Posts Tagged ‘Major League Baseball’

On a night when Brett Favre’s record for consecutive regular-season starts finally came to an end, Major League Baseball and pitcher Cliff Lee stole the spotlight.

As one of the hottest free agents on the market this offseason, much of the speculation about Lee’s new home pointed toward the New York Yankees. After all, the Yankees have seemingly had their way in free agency with the ability to throw money at any superstar they thought might help them add to their trophy case. And as expected, after making his way west as far as Seattle and then to Texas, Lee once again decided to head east agreeing to a contract worth over $100 million.

But Lee won’t be making his home in New York. This time, the Yankees lost out in the bidding war over one of MLB’s top hurlers. The kicker is that the Steinbrenners actually got undercut on the deal. Lee left an estimated $30 million on the table so he could return to Philadelphia to team up with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in what will arguably be pro baseball’s best starting rotation for the 2011 season.
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Spring training flew by and it’s hard to believe we are already one week into the 2009 Major League Baseball season. Before another moment passes, here are this season’s picks by division.

American League
national-league

Chris CarpenterST. LOUIS – The stage was set for another possible letdown and all eyes were on Chris Carpenter, seeing his first significant Major League action since making an early exit in his only appearance last season.

After falling behind in the season-opening series to the Pirates, who could blame the critics for doubting the Cardinals? And the skepticism over which Chris Carpenter would show up in his 2009 debut was well deserved.

But the questions were quickly answered and the doubters given a backseat when Carpenter picked up his first win of the season with the Cardinals edging the Pirates 2-1 for a series split.

More impressive than Carpenter getting his first win since September 2006 was the manner in which he did it. The former Cy Young Award winner gave up only one hit in seven innings, struck out seven, and would have blanked the Bucs if not for a throwing error by Albert Pujols on a fielder’s choice-double play attempt.

The Cardinals opening series was less than spectacular in terms of splitting with a team projected to finish toward the bottom of the division. But what was clearly learned in the positive realm shined through in glimmers of hope from Carpenter – currently listed fourth on the depth chart – and a promising slugger in Joe Thurston.

Thurston saw limited action in three games but arguably proved more to La Russa than any other young player battling for a spot. Thurston showed definite potential in the field but might be better suited for the offensive side of the ball. Hitting his way into the lineup might be his best shot. So far, he has hit three doubles, knocked in three runs, and nearly every ball that comes off his bat does so with promising power. And if it’s aggressive play you are looking for, he will be the first to admit he was a little too aggressive in Wednesday’s loss, attempting to stretch a double down the left-field line into a triple. He said he never thought twice about it and was “hard-nosed” all the way. He also admitted it was a dumb play.

With any luck, the critics will continue to doubt this year’s Redbirds. They predicted last year’s squad to finish at the bottom, and the Cardinals found themselves within games of playing for a wildcard spot. If one thing has been learned, it is to never doubt the St. Louis farm system, and always expect a team led by Tony La Russa to overachieve.