Breaking Down the 2015 Tigers, AL Central Outlook

The 2014 offseason has been a busy one to say in MLB. We have seen moves like Jon Lester going to the north side of Chicago, The Padres getting a completely new outfield look with Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers patrolling the outfield left right, and the BoSox getting the likes of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez for their left side of the infield. The Tigers have been in the news themselves throughout the winter months. Most notably, they traded starting pitcher Rick Porcello to Boston for outfield and power hitter Yoenis Cespedes. I personally would have preferred to keep Ricky P, he was always one of my favorites and blossomed really well in 2013 for us. Nothing against Cespedes by any means, I believe he will fit in very well in the teeth of the lineup, sandwiched between the Martinez boys. They also made moves for starting pitchers Shane Greene (Yankees) and Alfredo Simon (Reds) via trade. Another big story this offseason in Detroit was whether or not Mad Max Scherzer would re-sign with the Tigs. As of last night, he agreed to a 7-year contract with the Washington Nationals for over $200 million. A precursor to us not being interested in signing him was avoiding an arbitration hearing with current Tigers lefty David Price, signing him to a 1-year deal worth nearly $20 million. After all these moves. The Tigers now hold the 3rd highest payroll behind who else, but those Bronx Bastards and the Hollywood Dodgers.

The Tigers are not the only team in their division to make some noise this offseason however. Every other team in the AL Central. Here are some key moves made by their division rivals:

Chicago White Sox: traded for SP Jeff Samardzija from Oakland, signed OF Dave Robertson and Melky Cabrera

Cleveland Indians: traded for 1B Brandon Moss from Oakland, signed SP Gavin Floyd

Kansas City Royals: signed SP’s Luke Hochevar and Edison Volquez, signed OF Alex Rios, signed DH Kendrys Morales

Minnesota Twins: signed OF Torii Hunter and SP Ervin Santana

You gotta think the big winner in the division this offseason (so far) is the White Sox. From a standpoint of addressing the big holes in their roster, they definitely did that. They acquired players to help bolster each phase of their game. Samardzija forms a dominant 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation with lefty ace Chris Sale. The Melk Man gives another good reliable bat in the lineup and provides a decent upgrade in the outfield defense. Dave Robertson was a very solid and dependent set-up man and closer in his time with the Yankees and will certainly help the Chi Sox in the pen. They had a lot of work to do and did their job.

Despite them probably not being able to re-sign James Shields, KC did pretty solid as well. They essentially replace Shields with Volquez, former 1B/DH and fan favorite Billy Butler with Morales and Nori Aoki with Rios. Maybe not necessarily upgrades at each of those spots, but certainly filling the void for an already good team without messing with their outstanding bullpen.

Minnesota on paper certainly looks like a much more competitive team than in recent years. They are fairly young and do have some question marks still, but the fact is they do have so good players in a lot of the right positions. Some big key things to look out for them will be the emergence of super prospect Byron Buxton, soon to be the everyday CF for years to come. Joe Mauer may not be the same player he was six, seven years ago, but is more than capable of rebounding and producing adequately. The return of longtime Twin great Torii Hunter will certainly be a boost on a number of levels as well, especially both on the field and in the clubhouse. Most importantly, he will finish his career with the team he started with. If guys like Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, and Eduardo Escobar can improve, and C Kurt Suzuki can replicate his solid 2014 campaign, the Twinkies are a growing formidable opponent in the AL Central.

The Cleveland Indians were probably a little more quiet than they would have liked. They have a young rotation they really like and will continue to improve, headlined by 2014 AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Some rather disappointing seasons from 2B Jason Kipnis and DH/1B/OF Nick Swisher pushed this team back a bit in the standings. Carlos Santana struggled early in 2014 as well, but picked it up in the 2nd half of the season. He could use a good bounce back season though too. Some solid numbers from those three players along with CF Michael Bourn will greatly increase this team’s chances at winning the division, or at the very least a playoff spot. The terrific season by MVP candidate Michael Brantley, who I believe is the most underrated player in baseball, and under-the-radar performance of Lonnie Chisenhall is definitely another thing for this team to build on going into 2015.

So with only a month of so away from spring training taking place in Florida and Arizona for MLB, the AL Central has made some noteworthy noise and made the division much more competitive. How does the division shake up now? Let’s be honest, the division still runs through the Motor City and has for four straight seasons. Can they make it 5? Absolutely. But it is by no means easy. Here is my personal prediction:

1st – Detroit Tigers: 91-71

2nd – Kansas City Royals: 89-73

3rd – Chicago White Sox: 88-74

4th – Cleveland Indians: 84-78

5th – Minnesota Twins: 75-87

What do you think? How will the 2015 AL Central shake out? Chip in!

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What have you done for me lately?

Being a huge sports fan, there are a lot of things that have or currently do irk the shit outta me. One thing in particular that has bugged me over the years has been the hiring and firing of coaches. To me it just seems like there are not a lot of long tenured coaches that have been in the current position they are in for at least 10 years or more. It just feels like when a new coach gets hired, he instantly is stuck with the mentality in his head that he needs to take home the title in four or five years. In other words, what have you done for me lately that should make me consider keeping you around longer?

I absolutely cannot stand when these newly hired coaches are being hired and before the even start their upcoming seasons at the helm for their respective teams, their head is in a noose, just in case some things go totally awry right off the bat (pun intended for those baseball managers. I sometimes understand when a franchise that is not know for any consistent, recent, or relevant success in their history, that they want to find the “savior” to bring their team back to prominence and promise. I sometimes understand that there a rich, history-filled, franchises in professional sports that just simply know how to win, regardless of their coaches and personnel. I even sometimes understand that when things are not going well for a team in the middle of a season because of the turmoil. But why is the coach ALWAYS the center of it all and the first one to get the hook?

Let’s start with those rather not so good teams in sports where they are “just there”. They show up, compete, do their job (sort of), blah blah blah, you get the rest of it. These are teams where they haven’t exactly had the most winning, the best players or the best coaches to begin with. First of all, if you wanna re-build and turn your franchise around, it begins at the top. Right? Your front office people have to make the right moves. Some teams that come to mind right away for me are the Jaguars, Raiders, Browns, and Jets in the NFL, Bobcats/Hornets (Charlotte franchise), T-Wolves, Kings (though they’re kind of going somewhere slowly) in the NBA, Mets, Padres, and A’s in MLB, and for you hockey buffs, the Thrashers/Jets, Sabres, and Coyotes in the NHL. To me, these are simply just teams who struggle to make the right moves on all sorts of personnel levels. Over the last few seasons for majority of these teams, I’ve noticed they can their coaches after just a few seasons. Talk about giving him a chance to do his job…..these teams have a lot of balls to bring in a guy, give him the notion and title of turning the franchise in the right direction, and then give him the heave-ho. A lot of these teams that fall under this category often start from scratch. You can’t keep re-building every 2 or 3 season if you want to have ANY long term success.

For you Lakers and Celtics of the world, you Yankees and Cardinals of the world, Steelers, Cowboys, Niners, and Packers of the beloved shield, and the Original Six of hawkey. I look at you next. I give much more leeway to long storied franchises in professional American sports. They’ve had lots of chances to have the right players and coaches come walking through the door and have cashed in plenty of times. That being said, these teams are not afraid for a second to give their team leaders a pink slip and politely asking them to leave as head coach. The Celtics made a big move in 2007 bringing in 3 highly coveted and high profile names, won their championship, got old, and went on to newer things. Now they’re re-building. The Lakers…..I don’t know what you’re doing. You have Kobe. He’s frickin Kobe for God’s sake. Build around him until he retires. Look at the Spurs! Don’t just recycle coaches year after year. Find the right compliment of players that can work with Kobe and the coach and go from there. It’s okay if you float around .500 or something along those lines, that’s the whole damn point of the experiment.

Okay Knicks and Bears, I’m talking to you now. So much turmoil and anger in house, you completely forget about your performance on the field or the court. Are you all really that self-centered? Are you all so swamped in the pool of money and talent that you take it for granite? When I see teams like this, I feel bad for the coaches. I know what’s coming, sometimes sooner rather than later. Drives me insane. Believe me, I hate the Bears and most Chicago teams. But part of me really felt bad for former head coach Marc Trestman. He had a loaded and talented but unbelievably inept offense, an incredibly poor performing defense and disputes between coaches. How can all of that lead to HIM getting fired? Now look, I am entitled to my own opinion as is everyone, hence why I made this, but if there’s turmoil with my team because players are being selfish assholes, not liking the coaches, or cooperating on all levels, then I’ll give YOU the boot. and a lot of this falls of the front office people making the hire and fire as well, especially in the NBA where it is soooo superstar driven. Wouldn’t you think you want to talk with your current key players under contract about what they think about having a certain person as their coach, i.e. Derek Fisher? Fisher is a proven champion on the court, leader in the locker room as a player, and good coaching potential. You’d think him and president and former coach Phil Jackson running the show, they’d make all the right moves. Instead, they have blown the team up and will begin rebuilding now. Glad to see as a sports fan, they did it sooner rather than later. But I swear to God, if he gets fired within the next year or two, count on me having a sports meltdown.

There’s my very opinionated piece on coaches in professional sports. Tell me, what have they done for you and your favorite teams lately?

Brand Names and Superstars

You see it everywhere in sports, college or professional. If you have made a name for yourself at ANY point in your history, you are seen by the public eye with a big target on your back. You’re the big bad bullies on the block, the tyrant king that everyone wants to overthrow. But here’s something that grinds my gears year in and year out in sports: The professional leagues only care about a handful teams’ success, or in some instances, specific players, and the NCAA certainly has their favorites they want to win as far as football and basketball goes.

Let’s start with the NBA shall we? The NBA has become a media-driven, star-driven sport where¬†most national sports media platforms cover news and stories strictly for their own benefit, rather than the audience, their fans. Remember those old days in the sport when it required a TEAM effort to win championships? I don’t, I’ve only been on this screwed up planet for 21 years. I unfortunately am growing up in a day and age where this sport, one I grew up playing and paying close attention to does not give a flying fuck about teams anymore. It’s absolutely absurd. I have seen one team take home the Larry O’Brien trophy five times in my lifetime, all in a 15 year span. That team, my friends is the San Antonio Spurs…..Who? Exactly. They are the poster child for success in this sport, Everyone equally contributes year after year, doesn’t question their role on the team and accepts their purpose to the team and is dedicated. Sure, it helps to have mainstays like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, and head coach and now resident caveman Greg Popovich. But it’s those same professionals that have helped propelled this team to where they are today. They continue to win 50+ games a season, draft very underrated, significant role players to help bolster their roster and just continue to do things right. Apparently the NBA either doesn’t like that or does not care. All the NBA cares about is where guys like LeBron and KD will be and how their teams will do. Look, I am blessed as a sports fan that I get to watch legends-in-the-making like those two play basketball everyday. People can say what they want about them. “Oh they suck, they’re overrated, I hope they lose all the time or get hurt.” Here me out, don’t point the finger at them. They are the two men keeping this god forsaken league afloat. You see all those empty buildings around the league? Yeah, even the Palace was like that for a good 5-6 years now. You don’t see empty arenas where ever the King and the Durantula show up on any given night. Look at the league. They don’t get it. They care about their players, not the teams of their league. Nowadays it is all about having a “Big 3” on your team, apparently it leads to some sort of success or something? Wait……..you’re figuring it out now? Boston was the first to do it in 2008, then Miami again in 2011? No! First off, San Antonio started that back in 2003. The reason it works for them is because they have a whole bench of other role players to chip in for their consistent success. The best part? They don’t care. They simply just do not care about how they win or what outsiders think. Wake up NBA. Care about your teams, not just the players. Big 3’s make the league so top heavy and un-competitive to watch. You should be damn lucky and proud the Spurs are winning championships.

Let’s go to baseball next. I think where you all know where I’m going with this one. Let’s look at two teams. The Yankees and the Dodgers. These are MLB’s prize winning dogs, and why not? They have all the money, the fame, the success right? WRONG AGAIN! It is not a sport when all you care is about a handful or less of your teams. Just because you’re a big market doesn’t mean it’s all about them. Yes, I hate the Yankees. I hate them for a number of reasons, this being one of them. It sure is nice knowing my Tigers can handle them in the postseason right? Anyway, back to my point. When these team are at a low-point and not contending for a title, the MLB goes into a sadistic stage and ratings just plummet. You want fans to watch the sport right? You want people to attend your stadiums and root for your teams? Are we just pawns to you? Why do you ONLY care about those two teams? Hell, since 2004 you can throw in the Boston Red Sox to that category. Ever noticed how many times those 3 teams are always on national TV? I don’t want to see that crap on a weekly basis. Stop showing me them. I don’t need to see a lineup 1-9 hitting barely .250 hit home runs out of their high school size stadium. What a joke. Play half a season in Comerica Park and let me see your numbers then…..So who would the “Spurs” of baseball be? Gotta be the Cardinals right? Or the Giants? Pick your poison. Top to bottom, not very star-laden, but they do it best and just know how to win. After the Giants beat KC in 7 games this past Fall Classic, I will take the Giants or Cards against the field in the National league every year, until I see a true changing of the guard. As for those Skankees? Well…..plain and simple, you all can just go fuck yourselves, you slimy, selfish, greedy, spoiled classless fans.

Now onto the college level. Let’s start off by saying that every so-called student athlete is merely a pawn in the sports, both football and basketball, purely a moneymaker for their universities and the NCAA as a whole. All these brand new, fancy looking, high paying football stadiums and old historic basketball arenas? Straight cash, homie. More money in the pockets for the universities. So who else kisses more ass than Ohio State? Oh, I’ll answer that question. Nobody. It is ALWAYS about them. If they and/or Michigan are having a sub par season, it’s suddenly an unsuccessful college football season. Get over yourselves. Seriously? There’s plenty of skilled, talented, and championship-caliber college programs in this country. But I guess when you’re a Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Nebraska, Texas, etc., things are just handed to you on a silver platter. How about you evaluate the teams properly? Five of those six teams did not even end up in the final rankings of this college football season. Nebraska was suppose to just “roll through the Big Ten and claim the crown from everyone”, said many experts when they made the switch. How’s that going for ya? Welcome to big boy football Nebraska. Not so easy is it? You made a mistake firing Bo Pelini in my mind. I cannot stand this “What have you done for me lately” world, but we’ll do that some other time. Back to the Fuckeyes. They are the prime example of selfish scum who think of themselves better than everyone. I was the happiest man on this planet when that story came out about them cheating and selling memorabilia throughout the season. Serves you right you god damn cheaters. I hope they lose by 5 TDs to Oregon on Monday night.

Well this has been a longer posting than I would have liked. But I feel I got my point across and did my venting. You agree or disagree? Would love to hear your opinions. It is welcomed!