Monthly Archives: July 2011

Boston Red Sox: Who is on Their Radar? Jimenez to Indians and Trade Deadline Summary

Saturday July 30, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):   With the deadline only a day away, I expect a flurry of moves in the next 24 hours, and the Boston Red Sox are sure to get involved.  With injuries to Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, combined with the inability of John Lackey to get outs, the BoSox have been in on every rumored starting pitcher being moved.  Here’s a look at Boston’s targets, and who they would have to give up in order to consummate a deal.

 

Hiroki Kuroda

The Japanese import could bring a good haul for the LA Dodgers, and it is believed that they are looking for a young catcher or a starting pitcher in return.  I don`t believe the Red Sox would give up Anthony Ranaudo for him, but it is the Red Sox, and their system is fairly stacked.  Kuroda isn`t a top line starter, but could fit in nicely behind Josh Beckett and Jon Lester right now.  In his last 10 starts, Kuroda is 1-8 with a 2.66 ERA, giving up more than three runs in a start only once.  He is on pace to break the 200 inning mark for the first time in his MLB career.

Prospects

I could see the Dodgers wanted a package that could involve Kyle Weiland, who has been at AAA, including a couple of underwhelming starts for the Red Sox.  He has been dominant in AAA, and while his ceiling might not be very high, Weiland could be a piece used to obtain Kuroda.

Former top pick Andrew Miller could be involved as well, as he has shown flashes of the potential that the Tigers saw to draft him 6th overall in the 2006 draft.

 

Jason Vargas (SEA), Aaron Harang (SDP), Jeremy Guthrie (BAL), Erik Bedard (SEA)

Vargas is another pitcher who hasn’t had much luck this year, going 6-9 with a 4.09 ERA.  He too is on pace to break the 200 inning plateau for the first time in his career.  He gives up a lot of fly balls and home runs, so he might not be the best fit for Fenway Park.

Harang has made the most of his move to spacious Petco Park.  In the pitcher’s haven, his ERA is 2.92, as opposed to 4.31 on road games.  Harang in Boston might not be a good fit due to his propensity to give up the long ball, but, whether it is due to the park or not, he has only given up 9 homeruns so far this year.

Playing the last five years in Baltimore will never help your win-loss record, but Guthrie has been a reliable arm for the Orioles over that time.  His career ERA of 4.16 while mostly pitching in the AL East proves that he could be a capable pitcher for the Red Sox.  Although he is 5-14, he has pitched fairly well this year, and could be great addition to the back-end of the Red Sox rotation.

Bedard’s once promising career has been derailed by injury after injury.  He has always possessed tremendous stuff, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy.  In his last ten starts, he has thrown 58 2/3 innings, striking out 64.  Bedard has never amassed 200 innings, and his career high is 196, in 2006.

All of these pitchers are available and the Red Sox are in talks with each of the respective teams.  Many of the prospects mentioned in this article will be in play, as well as Bryce Brentz, a powerful outfielder in high-A.  He needs to cut down on strikeouts but he is a solid right fielder for the future.

 

Reed Johnson

The Cubs` outfielder could bring a spark of energy to the club.  J.D. Drew is on the DL, again, so they do need an outfielder if they want to upgrade over Josh Reddick or Darnell McDonald.  Johnson plays great defense and is hitting the ball pretty well this year, so he could slot into right field well at Fenway.

23-year-old catcher Ryan Lavarnway could be involved in a deal. He is a young catcher that isn`t too far away from the big leagues.  Lavarnway has a lot of power as shown by his 27 home runs already this year.   He is known as a good game caller and a smart catcher.

 

Ubaldo Jimenez 

Ubaldo Jimenez has tremendous upside and is signed to a team-friendly contract through 2014.  The Colorado Rockies are asking for a prospect haul that most teams can’t even match.  At this point, only the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, together with the Red Sox are involved in talks with the Rockies.  Although just 6-9 this year with a 4.20 ERA, he has made some great strides in the last couple of months.  In his last 10 starts, he is 5-4 with 3.47 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings.  Jimenez has lowered his ERA almost a full run during that time.  Although some teams worry about his delivery, the big righty has been durable, throwing at least 198 innings in the last three years, and is on pace to break that mark again this year.

Prospects

Anthony Ranaudo, a supplemental 1st round pick in 2010 started this season in A-ball, but could quickly shoot up the system in Colorado if moved.  He possesses three above average pitcher and has front of the rotation stuff.  He has good control and has great makeup and poise.

Will Middlebrooks is a prototypical third basemen with a good glove.  He hits for average, and for power, evidenced by his 17 home runs so far this season.  He also has 7 stolen bases.  He possesses a good baseball IQ and he should have a long career in the big leagues.

Lars Anderson was once considered the top bat in the Red Sox system, and with Adrian Gonzalez in the mix, there doesn`t seem to be a spot for Anderson.  He has good vision at the plate, sees a lot of pitches, and has gap power.  As he continues to fill out, he will get stronger.  I expect 20 home runs and 30 doubles a year out of Anderson when he finally does make it to the Show.

 

I think that the Red Sox win the Ubaldo Jimenez sweepstakes, sending uber-prospects Ranaudo, Middlebrooks, Anderson and maybe one or two players to be named later.  This gives the Red Sox a fearsome top three starters in Beckett, Lester and Jimenez.  If Buchholz comes back healthy, they have an incredible rotation for years to come.  Reed Johnson is also a great fit for the team, and I see them making a move for him.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  Please feel free to leave comments and to welcome Rob aboard.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

 

Editor’s Notes and Trade Deadline Summary:

A great article by our intern Rob Bland.  As the trade deadline has shown already, as much as we think we can predict what will happen- surprises will always occur.  Today was the last day before the non-waiver trade deadline, Sunday July 31st.  Here is a rundown of all the trades that took place today in Major League Baseball:

Rich Harden (A’s) for Lars Anderson and Player to be Named Later (Red Sox):  Yet to be announced.  This deal has not yet been finalized and may fall through.  Likely Billy Beane is pushing strong for this one.  Boston gets Harden, a talented but very injury prone pitcher that cannot be counted on.  Oakland would get a top young hitting prospect in Anderson and a PTBNL.  Oakland wins if this one does happen, stay tuned.

Ubaldo Jimenez (Rockies) for Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner and Matt McBride (Indians):  What a difference a year makes.  The Indians are going for it and have beefed up their rotation with the addition of Jimenez.  When on his game, Ubaldo is one of the best in baseball.  Further, Ubaldo continues to be under team control, so the Indians don’t simply acquire a summer rental here.  The keys to this deal for the Rockies are Pomeranz and White.  Considered to be the Indians two best pitching prospects, the Rockies add to their farm while losing their ace.  While Pomeranz is considered highly in baseball circles, I would have expected to see the Rockies get more major league ready talent.  Considering that they were supposed to get Jesus Montero and Ivan Nova from the Yankees or Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and/or Homer Bailey from the Reds, I give the Indians the edge on this deal.  Ace pitchers do not grow on trees and the Indians got one without giving up any of their major league talent or some of their other finer prospects, including Nick Weglarz.  Competing with the big boys, the Indians get the prize of the trade deadline and likely a division title as well.

Derek Lee (Orioles) for Aaron Baker (Pirates):  The Pirates are going for it and while Lee is an aging first baseman, he is an upgrade offensively over incumbent Lyle Overbay.  Baker is a Class A first baseman that is not considered a top prospect.  This trade is a draw, as the Pirates beef up for their playoff run and the Orioles auction off an impending free agent to stock their system.

Orlando Cabrera (Indians) for Thomas Neal (Giants):  This deal came out of left field, as the Indians are still contending and were expected to hold onto Cabrera.  With many young infielders on their roster, the Indians were prepared to sacrifice their utility man for one of the Giants higher rated prospect bats.  Speaking to Neal on several occasions, he is one of the nicer young men you will ever want to meet in the game.  Considered a great tools player, both offensively and defensively, the Indians have added another piece to their offensive puzzle while sacrificing a veteran that was expandable.  The Giants, with injury and offensive woes, took a chance on Cabrera, a good luck charm for each of his respective teams in the postseason.  While Neal was a big price to pay, the Giants are in win-now mode.  A draw, as both teams will away happy from this exchange.

Koji Uehara (Orioles) for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis (Rangers):  This is a good old-fashioned baseball trade.  The Rangers pick up a veteran reliever, who is enjoying his finest campaign in the big leagues and could be a setup man or closer.  The Orioles continue to stockpile prospects and add a starter and first baseman to their mix.  Davis has one of the most explosive bats in the game when he gets hot and the Orioles could have their cleanup hitter for the next 5-7 years.  Hunter should be a good #3 or #4 starter for the team.  A draw as both teams achieve their respective goals in this deal.

Jason Marquis (Nationals) for Zach Walters (Diamondbacks):  I am a fan of what the Diamondbacks are doing in Arizona, but this trade doesn’t work for me.  Marquis will pitch in Arizona, but I don’t see him being the effective starter the team needs to fight the Giants for a playoff berth.  Walters is a prospect shortstop who could have been Stephen Drew‘s replacement one day when he left the team.  Walters has a good offensive bat and was not worth the price of Marquis.  Advantage Washington for adding another prospect to its growing farm while dumping a veteran pitcher that had no place on their roster.

Mike Aviles (Royals) for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz (Red Sox):  The Red Sox get some sort of infield insurance, which was unnecessary in my estimation with both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie on the roster.  If Lowrie is out beyond early August as projected, then this deal makes sense.  Otherwise, to give up two decent prospects for a player who has struggled this season and is unlikely to hit much in Boston does not equate for me.  Advantage Royals for dumping a player who did not fit on the team and continuing to stock their system.

Jerry Hairston Jr. (Nationals) for Erik Komatsu (Brewers):  The Brewers get depth for their playoff run and the Nationals get a marginal prospect back.  A draw.

Doug Fister and David Pauley (Mariners) for Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and a PTBNL (Tigers):  For a Tigers team that was considered early in the day to be in the hunt for Ubaldo Jimenez, this one is a bit of a let down.  Fister will be a #4 or #5 starter for the Tigers, good but not great.  Pauley was having an incredible season for the Mariners in their pen and should do well in Comerica.  Wells will likely slot immediately into the Mariners outfield and the rest of the players are prospects to their stock their farm.  While I’m not excited about what Detroit received, I am equally not impressed by what they gave up.  Call this one a draw.  Middle of the road players for players at this point.

Denard Span (Twins) for Drew Storen and ? (Nationals): Yet to be announced.  This one is a real head scratcher for me.  I consider Span a good, but not great outfielder.  This trade is not completed although many outlets are reporting that this deal will get done.  The Nationals would give up their young closer if this deal happens and considerably weaken their bullpen.  Span, while playing a strong centerfield is not the offensive bat the Nationals are looking for.  After taking the Twins to the cleaners a year ago in trading Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos, this trade would be payback for the Twins.  If Storen is part of this deal, advantage Twins.  If the Nationals hang on to their closer, consider it a draw.

Rafael Furcal and cash (Dodgers) for an unknown player (Cardinals):  Yet to be announced.  With Dee Gordon in the minors and money woes being an issue, this trade for the Dodgers is about getting younger and saving money in the process.  The Cardinals are pushing for a playoff spot and if healthy, Furcal should give the team a spark offensively.  Personally, I would not trust Furcal based on his injury history.  It also remains to be seen which player the Cardinals get back.  But overall, without all the specifics, if the Dodgers can unload Furcal and have the Cardinals pick up most of his contract, I will label this trade a Dodgers win.

Ryan Ludwick (Padres) for an unknown player (Indians):  Yet to be announced.  The Indians are looking to make a strong playoff run and former Indian Luckwick would fit well in their offense this year.  It remains to be seen what the Indians have to give up, but for a player in as strong demand as Ludwick, as long as it is not too much, give the edge to the Indians.

 

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Hunter Pence to the Phillies: Breaking Down the Trade

Friday July 29, 2011

 

MLB reports:  The past week in Houston has seen Hunter Pence rumors flying fast and furious.  Analysts pegged Pence to be headed to many destinations, ranging from Boston, Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.  As early as this morning it appeared that there was maybe a 30% chance of the Astros getting a deal done.  The Phillies were seen as the favorites, having offered a package of prospects to the Astros including Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart.  With the Phillies offer being rejected, word had Philadelphia out of the Pence sweepstakes.  With Domonic Brown apparently sought by the Astros, it was unclear if a fit existed between the teams to get a deal done.  With the Braves apparently unwilling to trade any of their top pitching prospects, including Mike Minor and Julio Teheran, there appeared to be a good chance that Hunter Pence would stay in Houston as the face of the franchise.  That all changed this evening and as the news continued to spread quickly, Hunter Pence as of this evening is officially a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.  The cost?  Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid and a player to be named later.  The Phillies also get $1 million from the Astros to cover salary.

 

What the Phillies Receive:

Along with the $1 million as mentioned, the Phillies get Hunter Pence, one of the brightest young outfielders in the game.  The 28-year old Pence was a 2nd round pick of the Astros in 2004.  Pence made his MLB debut in 2007 and has been a consistent performer for the Astros ever since, with exactly 25 home runs per year from 2008-2010.  The right-handed outfielder finished third in NL ROY voting in 2007 and was an All-Star in 2009 and this past season.  Although his home run totals are down this year, Pence has displayed some of his strongest numbers this season.  Along with his .309 AVG, Pence has a .828 OPS.  The Phillies in need of a right-handed bat in their lineup jumped on Pence when given the chance.

The Phillies at 66-39 currently have the best record in baseball.  With the Braves 5.0 GB, the Phillies could not afford to let a division crown slip through their fingers.  With one of the deepest and best rotations in baseball history, Philadelphia is in win-now mode and anything less than a World Series championship will be considered a failure.  With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt starting for the team, the Phillies definitely look and feel like a strong contender.  From there, the team has its offense paced by Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.  With Hunter Pence on board, the Phillies all of a sudden have a more balanced offense and become that much more dangerous.  The outfield with Pence has become a little crowded, with Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Domonic Brown, Ben Francisco, Ross Gload and John Mayberry.  But too much talent can be a good problem to have and the Phillies have made themselves into a stronger contender by acquiring Hunter Pence.  In the Phillies lineup and ballpark, the sky is the limit as far as the numbers Pence can reach.  He is also under team control for two more seasons as an added bonus for a team that is trying to maintain continuity in contending for years to come in the NL East.

 

What the Astros Receive:

I was calling Jonathan Singleton “Ryan Howard Jr.” during his time in the Phillies organization.  Watching him play, Singleton has one of the sweetest strokes in the minors and has the potential to be a big time masher when finally getting the call to play in the bigs.  The 19-year old Singleton was an 8th round pick of the Phillies back in the 2009 draft.  That is what you call great scouting.  Considered one of the best, if not the best prospect bat in the Phillies organization, Singleton was drafted as a first baseman but later moved to the outfield with Howard standing in his way.  With the Astros playing Brett Wallace at first, its likely Singleton’s stay in the outfield is a permanent one.  Playing in high A ball this season, Singleton was showing that his game was taking time to develop.  Singleton at the time of the trade was hitting .282 with an outstanding .386 OPS.  While the power numbers are down, with 11 home runs and .411 SLG, it is key to remember that Singleton is young and will take time to develop as a hitter.  The Phillies were very happy with him in their system and the Astros had to work diligently to get the Phillies to part with him.  The Astros farm system instantly shot up with the acquisition of Singleton.  Combined with Wallace he should pace the Astros offense for years once he gets the call one day.

Jarred Cosart is a 21-year old pitcher who is also playing high A-ball in the Phillies organization.  Another draft steal, Cosart was drafted all the way in the 38th round in 2008.  Cosart so far in his career has pitched fairly well, with a lifetime 3.67 ERA and 1.159 WHIP.  Standing 6’3″, the right-handed Cosart was highly considered as well in the Phillies organization.  With the Astros sitting at 35-71, by far the worst record in baseball and new ownership coming in, the Astros had no choice but to continue to tear down their team and start over.  With Hunter Pence far and away their most desired and sought after bargaining chip, the Astros had no choice but to move him and continue to stock their farm.

In addition to a player to be named later, the Astros also received today Josh Zeid, a 6’5″ right-handed pitcher who has started and worked out of the pen throughout his Phillies minor league career.  A 10th round pick in the 2009 draft, Zeid is again a late round gem discovered by the Phillies’ incredible scouting staff.  The 24-year old Zeid excelled in his first two seasons but hit a road bump this year in AA.  With a 5.65 ERA and 1.414 WHIP, Zeid had a down year in 2011 and clearly has ways to go before coming to the majors.  But for a pitching staff in need of pitching depth, Zeid becomes another arm in Houston.

 

Verdict:

If we go on the measure that the team with the best player wins the trade, we have to give this one to the Phillies.  They received Hunter Pence, an All-Star outfielder in the prime of his career, under control for two more seasons.  In return, the Phillies gave up three players that were all late round picks for the team and a player to be named later.  Jonathan Singleton will be a star in my mind one day, no question.  But he is still a very young player playing in the lower ranks of the minor leagues and has a long way to go before coming to the majors.  That is the funny thing about prospects: their future can seem so bright, but between injuries, confidence and the ability they display by their play, it is quite often a gamble.  The Astros do well in this trade if Singleton becomes a number or three or four hitter in the majors and turns into the home run hitter that he is projected to be.  Cosart and Zeid are arms that may turn out to be great or average.  The Astros may get two additions to their rotation one day, or perhaps just two more middle relief arms in their pen.  As difficult as it is to project prospects, pitchers are the toughest of the bunch as they are more likely to face injuries and wear and tear on their arms compared to any other position players.

For a team in the basement of major league baseball, the Houston Astros needed to rebuild.  But to trade the last star player on their team for one solid prospect and two uncertain arms was not necessarily the route I would have taken.  But this trade was as much financially driven as it was about talent.  The Astros are about to be sold and the new owner already ordered a massive payroll cut.  With Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez still on the team, the Astros most tradeable player was Hunter Pence.  Considering that the Blue Jays got Colby Rasmus for three middle relief arms essentially, the Astros went young and with more upside in this trade.  Personally, I think very highly of Singleton having watched him play in the past.  As one of the best young hitters in the minors, the Astros got themselves likely a future superstar.  But the key word is likely.  For what the Astros received back in potential, they gave up in certainty.  Hunter Pence is a current star player that will fit immediately in the Phillies lineup with no cost off the team’s major league or AAA rosters.  Until one or more of the prospects the Phillies receive produce at the major league level, which could be years away, the winner of this trade is the Philadelphia Phillies.  Our preseason pick to win the World Series just got that much stronger.  The rest of baseball has taken notice and competing teams will need to beef up their rosters over the next two days if they hope to have a shot of catching the Phillies in the postseason.

 

 

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B.J. Upton: Rays’ OF Trade Destinations and Recap of Beltran Trade to the Giants

Thursday July 28, 2011

 

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):  Trade Deadline.  More speculation.  Teams out of the playoff race sending their valuable veterans to contending teams for prospects.  This is a time of year that baseball journalists make a living out of contemplating where there is a fit.  The Tampa Bay Rays have quite a decision to make as to what to do with the frustrating yet ultra-talented Melvin “BJ” Upton.  Upton was the 2ndoverall pick in the 2002 MLB draft, and quickly rose through the ranks with the Rays.  In his first full season in 2007, he belted 24 home runs and stole 22 bases while maintaining an OPS of .894.  Every season since that breakout year, his BABIP has dropped, and he has been unable to replicate the type of power he previously displayed.  Upton is a good fielder in center field and a good base runner, with the ability to steal 30-40 bases a year.  This year, Upton has struggled at the Trop, where he is hitting .171/.250/.312/.562.  On the road, the numbers are much better at .284/.364/.481/.845.

The Rays would be wise to move B.J. Upton now as they could net a tremendous return from a team who may be desperate to make a push for the playoffs.  There have been close to a dozen teams who have at least called to check in on GM Andrew Friedman’s asking price.

 

Here are five teams who would be wise to make a big push for the outfielder:

San  Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are looking to repeat as World Series Champs and look poised to make the postseason, even with one of the worst offenses in baseball.  They do have RHP Zach Wheeler ranked as MLB.com’s preseason #33 prospect.  The 2009 1st rounder has done very well this year in the California League, but does need to refine command.  Offering Wheeler would probably force the Rays to make the deal, however, the Giants seem to be looking at Carlos Beltran and Colby Rasmus as their main targets.** (NOTE: Since preparing this article, Rasmus has been traded to the Jays and Beltran appears to be on the move to San Francisco.  It is a likely safe bet that Upton is not headed anytime soon to San Francisco.)

 

Atlanta Braves
With none of their regular outfielders hitting over .234, the Braves are getting pretty desperate for help.  Even though they are currently three games up in the wild card race in the National League, they need to bolster their line-up in order to do some damage in the playoffs.  The Braves have a ton of pitching prospects to get the deal done.   Arodys Vizcaino is one of these top prospects, who has shot up to AAA from A-ball this season.  With great command and a plus fastball and curve, Vizcaino could be used to bring Upton to Atlanta.

 

Philadelphia Phillies
With the aging Raul Ibanez and youngster Dom Brown struggling to hit in the corner outfield spots, Upton could be ushered in to fill one of those spots.  Incumbent Shane Victorino likely wouldn’t be moved from center, but could shift to left for Upton.  I could actually see the Phillies going with a young athletic outfield of Victorino, Upton and Brown.  Ibanez then becomes a decent weapon off the bench.  Still only 19 years old, Jonathan Singleton has drawn a lot of interest from other teams.  The Phillies have stated they will not move Singleton for Beltran, but I could see it happening with Upton.  Singleton has an advanced approach at the plate, and as he matures, will surely hit for power.

 

Cleveland Indians
With Grady Sizemore seemingly always on the disabled list, Cleveland needs to shore up the center of their outfield.  Michael Brantley has performed admirably, however if they really want to contend in the shaky AL Central, they need a difference maker.  Shin Soo Choo has underperformed this year and with the addition of Upton, I can see him being able to turn his season around.  Joe Gardner, a right-handed pitching prospect could be moved in this deal.  Gardner is an extreme groundball pitcher that needs work on secondary pitches, but along with Cord Phelps, a 2B/3B who played 19 games with the Indians this year, a deal could be struck. 

 

Pitsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ string of losing seasons could soon be over, and they’re in the hunt for the NL Central crown.  Only a game back, they may make a push for a complement to Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.  With Jose Tabata struggling and spending time in AAA, Upton to play right field for the Pirates could be a great idea.  Starling Marte, a speedy outfielder who may remind some a bit of Upton, could be dangled with an arm such as Colton Cain, a lefty who can throw in the mid 90s but needs work on his secondary stuff.

 

The most likely spot for Upton to land is Philadelphia.  With the package that Philly could put together to obtain him, they are capable of pulling the trigger.  If the Pirates do make a move, and don’t make the playoffs, they risk possibly setting the organization back again, as rushing their success could cause a tremendous fallout.  Slow and steady usually wins the race.  Hopefully the Pirates remember that. 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  Please feel free to leave comments and to welcome Rob aboard.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

 

 

Editor’s Note:  The Giants acquisition of Carlos Beltran looks to be complete.  As proposed last week on the Reports, Carlos Beltran is on the move from the Mets to the Giants in exchange for top Giants pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.  The trade simply needs a rubber stamp, as Beltran needs to go through the formality of waiving his no-trade clause.  His agent, Scott Boras, worked diligently to land Beltran with a NL contending team and did not disappoint with the trade to San Francisco.  The 21-year old Wheeler was the 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft.  The Giants gave up the top pitcher in their system, no doubt.  But with a major league rotation consisting of Matt Cain, Tim LincecumMadison Bumgarner, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Jonathan Sanchez on the mend, the Giants could afford to part with pitching to acquire hitting.  The Mets are also sending $4 million dollars of salary relief to the Giants as further consideration in obtaining a top prospect back.  Expect Beltran to be the middle-of-the-order slugger the Giants so desperately crave, especially with top hitting catcher Buster Posey out for the year.  I can see Beltran carrying the Giants into the playoffs and advancing quite far, given his previous playoffs heroics and incentive to land one more big free agency contract in the offseason.  Beltran is also likely to re-sign with the Giants, so this is a win-win all around.  The Giants get run production this year and in possible future years and the Mets add a much needed building block for their future which just got brighter.

Colby Rasmus and Mark Teahen to Jays, Jason Frasor and Zack Stewart to White Sox, Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel to Cardinals

Wednesday July 27, 2011

 

MLB reports:  We first discussed a Colby Rasmus trade to Toronto about a week ago here on the Reports.  The trade as we proposed would have included Rasmus to the Jays and Travis Snider and Jason Frasor to the Cardinals.  It looks like we got half of the players right, as a Rasmus to Jays deal is complete and ready to be announced.  However, in typical Alex Anthopoulos fashion, the trade is a 3-way deal.  Going to the Jays is pitcher Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen in return for reliever Jason Frasor and pitcher Zack Stewart to the White Sox.  The Jays are then flipping Jackson, outfielder Corey Patterson and relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynskias well as three players to be named later or cash to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus, relievers P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet and Trever Miller.  From there, Miller may be on the move to the White Sox to complete the Jackson swap.

 

Here is how the trade breaks down team by team:

 

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Kenny Williams can never sit on his hands come trade deadline time.  As hard as he may try, Williams loves to tinker with his team and this year is no different.  Speculation had Williams eyeing Rasmus for himself.  But with the need to maintain a strong bullpen, it appears that the White Sox are adding Frasor while keeping Matt Thornton.  As the Sox are also deep in the rotation and Jackson was essentially redundant for a team that is unlikely to make the playoffs.  Frasor is having a solid year, with a 2.98 ERA and 1.252 WHIP.  The White Sox may choose to hold onto him or let him go and receive compensation as a type “B” free agent.  Teahen, at one more year and $5.5 million left in salary was an expensive backup at best.   Zack Stewart, one of the Jays better pitching prospects, is currently at 24-year old AA starter with a 4.20 ERA and 1.410 WHIP.  Stewart, who came to Toronto in a package for Scott Rolen, showed very solid numbers until this year, with a lifetime 3.05 ERA in his minor league career with a 1.343 WHIP over four seasons.  The White Sox wanted to stock up their system and Stewart should be a bright addition.

VERDICT:  White Sox win their end of the deal.  Although the addition of Colby Rasmus would have been nice, he was likely a luxury that the team could not afford.  The White Sox end up freeing salary, receiving a useful reliever that could turn into a draft pick and a prospect starting pitcher in a system screaming for prospects, in exchange for two spare parts from their team.  They may even get Trever Miller to boot.   

 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Alex Anthopoulos, the Jays wheeling and dealing GM, is quickly becoming the master of the 3-way trade.  AA’s first big move was trading Roy Halladay as part a of a three-way move with the Phillies and Mariners, with the Oakland A’s joining in shortly after in the Michael Taylor and Brett Wallace swap.  The Houston Astros then traded Roy Oswalt that summer to the Philadelphia Phillies for a package including Anthony Gose, who was then flipped to Toronto for Wallace.  Vernon Wells then this offseason  went to the Angels and a couple of days later the Rangers were involved in the Mike Napoli for Frank Francisco trade.  AA is now back in a big way.  With the MLB non-waiver trade deadline a mere four days away, AA has shocked the slow-moving trade market with the biggest swap of the season.  Toronto parts with Jason Frasor to Chicago along with Zack Stewart and then move recently acquired Edwin Jackson with relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski, as well as outfielder Corey Patterson and three players to be named later or cash  to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus, as well as relievers P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet and Trever Miller.  Mark Teahen then stays in Toronto from Chicago as a backup infielder.

Breaking down the deal for Toronto, they move three middle relievers in Dotel, Rzepczynski  and Frasor.  Dotel and Frasor could have either stayed in Toronto next year or been type “B” free agents with compensation picks coming back.  Rzepczynski, a former starter has been steady in the Jays pen this season but does not project to be more than a middle reliever.   With the Jays having such strong starting pitching at the majors and minor league levels, Jackson was a pitcher who actually would not have been able to crack the Jays rotation.  Teahen, whose last decent season in the majors was 2007, is another Juan Rivera salary dump pickup for the Jays who could hang around for season or be cut loose with salary eaten.  At the end of the day, the Jays at most have traded away three middle relievers/draft picks, a prospect in Zack Stewart to the White Sox and about $5.5 million in salary to acquire Colby Rasmus.  With the logjam in the outfield, Corey Patterson was expandable.  We are not sure yet who are the three players to be named later but apparently the Jays may move cash to the Cardinals instead.  The three relievers received by the Jays, Walters, Tallet and Miller are all spare parts at best, with Miller apparently on his way to the White Sox.  Tallet though enjoyed his best years in Toronto and a Jays reunion may give his numbers a boost.

How good is Colby Rasmus?  Best prospect in baseball good before getting the call to the majors.  A first round pick of the Cardinals in 2005, the 24-year old Rasmus has not seen eye-to-eye with manager Tony LaRussa for some time and a change of scenery was in order.  Once he realizes his potential, Rasmus has Gold Glove and Silver Slugger potential.  He is really that good.  Under team control for another three seasons, Rasmus gives the Jays the center fielder they have desired for so long and a top of the order bat.  Rasmus will perfectly slide into the second spot of the batting order and give the Jays power, speed and the ability to get on base. 

VERDICT:  If the measure of a trade is by the team receiving the best player available, then the Jays win this trade overall hands down.  They have acquired Colby Rasmus, one of the best young outfielders in the game by giving up essentially middle relievers, a prospect starting pitcher and taking on salary.  While Zack Stewart may develop one day into a solid number 2 or 3 starter, for a team that is filled with pitching prospects, Stewart was an arm that the team could afford to move.  AA could actually get arrested for stealing Rasmus from the Cardinals.  This is what you call buying low at the right time.  The Jays should thank LaRussa for his recent comments that Rasmus was not listening to the Cardinals coaching staff.  Playing for John Farrell, with Jose Bautista as a teammate and Cito Gaston as a Jays advisor, Rasmus should be able to quickly realize his potential in Toronto.  Even with the trade of three of their middle relievers, the Jays are still left with Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch in the pen with more call-ups available at AAA.  With the Jays bullpen blowing saves at an alarming rate this year, moving some of the relievers for a star outfielder is a no-brainer.  This trade will also increase the Heath Bell to Toronto rumors, as the Jays continue to pursue the Padres star closer.

 

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

There aren’t many positives to say here.  The Cardinals if they make this move, would be trading away one of their best players for not so magic beans.  The 27-year old Jackson, while filled with potential has never performed fully to his capabilities at the major league level.  Now on his sixth major league team and eligible for free agency at the end of the season with Scott Boras as his agent, the Cardinals will need to overpay to retain his services.  With a 3.92 ERA and 1.422 WHIP on the season, Jackson is as middle-of-the-road as they come.  The Cardinals are hoping that Dave Duncan can work his magic but with less than half a season left, there may only be so much that their pitching coach can do.  The 37-year old Dotel has also been steady this season, sitting at a 3.68 ERA and solid 1.091 WHIP.  The team will also have an option to bring Dotel back next year.  Rzepczynski at 25-years of age broke out this year with a 2.97 ERA and 1.093 ERA.  He remains under team control for four more seasons.   Good numbers, but not enough in my estimation.  For a player of the caliber of Colby Rasmus, I would have expected the Cardinals to receive a top starter and closer back.  Rather, the Cardinals are esentiallly receiving a number four or five starter and two middle relievers.  For a team in dire need of pitching, I would have expected a much greater return.  Corey Patterson is at best a fourth oufielder for the Cardinals and the trio of relievers they sent to Toronto, Miller, Tallet and Walters are of little consequence.

Verdict:  GM John Mozeliak and manager Tony LaRussa must really dislike Colby Rasmus to be giving him away in this fashion.  After both Rasmus and his dad have spoken out by the team in recent years, the LaRussa comments the other day likely sealed the deal.  As the team likely does not want to face Rasmus as an opponent, a move to the American League makes sense.  One would think that other teams, including the Angels, Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers could have offered more.  But it appears that Jays GM Alex Anthopolous was in the right place at the right time and is on the verge of acquiring the Cardinals’ outfielder.  The Cardinals are the big losers in this trade and it is not even close.  In the  event that both Dotel and Jackson are type “B” free agents and leave St. Louis at the end of the season, the Cardinals will be left with two months worth of rental players, a middle reliever and two draft picks as compensation.  That is all they will have to show for trading away one of the best young hitters in the game.  Considering the prospects the Tampa Bay Rays have in their system, if Toronto can pull this swap off, it will be a loss felt in St. Louis for many years to come.

 

 

 

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Jonny Gomes Traded to the Nationals and Yonder Alonso Called Up by Reds

Tuesday July 26, 2011

MLB reports:  The trades are trickling in very slowly thus far as the MLB trade deadline approaches.  First Wilson Betemit was traded last week to the Tigers by the Royals.  Now, Jonny Gomes is off to Washington with cash in exchange for two minor leaguers.  Of most significance is the Gomes move allowing the Reds to call up super prospect Yonder Alonso.  The question is whether the Reds are showcasing their rookie outfielder in a potential blockbuster trade or have called him for good to man left field for the next decade in Cincinnati.

Gomes was the darling of the Reds faithful the past two seasons.  He slugged 20 home runs in 2009, playing in only 98 games.  He followed up with an equally strong campaign last year, blasting 18 home runs with 86 RBIs and 77 runs scored.  The Red had signed Gomes after the 2009 season to a 2-year, $2.55 million contract which looked like a bargain going into it this season.  The 2011 season however, has not been kind to Gomes.  Entering play today, Gomes was batting a paltry .211, with a .336 OBP and .399 SLG.  After receiving every day playing time to start the year, Gomes was relegated to part-time duty as the season progressed.  A change in scenery was in order and with prospect outfielder Yonder Alonso on the horizon, roster space needed to be opened up.

Gomes is now off to Washington to play out the string.  The Nationals, in dire need of an offensive boost, took a chance on the 30-year old Gomes in the hope that he will be able to reclaim some of his past magic with Washington.  The Nationals did not hurt themselves, as Gomes comes at a very reasonable salary which will be subsidized by the Reds and cost the team only two fringe prospects.  Plus as a potential type “B” free agent at the end of the year, the Nationals would receive a compensation draft pick for Gomes if he is offered arbitration by the team and does not accept.  Given Gomes’ offensive potential, it was a low-risk and high-reward move for a team that needed to send a message to its fans that it was serious about contending.  Even though the team is out of the penant race this season, the Nationals needed to remain competitive through September to send the right message to its fanbase.  Jonny Gomes is a step in the right direction in that respect.

The prospects headed to the Reds are pitcher Christopher Manno and outfielder Bill Rhinehart.  Manno, a 38th round pick of the Nationals back in 2009 and then again in the 26th round in 2010 has shined since joining the organization.  The 22-year old Manno, a 6’3″ left-handed pitcher, has a 1.47 ERA over 2 seasons in the lower minors, with 13 saves, only 32 hits given up in 61.1 IP and 25/98 BB/K.  Rhinehart, 26-years of age, was drafted in the 11th round in 2007.  Having made it all the way to AAA in 2010, Rhinehart was playing this season in AA.  Up to the time of this trade yesterday, Rhinehart was enjoying his finest professional season to-date.   Hitting .283 with 21 home runs, 59 RBIs and .963 OPS, Rhinehart was exhibiting great pop in his bat.  But given that neither Manno nor Rhinehart are established major league players and are fringe prospects at best at this point in their careers, the Nationals have to be considered the winner of this trade.  They acquired an established major leaguer without giving up any of their top prospects.

From the Reds’ perspective, the bigger corresponding move is the recall of Yonder Alonso.  With his .296 AVG in AAA with 12 homer runs and .860 OPS, Alonso had little left to prove in the minors.  Scouts have never questioned his bat, as he has displayed the rare combination of power and patience from a very young age, far advanced for his years.  The only knock is his defense, as Alonso is a converted outfielder after having been blocked at first base by perennial MVP candidate Joey Votto.  But all the reports that we have seen is that Alonso has progressed well in learning the outfield to the point that he is considered adequate.  Although he is no danger of ever winning a gold glove, Alonso’s bat more than compensates for any defensive shortcomings.  The debate for the next five days will be whether Alonso is remaining with the Reds or being shipped in a blockbuster.  My gut is that he is staying put.

The two biggest names being linked to the Reds in trade talks is Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies and James Shields of the Rays.  Either player would cost a substantial package in return, including possibly Homer Bailey, Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco, Yasmani Grandal and Yonder Alonso.  The package that I have read for both players would be centered around Alonso and 1-2 more top prospects in the Reds’ organization.  From all indications, the Reds are in on the two superstar hurlers but are attempting to hold onto their top prospects if possible.  In a perfect world for the Reds, they would be able to land Jimenez while only giving up Bailey and Grandal.  But the Rockies, like the Rays, will demand a package that includes Alonso and/or Mesoraco.  A deep price to pay talent but reasonable, considering the upside and the high level of talent that would be coming back to the Reds.

At the end of the day, I believe that the Reds will regret it if they move Alonso.  He is rare hitter that will be an All-Star for many years to come.  While top flight pitching is hard to find and develop, it usually comes at a high price and risk.  Pitchers, given the strain and wear and tear they put on their arms, are the most likely position to be injured and thus come with the highest risks and question marks.  The hope is that the Reds appreciate the talent that they have in Yonder Alonso and continue to cultivate and develop him.  With such a deep pool of talent, they should still be able to make the headliner trade they are shooting for without giving up their top rated young hitter.  They were able to move Gomes to Washington to make room for Alonso, now hopefully we can sit back and watch Alonso combine with Mesoraco, Votto, Phillips and Stubbs to form the newest version of the Big Red Machine.  The Reds are on the verge of putting together something very special.  Hopefully they stick to the plan.

 

 

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Hiroki Kuroda: Pitcher Looks to be Possibly Traded From the Dodgers to Rangers

Monday July 25, 2011

MLB reports:  One of the most underrated pitchers in the game is currently on the auction block.  Los Angeles Dodgers hurler, Hiroki Kuroda, is currently being shopped to major league teams as the July 31st trade deadline is nearly upon us.  The 36-year old Kuroda has been very consistent since joining the Dodgers, enjoying solid numbers despite a constant lack of run support.  With a no-trade clause, Kuroda has the ability to refuse a trade in remain in the Los Angeles for the rest of the season.  But with demand high for the hurler and teams likely to offer incentives (in the $1-$2 million range), it appears that Kuroda will be changing addresses in the next six days.

A veteran of the Nippon Professional Baseball League, Kuroda played from 1997-2007 with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan before coming over to North America.  As a free agent outside of the posting system, Kuroda was free to sign with any major league team.  In 2007, Kuroda signed a 3-year, $35.3 million contract with the Dodgers and last offseason re-signed for 1-year, $12 million.  A look at his major league numbers show that Kuroda has been a solid and dependable veteran:

Year W L ERA IP H BB SO WHIP
2008 9 10 3.73 183.1 181 42 116 1.216
2009 8 7 3.76 117.1 110 24 87 1.142
2010 11 13 3.39 196.1 180 48 159 1.161
2011 6 12 3.19 127.0 122 33 97 1.220
4 Seasons 34 42 3.52 624.0 593 147 459 1.186
162 Game Avg. 11 14 3.52 207 197 49 152 1.186
 

The teams that have pursued Kuroda are the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.  Looking at the numbers, I don’t blame them.  In some ways the second coming of Hideo Nomo, Kuroda may not be as flashy but he has been dependable.  Except for 2009 when he suffered through injuries, Kuroda has pitched close to 200 innings every season since joining the Dodgers.  This year has been one of Kuroda’s finest, with a 3.19 ERA and 1.220 WHIP, which have only led him to a 6-12 record on a meek Dodgers squad.  With better run support, his record could easily be 12-6.  Now with July 31st rapidly approaching, people are wondering whether a) Kuroda will waive his no-trade clause; and b) which team will acquire him.

I am surprised that more teams are not pursuing the hurler.  With so few quality starters available at exorbitant prices, including Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies and James Shields of the Rays, Kuroda may be the best and most affordable quality starter available to a team that needs a starting pitcher for its stretch run.  While Jimenez and Shields will take approximately 3 top prospects, Kuroda may only take 1 or 2 decent prospects.  Not a high price to pay considering what a team will get back in return.

From the names thrown around, I would see the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers having the best chance to land Hiroki Kuroda, with the Rangers being the most likely to win the Kuroda derby.  The Rangers have a great farm system and many solid prospects for the Dodgers to choose from.  As well, the Rangers give Kuroda the best chance of winning a championship, having made it last year to the World Series.  Other teams will surely take a run at the hurler, especially the Yankees and Red Sox.  But when push comes to shove, expect Kuroda to grab his cowboy hat and boots and head to the lone star state.  We don’t profess to have a crystal ball and anything can happen this week.  The Los Angeles Dodgers will base their final decision on receiving full salary relief and the best prospects in return for their star pitcher.  It is always fun to speculate at the trade deadline time.  Let’s see which team ultimately offers the best package to acquire one of baseball’s best Japanese imports:  Hiroki Kuroda.

 

 

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Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays Makes His 2011 MLB Debut

Sunday July 24, 2011

MLB reports:   Saturday July 23, 2011.  The Tampa Bay Rays lose to the Kansas City Royals by a score of 5-4 in 10 thrilling innings.  Joakim Soria got the win.  Brandon Gomes got the loss.  Eric Hosmer had the game winning hit.  Just a normal Saturday night MLB game in Kansas City.

In the Tampa Bay loss, a new era begun in Rays baseball history.  Desmond Jennings, the 24-year old top hitting prospects of the Rays, made his 2011 major league debut.  Originally a 10th round selection back in the 2006 MLB draft, Jennings entering game action yesterday rated as one of the top prospects in the game.

Let’s take a look at the career statistics of Desmond Jennings:

Year Lev R H HR RBI SB BA OPS
2006 Rk 48 59 4 20 32 .277 .749
2007 A 75 122 9 37 45 .315 .866
2008 A+ 17 22 2 6 5 .259 .772
2009 AA-AAA 92 158 11 62 52 .318 .888
2009 AA 69 121 8 45 37 .316 .881
2009 AAA 23 37 3 17 15 .325 .910
2010 AAA 82 111 3 36 37 .278 .756
2011 AAA 68 93 12 39 17 .275 .830
6 Seasons   382 565 41 200 188 .294 .825
AAA (3 seasons) AAA 173 241 18 92 69 .283 .806
A (1 season) A 75 122 9 37 45 .315 .866
AA (1 season) AA 69 121 8 45 37 .316 .881
Rk (1 season) Rk 48 59 4 20 32 .277 .749
A+ (1 season) A+ 17 22 2 6 5 .259 .772
 

Jennings had his breakout season in 2009 and looked ready to work towards his MLB debut in 2010.  However injuries slowed him down and he spent the season developing his craft in AAA.  Come this season and we see the Jennings of old.  In 89 games, Jennings already had 12 home runs, 68 runs, 39 RBIs, 19 doubles, 3 triples. a .275 AVG and .830 OPS.  Most telling is that Jennings has been successful on 17/18 stolen base attempts.  With little to prove in the minors and the Rays needing a serious offensive boost at the major league level, Desmond Jennings got the call to join the team yesterday in Kansas City.

One of the few true five-tool prospects in the game, Jennings was slotted in the leadoff spot and playing left field for the Rays.  Expected to play solid defense and ignite the Rays offense, Jennings did not disappoint.  The final boxscore shows the following stat line:  2 for 3, double, triple, 2 runs, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 1 SO and 1 SB.  That is how you fill a box score ladies and gentlemen.  The Rays brass must be overjoyed at the success Jennings enjoyed in his first game this season.  Shades of Carl Crawford and Rickey Henderson no doubt.

With such a big game played, the expectations will already be high for Jennings.  People have to remember that he is still raw and developing as a hitter.  He is also young and will take time to mature.  With so many holes currently in the Rays batting order, Jennings will not be pitched to every game if he stays hot.  The league will also start to put a book together on him and find the holes in his swing and game.  While his two walks yesterday were impressive, Jennings was still striking out much more than he was walking in AAA this year.  The potential is definitely there, as he showed yesterday.  The expectations just have to be kept in check.

Rays fans have been calling for the promotion of Desmond Jennings since spring training.  With the team in contention, the time was right to give Jennings the call.  Long-term, I can realistically see him as a 20 home run, 50 stolen base type hitter.  The power is definitely there and he should be an extra-base hit machine as he finds his groove at the major league level.  With the art of the stolen base slowly coming back to baseball, Jennings should win several stolen base crowns before his time is done.  With the trade deadline looming, the Rays are looking at acquiring more hitting prospects to beef up their offense.  With Desmond Jennings at the top of the order, the Rays will have an offense that will compliment its superior pitching.  The World Series may not come to Tampa Bay in 2011, but the road to the championship just got more clear.  Welcome to the big leagues Desmond Jennings.  Well done.

 

 

Box Score:  Desmond Jennings 2011 Debut

Tampa Bay 110 011 000 0 4 11 2
Kansas City 000 201 001 1 5 10 0
Tampa Bay AB R H BI BB SO Avg.
Jennings lf 3 2 2 1 2 1 .667
Damon dh 5 0 1 1 0 2 .279
Zobrist rf-2b 5 1 2 1 0 2 .266
Longoria 3b 4 0 2 1 1 1 .243
B. Upton cf 4 0 0 0 1 2 .229
S. Rodriguez 2b 3 0 0 0 1 0 .211
b-Joyce ph-rf 1 0 1 0 0 0 .289
Kotchman 1b 5 0 1 0 0 1 .329
Shoppach c 4 0 1 0 0 2 .179
c-Fuld ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .244
Chirinos c 0 0 0 0 0 0 .214
E. Johnson ss 5 1 1 0 0 3 .197
Totals 40 4 11 4 5 15  
Kansas City AB R H BI BB SO Avg.
Gordon lf 5 0 3 1 0 2 .302
Cabrera cf 5 0 0 0 0 0 .294
Butler dh 5 1 1 0 0 2 .288
1-Aviles pr 0 1 0 0 0 0 .211
Hosmer 1b 5 2 3 1 0 2 .277
Francoeur rf 3 0 1 0 0 0 .269
Moustakas 3b 3 0 2 3 0 0 .202
Pena c 3 0 0 0 0 0 .256
a-Maier ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .271
Treanor c 0 0 0 0 0 0 .227
Getz 2b 3 0 0 0 1 1 .253
Escobar ss 4 1 0 0 0 1 .249
Totals 37 5 10 5 1 9  

No outs when winning run scored. a-struck out  for Pena in the 9th. b-singled for S. Rodriguez in the 10th. c-struck out for  Shoppach in the 10th. 1-ran for Butler in the 10th.

E: Longoria (7), Jennings (1). LOB: Tampa  Bay 11, Kansas City 8. 2B: Jennings (1), Damon (17), Zobrist  (30), Longoria (18), Gordon (26), Hosmer (14), Francoeur (25), Moustakas (4). 3B: Jennings (1), E. Johnson (2). RBIs: Jennings (1), Damon (43), Zobrist (50), Longoria (49), Gordon (52),  Hosmer (40), Moustakas 3 (8). SB: Jennings (1), Gordon (9). SF: Moustakas.

Runners left in scoring position: Tampa Bay 9 (Kotchman 3,  Zobrist 2, Damon 2, E. Johnson 2); Kansas City 6 (Cabrera 2, Getz 2, Butler,  Moustakas). GIDP: Johnson. DP: Kansas City 1  (Francis, Getz, Hosmer).

Tampa Bay IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA
Niemann 6 7 3 2 0 4 92 3.86
Jo. Peralta 1 1/3 0 0 0 0 3 17 3.80
Howell 2/3 0 0 0 0 1 12 7.94
Farnsworth 1 1 1 1 1 1 18 1.99
B. Gomes L, 0-1 0 2 1 1 0 0 2 3.78
Kansas City IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA
Francis 5 9 3 3 2 6 104 4.65
Holland 3 1 1 1 1 6 40 1.20
Crow 1 0 0 0 2 1 26 1.88
Soria W, 5-3 1 1 0 0 0 2 16 3.64

Crow pitched to 2 batters in the 10th. B.  Gomes pitched to 2 batters in the 10th.

Holds: Jo. Peralta (14), Howell (4). Blown save: Farnsworth (4). Inherited runners scored: Soria 2-0. IBB: off Francis (Jennings).

HBP: by Howell  (Francoeur). WP: Niemann. Balk: Howell.

Umpires: Home, Ted Barrett; First, Brian Runge; Second,  Marvin Hudson; Third, Tim McClelland.

Time: 3:25. Announced attendance: 27,643.

 

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James Shields to the Reds for Alonso and Grandal: July 31st MLB Trade Deadline Rumor

Saturday July 23, 2011

MLB reports:   We are now only eight days away from the MLB non-waiver trade deadline and the rumors continue to fly fast and furious.  Along with the Carlos Beltran and Heath Bell sweepstakes, the names Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Willingham, Brandon League, Hunter Pence and Hiroki Kuroda have been tossed around as possible candidates to be moved next week.  Another big time name has recently been thrown into the mix that we will be looking at today.  James Shields, “big game James”, one of the top starting pitchers on the Tampa Bay Rays may very well be playing for a new team very soon.  The Cincinnati Reds are apparently calling and with big prospect bats sitting on the farm, the Reds may very well have the necessary bait to haul in one of the biggest fishes on the trade market.

The 29-year old James Shields was drafted by the Rays in the 16th round of the 2000 MLB draft.  Shields made his major league debut in 2006.  Here is a quick rundown of his lifetime statistics:

Year W L ERA IP H BB SO WHIP
2006 6 8 4.84 124.2 141 38 104 1.436
2007 12 8 3.85 215.0 202 36 184 1.107
2008 14 8 3.56 215.0 208 40 160 1.153
2009 11 12 4.14 219.2 239 52 167 1.325
2010 13 15 5.18 203.1 246 51 187 1.461
2011 9 8 2.53 156.1 118 40 151 1.011
6 Seasons 65 59 4.02 1134.0 1154 257 953 1.244
162 Game Avg. 13 12 4.02 224 227 51 188 1.244

 

A definite innings-eater, James pitched almost 1000 innings over his first five seasons, making him one of the most consistent and reliable pitchers in the game.  A lack of run support has definitely hurt Shields over the years, as he had the numbers to obtain more wins had the Rays offense been able to support him better.  I have watched too many instances of Shields pitching complete or near complete game losses, despite only giving up 2-3 runs per game.  2009 and 2010 were not kind to James in some ways, as some analysts viewed Shields as having hit his peak and starting to decline.  Going into 2011, nobody knew what James Shields the Rays would be getting.  The steady ace that the team enjoyed for the majority of his career or the 2010 inconsistent version.  Looking at Shields at the halfway mark of the season, he is enjoying by far his greatest season in the majors.  A sparkling 2.53 ERA and 1.011 WHIP, Shields has been everything that the Rays could have expected more.  But with success comes many questions, with the most pertinent being what the Rays should do with James.

The whispers and talk has been growing by the day that the Rays may be looking to move Shields by July 31st.  The Reds have been the team most linked to the Rays, given their desire to bolster their rotation and the deep farm of prospects they can offer the Rays.  The Reds are sitting on some of the top prospects in the game that are currently blocked at the major league level.  Yonder Alonso, 1B/OF is considered one of the best hitters not at the major league level.  Alonso would represent the centerpiece of a potential Shields deal.  Born in Cuba and having attended the University of Miami, Alonso is often compared to his friend Alex Rodriguez, based on his combination of power and patience at the plate.  Not bad company at all.  The 24-year old Alonso was drafted 7th overall in the 2008 draft by the Reds and has quickly advanced in their system.   Currently in AAA, Alonso sits at a .297 AVG, .871 OPS, with 12 home runs and 46/59 BB/K.  The Rays, desperately in need of bats, currently have Casey Kotchman manning first.  Alonso would be a perfect fit in taking over the first base job for the next decade.  He is a special hitter that does not come along very often.  While a pitcher of Shields stature is not easy to replace, the Rays would be filling a huge void in their lineup by adding Alonso.  Dealing from strength to fill a need is smart baseball management and the reason why we are discussing the trade of Shields today.

In addition to acquiring Yonder Alonso, the Rays would be adding a number one catcher to their system in either Yasmani Grandal or Devin Mesoraco.  I have seen both names thrown around, but my gut is that the Rays will end up receiving Grandal.  Mesoraco was featured by us back in June.  The likely Reds catcher of the future, Mesoraco is expected to get the call either this year or next at the latest to replace incumbent Ramon Hernandez.  With a solid backup in Ryan Hanigan, the Reds have an abundance of catchers, a strength considering that few major league teams have potential superstar backstops playing in their lower levels.  The 22-year old Grandal was born in Cuba and played in Miami, similar to Alonso.  Drafted 12th overall in the 2010 MLB draft, Grandal recently got the call to AA.  Mesoraco on the other hand, is 23-years of age and was drafted 15th overall by the Reds in the 2007 MLB draft.  Mesoraco is back for his second tour of duty in AAA, hitting a solid .309 and .895 OPS, with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs.  After battling injuries in his career, Mesoraco hit a combined 26 home runs over 3 levels last season and has not slowed down since.  The Rays would be thrilled to receive Mesoraco in a Shields trade, but Grandal is considered by many to actually be the more talented backstop.  A win-win either way for Tampa Bay.

But why trade Shields and especially, why now?  Many Rays fans are asking themselves those questions right now.  On the surface, Shields and the Rays look like a perfect fit.  He is young and still in the prime of his career.  Shields has proven to be healthy and durable since joining the Rays.  He is signed through this year, with team friendly options through 2014 at $7, $9 and $12 million per year respectively from 2012-14.  In baseball they say you can never have too much pitching.  If that is the case, then some feel the Rays should consider stockpiling their pitchers and building their team from strength.  But that is a narrow view of major league teams and how they operate.  Let’s take a look at our five top reasons for the Rays to trade James Shields right now:

1)  Sell at the Peak

You never know what the future will bring, so sometimes it is important to live in the moment.  Shields, while a steady and consistent pitcher, is currently pitching at the highest level of his career.  The Rays will need to determine if he has truly broken out or merely playing above his head.  The value for Shields may never get higher than it is today.  As well, teams contending for the playoffs may be willing to pay more at the deadline than the offseason for Shields.  The Rays, if feeling especially lucky, could request the addition of either Mike Leake or Travis Wood to the trade mix from the Reds.

2)  Numbers Game:  Rotation Log Jam

The Rays have been known for acquiring, developing and stockpiling pitchers in their system.  This past offseason was no different, as the Rays traded away top starter Matt Garza to the Cubs for a package of prospects, including Christopher Archer and Sam Fuld.  With Jeremy Hellickson ready, willing and able to join the big club, the Rays needed to clear room for their next future star pitcher.  Hellickson, combined with David Price, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann form a formidable one through four punch in the rotation.  Based on their age and salaries, none of these starters will likely be going anywhere soon.  While Alex Cobb has been brought in for temporary measure to the majors, Matt Moore just got the call to join AAA Durham in anticipation of joining the Rays rotation soon.  Moore, one of the top-five pitching prospects in baseball, will not likely be kept on the farm too long given his dominance over minor league hitters to-date.  That is how the baseball system works.  Prospects are developed and either traded for veterans or take over for departed veterans from major league teams.  As the Rays have no intention of trading Moore, a spot will have to open up for him.  Unfortunately for James Shields, he is the veteran most likely to go.  From there, it will only be a matter of time before Archer is ready to join the big club and the cycle will continue.

3)  Dollars and Cents

It is no secret that the Rays are on a very tight budget.  Low attendance figures, despite continued recent major league success including a World Series appearance in 2008, has meant that the Rays cannot afford to hang onto high priced veterans.  Shown the door in recent years were Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and Rafael Soriano, among others for financial considerations.  While James may have what is considered a team friendly contract, paying him close to $10 million or so per year for each of the next three seasons does not work for the Rays budget.  Moore, combined with Alonso and Grandal, would fill three positions for the Rays at a combined salary that will be a fraction of what Shields makes.  In other words, Shields is a luxury that the Rays cannot afford and can fill quite adequately within at a cheaper cost.  While we do not like to think about the economics of the game, it can drive roster decisions on the same level as talent and ability.

4)  Innings- Wear and Tear

James Shields is starting to enter a zone that many MLB teams dread.  The 200-innings per season for over five seasons club.  While an informal group, there has been much talk in baseball circles that most pitchers after their first 1000 innings pitched have a high risk of injuries and decline.  Pitchers like Brandon Webb and to a lesser extent Ben Sheets, are shown as examples of modern pitchers that have arm/shoulder problems after pitching many major league innings over a span of 5+ years.  While Shields has not shown any risks yet of developing injuries, his numbers going into this season were of concern for the Rays.  So while Shields is having a Cy Young caliber season, the Rays may be fearful that he will be susceptible to injuries or declining performance very soon.

5)  Pitchers Need Run Support

In the same way a fast car needs a powerful engine and reliable tires, a major league team needs both offense and strong pitching.  The current build of the Rays is starting to mirror the San Francisco Giants.  Great young pitching but not enough hitting.  The Rays can stockpile as much pitching as they like, but if they cannot score runs they will have a difficult time making the playoffs, let alone win a World Series title.  Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal are two superstar bats in the making that the Rays desperately need and do not have in their own system.  The expression goes that teams “develop pitching and buy bats.”  In this case, the Rays will be taking to buying the bats that they themselves cannot produce.  With a starting lineup of nine hitters, that Rays will be instantly filling over 20% of their lineup by way of this trade.  The hit the rotation by losing Shields would be absorbed by the addition of Matt Moore to the major league club.  But the boost to the team’s offense as a result of the addition of Alonso and Grandal is invaluable.

Verdict:  The bottom line is that the Tampa Bay Rays are in a quandary.  James Shields is the heart and soul of their pitching staff, the go-to guy who has earned his nickname of “big game.”  But as the most expensive starter on the staff, with the team’s top prospect almost ready to receive the call to the show and the team desperately needing good young hitting, the Rays have no choice but to consider moving Shields at the trade deadline.  As the team is still in contention, management will have to be careful of not sending a message that they are throwing in the towel on the season.  But to get the biggest reward, the team will have to pay a big price.  It will be difficult in the short-term to accept the trade of James Shields from Tampa Bay.  But considering the hitting that the Reds would be sending to the Rays, this is a deal that the Rays cannot afford to miss out on.  Keep an eye on Tampa Bay as the team will continue to improve, get younger at a competitive payroll come deadline day and still remain in contention.  If this is truly James Shield’s last week in a Rays uniform, please be sure to catch his last start live or on television from Oakland this coming Wednesday July 27th.  With Desmond Jennings and Dane De La Rosa just recalled by the Rays from AAA, the cycle of player and prospect replenishment has already begun again in Tampa Bay.

 

 

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Top 5 Closers Available at July 31 MLB Trade Deadline

Friday July 22, 2011

 

MLB reports:   The MLB Non-Waiver Trade Deadline is rapidly approaching.  With only nine days to go, MLB teams need to decide if they are buyers or sellers.  Right up until July 31st deadline, the baseball world will be buzzing on potential deals.  While transactions can occur after July 31st, the respective players will need to first pass through waivers, which makes trades more difficult to happen.  Especially in the category of closers, who are sought after by almost every team.  Whether to obtain a 9th inning stopper or upgrade their middle relief, the majority of MLB teams are currently on the prowl.

There are some contending teams would love to add a closer, including the Rangers and Cardinals.  The host of other teams battling for a playoff spot are ready to take a current closer to pitch the 7th or 8th inning.  To win today in baseball, you usually need 2-3 closer-type pitchers in your pen.  The Brewers recently added Francisco Rodriguez to compliment John Axford.  The New York Yankees signed Rafael Soriano to pitch in front of Mariano Rivera, although David Robertson has since grabbed the role.  True closers will always be in demand and teams with playoff aspirations will always find room for these guys on their rosters.

As the line between buyers and sellers becomes less blurry, we take a look today at the top five closer candidates to be traded by the July 31st MLB Trade Deadline:

 

1)  Heath Bell:  San Diego Padres

The Rolls Royce of available closers, the Padres are talking to teams on a daily, if not hourly basis on the availability of Heath Bell.  Nearly every team has been linked to Bell in the past few days, from the Rangers, Cardinals, Phillies, Red Sox, Jays and Tigers.  The prize of the closing market, expect the Padres to demand a king’s ransom for his services.  At least two top prospects, with one being major league ready should get this deal done.  With 28 saves and a 2.45 ERA, the 33-year old Bell is having another fantastic campaign before his impending free agency.  The Rangers and Cardinals are most in need of a closer, with the Rangers the most likely destination based on availability of prospects.  The Rangers have the superior farm system and could match up best with the Padres.  The Phillies and Jays are the dark horses according to reports and need to decide if they are willing to pay the price.

 

2)  Brandon League:  Seattle Mariners

A first time All-Star in 2011, Brandon League has raised his stock this year and given the Mariners an interesting trade chip to work with at the deadline.  League has chipped in 23 saves already this year, with a 3.35 ERA and 1.088 WHIP.  With a team friendly contract and under team control for another season, League should draw much interest on the market.  St. Louis seems like a logical choice, as the Cardinals will be looking for a long-term solution to their closing woes.  I cannot see the Mariners dealing in their division and having to face League next year with the Rangers.  A top prospect or two middle prospects should make this one happen.  With the Mariners far out of contention and in complete rebuild mode, a top closer seems like a luxury that the Mariners cannot afford at the moment.  The Mariners need offensive help and need it quickly, with League being one of many candidates likely to leave Seattle by July 31st to replenish the farm system.

 

3)  Frank Francisco, Jon RauchOctavio Dotel, Jason Frasor:  Toronto Blue Jays

If Heath Bells is a Rolls Royce, the Blue Jays are running a used Ford dealership in their bullpen.  Frank Francisco is like a used mustang with transmission problems, while Jon Rauch is a pickup truck without the V8 engine.  The Jays have assembled a collection of the middle-of-the-road closers and setup men this year in their bullpen.  Francisco will likely draw the most attention, despite his mostly awful numbers this year.  At 31-years of age and throwing big time heat, Francisco still has potential.  Rauch has served as the Jays closer for much of the year and could be in demand as well.  Octavio Dotel, the eldest member of the pack, has bounced around during his major league career and could be a useful trade deadline pickup.  The most effective reliever though for the Jays has been Jason Frasor and a smart team should consider him.  While the Jays are unlikely to offer any true closers to contending teams, there are middle relief candidates to be had.  Expect the Phillies to come calling and pickup one of the above.

 

4)  Kevin Gregg:  Baltimore Orioles

For those teams that like to play with fire, closers don’t get more dangerous than Kevin Gregg.  A 4.00 ERA and unsightly 1.583 WHIP are not numbers that scream out lock-down closer.  Gregg has shown though the ability to get hot at times during his career and will be considered by many teams over the next week.  Signed through next year, the Orioles will look mainly for salary relief in shedding Gregg’s contract.  Personally, I wouldn’t consider Gregg if I was running a team.  But somehow he will likely move by July 31st.

 

5)  Leo Nunez:  Florida Marlins

Another up-and-down closer in the Gregg mold, Leo Nunez is quietly having a very solid season for the Florida Marlins.  Up to 27 saves, with a 3.22 ERA and 1.187 WHIP, Nunez might actually be the best affordable option on the closers market.  The Rangers and Cardinals will sniffing around here, as will the Red Sox, Indians and Tigers.  As the Marlins and Tigers have matched up well before in trades, I can see this swap happening.  The Tigers have the ability to surrender a decent pitching prospect and can use Nunez down the stretch as Valverde insurance.  With the Tigers in contention and the majority of their bullpen being fairly unstable for most of the year, Nunez might be a late inning option that the the Tigers can ill-afford to miss out on.

 

Send us your comments and opinions on available closers for the trade deadline.  Other names thrown around have been Joakim Soria, Matt Capps, Joe Nathan, Andrew Bailey and Brian Fuentes.  The trading of players, especially closers, is especially reliant on the competitiveness and status of a team in the standings.  With so many teams still in their respective races, there are not as many top bullpen arms available at this point in the season.  But come August, as more teams continue to drop out, expect to see even more trade activity.  Exciting times, as the MLB pennant races continue to heat up, and baseball trade talk is on everyone’s lips.

 

 

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Jair Jurrjens: Braves Ace of the Future or Trade Candidate?

Wednesday July 20, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):  Now that the trade deadline is fast approaching, teams in contention are scrambling to find the pieces they desperately need to reach the playoffs.  Teams that are out of contention are scouring other teams’ minor league affiliates in search of suitable trade partners.  One man who is terribly busy fielding on calls on one of his biggest talents is the GM of the Atlanta Braves, Frank Wren.  Opposing GMs have coveted his ace pitcher, Jair Jurrjens over the past few years.   But now that Jurrjens has developed into a solid dependable pitcher who has exceeded his potential, Wren’s phone will be ringing right up until the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.

 

Why Atlanta should hold on to their ace

Jair Jurrjens is young and controllable with an inexpensive contract.  He is an inning eater, and a dependable arm that will give 6+ innings per game.  Jurrjens is in his fourth full season, with the key variable that many people forget is that he is only 25 years old.  At the halfway mark of this season, Jurrjens has a 12-3 record with a sparkling 2.26 ERA.  Jair also induces a ton of ground balls, with a GB% of 48.2.  When a guy can throw strikes consistently, it makes it much easier to be successful.  Three walks per nine innings is a pretty good career mark, and he has seemingly improved almost every year, as Jurrjens currently sits at a 2.10 BB/9 for 2011.  A young, controllable ace that is continually improving might be something that the Braves want to hold onto.  Further, the Braves should even consider giving a long-term extension to Jurrjens given what he means to the ballclub.

 

Why Atlanta should trade Jurrjens

Why would a contending team trade their ace, you might ask?  Well, a guy like Jurrjens might be overachieving for a few reasons.  First of all, the velocity on his fastball has dipped every season since his rookie campaign.  His average fastball was once 93 mph, whereas it sits at 89 now.  Now this could mean a couple of things, such as he has learned how to pitch and doesn’t need the velocity.  However, his extra reliance on his change-up and slider; each of them up in usage about 3% over previous years, tells me that he knows his fastball isn’t quite as effective.  Jurrjens doesn’t strike many guys out, and there is almost no way that he can maintain a 4.1% homerun per fly ball rate.  His xFIP is exactly a run and a half higher than his ERA at 3.76, so a measure of his performance has been attributed to luck.  Numbers can be sometimes be deceiving and in Jurrjens case, he might not be as good as his statistics appear to show.  Sometimes its good to maximize a return when the market is at its peak and Jurjjens may very well be sitting at the top of his ceiling of potential.  Otherwise, if Jurrjens does regress, he value will never be higher than it is at the moment. 

 

Which teams could trade for Jurrjens

If the Detroit Tigers are willing to give up a ton of prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez, I believe they would do the same for Jurrjens.  Same goes with the Red Sox and Yankees. Detroit has at least kicked the tires on many starting pitchers, including Derek Lowe, Aaron Harang, and Jeremy Guthrie.  I see Jurrjens as an upgrade over those pitchers, so it would take a decent package to steal him away.  The Rockies covet four top prospects for Jimenez, so I don’t see why the Braves wouldn’t try to get at least three top prospects for Jurrjens.  He may not have the electric stuff that Ubaldo has, but he certainly has a track record of success.

Another fit to trade for Jurrjens that may fly under the radar could be the Indians.  Mitch Talbot and Fausto Carmona have underperformed, and they desperately need an upgrade if they are to contend.  This could cause a bidding war for Jurrjens.  I can see righty Alex White, lefty Drew Pomeranz and outfielder Nick Weglarz being involved in such a deal.  Prospects Jacob Turner (RHP), Andy Oliver (LHP) and Nick Castellanos (3B) may be included in a potential deal with Detroit.

In the NL, if the St. Louis Cardinals decide to make a push in the wide open Central Division, they may be looking at starting pitching help.  Kyle McLellan and Jake Westbrook have both struggled, so it could be a possibility they get in the mix.  Third baseman Zack Cox and starting pitcher Shelby Miller are possible candidates to be moved in such a scenario.

 

Verdict

Atlanta doesn’t appear to be actively shopping Jurrjens, but it would be in their best interest to at least gauge the interest of other teams.  The Braves could get a return for Jurrjens that would be impossible to refuse. With some of the prospects named, the Braves could still contend, and restock their system for years to come.  Until then, we expect Jurrjens to remain a Brave unless Frank Wren gets blown away a trade proposal.  With the active trade winds blowing this year and numerous contending teams desperate for starting pitching help, anything is possible. 

 

 

Editor’s Note:  Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  Rob was selected from the many candidates who applied to write for MLB reports.  Please feel free to leave comments and to welcome Rob aboard.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

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Carlos Beltran to the Giants: Mets Likely to Trade Slugger to San Fran

Tuesday July 19, 2011

 

MLB reports:   The MLB rumor mill is working overtime as the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31st quickly approaches.  With less than two weeks to go, the speculation is heating up as to which players will be changing uniforms.  Francisco Rodriguez is already a Brewer and Jeff Keppinger was just traded to the Giants.  But rumors persist that the Mets and Giants are not finished with their activity.  With both superstars Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran eligible for free agency at the end of the season, talk is that one or both players will be moved out of New York.  With the possibility of the Mets trying to retain Reyes, the most likely scenario is Carlos Beltran changing addresses.  At the center of the speculation is the San Francisco Giants.  The defending World Series champions have been simply atrocious this year offensively.  With their cleanup hitter Buster Posey out for the season, the team cannot afford to miss out on the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes. 

The Giants were very fortunate to win the World Series last year.  The playoffs are a tough road and requires the perseverance normally of a balanced team to make it to the end.  The Giants, while solid in the pitching department, were essentially using smoke and mirrors to score runs last year.  The team relied on the likes of Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross and Freddy Sanchez on offense.  While useful role players, these players are not the big sluggers that are supposed to win championships.  Now with Buster Posey out, the Giants are forced to rely on Eli Whiteside, Miguel Tejada, Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell and company to score the team’s runs.  Possessing one of the best, if not the best pitching staff in baseball, the Giants can ill-afford to limit itself offensively and essentially waste such strong pitching.  To defend its championship, the Giants will have no choice but to beef up their offense.

Carlos Beltran has been one of the most consistent hitters in the game over the course of his career.  Taking a look at his numbers, we see a consistently high level of production:

Year Tm AB R H HR RBI SB BA
1998 KCR 58 12 16 0 7 3 .276
1999 KCR 663 112 194 22 108 27 .293
2000 KCR 372 49 92 7 44 13 .247
2001 KCR 617 106 189 24 101 31 .306
2002 KCR 637 114 174 29 105 35 .273
2003 KCR 521 102 160 26 100 41 .307
2004 TOT 599 121 160 38 104 42 .267
2004 KCR 266 51 74 15 51 14 .278
2004 HOU 333 70 86 23 53 28 .258
2005 NYM 582 83 155 16 78 17 .266
2006 NYM 510 127 140 41 116 18 .275
2007 NYM 554 93 153 33 112 23 .276
2008 NYM 606 116 172 27 112 25 .284
2009 NYM 308 50 100 10 48 11 .325
2010 NYM 220 21 56 7 27 3 .255
2011 NYM 328 54 94 14 59 3 .287
14 Seasons 6575 1160 1855 294 1121 292 .282
162 Game Avg. 621 110 175 28 106 28 .282
               
KCR (7 yrs) 3134 546 899 123 516 164 .287
NYM (7 yrs) 3108 544 870 148 552 100 .280
HOU (1 yr) 333 70 86 23 53 28 .258
               
NL (8 yrs) 3441 614 956 171 605 128 .278
AL (7 yrs) 3134 546 899 123 516 164 .287
 
 

His resume speaks for itself.  Beltran is a 1999 AL Rookie of the Year.  He has won four Gold Gloves for his defensive work in the outfield.  He won two silver slugger awards.  A lifetime .282 AVG, .360 OBP and .495 SLG.  In 2004 he hit the magical 30/30 mark (30 home runs, 30 stolen bases), and was actually two home runs short of 40/40.  For the most part, Beltran in his prime could do it all.  Hit home runs, hit for average, steal bases, catch and throw the ball like few players could.  One of the few true five-tool players in the game.  The aberrations we find in Beltran’s statistics were the last two years.  Due to various injuries, particularly knee woes, Carlos Beltran was forced to miss much of the last two seasons and saw his production sharply decline.  Now healthy and extremely motivated, Beltran has come back in a big way. 

Beltran played in his sixth All-Star game this year in Arizona.  While he rarely steals bases these days, the rest of Beltran’s game has returned as shown by his numbers.  The only issue surrounding Beltran is whether his knee will hold up for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.  From there, a team will need to determine his long-term health and abilities in awarding him a free agent contract.  But from all indications, Beltran is a player that can still play ball at the highest level when healthy.  An ideal fit for the Giants that lineup that desperately needs run production. 

How bad has the Giants offense been in 2011?  Going into tonight, the Giants as a team are hitting .243, with a .309 OBP and .363 SLG.  The team has collectively hit 63 home runs and scored 356 runs.  Yet somehow the team continues to sit in first place in the NL West, 3.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks.  If not for Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Brian Wilson and the rest of the Giants pitching staff, the Giants would be in the basement of the division.  The run of the Giants over the past two seasons has been incredible, but clearly linked to its pitching.  To support its pitchers and put runs on the board, the Giants have to step up and beef up its offense.  While Jeff Keppinger is a useful player, he will not be enough to get the job done.  Rather, the Giants need to acquire a bomber, the way the Cardinals acquired Matt Holliday a couple of years ago in their playoff run.  Or closer to home, when the Astros acquired Carlos Beltran in 2004.  Beltran hit an incredible 8 home runs during the Astros playoff drive that year.  Coincidentally, Beltran was an impending free agent that year as well.  Fast forward to 2011 and the very same Carlos Beltran is available.  Having a fantastic campaign, Beltran in 2011 has hit .287 to-date, with 14 home runs, league leading 28 doubles, with a .381 OBP and .512 SLG.  Again during a free agency year.  Definite playoff calibre numbers and a perfect fit out west in San Francisco.

The Giants and Carlos Beltran are well suited for one another.  San Francisco needs a strong cleanup hitter.   Carlos Beltran wants to compete for a World Series championship and boost his free agency stock for one more prime contract.  The odds of getting a ring don’t get any better than joining the defending world champions.  Some experts have speculated that Beltran may not waive his no-trade protection to join the Giants.  I am not buying that theory.  The Giants are a terrific organization to play for, with highly regarded management, a fantastic ballpark in a beautiful city, and are one of baseball’s most historical and treasured teams.  Beltran would look fantastic in a Giants uniform.  What better way to showcase his abilities and earn his last free agency contract than by playing for a contender and fighting for a World Series championship.

Remember 1994, the year that Beltran was traded from Kansas City to Houston and played like a man possessed in nearly single-handedly leading the Astros to the World Series.  That performance, combined with his numbers to-date, earned Beltran that off-season a 7-year, $119 million contract from the Mets.  Now Beltran is on the cusp of free agency again and has the potential to “earn his pay” so to speak with the Giants in the same manner that he did with the Astros in 1994.  With Scott Boras as his agent, Beltran will surely receive the advice that playoff performance equals free agency dollars.   

The Giants will have a choice in making a pitch to the Mets for Carlos Beltran.  They will either have to absorb the majority of the contract and provide fairly decent prospects, or have the Mets absorb a large chunk of money and offer 1-2 elite prospects in return.  The Giants are well stocked in the minors and have excellent pitching at the major league level.  The Mets may request Jonathan Sanchez off the major league roster or a combination of minor leaguers from the farm.  Outfielder Thomas Neal and pitcher Zack Wheeler could be on the Mets wish-list.  Or perhaps the Giants will be able to give up a package of lower level prospects and not lose their top prospects and major league level.  The decision will boil down to the money involved and players offered by other teams in trade packages.

At the end of the day, much like the Yankees must acquire Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies (see our recent feature), the Giants have no choice but to trade for Carlos Beltran.  The Yankees cannot afford to waste their superior offense without enough top-level pitching and the Giants in turn, need to surround their talented pitching staff with consistent run production.  It is a lot of pressure to have a team win 2-1, 3-1 games night-in and night-out.  Carlos Beltran has proven that he can carry a team on his back when he is on his game.  Well, in 2011 he is definitely playing at his highest level in years.  Beltran needs the Giants for his next contract and a chance for a ring, while the Giants need his bat and glove to increase their chances of a championship.  The perfect marriage, expect Beltran to be a Giant by the end of July.  This acquisition makes too much sense for the Giants and Brian Sabean will continue to stock his team on route to a possible back-to-back World Series run for the Giants.  Carlos Beltran to the Giants.  Not a question of if, just a question of when.

 

 

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Interview with Derrick Hall: President and CEO of the Diamondbacks

Monday July 18, 2011

  

MLB reports:   Today on MLB reports, we bring you our biggest and most important interview to-date.  From the executive side of baseball, we present our interview with Arizona Diamondbacks President and Chief Executive Officer, Derrick Hall. 

Derrick joined the Diamondbacks in May 2005 after working in the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers for many years.  In September 2006, Derrick was named President of the Diamondbacks and later added the title of  Chief Executive Officer in January 2009.

The Diamondbacks are very fortunate to have one of the most progressive and dynamic baseball leaders at their helm.  Derrick developed the “Circle of Success” mission statement, the foundation for the management of the Diamondbacks.  A true ambassador to the game, Derrick Hall is a tireless worker in promoting and developing baseball in Arizona.  Derrick is often mentioned by many baseball commentators as a candidate to succeed Bud Selig as Commissioner after Selig’s contract expires following the 2012 season. 

As part of our Q&A, we covered many topics with Derrick Hall.  This year’s MLB All-Star game in Arizona, the hiring of Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers, MLB realignment, the state of the Los Angeles Dodgers and even the possibility of Hall becoming MLB Commissioner one day were all covered.  We now present Derrick Hall, Arizona Diamondbacks President and Chief Executive Officer:

 

MLB reports:  Mr. Hall, Derrick.  Thank you for joining us today on MLB reports.  With the All-Star game held in Arizona this year, you must have been an extremely busy man.  How did the planning go for the big event?  How did the Diamondbacks and Major League Baseball make this year’s All-Star game different from those of past years?

Derrick Hall:  The All-Star festivities were extremely successful and we were told by many they thought the experience ranked up there with the best ever.  I received zero complaints and heard rave reviews from all of my colleagues and fans.  I am so proud of my hard-working staff.  The fact that we brought nearly $70 million of economic impact to our region, in addition to $5 million in legacy community projects makes this All-Star summer a much-needed success.
 
 
MLB reports:  It must be an incredible undertaking to put together the All-Star festivities.  I had the pleasure of attending many such events and literally entire cities get taken over by the festivities.  Can you give us an idea as to the amount of people working just for this project and what your role is in seeing the event from beginning to the end?

Derrick Hall:  It is safe to say that over 2,000 individuals worked on the All-Star game, either from my staff or as volunteers.  We oversaw all planning and coordination in conjunction with MLB Special Events.  They put the Mid-Summer Classic on every year and have it down to a science.  We then direct them based on our knowledge of our fans, economy and market.

 
MLB reports:  On a personal note, you joined the Diamondbacks in 2005 and was named President in 2006.  What factors were part of your decision in joining Arizona?  What was the process like to becoming President and how quickly did you jump at the chance?

Derrick Hall:  I worked for the Dodgers for many years before coming over.  It was always a hope and dream of mine to run the Diamondbacks.  My wife is from Arizona, and we both attended and met at Arizona State University.  It is a dream come true to be back home and changing the employee and fan culture on a daily basis. We are considered the most fan-friendly team in all of sports, and were just named the most positive sports team in the world by the United Nations.  I am proud indeed.
 
 
MLB reports:  Since becoming President, how has the role itself been for you?  Please give our readers an idea as to your day-to-day functions and the various front office staff that you work with.  Does the job today differ from what you expected when you first started as President?

Derrick Hall:  My days are jam-packed, but I love it that way.  I work closely with both the baseball operations side and the business side, but leave baseball decisions to the experts I have hired.  I am responsible for all aspects of the organization and oversee about 350 full-time employees and 2,000 part-time and worldwide employees. It is similar to a large corporation and is a 365-day business.
 
 
MLB reports:  The Diamondbacks have received great feedback on the hires of Kirk Gibson as manager and Kevin Towers as the GM.  Please give us a glimpse as to your role in the hiring of each of these fine baseball men.  How do you rate the job that each has done so far in their respective roles?  Why did the team choose these individuals specifically?

Derrick Hall:  I first decided to make Kirk Gibson interim manager with the thought of him becoming permanent, but wanted my new GM hire to have a say-so because they need to work closely together.  Before the end of last season, I concluded a GM search and hired Kevin Towers.  I have known him for years and have always admired his reputation and track record.  He agreed that Gibby should be our guy.  They have been terrific.  They have completely changed the culture in the clubhouse which is now one of accountability, results and grittiness.  I could not be happier.  We still have a long way to go, but for the first time in years, we are all on the same page, from CEO to GM to manager.  And I am most proud of the coaching staff that Gibby has assembled, which I consider the best in the game hands down.
 
 
MLB reports:  The 2011 MLB Draft is completed and the Diamondbacks appear to have done very well in stocking the farm.  How do you view the players that your team chose and can we get a glimpse into the future Diamondbacks superstars?

Derrick Hall:  We did very well according to the post-draft reviews and experts.  It helped that we have the numbers 3 and 7 picks.  And with those picks, we picked the best college pitcher and arguably the best high school pitcher respectively.  We have been restocking our farm system over the last year or so, so are excited to be adding this talent to the list of prospects like Skaggs, Corbin, Parker, Holmberg, Goldschmidt and Owings to name a few.  Trevor Bauer is very close to Major League-ready and could be an impact on our team soon, when focusing on our recent draftees.
 
 
MLB reports:  The topic of realignment has been thrown around in many circles.  I have proposed the idea of moving the Diamondbacks to the American League.  What do you think of realignment in general and if given the choice, would the Diamondbacks move divisions at all?

Derrick Hall:  I would not be in favor of us moving to the American League.  I personally am a big fan of the National League.  I like its strategy and I enjoy seeing the pitchers hit.  I am not a fan of the DH, but understand its place and like the fact that it prolongs players’ careers.  We have established some great rivalries within our division and want to stay here.  I also think there are better candidates for a move if one is needed.  But not sure 15-15 works.  That would include too much interleague throughout the season.  I like interleague play as it is conducted now.  However, I would recommend AL rules in NL cities and NL rules in AL cities.
 
 
MLB reports:  “The Circle of Success” is a topic that is associated with Derrick Hall as President.  Please give our readers the ideas behind the Circle and how it has worked in developing the Diamondbacks organization.

Derrick Hall:  I am so proud of the “Circle of Success.”  We created it in 2007 and it is proudly displayed in our hallways and in everyone’s office.  These are our five main areas of focus: (i) performance on the field, (ii) financial efficiency, (iii) community impact, (iv) culture in the workplace and (v) fan experience.  We recognize and reward employees every day for excelling or displaying a commitment to these areas.  We constantly refer to these, as well as our mission and values statement to remind our staff who we are and what we stand for.
 
 
MLB reports:  Watching the turmoil surrounding the Dodgers must be painful for you, having spent so many years in the organization.  How did you find your time in Los Angeles?  Was it difficult to leave the team after being there for over a decade?  What do the Dodgers have to do in your opinion to go back to the glory days as one of the proudest franchises in baseball?

Derrick Hall:  It is sad, having been there more than a decade and beginning my career there. I learned under Peter O’Malley and developed my skills there.  I began as an intern and worked my way up to Senior Vice President in a short amount of time.  I am proud of that achievement and will always hold that franchise near and dear to my heart.  The Dodgers will be fine, I know that.  This is one of the most relevant brands in all of sports with too rich a history not to. With a brand that includes Scully, Lasorda, Koufax, Valenzuela, the Dodger Dog, Chavez Ravine and beach balls, I have no doubt this organization will bounce back and be a force to be reckoned with.
 
 
MLB reports:  Fans must ask you all the time about the team’s big picture plans and chances of playoff success.  Do the Diamondbacks have a 3/5/10 year type plan?  With the goal of winning the World Series this year and future years I’m sure, how will the Diamondbacks get there?

Derrick Hall:  We will get there.  We do have short and long-term plans, but they all include being competitive, and adding revenues that will in turn be added to player payroll.  We needed first and foremost to bulk up our prospect list and minor league system.  A market-size like ours needs to develop from within, and we are now in a strong position to do so.  There are several teams doing just like we are with success, such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Colorado, Florida, to name a few.  This is an exciting time for all of us with bright futures ahead.
 
 
MLB reports:  What do you see as the future of Derrick Hall?  If you had to look into crystal ball and see yourself in 10 years, where will you be?  Any chance we will see you as a candidate as a successor to Bud Selig as the Commissioner one day?

Derrick Hall:  I am often asked if I am a future Commissioner, which is a tremendous honor.  I do not know what the future holds, but I am extremely content right where I am at.  I want to bring a World Series back here before I do anything else.  This organization is a great one, and I love all of my employees.  What we are building here is special, and time has been flying.  Ten years will feel like one, so if I still have the honor of leading this franchise, I will be grateful and satisfied.
 
 
MLB reports:  Last questions Derrick.  Why do you work in baseball?  What do you love about this game?  What are the positives in baseball as an industry and what areas need improvement?  Are you happy/satisfied with the state of the game today?

Derrick Hall:  I work in baseball because I love this game more than anything other than my family.  And my family would tell you I love it more than them most of the time.  You have to have love and passion for what you do.  I often tell young employees that if you truly love what you are doing, you will never work a day in your life. I can tell you, what I do every day does not feel like a job.  I love all of our employees, players and fans.  I arrive at work every day with a smile on my face and challenge our staff to be pioneering and show leadership in the sports industry.  I work in paradise and have my sites set no further than right here and right now.  I feel the weight of responsibility to help grow the interest and intrigue in our game and to create technological solutions that will compete with the many options our youth, and future fans, have before them.

 

MLB reports:  Thank you again to Derrick Hall for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to talking with us today and to sharing his insights and opinions with us.  Derrick shed light on many pertinent baseball topics as part of this interview and we encourage everyone to leave your comments and feedback.  We congratulate Derrick and the Diamondbacks organization on a stellar performance in hosting this year’s All-Star game.  We also wish the Diamondbacks the best of success this year as they battle for a playoff berth.  To stay current on the Diamondbacks and support the team, you can follow Derrick Hall on twitter.  

 

 

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Vernon Wells Trade Discussion: Midseason Winners and Loser

Sunday July 17, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):  January 21, 2011 is seen as a bit of a turning point in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays.  General Manager Alex Anthopolous traded away long-time face of the franchise, Vernon Wells.  Wells had been with the Blue Jays since he was drafted in the first round, fifth overall by the Jays in the 1997 amateur draft.  After making his debut in 1999, he played in a Toronto uniform through the 2010 season.  His name is littered across franchise record books, and he was a beloved figure in the clubhouse.  On December 15, 2006, Wells signed a seven-year, $126 million contract extension, which at the time was the 6th largest contract in MLB history.  Over the next few years, Wells’ lack of production and time spent on the disabled list, made his contract “unmoveable”.

That was of course until Alex Anthopolous took the helm as Jays GM, and was able to find a taker for Wells and the four years and $86 million remaining on the contract.  Into the picture came Tony Reagins, GM of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  It has been said that Reagins approached Anthopolous about Wells.  One would think that in order for a deal to work, the Blue Jays would have had to send a large sum of cash to the Angels in order for the deal to go through.

The deal that was finally consummated was to send Wells and approximately $5 million to the Angels in exchange for OF Juan Rivera, and C/1B Mike Napoli.  Rivera was seen as a throw-in, as his $4M contract was more than the Angels wanted to pay.  Napoli had fallen out of favour in manager Mike Scioscia’s eyes; despite hitting at least 20 home runs in each of the three previous seasons despite receiving limited playing time.  Toronto then flipped Napoli to the Texas Rangers for standout reliever Frank Francisco.  The Rangers received the powerful, right-handed versatile hitter they coveted, and the Blue Jays thought they received the closer they needed.

It is quite obvious that no matter how any of those players perform, the Blue Jays are the big winner because of the payroll space they have cleared and can use to extend their star players, see Jose Bautista.  However, this deal has not been so cut and dry.  While Napoli has swung the bat with authority, Juan Rivera has been traded to the LA Dodgers, and Francisco has been awful out of the Jays bullpen.

Let’s take a quick look at each player’s production and how their respective teams have fared so far.

 

Mike Napoli

Again performing as a part-time player at three positions, Napoli has been very solid for the Rangers.  He has hit 13 home runs and driven in 34 RBI in only 187 plate appearances.  While his average leaves something to be desired, he makes up for it in his ability to take walks and hit the ball to the gaps.  With his OPS at .906, he has proven that he is a tremendously underrated player.  His WAR through half the season is at 1.7, and he is on pace to break his career high of 2.6.

 

Juan Rivera

Because he was seen as a salary dump for the Angels, the Blue Jays took him on and saw him as the everyday left fielder and DH out of spring training.  He was never able to get it going, and quickly fell out of favour in Toronto.  His OPS sat at .666 when traded, with a limited ability to get on base and very little power.  This on top of the fact that he played atrocious defense led to his -1.2 WAR.  He was traded to the LA Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash considerations on July 12, 2011.

 

Frank Francisco

Seen as a pretty successful power arm for the late innings, Francisco was picked up from the Texas Rangers along with cash.  He continues to strike out a ton of batters, (10.1 K/9), but he is giving up more hits than he has in the past.  However, part of this is due to a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .359.  His xFIP is actually almost two runs lower than his ERA, 3.56 as opposed to 5.40.  I think that Francisco has been unlucky, and when it all evens out, it will show that he is at least a competent late inning reliever.

 

Vernon Wells

Wells was obviously the big fish in this trade.  He has the ability to be an MVP-caliber player (see his 2003 and 2006 seasons).  He has two gold gloves in center field, as well as three All-Star appearances in his career.  He has hit 30 home runs three times and driven in 100 RBI three times.  Wells’ production in 2011 has been nothing short of horrendous.  He has 14 home runs so far, but other than that, hasn’t done anything particularly well.  His OPS is .671 with an OBP of .254.  Wells is striking out in over 20% of his plate appearances, and walking in less than 4%.  Now, you could look at his BABIP (.228) and think he has been unlucky, but it is that low because of his awful 10% line drive rate.  With a flyball rate of 47% and by hitting a ton of infield flies, his BABIP won’t likely rise much.  It is unlikely that Wells will ever return to being the player he once was.

 

VERDICT: 

Taking a look at these stats, we can see that the Rangers were an instant winner.  They gave up an expendable reliever, and gained a valuable bat off the bench.  The Angels are the big losers in the deal, as they owe Wells over $60M over the next 3.5 years.  That kind of production out of a left fielder is unacceptable for a team trying to contend for the playoffs.  Toronto knew that with the trades they made, they would not be as good of a team without Wells.  They are in a rebuilding mode, and the money they save can be used on drafting and developing young talent.  Francisco could be a Type B free agent at the end of the year, so another draft pick could be theirs. 

**The grand winner in this series of moves is the Blue Jays, as with the departure of Wells, they have been able to extend Jose Bautista with a five-year, $65M contract.  They have been aggressive in international signings this month as well, and look to pour more resources into the draft. ***  

 

***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the Vernon Wells trade.  You can follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

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Ubaldo Jimenez to the Yankees? Rockies May Move Ace to the Bronx

Saturday July 16, 2011

MLB reports:   As an unbelievable as it may seem, there has been talk in baseball circles that the Rockies are taking calls on their ace pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez.  Start after start, game after game last year, Jimenez for the majority of 2010 was as unhittable as they come.   Despite coming back down to earth in the 2nd half, Jimenez last year appeared in his first All-Star game and finished 3rd in the NL CY Young voting.  He also pitched the very first no-hitter in Rockies history on April 17, 2010.  With a young Rockies team that was expected to contend in 2011, the 27-year old Dominican Jimenez was expected to anchor the team.  Now sitting with a 45-49 record, 8.5 games out of 1st in the NL West, the Rockies are on the fence as to whether they still have playoff aspirations this year.  Further, the team’s brass needs to decide whether Jimenez is a part of those aspirations and future playoff runs.  Media outlets have speculated that the Yankees are quietly making a run at Jimenez.  There is a strong probability the trade could happen, but in my estimation, the Rockies would be making a colossal error if they do.

There is no denying the strength and ability of Ubaldo Jimenez.  As the pitcher has slowly improved every year, especially noting his strong 2009 and 2010 campaigns, the hurler clearly has a world of potential.  Taking a look at his numbers, the results speak for themselves:

Year W L ERA IP H BB SO WHIP
2006 0 0 3.52 7.2 5 3 3 1.043
2007 4 4 4.28 82.0 70 37 68 1.305
2008 12 12 3.99 198.2 182 103 172 1.435
2009 15 12 3.47 218.0 183 85 198 1.229
2010 19 8 2.88 221.2 164 92 214 1.155
2011 5 8 4.08 110.1 101 43 99 1.305
6 Seasons 55 44 3.60 838.1 705 363 754 1.274
162 Game Avg. 14 11 3.60 212 178 92 191 1.274

With pitching at such a shortage, many baseball analysts are scratching their heads as to how the Rockies could possibly think about trading Jimenez.  The San Francisco Giants proved last year that the World Series could be won almost exclusively on the strength of pitching.  Tim LincecumMatt CainMadison BumgarnerJonathan Sanchez.  The Giants had so many weapons to throw against its opponents every night and good young pitching at the end of day beats good hitting much of the time.  The Rockies, ravaged by injuries and inconsistent performances, are unlikely to reach the postseason this year.  But in the management of the team, the present and future must be considered.  Look at Felix Hernandez on Seattle, Roy Halladay on the Phillies and Lincecum on the Giants.  Every team that is trying to build a winner needs a stud pitcher at the top of its rotation.  Jimenez is that guy for the Rockies and losing him on the roster will be a hole that will be difficult, to impossible to fill.

So given the positives that Jimenez brings to the table, the issue remains how and why the Rockies could possibly consider moving him.  There are a couple of main reasons in my estimation.  Part of the equation is the performance of Jimenez this season.  While he has been good, Jimenez for the most part has not been great.  His record this year is far off from his most recent seasons, despite a strong rebound in his last few starts.  Given his inconsistencies in 2011, the Rockies may be getting a little worried and looking to sell high before Jimenez starts to decline and/or injured.  But given his strong resume to date, young age and rebound recently, I would like to think the Rockies are more intelligent than that.  Players have their ups and downs, at all levels.  It happens.  Without a larger body of work for reference, it is almost impossible to reason that Jimenez is on his way down.  His recent numbers tend to show otherwise.  So while Jimenez may not be the same pitcher that we saw in early 2010, he is still the ace of the team.

So why the reports of trade talk with the Yankees?  I will give you two words.  Cliff Lee.  The same Cliff Lee that was all set to be traded last year from the Mariners to the Yankees in a package including Jesus Montero.  The deal was completed to the level that major media outlets were announcing the trade as fact.  As the story goes on that one, the Mariners played the Yankees against the Rangers and took a package from Texas built around prospect Justin Smoak at the very last-minute.  The Yankees were fuming to the level that they contacted the higher-ups in Seattle to complain about the conduct of their GM, Jack Zduriencik.  The fallout was the Rangers making it to the World Series and the Yankees left at the altar without their prize.  As a further dagger, Lee in his decision to sign with the Rangers or Yankees this past offseason, ended up going to the Phillies at the last-minute.  Again, the mystery team coming at the last second out of the woods and the Yankees were left standing with egg on their face.

Do not underestimate the New York Yankees.  They are the strongest and one of the proudest teams in baseball.  The Yankees and their fans do not like to be left disappointed in the constant search for top talent.  With Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia sitting in their rotation, the Yankees are clearly itching to make a move to bolster their rotation.  While names like Jeremy Guthrie, Derek Lowe and Bronson Arroyo being thrown around, it starts to shed some light as to where the Jimenez talk is coming from.  This is the Yankees and they do not like shopping at the Ford dealership.  This is a team built on Mercedes and BMW’s.  The problem is that the top cars, i.e. ace pitchers, are not readily available.  After making runs at Felix Hernandez and Francisco Liriano, the Yankees are still in search of a strong #2 to compliment ace CC Sabathia.  Considering that Sabathia can opt out of his contract during the coming offseason and possibly leave New York, the pressure is even greater to land a top starting pitcher.  From all the names that have been tossed around, the one that makes the most sense is Ubaldo Jimenez.

When Jimenez is on his game, he is as Cliff Lee-like as you can get.  Jimenez is a horse that has the potential to pitch a complete game shutout almost every game out.  This is the type of numbers that the Yankees are looking for.  Rather than waiting to what comes in free agency, the Yankees are trying to hedge their bets and make a run now.  Any package for Jimenez will be built around uber-prospect Jesus Montero.  Considering his strong bat, Montero could move from catcher to first base to replace the aging Todd Helton.  The Rockies still have faith in their own young catcher, Chris Iannetta, who has taken longer to develop than expected.  Montero would be great insurance and an almost guaranteed monster bat, in addition to the other prospects that would be headed to Colorado.  A win-win for both teams if it happens, considering the bodies that would be moving as part of the trade.  But still not quite if you consider the value of Jimenez to the Rockies.

Other teams  will sniffing around Jimenez as well.  The Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, Angels and Rangers could all be considered in the mix.  Jimenez would not come cheap and if the Rockies are smart, they will auction him off to the highest bidder.  At the end of the day, this is a trade that the Yankees have to make.  With little to no other options on the market, the Yankees have to overpay for Jimenez or risk failing to win a World Series despite the highest payroll in business.  The Yankees lost out twice on Cliff Lee and need to do everything in their power to land an equivalent pitcher to their fold.  While Ricky Romero or Jered Weaver would be nice acquisitions, realistically neither one will be made available by their respective teams.  With Carlos Zambrano overpriced and inconsistent and Johan Santana a question mark for the season, at this point it is Jimenez or bust for the Yankees.

In considering this trade from a Rockies perspective, think how long the organization suffered from a pitching perspective.  Despite always having strong hitting, the Rockies as an organization have been challenged to develop and maintain reliable pitching.  Now that the Rockies have an ace in place, the team should be focusing on building around Jimenez rather than moving him.  If the Rockies build their core of hitters and fail to have a deep and consistent starting rotation, the team will mean little come playoff time.  The team will simply fall back into old habits and fail to adapt to the new Major League Baseball.  With the steroid era past us, baseball is built around pitching and defense now for the most part.  The Rockies, like every other team, needs good young pitching to contend.  Jimenez has the potential to give them a high level of pitching for at least the next five years.  If the Rockies feel they have a chance to contend during that time, they must hold onto him or risk setting themselves back even further.

Knowing that this is a trade that Yankees must make and the Rockies should pass on, the final question is whether this trade will happen.  My heart says no, but my brain says yes.  Despite all the reasons that the Rockies should hold onto Jimenez, it appears in my estimation that the Yankees will make an offer that Colorado cannot refuse.  In fighting for World Series titles in New York, all necessary resources have to be acquired at any cost.  Considering that the Yankees will include Montero and 2-3 more top prospects, the Rockies will have a hard time saying no.  Perhaps the Yankees will include a couple of top pitching prospects in the package that will allow for a smoother transition for Colorado.  But the reality is, that while prospects are intriguing and desirable, they are far from a sure thing.  For every Derek Jeter that is drafted, developed and becomes a future Hall of Fame player, there are 1000’s of Todd Van Poppel clones that come highly touted and burn out just as quick.  Ubaldo Jimenez has the experience and numbers that are proven.  While I am always skeptical of pitching, based on injury risk (see Stephen Strasburg), the potential risk in this case by keeping Jimenez is worth the reward of the potential for future playoffs.  This will be the one case where I advocate that a team hold onto their starting pitcher rather than cash in for prospects.  But it is also the case where there is extreme speculation and rumors and I foresee the trade occurring.  The Yankees are the Yankees for a reason.  They usually get what they want.  They want Ubaldo Jimenez and before July is done, he very well could be in pinstripes.

 

 

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Welcome Back Dontrelle Willis: D-Train Comeback with the Reds

Friday July 15, 2011

  

MLB reports:   The D-Train is back baby.  Kind of.  It’s too early to tell.  Dontrelle Willis burst onto the scene and looked to be a star in the making once upon a time.  After four solid campaigns in Florida, 2007 was seen as an off-year for the ace of the Marlins.  Drafted originally by the Cubs in the 8th round in the 2000 draft, Willis was shifted in a package of players including Julian Tavarez for Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca.  Willis became an instant star in Florida and throughout the MLB community.  He had his own television commercials promoting the sport and was considered one of baseball’s greatest ambassadors.  In his 2003 NL ROY campaign, Willis made the All-Star team and won a World Series.  Not a bad way to start a career.  From there, Willis made his second and last appearance at an All-Star game in 2005 and finished second in the NL CY Young voting for top pitcher.  With such a solid start to his career, few observers blinked when Willis was relatively ineffective in 2007.  However, the misery was the sign of things to come.  The road became bumpy and full of twists and turns that few expected.  From the majors to the minors, back and forth, until few expected to see him back.  Until this past Sunday, July 10th, when Dontrelle Willis returned to the major leagues, this time in a Reds uniform.

Although the blip in 2007 may not have scared off most observers, it was enough to put the Marlins in a tailspin.  On December 5, 2007, the Marlins shipped off their franchise hitter and pitcher in Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers, in exchange for prospects Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and four others.  As legend has it, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski approached the Marlins and gave a list of available prospects.  The Marlins made their selections and the trade took no time to put together.  Shortly after, Willis signed a 3-year, $29 million contract and Cabrera signed his monster contract to make him one of the top paid players in the game.  The move of Cabrera was seen at the time as partially motivated by the clearing of Willis’ salary off the Marlins’ books.  Despite off-field incidents involving alcohol related arrests and domestic abuse, Cabrera has been a perennial MVP candidate since joining the Tigers.  Miller and Maybin, the centerpieces of the deal for the Marlins, have not played to expectations and have since moved on to the Red Sox and Padres respectively.   Then there was Willis.  While viewed at the time as giving the Tigers a top-of-the-rotation starter, Willis proved to be anything but.  As the story goes, when Willis came to Detroit, he did not bring his fastball or his control and was run out-of-town in 2010 as a result.

Willis suffered for two and a bit seasons in Detroit, receiving his walking papers officially on May 30, 2010.  During his stay in Detroit, Willis played for three different minor league teams in two years, making it all the way down to A-ball at different points.  While a demotion to A-ball may have benefitted Roy Halladay in his younger years, the same could not be said for Willis.  The jumping started, from the Diamondbacks to the minor league levels pitching for the San Francisco Giants organization.  Then Willis signed with the Reds this past off-season a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.  Despite playing well in spring training, Willis was still sent to pitch in AAA for Louisville to start the 2011 season.

Here are the career numbers of Dontrelle Willis as they stand today:

Year Tm W L ERA G GS IP H BB SO
2003 FLA 14 6 3.30 27 27 160.2 148 58 142
2004 FLA 10 11 4.02 32 32 197.0 210 61 139
2005 FLA 22 10 2.63 34 34 236.1 213 55 170
2006 FLA 12 12 3.87 34 34 223.1 234 83 160
2007 FLA 10 15 5.17 35 35 205.1 241 87 146
2008 DET 0 2 9.38 8 7 24.0 18 35 18
2009 DET 1 4 7.49 7 7 33.2 37 28 17
2010 TOT 2 3 5.62 15 13 65.2 72 56 47
2010 DET 1 2 4.98 9 8 43.1 48 29 33
2010 ARI 1 1 6.85 6 5 22.1 24 27 14
2011 CIN 0 0 3.00 1 1 6.0 4 4 4
9 Seasons 71 63 4.11 193 190 1152.0 1177 467 843
162 Game Avg. 13 11 4.11 34 34 205 209 83 150
                   
FLA (5 yrs) 68 54 3.78 162 162 1022.2 1046 344 757
DET (3 yrs) 2 8 6.86 24 22 101.0 103 92 68
ARI (1 yr) 1 1 6.85 6 5 22.1 24 27 14
CIN (1 yr) 0 0 3.00 1 1 6.0 4 4 4
                   
NL (7 yrs) 69 55 3.84 169 168 1051.0 1074 375 775
AL (3 yrs) 2 8 6.86 24 22 101.0 103 92 68

 

Since leaving Florida, Willis at best has been inconsistent to unusable.  A starting pitchers that cannot consistently throw strikes and get hitters out will not last in the majors.  Dontrelle Willis proved this in 2007, when his shrinking talent led him to a ticket out of Florida as he continued to bounce around, until last week when Willis pitched for the Reds.  Quite a performance for a pitcher not expected to ever pitch again in the minors.  Willis proved last Sunday he was back, if only for one shining moment.

On July 10, 2011, Dontrelle Willis made his first MLB start in over a year against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Willis pitched 6 innings, giving up 2 hits, 4 earned runs and a 4/4 BB/K.  Willis gets his next kick at the can this coming Monday, July 18th vs. the Pirates and James McDonald.  Should be a powerhouse game, keep an eye on it if you can.  This is no surprise, given how well Willis pitched for the Bats this year.  In 13 starts, Willis had a 5-2 record, 2.63 ERA, 67 SO in 75.1 IP and only 20 walks, good for a 1.2o8 WHIP.  Considering that Willis struggled at both the major league and minor league levels from 2008-2010, his strong start in AAA was seen as a possible sign of a comeback.  Now after having his first MLB start under the belt, Willis can go out and simply pitch his game. 

Willis was seen as battling an anxiety disorder during his time in Detroit and many experts were ready to write him off.  Believe it or not, Dontrelle Willis still isn’t even 30 years-old yet, with his birthday coming up on January 12 2012.  He is still young and has the potential inside of him.  Without any major physical injuries or setbacks, Willis still has a good arm and has many innings in him to pitch.  This year, watching Willis in spring training, he looked to have his head back on straight.  He was playing the game the right way.  Strong pitching and timely hitting to boot. But despite his spring success, Reds management decided to send Willis to AAA until his recall last week.  It looks like Willis has undergone a transformation as far as simplifying his delivery and avoiding his non-traditional leg kick.  From the Reds point of view, they may have landed the steal of the year with Willis in their rotation. 

This story till boil down to the confidence and mental health of Dontrelle Willis.  As long as the man can think positive thoughts and do his thing on the mound, good things will happen.   As long as Willis stays healthy, he will succeed provided he keeps his head on straight.  With more and more MLB players admitting  to depression and anxiety disorders, it is clear that today’s game is as much mental as it is physical.  One great thing about sports, especially baseball, is that fans love an underdog that makes a comeback.  For a guy with a ROY, World Series ring and two All-Star appearances, you don’t see many comebacks bigger than that of Dontrelle Willis.  With one start under his belt and another one coming back next Monday, Willis is making baby steps.  Given his age and track record, the potential is there.  Here is hoping that Willis can fulfill it.

 

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MLB Global: Creation of MLB Dominicana, International MLB Drafts and Leagues

Thursday July 13, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:  In our never-ending quest to revitalize and reform baseball, we have discussed and covered in previous editions of the Reports several cutting edge topics.  We have looked at MLB Expansion, the new format introduced for the 2013 edition of the WBC, expanding the MLB Playoffs and proposing MLB Realignment.   If you thought that we were radical thinkers up until now, well then you haven’t seen anything yet.  Today we bring you the new international MLB system, a creation that we feel is long overdue.  Discussions have existed for many years in baseball circles that the international development of talent and leagues by Major League Baseball is not working.  With the formation of MLB Global, that is all about to change.

There are several international matters being discussed currently as the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire on December 11, 2011.  At the forefront is the current system of signing of international free agents by MLB teams.  Under the current system, international talent is not subject to a draft and salary recommendations and as a result, when the international free agency period begins, all talent in applicable areas are available to teams at the highest bidder of each player’s choice.  Eligible countries include the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia.

From there, Japan is under another system called posting, whereby until a player has nine years experience in the Japanese league and is exempt, his controlling Japanese team can offer his rights to MLB teams if requested by the player and consented by the team.  MLB Teams submit secret bids over a four-day period.  If the Japanese team accepts the winning bid, from there the highest offer then allows the winning team a 30-day window period to negotiate a contract with the player.  If the two sides cannot come to terms, the player stays in Japan and the posting fee is returned to the MLB team.  Two examples of distinct systems that are currently in place in baseball, but neither appears to be working particularly well.

I have read commentators calling for many changes to the current international baseball markets in relation to Major League Baseball.  I have heard the cries for an international draft, whereby all eligible players would be required to be drafted to join a MLB team.  There would be anything from recommended slot salaries, to a soft or hard cap.  Having most international players simply available to the highest bidder is seen as circumventing the equality and fairness principles behind a draft.  Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox can afford to lose draft picks in signing top free agents, as they are able to recoup the prospects back in the international market.  But if there was a draft system in place, there would be more opportunity for other teams to have access to top international prospects.  But how to hold such a draft and what countries to include?  These are questions that linger and result in delays to changing the international system.  Then there is the Japanese posting system to contend with and how to liberate Japanese players to Major League Baseball.  We may not have all the answers, but there is a starting point.  MLB Global.

For simplicity of this article, we will use the Dominican Republic and Japan as examples of territories for MLB Global.  From there, the boundaries will be increased until even one day, Cuba could become a territory.  But let’s start the discussion with explaining what is MLB Global.  The mandate of MLB Global would be the expansion of the MLB brand around the world.  Depending on the countries involved, MLB Global would be creating for the most part either sister MLB leagues or MLB affiliated leagues.  Let’s start with our inaugural league:  MLB Dominicana.  Long known for producing top baseball talent, the Dominican Republic is one of the world’s greatest baseball hotbeds.  Major League teams have been building academies in the Dominican for years and attempting to cultivate new prospects.  But a quandary exists in the Dominican.  While the Dominican has a great deal of talent, it still has room to grow.  Yet only certain teams are established in the country, while others stay away.  Some analysts believe the area is saturated and it is time to discover new areas of development.  I believe that more investment is actually needed, but in a manner that will benefit Major League Baseball as a whole rather than select teams.  More prospects could be developed in the Dominican if the proper funding and system were put into place.  The Dominican has not hit its limit, but rather has not yet even met its potential.  MLB Dominicana can work towards utilizing and maximizing the talent available in the Dominican.

MLB Dominicana would be established as follows.  A league would be formed, either through an existing Dominican baseball league or a completely new league.  The league could have ten to sixteen teams to start off and eventually grow to thirty teams over the years.  The goal would be for every MLB team to have a sister team as part of MLB Dominicana.  From there, every eligible Dominican player would need to be drafted by a MLB Dominicana team, which would essentially give that player’s rights to his North American MLB team.  Creating this system would be taxing initially for each MLB team, but a system of co-ownership and co-management could be created between each MLB team and their affiliate team in the Dominican.  What is envisioned from there, is the cross-development and mobility of players between MLB and MLB Dominicana.  Let’s take the for example the Colorado Rockies and if they had a sister MLB Dominicana team, the Boca Chica Thunder.  The Thunder are involved in a yearly player draft, as is done in Major League Baseball.  In the 2011 draft:  1st round, 5th overall, the Thunder take 16-year old shortstop Pedro Beltran.  Once the Dominican player is drafted by the Thunder, the Rockies would have the ability to either keep Beltran in MLB Dominicana to play for the Thunder or to bring him over to North America to play in the minors or majors.  The Rockies would be responsible for Beltran’s signing bonus and salary regardless of where he plays.  The creation of MLB Dominicana creates an incentive for MLB teams to invest resources, including money and coaching to the Dominican area.  Players like the fictitious Pedro Beltran would be able to stay home and continue their baseball development and integrate easier to North America.  A win for the Dominican Republic, its baseball fans, the players and MLB teams.

But wait, there is more.  The mobility of players from MLB Dominicana to North America could work the reverse way as well.  Younger players with options in North America would be available to play for the sister MLB Dominicana team as well.  Take the Rockies again.  They have a young pitcher in their system by the name of Casey Weathers.  Once considered to be their closer of the future, Weathers is now 26-years of age and pitching in AA.  His numbers are not at the highest level and his stock is starting to fall.  The Rockies could move Weathers over to MLB Dominicana, to either pitch out of the Thunder’s bullpen or stretch him out as a starter.  We are starting to see more mobility of North America players to international baseball markets.  Ryan Garko in Korea.  Josh Fields to Japan.  Heck, think of Tuffy Rhodes and Cecil Fielder with home run records and Matt Murton becoming the single season hit king in Japan.  As baseball becomes a true international sport and the level of talent increases, the amount of available positions on each MLB affiliate team in North American decreases drastically.  Having MLB Dominicana available to North American teams to develop and provide opportunities to its younger players would be invaluable.  In addition, the younger Domican players would benefit from having North American teammates to assist in their own development as players by sharing and learning each one’s knowledge and style of play.  Again, a win-win proposition.

As MLB Dominicana advances and grows, its limits are endless.  Additional minor league levels can be established as the number of teams and available players can grow.  MLB Dominicana can have its own AAA and AA levels as is done in North American ball.  Local sponsorship and support would be difficult, given the economic difficulties faced by the region.  The revenue stream would be of less focus as in comparison to the talent that the league produces.  For the money that each team puts into MLB Dominicana, the end result will be more talent in North America eventually for each MLB team.  Probably the biggest obstacle that MLB Dominicana will face is perception.  Critics will point to the failure of NFL Europe and predetermine the inability of MLB Dominicana to succeed.  While NFL Europe has some similarities to MLB Dominicana, the goals and focus of each league is different.  NFL Europe was created to be a money-making operation and grow the NFL brand and work as a farm system/development league for the NFL.  MLB Dominicana will work towards building the MLB brand, but in the development of local talent rather than just operating as a pure minor league affiliate system.  Rather than simply opening academies, training young players and hoping to sign them one day as free agents, MLB teams will draft the same hometown players through their MLB Dominicana team and grow and develop each player until they are ready for North America.  MLB Dominicana will not be a money-maker or loser, but rather an investment in the development of talent.  As the league becomes more competitive and popular, international merchandising and television rights would develop as well.  NFL Europe was seen as a watered down, poor man’s version of the NFL.  Football’s answer to Euro Disney.  MLB Dominicana will not try to recreate or become Major League Baseball in Dominican.  It will become a complimentary league.  The potential is there to create a thriving baseball league that will develop talent in a popular baseball market, while creating an organized system of drafting and development of players between MLB teams.

MLB Global would be in charge of finding countries like the Dominican Republic where the creation of MLB leagues is feasible from a talent, political, economical, cultural and social points of view.  Mexico and Australia would seem like ideal candidates, as would South Korea and Venezuela depending on political agreement and safety.  The baseball talent base in Venezuela for instance,  is too rich for Major League teams to ignore.  The creation of MLB Venezuela would create a further pipeline of talent by way of investment in the growth and expansion of baseball in such an area.

The ultimate future league that is dreamed of is MLB Cuba.  There is no denying the level of talent in Cuban baseball, as seen in international tournaments and WBC showings in years pasts.  Given the political and economical turmoil in the region, details of which are beyond the scope of this article, needless to say that many changes would have to occur politically before such a concept could even be discussed.  But perhaps the common love of baseball could one day bring Cuba to a system of change economically, which would allow both its country and the sport it loves to thrive.  Or perhaps this is just wishful thinking.

The last country to review is Japan.  One of the powerhouse baseball countries, Japan has won both of the World Baseball Classic tournaments.  With its high level of talent and existing Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB), Japan may not take too kindly to transforming its current system to MLB Japan.  Pride, development, ownership and decision-making all come into play as to who will run individual teams and control the use of players.  In such a scenario, as well as other countries with existing leagues and teams that are not interested in being co-run and managed by Major League Baseball and its teams, a different arrangement will be needed. 

The proposal is an affiliation structure, whereby MLB teams would have affiliation agreements with  NPB teams.  As an example, the Colorado Rockies and the Chunichi Dragons could align and have an affiliation agreement.  The Rockies and Dragons could cross-promote their teams and products through the affiliation.  But most importantly, the transfer of younger eligible players would be between the affiliated teams only.  So the Rockies could transfer Casey Weathers to play for the Dragons.  The Dragons in turn, could send pitcher Yuta Muto to play in North America for the Rockies organization.  Each team would be responsible for the salary of the respective player when playing as part of its professional league.  The incentive for the Dragons would be the investment by the Rockies into baseball development in the area, including coaches and infrastructure.  The Dragons would have access to more North American players and the Rockies and Dragons would be able to share baseball knowledge and information to better their organizations.  In return, aside from the sharing of resources, the Rockies would have access to Dragon players and increase its own prospect pool.  Fine tuning would be required as to eligibility and number/types of players that would be able to be transferred.  But in such a system, the Rockies would have a vested interest in  the players drafted and developed by the Dragons and vice-versa.  There would be a high level of trust and commitment to the teams working together as part of the affiliation program in developing teams and players.  But if all goes well, both leagues would benefit from working together and would bring an end to the expensive and unproductive posting system.  Japan could act as the training ground for the affiliation system and if it works, could lead to the expansion of the NPB by more teams and use of the affiliation system in other countries.

 

Overall, it is clear that the international baseball scene is very complex and confusing.  Major League Baseball appears to be ready to make changes and bring about a new structure and system whereby international players come to North America to play ball.  As part of this article, the idea being presented is that such a change will not occur unless Major League Baseball works with the other countries and baseball leagues to make this happen.  Whether MLB leagues start forming slowly across the world, including MLB Dominicana, or affiliation systems are put into place between teams from MLB and other countries, some sort of partnership is desperately needed.  It will cost MLB and its teams millions of dollars, time and personnel to make MLB Global a reality.  While this may not happen tomorrow or ever, we hope that they will at least work to making the dream of global baseball a reality.

 

 

 

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2011 MLB All-Star Game Recap: National League Defeats the American League for 2nd Year in a Row

Wednesday July 13, 2011

 

 

Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports):  This year’s edition of the Midsummer Classic, the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, had a record-setting vote-getter.  Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays received over 7.4 million votes in fan voting.  This game was said to have lost some of its lustre due to the amount of players who elected not to participate.  A total of eight players that were voted in by fans or chosen by coaches dropped out due to injury, timing or just plain wanting to rest.  For the American League, David Price (TB), Derek Jeter (NYY), Mariano Rivera (NYY), Alex Rodriguez (NYY) and  Jon Lester (BOS) all withdrew due to various ailments and injuries.  Chipper Jones (ATL), Jose Reyes (NYM), and Placido Polanco (PHI) were the players who bowed out in the National League.  One of Major League Baseball’s rules pertaining to eligibility for pitchers is that they must not start on the Sunday prior to the game.  Due to this rule, CC Sabathia (NYY), James Shields (TB), Justin Verlander (DET), Felix Hernandez (SEA), Cole Hamels (PHI), and Matt Cain (SF) were ruled ineligible and unable to participate in the game.

Surely not having Price, Sabathia, Shields, Verlander, Hernandez and Rivera hurt the AL.  Although he has had an impressive start to the season, CJ Wilson (TEX) probably should not have been pitching when he gave up the 3-run home run to Prince Fielder (MIL).  It easily could have been one of those more accomplished aces as mentioned.  However, that is the way it turned out, as the National League took advantage early and defeated the American League by a score of 5-1.  The MVP of the game was Fielder, because of his huge home run that put the NL on top early and as it turned out, for good.

My pick for MVP was Roy Halladay (PHI), as he started for the National League and was dominant as only the Doc can be.  He faced the minimum six batters over two innings, including Curtis Granderson (NYY), Adrian Gonzalez (BOS) and Jose Bautista (TOR); all potential MVP candidates.  Halladay managed to throw only 19 pitches as part of his historical pitching performance.

In the 2nd inning, the defensive play of the game occurred when Brian McCann (ATL) hit a towering flyball in foul territory that Bautista caught as he slid into the wall.  Aside from being one of the top home run hitters in baseall, Bautista is also an accomplished fielder who is capable of winning a gold glove at either third base or right field.

The scoring in the game started in the top of the 4th inning, when Adrian Gonzalez blasted a Cliff Lee (PHI) cutter over the right center field wall for a solo blast.  The AL followed with three straight singles, the last of which was off Tyler Clippard (WAS).  Hunter Pence fielded the ball and threw a laser to the plate to catch Bautista who tried to score from second for the third out.  In the bottom of the inning, Carlos Beltran (NYM) and Matt Kemp (LAD) hit singles to set up Fielder`s massive bomb.

Jordan Walden (LAA), another player who probably didn`t deserve to play as much as the other big name starters, began to light up the radar gun last night, hitting 100 mph on his first four fastballs.  Starlin Castro (CHC) came in to pinch run at first base after Troy Tulowitzki (COL) hit a leadoff single.  Castro proceeded to immediately steal second and third base.  He then set up another play at the plate, where Walden bare handed a weak ground ball by Rickie Weeks (MIL) and threw Castro out.  Weeks stole second and came around to score when Andre Ethier (LAD) hit a single to right field, making the score 4-1.

The scoring continued in the bottom of the seventh inning when Pablo Sandoval (SF) hit a ground rule double over the wall in the left field corner.  This scored Hunter Pence (HOU) after his leadoff single and a passed ball that allowed him to move to second base, and eventually score.

Fan favorite Brian Wilson (SF) came in the top of the nineth inning with runners on second and third.  A fly out and ground out later, and the game was in the books.  Make the final score 5-1, as the National League wins for the All-Star Game for the second year in a row and secures home field advantage for its league in the up coming World Series in the fall.

This year`s All-Star Festivities were enjoyed by so many fans, and continually impressed me.  I have had a great time covering the 2011 All-Star Game, everything from the Futures Game, Home Run Derby and of course,  the All-Star Game itself.  With Major League Baseball now entering the dog days of summer and the secon half of the season, it is time to speculate on trades and the calling up of prospects.  Pure heaven for this baseball writer! 

 

***EDITOR’S NOTE:  With Chase Field still buzzing, the trade market has already begun.  The Milwaukee Brewers announced right after the game taht they had acquired closer Francisco Rodriguez and cash considerations from the New York Mets for two players to be named later.  With the Brewers acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in the offseason, clearly Milwaukee is going for it.  Will be interesting to see if Brewers allow K-Rod’s $17.5 million option to vest for 2012, which is based on number of games finished in 2011.  If K-Rod finishes 55 games, the option will vest.  As he has already finsihed 34 this season, so the option could vest depending on how the Brewers use K-Rod and how close they remain to a playoff berth.  It will be interesting to see what prospects go from Milwaukee to New York.  Long-term this deal could hurt Milwaukee depending on which top prospects they give up.  But in the short-term, this deal will make the Brewers’ fanbase happy and their slugging free agent to be, Prince Fielder, may have more thinking to do before selecting his new team for 2012.  The ground work has been set with respect to the trade market.  Now we will see if the K-Rod deal has indeed open the trading floodgates for the rest of baseball. ***

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
American 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 0
National 0 0 0 3 1 0 1 0 - 5 9 2

W: T. Clippard

L: C. Wilson

S: B. Wilson

 

National All-Stars

Hitters AB R H RBI BB SO #P AVG OBP SLG
R Weeks 2B 3 1 0 0 0 1 12 .000 .000 .000
B Phillips 2B
1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000
C Beltran DH 2 1 1 0 0 1 7 .500 .500 .500
a-A Ethier PH-DH
1 0 1 1 0 0 8 1.000 1.000 1.000
b-G Sanchez PH-DH
1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000
M Kemp CF 2 1 1 0 1 0 15 .500 .667 .500
A McCutchen CF
1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000
P Fielder 1B 2 1 1 3 0 0 6 .500 .500 2.000
J Votto 1B
2 0 0 0 0 1 9 .000 .000 .000
B McCann C 2 0 0 0 0 0 8 .000 .000 .000
Y Molina C
1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1.000 1.000 2.000
c-J Bruce PH-RF
1 0 0 0 0 1 6 .000 .000 .000
L Berkman RF 1 0 1 0 0 0 3 1.000 1.000 1.000
J Upton RF
2 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000
M Montero C
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
M Holliday LF 1 0 0 0 0 1 7 .000 .000 .000
H Pence LF
2 1 1 0 0 1 10 .500 .500 .500
T Tulowitzki SS 2 0 1 0 0 0 5 .500 .500 .500
S Castro PR-SS
1 0 0 0 0 1 3 .000 .000 .000
S Rolen 3B 2 0 0 0 0 2 8 .000 .000 .000
P Sandoval 3B
1 0 1 1 0 0 6 1.000 1.000 2.000
Totals 31 5 9 5 1 9 126      
a-singled to right for C Beltran in the 5th
b-popped out to second for A Ethier in the 7th
c-struck out looking for Y Molina in the 8th
BATTING
2B: Y Molina (1, C Perez); P Sandoval (1, B League)
HR: P Fielder (1, 4th inning off C Wilson 2 on, 0 Out)
RBI: P Fielder 3 (3), A Ethier (1), P Sandoval (1)
2-out RBI: A Ethier
All-Stars RISP: 3-8 (P Fielder 1-1, J Upton 0-1, S Rolen 0-1, B Phillips 0-1, R Weeks 0-1, A Ethier 1-1, G Sanchez 0-1, P Sandoval 1-1)
Team LOB: 3
BASERUNNING
SB: S Castro 2 (2, 2nd base off J Walden/A Avila, 3rd base off J Walden/A Avila); R Weeks (1, 2nd base off J Walden/A Avila)
CS: L Berkman (1, 2nd base by D Robertson/A Avila)
FIELDING
E: S Castro (1, throw); J Bruce (1, throw)
Outfield Assist: H Pence (J Bautista at Home).
 

National All-Stars

Pitchers IP  H  R ER BB SO HR PC-ST ERA
R Halladay 2.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 19-14 0.00
C Lee 1.2 3 1 1 0 0 1 25-16 5.40
T Clippard
(W)
0.1 1 0 0 0 0 0 3-3 0.00
C Kershaw
(H)
1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 8-6 0.00
J Jurrjens
(H)
1.2 1 0 0 0 1 0 23-15 0.00
C Kimbrel
(H)
0.1 0 0 0 1 0 0 14-8 0.00
J Venters 0.2 0 0 0 0 1 0 4-4 0.00
H Bell 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5-2 0.00
J Hanrahan 0.1 1 0 0 0 1 0 14-9 0.00
B Wilson
(S)
0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 7-5 0.00
Totals 9.0 6 1 1 1 5 1 122-82  
PITCHING
First-pitch strikes/Batters faced: R Halladay 4/6; C Lee 4/8; T Clippard 1/1; C Kershaw 1/3; J Jurrjens 5/6; C Kimbrel 0/2; J Venters 2/2; H Bell 0/1; J Hanrahan 1/3; B Wilson 2/2
Called strikes-Swinging strikes-Foul balls-In Play strikes: R Halladay 4-3-2-5; C Lee 4-1-3-8; T Clippard 1-1-0-1; C Kershaw 1-1-2-2; J Jurrjens 3-5-3-4; C Kimbrel 1-2-4-1; J Venters 1-2-0-1; H Bell 1-0-0-1; J Hanrahan 1-2-4-2; B Wilson 1-1-1-2
Ground Balls-Fly Balls: R Halladay 3-2; C Lee 4-1; T Clippard 0-0; C Kershaw 2-0; J Jurrjens 2-2; C Kimbrel 1-0; J Venters 1-0; H Bell 0-1; J Hanrahan 0-0; B Wilson 1-1
Game Scores: R Halladay 57
 

American All-Stars

Hitters AB R H RBI BB SO #P AVG OBP SLG
C Granderson CF 2 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000
J Ellsbury CF
2 0 0 0 0 2 8 .000 .000 .000
A Cabrera SS 2 0 0 0 0 1 6 .000 .000 .000
J Peralta SS
2 0 0 0 0 0 8 .000 .000 .000
A Gonzalez 1B 2 1 1 1 0 0 6 .500 .500 2.000
M Cabrera 1B
1 0 0 0 0 0 5 .000 .000 .000
M Young 3B
1 0 0 0 0 1 5 .000 .000 .000
J Bautista RF 2 0 1 0 0 0 5 .500 .500 .500
C Quentin RF
2 0 0 0 0 0 8 .000 .000 .000
J Hamilton LF 2 0 1 0 0 0 4 .500 .500 .500
M Joyce LF
2 0 1 0 0 0 7 .500 .500 .500
A Beltre 3B 2 0 1 0 0 0 10 .500 .500 .500
K Youkilis 3B
1 0 1 0 0 0 4 1.000 1.000 1.000
M Cuddyer 1B
1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000
D Ortiz DH 2 0 0 0 0 1 10 .000 .000 .000
a-P Konerko PH-DH
1 0 0 0 1 0 13 .000 .500 .000
R Cano 2B 2 0 0 0 0 0 4 .000 .000 .000
H Kendrick 2B
1 0 0 0 0 0 7 .000 .000 .000
A Avila C 2 0 0 0 0 0 7 .000 .000 .000
M Wieters C
1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000
Totals 33 1 6 1 1 5 122      
a-walked for D Ortiz in the 7th
BATTING
HR: A Gonzalez (1, 4th inning off C Lee 0 on, 2 Out)
RBI: A Gonzalez (1)
2-out RBI: A Gonzalez
All-Stars RISP: 2-5 (M Joyce 1-1, A Beltre 1-1, H Kendrick 0-1, M Cuddyer 0-1, P Konerko 0-1)
Team LOB: 6
FIELDING
DP: 1 (A Avila-R Cano).
PB: M Wieters.
Outfield Assist: J Bautista (A Ethier at 2nd base).
 

American All-Stars

Pitchers IP  H  R ER BB SO HR PC-ST ERA
J Weaver 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 0 14-8 0.00
D Robertson 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 14-7 0.00
M Pineda 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 10-8 0.00
C Wilson
(L)
1.0 3 3 3 0 1 1 22-14 27.00
J Walden 1.0 2 1 1 0 1 0 20-13 9.00
C Perez 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 15-9 0.00
B League 1.0 2 1 1 0 1 0 19-13 9.00
A Ogando 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6-5 0.00
G Gonzalez 0.1 0 0 0 0 1 0 6-3 0.00
Totals 8.0 9 5 5 1 9 1 126-80  
PITCHING
First-pitch strikes/Batters faced: J Weaver 4/4; D Robertson 1/3; M Pineda 3/3; C Wilson 3/6; J Walden 2/4; C Perez 2/4; B League 3/5; A Ogando 2/2; G Gonzalez 1/1
Called strikes-Swinging strikes-Foul balls-In Play strikes: J Weaver 3-3-0-2; D Robertson 2-1-3-1; M Pineda 3-3-1-1; C Wilson 4-2-4-4; J Walden 2-3-5-3; C Perez 2-2-2-3; B League 1-4-4-4; A Ogando 2-0-1-2; G Gonzalez 2-1-0-0
Ground Balls-Fly Balls: J Weaver 1-1; D Robertson 0-1; M Pineda 0-1; C Wilson 0-2; J Walden 1-0; C Perez 0-2; B League 0-2; A Ogando 2-0; G Gonzalez 0-0
Game Scores: J Weaver 53

 

 

***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the All-Star Game.  You can follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Final Results and Recap: 2011 MLB Home Run Derby and All-Star Futures Game

Tuesday July 12, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports):  The MLB Home Run Derby is one of the greatest events in comparison to the All-Star games of any sport.  Fans flock in droves to watch the event, hoping to catch an amazing feat such as Josh Hamilton hitting 28 in the first round in 2008, only to come in 2nd place, and Bobby Abreu hitting 41 total home runs on his way to winning the title in 2005.

When the teams were announced, the fans booed both Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks.  Fielder was chastised for his selection of Weeks, as most casual fans were not aware of the pure power that he possesses.  Weeks was chosen over Justin Upton, who would have been great in front of his Arizona hometown crowd.

Early on this Derby lacked excitement, save for Robinson Cano’s first round, in which he had his father, former major leaguer, Jose Cano, pitching to him.  Cano blasted a number of balls deep into the right center field bleachers, his longest being 472 ft. Jose Bautista was a bit of a disappointment, smashing only 4 home runs and ended up being eliminated in the first round of the derby.  Other disappointments included the aforementioned Rickie Weeks and Matt Kemp, who hit 3 and 2 home runs, respectively.

There was some excitement at the end, as both David Ortiz and Fielder hit 5 home runs a piece to tie Matt Holliday, forcing a 3-player swing-off for 3rd and 4th place.  In this swing-off, each player received 5 swings in which to hit as many home runs as possible. Holliday led off with 5, Ortiz hit 4, and Fielder hit a perfect 5, two of which were mammoth shots.

The second round started off with Ortiz, and he began to show his age.   Ortiz was likely tired after the first round plus enduring the sudden death swing-off.  Ortiz hit only 4 home runs in the second round, and his average distance was 426 ft.  Then came the Robinson Cano Show again.  Cano launched 12 home runs in the second round, averaging 436 ft.  His swing was picture perfect, and it seemed as though any time he didn’t hit a home run, his dad would be upset with him.  Robinson’s dad knows his son’s strengths, and was confident he could hit that many.  That is likely why Cano was named Robinson by his father, after the late and great Jackie Robinson.

Gonzalez was also able to put on a show in the second round, consistently pounding the ball 430+ft.  He put on a display, hitting theball to the opposite field, and straightaway center field on his way to finishing with 11 in the round, and 20 total, tying him with Cano.  Fielder was up next, and aside from his first swing, that he hit 474 ft, he was not able to do much else.  He finished with 4 in the round, 9 in total.  So, it came down to the Yankees and Red Sox again.  Cano and Gonzalez square off in the finals.

Gonzalez immediately impressed, hitting 8 home runs in his first 3 outs.  He cooled off and finished with 11 in the finals.  With the most impressive rounds of the night, Cano hit 10 in his first 16 swings, needing only 1 more to tie Gonzalez.  The crowd erupted as he hit a home run over 470 ft to tie it up.  The very next swing was the one that did it, as he hit it out to right center field.  Gonzalez had a record 11 home runs in the last round, and Cano was clutch in beating that.

What started off as a slow, uneventful night, wound up being a compelling night of watching the Yankees battle the Red Sox in a pure power slugfest.  Robinson and his dad embracing by the mound.  The American League beating the National League.  All in all, this year’s edition of the Home Run Derby was nothing short of spectacular.

 

 

Chase Field, Phoenix — AL 76 defeats NL 19
Player Team Round 1 Round 2 Subtotal Finals Total
Robinson Cano Yankees 8 12 20 12 32
Adrian Gonzalez Red Sox 9 11 20 11 31
Prince Fielder Brewers 5 4 9 9
David Ortiz Red Sox 5 4 9 9
Matt Holliday Cardinals 5 5 5
Jose Bautista Blue Jays 4 4 4
Rickie Weeks Brewers 3 3 3
Matt Kemp Dodgers 2 2 2

 

2011 ALL-STAR FUTURES GAME RECAP
 
 

 

In a game showcasing most of baseball’s brightest shining up and coming stars, there were several players who stood out from the pack.  Although Bryce Harper (WAS) stole the spotlight in both the pre-game and post-game festivities, he did not shine quite as bright during the game.  He was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts and 2 ground outs to first.  One of which was hit fairly hard but a nice play by Yonder Alonso got the out.

Aside from two big innings, a 4-run 6th inning by the World Team hitters off of Drew Pomeranz, and a 3-run 8th inning off of Kelvin Herrera by Team USA, this was a game largely dominated by flame-throwing pitchers.

For the US Team, my standout hitters were Jason Kipnis, (CLE) who led off the bottom of the 1st with a home run over the right-centre field wall, and Grant Green (OAK).  Green crushed a double off the top of the wall in straight-away center that I thought would have been gone in any other park.  He also stroked another double, going 2 for 2 with 2 doubles, a run scored and RBI on his way to earning MVP of the game.  On the mound, I was blown away by Matt Moore, Tampa Bay’s mega pitching prospect.  He threw 11 pitches, 9 of which were strikes.  His fastball was clocked consistently between 94 and 98 mph, and he was also throwing a devastating slider at 86 mph.  Phillies prospect Jared Cosart was also very impressive.  He racked up 2 strikeouts and a fly out on 10 pitches; 8 strikes.  Sitting at 96 with the heater, he also displayed a plus change-up.

Jose Altuve (HOU) is a guy that doesn’t get much credit, because he stands at about 5’6”.  However, the Venezuelan native has hit everywhere he has played.  He was 2 for 3 with a single and a double, and I came away impressed with the diminutive infielder.  Jurickson Profar (TEX) may have been the youngest player there, but he was not overmatched, as he stroked a triple off Drew Pomeranz and displayed his impressive speed.  On the bump, Canadian James Paxton stood out to me.  The University of Kentucky product threw 6 pitches; all fastballs, and induced 3 quick outs. He was between 94 and 96 and showed better control than I remember the last time I saw him.  Henderson Alvarez (TOR) was also impressive, with a fastball that topped out at 98 mph, and getting Harper to ground out to first on a 95 mph sinker.

The US team jumped out to an early lead thanks to the leadoff home run by Kipnis in the first, and an RBI fielder’s choice by Wil Myers (KC) in the 2nd inning.  Team USA then made it 3-0 in the 5th on Green’s first double, which scored Gary Brown after he singled and stole second.  In the top of the 6th, Drew Pomeranz (CLE) struggled, and gave up 4 runs.  Alfredo Silverio (LAD) homered to left, scoring Dayan Viciedo (CWS) who had singled 2 batters prior.  A walk to Chih-Hisen Chiang (BOS) and a double to Sebastian Valle (PHI) spelled the end of the night for Pomeranz. With the score knotted at 3, Profar then hit his triple off Kyle Gibson (MIN), scoring Valle in the process.

Green led off the 8th with a double, and Tim Beckham (TB) drove him in with a double of his own to tie the game at 4.  After an Austin Romine (NYY) single and a Nolan Arenado (COL) double to right field, the damage was done, and the US had a 6-4 lead.  Jacob Turner (DET) and Matt Harvey (NYM) split duties to close out the game for the US Team.

The US has now taken a 7-6 lead in the all-time series.  A good number of these players will be on Major League rosters by season’s end, so be sure to check in on the minor league squads of your favorite teams for updates.

 

U.S. Futures 6, World Futures 4
July 10, 2011
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
World Futures      0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 4 8 0
U.S. Futures      1 1 0 0 1 0 0 3 x 6 10 0
World Futures AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Marte, CF 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 .333
  c-Fuentes, PH-CF 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Altuve, 2B 3 0 2 0 0 0 1 .667
  Schoop, 2B 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1.000
Alonso, 1B 2 0 0 0 2 1 1 .000
Viciedo, DH 3 1 1 0 0 1 4 .333
  d-Martinez, F, PH-DH 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Liddi, 3B 3 0 0 0 0 1 3 .000
  Marte, J, 3B 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Silverio, RF 4 1 1 2 0 1 0 .250
Chiang, LF 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 .000
Rosario, W, C 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  a-Valle, PH-C 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 .500
Lee, SS 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
  b-Profar, PH-SS 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 .500
  Teheran, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Hendriks, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Paxton, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Martinez, C, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Perez, M, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Alvarez, H, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Vizcaino, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Herrera, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Marinez, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 34 4 8 4 3 7 11 .235

a-Doubled for Rosario, W in the 6th. b-Tripled for Lee in the 6th. c-Flied out for Marte in the 6th. d-Popped out for Viciedo in the 7th.

BATTING
2B: Altuve (1, Skaggs), Valle (1, Pomeranz).
3B: Profar (1, Gibson).
HR: Silverio (1, 6th inning off Pomeranz, 1 on, 2 out).
TB: Marte; Altuve 3; Schoop; Viciedo; Silverio 4; Valle 2; Profar 3.
RBI: Silverio 2 (2), Valle (1), Profar (1).
2-out RBI: Silverio 2; Valle; Profar.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Liddi; Viciedo; Fuentes.
Team RISP: 1-for-5.
Team LOB: 6.

BASERUNNING
CS: Schoop (1, 2nd base by Gibson/Romine).
PO: Schoop (1st base by Gibson).

FIELDING
DP: 2 (Liddi-Altuve-Alonso, Lee-Altuve-Alonso).

U.S. Futures AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG  
Kipnis, 2B 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 .500
  a-Green, PH-2B 2 1 2 1 0 0 0 1.000
Machado, SS 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  b-Beckham, PH-SS 2 1 1 1 0 1 1 .500
Harper, LF 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 .000
Goldschmidt, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000
Mesoraco, C 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1.000
  Romine, C 2 1 2 1 0 0 0 1.000
Middlebrooks, 3B 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 .500
  Arenado, 3B 2 0 1 1 0 0 1 .500
Darnell, DH 3 0 0 0 1 1 3 .000
Myers, RF 3 0 0 1 0 1 2 .000
Brown, G, CF 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 .500
  Szczur, CF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Skaggs, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Peacock, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Miller, S, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Moore, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Thornburg, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Pomeranz, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Gibson, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Cosart, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Turner, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Harvey, M, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 32 6 10 6 1 6 11 .313

a-Doubled for Kipnis in the 5th. b-Struck out for Machado in the 5th.

BATTING
2B: Green 2 (2, Perez, M, Herrera), Beckham (1, Herrera), Arenado (1, Herrera).
HR: Kipnis (1, 1st inning off Teheran, 0 on, 0 out).
TB: Kipnis 4; Green 4; Beckham 2; Mesoraco; Romine 2; Middlebrooks; Arenado 2; Brown, G.
RBI: Kipnis (1), Myers (1), Green (1), Beckham (1), Romine (1), Arenado (1).
2-out RBI: Green; Romine; Arenado.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Beckham; Darnell.
GIDP: Middlebrooks; Myers.
Team RISP: 4-for-10.
Team LOB: 4.

BASERUNNING
SB: Brown, G (1, 2nd base off Perez, M/Rosario, W).

FIELDING
Pickoffs: Gibson (Schoop at 1st base).

World Futures IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA  
Teheran 1.0 1 1 1 0 1 1 9.00
Hendriks 1.0 2 1 1 0 0 0 9.00
Paxton 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Martinez, C 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Perez, M 1.0 2 1 1 1 1 0 9.00
Alvarez, H (H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Vizcaino (H, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Herrera (BS, 1)(L, 0-1) 0.2 4 3 3 0 1 0 40.50
Marinez 0.1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Totals 8.0 10 6 6 1 6 1 6.75

 

U.S. Futures IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA  
Skaggs 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.00
Peacock (H, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Miller, S (H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.00
Moore (H, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Thornburg (H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Pomeranz (BS, 1) 0.2 3 4 4 1 1 1 54.00
Gibson 1.1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Cosart (W, 1-0) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Turner (H, 1) 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Harvey, M (S, 1) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Totals 9.0 8 4 4 3 7 1 4.00

Balk: Perez, M.
HBP: Mesoraco (by Martinez, C).
Pitches-strikes: Teheran 19-13, Hendriks 18-10, Paxton 6-4, Martinez, C 11-6, Perez, M 23-11, Alvarez, H 11-6, Vizcaino 6-5, Herrera 23-14, Marinez 11-8, Skaggs 17-11, Peacock 9-7, Miller, S 20-12, Moore 11-9, Thornburg 10-7, Pomeranz 23-14, Gibson 16-11, Cosart 10-8, Turner 9-6, Harvey, M 3-1.
Groundouts-flyouts: Teheran 1-1, Hendriks 2-1, Paxton 2-1, Martinez, C 1-0, Perez, M 1-0, Alvarez, H 2-1, Vizcaino 2-0, Herrera 0-1, Marinez 0-0, Skaggs 1-1, Peacock 1-0, Miller, S 2-0, Moore 2-0, Thornburg 2-1, Pomeranz 0-0, Gibson 0-2, Cosart 0-1, Turner 0-1, Harvey, M 1-0.
Batters faced: Teheran 4, Hendriks 5, Paxton 3, Martinez, C 3, Perez, M 5, Alvarez, H 4, Vizcaino 3, Herrera 6, Marinez 1, Skaggs 5, Peacock 3, Miller, S 5, Moore 3, Thornburg 4, Pomeranz 6, Gibson 5, Cosart 3, Turner 2, Harvey, M 1.
Inherited runners-scored: Marinez 1-0, Gibson 1-1.
Umpires: HP: Ben May. 1B: Will Little. 2B: Jimmy Volpi. 3B: Scott Mahoney.
Weather: 74 degrees, roof closed.
Wind: 1 mph, Varies.
T: 2:38.

 

***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the 2011 Home Run Derby and All-Star Futures Game.  You can follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Review of the BlackBerry PlayBook: MLB and Technology Meet

Monday, July 11, 2011

MLB reports:  The BlackBerry PlayBook, what a terrific name to give a tablet.  For a baseball fan, it’s optimal!  Imagine a coach of a Little League baseball team keeping track of plays and scores on the PlayBook.  It just works.  The BlackBerry PlayBook has been on the market for the last three months.  It’s gone through a lot of transformations which will be covered in this entry.  I will be analyzing the overall look of the PlayBook, Functionality and Apps.  From the perspective of a BlackBerry smartphone user, I will be comparing the PlayBook to laptops and other tablets generally on the market.  Finally, from a baseball functionality perspective, I will be delivering the verdict of whether the PlayBook is a winner and should be a part of your technology field. 

 

BLACKBERRY BACKGROUND

For a little background on myself, I have been a BlackBerry smartphone user for many years.  A couple of years ago, I did try out the Apple iPhone 3G smartphone for a year.  The apps were nice, no doubt.  Being able to stream mlb.tv was great.  But the lack of usability of the phone, including the absence of a physical keyboard, was too much for me to handle.  As a Baseball Columnist, I have to be ready to prepare stories and reports at a moment’s notice.  The iPhone did not do it for me and I was back to BlackBerry, with the Torch becoming an essential part of my computer hardware last September.  I use my Torch for everything from drafting and publishing articles on MLBreports.com, to tweeting, updating our Facebook page and taking pictures/videos to upload to our site.  I connect with many of my baseball sources through secure e-mail and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), an essential communication tool for BlackBerry users.  I find the business-first approach of the BlackBerry gives me more performance for my computing needs than the flashier and fun Apple IPhone.  The MLB At-Bat app on the BlackBerry smartphone gives me all the information that I need, along with its great browser.  As I was settled on my smartphone, the question was now going to be whether I could jump with MLB reports into the tablet world.  This new technology would need to offer me enough benefits to consider adopting it.   

  

TABLET VS. LAPTOP

As mentioned above, one of the primary reasons that I chose to adopt the BlackBerry Torch over the Apple iPhone was the physical keyboard.  In my opinion, the BlackBerry keyboard is its bread and butter and differentiates this phone over many of its competitors.  The Torch to me was the best of all worlds, the BlackBerry keyboard combined with the touchscreen of an iPhone.  Reports have circulated that aside from the Torch 2, BlackBerry is planning to introduce a Bold Touch soon.  Both products sound interesting and MLB reports will be keeping an eye on them when they arrive in stores.  But as you can imagine, if a keyboard is essential for a smartphone, wouldn’t it be required for my computer as well?  That was my opinion until being introduced to the PlayBook.

My current laptop of choice is the Dell Inspiron Duo, the 10.1” laptop that is also a tablet.  The screen can be used as a touchscreen during the typing mode on the keyboard, or flipped around to be used as a tablet-only device.  When I acquired the Dell Inspiron Duo, it was with the idea that I was getting the best of both worlds in one device.  How wrong I was.  As a laptop it is great, don’t get me wrong.  Personally, I would have preferred at least a 11” model to have a full keyboard, as the 10.1” inch laptops seem to have slightly smaller keyboards that are just not big enough.  But otherwise, the Inspiron Duo was fast and delivered all the functions I needed.  But as a tablet, the device left a lot to be desired.  From everything I read and saw, a tablet should be lightning fast and easy to use.  Neither is the case with the Inspiron Duo.  It is really laptop that happens to have a touchscreen, but nowhere close to providing what I expected to be tablet-like performance.  A true tablet should really be an oversized smartphone with more features.  That is the layman’s way of putting it to non-technology people.  That was not the case with my Inspiron Duo.  The BlackBerry PlayBook delivered on that promise though and more.

When I purchased the Dell Inspiron Duo, I did take a look at the Apple iPad 2.  A beautiful device that was easy and fun to use, without a doubt.  My decision to go with the laptop over the tablet at that point was again, practically.  To prepare baseball articles on the fly, I could not get away from my need for the physical keyboard.  Getting a smaller laptop, I envisioned that portability would be the same as a tablet, or close to it.  What I found over the following months that even the smallest laptop, unless it is a MacBook Air, gets to be cumbersome.  I craved a device that I could carry around in almost any bag, unpack and start-up easily and use at a moment’s notice.  I had to learn what I was missed to figured out what would work best in the long-run.  So when the offer came to try out the BlackBerry PlayBook, I could not resist.  I felt there was a device missing between the smartphone and laptop worlds.  The smartphone, while easy and practical to use, was not a good permanent solution for heavy typing and usage.  But while the laptop met the purposes missed by the smartphone, the laptop did not have the portability and ease of use of the smartphone.  It was time to try something new.  So MLB reports was finally ready to jump into the world of computer tablets.  The solution:  The BlackBerry PlayBook.

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE PLAYBOOK

When the review unit for the PlayBook first arrived at our office, I was simply blown away.  Being a devoted laptop user my whole computing life, my initial impression going on was that it was going to be very difficult to get me onto a tablet.  But being a BlackBerry user, I had a feeling that the PlayBook would be right up my alley.  My gut feel was correct.  The PlayBook comes packaged beautifully in a box with all the required accessories.  It has a rapid charger which charges the battery at a rapid speed (all smartphone users that constantly wait for their phones to charge can appreciate this aspect).  The PlayBook charger also works on smartphones, meaning that my Torch can be charged almost 10x as fast compared to my regular phone charger.  Now whenever I travel, I carry the PlayBook charger wherever I go.  It means all my BlackBerry devices get charged quickly and only one charger has to be carried around.  The PlayBook also comes with all the manuals, computer USB cable and a carry sleeve.  I upgraded to a leather holder that folds over for easy typing and can be converted as a stand for the PlayBook for viewing videos.  Convenience personified.  BlackBerry did a great job in presenting the device well.  I enjoyed the sizzle, but wanted to see whether the device had the steak, the substance to back it up.  Yes it did.

I consider myself a fairly technological adept person.  Even so, I still get frustrated when it can take an hour or two to set up a new piece of machinery.  Every time I change my computer or smartphone, I find that everything always takes time and there are bugs/errors to work through to get the device fully set up.  The PlayBook, refreshingly, has been the easiest computing device that I have ever had the pleasure to set-up.  From beginning to end, I had the device ready to go in about fifteen minutes.  I charged the PlayBook the night before, downloaded the BlackBerry Bridge application from App World onto my Torch, turned on the PlayBook, followed the instructions and in minutes had the PlayBook completed.  The BlackBerry Bridge software was the key selling point to me as a BlackBerry user.  The Bridge allowed me to have all the information on my Torch to be available/replicated on the PlayBook without reinstallation.  The PlayBook was ready to go and I was ready to learn all about it.

 

OVERALL LOOK OF THE PLAYBOOK

The PlayBook is portable and lightweight.  Weighing less than half a kilogram (for our American readers, which would be just one pound) it is easy to transport to anywhere.  Whether you are heading to the ball park, or to a business meeting it is easy to move and doesn’t take much room.   The PlayBook can easily fit into any purse, attaché case, “man-bag”, suit jacket or coat pocket.  Transportability is key for using a mobile computing device.  The small size and light weight was a big bonus compared to a laptop or even the bigger iPad. 

With a 7″ High Definition screen, the PlayBook provides optimal resolution and can be viewed in either landscape or portrait view.  One of the biggest advantages of the PlayBook is the fact it has a Mini HDMI Port.  The key with this is the fact it can be used to connect to a larger screen for presentations.  The PlayBook can also be plugged into a television screen to watched saved videos, especially baseball games!  

Along with the HDMI port, there is also the normal Mini USB slot for charging the PlayBook through either the computer of plugged into the wall.  As I mentioned above, if the user of the PlayBook already owns a BlackBerry Smartphone, the mini USB cord will be transitional.   Other devices could be plugged into the USB slot of the PlayBook like a traditional computer, which other tablets missing the USB slot would be lagging. 

On the top of the PlayBook, you will find the power button, along with the volume adjustments too.  This is simple and easy to use when going back and forth from song to song.  The BlackBerry PlayBook also offers optimized business use, as it has a dual camera.  The 3-megapixel forward facing camera allows for video chat to occur on the PlayBook.  The 5-megapixel rear facing camera takes crystal clear pictures.  Both cameras are high definition quality and can do video as well.  The dual cameras offer many benefits to PlayBook users.  Aside from shooting high quality video and pictures, PlayBook users can conference with each other.  Imagine if you were not able to attend your child’s softball game due to work commitments.  With another user bringing their PlayBook to the ball park, you can conference into the game on your PlayBook and not a miss a second of the action.  Have a friend watching a no-hitter?  Conference in on the PlayBook and become a part of the action as if you were sitting in the stands (just remember that all copyrights are owned by Major League Baseball and may not be broadcast without their express written consent, wink).    

The overall look of the PlayBook is terrific.  It is simple to use and access the buttons, and is lightweight and easy to hold.  It is a device that I found that I could not put down.  Whereas with a laptop I was always waiting for it to start-up and shut-down, with the PlayBook, I just grab it and start using it.  Ease and fun of use combined with productivity and performance.  Just what a baseball columnist requires.  The battery also has an incredibly long life and even with my heavy usage, I found that I only had to charge the device once in a blue moon.  While my smartphone can be a batter drain and require charging twice-a-day, the PlayBook offers battery life second-to-none.  Plus, the rapid charger allows a full charge in less than an hour in most cases.  One simply could not ask for more from a tablet. 

 

FUNCTIONALITY

In comparing products, there are two major advantages to the BlackBerry PlayBook that make it far superior to most other tablets on the market.  The first is the ability to use Flash on websites.  Flash has become the norm for all websites these days.  It makes the webpages more desirable to look at and allows for website designers to be more creative with their work.  Websites using flash allow the user to be interactive with the website.  The PlayBook allows the user to access the best parts of the internet without giving up anything about the internet.  So whether you are checking in on MLBreports.com or mlb.com, the PlayBook browser has you covered for all your baseball information needs. 

The second major advantage to the BlackBerry PlayBook is the way you can multi-task from app to app.  Through the screen, all you have to do is swipe up, and you get back to your main menu of apps.  While running any app in the background, you can open up another app or program and access it without compromising speed.  The ability to go back and forth from different apps makes this superior to any tablet.  At any one time, you can find many apps going at the same time on my PlayBook, including the browser to surf baseball news, Docs to Go in preparing an article, BBM/E-Mail in communicating with others, Facebook and Twitter.  The Facebook app is handy and while Twitter does not have its own app, it is fully functional on the browser.   

The BlackBerry PlayBook has a unique feature that allows for a Bluetooth connection to a user’s BlackBerry Smartphone.  The BlackBerry Bridge app must be downloaded on the smartphone in order to pair the Tablet and Smartphone together.  The Bridge feature wirelessly syncs the Messages, Calendar, Contacts and Memopad from the smartphone to the tablet.  Shortly after the initial launch of the PlayBook, the popular BlackBerry Messenger was added to the Bridge features.  What the Bridge does, is that it mirrors the smartphone to exactly.  The Bluetooth connection should be no more than ten feet away from each other to avoid any disconnections.  If the smartphone is sitting on the coffee table, and you are on your tablet, you are able to respond to emails, and BBM’s from the tablet and the Smartphone will show the new entries wirelessly.  I will admit that I had initial concerns about the PlayBook when it first came out and did not have the Bridge option.  But once the PlayBook adopted the Bridge, the device expanded in its capabilities.  While other tablets like the iPad that require a separate data plan, the PlayBook can be tethered through Bluetooth and share data for free with your BlackBerry smartphone, depending on your plan.  Being able to run the Playbook anywhere without worry of finding Wi-Fi or buying a separate data plan is a definite plus.  The only downfall of the Bluetooth connection is the fact that speed of the connection depends on your Carrier’s speed.  I’ve noticed that 3G connections through Rogers gives a decent speed, although the most optimal speeds are reached when it is wirelessly connected to a network.   

Another unique part of the Bridge is that it allows for documents (PDF’s and Office Suite documents) to be opened on the PlayBook while accessing it from the smartphone.  This is pretty cool, as the PlayBook comes pre-loaded with full version of Docs to Go.  Another cool feature is the Bridge Browser.  If the user is not in a wireless zone, the internet can be accessed using the Bridge Browser icon.  This will use the data plan of the smartphone to access the websites.  The touch screen feature is simple to use, and it doesn’t use the same technology as the original BlackBerry storm where you had to press down on the screen.  It is a similar technology to the BlackBerry Torch, which mirrors the IPhone screen.  The tapping feature makes it easy to use.  The review unit that I received is the 64 GB model, which can store countless baseball games in its memory.  For an active user like myself, that stores a ton of media including ball park video and pictures, as well as articles, the larger memory capacity works well for me.  But depending on your usage, the 16 GB or 32 GB could suffice.  Options are good and the PlayBook has plenty.  Overall, the functionality of the PlayBook is superb and can only get better with improvements to the software updates. 

 

BLACKBERRY PLAYBOOK APPS

This is probably the biggest downfall of the PlayBook.  There were not many apps available for the PlayBook at the initial launch and there still aren’t as many apps available as compared to other tablets in the market, including Apple and Android.  The main reason for this is because the BlackBerry PlayBook uses an entirely different system software from BlackBerry smartphones.  So the applications developed for the Smartphones are not compatible with the Tablet.  One of the first social networking apps to become available was the Facebook app.  It has improved so that it looks similar to the actual Facebook website, as is the case with the smartphone app.  Other social media’s still haven’t created an app for their sites as of yet, including Twitter.  As MLB reports depends heavily on Twitter for social media, I was a little surprised and dismayed at its absence.  But as the browser is fully functional, using Twitter on the PlayBook is the same as any computer.    

One of the reasons for apps not being available on the PlayBook is the promise that Android apps will be downloadable and can be used on the BlackBerry PlayBook in the near future.  Once this becomes available, the world of apps will become a huge marketplace for PlayBook consumers.  Google’s Android Marketplace is the 2nd largest Smartphone/Tablet app producer, second only to Apple.  My hope is that this will become a reality, as the biggest app that is currently missing from the PlayBook is MLB At Bat.  Not being able to stream live games on my BlackBerry smartphone is one thing, but with HD capabilities, I want and need my PlayBook to be able to broadcast live baseball games.  While the PlayBook can do nearly everything I need from a baseball perspective, including run highlights off mlb.com, full web browsing, article writing, tweeting and posting on Facebook, I still need my live games.  Keep an eye out for the Android apps, as this will take the PlayBook from an 8.5 to a 9.5 for me.

One convenient feature with the BlackBerry App World that I wanted to note was that the PlayBook is able to recognize the apps on a user’s smartphone and send alerts if they are available or an update on an app is available.  The automatic updates is a great convenience feature and another reason that the Playbook is very user friendly.  Overall though the apps on the PlayBook have been a disappointment but with the promise of Android apps the future for the PlayBook looks bright!

 

 

THE VERDICT

If you are an existing BlackBerry smartphone user, this decision is an easy one.  Go out and buy your PlayBook immediately.  By having the Bridge feature and running E-mail, BBM and Calendar as mirrored on a BlackBerry smartphone, the PlayBook is able to offer full usage and convenience.  From there, the HD video, dual cameras, USB port, long battery life, portability and light weight make the PlayBook a winner.  The true the test is the usage of the device.  While my laptop remains at home 99% of the time, my PlayBook goes everywhere with me.  It is easy to transport and instantly usable.  Heck, the majority of this article was prepared on my PlayBook on the go.  When I have gone anywhere from ball games to dinner parties, people cannot get enough of the PlayBook when I pull it out.  The reason?  BlackBerry is on to something incredible here.  The PlayBook is smaller than any laptop but bigger than a smartphone.  In comparison to other tablets on the market, the Dell tablet is really just an oversized smartphone while the IPad to me is more of a laptop without the keyboard.  The PlayBook is small enough to be easy to carry, while big and powerful enough for full usage. 

For the non-BlackBerry user, this device may not be for you.  Without a BlackBerry smartphone nearby, the Bridge feature is not useable.  As a result, a stand-alone e-mail service would not be available and many users are not satisfied with using a public e-mail like Gmail or Hotmail.  If I did not have a BlackBerry, I would have lacked many of the features necessary to make full use of the tablet.  But overall, my impression is that BlackBerry introduced the PlayBook for the most part with the BlackBerry user in mind.  Checking e-mails, updating the calendar, video conferencing, preparing documents etc., the PlayBook is a very strong device for the business user.  But the PlayBook is a must for other users, including the baseball crowd.  Whether watching a ball game through video, taking pictures at a stadium, writing articles and surfing the internet in a coffee shop, my PlayBook goes everywhere.

In adapting the PlayBook to MLB reports, I found the tablet does most of the tasks that I require.  Surfing the internet, writing, social media, calendar, e-mails and BBM are all there.  The main items that I came away missing was streaming MLB games and a physical keyboard.  With the hopeful adoption of Android apps, the streaming live games should be coming soon.  As far as the keyboard, while the virtual keyboard is a good size QWERTY, I still found myself typing with one finger.  One solution will be to purchase a wireless keyboard and keep it close by when needed.  On trips especially, I can see myself keeping a Bluetooth keyboard in my suitcase for late night writing sessions.  But failing the physical keyboard, I found the virtual keyboard actually quite user friendly and a good alternative.  As with anything in life, nothing is perfect. 

So while the PlayBook may not be a 10/10, it is pretty darn close.  For a user that is set in his ways and not always quite to change, this is one new technology that has certainly entered my world.  In the past few weeks I have gone from not understanding tablets to embracing them.  It is time to stop lugging bulky laptops and grab a sleek PlayBook.  Once you start using it, you will never be able to put it down.  A great job by BlackBerry and the road will only get brighter for the PlayBook as it continues to develop and grow in the marketplace.  As still a relatively new product, I am sure that the new software updates will ensure that the PlayBook continues to grow.  If you are a crackberry addict, get ready to play ball with the PlayBook.  A true home run by BlackBerry, the PlayBook is now the newest member of the MLB reports’ Technology Field.     

 

 

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Derek Jeter: New York Yankees Captain Joins the 3000 Hit Club

Saturday  July 9, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:   Only in New York.  Derek Jeter entered today’s play with 2,998 career hits.  Only two hits short of the magical 3,000 mark.  Up against tough lefty pitcher David Price of the Rays, there was no certainty that Jeter would achieve the mark today.  But this being Jeter, playing in New York in front of the Yankees faithful, you knew that the captain would not disappoint.  Jeter ended up putting on a show for the ages today that few will ever forget and cementing his place in history as one of the best Yankees of all time.

Jeter started off the afternoon with a lead-off single.  Coming up in the 3rd inning, one hit away from 3,000, Jeter took David Price deep for a home run.  The captain hit out of the park in every sense of the word.  After celebrating the accomplishment, Jeter proceeded to have three more hits and finish the day a perfect 5 for 5.  Jeter is only the second player ever to get five hits in getting to 3,000, Craig Biggio being the other in 2007.

 

To put this into perspective, let’s take a look at the exclusive 3,000 Hit Club that Derek Jeter has just joined:

Player

Hits

Average

Date

Team

 

 

 

Pete Rose

4,256

.303

May 5, 1978

Cincinnati Reds

 

 

 

Ty Cobb

4,191

.366

August 19, 1921

Detroit Tigers

 

 

 

Hank Aaron

3,771

.305

May 17, 1970

Atlanta Braves

 

 

 

Stan Musial

3,630

.331

May 13, 1958

St. Louis Cardinals

 

 

 

Tris Speaker

3,514

.345

May 17, 1925

Cleveland Indians

 

 

 

Carl Yastrzemski

3,419

.285

September 12, 1979

Boston Red Sox

 

 

 

Cap Anson

3,012

.334

July 18, 1897

Chicago Colts

 

 

 

Honus Wagner

3,415

.328

June 9, 1914

Pittsburgh Pirates

 

 

 

Paul Molitor

3,319

.306

September 16, 1996

Minnesota Twins

 

 

 

Eddie Collins

3,315

.333

June 6, 1925

Chicago White Sox

 

 

 

Willie Mays

3,283

.302

July 18, 1970

San Francisco Giants

 

 

 

Eddie Murray

3,255

.287

June 30, 1995

Cleveland Indians

 

 

 

Nap Lajoie

3,242

.338

September 27, 1914

Cleveland Naps

 

 

 

Cal Ripken, Jr.

3,184

.276

April 15, 2000

Baltimore Orioles

 

 

 

George Brett

3,154

.305

September 30, 1992

Kansas City Royals

 

 

 

Paul Waner

3,152

.333

June 19, 1942

Boston Braves

 

 

 

Robin Yount

3,142

.285

September 9, 1992

Milwaukee Brewers

 

 

 

Tony Gwynn

3,141

.338

August 6, 1999

San Diego Padres

 

 

 

Dave Winfield

3,110

.283

September 16, 1993

Minnesota Twins

 

 

 

Craig Biggio

3,060

.281

June 28, 2007

Houston Astros

 

 

 

Rickey Henderson

3,055

.279

October 7, 2001

San Diego Padres

 

 

 

Rod Carew

3,053

.328

August 4, 1985

California Angels

 

 

 

Lou Brock

3,023

.293

August 13, 1979

St. Louis Cardinals

 

 

 

Rafael Palmeiro

3,020

.288

July 15, 2005

Baltimore Orioles

 

 

 

Wade Boggs

3,010

.328

August 7, 1999

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

 

 

 

Al Kaline

3,007

.297

September 24, 1974

Detroit Tigers

 

 

 

Derek Jeter

3,003

.312

July 9, 2011

New York Yankees

 

 

 

Roberto Clemente

3,000

.317

September 30, 1972

Pittsburgh Pirates

 

 

 

 

Derek Jeter is only the 28th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits.  An incredible feat indeed.  To put it further into perspective, every member of the 3,000 Hit Club is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, with the exception of Biggio (not yet eligible), Jeter (active), and Palmeiro/Rose (steroids, gambling).  With 3,000 hits, a player almost guarantees his entrance to the Hall.  With the exception of Rose and Palmeiro, every member of the 3,000 Hit Club has been a first ballot HOFer since 1962.  Jeter certainly deserves all the attention that he is receiving today.  Not only did he reach the mark, but he did it on baseball’s stage in the true style of a superstar.

 

Looking at Derek Jeter’s career numbers, the man has definitely proven to be one of the game’s greats:

Year AB R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1995 48 5 12 0 7 3 11 .250 .294 .375 .669
1996 582 104 183 10 78 48 102 .314 .370 .430 .800
1997 654 116 190 10 70 74 125 .291 .370 .405 .775
1998 626 127 203 19 84 57 119 .324 .384 .481 .864
1999 627 134 219 24 102 91 116 .349 .438 .552 .989
2000 593 119 201 15 73 68 99 .339 .416 .481 .896
2001 614 110 191 21 74 56 99 .311 .377 .480 .858
2002 644 124 191 18 75 73 114 .297 .373 .421 .794
2003 482 87 156 10 52 43 88 .324 .393 .450 .844
2004 643 111 188 23 78 46 99 .292 .352 .471 .823
2005 654 122 202 19 70 77 117 .309 .389 .450 .839
2006 623 118 214 14 97 69 102 .343 .417 .483 .900
2007 639 102 206 12 73 56 100 .322 .388 .452 .840
2008 596 88 179 11 69 52 85 .300 .363 .408 .771
2009 634 107 212 18 66 72 90 .334 .406 .465 .871
2010 663 111 179 10 67 63 106 .270 .340 .370 .710
2011 280 40 72 2 22 24 33 .257 .321 .329 .649
17 Seasons 9602 1725 2998 236 1157 972 1605 .312 .383 .449 .832
162 Game Avg. 659 118 206 16 79 67 110 .312 .383 .449 .832
  AB R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
 

Derek Jeter, also known as Mr. November or Captain Clutch, has enjoyed a storybook career.  AL ROY in 1996, five gold gloves, 11 All-Star game appearances, a World Series MVP and All-Star game MVP,  4 Silver Slugger awards, 4 World Series rings…the list goes on and on.  For a man who grew up cheering for the Yankees, Jeter will one day have his plaque in Cooperstown and jersey retired in Yankee Stadium.  Although clearly on the decline at age 37, which started to show rapidly last year, Jeter proved today that he still has some big hits left in his bat.  Congrats to Yankee captain Derek Jeter, or as he will be known from now on, Mr. 3000. 

 

 

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Team USA: Preview of the 2011 MLB All-Star Futures Game

Friday, July 8, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports):  With the World Team roster covered here on the Reports, we now bring you the potent line-up of Team USA. They are highlighted by standouts Mike Trout (LAA) [named to the squad but just called up to the Angels] and Bryce Harper (WAS).  Team USA also boasts an electric mix of pitching arms, including Shelby Miller (STL) and Jacob Turner (DET).

 

PITCHERS

Jarred Cosart – RHP –Texas – PHI –Clearwater Threshers – A – Florida State League

Jarred sits in the mid 90s and has touched 99 in some starts.  This is his second straight year at the Futures Game, although he did not pitch last year.  He has average command, as witnessed by his 36 walks in 92 innings, but if he can improve upon that, many scouts see him as a frontline starter.

 

Kyle Gibson – RHP –Indiana – MIN –Rochester Red Wings – AAA – International League

Gibson has the look of a middle of the rotation innings eater.  His fastball has late sink, which gets him a ton of ground balls.  With better defense as he moves up, and his ability to throw strikes, he could be a fairly useful 3rd starter.

 

Matt Harvey – RHP –Connecticut – NYM –Binghamton Mets – AA – Eastern League

Harvey pretty much carved up the Florida State League earlier in the year, but in 3 starts in AA, he has not been able to get past the 5th inning.  He strikes a lot of guys out, and doesn’t walk many.  As he matures and makes adjustments, he should succeed. He is expected to fast track to the Mets rotation, possibly as early as 2012.

 

Shelby Miller – RHP –Texas – STL –Springfield Cardinals – AA –Texas League

Ranked as the 4th pitcher in Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects List, Miller has been skyrocketing through the ranks, as he got to AA before his 21st birthday.  Miller has struck out 119 batters in 91 innings, while his WHIP sits at 1.10.  His fastball usually sits in the low 90s with sink and run.  He also possesses an above average changeup and a good curveball.  Miller has all the tools to win a Cy Young Award someday.

 

Matt Moore – LHP –Florida – TB –Montgomery Biscuits – AA – Southern League

Moore is rated 3rd overall on BA’s list, and has top of the rotation stuff.  He led the minor leagues in strikeouts in both 2009 and 2010, collecting 384K in 267 IP between High-A and AA.  Moore has picked up where he left off, with 125 K already this season.  His best pitch is a curveball from a low ¾ arm slot.

 

Brad Peacock – RHP –Florida – WAS –Harrisburg Senators – AA – Eastern League

Another pitcher who seems to finally have put it all together, he has 129 K and hitters have a paltry .179 average against him.  Peacock is wiry and should fill out to increase his velocity.  I see him as a mid rotation guy with a good fastball and breaking ball and decent change.

 

Drew Pomeranz – LHP –Tennessee – CLE –Kinston Indians – A –Carolina League

Pomeranz sits at 92 with his fastball, with good command.  His breaking ball can be a plus, although it is inconsistent.  He keeps the ball in the yard, and due to his large workhorse type frame, he could be an innings eater at the  number 2 or 3 spot in a rotation. 

 

Tyler Skaggs – LHP –California – ARI –Visalia Rawhide – A –California League

Skaggs has gained 15 pounds over the offseason, which has allowed him to raise his velocity a couple notches.  For a lefty who throws from a ¾ slot, he has surprisingly little movement.  His changeup has improved this year, which makes me believe his ceiling could be as a number 2 starter, but most likely settles in the 3-4 range.

 

Tyler Thornburg – RHP –Texas – MIL –Brevard County Manatees – A –FloridaState League

This 3rd rounder in 2010 has simply overmatched his competition so far this year.  With an ERA under 2.00, and opponents hitting under .200 against him, even after a move up to the Florida State League, Thornburg has the tools to succeed.  He has a good fastball and a power curve while his changeup needs time to develop.  If it doesn’t, a career in a setup role is possible.

 

Jacob Turner – RHP –Missouri – DET –Erie Sea Wolves – AA – Eastern League

Turner has a heavy fastball with late life that sits around 93, touching 95.  He has a sharp, but inconsistent curveball, which if he polishes, could be a devastating combo out of the pen.  For a guy who just turned 20 playing AA, Turner has pitched very well with a K:BB ratio at 2.7:1.  Opponents have also only hit .233 off of him.

 

CATCHERS

Devin Mesoraco – C –Pennsylvania – CIN –Louisville Bats – AAA – International League

Catchers with 25-30 homerun power are so rare that they often get moved to first base or even the outfield.  Mesoraco’s defense is average at best, so the move does seem likely in a few years.  Mesoraco walks a fair amount and is a doubles hitting machine, which makes me think he will be an above average regular by 2013.

 

Austin Romine – C –California – NYY –Trenton Thunder – AA – Eastern League

Romine hasn’t wowed anyone with his bat, but has shown steady improvements from year to year.  In his second year of AA he has raised his average, OBP and OPS.  He has a cannon for an arm and quick feet, although his receiving isn’t quite ready.  He could be a solid regular in a few years if the Yankees give him the chance.

 

 

INFIELDERS

Nolan Arenado – 3B –California –COL –Modesto Nuts – A- California League

This big, strong third baseman has decent feet and an average arm, so I see him being Todd Helton’s replacement in the future.  He has a power bat that should develop even further as he matures.  Arenado doesn’t strike out much and walks enough to have a decent OBP, so his bat will suffice at any position.

 

Tim Beckham – SS – Georgia – TB –Montgomery Biscuits – AA – Southern League

Although he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype of his number 1 overall selection in the 2008 draft, he has shown enough skill to keep moving up the ladder.  Every year, his numbers have improved, and I believe he is close to a breakout.  He is still a plus defender which will keep him in the big leagues for a very long time.

 

James Darnell – 3B –California – SD –Tucson Padres – AAA –Pacific Coast League

Darnell just got called up to AAA after dominating Texas league pitching.  His defense is simply average, and may have to move to a corner outfield.  However, his bat is his plus tool, as he has shown even more improvements from his 2010 season in which he struggled.  He already has 19 home runs, and has walked 52 times as opposed to only 48 strikeouts, so his approach at the plate is advanced.

 

Paul Goldschmidt – 1B –Delaware – ARI –Mobile Bay Bears – AA – Southern League

Goldschmidt has unreal power potential.  He has been a solid hitter at every level, but has taken his game to another level this year.  He already has 25 HR and 77 RBI, and he walks a ton.  This guy could be in a big league uniform as early as this September, but more than likely will be sometime in 2012.

 

Grant Green – SS –California – OAK – Midland Rock Hounds – AA –Texas League

Green profiles as a true shortstop with slightly above average hands and arm, with the ability to produce good numbers offensively.  He hit 20 HR last year in high-A, and the move to AA this year has stunted his power, but he still walks and gets on base at a good clip.  He isn’t flashy but he gets the job done and could be one of the better regular shortstops in the league.

 

Jason Kipnis – 2B –Illinois – CLE –Columbus Clippers – AAA – International League

This former center fielder shifted to 2B, where his lack of range still limits him to being only an average defender.  However, his bat will keep him in the big leagues for many years.  His numbers have improved every year, despite moving up a level.  He walks at a good rate and has some pop.  Doesn’t have a high ceiling, but what you see is what you will get.

 

Manny Machado – SS –Florida – BAL –Frederick Keys – A –Carolina League

Machado is still thin, but looks like he could fill out, in which case a move to third would be warranted.  He has a plus arm and solid footwork to go along with his very soft hands.  Although he has struggled a bit since being called up to high-A, he has the IQ to really succeed at the plate.  He takes pitches and isn’t afraid to hit with 2 strikes.

 

Will Middlebrooks – 3B –Texas – BOS –Portland Sea Dogs – AA – Eastern League

Middlebrooks has had a slow ascent through the minors, and with continued production, he could get a look at the big leagues by next year.  He is a solid defender at third, with a good bat.  Needs to work on discipline as his K:BB ratio is at 59:18.  Could be a regular in the big leagues by 2013.

 

 

OUTFIELDERS

Gary Brown – CF –California – SF –San Jose Giants – A –California League

Brown has absolutely blazing speed, with a very good bat.  He has stolen 35 bags, but also been caught 14 times, so he must learn to choose his spots more wisely.  Brown also shows the ability to hit for power, stroking doubles in the gaps consistently.

 

Bryce Harper – RF –Nevada – WAS –Harrisburg Senators – AA – Eastern League

By now, everyone knows the legend of Bryce Harper, and he has lived up to the billing.  He dominated the Arizona Fall League as a taxi squad player, and showed enough early in A-ball to warrant a call-up straight to AA.  The fact that Harper could even surpass people’s expectations is astounding, and I believe he could be a September roster addition for the Nationals.

 

Wil Myers – OF –North Carolina – KC – Northwest Arkansas Naturals – AA –Texas League

Myers moved from catcher to outfield in the fall of 2010, and this move should pay off for him in the long run.  He is aggressive at all times, and he is extremely raw still.  He lost part of the season due to an infection from a cut, so he is just rounding into form now.  AA has been tough for him, but his tools will shine in the long run.  One of the favorites of the Reports, keep an eye on this kid.

 

Matthew Szczur – OF –New Jersey – CHI Cubs –Peoria Chiefs – A –Midwest League

Szczur has tremendous speed and he covers a lot of ground in the outfield.  He hits well for average, but hasn’t quite developed his power yet.  This could happen as he matures.  He walks at a decent clip, and has the ability to steal a ton of bases, so he could be a mainstay near the top of the Cubs line-up.

 

**Mike Trout – CF – New Jersey – LAA –Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – MLB

As I began writing this, it was reported that Trout had been recalled to the big league team, and no replacement has yet been named.  Trout does everything well, and many people were very excited to see him play alongside Harper.  He may not offer as much power as Harper, but he might be one of the fastest players in the big leagues. 

 

Many people will be disappointed that Trout and Harper won’t be playing alongside each other in the Team USA outfield in the Worlds Game, but there is so much talent at this year’s event that nobody will leave Chase Field disappointed.  MLB`s ability to showcase not only current talent, but future stars, highlighted by this year’s fanfest events, make the MLB All-Star Weekend festivities the best of any of the major sports.  Get ready for an explosive Futures Game this Sunday, as the youngsters duel for the spotlight and the chance to make the major leagues one day soon.

 

 

***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the All-Star Futures Game, preview of the World Team.  You can follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

 

 

MLB All-Star Futures Game 2011: World Team Preview

Thursday, July 7, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports):   Since its inception in 1999, the Futures Game, now sponsored by XM Satellite Radio, has grown steadily in popularity.  The players involved are split into two squads:  USA and the World team. The rosters comprise of 25 players each, with every MLB organization represented, and no more than two players from each team.  This year’s game will be played at Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field on Sunday, July 10th, a day before the MLB All-Star Homerun Derby.

Previous editions of the Futures Game has been littered with immense talent, and this year is no exception.  The MVP of the inaugural event was Alfonso Soriano, and in other years it was Jose Reyes (2002), Grady Sizemore (2003), Aaron Hill (2004), and Billy Butler in 2006.  Other notable past participants were superstars Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Robinson Cano of the NY Yankees, and Clayton Kershaw of the LA Dodgers.

This year’s game is no different, as 14 of MLB.com’s Preseason Top 50 Prospects List will be participating in the event.  That number could very easily be higher, but more than a dozen of those 50 are currently playing in the MLB.  This year’s USA crop is highlighted by Mike Trout, #1 on the top 50 list, (LAA) and Bryce Harper, #3, (WAS) sharing the same outfield.  The World team boasts a strong pitching staff, led by Julio Teheran, #10, (ATL) and Henderson Alvarez of the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Let’s take a close look at the featured players that will be respresenting this year’s World Team:

 

WORLD TEAM

 

PITCHERS

Henderson Alvarez – RHP -Venezuela– TOR –New Hampshire Fisher Cats – AA – Eastern League

Alvarez is a right-handed starter who is in his second turn at the Futures Game. He has always possessed plus command, walking only 1.8 batters per 9 innings in his 5 year minor league career.  An increase in weight over the offseason has also helped increase his velocity, as he touches 98 mph.

 

Liam Hendriks – RHP -Australia – MIN –New Britain Rock Cats – AA – Eastern League

Had an appendectomy just days before last year’s game, so this is a reprise for him.  Not unhittable, but throws a ton of strikes; just 18 walks in 90 innings so far.  Sits in the 87-91mph range with average secondary offerings.

 

Kelvin Herrera – RHP -Dominican Republic – KC – Northwest Arkansas Naturals – AA –Texas League

Diminutive right-handed reliever who has been almost untouchable this season. Since his call-up to AA early in the season, he has walked 2 batters to 35 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.  He sits around 95-96mph with a plus change-up.

 

Gregory Infante – RHP -Venezuela – CHISox – Charlotte Knights – AAA – International League

Another flame-throwing righty, he has managed to lower his walk rate and raise his strikeout rate in getting to AAA this year.  He gets enough groundouts and doesn’t give up many homeruns.  His lack of a consistent second pitch is holding him back, although his curve shows flashes of brilliance in the low 80s.

 

Jhan Marinez – RHP -Dominican Republic –FLA –Jacksonville Suns – AA – Southern League

Another righty reliever that can touch 98, with an exceptional 2-seamer that sits at 92.  His problem, as most young arms, is control.  Over his career he has average 6 BB/9, and has so far managed 7.9 BB/9 this year.  He has struck out almost 12 per 9 innings though.

 

Carlos Martinez – RHP – Dominican Republic – STL – Palm Beach Cardinals – A – Florida State League

A Latin pitcher, thin and wiry who sits mid 90s with his fastball which has a good late cut.  He has given up only 31 hits in 44 2/3 innings pitched, and is able to induce a lot of ground balls.

 

James Paxton – LHP -Canada – SEA – Jackson Generals – AA – Southern League

A tall, strong lefty, who didn’t sign after being selected in the supplemental first round in 2009, got a later start on his professional career after three years at the UniversityofKentucky.  He sits 92-95mph with an above average curve, a power slider and average change-up.  As a starter this year, he has struck out 81 batters in 60 2/3 innings.

 

Martin Perez – LHP -Venezuela –TEX – Frisco RoughRiders – AA –Texas League

A left handed starter with a fastball that sits around 92mph, his bread and butter is his sharp, hard-breaking curveball.  His command is average, as he walks close to 4 batters per 9 innings.

 

Julio Teheran – RHP -Colombia – ATL – Gwinnett Braves – AAA – International League

It’s not often you see a 20-year old in AAA with his numbers. 9-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 90 2/3 IP.  He possess a plus fastball that sits 92-94, with a plus plus change-up with great sink.  Projects to be a #2 starter, if not a true ace in the big leagues.

 

Arodys Vizcaino – RHP -Dominican Republic – ATL –Mississippi Braves – AA – Southern League

Strong, well developed legs allow him to sit in the 91-94 range, topping at 95. His curve and change have yet to fully develop, but show flashes of promise.  He has the ability to miss bats, as he has compiled 76 K in 78 2/3 IP.

 

CATCHERS

Willin Rosario – C -Dominican Republic –COL -Tulsa Drillers – AA –Texas League

He possesses 30+ HR power, but lacks discipline and doesn’t walk.  He has power to all fields but strikes out in almost 20% of his at bats.  If he can learn some patience, he could be one of the top young catchers in the game.

 

Sebastian Valle – C -Mexico – PHI –Clearwater Threshers – A –Florida State League

Valle is a catcher who has hit at every level so far, yet still lacks patience, which is very common with young backstops.  If he can raise his walk rate, and keep hitting the ball to all fields, he could be a special catcher in the Phillies organization.

 

 

INFIELDERS

Yonder Alonso – 1B/OF -Cuba – CIN –Louisville Bats – AAA – International League

Alonso is a very polished hitter.  He has begun to play more innings at left field, because the Reds have Joey Votto as a lock at 1B.  He hits to all fields, with some pop, and he walks a fair amount, which has led to his .861 OPS in AAA.

 

Jose Altuve – 2B -Venezuela – HOU – Corpus Christi Hooks – AA –Texas League

Listed at 5’7”, but plays as if he was 6’3”.  Altuve is currently hitting .362 with 4 HR and 22 RBI in 31 games in AA after starting the season in A-ball, where he hit over .400 in 52 games.  He doesn’t walk much, but when he is hitting everything thrown at him, he doesn’t really need to.

 

Hak-Ju Lee – SS -South Korea – TB – Charlotte Stone Crabs – A –FloridaState League

He is a plus defender at shortstop with good speed.  Lee needs to work on his base stealing to better utilize that speed.  He is having the best offensive season of his career, and is really looking like a steal in the Matt Garza trade with the Cubs.

 

Francisco Martinez – 3B -Venezuela – DET –Erie Sea Wolves – AA – Eastern League

Martinez is a prototypical third baseman with a quick bat and strong arm.  Once he fills out his athletic frame, he should develop plus power.  He still strikes out too much as he adjusts to AA pitching.

 

Alex Liddi – SS -Italy – SEA –Tacoma Rainiers – AAA –PacificCoast League

As the first Italian position player to sign a professional contract, he was seen as a bit of a project back in 2005.  He has begun to develop his power, bashing 15 HR so far this season, but strikes out a ton; around 30% of his plate appearances end with him walking back to the dugout.

 

Jeffry Marte – 3B –  Dominican Republic – NYM – St. Lucie Mets – A –Florida State League

Marte has good gap power and has a decent eye at the plate, as well as being smart on the base paths.  May not be able to stay at 3B long term, but as long as his bat continues to progress, could make it to the big leagues as an outfielder.

 

Jurickson Profar – SS – Curacao –TEX –Hickory Crawdads – A –South Atlantic League

Premium defender at shortstop, with speed and the ability to drive the ball all over the field.  He walks more than he strikes out, and once he fills out his 165lb frame, he could eventually become a 20/20 shortstop in the big leagues.

 

Jonathan Schoop – 3B – Curacao – BAL –Frederick Keys – A –Carolina League

Possesses the skills to play anywhere in the infield, his long term future looks to be 3B.  He has quick feet and a good arm, with a quick bat.  As he gets stronger, he could be a 20 HR guy that can drive in a ton of runs.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Chih-Hsien Chiang – OF -Taiwan – BOS –Portland Sea Dogs – AA – Eastern League

After five years of mediocrity in the minor leagues, he seems to have put it together this year.  Hitting in the middle of Portland’s line-up, he has not only driven in 58 runs and hit 14 homeruns, but also hit 26 doubles, giving him a .618 SLG.  Over half of his hits have been for extra bases, with gap power, he could prove that Boston’s roots in Asia are only getting stronger.

 

Reymond Fuentes – CF – Puerto Rico – SD –LakeElsinore Storm – A –California League

One of the pieces in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, he should be able to man center field at Petco Park for years to come with his speed.  He already has 34 stolen bases, and he gets on base quite frequently.  He may never hit for power, but could be a leadoff type hitter in the big leagues.

 

Starling Marte – CF -Dominican Republic – PIT –Altoona Curve – AA – Eastern League

There aren’t many players in baseball that could push Andrew McCutchen to a corner outfield position, but Marte could be one of them.  He possesses the speed to cover a lot of ground, and although his power hasn’t quite developed, he could be a 10-15 HR player with a good OBP if his discipline continues to progress.

 

Alfredo Silverio – LF -Dominican Republic – LAD –Chattanooga Lookouts – AA – Southern League

Silverio has always seemed ready to be the power/speed combination outfielder the Dodgers envisioned when they signed him in 2003, and almost eight years later, he may finally be hitting his stride.  If his discipline can improve, he could be in the big leagues quickly.  Lacks a good arm, so he is basically destined for left field.

 

Dayan Viciedo – RF -Cuba – CHI Sox – Charlotte Knights – AAA – International League

Finally moved to the outfield this year, he has a solid arm for right field, and he flat out mashes.  Many see a 30 HR player in the near future, as he uses all parts of the field with a quick compact stroke.

 

The World team is comprised of players from twelve countries: eight from the Dominican Republic, five from Venezuela, two from Cuba and Curacao, and one each from Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Italy, Colombia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

Stay tuned for analysis on the US roster.

 

***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the All-Star Futures Game, preview of the World Team.  You can follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

 

 

E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday July 6th All-Star Edition

Thank you for reading the E-mailbag.  Please send all your questions to mlbreports@gmail.com and please include your first name and City/Country.

We will be compiling a list of your questions from our e-mailbag and posting the responses on Wednesdays.

 

 

 

Wednesday July 6, 2011

Q:  I enjoyed your article on the Home Run Derby this week.  Which players were selected to play in this year’s derby?  From:  Dave, Chicago.

MLB reports:    Thank you Dave.  So glad that you enjoyed our feature on the Home Run Derby.  As indicated in the article, captain David Ortiz has included Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano and Adrian Gonzalez on the AL squad.  The NL team, which was announced yesterday by captain Prince Fielder, includes Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, Matt Holliday of the Cardinals and Rickie Weeks of the Brewers.  For the most part we have a very solid derby lineup.  The only criticism that I can offer each team is the choice of the respective second basemen.  While Rickie Weeks and Robinson Cano are fine players, there are far more powerful bashers that I would have preferred to see this upcoming Monday in Arizona.  Curtis Granderson in the AL and Ryan Braun in the NL are the first two names that come to mind.  It should be an interesting Home Run Derby regardless.  So enjoy it!

 

Q:    I am boycotting the All-Star game this year.  It is nothing but a glorified exhibition game.  I suggest you do the same.  From:  Sam, Vancouver.

MLB reports:  Ouch Sam, you really do not like the All-Star game!  As much as the game itself receives negative press, the truth is that all our readers are writing about in the last two weeks is the All-Star game.  They cannot get enough of all the All-Star game coverage on the Reports!  While the game itself may frustrate us, with the length of time it takes to play, number of substitutes etc, the truth is that the game has much merit.  The All-Star game does decide home field advantage for the World Series, which is a huge reward.  The players are playing for pride and in my opinion, the last few games have been exceptionally entertaining for the most part.  Lastly, most of us love debating which players should be included on the rosters and analyzing the exclusions.  Baseball is a sport of non-stop analysis and the All-Star game is no exception.  Rather than focusing on the flaws, take in what is good about the game.  With the glass-half-full approach, maybe you will become a fan again.

 

Q:  My fave part of All-Star week is the Prospects Game.  The up and coming stars get to play and I get to see them live.  Will we get reports on the Prospects Game?  From:  Jason, Los Angeles.

MLB reports:  Funny you should bring up the Prospects Game Jason, you have read our mind.  As part of our search for the MLB reports Intern, we have Rob- a candidate for the post, preparing his feature article on the Prospects Game as we speak.  We agree that the Prospects Game is a very important game, if not the biggest game of the break for many baseball fans.  For the diehards that subscribe to Baseball America and try to learn all the prospects, many do not have the opportunity to watch the prospects live.  For those of you that subscribe to mlb.tv, you may not know that you can add the Milb package as well for only a few dollars.  But otherwise, the top prospects in the game will be playing this weekend.  While MLB reports will have the game covered this weekend, we will be featuring Rob’s preview of the game starting tomorrow.  Stay tuned for this must read feature!

 

Q:  Do you see MLB ever getting rid of the All-Star game?  Perhaps replacing it with the WBC or Olympics some years?   From:  Bruno, Mexico City.

MLB reports:  Hello Bruno, great question.  I can answer your question with one word:  Never.  The MLB All-Star game is a huge event for baseball that will continue until the end of time.  The game itself is as much about pleasing the sponsors as it is the fans.  The game is a showcase of Major League Baseball to the sponsors and baseball’s chance to wine and dine the greatest financial contributors the game.  The All-Star game contributes a great deal of revenue and publicity for the home town sponsoring team and the battle to host the big event is fierce every year.  The WBC, as featuring in our recent article, will be back as part of the 2013 edition.  While experts have debated hosting the tournament during the middle of the season or at season’s end, the time and commitment required makes the logistics almost impossible.  For now the WBC is remaining as a pre-season tournament, with qualifying taking place in the fall of 2012 and the WBC in March 2013.  From the Olympics perspective, baseball is not even currently included as a sport.  In 2013, the IOC will vote on whether to include baseball as an Olympic sport in the 2020 games.  Baseball will be competing with karate, roller sports, softball, sports climbing, squash, wakeboard and wushu for one spot.  The Olympics will be discussed on a different day, as the exclusion of baseball by the Olympics is unforgivable in my opinion and simply a harsh tactic to force Major League Baseball to send professionals to the Olympics.  Baseball is strong in its stance though and even if baseball does rejoin the Olympics, it will not interfere with the All-Star game.  The mid-season game is simply to valuable to baseball to let go.  Ever.

 

Q:  The National League won the All-Star game last year, its first win since 1996.  Who will win this year?  From:  Tiffany, Miami.

MLB reports:  I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you Tiffany, but the AL will win this year.  Call it gut, call it bias.  I just can’t see how the NL can control the bashers in the American League.  Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson are just some of the big names representing the American League.  While the NL has Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp, Lance Berkman, Brian McCann etc, I think the AL has too strong of an offensive team.  The AL pitching is also stacked, led by Justin Verlander, David Prince, James Shields, Jered Weaver and company.  While the NL pitchers get much of the press, the AL has its share of star pitchers.  The game should be an interesting one, with the run total likely to be very high.  But when all is said and done, expect the AL to come out on top and giving the Rays home field advantage over the Phillies in the World Series (did I just make a prediction?)

 

 

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2011 MLB Home Run Derby: New Format, Ortiz and Fielder as Captains and Picks

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

 

MLB reports:   Change is in the air as Major League Baseball has revised the format for the Home Run Derby, coming up on Monday, July 11th from Chase Field in Arizona.  The biggest change is the appointment of captains.  Former home run derby champions David Ortiz and Prince Fielder will serve as the leaders of the AL and NL squads respectively.  Each captain is able to select three additional players of their choice to fill out their home run derby team, regardless of being selected as an all-star.  The Home Run Derby team selections are due today, but David Ortiz has already jumped the gun to fill out his roster.  Papi’s selections are about to be listed, but first the format change for the Home Run Derby this year.

According to Major League Baseball:

“While the format to determine the individual champion will remain unchanged, the total number of home runs hit by all players in all rounds will be tabulated for the AL and NL to determine the winning team, captain and charity recipient. Each player will get 10 outs per round, the four players with the highest total of home runs will advance to the second round, and the two players with the highest cumulative number of home runs in the first two rounds will advance to the Championship Round, where first and second round home runs do not carry over for individual scores.”

Thus the derby now becomes a team effort right up until the final round, where an individual winner will be selected.  Thus the 2011 Home Run Derby will have a winning team, as well as an individual champion.  With the format of the Home Run Derby becoming somewhat stale and many players declining invitations, change was needed.  There was also talk of the “Derby Curse”, where participants in the Home Run Derby would find their home run totals slip in the second half of the season.  From Bobby Abreu in 2005 to Josh Hamilton in 2008, the curse has taken on a life of its own.  With teams starting to put pressure on its players to avoid the home run contest, the new format is a breath of fresh air.  Having the teams and captains brings fun and competitiveness back to the event and should rejuvenate a great brand for Major League Baseball.  While this year’s format will likely require future tweaking, in my opinion at least, MLB has done a great job in building excitement to the upcoming derby.

As mentioned, today is the deadline for the team captains to submit their home run team picks.  For the American League, Captain David Ortiz has made his selections.  Representing the AL in the 2011 Home Run Derby will be Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox, Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays and Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees.  Gonzalez and Bautista were the first two selections by Ortiz that accepted their invitations.  Cano teammate, Mark Teixeira, was originally selected as the fourth member of the squad, but declined his invitation.  Cano has since happily accepted and will be launching home runs for the AL next Monday.

On the current MLB home run leader board, Bautista sits at #1 with 27 home runs, Ortiz at #11 with 17, Gonzalez at #18 with 16 and Cano at #27 with 14.  Ortiz made some interesting choices, as Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz and Paul Konerko were not selected despite being in the top 10 home run hitters in the game as of today.  I don’t believe that many people would argue with the selections of Bautista or Gonzalez.  It is the selection of Cano that would likely have some tongues wagging.  Most experts would have preferred Teixeira on the squad, but unfortunately he declined the invitation.  Personally, I would have gone with Granderson or Miguel Cabrera for the position.  But regardless of preference, the AL squad is a mighty one and should give the AL a strong chance to win this year’s Home Run Derby.

In the National League, Prince Fielder continues to ponder and calculate his selections, which should be announced later today.  Prince, at #6 on the home run leader board with 21, has many candidates to choose from.  One selection apparently confirmed is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, who is #4 with 22 home runs.  Other strong candidates are Fielder’s teammates Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks (with rumors have Weeks likely to receive and accept an invitation).  Other possibilities are Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals, Jay Bruce of the Reds, Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies and Mike Stanton of the Marlins.  If you are handicapping at home, my predicted NL squad is Fielder, Weeks, Holliday and Bruce.  We will find out later today if Prince and I are on the same page on this one.

No matter who ends up representing the AL and NL, Ortiz and Fielder will captain exciting and dynamic home run hitting squads that will electrify the Arizona crowd next Monday.  I cannot recall a more anticipated Home Run Derby in recent history.  Good luck Prince and Papi and don’t forget to eat your wheaties this week.

 

***Get ready for a week’s worth of All-Star reporting, as MLB reports has everything All-Star covered between now and the big game on Tuesday.  We will be keeping an eye on the All-Star game itself, as well as the Futures Game, Home Run Derby and everything in between.  The All-Star game is a little over a week away and we will bring you all the latest All-Star game news as it develops.  To view the AL and NL All-Star Game rosters and Final Vote candidates, click here***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

2011 MLB ALL-STAR GAME FINAL VOTING RESULTS:

Here are the final numbers as voted by the fans for the starting lineups in the All-Star game:

American League

CATCHER — 1, Alex Avila, Tigers, 4,144,384. 2, Russell Martin, Yankees, 3,646,033. 3, Joe Mauer, Twins, 2,308,436. 4, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox, 2,183,113. 5, Yorvit Torrealba, Rangers, 1,810,755. 6, Carlos Santana, Indians, 1,501,053. 7, J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays, 1,024,020. 8, A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox, 963,463.

FIRST BASE — 1, Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox, 6,034,533. 2, Mark Teixeira, Yankees, 4,174,690. 3, Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, 3,473,849. 4, Mitch Moreland, Rangers, 1,680,462. 5, Paul Konerko, White Sox, 1,323,853. 6, Adam Lind, Blue Jays, 860,203. 7, Justin Morneau, Twins, 781,717. 8, Matt LaPorta, Indians, 750,953.

SECOND BASE — 1, Robinson Cano, Yankees, 6,679,976. 2, Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, 4,391,835. 3, Ian Kinsler, Rangers, 2,729,450. 4, Orlando Cabrera, Indians, 1,538,135. 5, Ben Zobrist, Rays, 1,245,709. 6, Howie Kendrick, Angels, 1,079,227. 7, Will Rhymes, Tigers, 671,674. 8, Aaron Hill, Blue Jays, 587,179.

THIRD BASE — 1, Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, 5,277,823. 2, Adrian Beltre, Rangers, 4,036,191. 3, Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, 4,018,641. 4, Evan Longoria, Rays, 2,804,004. 5, Brandon Inge, Tigers, 1,113,787. 6, Maicer Izturis, Angels, 666,828. 7, Mike Aviles, Royals, 602,091. 8, Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, 505,015.

SHORTSTOP — 1, Derek Jeter, Yankees, 4,536,386. 2, Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians, 4,073,992. 3, Elvis Andrus, Rangers, 2,698,902. 4, Jhonny Peralta, Tigers, 2,301,524. 5, Marco Scutaro, Red Sox, 1,642,606. 6, Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays, 1,104,761. 7, J.J. Hardy, Orioles, 956,073. 8, Alexei Ramirez, White Sox, 946,442.

DESIGNATED HITTER — 1, David Ortiz, Red Sox, 6,324,793. 2, Michael Young, Rangers, 3,072,467. 3, Victor Martinez, Tigers, 2,302,988. 4, Jorge Posada, Yankees, 1,998,551. 5, Johnny Damon, Rays, 1,303,471. 6, Travis Hafner, Indians, 1,206,971. 7, Vladimir Guerrero, Orioles, 1,136,364. 8, Billy Butler, Royals, 891,940.

OUTFIELD — 1, Jose Bautista, Blue Jays, 7,454,753. 2, Curtis Granderson, Yankees, 6,683,877. 3, Josh Hamilton, Rangers, 4,646,394. 4, Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox, 4,609,667. 5, Carl Crawford, Red Sox, 3,213,581. 6, Nelson Cruz, Rangers, 2,704,249. 7, Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, 2,528,532. 8, Nick Swisher, Yankees, 2,277,856. 9, Brett Gardner, Yankees, 2,064,372. 10, J.D. Drew, Red Sox, 2,009,877. 11, Matt Joyce, Rays, 1,597,334. 12, Jeff Francoeur, Royals, 1,505,399. 13, David Murphy, Rangers, 1,458,420. 14, Grady Sizemore, Indians, 1,283,993. 15, Austin Jackson, Tigers, 1,254,267. 16, Carlos Quentin, White Sox, 1,218,968. 17, Melky Cabrera, Royals, 1,201,982. 18, Shin-Soo Choo, Indians, 1,158,749. 19, Alex Gordon, Royals, 1,120,683. 20, B.J, Upton, Rays, 1,081,270. 21, Magglio Ordonez, Tigers, 1,008,145. 22, Torii Hunter, Angels, 927,271. 23, Sam Fuld, Rays, 916,219. 24, Michael Brantley, Indians, 878,556.

 

National League

CATCHER — 1, Brian McCann, Braves, 4,698,838. 2, Yadier Molina, Cardinals, 2,972,786. 3, Buster Posey, Giants, 2,418,923. 4, Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers, 2,271,498. 5, Ramon Hernandez, Reds, 2,056,263. 6, Carlos Ruiz, Phillies, 1,864,675. 7, Ivan Rodriguez, Nationals, 1,225,342. 8, Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks, 1,149,461.

FIRST BASE — 1, Prince Fielder, Brewers, 4,864,523. 2, Joey Votto, Reds, 4,254,305. 3, Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 4,171,094. 4, Ryan Howard, Phillies, 2,563,736. 5, Freddie Freeman, Braves, 957,816. 6, Brandon Belt, Giants, 917,044. 7, Ike Davis, Mets, 824,681. 8, Todd Helton, Rockies, 761,928.

SECOND BASE — 1, Rickie Weeks, Brewers, 4,460,395. 2, Brandon Phillips, Reds, 4,273,079. 3, Chase Utley, Phillies, 3,345,845. 4, Freddy Sanchez, Giants, 1,627,733. 5, Dan Uggla, Braves, 1,583,903. 6, Neil Walker, Pirates, 993,369. 7, Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks, 862,204. 8, Skip Schumaker, Cardinals, 856,658.

THIRD BASE — 1, Placido Polanco, Phillies, 4,410,701. 2, Chipper Jones, Braves, 2,849,578. 3, Scott Rolen, Reds, 2,251,425. 4, Pablo Sandoval, Giants, 2,213,057. 5, David Wright, Mets, 2,106,800. 6, Casey McGehee, Brewers, 1,877,744. 7, Aramis Ramirez, Cubs, 1,192,220. 8, Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals, 1,137,696.

SHORTSTOP — 1, Jose Reyes, Mets, 4,707,976. 2, Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, 3,932,000. 3, Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, 2,311,689. 4, Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers, 1,695,431. 5, Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks, 1,523,919. 6, Alex Gonzalez, Braves, 1,476,368. 7, Miguel Tejada, Giants, 1,265,544. 8, Paul Janish, Reds, 1,168,551.

OUTFIELD — 1, Ryan Braun, Brewers, 5,928,004. 2, Lance Berkman, Cardinals, 4,345,766. 3, Matt Kemp, Dodgers, 4,293,626. 4, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, 3,948,268. 5, Jay Bruce, Reds, 3,218,003. 6, Andre Ethier, Dodgers, 3,013,030. 7, Carlos Beltran, Mets, 2,631,991. 8, Shane Victorino, Phillies, 2,370,351. 9, Corey Hart, Brewers, 1,875,897. 10, Justin Upton, Diamondbacks, 1,845,385. 11, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, 1,733,281. 12, Jason Heyward, Braves, 1,715,925. 13, Raul Ibanez, Phillies, 1,641,389. 14, Drew Stubbs, Reds, 1,572,673. 15, Carlos Gomez, Brewers, 1,508,939. 16, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, 1,343,144. 17, Hunter Pence, Astros, 1,315,276. 18, Jonny Gomes, Reds, 1,310,142. 19, Martin Prado, Braves, 1,296,763. 20, Alfonso Soriano, Cubs, 1,282,608. 21, Aubrey Huff, Giants, 1,240,980. 22, Chris Young, Diamondbacks, 1,151,443. 23, Ben Francisco, Phillies, 1,124,361. 24, Jason Bay, Mets, 1,114,574.

Final Rosters are Announced: 2011 MLB All-Star Game Vote Totals and Time for the Final Vote

Monday, July 4, 2011

 

MLB reports:   The day has finally arrived.  After weeks of voting in stadiums and on-line, the 2011 final rosters for the All-Star game are set, coming up Tuesday July 12th from beautiful Arizona, hosted by the Diamondbacks.  Barring injuries and players pulling out, we now know the starting lineups, pitching staffs and reserves representing the American League and National League in the All-Star game.  After the fans voted in the starting lineups, the All-Star managers, Ron Washington for the AL and Bruce Bochy for the NL, filled out the rest of their rosters.  There were some surprises in the announcements to say the least.  We saw some last-minute changes in the voting by the fans to the starting lineups.  From there, the All-Star managers made some very interesting selections as well.  On the whole, the rosters are fair and well deserved.  But some spots are debatable.  Then once you account for the selections by the managers, we enter the realm of a week-long debate.  Let’s take a look at the rosters for each league, including the starters, the pitching staffs and the reserves.  From there, we will analyze the candidates for the coveted “Final Vote” spot as chosen by the fans on-line, between now and 4:00p.m. on July 7th.

American League All-Star Roster:

AL Starting Lineup:
Pos Player
C Alex Avila,Tigers
1B Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
2B Robinson Cano, Yankees
3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
SS Derek Jeter, Yankees
OF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
OF Curtis Granderson, Yankees
OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers
DH David Ortiz, Red Sox

The American League starting lineup as voted by the fans took shape as projected the last few days.  The infield remains with Adrian Gonzalez at first, combined with Yankees Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.  Despite late pushes, Asdrubal Cabrera and Adrian Beltre could not garner enough votes to make the starting lineup, although both are on their way to Arizona as reserves.  David Ortiz joins Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson and Josh Hamilton in a very heavy Yankees/Red Sox lineup.  Jacoby Ellsbury also did not attain enough votes to start but will be a reserve.  Hamilton, the former AL MVP, proved to be too popular on this day.  The one major upset though was Alex Avila, who through very strong play and Tigers fans voting is starting next Tuesday ahead of the reserve Russell Martin.  Considering that Martin held onto the spot for the majority of the voting, Tigers fans were very successful in sending the deserving Avila to Arizona.

AL Pitching Staff:
Pos Player
P Josh Beckett, Red Sox
P Aaron Crow, Royals
P Gio Gonzalez, Athletics
P Felix Hernandez, Mariners
P Brandon League, Mariners
P Chris Perez, Indians
P David Price, Rays
P Mariano Rivera, Yankees
P James Shields, Rays
P Jose Valverde, Tigers
P Justin Verlander, Tigers
P Jered Weaver, Angels
P C.J. Wilson, Rangers

An incredible pitching staff to say the least, but not without its omissions.  Despite such a strong selection, C.C. Sabathia, Jon Lester, Dan Haren, Jeremy Hellickson, Ricky Romero and Bartolo Colon all were left off the roster.  Other pitchers deserving consideration with Jordan Walden, Sergio Santos, Kyle Farnsworth and Jonathan Papelbon.  The selections of Aaron Crow, Gio Gonzalez, Brandon League and Jose Valverde will receive the most criticism in the coming days.  While decent picks, there appears to be more deserving players that were cast aside for the above all-stars.  A dilemma every year, I make the submission that the AL pitching staff is one that needs a second opinion given the candidates left on the board.

AL Reserves:
Pos Player
C Russell Martin, Yankees
C Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2B Howard Kendrick, Angels
3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
OF Michael Cuddyer, Twins
OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
OF Matt Joyce, Rays
OF Carlos Quentin, White Sox
DH Michael Young, Rangers

Notable absences are Paul Konerko of the White Sox and Mark Teixeira of the Yankees.  Despite strong power numbers for each, the AL is only carrying two active first basemen, with Michael Young available as well.  Apparently the limit of Yankees was reached and a spot could not be found for either one.  Konerko though will get a second kick at the can, who together with Victor Martinez are the strongest candidates for the Final Vote spot.  While credit should go to Ron Washington in the selection of Joyce and Quentin, the selection of Cuddyer will be considered curious by some.  His roster spot relates more to the representation of a player for each team than being a top all-star.  So as a result, deserving candidates like Konerko, Teixeira and Martinez may not be in Arizona for the big game.

National League All-Star Roster:

NL Starting Lineup:
Pos Player
C Brian McCann, Braves
1B Prince Fielder, Brewers
2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers
3B Placido Polanco, Phillies
SS Jose Reyes, Mets
OF Ryan Braun, Brewers
OF Lance Berkman, Cardinals
OF Matt Kemp, Dodgers

We are now in the senior circuit and begin with the starting lineup.  The fans were very active in the final week of voting here as four members of the starting lineup were last-minute winners.   Prince Fielder is in over Albert Pujols, Rickie Weeks beat out the reserve Brandon Phillips, Jose Reyes is in while Troy Tulowitzki is out of the lineup and on the bench and Matt Kemp beat out Matt Holliday for the starting position.  All four were very deserving winners and represent a case where the fans pushed hard and got it right.  Together with Brian McCann, Ryan Braun, Placido Polanco and Lance Berkman, the NL has a strong offensive lineup.  The Polanco selection was not one of my favorites but more of a result of a very weak third base class in the NL than anything else.

NL Pitching Staff:
Pos Player
P Heath Bell, Padres
P Matt Cain, Giants
P Tyler Clippard, Nationals
P Roy Halladay, Phillies
P Cole Hamels, Phillies
P Joel Hanrahan, Pirates
P Jair Jurrjens, Braves
P Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
P Cliff Lee, Phillies
P Tim Lincecum, Giants
P Jonny Venters, Braves
P Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
P Brian Wilson, Giants

The NL pitching staff is certainly controversial and as debatable as the AL squad.  Absent are pitchers Craig Kimbrel, John Axford, Drew Storen, Kevin Correia, Tommy Hanson, Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy, among others.  It is hard to argue with many if not most of the NL pitchers selected, although Ryan Vogelsong and Brian Wilson are two selections which are likely to cause the ire of the rest of the baseball world.  How Correia and Hanson in particular were omitted is beyond me.   But again this is part of the All-Star process.  An issue that is coming up every year is the selection of too many of a team’s own players by the league manager.  While Ron Washington was fair in his picks, I see Bruce Bochy as favoring his staff a little too much in this case.  Hopefully this issue gets settled out soon once and for all.

NL Reserves:
Pos Player
C Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
1B Joey Votto, Reds
2B Brandon Phillips, Reds
3B Chipper Jones, Braves
SS Starlin Castro, Cubs
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
OF Carlos Beltran, Mets
OF Jay Bruce, Reds
OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals
OF Hunter Pence, Astros
OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

 Names that are missing off this list are Ryan Howard, Danny Espinosa, Mike Stanton and Andrew McCutchen, among others.  Looking at the selections overall, Chipper Jones was the one that most stands out.  But given the weak third base crop and Jones lifetime contributions to the game, this is actually a fairly classy move in what could be Jones swan song.  But overall I am satisfied with the NL reserves.  Not as many issues as the pitching staff from my standpoint.

With the All-Star rosters in place, fans now get to select the 34th roster spot for each league.  A dog fight is definitely in store for Thursday.

MLB Final Vote Candidates:

AL Nominees:

While Alex Gordon is a feel good story this year and Adam Jones and Ben Zobrist deserve consideration, this spot will come down to a popularity contest between AL Central rivals Paul Konerko and Victor Martinez.  While both are very worthy candidates, it is a question of to which direction the fans will push.  My pick is Paul Konerko but given the success of Alex Avila, I am forecasting Victor Martinez as the Final Vote victor here.

NL Nominees:

Another set of worthy candidates, this one will boil down to the Phillies faithful pushing of Shane Victorino, the hometown Diamondbacks selection of Ian Kennedy or the push for Andre Ethier of the Dodgers.  My selection is Ethier but I can see Victorino landing the spot based on the passion and push of his local fans.  Call it gut on this one, although I can see the worthy Kennedy squeaking in as an option.

***Get ready for a week’s worth of All-Star reporting, as MLB reports has everything All-Star covered between now and the big game on Tuesday.  We will be keeping an eye on the All-Star game itself, as well as the Futures Game, Home Run Derby and everything in between.  The All-Star game is a little over a week away and we will bring you all the latest All-Star game news as it develops.***

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2011 MLB ALL-STAR GAME FINAL VOTING RESULTS:

Here are the final numbers as voted by the fans for the starting lineups in the All-Star game:

American League

CATCHER — 1, Alex Avila, Tigers, 4,144,384. 2, Russell Martin, Yankees, 3,646,033. 3, Joe Mauer, Twins, 2,308,436. 4, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox, 2,183,113. 5, Yorvit Torrealba, Rangers, 1,810,755. 6, Carlos Santana, Indians, 1,501,053. 7, J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays, 1,024,020. 8, A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox, 963,463.

FIRST BASE — 1, Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox, 6,034,533. 2, Mark Teixeira, Yankees, 4,174,690. 3, Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, 3,473,849. 4, Mitch Moreland, Rangers, 1,680,462. 5, Paul Konerko, White Sox, 1,323,853. 6, Adam Lind, Blue Jays, 860,203. 7, Justin Morneau, Twins, 781,717. 8, Matt LaPorta, Indians, 750,953.

SECOND BASE — 1, Robinson Cano, Yankees, 6,679,976. 2, Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, 4,391,835. 3, Ian Kinsler, Rangers, 2,729,450. 4, Orlando Cabrera, Indians, 1,538,135. 5, Ben Zobrist, Rays, 1,245,709. 6, Howie Kendrick, Angels, 1,079,227. 7, Will Rhymes, Tigers, 671,674. 8, Aaron Hill, Blue Jays, 587,179.

THIRD BASE — 1, Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, 5,277,823. 2, Adrian Beltre, Rangers, 4,036,191. 3, Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, 4,018,641. 4, Evan Longoria, Rays, 2,804,004. 5, Brandon Inge, Tigers, 1,113,787. 6, Maicer Izturis, Angels, 666,828. 7, Mike Aviles, Royals, 602,091. 8, Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, 505,015.

SHORTSTOP — 1, Derek Jeter, Yankees, 4,536,386. 2, Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians, 4,073,992. 3, Elvis Andrus, Rangers, 2,698,902. 4, Jhonny Peralta, Tigers, 2,301,524. 5, Marco Scutaro, Red Sox, 1,642,606. 6, Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays, 1,104,761. 7, J.J. Hardy, Orioles, 956,073. 8, Alexei Ramirez, White Sox, 946,442.

DESIGNATED HITTER — 1, David Ortiz, Red Sox, 6,324,793. 2, Michael Young, Rangers, 3,072,467. 3, Victor Martinez, Tigers, 2,302,988. 4, Jorge Posada, Yankees, 1,998,551. 5, Johnny Damon, Rays, 1,303,471. 6, Travis Hafner, Indians, 1,206,971. 7, Vladimir Guerrero, Orioles, 1,136,364. 8, Billy Butler, Royals, 891,940.

OUTFIELD — 1, Jose Bautista, Blue Jays, 7,454,753. 2, Curtis Granderson, Yankees, 6,683,877. 3, Josh Hamilton, Rangers, 4,646,394. 4, Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox, 4,609,667. 5, Carl Crawford, Red Sox, 3,213,581. 6, Nelson Cruz, Rangers, 2,704,249. 7, Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, 2,528,532. 8, Nick Swisher, Yankees, 2,277,856. 9, Brett Gardner, Yankees, 2,064,372. 10, J.D. Drew, Red Sox, 2,009,877. 11, Matt Joyce, Rays, 1,597,334. 12, Jeff Francoeur, Royals, 1,505,399. 13, David Murphy, Rangers, 1,458,420. 14, Grady Sizemore, Indians, 1,283,993. 15, Austin Jackson, Tigers, 1,254,267. 16, Carlos Quentin, White Sox, 1,218,968. 17, Melky Cabrera, Royals, 1,201,982. 18, Shin-Soo Choo, Indians, 1,158,749. 19, Alex Gordon, Royals, 1,120,683. 20, B.J, Upton, Rays, 1,081,270. 21, Magglio Ordonez, Tigers, 1,008,145. 22, Torii Hunter, Angels, 927,271. 23, Sam Fuld, Rays, 916,219. 24, Michael Brantley, Indians, 878,556.

National League

CATCHER — 1, Brian McCann, Braves, 4,698,838. 2, Yadier Molina, Cardinals, 2,972,786. 3, Buster Posey, Giants, 2,418,923. 4, Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers, 2,271,498. 5, Ramon Hernandez, Reds, 2,056,263. 6, Carlos Ruiz, Phillies, 1,864,675. 7, Ivan Rodriguez, Nationals, 1,225,342. 8, Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks, 1,149,461.

FIRST BASE — 1, Prince Fielder, Brewers, 4,864,523. 2, Joey Votto, Reds, 4,254,305. 3, Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 4,171,094. 4, Ryan Howard, Phillies, 2,563,736. 5, Freddie Freeman, Braves, 957,816. 6, Brandon Belt, Giants, 917,044. 7, Ike Davis, Mets, 824,681. 8, Todd Helton, Rockies, 761,928.

SECOND BASE — 1, Rickie Weeks, Brewers, 4,460,395. 2, Brandon Phillips, Reds, 4,273,079. 3, Chase Utley, Phillies, 3,345,845. 4, Freddy Sanchez, Giants, 1,627,733. 5, Dan Uggla, Braves, 1,583,903. 6, Neil Walker, Pirates, 993,369. 7, Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks, 862,204. 8, Skip Schumaker, Cardinals, 856,658.

THIRD BASE — 1, Placido Polanco, Phillies, 4,410,701. 2, Chipper Jones, Braves, 2,849,578. 3, Scott Rolen, Reds, 2,251,425. 4, Pablo Sandoval, Giants, 2,213,057. 5, David Wright, Mets, 2,106,800. 6, Casey McGehee, Brewers, 1,877,744. 7, Aramis Ramirez, Cubs, 1,192,220. 8, Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals, 1,137,696.

SHORTSTOP — 1, Jose Reyes, Mets, 4,707,976. 2, Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, 3,932,000. 3, Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, 2,311,689. 4, Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers, 1,695,431. 5, Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks, 1,523,919. 6, Alex Gonzalez, Braves, 1,476,368. 7, Miguel Tejada, Giants, 1,265,544. 8, Paul Janish, Reds, 1,168,551.

OUTFIELD — 1, Ryan Braun, Brewers, 5,928,004. 2, Lance Berkman, Cardinals, 4,345,766. 3, Matt Kemp, Dodgers, 4,293,626. 4, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, 3,948,268. 5, Jay Bruce, Reds, 3,218,003. 6, Andre Ethier, Dodgers, 3,013,030. 7, Carlos Beltran, Mets, 2,631,991. 8, Shane Victorino, Phillies, 2,370,351. 9, Corey Hart, Brewers, 1,875,897. 10, Justin Upton, Diamondbacks, 1,845,385. 11, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, 1,733,281. 12, Jason Heyward, Braves, 1,715,925. 13, Raul Ibanez, Phillies, 1,641,389. 14, Drew Stubbs, Reds, 1,572,673. 15, Carlos Gomez, Brewers, 1,508,939. 16, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, 1,343,144. 17, Hunter Pence, Astros, 1,315,276. 18, Jonny Gomes, Reds, 1,310,142. 19, Martin Prado, Braves, 1,296,763. 20, Alfonso Soriano, Cubs, 1,282,608. 21, Aubrey Huff, Giants, 1,240,980. 22, Chris Young, Diamondbacks, 1,151,443. 23, Ben Francisco, Phillies, 1,124,361. 24, Jason Bay, Mets, 1,114,574.

Scott Boras: The Contracts. The Clients. Who’s to Blame?

Sunday July 3, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:   The man behind the billion dollar smile, Scott Boras is a big business.  The Boras Corporation represents close to 200 MLB players.  This is one of the most influential, if not important people in baseball today.  But the man is categorized in many baseball circles as “the devil”, for “forcing” major league teams to dish out excessively large contracts to his clients.  Is this really the case?  Is Boras bad for baseball or simply a man who knows how to do his job and do it well?  Let’s take an inside look at Scott Boras and search behind the contracts. 

We took a look yesterday at Randy “Macho Man” Savage, an athlete that aside from being a wrestling superstar, was a baseball player.  On the same token, Scott Boras the agent, was at one point Scott Boras the baseball player as well.  Here are the numbers that Boras put up in four minor league seasons in the Cardinals and Cubs organizations:

 

Year Lev AB R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
1974 Rk 95 13 0 10 .274 .402 .347
1975 A 300 39 2 36 .277 .402 .373
1976 A 437   2   .295   .387
1977 AA-A 343 54 1 33 .292 .392 .367
1977 A 78 17 0 7 .346 .440 .423
1977 AA 265 37 1 26 .275 .377 .351
1977 AA              
1977 AA              
4 Seasons   1175 106 5 79 .288 .363 .374
A (3 seasons) A 815 56 4 43 .293 .354 .385
AA (1 season) AA 265 37 1 26 .275 .377 .351
Rk (1 season) Rk 95 13 0 10 .274 .402 .347

 

A man ahead of his time, Boras was one of the original moneyball players.  For his career, Boras had 133 walks and only 76 strikeouts.  Those numbers were for good for a lifetime .363 OBP, to go along with his .288 AVG.  Knee injuries unfortunately cut his career short and Boras only made it as high as AA ball.  With the baseball experience under his belt, Boras went on to practice law and from there become a full-time baseball agent in the early 1980s.  Imagine if the 58-year old Scott Boras had made it to the majors and had played for 10+  years.  He would have been playing well into the 1980s, when his agent career took off.  But alas, Randy Poffo the wrestler became Randy Savage the baseball player.  Scott Boras the baseball player became a player agent.  Certain things are meant to be and some roles seem to be predestined.  But it is still fun to think what could have been and had Boras been able to continue in for professional baseball as a player for many seasons, Scott Boras the agent might have never come into existence.

The exploits of Scott Boras as an agent are legendary.   From the Bill Caudill contract with the Jays, Todd Van Poppel deal, J.D. Drew refusing to sign with the Phillies, the Alex Rodriguez contract, Darren Dreifort contract, negotiations for Stephen Strasburg and Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boras has done it all and seen it all.  Let’s take a peak at 10 of the biggest contracts negotiated by Boras:

10. Adrian Beltre, Seattle Mariners: 5 years, $64 million

9. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox: 6 years, $52 million

8. Kevin Millwood, Texas Rangers: 5 years, $60 million

7. Carlos Beltran, New York Mets: 7 years, $119 million

6. Kevin Brown, Los Angeles Dodgers: 7 years, $105 million

5.Matt White, Tampa Bay Devil Rays: $10.2 million bonus

4. Andruw Jones, Los Angeles Dodgers: 2 years, $36.2 million

3. Chan Ho Park, Texas Rangers: 5 years, $65 million

2. Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants: 7 years, $126 million

1. Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers: 10 years, $252 million

 

The list literally goes on and on.  Boras Corporation has negotiated contracts well over a billion dollars in my estimation and the number keeps rising by the day.  We can pick any contracts negotiated by Boras for review, but these ten deals are particularly interesting ones.  What do these contracts all have in common?  Firstly, they are for very large dollar amounts and very often far exceed what most experts predicted for each particular player.  Secondly, none of the teams that signed their respective deal appeared to have benefited from the deal.  In the sense that I would argue each team on this list had buyer’s remorse and would take back the contract if given the chance.  Lastly, all of these contracts were negotiated and signed by Scott Boras and each respective major league team owner and general manager.  It takes two to tango and in this case, sometimes three or four parties.  For as much as teams and fans want to burn Scott Boras at the stake for destroying baseball, these contracts were signed by the free will of each team. Furthermore, each team pursued their respective players and courted them to accept a contract and join their team.  At some point, MLB teams need to look at the mirror if they want to change the economic landscape of the game and stop blaming Scott Boras and the player agents of this world. 

An agent’s job is to land the biggest contract for his or her client.  A team’s job is to field the most competitive team at the most economical price.  When a player turns out to be a bust or financial albatross, it is the team that did not do their job.  The baseball world fell over when Jayson Werth signed his seven-year, $126 million contract.  The blame fell to Scott Boras for the most part for extorting such a large figure out of the Washington Nationals.  Why?  Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals organization are all big boys that can make their own decisions.  Without seemingly any strong bidders against them, the Nationals literally outbid themselves in handing Werth such a lucrative and absurd contract.  Most analysts, myself included, felt that this contract could only end up failing the Nationals.  Werth as an injury prone player without a proven track record was going to likely have a hard time justifying his deal.  But don’t blame the player or agent. No, they did their job in the process.  It is the team that needs to take responsibility for its actions.  An important lesson in life is to learn from one’s mistakes.  But teams keep making the same financial blunders, over and over when it comes to player contracts.  That is not the fault of Scott Boras.  It is the teams.

When free agency opens up each offseason, I compare the winter meetings to children being handed large wads of money and being thrown into a candy store.  They cannot control themselves and have to buy more and more to satisfy their hungers.  As it is not the children to blame when they are spoiled, it is really not the General Managers either when they have large spending budgets.  As parents need to take responsibility for their children, team owners need to account for their General Managers.  The large contracts that are handed out every year must be approved by each team owner beforehand.  Thus the way a child comes to ask for a $500 remote control car, a General Manager will ask for a $126 million Werth.  When the parent and team owner both say yes, they only have themselves to blame.  The toy and player inevitably break down or are seen as too expensive in hindsight.  But by then, the toy cannot be returned to the store and the player contract cannot be voided.  The lesson is to learn from the experience and to avoid similar mistakes in the future.  But teams refuse to listen and learn and as a result, player contracts in baseball are exploding with no end in sight.

Let’s keep Scott Boras in perspective.  The man does his job very well and pushes the limit of player contracts in baseball.  He might be a very intelligent person and a great salesperson.  But at the end of the day, he is simply doing his job.  For myself as a consumer, if I buy a brand new car for $30,000 when I could have bought a similar model down the road for $10,000 less, I cannot blame the car dealer or its salesperson.  It was up to me as the consumer to shop around and get the best deal I could.  There would have been other cars, the same way for MLB teams there will always be other players. But teams don’t see it that way.  They get caught up in the negotiations and the thrill of the hunt and get determined to land their “guy”.  The Red Sox begged and pleaded to get Dice-K into a Red Sox uniform.  The same Sox and Yankees battled it out to land Mark Teixeira.  The Texas Rangers and then owner Tom Hicks literally handed Alex Rodriguez a blank cheque to land the marquee free agent.  Again and again, MLB teams go out of their way to land the players they want and end up blaming the players and their agent when the contracts do not work out. 

One man I will give credit to is Fred Wilpon.  In criticizing the Carlos Beltran contract, he blamed the team for overpaying the outfielder based on one good playoff run.  This is a man who at the very least took responsibility for his actions and knew where to lay the blame.  Since the Beltran deal, the Mets, along with the Braves and Angels, are three teams that tend to stay away from dealing with Scott Boras and the players he represents.  That is ultimately the best approach and the only way that any order can be established.  If teams do not want to dish the money, all they have to say is no.  But as long as the money is there and being handed out by the teams by the truck loads, Scott Boras will be there with open arms, negotiating the best contracts for his clients that he can.

Scott Boras has accomplished some amazing feats during his agent career.  From changing the rules on arbitration and free agency, Boras pushes the boundaries and finds all the loopholes to change the economic system of the game.  The sign of a great lawyer, negotiator and agent.  Before fans are quick to condemn the man, lets step back and appreciate what he has accomplished.  Scott Boras and the Boras Corporation are a billion dollar industry.  They provide marketing services, training facilities for their clients and look after their clients every needs.  Boras has a team of experts that are constantly studying and keeping track of the game.  Scott Boras stays on top of the game and thus is able to stay competitive and negotiate the best contracts for his clients.  While not everyone agrees with his methods, particularly the Alex Rodriguez opt-out with the Yankees which led A-Rod to leave Boras, he may have the ideas, but it is up to players to accept them and teams to listen.  As long as players keep lining up to hire Scott Boras and teams await with open arms and wallets, the system will not change.  Scott Boras may be a lot of things, but the devil he is certainly not.  He is simply a smart, hard worker who does his job well at levels that few can attain.  A baseball pioneer, Scott Boras has certainly left his mark on the game.  While many fans and teams do not agree with his methods, at the end of the day he gets the job done.  Scott Boras:  Genius or madness?  You decide.

 

Please see the list below of some of the clients in the Scott Boras stable.  The list is growing by the day:

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Autopsy Results are in for Randy Poffo (Macho Man Savage), Former Baseball Player and WWE Wrestler

 

Saturday July 2, 2011

MLB reports:  Last month we profiled former WWE superstar Randy Macho Man Savage, who passed away May 20, 2011.  At the time of the article, the cause of his death was unknown.  We took the time in the interim to look at the man behind the “Macho Madness”, a wrestling champion and icon in the industry.  A little known fact was that Randy Savage, born Randy Poffo, actually came up originally as a baseball player.  To learn more about Randy Poffo the baseball player, click here to view our past feature.   Today we learn about the cause of death behind the passing of Randy “Macho Man” Savage.

What we knew until recently was that Randy Savage crashed his Jeep Wrangler into a tree near Tampa, Florida.  Unfortunately, the first reaction for many was to suspect drugs and/or alcohol as the cause for the accident.  A natural reaction, given that our society today that tends to be very jaded and suspect the worst of many of its heroes.  While reports indicate that Randy Savage had prescription medications in his system, it does not appear that they were the cause for his accident.  Both him and his wife were wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash and Randy’s wife  Barbara Lynn only suffered minor injuries.  The autopsy has revealed that Randy Savage suffered from an enlarged heart and artery blockage, which likely caused him to crash the vehicle.  The medical condition likely caused Macho Man to lose consciousness right before the accident and drive the vehicle into a tree.  That was the indication previously in a statement at the time of the incident from brother Lanny Poffo, also a former wrestler.  The family did not necessarily know about his condition but suspected that Macho Man had a heart attack right before the accident.  In this case, the family’s instincts were correct.

While it is very sad that Randy (Savage) Poffo was taken from this earth much to early, it is somewhat of a relief to at least learn the cause behind his unfortunate passing.  With rumors always circulating in this age of the internet, the Poffo family can be relieved that Randy’s good name can be left intact.  It is likely that Randy did not even know about his medical condition, as the prescription pills he was taking were apparently unrelated to the heart condition.  Had he been diagnosed early, perhaps this misfortune could have been averted.  In the meantime, I will continue to remember both Randy “Macho Man” Savage, the wrestler, as well as Randy Poffo, the baseball player.  As discussed in his earlier feature, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Poffo had stayed with baseball instead of wrestling.  Even had he not injured his shoulder, Poffo statistically likely would not have remained in the sport.  His bat did not seem to be there and while there was always the chance he could have come around, Randy Poffo, the MLB player, was likely never going to materialize.  Yet I will always think of what could have been if the Macho Man had never come to be, if baseball had worked out for him.  But given the impact that Randy had on the wrestling industry and society as a whole by adopting the “Macho Man” persona, he definitely made the right choice.  Rest in peace Randy Poffo Savage.  You will be missed and remembered as a two-sport athlete/entertainer.  Thank you for all the good times and MACHOOOOO MADNESS! 

 

 

 

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MLB Expansion: Baseball Discussions to Add Two More Teams

Friday July 1, 2011

 

MLB reports:  When looking at the current state of baseball, some very important changes are on the horizon.  MLB reports tackled in the past weeks the topics of MLB realignment, the future of the DH and expanding and changing the playoffs (click on links to view these posts).  Whether you are a traditionalist or modern thinker, we can all agree that revisions to the baseball system are coming.  To compliment many of the new developments that are coming, we have one last topic that we need to cover.  This is a biggie so hold on to your hats:  MLB Expansion.  Major League Baseball, as slow as it is to adapt, has come to the time that it must acknowledge that the American League and National League need a balanced amount of teams.  When contraction didn’t work (Minnesota stayed and Montreal moved to Washington), we were left with thirty MLB teams.  To fix the discrepancy, we need sixteen teams per league.  As a result, get ready for Major League Baseball to expand to two new cities.

Before anyone stars howling, let me insert a disclaimer.  There is no available information yet confirming that MLB will expand.  But from all the signs of the state of the game, it appears that expansion is on the horizon.  It must be.  Expansion will lead to balanced leagues, which will be a must in the addition of more wild card teams.  In 1993, MLB added the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins.  In 1998, the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks joined the mix.  Since then, we have gone thirteen years without expansion.  Baseball popularity is at an all time high, with the economy slowly starting to rebound.  The demand and money are there and anytime the MLB owners can fill their wallets, they will take it.  Expansion fees back in 1998 were $130 million.  To contrast, the Texas Rangers sold last August for $593 million.  Let’s ballpark it and say that each new expansion team could easily bring in $250 million each.  That would be $500 million available to be shared by the existing 30 MLB owners.  That is a minimum of $16 million per team and even that amount is conservative.  Realistically, we could see $25-$30 million per team as the bonus.  Money talks and the lure of the big payday will be too much for MLB owners to pass up much longer.  By having a balanced schedule, leading to realignment and more wild card teams, together with the revenues that are generated, both teams and players should be happy.  It is a win-win for all.

The biggest argument that I have heard against MLB expansion is the dilution of talent.  There is a thin amount of pitching to go around as it is, and by adding more teams to the mix, the talent levels will supposedly be at an all-time low.  I don’t buy it.  Take a look at AA and AAA and how many major league ready players are wasting away due to a lack of opportunity.  Some are there for financial considerations, by teams wishing to delay their arbitration and free agency years.  I acknowledge that.  But there is so much talent at those levels alone that an expansion draft could stock two competitive MLB teams.  I truly believe that.  Then we should take into account the globalization of the sport.  The 2013 World Baseball Classic will feature twelve new countries into the mix.  By creating and furthering the interest in baseball around the world, including Great Britain, Germany, France etc., Major League Baseball will create a deeper pool of talent as a result.  It will take time and the benefits of adding more countries to the WBC in expanding the players that are generated may not be felt for a decade or longer.  But baseball needs to think long-term, not short.  Even if there is a dilution of the quality of players for a brief time, it is not unreasonable to think that the world as a whole with its population could stock 32 MLB teams.  It currently stocks 30 teams quite well and the problem, if any, is that in the future we will actually have more quality players than available teams to play for.

The main benefit of expansion is the created interested in Major League Baseball in more cities and the added rivalries and intrigue to the game itself.  There are baseball hungry fans in many cities that are denied the privilege of watching MLB games live, due to lack of proximity.  Adding MLB teams will create more fans in the new cities and surrounding areas.  Merchandising sales will increase, jobs will be added and economies will benefit in those cities.  As long as each new team has a solid economic plan in creating a business model for itself, from the ballpark to the day-to-day operation of the team, new MLB teams will be cash cows and not drains on their respective cities.  There is a reason why cities and potential owners campaign to be awarded a Major League Baseball team.  Baseball is a lucrative business.  By understanding why expansion is necessary and beneficial, it is time to jump into the candidates.

From everything that I have read and people that I have spoken with, the following is a list of ten potential MLB expansion destinations.  From these ten cities, two may end up being the lucky winners.  I have included a brief commentary beside each candidate for reference:

1)  Las Vegas:  There is money in Vegas and demand for the sport.  The biggest hindrances are the gambling and economic issues for the area.  I think Las Vegas should get a team and baseball may feel the same way.

2)  Portland:  One of the largest cities without a team, this would be a safe bet for Major League Baseball.  This city has been thrown around in almost every discussion on expansion.  This one will likely happen.

3)  San Antonio:  Similar to Portland, but there are already two teams based in Texas.  If any area will get three MLB teams, it is New York (see Brooklyn discussion).

4)  Sacramento:  Is the California market getting saturated?  With Oakland having issues and looking to a move to San Jose, there may be alarm bells that hinder Sacramento.  There is also a chance the city will lose its NBA team which does not help from an image standpoint.

5)  Orlando:  More teams to Florida?  The Rays aren’t exactly busting at the gate and the Marlins are moving to Miami next year.  I could see the Rays moving if they do not get a new stadium, so expansion will likely be held off here for now.

6)  Nashville/Memphis:  Both are great cities but with other viable markets available, Nashville/Memphis are a long-shot.

7)  Mexico City:  This is the sexy pick if Major League Baseball truly wants to become international.  The travel logistics could make this one very difficult.  For a sport that is slow to evolve, this is too much change, too soon.

8)  Vancouver or Montreal:  Stop snickering as this could happen.  Ok, not Montreal, but Vancouver is a possibility.  After the loss of the Expos, I cannot see baseball ever going back to Quebec.  Then when we account for the fact that Vancouver lost its NBA team, baseball may be scared off from these areas as being non-viable.  The Toronto Blue Jays sit middle-in-the-pack for attendance and I think MLB is satisfied with one Canadian squad.  Happy Canada Day to all the Canucks reading this article and enjoy the Jays this weekend.  But as far as more Canadian teams in baseball, I am sorry but I do not see it happening.  Ever.

9)  Brooklyn:  The talk of the Nets coming to Brooklyn soon has sparked renewed interest in the area for baseball.  The Brooklyn Dodgers will never come back to existence, but a new expansion team might.  Given baseball’s rich history and love of everything retro, I really like this selection.  Don’t discount the power of New York, as it is one of the central hubs of sport.  I only give this one a 25% chance of happening, but a very solid 25.

10)  New Orleans:  A feel-good pick, given the tragedy suffered by the city.  But on an economic and rational basis, it is difficult to envision bringing a new baseball team coming to a rebuilding area that still is suffering major financial issues.

That concludes today’s discussion on MLB expansion.  As a starting point for the topic, I am sure that this will not be the last we hear about it.  Given that MLB works in secret ways often, don’t be surprised if an announcement on two new expansion teams comes out of left field one day.  While it would be fun to hold a competition and have cities campaign for selection, MLB may not want to run the risk of alienating and upsetting teams that are not chosen.  At the end of the day, the key for baseball will be to get the right cities and owners in place.  This will happen in the next year or two and should be an interesting process.  Will we see the Portland Sluggers, Las Vegas Aliens or Brooklyn Bombers?  Time will tell on that one.  What we can be sure is that the face of Major League Baseball over the next few years will change substantially.  From the teams, to the playoffs and divisions.  Change is in the air as baseball continues to evolve with the times.

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