ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: July 1st, 2012

Sunday July 1st, 2012



Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@me.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:

JH:  Happy Canada Day…eh! I am proud to call Canada my home. So for my fellow Canadians, I wish you a great day today. For our American friends that celebrate the 4th of July, your day is coming up this week. So enjoy it, drink responsibly and make sure you have a designated driver. We want each of you alive through many World Series to come!

A couple of thoughts before we start this weekend’s edition of ATR:

Firstly, a big baseball trade went down yesterday. The Orioles acquired Jim Thome from the Phillies for minor leaguers Gabriel Lino and Kyle Simon. I like this move from both ends quite frankly (catch my full review on Rate that Trade coming up).  Thome is a serious veteran presence in the O’s clubhouse and still swings a sweet hall of fame bat. He hits bombs and takes walks. The O’s trade two very young players who may or may not develop. The Phillies did not need Thome as a pinch-hitter and gave him a chance to play, while working towards replenishing their farm. One of those rare win-win scenarios.

Speaking the Orioles, did you catch my recent twitter conversation with Baseball Reporter Jen Royle? Well…the Baltimore Sun did and they ran an interesting article. You know what they say, any publicity is good publicity! Here is a bit of what they caught:

MLB reports asked Royle: “What is it the fans love most? Your charm?”

“They loved my honestly,” she replied, “and they absolutely love that I refued to root for the home team like Homer Simpson.”

MLB reports agreed with her distaste for “Homer” rooting.

“There are many homers that won’t listen to logic,” MLB said. “They think with baseball hearts. Not brains always. They can be fun too.”

And here’s Royle’s first dig: “Sounds like half the Orioles media… It was embarrassing.”

Remember Kevin Youkilis? Now a member of the Chicago White Sox. I talked to one of the top baseball reporters in the game recently on the subject. My colleague let me know that the Red Sox did as well as they could, literally no other team was offering a prospect for Youk. That still boggles my mind, but I guess Boston really put themselves in a no-win position. They traded Youk at his lowest point and had no leverage whatsoever. Still, paying most of his salary and not getting top players back…to me, the White Sox came out like bandits in this one. Wishing Youk all the best on his future, in Chicago this year and beyond.

Last but not least, the All-Star game is coming up from Kansas City in 9 short days. The Prospect Game is being played on Sunday July 8th, Home Run Derby comes your way on Monday July 9th and the big game itself, on Tuesday July 10th. We will have you covered, with previews and recaps of all the big All-Star game festivities and highlights.

Now that we have that behind us, on to your questions!

Q:  What do you think Melky will get in FA? Should Sabean extend him ASAP?  SF Giants

JH:  I get asked on the Melkman all the time. A really tough position for the player and team. Actually…if you want my real take, this one is a no-brainer for the player. The real risk is on the team. I have heard all the arguments about late-bloomer, developing superstar…blah, blah, blah. I’m not sold yet. I will tell you why. Career .282 hitter hitting .354. The average is not sustainable. Then look at the walks. Up to 23 this year. With a .354 average, I don’t expect many walks- as they are not necessary. Face it, Cabrera has a .396 OBP, and a .519 SLG. But the number are misleading, as his stats are really hiding behind the average. Lower his average to say…his career average of .282, and you have an average player. The power is down (7 home runs this year- 18 total last year). Yes, he will score likely 100+ runs again and drive in 80+ this year. But lower that average and you are left with an obp in the low .300s and a SLG closer to .450. Good, but not superstar numbers. Melky walked 56 times in his first full season and never broke 50 since. He is on pace to again walk less than 50 times. The Giants will want to give him 3 years and $45 million. He will want 6 years and $100 million. Take a look at his 2010 year in Atlanta. 4 home runs all year. He will hit under 20 this year. If he can get 4 years and $50 million- my advice, take the sure money Melkman. In free agency, Melky will get 5 years and $60+ million. But that doesn’t make it a good investment.  Melky was good last year, but I don’t know if I’m still buying this year. Clearly there is a fit in San Francisco. The Giants would be wise to sign him now if he will take a discount, and the player would be wise to offer a discount and not risk having his contract reduced by a rough 2nd half. It is a gamble on both ends. But at the right money, I sign Melky today. If he wants full pop, I let him walk. Don’t get seduced by this high-flying Melkman. The crash down to earth could be a painful one.

Q:  Will the White Sox go after any pitching?  Josh

JH: Here is something we have learned over the years. Never…ever…try to predict what Kenny Williams will do. Don’t discount him. Don’t count him out. And don’t think that he will ever sit on his hands. For the man who runs his ballclub like a fantasy team, Kenny Williams borders on the line of genius and madness. The multiple trades of Gio Gonzalez. The Nick Swisher fiasco. Jake Peavy. Daniel Hudson. Edwin Jackson. The latest prize, Kevin Youkilis. Kenny keeps himself front and center in the trade world. So now, will Kenny acquire some pitching help this season? You better believe that he will. I have absolutely no doubt that moves are coming. The White Sox are in first place, 42-36 in their division. The Indians are 2.5 games back, Tigers still only 4 back. Anything can happen. The White Sox need 1-2 more starters given their injuries, and 1-2 more relievers. Expect Kenny to take on some short-term salary if need be to make this happen. In my mind, Quintana and Axelrod are not the 2012 solutions to the rotation and the White Sox pen is still not deep enough. Reed is still a young closer. If he falters, then there is a drastic opening to fill in the pen. Thus the team needs reinforcements to cover up in injuries and potential slumps. With its key core in place: Youk, Dunn, Konerko, Rios, Pierzynski etc., this team has a deep offense that can hurt many teams. To make the playoffs and go far, the White Sox need pitching. Remember when Jose Contreras joined the White Sox? I can see this team needing another arm like that to take it over the top. The White Sox have a special team this year. I can see the team making the playoffs if all the stars align. Stay tuned: baseball in Chicago will be very interesting come September.

Q:  If Braun keeps up these numbers all year what are his chances at the MVP if the Brewers don’t make a run at the division?  Josh

JH: Let’s get one part clear to start. These Brewers are not making the playoffs. Yes, the stars could align…but I don’t see that likely happening. The team is already in 4th place, 8 games back of first place Cincinnati. Between the Reds and Cards, the Brewers will have a very hard time making it out of the Central. Even with 2 Wild Card teams in each league this year, the Brewers lost their window when they didn’t advance last year. Prince is gone and Marcum cannot be counted on. The Brewers just don’t have the full team needed to make an impact. Sorry to say…but need to tell it like it is. With that in mind, what are Ryan Braun’s chances to win a 2nd straight MVP this year? Better, if you consider that he is doing this without Prince Fielder backing him up. But this year is the year of the Votto. Braun has 20 home runs and has been extremely consistent. But Joey is on another planet. Braun has a .981 OPS. Votto has a 1.114 OPS. Are you kidding me? In the post-roids era, Joey Votto has become a king among men. 60 walks compared to 30 for Braun. 14 home runs. 33 doubles compared to Braun’s 12. Braun has a lot of home runs and a nice average. But Joey Votto is the top slugger in the NL, if not the game. Playoffs or no playoffs, Braun is measured against the other top hitters. The PED whispers don’t help his cause. But overall, if the season were to end today, Braun would not win MVP…simply because he is not the best player in his league. If I had to have one hitter to build my team around right now, I am taking Joey Votto. MVP, hands down.

Q: Do you have the schedule for the WBC qualifying rounds, or at least a range of dates for games?

 When will the tournament be played in 2013? John

JH: People are asking us on a daily basis about the World Baseball Classic. People need their baseball fix! Thank you for writing in John, appreciate your interest. The 2013 tournament dates have not been announced yet. I don’t expect to have that information until sometime in the fall. So we might be waiting awhile. We do have information on the qualifiers. Here is what we have to-date and please be sure to keep checking out and bookmark our sister page: http://wbcreports.com for all your World Baseball Classic needs. From appointment of managers, team rosters, schedule, locations etc., we are your one-stop WBC site:

The qualifying tournament breaks down as follows:

  • Four venues have been selected to host the qualifying round:  Panama, Germany, Taiwan and Florida
  • The winner from each group will move on to the 2013 WBC tournament
  • Each qualifier group will play 6 games- modified double elimination
  • In September 20-24th, taking place in Regensburg, Germany: the group of four is Canada, Great Britain, Germany and the Czech Republic.  Tickets will cost between 15-75 Euros and go on sale April 27th, 2012.  Click here to buy tickets
  • In November, taking place in Jupiter, Florida: the group of four is France, Spain, Israel and South Africa
  • Group three (dates TBD), in Taipei Taiwan, will feature a group of four: Chinese Taipei, Taiwan, New Zealand and the Philippines
  • Group four (dates TBD) will face-off in Panama City, Panama, featuring a group of four: Panama, Nicaragua, Brazil and Colombia

Q:  I now live in Western Australia but visit a small town in the Kootenay each Canadian summer.  I grew up in Calgary and went to university in Edmonton in the late 60’s.  While growing up in Calgary, I was a summer sports person.  I could not afford hockey equipment but I did manage to scrape enough nickels together to buy an old battered ball glove. To say the least, I loved my baseball. Had the best baseball card collection of any boy or girl in elementary school.  Since the demise of the Expos, I have always thought of another ball club returning to Canada. 

During my summers back in Canada,  I follow the Jays despite having grown up in Canada hating any sports team from the east.

A new pro baseball team in Canada!  Yes!  My thoughts—-a new or relocated team called the Western Canadian Crows.  The Crows would be an Edmonton-Calgary Vancouver based team. Yes, their home games would be spread between the three cities. Calgary and Edmonton would obviously need stadium upgrades.  Can you imagine the interest in having the Yankees coming to play in either city!  The three cities have everything to support one major league team.  No shortage of population nor sponsorship money.  It would work!     Canadian Crows or Western Crows.  Crows eat Jays by the way.  Lee

JH: What a last question for this week’s edition of ATR. This one has been really action packed and I saved the best one for last. A great story Lee, thank you for sharing your baseball adventures and imagery. I am really sorry to rain on the parade…but the dream that you have of another Canadian MLB team will not be happening. Maybe one day, but certainly not in our lifetimes. There are just so many reasons that this will not happen that I can fill a book. I will keep it short and sweet, but here are my highlights:

  1. Poor attendance in the U.S.: American fans will unlikely embrace a Western Crows team. The team will not draw in U.S. ballparks like it would at home (or the assorted homes it will have). Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, New York, San Francisco- fans will not be crazy about a Canadian team. Check out the Jays’ attendance on the road. It ain’t pretty.
  2. Poor television ratings in the U.S.:  see #1
  3. Poor merchandise sales in the U.S.: see #1
  4. Other options:  While the A’s and Rays may still relocate if they cannot get new parks, I can see Major League Baseball also adding in 2 more teams via expansion in the next 3-5 years, to make the leagues an even 16/16 split. There are so many options out there, including San Antonio, Las Vegas, Portland, Memphis and many more. With the dollar, travel, demise of the expos…MLB will not be picking Canada for its next available franchise. Politically it may not seem fair. But looking at reasons 1-3, money, talks.
  5. Stability: While I like your idea of sharing the wealth and risk, a Major League team cannot have 3 different home parks. Can’t happen. Won’t happen. What to do come playoff time? There are 81 home games- how you divide them up? Do you build 3 different stadiums? Who will build that? I can’t see an owner and/or government coming up with the funds for 3 stadiums. Where do you locate the team and its officials? Keep 3 offices? Hire 3 sets of staffs to take care of the stadiums? I am sorry my friend. Very ambitious, but just not financially possible.

There are many baseball fans that have asked me about Vancouver and Montreal as possible expansion sites. My response has been simple. After the death of the Expos, the city lost any chance it had for a MLB team forever. With the poor attendance it showed at the end, the city blew it. Plain and simple. People cry that ownership screwed the team. They needed a new stadium. All I can say is if fans really loved baseball and the Expos, then they wouldn’t have drawn less than 10,000 on so many nights. The City of Montreal is not paying for a new stadium. No owner in his or her right mind will build a new stadium in Montreal with their own funds. The Expos had a beautiful legacy. But it is now carried on in Washington, where it will continue to do so for the forseeable future. Then Vancouver you ask. That city lost its basketball team. If it can’t support the NBA, it is not getting Major League Baseball. Again, people can cry politics or unfairness all they want. Unfortunately, this area along with Montreal won’t sell in the States. The buck starts and stops with Uncle Sam when it comes to baseball. That is baseball economics 101 in 2012. Thank you for enjoying our sport so much and not to worry, you will still have the Jays to enjoy for years to come. They are Canada’s team for a reason.



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

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About Jonathan Hacohen

I practice daily yoga. Most foods are organic. If you catch me in the supermarket, it will be in the produce aisle. Warrior 1 Yoga was born from my wish to help people be healthy and happy. I preach the 4 key's to life: nutrition, exercise, water and sleep. This is my journey - I am hope to meet you along the way to share a similar path!

Posted on July 1, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Nathan Gordon

    Thanks for answers. Regarding the WBC, the venues and dates for the Mar 2013 WBC games are supposed to be announced ‘in the coming weeks’ according to an article posted in mid-June on MLB.com. As a Canadian and someone who attended WBC games at Skydome in 2009, I take this to mean that the countries that are trying to qualify (i.e., Canada) won’t really be considered as possible hosts. Oh well. Here’s the link: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120614&content_id=33292874&vkey=pr_mlb&c_id=mlb

    • Thank you Nathan. Noticed that as well and will update the site. Appreciate it! I think Toronto not hosting WBC games is based on the terrible attendance they received in 2009, plain and simple. Thanks again!

    • Nathan Gordon

      Totally agree that Toronto’s attendance in 2009 WBC wasn’t great but if you look at the attendance broken down by venue for the first two rounds, it was better than most (i.e., Mexico City, San Diego and San Juan).

      Here is the attendance for the first two rounds, shown in descending order (from wikipedia):

      Pool A (Tokyo) – 170,112 (avg. 28,352; pct. 67.5%)
      Pool 2 (Miami) – 114,397 (avg. 19,066; pct. 49.4%)
      Pool C (Toronto) – 103,899 (avg. 17,316; pct. 35.0%)
      Pool B (Mexico City) – 92,665 (avg. 15,444; pct. 59.4%)
      Pool 1 (San Diego) – 91,783 (avg. 15,297; pct. 35.8%)
      Pool D (San Juan) – 86,698 (avg. 14,449; pct. 80.3%)

      Can you tell that I’m really trying to make the case for Toronto as a venue?

      Thanks for the great websites!

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