NL East

23 Apr

Well, this is it. “Eastbound & Down”‘s over (EDIT: at least this season…), the semester’s over, and after this post, the blog will be done too. I loved the ending of the show, but we’re just gonna ignore it this week so I can finish out my analysis. I’m ending things where Kenny Powers’ career began the first time around. These are his chances to land among the teams of the National League East.

Atlanta Braves:

Kenny Powers’ original team actually stands a pretty good chance of landing him again. The Braves are expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the division race, but they need a good closer to help prevent an injury to their current pitchers.

Philadelphia Phillies:

With the signing of Johnathan Paplebon, the Phillies gave their bullpen a good anchor. However, they still need a setup man who can clean things up in the eighth inning. This would be an ideal situation for Kenny Powers if he were looking for a short-term contract, but injuries on offense would probably make the Phillies consider waiting to pick Powers up.

Miami Marlins:

The Marlins are an interesting case; their bullpen isn’t exactly bursting with big names, but they’re still expected to contend this season. Powers would probably do well in Miami, but there’s the off-chance that he could block a deal because (in his own head) he would feel like he was “back in Mexico”. You never know with players like that.

Washington Nationals:

KP in DC? It’s more likely than you think! AS Stephen Strasburg continues to improve, the Nationals have begun looking for bargain players to set up around him. Kenny Powers fits that bill perfectly. I can definitely see Powers closing for the Nationals.

New York Mets:

As I’ve mentioned before, the Mets currently employ R.A. Dickey, baseball’s only remaining knuckleballer. Dickey’s a starter, so any attempt to integrate Powers would likely involve coordinating the two pitchers. With them expected to be in the cellar this season, though, it would likely take a big leap of faith for both parties.

Thanks for reading, mofos!

AL East

16 Apr

The show is gone (no spoilers here – I haven’t watched the finale yet) but the blog goes on. Now we take a look at the monster division, the American League East. This one has the highest payrolls and the highest number of teams with prior connections to Kenny Powers.

New York Yankees:

One of two teams that Kenny Powers has played for before, the Yankees had to deal with some anti-Semitic remarks from Powers the last time he was in town. With Mariano Rivera not getting any younger, it might be plausible for the Yankees to give Powers another shot.

Boston Red Sox:

Powers’ other stint in the AL East was spent in Boston, where he was caught using steroids. It remains to be seen whether this will be a rebuilding season or a contending season for the Red Sox, but I doubt that Bobby Valentine would want such a divisive player in the clubhouse after the way the team fractured last season.

Tampa Bay Rays:

The Rays almost had a shot with Kenny Powers two years ago… or so he thought. It’s unclear how much trust Powers would be able to put in Tampa Bay’s front office after being deceived by one of its representatives at the end of the show’s first season. If they can move past this issue, the Rays do have need to shore up their bullpen. Tampa Bay would be where I’d expect Powers to go within the AL East.

Baltimore Orioles:

Orioles fans in the “Eastbound & Down” universe are familiar with Powers as the man who sealed their fate in Game 7 of the World Series several years ago. Time heals all wounds though, and the Orioles are another team with a small chance to contend. I can see the Orioles making a low-budget run at Powers.

Toronto Blue Jays:

An avowed xenophobe “patriot” playing baseball in Canada? I don’t see it happening, but it would be interesting for Powers to have gone from Mexico to Canada. The Blue Jays aren’t expected to make much of an impact this season, so any interest would have to come from Powers himself.

NL Central

5 Apr

Now we take a look at where Kenny Powers might fit in the Central Division of MLB’s National League. (As mentioned before, I moved discussion of the Houston Astros to the AL West because of the MLB realignment.)

St. Louis Cardinals:

With Pujols gone, the Cards are in a position to make some big moves. The bullpen has been cited as an area that the team needs to focus on. Powers would be a good pickup for St. Louis, if only to shore up their starting rotation against fatigue.

Cincinnati Reds:

The Reds had some big bullpen issues in 2011, to the point that some are questioning how they could possibly fix the team this season. I can see management trying to answer this question by picking up Kenny Powers.

Milwaukee Brewers:

Prince Fielder’s departure frees up some contract space for the Brewers. Since the situation is similar to the Cardinals’, it might be up to Powers to decide for a bigger contract in Milwaukee versus more playing time in St. Louis.

Pittsburgh Pirates:

The Pirates… well, they’re the Pirates. They’re a couple years removed from being anything close to “competitive.” I think the front office at this point has to realize that plunking down for players like Powers isn’t worth it when you’re trying to build a youthful base for your team.

Chicago Cubs:

I really like Chicago as a destination for Kenny Powers, but like I said in my AL Central analysis, I think the White Sox are a more logical choice. The Cubs could still be feasible though, depending on how big of a splash Theo Epstein wants to make in his first round of trades and pickups.

AL Central

2 Apr

As we move past Opening Week, we’re a few days away from finding out whether this comeback will work out for Kenny Powers. It’s time to take a look at the Central division of the American League.

Detroit Tigers:

Detroit’s an early division favorite. With Prince Fielder at the plate and Justin Verlander on the mound, the Tigers are in a good position as the season kicks off. Given this, it’s not likely the front office would see the need to make any more noise by signing somebody like Kenny Powers.

Cleveland Indians:

Powers is somewhat superstitious, but he has yet to touch on the citywide Cleveland “sports jinx” in the show. It would be interesting for the team to pick him up; if they were to start contending, he would have an unparallelled shot at redemption. Cleveland’s mid-range payroll makes this a distinct possibility.

Kansas City Royals:

The Royals are the team Powers would pick if he wanted to make an immediate impact in the division. At the same time, this is also the place where the results could vary the most. With such a low payroll and few offseason moves, it’s unclear  how much of a contender Kansas City will be this season.

Chicago White Sox:

Chicago is a very Powers-friendly market, but I think he would be more likely to wind up on the White Sox than the Cubs. With new management in place and some money to work with, it’d be very easy to give Kenny Powers a one-year shot. White Sox fans would just have to get used to having their club’s ridiculous personality reside in the bullpen instead of the manager’s office. It’s possible that Powers would even be easier to deal with than Ozzie Guillen.

Minnesota Twins:

Another quiet season is expected from Minnesota this year. I’d be very surprised to see the Twins even look at Powers without a real chance to contend.

(Knuckle)Ballin’

26 Mar

“Chapter 19” of “Eastbound & Down” ended on something of a plot twist: Kenny Powers, posed with a baseball held between the fingers of his open palm.

Image retrieved from KennyPowersFanClub.com

It appears Powers is looking to master the knuckleball, one of the quirkier pitches in baseball. The pitch’s steep learning curve and softer style are a boon to experienced pitchers who need to update their arsenals.

The knuckleball has a long and storied history, with its roots dating back to the 1800s. There are three knuckleball pitchers currently in the MLB Hall of Fame, but the most notable knuckleballer of the modern era is Tim Wakefield. During his 19-year career, Wakefield amassed 200 wins and more than 3,000 innings pitched. The knuckleball unquestionably helped him last that long; typical delivery speed is around 70 miles per hour in contrast to the 90-100 mph typically expected from a fastball.

Naturally, the knuckleball has its drawbacks, the biggest of which is the fact that it’s essentially a random pitch. The slower speed of the pitch can fool hitters, but the same decrease changes the shape of the air currents around the pitch. This can lead the knuckleball out of the strike zone – or even worse, right down the middle – if it’s thrown even a couple of mph too slow, because you don’t want the wind to act on the ball until the last second. I recall looking forward to when the Rays played Wakefield in his days with the Red Sox, because it always seemed like Tampa Bay had the knuckleball figured out; I now suspect this had to do with Tropicana Field’s lack of natural air currents. 

The randomness of the knuckleball has led to its current reputation as a dead pitch. I was tempted to compare Powers to Wakefield, but I found a much more appropriate subject in R.A. Dickey, who is currently the only active MLB pitcher with a knuckleball. Like Powers, Dickey began as a hard-throwing righty, but he picked up the knuckleball after spending a year out of the majors; he currently plays for the Mets.

The knuckleball is a genius move on Powers’ part. If he can switch up between knuckleballs and fastballs he’ll become a new threat to hitters everywhere. More than anything else I’ve discussed, the knuckleball makes Powers worthy of a look by any MLB team.

NL West

26 Mar

We continue our journey into MLB with the western part of the National League.

San Francisco Giants:

The Giants have built up a strong rotation in the past few years, with Matt Cain’s contract extension as the latest example. They probably aren’t gonna have much need for closers as those guys get older. Also, as another of Kenny Powers’ former teams, the Giants would likely be loath to take him back, especially after the anti-gay remarks he made when he was on the team.

Colorado Rockies:

Even though they aren’t expected to threaten in the division this season, the Rockies could likely benefit from a skilled closer. The front office would probably do well to examine how Kenny performed at Coors Field in the past, though; that thin air can be hell with pitches.

Los Angeles Dodgers:

The sale of the Dodgers creates complications for the team as it looks for new talent. The new ownership group would certainly consider picking up Powers to draw more fans in, but he’d need to prove to them that he could still excite fans the way he used to. I suddenly want to know what Magic Johnson would think of Kenny Powers’ philandering and partying ways.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

The D-Backs love their pitchers (see: Johnson, Randy and Schilling, Curt) but haven’t had anyone of note recently. Powers could change that. The market isn’t too big and Arizona’s on the fringe of the preseason race, so it’s possible they could take a shot at Powers closer to midseason.

San Diego Padres:

Things have been kind of quiet in San Diego’s bullpen the last few seasons. The Padres would be able to advertise themselves as a place where Powers could make an impact while still being able to concentrate on being a good player. Paired against Powers’ ego, though, I’d expect this approach to fall flat.

AL West

21 Mar

As we move toward the endgame of this little venture (and as the series finale draws closer) it’s time to finally start looking at which teams would be good for Kenny Powers. I felt the best place to start would be the West division of the American League…

Texas Rangers: … because this division contains the Rangers. As Powers’ current major-league affiliate, the Rangers have the most realistic chance of picking him up from the minors. It’s important to examine the other factors too, though. As prevously discussed, the Rangers might want to think twice about adding another distraction.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Not sure how much space the Halos have after the Albert Pujols deal this offseason. Money’s obviously the biggest issue with a contract that big, so it really comes down to how desperate Powers is.

Oakland Athletics: The A’s are long removed from the “Moneyball” days, but the ethos of that mentality could very well come into play in the acquisition of Powers. The management would have to decide whether such a polarizing pitcher could maximize ticket sales and still help the team to a playoff berth.

Seattle Mariners: As one of Powers’ former teams, it’s likely the Mariners would harbor some trepidation about re-signing the man who was booed off the mound the last time he was in Seattle. Money certainly wouldn’t be an issue; the Mariners have been “rebuilding” for a good six years.

Houston Astros: I’m including the Astros in the AL West because they’re moving there from the NL Central in 2013. The management is presumably already planning for the move to the less pitcher-friendly American League, so they would be looking ahead. I’d put the Astros down as “spectators” in 2012: watching how Powers performs in the majors, then maybe trying to move in on him if he only got a one-season deal.