Just a bit outside
All that beard and nothing to show for it. 
After dissing Elvis Andrus’ uh, chin rug, the weather conspired for a freezing spring in Chicago. Yes, it’s snowing. They had a meme of Joakim Noah’s reaction to that. Pretty hilarious. Look it up. 
Napoli looks like he’s stalking a diamond in the most sexual way possible. 

All that beard and nothing to show for it. 

After dissing Elvis Andrus’ uh, chin rug, the weather conspired for a freezing spring in Chicago. Yes, it’s snowing. They had a meme of Joakim Noah’s reaction to that. Pretty hilarious. Look it up. 

Napoli looks like he’s stalking a diamond in the most sexual way possible. 

The Chicago White Sox prepare to play Boston in the first year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. 

Jim Thome played first base and designated hitter for a reason. 

Indians SP Salazar has historic night of extremes and what it says about his future

   Cleveland Indians SP Danny Salazar is amazing when he’s on and awful when he’s not. Against the Chicago White Sox at home Thursday night, he was both.

   Salazar struck out 10 hitters. From the first to second inning, he recorded all six outs by way of the K. White Sox 1B Jose Abreu homered. Otherwise White Sox hitters looked as off-balanced as David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s video for “Dancing in the Streets.” They looked like they were dancing. 

   It got stranger and historic.  

   Salazar recorded all his outs but one* through the punch out. Before the fourth inning, Salazar had done what no other pitcher since 1914 had done — record 10 or more strikeouts without throwing a single pitch in the fourth inning. Only Seattle’s Felix Hernandez had struck out as many batters in less innings (10 Ks in 4.0 innings, one earned run, four walks in a 3-2 win against the L.A. Angels of Anaheim). 

   The 24-year-old was yanked with one at bat left in the fourth inning. He had allowed five runs on six hits and two walks, with two HRs and a double. He’d thrown 93 pitches and allowed three fly balls and three ground balls. In his first start against the Minnesota Twins on April 4, Salazar allowed 14 fly balls to four ground balls. For the season he’s got more home runs allowed (3) than starts (2).  

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Jose Abreu did that.

Jose Abreu did that.

Ronald Belisario should consider a post playing career as the new Sid Haig.

Ronald Belisario should consider a post playing career as the new Sid Haig.

Catching fly balls Doggy style. 

Catching fly balls Doggy style. 

Abre los ojos.

Good Luck With That — MLB 2014 First Round of Predictions

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Predictions are tough in a sport that relies so much on luck to measure out an accurate end point to a team’s destination. Almost no one picked the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series, much less make the playoffs. 

There are safe picks. The Tampa Bay Rays remain the head of its class in the American League East. The Yankees are talented but old. Seattle may have spent too much money and will endure its existing holes through, uh, moxie. 

It’s almost been impossible to forecast pitching. They’re dropping like flies, and while I suspect that Clayton Kershaw’s DL stint is precautionary, it’s still concerning. CC Sabathia will throw no harder than 87 mph on average. Justin Verlander is coming off core surgery, and was somewhat more like Jack Morris than Nolan Ryan for much of last season, including the playoff appearance-slash-brilliance. There’s a moment of silence for Matt Harvey, who’s lost for the season. There are open prayers to spare Jose Fernandez of the same fate. 

You just don’t know with pitching, but I’ll try. 

Let’s try to take the outrageous side of the crystal ball. 

- Albert Pujols will have a bounceback year. 

   How does 28 home runs, a .280/.360 OBP / .510 SLG year sound? The days of Pujols pulling in 7-WAR a season are mostly long gone. He’s no longer a machine. At times Angels fans have seen him confused, hurt, or both.

  Pujols has battled foot injuries and has never really settled into a groove in Anaheim. He played like an all star his first year — though a borderline one. He’s long ceded the game’s best hitter championship belt to Miguel Cabrera. He’s making too much money, has won too many World Series rings. 

   A select few do arrest their declines. David Ortiz is proof. Carlos Beltran is proof. He won’t win the MVP award, but he’ll finish fourth or fifth. 

   Are the Angels going to make the playoffs with Trout being Trout and Albert scratching his way out of mediocrity? Hold that thought. 

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What the Dickens?! The MLB 2014 AL Great Expectations Team, position by position

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Unlike the novel used in a bad headline pun, no one dies in this story. 

Every year baseball fans anticipate breakout stars, expected or unexpected all star production from an individual season. Every great baseball player was a breakout star. Every great team has had a breakout star. 

Few, like Albert Pujols, Yasiel Puig, Mike Trout, Doc Gooden or Jose Fernandez, did it as rookies. Some took years, for whatever reason — Josh Hamilton’s career was bogged down because of substance abuse, got clean, and at 27 was an MVP candidate after leading the majors with 132 RBIs or Raul Ibanez’s mid-to-late 30s surge. In most cases an all star level string of years begins somewhere in the middle, as prodigies learn to put it all together, with age-27 seasons for young big leaguers with at least three years of experience. Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Kemp and Adrian Beltre’s last season with the Dodgers. It generally took Jake Peavy and Grady Sizemore around as much time, and Ubaldo Jimenez’s no-no season with the Rockies followed essentially the same timeline. 

Not every breakout player plays for a great team, or even on a good one. Trout was the best player in baseball the past two seasons and the Angels missed the playoffs both times. Fernandez and Harvey wrestled for the No.1 contender to Clayton Kershaw’s best pitcher title, doing it for two teams trying not to finish in last place. 

Every one has different definitions of breakout seasons, and almost no two lists will look alike. Let’s set ground rules for this list — by definition a breakout season constitutes five-win production and all star-like seasons for at least 130 games. That threshold is lowered for the two spots for relievers, and adjusted to league average for starting pitchers. 

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