Results tagged ‘ Reds ’

Todd Frazier Makes Dreams Come True

Lost in the madness of the Boston bombing manhunt these last couple days was a shining ray of happiness, brought to you by none other than America’s pastime. The ability of baseball (and all sports) to bring this country together in the face of a tragedy can not be understated.

And this home run from Frazier–one of two pre-game requests from the Reds’ guest bat boy (the other being pizza)–is the latest example. In a landscape clouded by crime and hate, one beautiful sight grew out of the cracks of the barren abyss on Thursday.

Frazier smacked the two-run shot for honorary bat boy Ted Kremer, a lifelong Reds fan who has Down syndrome, and making his second appearance in two seasons in that role. Check out their awesome celebration here (via MLB.com):

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

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

Cincinnati Reds Win Shortest Game in MLB History

Where do I get my terrible, misleading headlines you may ask? I read way too much Yahoo! News. Anyway, I only call this the “shortest” game in MLB history because it was suspended in the middle of the 9th inning in a 0-0 tie last night.

Today, the Phillies and Reds resumed play before their regularly-scheduled night game. The first three batters for the Reds reached base, and then Jay Bruce did this:

And that’s all folks. Even the Phillies players looked like they were laughing coming off the field. Good thing one-inning games aren’t standard. You could take a sip of beer and miss the entire thing.

- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

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

“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)

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)

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)

Fantastic Fielding of 2012

Chicks may dig the long ball, but it’s fielding that makes for the most exciting highlights in the game of baseball.  What have been the best displays of defensive excellence this season?  Let’s see if I can only limit Mike Trout to one play.

Let’s start it off with Mike Trout with what I believe is the best play of the year.  Look at the leap.  Look at the extension.  I don’t think there is anyone else that makes this play in the Majors.  Trout has taken away five home runs this season, but this one was the best.

Trout’s catch was given a run for it’s money though by Blue Jays Rajai Davis. He uses the wall to catapult himself up over a 10-foot wall to rob Casey McGahee. This one is a thing of beauty.

This is one of the top infield plays of the season by Diamondbacks do-it-all man Willie Bloomquist. He ranges to the other side of 2nd base and flips the ball backward almost in a somersault position to Aaron Hill for the force out. Bonus points for getting out Emilio Bonifacio, one of the fastest players in MLB.

Speaking of somersaults, here’s Twins Ben Revere making a great catch in the 9th inning and rolling into a somersault. Revere is one of the best in the league at spectacular plays.

I’m impartial to this play because I was at the MLB Fan Cave when it happened. Tigers Quintin Berry gets turned around, goes back and make a leaping catch over his head. I’m still not sure how he got to it. It was a huge save for the Tigers as they kept the lead at one and took the lead in the 9th inning. Without this catch, they lose.

Who has the best right field arm? My answer has been Jeff Francouer since he was an Atlanta Brave. Look at that laser rocket arm throwing out Alexei Ramirez.

Why has Brandon Phillips won two straight Gold Gloves at second base? Plays like this are part of the reason. He makes a behind-the-back flip look easy.

I promised my fellow podcast host Jeremy Dorn that I would get a Dodgers play into this. Check out Justin Sellers going full sprint over the shoulder and going head first into the stands. If you can get Vin Scully to go “Whoa!” and “Gee whiz!” that works for me.

A late addition to this blog. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher almost end up on the dirt to make a play in no-man’s land going the wrong way like J.P. Howell.

The hands-down Minor League play of the year. Jason Repko robs a grand slam from Kosuke Fukudome for the Pawtucket Red Sox. He even tumbles OVER the wall to complete the play.

Bottom of the 12th, up by one with runners on 1st and 2nd, Roger Bernadina saves the day as he becomes one with Minute Maid Park to win the game for the Nationals.

I’ll close with a double-dip of amazing Giants plays. The first was an amazing, diving catch for Gregor Blanco. This catch was the most important on this list as it preserved Matt Cain’s perfect game. The second is the kookiest play of this list as Pablo Sandoval bobbles a catch in foul territory, dives, tips it up and is caught by a diving Brandon Crawford.

Everyone goes with a top ten list, but I love defense so much that I went with a top thirteen! I can’t resist the urge though, here’s another Mike Trout home run robbery! This one to end the game off the bat of Prince Fielder.

Did I miss anything? What’s your favorite play of the year? Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

#MapesFantasySpecial For September 19th

The choices for the #MapesFantasySpecial are pretty slim on Wednesday, but I think there are a couple options that could help your fantasy team.

We featured his Brewers teammate Wily Peralta on this week’s podcast, but Marco Estrada has been just as great as Milwaukee has made a push for the playoffs. Estrada has given up just 1ER or less in four of his last five starts, with three of them giving up no earned runs at all. Estrada takes on a Pirates squad that he gave up just one earned run in seven innings with 10 strikeouts just three starts ago. If he puts up even slightly worse numbers, it’s a worthy pick-up that’s available in 73% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

If You’re Desperate: Rays rookie Chris Archer has great strikeout potential (28K in 22.1IP) if you need a boost there. If you’re worried about the match-up against Boston, in Archer’s last start he shut down Texas over 7 innings with 11 strikeouts. Archer is owned in just 5% of leagues. Reds Mike Leake (10% owned) has good numbers in his career against the Cubs, but gave up 3ER in six innings last time he pitched at Wrigley. Orioles Joe Saunders (12% owned) has a juicy match-up at the Mariners and has settled down since getting roughed up in his first start with Baltimore. Unfortunately, he’s going up against King Felix, so don’t go in expecting a win. John Lannan (4% owned) was great in his 1st start back in place of Stephen Strasburg tossing 5.2 shutout innings. The Dodgers lineup still hasn’t been great and Lannan is 4-1 in his career against Los Angeles. Don’t expect to get many strikeouts though.

If You’re Desperate Rankings: Archer, Saunders, Leake, Lannan

Good luck in your fantasy leagues!

9/18 4 PM Update: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was scratched from his start Tuesday night and will start Wednesday 9/19 instead. I like him more than any of these.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

#MapesFantasySpecial For September 18th

Well we hit a bump in the road after Kyle Kendrick, Andrew Cashner, and Dan Straily evened out the greatness that had been the Mapes Fantasy Special.  Naturally, the secondary picks of Francisco Liriano, Tommy Milone, Jeremy Guthrie, and Mike Minor were the ones I should have gone with.  Hopefully you find yourself in the next round of the playoffs.  Here’s what I like for Tuesday, September 18th.

I’m going with Mets rookie Matt Harvey making his last start of the season at home against the Phillies.  The 39% owned righty was solid pitching at Philadelphia on August 29th going 6.1 IP and giving up just two earned runs.  I think Harvey will want to leave a lasting impression on Mets fans as they head to the offseason.  Harvey’s strikeout potential (63 in 52.1 IP) is tremendous if you’re looking for a push in that category.  Plus, you’ve got to like him pitching in Citi Field where he has a 2.12 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 17 innings.

We’re double dipping today for Mapes Fantasy Special with one of our favorites Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen.  Chen provided great numbers for us last week (7.1 IP, 8H, 2ER, 1BB, 7K) against the Rays.  He now gets to pitch in possibly the best pitchers park in Seattle.  Last time he faced the Mariners at Safeco, Chen just dropped a pitching line of 7.1 IP, 2H, 2ER, 0BB, and 9K.  That exactly what we’re looking for in a Mapes Fantasy Special and what Orioles are looking for in their playoff push.  Chen is owned in just 45% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

If You’re Desperate: Yankees veteran Andy Pettitte returns from a broken fibula after three months to take on the Blue Jays.  He’s a big game pitcher, but not a risk I think I’m willing to take, Pettitte is owned in 22% of leagues.  Athletics rookie A.J. Griffin (46% owned) has been an absolute stud since getting called up, but I’m not sure I’m willing to trust him on the road against the Tigers team that has the 3rd best OPS against righties in MLB.  Padres Eric Stults (18% owned) has a matchup at Chase Field against the D’Backs, which is usually scary, but Stults threw 7 scoreless at Arizona just four starts ago.  Braves Paul Maholm (44% owned) has been Jeckyll & Hyde lately alternating good and horrible starts.  He’s due for a good start this time (if you believe that sort of thing) at the Marlins who he held to one earned over eight innings last time he faced them.  Reds Homer Bailey (34% owned) has three straight starts of 2ER or less, but faces a Cubs team who he gave up nine hits and four earned runs last time he pitched in the Windy City.

If You’re Desperate Rankings: Maholm, Griffin, Stults, Pettitte, Bailey

Good luck in your fantasy leagues!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

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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