan anywhere are surely coming out of the Depression stage right now (I know I am) and trying to transition into Acceptance at the fact that Chipper Jones has retired.

chipper farewell

Philadelphia Phillies – Become more patient - This is easier said than done for anyone, but it’s especially pertinent in Philadelphia. From an outsider’s perspective, I thought Philadelphia was caving into a sinkhole given the fans general reaction to last season’s debacle. Patience, Phillie fanatics. Your team is still very, very good. They are close, too.

New York Mets – Have more fun – I presume life as a Mets fan hasn’t been very enjoyable for the past three seasons – well, at least after the All-Star break. But they re-signed poster boy David Wright and gained some really solid prospects in the R.A. Dickey trade. Everything is headed in the right direction, Mets fans. Just calm down and have a little fun with it.

Miami Marlins – Make amends with people – Strange, you say? Au contraire! The smaller fan base that follows the Marlins are no doubt let down by the shocking fire sale that took place this winter. No more executive-speak, front office. Give it to the fans, and your best remaining player Giancarlo Stanton, straight. What is the plan? Honesty will take you far.

Tweet @3u3d with what you think your team’s New Years resolution should be, or Facebook Three Up, Three Down with your suggestion! Don’t forget to subscribe and follow the blog and podcast here.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Early Look: Hall of Fame Class of 2013

This seems appropriate, given that Barry Larkin and the late Ron Santo were officially inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame a few days ago. There is no higher honor that can be bestowed upon a player than being enshrined into Cooperstown, where only the best of the best (unless your name is Pete Rose and are unjustly kept out for leading an immoral lifesty–sorry…back on track) reside.

We can already look forward to next year’s potential induction class, because the names among first-time eligible players is mind-blowing. We have three steroid-users, two sure-fire fan favorite Hall of Famers, and a World Series hero who might not quite have the numbers to garner 75 percent of the vote.

Let me break down this group of candidates one by one (predicted induction teams along side):

Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants

You may be surprised, considering I’m a true blue Dodger fan, to read that I truly believe Bonds is a Hall of Famer. Even if just for the seasons preceding 2001, Bonds was a one-of-a-kind talent. Power, speed, intelligence and defensive prowess seemed only to be matched in that generation by Ken Griffey, Jr.

That being said, there’s a difference between deserving the Hall and actually making it there. I don’t think the voters will forgive Bonds on the first ballot, but that he eventually will be rightfully enshrined a few years later. There’s no way the all-time single season and career home run leader* will be shut out of Cooperstown.

Career stats: .298 average, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB, 1.051 OPS, 2,558 BB, 7 MVP awards, 8 Gold Gloves, 14-time AS

Predicted HOF induction year: 2017

Roger Clemens, Boston Red Sox

The Rocket is another guy like Bonds. He was clearly an incredible player from day one, who got caught up in performance enhancing drugs later on in his career. But based on his resume overall, there’s no way Clemens can’t be in the Hall.

What worries me about guys like Clemens and Bonds is that it sets a certain precedent for the rest of potential Hall of Famers who used steroids. If Bonds and Clemens are in, does that mean Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire are in? Does that excuse Pete Rose from his lifetime ban? This all remains to be seen.

Career stats: 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 4,672 K, 8.6 K/9, 7 Cy Young awards, 1 MVP award, 11-time AS

Predicted HOF induction year: 2018

Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs 

Sosa was kind of an under-the-radar guy until his golden steroid age of 1998. His muscles blew up, and so did his home run totals. Baseball fans can’t deny that the home run race between Sosa and McGwire that summer was incredibly epic and exciting, but it was all a sham.

But did Sosa have the overwhelming numbers like Bonds and Clemens to earn a trip to Cooperstown? The fact that 402 of his 609 home runs were from 1998 and on (in some voters’ minds, anything after ’98 is considered tainted) is very worrisome for his chances. Still, his other numbers are very impressive.

Career stats: .273 average, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 234 SB, .878 OPS, 1 MVP, 7-time AS

Predicted HOF induction year: 2027 

Craig Biggio, Houston Astros

If there is a more deserving, clean Hall of Fame nominee in this first-year class than Biggio, I want to see him. Not only was Biggio the ultimate utility man (started as a catcher, played mostly second base, but also used in the outfield), he put up big numbers no matter where he played.

Biggio is a member of the exclusive 3,000 hit club, and will always be remembered for his impressive hustle and scrappy-ness (not to mention his trademark tarred helmet). The facts that Biggio was a huge fan favorite in Houston, played his whole career for the Astros, and never even gave reason to entertain the thought of juicing, are bonus points.

Career stats: .281 average, 291 HR, 1,175 RBI, 414 SB, 3,060 H, 4 Gold Gloves, 7-time AS

Predicted HOF Induction Year: 2013

Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Dodgers (sorry, Mets fans)

Here is one of those no-brainer inductees. Piazza is widely regarded, and deservedly so, as the greatest offensive catcher who ever played the game. From winning Rookie (and Mullet) of the Year with the Dodgers in 1993, to leading the Mets to a World Series appearance in 2000, Piazza was a force in the middle of lineups his whole career.

Piazza never would have been confused for a good defensive catcher, but that’s not what he’s on the docket for. Instead, it’s his nine 30-homer seasons, and over-.300 career batting average. Piazza really was a complete offensive star, and never gave any reason for PED speculation in an age where steroids ran rampant. Not bad for a 62nd-round draft pick.

Career stats: .308 average, 427 HR, 1,335 RBI, .922 OPS, 1 Rookie of the Year, 12-time AS

Predicted HOF induction year: 2013

Curt Schilling, Boston Red Sox (sorry, Phillies and D’Backs fans)

Schilling will forever be remembered, especially in New England, for his gutsy pitching performance in the 2004 World Series run that helped bring an end to the long Red Sox title drought. The bloody sock has become an icon all its own, standing for strength, perseverance, and victory.

But does one huge postseason allow voters to look past the career numbers and enshrine Schilling in the Hall? Will an 11-2/2.23/0.97 career postseason line actually trump a win total well below 300 and no major awards? Time will tell; I wouldn’t be surprised either way. In my mind, Schilling is one of the best pitchers of all time, worthy of enshrinement.

Career stats: 216-164, 3.46 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 3,116 K, 8.6 K/9, 6-time AS 

Predicted HOF Induction Year: 2022

How did we do? Comment below with your thoughts and arguments. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @3u3d and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

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