Tag Archives: Arizona DiamondBacks

Drei’s Notes On a Scorecard…4/15/2017 Vs DiamondBacks…Celebrating Jackie Robinson

J Robinson Statue

This day would mark the 70th anniversary that Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, opening the way not only for African-American baseball players, but for other international players as well. Fittingly, to celebrate this special day, the first ever statue at Dodger Stadium would honor Jackie Robinson…

Scorecards 4 15 2017

Dbacks Scorecard

Arizona would come into Dodger Stadium atop the NL West after a fast start that saw them win 7 of their first 10. DBacks SS Nick Ahmed would drive in all four runs for the Snakes. Kenta Maeda would strike out 5 but only last 4 innings, once again leaving the bullpen to go another long stretch. Fortunately, Alex Wood would pitch 3 1/3 stellar innings of shutout ball and Kenley Jansen would record the four out save…

Dodgers Scorecard 4 15 2017

Austin Barnes, getting the starting nod behind the dish, would crank his first big league home run off the LF foulpole…

It would be Puig’s 3 run shot in the home 8th that would put the game away…

On a personal note, in the 2 games Drei has been to this season, Puig has 8 RBI’s, 7 of those coming through the long ball…

The Dodgers 8-4 victory over the DBacks would be their 10th in a row at Dodger Stadium dating back to last season.

Though the bullpen would put in another stellar performance, my early season concern has to be how much longer can Dave Roberts continue to throw starters not named Kershaw on the hill and get 5 innings or less.

Both the Dodgers and DBacks would combine for 5 errors.

Despite posting 8 runs, the Blue would leave 11 runners on base. Leaving runners on base has also been an early season issue.

Colorado will be coming in to Dodger Stadium tomorrow night atop the NL West. Both the DBacks and Rockies got off fast starts with the Giants struggling early….

9th Inning…

J Rob Night Pic_Drei J and Nate

Saturday night with ‘Doza and Son…

Extra Innings…

Easter Pic with Soshi

Uncle Drei and Soshi hope you all had a great Easter weekend !!!

A Wild Wild Finish…It’s Just The Beginning…

Leading Off…

Still talking about that wild finish from what Vin called, The Wild Horse ? Baseball is a crazy game isn’t it ?…It’s no stretch when they say it’s a game of inches. If Nationals SS Danny Espinoza is shaded a couple more inches to his left that hard ground ball Puig hits up the middle gives this game a different ending huh ? A couple more inches to his left and Espinoza forgoes the dive toward the ball and instead of a mob at the plate a possible game ending 6-4-3 ends a 4 game losing streak for the NL East leading Nats and they’re the ones walking the post game victory line. Instead, the Nationals are now on a 5 game skid while the Dodgers are currently on a 6 game streak as well as winning 8 of their last 10.

A game of inches this great game is. For every line drive that finds a glove, a routine grounder finds a hole…It happens…That’s the law of averages…That’s baseball…No big deal right ? Puig keeps the rally going…Now we get runners on 1st and 2nd…Until that ground ball hit that was inches from Espinoza’s glove found more than just a hole…

 

yasiel-puig-walk-off-nationals-dodgers Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

 Nationals Center Fielder Michael Taylor, doing a bat flip ( Not that kind… ) after 1 of 5 times he would strike out ( AP Photo: Chris Carlson )

Striking out 5 times was not even the worst part of Taylor’s night. On a night the Dodgers would honor the current Nationals skipper with his own bobblehead, the frantic finish that couldn’t have been scripted by even the most acclaimed Hollywood writer…Michale Taylor’s performance Wednesday night could perhaps be the worst performance ever by a single MLB player.

My fandom for Dodger baseball and the game started in 1980. Dusty Baker was roaming the outfield for The Blue. I’m not so sure if I’ve seen a performance that was worse than what Taylor displayed Wednesday night. And yet, even with that performance, we all would trade in our bad day’s at the office for his…In a heartbeat. 

img_20160623_164222.jpgDusty Baker Bobblehead…I tend to think this looks more like Pedro Guerrero (Photo: Marly Rivera, ESPN)

Around The NL West…

The Dodgers have won 6 in a row, 8 of their last 10. Unfortunately, the Giants have been hot themselves, winning 11 of their last 12, including a just concluded 6-1 road trip. In that span, the Dodgers have gained a mere half game in the standings, finding themselves 6 back. At 41-33, only 4 other teams currently have more wins than The Boys in Blue. Not bad considering the inconsistencies our offense has endured as well as our health issues among the starting 5…

While the Rockies continue to hang around, while Zack Greinke has recovered from a slow start and another solid season from Paul Goldschmidt, the off-season expectations have not panned out for The Snakes. The Padres continue to look up at the rest of the division and may want to unload some pieces before the August 1st non-waiver deadline. I said before the season that Matt Kemp would be on the trading block and I still believe that. Known for his 2nd half of the season finishes, Kemp has actually had some decent offensive numbers to this point, going yard 15 times with 54 RBIs, ranking 4th in the NL with a modest .268 average. 

Because Kemp has been a defensive liability, something we would not have thought of in 2011, an AL team would be a good fit for him for the stretch run ( Yes folks, I’m thinking Matt as a DH, with some occasional starts in the OF). Perhaps the Astros, who have played some good ball lately, would be a good fit for Matt, especially at hitter friendly Minute Maid Park ?

Now back to The Blue. At 6 games back, the NL West race is far from over. The current 6 game wining streak, 4 of which found them pulling it off from the 8th inning on, should hopefully carry the momentum as they embark on a 7 game road trip that begins in Pittsburgh. 

As we all know, The Blue still needs reinforcements both offensively and among the backend of the starting 5. The latest talk has The Blue looking at both Sonny Gray and Julio Teheran to solidify the rotation.

On The Road…PNC Park, Pittsburgh PA

Dre_PNCPark One of 17 of the current 30 MLB parks i’ve visited, September 2005

One of my favorite parks I’ve had the chance to visit. A visit to PNC is definitely worth the hype… If you can, walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge on your way to the game. The late Pirate legend has a statue outside the left field gate that every baseball fan should view…

Dre_PirateParrot Kicking’ it with The Pirate Parrot. ” Your Bucs we’re not help against the Jints this week ! ” 

9th Inning…BELIEVE

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A 6 game deficit in June is nothing….The Dog Days of Summer is only beginning folks…

 

Drei’s 2016 N.L. Forecast

Leading Off…

Here’s what Drei had to say heading into last season…

“Since Don Mattingly took over the managerial reins in 2011, the Dodgers have improved their win total by an average of 4 games. Should that trend continue into this season, the Blue Crew should finish with 98 wins, and yet, he seems to be on the hot seat every season…It’s been 27 years now. There are enough Dodger fans out there young enough asking what was it like to have experienced a World Series victory.”

Don Mattingly guided The Blue to their 3rd consecutive division title with 92 wins, yet the hot seat never cooled, sending to a much cooler summer climate, Miami. It’s been 28 years now, and Dodgers fans of all generations are growing somewhat impatient for that October experience…

N.L. East

Two of baseball’s best pitching staffs just may reside here in the NL East. The Mets return the bulk of their starting rotation that led them to their first World Series appearance since 2000 and with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndegaard and Steve Matz ready to take on a full season, this team could be primed for another WS run. The Nationals, last year’s favorites among many of the experts to win the WS, still posses a pretty potent all-around lineup to compliment their strong rotation, anchored by Stephen Strasburg. Injuries and the lack of team unity played key roles in the Nats late season meltdown, costing Matt Williams his job.   The lineup will once again count on Bryce Harper to put up some big numbers along Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and their newest addition Daniel Murphy. It is hoped that proven skipper Dusty Baker will be able to keep this team completely focused. Dealing with players with adverse personalities is nothing new for Dusty. Let’s not forget he managed both Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent for several seasons. The Braves and Phillies, once the class of this division, could are in serious rebuild mode and could both potentially lose over 100 games…

N.L. Central

The Cubs made some key off-season moves, including the additions of Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist to an already dangerous lineup. Much of the attention will be focused on their pitching, considered to be one of the deepest with the top 3 in the rotation of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey. Many are picking the Cubs to not only go deep into October but to also win that big Fall Prize that has eluded them the last 108 years. This could just be their year…

The Pirates, post-season participants for 3 consecutive seasons, will be highly competitive again this season even the the loss of A.J. Burnett and J.A. Happ from their rotation. The rotation still has a top 1-2 tandem between Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano. The lineup is still anchored by Andrew McCutchen, and his supporting cast with Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco is pretty dynamic themselves. It may be a stretch to pick the Bucs to finish atop the Central, but a 4th consecutive post-season appearance is not out of the question. Now if they could just find a way to avoid that dreaded wild card game. The Pirates, riding their most successive run since 1990-92, may have 3 consecutive post-season appearances under their belt but two consecutive one and done’s may unfairly have Clint Hurdle in the hot seat should the Bucs fail to make a deep October run…

The Cardinals, owners of last years best record in baseball, lost starter John Lackey to the rival Cubs and will be without Lance Lynn for the season. If Adam Wainwright can remain healthy throughout the season, along with Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, both who are still young, and the addition of Mike Leake, there’s no reason the Cardinals should not be able to compete in what could be baseball’s best division for the second consecutive season. If Matt Adams and Matt Holliday can rebound from injury plagued seasons, this lineup, along with Matt Carpenter at the top, could quietly be one of the leagues best.

N.L. West

I’m not going to lie. Though I do truly believe the Dodgers will win the West for the 4th consecutive season, I am mostly going with my heart. But hey, most so-called experts rarely ever get their predictions on the mark, right ?

Much has been made of the off-season moves within the division and it is expected to be a 3 team race between the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks. The two big additions to the rivals was the addition of Johnny Cueto to the Giants, and of course the addition of Zack Greinke away from the Blue over to the DBacks, who we’re among the league leaders in offense last season. 

Spring Training has not entirely been so kind to the Dodgers, who already are beset by some health issues in the back end of the rotation. The good news, in spite of our early season worries, not every Dodger got hurt during Spring TrainingThe top 3, led by Kid K with Scott Kazmir and off-season addition Kenta Maeda, will give the Blue a formidable front end of the rotation. My concerns however are how will Maeda, coming off a solid spring,  hold up in his first big league season… Can Kazmir stay healthy and retain his 2015 form ? Can Alex Wood bounce back from his 2nd half swoon and prove to be a legitimate 4th starter ? Hyun-Jin Ryu, who missed all of last season, is expected to give the rotation a boost if he should return by mid-May at the earliest.

The outfield, even with the loss of Andre Ethier until at least June, is still pretty deep, however these questions loom…Will Puig finally display a full season of his potential ? Can Joc Pederson cut down on his strikeouts and improve upon his on base percentage ? Can Carl Crawford stay healthy enough until Andre returns ? It’s expected that Crawford and Scott Van Slyke will be platooning in left field. The infield will be a good combo of experience and youth. This lineup has the potential to put up some big numbers and could have 3 30 plus home run boppers in Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig. If Puig can give us a 20/20 season, and Joc can hit somewhere in the .270’s our offense should be allright. 

So everyone expects a 3 team race here in the NL West. The Rockies and Padres are not expected to do much and there have been talks that the Friars are looking to unload some of their key acquisitions from last year, including Matt Kemp. If the Padres are out of contention by July, I see Kemp, who in typical fashion had a strong finish last season, heading to one of two possible sleepers, Seattle or Miami ( Yeah, Kemp reunited with Mattingly, playing with Dee Gordon, and Barry Bonds as his hitting coach. Hmmm )

NL Wild Card

Cubs over the Cards. Again, after this one-game elimination game is over, talks and debates will resume over an expanded WC series… 

NLDS

Cubs over the Pirates. The Pirates will finally be playing in an actual playoff series, only to be disappointed once again by everyone’s pre-season favorites. Does an appearance past the WC keep Hurdle off the hot seat ?

Dodgers over the Mets. In another closely contested series, this time, it’s OUR Boys in Blue who prevails 

NLCS

In a battle of two teams who have 97 years combined without a World Series appearance, someone finally ends their drought. Why not us ? Dodgers over the Cubs

As I’ve admitted, my pick of our Blue going all the way is for all intents and purposes, from the heart. The Blue is expected to contend once again this season. They may be banged up right now, but hey, no team goes through a full 162 game season without some dings and scratches, right ? 

World Series… A Battle of Blue

It’s been 27 years. In that time, we’ve endured 2 Bush’s, and we may be on our way toward a 2nd Clinton…. Oh yeah, it would be great if we can give Good Ol’ Vin a Grand Sendoff, right ?

9th Inning…A Tale From The Park…With KID N DREI…

20140831_164815.jpg Because Kid Marley Marlz has all that ” Kid Like ” energy during the off-season, Drei needs to take him to the park…

20140831_164829.jpg ” HEY KID ! When are we gonna come up with that Dodger song ? ” Kid Marley Marlz may call me Dre Beats, but it’s The Kid who spits out The Beats and the Everyday Blessings, while Drei, well, Drei just tells The Tales.  Hey Kid ! When our we gonna do that Dodger song ?… ‘Til The Next Episode…Close us out KID !!!

Everyday Blessings… Kid Marley Marlz

 

 

Seasons Greetings…No Off-Season For Kid N Drei

It’s been a little over a month now since the season has ended. Yes folks, even though it is December, the off-season has not been that long. That’s what the expanded playoff format, in place since 2012, does to an off-season that almost always ends before Halloween.

Though 2015 would see The Blue come up short of a World Series once again, it would be another fun season for Kid Marley Marlz and DodgerDrei, bringing you The Ravine Life, Kid N Drei’s own “unofficial” reality series sharing with you the adventures and Kid’s, ok, also, Drei’s mischief and Kid like experiences beyond The Ravine, Cruising L.A. KID N DREI_LACMA 2

all the way down south to San Diego …

KID N DREI_BUBBLES 2 There’s never a dull moment around Kid N Drei inside and beyond, The Ravine Life…

When it comes to an off-season Kid Marley Marlz and Dodger Drei know nothing of it. For Drei, it could be cruising the college scene and other venues while providing sports fans and travelers the 4-1-1- on their sports travel journey’s over at Stadium Journey.

Stadium Journey

For Marlz, it may be work on his beats, such as this one titled, You, which he provided for Drei, even if Kid was mocking Drei…

Kid Marley Marlz does have a studio version of, You, dedicated to some other, well, You…

Hey Kid ! This, You, whom you’ve dedicated this song to, it seems that Minion Dave always found a way to get in between the two of…YOU…

picsart_12-12-10.01.55.jpgBe it your birthday celebration at The Ravine…

picsart_12-12-10.06.03.jpgOr a road trip down I-5 to PETCO Park, Minon Dave just seems attached to the two of…YOU… Here’s a message to the two of, You, from The Beach Boys… ” Don’t Worry Baby, Everything will turn out allright…”

Want more from the kid ? Here’s a list of his tracks from his Soundcloud, at MDario GlutenFreeSounds…

 

Hey Kid ! Christmas is just around the corner ! How ’bout a classic holiday tune ? Perhaps a tale of some reindeer named Rudy ?

Well, another season…another year is in the books. I hope you all had a great 2015. Hopefully, this holiday season will bring you many joyful moments. Yes, the off-season has not exactly been the most joyous one to this point for many a Dodger fan, with Zack Greinke heading to the desert and the hated ones landing Johnny Cueto. Yes, there is plenty of concern around Dodgerville during this holiday season, with the rival NL West teams stacking up on their pitching and The Blue pretty much playing the waiting game. 3 consecutive division titles is no small feat, but eventually, the rest of the division will catch up. Will this be a Blue Christmas in Dodgerville in it’s literal sense ? Like the front office, we the fans can only wait…

picsart_12-12-09.59.43.jpg Good Times Kid ! 

 

MARLZ_DREI HOLIDAY CARD Happy Holidays !!!

 

picsart_12-11-09.54.16.jpg

 

Dre’s Friday Bits and Bytes, 5/16/2014

Tonight’s happenings in the world of L.A. Sports…

greinke Zack Greinke takes the hill for the Blue as they take on the Arizona Diamondback for the 4th time this season as the Blue looks to build upon their 7-1 mark against the Snakes as they embark on a 10 game road trip. After finishing 3-4 on their current homestand against the Giants and Marlins, the Blue will also look to improve upon their 13-7 road record . Also…

That’s right ! GO KINGS GO as the Kings and Ducks battle it out in Anaheim tonight in Game 7 of the NHL Western Conference semis with as the Kings look to return to the Windy City for a rematch of last years Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks . There is certainly no shortage of sporting events for L.A. sports fans tonight…

Early Concerns ?

With the Dodgers currently 5 games behind the Giants, this certainly was not the start the Dodgers and the fans had hoped for. However, we must remind ourselves that this is a long season and that there is certainly more than enough time to get back in the race. Whether we should expect a repeat of last seasons 40-8 run, well, that may be asking much to repeat that feat. Here’s some numbers to look at…

Prior to and after last seasons summer run where they went 40-8, the Dodgers had a combined record of 52-64. Going into tonight’s action , aside from their 7-1 record against the DBacks, they would be as of right now 15-19 against the rest of the Majors, including a 3-7 record against the Giants. So we do know how good this team can really be. We also know too that this team can be really streaky as well. Believe it or not, the Dodgers are actually in better shape at this time then they we’re at this time last year. So yes, it is a little to early for us, including this fan here, to be pushing the panic button right away. A little tweak here and there and in no time we got ourselves a pennant race.

Also, some other numbers to chew on around the bigs

The Cardinals and Nationals, 2 other clubs expected to win their respective NL divisions, are also off to pedestrian starts as they too also sit only 2 games above .500 . In the AL East, the defending champion Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, the two expected to finish atop the AL East, are both struggling as well with a combined 38-44 record as those 2 as of right now occupy the bottom half of the AL East. 3 of the 4 teams mentioned here we’re last years LCS participants, with the Red Sox winning it all. We certainly don’t expect these teams to continue to struggle, do we ?

Dre’s Scorecard Notes, Tuesday 5/13/2014 vs. Marlins

dodgersfish In my latest of my in-game scorecard notes, we feature this past Tuesday night’s game against the Marlins…

marlinscard Josh Beckett continues to impress after sitting out virtually all of last season, pitching 6 1/3 innings against his former club, striking out 4 and allowing only 1 run. Would Beckett finally get some run support ?

dodgerscard Josh Beckett finally get’s those runs as the Blue would score 5 times in the home 6th, started off by a 2 run double by Hanley Ramirez. The Dodgers would also tack on runs in the 7th and 8th, as they would pull away from the Marlins. This is the 2nd game in a row I would attend that the Dodgers would score in the 6th-8th en route to a win and , Josh Beckett’s first win since 2012.

HanRam getting the scoring started for the Blue in the 6th

Beckett’s strong start

Best of luck to Marlins pitching sensation Jose Fernandez , who underwent successful Tommy John surgery. Here’s to a full recovery and a long career ahead of you .

Dre’s Bytes….Celebrating a Birthday, OK, a Belated Birthday, at The Old Ballgame

IT’S BACK !!! Dre’s ballgame bytes !!! Doin’ it again this season and tonight, we got El Viejo Brandoreno here…

Tuesday Night at The Ravine, 5/13/2014 from Good_Drei on Vimeo.

And later on that evening, with the Dodgers comfortably up in the 8th, as we mess around somewhere inside of Dodger Stadiums hallowed halls…

Somewhere Inside The Ravine from Good_Drei on Vimeo.

I hope you enjoyed your night out at the park celebrating your belated birthday against the Marlins….Marlon !!!

More of Dre’s bytes to come…TO BE CONTINUED. Happy Friday everyone !!! LET’S GO DODGERS !!! GO KINGS GO !!!!

In and Around The Ravine

So I made it out to my first game of the season this past Wednesday to see the Dodgers do battle with the Tigers. Many, including me, are predicting these two will meet in this years Fall Classic and if these two games this past week are any indication, we may have just seen a 2014 World Series Preview , silly as it may sound being it’s only April .

On The Way ….

ChavezPastBWay Sometime a little after 1st pitch just past 7:10. We decided to take the Dodger Stadium Express shuttle to the game after taking the Red Line from the North Hollywood station. Did I say express ?

SunsetPastFig Sunset and Figueroa. Where the dedicated bus lane is supposed to begin. OK, why are there other vehicles in this “dedicated bus lane ” ?

SunsetPastFig2 All right ! Now we’ve made progress. We’re now above the 100 Fwy !!!

SunsetMarion Sunset and Marion. We’re getting closer. Still, no signs of this “dedicated bus lane” . According to the MTA Website, you won’t have to fight traffic with this dedicated bus lane….

EPDrive Ah Finally !!! Our dedicated bus lane !!! Just as we descended up Elysian Park Ave. So this lane lasted all but 2 minutes, if that !!!

It’s a given that traffic is a 24/7 issue here in L.A. and yes, there’s a reason Dodgers fans have a reputation for always arriving late. Having said that, where we’re the traffic officers who we’re supposed to patrol this so-called stadium express lane ? Even our bus driver had questioned the presence of the so-called traffic cops, or lack of presence…. If this is any indication of things to come with larger attendance anticipated this season, my advice to you all particularly those coming out to Dodger Stadium for the first time and all you ballpark chasers…. Carpool. Drive as many of your buddies to the game as possible. If possible, head to the game at least 3 hours before game time if you want to be there for the first pitch. If you do plan to use the stadium shuttle from Union Station, do get there early if you can !! Based on Wednesday’s experience, the lack of traffic officers will pretty much defeat your purpose of using this express shuttle.

Inside The Ravine

Originally I had planned to take as many pics of the changes and additions around the outfield plaza after the game but with the game ending at 11:30 or around there I never got around to it. I did take these though…

dodgerbluebar The bullpen bar, above the Dodger Bullpen.

dodgerbullpen The Bullpen Overlook, above the Dodger bullpen. A great perspective to observe pitchers warming up. I wouldn’t spend 9 innings here though based on this view, and i’m sure neither would most fans.

RFBullpenMarkerRFBullPenMarkerMinion From the RF Bullpen Overlook, with our Minion !!! Only 451 ft from home plate . Oh yeah, another addition throughout the stadium this year are those outlets for your mobile devices, now that Dodger Stadium is equipped with WiFi, which was surprisingly strong during my Wednesday night visit.

LogeView OK, now that we circled the entire stadium during the game, for the first time ever, here’s our view from the loge between third and home.

DogsDodgers The Extreme Dog and the Detroit Coney Dog , the featured Dog with the Tigers in town. Looks like the Dodgers are doing the featured dog again this season based on certain opponents. ( I’d like to see their take on a Cincinatti Chili Dog when the Reds are in town…)

DogsMinion The Minion looks like he’s ready to take down these dogs

JoshDogs Tonight’s featured fan, Josh, master of voiceovers, from Eagle Rock. Josh and I have been attending Dodger games and other baseball games throughout the MLB since 1994. Our first Dodger game we witnessed in April 8, 1994 with Chan Ho Park making his debut in relief against the Braves. Kent Mercker of the Braves went on to pitch a no-hitter against the Blue, on the evening of the 20th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s 715th. No, Josh did not eat both those dogs !!!

Keeping Score

scorecard
Something I always do at the yard. Those 3 K’s on Matt Kemp’s line don’t look good, however he did have a key walk in the home 9th that helped The Blue rally from a 3 run deficit to force extras, thanks to this clutch 2 out RBI from Dee Gordon…

However, Kenley Jansen would surrender a solo shot to Victor Martinez and the Tigers would prevail in 10, 7-6, with the teams splitting this brief 2 game set, both games going extras with both teams staging 9th inning rally’s. Could this really be a preview of things to see come October ?

Concern for Jansen ?

OK, 10 games into the season and like the rest of you, I’m having some minor concerns right now about Kenley Jansen. Like hitters who go through slumps, i’m hopeful that Jansen, who has struggled early this season as evidenced by the home runs allowed to Mark Trumbo in the Australia series and last night to Victor Martinez, as well as his bases loaded situation last week in San Diego which he was able to pitch out of, i’m hopeful that Jansen is just going through a slump of his own, and according to Mattingly, there really is no big concern over Jansen .

So now, the Dodgers head to Arizona for a 3 game set to start off the road trip. Arizona, struggling early in the season, is coming off a road trip of their own which concluded with the DBacks taking 2 of 3 in San Francisco. It’s still a long season folks….

Dre’s NL Forecast for 2014

And now, my picks for the Senior Circuit…

NL East

Nats have the best rotation in the division anchored by Stephen Strasburg. Acquisition of Doug Fister form the Tigers will also be a boost to the rotation. If the Nats, especially Bryce Harper can remain healthy for a good part of the season, Nats will be dangerous in the NL. Nats finished last season strong, going 26-12 down the final stretch.

Braves bats will be providing some heavy lumber again this season, especially the middle of their lineup. The loss of 2 of their starters, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, could be a hindrance to the rotation. But with an offense that includes the power trio of Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, and a strong back end of the bullpen, the Braves still remain a legitimate threat to win this division.

Phillies starting rotation still sport a formidable 1-2 tandem in Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels but age has caught up to this organization that had made it to the post-season 5 consecutive seasons from 2007-2011, appearing in 2 World Series and coming out on top in 2008. 5 years ago, I would have loved to have Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz in my lineup.

In my surprise pick, I’m picking the Marlins to finish beyond the NL East’s cellar. It will be interesting to how if NL ROY pitcher Jose Fernandez follows up his ROY campaign as he will be anchoring this young rotation. Marlins still have too many inexperience to pose a serious challenge for the division.

The Mets starting pitching should make for a lot of close games, but scoring runs continues to be an issue for them. David Wright is not the home run threat he once was. I’m also interested to see if Bartolo Colon can match his somewhat surprising performance of 2013, and I say somewhat because, yes, he will be turning 41 in May. Can he pitch 200 innings ? Having said that, Colon should still provide a steady veteran presence in their rotation.

So, as for the NL East , it appears that there is no lack of pitching from the top on down the bottom. I still see this being a 2 team race between the Nationals and Braves.

NL Central

Over the last 14 seasons dating back to 2000, the Cardinals have had the most successful run in the National League, with 10 post-season appearances, including 4 trips to the Fall Classic in which they have won 2. Aside from the loss of David Freese, the Red Birds pretty much field the same personnel from last year’s squad that took them to the World Series. Their pitching staff, a good mix of veterans and youngsters from Adam Wainwright to Michael Wacha, could be the deepest in all of baseball. The offense along with Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina is also expected to put up some big numbers.

The Pirates, after going 21 consecutive seasons of sub .500 baseball, not only broke that dubious streak but won 94 games en route to a Wild Card victory over the Reds before taking the eventual NL Champion Cardinals the full 5 games in the NLDS. A lot has been made of the Bucs pitching and defense, which was certainly a huge factor in returning to post-season play for the first time in 21 years. The Bucs and their fans got a taste last year, now everyone in Steel City wants more, and they should. If they can add another solid bat or two to back Andrew McCutchen to their offense ranked 9th in the NL in scoring last year, the Bucs could make another serious run in October.

Overlooked last year was the fact the Reds made it to post-season play for the 3rd time in 4 years. However, closing out the season on a 5 game skid, including a 3 game sweep at the hands of the Pirates in the season’s final weekend at home, capped off by their Wild Card loss to the Bucs, eventually cost Dusty Baker his job as skipper. Fair ? I don’t think so. But that’s life in any major coaching capacity these day’s when even a hint of success is achieved and higher expectations are not immediately met. The big 3 run producers, Votto, Bruce and Phillips remain intact. The health of the pitching may be a question mark. The bullpen will be thin at times with the loss of Aroldis Chapman until at least June. ( Thank goodness he’s OK after being hit in the head by a line drive from Royals Salvador Perez ) .

Ryan Braun return from his suspension will definitely add some pop to the Brewers lineup along with Lucroy, Segura and Carlos Gomez. Pitching, as well as keeping key players off the DL , will be key for the Brew Crew if they are to sneak up toward the NL Central, the only division with 3 teams with 90 plus wins in 2013.

It has been 105 years since the Cubs have won a World Series. With all the youth on their team, it’s highly doubtful Wrigley Field, celebrating it’s 100th birthday, will finally be presented with a World Series triumph any time soon. Anthony Rizzo led the club with 23 dingers, and he could pass that up this season, but with a thin all-around lineup comprised of youngsters, he may not get many opportunities to drive home many runs.

So the NL Central could very well have 3 post season teams this year. St Louis with all it’s depth is the favorite to win the division, but Pittsburgh and Cincinatti, the somewhat forgotten team of last season, could pose a serious challenge for the NL Central crown.

NL West

The Dodgers are the overwhelming favorites to repeat as NL West Champions. Many expect the Blue to run away with this division. If only it we’re so easy. However, with all the depth they have, there really is no reason to think the Dodgers will not win the division unless injuries, which no expert prognosticator, can ever predict. The starting 5 could potentially have 2 20 plus game winners in their rotation in Kershaw and Greinke, and a couple of 15 plus game winners with Haren and Ryu. The bullpen, anchored by Kenley Jansen along with the return of Brian Wilson and the acquisition of Chris Perez, could be the best in the game.

Is this the year Dee Gordon solidifies his everyday spot in the infield at 2nd base ? Will the Dodgers be with 4 outfielders the entire season ? Can Matt Kemp ever return to the Matt Kemp of 2011 ? Yasiel Puig, after his breakout rookie season in which he played a huge part in the Dodgers run toward the post-season, how will he handle the pressures of higher expectations in 2014 ? Yeah, I’m being somewhat pessimistic. But that’s what fans who follow their teams closely do. Having said that, this team really is loaded. Many of these so-called issues are ones lots of teams would like to have, especially when talking about the outfield and pitching depth. I haven’t even mentioned the presence of Hanley and AGon in the lineup, also expected to put up some more big numbers this season.

Our rivals up north, the Giants, after struggling through 2013 with many of it’s players spending time in the DL and an unlikely shaky season from it’s rotation, look to give the Dodgers a run for the division. As much as Cain and Lincecum struggled, they still form a pretty formidable tandem along with Madison Bumgardner. The offense may be a question though, however, if the top of their lineup can stay healthy, Hunter Pence and of course Buster Posey could have more run-producing opportunities. How does a lighter Pablo Sandoval do in a contract year ?

There will be no shortage of runs in Arizona this year, as long as they got notorious Dodger killer Paul Goldschmidt in that lineup along with the addition of former Angel Mark Trumbo. The starting 5 is another story and the loss of Patrick Corbin before the Opening Series did not do any favors to the top of their rotation. The usually durable and dependable Bronson Arroyo should provide a good veteran presence. Will it be enough for the DBacks to pose a serious challenge in the NL West ?

The strength of the Padres, celebrating 10 years in Petco Park, has always been their pitching. Even with the changes in the outfield, Petco still remains a pitcher friendly yard. Now if only scoring runs wasn’t such an issue. Not helping matters is Josh Johnson, slated to be the Opening Day starter, is starting the season on the DL. With Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin in their lineup, will they have enough talent in that lineup to provide those two ample opportunities to drive home runs, always a tough task at pitcher friendly Petco.

The Rockies, opposite the Padres, have always been known for high offensive numbers. Playing 81 games at Coors Field certainly helps, especially when you have guys like Tulowitzki, CarGo and Michael Cuddyer in that lineup. Pitching, on the other hand, has historically been an issue for the Rockies. I really think it does have something to do with the thought of pitching in thin air , thus possibly affecting the mechanics of their starters.

As stated earlier, NL West is their for the Dodgers to take. Will they run away with the division ? No. I look for the Giants and DBacks to be the Dodgers closest contender, with the Padres and even the Rockies being possible sleepers to move up in the division. I still feel this is Matt Kemp’s team to lead. He may not be the 5-tool player that we saw in 2011 and may never go back to that form, but his presence in the lineup along with Hanley, Gonzales, Puig and either Ethier or Crawford, can still not be overlooked.

More of Dre’s Take’s…

I also would like to see Juan Uribe to build upon his performance from last year . It’s been noted that Juan struggles after a contract season. We will find out this year which Uribe we see, be it the Juan of 2011-12, or Juan Uribe of 2013.

And of course, let’s not forget our favorite Cuban, Yasiel Puig. Yes, he may be the most talented player the Dodgers have, which, when compared to a healthy Matt Kemp, is saying a lot. Yes, he still has the potential for an even bigger upside. And of course, yes, there’s also potential that dealing with the young Cuban Missile can be an ongoing issue. By now, we all know that Yasiel Puig was called out by manager Don Mattingly after last Saturday’s 7-5 win over the DBacks, in which Puig went 3 for 5. There is no denying the world of talent this kid posses. What is driving Mattingly, and others up the wall , including the fans…. ATTITUDE .

I have in the past questioned Mattingly himself on some of his decision making ( I’m sure you have too ), but in this case I see his point. They often say young talented players are the most difficult to handle. L.A. Sports fans, lets remember some guy named Kobe whom Phil, and even his own teammates, particularly some guy named Shaq, we’re not always on the same page either. Kobe and Phil still found a way to win 5 rings together. Puig will no doubt play another huge role as to how far the Dodgers go this year. Puig will also make more mistakes along the way, you know, growing pains. All of us will feel those pains along the way too. But as former MLB player Gabe Kapler said earlier this week, Mattingly can’t handle Puig by himself . Yes, like anything in any organization, it’s going to take a whole team to make this all work out. Calling a team meeting to address issues surrounding Puig is a start. Let’s see how this story turns out with both Puig and the Dodgers. This may sound crazy, but in some way’s Puig reminds me of another Dodger who had a world of talent as well as a world of baggage. Does the name Raul Mondesi ring a bell to you ? I really don’t see Puig going down the road of Mondesi, a world of talent met with unfulfilled promises. It’s all there for Puig to take, with a little help from his friends…

Dre’s NL Playoff Forecast

Wild Card

Pirates over the Braves. The Bucs vanquish the ghosts of 1992.

NLDS

Cards taken to the limit again in the NLDS this time by Washington. Could be the premier LDS matchup

Dodgers too deep for the Bucs on the offensive side, Dodgers in 5

NLCS

A repeat of last year’s NLCS, if all goes to form, this will be another evenly matched series

And Finally…

The World Series

It’s been 26 years, the time is now !!! Dodgers over the Tigers in 6 !!!

ethier Hey Dre !!! Are you really the longest tenured Dodger ? It doesn’t seem that long. It’s time we get you a ring Dre !!!

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