Blog Archives

Ian Kadish MLB Guest Blog: I Owe It All to Them…

Sunday January 22, 2012

Ian Kadish (Guest MLB Blogger):   Once again, I was lucky enough to be asked back to write another blog post for MLB Reports!  I always love being asked to write for them!  This time they asked me to write about the biggest baseball influences in my life…and I’m warning you, this could take a while!  I have been playing baseball for as long as I can remember, so obviously I am going to have many people that have influenced my baseball career.  If I don’t mention you specifically, I am sorry, but the list is way too long and I have to pick the biggest influential people in my baseball career. 

I am going to start by saying my parents are easily the single biggest influence in my life, whether it be on or off the field.  They have molded me into the man (sometimes little kid) that I am today and I am a product of them.  They have always supported me no matter what I do and they have always been there for me through thick and thin.  They have been there for the hardest times and have somehow always gotten me through it.  They have taught me to chase a childhood dream and put everything I have into it.  They taught me to never give up, they taught me to work harder than anybody else, they taught me to play the game right, the list could go on for days of what they have taught me and I could never thank them enough.  For that and everything else they have done for me, I owe it all to them.  I love you Mom and Dad!

The second biggest influence in my baseball career is an easy choice.  It is a guy named Mike Maundrell.  He was my pitching coach when I played at Midland and started the molding process of the pitcher that I am today.  He has taught me literally everything I know about pitching and is still teaching me today.  I have known him since I was 16 and he completely changed me as a pitcher and as a person.  He was the first coach I had who taught me what hard work really was and what I had to do to better myself.  I still work with him to this day and I have been training with him this offseason here in Cincinnati.  I can honestly say, I would not still be playing baseball if I had never met Coach Maundrell.  He knows more about pitching than any human probably should know and he could talk about pitching for days on end.  I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with him for several years and will forever be in debt to him for everything he has taught/ is teaching me about pitching.

Another big influence in my baseball career is Tim Adkins.  He and I both will admit we had our tough times together, but he was the one that gave me the great opportunity to play collegiate baseball at Marshall University.  He was the pitching coach at Marshall at the time and he pushed me to great lengths.  He pushed me to the breaking point, but he made me as strong as I am today because he pushed me to such great lengths and found that breaking point.  He was the one that truly found out what made me tick and what got me going.  I learned so much from him not just on the baseball field, but off as well.  He continued to teach me what hard work is and he taught me to find out what works for me.  I owe him a tremendous amount of credit because he developed me into the hard worker that I am and taught me that if I want something to go get it and let nothing get in my way.  Along with Coach Adkins, I owe Coach Waggoner a tremendous amount of credit as well.  He was my head coach at Marshall University and he has always been there for me.  He always told me if I ever need anything at all to call him and he would be there for my family and me.  He genuinely cared about my family and me and I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate it.  He always had confidence in me whether I was really good that day or extremely bad.  He deserves a great amount of credit for how much he stood behind me and I thank him for that.

Coach Adkins departed from Marshall University after my Sophomore year and was replaced by Joe Renner.  Coach Renner and Coach Maundrell are like brothers and they both teach the same concepts.  Coach Renner continued to teach me what Coach Maundrell taught me.  Coach Renner and I grew to become extremely close in just 2 years.  I feel like I can go to him with anything and talk about it and he will help me through it to the best of his ability.  It was extremely sad to walk off the field after my last collegiate game and see tears in his eyes because it was the last game he would coach me in.  It brought tears to my eyes and I will never forget the 2 years I worked with him.  He worked extremely hard to get me to the next level and I am very thankful for everything he has done for me.  I know we will remain in contact for years to come!

The last person that I want to mention who has been tremendously influential in my baseball career is Clarence Mitchell.  He was my baseball coach when I was 13-15 years old and I am telling you what, he was the strictest coach I have ever had.  He taught me the true meaning of discipline and made sure he engraved it in our heads.  I still remember to this day taking a ground ball to the eye during infield practice and the eye swelling up instantly and bleeding profusely, but refusing to come out because of the discipline he preached or  the running for hours on end if we messed up or did something the wrong way.  He taught me what hustling is and I still to this day have everything he taught engraved into my baseball actions and life in general. 

Other people that were influential in my baseball career include Chris Fiehrer (my high school coach), Scott Humes (Midland Coach), Jeff Newman (Midland Coach), and Bernie Barre,  Although Bernie Barre wasn’t a baseball coach and had nothing to do with baseball, he taught me life lessons I can use on the baseball field.  He was my football coach and was one of the best football coaches in the history of Ohio High School Football. 

I also want to mention Dennis Holmberg.  He was my very first professional baseball manager and he taught me so much more about the game of baseball that I never knew.  I made sure I wrote down everything he taught me so it will be with me forever.  He made my first professional season one that I will never forget. 

I can’t begin to express how much I appreciate everybody that has had an influence on my baseball career.  I owe them all a HUGE thank you and I would not be where I am today without them.  I am so grateful for everybody that has influenced me so Thank You from the bottom of my heart!      Ian

Thank you to Ian Kadish for preparing today’s MLB Guest Blog.  Please feel free to contact Ian on Twitter (@BearJew36)  or through his website (http://livinginthelifeofian.blogspot.com) for comments and questions.   We also thank Ian for sharing the photographs used in today’s feature from his own private collection. 

Previous Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog Entries on MLB reports:

Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog:  Part 2 – Offseason and Expectations for 2012  October 3, 2011

Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog:  Part 1 – Recap of My 2011 Season   September 30, 2011

Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog:  My Baseball Journey  September 11, 2011

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.

About these ads

Did Braun and Verlander Deserve Their MVP Awards?

Wednesday November 23, 2011

Sam Evans: Over the last two days, Major League Baseball announced their 2011 MVPs. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers took home the award in the American League while Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers won the National League award. Now that the voting is over, we can look at who really deserved the awards.

American League MVP: In August, Buster Olney sparked discussion on the AL MVP, when he said on Twitter that if he had a vote it would go to Verlander. At the time, I thought that the award was Jose Bautista‘s to lose. However, after watching Verlander dominate team after team, it became clear to me that this was the most valuable player in the American League. He meant more to his team than any other player in the league. Verlander finished with a with a 2.40 ERA in 251 innings. Verlander threw more innings than any other pitcher in the majors, and to have that strong of numbers in those innings makes it even more impressive.

Verlander also threw his second career no-hitter this year, and led the majors in strikeouts. Jacoby Ellsbury and  Jose Bautista are not shabby candidates either, but they didn’t have the effect Verlander did on his team. The Tigers expected to win every single time that Verlander was on the mound. Overall, even if the BBWAA made this decision based on Verlander’s twenty-four wins, it was the right choice. Verlander became the first pitcher to win the MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992.

National League MVP:  In somewhat of a surprising decision, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was awarded the NL MVP award, receiving 20 out of 32 first place votes, and a total of 388 points. Finishing a close second was Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who received 10 first place votes, and a total of 332 points.

First of all, these were obviously the top two candidates. They both had amazing years that should not go unnoticed despite who actually won the award. What I think it came down to was that Braun made the playoffs and Kemp didn’t. This is somewhat understandable because you can make the argument that if a certain player had such a big impact on their team then they should have made the playoffs. The real question is did Braun really make his team that much better, or did he just play on a much better team? Also, did the distractions surrounding the Dodgers and its ownership affect Kemp’s chances of winning the MVP? It definitely did not help his case.

To truly compare these players first you have to evaluate their defense. Kemp played a much harder position then Braun and he had to cover more ground. Kemp had a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating, a stat used to show how much ground a player covers) of -4.6. Braun had a UZR of -3.8. Neither of these is very impressive, so I guess we can just call this comparison a draw.

As for offense, in my own opinion, Kemp had a stronger year. Both players were very similar in normal statistics. Braun hit .332 with 33 HR and 111 RBI. Kemp hit .324 with 39 HR and 126 RBI. What impresses me is that Kemp scored more runs than Braun despite not having Prince Fielder batting behind him. Also, Kemp had a harder ballpark to hit in, and plays in a stronger pitching division. Kemp was really the only dangerous hitter in the Dodgers lineup, so pitchers could avoid him more than Braun.

According to Baseball-Reference WAR, Kemp was by far the more valuable player. Kemp led the NL with 10.0 WAR, which make Braun’s 7.7 seem miniscule. Kemp also led the National League in total bases, with 353, and Adjusted OPS + with 171.

These two players had almost identical years. If I had a vote, it would have gone to Kemp. But I don’t think Braun winning is anything to get worked up about.  A strong case could have been made for him, as shown by Braun being the winner of the 2012 NL MVP award.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, 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.***

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, 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.***

Interview with MLB Prospect Lance Durham: Talking Baseball with “The Bull”

Sunday November 20, 2011

 


Jonathan Hacohen:  We are proud to welcome to MLB reports: Lance Durham, first base prospect and 2nd generation baseball player.  His father, Leon Durham, played 10 seasons in the show.  Best known as an outfielder/first baseman for the Cubs, Leon had pop in his bat and a strong ability to get on base.  Following in his dad’s footsteps, Lance looks to make his own mark on the game.  Originally signed by the Detroit Tigers in 2006, Lance opted to attend college and was drafted again in 2009, this time by the Toronto Blue Jays.  Lance has just completed his third season in the Jays’ organization.  I have enjoyed the opportunity to talk baseball with Lance on several occasions.  He is an extremely intelligent bright man, with a strong sense of his roots and his path in the game.  An extremely motivated and hard-working player, Lance has the fundamental tools to succeed in the game.  At 23-years of age, the future looks bright for “The Bull”.  

Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with baseball prospect and future superstar, Lance Durham:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

MLB reports:  Who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?

Lance Durham:  My favorite baseball player growing up was my father. I know it sounds cliché but it’s the truth. I didn’t get to see him play in person but we have tapes all over the house of him when he was with the Cubs and I loved the intensity he played with. His demeanor, swagger and confidence were never lacking out on the playing field and that’s something I try to carry out on the field.

 

MLB reports:  Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Lance Durham:  I admire Prince Fielder the most. First, he was the only player to play all 162 games in 2011 and 160 games in 2010. That’s something to admire a lot because he brings it to the table everyday and doesn’t ask for days off.

 

MLB reports:  Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?

Lance Durham:  Having the opportunity to follow in my father’s footsteps.

 

MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2012 season?

Lance Durham:  Stay healthy and set no limitations for the season. Sky’s the limit.

 

MLB reports:  When you first found out you were drafted, what were your reactions?  Did those reactions change over time?  What was the process like being drafted originally by the Tigers in 2006 and Blue Jays in 2009 and not signing with the Tigers originally?  What made you decide to finally sign with the Jays in 2009?

Lance Durham:  When I first got drafted out of high school, I thanked God and was happy to know that my name was already out there. But I thought it was best for me to go to college at that point. In 2009, it was just like “well, its time to start the grind” because I wasn’t a first rounder like my father and he told me it was time to out perform the competition. I didn’t sign with the Tigers originally because I was drafted in the 45th round and I figured going to college and getting smarter about the game of baseball and physically stronger (was in my best interests). Not to mention mom (Angela Durham) always wanted me to go college and I promised her I would one time in my life. So I did it (went to college) fresh out of high school.

 

MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Lance Durham:  I just hope to improve on all areas of the game, whether it’s hitting, base running, defense, and having a great baseball IQ- which I think is the best advantage. The more you know about the game, the better you will do.  My baseball IQ includes knowing what to do with the ball once you get it, thinking before the play even happens, so that the game slows down for you.

 

MLB reports:  How do home runs and walks figure into your game?  Do you see any of these three items changing over time and to what degree?

Lance Durham:  Well home runs are awesome.  There is no better feeling for me, except winning a ball game.  Walks are also great because it shows your patience at the plate. Those are two statistics that you want to be pretty high.

 

MLB reports:  How much of an influence was your dad on you growing up? What did you learn from your dad that has shaped you as a baseball player?

Lance Durham:  Dad was a great influence on my baseball career. He has been involved in baseball his whole life, so to learn stuff from him about the game is great. The thing I learned from my dad the most is the mental part of the game. You are going to strike out. You are going to make errors. But it is how you learn from them and not make the same mistakes twice. He always preaches adjustments. If we are in the batting cage and I keep making the same mistake over and over, he won’t say anything until I make the adjustment on my own.  Then he will say “what took you so long,” and we just laugh. But the quicker you pick up on the adjustments, the better ball player you will become.

 

MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

Lance Durham:  Hopefully as soon as possible. That is what all of minor leaguers strive for. I am just going to take it one day at a time. Even in the offseason: with the workouts and the cage work and everything, you just have to have it on your mind and want it bad.

 

MLB reports:  If you were not playing professional baseball, you would be ____

Lance Durham:  A video game creator.

 

MLB reports:  What do you do for fun away from the ballpark?

Lance Durham:  Hanging out with friends, go to the movies and spending time with the family.

 

MLB reports:  Which of your teammates are you closest with – any good stories?

Lance Durham:  This past year on the Lansing Lugnuts team, I got really close with a lot of guys. Michael Crouse, Jake Marisnick, Jack Murphy, Markus Brisker, Matt Nuzzo. The stories could go on for days. Let’s just say that they are a great group of guys and I thank God I got to play with them.

 

MLB reports:  Your father Leon was known as “The Bull”.  Do you go by the same nickname? What is the origin of the nickname and how did you adopt it?

Lance Durham:  Well my dad’s nickname just stuck with me because of him. When he would bring me into the locker rooms as a kid, everyone would already call me “Little Bull” when I was like 10. So it has stuck with me even until today, so I just roll with it. Won’t be long until they just start calling me BULL!!!

 

MLB reports:  Final thought:  When fans think of the name Lance Durham, what images do you want them to associate you with?

Lance Durham:  He was a student of the game.  He played the game right and he played the game hard.  He was also a great teammate.


Thank you again to Lance Durham 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 Lance.  As well, please follow Lance on Twitter (@LanceBullDurham)

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

 

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.

Ask the Reports: Saturday November 19th

Saturday November 19, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen:  Ask the Reports is back! After some thought and re-branding: we have decided to drop the E-mailbag moniker and to keep this section as “Ask the Reports”, which will appear every weekend.  E-mails is but one form you can reach MLB reports. You can follow us on Twitter  and tweet and direct message your questions and comments.  You can “Like” us on Facebook and write on our wall.  You can also leave all questions and comments at the end of each article and page on the website. With social media exploding as it has, we are truly connected in so many ways.  

So keep reading MLB reports. Everyday. Twice a day or more if your schedule allows it. Subscribe to the site to have all current articles sent to your e-mailbox. But most of all:  participate. Send tweets. Write on our Facebook wall. Comment on articles and leave feedback. MLB reports is for you: the readers. The love of baseball is best nurtured if enjoyed as a community. So don’t be shy. Get in touch with us as often as you can. Let your voice be heard on our Facebook wall. There is nothing better than an old-fashioned baseball debate.  We call it MLB4Life on Twitter because we all love baseball for life. Baseball is more than a passion.  It is a lifestyle. Thank you for enjoying MLB reports and we look forward to hearing from you.  Plus you never know when your questions will be answered in “Ask the Reports”: so keep checking and asking your questions every week!

Let’s get to your questions:

Q:  If a modern-day MLB pitcher won 20 games for 20 seasons, he would still be 111 wins short of Cy Young’s win record..  From Eric, LA
 
A:  Great comment.  A true reflection on the evolution of the game.  Let’s start by taking a look at the career of Cy Young:
Denton True Young (aka Cy Young).  Born March 29, 1867 in Ohio.  Threw right-handed, stood 6’2″ and weighed 210 pounds.  He played for 22 seasons: 1890-1911.  He finished his career with a 511-316 lifetime record.  He actually had 5 seasons of 30+ wins.  36 in 1892 and 35 in 1895 being the career highs.  The man pitched in 906 games, starting 815 of them.  He threw 7356 career innings.  Ponder that one for a minute.  He had 5 seasons of 400 + innings and a dozen more seasons of 300-399 innings.  17 years of 300+ innings pitched.  If a modern-day pitcher were to pitch 200 innings per year for 20 years, he would reach 4000 innings.  About half of Cy Young.  That says a lot to me.  In the modern age, the only person that will come close to pitching those kind of innings was Nolan Ryan.  The Ryan Express pitched for 27 seasons.  807 games, 773 starts.  5386 innings pitched.  Career record:  324-292.  So to win as many games as Cy Young, you would need to win 25 games per year for 20 years.  An impossible feat in today’s modern game.  A pitcher would need to start 35-40 games and pitch 300-400 innings per year.  With closers, middle relievers and the stats of MLB bullpens, teams will not allow their starters to go deep into all those ballgames.  A “quality” start is 6 innings pitched.  At 30+ starts per year, most starters today are lucky to crack 200 innings.  Without the starts and innings, starting pitchers have less and less chances to stay deep in games to win.  Plus pitchers need offensive support and health to stay on the field and have a chance to gain wins.  Teams have 5-man rotations and also skip  or push back starts during the season.  We will never see another Cy Young.  Not the way baseball is played today.
 
 
Q:  What do you think Pat Burrell will do after he retires?  Fans of Pat Burrell
 
A:  I could see Burrell taking time off from the game.  Counting his dollars and maybe taking in a party or two (rumor has it that he is somewhat of a ladies’ man…).  But given his quality eye at the plate with pop, Burrell clearly knew a thing or two about hitting in his day.  Almost 300 home runs and 1000 walks do not happen by accident.  When Pat the Bat is ready to return to the game, he will join the Giants or Phillies likely as a minor league hitting instructor, or full-time hitting coach.  If he can show he can coach in the minors, you could see him as a hitting coach or 1st base coach one day in the major leagues.  Pat the Bat has a future in baseball- provided that he can teach and work well with the kids in helping them develop their abilities at the plate.
 
 
Q:  With 8 years and $160 Million, is Matt Kemp worth Manny Money or did L.A. pay a $30 Million premium to keep him off the open market next year?  Or both?  From Jason
 
A:  They did call Matt Kemp “Baby Manny” for a reason.  The Bison has always been highly touted coming up with the Dodgers.  For the last 2 seasons going into this year, some of that promise was starting to show.  Campaigns with 26 and 28 home runs respectively will catch people’s eyes.  Kemp looked like a .290 hitter with 20+ home run pop.   Pretty good- but not a superstar.  Then in 2011, Kemp simply exploded.  He led the league with 39 home runs and 126 RBIs, a difficult feat considering he had little support in the lineup and played his home games in a pitcher’s park.  With a .324 average, we nearly had a triple crown winner.  Kemp had a .399 OBP and .586 SLG.  Superstar numbers.  I am torn in analyzing him.  He was a year away from free agency.  Is he worth $20 Million per year for 8 years?  That is all relative.  Here is how I can best put it: what if Kemp would have hit .290, with 25 home runs with 90 runs and 90 RBIs in 2012 and hit free agency?  Would he have received the same deal?  Very likely.  At that point would the Yankees or Red Sox given him 7 years and $140 million to sign?  Carl Crawford got that same deal last year.  At 28 years of age, Kemp has shown good health and appears to be in great shape.  To say he is able to keep this pace until 35-years of age is not a stretch.  At worst, Kemp would have landed $15 million per season for 7 years, a total of $105 million.  So my thoughts are that the Dodgers would have needed to pay him $20 million for 2012 regardless.  By signing him early, they may have overpaid by $35 million over the life of the deal.  Or Kemp could have signed for $5 million per season on the open market (if no other alternatives) and cost an additional $35 million.  In a perfect world, it would have been nice to have seen more 2011-type seasons from Kemp before handing him this type of contract.  But given his fairly strong track record, health and young age, the Dodgers needed to lock him up now or risk very much losing him after 2012?  Did they overpay?  Not much by free agency standards.  Even if they overpaid by $30 million over the life of the contract, as long as Kemp continues to stay healthy and produce great to strong numbers, this was a deal that had to get done.  With the ownership turmoil and inability to attract and keep key players, this signing sends a message that the Dodgers are “back in business.”  Exactly what the fans want to hear.
 
 
Q:  Thoughts on Cespedes and Darvish? Any chance Blue Jays sign ‘em?  From Thomas
 
A:  There are approximately fans from 30 MLB teams that are hoping their teams will make a push for the 2 likely biggest international free agents.  Yu Darvish from Japan and Yoennis Cespedes from Cuba.  While Darvish will need to be posted and bid upon, Cespedes once declared would be free to sign with any team.  At 26-years of Cespedes is reported to be major league ready.  Viewers of his YouTube video are excited at his abilities at the plate.  He will reportedly cost in the $50 million range to sign.  Darvish, at 25-years of age, is one of the most highly touted pitchers ever to come from Japan.  If he is posted (which is still a big-if at this stage), Darvish is likely to cost north of $100 million (with the posting fee) to sign.  Will the Jays sign either or both?  My answer: no.  Not because the team is not competitive.  Far from it.  But because they will not throw a lot of money on risky propositions.  Neither player has played a single inning of Major League Ball.  No matter how each has fared competitively to-date, few could predict how their games will translate to the major leagues.  The Jays are already stacked in the oufield, with Bautista, Rasmus, Snider and Thames to choose from.  Edwin Encarnacion is even being tried out in the outfield in winterball.  Anthony Gose is also a young hot-shot prospect that will be landing in Toronto soon.  The Jays do not have a strong need for an outfielder and certainly will not want to devote a large portion of their budget to an unknown like Cespedes.  Especially given the mixed track record of Cuban hitters thus far in the majors.  The Jays’ budget would be better spent on pitching.  But to pay $50 million to win the Darvish posting and then sign him for another $50 million, that could translate to $20 million per season for 5 seasons.  That is insanity money.  At that point, I would rather sign C.J. Wilson for 5-years $100 million.  A far more certain return.  The Jays will pick up a strong DH bat this offseason, perhaps a new first baseman and 1-2 new starting pitchers.  They will be shopping.  But no mail-order-players are likely coming anytime soon to Toronto.
 
 
Final Q:  Psychology professor asked what our biggest stressors in life are. I said Brandon Inge still being a Tiger. Everyone looked at me weird.  From Ashley
 
A:  Time to change schools?  If any of your classmates are baseball fans, they must not watch the Tigers very often or simply fail to grasp the horrible play of Inge.  I rarely use the word “hate”. But as a Tigers follower (yes…they are my team), I do not have the time of day for Inge.  The team has him signed for 1 more season at $5.5 million and a team option for $6 million in 2013 or a $500K buyout.  Expect the buyout.  I get that he is a great team guy, and blah blah blah.  In 144 games in 2010, he hit .247 with 13 home runs.  Looking at his numbers, he had a great year in 2006 and 2009.  That is it.  But yet the Tigers have him signed through to 2012.  Last year, Inge hit .197 with 3 home runs and earned himself a trip back to the minors.  At 34-years of age.  He is done.  Done as dinner.  Stick the fork in him.  One of the most gifted defensive players that I have ever watched, he could do it all with the glove.  Perhaps he sticks around as a late-inning defensive replacement.  He is a good emergency catcher and strong third baseman.  But his career as a full-time player is over.  If the Tigers are prepared to leave him on the bench and mentor the young players, I am all for it.  But otherwise, they need to hang onto Ramon Santiago and simply let the Inge-era end.  Brandon Inge has cool tattoos and has provided some spark hits through his career.  Its time for the Tigers to thank him for his contributions and move on.   Thank you Ashley for understanding.  I feel your pain.
 
 

ARCHIVE:  Click here for Past Issues of Ask the Reports

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.

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


Stolen Bases: Fantasy Baseball Strategies to Increasing Steals

Thursday November 17, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  Of the five categories in standard 5X5 roto leagues, it is SB’s that fantasy owners most commonly have the incorrect approach. In this article I will highlight players to target and avoid in the stolen base department, as well as discuss basic fantasy strategy.

There are certainly several one trick ponies, such as Brett Gardner, Michael Bourn, and Coco Crisp, who provide elite production in this department. However, there are a couple of things you must consider. These types of players, who will hopefully hit for average and contribute to runs, will hurt your team’s HR and RBI performance. Therefore, be sure that you have excess value dispersed throughout the rest of your lineup to compensate. Secondly, you are heavily relying one on player for your production in this category, and as a result an injury can leave your team devastated. Thus, it is essential, particularly in the early rounds, that you find players who do everything, including steal bases. Even 5-10 steals that a player contributes above the position average will give you a significant edge.

A player to target next year, Eric Hosmer, quietly stole 11 bases in 2011. The young left-hander batted .313 with 11 HR and 44 RBI’s in the second half last season. While his still progressing power production puts him the second tier of first baseman, his double-digit stolen base potential makes him intriguing and perhaps underrated. Still, this guy finished the season with 19 home runs and 78 RBI’s in 128 games played. Since there are a slew of first baseman that finished with 30 home runs and 100 RBI, they will likely be targeted before Homer. Therefore, I like Hosmer as a guy who might just as well approach these power numbers but also steal 15 bases. For this same reason, I like Joey Votto over any other first baseman not named Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera. While, Adrian and Gonzalez and Prince Fielder might put up higher power numbers and similar batting averages, Joey Votto’s 10 stolen bases will make him significantly more valuable. Albert Pujols is also good for ten stolen bases as well. Only Miguel Cabrera out produces Votto enough in the other four categories to excuse his lack of stolen bases.

Now extend this approach to each position. Dustin Pedroia and his 25-30 stolen bases is more valuable than Robinson Cano and his 5-10 stolen bases, despite the fact Cano finished with 7 more home runs and 25 RBI’s. A player I like at this position if you can afford to take the hit in HR’s and RBI’s is Jemile Weeks, who finished with 22 stolen bases in just 97 games. He will get to play full-time in Oakland, and as long as he is hitting above .290, can be valuable to your roster as a good source of steals. On the decline is Brandon Phillips who has dropped from 25 to 16 to 14 stolen bases the last three seasons. This makes him no longer elite, especially when Ian Kinsler is doing 30/30. An interesting group of players, Kelly Johnson, Danny Espinosa, and Ben Zobrist each his 20 home runs and stole over 15 bases. However, they each struggled with average. Again, take not of your team’s strengths. If you own Votto and a couple of other average anchors, these types of players can be good sources of power and stolen bases at the second base position.

Instead of continuing on and telling you the elite base stealers position by position (you can easily look this up), I will give you my 2012 sleepers and busts.

Stolen Base Sleepers:

Don’t forget that Brett Lawrie’s one-quarter of a season not only put him on pace to hit 36 home runs and 100 RBI’s, but also projected him to finish with 28 stolen bases.

Peter Bourjos made noise at the end of the season and once stole 50 bases in the minor leagues. For the speedy outfielder, it was all about getting on base after a 2010 debut in which he batted .204 in 51 games. However, he greatly improved his contact ability, although still needs to improve walk rate, and batted .271 and stole 21 bases for the Angels. He also hit 12 home runs, and has the potential for a productive .280 15 HR 30 SB stat line in 2012.

After stealing 19 bases in 2011, I expect Shane Victorino to reach the 30 mark once again in 2012. It’s not that he didn’t run when he was on base, but his lower than usual BABIP and high than usual ISO (measures true power) simply meant he was not on first base as often as he normally is. With Rollins likely out of Philadelphia, I expect Victorino to ne at the top of the lineup and as aggressive as ever on the base paths.

Keep you eye Cameron Maybin, who stole 40 bases in 137 games for the Padres. As long as he has the chance to play semi-regularly, he is elite in the stolen base category. Furthermore, he appears to be approaching double-digit home run output as well, although he is only a career .255 hitter.

Monitor where Coco Crisp ends up in 2012. I loved him at Oakland in 2011 because he was one of the better hitters on the team (sadly) and at times batted third, but also batted lead off and in the second spot. In addition to leading the American League in steals, he had decent contributions in other categories (8 HR and 54 RBI) compared to some of the other stolen base leaders.

Dexter Fowler is a name to remember because he is simply one of the fastest players in baseball. However, he only stole 12 and 13 bases during the last two years, respectively. He was also caught an alarming 25 times. If he can learn to run on the base paths, he can be elite in this category. It is possible for major leaguers to learn the art of stealing bases. Look at Adam Jones, who was 12/16 on the base paths in 2011 after a 7/14 2010. I expect Jones, who is approaching a contract season, to come closer to 20 steals in 2012.

Speedsters to avoid? Juan Pierre. He really contributes in no other categories and is getting slower, getting caught 17 times in 44 chances in 2011. Furthermore, I do not expect any team to give him the 639 at bats that the White Sox foolishly provided him. Sadly, Ichiro Suzuki is clearly on the decline and appears to be a shell of his former elite self. The same is true with Bobby Abreu.

***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).***

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.

MLB Free Agent Closer Carousel

Friday November 11, 2011

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports):  Every one of the MLB’s franchises will be looking for bullpen help, and most will be looking to add a major contributor to the back-end.  The closer position is one that is seen as the most underrated as well as the most overrated job in all of baseball.  On one hand, some people may over-value a closer’s “makeup” and poise, where others say “it’s the same as pitching at any point in the game.”  While I like to sit somewhere between these two concepts, most fans like knowing that their team employs a “proven veteran closer.”  All you have to do is look at the St. Louis Cardinals of 2011 to notice that is not necessarily the case.  Their closer was Jason Motte, although Tony La Russa refused to officially anoint him so.  Motte had 12 career saves going into the postseason, 9 of which were in 2011.  However, the fireballer was dominant in the postseason, and helped to bring in another World Series title to St. Louis.

In 2007, the Boston Red Sox employed a closer by the name of Jonathan Papelbon, a 2nd year closer, and they went on to win the World Series.  There are several other times where a homegrown closer has led his team to a championship, Brian Wilson of the 2010 San Francisco Giants being another recent one.

There are many closers without a set home for 2012, with Papelbon headlining that list.  It has been said that Papelbon is looking for a 4 year contract, and could even get a 5th guaranteed year on the open market.  Much of the early talk about closers this off-season has surrounded Ryan  Madson, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies.  It was rumored that he had agreed with the Phillies to a 4 year, $44M contract with a 5th year as a vesting option.  It was said that the Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was awaiting approval from team president David Montgomery.   It has recently come to light that Amaro Jr. has vehemently denied these rumors.

Frank Francisco, Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, Joe Nathan and Francisco Cordero are all closers who may be looking for new homes in 2012.  Also available are Matt Capps, Jon Rauch, David Aardsma, and Takashi Saito.

The Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, LA Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Florida Marlins and Houston Astros are some of the teams who figure to be in the market for a closer, if not to upgrade.

Because of the Madson fiasco that has been taking place, I doubt he re-signs with the Phillies.  The Phillies seem to have moved on to their next target, Papelbon.   All Papelbon has done in his 6+ seasons with the Red Sox is accumulate 219 saves with a 4.43 K/BB ratio.  His career ERA sits at 2.33 while his FIP isn’t far off at 2.60, showing just how good he actually is.  I think a 4 year deal worth $51M and a vesting option of $15M would likely get the job done.

Madson’s early “almost signing” may have set the bar for Papelbon, and Madson will be looking for something in the same range. He may have to settle for a bit less as the Phillies look to get the signing done quickly.  Madson took over for Brad Lidge, who battled injuries in 2011 as the Phillies closer.  A 3.88 K/BB ratio and a ground ball rate close to 50% ensured a very successful season where his FIP was 2.25.  4 years and $40M should get it done, and I see him going to the LA Dodgers.

Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) was traded at the deadline from the Mets to the Milwaukee Brewers, but didn’t get an opportunity to close out games.  His displeasure with the situation was coming out, even though incumbent closer John Axford was performing extremely well, and the club was on its way to a playoff berth.  The Miami Marlins (still doesn’t feel right to say) are looking to be huge spenders this off-season, and I see no difference with K-Rod.  Rodriguez  has 291 saves in his career, including a single season record 62 in 2008 with the LA Angels of Anaheim.  I see the 30-year-old signing a 3 year deal worth $30M to usurp the incumbent Marlins closer, Juan Oviedo (previously known as Leo Nunez).

Heath Bell is a closer who has had tremendous numbers over the last three seasons, albeit in ultra spacious Petco Park as his home field.  His K rate dipped this year, and may have been a bit lucky with a .261 BABIP.  San Diego Padres GM Josh Byrnes has already said he would likely offer arbitration to Bell, a Type A free agent.  Bell has also said in the past that he would accept arbitration, as he likes San Diego.  This presents a slight problem for the cash-strapped Padres, who prefer to keep their payroll lower.  Bell will be due a raise from the $7.5M he made in 2011, so a $9-10M 1 year deal will likely be in place here with the Padres.

Joe Nathan is a special case, because he had an option of $12.5M declined by the Minnesota Twins, who would still like to bring him back.  Nathan did not pitch in 2010 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, and threw 44 2/3 mediocre innings in 2011.  However, over his last 27 innings, he gave up only 20 hits, 5 walks and 10 runs, really finishing strong and proving he is healthy again.  The downfall is that by spring training, he will be 38 years old and clearly looking at the end of his career.  The Toronto Blue Jays are looking for a closer to anchor a bullpen that will see a lot of turnover, and Nathan could be had for $4M and a club option for 2013.

Jonathan Broxton is another closer looking to establish his value.  The hulking 6’4” 300 lb closer had a disappoint 2011 season, and just had surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow in September.  His K rate has steadily declined from the career high of 13.50/9 IP in 2009.  His ground ball rate, BB/9, ERA and FIP have all suffered at the same time.  Broxton will likely get a one year, incentive-laden deal to prove he is healthy.  He will likely have to settle for a setup man role, and I think he could work with the Mets in spacious Citi Field.

Francisco Cordero has had a 13 year career that started in Detroit, then took him to Texas, Milwaukee then finally Cincinnati.  The Reds recently declined his $12M option, but GM Walt Jocketty has said he hopes to bring the closer back.  However, I don’t see him donning the Reds jersey any longer, as the soon to be 37-year-old will look to move on and close out his career.  While his fastball still averages 93 mph, it is 3 mph slower than Cordero’s prime.  Because of this, his K rate has dipped to 5.43/9IP from 12.22/9IP in 2007.  While his stats have declined, he has averaged 39 saves the last 5 seasons.  He will probably settle for a one year deal worth $6M, where the Minnesota Twins will sign him.

It’s a carousel in the closing world, as more teams are beginning to put less stock in having an established closer at the back of a bullpen.  Homegrown closers are becoming a more popular choice, but some teams look for that slight edge, and if it means overpaying for a pitcher who will throw roughly 5% of the team’s innings, they will do so. 

***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.***

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.

A Tribute to Steve Karsay: MLB Pitcher and Warrior

Thursday November 3, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  In the world of baseball journalism, it is very important for one to separate the roles of writer/commentator/analyst from fandom.  For those of us that write about the great game of baseball, it is the majority of the time for the pure love of the sport.  We love every aspect of baseball and while the job requires long hours and a great deal of hard work, it is all worth it because the work centers around a dear passion for all of us.  Each piece we prepare though rarely contains a personal vested interest.  We write about a subject.  We discuss the different aspects of the topic and will usually include our own viewpoints.  But when the subject matter contains an emotional attachment, it can make the experience that much more rewarding.

As the Lead Baseball Columnist for MLB reports, I have had the privilege and honor of interviewing many of the game’s up and coming prospects and stars.  When I found out though my latest interviewee, I have to admit that I had some goosebumps.  Steve Karsay is a name that is well-known in baseball circles.  A veteran of eleven major league seasons, Steve played for five major league teams between 1993-2006.  Growing up in Toronto, I knew Steve early on in his career as a 1st round pick (22nd overall) in the 1990 draft.  At 6’3″ and 210 lbs, Steve coming up was labelled a “can’t miss” prospect.  I will admit that I followed his career from his debut with the A’s and later retiring with the same Oakland squad.  In between, Steve suffered through a variety of injuries and surgeries, including Tommy John in 1996.  The reason that I rooted for Steve Karsay was his resiliancy.  The man overcame great adversities and was able to transform himself into a successful major league pitcher.  I respect players with ability and heart- and you will be hard pressed to find anyone that can match those qualities as found in Steve Karsay.

Any discussion on Steve Karsay has to begin with the start of his career.  Despite being drafted by the Jays, Steve actually made his major league debut with the Oakland Athletics.  As part of the Jays 2nd World Series run in 1993, Toronto traded Steve Karsay with Jose Herrera for hall-of-fame outfielder, Rickey Henderson.  Getting traded for a player with Henderson’s pedigree before even throwing a major league pitch has to be a nice complement.  If nothing else, it will always be a story that Steve will be able to share with his grandchildren.  With great expectations on him, Steve was not able to deliver on the promise of stardom as an A’s starter.  Injuries never allowed him to get on track and Karsay moved from the A’s to the Indians as a reliever.  In his first full healthy season as a reliever in 1999, Karsay flourished in Cleveland.  He finished that year with a 10-2 record, 2.97 ERA and 1.284 WHIP.  The following year, Karsay saved a career high 20 games for the Indians.  Karsay continued to flourish, excelling for the Braves in the 2001 postseason and for the Yankees in the 2002 season.

Shoulder surgery in 2003 set Steve back another season.  He came back to play part seasons from 2004-2006, when he finally called it a career.  Karsay left the game with solid major league numbers and a resume to be proud of.   When I think of Steve Karsay, I will always think “what could have been”.  What if injuries and surgeries had not been a part of his career.  Could we have seen a 300 game winner in Oakland?  Or perhaps a 300 save closer as his role evolved?  We will never know what paths Steve Karsay’s career could have taken, had his body allowed him to fulfill his potential.  But considering the battles and adversities he faced, Steve Karsay can look back on his career with pride.  Countless pitchers with fewer injuries over the years never made it to the show to even throw a major league pitch.  Rather than enjoy the occasional cup of coffee, Steve Karsay was able to battle through and enjoy a lengthy and productive career.  Watching him in his prime, he was as solid of a major league reliever as I have seen in my time.

Coming up on MLB reports, we will hear from Steve Karsay directly.  I recently interviewed Steve and covered many topics with him, including his career, the Rickey trade and his baseball future.  It was a pleasure to speak with Steve and hear what he had to say.  If you enjoy baseball discussions, stay tuned for my exclusive interview with Steve Karsay.

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

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.

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).***

 

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.

Ian Kadish MLB Guest Blog: Part 2 – Offseason and Expectations for 2012

Monday October 3, 2011

MLB reports:  We welcome back Blue Jays prospect Ian Kadish to MLB reports.  The right-handed pitcher pitched for the Bluefield Blue Jays in the Rookie Appalachian League in 2011.  With a 2-3 record, 7 saves, 2.67 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, and 11/35 BB/K, the 23-year-old Kadish showed some very strong numbers pitching in the pen in his first professional season.  With a bright baseball future ahead, we are proud to announce that Ian has agreed to become a regular MLB Guest Blogger on the Reports, describing his baseball journey for our readers.  In his own words, we present part 2 of 2 of our featured guest blog of Ian Kadish, the offseason and his expections for the 2012 season:

  

Ian Kadish (Guest MLB Blogger):  So MLB Reports asked me to do another blog entry because there was good feedback on the first one.  This will be a 2-part entry, the first part looking back at my 2011 season and how it went and the second part will be about what my offseason will consist of and my expectations for 2012.

Part 2 – Offseason and Expectations for 2012


This offseason, I am back in Huntington, West Virginia.  Marshall is located in Huntington and there are a few different reasons why I chose to come back even though I graduated last May.  The biggest reason I chose to come back is due to the fact that I would have a great gym to train at for free.  The Strength and Conditioning Coach that I had in college told me I could train there in the offseason for free if I wanted to.  The pitching coach at Marshall also told me that I could come throw with him whenever I wanted/needed to.  He offered to have somebody catch my bullpens when the time came and he also said I could face some hitters before I left for Spring Training, which will be a great help.  That makes it so much easier for me rather than being at home because I would have to find a gym in Cincinnati and pay a monthly fee and more than likely the gym wouldn’t have everything I needed.  I also would be scrambling to find somebody/somewhere to throw when the time came.

After a long college season, followed by another professional short-season, I gave my body a week off to recuperate from all the wear and tear of the baseball season.  This offseason, my plan is to hit the weight room hard in order to become bigger, faster, and stronger in a baseball pitching aspect.  The Blue Jays gave everybody in the organization a big booklet with specific workouts in them.   I have specific goals that I am wishing to achieve in the offseason.  I also want to improve on my flaws not only in the weight room, but on the field as well.  I am going to take time off from throwing to give my arm a rest, but not too long of a rest because I can’t use spring training as a time for my arm to get in shape.  I need to go to spring training 100% ready to go…

Aside from training in the offseason,  I got a job working at Dick’s Sporting Goods.  It’s just like a Sports Authority or any other sporting good store like that.  I wanted to get a job because I do not want to rely on my parents for everything.  Many minor league players have to get a job in the offseason because not everybody signs a large signing bonus so it is not uncommon to get an offseason job.  I am actually looking forward to it because it will keep me busy when I am not training.

My expectations are just like any other minor league player’s expectations.  We all have goals we want to achieve and we all have dreams we want to come true.  I’m no different.  I am very hard on myself and push my body to great lengths, almost to failure because I know it will pay off during the season.  The work I put in off the field will prepare me for every situation on field.  There are specific expectations/goals that I have.  Of course, one of them is to hopefully receive a promotion, but before I can do that I have to better myself.  I’m going to work extremely hard this offseason, harder than I have ever worked because that’s all I know.  I have worked extremely hard to get to this point and I am still not satisfied… I’m going to get after it and hopefully the hard work will pay off…  

   

 

Thank you to Ian Kadish for preparing today’s MLB Guest Blog.  Please feel free to contact Ian on Twitter (@BearJew36)  or through his website (http://livinginthelifeofian.blogspot.com) for comments and questions.   We also thank Ian for sharing the photographs used in today’s feature from his own private collection. 

 

Previous Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog Entries on MLB reports:

Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog:  Part 1 – Recap of My 2011 Season   September 30, 2011

Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog:  My Baseball Journey  September 11, 2011

 

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.

Ian Kadish MLB Guest Blog: Part 1 – Recap of My 2011 Season

Friday September 30, 2011

MLB reports:  We welcome back Blue Jays prospect Ian Kadish to MLB reports.  The right-handed pitcher pitched for the Bluefield Blue Jays in the Rookie Appalachian League in 2011.  With a 2-3 record, 7 saves, 2.67 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, and 11/35 BB/K, the 23-year-old Kadish showed some very strong numbers pitching in the pen in his first professional season.  With a bright baseball future ahead, we are proud to announce that Ian has agreed to become a regular MLB Guest Blogger on the Reports, describing his baseball journey for our readers.  In his own words, we present part 1 of 2 of our featured guest blog of Ian Kadish, the recap of his 2011 season:

  

Ian Kadish (Guest MLB Blogger):  So MLB Reports asked me to do another blog entry because there was good feedback on the first one.  This will be a 2-part entry, the first part looking back at my 2011 season and how it went and the second part will be about what my offseason will consist of and my expectations for 2012.

Part 1 – A Look Back at the 2011 Season

In my opinion, the 2011 season had its ups and downs as well a learning curve, both personally and as a team.  The Bluefield team made a great first impression and was a big hit (no pun intended).  It was the Blue Jays first year in Bluefield after a 52 year existence of the Baltimore Oriole organization.  We surely set the bar high for next year’s team.  From what everybody said, the Oriole’s didn’t win much in Bluefield and the fans didn’t show much support because they weren’t winning.  We brought a Division Championship to Bluefield in our first year, which the fans were ecstatic about, but what surprised the team was how into the Bluefield/Princeton rivalry the fans were.  I’m telling you, these fans went nuts when we played the Princeton Rays.  They sold out the stadium every game of the series because of the close proximity of the two teams (only about 15 minutes).  The rivalry was for the Mercer Cup.  It’s called the Mercer Cup because the two teams are located in Mercer County.  The Blue Jays won the Mercer Cup this year and I honestly think the fans were happier we won the Mercer Cup rather than the Division Championship!  Princeton had won the Mercer Cup the past several years and it’s about time it’s back in Bluefield.  We made it all the way to the League Championship vs. the Johnson City Cardinals, but came up just short.  They won the best of 3 series to capture their second league championship in a row.

The team was a great group of guys.  Everybody got along and a big reason why we were so successful was due to our chemistry.  Everybody pushed one another and everybody picked each other up.  We played as a team, just how our manager wanted us to play.  He always said to put aside your personal goals and go after the team goals and your personal goals will follow.  Our coaching staff was just as great.  I can’t even begin to explain how much I learned from my manager.  He taught me not only on the field, but off the field.  I actually have a notebook full of quotes he said and lessons he would teach the team throughout the season.  Now that I think of it, I still owe him a Marshall University clock and Montgomery Inn barbecue sauce (Montgomery Inn is a world-famous rib place in Cincinnati with the BEST barbecue sauce in the history of all barbecue sauces).  He loves collecting clocks and has a great amount of them hanging in the locker room.  I owe him a Marshall University one because I came into the locker room one day and saw a WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY clock hanging from a wall.  Marshall and West Virginia are HUGE rivals and it’s either one or the other…he told me if I got him a Marshall clock he would get rid of the West Virginia clock.

I could go on and on with the stories, but overall the season was a successful one, and one that made me want more…Now that it’s the offseason, I can concentrate on what I need to improve on and prepare for a strong Spring Training and 2012 season…

Up Next:  Part 2 – Offseason and Expectations for 2012

 

   

 

Thank you to Ian Kadish for preparing today’s MLB Guest Blog.  Please feel free to contact Ian on Twitter (@BearJew36)  or through his website (http://livinginthelifeofian.blogspot.com) for comments and questions.   We also thank Ian for sharing the photographs used in today’s feature from his own private collection. 

 

Previous Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog Entries on MLB reports:

Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog:  My Baseball Journey  September 11, 2011

 

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 Deck McGuire: Toronto Blue Jays Prospect and 2010 1st Round Pick

Wednesday  September 28, 2011

 

Jeff P (Guest Writer – MLB reports):  Recently I had the honor to interview Deck McGuire, top MLB pitching prospect.   Speaking to McGuire, I had the sense that he has the same goal as many other baseball players:  working to prove that he the real deal.  McGuire is a great guy and it was a pleasure interviewing him. 

Firstly, I would like to relay some information on Deck, courtesy of Wikipedia:

William Deck McGuire (born June 23, 1989 in Greensboro, North Carolina) is a professional baseball pitcher currently in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.  McGuire who spent three years at Georgia Tech was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft and is currently assigned to the Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.”

Considering that he was a first round selection, Deck is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet in baseball.   Plus he has one of the best baseball names in the game.  Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Deck McGuire:

 

Jeff P:  Hey, Deck.  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, what was your reactions to being drafted, your thoughts, and the party post-phone call?

Deck McGuire:   I actually didn’t get the true draft experience.  We were playing against Alabama in the Regional Championship game, so I was actually in the dugout while we were playing to go to the Super Regionals.  I found out in about the 5th inning but I was way more concerned with the game at that moment.  Definitely the most bittersweet moment of my life because we lost, ending our season, and my time with the Jackets.

 

Jeff P:  You recently had minor struggles going into Double-A, was it a difficult adjustment?

Deck McGuire:  I don’t think it was really the adjustment but more that I never let myself get into a rhythm.  I got away from some of the stuff that got me there and then I got a little banged up.  I take it as a great experience and a chance to get better heading into next year.

 

Jeff P:  Can you give us some information on your daily rituals?  What do you do in the clubhouse, and what are your hobbies off the field?

Deck McGuire:  I seem to get there pretty early and I love to play cards, I have a slight competitive streak!  I love video games and golf off the field, probably the competitiveness again!

 

Jeff P:  How does your height of 6’6″ affect your play on the baseball field?

Deck McGuire:  Besides being really intimidating!?  Just kidding!  It really helps when I’m on top of the mound because I can get the ball going down hill, so it is tougher for the hitter to pick up.

 

Jeff P:  What do you find is the most special about playing for the different Blue Jays affiliates?

Deck McGuire:  The diversity of locations!  I got to play in Florida in the cold months and New Hampshire during most of the hot ones!

 

Jeff P:  What kind of music can you find on your iPod?

Deck McGuire:  Lots of country, a little rock, and even less rap.

 

Jeff P:  Who was the most difficult hitter you have faced so far in professional, or college baseball?

Deck McGuire:  Gordon Beckham.  I faced him when he was at UGA and I was at Georgia Tech.  His approach is unbelievable.  In pro-ball it was Matt den Dekker from the Mets, same reason really, his approach changes pitch to pitch so he is really difficult to fool.

 

Jeff P:  What baseball player would you most like to be compared to once you get to the big leagues?

Deck McGuire: I’d love to be compared to John Smoltz.  He was one of my heroes growing up because he is really the player who can define a winner and a team guy wrapped into one.  Starting or closing, he always got it done and did what his team needed to win.

 

Jeff P:  As a minor leaguer, you already have several different pitches that you throw.  Do you feel that your pitching arsenal will help you in your path to the big leagues?

Deck McGuire:  Without a doubt!  Something I have always prided myself on is my ability to throw a fastball, curveball, slider, and a change-up for strikes to any hitter and in any count.

 

Jeff P:  I read recently that you have been compared to Jonathan Papelbon.  Do you agree with this comparison?

Deck McGuire:  Well the guy is a winner so that’s good, other than that I don’t think I see it.  I mean he is a closer and throws fuel.  I am a starter and rely more on my array of pitches to get the job done.

 

Jeff P:  Do you think it’s fair to say that sometime next year, we will see you up in the MLB?

Deck McGuire:  That would be awesome, but my goal is just to keep getting better.  Whenever the Jays think I’m ready to help the big club win, then I am happy to give it my best shot.

 

Jeff P:  You are proud to be a former Yellow Jacket.  What were the big adjustments that you’ve gone through from college baseball to adjusting to professional baseball?

Deck McGuire:  The 5-day rotation vs. having a week off in college.

 

Jeff P:  I’m going to end off with this last thought.  If you weren’t a baseball player, where do you think you would be right now in your life?

Deck McGuire: Gosh I’d like to think I would be in baseball somehow, but I might have played football at a smaller school or maybe gone to med school to try to be an orthopedic surgeon.  I really don’t know.  I know it is cliché, but being a pro baseball player has pretty much been my dream my whole life!

 

Jeff P:  Thank you for taking your time out of your busy schedule for us today Deck.  Much appreciated!

Deck McGuire:  Thanks y’all!

 

Thank you again to Deck McGuire 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 Deck.  As well, please follow Deck on Twitter (@DeckMcGuire).

 

***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.

J.P. Arencibia vs. Travis d’Arnaud: Who is the Jays Catcher of the Future?

Saturday September 24, 2011

 

 

April Whitzman (Blue Jays Writer – MLB reports):  Two weeks ago, I posted that the toughest question Blue Jays’ fans are dealing with right now is figuring out whose comeback, whether that of Dustin McGowan or Adam Loewen, is more impressive. Today I pose a question that some would say is equally hard to answer: who is the Toronto Blue Jays’ catcher of the future – J.P. Arencibia or Travis d’Arnaud?

What they have in common:

Interesting, while many people do not realize this, both catchers share their origin in common – the 2007 MLB first-year player draft. In fact, Arencibia was drafted 21st overall by the Blue Jays out of the University of Tennessee. As the 37th pick overall, the Philadelphia Phillies went with Travis d’Arnaud, out of Lakewood High School. At the time it was believed that the Jays were interested in d’Arnaud’s potential and would pick him with the 38th pick and move Arencibia to first base. Yet the Phillies chose the young star from Florida one slot before, forcing the Jays to choose left-handed pitcher, Brett Cecil. That said, a persistent GM, Alex Anthopoulos, would get his player; as the Blue Jays acquired Travis d’Arnaud two years later in the well-known Roy Halladay trade.

How they differ:

Defense

It is difficult to compare these players, as Arencibia has already made the jump to the majors while d’Arnaud just finished his season in AA New Hampshire. Arencibia has more professional experience having been drafted out of college, while d’Arnaud came out of high school. Here is a graph to compare how each player performed during their time at AA New Hampshire:

JP received the promotion from Dunedin to New Hampshire half-way through the season; his stats have been doubled to receive a more accurate comparison.

Both players are pretty evenly matched. Nevertheless, d’Arnaud has the slight advantage on errors committed, fielding percentage, and passed balls. Meanwhile, Arencibia has a higher caught-stealing percentage.

Despite one player being in the majors and the other in the minors in 2011, an interesting comparison can be depicted if we compare both catchers’ stats for this season:

With each player in their fourth year of professional baseball, these stats show how close their defensive game truly is. Having committed the same amount of errors, the same fielding percentage and only one passed ball being the difference between them, the biggest distinction is that d’Arnaud has the slight advantage throwing out base runners.

Don Wakamatsu, a former catcher himself, and now the Toronto Blue Jays bench coach has admitted that he has seen a drastic improvement in Arencibia’s defensive abilities. Wakamatsu credits the improvement to a significant amount of practice and hard work. He stated: “Arencibia has done a phenomenal job trying to understand how to get the most out of our pitching staff.”

Defensively, Arencibia has a good arm, but he struggles at times with blocking pitches in the dirt. In his minor league career, Arencibia threw out close to 30% of base stealers, though charged with 60 passed balls in 357 lifetime games.

In regards to his defense, Arencibia stated, “Defense is obviously first, and I know that, and whatever comes with the bat is secondary.” He continued:I feel like my biggest thing is getting that pitcher through that game and I feel like I’m starting to get a real good understanding of my staff and giving us opportunities to win.” Since making these comments, Arencibia has improved his defense considerably in the second half of the season. For example, in the eighth inning of Friday night’s game against Tampa Bay, JP was able to throw out Rays outfielder B.J. Upton.

Comparatively, Travis d’Arnaud’s defensive skills are stronger. He has a great game-calling abilities and he has a strong arm. While his career caught-stealing rates have suffered due to inexperience, he has also improved his game by working on his footwork behind the plate. At 22 years old, d’Arnaud is already one of the better defensive catchers in the minors and he has plenty of time to develop into a premier defender in the big leagues. This was proven when he was named the Catcher’s Captain Award recipient for 2011 by Baseball America. The award is given to the catcher who displays strong defensive qualities, including leadership and dedication.

Offense

There is no denying that both players are also solid offensively. In 409 games in the minors, JP hit .275 with 121 doubles, 83 HR and 290 RBI. That said, he has also proven what he can do at the plate at the major league level as well. There is not a Blue Jays fan who does not remember J.P. Arencibia’s major league debut last year against the Tampa Bay Rays, as he launched the first pitch he saw over the left field wall for a home run. He later singled and doubled and capped the day with a home run to right field. That game showcased Arencebia’s talents and his ability to hit the ball for power.

Offense is where Arencibia and d’Arnaud differ most. Essentially, while JP hits for power but not average, d’Arnaud is a more complete player at the plate, as he hits for average and power. This year with the Fisher Cats, d’Arnaud was named the Eastern League MVP after hitting .313 with 20 homers and 77 RBIs. Here is how their 2011 numbers compare:

Prior to the 2011 campaign, many fans and analysts alike were not sold on d’Arnaud as anything more than a defense-first catcher. However, as his numbers this season have indicated, Travis experienced a bit of a learning curve early on in his career, as he made the jump from high school to the minor leagues. With his bat coming around this season, the offensive edge at this stage goes to d’Arnaud. It is evident that both players (as can be seen from the table above) need to work on the amount of times they strikeout, but other than that, both look solid at the plate and behind it.

Overall

Although both J.P. Arencibia and Travis d’Arnaud came from the same draft class in 2007, it appears that d’Arnaud has the greater upside. In essence, Arencibia has received the call to the majors quicker because he was able to develop in college before jumping to the professional ranks. As displayed through various charts, d’Arnaud appears to be more efficient both with his glove and bat. His numbers indicate that he could make the jump to the MLB as early as next year.  In a recent interview with Fisher Cats beat reporter, Dave Gershman, d’Arnaud showed that he has the confidence to make it to the big leagues, as he stated: “Hopefully one day I can get up to Toronto, and play like I’m playing now. And who knows what will happen? Maybe I’ll be a good player.”

At the same time one cannot discredit J.P. Arencibia, as despite his quick progression to the MLB, he is still learning at the age of 25.   Arencibia recently stated as much when he admitted, “On both sides of the plate I’ve been maturing and making adjustments in different things,” Arencibia says. “But it’s still a work in progress. You’re always trying to get better.” With catchers requiring the most seasoning from all the positions, Arencebia can still be considered to be at this stage ahead of the curve.

Whoever is chosen as the lead catcher, one thing is certain: the Blue Jays are blessed with two young catchers – both at the plate – and behind it!  If the team’s worst problem is having two number one catchers on its roster within the next two years, then that is a great dilemma to have.  It is very possible that one of the above (likely Arencibia) will be moved when both catchers have proven themselves at the major league level.  Until then, with injuries and slumps being a reality of the game, the Jays will enjoy their abundance of talent behind the dish and lets the cards play themselves out.

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

 

 

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.

There He ‘Gose’ Again: The Future of Base-Stealing Blue Jays’ Prospect, Anthony Gose

Tuesday September 20, 2011

 

April Whitzman (Blue Jays Writer – MLB reports):  A native of Paramount, California, outfielder Anthony Gose was the Philadelphia Phillies second round selection in the 2008 Draft. Although a top prospect with the Phillies organization, Gose found himself in Toronto by the end of the 2010 season after a three team deal also including the Houston Astros.

PRE-BLUE JAYS

Glancing at his numbers from 2009, Anthony Gose led all minor league players with 76 stolen bases while hitting .259 with 20 doubles, 13 triples, seven home runs and 27 RBI. His walk-to-strikeout ratio was a bit cumbersome, however, as he walked 45 times, but struck out 132 times. After the season, MLB prospect writer John Sickels rated Gose’s performance, stating the following: “[I] Love [his] speed, youth, and the athleticism. Don’t like the high strikeout rate for a guy without much power. Most advanced of the uber-tools players collected in this system in recent drafts.”

In 2010, at 19 years old, Gose appeared in 103 games with Clearwater and 27 games with the Dunedin Blue Jays (A+). The 6-1, 190 lb., left-handed hitter collected 20 doubles, 13 triples, and seven home runs with 27 RBI while adding 45 stolen bases. While 45 steals sounds impressive, it should be noted that he was thrown out 32 times that season. That’s only a 58% success rate.

BLUE JAYS

Joining the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2011, his first full season with the Blue Jays organization, Gose worked to improve his greatest asset – speed. This year he successfully stole 70 bases, only getting caught 15 times, going 23-for-24 in his last 24 attempts and increasing his stealing percentage to 82%. He then started to learn about when to steal, having the majority of his failed attempts coming at third base.

What’s more, along with base stealing, Gose saw improvement in the batters box, as he increased his power totals for the third straight year hitting 16 home runs, 20 doubles and seven triples. Unfortunately, his average has remained around the .250 mark (.253), comparable to the rest of his career in the minor leagues.

Another improvement for Anthony Gose this season was his patience at the plate. While only taking 41 walks in 2010, Gose took 62 walks in 2011 in a similar number of at-bats. He also saw though an increase in his strikeouts this season, as he had 154. Nevertheless when Gose doesn’t strike out and he does put the ball in play, he is batting .339, nearly 80 points higher than his regular average.

Not only has he improved at the plate, but Gose has also seen a rise in his game in the field.  His fielding was phenomenal in 2011, committing only three errors, giving him a .992 fielding percentage. Discussing his play in the field, Sal Fasano, the manager of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, stated: “Gose has enough arm to play right or left in the majors. He caught a ball on the warning track in the right-centre, near the 375 sign, and threw out a guy at third — in the air.” Looking at the numbers, Gose had 15 outfield assists in 2010 and 14 assists this season. That can all be attributed due to his phenomenal range, as thanks to his speed, Gose is able to cover ground smoothly and regularly, making continual exciting plays in the field.

IN THE FUTURE

In late July of this year, 24-year-old center fielder, Colby Rasmus was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays from the St. Louis Cardinals in a blockbuster deal that also involved the Chicago White Sox. The trade left many wondering if Gose still had a future with the Jays. Fasano’s response: [Gose is] arrogant enough to think they will move players to make room for him.”  However, many baseball analysts were not as optimistic and still wondered where he would fit.

There is no doubt that the Blue Jays have a deep farm system. Most would agree that the team has key players that they would be willing to move if the price was right.  If nothing else, the Jays’ GM has shown a willingness to be aggressive in the trade market. With the addition of a strong and powerful first baseman, a dominating starting pitcher, and/or a ‘lights-out’ closer, the Blue Jays are likely to contend by 2013, the year that Gose will likely make the majors.

With Colby Rasmus at centre, Jose Bautista in right, and any one of Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Adam Loewen, and Rajai Davis to play left and/or be the fourth outfielder, it is anticipated that a trade will be coming during this off-season.

With the Blue Jays’ need for a first baseman, the Jays could consider a trade with the Cincinnati Reds who are in dire need of an outfielder. Could Yonder Alonso be the future first baseman for the team in blue and the speedy Gose the future Reds’ centerfielder? With the Astros also needing outfield depth, would it not be ironic if the Jays traded Gose for Brett Wallace? (While this is a very unlikely scenario, it would fill the needs for both teams). The Pittsburgh Pirates are another team in need of a solid outfielder. Thanks in part to a deep farm system, a trade with the Pirates could work. The Jays are also in need of a top starting pitcher and a closer, so any future trade could package off other prospects as well, including, but not limited to, Travis Snider and/or Eric Thames.

The future for Anthony Gose will surely become clear this off–season by recognizing what trades Alex Anthopoulos, deemed as the ‘Silent Assassin’, will make. Along with teammates Yan Gomez and Adeiny Hechavarria, Gose is also heading to the Arizona Fall League to work even more on his skills. Until a trade is consumated, it is evident with Gose, that the Blue Jays have a solid prospect that has a rare combination of top-notch speed, excellent fielding ability and top tools at the plate.

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

 

 

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.

Adam Loewen and Dustin McGowan: Which Blue Jays Comeback is More Impressive?

Thursday September 15, 2011

 

 

April Whitzman (Blue Jays Writer- MLB reports):  Toronto Blue Jays fans have been asked a plethora of difficult questions this season, but none have been as tough as the following: Whose recent comeback is more impressive – Dustin McGowan’s or that of Adam Loewen?

When I was first tasked with writing this article, it was a question that I asked myself continually.  Every time I responded, my answer would change. Comparable to many fans I spoke to, September 5th was a day in Blue Jays history that I will never forget.  Dustin McGowan, after having three surgeries, and spending over three years away from the majors, got the call-up to return to the big leagues.  I was excited for him that day and can only imagine how he must have been feeling on his return.

The same excitement McGowan felt playing in the majors, must have been shared by Adam Loewen.  A former high draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles, Loewen was forced to change positions from pitcher to the outfield.  Loewen could have quit baseball all together; however he didn’t, as he changed positions, and chose to sign with the Blue Jays as an outfielder.  Although the Orioles tried to re-sign their once star pitching prospect, Loewen chose to sign with the Jays and begin his three-year journey back to the majors.  Canadian born, Loewen chose to sign with the Jays as the team he grew up cheering for.  As luck would have it, two days after Dustin McGowan’s return to the big leagues, Adam Loewen would be called up to the Blue Jays to make his triumphant return as well.

PRIOR TO INJURY

Prior to their injuries and subsequent recoveries, both players left the majors on a high.  Dustin McGowan made 19 starts in 2008, accumulating a record of 6-7 with 4.37 ERA. Comparatively, in 2006, reaching the major league level at the age of 22, Loewen also made 19 starts, recording a 6-6 record with a 5.37 ERA.  Injuries, however, soon took their toll.  Dustin McGowan would endure a torn rotator cuff, a torn labrum, and torn cartilage in his left knee.  Loewen, on the other hand, experienced a stress fracture to his pitching elbow.

MINOR LEAGUE JOURNEY

Dustin McGowan began his journey back to the majors July 2011, when he was back pitching in the minor leagues with the Dunedin Blue Jays.  In seven games, he recorded a 0-2 record with a 2.87 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched, holding opponents to a 228 batting average.  After a great performance with Dunedin, he was next sent to double-A.  Through five starts with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, McGowan saw both an increase in workload and results, including a record of 0-2 and a 2.47 ERA in 19.2 innings.

Loewen started out in high-A Dunedin in 2009 and hit .236 with 4 HR and 31RBI with .695 OPS in 335 at-bats.  Last year, in AA New Hampshire he had a .246 average, but the power numbers improved, as the former Oriole belted 13 homers and drove in 70 runs, while posting an OPS of .763.  After the Fisher Cats were eliminated from the Eastern League playoffs, he also worked on his plate discipline and power in the Arizona Fall League. This year, Loewen has proven that all of his hard work as part of his journey has been worth it.  In the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, Loewen hit .308, with 17 home runs and picked up 84 RBIs.  Most impressive was his .888 OPS.

SINCE MLB CALL-UP

On September sixth, against the Boston Red Sox, McGowan threw four innings, surrendering three runs on five hits.  While he surrendered three walks, he also struck out five, the majority of them coming off his fastball, which was consistently hitting the mid 90s.  During his first start in the MLB since 2008, on September 11th against the Baltimore Orioles, McGowan’s plate consistency wavered.  He pitched three innings, allowing four earned runs, on three hits and five walks.  He is presently sporting a 9.00 ERA in two games played.

BC native Adam Loewen made his first appearance with the Blue Jays the day after McGowan, on September 7th.  In his first big league appearance as an outfielder Loewen went 1-3 with a run scored.  His best game came September 11th, (also a McGowan Start) versus Baltimore, where he went 2-3, with a home run, which he belted to centerfield.  However, many presume that Tuesday’s game against Boston, where Loewen went 0-4 with two strikeouts was his worst game thus far in a Blue Jays uniform.  Yet, I would like to point out, Loewen made a stupendous catch over the centerfield wall during that game to rob a home run away from the Red Sox, which in my eyes made up for the poor day at the plate.  The young Canadian is presently sporting a .300 average with three hits, two runs and a home run, with no walks and four strikeouts.

OVERALL

Both Adam Loewen and Dustin McGowan have come a long way since their respective career threatening injuries during the middle part of the decade. Each player symbolizes the heart and hustle motto that the Toronto Blue Jays have been preaching this year, as neither ever thought of quitting the game despite adversity.  The determination Loewen and McGowan have each shown in wanting to come back to Major League Baseball has also been extremely impressive.  Despite the small sample of success each has shown this month, I would suggest that both could be integral parts to a Blue Jays playoff run in the non-too-distant future.  Thus, returning back to the central question of whose return was more impressive…  I would have to say – – both.

 

What’s your opinion on the returns of Loewen and McGowan?  You can comment below, reach us by email at MLBreports@gmail.com and you can add me on twitter at @Alleycat17.  I look forward to hearing from you!

 

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.

Ian Kadish MLB Guest Blog: My Baseball Journey

Sunday September 11, 2011

 

MLB reports:  We welcome today on the Reports, Blue Jays prospect Ian Kadish.  The right-handed pitcher pitched for the Bluefield Blue Jays in the Rookie Appalachian League in 2011.  With a 2-3 record, 2.67 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, 11/35 BB/K, the 23-year-old Kadish showed some very strong numbers pitching in the pen in his first professional season.  With a bright baseball future ahead, we invited Ian to prepare a MLB Guest Blog describing his baseball journey for our readers.  In his own words, we proudly present the story of Ian Kadish- pitching prospect, Toronto Blue Jays:

  

Ian Kadish (Guest MLB Blogger):  I was recently approached by MLB Reports to be featured on their website.  We got together to come up with an idea of what to do and we decided on a blog post about the path I took to get to professional baseball.  Most of you guys that are close to me probably know the story already, but here it is again for the ones who don’t…

I went to a small high school just North of Cincinnati, Wyoming High School.  My graduating class was only 160 kids and football is the big thing there (Football is the big high school sport in Ohio).  I actually thought I was going to play college football as a kicker.  I thought I had a better chance at football than I did at baseball even though my childhood dream was to be a big league pitcher.  I was not highly recruited for baseball and if it wasn’t for the summer program I played for, I would not have had the chance to play college baseball.  I played for Midland Baseball and that is where I met one of the most influential coaches of my life, Mike Maundrell.  Coach Maundrell taught me everything I know about pitching and taught me exactly what I needed to do to be successful.  Midland is the best summer baseball program in the country and attracts kids from all over the country.  There is a great number of major leaguers that have played for them and it was an unbelievable experience to be able to play for them.  I learned more about baseball in those three years than I did at any point up until then.  I committed to play baseball at Marshall University.

I spent four years at Marshall, earning my degree in Business Management with minors in marketing and entrepreneurship.  In those four years, I learned a tremendous amount about baseball and life.  I really think those four years prepared me for professional baseball because I lived on my own and learned how to deal with factors outside of baseball.  I never really had great success in college baseball and at one point, I was ready to transfer out.  My mom and dad are the only ones that know how many break downs I had because I was so frustrated.  I was working harder than everybody and I was still not getting the results I wanted.

After my sophomore year, I went back home to play summer baseball in the Great Lakes League for the Cincinnati Steam.  I went home because I needed to decide if I wanted to go back to Marshall or transfer somewhere else.  That summer was the deciding factor because I got to spend time with my family and play with some very close friends that I had played with growing up.  I went back to Marshall as a Junior and there was a new pitching coach.  Joe Renner was a coach at Midland so I kind of knew him even though he was a new coach.  I was very excited to work with him and after the summer I had, I was newly energized and ready to get back to work.  I continued to work hard and ended up earning the Friday night starter role.  This was a big jump for me because I had never started and the previous 2 years, I was pitching out of the bullpen.  I struggled in the starter role and had again, another frustrating season.

After my Junior year, I went to play with the Rochester Honkers in the Northwoods League.  Playing there was truly the best experience for me since playing for Midland.  All the guys on the team were great guys and we all became pretty close.  The guys on the team taught me how to have fun with baseball again and relax.  I was taking the game way too seriously and was not playing up to how I thought I should be playing because I was too uptight.  Going into my senior season, the coaches wanted to put me in the closer’s role and I couldn’t have been happier.  I embraced the role and told myself I was going to have more fun that year.  Senior year turned out to be much more fun than the previous three years because I was more laid back.  After my senior season, I went home to wait and see what would happen with the draft.

I won’t lie, I was hoping I was going to get drafted, but as day three approached, I was slowly beginning to think that I was not going to get a chance to play professional baseball and keep my dream alive.  My dad and I went golfing on day three of the draft just to try to get my mind off of things, but I was still thinking about it.  I was on my phone all day and when I learned that it was late in the draft and I still had not gotten picked yet, I began to talk with my dad about where I go from there.  I did not know if I wanted to go to grad school or try to get a job in the real world.  As soon as the draft was over, we were just finishing golfing and that’s when I got the call.  Nick Manno, the area scout for the Blue Jays, called me and explained the situation to me.  He said he knew that money did not matter to me and he knew that all I ever wanted was a chance to prove myself and play.  He offered me a free agent contract and I gladly accepted!  My dream was still alive, and I couldn’t have been happier!

From there, I was off to Florida for a mini-camp and to keep my dream alive, just like every other little 12-year-old, to be a big league pitcher…

   

 

Thank you to Ian Kadish for preparing today’s MLB Guest Blog.  Please feel free to contact Ian on Twitter (@BearJew36)  or through his website (http://livinginthelifeofian.blogspot.com) for comments and questions.   We also thank Ian for sharing the photographs used in today’s feature from his own private collection. 

  

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.

Twitter and Baseball: Thoughts from Toronto Blue Jays Prospects

Thursday September 1, 2011

 

 

April Whitzman (Guest Writer- MLB reports):  There is no denying that social media has completely changed the sports world. It changes the way we watch it, the way we consume it, and the way we interact with it. Sports fans used to live their lives with everything at arm’s length, but now, it is just a finger click away.

One of the biggest advancements that social media has presented is the ability for fans to interact with players, and in return, allow the players to be able to interact with the fans. This has become predominant thanks to one specific social media tool, Twitter. Discussing this opportunity, I spoke with numerous Toronto Blue Jays prospects, who frequently engage on Twitter, to discuss their thoughts on this subject.

I first spoke with Justin Jackson, the Toronto Blue Jays 1st round pick of the 2007 MLB Draft. He has found great success this year as the present outfielder for the Dunedin Blue Jays, posting a .265 batting average. Despite his success at the plate, many Blue Jays fans are even more impressed with his ability to interact with everyone on Twitter via his handle of, @JaxChillinONE. When asked what he likes best about the tool, Jackson replied, “My favourite thing about Twitter is definitely the interaction with fans and friends!”

Next, I turned to Ian Kadish, present reliever for the Bluefield Blue Jays. He has been dominant on the mound, maintaining a 2-3 record with a 2.67ERA in 23 games. What has also been more dominant, however, is his ability to consistently keep his fans and followers updated and connected. Not only does Kadish inform via his Twitter handle, @BearJew36, but he also has his own blog featured at: http://livinginthelifeofian.blogspot.com/. Discussing his activity on social media, Kadish informed me:  “There is no denying that I am a fan of social media, but I realize that it has its positives and negatives.  Athletes need to be smart about it. I definitely think it has brought the athletes and fans closer together because they can interact with each other much easier.  It is more of an interactive environment where fans can give the athlete their praise or tell them how bad they were on that specific day.  Hopefully, the latter does not happen, but sometimes it will, so athletes need to take the comments with a grain of salt.”

Kadish’s statement regarding the fact that players must be cautious could not be more accurate. It was also echoed by Sam Strickland, who is also a reliever for the Toronto Blue Jays organization. This season, with the Lansing Lugnuts, Strickland has posted a 3-1 record with a 4.98 ERA yet has also proven his command and control on the Twitter mound via his handle of @S_Strickland34. Strickland stated, “Without fans, baseball has no purpose. Being a professional athlete comes with a few attachments of the field – Including answering to fans. If you have a great game, people will notice, as is the same with a poor game. And as a pro athlete you have to learn that both occur. It wasn’t that long ago that I was the huge crazy fan, so I am definitely an advocate for social media being intertwined with pro sports. It allows closer access. We as athletes just have to be careful!”

Right-handed pitcher for the Bluefield Blue Jays, Tucker Jensen (@Tucker_Jensen), also highlighted the fact that social media does have its faults, but indicated how the positives certainly outweigh each and everyone. He stated: “Of course, through social media, an athlete is going to hear both praise and hate because of their play. That is just the way sports work. But what needs to be realized is that it is beneficial because it allows others such as JaysProspects or myself to communicate with one another and at the same time get updates of the individuals being followed.”

Steve McQuail has shown his power this season with the Vancouver Canadians, already hitting 12 home runs. He has also shown his power online as well, as through his handle @SteveMcQuail, McQuail consistently keeps his followers updated with his progress throughout the season. He admitted his praise of social networking, indicating: I think Twitter is an amazing tool because it gives people the opportunity to get on a personal level with their favorite players, stars or idols. You can pick up on everyday routines of the people you look up to, an option that was never available before.”

@Mark_Biggs, a right-handed pitcher who only joined the Blue Jays organization a few weeks ago upon signing in the 8th round of the 2011 MLB Draft., echoed McQuail’s statements, indicating, “I think the major benefit of social networking is for people to follow their favorite athletes or actors or whatever the case may be, and allow them to directly interact with them. It’s a unique and wonderful opportunity!”

Brandon Berl, known by his Twitter handle, @Brandon_Berl, has posted a 3-5 record with a 2.47 ERA with the Lansing Lugnuts so far this season. While Berl shows his presence frequently with the Lugnuts, appearing in 28 games so far this season, he shows his presence on Twitter even more regularly. When he was asked to discuss his thoughts on social media, he answered: Social media has definitely added a great opportunity to connect with fans and for them to learn a little bit more about me and all other players.  I have enjoyed the opportunity to communicate with fans and engage with new people and I cannot wait to do so with more!”

Lastly, I spoke with Jonathan Jones, @JonJones707, who echoed all of the Blue Jays thoughts perfectly, stating, I believe that Twitter is a great tool. It gives the fans access to follow their favorite players and see what they are doing, learn their likes and dislikes, and even get to see photos. It allows fans to feel like they have a personal relationship and for the athletes, and in return, it allows us (the players) to see all the fans’ love and support. It goes a long way for us.” 

Knowing that it goes a long way, make sure you follow each and every player mentioned on Twitter. While you are at it, also follow me on Twitter at @Alleycat17. For more information on these players and for regular updates, also add @JaysProspects, or visit www.JaysProspects.com.

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our guest 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.***

 

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.

 

Tyler Beede Chooses Vanderbilt over the Blue Jays

Saturday August 20, 2011

Before the 2011 MLB Draft, Auburn, Massachusetts native Tyler Beede signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Vanderbilt University.  In the months leading up to the draft, Beede made it known to MLB scouts and cross-checkers that he was going to attend Vanderbilt.  He felt as though the college experience and the education he would receive would be the best thing for him.

Vanderbilt is also a member institution of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).  The SEC is arguably the best conference in the NCAA for baseball as well as other sports.  There has been a long line of first round draft choices that have been Commodores.  In the last seven years, Vanderbilt has had 48 players drafted, while 6 of those have been in the first round.  Jeremy Sowers (6th in 2004), David Price (1st in 2007), Casey Weathers (9th in 2007), and Mike Minor (7th in 2009) are the pitchers taken in the first rounds of their drafts for the Commodores.  Vanderbilt also took part in their first NCAA College World Series in 2011, and hope to build upon that success.  Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin has said that Beede has been in Vanderbilt baseball camps since his freshman year of high school, so it is safe to say that Tyler is extremely comfortable with the staff and surroundings.

When a player with as much talent as Beede chooses a successful program, it is often to create leverage in negotiating with a drafting team.  There have been many players who sign with schools such as University of Texas, Louisiana State University, or University of California simply to earn a larger signing bonus in professional baseball.  The stronger the player’s commitment to school, the more leverage he has to get the MLB team to offer top dollars.  Since MLB teams generally don’t like to “waste” their pick and not sign a guy, they will often have to break the bank to make him sign on the dotted line.

When a player tells a scout that he wants X amount of dollars, it often scares teams away from that player, dropping him to later rounds, or out of the draft altogether.  Tyler was drafted in the 1st  round (21st overall) of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, although he could have gone sooner if not for his demands.  The Blue Jays and GM Alex Anthopoulos were known to be planning an aggressive approach to this year’s draft, and even though Beede stated he wanted the big bucks, the Jays were confident that they could sign him.  So confident that many people in baseball were calling for investigations that the Blue Jays had worked out a pre-draft deal with Beede for around $2M.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rob Bland, and like Beede, was a tall right-handed pitcher in high school.  I may not have thrown as hard as Beede but I routinely flashed 89-91 mph on scouts’ radar guns.  Scouts were behind the backstop for each one of my games from my junior year in high school on.  I played for a prestigious program in Team Ontario and graduated to the Canadian Junior National Team and had a ton of great exposure.  Before the 2002 MLB draft, I had signed with the University of Kentucky, also in the SEC, and told scouts I was going to school unless a lot of money was put in front of me.  I was ranked in Baseball America’s top 150 draft prospects list, and I was told by some teams I could go as high as the 7th to 10th rounds.  I went back and forth between school and professional baseball, but I felt I wasn’t ready to be a pro.  My parents, like Beede’s, thought that I was mature enough to make this life-altering decision on my own. Education has always been very important to my family, and ultimately I decided that unless I was blown away by an offer, I would go to school.  The fact that Beede has been on record of saying that he would have signed for $3.5M leads me to believe that he felt the same way.  He had a number in mind, and unless it was reached, he would be perfectly content in attending college.  I ended up requesting 3rd round money as a leverage tool (around $250,000 at the time).  I figured that I would improve so much over the next three years that I would easily be a 3rd round selection at worst in 2005.  Teams considered me “unsignable” and I was not selected at all.  I went to the University of Kentucky where I struggled with adjusting to college life and could not stay healthy, spending most of my time in the trainer’s room, until finally requiring Tommy John surgery.

I could look back and say I should not have declared lofty demands and just taken what could have been given to me, but the reality is that I genuinely wanted to go to college.  Beede has also been adamant that he wants to enjoy the college experience and step into a role where he can make a big difference.  I also thought at the time that when I worked hard, I could improve and be drafted higher in the future.  At the time I thought it was the right choice, but now I look back and wonder how I could have done in professional baseball.

I am not trying to compare myself with Beede, as he is obviously a much bigger talent, but there are some parallels.  If he gets injured, or if he struggles and cannot figure college hitters and metal bats out, he could be losing out on a lot of money and a career in professional baseball.

I have no doubt that Beede’s talent will shine in the SEC, and he will again be drafted in 2014.  However, I seriously doubt it will be as high of a selection, or that he will be offered the same $2.5M that the Blue Jays offered this year.  With the next Collective Bargaining Agreement sure to stop the huge spending on the draft, players will not have the same bargaining power.

I have heard many Toronto Blue Jays fans saying that Beede was foolish for turning down the money, or that they hope that he does not succeed and regrets his decision.  Some have said that he is immature, or that he doesn’t deserve to play professional baseball.  “Tyler Beede is greedy” and “Beede is a jerk” has been posted on Twitter .  All of these comments are completely unfair because he is an 18-year-old kid and decisions like these are not easy to make.  In my opinion, he made a very mature decision that 99.9% of us find easy to scoff at.  Who can turn down $2.5M to do something they love to do?  What people don’t realize is that he has a huge love for Vanderbilt and their program.  He feels more COMFORTABLE at Vandy than he does in the Toronto Blue Jays organization right now.  For a ballplayer, comfort breeds confidence, and Beede I am sure is brimming with confidence right now.

Is this a decision that Beede may regret in 10 years?  Maybe.  Is he dumb?  Absolutely not.  Beede will look to become the second Vanderbilt Commodore to be selected first overall in a future MLB Draft.   If that becomes the case, Beede will make a lot more money at that time than he was offered by the Blue Jays in 2011 and have a solid university education behind him.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, 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.***

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.

Interview with Toronto Blue Jays Prospect and 2010 Draftee: Art Charles

Thursday August 11, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:  Today on the Reports we are proud to feature Blue Jays prospect first baseman, Arthur Charles.  The 20-year old Charles was drafted by the Jays in the 20th round of the 2010 draft.  After being selected by the Orioles in 2008 and the Royals in 2009, Charles signed with Toronto and started his baseball journey last year.

At 6’6″ and weighing a solid 221 lbs, Charles projects to flash a great deal of power at the first base position for the Jays.  Currently playing for Bluefield in the Appalachian League, Charles has hit 10 home runs in 49 games, with an impressive .813 OPS.  Art is one of the most charistmatic players that we have interviewed on the Reports.  We can see him quickly becoming a fan favorite one day in Toronto.  A name to keep an eye on in the Blue Jays organization, the Reports is proud to present our interview with Arthur (Art) Charles:

 

MLB reports:  Welcome to the Reports Art.  Looking to the past, who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?

Art CharlesMy favorite baseball players growing up would have to be Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds. These two sluggers were my idols and in whom I modified my game after.  Griffey instantly stood out to me because I liked his swing and tried to modify mine to look like his.  His swing was just so pure, smooth, and simple.  Barry Bonds was the same way I loved his swing and how he hit so many home runs.  I used to tell my friends that I would break his home run record and that one day I would be “that guy” in the big leagues hitting bombs and lasers everywhere in front of the world. 


 

MLB reports:  Great choices in Bonds and Griffey.  We have seen Griffey in particular as a popular choice amond players.  On the flipside, which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Art CharlesThe current MLB player that I admire the most right now is Adrian Gonzalez.  I enjoy watching Adrian Gonzalez a lot because he is not only a very good hitter for the Red Sox, but he is a great defensive player as well.  His game is something that I now watch very closely for that reason.  I would like to be that kind of player, an all around player.  I want to be known as a threat and someone who will not only hit for power and average, but someone who has a golden glove at first base making plays and helping his team win on both sides, offensively and defensively.

 

MLB reports:  Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?

Art Charles:  My proudest accomplishment of my professional career would have to be hitting a walk-off home run to against the Bristol White Sox this year.  This moment isn’t just big for me because I hit the game winning home run ,but because there was a lesson to learn from it.  In the top of that inning we were tied and one of the Sox’s players hit a ground ball to me that I made an error on, to give them the go ahead run.  I was VERY disappointed, but I knew there was a chance that I would be up in the bottom half of the inning.  Although I was heated, I told myself I was going to get up when my team needed me and I was not going to let them down again.  I was going to win the game for us.  Staying focused and visualizing my at bat, mixed with a little anger, had gotten me mentally prepared for the moment.  It was a full count with two runners on and two outs, the kind of moment that you imagine when you are young.  I then saw a good pitch and didn’t miss it.  Instantly I knew I had just hit the game winning home run and met with my teammates at home plate to celebrate.  I even had the shaving cream pie treatment and that made it one of, if not the most, memorable moments of my life.

 

MLB reports:  A great experience Art.  Thank you for sharing it with us!  Reflecting back, what were your goals going into the 2011 season? 

Art Charles:  My goals going into this season were to have quality at bats, hit balls hard where ever they might go, make plays on defense, do my part to help my team win, improve my game for the next level (offensively and defensively), get a promotion to one of our other teams, be a threat every time I step to the plate, work hard at everything I do, and be consistent on a daily basis.  I knew that if I did all of those things, that the rest would take care of itself.  Meaning home runs, RBI’s, doubles, and making plays in the field would come.  I just wanted to make sure I took care of my business and controlled what I could control and let the rest fall into place.

 

MLB reports:  When you first found out you were drafted, what were your reactions?  Did those reactions change over time?  What was the process like being drafted originally by the Orioles in 2008 and Royals in 2009 and not signing with either team?  What made you decide to finally sign with the Jays in 2010?

Art Charles:  When being drafted I was beyond excited.  Being drafted three times by three different teams is not only an honor and an accomplishment, but also a very exciting and blessed process.  Every time I was drafted I was very happy.  The process of these drafts was very similar.  When I was first drafted in 2008 to the Orioles I was still young, at 17, and needed to mature more and really prepare myself; not ready to make that move.  In 2009 I was taken again to the Royals, but still the timing and things didn’t work out.  Going into the 2010 season I knew this was the year that I was ready to become a professional ball player and in the 2010 draft the Jays picked me up.  I felt this was a good fit for me and I was very comfortable with the scouts and staff I had met in the pre-draft workouts so I knew this was home.

 

MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Art Charles:  I consider my greatest baseball skill to be hitting the baseball with power to all parts of the field.  I feel that hitting baseballs for power to all fields is what separates me from lots of other players, and its something that I will continue to do and get better at doing.

 

MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Art Charles:  The parts of my game that I wish to improve on are every part of my game.  I feel I need to get better offensively and defensively if I am going to be the all around player that I wish to become.  Nothing in life comes easy and I learned that at a young age.  So I will continually work hard to better myself and separate myself from others.  To be the best I have to be, in fact better than the best.  So my speed, agility, offense, and defense all have to improve.

 

MLB reports:  How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game?  Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?

Art Charles:  Strikeouts and walks are going to come.  They are both part of the game.  So far this season I have struck out more than I would have liked to, but that’s part of my learning process as a player.  With those strike outs I have learned about how I might be pitched in counts, to be patient and get good pitches to drive, to see pitches up, and much more.  It’s all part of the process that everyone goes through to get to the big leagues.  Walks are also going to occur and that will be because I’m not chasing pitches, I’m being patient, and seeing the ball up.  It’s easier said than done, but like I said it’s part of the process.

 

MLB reports:  Long term what position do you see yourself playing?  How do you see defense as part of your overall game?

Art Charles:  Long term I see myself in the big leagues as a power hitting first baseman.  I feel defense is just as important as hitting. I work on the both of them a lot because I know that if I want to become the player I envision myself becoming, I need to be good around the bag, pick up my teammates, and make plays.  I feel that I am still improving defensively and will continue to get better.  Defense is definitely part of my game I want polish.

 

MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

Art Charles:  If I could look into a crystal ball and see my expected time in the big leagues, I don’t know yet what I would see.  I would like to be there within three years, but I am young and have a lot to work on and lots of improving to do.  So I do not know at this moment what my expected time would be.  There isn’t really one thing in particular to say I would need most to get there because to get to the highest level, you need it all.

 

MLB reports:  Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far?  What are some of the highs and lows you have experienced thus far?

Art Charles:  Pro ball has been everything I expected it to be and more.  I can’t say there are any lows because I love what I do and I haven’t had any really long bus rides yet.   But there are plenty of highs.  One being which seeing myself improve as a player.  There are many experiences playing that I have now, such as walk off wins, playoff pushes, fans, signing balls and playing for great skippers.  Did I say the fans?  I would have to say that one of my favorite things was having a little boy write me a letter thanking me for a handshake and telling me I was his favorite player.  The fans are what make this game that much more fun and signing balls, bats, cards, and shirts was a great experience for me.

 

MLB reports:  What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?  Best friend(s) on the team that you most hang out with and what do you guys like to do to chill?

Art Charles:  On a day off or after the game I like to lay down and relax to recharge my batteries a bit, listen to music, vibe out, stay up on my tweet game (@SirArthurC), talk to my family, and play Call of Duty (a favorite among players).  Sometimes the guys will come to my room and we play video games or go to the mall.  I have tons of movies so we watch movies, or play cards.  The guys that you will probably catch me with the most are Aaron Sanchez, Christopher Hawkins, Cody Bartlett, Myles Jaye, Les Williams, or Noah Syndergaard.

 

MLB reports:  Have you visited Toronto the city yet?  How have you found the city thus far?

Art Charles:  I have been to Toronto for a pre-draft workout in the Rogers Centre last year and it was a lovely place.  I really enjoyed my brief stay, very nice city and even better people.  The Rogers Centre was great and an unbelievable stadium.

 

MLB reports:  If you could send one message to the Toronto Blue Jays fans, what would it be?

Art Charles:  My message to the fans would be thank you for the love and support.  It is very much appreciated and not forgotten.  You guys are the best!

 

MLB reports:  A big thank you to Art Charles for joining us today on the Reports.  We wish you the best of luck on your baseball journey towards joining the Jays in Toronto one day.  We definitely encourage all our readers to feel free to contact Art with your comments and questions on his Twitter handle.  Art is very active on Twitter and is a must follow!

 

 

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.

Brett Lawrie: On the Verge of Joining the Toronto Blue Jays

Thursday June 2, 2011

 

MLB reports:   There is often a misconception in baseball that news and events from north of the border is often ignored.  Around the Rogers Centre, there has been a strong buzz for weeks anticipating the arrival of the Blue Jays top prospect.  At the tender age of 21, Brett Lawrie, the third baseman of the future for the Jays is about to arrive.  But news of Lawrie’s impending promotion has spread beyond the media in Toronto and Las Vegas, the Jays AAA affiliate.  The MLB community is talking, from Seattle to Washington, and Milwaukee to Florida.  Everyone wants to know the same thing:  When is Brett Lawrie getting the call?

Brett Lawrie was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers of the first round of the 2008 draft, going 16th overall.  The team picking next?  Ironically enough, the Toronto Blue Jays.  With the 17th pick, the Jays went with first baseman David Cooper.  The Jays had their eye on Lawrie and were all set to draft the British Columbia native Lawrie.  But with Milwaukee having Canadians Doug Melvin and Gord Ash in its front office, the Brewers with a strong scouting presence in Canada were all over Lawrie.  Milwaukee in 2008 made Lawrie the highest drafted Canadian born position player in major league history and fourth overall, behind Jeff Francis, Adam Loewen and Philippe Aumont.  But the Jays never lost their interest in Lawrie and on December 6, 2010, Lawrie was finally coming home.

Last winter, Lawrie was moved from Milwaukee to Toronto in a straight exchange for Jays ace hurler, Shaun Marcum.  Coming off arm issues and a missed 2009 season, Marcum bounced back during the 2010 season with 13 wins and almost 200 innings pitched.  Now due for arbitration, the Jays capitalized on Marcum’s success to land the player they coveted for some time.  Lawrie immediately moved from 2nd to 3rd and became the Jays third baseman of the future.  But at 21-years of age, Lawrie was still in need of more experience and seasoning.  After a fairly solid AA campaign in Huntsville, Lawrie was expected to repeat AA with the Blue Jays and slowly move to AAA near the end of the year.  But that all changed come spring training.

After a solid spring campaign, there was a buzz around baseball that Lawrie almost made the Blue Jays team in time for opening day.  But with Edwin Encarnacion on the roster, the Jays decided that the major league roster had its stop-gap solution until Lawrie was ready.  Given his strong spring though, the Jays organization reasoned that Lawrie was ready for increased competition and designated him to AAA Las Vegas to start the campaign.  Looking at the numbers, Lawrie has flourished.  Going into today, Lawrie has a .354 AVG, .415 OBP, .677 SLG, 15 home runs, 19 doubles, 49 RBIs, 51 runs, and has been successful on 11/12 stolen base chances.  All of this accomplished in only 52 games played.  Granted, Las Vegas is known as a hitters park and the 51s play in the Pacific Coast League, a notorious slugging league.  Lawrie though has earned his shot and this was week was all set to get the call.  Media outlets reported that Lawrie, together with Adam Lind would be joining the Jays on Friday.  But this past Tuesday night, Lawrie was hit on the hand and everything changed.

The Blue Jays and the collective baseball world held its breath as Lawrie’s left hand was x-rayed.  The results came back negative and fortunately only a bruise.  However, with a deep hand bruise, Lawrie’s promotion has temporarily been placed on hold.  As with all good things in life, the best things come to those that wait.  While surely disappointed at his misfortune, at this point Lawrie just has to come back and prove health in order to make his long-awaited major league debut.

Fantasy baseball players especially have been contacting me to find out my predictions as to how Lawrie will fare when he finally joins the Jays.  My response has been that he will play at third base when given the call and likely stay there for the next decade or so.  But fans of the game have a way of getting excited about MLB prospects, which is great for the game but creates some unrealistic expectations some times on the players.  Looking at Lawrie’s stats, I noticed that he had  47/118 BB/K in 2010 and this year sits at 18/40 BB/K.  Lawrie with a career .294 AVG in the minors clearly has a strong bat.  Now he just has to develop his batting eye.  Coming to the majors, he might be a little slow out of the gate as he gets his feet wet.  A .250-.260 AVG is a realistic prediction at this stage of his career, but may not be enough to satisfy the demands of his loyal followers.  People may expect the world from Lawrie with all the hype surrounding him, but let’s remember that he is still only 21 and maturing as baseball player and person.  Coupled together with his defensive shift from 2nd to 3rd, it has been a season of adjustments for him.  But Lawrie has shown the superstar potential and earned the call to the big leagues.

We will follow this story for you as it develops and continue the Reports as Lawrie is likely to join the Blue Jays next week.  After landing in Toronto, the future for Brett Lawrie is wide open.  He could be here to stay or may need to bounce a little between Toronto and Las Vegas before he establishes himself.  Look no farther than another one time can’t miss Toronto prospect, Travis Snider.  For the last two seasons, Snider made the team out of spring training with high expectations, only to land back in Las Vegas to work on his game.  The baseball world looks forward to the arrival of Brett Lawrie and the next “can’t miss” prospect.  After all the talk and hype, the moment of truth is almost upon us.

 

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.

TRAVIS SNIDER – FROM PROSPECT TO SUPERSTAR

MLB reports:  What a difference a year makes.  2010 was a season where essentially nothing went right for Travis Snider.  From batting at the bottom of the Jays lineup all year to frequent trips to the disabled list and the minors, the then twenty-two year outfielder was beginning to lose the lustre from his prospect star status.  Rumors of immaturity and attitude haunted the young man, as well as frequent disagreements with then Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston.  Now healthy and part of the newly constructed Toronto team, Travis Snider is ready to take his game to the next level.

In my estimation, no Toronto player will benefit greater from the hiring of John Farrell as manager than Snider.  The previous regime under Gaston was not seen as “rookie friendly” to say the least.  While Snider got off to a quick start last year, he quickly started to fade early on.  In whatever approach Gaston was trying to preach to the kid, clearly it was not working.  From there, spending time in the minors and on the DL has a way of shattering a young player’s confidence.  Remember, Snider a year ago was one of the top hitting prospects in baseball and the future face of the franchise.  Watching his approach at the plate, Snider appeared to be overly aggressive to me.  A common symptom of being a young hitter, few hitters can go up to the plate and wait for their pitch in the manner that Jason Heyward does.  But after two years of less than 300 hundred at-bats and lifetime MLB avg of .255, clearly a change was needed to Snider’s game.  That change has arrived and I saw it last night.

I was expecting to see Snider hitting 8th last night but was pleasantly surprised to see him in the 7th spot.  Although not a huge difference, Farrell had Snider hitting between Encarnacion and Rivera, two veteran hitters who would be able to give him protection in the lineup.  The higher slot in the lineup to me translates to a vote of confidence for the kid.  After some solid games, I expect Snider to move up to #6 and even as high as 5th as the season progresses.  He has that much talent and hopefully the Jays let him showcase his abilities.  However, the biggest change I saw in Snider was his stance and approach at the plate.  Snider finished the night 0-2 with 2 BB and 2 runs scored.  The tone of the night for him was set in his first at-bat, when Travis was able to reach first on an error.  Snider gave a nice little fist pump after reaching base- showing his heart and desire to play the game the right way.  Although not getting credit for a hit, Travis did show great hustle and determination in that at-bat.  The rest of the night for me centered around his new stance.  The “superstar” stance as I call it. 

Dwayne Murphy has clearly invested a great deal of time in working with Snider.  His mechanics and approach at the plate are much better in 2011.  Last year, Snider looked extremely lost at the plate to me.  Last night, Snider showcased his new approach which clearly is starting to work for him.  Snider is taking more pitches and seeing the ball much better.  Both walks he took last night were hard-fought and well-earned.  It appeared to me that Travis watching video of Nick Swisher in the off-season and starting to follow his approach at the plate.  Snider has a nice fluid stroke and in opening his stance, he is able to see pitches better and wait for the right ones.  I expect to see Snider’s walk rate spike and his home run totals proportionately.  My sense is that Farrell and Murphy have much faith in the kid and he will be rewarding them with a solid breakout season in 2011.   

I won’t sit and blame Cito Gaston for all of Travis Snider’s woes in 2010.  Snider has to take responsibility for his own actions and results in the process.  But clearly the relationship between manager and player did not work in that case and a change was needed.  John Farrell has vast experience working with young players, from being a farm director with the Indians to being the pitching coach in Boston.  Farrell to win over Snider will need to play him day-in and day-out.  The greatest mistake that a young player can make is to press too hard early on, afraid that any mistakes could lead to a demotion to the bench or minors.  If Snider is allowed to play through mistakes and slumps, the law of probability will result in success coming through the flip side.  The Travis Snider that I saw on opening night was excited to be a part of the team.  He did not press at the plate and did the little things necessary to contribute to his team’s success.  Watch out for Travis Snider, the next superstar and franchise of the Toronto Blue Jays.

MLB REPORTS FROM FRIDAY APRIL 1ST:

1)  The Toronto Blue Jays got off to a fast start on the season, crushing the Twins 13-3 in the Rogers Centre.  Ricky Romero had an impressive opening day, pitching 6.1 innings, giving up 7 hits, 1 ER and 7 SO.  The key telling stat of the night was 0 walks given up by the young lefty.  Carl Pavano, on the other hand, gave up 7 runs in 4 innings of work.  Looking like the Pavano from the Yankees days, the night was simply brutal for the veteran.  Bautista and Lind had huge games for the Jays but the star of the night was the #9 hitting catcher J.P. Arencebia, going 3-4 with 5 rbis, 2 hr’s and a triple to boot.  For one day at least, the Jays look like the team to beat in the East.

2)  The Phillies squeaked out a close one in Philadelphia in their opener, with Halladay and Myers facing in a strong pitching duel.  Halladay was stellar in the 5-4 Phillies win, with 6 IP, 7 hits, 1 ER, o BB and 6 SO.  Roy is just scary good and its only the start of the season.  In the “closer implosion” series, Brandon Lyon in 1/3 of an inning gave up 6 hits and 3 ER.  Perhaps trading Lidstrom was not the brightest move for the Astros.  Baez finished with the save in this one but only because of the late 9th inning magic by the Phillies bats.  Madson pitching a clean 8th with 2 SO is still the closer at this point.  Rollins and Howard both had 2 hits in the win for the Phillies.

3)  The Pirates played their hearts out in a 6-3 win over the Cubs in Wrigley.  Kevin Correia pitched 6 solid innings, 2 ER, 1 BB and 3 SO.  Dempster on the other hand, gave up 6 ER in his 6.2 IP.  Meek and Hanrahan were lock down in the 8th and 9th for the Pirates, with 2 SO each in their respective innings of work.  For all the closer debates in Pittsburgh, that is a great situation to have.  But if opening day is an indication, Hanrahan is definitely the closer for now.  Any sign of falter though and Meek becomes the new Matt Capps for Pittsburgh.  Neil Walker at 2B and batting second had the game of his life, with a grand slam home run and walk.  McCutchen also homered and looked solid.  Castro had 3 hits in the lone bright spot for the Cubs on this day.

4)  The White Sox beat the Indians in a barn burner in Cleveland, 15-10.  Mark Buehrle had a typical outing, 6 IP, 4 ER, 1 BB and 0 SO.  Fausto Carmona got destroyed to the tune of 10 ER in 3.0 IP to get the worst start line of any pitcher on opening day.  Many players had nice stats lines in a blowout game on this day, with Santana pacing the Indians in the cleanup spot with 3 hits and a home run.  Dunn and Quentin were the beasts for the White Sox, each with a home run, Dunn with 4 ribbies and Quentin with 5.

5)  The Rangers won their opener, 9-5 against the Red Sox.  C.J. Wilson solidified his ace status with the win, giving up 2 ER in 6.2 IP and 6 SO.  Jon Lester did not have it on this day, giving up 5 ER in 5.1 IP.  The Rangers had 3 bombs, with Mike Napoli (see my article on him earlier in the offseason) leading the way with 2 hits, 3 rbis and a walk.  Crawford was hitless in his Red Sox debut and Adrian Gonzalez had 2 hits and 3 rbis.

6)  The Diamondbacks won a wild one in Coors, beating the Rockies 7-6.  Ubaldo was off tonight, giving up 5 ER in 6.0 IP.  Not what Rockies fans expected from their ace.   J.J. Putz had a clean save in the win, 1.0 IP and 2 SO.  Upton and Montero had nice games for the winners with a home run apiece.

7)  In the upset of the night, the Orioles stunned the Rays 4-1 in Tampa.  David Price, despite giving up only 5 hits and 1 BB in 7.0 IP with 7 SO gave up all 4 runs.  Guthrie shut out the Rays during his 8.0 IP, giving up only 3 hits and 1 BB.  With only 5 hits on the night, the Orioles were able to beat David Price even when he was on his game…signs that the AL East will be as tough as many expect in 2011.

8)  The New York Mets began their dismissal season with a 6-2 loss to the Marlins. Josh Johnson was unhittable early on and finished with 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 hits and 2 BB allowed.  The stars of the night for the Marlins were Logan Morrison and John Buck, both with a home run (Buck with the grand slam).  Gaby Sanchez also had 2 hits for the strong Marlins opening game. 

9)  In the final opening game of the season, King Felix had the season’s only complete game to-date in the Mariners 6-2 win.  Felix gave up 2 ER, 5 hits and 0 BB in 108 pitches thrown, with 5 SO.  The AL West has been put on notice.  Willingham in the cleanup spot had a home run for the A’s while the light-hitting Chone Figgins countered with a jack of his own for the M’s.  With every team getting a game into the record books, opening day is now complete!

 

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,698 other followers

%d bloggers like this: