ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: TJ, Curse of the Reports, WBC, Japan Boycott, Morneau and Brock, Coors Effect and the Havana A’s

Saturday July 21st, 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!


Jonathan Hacohen: I know…you guys and gals want to talk trades. It seems that everyone is keeping a close eye on the July 31st MLB Non-Waiver Trade Deadline. The action has heated up in recent days. The Astros and Jays got together full a 10-player swap, on the same day that the Rockies and Royals swapped hurler Jonathan Sanchez for Jeremy Guthrie. Then today, the Astros were at it again- trading closer Brett Myers and a bucket full of cash to the White Sox for minor leaguers. What is it with these White Sox??!! They get star power onto their roster for little money or talent having to move the other way. Kenny Williams…we aren’t worthy. 2012 is becoming the Year of the Kenny. With only 10 days to go, what other moves will Kenny and the other Gms pull off? Keep a close eye on our dedicated page called “Rate That Trade“.  We not only give you information on the latest baseball swaps, but also throw in our own two cents in the process…and who doesn’t love an opinion in baseball?

For our weekly Batting Stance Guy video, we feature today Gar’s 10 Step Bryce Harper Home Imitation Kit. BSG is hilarious and a genius. Never mind a novelty act. If I was a GM, I would consider hiring this man as my hitting coach. This man knows stances inside and out. If anyone can produce solid hitting and look good in the process, BSG can do it:

My final thought before jumping into questions is Dr. James Andrews. I have said your name so many times this year that people must think that we are either related or colleagues. Living in Toronto, your name is discussed with respect to the Kyle Drabek and Luis Perez operations. Now word is that Jason Frasor, a 2-time TJ survivor is off to see you on Monday with “forearm tightness.”  I don’t think that Frasor will be going for a 3rd TJ, but man…this is getting scary. We have seen 30+ players (mostly pitchers) undergo this operation since March 2012 alone. Something doesn’t feel right. If I’m Major League Baseball, I am calling up a task force and getting a study on this. Pronto. Give me Dr. Andrews, Dr. Jobe, Tommy John, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Mike Maddux, Dave Duncan and every possible intelligent baseball/pitching/TJ mind there is and let’s discuss what is happening. Why is it happening. And most importantly, what can we do to prevent it. When we are coming to the point to say that nearly every MLB pitcher may undergo TJ surgery at some point in their career, I think that is a huge problem. We cuddle and baby pitchers. We bring them up slowly and limit their innings. We try to build up arm strength. Yet today’s MLB pitchers are breaking down faster than a Ford Pinto at a Nascar race. Check out our TJ Surgery Tracker. We update it weekly with new and old names found to have TJ surgery, and we have barely scratched the surface. You think the Jays have had it rough? Check out the Royals and Padres. This is one of the biggest issues going in today’s game. We intend to raise awareness and encourage the baseball community to find solutions. Some things are clearly not being done right. Why else are pitchers dropping at alarming rates? We are lucky that Tommy John surgery exists to save many of these pitchers’ careers. But let’s figure out why these pitchers are having TJ in the first place and try to keep them healthy and off the operating tables.

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week:

Q:  Urkel is now going to the Astros. The curse of the MLB Reports has struck again.  Chuck Booth

JH: Chuck and I have enjoyed a good laugh at Ben Francisco‘s expense. I just had to share this one with you folks. Last week, I drew the comparison between Ben Francisco and Jaleel White. Have you noticed how much Ben looks like Steve Urkel…or his cooler persona, Stefan? Chuck pointed this out to me earlier in the year when the Orioles played the Jays. But the Curse of the MLB reports goes deeper than Urkel (sorry Ben Francisco). It seems like when we talk about certain players at great lengths here on the Reports, strange things happen. When Kevin Youkilis was traded from the Red Sox to the White Sox, Robert Whitmer and I coined the phrase “The Curse of the Youk.” We aren’t just baseball writers people, we are baseball fanatics. We harped on the fact that this trade was an absolute steal for the White Sox, while likely proving to the Red Sox detriment. Check out Youk’s numbers so far in Chicago. Outstanding. The same went for Mike Napoli rising in Texas, while we absolutely hammered Anaheim for picking up Vernon Wells. We loved Doug Fister going to the Tigers. But yet we thought the Royals stole Jonathan Sanchez from the Giants. Sometimes we are very right. Sometimes we are very wrong. But if we talk about a player a lot, something extreme will happen. The Curse or the Benefit of MLB reports? You decide.

 

Q:  Japan will not participate any more. America or Korea will be able to win the championship.

Please…. We have already shown that Japan is the best.

Money, money, money. 66% share? for MLB? No fair.  Popo

JH: Hello Popo. I think your name translates from Japanese to “Big Lover of Baseball.” But then my Japanese is a little rusty. But Popo, you are correct. Japan is threatening to boycott the upcoming World Baseball Classic. This is HUGE news. Japan is the 2-time defending champion. Heck, we’ve only had two WBC tournaments in total, with Japan winning both! If Japan pulls out, the tournament will be greatly tainted. This one is coming down to the money, with the Japanese federation asking for a bigger cut of the pie. We featured the story from mlb.com on our site, as we have a page devoted to the World Baseball Classic. Here are my thoughts at the end of the day. Major League Baseball and the other governing bodies will ensure that Japan send its top players to the 2013 WBC. A boycott of this magnitude is suicide for the tournament. With baseball being out of the Olympics, the sport is depending heavily on the WBC for growth of the game around the world. Japan will be there with all its top players, I will guarantee it. Yes, Japan has proven that it’s the best. But the boycott is not about boredom or lack of interest. The players want to be there. Japan wants to be there as well to prove its continued dominance. Remember, the Dominican one year threatened as well if I’m not mistaken, to pull out due to a conflict over venues. They ended up staying. The tournament will continue as planned, with all the top teams and its players showing up.

Now as far as Korea or the U.S. having a better chance to win the WBC if Japan pulls out? I just wanted to touch upon that. No doubt every country has better odds. But let’s remember, the US hasn’t even made a finals yet. With no Japan, I would be betting on the Dominican and Venezuela as top contenders. With the upcoming qualifying tournament taking place later this year, every edition of the WBC will prove harder to qualify and win the tournament. Canada may not even qualify for 2013! So let’s not write-off Japan quite yet. This should get settled out hopefully soon.

With the qualifying tournament for the World Baseball Classic commencing in September of this year, people are taking non-stop WBC on MLB reports! Here is another comment and response that we received recently:

Comment: What a joke! The whole WBC is pretty pointless. Long boring games, over priced seats and the encouragement of nationalism which has caused the deaths of tens of millions in the last 80 years. If the WBC gets more than a handful of new fans for the Great Game then I’ll be astounded.  E.C.

Response: you will be astonished because here in Israel its big news, there are articles in the newspapers, people are talking about it and its gotten quite a buzz. Baseball is a growing game here and the WBC will only help to make it more popular in Israel.  Peter

JH: Being Jewish, I was very pleased to read Peter’s comment. Israel had recently started up a professional baseball league, only to see it fold a short while later. I have read about Shawn Green and Brad Ausmus being committed to the Israeli program and to bring a strong team to the WBC qualifiers. While I certainly respect free speech and opinions, I certainly hope that E.C. is wrong on this one. Baseball is not in the Olympics and needs as much world-wide growth as it can get. We get comments from readers all over the world, from South Africa, Iceland, Russia and beyond. I think we have been contacted from a baseball fan in at least every country in the world at some point. Baseball is a global game and will only get bigger. Israel is a classic example of a country hungry to grow its sports presence in the world. A noted soccer and basketball nation, it appears that baseball is finally landing on the map in Israel. Look at all the other new countries joining the WBC, including New Zealand, Germany and Great Britain. I firmly believe that baseball is on the rise thanks to the WBC. While it may never become another World Cup, it certainly has the potential to raise the sport to unbelievable heights. You hit the ball. You catch the ball. You throw the ball. Three simple actions. One love. Regardless of language, one love that anyone can understand in the world who understands and appreciates baseball. The WBC is a great thing in my mind that will only get bigger and better as the years go by. The qualifying tournament this year is but the tip of the iceberg. Expect more developments as this tournament grows. Remember: The 2013 WBC is only the 3rd edition of the tournament. Let’s hold another 10 of these and see where it goes. Trust me- this thing is huge.

Q:  Justin Morneau still has potential. Lot’s of major league players get injured during the playing season. Good grief! Just look at the current lists (2012) of guys on the DL – Mets, Cardinals, and more… I personally know of guys who have had a great come back. I remember the days the Cubs got rid of Lou Brock and later Greg Maddux. It makes my blood boil just looking at the statue of that great Lou Brock parked outside of Busch Stadium. The Twins should think twice about trading Morneau. Marvin

JH: Wow, thank you Marvin for such a powerful comment! For reference, Marvin was commenting on our recent feature on Justin Morneau, Trade Bait or Damaged Goods. While I enjoyed your reference, let’s take a look at the comparison. Lou Brock was about 25 when traded to the Cardinals. It’s funny reading back on the trade on Wikipedia, as Brock was traded in a big package deal. At the time, the deal apparently was seen as a win for the Cubs, as they acquired 18-game winner Ernie Broglio from the Cards. Well…Brock ended up having a Hall of Fame career and the Cubs were left with egg on their face. You win some, and you lose some. Ask the White Sox on trading Sammy Sosa, Phillies with Ryan Sandberg and Padres on Roberto Alomar, just to name a few. But to me, it is much different to trade a youngster who hasn’t broken through yet then a vet. When the Cubs moved Brock, they didn’t know what they were losing. He had never lived up to his full potential until the swap, as he instantly took off in St. Louis. Literally. Greg Maddux is a whole other case. He left the Cubs to pitch for Atlanta. As a free agent, the Professor got a 5-year, $28 million deal. Big money back then. So in reality, Maddux chose to leave and Brock was an unknown when he was traded. 

Yes there are many guys on the DL this year. At an alarming rate actually. But Morneau has recurring issues, specifically the concussions. Will he ever fully recover? Hard to know. In 73 games this year, he has 11 home runs and a .744 OPS. Will he return ever to his MVP form? At 31, it is possible. But that is the million dollar question. He has 1 more and $14 million left on his contract. If the Twins get a good offer, are they prepared to gamble that they will get a MVP Morneau, or DL Morneau? The Twins are in a tough position, very different from the Cubs with either Brock or Maddux. If they trade Morneau and he produces, the fans will be upset. But if Morneau stays and either doesn’t produce or is injured, the team is limited as to the reinforcements they can bring in. The team is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. But at the very least, if we think of Morneau with the likes of Lou Brock and Greg Maddux…that is some really good company.

Q:  If the Rockies are being penalized for hitting at Coors Field, why are pitchers not penalized for pitching in a pitcher’s park? Seems like a double standard that is extremely unfair to any Rockies player. People should look at stats regardless of where those stats were accrued. Each park has something that benefits certain players, it’s just something we have to accept in the day and age where each stadium is completely different from any other.  Josh

JH:  Much food for thought there Josh. Your comment originated from Chuck Booth’s recent article on the Humidor Effect on Baseballs in Coors. I haven’t given it a great deal of thought, but I certainly see your point. Critics are quick to lessen hitting stats from Coors- why not give more grace/rope to pitchers who pitch in Coors? If the numbers for hitters are overstated in Coors, why are pitching numbers not considered understated? Interesting thought. In stadiums like Dodger Stadium and AT&T Park, hitters numbers are seen as undervalued and pitching numbers overvalued as they are pitcher friendly parks. But when you think of Coors, all you think of is the hitters having the advantage. Maybe it is the thought that once pitchers have pitched in Coors, they will be shell-shocked and never recover. But in truth, it is a double standard that is unfair. Perhaps we should be more gentle on pitchers that pitch in Coors, as their numbers adjusted in a more pitcher friendly environment would be better. Thank you for pointing that out Josh and I for one will think about Coors and the effect on pitchers in the future.

….and we had time to slide in one more this week. Couldn’t resist:

Q:  My call is MLB will eventually broker a sale to another group that will either build a stadium in Oakland or the league may purchase the franchise a la the Expos. Fidel Castro won’t live forever, and perhaps the next new home for the A’s will be in Havana after relations are normalized.  Mick

JH: Thank you Mick. Oh I enjoyed that laugh immensely. I think that I have a better chance of becoming the next Commissioner of Baseball, maybe even President of the Universe before MLB moves a team to Cuba. Politically, economically, socially, culturally…for many reasons, I do not see it ever happening. Plus, the owners of the A’s are so wealthy that they will not simply let MLB take over the team. I hope that you are right and a stadium is built in Oakland. The team would like to move to San Jose, but they are having issues with the Giants for territorial rights. At the end of the day, the A’s may very well end up in Portland, Durham or a number of other locations. Given the tradition and history of the team, I would love to see them playing in their area forever. With how the team has been playing of late, maybe a playoff run will motivate some officials to get a stadium done. For a look into the future of the A’s, check out my recent feature on the team.




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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 21, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I like the idea of a team in Havana. BUT ain’t gonna happen until the Castros are gone from this Earth.

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