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Posts Tagged ‘Joe Nathan’

As good as the AL East is, the opposite may be true of the AL Central. I don’t project any of the five teams to win 90 games – and two could lose more than 100. This is a division that is loaded with teams filled with mediocre talent. In fact, the most interesting team to watch may be the Royals, if only because they may actually have days where they start 9 rookies.

The best of the worst is, once again, the Minnesota Twins. Projected to win the Central by three games, they’ll win based on sound fundamental play, two star players (Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer) and because they’ll be able to bottom feed on 36 games with two of the worst teams since the St. Louis Browns. The starting rotation is suspect, featuring the injury prone tandem of Francisco Liriano and Carl “Strained Buttocks” Pavano. The strongest element of last year’s division winning team, the bullpen, was wracked by free-agent defections – meaning this year’s pen relies on the much-traveled Matt Capps and a not-quite-healthy Joe Nathan. In fact, injury carry-overs from last year could get the Twins out of the gate slowly, as nobody is quite sure if Morneau is sufficiently recovered from last season’s concussion to play first full time yet. If they do start slowly, the crown my well fall to Chicago.

The White Sox made quite a splash this off-season, re-signing Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and landing Adam Dunn as their new DH. Unfortunately, they would have been better off looking for a starting 3rd baseman and a couple of outfielders, because the current line-up may be one of baseball’s worst group of defenders we’ve seen in a while. Which is a shame, because the Pale Hose have the makings of an outstanding pitching staff – perhaps the best in baseball. If Jake Peavy returns to form after his pectoral tear, they’ll have 6 quality starters and a bullpen that features a bevy of quality (if not nationally known) arms. But the offense will once again be a classic three-outcome type, as typified by Dunn: walk, strike-out or homer. Don’t expect much in the way of sustained rallies or guys flying around the bases at US Cellular Field.

The Tigers look destined for a distant third place finish. The best thing going for this team is that they’re managed by future Hall-of-Famer Jim Leyland. But the star player, Miguel Cabrera, is turning into baseball’s version of Charlie Sheen. Actually, Detroit’s middle of the order could feature some good players, with the addition of Victor Martinez joining Magglio Ordonez. The rest of the supporting cast, though, is supect, featuring such luminaries as Brandon Inge. The back of the bullpen could be solid, if Joaquin Benoit can prove last year wasn’t a fluke, Joel Zumaya can stay healthy and Jose Valverde can stop his decline. But both the starting rotation and middle relief corps are a mess. Aside from Justin Verlander, the Tigers are relying on converted relievers, reclamation projects and prayers.

The youth movement is in full swing in Kansas City. After their farm system was ranked #1 by Baseball America, they might as well give the kids a shot – nothing else has worked for the past 20 years. Yes, they traded away Zack Greinke and made a couple of curious signings in old friend Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francouer. But KC’s real aim this year is to see if youngsters Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Kila Ka’aihue and Eric Hosmer are ready for prime time.

Bringing up the rear is the Cleveland Indians. Once again, the Tribe is looking more like “The Mistake by the Lake” instead of a major-league team. They do have a bona-fide star in Shin-Soo Choo and a star in the making in catcher Carlos Santana. But otherwise, Cleveland is hoping Grady Sizemore shows enough that he can become a viable trade chip. I’m pretty sure Cleveland fans have to be wondering what they’ve done to deserve the Cavaliers, Browns, and this abomination of a baseball team.

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Today, Mariano Rivera at age 39 (during the season, he just turned 40) was announced as Sporting News’ 2009 Athlete of the Year after 44 saves out of 46 opportunities, 1.76 ERA, a .905 WHIP and 72 K’s in 62.1 innings, his first career RBI on the same night as his 500th save and five more postseason saves. I believe this award is well deserved, congrats Mariano!

For this occasion and the printing of the article in Sporting News’ Magazine on December 21st Steve Greenberg interviewed The Sandman, Mariano Rivera.

On being able to peak at the most important time of year, even at his age: “In the playoffs, you’re talking about something that not many players have the opportunity to be in — and I’m talking about great players, not just average players. And I’ve been blessed to be able to be in the playoffs for many years and do the job in all those years. I think that says it alone — it’s the playoffs. You don’t want to miss that; you want to be in the middle of it. And when you realize that’s your makeup, your ability, your mind, your mentality, you just want to keep going and going and going and never stop.” (more…)

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Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera won this annual award during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. With the fantastic campaign he put together this season, he can proudly say that he has won the DHL Delivery Man of the Year Award three times. Rivera saved 44 games in 46 opportunities, along with a 1.76ERA and a .197BAA. He also recorded 72 strikeouts in 66.1 innings of work.

Mo beat out Joe Nathan, and got his third win in the five-year existence of the award. That’s truly remarkable. Watching closers like Nathan, Papelbon, Franklin and Street fail in the postseason this year just gives Yankee fans a greater appreciation for this guy. The Yankees postseason run this season will allow him to further enhance his legacy.

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