Blogging Baseball with Tripp – 2011 Season Preview, Part 1

Greetings, readers!  The Honestly Blog has been woefully quiet.  Not even a journey to Virginia or Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day could provide adequate fodder for a proper posting.  Am I getting lamer in my advancing age?  Doubtful.  I place all blame on winter, which sucks all the energy and verve from my life, and which is thankfully almost at an end.

You’ll see a lot more activity here on The Honestly Blog as spring approaches, and we’re going to start with a series of exchanges between Yours Truly and trusted baseball correspondent, Tripp.  My questions are in the bold font, and I have edited the conversation for time, content, and cohesion.  So without further ado, I give you the first part of The Honestly Blog’s 2011 MLB Season Preview…

Happy Spring Training to you, my friend.  Is this the best time of year or what?

This is very plausibly the best time of year: the NCAA tourney is about to begin, the NBA season is getting interesting, spring is literally days away, daylight savings time returns in about a hundred hours and, yes, BASEBALL IS BACK!  The game has a natural advantage in the national psyche with its impeccable timing, with hope springing eternal as spring springs…again.  All told, the end of the month, and the beginning of the 162-game marathon, will arrive in no time at all.

You’re a real poet.  Before we start talking about this season, let’s talk about last season.  I think you and I were the only people not living in San Francisco who were excited about the outcome of the World Series.  How do you think Timmy and the boys on the bay are going to do this year?

There is an adage that carries across most team sports: good defense will always trump good offense.  Specifically in baseball, they say good pitching always beats good hitting.  For example, the Yankees’ struggles from 2000 to 2009 (i.e. not winning a championship) were consistently traced not to a paucity of offensive production, but to an underwhelming and inconsistent pitching staff.

Wow, honestly, Tripp?  We’re not even 300 words into this and you’re already slamming the Yankees.  Honestly?

Now, TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION, the Giants’ success last year can be directly linked to the strength of their pitching staff.  With Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and Sanchez anchoring the rotation through the playoffs, and Brian Wilson (weird as he may be) coming in to close, the Giants were usually able to stay in games long enough for their offense to produce.  The emergence of Buster Posey as a budding star, and the overlapping quality play of Cody Ross, Freddy Sanchez, Juan Uribe, and Edgar Renteria combined with the Giants’ steady pitching to win it all in 2010.  Can San Fran replicate their success in 2011?  The Giants will always have a chance as long as their pitching staff remains a quality one.

And one of the hairiest pitching rotations in baseball, as well.

I was surprised that the Giants traded away players, including World Series MVP Edgar Renteria.

The loss of Uribe and Renteria will not likely be too significant, for while each player’s contribution was essential to winning the championship, neither player really factored in the team’s success until the end of the year.

Yeah, but that’s when factoring in really matters.  To borrow some political terminology, do you think the Giants—or any team, for that matter—can win it all without an October surprise?

That’s a fair point.  However, you need to get to October in order to be poised for that October surprise. I don’t know if Renteria and/or Uribe could really be expected to do much to get you there.  History suggests that older players are more injury prone, and there’s no guarantee their bodies will last until October to deliver those late game heroics again.  But, you know, I have been wrong before.  This would be the second time.

Were there any other deals in the off-season that pinged on your radar?

The Giants’ acquisition of Miguel Tejada (which I literally JUST learned of) could be a boost for the offense, though it is tough to expect too much from someone near the end of his career.

Elsewhere in the league, the Red Sox’s loss of third baseman Adrian Beltre and catcher Victor Martinez will be significant, though their trade for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and the signing of outfielder Carl Crawford, will be a helpful salve.  Logic would suggest that Boston has improved their chances in the race for the AL East crown.

Staying in that division, it will be interesting to see how Tampa Bay’s signing of Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon works out.  The experiment will be closely watched by everyone around baseball.  The Rays have a couple of holes to fill, including the one left by the departure of first baseman Carlos Pena to the Cubs.

Together again

Lastly, while the Yankees’ signing of Rafael Soriano read as a desperate and inflated attempt to distract from losing the Cliff Lee sweepstakes (to me at least), Soriano will be a very, very, very helpful addition to a Yankees pitching staff that always manages to be described as “horrible” by mid to late August.

And there you go again.  That’s twice now.

Texas, with the addition of Adrian Beltre, will be poised for another strong campaign in 2011.  The turmoil stemming from the displacement of Michael Young, however, will be interesting to track throughout the year.

The Nationals’ signing of outfielder Jayson Werth is an exciting development for fans in Washington.  It would be nice if Werth’s tenure lasts long enough for last year’s number one draft pick (and supposed Second Coming) Bryce Harper to progress through the minors.  Also, the sooner the Nationals get injured pitcher Stephen Strasburg back, the better.

What curse?

The Phillies had an awesome pitching staff last year, and they have an even awesomer staff this year thanks to the signing of Cliff Lee.  The Phils are the clear favorite in the NL East as of now.

“Even awesomer”?  You know, you’re lucky that I like you as much as I do.  I would have corrected that in anyone else’s contribution to The Honestly Blog.

Creative license.

Tripp Williams is a budding pianist who enjoys using capital letters to convey emotion.  He claims that he has worked as a delivery man for UPS,  but has yet to fulfill the repeated requests of certain self-published websites for the necessary photographic evidence.  He once grew a mustache in honor of his parents’ wedding anniversary.

~ T

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