Monday, August 24, 2015

The Knuckle Ball:Volume three

Welcome back to the third edition of the "Knuckle Ball" where I share my thoughts on three particular news items/thoughts that you or may, or won't likely find enjoyable in the world of baseball. On tonight's docket, I look at the New York Yankees three headed 1B/DH monster, forecasting an option that may strengthen the Bronx Bombers. Secondly, I profile a young pitcher, turned hitter, turned pitcher, in Adam Loewen who is revolutionizing the state of the baseball athlete as we know it. To finish off the slate this evening, I'll analyze(bull-shit) my way through the ever enticing National League central sharing my thoughts on how I see this division playing out.

I hate the New York Yankees. This statement didn't necessarily merit regurgitation but I wanted to provide clarity for those who think I'm on the Yankees bandwagon(I'm on many wagons FYI, just not the type that is colored with pinstripes), when sufficing my opinion on how manager Joe Girardi can bolster his every day lineup. Recently called up from AAA was Greg Bird, this twenty two year old Aurora, Colorado native shot his way through the minor league ranks(too soon?) and has landed with the big club for the stretch drive. His position is first base which creates a conundrum for Girardi and co. As it stands, they have A-Fraud himself in Alex Rodriguez residing over the designated hitter assignment with Teixeira although currently injured, the prognosis is not long term and will be ready to get back in action shortly. When Teixera is riping at the bit to resume playing, does Greg Bird who has been effective in limited action sit? The logical argument would say yes, but the creative mind in me has a solution that does nothing but benefit the pin stripes. Stephen Drew is currently the every day second baseman but his .198 batting average leaves plenty to be desired. Frankly, if I did cheer for the Yankees I'd be a lot more comfortable seeing the likes of one time Yankee Homer Bush patrol the middle and he was historically inept. An option that I have drawn up could be implemented one of two ways. Option A would have Chase Headley convert over to second base thus opening up the corner for Alex Rodriguez. I fully understand I'm advocating a forty year old man resuming his infielding career but a little less defence could provide a lot more offence, a trade-off I'm willing to swallow. As a contingency plan B, if Rodriguez' defence just isn;t MLB capable any longer to play third, hiding him at second while keeping Headley at third could prove to be just as beneficial. I don't read Yankee forums to read if this premise has been brought up in the past, but at the very least it's something Girardi should ponder as the offence has begun to scuffle.

2015 Comeback player of the year belongs to.........perhaps Canadian and Philadelphia Phillie Adam Loewen? In my opinion, one of the better stories in sports which based on success will get a lot more media traction. Sure we've seen this song and dance before most notably with Rich Ankiel, but the difference between the two was a fan at the game you weren't scared if a pitch was going to hit you in the stands unlike Ankiel. I'm not going to sit here and say that I have a large viewing of Loewen's work, because I don't but in a recent series where the Phillies met up against the scorching Toronto Blue Jays, Loewen came in and showed a propensity to have a Tom Glavine-esque breaking ball which fooled Toronto's hitters to no end. In my little research I've formulated, because facts are facts I'm essentially an encyclopedia when it comes to sport factoids, I do not believe there's ever been a pitcher crack a MLB roster, get sent back down only to re-form himself as a hitter only to eventually crack a big league club as a pitcher. If Loewen can find a permanent home next season, whether Philadelphia or elsewhere, it would be a tremendous story if he made the opening day twenty five man roster. With the lack of quality lefties in the Blue Jays pen, maybe just maybe a return to Toronto is in order.

The National League central division is just ridiculous. The best team in baseball is the St.Louis Cardinals and if they were in any other division, they'd be coasting to the finish line, but not in the Central where the Pirates have been creeping up as of late playing red hot baseball and we simply can't ignore the work Joe Maddon has done with the lovable losers Chicago Cubs. Joe Maddon has already won the NL Manager of the Year, and if you think Mets bench boss Terry Collins even has a sniff of hope you're sadly mistaken. I'm not here tonight to theorize my thoughts on the managerial award, but it's been the subtle changes Maddon has made implemented on the North side of Chicago that has made the Cubs an instantaneous contender. The Cardinals from the outset have nothing on the roster that drastically intimidates opponents but yet don't possess any glaring weaknesses that can be exploited. The acquisition of shortstop Jhonny Peralta a couple of seasons ago was huge in the sense that the Cardinals weren't really rostering many positional players who had much for veteran experience and that's exactly what Peralta has brought to Mike Matheny's group. The Pirates are a organization that are good, and judging from the contributions they are receiving from their young inexperienced lineup, are not going away any time soon. Starling Marte,  Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Gerrit Cole are the young core that will lead the Pirates in the post-season once again. Unless the Pirates are in the Cardinals rear-view mirror the last week of the regular season, they'll be able to afford to rest up Cole for that one game crapshoot that we call the Wildcard game. Who will Cole likely line up against in that game, well none other than the Cubbies. The Cubs are the last team you want to play right now, although the Mets and Blue Jays are doing jumping jacks trying to say hello. When they lured Jon Lester over from Oakland, the common belief was that they finally found their long term ace. A large reason for the triumphs in Chicago has not just been Lester,  but perhaps the REAL ace in Jake Arrieta. I find the notion of the words Arrieta and ace in the same sentence astonishing because I remember a few years back while he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles thinking it was deplorable that he was even in the rotation and now I'm hearing Cy Young whispers although the award is ultimately going to Zack Greinke. The Chicago sport scene has fallen on incredible times with the Bulls a yearly Eastern conference threat, the Cubs doing there thing and the Blackhawks winning championships every other year. The biggest concern for Chicago sport fans, particularly for the female gender is being on alert for Patrick Kane's whereabouts. My prediction for how the Central is going to  shake out, because after all that was the opening for this subject, is the Cardinals holding on and winning the division only to be eventually knocked out in the NLDS by the wildcard winning Pittsburgh Pirates.

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