Results tagged ‘ Justin Upton ’

The 2013 Way Too Early MLB Awards

It’s May Day!  Meaning the first month of the MLB season is in the books, also meaning it’s time for the monthly awards rankings.  Last year, I finished by picking four of six awards correctly, missing out on NL Rookie of the Year (I still think Wade Miley should’ve won) and AL MVP (ditto Mike Trout).  Here’s who I think is in line for some hardware after April.

American League Rookie of the Year

Silver Medal: Nick Tepesch, Texas Rangers

Normally, we do a top three with a bronze medal, but the American League rookie crop is so poor right now that you’re only getting two.  Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Aaron Hicks both had promise coming into the year and underwhelmed.  Wil Myers or Dan Straily should hurry up and get called up and take the award you’re supposed to win.  Tepesch has been solid for the Rangers going 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA and an inpressive 14:3 K:BB ratio.

Gold Medal: Justin Grimm, Texas Rangers

Unfortuately for Tepesch, his teammate has been slightly better for now.  Grimm is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and a 15:4 K:BB ratio that’s been impressive in place of Matt Harrison.  There’s still plenty of time for someone to step up and become the frontrunner for this award.

In the Running: Stephen Pryor, Seattle Mariners

National League Rookie of the Year

Bronze Medal: Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers

Unlike the American League, there is a plethora of rookie candidates in the NL that had a great start to the season.  Jim Henderson has wrestled away the closer’s role in Milwaukee from John Axford and isn’t giving it back.  He’s six for six in save chances, with a sparkling 0.75 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 innings.

Silver Medal: Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves

It’s clear that Gattis has been the best rookie hitter in the Majors leading all MLB rookies with six home runs and 16 RBI.  He’s journey back to baseball has been nothing short of remarkable.  Can he keep it up though is the main question. Especially with Brian McCann returning from injury, there might not be a daily spot in the Braves lineup for El Oso Blanco.

Gold Medal: Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals

If Tony Cingrani of the Reds had been called up for one more start this month, he might be in the top spot.  For now, I’m giving the edge to Shelby Miller who’s been everything Cardinals fans hoped he would be in place of Chris Carpenter.  Miller is 3-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 30.2 IP this season.

In the Running: Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers, and A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks

American League Cy Young

Bronze Medal: Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners

My love for Hisashi Iwakuma has been strong from the preseason.  Iwakuma is only 2-1, but has 1.67 ERA and leads MLB in WHIP at 0.69.  He’s also become more in command of his pitches with a fantastic 7.4 K:BB ratio.  The Mariners have a formidable 1-2 punch now with Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez.  All due respect to Yu Darvish, who leads the American League in strikeouts, I have a feeling he’ll crack the top three at some point this season.

Silver Medal: Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays

It’s a close call for the top spot and Matt Moore gets the short end of it for now.  He’s given the Rays rotation a great boost as defending Cy Young winner David Price has been a little bit of a disappointment thus far.  Moore leads the American League in wins, ERA, and hits/9 innings, but his inability to work deep into games keeps him in the silver spot.

Gold Medal: Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox

It’s really splitting hairs between Buchholz and Moore, but I’m going to give the razor-thin edge to the Red Sox starter.  Both pitchers are 5-0, Buchholz has slightly worse ERA and WHIP, but has gone deeper into games for Boston.  Buchholz also has the advantage over Matt Moore in WAR and is tops in the AL in that stat.

In the Running: Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers, Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers, Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, and Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees

National League Cy Young

Bronze Medal: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Kershaw or Verlander?  Who’s the best pitcher in all of MLB?  That’s a debate for another day, but right now based on the stats, Kershaw has been 3rd best in the National League.  The Dodgers ace finished the opening month with a 1.71 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and is tied for 2nd in the National League in strikeouts.

Silver Medal: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

Wainwright looks fully back from Tommy John surgery and better than ever.  His streak of not walking a batter to start the season reached epic proportions and leads the league in K:BB, wins, and innings pitched.  He sports a beautiful 2.03 ERA and 0.99 WHIP and hasn’t given up a home run yet this season.  Let me repeat, HE LEADS THE LEAGUE IN BATTERS FACED AND HASN’T GIVEN UP A HOME RUN TO ANY OF THEM.  Amazing.

Gold Medal: Matt Harvey, New York Mets

Who would’ve thought that when the Mets traded 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, they would have another Cy Young contender this year?  Harvey has been a revelation for the Metropolitans going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA and a league-leading 0.81 WHIP.  It’s a shame that he’s not eligible for Rookie of the Year, because he’d be leading that race as well.

In the Running: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler, Washington Nationals, Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds, Jake Westbrook, St. Louis Cardinals, and Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves

American League MVP

Bronze Medal: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

The defending AL MVP picked right up where he left off in 2012.  The Triple Crown winner is hitting .363 and is tied for the lead in runs batted in with a player we’ll get to soon.  Could there be back-to-back Triple Crowns in the works?

Silver Medal: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians

Probably the best player this season you haven’t heard anything about.  Santana leads the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, and offensive WAR.  He’s blossomed into the AL’s Buster Posey so far this season, we’ll see if he can keep it up.  If the Indians can make the playoffs with Santana performing at this level, he’ll be the MVP.

Gold Medal: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

He’s cooled slightly since his blistering start to the season, but “Crush” Davis leads the AL in home runs, runs batted in, total bases, and slugging.  He’s even hitting .348 with a great .448 OBP.  He’s one of the reasons the Orioles are proving 2012 wasn’t just a fluke.  Let’s not forget his clutchness too!

 

In the Running: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees, Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics, Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers, Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, and Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers

National League MVP

Bronze Medal: Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds

I may have made a mistake having Carlos Gonzalez over Choo on my preliminary All-Star Game ballot last week.  Choo has been a fantastic pick-up for the Reds.  He’s hitting .337 with a league-leading .477 OBP, that has paced the Cincinnati lineup.  He’s also 4th in the NL in runs scored, OPS, and total bases.  That was a great trade for the Reds so far.

Silver Medal: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

It’s entirely possible that Harper is about to repeat Mike Trout’s twenty year-old season (minus the stolen bases).  He’s 3rd in the NL in offensive WAR and leads the league in OPS and OPS+.  Harper also is hitting .344 and getting on base at a .430 clip, both top five in the league.  It’s going to be beat into the ground that he’s doing this before he can legally drink, so get used to it.

Gold Medal: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves

It’s pretty safe to say that Justin Upton enjoys playing with his brother B.J.  The younger Upton has almost carried the Braves lineup leading the National League in home runs, slugging, runs scored, total bases, and offensive WAR, while hitting .298.  If Upton can start to hit better with runners in scoring position, he could have one of the greatest seasons in Atlanta Braves history.

Who would win your awards after April?  Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The Why am I Filling Out All-Stars on April 24th? Ballot

The 2013 MLB All-Star Game is 83 days away, but never fear you can start voting for your favorite players today here.  You get 25 votes that gets bumped up to 35 if you log in with your MLB.com account.  Of course there are still paper ballots that can be found at every stadium and the MLB Fan Cave for you to fill out.  While I don’t fill out mine until I get a better grasp of who deserves it (like that ends up mattering) here’s what my ballot would look like on April 24th.

First Base

American League: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles Davis is off to a hot start for Baltimore. He’s hitting .382 with an AL-leading 7 home runs coming into the games on the 24th.  Mike Napoli and Prince Fielder have cases and Napoli would be my pick if he was on the ballot at catcher, not first base. (Runner-up: Prince Fielder, Tigers)

National League: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds The power numbers aren’t there, but Votto-matic is automatic at getting on base leading the league with 26 walks so far and a crazy .485 OBP.  The next highest walk total is 16 by David Wright. (Runner-up Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers)

Second Base

American League: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees I can make a case that Robinson Cano is the MVP of the American League right now.  Then you can make the case that it’s April 24th and that’s stupid. (Runner-up Ian Kinsler, Rangers)

National League: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds It must be nice for Phillips to just get to drive in OBP-machines Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo getting on base ahead of him all the time.  He leads NL second baseman in RBI and is tied for the lead in home runs.  Plus, he’s the best defender at the position in the league. (Runner-up Daniel Murphy, Mets)

Shortstop

American League: Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics Lowrie has been quite a coup for Billy Beane’s boys.  Lowrie leads AL shortstops in runs, RBI, and batting average. (Runner-up: Jose Reyes, Blue Jays, I’m not joking either)

National League: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies Why have the Rockies been surprising in 2013?  A healthy and hitting Troy Tulowitzki is a big part of it. He leads NL shortstops in home runs, RBI, and runs, while hitting .292. (Runner-up: Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers)

Third Base

American League: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers The defending AL MVP is off to a quiet start, but is still among the league leaders in hits and is best among AL third sackers in batting average. (Runner-up: Evan Longoria, Rays)

National League: David Wright, New York Mets I really wanted to have NL batting leader Chris Johnson here, but Wright has had the overall better start to the season, especially on the basepaths.  There’s a lot of depth here right now with Todd Frazier, Pablo Sandoval, and Martin Prado off to solid starts.  (Runner-up: Chris Johnson)

Catcher

American League: J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays Napoli not being on the ballot at catcher is Arencibia’s gain for now.  He leads the American League in home runs with eight after another one on Wednesday.  He’s my least likely from here to be on my actual ballot in a couple months.  (Runner-up: Carlos Santana, Indians)

National League: John Buck, New York Mets Let’s just sum up Buck’s start with this meme. (Runner-up: Evan Gattis, Braves, wait he’s not on the ballot?!?)

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 1.53.30 PM

Outfield

American League: Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics, Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox, and Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles These three have been the best all-around outfielders in the American League this season.  It’s not my fault that they’re all center fielders.  (Runners-up: Austin Jackson, Tigers and Alex Rios, White Sox)

National League: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves, Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies, and Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals There is a ton of depth at National League outfield right now.  You could take the next four on my list and make a case they deserve it on to the squad.  Justin Upton has been hands-down the best hitter in the game so far this season, it’s ridiculous that he’s still on pace for 90+ home runs. (Runners-up: Shin-Soo Choo, Reds, Dexter Fowler, Rockies, Ryan Braun, Brewers, and Andrew McCutchen, Pirates)

Designated Hitter

American League: Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians Reynolds has been a great find for Cleveland with seven home runs and 18 RBI, both are top ten in MLB right now.  (Runner-up: Travis Hafner, New York Yankees)

Who would you have on your All-Star ballot on release day?  Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The Literal Power Rankings: April 15th, 2013

Upton HRWe like to mix it up a bit here at Three Up, Three Down. And we figured having a traditional power ranking every week wasn’t enough. We wanted to give you a source for finding the most powerful teams each week as well.

So here, in all its glory, is our first weekly installation of the “literal” power rankings. Which team has bashed the most home runs so far in the 2013 regular season?

The list might surprise you:

1. Colorado Rockies (21) — Leader: Dexter Fowler (6)

This is no surprise. The ball really carries in Denver. I heard Todd Helton once hit a wiffle ball into the upper deck at Coors Field.

2. Atlanta Braves (20) — Leader: Justin Upton (7)

For some reason, Upton decided to take out all of his aggression from his Arizona days in the first week and a half of 2013. Wrensanity, anyone?

3. Oakland A’s (19) — Leader: Coco Crisp (4)

That is the most “A’s” thing ever. Your home run leader is a speedy lead-off hitter who’s already on the shelf and forever on the trading block.

4. New York Yankees (18) — Leaders: Robinson Cano (3), Travis Hafner (3), Vernon Wells (3)

Now, Cano I can understand. But newly-signed Hafner and Wells pitching in a trey each? That short porch in right field must be really short.

5. Washington Nationals (17) — Leader: Bryce Harper (5)

Things are going to get a little awkward for all the Harper haters when he drops 40 this year. The defending NL Rookie of the Year is on fire to start the season.

6. Chicago White Sox (16) — Leader: Alex Rios (4)

So…you mean…Rios IS for real? That’s great for White Sox fans, but I’m sure Adam Dunn will be leading the pack here when all is said and done.

6. Cincinnati Reds (16) — Leader: Brandon Phillips (4)

A hot start to the season for Phillips could mean big things for Cincy. Except that they are under .500. Where is the rest of the pop?

6. Seattle Mariners (16) — Leader: Michael Morse (6)

This is the section where Jeremy gets to gloat. “Morse won’t do anything,” they said. “He’s overrated,” they said. Told. You. So.

9. Baltimore Orioles (15) — Leader: Chris Davis (6)

It’s weird — my cell phone keeps auto-correcting “Davis” to “Ruth” when I try to text or tweet about him. Maybe his .366 average and 19 RBI have something to do with it.

9. Cleveland Indians (15) — Leader: Mark Reynolds (5)

Naturally. If he wasn’t leading this category, Reynolds would be completely worthless. Believe it or not, though, Reynolds has only K’d 10 times in 10 games so far.

9. New York Mets (15) — Leader: John Buck (6)

That name atop the team’s leader board is preposterous, but this is baseball. Anything can happen. Buck is hitting over .300 with 19 RBI and is sure to reach his quota soon.

12. Chicago Cubs (14) — Leader: Anthony Rizzo (3)

Unfortunately for Cubs fans (really, what sentence about them hasn’t started that way since about 1908?), Rizzo’s three homers account for almost half of his hits (7).

12. Toronto Blue Jays (14) — Leaders: J.P. Arencibia (3), Jose Bautista (3), Colby Rasmus (3)

It’s a low number for the Canadian Yankees so far, but by the end of the year this team will be near the top of these rankings and Rogers Centre will be battered and bruised.

14. Arizona Diamondbacks (13) — Leaders: Paul Goldschmidt (2), Aaron Hill (2), Jason Kubel (2), A.J. Pollock (2), Martin Prado (2)

Really? You’re going to make me type out five names, D’Backs? That’s cute to share and all, but how about someone take the initiative here?

15. Boston Red Sox (12) — Leader: Will Middlebrooks (4)

Hey, I would have four home runs too if I jacked three in one game. Or something. Good for you, kid. Let’s just move on.

15. Houston Astros (12) — Leader: Chris Carter (4)

This is why they traded for Carter. He has unreal strength and could touch 30 jacks this year if he stays healthy. Oh, he has 19 strikeouts, too. But who doesn’t on the Astros?

15. Texas Rangers (12) — Leader: Ian Kinsler (4)

Not buying that Kinsler’s career isn’t dead. Jurickson Profar is hitting in a Kinsler costume.

18. Los Angeles Angels (11) — Leaders: Josh Hamilton (2), Chris Iannetta (2), Albert Pujols (2)

Ah, yes. Just the three names I expected to see leading this team in home runs!

18. Philadelphia Phillies (11) — Leaders: Dominic Brown (2), Laynce Nix (2), Chase Utley (2)

Ryan Howard conspicuously missing from this list. I will pat myself on the back for drafting Brown and Utley in my fantasy league. Brown’s hitting .244? Nevermind.

18. St. Louis Cardinals (11) — Leader: Matt Adams (3)

I don’t know how long Mike Matheny can keep Adams out of the lineup. Everything he touches turns to gold.

21. Detroit Tigers (10) — Leader: Prince Fielder (4)

Obviously. The big boy has been on a tear to start the year, and won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

22. Los Angeles Dodgers (9) — Leaders: Adrian Gonzalez (2), Juan Uribe (2)

Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Clayton Kershaw have combined to hit as many homers as Uribe. Ethier has one and Kemp has zero. You do the math.

23. Milwaukee Brewers (7) — Leader: Ryan Braun (2)

At least it’s the right guy leading the way for the Brewers. But every homer he hits is nullified by a blown save, methinks.

23. Minnesota Twins (7) — Leader: Josh Willingham (2)

One of the Killer J’s is doing his job, but why don’t I see Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau on this list?

23. San Francisco Giants (7) — Leader: Hunter Pence (4)

I called this, unfortunately. The Giants have a really underrated power presence in their lineup for a full year now. It might be their only power presence though.

26. Pittsburgh Pirates (6) — Leaders: Andrew McCutchen (2), Michael McKenry (2)

McKenry heard we were putting this list together today and really wanted to be on it. So he hit two yesterday.

26. San Diego Padres (6) — Leaders: Yonder Alonso (2), Will Venable (2)

Carlos Quentin almost cracks this list with one home run and one mound charge. Doesn’t that count for something?

28. Kansas City Royals (4) — Leader: Billy Butler (2)

Surprisingly, the Royals are in second place because of their pitching so far! Who woulda thunk it? (Raises hand)

28. Tampa Bay Rays (4) — Leaders: Shelley Duncan (1), Kelly Johnson (1), Matt Joyce (1), Ben Zobrist (1)

Zobrist is the best player on this list, but Joyce has the best home run so far (a walk-off against the Orioles on April 3rd).

30. Miami Marlins (2) — Leaders:  Greg Dobbs (1), Justin Ruggiano (1)

Oh, Stanton where art thou? This is probably for the best, as nobody should be subjected to seeing the god-awful home run structure at Marlins Park light up.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Tune in next week for the “literal” power rankings. You can follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.

Top 5 Moments of Opening Day

Opening DayThis is no April Fools prank: Baseball. Is. Back!

After the Houston Astros dis–hey…stop laughing…it really happened–dismantled the Texas Rangers last night at Minute Maid Park, we had our first full day of baseball today.

Naturally, ESPN kicked it off with proof that they are extremely stubborn as a network, pitting C.C. Sabathia and the hobbled Yankees versus Jon Lester and the completely average Red Sox.

There were so many amazing moments in a long day of ball that it was hard to narrow down to just five. But here is our best shot at it. This is what we do at Three Up, Three Down. We write stuff on baseball-related activities for your enjoyment. So, enjoy!

5. Justin Jacks One

Welcome to Atlanta, where the playa’s play and Upton hits bombs like every day. No disrespect to Freddie Freeman, who also went mammo today, but this Justin Upton blast was put in orbit. And it’s not just a top moment because of the distance–the Braves outfield is the most freakish in baseball, and this is just the first sampling. The Braves faithful have been waiting for this moment since the original trade was made, and the little bro definitely didn’t disappoint.

4. Brewers Bailed Out

One of KP’s least favorite memories of the 2012 season was any blown save by John Axford and Co. If you see our tallest group member, give him a hug. Because Axford was at it again on Opening Day, giving up a no-doubter with two outs in the ninth to the Rockies’ Dexter Fowler, which tied the game. Fortunately for Milwaukee and the home fans, the Rockies pitching staff is deplorable and Jonathan Lucroy was able to score a walk-off sac fly and bail the bullpen out.

3. Bryce Decides Twice is Nice

If there was any debate that last year’s NL Rookie of the Year would suffer from a sophomore slump, he killed it quick. In his first two at-bats of the 2013 season, Bryce Harper absolutely crushed two Ricky Nolasco pitches and put them in the right field bleachers. I’m not buying that his second one has landed yet. In fact, it might currently be traveling over the Atlantic Ocean. Keep an eye out for it. The 20-year-old phenom is on pace for 324 jacks this year. 

2. Stan the Man MUSIAL PATCH

The late Cardinals legend and Hall of Famer Stan Musial is being honored by the team with a cool, classy patch (pictured to the right) on their left sleeves in 2013. But the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hosted the Cards on Opening Day, pulled off a fantastic move by paying homage with a video tribute to Musial between innings. Unfortunately, I don’t have video for you, but the gesture itself was a true act of sportsmanship and remembrance of one of the greatest hitters and humans the world has ever seen.

1. Kershaw Goes Krazy

Let me set the stage: The defending champions travel to their heated rival’s new stadium and face their fancy new team in a battle between two of the best pitchers in the league. A pitcher’s duel turns into a one-man show as Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw not only throws a complete game, four-hit shutout, but hits a go-ahead home run that breaks a scoreless tie in the eighth inning. Unbelievable. And in a game that began with a well-choreographed first pitch skit from Dodgers heroes Sandy Koufax and Orel Hershiser. I have to take a second to brag, as humbly as possible. I tweeted THIS about five minutes before magic occurred. Of course it was a coincidence  but it makes me believe in fairy tale endings, and reinforces our love of this magical sport.

Buckle up, baseball fans. This was just day one. Only 161 more regular season games to go! Vote below on which one of these moments should have been in the top five, or comment about any moments we missed!

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook! The best baseball coverage, coming at you from five different states and five different fan bases.

3U3D Break It Down: The N.L. East

Has the National League evolved into a two-team arms race between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves?  It seemed all offseason one would make a move and the other would counter it.  B.J. Upton, Dan Haren, Denard Span, Rafael Soriano, Justin Upton, Chris Johnson, and Jordan Walden all enter the fray and make these two teams on paper the teams to beat.  The Phillies aren’t ready to go down with a fight adding Ben Revere and Michael Young in the offseason.  The Mets and Marlins?  Well they might go down without a fight, let’s break down the National League East.

Projected Order of Finish: Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Miami Marlins

Why the Braves could win the N.L. East: It’s pretty hard to believe that Atlanta lost three of the four best hitters from last season in Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, and Michael Bourn and the lineup is better.  The Upton brothers move into the outfield along with Jason Heyward, giving the Braves two MVP-potential candidates in the corners.  Andrelton Simmons showed in the WBC that he is ready, especially defensively.  Freddie Freeman’s growth continues in an all-star caliber 1st baseman.  The rotation might not be on the Nationals level overall, but Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm, Mike Minor, and Julio Teheran is solid.  Teheran could be ready to shine as he was spectacular in spring training.  Craig Kimbrel is the best closer in the game, while Eric O’ Flaherty is among the best setup men.  All the pieces are there for a return to the playoffs.

Why the Braves wouldn’t win the N.L. East: First, the leadership from Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, and Michael Bourn’s departure throws off the clubhouse and no one behind Tim Hudson steps up.  The lineup is filled with just too many strikeouts that kills putting together rallies.  Brian McCann’s shoulder is completely shot and he’s not the player he once was or even comes back at all leaving the catching duties to Gerald Laird and Evan Gattis.  Jonny Venters injury is more serious than planned (i.e. Tommy John surgery) and Jordan Walden isn’t ready to go and the bullpen suffers and becomes overworked.  Brandon Beachy returning from Tommy John surgery mid-season isn’t able to come close to the form he displayed at the start of 2012.

Why the Nationals could win the N.L. East: The rotation is the best in MLB with Stephen Strasburg’s innings cap behind him, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Dan Haren, and Ross Detwiler.  The bullpen is no slouch either with Rafael Soriano (42 saves in 2012) joining Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Ryan Mattheus is a great bullpen.  The lineup is good to great and can be better than great if “The Phenom” Bryce Harper continues to progress into an MVP candidate.

Why the Nationals wouldn’t win the N.L. East: The Braves end up just slightly better top to bottom.  Newly-signed Denard Span reverts back to an injury-plagued season like in 2011.  Ryan Zimmerman’s right shoulder, that caused him to receive cortisone shots throughout last season, acts up and his bat his lost from the middle of the lineup.  It’s really hard not to see the Nationals as a probable playoff team.

Why the Phillies could win the N.L. East: Roy Halladay might not be what he used to be, but Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are both still good enough to carry a rotation.  I highly doubt Lee will only win six games again.  The lineup is improved with a healthy Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, plus Ben Revere providing speed at lead-off.  Michael Young joins Philadelphia to provide leadership and hitting prowess.  He would need get back to hitting .300 for the Phillies to have a real chance.  Domonic Brown’s spring breakout continues into the season and he finally pays dividends for all of those trades Ruben Amaro Jr. refused to do when Brown was a prospect.  Plus, Jonathan Papelbon is one of the best closers in the games.

Why the Phillies wouldn’t win the N.L. East: It’s entirely possible that Roy Halladay never gets back to what he was before 2012.  His velocity has been down after an injury-plagued season.  The lineup is on the wrong side of their prime with Howard, Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Young all over 33 years-old.  Carlos Ruiz’s 25-game suspension messes with the pitching staff and they get off on the wrong foot after Ruiz broke out offensively.  Brown does what he’s done his whole career and tease greatness, but not come through.

Why the Mets could win the N.L. East: David Wright’s injury is nothing and the new Mets captain goes on to be his usual self in the middle of the lineup.  Ike Davis evolves into a 35-40 home run hitting first baseman.  The Mets call up Zack Wheeler and pair him with Matt Harvey and create the best young pitching duo in the division.  Travis d’Arnuad can’t be held back anymore in the minors and starts developing into the next Mike Piazza.

Why the Mets wouldn’t win the N.L. East: Johan Santana is probably out for the season taking leadership out of the clubhouse on a daily basis.  The bullpen in atrocious.  The outfield is near-atrocious, unless Jordany Valdespin steps up big.  The Mets are a rebuilding project, but there are some nice pieces coming to Flushing.

Why the Marlins could win the N.L. East: They can’t, but what kind of season would Giancarlo Stanton have to have to put Miami in contention?  60 home runs?  I do like Steve Cishek a lot as a potential closer, but he may end up trade bait at the deadline.  I might just like him because he’s a submariner.

Why the Marlins wouldn’t win the N.L. East: The rotation is the worst in the division, where their “ace” Ricky Nolasco can’t be trusted to not blow up on any given start.  The lineup has some veterans who can hit for average in Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, Justin Ruggiano, and Casey Kotchman, but aside from Stanton there isn’t a 2nd run producer.  This might take years for Miami to get into contention.

Awards Watch

N.L. MVP

Jason Heyward and Justin Upton-Braves

Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasberg-Nationals

Cole Hamels-Phillies

David Wright-Mets

Giancarlo Stanton-Marlins

Cy Young

Craig Kimbrel and Kris Medlen-Braves

Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Gio Gonzalez-Nationals

Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee-Phillies

Rookie of the Year

Rob Brantly and Adeiny Hechavarria-Marlins

Julio Teheran-Braves

Travis d’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler-Mets

Who do you think wins the N.L. East?  The Nationals?  The Braves?  Can one of the other three teams steal the division away?  Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Five Days in Orlando with the Braves

Back in November, there was a deal for a Southwest Airlines flight from Hartford to Orlando for $190.  There were two real options coming from booking the flight.  Either I was going to be lucky enough to be in the MLB Fan Cave top 50 (or 52) or I was going to be lucky enough to spend five days with my grandma.  Unfortunately for grandma, she got bumped to just a Valentine’s Day visit, but she couldn’t have been more understanding.

As I sit here in a nearly empty Champion Stadium at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, I can honestly say that this was the most incredible vacation and experience I’ve ever had.  I had no idea what to expect when I landed in Florida.  Would I be able to get field access? (sadly, no)  Would the players even come talk to me? (strangely, yes)  How quickly would I have to explain the MLB Fan Cave for them to do something? (I think I have that down to a science)  Would they agree to do a video of any kind? (also strangely, yes) Luckily, I had some success keeping it short and simple.  Plus, the phrase “Brave in the Cave” is pretty easy to remember.

Every day I came to the ballpark, I was one of the first fans to arrive and always the last one to leave.  I think the players might’ve gotten sick of seeing me.  The first hour of the first day, I was able to snag video endorsements from Cristian Bethancourt, Evan Gattis, and 3rd base coach Brian Snitker.  I was off and running and never looked back.  I couldn’t believe how nice everyone in the organization was.  The key I believe is just having confidence, the worst they can say is no, there’s no risk with a ton of reward.  General Manager Frank Wren was so nice and I thought was he said was hilarious.

Staying late also proved incredibly effective.  There were promotional photo shoots going on after the workouts for Jonny Venters and Eric O’ Flaherty that turned out to be fantastic for me.  You can tell that these guys joke around a lot.

Wednesday was the big day.  The top 30 announcement for the MLB Fan Cave would be coming down after voting ended at 5PM.  I knew if I was going to anything to keep momentum up and score some late votes I’d have to hustle.

At 8:30 in the morning I spotted ESPN’s Buster Olney doing a spot on SportsCenter.  I knew I had one connection with him.  I attended his “Going to Bat for Vermont’s Farmers” charity event last November.  Surprisingly, no one was around.  I went up to him, explained that I had gone to the event and that I was in the top 52 for the MLB Fan Cave.  He said that he tries to stay out of those things, but because I had gone to the charity event and was a fellow New Englander, he’d throw his support behind me.  I couldn’t even believe it.

While Olney was doing his taping for SportsCenter, I spotted Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez walking alone through the ballpark.  I quickly ran down and just started yelling “Fredi!”, he looked over, and I have my now patented quick Fan Cave spiel.  He was happy enough to oblige, even though as he said “doing this stuff really isn’t my thing.”

Finally on Wednesday, just two hours before the deadline, Braves star pitcher came out for a promotional photo shoot.  I had brought a new Braves hat to Orlando with me in hopes that Meds would break it in.  He was nice enough to!

I got the video up with 90 minutes of voting time to spare and put it on Twitter. It was retweeted by the Braves, Jason Heyward, and Paul Maholm.

The Medlen video was the final piece in the puzzle that advanced me into the top 30 for the MLB Fan Cave. I yelled in the middle of an empty Champion Stadium because I was so excited and honored to make it to the next round. Well the stadium was empty except for the grounds crew, who think I’m crazy.

When the top 52 announcement came down, Braves pitcher Paul Maholm was nice enough to retweet the news without me even asking. I contacted him through Twitter and then talked to him Tuesday about pulling off a creative video.  He agreed and “Paul Maholm Connects with the Mahomies” was born!  It’s my favorite thing I’d done so far during this MLB Fan Cave experience. Maholm could not be a nicer individual.

There were a few players who weren’t comfortable doing a quick video, but were nice enough to sign cards for me to giveaway to fans on Twitter, including Craig Kimbrel and Mike Minor.

I did take one “off day” in Florida. The aforementioned Valentine’s Day with grandma in Daytona Beach. Even then the off day consisted of putting together a “thank you video” for Braves fans support at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. I even learned a thing or two, like Robinson wore #9, not #42 with the Montreal Royals when he played the first integrated spring training game on 3/17/1946.

The last day in Orlando, I wanted to take advantage of Tout, a newer social medium, that allows users to tape 15 seconds videos and send them out with tweets. I used it all week to get Braves fans a firsthand near live look at the goings on of Braves camp, with almost no delay on Twitter. It’s one thing to say what the players were doing, it’s even better to show them. I think Tout would be a great use in the MLB Fan Cave this season, especially to have fans on Twitter ask players questions and send them back personalized 15 second videos answering it. It would be a fantastic way to continue the growth and connection between players and fans in the MLB Fan Cave.

Which bring me back to the MLB Fan Cave. I’m so stoked to be heading to Arizona on Monday for the top 30. I’ve done everything I can for this opportunity and I hope that it shows. It’s been an honor to represent Braves Country so far and I hope to continue on for the whole MLB season in the MLB Fan Cave. Thanks again for all of your support from Braves fans, players, and management!  I think they’re ready to kick me out of an empty ballpark again! Back to Connecticut for two day to repack and I’ll see you in Arizona!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Episode 37 – DMX Wants Upton Here! Upton Here!

Y’all Gon Make Us Lose Our Minds! Upton here! Upton here! Well, Uptons in Atlanta, but the Three Up, Three Down crew breaks down the trade that puts the brothers together.  We also talk about Chris Carpenter with special guest Kelsey Shea, where the free agents will end up, and dabble in this years 2013 Fan Cave talk. I mean, c’mon, that’s what brought us all together in the first place! Go Vote!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

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Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

Grade That Trade! Atlanta’s the New City of Brotherly Love Edition

Ever since B.J. Upton signed a 5-year, $75.25 million deal to become the Braves center fielder there was a glance over to left field in Atlanta and who would fill that spot.  The obvious choice was Upton’s brother, Justin, who was coming off a down year in 2012, but was still a MVP-candidate caliber player that had not yet entered his prime.  The two brothers had been on the record saying that they would love to one day play with each other.  After nearly two months of rumors, trade rejections, fans coming up with fake trades (sorry I tried to trade you Julio Teheran), and the refusal to trade Andrelton Simmons, the trade Braves fans hoped for, finally happened.  The trade though did not look like a deal that any Braves fan expected.  Let’s take a look!

Prado Upton

Atlanta Braves receive: OF Justin Upton and 3B Chris Johnson

Arizona Diamondbacks receive: 3B/OF Martin Prado, RHP Randall Delgado and prospects RHP Zeke Spruill, SS Nick Ahmed, and 1B/3B Brandon Drury

Braves Country was worried about Andrelton Simmons being a part of a a deal for Upton for months, but in the end it was fan-favorite Martin Prado that makes his way to the desert.  Prado was arguably Atlanta’s MVP in 2012, however they couldn’t come to an agreement for 2013, leaving just one-year left on Prado’s contract.  That made him expendable in GM Frank Wren’s eyes as including Prado in the deal saved them from losing their top prospects in Andrelton Simmons, Julio Teheran, Sean Gilmartin, and Nick Gattis.  Delgado would have been in contention for the 5th spot in the rotation with Teheran and would’ve become a crowded rotation with the impending return of Brandon Beachy from Tommy John surgery.  You can never have enough pitching though.

What does Atlanta get in Justin Upton though?  The younger version’s numbers dipped in 2012 after putting up a campaign in 2011 where he finished 4th for MVP and picked up his 1st Silver Slugger.  Upton’s OPS dropped from .898 to .785, while his OPS+ went from a career-best 141 to a career-worst 107.  A change of scenery was needed and what better place is there than playing along side his brother.  There was a slightly contentious relationship between Upton and Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson that made have played a part in the numbers drop.  The new Braves outfield of Upton, Upton, and Jason Heyward will grow together over the next three years of team control.  That’s really what made Justin Upton an attractive trade piece for the Braves, three years of team control vs. one year for Prado.  If he returns to his 2011 form, the Braves will win this trade hands down.

Also included in the deal to Atlanta is Chris Johnson.  Johnson may be called on to replace Chipper Jones at third base or at least platoon with Juan Francisco.  Johnson is coming off a career-high in home runs and RBI’s.  Playing for a winning team after spending 3.5 seasons in Houston and half of a season in Arizona might help Johnson continue to grow as he enters his age-28 season.

Arizona was clearly willing to part ways with Upton, but did they get the best deal possible? Prado is an All-Star caliber player and maybe they can come to an agreement on a long-term deal.  The team leadership that Prado will bring to the clubhouse made him even an even more attractive piece for the Diamondbacks.  The leadership factor is what turned them off of Justin Upton.  Twenty two year-old Randall Delgado will battle to make the rotation this year (and probably succeed), but could turn into a front-of-the-line starter down the road.  Delgado has a 3.95 ERA in 127.2 MLB innings.  Zeke Spruill and Nick Ahmed are mid-level prospects, but were going to get backlogged in the Braves system at the starter and shortstop positions.  Brandon Drury had a rough 2012, hitting only .229 in single A after crushing rookie ball.  Arizona will hope the Braves have a repeat performance of the Mark Teixeira deal, in which they gave up Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Matt Harrison.

How do you think each team did in this offseason’s biggest blockbuster trade?  Let me know what you think

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Cincinnati to Host the 2015 MLB All-Star Game

Commissioner Bud Selig announced today that the MLB All-Star Game would return to Cincinnati for the first time since 1988 when the Reds played at Riverfront Stadium.  It will be the first All-Star Game played at Great American Ballpark, which will join Riverfront Stadium and Crosley Field as Queen City ballparks that have hosted the mid-season classic.  With Great American Ballpark hosting the 2015 game, it will leave just Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PETCO Park in San Diego, Nationals Park in Washington D.C., Marlins Park in Miami, Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, and New Yankee Stadium in The Bronx as the only current stadiums not to have hosted the All-Star Game.   The Reds franchise will join the Minnesota Twins (who are hosting the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field) to host the festivities in THREE different ballparks.

Here’s the glorious part about Great American Ballpark having the All-Star Game in its confines.  It also gets to host the Home Run Derby!  If there ever was a stadium that is perfectly set up for a derby, it’s the stadium that is lovingly called “the Great American Small-Park.”  I’m already getting excited to see the games best mashers blasting homers.  We could be there all night!  Even better, is the Ohio River beyond the right field wall gives lefties a great target to go for.  I mean if Juan Francisco could do it in an actual game in 2011, I think the game’s best could do it in a home run derby.  I almost want to fast-forward to 2015 now to see it play out.  I haven’t been this excited for a home run derby since Ken Griffey Jr. took aim at the warehouse beyond Camden Yards.

I couldn’t resist thinking ahead to 2015 and who could actually be participating in the 2015 Home Run Derby.  I’m going to use the 2012 format to project who will be launching mammos in Cincinnati.

National League

Captain Bryce Harper:  The obvious player for this.  He’ll be 22 and a possible superstar by 2015 if everything goes according to plan.  Even better that he hits left-handed so the Ohio River will be in play.  If this video from when Harper is any indication of his derby abilities, there will more splashdowns than a water park.

Joey Votto or Jay Bruce: Have to get one of the hometown guys into the competition.  I don’t want a Billy Butler situation here.  Both are lefties which plays into my Ohio River hopes.  I think that Bruce is the more likely of the two to participate as he’ll be in his prime at 28 years old.  He also could be a legit 40-homer player by then.

Giancarlo Stanton: This one I’m not sure on.  He could be in the American League for all I know.  We all missed out on Stanton participating in the 2012 Home Run Derby in Kansas City, but I think he’ll return for the derby in 2013 at Citi Field.  That gives him a year to sit out in 2014 (sorry Twins fans) and come back to defend a potential title the way that Prince Fielder did this past year.  I can’t have eight left-handed batters though sadly.  This also gives me an excuse to show this video again.  HE BROKE A SCOREBOARD.

Jason Heyward: Alright a bit of a homer pick.  Pun intended.  Heyward showed that he has the potential to be a 35-homer player in 2012 when he blasted 27 yicketties.  If the power continues to develop, he’ll be 25 for the 2015 All-Star Game and quite possibly could be the best right fielder in the game at that point.  Also helps that, you guessed it, he’s left-handed!

Other potential derby participants: Ike Davis, Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton and Anthony Rizzo

American League:

Captain Prince Fielder: I went back and forth on who potentially would be the captain for the American League.  I settled on Fielder, who I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a couple years off after winning the derby in 2012.  He’s big, he’s strong, he’s a two-time champion, and he’s left handed.  He’s going to want to eventually match Ken Griffey Jr. with three derby titles and I think he might wait til Cincinnati to do it.  Plus, he has experience hitting it in the water.


Adam Dunn: Hear me out on this one!  A) He’s left handed B) He’s never participated in a Home Run Derby C) It’d be nice for him to have his first one in Cincinnati where he used to play.  He’ll still only be 35 at that point.  If he was ever going to give it a go, I think the lure of doing it in the Queen City would be enough for him.  Especially with the Ohio River calling his name.

Yoenis Céspedes: If Céspedes was left-handed he’d be a dream for this future derby.  However, he will still be a great option.  He’ll be in the heart of his prime at 29 years old.  If he stays healthy, he’ll be a potential All-Star for Oakland.  We all know he has some major power too.  Especially after seeing this.

Wil Myers: The game isn’t until 2015!  I have to have one player that hasn’t even played in the Majors yet to speculate on, right?  I’m going to go with Tampa Bay’s future star in Wil Myers.  Myers has the best power potential of any prospect right now.  I’m deeply saddened though that I’ve now put three righties on the American League side.  Maybe Robinson Cano won’t be broken up and come back to try the derby again?

Other potential derby participants: Mark Trumbo, Robinson Cano, Dayan Viciedo, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer

Who would you want to see take aim at the Ohio River in the 2015 Home Run Derby?  Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

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)

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