Monthly Archives: October 2011

Interview with Robbie Erlin: San Diego Padres Prospect

Monday October 31, 2011

 

Jeff P (Guest Writer – MLB reports):  I had the pleasure to recently interview one of the top prospects in the game, Robert Erlin of the San Diego Padres.  The 21-year-old Erlin was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft.  After posting incredible numbers in his brief time in the Rangers organization, Erlin was traded in July 2011, with Joe Wieland for reliever Mike Adams.  While Adams was a solid addition to the Rangers bullpen on the road to the World Series, Erlin exploded after the trade.  In 6 starts with San Antonio in AA, Erlin had a 1.38 ERA, 1.154 WHIP and 31/4 SO/BB.  On the fast track with the Padres, Erlin has a good chance of making his major league debut as early as 2012.  Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Padres Prospect, Robbie Erlin:

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MLB reports:  Hey, Robbie.  First of all, I want to thank you for being with us today, it really is an honor to have you with us.  I’m sure you have a busy schedule so, let’s get this started.  First off:

MLB reports:  You have been outstanding to late, and even became a nominee of MLB.com‘s top 50 prospects, who can you thank for your success?

Robbie Erlin:  I would thank my dad who taught me how to pitch at a young age, Dave Salter, my pitching coach since I was 13 years old, all the coaches in the Texas Rangers organization who I have worked with during my first couple years of pro ball, and the coaches on the San Antonio Missions who I got to work with for a couple of months this season. 

 

MLB reports:  Was it hard to adjust from the Rangers to the Padres?

Robbie Erlin:  It wasn’t too hard to make the adjustment. The Padres and Missions staff let me stick with my routines and throwing program and the players were very helpful with any questions that I had.

 

MLB reports:  What do you think is unique about the San Diego Padres organization?

Robbie Erlin:  The amount of young talent that they have in both the minor leagues and at the major league level. 

 

MLB reports:  What are your daily rituals, and hobbies off the field?

Robbie Erlin:  I watch the TV show “Las Vegas” everyday before I go to the field. In the offseason I enjoy spending time with my family and visiting my friends who are in college.

 

MLB reports:  You have been dominating lately. What changes have you made in order to succeed?

Robbie Erlin:  I have really tried to concentrate on hitters’ tendencies and gaining information about offenses so I can apply it in my outings. Also, I have made small adjustments in my delivery so it looks the same on every pitch. 

 

MLB reports:  What were the reactions on you getting drafted, and the after party?

Robbie Erlin:  My family, friends, and I were very excited about getting drafted. I wanted to play baseball after high school and the Rangers provided me with the opportunity. 

 

MLB reports:  Out of your fastball, curveball, and change-up, what would you say is your strongest pitch?

Robbie Erlin:  Fastball.

 

MLB reports:  Is it safe to say we can see you in MLB in late 2012, or 2013?

Robbie Erlin:  That is a decision for the Padres to make. I am going to focus on pitching and improving as much as I can. 

 

MLB reports:  Who do you look up to in the MLB?

Robbie Erlin:  There is not one specific player. I watch all of them and try to learn from how they play the game.

 

MLB reports: What kind of music can one find on your iPod?

Robbie Erlin:  Country, Classic Rock, Pop, and Rap. 

 

MLB reports:  What’s your favorite sport besides baseball?

Robbie Erlin:  Football.

 

MLB reports:  Who was the hardest batter you’ve faced in your professional career?

Robbie Erlin:  Cody Hinze from Houston has always been a tough out for me.

 

MLB reports:  Let’s end it off here: If you weren’t a baseball player, where would you see yourself today?

Robbie Erlin:  I would be in college working towards a degree. 

 

MLB reports:  Thank you very much for taking your time out of your busy schedule so we can have you with us. Much appreciated!

Robbie Erlin:  No problem. Thank you very much for the interview!

 

Thank you again to Robbie Erlin for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports.  We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Robbie.  As well, please follow Robbie on Twitter (@RobbieErlin11)

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by Jeff P, Guest Writer to MLB reports.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Jeff 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.

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The Astros Move To The AL West

Sunday  October 30, 2011

MLB reports – Sam Evans:  As an amazing 2011 MLB postseason has come to a close, it’s time to look ahead to next year. The Houston Astros have been,” looking forward to the next year,” since the last time they made the playoffs in 2006. It’s time for a change in Houston and Bud Selig and Jim Crane are currently working on a plan to make a big-time change for baseball’s future in Houston.

Times have been hard recently for Astros fans. Widely considered the worst team in baseball, the Astros home attendance has steadily decreased every year since 2006. They haven’t had a winning season since 2008 and their minor league system shows only small glimmers of hope on the way.

In the middle of June, rumors began  floating around that the Astros would move to the American League, as early as the 2013 season. This would provide each league with an even fifteen teams and six five team divisions. Also, you have to think that Major League Baseball wants to start a rivalry between the Astros and the Rangers. Well now in October, these rumors have become more serious and now it appears inevitable that the Astros will be realigned to the American League West.

Although we don’t know when exactly this move will take place,we have figured out that it will happen. It will be interesting to see if the Astros shop for a DH this or next offseason because if they do move by 2013, having nine Major League quality hitters in their lineup would be a big asset. It would make sense for them to bring back Carlos Lee if they were indeed moving to the AL, because he would be a much more productive DH than an outfielder.

I actually think that this would be a good move both for MLB and for the Astros. For MLB, they finally fix the glaring trivia answer which is, why there is an uneven number of teams in each league.  Balanced divisions, until increased to 32 Major League teams by way of expansion, will lead to an unbalanced schedule.  15 teams per league means that there will need to be an interleague game scheduled every week.  Some love the concept of interleague play, while other detest it.  But for whatever people think of it, interleague is here to stay in the world of Major League Baseball.  Having weekly interleague match-ups will actually help solve the unbalanced interleague issue.  In current play, some fans have complained that the same interleague match-ups are in place every year- with not all teams from each of the different leagues matching up.  Having weekly interleague games means that all AL and NL teams will face-off during the season at some point.  Greater exposure for each of the teams in each MLB city should lead to greater enthusiasm for the fans and a more balanced approach to scheduling interleague games.  It is not a perfect system- far from it.  But until Major League Baseball brings in 2 more teams and creates a 16/16 league split, having the 15/15 split will at least allow for balanced divisions and equal chances to make the playoffs.

For the Astros, I seriously believe they could start one of the best rivalries in baseball with the Rangers. This would be beneficial not only for the Astros as an organization, but their fans and attendance as well. Let’s make one thing clear though in the interim: the current “rivalry” between the Astros and Rangers is a joke. The ony time they face off is in interleague games, and neither team has any more incentives in those games as compared to any other games. However, I think if they actually played each other as division rivals frequently, and the fans became passionate about those games, then they could actually start a strong rivalry for years to come.

Astros fans have been against this move for two main reasons. The first is that they would lose their history with the National League (and specifically, NL Central teams). The main reason however, is that they would play West Coast teams more, which would mean that games against Seattle, Oakland, and Anaheim would start at a later time. I can fully understand and appreciate the Astros fans feelings on the subject. The only counterexample I can offer is what Rangers fans already go through with this same dilemma and they same to have done just fine.

At the end of the day, I think the Astros should move to the American League West. It makes sense for the current MLB system. Furthermore, this franchise looks in need of a fresh start and maybe a new division could help provide that.

Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam 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 onFacebook .  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.

Cardinals Win the 2011 World Series and Freese Named MVP

Saturday October 29, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:      The game of the year turned out to be a non-starter at the end.  Before game time I predicted a 5-1 Cardinals victory.  I was close…they took it 6-2.  The big reason for my vision was the fact the Cardinals had ace pitcher on the mound, Chris Carpenter.  The Carp was solid on this night as he gave Tony La Russa as strong out of an outing as could have been expected on short rest.  Carpenter went 6.0 innings, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks and striking out 5.  With the Cards’ ace in the zone, the Rangers could not muster any runs after the 1st.  Not only did the Rangers not score any runs, but the Cardinals bullpen was perfect for the final 3 innings, in not giving up any runs, hits or walks.  Arthur Rhodes, Octavio Dotel, Lance Lynn and Jason Motte played as they did for most of these playoffs as the St. Louis Cardinals became the 2011 World Series champions.

While Carpenter got his second World Series victory, Matt Harrison took his second loss.  Harrison pitched decently, going 4.0 innings and giving up the 3 Cardinals winning runs.  Ron Washington proceeded to bring in Scott Feldman, C.J. Wilson, Mike Adams (who gave up the 4th run), Mike Gonzalez and Alexi Ogando.  The difference in this game hitting-wise was David Freese coming up big again with 2 RBIs and Allen Craig delivering the game winning run, a solo home run in the 3rd.  Those two relatively unknowns coming into the playoffs delivered time and time again for La Russa in this postseason.

There are 4 main components to the Cardinals winning the World Series this year:

1)  David Freese:  World Series MVP was a man on fire in October and was the overwhelming choice for the award.  Freese hit .397 in the postseason, 5 home runs and a record 21 RBIs.  It seems that every time the team needed him, Freese came through.  Considering that the third base was a question mark for the Cardinals coming into the season, Freese was exactly the player the team needed at the right time.

2)  Chris Carpenter:  Every big game, every time the needed a big performance, Carpenter was there.  All Carp did this year was get the team into the playoffs, knock off Roy Halladay and the Phillies in the NLDS and win the final World Series game 7.  Carpenter has been Mr. Steady for the team and fulfilling the role of ace in every sense of the word.  Sure the Cards had other weapons to rely upon.  But no Carpenter…no championship.

3)  The Bullpen:  Looking at the numbers, the Cardinals bullpen was obscene this postseason.  Tony La Russa had so many weapons out there as his pen gelled at the right time.  When a team can almost count on 3-4 shutdown innings every night, they stand a good chance of winning.  Jason Motte blossomed into the closer that was envisioned for him and as he honed his control, he has been nearly untouchable.  Dotel, Rhodes and the boys have been as strong a part of this team as any bullpen I have ever seen.  The Cardinals caught lightning in a bottle with this group and rode them all the way to the World Series.

4)  Tony La Russa:  Say what you want about TLR: the man won the big one.  Another World Series championship under his belt and second one in St. Louis.  Considering how many critics blasted him during the season and the Cardinals seemed to be a non-factor going  into September, credit needs to be given where it is deserved.  Too often in sports we are quick to blast a manager for making a mistake, but not quick enough to throw praise where it is due.  It is my feeling that in the aftermath of the past week, many critics were relentless on their criticism of La Russa after the bullpen phone fiasco in game 5.  But even if there is blame to be laid there, the bottom line is game 5 was that the Cardinals bats went cold in that game and the team could not deliver a win.  A manager can only do so much.  His team needs to play well in front of him.  Game 7 was about Carpenter and the bullpen, with some timely hits by Freese and Craig.  But Tony La Russa helped guide this team, with bullpen selections, lineups and match ups and in-game decisions.  TLR is a master chess player and in 2011, his smarts and wits played a big part in his team over taking the Braves for the Wild Card and beating the Phillies, Brewers and Rangers.  Few, if any managers, are as prepared and knowledgeable as TLR.  The Cardinals manager was one of the main building blocks of this particular World Series championship.

Where do we go from here?  After stories and questions circulated all season long, we will finally find out who will be back in St. Louis come 2012.  After winning their second World Series championship together, I am prepared to bet the farm (if I had a farm to bet) that Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols will be back together next year.  With the foundation of the bullpen, Lance Berkman, Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday, combined with Carpenter and a returning Adam Wainwright, this team has the pieces to make a dynasty run.  Pujols has the chance to create a legacy for himself.  His time, his standing in history, all centre around St. Louis.  Pujols and his manager have too much invented in this city and team to turn away.  Both will be back in 2012 as the Cardinals are now the team to beat going into next year.

With the ending of game-7 of the World Series, the major league season has come to an end for another year.  Heading into this offseason, we will have many topics, issues and news stories to cover.  The MLB Winter Meetings.  Winter Ball.  Free agency.  The Collective Bargaining Agreement.  The future of Bud Selig.  MLB Expansion and Realignment.  Spring Training.  Baseball never ends.  The season, from spring training to the World Series is 8 months long.  We are now coming to the hardest 4 months of a baseball fan’s life.  With baseball news stories everyday, MLB reports will continue to bring you the latest news and analysis that you have come to expect all season long.  MLB 4 Life.  That is the name of the game.  On this day, we congratulate Tony La Russa, David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals on an exciting and well deserved World Series championship.  This has been one of the most exciting postseasons and World Series of all time.  Now…the countdown to Spring Training begins.

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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.

Freese Sends Cardinals to Game 7 of the World Series

Friday October 28, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Much attention was thrown to Tony La Russa and “Bullpen Phone Gate” following Game 5 of the World Series.  Despite the trend to make the Cardinals manager into the goat, the team lost on Monday night 4-2 by failing to execute the clutch and hit with runners in scoring position (1 for 12 in the game).  With the Rangers leading the series 3-2, a Texas win on Thursday would have clinched the first ever World Series title.  But the Cardinals and their improbable hero, David Freese had other ideas on this night.  As a result, we are now headed to a Game 7 tonight (Friday).  The World Series is down to a 1-game playoff, sudden death matchup, for all the marbles.

Both starters in Game 6 enjoyed decent outings.  Colby Lewis pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up 4 runs (2 earned), with 3 hits, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts.  Lewis did give up a 2-run home run to Lance Berkman in the first inning, his only serious blemish on the night.  His counterpart, Jaime Garcia, lasted only 3 innings, giving up 2 earned runs, 5 hits, 2 walks while striking out 5.  Clearly La Russa did not see enough in his starter to leave the fate of his team’s season on his shoulders.  As a result, St. Louis began to trot out their bullpen while Texas followed suit shortly after. 

The Rangers used 7 relievers on the night, while the Cardinals used 6.  Both bullpens were shaky on the night, as the  teams exchanged runs throughout the game.  The Rangers actually held a 7-4 lead going into the 8th, but Derek Holland in his 2nd inning of work on the night gave up a solo home run to Allen Craig to cut the deficit to 7-5.  From there, Mike Adams gave up a couple of hits in 1/3 inning pitched and gave way to closer Neftali Feliz.  With the Rangers a sniff away from the World Series crown, Feliz gave up 2 more Cardinals runs to send the game into extra innings. 

The teams exchanged 2 runs each in the 10th inning.  The Rangers runs came off Cardinals closer Jason Motte, who was uncharacteristically pitching a 2nd inning in the game.  Josh Hamilton, well rested after a couple of days off, launched a  2-run shot to give the Rangers the lead.  But Texas quickly gave back the runs in the bottom of the inning courtesy of a Darren Oliver blown save.  The game proceeded to the 11th inning.  With Mark Lowe on in the bottom of the inning to face David Freese, the probable World Series MVP (if the Cards win it all tonight) launched a solo home run to win the game for St. Louis.  One batter faced for Mark Lowe and the game was done.  St. Louis comes back to take the heat off their manager and breathe new life into the squad as the series is now tied at 3-3.

Looking ahead to tonight’s starting pitchers, anything can happen at this point.  St. Louis will likely go with Chris Carpenter on short rest.  The Rangers can use a combination of different arms, with Matt Harrison possibly getting the nod.  Game 7 will be an exciting game, if for no other reason then it being a one-game sudden death playoff.  But if you didn’t get a chance to watch Game 6, try to locate a copy on tape.  One of the most exciting World Series games of all time, this one will be talked about for years to come.   No matter where you are tonight, do not miss out on tonight’s action.  It will be the final game of the 2011 season and your last chance for live baseball until March.  Game sevens also don’t come along very often.  With two high-octane offenses ready to duke it out in St. Louis, I am counting down the minutes until game time.  Let’s play ball! 

 

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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.

Robinson Cano, Scott Boras and the Yankees: Time to Renegotiate?

 

Thursday October 27, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  An interesting news story caught my eye today.  Scott Boras, agent to superstar second baseman Robinson Cano, contacted the New York Yankees to discuss renegotiating Cano’s contract.  Cano signed a 4-year contract for $30 million, with a $14 million option in 2012 and $15 million in 2013.  A fair chunk of change in my estimation.  After successfully tweaking the Francisco Rodriguez contract upon his trade to Milwaukee, Boras is back at it again.  This time, he would like for the Yankees to rip up the team options for Cano and negotiate a new contract. 

After a down year in 2008, Cano has been climbing since to upper-ranks of baseball stardom.  This past season was one of Cano’s finest.  Cano hit 28 home runs with 118 RBIs, 104 runs scored, batting .302 with a .349 OBP and .533 SLG.  Fantastic numbers, without a doubt.  The only blemish in my estimation is the continued knock on Robinson.  He only walked 38 times while striking out a career high 96 times.  For Cano to reach the next level, his BB/K ratio will need to reach the next level.  But considering his overall numbers, the Yankees will live with Cano if he maintains his current levels.  The secret for Cano is that he plays a premium position (2B) and is young (29).  For an aging Yankees, Cano is a building block for the next 5 seasons.  The question is whether he is worth locking up at this point.

I don’t fault Scott Boras for attempting to get Cano a bigger contract at this point.  A down year could easily cost Cano tens of millions of dollars.  Cano is also comfortable in New York and the Yankees fans love him.  Boras is counting on the hometown team wanting to lock up its own rather than risk losing him to free agency down the road.  Scott Boras making such a call is a smart move- he is doing his job.  I am unsure if the timing is right though on this move.  We are entering a tricky time in baseball.  The Yankees were burnt by Alex Rodriguez in the past when he opted out of his contract and essentially forced the team to give him an exorbitant contract that has turned sour quickly.  The Yankees are facing the same dilemma with staff ace, C.C. Sabathia.  The big man can opt out of his Yankees deal soon and word is that he is looking for a bigger share of the pie from the Yankees to stay put.  The Yankees, in making the decision on Sabathia, are thinking to the past decision they made on A-Rod.  There are parallels to the scenarios and the team may not be so keen on pulling out the wallet this time around.  With the uncertainty and bad feelings surrounding the upcoming Sabathia decision, the last thing the team wanted or needed was the Cano headache.  The team knew that they could retain their player for 2 further seasons and delay contract talks for some time.  Demanding a new contract at this juncture may not be seen as favorable by the team’s brass.

On the other hand, Boras may have picked the perfect time to talk turkey with the Yankees.  Aside from the Sabathia decision, the Yankees have to decide whether to pick up the option on Nick Swisher.  Boras may have sensed that by waiting to bring up Cano’s contract, the Yankees may have proceeded to lock up Sabathia and retained Swisher, as well as signed a free agent or two.  By then, the team’s budget (yes, they do have one contrary to reports) would be squeezed and Cano would have been put on hold.  By raising the issue now, Boras may be trying to grab the wallet while the dollar bills are still warm.  An interesting strategy and one that may not be unreasonable.

No matter where this saga leads, we now one thing is certain.  Robinson Cano will be a New York Yankee for at least 2 more seasons- and likely longer.  I would like to raise the point that when an athlete like Cano is playing well, the player and agent have no issue trying to renegotiate terms and grab more money.  But when a player is playing poorly, he will usually have no problems to continuing collecting his paycheque no matter how large the contract with no refunds to the team.  The only exception is Kenji Johjima, who left millions of dollars on the table in Seattle to return to Japan, as he felt his play did not justify his pay.  A rare, honourable move by a classy individual, but definitely the exception to the rule.  Instead, we are in a different age of baseball.   Even general managers (see Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer), are moving on to new teams and bigger contracts despite having existing contracts in place with their old teams.  If management can break their commitments, surely players can as well. 

As much as we all love baseball, it is first and foremost a business.  Robinson Cano and Scott Boras are doing what is best for the player in this case.  In other years, I could see how the Yankees could give in to such a request.  But considering the blunder of the A-Rod deal and the issues surrounding Sabathia in his opt-out, my feeling has enough on its plate without worrying about Cano’s contract status.  I expect Robinson Cano to have at least one of his option years picked him.  Perhaps the Yankees will renegotiate with him in 2012 or wait until he becomes a free agent.  The dollars will come to Robinson Cano.  Just not in the timing that he and his agent hope.  At some point I would like to see players honor their contracts and let their play do the talking.  With solid numbers on the field, the contracts will inevitably follow.  But in the “pay me now” age that we live in, news of Cano’s request should come as no surprise.  But answer me this:  what is the point of signing long-term contracts if they rarely work?  One side will either want more money or the other side will end up regretting it.  Rarely are there two happy parties by the time the big deals are all said and done.   If Cano gets out of his deal because he deserves more money, can the Red Sox get out of their contract with John Lackey because they overpaid?  Welcome to the strange economics that is Major League Baseball.     

  

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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.

 

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John Lackey to Undergo Tommy John Surgery: The Aftermath in Boston

Wednesday October 26, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The Boston Red Sox announced this week that starting pitching John Lackey would be undergoing Tommy John surgery, ending his 2012 season before it began.  In a twist of irony, this move actually comes as relief to Red Sox nation as Lackey has been anything but stellar since coming to Boston.

In 8 seasons with the Angels, Lackey had a 102-71 record, good for a 3.81 ERA and 1.306 WHIP.  In his past 2 seasons with the Red Sox, Lackey’s numbers ballooned to a 26-23 record, with an unsightly 5.26 ERA and 1.504 WHIP.  Lackey’s winning record in Boston is attributable more to the Red Sox strong offense, rather than Lackey’s own production.  2011 was a miserable season statistically for Lackey with 2012 not looking much promising either.

In hindsight, John Lackey’s contract is one of the worst in baseball.  Lackey is signed to a 5-year, $82.5 million deal running through 2014.  For the final 3 years (2012-14), Lackey will get paid $15,250,000 per season.  The one bit of relief to the Red Sox is that the injury kicks in a 2015 vesting option, whereby Lackey will only be paid $500K for that season.  A small consolation given the magnitude of the money and disappointing numbers from Lackey to-date.

For whatever reason(s), the relationship between John Lackey and the Boston Red Sox is not working out.  Lackey has battled personal issues while in Boston, including his wife’s health and battle with Cancer.  While clearly we can all sympathize with Lackey’s difficulties in playing while dealing with personal issues, the reports from the end of the season of his involvement with drinking in the clubhouse and eating fried chicken during games brings into question Lackey’s commitment and focus to the team and game.  Before news of his surgery, many outlets were reported that the Red Sox were actively shopping Lackey in the hopes of removing him from the team.  A strong rumor was a swap with the Padres and reuniting Lackey with his old pitching coach from his Angels’ days, Bud Black.  The Padres and Petco would have been an ideal environment for Lackey, provided that the Red Sox would have picked up the majority of his contract in the deal. 

But the reconstructive elbow surgery has brough the Lackey rumors to a halt.  He will be staying in Boston for the foreseeable future.  The Red Sox have faced bad luck this year with Tommy John, as pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill both underwent the same procedure in 2011.  Theo Epstein was wise to include the injury provision in the Lackey contract; but then again, he may have been better off avoiding the pitcher all-together.  News of the Lackey injury was the first announcement by Ben Cherington as the new Red Sox GM.  From all the offseason transactions and news that will follow in Boston, this one will be taken as one of the more positive moves.

The Red Sox have many decisions facing them this offseason.  The re-signing of David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon.  The integration and structure of the organization with a new GM.  The hiring of a new manager.  The departure of J.D. Drew and possibly Marco Scutaro.  The comeback of Carl Crawford.  These are surely hectic times in Boston.  The team will need to make many roster changes for 2012, including  the signing of 1-2 new starting pitchers.  The injury to Lackey could prove to be a blessing in disguise.  The surgery may pinpoint that his terrible numbers in Boston were based more on declining health than eroding skills.  With a year-off to rehabilitate and re-energize, the Red Sox may see a new and focused John Lackey.  The team would have had to eat most of his contract to trade him; perhaps they are better off paying and playing him.     

In the worst case scenario, the Red Sox will need to either trade or release John Lackey between now and 2014, if they do not believe that he can rebound and be a useful asset for the team.  There is always the chance that Lackey is not able to recapture the form he displayed back in his Angels days.  Also, there may be enough bad feelings between the player and organization that a fresh start will be in order.  At this point, the Red Sox are best off to take a “break” so to speak for a year from John Lackey.  Come to 2013, the team may find that they have a new valuable asset that they never counted on.  John Lackey at the end of the day is a classic example of the risk involved handing a 30 something year-old pitcher a 4+ years contract for big dollars.  The Red Sox in this case gambled and lost.  But at least the decision can be put off for a year whether to write John Lackey off completely or try to recover pennies on the dollar.  I wish John Lackey a successful surgery and healthy recovery.  While I don’t expect to see him emerge as a MLB ace upon his return, my sense is that we will see an older and wiser John Lackey on the mound.  The talent has always been there.  Now he just needs to find the health and heart to fulfill the remainder of his potential.

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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.

 

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Rangers One Win Away: World Series Game Five Recap

Tuesday  October 25, 2011


MLB reports – Sam Evans:  The Rangers and Cardinals played a thrilling game on Monday night in Arlington. Let’s take a closer look at how the Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the series.

Heading into this game, I don’t think anyone expected C.J. Wilson to do anything special. Instead, Wilson turned in 5 1/3 quality innings giving up only two runs. Luck was on his side as he walked five, and gave up four hits but overall it was a pretty decent start. If indeed Wilson does leave Texas after this season, he left the 51,000 Rangers fans at the game with a good feeling about him.

The Cardinals scored two runs in the second thanks to an error and a wild pitch. In the third, Mitch Moreland got a 2-0 sinker from Chris Carpenter, which he hit 446 feet to right field. So heading into the sixth, the Cards’ had a 2-1 lead.

I really enjoyed Ron Washington’s approach to pitching to Albert Pujols. He basically decided that he’d rather put Pujols on base then risk pitching to the best right-handed hitter in the last decade. It was still a risky decision with Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman hitting behind him. For the most part his decision paid off, as Pujols didn’t score on any of the three times he was walked.

In the bottom of the sixth, Adrian Beltre did what Texas signed him to do. He got a hanging curveball and went down on one knee to hit it out of the park to deep left-center field. Adrian Beltre is so much fun to watch. From his home run head rubs to his stellar play at third base, i wish FOX had a camera just focused in on him the whole game. At the time, this homer looked to be crucial as it tied the game up in what was shaping up to be a pitcher’s duel.

In the top of the seventh, Allen Craig tried to steal on Mike Napoli. Unfortunately, he had literally no jump on the pitcher, and Albert Pujols was the batter. Napoli threw him out and it wasn’t even close. So Ron Washington decided to put Pujols on base. Matt Holliday then singled to center, and took second on the throw, and after a Lance Berkman intentional walk the Cards’ had the bases loaded. Luckily for the Ranger’s, Alexi Ogando retired David Freese to end the inning and preserve the tie. As Jayson Stark pointed out on twitter, Ogando has faced 17 batters this series, and 11 have reached base. It will be interesting to see how Ron Washington uses Ogando in the upcoming games.

The Cardinals threatened later in the inning with runners on first and third and two outs. However, Carpenter got Mike Napoli to fly out to deep, deep center to end the inning. Carpenter turned in a very impressive start, especially considering he was facing one of the best lineups in the American League.

In the bottom of the eighth, Tony La Russa brought in Octavio Dotel to replace Chris Carpenter. Michael Young  jumped on a slider and hit a double into center field. Then after a Beltre strikeout, Dotel intentionally walked Nelson Cruz. La Russa then brought in Marc Rzepczynski to face the lefty David Murphy. Murphy hit a grounder off Rzepczynski’s leg and despite a valiant effort by second basemen Rafael Furcal, Murphy beat the throw to load the bases.

With the bases loaded, one out, and the crowd chanting, ” NA-PO-LI,” Mike Napoli belted a 1-1 slider off the right-center field wall. I think it’s amazing that with all the crazy managing of the bullpen that La Russa does, he didn’t bring in a different pitcher. According to La Russa after the game, he actually called for Lance Lynn instead of Rzepczynski. I’m not quite sure I believe that. Sure the stadium was extremely deafening, but it looks like La Russa just messed up.

Then, things got even crazier. After Rzepczynski struck out Mitch Moreland, La Russa brought in Lance Lynn. After Lynn intentionally walked Ian Kinsler, the sixth intentional walk of the game, he was promptly pulled for Jason Motte who struck out Elvis Andrus to end the nightmare inning. It’s not very often that i try to compare my athletic abilities with players in the majors, because i have so much respect for their dedication and hard work. However, tonight I feel confident that i could have pitched just as well as Lance Lynn. So Tony, if you’re looking for your next superstar IWOOGY ( intentional walk one out guy) you know where to find me.

As expected, after the game La Russa also blamed this event on bullpen miscommunication. This instance was even less believable than the first, I think the 67-year-old La Russa might have just forgotten that Lynn had only been out there for that one batter.

It’s crazy how quick the media can change their opinion on Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. One day they make him look like a genius, and the next day they make a case for his retirement. Tony La Russa has been managing for 35 years, he has watched more baseball games in person than almost all of us. He is with his players everyday and unlike the outside world, knows what’s going through most of their heads. Maybe Lance Lynn had a bad burrito before the game so that’s why La Russa pulled him after only intentionally walking Kinsler. My point is who knows what his reasons are, let’s just appreciate that we can watch a manager who has the guts to make all these daring decisions.

The time when La Russa gets himself in trouble is when he talks to the media. After the game, La Russa talked about not only the bullpen communications issues, but that Pujols got the hit and run sign when Allen Craig was thrown out stealing in the top of the seventh.

Overall, La Russa only blew the pitching aspect of the game for the Cardinals. St. Louis’s real problem was the inability to drive in runners in scoring position. They were 1-12 with RISP this game, and they are 8 for 43 with RISP in the series. If they are Cardinals fans are wondering how they are losing the series, they can look right to the fact that their team hasn’t been able to hit in the clutch.

Game six is Wednesday at 8:05 PM ET in St.Louis. Arguably the series two most effective pitchers will battle it out. Jaime Garcia will start for the Cardinals against Colby Lewis for the Rangers.

 

Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam 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.

Rangers Win Game 4: 2011 World Series Tied 2-2 and Preview of Game 5

Monday October 24, 2011

 

 

April Whitzman (Blue Jays and Prospects Writer – MLB reports):  Already down 2-1 in the series, the Texas Rangers were craving a win against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.  Especially after being outscored 16-7 the game before.  And, with Derek Holland on the mound – – that’s exactly what they got.

The scoring started early for Texas when Josh Hamilton doubled in Elvis Andrus, giving the Rangers the early 1-0 lead in the first.

From then on in, Edwin Jackson settled in, allowing only one hit after the first inning. It was not the hits that hurt him though, but rather the walks.

In the fifth inning, after Jackson walked David Murphy and Nelson Cruz, Jackson was replaced by Mitchell Boggs to face power-hitter Mike Napoli.

So what did Napoli do? You guessed it – hit a home run – a three-run shot and his second of the series. His monster shot gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead.

That would be how the game ende,d as the Cardinals were only able to manage two hits the entire game and only once had a runner past first base (Lance Berkman’s double in the second).

While Napoli was a key reason to the Rangers’ win, the player of the game was certainly Derek Holland who went 8 1/3 innings, allowing only two hits, while striking out seven and walking two.

Interestingly, the two batters he walked came in the ninth inning, before he was replaced by Neftali Feliz, who got Albert Pujols (who went 5-5 with three homers the game before) to fly out and Matt Holliday to strike out to end the game.

The dominance of the Rangers pitching on the mound this night allowed the bullpen to take it easy who had already been overworked from allowing 16 runs the game before.

On Monday, the Cardinals look to regain the lead as they sent their ace, Chris Carpenter to the mound. With that said – the Rangers are hoping C.J. Wilson will rebound from his loss in game 1 and get the win to give them their first lead of the series.  Game time is 8:05 PM ET from Arlington.  From there, the World Series shifts to St. Louis.  The winner of tonight’s game will be only 1 game away from winning the 2011 World Series.  Given Carpenter’s dominance as shown in this year’s playoffs, St. Louis appears to have the edge over Texas and a struggling Wilson.  But as Holland showed last night, anything can happen in baseball on any given night.  Tonight’s game promises to be a classic.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. Comment below, email MLBreports@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter at @Alleycat17.

 

 

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Doug Booth: An Inside Look at the 2011 World Series Ballparks

Sunday October 23, 2011

 

Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist – MLB reports):  We are very fortunate today to have author Doug Booth of “The Fastest 30 Ballgames”, join us today with a Guest MLB Blog.  Doug, an expert on major league baseball parks, shares his knowledge on The Ballpark In Arlington (Texas) and Busch Stadium (St. Louis)- the sites of the 2011 World Series.  We appreciate Doug taking the time out of his schedule to articulate his knowledge and experiences of these amazing ballparks.  Enjoy.      

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It’s Antlers & Claws vs. The Squirrel in the World Series

(AL)TEXAS RANGERS VS. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (NL)

The 2011 World Series features the second ever meeting of a series between the two clubs, with only a 2004 series in Texas has been played in the whole history of interleague.  The Fall Classic may display some of the unique characteristics each city, park and all of the fans to display to the rest of the world.  From the new tradition of the faithful Rangers fans joining in with players to do the antlers/claws celebration when powering up-or the entire Cardinal team taking the good luck pet squirrel-(both the real live one and the stuffed squirrel that was tossed into the Cardinal bullpen-and participated in the champagne celebration of the NL Champs,) this series will be entertaining.

First you have the Texas Rangers, formerly the Washington Senators, who moved to the state of Texas in 1972 only to wait for almost forty years for their first World Series appearance and have since gone back to the second time-to the Cardinals 3rd trip since 2004-and them trying to add to their 11 World Series titles already.  Ballpark fans will tell what to look for if you listen.

In Texas, and of course everything is always bigger in Texas, there will be sunny warm weather, plenty of cowboy hats and Stetsons, whereas the Cardinals fans will be decked out in their best red team shirts and jerseys.  The Ballpark in Arlington will play the ‘Natural’ movie theme song every time their player takes the ball yard, while St. Louis will cheer their players for a homer with the warmest of exuberance while the weather may surface near freezing temperatures.  The Rangers fans, with their loud and boisterous ways-will cheer for the Cardinals to fail at defense, meanwhile the Cardinals fans will always cheer a great baseball play even if it costs their team a chance to score and win the game.

There is plenty of tiered parking at ‘The Ballpark In Arlington.’  It is a price structure that is the fairest in the majors.  The more you are willing to walk, the less you have to pay to watch an event there.  Then you have the NL version of the ‘Yankees’, so much like downtown New York, in St. Louis you will be lucky to find a spot-and worst yet-you may miss your turn-offs from the highway.   Busch Stadium displays one of the best iconic visuals in the Arch for the back drop of the park, in contrast-The Ballpark in Arlington has the biggest space in the outfield bleachers with the corporate offices staring down at the field. That means that the like of Nolan Ryan will always be watching even if the Cards are just practicing. If that doesn’t intimidate you at all you can always see the 1.2 billion dollar Cowboys Stadium across the street.

The fans will sing ‘Deep in the heart of Texas’ after the seventh inning stretch in Arlington.  The Busch fans will probably blast ‘thank god I am a country boy, or cotton-eyed Joe’ on the loudspeaker.

After the games at Busch Stadium, the downtown district and especially Mike Shannon’s steakhouse, they will celebrate their team playing in the playoffs.  In Texas, the streets that lead to the highways will be jammed causing some of the people to carry-on the partying in the parking lots or wait for other form of ground transportation by celebrating with other fans.

This series represents the 29th and 30th ballparks I ever saw.  I had seen all other 28 ballparks in less than a month in 2008-and was delighted at the style and professionalism each ballpark displayed.  The staff at Busch Stadium had my dad and me on the field being interviewed by Fox Sports-Midwest.  It was an incredible gesture on their part.  As for attending The Ballpark In Arlington right after, I was blown away by the size and structure of this behemoth park.  I watched a game where the temperature soared into the 100’s, but don’t be afraid of attending the game-you can always cool off in centerfield by having an ice cream or smoothie in the little kids indoor concession stand that has air conditioning!  Just always know what the score is because the concourses are so big you can’t see the game or scoreboard from them

So sit back and watch the baseballs fly out of both parks with what may be the best ever NL offence, and the best AL offence since the 1927 Yankees.  I warn you, be prepared for all possibilities, I witnessed a 15 inning game at Busch in 2009 where they actually ran out of pop and the game ended at 1:15 Am in the morning, oh yeah and I witnessed a torrential down pour at the Ballpark In Arlington to add to my ballpark viewing resume.

The moral of the story is eat lots of food of water, be caught up in the parks different traditions-and finally stay until the final pitch is made.  If the game happens to be in St. Louis and the Rangers win the World Series-watch how the ‘classiest fans in baseball’ will show the nation yet again of how nice they are.  I am sure they would rather win still though.

DCB

*** Thank you to Doug Booth for joining us today on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Doug Booth, you can follow Doug on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and click here for Doug’s website, fastestthirtyballgames.com***

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World Series Game Three Recap and Looking Back at the 2011 Home Run Leaders

St. Louis Cardinals at Texas Rangers:  World Series Game Three

MLB Reports – Sam Evans: Game three of the World Series was a crucial game for both teams as they both tried to take an early lead in the series. The Cardinals got off to a hot start thanks to an Allen Craig homer off of Matt Harrison in the top of the first. Up until the top of the fourth, both pitchers looked pretty strong, and it appeared that this would be a low scoring ballgame. Then, in the fourth, everything went wrong for the Rangers. It all started with an Albert Pujols single, then David Freese drove in two with a opposite-field line drive double. Next,  after Tony LaRussa made an interesting call to intentionally walk Yadier Molina to lad the bases, Jon Jay hit a slow grounder that brought Napoli into field it. Napoli took the right risk in throwing the ball home because the double play was out of the question with Jay’s speed. Unfortunately for the Rangers, Napoli rushed the throw and threw it to the backstop, allowing two runs to score on the play. Ryan Theriot singled, and before you know it the Cardinals lead had jumped to 5-0 just like that.

Neither pitcher lasted more than three innings in what became a slugfest between these two teams. In the bottom of the fourth, Michael Young and who else, Nelson Cruz homered to bring the score to 5-3. However, the Cardinals offense could not be stopped despite whoever Ron Washington had on the mound. In the fifth they added three more runs, and four in the sixth thanks to an Albert Pujols three-run homer. Pujols wasn’t done as he homered in the seventh and ninth as well. Pujols finished 5 for 6 with 6 RBI, which might be the best single game performance from any player in the World Series. He tied Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth for the most home runs in a World Series game. The reason Albert Pujols is such a great hitter is that there are literally no holes in his swing. He might have the most beautiful right-handed swing of all-time. After the game, Tony LaRussa had this to say, “There it is, the greatest night in World Series history. And we saw it.” Final score: Cardinals 16 Rangers 7. They play Sunday at 8:05 ET, with Derek Holland facing Edwin Jackson.

TOP FIVE REGULAR SEASON HOME RUN LEADERS IN EACH LEAGUE

Top Five RegUlar Season Home Run Leaders: American League Player Team #Of Homers
Jose Bautista TORONTO BLUE JAYS 43
Curtis Granderson NEW YORK YANKEES 41
MARK TEXEIRA NEW YORK YANKEES 39
Mark Reynolds BALTIMORE ORIOLES 37
Adrian Beltre, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ian Kinsler TEXAS RANGERS, BOSTON RED SOX, TEXAS RANGERS 32

Out of all the players on this list only Bautista, Texiera, and Reynolds hit more than thirty home runs last year. Jose Bautista proved that his 2010 season wasn’t a fluke by having an even better 2011 season, hitting 43 homers. Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixera both took advantage of Yankee Stadium’s favorable dimensions. Despite a slow start, Mark Reynolds hit 37 for the Orioles, who got what they needed with a middle of the order bat. Adrian Beltre hit 32 for the Rangers and Jacoby Ellsbury hit a huge breakout year, hitting 32 as well. The player I want to talk about is Ian Kinsler. I don’t think the average baseball fan realizes how good Kinsler has been. Despite only sporting a .255 average, Kinsler played above-average defense and stole 30 bases. He was probably the most valuable player on the Rangers this year. How many people knew that Kinsler was in the 30-30 club in 2011, for the second time in his career? He also had a .355 OBP and 121 runs over the course of 155 games. I think Kinsler is the most underrated second basemen in the league, and he deserves some respect.

TOP FIVE REGULAR SEASON HOME RUN LEADERS: NATIONAL LEAGUE NAME TEAM # OF HOMERS
Matt Kemp LOS ANGELES DODGERS 39
Prince Fielder MILWAUKEE BREWERS 38
ALBERT PUJOLS ST.LOUIS CARDINALS 37
Dan Uggla ATLANTA BRAVES 36
Mike Stanton FLORIDA MARLINS 34

Matt Kemp is the National League MVP, in my opinion. Other than the 39 homers, he stole 40 bases and reached base at a .399 clip. Prince Fielder definitely played like it was his contract year, hitting 38 homers. There’s close to none chance that he will stay with the Brewers next year. Albert Pujols is the least surprising, he is just so consistent every single year. Dan Uggla made this list largely due to his late season surge in which he hit ten homers in the month of August. Mike Stanton might be a surprise to some, but some scouting reports show him having 70-80 power on the 20-80 scale. This was a very impressive season for him, slugging .537 as a 21 year old. Next year, he should work on his defense and batting average and he might be an MVP candidate.

Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam 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.

Casey Bond: Toronto Premiere of Moneyball – Guest MLB Blog

Saturday October 22, 2011


MLB reports:  Fans cannot get enough of Moneyball!!! The hit Hollywood blockbuster has become a darling of the critics and becoming one of the most popular baseball movies of all time.  If you haven’t seen it already- what are you waiting for?  Get to a movie theatre quickly!  You will not be disappointed.  One of the stars of Moneyball, actor Casey Bond has returned for a repeat Guest MLB Blog on the Reports.  Busy promoting the movie and travelling the globe, we are very fortunate that Casey was able to take the time out of his busy schedule to prepare today’s piece.  Looking back at the world premiere of the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival, Casey takes you today behind the scenes in today’s blog.  For an inside look into Moneyball, MLB reports is proud to present former professional baseball player turned actor, Casey Bond:

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Casey Bond (Guest MLB Blogger):  Well, where do I start?  Right now I am fortunate enough to be in one of the top box office hits in theaters with Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Philip Seymour Hoffman among others, and I get to portray a baseball player in the film all at the same time.  I couldn’t have written a better story for myself.

Moneyball world premiered in Toronto at the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in early September.  I traveled up to Toronto with my girlfriend Sarah, in order to be a part of the World Premiere with a few of my castmates.  There were people from all over just to come to the festival, and especially to see the turnout for Moneyball.  Of course, we had two of the most well-known people on the planet in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie show up with us to the big event.  It’s amazing how much people will let their voices sail across the open airwaves without a shred of holding back in the middle of a crowded public area.  They received quite some noise when their black SUV pulled up behind us to arrive at the carpet.

As I was walking down the carpet myself, it was such a feeling of amazement and accomplishment, to be in that position where all eyes are fixated on you in wonder.  It’s very similar to being a professional baseball player.  All of the attention is on you for that moment.  However, it’s also completely different, because the work you have done was a long time ago, and it’s just time to celebrate, answer questions, take pictures, sign autographs, and watch your finished work about a year after it was done.  Honestly, just to say that, we were watching ourselves on the silver screen like it was today that it happened, but it’s actually watching yourself as you were in this character an entire year ago.  Mind boggling if you really think about it.  How much I personally have changed just in that year’s time.  But now, everyone gets to see my character from a year ago, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the standing ovation we received from everyone in attendance.

As the movie ended and the credits rolled, a spotlight shone upon our balcony, as all of us cast members sat together and watching it as a group for the first time.  To have all of those people roaring in approval was worth everyone minute of hard work we put into that film.  And, the beautiful thing, is that the work lasts forever…

That was only the beginning of the night.  We proceeded to leave the theater, and gather as a group just outside of the balcony doors to congratulate one another on what seemed to be a successful film, and a success to come as it approached its release date.  From the theater, we all climbed into our cars waiting out back, and headed toward an intimate dinner with all of the amazing people who were highly involved in the film.

As my girlfriend and I walked up the steps to the rooftop lounge area to talk to cast members, I was headed off by Brad Pitt who smacked me on the shoulder and said “you killed it man!”  He then turned to my girlfriend and said “how about your boy?  He killed it!”  That statement has pretty much summed up the experience of being in Toronto for the World Premiere.  It was an unreal experience, but completely attributed to all of the hard work I have put into my passions in life.  Who wouldn’t be feeling good to get a comment like that from Mr. Pitt?

The excitement, dedication, and hard work every day has laid out a path that has some very interesting times ahead.  I’m now excited for the U.S. Premiere in Oakland, and the U.S. release of the film.  Needless to say, the film is off to a wonderful start!

 

Thank you Casey for preparing today’s MLB Guest Blog.  Please feel free to contact Casey Bond on Twitter (@caseybond)  or through his website (http://thecaseybond.com) and Facebook Fan Page  for comments and questions. 

**Some of the photographs in today’s feature are courtesy of Peter Hurley**

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter (@MLBreports) 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.

Expanding the MLB Postseason: More Wild Card Teams Coming

Friday October 21, 2011

MLB reports – Rob Bland:  Expanding the playoffs has been a hot topic for many years now.  While the move will not be as drastic as when the MLB added the first wild card team in each league, it has drawn the ire from a lot of critics.  In 1994, MLB was to use the postseason system currently in place; however the season was cut short due to a player strike.  It was then that the MLB went to three divisions in each league (East, Central, and West) as well as a wild card team (the best non-divisional winner record in the league).  The American league Divisional winners would have been the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox in the Central and Texas Rangers in the West (with a record of 52-61).  Conversely, the Cleveland Indians would have been the wild card winners at 66-47.  In the National League, the East would have been won by the Montreal Expos, who had the MLB’s best record of 74-40.  The Central and West would have been won by the Cincinnati Reds and LA Dodgers, respectively, while the wild card winner would have been the Atlanta Braves.

However, due to the strike, which also shortened the following season, 1995 was the first year this system actually came into play.  This season saw a shortened 144 game schedule.  The NL East winners, Atlanta Braves had to go through the slugging Colorado Rockies; the first NL wild card team.  They then faced the Reds, and the eventual World Series Champions Cleveland Indians.  The Indians took a very peculiar path to the World Series.  After leading the MLB with a 100-44 record, the Indians faced the Boston Red Sox, winners of the AL East, who had the 2nd best record in the American League.  The Yankees were the wild card winners, who were defeated by the Seattle Mariners in the AL Division Series.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the commissioner, Bud Selig, with the MLB and its players’ union expires in December of this year, and an extension of five years is expected to be reached any day.  One of the main hold-ups to a deal is the addition of another wild card team.  The 2nd best non-divisonal winner would get into the playoffs.  This may not seem like much, where every other major sports league in North America has at least 3 “wild card” teams, but in baseball, tradition is always at the top of people’s minds.  Adding a team to each league’s postseason picture could lengthen the MLB season, which is something that is a major concern to most people involved in the process.

One option that was bandied around was to have the two wild card teams face off in a best 2 out of 3 series.  The advantage of this short series is that both teams that didn’t win their division would have to play extra games while the winners get a short break to recuperate their injured players.  Also, the extra games give opportunities to more teams to earn extra postseason revenue, which benefits the league.  However, the extra 2-4 days off that the other teams would have to endure could also cause a team to lose its momentum gained at the end of the season.

However, it is believed that the MLB will go to a one game sudden death playoff between the two wild card teams.  In my opinion, the biggest advantage to this is that it gives the winner of the game a monumental disadvantage going into the second round.  The wild card teams would be forced to pitch their ace in the playoff, and therefore would not be able to pitch until at least game 3 of the next round.  This means the team’s best starter would only get one start in a best of 5 series.  Not only would the team with the best record in the league have home-field advantage, but they would see their opponent’s best pitcher in only one game.

In the current state of the MLB postseason, ten wild card teams have made it to the World Series, out of a possible 34 teams going back to 1995, including 2011.  Roughly 29% of wild card teams make it into the World Series.  If you figure that 1 out of 4 teams in each league make it to the World Series, or 25%, then you have a better chance of making it as a wild card than as a divisional winner.  Four World Series have been won by wild card teams.  25% of World Series have been won by a team that should have a distinct disadvantage, but obviously do not.  It is due to this that MLB must make it a bigger hindrance for not winning your division.  Playing an extra game, extra travel and burning your ace are ways to weaken a wild card team’s chance of making it to the World Series.

With the union and MLB reps meeting every day trying to hammer out the extension for the CBA, you should see the added teams in the playoffs in 2012 or 2013.  It is widely expected that the deal will be reached in the middle of the World Series to take advantage or the added publicity it would gain.  I am fairly certain that the new playoff format will come into effect for the 2012 season, and there will be a lot of teams looking to push the envelope and make an appearance.

 

 World Series:  Game 2 Recap

Game 2 was a bit of a surprise, as Jaime Garcia, whom many picked to implode in this guy, had a great start.  Through 7 solid innings, he gave up only 3 hits and 1 walk to 7 strike outs.  Colby Lewis was equally as impressive until the 7th inning, where he was able to strike Matt Holliday out to lead off the inning.  David Freese then singled and Yadier Molina flew out.  Nick Punto then hit a ground ball towards first base that went off of Michael Young’s glove and into right field, moving Freese to third.  With runners on the corners and one out in the 7th, Alexi Ogando came in to face the hitter in the pitcher’s spot.  That hitter: Allen Craig.  The same hero of game 1 that hit a single to right field that scored the go ahead and eventual winning run.  Craig promptly lined a ball to right field to score David Freese, breaking the dead lock.

What would a playoff game be without drama? Jason Motte came in the 9th to close out the 1-0 game.  So far in the postseason, he had given up 1 hit in 29 plate appearances.  Ian Kinsler led off the inning with a bloop single off the end of the bat.  Elvis Andrus came up to the plate and looked to get a sac bunt on the ground, but Kinsler decided to take matters in his own hands, and stole second base by the smallest of margins.  Andrus then lifted a 2-2 pitch to center field for a single.  While Kinsler was held at 3rd, Cardinals CF Jon Jay threw the ball wide of the cutoff man, which allowed Andrus to slide safely into 2nd base.

Manager Tony La Russa then yanked Motte for lefty Arthur Rhodes to face Josh Hamilton.  On the first pitch, he hit a fly ball to right that scored Kinsler and advanced Andrus to third.  Even more like La Russa, he brought in Lance Lynn to face Michael Young, who hit a 3-2 curveball deep enough to center to scored Andrus, and the Rangers lead the game 2-1.

Rangers closer Neftali Feliz took the mound in the bottom of the 9th and walked Yadier Molina on 5 pitches 97 mph or faster, hitting 100 on the radar gun with the first pitch.  Nick Punto came to the plate, bunted two balls foul up around his eyes, then swung feebly to strike out.  Feliz then struck out Skip Schumaker and induced a fly ball off the bat of Rafael Furcal to seal the victory.

With the series tied at one game apiece, an off day tomorrow and game 3 slated for Saturday night in Texas, this series is only going to get better.  Keep checking MLB reports for your daily fix of updates on the World Series.

 

Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.

 

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Cardinals Win Game One of the 2011 World Series

Thursday October 20, 2011

 

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  On a cold October night in St. Louis, Chris Carpenter and C.J. Wilson took the mound for their respective squads to battle in the long anticipated game one of the 2011 World Series.  As the title of this article indicates, the Cardinals took game one.  As the mastery and genius of Tony La Russa continued, here is a recap of last night’s action:

 

Texas Rangers at St. Louis Cardinals:  World Series Game One

 Despite the expectation for a high scoring affair, this game turned out to be very close.  The two high-octane offenses of the Rangers and Cardinals were kept at bay by great pitching and mother nature.  Bats seem to get cold in dreary weather for the most part.  Chris Carpenter went 6.0 innings for the win.  With his 8th postseason win, Carpenter passed the immortal Bob Gibson on the Cardinals all-time playoff win list.  Impressive company indeed.  Despite Carpenter getting frustrated with himself at times (and using choice language that came through on the broadcast), he enjoyed a great outing.  Only 5 hits allowed, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts.  His only blemish on the night was a 2-run shot given up to Mike Napoli.  The home run at the time erased the 2-0 Cardinals lead at the time.  But St. Louis was able to come back in the bottom of the 6th, with pinch hitter Allen Craig driving in the game winning run.  From there, the Cardinals pen took over with 3 shutout innings.  Relievers Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Arthur Rhodes and Jason Motte combined to give up 1 hit and 1 walk (both by Salas in 1/3 of an inning) and 3 strikeouts to preserve the win for Carpenter.  Motte continued his incredible postseason run with his 5th playoff save, a 1-2-3 9th inning.

 C.J. Wilson was good, but not great on the night.  The Rangers ace has not come up big when his team needed him most, as he was fairly erratic on the night.  His final line read 5 2/3 innings pitched, 4 hits allowed, 6 walks, 3 earned runs and 4 strikeouts.  Alexi Ogando came into the 6th with 2 runners on and could not get the job done.  Mike Gonzalez and Scott Feldman came in from the pen as well, but the damage was done as the Rangers could not come back against the mighty Cardinals bullpen.  Questions arose after the game concerning Ron Washington’s use of his bench during the game.  Specifically, his choices of having Craig Gentry and Esteban German pinch hit instead of Yorvit Torrealba and Mitch Moreland, who did not end up coming into the game.  The bottom line for me is that Washington went with his feel and instincts.  If the moves pay-off, he looks like a genius.  In this case, they did not.  But let’s give credit where its due.  The Rangers are back on the big stage for a second straight year.  The Rangers must be doing something very right to make it this far.  Regardless of who would have batted in key situations, the Cardinals pen did its job tonight (as it has been doing all postseason long).  Tonight’s game was more about what Tony La Russa did right, rather than what Ron Washington did wrong.  But Washington will need to keep his chess playing skills sharp in this series if he hopes to have his team win the big prize. 

The big heroes on this night for St. Louis were Lance Berkman (2 hits and 2 RBIs), Craig, Carpenter and Motte.  Game 2 goes in St. Louis Thursday night, 8:05 PM ET.  Colby Lewis and Jaime Garcia are set to faceoff.  It will be interesting to see how Garcia responds after receiving an early hook from his manager in his last outing in the NLCS.  This will be a pivotal game for the Rangers, as they do not want to go home to Texas down 2-0.  The Cardinals started off the World Series on the right foot.  Now it is just a question of whether the Cardinals bats and bullpen can keep the magic going for 3 more wins.

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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.

Evaluating Strikeout Pitchers For Your 2012 Fantasy Baseball Team

Tuesday October 18, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  Depending on the type of fantasy league, high strikeout pitchers hold varying degrees of value. In 5 X 5 Roto League’s, strikeouts are crucial as they represent one of the five pitching categories. Furthermore, strikeout ratios are indicative of a pitcher’s future success. Needless to say, the more a pitcher misses the bat of a hitter, the more primed he is to retire batters. As I touched upon this subject a few weeks ago in my piece about the value of setup men, today, I shift the focus to starting pitchers who look to finish atop the strikeout rankings in 2012.

Brandon Beachy

In 2011, the 25-year-old right-hander busted onto the scene with a 7-3 record, 3.68 ERA, and 1.21 WHIP in 141.2 innings. However, the real value he provided was the 169 strikeouts, a 10.74 K/9 ratio that ranked him first among starting pitchers. Undoubtedly, Beachy will be a highly valued player entering the 2012 season, yet I still think many owners still undervalue him. Many owners will be impressed, but not wowed by his ERA and WHIP numbers, which are right on par with Jamie Garcia’s 3.56 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. However, Garcia struck out just 156 batters in 194 innings. If pitchers are not contributing to the strikeout category, he needs to be VERY good in the others, and it will be difficult for a player to do so with out the ability to miss bats. This helps explains Garcia jump in ERA from 2.70 in 2010 to 3.56 in 2011.

Beachy’s strikeout ratio indicates that his rookie season was no fluke. He has the ability to miss bats and therefore should not see a regression in his numbers. He was consistent throughout the year and actually struck out more batters as the season progressed. Furthermore, his .300 BAPIP indicates that he was not a product of good fortune. He is the real deal and has potential to provide terrific value in all give pitching categories and looks to be among the elite in strikeouts. Beachy’s more well-known teammate, Tommy Hanson, it also a pitcher who is among the games best strikeout pitchers – improving his rate in each of his three seasons in the major leagues.

Here are some lesser-known players that had a strikeout ratio higher than that of C.C. Sabathia, Felix Hernandez and David Price:

Brandon Morrow (10.19 K/9)

Cory Luebke (9.92 K/9)

Anibal Sanchez 9.26 K/9)

Jonathan Sanchez (9.06 K/9)

Matt Garza (8.95 K/9)

Gio Gonzalez (8.78 K/9)

Although these pitchers are by no means fantasy aces, their fantasy value is often hidden and undiscovered by owners. They are often lumped into the same category as players with similar ERA and WHIP numbers (e.g. Mark Buehrle). However, their potential for strikeouts can give an owner valuable extra points. While no means must-start players, if you use the Garza, Gonzalez’s, Morrows, etc in favorable matchups, don’t be surprised to see them produce ‘five category’ Lincecum-like starts. Just don’t start them against the better half of the league’s top offensive teams. It is all about finding the edges, and strikeouts are a category that many owners are first to ignore. Therefore, I strongly suggest you fill your tougher innings with such players that can help you finish at the top of this category. If a player is putting up strong ERA and WHIP numbers without the strikes, it is more likely to be a fluke. Therefore, to be safe and to finish atop the K category, target the players who show the best ability to make major league hitters swing and miss.

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

 

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Is Ryne Sandberg the Next Cubs Manager?

Tuesday October 18, 2011

 

MLB reports – Sam Evans:  Before we even begin to speculate on who will be the next Cubs manager, there is something baseball fans have to realize.  The most important move made by the Cubs this offseason will be naming their General Manager.  It looks like Theo Epstein will be taking over duties as the GM, if everything goes according as planned.  One of Theo’s first moves will be to decide whether to keep Mike Quade and his coaching staff for next year.  I think there is little to no chance that this happens considering the Cubs on-field product from the last year.   My guess is that Epstein would be looking for a very intelligent manager that is behind the recent sabermetrical discoveries but at the same time, has a lot of experience in the game of baseball.  Someone similar to Joe Maddon of the Rays.

One of the top managerial candidates for the Cubs position, and for other open coaching spots around the league, is Hall of Fame Second Basemen Ryne Sandberg.  Sandberg was born in 1959 in Spokane,WA.  He was drafted in the 20th round of the 1978 Rule 4 MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, and he shot through the minors and made his major league debut in 1981.  After the 1981 season, Sandberg was shipped along with Larry Bowa to the Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus.  This turned out to be one of the best trades in the history of the Chicago Cubs organization.  The Phillies made this trade due to a middle infield logjam, and it will forever haunt Phillies fans.

In his career, Ryne Sandberg hit .285 with 282 home runs and 344 stolen bases.  From 1989 to 1992, Sandberg hit 122 home runs.  He was MVP in 1984, he was named to ten all-star teams and was a nine-time gold glove award recipient.  Cubs fans will remember “Ryno” for his amazing defensive plays and his ability to hit home runs.  Sandberg was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.

Once the 2006 season had come to a close, Ryne Sandberg met with Cubs GM Jim Hendry and told him that he was wanted to manage the team.  Smartly, Hendry decided that Sandberg needed experience managing so he gave him a job managing way down the Cubs depth charts.  In 2007, Sandberg began his managing career with the Class-A Peoria Chiefs, and he led the Chiefs to 71-68 finish.  With the Chiefs again in 2008, the Chiefs went 60-78.  In 2009, the Sandberg was promoted to manager of the Cubs AA team, where in one year he went 71-69.  In 2010, he was the Cubs AAA manager and he finished 82-62, and earned the honor of being named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year.  As you may remember, in 2010 Lou Piniella stepped down from his position as interim Cubs manager.  Mike Quade was the interim manager and he led the team to a 24-13 record for the rest of the season.  However, after the season, the Cubs organization didn’t make it clear that Quade was their man until October 19. Most baseball people thought that Ryne Sandberg would be named manager and that he deserved to be the Cubs manager. The Cubs decided to remove the interim tag from Quade’s position and promote him to the full-time manager. Unfortunately, Quade and the Cubs had a rough year, finishing 2011 with a 71-91 record.

I almost feel sorry for Sandberg. He worked so hard managing in the minors and when his opportunity finally arose when Piniella retired, Jim Hendry turned him down. I definitely think he deserves a chance at managing the Cubs. He not only has playing experience but successful managing experience in the minors.

After an awkward offseason for Sandberg, he took up an offer to manage the Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A team, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. He was also, according to sources, offered by Theo Epstein to be the manager for the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Despite a very minor league baseball-esque name, the Iron Pigs are actually considered to be in the upper echelon of the minors. They average a higher attendance (over 10,000 per game) than any other MiLB team. Ryne Sandberg put together another winning season leading the Iron Pigs to an 80-64 record. His career managerial record is 364-341, which is good for a .556 winning percentage.

Who knows what the Cubs relationship is like with Sandberg? Their relationship appeared to be very stalwart but after the Cubs denied Sandberg the chance to manage at the major league level last year, you have to wonder why they would want him this year. Even if Theo Epstein does end up getting the job, just because he wanted Sandberg to manage the PawSox, there is no guarantee that he would want to work with Sandberg at the major league level.

The X-factor in this situation is Terry Francona. Epstein and Francona got along beautifully in Boston, and maybe Theo wants to keep Terry as his manager. This would not surprise me because the two are so comfortable with each other, and they have proven that their methods work with two World Series rings.  Although their relations were apparently strained at times, the bottom line is that they were able to get the job done together.

There is one thing that I am sure of from this Sandberg debacle.   Ryan Sandberg will have a major-league coaching job come April.  The Phillies might have an assistant coaching position open, or the Red Sox could be interested in Sandberg as their manager.  Options will be available to him.  The most likely option is that Sandberg will return to where he already spent fifteen years of his baesball life: Wrigley Field.

 

Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam 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.

The Cardinals Are Going to the World Series

Monday October 17, 2011

 

MLB reports – April Whitzman:  The Cardinals heading into last night in Milwaukee were one win away from advancing to the World Series.   Here is a recap of last night’s NLCS action:

 

St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers:  NLCS Game Six

One ex-Blue Jays pitcher got the win in game number six of the NLCS last night.  But it was not the one you would have expected.

Shaun Marcum was on the mound for the Brewers, hoping to bounce back from his previous start.  Things unfortunately did not go as planned, as Marcum lasted only one inning.  During his short stint, he allowed four earned runs on three hits, a walk, while striking out one.  The biggest hit came in the form of  a three-run home run, courtesy of David Freese.

Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson, however, did not fare much better.  He lasted only two innings himself, also allowing four runs.  Jackson actually allowed three home runs, including solo shots to Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, and Jonathan Lucroy.

Heading into the third, the score was already 5-4 in favor of St. Louis.  But the Cardinals weren’t even close to slowing down.  They scored another four runs, thanks to an Albert Pujols home run, a Nick Punto sac fly which scored Matt Holliday, and an Allen Craig two-RBI single that scored David Freese and Yadier Molina.

The Brewers tried to overcome the deficit in the following inning, when Yuniesky Betancourt doubled in Jerry Hairston to make the score 9-5 in favour of the Cardinals.

The Cardinals would continue to add to their lead in the following inning.  After two consecutive singles to start the inning, costly errors allowed Matt Holliday to score on Yadier Molina’s fielder’s choice. The errors also enabled Adron Chambers‘ sacrifice fly to score David Freese, his third run scored of the game.

Knowing how important the win was for the Brewers, they were not prepared to give up in this one.  They scored another run in the bottom of the inning when Ryan Braun grounded out to score Carlos Gomez. The score was then 11-6 for the Cardinals.

But alas, the Brewers offense was a little too late- as the Cardinals went on to add another run.  Albert Pujols hit another RBI single to score Daniel Descalso making it a 12-6 game.

Jason Motte came in for the ninth and got a 1-2-3 inning, as the Cardinals defeated the Brewers 12-6.  St. Louis won the series 4-2, moving on to the World Series to face the Texas Rangers. 

Ex- Blue Jay Marc Rzepczynski ended up  earning the win, pitching 2 1/3 innings, more than any other pitcher in this game.  He allowed one run on two hits, while walking one and striking out two.

Another Ex- Blue Jay, Octavio Dotel, also pitched in the game.  He went 2/3 of an inning without allowing a base runner and struck out one.

After the game, David Freese was named MVP of the NLCS tournament, after going 3-4 with three runs and three RBIs in the game and batting .545 (12 for 22) in the NLCS overall, with three homers, three doubles, nine RBIs and seven runs scored.

Game number one of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals commences on Wednesday night in St. Louis, with the National League enjoying home field advantage in this one (thanks to their All-Star game victory this year).  If it is anything like the series we have been watching thus far, it is going to be an exciting conclusion to an unpredictable and entertaining 2011 MLB postseason.

 
 

 

Today’s feature was prepared by our Blue Jays & Prospects Writer, April Whitzman.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow April 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.

David Ortiz to the Jays or Yankees? Try the Rays or Angels

Monday October 17, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  With the World Series all set to commence on Wednesday (Cardinals and Rangers)- our attention is slowly shifting to the upcoming free agency period.  A big name (literally) of discussion has been David Ortiz, or better known in baseball circles as “Big Papi”.  The rumor mill is running wild as to where Ortiz will play in 2012.  Let’s shed some light on the subject and clear up the confusion.

The soon to be 36-year old Ortiz is coming off one of his finest seasons in recent memory.  Papi finished with a steady all-around season:  29 home runs, 96 RBIs, 84 runs, 78/83 BB/K, .309 AVG and .953 OPS.  Ortiz was named to his 7th all-star team and finishing up a 5-year, $64.5 million contract.  For a player that appeared to be in decline back in 2009, Ortiz has shown the last two seasons that he has some juice left in the tank.  But with the Red Sox in shambles, given the departure of long-time manager Terry Francona and soon to be ex-GM Theo Epstein, Ortiz himself has said that Boston has become too much of a soap opera.  The question on every baseball fan’s mind:  will he stay or will he go?

 The Ortiz decision to stay in Boston will largely depend on several factors.  Firstly, it is unclear whether the team wishes to retain him or go in a different direction.  As an aging team with hitters that could use the rest from playing in the field every day, the Red Sox may not longer wish to commit the DH spot to one exclusive batter.  Taking that into account with Papi’s streaks and slumps that past few years and recent comments, may be enough for the Red Sox upper management to wish to move on.  But if the team does wish to retain him, or give in to fan pressure to keep Ortiz (which is likely to come given his immense popularity), will Papi himself want to remain in Boston?  Only the man could answer that question.  To know the answer, one would have to get into the player’s head.  Does Otiz get along with his teammates or are there divided fractions?  How much did the 2011 collapse take a toll on his morale?  When will a new GM come into place and will he be able to have a good relationship with Ortiz?  Same issue for a new manager…and you get the idea.  There are many variables that put into question whether Ortiz could or would stay in Boston.

In my estimation, Ortiz is on his final contract.  He will likely obtain a 2-year contract, with an option for a third.  Based on his rich history and legacy in Boston, I think that when push comes to shove- the player will stay.  Boston needs Papi; and Papi needs Boston.  It would not feel right to see Ortiz in another uniform (check out highlights from his days in Minnesota and you will see what I mean).  Major League Baseball also would love to see Ortiz remain in Boston for marketing purposes.  With so many vested interests in getting this deal done, I believe it will happen.  But what if it does not?  What if Papi jumps ship? I see his options as far and few between.

The first option that jumped out was the Yankees.  It will not happen.  While the Yankees would love to stick it to Boston, they will not likely want another aging DH on their hands after the Jorge Posada fiasco this past season.  The Yankees also have Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and company that need days off the field, A-Rod especially given his failing health.  With A-Rod becoming a part-time DH as soon as next year, the Yankees cannot afford to take on Papi at this stage.  Plus the team has up-and-coming superstar Jesus Montero that needs playing time and has nothing more to prove in AAA.  So the Yankees rate as a no.

 The next options for Ortiz?  It will only be American League teams as he is only a DH at this stage of his career.  The only realistic teams that have the open position and fit are Toronto, Tampa Bay and Anaheim.  The Jays are being thrown around many circles as a possible destination.  It makes sense for several reasons.  Ortiz knows the ballpark well from his AL East days.  He gets along well with Jose Bautista and would serve as a great mentor for the Jays young hitters.  Toronto was missing production last season from the DH spot and would welcome Papi’s bat.  But despite these factors, I don’t see this signing happening.  Ortiz will want to play on a contender and fight for another ring.  His career is winding down and so are his chances.  While Toronto has a strong young nucleus, they are at least 2-3 years aways.  As much as this would be a feel-good signing, I would rate is as another no.

Thus the battle for the services of David Ortiz will boil down to the Tampa Bay Rays and Anaheim Angels.  Two strong playoff contending teams that desperately need his bat.  Tampa Bay should be the favorite, given the familiarity of the AL East and the strong need of the team.  The Rays have the lineup spot for Ortiz and should make a big push for him.  The Angels have the same need, but not the best fit for position.  The team has a logjam in the outfield with Mike Trout likely to be with the big club next year and Kendrys Morales returning to the team from injury.  But when there is a will, there is a way.  Like many other squads, the Angels would need to do some creative shuffling to make room for Ortiz.  Vernon Wells may need to be moved for a bad pitcher’s contract in return (Carlos Zambrano anyone?)  Kendrys Morales may not be recovered or Trout may not be ready.  The Angels went through a desperate need all year in 2011 for runs and will not want to face the same issue come 2012.  Papi could be the perfect short-term solution for the Halos.

The four-horse race to sign David Ortiz will come down to the Red Sox, Jays, Rays and Angels.  The Rays are my dark horse favorite and best overall fit.  The Jays would love to take him on, it will just depend on the confidence Papi has in the team’s ability to compete.  Boston will hang in right till the end and the Angels will need to be aggressive to get him.  If we are playing the odds, I would rate Boston as a 70% favorite, followed by Tampa Bay at 20% and the Jays/Angels at 5% each.  Once the World Series ends, let the David Ortiz sweepstakes begin!

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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The Texas Rangers are Heading Back to the World Series

 

Sunday October 16, 2011

 

 

MLB reports – Sam Evans:  On Saturday night, Nelson Cruz and the Rangers advanced to the World Series, eliminating the Tigers from the playoffs. Let’s look at how the Rangers accomplished this feat:

 

Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers:  ALCS Game Six

The Tigers got off to an early lead with a Miguel Cabrera solo home run in the top of the first. Then in the top of the second, Jhonny Peralta homered to add another run to the Detroit lead. 17 of the Tigers 25 runs in this series came via the longball. If there was one thing that Derek Holland did wrong, it was leaving too many pitches up in the zone. Then, in the bottom of the third everything went wrong for Max Scherzer and the Tigers.

With one out, Elvis Andrus walked and Josh Hamilton followed him with a single. Then Michael Young jumped on the first pitch he saw and ripped it into left field, scoring Andrus and Hamilton. A quick visit to the mound did nothing for Scherzer who gave up a single then walked two straight batters before being replaced. Daniel Schlereth came into the game with the bases loaded and he allowed a 2 run single to David Murphy. Tigers manager Jim Leyland had a short leash with Schlereth, choosing to pull him and bring in the Tigers’ game four starter, Rick Porcello. Thanks to some clutch hitting from the Rangers and shabby defense by the Tigers, by the time this nightmare inning was done, the score was 9-2 Rangers. This set a Texas franchise record for most runs in one inning in the playoffs. Most of the Rangers hits in the third resulted from their hitters jumping on pitches early in the count.

Detroit scored two more runs in the fifth off an Austin Jackson home run. Still, the Texas offense seemed to be unstoppable for the Detroit pitchers. Nelson Cruz continued his hot streak by hitting his sixth home run of the ALCS in the 7th. This is equally impressive considering Cruz was only 1-15 in the ALDS. Neftali Feliz came in to get the final three outs in what turned out to be a clobbering, with the final score 15-5 Rangers. This obviously wasn’t an easy game for the Tigers and their fans to watch, as the big third inning proved to be the killer for the Tigers.

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers and their entire organization for advancing to their second consecutive World Series. They will face either the Cardinals or the Brewers starting Wednesday night.

 

 

Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam 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 Playoffs: Improving and Revamping the System

Saturday October 15, 2011

 

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  I recently received a great e-mail from one of our readers.  The e-mail was a well written commentary piece on improving the MLB Playoffs structure.  So enthusiastic was I with the contents of the message, that I immediately suggested sharing the reader’s thoughts on our site.  I got an enthusiastic thumbs back in response!  Thus today on MLB reports, we are proud to present Guest Writer- Brian Corrigan, with his proposal to improve and revamp the MLB Playoffs:

 

Brian Corrigan (Guest Writer – MLB reports):  The classic pennant chase prior to 1969 made sense.  It rewarded the team that performed consistently over a schedule of between 154 and 162 games.   In a given year, it is possible that one or two teams with the best records in Major League Baseball will win 60% of their games.  However, a team that wins 60% of their games, will routinely lose 3 out of 5 games several times in a season.  And the difference between a team that wins 55% of its games and 60% is almost unnoticeable in any given stretch of games, until you play out the full season.

As the two top seeds in each league have now just been eliminated from the championship games, does baseball really want to go the path of hockey, basketball and football- allowing wild card teams an ever-increasing role in the postseason?  Remember that those are sports where the best teams commonly win 67%+ of their games.  In football, the top teams win 75%+ of their games.  Baseball is a totally different creature.  It requires longer sifting for the really great baseball teams to emerge, although those teams are almost inevitably bewitched by periods of seasonal funks.

Does baseball really want to go in this direction?  Will games in April, May and June really count?  Will fans wait until postseason to tune in?  Will General Managers develop strategies to play on the cheap in the first half of the season, and then make the key acquisitions that will give them the best short-term shot at the postseason?   Do we really want baseball to degenerate in this direction?

I’m a pragmatic person.  I understand that baseball is business.  Given the fact that postseason play is more lucrative, I can understand wanting to expand the number of postseason games.  Ultimately, I’m not going to succeed in rolling back the clock, but I would like to propose a system that is much better than a 10 or 12 team playoff system.

 If I could deliver a postseason schedule that:

1)    Produced more games, and therefore higher revenues than the current system;

2)    Would produce a higher number of expected games, while taking less elapsed time, solving the World Series in November problem;

3)    Would do this even with the existing 8 team playoff structure;

4)    Would encourage the use of the top 3 starting pitching rotations, that fans prefer; and

5)    Decreases the probability that the series will come down to luck or streakiness…

Would I at least have your attention?

What I am proposing does all of this, as well as produce higher revenues for MLB teams and more excitement for the fans.

 

What I am proposing is essentially a best of 9 games “round robin” pennant series, where each of the 4 playoff teams in each league would potentially play each other 3 times – possibly more or less, with up to two tie-breaker games.  The pennant would not be won until one team had secured the best record in the pennant series, getting at least 6 wins.  Until a team took its fifth loss, it would still be playing meaningful games, until one team secured its sixth win.

Each 3-game set would consist of a first game, with the team that does not have home field advantage taking a day off, and then playing on the 3rd and 4th day against the team with the home field advantage.  The fifth day would be off; thus, the use of a 3 pitcher starting rotation would be encouraged.  One league would start one day later than the other, so that baseball games would played on each day. 

Home field advantage would go to the team with the best seed (best regular season record).

But isn’t there a possibility that some of the games wouldn’t count?  Yes, however by giving the postseason teams a share of postseason revenues, there is always a motivation to win.  At the point where two teams have been mathematically eliminated from the pennant series (this should not happen until every team has had a chance to play at least five games, and most likely more), then the two surviving teams would play the balance of the remaining 9- game tournament against each other, even if that means they play more than three times against one another.  For example, if two teams have won their first 5 games, and the remaining teams have lost 5 games each, then the teams that have won five in a row should play their last games against each other.  Effectively, this would create a best of five series for the surviving two teams, until one team gets its eighth win (allowing for a tenth game tie breaker if needbe). 

To increase the probability that the two best teams would play in the final 3 games, I would propose the following schedule:

First 3 games:  #1 seed plays #4 seed;  #2 seed plays #3 seed

Second 3 games:  winner of #1 vs. #4 plays loser of #2 vs #3 series; winner of #2 vs. #3 plays loser of #1 vs. #4.

Of the two teams that won the first series, they will go into the last series with no more than 4 losses (no more than 1 from the first series and 3 from the last series), meaning that at least the first game between those two teams will count for both clubs, since elimination could not yet have occurred for either one.

Taking this year’s National League Division series as an example:  the Phillies won the first two of three against the Cards, and so would have played their next three games against the D-Backs who lost 2 of 3 to the Brewers.  The Brewers would have played their next three vs. the Cards.  The final 3 games would have been Phils vs. Brewers, Cards vs. D-Backs, at least until two of the teams had been eliminated. 

 

In the event that only one team is eliminated, until a second team is eliminated, it is possible that 1 or 2 games will be played for the honor of baseball, or for a share of the postseason revenue.  But once two teams are eliminated, they would step aside and allow the two surviving teams to play up to the balance of the remaining 9 games head-to-head.

The following represents a hypothetical pennant season:

First 3 games:

Phils win 2 out of 3 against the Cards

Brewers win 2 out of 3 against the D-Backs

Second 3 games:

D-Backs win 2 out of 3 against Phils

Cards win 2 out of 3 against Brewers

Game 7 with Resulting records in parenthesis

Brewers (4-3) beat Phils (3-4)

Cards (4-3) best D-backs (3-4)

Game 8

Brewers (5-3) beat Phils (3-5)

Cards (5-3) beat D-backs (3-5)

Phils and D-backs are eliminated; Brewers and Cards play the final 9th game against each other to resolve the pennant.  Since the home field goes to the best regular season record in the 2nd and 3rd games of a 3 game set, the Cards would visit the Brewers for the 9th game.

 Let’s say that Game 8 had gone differently, let’s say  D-backs (4-4) beat Cards (4-4)

 The Phils would play game 9 against the Brewers for honor and bragging rights.

If the Brewers win their 6th game, they clinch; otherwise, there will be a two-way tie for the pennant to be resolved by a tie breaker game.  This system produces lots of wonderful and exciting and meaningful games for fans.

But isn’t there a chance of a tie in this system?  Yes, and you could still get a 10th and 11th game tie-breaker in; and in less time than the current system.  A three-way tie would pit the two worst regular season record teams against each other, and the winner would play the team with the best regular season record.  This could happen if three teams went 5-4, and one team went 3-6 or if three teams went 6-3 and one team went 0-9.  It should not happen that often, and if it does, it generates more games and more excitement for baseball. 

Are you sure this will take less elapsed time?  Yes, the current system must allow for a 5-game division series and a 7-game championship.  That is 12 games in total.  But you get fewer games because only two teams are playing in the last best of 7, and some teams may be eliminated after just 3 games.  In this revised system, no one can get eliminated until after playing a minimum of 5 games.  Even with a 3-way tie-breaker, you play less than 11 games in total vs. a schedule that must accommodate 12 games, as is the case in the current system (and 15 or more in the proposed new system). It works out that the 9th game would be scheduled for the day that the 5th league championship game is currently scheduled.  Since it takes 3 more days to play out the 7 game LCS, there’s enough time to squeeze in up to two tie-breaker games, and still finish up at least 1 day before the current system.  Given the rarity of the two game tie-breaker, the last tie-breaker game could be scheduled for a day before the World Series.

Can you really say that this series cuts down on the luck?  It could come down to the tie breaker game?  If you want to reduce the luck, use the regular season to determine the pennant winner.  The more games played, the less luck involved.  It will take some consistency to fight your way to that 10th game tie-breaker.   The bottom line is really that baseball gets the increased revenue, without opening the door to more and more teams in the playoffs, the way the other sports have gone, thus diminishing the value of the regular season.  In fact, with the suggested homefield advantage rules, the top seed gets 6 out of 9 games at home, and that makes the regular season count for more than the current system.

 

 ***Thank you to our Guest Writer, Brian Corrigan, for sharing his thoughts on the MLB playoffs today with us.  Please feel free to leave any comments and/or questions that you have at the bottom of this article.***

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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.

Tony La Russa Manages the Cards to One Win Away From the World Series

Saturday October 15, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Only one game on the schedule last night- but it was a big one.  The Brewers and Cardinals headed into game five in St. Louis, deadlocked at 2-2.  With the series set to shift to Milwaukee, this was a big game to take the lead in the NLCS.  With two strong pitchers on the mound, this game could have been a pitching duel.  It was far from it and the resulting game surprised many.  Here is a recap of last night’s NLCS action:

 

Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals:  NLCS Game Five

From the title of this article, many readers will take it that the Cardinals won last night.  Indeed they did, a strong 7-1 victory over the Brewers to take a 3-2 NLCS series lead.  This game came down to key factors in my estimation:  the in-game managing by Tony La Russa and the sloppy play of the Brewers.  When referring to La Russa, the talk of last night was the call to the bullpen in the 5th inning.  With the Cardinals up 4-1, the Brewers were threatening with 2 on and 2 out.  Ryan Braun headed to the plate and La Russa ran to the mound.  Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia was stellar up to that point, with 4 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 7 hits, 0 BB and 5 strikeouts.  But as noted by last night’s television commentators, Garcia was starting to get into trouble.  With one Brewers run already in and the hits starting to pile up, La Russa appeared to be nervous that his starter was losing it.  Few managers would take out his starter at that point, but then few managers are Tony La Russa.  With his bullpen on fire in this postseason, La Russa was not going to take any chances.  Octavio Dotel got the call and proceeded to strike out Ryan Braun to end the threat.  From there, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte came on to shut out the Brewers on 2 hits and 1 walk.  Motte finished up the game for the save with Dotel taking the win.

But that is not the end of the story.  Far from it.  As much as this game is about the wizardry of La Russa managing his pitching staff (along with trusty pitching coach Dave Duncan at his side), game five was also about the Brewers throwing it away.  Literally.  To me, Milwaukee was a team intent on giving the game away.  Four errors on the night is completely unacceptable, especially for a game of this magnitude.  It is not like the team was not hitting, as the Brewers had 9 hits compared to the Cardinals 10.  Interestingly enough the Cardinals had 20 LOB, compared to the Brewers 14.  But the Cardinals drove runners in when in it counted.  Here is my logic in a game that came down to inches.  Zack Greinke gave up 5 runs, although only 2 of them were earned.  Marco Estrada in the 8th was a complete train-wreck, giving up 2 runs on 1 hit an 2 walks.  Estrada completely was not finding the zone and was lucky to escape with only the 2 runs allowed.  Take out the Estrada inning and Greinke’s 3 unearned runs, and you are now left with a 2-1 Cardinals lead.  Thus the Cardinals victory relied on La Russa’s management, strong bullpen and Brewers lack of execution and poor play.  A game of inches.
 
Greinke was good, but not great in this one.  In 5 2/3 IP, Greinke gave up 7 hits and 2 walks.  But he was not able to strikeout a batter.  Even without his best stuff, Greinke did keep his team in this one and deserved a better fate.  Had he received the defensive support he needed, Greinke could have stayed longer in this one and the game may have turned out differently.  With a 5-1 score going into the 7th, the Brewers seemed deflated and defeated.  Not the way to win ballgames folks.
 
Did Tony La Russa overreact by pulling his starter early?  We will never know.   Had Braun connected for a 3-run home run off Dotel and evened up the score, La Russa would have been the goat.  But by Dotel striking out Braun, La Russa is a genius.  The bottom line is that the Cardinals are one win away from going back to the World Series against a favored Brewers squad.  I find that critics are too quick to pounce on major league managers when they make mistakes, but not fast enough to give credit when they make the right moves.  La Russa doesn’t manage always by the book and has taken many chances in this postseason.  Last night was no exception.  Without the Brewers uneven play and the strong pitching of the Cardinals pen, the game may not have gone in the Cardinals favor.  But the stars did align and Tony La Russa does deserve his due in this one.  In a game of inches and trying to minimize mistakes, the Cardinals played sound baseball while the Brewers did not.  Cardinals win and go on to Milwaukee for game six with the 3-2 edge.
 
ALCS and NLCS:  Game Six Previews
 
Game six of the ALCS goes tonight in Texas, 8:05 PM ET is the scheduled start time.  Max Scherzer goes for the Tigers, Derek Holland for the Rangers.  Many are counting on this one going seven, as Scherzer has been steadier than Holland in the postseason.  But then Holland is due for a big game.  With the big Rangers bats at home, anything can happen in this one.  Jim Leyland and Ron Washington will pulling out all the stops tonight.  This one will be a classic.  Over the in the National League, game 6 goes Sunday afternoon, 4:05 PM ET in Milwaukee.  Shaun Marcum and Edwin Jackson are set to face-off.  There was speculation that Marcum would be pulled given his poor play of late, but the Brewers are sticking with their starter.  Jackson has been solid since coming over to St. Louis.  With the momentum in the Cardinal’s favor, the Brewers will need a big game or face elimination on Sunday.
 
 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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.

Tigers Stay Alive and NLCS Tied Up: Recap of MLB Playoffs and Notes

Friday October 14, 2011

 

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The Rangers had a chance on Thursday to advance to the World Series.  The Cardinals were up 2-1 in the NLCS and looking to take a commanding lead.  How did they do?  Let’s recap Thursday’s MLB playoffs:

 

Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers: ALCS Game Five

 The battle of the aces.  C.J. Wilson and Justin Verlander.  This game turned into a high scoring affair rather than a pitching classic.  The Tigers pulled out a 7-5 victory to stay alive in the series.  Verlander took the win, with 7 1/3 IP, 4 runs allowed, 8 hits, 3 walks and 8 strikeouts.  The lone home run given up Verlander was in the 5th inning to none other than… Nelson Cruz.  The Rangers slugger hit his 5th home run of the series, a 2-run effort.  Phil Coke came in for the rare save, pitching 1 2/3 innings, allowing 1 run.  C.J. Wilson took the loss for the Rangers.  In 6.0 IP, Wilson allowed a staggering 6 runs, 8 hits, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts.  The long ball did Wilson in, as he allowed 3 of them to the Tigers in their home park.  Alex Avila hit a solo blast in the 3rd, while Delmon Young had a pair on the day (a solo home run in the 4th and 2-run blast in the 6th).  For good measure, Koji Uehara came on in the 7th to give up a solo home run to Ryan Raburn

The crooked number came for the Tigers in the 6th.  Miguel Cabrera hit a ground ball off the third base bag that could have led to a double play, but rather went for a double.  Detroit kept the momentum from there and scored four runs in the inning.  Detroit actually had a 7-2 lead going into the 8th, but the Rangers were able to chip away and stay within striking distance.  Texas now leads the series 3-2 going into game 6 on Saturday.  The game will be played at 8:05 PM ET, with Max Scherzer and Derek Holland set to faceoff.  The Rangers continue to be one game away from that magical trip back to the World Series. 

 

Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals:  NLCS Game Four

The Cardinals held a 2-1 lead in the series with game four to be played at home.  Kyle Lohse was on the hill for the home team, Randy Wolf for the Brewers.  Turns out that Wolf was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Brewers.  The starter pitched a solid 7.0 IP to take the win, giving up only 2 runs on 6 hits, 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.  The only runs allowed by Wolf were on solo home runs, to Matt Holliday in the 2nd and Allen Craig in the 3rd.  Francisco Rodriguez got the hold in the 8th and closer John Axford with the save in the 9th.  Kyle Lohse could not make it out of the 5th, pitching 4 1/3 IP for the loss.  Lohse gave up 3 runs on 6 hits, no walks and struck out 3.  Mitchell Boggs, Arthur RhodesOctavio Dotel and Fernando Salas also pitched in this one.  The Brewers recipe for success in this one was simple.  Great pitching and grinding out runs at the plate.  One could say that the Brewers beat Tony La Russa at his own game.  The Brewers did not hit a long ball in this one, but will certainly take out the well-earned victory.  With the series tied up 2-2, game five goes tonight at 8:05 PM ET in St. Louis.  A great matchup on the mound, as Jamie Garcia and Zack Greinke faceoff. 

 

MLB Notes:

  •  With the Theo Epstein soap opera about to conclude, the focus shifts to Baltimore and Boston for their vacant General Manager positions.  Boston is looking internally to fill the role, while Baltimore is considering everyone and anyone to lead their team.  This is a crucial stage for both teams’ development.  Boston needs to maintain its status as a top flight MLB organization, while Baltimore is on the verge of breaking through (with a great deal of talent in their farm system).
  • The sale of the Houston Astros to Crane will apparently be going through.  The sale will lead to the Astros moving to the American League, playing in the West division.  I will be writing about this subject very soon on the Reports.  But at this point I will say that the move is a win-win for the Astros and its fans.  The team needs stability and  renewed excitement.  A move to the AL West should provide just that and more.
  • Another day, another rumor.  With the Red Sox in apparent turmoil, Big Papi has come out and indicated that he may not return to Boston.  That is his decision and I respect that.  But will Boston be asking him back…and at what price?  If Papi does leave, look for the Jays, Rays and Yankees to all hold discussions with the big man.  The Angels may also be a consideration.  But my money is on a return to Beantown.
  • The expansion of the MLB playoffs will happen.  It is just a question of when.  The latest reports have Major League Baseball adding one more wild card team to each league and a sudden death, one game playoff, to be played by the wild card teams.  I do not know yet how I feel about having just a one gamer to decide the wild card winner.  But I am definitely in favour of expanding the amount of teams.  Personally, I like the idea of each top team getting a full bye into the championship series.  But this may be too revolutionary for baseball.  The expanded MLB playoffs is likely coming as early as the 2013 season.
  • The World Baseball Classic is coming in the spring of 2013.  The qualifying tournament will be played sometime in the fall of 2012.  I am a big fan of this tournament and see it as a big step for baseball expansion throughout the world.  More details will likely not be available until next year, but I will continue to update everyone as information becomes available.   

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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.

Interview with Christian Friedrich: Colorado Rockies Prospect

Friday October 14, 2011

 

 

Jeff P (Guest Writer – MLB reports):  Recently I had the honor of interviewing Christian Friedrich, top MLB pitching prospect.   Speaking to Friedrich, I had the sense that he has the same key goal as many other baseball players:  working hard to achieve his dream.  Friedrich is a great guy and it was a pleasure interviewing him. 

Firstly, I would like to relay some information on Chris, courtesy of Wikipedia:
 
“Christ Louis Friedrich (July 8, 1987 in Evanston, Illinois) is a left-handed starting pitcher in the Colorado Rockies organization. He currently plays for the Class AA Tulsa Drillers. He was drafted in the first round (25th overall) in the 2008 Amateur Draft out of Eastern Kentucky University.”
 
Considering that he was a prestigious first round selection, Chris is one of the most interesting guys you will ever meet in baseball.  Chris has tremendous talent, to go along with his strong reputation in the game.  Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Rockies Prospect, Chris Friedrich:

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 MLB reports:  Welcome to MLB reports, Chris.  I am starting you off with a tough question:  you have struggled throughout your time in double-A ball.  What do you feel has been the most difficult part of moving from A+ to AA?

Friedrich:  The hardest part about AA is being consistent.  At the lower levels you can still get by on some of your bad days. In AA you have to be in it every day.  The days you’re not pitching are just as important as the 5th day.  Your routine has to be perfect and the same, your mental and physical preparation can’t skip a beat.  All those things sum up in my mind to confidence.  If you forget a certain lift, change your running routine, mental prep, or even your warm up before the game, it leaves doubt in your mind that doesn’t need to be lingering with you when you toe the rubber.

 
MLB reports:  A few months ago, did you worry about the trade speculation around the clubhouse that you might be traded?

Friedrich:  When the trade deadline comes around every year, you can’t help to listen in on what some of the guys or reporters are saying.  For the most part though it’s something I can’t control and would deal with it if it happened.  In all honesty though I didn’t and don’t think there’s a whole lot of teams looking for a guy like me after the season I put up and no one is more disappointed with that than myself.  I had a good three months but couldn’t put it all together.  I understand what I have to do, and that’s why this offseason is so important.  There was a bit of a smile when that time passes because I love being a Rockie.

 

MLB reports:  Daily rituals and hobbies, outside of the clubhouse?
 
Friedrich:  For daily rituals as of now it’s a wonderful routine.  Wake up and breakfast might be my favorite part of the day.  Two eggs, two sausages, two toasts, and my beloved coffee from the Keurig.  I’ll get my workout done in the mornings and then go for a swim.  After that I usually go on the course or the range.  I’m really roughing it (ha ha).  It’s nice to be in one place for and extended period of time and develop the consistent routines.  In the evening my other favorite hobby as many around me know is video games.  I turned a closet into a video gamer’s paradise.  My favorite part about video games is playing competitive games online with friends.  It allows me to connect with buddies from back home, college teammates, guys I’ve played against, and even guys in our organization.  It’s a lot easier than just sitting talking on the phone.  I get to catch up with them and involve teamwork.  I’m really excited for Modern Warfare 3 to come out.

 

MLB reports:  What kind of music can one find on your iPod?

Friedrich:  I have all genres of music on my apple products.  My favorite would definitely be rock and roll.  Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, Grand Funk Railroad, and a lot of Fall out Boy.  Home town band I really like.  No Beatles!

 

MLB reports:  You have suffered from injuries during your career.  What effects did your health have on your baseball activities?

Friedrich:  Injuries have plagued me through my career but I’m thankful they weren’t and major ones.  You learn to deal with them and do everything you can to prevent them.  When they first happen it’s hard to accept and deal with them. It’s a great way to train yourself mentally but that’s my only positive.  All you can do is work your behind off to get back out there and help out the club.  The past three years I’ve dealt with some tendonitis in my elbow.  It’s a nagging injury that doesn’t sit you down always but prohibits you from keep up your routine.  For example it doesn’t bother you much the day you pitch because you are usually amped up.  But on those important days in-between, it makes it harder to work on the things you normally do. Certain lifts bother it, and most of all, certain pitches.  I noticed this year my breaking pitches during that time weren’t as sharp and I was getting ahead, but not putting guys away.  This comes from not practicing with them as much through your five-day routine.  Now I have time to strengthen my body and smaller muscle groups to make sure I can prevent these (injuries) as much as possible.

 
MLB reports:  Do you think we will see you in the big leagues sometime next year?

Friedrich:  I’m hoping to shock some people come spring training and reach the expectations I’ve set for myself.  I’m doing everything I can to get there but that’s not under my control.  But I will try to make the decision very easy for them.

 
MLB reports:   What do you think is unique about the Rockies organization?

Friedrich:  The Rockies organization is unlike any other.  Our staff is made up of the best around with great knowledge and experience.  I feel like we’re taken in, like it’s a family.  This is a very classy organization the prides itself on homegrown talent.  I couldn’t be happier with where I’m at.  From my experience, players who have left our organization and players that come to it, say it’s the best they’ve been a part of. 

 
MLB reports:  What was the worst moment of your baseball career thus far?

Friedrich:  The worst moment of my career would probably be the collapse at the end of my season this year.  Last year our big league club lost a lot of starting pitching to injuries and Ubaldo Jimenez to the trade.  It would have been a prime opportunity for me to shine and I went in the opposite direction.  I’m looking to fix that.

 

MLB reports:  What are you planning to work on in the offseason to improve your pitching status?

Friedrich:  This offseason is again all about my routine and keeping good habits.  I took about a week off and got straight to work.  I’m using dry work everyday to solidify my mechanics so come February it’s an after thought.  I’m incorporating swimming into my workouts to strengthen my shoulders and lats.  I have dropped the bad weight and adding the good weight.  My eating routine is helping with my energy and muscle-building.  I am currently living in Florida by myself, so I don’t have distractions and have loved every minute of it.  I started just a month ago and can’t wait come February.

 

MLB reports:  You were drafted 25th, in the 2008 draft.  What was the after party and the phone call like?

Friedrich:  The draft day was a day I’ll never forget.  I was blessed to have friends and family there to celebrate with me.  It was hard to think while talking to reporters and answer questions, when I was still trying to wrap my head around it!

 

MLB reports:  Who do you look up to in the big leagues?

Friedrich:  I look up to a lot of our own players even at some of our levels. What I’m most impressed with, with majority of the big leaguers I have been around is their work ethic.  Guys like Tulo, Helton,  Blackmon, Belisle and EY all are workhorses in their own way. And there isn’t one way they all go about doing things.  They have all learned for themselves what works best for them.  They each have become machines of routine and excellence.  My favorite pitcher by far though, like many others is Cliff Lee.  He masters the strike zone and his command for all of his pitches is superb.  My favorite thing is to watch his sequences and see how he sets up all his opponents.  You watch highlights and can’t believe guys miss a pitch, but it’s how he has set them up.

 

MLB reports:  I’ll end off here, if you were not currently a baseball player, what do you think you would be doing right now?

Friedrich:  If I wasn’t in baseball?  Tough one.  If I never played in college, I would have like to go into dentistry or design.  Since I am in baseball, I can’t get out.  I love it.  I would stay in the game whether it would be coaching or scouting.

 

MLB reports:  Thank you very much for taking your time out of your busy schedule so we can have you with us.  Much appreciated!
 

Thank you again to Chris Friedrich for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports.  We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Chris.  As well, please follow Chris on Twitter (@CFRIED12)

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by Jeff P, Guest Writer to MLB reports.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Jeff 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.

Theo Epstein Heads to the Windy City to Lead the Cubs

Thursday October 13, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports):  On October 12, 2011, Theo Epstein, former GM of the Boston Red Sox agreed to a 5 year deal worth more than $15M.  With the Chicago Cubs.  This all comes as no real surprise to anyone, as it had been speculated since the Cubs fired GM Jim Hendry in August that Epstein was their top target.  The real surprise is that Epstein and the Boston Red Sox’s falling out happened so swiftly.  Within two weeks of the Red Sox collapse, which has been widely discussed by everyone in baseball circles, manager Terry Francona and the team parted ways, as well as, now, their general manager Theo Epstein.

It has been well-documented that Epstein was able to overcome the “Curse of the Bambino” by employing a bunch of “idiots” in the locker room that went on to win a World Series in 2004.  This mentality has been a similar mantra of the Red Sox throughout his tenure.  Because they won in 2004, and also in 2007, it was completely acceptable for players to do what they pleased in the locker room.  Now that the epic collapse took place, the organization needed a change, and true accountability never took place for the Red Sox.

Epstein is a GM of great stature.  He is trusted and many people believe in his abilities.  He employs a “Moneyball” type strategy, which is also aided by having a large payroll, something he will also have the ability to create in Chicago.  Ownership of the Cubs have not been afraid to spend money, and most of the time have put themselves in unfortunate situations.

Two contracts come to mind when I think of the Cubs.  Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano.  Prior to the 2007 season, Soriano inked a contract worth $136M over 8 years.  In 2007, Zambrano signed an extension for the 2008-2012 seasons, with a vesting option for 2013 worth $91.5M.  Epstein has a lot of work cut out for him with an aging, mediocre core, but finding a suitor for these two players, or finding a way for them to produce and not be distractions in the clubhouse is paramount.

Another major task for him is to figure out what he wants to do with incumbent manager, Mike Quade.  Quade was hired as the Cubs’ interim manager on August 22, 2010, and in October, the interim title was stripped.  Quade led the Cubs to a 71-91 record and a 5th place finish in the NL Central, only ahead of the lowly Houston Astros.  This record was tied for the 5th worst in all of baseball.  When Quade was hired, much to the dismay of Cubs fans, who wanted Ryne Sandberg to take the helm, he was highly regarded as a smart, methodical baseball thinker.  Was the year and month enough of a trial, or will Epstein want to bring in his own talent to manage this struggling franchise?

Epstein will also consider bringing in his own front office, using members from his group with the Red Sox.  With news breaking that Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager Ben Cherington will take over as GM in Boston, Epstein will be fighting to bring his favorite guys over with him.

The last thing holding up this deal is compensation for the Red Sox.  Since Epstein had one year remaining on his contract with Boston, the Cubs had to ask permission to even speak with him.  Epstein had made it known to the organization that he would be leaving after 2012, so the Red Sox allowed talks to run smoothly, as they would have owed him $3M for the season, and a contract bonus of $4M.  Cash and/or prospects will easily get the job done.

The deal has not yet been completed due to some of these complications, but should be done by the beginning of next week.  Epstein will have a major challenge in Chicago, as they are not even close to competing.  Major decisions need to be made, and even with his high level of competency, it will take up to five years for the Cubs to be a major contender in the NL Central.

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

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ALCS Game 4 and NLCS Game 3: MLB Playoffs Recap for Wednesday October 12th

 

Thursday October 13, 2011

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist – MLB reports):  Going into today, the Rangers held a 2-1 series lead while the Cards and Brewers were tied up at 1-1.  Could the Tigers square up their series?  Who would pull away between Milwaukee and St. Louis?  Let’s get to it by recapping Wednesday’s action: 

 

Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers: ALCS Game Four

Rick Porcello and Matt Harrison faced off in the battle of number four starters.  Both pitchers did a fairly good job on the night.  Porcello pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up 3 runs (2 earned), 8 hits, 0 walks and struck out six.  Harrison on the other side lasted five innings, giving up 2 runs, three hits, three walks and striking out three.  Both starters left with a no decision.  The scoring in this one started in the first, courtesy of a Miguel Cabrera 2-run double.  Other than a Brandon Inge solo home run in the 7th inning (off reliever Alexi Ogando), the Rangers pitching staff did not concede another Tigers’ run.  Texas actually trailed in this one 2-0 until the 6th, when they were able to put up 3 runs on the board.  From there it was the battle of the pens, as both teams sent out plenty of relievers in this one.  The Rangers used Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams, Darren Oliver, Scott Feldman and Neftali Feliz.  The Rangers countered with Al Alburquerque, Joaquin Benoit, Jose Valverde and Phil Coke

Tied up 3-3 going into the 11th, the Tigers trotting out their closer Jose Valverde who had already worked the 10th.  The decision proved to be fatal.  With one out and two on, Valverde faced Nelson Cruz- Texas Rangers postseason hero.  Cruz proceeded to knock in a three run home run, his fourth home run of the playoffs.  The Rangers went on to score four runs in the inning and take the game, final score 7-3.  Feldman with the win, Valverde takes the loss.  The Rangers hold a commanding 3-1 series going into tomorrow afternoon in Texas.  The game is scheduled for 4:19 PM EST, with aces C.J. Wilson and Justin Verlander set to face-off.  With one more win, the Rangers are off to the World Series, their second consecutive appearance in the finals.

 

 Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals:  NLCS Game Three

St. Louis was the site for the battle of the aces.  Chris Carpenter for the Cardinals, Yovani Gallardo for the Brewers.  Neither pitcher was particularly on this night, but did what they had to do to keep their teams in this one.  Gallardo gave up all four runs in the 1st inning, but combined with the Brewers pen for seven shutout innings the rest of the way.  Gallardo pitched 5 innings, giving up 8 hits, 5 walks and striking out 2.  Carpenter only lasted 5 innings as well, giving up 3 runs, 6 hits, 3 walks and striking out 3.  The pens for both teams went into lockdown mode.  The Brewers relievers, LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito and Chris Narveson combined to give up 1 hit and 1 walk over 3 innings, while striking out 3.  The Cardinals pen was even better though on this night.  Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte gave up no hits or walks over 4 innings pitched.  Motte struck out 3 batter in 1 1/3 innings pitched for the save.  Carpenter ended up with the win, while Gallardo took the loss.  Albert Pujols was once again the star for the Cardinals, going 2 for 2 with 2 walks, 1 run and 1 RBI.  The Cardinals take a 2-1, going into game 4 tomorrow night in St. Louis.  Game time is 8:05 PM ET, Randy Wolf vs. Kyle Lohse.  The battle of the number 4’s will determine if St. Louis can take a stranglehold on the series, or the Brewers can even things up going back to Milwaukee.   

 

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Tigers get the “Purr-fect” Comeback: Recap of Game 3 of ALCS

Wednesday October 12, 2011

 

 

April Whitzman (Blue Jays Writer – MLB reports):  After losing the first two games of the series to the Rangers, the Tigers headed home, needing a win. Thankfully, with the hometown crowd of 41,905 behind them, they got exactly that.  Here is a recap of ALCS Game Three: 

 

New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers:  ALCS Game Three

It didn’t start off good for the Tigers, however, as the Rangers started the game with three singles, the last of which was Josh Hamilton’s RBI single that scored Ian Kinsler.

While the Rangers then had the 1-0 lead, Victor Martinez didn’t let it stay that way in the forth as he crushed a home run to right field to tie the game.

In the following inning, the Tigers added some more with three 2-out hits, one of which was a 2-RBI double off the bat of Miguel Cabrera that scored Austin Jackson and Ramon Santiago.

With Fister now in a groove, there was no looking back. Evidently, Jhonny Peralta thought so too, as in the sixth, he also belted a home run to left field. Still in the same inning, Austin Jackson scored Andy Dirk, and with that the Tigers had a 4-1 lead.

Cabrera wasn’t done yet, though, as in the seventh inning, he also hit a home run, the Tigers’ third of the game, and his third RBI of the game. With that the Tigers had a 5-1 lead.

The Rangers tried to catch up in the eighth when Yorvit Torrealba started off the inning with a double, and scored on Ian Kinsler’s groundout, but the damage had already been done.

Jose Valverde came in to pitch the ninth, allowing a leadoff double by Josh Hamilton, but nothing more, as the Tigers went on to beat the Rangers 5-2. They now trail 2-1 in the series.

Doug Fister earned the win, going 7.1 innings pitched, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while walking none and striking out three. Rangers’ Colby Lewis, on the other hand, received the loss, going 5.2 innings pitched, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out six.

Tigers’ Rick Porcello hopes to have a similar fate as Fister with the hometown crowd, but Texas’ Matt Harrison is hoping for a different outcome.  Stay tuned as game four is coming up shortly.

 

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. Comment below, email MLBreports@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter at @Alleycat17.

 

 

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2011 MLB Playoffs: Recap for Monday October 10th

 

Tuesday October 11, 2011

 

 

Sam Evans (Intern – MLB reports):  Monday was a fun day of baseball.  These two games had strong performances from superstar players who led their team to victory.  One team took a defining step forward by winning their 2nd game of the series, while one team fought to even their series up.  Let’s start with the first game of the day which was a thrilling ballgame in Texas.

 

Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers:  ALCS Game Two

The Rangers jumped out to an early lead thanks to Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre who both hit RBI doubles in the bottom of the first.  They both jumped on Max Scherzer‘s fastball, which he was consistently throwing early in the count.  Derek Holland showed the poise of a veteran, getting Ramon Santiago to ground out with the bases loaded in the second.  Things weren’t exactly easy for Holland on Monday, as evidenced as Ryan Raburn‘s three run homer in the third.  This was a crucial hit because it gave the Tigers an early 3-2 lead.  Ron Washington had a very short rope with Holland, he pulled him after Holland had only thrown 2.2 innings.  Holland really struggled to throw even two innings, he just didn’t have his command.  He did nothing to dismiss chatter of his inconsistency by throwing 76 pitches in his limited appearance.  Still, Scott Feldman played the role of dominant long reliever needing only 49 pitches to throw 4.1shutout innings in relief.  Scherzer surrendered a 1-2 fastball to Nelson Cruz who hit out to left field to tie things up.  Scherzer had just thrown three straight sliders and Cruz must have just been waiting back on the fastball.  Going into the season, Nelson Cruz was my dark horse MVP pick.  He is just a monster, i seriously believe he could have a .300 AVG, 45 HR, 100 Runs, and 100 RBI type season.  The main thing holding Cruz back for superstardom these past couple years has been injuries.  In particular, his hamstring injury stints have been lengthy and costly to his ballclub.

In the top of the ninth, Neftali Feliz escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting Victor Martinez to hit an infield fly.  Then, in the bottom of the ninth, the Rangers had the bases loaded with no outs!  The sometimes annoying, but overall effective, Jose Valverde got David Murphy to fly out to shallow left field, which was not enough for Beltre to tag up.  Next, he made a huge 2-2 pitch to get Mitch Moreland to ground into a double play to retire the side.  In the top of the 10th, the Tigers had a runner on second with only one out, but they just couldn’t drive the run in.  This game was really an offensive struggle for both teams, especially trying to drive runners in scoring position in.  In the bottom of the 11th, Ryan Perry came into the game to pitch for the Tigers.  He gave up three consecutive singles to load the bases.  Then he threw a 1-2 slider to Nelson Cruz who crushed it to left field to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the series.  This was the first ever walk-off grand slam in postseason history.  This was an amazing game, and i feel sorry for you if you missed the chance to witness history in the making at the Ballpark in Arlington.  The series will shift to Detroit where the two teams will face off Tuesday at 8:05 ET.  Colby Lewis will start for the Rangers while Doug Fister will start for the Tigers.  It should be a pretty fun game, and a vital game for the Tigers to get their first win of the series.

 

St.Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers:  NLCS Game Two

Fresh off a tough 9-6 loss on Sunday, the Cardinals came out and dominated the Brewers on Monday.  Albert Pujols got things started with a two-run home run in the top of the first.  Then, when Pujols faced Shaun Marcum again in the third, he ripped a two-run double off the center field wall.  In the top of the fourth, Nick Punto singled to center field scoring Yadier Molina from third.  The Brewers weren’t completely mute, Rickie Weeks belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth.  Shaun Marcum had another rough outing, he has given up 13 runs in 8.2 innings this postseason.  He has been hit hard in both of his outings, but after the game Manager Ron Roenicke suggested that Marcum would pitch again this series if the Brewers needed him.  In the top of the fifth, Albert Pujols collected his third extra base hit of the day, an RBI double to score Jon Jay.  Pujols came around to score on a Marco Estrada wild pitch.  The Cardinals also strung together six straight hits in the 7th to really blow open the lead.  Prince Fielder hit a moonshot in the bottom of the eighth, and David Freese also homered in the ninth.  Edwin Jackson turned in another decent start.  Despite getting hit around a little bit, he only gave up two runs in 4.1 innings.  The real stud of this game was debatably the best hitter in baseball, Albert Pujols.  Pujols finished 4 for 5 with 5 RBI.  The series will move to St.Louis all tied up.  Yovani Gallardo will start for the Brewers against Chris Carpenter for the Cardinals. The game is Wednesday at 8:05 PM  ET.

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***

 

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Adam Dunn and Alex Rios: The Future of the ChiSox Sluggers

Monday October 10, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  There were perhaps no two bigger fantasy busts than Alexis Rios and Adam Dunn during the 2011 season. Although nobody was “screwed over” more than White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, many fantasy owners surely had a hard time overcoming the incompetency of these two players.

Although Dunn’s performance was unexpected by many, we have seen this from Alex Rios before.  Rios reemerged on the scene in 2010 as one of the rare five category players: .284 avg, 21 HR, 89 RBI, and 34 SB. However, Rios really tailed off at the end of his 2010 season and looked a lot more like the player that the Toronto Blue Jays flat-out released a year prior.  His 2011 numbers look eerie similar to 2009:

2009: .247, 17 HR, 63 RBI, 24 SB

2011: .227, 13 HR, 64 RBI, 11 SB

Oddly, 2008 and 2010 were different stories for Rios, as he amassed a total of 9.3 WAR in those two seasons. There is no doubt that Rios suffered from bad luck in 2011. He .237 BAPIP is 70 points below his career average. However, the fact remains that Rios is now on the wrong side of thirty. It is doubtful any team would make the same mistake Williams already has and taken on his salary, so chances are Rios will still be in Chicago. With his large contract and a new manager in town, I think it is safe to assume it will be his position to lose in 2012.

Rios’ inconsistencies throughout his career make him a difficult player to evaluate, but you have to think he will bounce back and be a good buy-low candidate. Whatever you do just do not overpay. His peripheral numbers indicate that his power is still there and that his batting average should improve perhaps to his career .270 range. We also cannot ignore his strong finish, batting .307, 5 HR and 12 RBI in his last 75 at-bats. It has been said that he “over thinks” and struggles with the mental side of the game, but his physical skills are undeniable. 

The signs indicate that Rios will bounce back in 2012 for a rebuilding White Sox team. Therefore, target him as a backup or final outfield option for a cheap price. Pay for the player he was in 2011 and hope to get the 2008/2010 Rios in return. With his track record it is simply not safe to pay for him as a .280/20 HR/80 RBI/20 SB guy that he could very well be.

I think you have to take the same approach with the other White Sox enigma, Adam Dunn. Dunn was the model of consistent for the last 10 years, and he appeared to be in a great position to succeed in Chicago in 2011. However, his strikeout rate increased to a stagger 35.7 percent, and when he did manage to put the ball in play, his .240 BABIP left him with a .159 season average. Historically bad.

Dunn is also aging and was noticeably out of shape last year. Watching him play every day, he simply seemed over matched and had trouble recovering form an early season appendectomy. Dunn has to realize what is at stake here (his career) and hopefully he picked up something from Paul Konerko’s professionalism and approach to the game.

The fact remains that with his contract, Dunn will get the chance to turn things around in 2012. If he has a repeat performance, then the White Sox might be forced to just cut ties and move on. Therefore, 2012 is truly do-or-die for Mr. Dunn. Thus, I expect him to put in the time in the off-season and bounce back next year. It is not to say that Dunn will put up the same numbers as he has in the past, but the home run total could still exceed thirty. U.S. Cellular Field is a notorious hitters park, and Dunn still has the ability to take advantage of its favorable dimensions.

The good news, fantasy owners and White Sox fans, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn cannot be any worse in 2012! The fact is they will both be giving an opportunity to bounce back in 2012 and try to prove the worth of their 14 million dollar per year contracts. Although, they will never come close to doing this, they can provide value for you next year. These are the types of guys that I love to target for cheap on my fantasy teams. Rios has bounced back before, and although his inconsistencies are mind bogglingly frustrating; it is not crazy to expect him to do so again. Bad luck, reflected by BAPIP, played a factor for both of these players. And with Dunn, if he does put in the offseason commitment, his track record is too long and strong to ignore. Therefore, expect both guys to bounce back.  Just don’t put your self in the position where you are counting on it.

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

 

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2011 MLB Playoffs: Recap for Sunday October 9th and MLB Notes

Monday October 10, 2011

 

Sam Evans (Intern – MLB reports):  There turned out to only be one game on Sunday, nonetheless it was still an exciting, and important game.  Let’s get to the Recaps!

 

Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers:  ALCS Game Two

Major League Baseball actually called this game at 2:00 PM CT, more than four hours before the game even started.  MLB was obviously trying to the pitchers from a situation similar to Saturday night.  While MLB probably had good intentions, this was a very bad decision.  According to multiple weather reports, it never rained on Sunday at the Ballpark in Arlington.  If the decision makers had just waited a couple more hours we probably would have a game between these two teams on Sunday.  Now, because of MLB jumping the gun, these teams have to play four straight days of baseball.  As a result, Max Scherzer will take the mound for the Tigers this afternoon against Derek Holland for the Rangers.  Game time is 4:19 PM ET, assuming the skies stay clear in Arlington.

 

St.Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers:  NLCS Game One

With all the trash talking leading up to this game, this proved to be a pivotal game for both teams.  Neither pitcher was very sharp, but both offenses showed up ready to battle.  In the top of the first, Matt Holliday had an RBI single off Brewers starter Zack Greinke to give up the Cardinals an early lead.  In the bottom of the first, the Brewers erased the Cardinals’ lead by scoring two runs, courtesy of Ryan Braun‘s 444 foot home run.  Both pitchers battled throughout the second and third innings, until in the fourth when David Freese hit a 3-run home run to give the Cards’ a 4-2 lead.  Freese is having a tremendous postseason, coming tough in the clutch for St.Louis.  In the top of the fifth, Lance Berkman drove in Rafael Furcal to make it 5-2.  In the bottom of the fifth, everything went wrong for Jaime Garcia.   The inning started off with a Corey Hart single, then a Jerry Hairston double.  Next, Ryan Braun jumped on the first pitch and hit a ground rule double to right field.  From there, Prince Fielder crushed Garcia’s first pitch, an 87 MPH fastball, to right center field.  ESPN’s Home Run Tracker had that bomb traveling at 119.2 MPH.  This would make it the hardest hit homer of the season.   A lot is going to be made about the Brewers celebrations after every home run they hit, but I really don’t have a problem with it.  If the Cardinals don’t like it, then maybe they just shouldn’t give up home runs!

Garcia’s main problem with this huge inning was that he stopped throwing his breaking ball.  Out of the 12 pitches he threw, not one was offspeed.  Things got worse for the Redbirds when Octavio Dotel came into the game, and gave up a 2-run home run to Yuniesky Betancourt, of all people.  The Cardinals scored once more in the 7th when Albert Pujols grounded into a double play, but the big 6th inning was enough for the Brewers.  Final score: Brewers 9 Cardinals 6, with Greinke getting the win, Garcia the loss, and John Axford nailing down the save.  These two teams will face off for game two tonight, Monday, at 8:05 PM ET.  Edwin Jackson will get the start for St.Louis, against Shaun Marcum for Milwaukee.

Editor’s Notes:

  • All the talk surrounding Zack Greinke’s comments turned out to be just that, talk.  Once the teams took the field yesterday afternoon, the focus centered on the game itself.  After getting hit fairly hard yesterday, I do not expect we will hear many more harsh words from Greinke during this series.
  • The Tigers are looking very susceptible offensively, especially after the loss of Magglio Ordonez to a broken ankle and Delmon Young to an oblique strain.  The Rangers have caught fire at the right time and should be making a second straight trip to the World Series.
  • The free agency talk won’t talk, even though we are still in playoff mode.  Possible destinations for C.J. Wilson and Prince Fielder have been speculated on for the past few days, as strong or stronger than they have all season.  The reality is the focus should be on the games ahead.  There will be plenty of time to have these discussions between the end of the playoffs and New Years. 
  • A story has come out indicating that the Reds are going to star taking offers for their star first baseman, Joey Votto.  Expect 29 other teams to submit their bids if this is true.
  • Epstein-gate continues to swirl, as the Cubs and supposedly Angels are interested in his services.  My advice if Theo was sitting in front of me?  Stay put.  You are considered a genius in Boston.  Move elsewhere and you run the risk of failing to replicate your magic.  If that occurs, your lustre will get tarnished.  Same advice to Billy Beane.  Stay home and keep your legacy.  The grass is always greener on the other side. 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***

 

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Interview with Doug Booth: Author of “The Fastest 30 Ballgames”

Sunday October 9, 2011

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist – MLB reports):  I recently had the pleasure to share my book review of “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” on MLB reports.  Following my review, I had a chance to correspond with one of the authors of the book, Doug Booth.  We discussed the book, the life and times of Doug Booth, ballpark chasing and much more.   Sit back and enjoy my interview with a man who epitomes baseball fandom- Author Doug Booth, in discussing his recently published book, “The Fastest 30 Ballgames:  A Ballpark Chasers World Record Story”.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

MLB reports:  It is a pleasure to have you on the Reports Doug.  Thank you for joining us today.  Tell us a little more about who is Doug Booth.  How did you get involved with the great game of baseball? 
 
Booth:  I am a 35-year-old courier from Vancouver B.C Canada.  When I was 18 years old I had a chance to play NCAA Baseball Division 1 for Liberty University, but had suffered 7 concussions and multiple knee injuries from playing various sports-so I retired from baseball prematurely.  While I still followed MLB on TV and radio for the next decade, a little piece of me lost the zest for the game because I couldn’t play it anymore. To this day, I still can’t even play the game as the symptoms from my previous concussions come back with too much exertion.  In 2005, I attended my first MLB Park in the USA at Safeco Field in Seattle.  I had only been to Olympic Stadium in Montreal-and The Rogers Center previously as a teenager, so it was nice to find my love for the game re-invigorated.  ‘It all escalated into the extreme chaser I am now.’

 
MLB reports:  I very much enjoyed reading “The Fastest 30”, as our readers could tell from my recent book review.  Considering the work and effort involved, how does it feel seeing the book as a final product- published book?
 
Booth:  I have to tell you, there were moments where this whole book concept really frustrated me to no end.  It was a lot harder to write this baseball book than it was to write my first two books that I have in circulation.  It was hard trying to write a novel based on a true story.  Having said that, I am very happy that I completed this journey and have all of the memories of the trip chronicled and categorized, but most importantly that there are pictures of journey with my family and friends that will be forever cemented in literature.

 
MLB reports:  The first part of “The Fastest 30” chronicles your two attempts to set the Guinness World Record for attending all 30 MLB parks in the shortest amount of time.  Why this record Doug? Why did you want to reach this particular goal so badly?
 
Booth:  The trip originally was going to be 48 states and 30 ballparks in 45 days, but once I had enough money stored for the trip I heard my inspirational ‘hero’ Jim Maclaren had been sidelined with a devastating injury-and his foundation was raising money for him.  For those that have not read the book.  I heard Jim interview on the ‘Jim Rome Show’ back in 2004.  Jim was a quadripeligic motivational speaker who inspired others by his ‘choose life’ motto.  It took Jim hours each day to do menial tasks, but he was at a place in his life where he was happiest because he made peace with himself.  Each day he would defy the odds of doctors testing his own physical and mental fortitude.  But his spirits had been dampened by an accident, and I wanted to do something.  I investigated about the world record for this given category and found out the record at that time was 29 days.  With some quick re-tooling, and armed with a drive to raise money for the Head North Foundation, (A charity championing the cause for spinal research) I was able to put a streak chase together that would use this charity as my motivation to break the World Record.  Much like Jim, I would have to tests the limits of my physical and mental capabilities to pull this off.

 
MLB reports:  After your first unsuccessful attempt at the record in 2008, was there a thought to taking a break or perhaps giving up?  What motivated you try again so quickly- no burn out?
 
Booth:  I chased the record for 41 days in the summer of 2008.  I used up every ounce of my physical being, and tapped every resource of the money I had saved up in order to break the record.  I had put forth a 30-29 record attempt-only to find out the record had been newly set that summer by a man Josh Robbins.  The new streak record was 30 games in 26 days.  I did not have to submit the record to Guinness because I was not even tied as the record holder anymore.  It was all because I had a 3 day break for the All-Star Break that was unavoidable 2 weeks into my trip.  I had booked off the time from work, and had bought countless plane fares, baseball tickets and hotels stays-so I was stuck with the 3 day break.  That 3 day penalty, plus another day penalty I had received when I met my mother in Toronto, (instead of carrying onto Cleveland from Chicago for a game) when a plane was delayed to Toronto-thus killing my chance for to make it to the Rogers Center for first pitch.  If you took those games off-I could have put a 30-25 streak submission up in the 1st year.  I did complete 5 doubleheaders in the 29 day trip.  It ate at me for 2 months until the schedule for 2009 came out.  I saw a perfect schedule looming if it all worked out.  When I put together the finances by April of 2009, I knew I had a shot at breaking the record.  When an early season rainout added a 7th doubleheader attempt at Yankees Stadium for a 30-23 attempt, I knew I had an opportunity at history.

 
MLB reports:  Please describe your feelings after you set your goal.  Did you achieve fulfillment?  Any other emotions kick-in post-record?
 
Booth:  In contrast to 2008, when I felt empty and had a downward spiral for about 2-3 months, I was elated beyond control for setting the record on Aug.14/2009 at Comerica Park in Detroit.  It was a 1-0 walk off homer by the hometown Tigers in the bottom of the ninth.  In somewhat fitting circumstances to the journey’s end, fireworks were shot off at the park for what seemed like an eternity.  I had a 10 hour drive back to my brother’s house in New Jersey the next day, during this time I contemplated what had taken place.  For me, and this is what people could not understand because they could not fathom a trip of this magnitude-was that this was not the hardest part of the journey.  It was the 308 days I had worked in a row in order to secure the money I needed, the rigorous schedule of 90 hour work weeks in which I battled the physical and mental fatigue-and all the times it looked bleak moving towards this , that was the hard part.  Once I was out at the ballparks, I was in my world.

 
MLB reports:  Looking back now, if you could do anything different from the second world record-setting journey, what would it be? 
 
Booth:  Not much, although I will always wonder what would have happened in Pittsburgh had I received a fluid sedan pick-up?  I would have liked to have had the opportunity to make that 5:15 PM flight from the Pittsburgh Airport, leaving downtown at about 3:40 PM instead of 4:15 PM.  I will tell you from that point on all of my transportation drivers were probably sick of me going over the game-plans of the pick-up/drop-off strategies.
 

MLB reports:   The second part of the book is the Ballpark Chasers guide to all 30 MLB parks, with ratings.  From your own experiences, what was your top five favorite MLB parks and why?
 
Booth:  My top 5 parks in order are:  1. AT&T Park-because it is a beautiful park in the best city, and has the best food, climate and value out of all of the parks;  2. Yankee Stadium-I am a Yankees fan and nothing beats a game in the ‘Bronx’ with the fans.  The steak sandwiches and Nathan’s hotdogs do a considerable amount for the park-while New York is also an awesome city to visit;  3. Wrigley Field-It is the best place to watch a game for just the game period.  The Ivy, the scoreboard and the history and a little known fact, I spent more time there during the streaks than anywhere else;  4. Fenway Park-Even as a Yanks fan you have to marvel at the history of this Park.  ‘The Green Monster’ is the best iconic visual of a Park anywhere in the majors; and 5. Busch Stadium-I enjoy the backdrop of the ‘Arch,’ the baseball fans in St. Louis are the classiest in the majors-and it was the only field I was interviewed on.

 
MLB reports:  To let readers know, you had two other authors assist you with “The Fastest 30”.  Why these two particular individuals?  How did they get involved in the project?
 
Booth:  My co-authors (Craig Landgren and Kenneth Lee) and I met online at http://www.ballparkchasers.com/ after the 1st streak chase in 2008.  Over the course of the next year I would make my way onto the ballpark chaser scene in writing blogs, being involved in major discussions and talking about baseball.  At first everyone did not know what to think of me because they had all followed Josh Robbins’30-26 trip.  I had joined way after Josh at the site.  Soon it would be that I gained some respect from Craig and Ken.  Like me, Ken Lee has been to all 30 ballparks-and was most active with the other members.  I asked him to help me chronicle my streak by writing blogs-and help post pictures/verify that I was legitimately at all of the parks for evidence reasons.  We hit it off right away.  It was nice to have a friend keep you motivated on this kind of record.  When I decided to write the book I asked for Ken’s write-ups of the 2009 streak to be part of the novel.  Craig Landgren is the founder of Ballpark Chasers.  He has spent much time and devotion plying his craft of being a website master.   The kind of information on all of the 30 parks come directly from all of the diligent work Craig has done in interacting with all of the members-and his own personal research.  I knew the novel would be too short with just my streak attempts, and since I never spend too much time in one particular city, it was only natural that we enter this book as a partnership.  I was able to add some of my own expertise to each ‘ballpark chaser guide’, so it made the work so much more rewarding.  If you added all of our write-ups of expertise it made for a ‘super’ guide.

 
MLB reports:  For readers that starting their own baseball trips, what advice would you give in “how to become a Ballpark Chaser?”
 
Booth:  The first thing I recommend any potential chaser to do is sign up at www.ballparkchasers.com , we have some of the best traveling experts in North America offering free advice and information in a friendly manner.  Ballpark Chasers also had a Facebook Group to sign up for.  Also buy my book.  I hope that is not too direct here, but honestly this book represents all of its members and people that have contributed to these guides via Thousands of games attended.  Other than that, always budget $250-350 per road game, book your plane fares in advance, sign up for all of the MLB’ teams newsletters-that automatically send out ticket deals, learn your rewards programs for all of your car rentals, hotels and other travel partners.  In addition to this, have a full schedule itinerary 24/7/168 time planner set out for your trip.  Have backup plans for each city when it comes to weather, travel delays and fatigue.  Doing a little bit of research goes a long way.

 
MLB reports:  Doug, if you could do this all over again: would you?  Was achieving the World Record worth the time, money, blood, sweat the tears that you invested in your journey?
 
Booth:  Absolutely it was worth it.  There is not a day that goes by when I don’t thank the game of baseball for molding me as a man in this journey-and also for the newly found friends I found.  Baseball is truly the game that defines ‘pastime.’  I can’t think of another sport that can unify generations of families to be at the same place and same time.  It is ageless and timeless. I have seen infant babies to a 100-year-old men and women at the game. Each of one of them at the game represents something different, but they all come for the experience.  This journey has challenged me to rise up to the occasion and fight for what I believe in.  I have a focus like I have never had ever before in my life.

 
 
MLB reports:  What does the future hold for Doug Booth?  Will we see any follow-ups to “The Fastest 30” and what are your goals professionally in the world of baseball?

Booth:  I am putting together another ‘ultimate road concept’ in 2012-that will make my other baseball journeys seem like a kindergarten class for longevity.  I implore anybody to follow my future journeys at my website www.fastestthirtyballgames.com.  I also plan on asking MLB for a job, in firing up people in some kind of motivational capacity.  I will be attending Broadcasting School in the near future and I will always continue to write about the game of baseball in some manner.  My life as a ‘ballpark chaser’ has just started!

 

 

**The photographs in today’s feature are courtesy of Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth**

 

*** Thank you to Doug Booth for joining us today on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Doug Booth, you can follow Doug on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and click here for Doug’s website, fastestthirtyballgames.com***

 

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Preview of MLB Playoffs for Sunday October 9th and Rangers Take Game 1 ALCS

Sunday October 9, 2011

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen (Lead Baseball Columnist – MLB reports):  And then they were down to four.  On the road to the World Series, Milwaukee and St. Louis are set to do battle for the National League- while over in the AL, Detroit and Texas have already started their series.  Is there anything better than the MLB Playoffs?  Didn’t think so.  Let’s get to it by recapping last night’s action: 

 

Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers: ALCS Game One

The Detroit Tigers are becoming linked with “rain” in the 2011 MLB playoffs.  Game one of their ALDS matchup in New York was suspended and played a day later.  So of course, Murphy’s law dictated that the opening game of their ALCS would see rain as well.  But despite nearly a two-hour rain delay (2 total rain delays in the 5th), the Rangers and Tigers were able to get this one in.  Unfortunately for the Tigers, they again ended up losing their opener to fall behind 1-0 in the series to the Rangers.  Neither starter was particularly effective in this one.  Justin Verlander gave up 3 runs over 4 IP to take the loss, giving up 5 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 5.  Verlander gave up 2 runs in the 2nd and the eventual game winning run in the 4th, courtesy of a Nelson Cruz solo home run.  His opponent on the night, C.J. Wilson was also very un-ace like for the Rangers.  In his 4 2/3 IP, Wilson gave up 2 runs on 6 hits and a whopping 5 walks, while striking out 6.  Once the rain delay was over in the 5th and the game resumed, this game was the story of the bullpens.  Both pens pitched shutout ball the rest of the way.  Rick Porcello, Phil Coke and Ryan Perry kept the Tigers in this one, but the Rangers were able to make their early 3-2 lead stick.  The stars of the night were the Texas Rangers’ relievers, as one by one, they can in to stifle the Tigers bats. 

Mike Gonzalez earned his paycheque for the year by coming in on the 5th to the greatest pressure situation in baseball as a reliever.  Bases loaded, Gonzalez faced Alex Avila with 2-outs.  Needing only 2 pitches, Gonzalez retired Avila to end the inning and the Tigers best chance at breaking this game open.  From there, Alexi Ogando, Darren Oliver, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz over 4 innings gave up 1 hit, 1 walk, and struck out 8.  As lock-down as you get in baseball.  Blame it on the rain, blame it on the Rangers having home field advantage and coming in rested.  No matter how you slice or dice it, the Tigers were good on this night.  But the Rangers were better.  With the Rangers high-octane offense and stacked bullpen, the Tigers bats will need to muster more than two runs in a game if they hope to compete with the reigning AL champions.  Another great game in the archives, in what is becoming one of the better MLB playoffs in recent history. 

 Preview of Sunday October 9th:

Game two of the ALCS was scheduled to go tonight, with Derek Holland on the hill for the Rangers and Max Scherzer for the Tigers.  With rain in the forecast at a 90% probability, Major League Baseball wisely postponed this one until tomorrow afternoon.  With Doug Fister not scheduled to pitch until game 3, the Tigers need this game or face a 2-0 deficit.  The Rangers will be hungry to take the Tigers down early and get back to the World Series in a hurry.  This series is far from over and should prove to be an excellent battle.  Over in the National League, the Cardinals and Brewers are set to begin their battle.  Jaime Garcia and Zack Greinke face-off in what should prove to be a classic.  With many “experts” picking the Brewers to advance to the World Series, Tony LaRussa and his Cardinals have their work cut out for them.  But as the Cardinals proved against the Philadelphia Phillies, a team with Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter cannot be counted out.  Both teams have strong bullpens, as is the case in the American League.  With tight games, this game could come down to Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford of the Brewers, or Fernando Salas and Jason Motte for the Cardinals.  With Zack Greinke starting the war of words, the battle lines have been drawn.  Another great series, leading up to the 2011 World Series.

 

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