Category: Uncategorized

Breakdown of the American League by Division

AL East: With increased offensive production from First Baseman Chris Davis, and the defensive wizard Manny Machado, who is coming back

The defensively gifted 3B could help lead the Orioles to a division title in 2015

The defensively gifted 3B could help lead the Orioles to a division title in 2015

from injury, the Orioles should be the best team in the AL East. Look for them to have around 90 wins this year. The Redsox will also be in play, but will be a more complete team if they acquire another elite starting pitcher via trade, say Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto. The Blue Jays, with the oldest roster in the American League, will likely finish third behind the Red Sox and Orioles. The Blue Jays certainly have some pop with the likes of Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Josh Donaldson. However, their pitching, led by aging stars R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle is lackluster. The front office is hoping that this group of veterans prove wily enough to make a run for the division or one of the two wildcard spots.

AL Central: Baseball analysts have a diverse set of options on who is the best team in this division. While no one seems great, the Twins, under the new leadership of Paul Molitor, are probably the only team without a realistic chance to compete. The Indians with two of the best starters in the game, Corey Kluber Carlos Carrasco are quite intriguing, especially come playoff time. Detroit could be good, but there are a lot of unknowns such as the status and ability of  David Price, and Justin Verlander.  The WhiteSox also have a cast of great players with the indomitable Chris Sale,  the newly acquired Jeff Samardzija, and Jose Abreu.

AL West: Look for the Seattle Mariners or Oakland Athletics to sit atop this division come October. The Mariners have a very solid staff led by the dominant Felix Hernandez, but had the sixth lowest OPS as a team in 2014. Only time will tell if the additions of Justin Ruggiano, Rickie Weeks, and Nelson Cruz prove to be the boost Seattle needs to make the playoffs. The A’s traded away some of their stars from last year, Jeff Samardzija, Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson. However, they did acquire a slate of talented players and should remain competitive in 2015.

Shane Stirling of Cairns, Queensland is an HR Manager and long-time baseball fan . To learn more about his life and career, please visit his professional website.

Shane Stirling’s Baseball Story

I started my baseball journey when I was 13 years of age. This is a journey which continues to this day.

I recall my first day of baseball practice in Cairns at the old Martyn Street baseball grounds (now the current Cairns softball headquarters).

By that age, I had been a keen cricketer but playing baseball with a stump and tennis ball in the front yard of our house with the neighborhood kids piqued my interest in baseball. I had heard whispers through cricket circles that baseball was quite popular or the cricketers as it was played in their off season (Cairns winter) and ensured that the hand eye skills required for cricket were maintained all year round.

So there I was, first day, no idea what to wear, what to do and with a borrowed glove. There were other newbies also there and we all quickly realized that perhaps this would be harder than we first thought.

One of the newbies there for his first day was Cameron Cairncross. My memories of Cameron at the time was this chubby kid with a fair bit of larrikin in him. He and I started throwing together and I still remember the thud into my glove when he wound it up; he had amazing velocity for a guy that age.

Cameron later became the 10th Australian to play Major League baseball Cameron_Cairncross_(2000_Indians)_3in the US; an achievement that is probably misunderstood by many Australians.

Our coach was John Morris a local high school teacher and also a native of Canada. John had married an Australian and even with his slow drawl accent now saw himself as a bit of an aussie. I have fond memories of John and to this day was the best coach I have ever had in any sport.

As to be expected, it did not take John long to see the promise in Cameron, and I still remember him trying to hide his excitement for the diamond in the rough that had been presented to him. Given Cameron’s obvious talent, he was selected as our main pitcher. I put my hand up for catching, as after wicket keeping in cricket, I assumed the transition would be easy. For this I was sadly mistaken.

I now know why most people avoid the thought of wanting to catch. It is uncomfortable, you are wearing a lot of (necessary) protective equipment, you can and will receive many body blows from a baseball and sometimes base runners… But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I simply love the sport, and I love the position of catcher. For me, I get the best view of the game, and you feel as though you are a part of it with the game being centered around your calls.

Now working for The Breakthrough Group, I still play with many guys I grew up playing with, and we also sponsor our team the Breakthrough Bandits. Runners up the last 2 years, we hope this will finally be our year.

Shane Stirling of Cairns, Queensland is an HR Manager and long-time baseball fan . To learn more about his life and career, please visit his professional website.