3-8-09: Ultimate Baseball Jersey Collection

Hello again everybody...

I'm back. It's Monday. Need I say more?

Well, in the interest of fleshing out an actual column, I suppose I probably should. Hope your weekend was a solid one. I saw "Watchmen" on Saturday. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it about a 6.5. It was excellent in spots, but a little too gratuitous in certain areas as well. I think if you enjoyed the book, it's definitely worth seeing, just don't get your hopes too high. When they said the book was "unfilmable" they weren't that far off.

I also bought a Wii Fit over the weekend. And yes, I'm out of shape. Oof. But it's a lot of fun, and if you've thought about getting one, I highly recommend it.

What? Get on with the sports already? Okay. Here you go.

The other bit of news from my weekend was confirmation that my latest MLB jersey acquisition is on the way. Which got me thinking: if money were no object, and I could pick a jersey from each of the 30 MLB clubs, which player's jersey would I pick? I'll discuss!

"I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way."
- Franklin P. Adams (1881-1960), American columnist

There's no way Adams could've foreseen "Google", but anyone's who've ever used the search engine knows exactly what he's talking about.

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Several years ago, I got a blue, alternate home Twins jerseys with my name and double-zero on the back. My reasoning being that since I knew I was never getting traded or signing somewhere else as a free agent, getting my name on the jersey made more sense than getting a players name.

Since then, I've had several people tell me that it's a bit arrogant and presumptuous to put my own name on a jersey since I'm not technically part of the team. I'm not sure I agree with them, but I've decided to start getting player jerseys since then.

Last year, I bought a white, home Arizona Diamondbacks jersey with Brandon Webb's name and number on the back. Since I'd adopted the D'backs as my "other favorite team", I felt that I needed to have one of their jerseys.

This year, I decided to start adding jerseys of good, young players to my collection. So in that spirit I purchased a home San Francisco Giants jersey with Tim Lincecum's name and number on the back. Granted, the Giants are a divisional rival of the Diamondbacks, but I don't think the rivalry is so heated that I'm doing my "other favorite team" an injustice. I've always appreciated the Giant's classic home jersey. And now that Satan's spawn no longer roams left field, I think I'm safe getting their jersey.

And the spirit of "youth being served", I've decided to go through all 30 MLB teams and list which player's jersey I'd like and why. The two I've already discussed will serve as my selections for the D'backs and Giants. After that, all players are fair game.

Here's the list, with teams in alphabetical order:

Arizona Diamondbacks: 17 - Brandon Webb, P. see above.

Atlanta Braves: 16 - Brian McCann, C. How can you go wrong with a catcher? Now in his 4th year, McCann is a career .297 hitter with an .859 OPS. Not too shabby for a guy who dons the tools of ignorance daily.

Baltimore Orioles: 21 - Nick Markakis, OF. This 3rd-year veteran was born in Woodstock, GA. Woodstock?! I know it's not the New York version, but you still have to like it! Markakis is a career .299 hitter, with a .851 OPS. And last year he led the league in "times on base".

Boston Red Sox (whom I hate): None. I know this was the one several of you were waiting for. But there's no player in the league that could get me to wear a Rex Sox (whom I hate) jersey. Not going to happen. End of story.

Chicago Cubs: 18 - Geovany Soto, C. Last year's NL Rookie of the Year and another catcher. I love gritty, talented players, and Soto qualifies. Soto's hit .291 in his 171 major league games with a .872 OPS.

Chicago White Sox: None. I don't hate the Whities anywhere near as much as I hate the Red Sox. But I do hate them. And no matter how "slimming" black is, I'm not wearing a White Sox jersey. Period.

Cincinnati Reds: 19 - Joey Votto, 1B. This was a tough one. The Reds have a lot of talented youngsters. Ultimately, it came down to either Votto or Johnny Cueto. But I saw Votto hit a ball off of Jake Peavy Saturday that I'm not sure has landed yet. That sealed it. Votto was in the mix for RoY last year and is a career .300 hitter with a .878 OPS.

Cleveland Indians: 24 - Grady Sizemore, OF. So why don't I hate the Indians as much as the White Sox? Two words: "Major League". There's no way you could see that movie and still hate the Tribe. Not happening. And I'll admit to having a man-crush on Sizemore. This guy's as 5-tool as 5-tool gets. There isn't anything he can't do on a baseball field, and he's a joy to watch. Career numbers: .279 BA, .861 OPS.

Colorado Rockies: 2 - Troy Tulowitski, SS. Tulo hasn't put up the kind of offensive numbers some of the other guys on this list have, but he's as good a glove-guy as you'll find. And speaking of his glove, have you seen the thing he wears? Looks like it got left outside for a winter or two and has been restrung more times than Keith Richards' guitars! That's old school. And old school is good.

Detroit Tigers: 28 - Curtis Granderson, OF. This is stretching my "young player" theme a bit as Granderson's 27 years old. But the truth is that Detroit's one of the older teams in the league. If you can find a better, younger player on this club, more power to you. But I like the way Granderson plays center, and he's a solid lead off guy. Career numbers: .280 BA, .843 OPS.

Florida Marlins: 2 - Hanley Ramirez, SS. This was the runner-up when I made my selection for this year. Had I been more of a fan of the look of a Marlins jersey as opposed to a Giants jersey, I'd have gone with Ramirez. But that teal look has never really appealed to me. Ramirez's game, on the other hand, absolutely appeals to me. The 2006 NL Rookie of the Year has proven to be the real deal, and is the cornerstone for a franchise that competed a lot longer than anyone expected last year. Career numbers: .308 BA, .906 OPS.

Houston Astros: 17 - Lance Berkman, 1B. I had to completely abandon the "young player" bit here. Houston's roster is devoid of young talent, which is a big part of why they've failed to compete recently. Berkman made his debut on July 16, 1999, more importantly known as my 25th birthday. That's, combined with his "hitting machine" status, is good enough to make him my pick. Career numbers: .302 BA, .973 OPS.

Kansas City Royals: 30 - Mike Aviles, SS. On a team with a lot of young talent, it was more difficult to find someone I really liked than I thought. That may be because one of my writing idols, Bill Simmons, has been teasing KC as "this year's Tampa Bay" and that scares the dickens out of me as a Twins fan. Aviles debuted for the Royals last year and hit .354 with an .834 OPS over 102 games. Solid numbers on a below-average team.

Los Angeles Angels: 47 - Howie Kendrick, 2B. On a team stocked with veteran talent, Kendrick flies a little under the radar. But his numbers sure don't. The third-year veteran has hit .302 over his career with a .763 OPS. My goodness is this team going to be good this year (if their pitching holds up).

Los Angeles Dodgers: None. Between the intellectual dishonesty of Joe Torre's book release, the re-signing of Manny Ramirez (my least favorite player now that Bonds isn't playing), and the way this team came back and stole the division title from the Diamondbacks last year, I have no more love for the Dodgers. No matter how classic their uniforms may look, you won't see me in one.

Milwaukee Brewers: 8 - Ryan Braun, OF. Yes, the Brewers are a rival for the Twins, but it's a fun, friendly rivalry. No hatred here. And there's no doubt that Braun's the real deal. The 2007 NL Rookie of the Year has hit .301 with a .938 OPS in his two big league seasons. And for a guy who was supposed to be a 3rd baseman, he plays a solid left field.

Minnesota Twins: 2 - Denard Span, OF. Yes, I have my personalized Twins jersey, but I figured I'd pick a player anyway. And since everybody loves them some Joe Mauer, I'll go a different direction and take Denard. Look, I like Carlos Gomez's energy and speed as much as the next guy, but Span's almost as fast and not nearly as chaotic as GoGo. He hit .294 with a .819 OPS in his debut last year. I like his chances to be the starter in center this year.

New York Mets: 5 - David Wright, 3B. This 3-time All-Star has been in the top 10 in MVP voting the last three years in a row. Toss in a couple of Gold Gloves and a couple of Silver Slugger Awards, and you've got yourself a franchise player. Career numbers: .309 BA, .922 OPS.

New York Yankees: 24 - Robinson Cano, 2B. Yes, Cano had a down year last year. But look at his career numbers: .303 BA and .803 OPS. Fits right in with the other guys on this list doesn't it? The Yanks are going to need Robinson to bounce back this year, especially now that A-Roid's on the shelf for up to 9 weeks. Here's to hoping that his inclusion in my collection is the start of good things!

Oakland Athletics: 15 - Ryan Sweeney, OF. Another team where it's tough to find a lot of young talent. Which is odd since they turn their roster over so frequently. Sweeney played his first full season in the bigs last year and compiled a .286 BA and a .733 OPS. Not stellar, but the best I could find on a squad that's in a division which the Angels own.

Philadelphia Phillies: 8 - Shane Victorino, OF. Victorino's 27, so I'm not sure if he qualifies as "young" talent, but after the way he performed this past off-season, he's my guy. Yes, Cole Hamels would be the obvious pick, but how can I pass up taking a guy from Hawaii for chrissakes?! Plus, he's another one of those guys who plays all out every time he's on the field. I love that. Career numbers: .281 BA, .763 OPS.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 28 - Paul Maholm, P. Talk about a tough pick. Good lord this team is bad. Any starting pitcher that can keep his ERA around 4 pitching for this club? He gets my vote.

San Diego Padres: 23 - Adrian Gonzalez, 1B. Another team lacking in young talent, but fortunately, this pick was easy. Gonzalez killed the D'backs last year every time I saw him. Combined with his solid defense at first base, and that earned him his first All-Star berth last year. Career numbers: .282 BA, .843 OPS.

San Francisco Giants: 55 - Tim Lincecum, P. See above.

Seattle Mariners: 51 - Ichiro Suzuki, OF. Once again, I'm violating the "young talent" bit. And on a team with Felix Hernandez amongst their starters, it's not because there isn't young talent available. No, instead I'm going with Ichiro simply because he's one of my favorite players to watch. Everything he does looks smooth and effortless, and yet he's quickly putting together a convincing Hall of Fame resume. Plus, if the Mariners haven't dealt him by now, he's not going anywhere. Career numbers: .331 BA, .807 OPS.

St. Louis Cardinals: 47 - Ryan Ludwick, OF. Another veteran team. Another "young talent" pushing 30. But after he hit .299 with a .966 OPS last year, and earning his way onto the NL All-Star team for the first time, he's my guy.

Tampa Bay Rays: 14 - David Price, P. Is it dangerous to take the jersey of a guy with only 10 major league appearances, with half of them being in the post season? Probably. But that's just how good this guy looked last year. He was downright dominant in the post-season, single-handedly shutting the door on the Red Sox (whom I hate) in the ALCS. A 1.59 ERA from a rookie in the post-season? Yup. I'll take it. Besides, I'm not wearing the jersey of a Desperate Housewife.

Texas Rangers: 5 - Ian Kinsler, 2B. Josh Hamilton was a great story last year. At least in the first half. But for young talent? I'll take Kinsler. A solid second baseman, Kinsler's averaged .290 over his 3 big league seasons, with an .833 OPS. I might have to take a serious look at getting this one soon, as the Rangers train at the ballpark nearest my parents' house in Arizona.

Toronto Blue Jays: 15 - Alex Rios, OF. Buried behind the Red Sox (whom I hate), the Yankees and now the Rays, players in Toronto tend to get forgotten. See: Halladay, Roy. In terms of young talent, Rios is one of the few that qualifies on the Blue Jays. He's hit .288 with a .793 OPS over the course of his 5 seasons.

Washington Nationals: 11 - Ryan Zimmerman, 3B. The last team on the list is the least talented this side of Pittsburgh. But on a lousy team, Zimmerman stands out. He's hit .283 with an .803 OPS over his 4 big league seasons. The Nats will likely suck again this year, but at least they've got a cornerstone at 3rd.

Wow, that turned out longer than I expected. Hope you had time to digest it all. Think of it as a warm-up for the Sports Take 2009 MLB Preview!

That's all for today. I'm back on Wednesday with more of the wonder you've come to expect and enjoy! That, or whatever I can come up with on two days notice. Until then, thanks for reading!


  1. There you go, folks.

    27 people you can put on your "Will not have as good a year as last year" list, 'cause Dan just jinxed 'em all.

    Too bad he didn't pick any Sox players. :-)