Ask the Reports: Your Baseball Questions Answered – Sunday February 19th, 2012

Sunday February 19th, 2012

 

Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week (TONS to answer… better jump in):

Q: Where does Johnny Damon end up?  Joel

MLB reports:  Well, if you listen to Johnny- it ain’t going to be the Yankees. Reports have the Yankees going after Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez the minute the A.J. Burnett trade is finalized. With the list of teams requiring designated hitters/occasional outfielders dwindling, Damon’s options are minimal. This one will boil down to Damon’s asking price, plain and simple. If he holds at his $5 million price tag, the wait will be long. If he moves to $1-2 million plus incentives, more options will open up. Damon wants to get to 3K hits, that is a priority. But he also wants to play for a winner if he can. But there lies a quandary. If he plays for a contender, he will likely play a lesser supportive role. If he wants full-time playing time, he may have to play for a more up-and-coming team. Looking at the crystal ball, I see several options for Damon. The Rays, Jays, Orioles, Tigers, White Sox and even the Royals will look at Damon. From those options, I see a Detroit or Tampa Bay reunion in the future, with the Rays representing the strongest option. Damon will be playing in 2012…but location is still wide-open.

Q: With all the money the Marlins spent, have they really increased their chances to make postseason? I say no doubt Marlins will improve, but no chance of taking the NLE,  let alone the Wild Card!  Aaron

MLB reports:  Aaron, you are a wise baseball soul. You have hit the nail on the head with your comments. I see the same vision as you. The Marlins have definitely improved themselves, no doubt. But as far as making the postseason…I think that will take time. Too many factors exist that lead to a year of adjustments. New manager (Ozzie), new pitchers (Buehrle, Zambrano and Bell) and new shortstop/leadoff hitter (Reyes). The Marlins are even going to have a tv crew following them around for a reality show! A new ballpark full of fans, oh it will be a great year to be a Marlins fan. But playoffs? Playoffs??!! No, I don’t see the playoffs in their future. For many, many reasons. Firstly, in their own division, the Phillies and Braves will be hard to beat. Even the Nationals will be vastly improved and put up a big fight. There are far too many stars that need to align for the Marlins to win the NL East. From there, to even think about the Wild Card, they will need to top the likes of the Brewers, Reds, Cardinals, Giants, Dbacks etc. Teams with far more balanced lineups and playoff experience. So yes, the Marlins will be improved and will start to put up a fight. But for them to make the playoffs, wait at least a year or two.

Q:  Do you think Mark Teixeira could get back to a 290 batting average like 2009? D Barns

MLB reports: Teixeira will only be 32 come April. There is no reason to think that his average won’t rebound. For a guy that still hit 39 home runs last year with 111 RBIs, batting average is not much of a concern. He will be hitting in the middle of a very strong Yankees lineup. With a lifetime .281 average, I would not be surprised to see him hit anywhere from .275-.300. But with close to 40 home runs potentially and a .360+ OBP, average is less concerning. Expect a strong year from Teixeira, but don’t get too fixated on one single stat. His overall numbers will be there…and that is what really counts.

Q:  Is Dickey the last knuckler now?  Daniel

MLB reports: Where is the love for Charlie Haeger? According to my memory bank, Dickey and Haeger are both floating around. Haeger last appeared in the majors in 2010 with the Dodgers, while spending last year in the minors with both the M’s and Red Sox organizations. Dickey had a breakout year with the Mets, while last seen mountain climbing during this offseason. Assuming Dickey doesn’t fall off the mountain (so to speak), we still have two knuckleball pitchers floating their masterful pitches. Like Dickey showed us, knuckleballers can take years to develop. So don’t count out Haeger, he could still be another one on our list of top knuckleballers when all is said and done! But this really boils down to the retirement of Tim Wakefield this week. One of the greatest knucklers of all time, Wakefield could see some hall of fame votes in a few years. A classy individual, we salute Wakefield and his contributions to the game!

Q: Are the phils still a definite choice for winning the NL east?  Kameron

MLB reports: I touched upon this one in the Marlins question, but yes- I am still going with the Phillies. As long as you have Halladay and Lee at the top of your rotation, you are definitely the team to beat. With the Howard injury and Utley having his own health concerns, people may think that the Phillies are slipping. The Braves are still strong and the Nats/Marlins are improving. But until they show otherwise, my money is on the Phillies.

Q: How will the Angels end their 2012 season?  Cynthia

MLB reports: In the playoffs. Plain and simple. I can’t see any other way. Provided health and consistency of players…of course ;) With a rotation led by Haren, Weaver and Wilson and Pujols in the middle of the lineup, I am seeing very good things happening in the lineup. The AL West will be a dogfight, with the Rangers and Angels battling it out all season long. My money is on the Angels winning the West (sorry Rangers fans), but at the very least, they will get the AL Wild Card. After a gruelling 2011, the stars will align for the Angels this year. Maybe Morales will come back healthy. Trout might explode. But even if that doesn’t happen, the Angels will be very tough to beat. Keep an eye on the Halos- a good year is ahead for them.

Q:  Your thoughts on the A’s chances this year? Record wise…any ideas   Eric

MLB reports: Eric. Eric. Eric. Don’t ask questions that you don’t want to hear the answers to! While the Angels will enjoy the penthouse, I am seeing the basement for the A’s. As the Rangers and Angels battle for top spot, the A’s and M’s will battle for the bottom. At least until the Astros join the AL West in 2013. I can see the young Mariners gelling and having a fairly decent year. Maybe not .500, but the M’s will be better. But the A’s are in danger of being one of the worst teams in baseball this year. 100+ losses is guaranteed. As the team continues to rebuild, more of its core players (Gonzalez and Cahill) have been traded. The team is trying to move to San Jose and build for 5 years from now. What does that mean for A’s fans? Perhaps 120 losses. Things looks bleak. I won’t try to sugarcoat it. The team will be young and take its lumps. Be patient and keep the rolaids close by.

Q:  Who runs the toughest camp in spring training?  Drew

MLB reports: Without actually being in the camps day in and day out (especially behind closed doors), that one is a toughy. Two names come right away to my mind. Bobby Valentine will have a lot to prove this year. With a team in shambles and reports of divides and poor behavior in the clubhouse, the Red Sox will be expecting him to crack the whip starting this spring. Beckett and company will likely be read the riot act and have the expectations set right away. The other name that I am thinking of is Leyland. But here is the thing about Jim Leyland in Detroit. He is tough…but fair. You always know where you stand with Leyland. He will expect a lot out of his players and make them work hard, but he will treat them right. As opposed to tough managers who are just unreasonable or act randomly. But as far as pure toughness, Valentine and Leyland are two of the biggest ones in my book.

Q:  Is there a sixth contender in the AL?  David

MLB reports: Let’s see David. I will assume that you see the Tigers, Angels, Rangers, Yankees and Rays as the top-5 contenders in the American League. Need a 6th? Red Sox. Yes, the Red Sox. The team still has one of the most balanced lineups. I can see their rotation and pen being dangerous. Many people are forgetting about Boston. But I wouldn’t count them out. I am a big Bobby V believer and I can see him raising the Red Sox back to strong heights in 2012. Let’s not forget, this was a strong team for most of last season. Anyone that counts out the Red Sox is likely to get burnt. There are definitely six powerhouse teams in the American League. Get ready for big time fireworks baby!

Q:  Is Burnett a sleeper now in fantasy baseball?  Joe

MLB reports: Do not. I repeat. Do not let A.J. Burnett anywhere near your fantasy team! I am not saying that he won’t have a strong season. Heck, he could win 15 and become an all-star. But A.J. is the type of player that you will want to enjoy as strictly a baseball fan. Not a fantasy team owner. Too much stress. It’s not worth it! There are too many risks involved with Burnett. He is in his mid-30’s. Offensive supportive may be tough to come by in Pittsburgh. Will he be motivated pitching for a non-contender? No thanks. I think I will pass.

Last Q: What do you believe is the likelihood of the Mets trading D. Wright before the AS game this season?  Old Man Mack

MLB reports: We leave the last ATR question for the biggest ATR fan, Old Man Mack. So David Wright is on your mind today OMM. What is the chance that he is traded before July? I will say 0%. If Wright is moved, Mets fans will revolt. After losing Reyes, the team needs something, anything to excite fans. The team has an option for 2013 on Wright, which could be voided if he is traded. At $16 million, I doubt it would be voided. I foresee Wright moved, if moved, during the 2012 offseason or at the 2013 deadline. The Mets are undergoing too much uncertainty, given its ownership issues. The team will not abandon its fan base completely. Wright stays a Met for now and for the foreseeable future.

 

 

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Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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Posted on February 19, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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