Results tagged ‘ Indians ’

2014 MLB Bobblehead Battle: AL Central

Time for more bobblehead madness.  In case you missed part one on the AL West, check it out here. Again, each bobblehead will be rated 1-5 stars based on quality of subject, originality, number available, and overall awesomeness.  Teams will be ranked by total stars, so the more giveaways (especially quality ones) the better.   Which bobbleheads in the AL Central will be crowned the king?  Let’s find out!

Cleveland Indians (amount of giveaway varies)

Saturday, May 3rd, Orel Hershiser: Interesting choice for a throwback bobblehead as Hershiser had a 4.21 ERA in his three seasons with the Tribe.  He is a big name though.  This giveaway is for 10,000 fans.  ** 1/2

Saturday, May 31st, BrOhio: I have no idea where this is going, but it has potential to be the most creative bobblehead in Cleveland’s crop.  They also up the giveaway to 12,500 for this one.  *** 1/2

Tuesday, June 3rd, Michael Bourn: Pretty standard stuff here.  Back down to 10,000 fans on this giveaway **

Tuesday, July 8th, Jason Kipnis: See, Michael Bourn.  But a slightly better player and 12,500 fans get this one. ** 1/2

Monday, September 1st, Michael Brantley: Another average to slightly above average player getting his bobble on.  Still 12,500 fans for this one, but still a low number compared to other teams.  A lot of quantity, but not much quality from the Indians in 2014.  **

Total: 12 1/2 stars

Minnesota Twins (10,000 fans)

Friday, June 20th, Harmon Killebrew 1965 All-Star Game: I had a feeling the Twins would go the route the Mets did in 2013 and honor players that appeared in All-Star Games with the team.  The Twins are hosting the 2014 All-Star Game.  This would be a huge boost if the Twins also featured the three Minneapolis stadiums to host the All-Star Game as well.  Killebrew is one of my favorite players of all-time.  ****

Friday, July 4th, Lou Gehrig: This giveaway is with the Yankees in town and corresponds with the 75th anniversary of Gehrig’s farewell speech.  Great tip of the cap to history by the Twins.  ****

Saturday, July 5th, Tom Brunansky 1985 All-Star Game: Brunansky picked a great year to be the only Twins All-Star and make his only appearance in the Midsummer Classic.  The career .245 hitter does have a sweet mustache, but it’s not enough to probably be the worst bobblehead of 2014. *

Saturday, September 6th, TBD 2014 All-Star Game:  Fake Vegas odds on who this bobblehead will be.  Joe Mauer -2000, Glen Perkins +500, anyone else +1500.  If it’s Mauer…….. ***

Total: 12 stars

Kansas City Royals (10,000 fans)

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 10.22.15 PM

Saturday, June 28th, James Shields: This is going to be tough to dole out stars with a measly 10,000 fans getting each bobblehead.  Shields is a solid pitcher, but not a big star.  **

Saturday, July 12th, Salvador Perez:  Perez isn’t even on Shields’ level, yuck. * 1/2

Sunday, August 10th, Alex Gordon:  Gordon is the “star” of the team.  We’ll see if they make it with a Gold Glove variation, that’d be a nice addition. ** 1/2

Saturday, August 30th, Mr. Royal: This one could actually be fun!  This throwback mascot will get a bobblehead on retro night.  I’m in. *** 1/2

Total: 9 1/2 stars

Detroit Tigers (amount of giveaway varies)

Thursday, June 5th, Max Scherzer 2013 Cy Young Award: No picture yet of the the bobblehead, but I’d suspect it’ll be him holding the Cy Young award.  Maybe they’ll throw in the WWE Title belt that Scherzer was given for winning Cy Young.  This giveaway is for 15,000 fans. ***

Thursday, August 14th, Justin Verlander Mini-Bobblehead: Mini-bobblehead?  Can’t give him a normal sized one?  I’ll only accept this if there’s a mini-Kate Upton on it too.  This giveaway is for just 10,000 fans.  Dislike. * 1/2

Friday, August 15th, Miguel Cabrera 2-Time MVP: Apparently to get a normal-size bobblehead you have to win an award the previous season.  I want Cabrera to be wearing his Triple Crown crown while holding two MVP’s in his arms.  I’d bet it won’t look like that.  This giveaway is also for 10,000 fans. ****

Total: 8.5 stars

Chicago White Sox (20,000 fans)

Saturday, May 24th, Chris Sale: Sale is the current and future ace of the White Sox.  The extra 5,000 fans that get to take this home compared to the Yu Darvish bobblehead in part one, gives this an extra 1/2 star.  ***

Saturday, August 30th, Tony LaRussa: Many people forget that LaRussa started his managing career on the Southside.  In his Hall of Fame induction year, I like that they’re giving him a bobblehead.  I hope it’s in this classic throwback uniform. *** 1/2

Total: 6.5 stars

That’ll do it for the AL Central.  I’m quite disappointed that there were no pictures of any 2014 bobbleheads in this division.  The Indians win on quantity, but the Twins win on quality.  Unless, it’s Tom Brunansky of course.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

“Sweet Caroline” Around MLB in Honor of Boston

In the wake of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon on Monday, MLB teams showed their support for the city of Boston by playing “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.  The song is a staple at Fenway Park and is sung by Red Sox fans before the bottom of the 8th inning.  The song was played at home games by the Braves, Marlins, Reds, Cubs, Twins, Dodgers, Indians (who were playing the Red Sox), and even their biggest rival, the Yankees.  Here is the video of “Sweet Caroline” being played at the end of the 3rd inning at Yankee Stadium.

Here’s the Target Field version:

Down in Miami at Marlins Park:

All the way on the other coast at Dodger Stadium:

And at O.co Coliseum in Oakland:

Turner Field in Atlanta where the Braves went on to hit three homers in the bottom of the 8th:

The Brewers showed their support by playing another famous Boston song, the theme from “Cheers”. That can be heard at the 1:40 mark of this video.

You have to love the support that Boston is getting from across the country. It’s the little things like this that add up to big things.  It really is “so good, so good, so good.”

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Grade That Trade! Steamy Ohio Three-Way Edition

chooOkay, so the Diamondbacks aren’t in Ohio. But two of the three teams involved in today’s mega-deal are! Fans of both the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds must be feeling pretty good about the moves they made.

The Indians finally found a good fit for star outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but even they might end up surprised with the return they got on the investment. And Choo’s new team, the Reds, are clear favorites to repeat in the NL Central after adding a quality bat and glove like his.

And the middle child, Arizona, is stuck with the biggest question mark. Luckily for them, their guy also may net the biggest return. However, the ultimate prize for the D’Backs may be that with a shortstop added to the mix, Justin Upton will be staying put in the desert.

Will the other, secondary players in this trade make an impact down the road? This writer sure thinks so.

Let’s break down this three-way trade:

Diamondbacks Get:

SS Didi Gregorius (AAA) from CIN

RP Tony Sipp (AAA) from CLE

1B Lars Anderson (AAA) from CLE

Reds Get:

OF Shin-Soo Choo from CLE

IF Jason Donald from CLE

$3.5 million from CLE

Indians Get:

OF Drew Stubbs from CIN

SP Trevor Bauer from ARI

RP Bryan Shaw from ARI

RP Matt Albers from ARI

Wow, that’s a doozy. The first thing that stands out to me when breaking down this trade is the ultimate haul of ridiculous talent that ends up in Cleveland. Though Stubbs hasn’t quite lived up to his billing in Cincy – mostly due to a high strikeout rate – he’s extremely gifted.

I’m talking speed, power and defense in a combination that few players can match. Even if he struggles to acclimate to Cleveland and continues to fail at getting on base, I think the Indians have a very workable project with Stubbs, who is still young and has a very high ceiling. He should fill in nicely for Choo for the time being.

The real prize has to be Bauer, a top pitching prospect who is considered among the best in baseball. I’m a little bit surprised the Diamondbacks parted with him over Tyler Skaggs, but I’m not one to question that brilliant front office. Bauer brings power, wisdom and accuracy to the mound. At the ripe young age of 21, Bauer is under team control for a long time and should blossom into a star, barring injury.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks

Throw in the fact that Cleveland landed two right-handed relievers under age 3o, and they might just win this whole darn thing. Matt Albers, 29, has a 2.57 ERA last season between the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks, and Shaw, 25, put up pretty good numbers as well.

Over in Cincinnati, the Reds have found a full-time center fielder. One has to wonder if that will backfire, given that Choo has only played 10 games there in his whole career. That being said, the outfield is all the same – center field commands more of a range, but if you can catch a fly ball and throw a runner out, you can do it well from anywhere out there.

Personally, I think Choo will figure it out pretty quick and be an above-average center fielder. And never fear, Reds fans. Choo is most likely a one-year stop-gap before uber-prospect Billy Hamilton reaches the Majors for good in 2014. Adding in Donald isn’t extremely noteworthy, but he’s a good utility man who can provide a spark off the bench across multiple positions – or fill a potentially-vacant role at third base.

In Arizona, fans might be wondering why their team moved one of the best minor league arms in baseball for a guy named Didi. But one look at Gregorius’ tape and stats, and you may be convinced. He is under team control until 2019, and may be that franchise shortstop the D’Backs have been searching for. gregorius

The stats aren’t anything exceptionally flashy, but they don’t tell the whole story. Multiple analysts rank Gregorius as a plus-fielder and a plus-hitter for average. His nearly 450 games in the minors so far have produced a .271 career average and respectable fielding numbers.

If Gregorius lives up to the enormous potential he possesses, the D’Backs may have gotten the biggest steal of the whole trade. And don’t forget they got Sipp and Anderson too. Sipp has a career 3.68 ERA, but is just entering his prime. Anderson is also under team control until 2019 and could very well blossom into a power-hitting, left-handed first baseman.

As it stands now, the Reds definitely win in the short-term with this trade. In the long run, I like what the Indians got. And the dark horse Diamondbacks will need all three players to really pay off if they want to even be considered as winners of this deal. But enough of my opinion – what do you think?

Tell us who won the trade by voting and commenting below – for more back-and-forth, follow @3u3d or like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Derek Jeter and the 5 Players We Can’t Imagine in Another Jersey

Imagine my poor blood pressure this morning when I woke up to a headline like THIS today.

Something like what Derek Jeter is alluding to would be disastrous if it actually came to fruition. I’m no Yankee fan by any measure, but I truly respect Jeter and have looked up to him since I was a little kid. And I just can’t imagine him wearing anything besides the pinstripes.

None of that Joe Montana-to-the-Chiefs, desperate-to-keep-playing, end of the career crap from Jeter, please.

Sure, the unthinkable has been done before – Ken Griffey, Jr. moved to Cincinnati from Seattle even though he looked like a super hero in the silver and teal. Heck, we had one happen this past off-season when Albert Pujols jumped ship to Anaheim, despite looking so damn good in Cardinal red.

But the super fan in me would like to keep that kind of olé B.S. to a minimum. I don’t know what it is…the players themselves, the jersey/color combo of the teams they represent, or just the nostalgia of a childhood long-gone (okay, I’m not that old), but I identify Jeter and the rest of this list as players who I could never, ever see in a different jersey:

*Disclaimer: Mariano Rivera and Chipper Jones not included because they are guaranteed to stay a Yankee and Brave, respectively, for the remainder of their Hall of Fame careers*

1. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

Let’s start with the Captain himself. Jeter has played all 18 seasons as the shortstop of the Yankees, number two plastered on his back. Needless to say, Mr. November will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the next great Yankee to have his number retired. There is no more iconic jersey in sports than those of the Yanks, and even imagining Jeter in an Angels, Cubs, Red Sox (god forbid) or any other jersey is painful.

2. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

I know he’s only been around a few years, but damn if Posey hasn’t made himself a celebrity in San Francisco at Usain Bolt-esque speed. There is no way the team will let this guy walk away as long as he’s physically able to play the game. It’s really hard to predict this early, but we could be seeing the next great “one-team” lifer in Posey, who should be representing that awful orange and black for another decade and a half.

3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if Mariners GM Jack Zdurineck trades Felix, he should not only be fired, but tarred, feathered and forced to watch Jack and Jill on loop. Hernandez is the King of Seattle and it should stay that way forever. I dig the silver and teal uni’s up there in the Pacific Northwest, and Hernandez wears it best. Plus, he wants to stay a Seattle Mariner. I’m sure Brian Cashman has visions, but I just can’t see this guy in Yankee garb.

4. Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies

When I say Rockies, you say Helton! “ROCKIES!” “HELTON!” Thank you. But seriously, Helton is about as synonymous with Colorado baseball as macaroni is with cheese. He’s played all 16 years of his career manning first base at Coors Field, and will most definitely have his number retired there whenever he hangs up the spikes. Todd Helton in anything but purple would be straight criminal.

5. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

I know a few Cardinals fans who would actually sob uncontrollably if Yadi ever slips on another team’s jersey. And they should, because it would arguably be more devastating than the loss of Pujols to that devoted fan base. Whereas Pujols was the power and glam of the team, Molina is the heart, soul, lungs and kidney of the franchise. I know NL catchers have a short shelf life, but just trying to picture him as a Dodger or Phillie makes me want to elbow drop a baby penguin.

6. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Last, but certainly not least, we have arguably the best all-around player in the National League. I don’t know what it is with him and that black and gold, but McCutchen just looks so right in a Pirates uniform. Maybe it’s the dreads, or the blindingly white smile, or the elegant physique over which the Pirates’ jersey falls. No matter, McCutchen can never go play for the Indians or Orioles or anyone else. He needs to be in Pittsburgh for life.

Honorable Mentions: Matt Kemp (Dodgers), Mike Trout (Angels), David Price (Rays)

Comment below if you think someone else should be considered for this list! And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:

If you like what you see, you can follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Weekend Watch! Interleague Style Part Two!

It’s time for another round of interleague play!  These match-ups aren’t as exotic as the last “Weekend Watch” with interleague play involved, but it doesn’t mean that cross-divisional series aren’t as fun.  Here’s what I’m looking forward to watching this weekend as I sneak the MLB At-Bat app on while tailgating at the Belmont Stakes.

6) Indians at Cardinals

Battle of the two 2nd place teams in the Central where both are trying to get back to the 1st place perch they had just recently.  The injury bug continues to hit St. Louis as Jaime Garcia finds himself joining teammates Jon Jay, Skip Schumaker, and Lance Berkman on the disabled list.  The Indians, on the other hand, seem to be the least talked about “good” team in the Majors.  They keep plugging away without doing anything too special, they sit 8th in the AL in batting average and a dismal 2nd to last in ERA, but there they are at 30-26, just a game out of 1st place.  Jason Kipnis has been great for Cleveland in his sophomore season leading the team in home runs (9) and stolen bases (14).

2D) Blue Jays and Braves

This is a series as a Braves fan that I wish I could go down to Turner Field and attend in person.  Friday night, the Braves are retiring the great John Smoltz’s number (more on that in a blog tomorrow) and on Saturday is the greatest promotion the team has ever done, Sid Bream Slide Bobblehead Day!  Seriously, this thing is awesome and are already being offered on eBay from $55-75.  Both the Jays and Braves are playing in tightly contested races in their East divisions.  As I type this the AL East is separated by just four games.  The NL East is only a game and a half difference between 1st place and 4th place.  Every team in those two divsions is .500 or better except for the Phillies, who saw that coming?   No wonder why FOUR East interleague series make the “Weekend Watch” this week.

2C) Nationals at Red Sox

1st place vs. last place gets 3rd place here, that’s the average.  Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez have been wunderkinds in the National League, but how will they do on the road against a quality offense in Boston.  Gonzalez’s track record against the Sox while he was in Oakland was not very good as he has a 5.79 ERA over 28 innings in his career.  Red Sox Kevin Youkilis also feasts on Gonzalez pitching going 6 for 11 in his career.  I’m also intrigued to see Daisuke Matsuzaka’s return on Saturday to the Red Sox after recovering from Tommy John surgery.  If he can give Boston anything after they had to send down Daniel Bard to AAA it’d be a great plus.

2B) Mets at Yankees

The Subway Series means something!  The Yankees have been on fire winning 10 of their last 13 games going into Thursday night’s game with the Rays.  The Mets are still reveling in the teams first no-hitter by Johan Santana last Friday night and he’ll start the opener against Huroki Kuroda.  The no-hitter has been an extra spring in the step of Mets fans.  I live in Connecticut, where you get a mixture of Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox fans.  I’ve seen more Mets hats and jerseys in the past week than I had the entire season before Santana’s no-no.  Wonder if some will actually try to infiltrate the Bronx this weekend.  Derek Jeter thrives against his cross-town rivals hitting .385, the best batting average he has against any team he has 40 at-bats against.

2A) Rays at Marlins

The Battle for Florida means something!  I don’t expect a lot of runs this weekend between these two as the pitching matchups are pretty solid and Marlins Park has played towards the pitcher so far.  I really want to see if Matt Moore can continue his recent success as he has a 2.55 ERA over his last three starts compared to a 7.20 ERA his three starts before that.  Maybe he can still salvage my AL Rookie of the Year pick.  Mike Trout you say?  Yeah, I’m doomed.  James Shields vs. Anibal Sanchez on Sunday is an underrated pitchers special.

1) Rangers at Giants

Can’t be yelled at for East Coast bias if I put the Rangers and Giants in the top spot!  Despite Tim Lincecum’s worst efforts the Giants are the hottest team in the National League winning 8 of their last 10 games.  The Rangers have only won one game in each series against the Mariners, Angels, and Athletics coming into this series.  Roy Oswalt can’t get up to the Majors fast enough it seems as Derek Holland now joins Neftali Feliz on the DL from the rotation.  Alexi Ogando will come out of the bullpen to make the start in place of Holland.  Even better is that this could be a potential World Series match-up down the road.

Mapes Fantasy Special

Another great week for the Mapes Fantasy Special.  I’m now 10-2 since moving the Mapes Fantasy Special over to the Weekend Watch.  I’ll slow clap for myself.  Here are this weeks picks, remember these pitchers must be available in 50% or more of Yahoo! fantasy baseball leagues.

6/8 Gavin Floyd (32% owned) vs. Astros, Floyd has been absolutely terrible lately, but if he can’t do it at home against the Astros I have no hope for him.  I wish I could just quit you Gavin.

6/9 Scott Diamond (22% owned) vs. Cubs, Diamond has been a find in the rough for the Twins, sorry I couldn’t resist, he’s been stellar going 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.  Even better are his 4 walks in 38.2 innings this season.  Diamond faces the Cubs who have drawn the 4th least walks in the Majors this season, bodes well for him if they put in in play at Target Field.

6/10 Andy Pettitte (49% owned) vs. Mets, I have no explanation for what Pettitte is doing right now, so I’m just gonna enjoy the ride before he gets over 50% owned.

What are you looking forward to this weekend?  Who do you like in fantasy?  Tweet me using #MapesFantasySpecial

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Weekend Watch!

There undoubtedly other fun sporting events to watch this weekend like the NHL and NBA playoffs, plus the Kentucky Derby.  However, here’s what I’m watching on the diamond this weekend.

5) Orioles at Red Sox

The battle between the team in 2nd place in the AL East and the team in the basement.  Only it’s the reverse of what everyone thought it would be at the start of this season.  Can the Orioles keep up the momentum?  For Baltimore, is Jason Hammel for real?  That trade with the Rockies for him is looking pretty shrewd right now as Hammel is 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA and passed his first difficult test of the season against the Yankees.  The Red Sox schedule is easing up, but after losing two straight against the Athletics, all hands need to be on deck in Beantown.

4) Blue Jays at Angels

I’ll really just be keeping an eye on this one to see if Albert Pujols is going to decide to hit a home run this season.  The Jered Weaver no-hitter bump already seems to be gone as the Halos dropped the first game of this series on Thursday night.

3) Phillies at Nationals

I want to see if Bryce Harper can bring people to Nationals Park on the weekend.  The Nats haven’t seen a bump in attendance in the first series with “The Chosen One” in the lineup.  My leader in the NL Cy Young after April will be taking the hill on Friday night in Stephen Strasburg.  If Washington can’t get 30,000 in the seats for that, I give up.  Hamels vs. Zimmermann on Sunday Night Baseball will be a great duel.

2) Braves at Rockies

A little bit of a homer pick by me, but I always enjoy watching games in Colorado.  I’m excited to watch Tim Hudson’s continued return, hopefully a 49 year-old Jamie Moyer vs. 40 year-old Chipper Jones matchup on Saturday, Carlos Gonzalez has been on fire lately.

1) Rangers at Indians

The only weekend matchup pitting two 1st place teams.  There hasn’t been a lot the Rangers have done wrong so far this season with Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler mashing in the lineup and Yu Darvish and Colby Lewis cruising along in the rotation.  The Indians have been a little bit of a surprise in the AL Central that was supposed to be controlled by the Tigers.  The Indians started off hot last season before fading, did they learn from it in order to make a run in 2012?  Winning this series against the two-time defending AL Champion Rangers would be a nice boost.

What are you looking forward this weekend in Major League Baseball?

-Bryan Mapes

The All-AL Central Team

The AL Central is composed of the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins.   If I was going to build a line-up consisting of AL Central players ONLY, here is my starting 9, DH, set-up man, and closer.  Consider this the AL Central fantasy draft.  I take in consideration the ability to play this year and only this year and I am not trying to build for the future.

Leading off and playing Center Field: Austin Jackson (Detroit)- He batted .294 with 34 doubles his rookie season and is off to a scorching start this year.

Batting 2nd and playing Right Field: Brennan Boesch (Detroit)- His power is up there with Miguel and Prince and batting in front of those two, he will see his fair share of fastballs.

Playing 3B and batting 3rd: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit)- This year shapes up for him to win the AL MVP giving the fact Prince is protecting him (in real life, not just this lineup).  Strong arguments support he IS the best hitter in baseball.

Batting clean-up and playing 1B: Prince Fielder (Detroit)- Couple options at 1B but Prince needs to be the everyday guy. Butler and Morneau are possibilities, but Prince will out-homer them. Grand Slams? Yes please.

The DH and batting 5th: Billy Butler (Kansas City)- Tough to choose between Billy and Morneau but taking in consideration age and current health (Justin’s injury last year), Billy is the guy I want hitting everyday.

Batting 6th and catching: Joe Mauer (Minnesota)- Joe’s track record is better than recent AL All-Star, Alex Avila.  I have to take the experience here and also not be such a homer.

Playing Shortstop and batting 7th: Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland)- He rakes and makes at least one ridiculous play a week.  I would take him purely because of his glove, he also happens to be a stellar hitter.

Batting 8th and playing Left Field: Alex Gordon (Kansas City)- Alex shows pop in the bat, speed on the bases, and a strong arm from the outfield.

Playing 2B and batting 9th: Gordon Beckham (Chicago)- Good young player that shows life on his bat from time to time and a consistent glove.  Also not much to choose from at this position so he wins by default.

Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander (Detroit)- AL MVP. CY Young. Need I say more?

RP: Vinnie Pestano (Cleveland)- Bullpen mafia O.G.. Lights out and is a trusty arm in the 8th inning.

Closer: Jose Valverde (Detroit)- Papa Grande didn’t blow a save all year in 2011, but blew his first chance in 2012. Due to injury to Soria, he is  the only real candidate.  At least he’s consistent.

Honorable mention: Ricky Vaughn (Cleveland) and Jack Parkman (Chicago)

How did I do? What are your thoughts? Who would you plug in where?

Don’t forget to follow me @GODF_TH_R and Three Up, Three Down @3U3D

-Angelo Fileccia

Which Jersey Should YOU Buy?

Today, Major League Baseball released the list of the 20 best-selling jerseys in 2011.  Derek Jeter to no one’s surprise led MLB in jersey sales (He also was tops in 2010).  His Yankee teammate Mariano Rivera still cracked the list at #18 despite being north of 40 years old.  However, which jerseys are the best investments for the common baseball fan?  One that collects items from all teams, not just their favorite team.

Jeremy Dorn and I are going to do this draft style.  He won the toss and will pick 1st, while I get the 2nd and 3rd and then alternate after that. What we’re looking for in our jersey investments are quality of player, potential time in uniform, and overall awesomeness.  Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera would have been high on this list in 1997.  Now lets see if they can crack out top 20 as their careers wind down.

Pick #1: Matt Kemp, Dodgers

You know I have to go with my boy Matt Kemp. He was one home run shy of 40/40 last season, and just signed a long-term deal with the Dodgers. So to meet the criteria, we have the quality, we have the time spent in uniform, and the overall awesomeness speaks for itself. But I’ll elaborate anyway, because I have an unhealthy bromance with Kemp. Undoubtedly the best five-tool player in baseball today, Kemp hits for average (.324 in 2011), power (39 home runs, 126 RBI last year), steals bases (40), plays defense, and guns people from the outfield (NL Gold Glove for center field). He does all these things while being incredibly handsome. That’s all. Go buy a #27 jersey, everyone.

Pick #2: Joey Votto, Reds

A pick I don’t think you saw coming.  After signing a long extension, Votto will be in a Reds uniform potentially through the 2024 season.  That’s what I’m looking for in my picks.  It’s much easier for me to buy a jersey, when I have the security that player won’t be gone any time soon.  Votto is no slouch of a player either.  He is the 2010 NL MVP and his 162 game averages of .313 BA/31 HR/105 RBI will only get better as he continues in his current prime.  He’ll end up on a short list of greatest Reds of all-time especially if he leads the Queen City to their first World Series title since 1990.  What also helps Votto’s case is what other Reds jersey would you buy?  Brandon Phillips?  Johnny Cueto?  Jay Bruce?  Drew Stubbs?  Give me Votto all day.

Pick #3: Albert Pujols, Angels

The player you probably thought I was going with at #2, but the extra length on Votto’s contract gave him the nod over Pujols.  It’s always nice to get in on the ground floor of a new player that has just joined a team.  Especially when he signs a NINE-year contract.  Angels fans won’t go wrong having a Pujols #5 jersey in their closet as he passes milestone after milestone and ends his career in Anaheim.  Pujols’ credentials speak for themself, 3-time MVP, 9-time All-Star, 2-time World Series champion, and 445 home runs and counting.  You gave me potentially the greatest player in MLB history in my closet, hope you can recover from that.

Pick #4: Matt Cain, Giants

Hah! Gotcha, Mapes. I hate the Giants with all my might, but I can’t deny greatness when I see it. Cain just signed a long extension in San Francisco and should be at the top of the rotation, dominating poor National League hitters for almost another decade. If you want a guy who not only oozes talent and will be in one place for a long time, but is also generally accepted as one of baseball’s good guys, go buy a Matt Cain #18 jersey. Even if it is that ugly orange and black.

Pick #5: Ryan Braun, Brewers

Hah!  Gotcha, Dorn.  That wouldn’t be the Giants jersey I would buy AND I just got the Dodger fan to take a Giants jersey.  I’ll take Ryan Braun last year’s NL MVP.  With Prince Fielder now in Detroit, it doesn’t leave many options for a Brewers jersey in your closet.  Braun is signed in Milwaukee through the 2020 season with a mutual option for 2021, or as I like to call it “longer than Matt Cain.”  I love that I have now locked up the last four years worth of National League MVP’s in my closet while you’re sitting with your favorite player and not even the best pitcher on your hated rival.  Advantage Mapes.  Bonus point for Braun is you get the sweet, baseball mitt style Brewers uniform.

Pick #6: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

First of all, I only took Cain because I’m butt hurt that the Dodgers can’t sign him. It makes sense, just let the logic sink in. I guess we’ll see which Giants jersey you WOULD take here soon *cough, Posey, cough* and that’s nice that you want to represent a player who roids. Well done. I’m taking Miggy for Detroit and his yearly MVP quest. I recently ranked him as the second best player in all of baseball and his numbers back that up. I don’t even care to look how long he will be with the Tigers under his current contract. Why? Because if he moves to a new team, I’ll gladly go out and get the new jersey anyway! That’s how badass this guy is.

Pick #7: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Sure go buy a new Cabrera jersey after 2015, maybe he’ll even go to the Dodgers.  Nah, he’ll probably be another free agent they don’t sign.  I’m taking the best shortstop in the game, Mr. Troy Tulowitzki.  Rockies lock up their players long-term, if you had bought a Todd Helton jersey in 1997, you’d still be wearing it proudly today. (Top 4: Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Helton)  I’ll take nine years of Tulo than 4 years of Cabrera any day.  He hasn’t even hit his peak and has batting titles in his future hitting in Coors Field.  Plus, chicks dig the purple.  It’s science.

Pick #8: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates

Who doesn’t love a little Cutch? McCutchen is locked up for the next half decade at least with Pittsburgh, and when the Pirates finally climb back above .500 and start to contend again, McCutchen is going to be the face of the new era. He plays a solid center field and can rake with the best of them. He’s still young too…give him another two or three years and you’ll be seeing #22 jerseys everywhere. Not just in Pittsburgh.

Pick #9: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

You finally have a pick I like.  I have to go with my man Giancarlo Stanton before you snap him up on me.  Hell, I’m wearing his jersey t-shirt in my favorite color (orange) right now.  I don’t have to worry about the Marlins changing their uniforms so I know I’m getting full tenure of the jersey when he’s in Miami.  Stanton isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, where I might get worried that he moves on in free agency.  Even then he’ll just be entering his prime and I have no qualms of getting another Stanton jersey, preferably a Braves one.

Pick #10: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

Bring on the girlfriend jokes. I know, I know. But is there really a cooler catcher to get a jersey of in baseball right now? Not only is he far and away the best defensive catcher in baseball, but he really brought on his offensive game in 2011. Talk all you want about Pujols and Freese and Carpenter from last year’s World Series run, but Yadi is the heart and soul of that team. There’s a reason he looks so angry all the time – he’s a very intense, focused player. And even though he wouldn’t care, I’d love to rep his jersey. That #4 is going to be the backstop for the Cards through at least 2017.

Pick #11: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

I’ll even let you take Jose and Bengie Molina’s jerseys too.  You could’ve had Molina in the last round if you wanted, but I’m sure you do look good in Cardinal red.  I’m gonna go with the jersey t-shirt I actually bought today.  I had a Jonathan Papelbon jersey t-shirt and we had a good run from 2006-2011, I picked Gonzalez today over Jacoby Ellsbury.  The Red Sox have A-Gon in the lineup through 2018, I’ll take a solid seven years out of this shirt.  There are no worries about the Red Sox changing uniforms.  There’s a guy sitting out there that I thought would go top 5, but I can’t bring myself to take him yet.  Maybe next round.

Pick #12: Felix Hernandez, Mariners

King Felix is still one of the most underappreciated pitchers in baseball. Mostly because he’s been buried on bad teams in Seattle. You’ve to go love this guy. He’s already established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game, and he’s still surprisingly young. If you have any baseball fashion sense (says the guy wearing jeans, $25 Nikes and a 10-year-old sweater), you know the Mariners jerseys are sick. And when you throw the “Hernandez” across the shoulders, you’re really stylin’! Felix loves living in the Pacific Northwest and is already signed there for a while longer. But I feel like by the time he’s due a new deal, the M’s will be contending, so I’ll take my chances.

Pick #13: Prince Fielder, Tigers

You really just picked a guy who’s rampant in trade rumors and is more than likely gone after 2014?  You’re gonna go poor with all the jersey you have to buy.  I’ll take the player I thought was going to go in the top 5 picks, the Tiger you should have picked, and a slugger that’s signed in the uniform through 2020, Prince Fielder!  Chicks dig the long ball and Fielder provides that.  Tigers also have a timeless uniform and worst case if he leaves, I can always pretend it’s a Cecil Fielder jersey.

Pick #14: Eric Hosmer, Royals

I have so much bro love for Hosmer that it hurts. He’s still on his rookie deal and will more than likely be the next long-term deal handed out by Royals management. You know I have to get a Hosmer jersey in that powder blue, too. As for the Fielder jersey, it’s a solid choice. He’s going to be a popular choice though, and I am more of a dark horse jersey kind of man. For example, I rep my James Loney Dodger jersey proudly all the time. Now imagine another pretty blue jersey with another first baseman’s name across the back? Hosmer is the best young first baseman in the game, Freddie Freeman be damned.

Pick #15: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

That is the first pick you’ve made that made slam something in anger.  I should’ve gone Hosmer over Prince because you already had a Tigers jersey.  That was a misstep on my part.  I’ll redeem myself with taking the ONLY pitcher jersey I would buy and that is Strasburg.  I fear the big injury with pitchers and they never recover, but I think Strasburg already has that out of the way.  There is no player in MLB that gets the attention he does when he’s on his game.  He’s under contract until 2016 and I look really good in red.

Pick #16: Matt Moore, Rays

Whoa, calm down there buddy! Strasburg is the ONLY pitcher’s jersey you would take? I think the fact that he’s already been injured is reason to NOT take him. What if the same problem crops up again? Once you’re damaged goods, you will literally always have the injury questions following you. So I’ll go with a guy who’s very young, very talented and going to be a breakout star in Tampa in 2012. He’s still on a rookie deal so he should be around for at least four more years, and he will have a chance to contend for a Cy Young by 2013 in my opinion. Moore, Felix and Cain. I dig my pitcher jerseys!

Pick #17: Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays

You’re right, I’d probably take a Matt Moore jersey too.  I even picked him to win AL Cy Young this year somewhere on this blog.  You took Hosmer, so I’ve to get a young stud in a blue jersey too and none better than Brett Lawrie.  Toronto just updated their uniforms coming into this season, so hopefully they stick with them for a while.  Lawrie is also a Canadian born and bred, so I have a feeling he can be a lifetime Blue Jay, unless they stick a team in Vancouver in the next 15 years, making this a safer investment.

Pick #18: Carlos Santana, Indians

You can’t take a guy who hasn’t actually proved anything yet…can you? I’m going with a sure bet. I don’t know if Santana will ever bring his average up, but the power game alone is going to keep fans in love with this young catcher. Plus, I’m still a little bitter that the Dodgers traded him away for Casey Blake. Talk about a bad decision. Right now, I’ve got the best young catcher in the AL Central, the best young first baseman, and the best overall player in the division all tied up on my team. I’m not a huge fan of that division, but I’ll gladly wear these guys’ jerseys.

Pick #19: Buster Posey, Giants

I’ll take the guy I knew you wouldn’t pick or be ridiculed for being a Dodgers fan with two Giants jerseys in his closet.  Posey went to my favorite college when I was little (Florida State) and we have the same birthday!  How do I NOT take him?  As previously mentioned, orange is my favorite color too.  Posey is on his way to super stardom and being the best catcher in the game, unless Joe Mauer can get himself back on track.  A steal this late in the jersey draft as Posey’s jersey was in the top 20 sold in 2011 and he was hurt for the 2nd half.

Pick #20: Robinson Cano, Yankees

How can you have an epic jersey collection without a Yankee in there? I know they are the Evil Empire but if you think those classic threads are ugly, you are a sad, sorry person. If I’m going to take a Yank, it’s gotta be Cano. He’s the future of their franchise and has already established himself as a legit MVP candidate. He’ll be there for life more than likely as all great Yankees are. When I put that on, I’ll get evil glares until they see the big #20 on my back.

Clearly, I’ve out-drafted you tonight, Mapes. I’ll give you props for taking Giancarlo, Tulo and Strasburg. They are bold picks and we could be talking about those three for years to come. But Votto, Prince, Pujols and A-Gon? Come on, I know you’re more original than that! Everyone already has those ones, and while they look pretty, you’ll be matching about 5,000 other fans at any given game.

My team is clearly the more solid one, what with a classic Yankee jersey, the best young star in baseball (Kemp), and three awesome pitchers included on the rack. When making these choices, one must consider first how the jersey looks, then how relevant the player is. And anyone who thinks a Yadi Molina Cards jersey won’t just be pure glory is clearly in contact with Ryan Braun’s dealer.

Robinson Cano was going to make my honorable mention list, but they fact that he’s a free agent after next season kept me at bay.  If he got signed to a 7-year extension tomorrow, he catapults to top 3.  I was for players that I know I will get many years of enjoyment out of.   You will be buying jerseys left and right while I’ll still slip on my Votto, Pujols, Fielder, and Gonzalez late into this decade.  Gonzalez isn’t as owned as you think in Boston, I’ve actually been to Fenway Park.  Plus, I have the color wheel completely covered red, purple, navy blue, bright blue, black, and orange.  My quality of player is also far better and I didn’t pick a jersey of my biggest rival with my 2nd pick, what kind of fan are you?

Here are our honorable mentions!

Jeremy: Yonder Alonso (Padres), Justin Upton (Diamondbacks), and Jose Bautista (Blue Jays)

Bryan: Starlin Castro (Cubs), Jason Heyward/Freddie Freeman (Braves), and Joe Mauer (Twins)

Final Jersey Rosters:

Jeremy: Kemp (Dodgers), Cain (Giants), Cabrera (Tigers), McCutchen (Pirates), Molina (Cardinals), Hernandez (Mariners), Hosmer (Royals), Moore (Rays), Santana (Indians), and Cano (Yankees)

Bryan: Votto (Reds), Pujols (Angels), Braun (Brewers), Tulowitzki (Rockies), Stanton (Marlins), Gonzalez (Red Sox), Fielder (Tigers), Strasburg (Nationals), Lawrie (Blue Jays), Posey (Giants)

The fact that we got through twenty players and there are still a bunch of players that I would proudly wear on the street, shows what a great place America’s pastime is in.

Who would you want in your collection?  Vote in the poll, eave a comment or yell at us on Twitter @Mapes4FanCave for Bryan or @Jamblinman for Jeremy!

Opening Day Thursday, What to Look For

Opening Night turned into the Kyle Lohse show as the Cardinals pitcher baffled the Marlins in the debut of their new stadium, even no-hitting them for the first 6 innings.  The Cardinals won 4-1 to spoil the Marlins Park festivities.  It’s on to Opening Day now for 13 more teams on Thursday.  Here’s something to look for in each game.

Red Sox at Tigers 1:05 EST

The obvious is the debut of Prince Fielder.  Even better though, is the best pitching matchup of the day between reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander and Jon Lester.  Lester has struggled against Detroit in his career, so look for the Motor City to be in a jovial mood.

Braves at Mets 1:10 PM EST

The return of Johan Santana to the Mets rotation after missing all of the 2011 season.  Santana pitches well against Atlanta carrying a 2.28 ERA in 12 career starts, despite a 3-6 record.  What you won’t see or hear are the LARRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYY chants at Citi Field, as Chipper Jones will be on the DL to start the season for the Braves.

Phillies at Pirates 1:35 EST

The Battle of Pennsylvania kicks off the season.  How will the Phillies lineup fare without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley?  Erik Bedard takes the hill for the Pirates, which might cure some of the offensive problems.

Nationals at Cubs 2:20 EST

Stephen Strasburg settled down late in spring training and looks ready for his first Opening Day start.  Ryan Dempster looks for redemption after a disastrous 2011 Opening Day start giving up 6 runs, but Dempster has a 9-1 career record against Washington.

Blue Jays at Indians 3:05 EST

Possibly the most underrated pitching matchup with Ricky Romero vs. Justin Masterson.  However, all eyes will be on the Blue Jays budding superstar Brett Lawrie who comes in with a lot of hype after delivering in his 2011 Major League stint.

Marlins at Reds 4:10 EST

Despite the loss, the pressure is off the Marlins on the road.  It’s all on the new 200+ million dollar man, Joey Votto, Cincinnati fans are excited for this season with great reason as they are among the favorites for the NL Central crown.

Dodgers at Padres 7:05 EST

The night cap of opening day Thursday (or late afternoon cap for fans of these teams) features NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.  With the weak-hitting Padres lineup and Petco Park in effect,  you’re on alert for the 1st Opening Day no-hitter since Bob Feller in 1940.

It’s time for one of the best days on the sports calendar, enjoy all the games!

-Bryan Mapes

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