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Half man; half machine

Throughout Major League Baseball a lot of people are on Alex Rodriguez watch. After hitting his 600th home run of his career a couple weeks back everyone is preparing for him to break Barry Bonds 762* home run mark. The Yankees were and probably still are confident that A-Rod will break the record which led them to playing him 25 million a season plus giving him incentives that increases each years total to about 30 million. So A-Rod is the 30 million dollar man ready to break baseball’s home run mark and be king?Don’t look now The Machine is coming for him.

The Machine that is Jose Alberto Pujols hit his 400th career home run last night off Washington Nationals Pitcher Jordan Zimmerman. He is the third youngest to do it, behind Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez. He is the 6th player in MLB history to post a .330+ batting average with 1,200+ runs batted in at the 400 mark. The other 5 players were Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Fox and Stan Musial. Not a bad company to join.

What makes Pujols stand out on his own and make him the first person to do something is hitting 400 home runs in his first 10 seasons. No one has ever done it but now Pujols stands alone in that category. Pujols is a hitting machine to say the least. 30+ homers in his first 10 seasons, 4 of which he hit 40+ and 2 of which he hit 51 twice in back to back seasons (2003 & 2004) at the ages of 23 and 24. 10 years to hit 400 and can anyone say he doesn’t have the chance to hit 700 and if he keeps up the pace maybe even 800.

Another thing that makes Pujols the best player in the league is that not only can he hit bombs but he hits for average. His on base percentage is amazing. Every time he steps up to the plate he gives his team the chance to score whether it’s getting a hit and being scored later or hitting an RBI or a home run. To top it all off he’s an excellent defensive player at first base posting a .997 fielding percentage over the past 10 years.

Albert Pujols should be the highest paid player. He plays baseball the right way, the only way and the clean way. I hope and I pray that he is never mixed in with steroids or HGH (human growth hormones) because if he is clean until the day he retires Albert Pujols could go down as one of the three best hitters of all time, the home run king and overall the greatest first baseman to play the game of baseball ever. Albert Pujols said,”It’s a special milestone but I don’t play for numbers.” You may not Albert but us baseball fans do. The Machine is making his mark on history. Are you watching?

-Timmy Dimas

(@TimmyD_WSJU)

For more numbers check out this link. Baseball Reference – Albert Pujols

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Washington Nationals rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg has come out of the gate here in his first year, living up to the astronomical hype that welcomed him. Posting a 2.45 ERA and 53 strikeouts in just 6 starts and 36.2 innings pitched, he has put himself in prime position to win Rookie of the Year if he keeps this pace.

But, below the surface, the Strasburg tale is a cautionary one. Many pitchers before him have gotten off to fantastic starts in their career, only to find struggles and/or injury down the road.

In the last decade or so, a few names come to mind. Kerry Wood, after winning the Rookie of the Year with the Cubs in 1998, has never lived up to the multiple-Cy-Young hype that surrounded him early in his career. Despite his resurgence the past few years as a solid closer for the Cubs and Indians, many still wonder what he could have been, had a series of elbow and arm problems limited his growth and success at the Major League level.

In a second stroke of bad luck in the Cubs organization,the early 2000s brought the rise and fall of young Mark Prior. After winning 18 games and finishing the season with a 2.43 ERA in 2003, injuries cut his career short at age 25.

Unfortunately, there are many similarities between Prior and Strasburg, many of which are hard to ignore. Both armed with fastballs near 100mph and killer breaking pitches, they used their repitoire to strike out a lot of batters. In Prior’s break-out season of 2003, he struck out 245 batters in 211.1 innings. Right now, if Strasburg throws that many innings, he’d end up with over 300 K’s, but expect the Nationals to take their time with the coveted arm of this flame-throwing 21 year old.

So what is to be learned? A combination of things, some of which have become cliched in the past few years.

Firstly, save his arm.

There is a correct and an incorrect way to go about that, though. What the Yankees have attempted to do with Joba Chamberlain has turned out to be a disaster. Stretching out and shortening his arm has done nothing but put him back in the bullpen where he probably should have been all along.

Thus far, it seems the Nationals have it right. In six starts, Strasburg has thrown just over 36 innings, or 6 innings per start. That is smart on their part because, at 21 years old, it is a long career that lies in front of him and, in a crowded NL East, it doesn’t seem the Nats are going anywhere this season.

The second aspect to look at is the hype and exposure he’s endured so far and will in the future. Every one of his first six starts has been nationally televised, he has been on Letterman, and he is a constant talking point on television and radio broadcasts across the country. To me, he seems seasoned enough with the media and being a star at every level to handle it, but he is only six starts into what is hopefully a long career for him.

Until we can tell for sure what exactly will come of him, enjoy his fastball, if you can see it, and his curve, if you can follow it.

-Dan Martin

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Here’s Tim Dimas’s feel on what the draft outcome will look like this year:

#1 Washington Wizards

John Wall, Kentucky, PG

This should come as no big surprise. John Wall is the consensus number 1 pick by all draft experts. The 6’4″ John Calipari cropped point guard is already the leading candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award. Washington is getting a face of a franchise player and if they keep Gilbert Arenas expect him to slide over to the shoot guard position to fit his scoring ability much more and let Wall run the team at the point guard position.

#2 Philadelphia 76ers

Evan Turner, Ohio State, SG

Lots of talks have been about Derrick Favors going here but the 76ers would be dumb not to take Turner. After last season they need to rebuild and why not do it with the second best player in the draft which is Turner. 6’7″ Turner is a Point Forward. Good hands on the ball and can rebound with the big boys. Andre Iguodola I have a feeling is on his way out of Philly so Turner can step it and possibly be the corner stone of this 76ers franchise.

#3 New Jersey Nets:

DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky, PF

This was a big toss up for myself. Wesley Johnson, Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins all bold well for this spot but I think the Nets go with DeMarcus Cousins. They spent the #11 pick last year to grab Terrence Williams who is a small forward that equal of Johnson and I think Cousins is more NBA ready then Favors and the Nets need ready over waiting after a 12 win season last year. Cousins 6’11” help Kentucky all season long and even though his question of character and work ethic is there I believe he will be better suited for the Nets over Favors.

#4 Minnesota Timberwolves

Wesley Johnson, Syracuse, SF

Best pick here for the T’Wolves. Wes can offer a lot to a team that has Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and Jonny Flynn in the long run. The 6’8″ small forward showed a lot of NBA readiness last year for the Orange and would be a great fit to this young athletic team that still has Ricky Rubio waiting overseas to come and join the team. Rumors have said for the Detroit Pistons to get Al Jefferson from the T’Wolves and if that does happen look for the Wolves to take Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins, who’s ever available at this point.

#5 Sacramento Kings.

Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech, PF

Favors is raw but talented. The Georgia Tech standout would be a nice compliment to last years Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans. Samuel Dalembert who was recently acquired from the 76ers will be a good mentor for Favors on defense. Favors is an athletic and strong big man who has comparisons to Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.

#6 Golden State Warriors

Ekpe Udoh, Baylor, PF

Very long and lean forward with a great set of skills. Blocking shots are one of his fortes. The 6’10” Forward could cause problems in the post for teams in more ways then one. First off his ability to take a step back shot from mid range and if that isn’t there, he can draw defenses away from Stephan Curry leaving the lethal shooter to spot up and knock down 3’s. Solid pick for a rebuilding team.

#7 Detroit Pistons

Ed Davis, North Carolina, PF

The Pistons are left with no big men down low. With Cousins and Favors off the board Ed Davis is their next best pick. Very craft when he gets into the post and has a great offensive game. Needs to get a little bigger to back down other forwards in the post. Very energetic and strong role player. Won’t be a star though.

#8 LA Clippers

Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest, SF

Clippers have their point guard in Baron Davis, shooting guard in Eric Gordan and power forward in last years number 1 pick, Blake Griffin. What they are missing is someone to help run the wings and that is where Aminu comes to play. When it comes to the word athleticism only one word can stand in front of it, freak. Defense is one of the best in the draft. Only knock on Al-Farouq is his ability to create and hit shots.

#9 Utah Jazz

Patrick Patterson, Kentucky, PF

With the uncertainty of soon to be free agent Carlos Boozer, The Jazz need to make a play to replace him. Paul Millsap will be most likely be given the starting role and Patterson can come off the bench and be the Millsap off the bench. Patterson a little small at 6’9″ for the power forward position but with his soft hands, strong post moves and good feel for the offensive game Patterson will be a strong player off the bench. Very high basketball IQ and is a hand in shooter face kind of defender. Will make it very tough for other forwards to get to the basket.

#10 Indiana Pacers

Greg Monroe, Georgetown, PF/C

The Indiana Pacers have a lot of question marks on this team but adding Monroe with Roy Hibbert down low won’t leave anything to worry about in the post. People might disagree and say Hibbert should mean no Monroe but hey the Spurs took Tim Duncan when they had David Robinson already but it worked out. Twin Towers in the middle of the paint, defense does win games last time I checked. Monroe bestows a little athleticism but good feel on the offensive side not only with scoring but distribution of the ball to other players.

There are more picks to be made, decisions needed deciding. One thing is clear in this years NBA Draft. Lots of players can contribute to teams as starters or off the bench.

-Tim Dimas

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Just two weeks ago New York Mets fans were over the top with joy. Their team had swept the Braves and Dodgers and were on a 7 game win streak that included a 9-1 home stand. They went out to Philadelphia to play the Phillies and in the first game they won 9-1. After that the magic was gone from the team and the fans.

The Mets are coming off being swept by The Florida Marlins in a four game series that witnessed Oliver Perez lose his rotation spot, The Mets lose on a walk of ball in the dirt, John Maine throwing 12 straight balls to start the game and Johnathan Niese hurting his hamstring in the final game of the series. Now isn’t that a boat load.

The Mets have a lot of questions that need to be answered. Who are they going to get to fill in Oliver Perez’s spot? When does John Maine lose his? If Jonathan Niese goes on the DL who takes his spot? and that’s just for pitching.

The Mets bats haven’t been that good. David Wright has lost his All-Star MVP stigma. You can bet on Wright to get a strikeout at least once a game, 51 on the season so far. Is it time time for David to exit stage ‘Wright’ or will he bounce back? How about Jose Reyes? Manager Jerry Manuel put him in the 3 spot but that failed. Now he’s back at the top. Is it time for him to exit?

So many questions need answers and The New York Mets seem to have none. They are back to the bottom of the N.L. East and will face The Atlanta Braves for a 3 game series. Last time this situation came up the Mets went on their huge win streak to take the N.L. East. Is that magic going to happen again? You have a better chance of Wright striking out again.

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After a great come from behind victory by The New York Mets last night, The Washington Nationals would make sure that there would be no repeat in today’s game at Citi Field.

Mike Pelfrey took the mound for the Mets going 5.2 innings, 7 hits 4 earned runs, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts. He also went 1-2 at bat with a run batted in. A sub par performance would not be enough for the Mets as Craig Stammen would toss 5 innings also, give up 4 runs and strikeout 2 batters but bringing in 2 runs with his bat and the rest of the Nationals would prevail to a 6-4 win on a bitter cold afternoon.

Francisco Rodriguez would get the loss coming in the ninth inning and give up a 2-run home run to Roger Bernadina who also homered earlier in the game.

Mets pack their bags and head down south these next four days to face The Florida Marlins then head a little up to Atlanta to face the Braves who they swept this year for a two game series.

Mets are now 18-16, 1 game behind the Nationals for 2nd place and 2 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies

-Tim

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This week has been a week to remember for New York Mets fans. From back to back walk-ff home run victorys verse the San Francisco Giants to a six run eighth inning come from behind victory against The Washington Nationals tonight, The Amazin’s have shown fight in their bats.

The first seven innings belonged to The Nationals. Adam Dunn belted a three run home run in the first inning off Johnathan Niese, Ivan Rodriguez added two runs batted in and Ian Desmond added a run batted in as well.

But after the top of the eighth inning the rest of the game belonged to Ike Davis, Rod Barajas and newly called up 27 year old Chris Carter. Bay singles to second (3-4 on the night) David Wright doubles, Bay to third and Wright at second. After a throwing error by Desmond, Bay scores and the score is 6-3 Nationals. Franceour would strike out bring up Rod “Mr. Clutch of 2010” Barajas up to bat and he would smack a double into left scoring Wright and Davis. 6-5 Nationals. Alex Cora would bunt and get to first base safely and Barajas would move to third. Pagan then singles scoring Barajas and Cora would get to second. Insert the 27 year old rookie Chris Carter. Carter rips a double scoring Pagan and giving the Mets a 7-6 lead. Bay would be walked and Pagan would score giving the Mets an 8-6 lead and that would be the final score of the game.

A great game ended by an Ike Davis 2 out 9th inning over the dugout grab, his signature catch, and the Mets would win. Solid bat performance by Bay and Wright who both went 3-4 and 2-4 for Barajas.

The Mets pulled it together tonight to save Niese and save themselves from dropping their fourth straight to the Nationals this season. They are 18-15 now on the season and face Washington tomorrow in a rubber match. Mike Pelfrey will pitch for New York and Craig Stammen for Washington.

-Tim

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