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Los Angeles Dodgers State Of The Union: 2014 Preview

Clayton Kershaw agreed to a 7 YRs/$215 MIL extension last week - that will run through the years of 2014 - 2020 with the LA Dodgers.   The deal is slated for an opt out clause after the 2018 season by Kershaw, when he will be only 30 years old.     This is the greatest single Annual Average Salary ALL - Time of $30.7 MIL per year, and is the 6th biggest contract ever in the history of the MLB.  Last year was his mos dominant to date, with a 16 - 9 record, an NL Leading 1.83 ERA and 232 SO.  The about to be 26 Year Old, also nailed down his 2nd NL Cy Young win in 3 years, and the other year he was the runner up in that time frame.  He may be the single most important player to any franchise in the National League.

Clayton Kershaw agreed to a 7 YRs/$215 MIL extension in the offseason – that will run through the years of 2014 – 2020 with the LA Dodgers. The deal is slated for an opt out clause after the 2018 season by Kershaw, when he will be only 30 years old. This is the greatest single Annual Average Salary ALL – Time of $30.7 MIL per annum, and is the 6th biggest contract ever in the history of the MLB. Last year was his most dominant to date, with a 16 – 9 record, an NL Leading 1.83 ERA and 232 SO. The about to be 26 Year Old, also nailed down his 2nd NL Cy Young win in 3 years, and the other year he was the runner up in that time frame. He may be the single most important player to any franchise in the National League.  Kershaw is the 3 time reigning NL ERA champ.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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The Dodgers are beginning year 2 of potentially a half-dozen years of dominance.  They have a team filled with ALL – Stars, superior Starting Pitching, and have deep pockets to seal the deal with necessary changes.

The NL West might be stronger this year with more competitive rosters from the D’Backs, Rockies and Giants, yet I still think the Dodger Blue will pulverize the competition, particularly in their own division.

Our Chief Writer Hunter Stokes wrote a great article on the Dodgers taking the 1st few series of the year not as seriously as the rest of the year here.

I fully agree with his stance, yet I don’t think it will make much of a difference.

Injuries aside this team is ready to take down the National League. Read the rest of this entry

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Los Angeles Dodgers Payroll In 2014 + Contracts Going Forward: Updated For Kershaw Deal

The Dodgers already have salary commitments that are over $225 MIllion now - with the $$ given to their reigning NL Cy Young Winner.  Kenley Jansen and A.J. Ellis have yet to be paid in Arbitration yet.  The club will certainly pass last years $235 MIL plus payroll.  By doing the Kershaw deal also does not prevent them from trying to sign Masahiro Tanaa either.  Last year, the Dodgers paid out around $10 MIL for their part in going over the Luxury Tax Threshold for the 1st time - at a 17/5% penalty.  Under the current CBA, even if the team went to $300 MIL for 2014, they would only have to dole out roughly $25 MIL in penalties for a 2nd time offender.  LAD have taken full advantage of the salary structure - and don't look for them to relent any time soon.

The Dodgers already have salary commitments that are over $225 Million now – with the $$ given to their reigning NL Cy Young Winner. Kenley Jansen and A.J. Ellis have yet to be paid in Arbitration. The club will certainly pass last years $235 MIL plus payroll. By doing the Kershaw deal also does not prevent them from trying to sign Masahiro Tanaka either. Last year, the Dodgers paid out around $10 MIL for their part in going over the Luxury Tax Threshold for the 1st time – at a 17.5% penalty. Under the current CBA, even if the team went to $300 MIL for 2014, they would only have to dole out roughly $25 MIL in penalties for a 2nd time offender. LAD have taken full advantage of the salary structure – and don’t look for them to relent any time soon.  In 2014, the club will pay a 22.5% penalty for every buck spent over $189 MIL.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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I wrote an article just 16 months ago on how the LA Dodgers were going to force the economics of baseball the way they were conduct business with the new ownership.

As someone who has worked the majority of the time on the site for the last 3 years, I take great pride in my research.  So far it has worked out.

The Dodgers following what I said is nice vindication as a writer.

I am not here to toot my own horn, but our website was also on the forefront of the Athletics renaissance a few years back, the Rays coming back to fight in the 2013 year, and also we were one of the 1st to report the Shields for Myers deal.

2013 NLDS Post Season highlights – Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is Advised

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The Los Angeles Dodgers Players In All Organizational Affiliates, Prospects + Depth Charts (MLB + MiLB) 2014

Puig slowed down a shade from his torrid 1st month pace - however still slashed .319/.392/.925 - with 19 HRs, 42 RBI. 66  Runs Scored and 122 Hits in just 434 AB.  He has in the 2nd YR of a 7 YR/$42 MIL contract in his pocket, and that may be the bargain of ALL - Time if he continues these type of numbers all the way throughout his length of the deal.  Puig finished in 2nd for NL Rookie of The Year Voting, and placed 15th in NL MVP balloting as well.

Puig slowed down a shade from his torrid 1st month pace – however still slashed .319/.392/.925 – with 19 HRs, 42 RBI. 66 Runs Scored and 122 Hits in just 434 AB for the 2013 year. He has now in the 2nd YR of a 7 YR/$42 MIL contract in his pocket, and that may be the bargain of ALL – Time if he continues these type of numbers all the way throughout his length of the deal. Puig, 23,  finished in 2nd for NL Rookie of The Year Voting, and placed 15th in NL MVP balloting as well.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): & Jeff Kleiner (Org. Depth Chart Expert)

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The Los Angeles Dodgers had a rollercoaster 2013 campaign.  After a late season 2012 trade, the club went on a spending bonanza to enter the 2013 year.

In late May. it looked bleak. The franchise wanted to fire Don Mattingly, Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez were battling various injuries, and the club was 23 – 32.

Enter Yasiel Puig with his historic 1st month, and the team then went on a torrid pace at that hadn’t been done in nearly 60 years.

The crux of this crestwave, was a 42 – 8 stretch that saw the club bypass all 4 Division foes, putting a stranglehold on the NL West once and for all.

Dodgers own the West

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Cano Signs With Seattle 10 YRs/$240 MIL: Do You Want A Good Team Or A Good Business?

Cano and his brass were in the Emerald City over night - to dicker with the Seattle Brass over a supposed 9 YR contract worth around $225 - $240 MIL.  But something went awry, and the Cano camp made the Seattle Mariners storm off with disgust over what the demands were. In a city where they have only had 2 winning seasons in the last 10 years, they do not need to put all of their eggs in just one basket.  We will go through the long decade of suffering in his blog, and come up with the conclusion, that the last thing the franchise needs - is another Free Agency flop.

Cano and his management posse were in the Emerald City over night – to dicker with the Seattle Brass over a supposed 9 YR contract worth around $225 – $240 MIL . But something went awry, and the Cano camp made the Seattle Mariners storm off with disgust over what the demands were originally.   It has now been reported the sides agreed to a 10 YR/$240 MIL deal.  This could be a colossal mistake from the club, despite seeing probable early returns on their investment and the ticket wicket and for TV Ratings. In a city where they have only had 2 winning seasons in the last 10 years, they didn’t need to put all of their eggs in just one basket. We will go through the long decade of suffering in his blog, and come up with the conclusion, that the last thing the franchise needs – is another Free Agency flop.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): (Big Credit to Paul Francis Sullivan)  

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The deal was supposed to be 9 YRs/$225 MIL for Robinson Cano‘s services to be taken to The Pacific Northwest, and play for the home fans of Safeco Field.

Somewhere in the deliberations, the Roc Nations Sports Agency (Jay – Z’s gang) made an unruly notion for something, to which the brass of the Seattle Mariners stormed off.

It would be nice to have been a fly on the wall for that sparing off of the minds.

The two sides finally agreed this morning to a 10 YR/$240 MIL deal for the ALL – Star, SIlver Slugger 2B.

Before the deal, a neutral fan had to ask Cano really taking the M’s seriously, or was it all for show – in hopes he could draw more cash from a team he really wants to play for?

Sully’s Daily Podcast from last night – truer words have never been spoken – Listen to this 20 Min show!

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – December 5, 2013

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Where Will Brian Wilson End Up?

Brian Wilson has a great comeback bid in the 2013 campaign.  When you add up his Appearances in the regular season - and playoffs, he threw 19.2 IP - in which he entered 24 Games, and only gave up 1 ER in the process.  Good for a cumulative 0.47 ERA.  He also has yet to yield an ER in 17.2 Post Season Career Innings.  Boston, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and the Los Angeles Dodgers should be his top suitors this winter.

Brian Wilson has a great comeback bid in the 2013 campaign. When you add up his Appearances in the regular season – and playoffs, he threw 19.2 IP – in which he entered 24 Games, and only gave up 1 ER in the process. Good for a cumulative 0.47 ERA. He also has yet to yield an ER in 17.2 Post Season Career Innings. Boston, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and the Los Angeles Dodgers should be his top suitors this winter.

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer): 

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Perhaps nobody is happier than Brian Wilson, that Tim Lincecum resigned in San Francisco for 2 YRs/$35 MIL.  While I think that is a bit of an overspend, it was what the Free Agency Market is dictating.

Having said this, the Relief Core of Pitchers available on the open market is quite interesting.

It is my contention, that Brian Wilson has the best value out there for clubs.

Forget about ‘lets wear my hat at a 45 degree angle’ Fernando Rodney, who was a world beater in 2012, before he almost cost the Rays a playoff spot in 2013.

Grant Balfour has a good case for a big raise, however he will be 36 years old in a few months.  My guess is Billy Beane will find a way for him to sign a short term deal anyway.

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Brian Wilson Has Earned Himself Some $$$ With His 2013 Showing: And Is The Best Relief Pitcher Left In The Playoffs!

From 2008-2011, Brian Wilson was one of the top closer in the Majors with 163 Saves.  He Saved 48 Games with a 1.81 ERA only 3 years ago in  2010 for the World Champ Giants.  He went through TJ Surgery for a 2nd time in April of 2012 - who will give him a chance in 2014, by signing the pending Free Agent?

From 2008-2011, Brian Wilson was one of the top closers in the Majors with 163 Saves. He Saved 48 Games with a 1.81 ERA only 3 years ago in 2010 for the World Champ Giants. He went through TJ Surgery for a 2nd time in April of 2012.  He has since made an awesome comeback with the Dodgers, only giving up 1 ER in his Dodgers 24 Appearances, including 6 Scoreless frames in the 2013 playoffs.  Who will give him a chance in 2014, by signing the pending Free Agent?  Dodgers fans are hoping he stays.

Hunter Stokes (Featured Baseball Columnist): 

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I am big Brian Wilson fan.  Part of me was devastated when the Giants won the World Series in 2012, because he was not on the team.

I was happy to learn that he bid his time this season, made sure he was fully healed up from his 2nd Tommy John Surgery, and made a triumphant return with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He could have rushed back in the spring, signed with another club, and tried haphazardly to work through his pitching in game action, however the man knows his body tweaks.

Brian Wilson as Captain Highlander on George Lopez Show

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The Dodgers Bullpen Has Been One Of The Biggest Strengths In 2013

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Friday, Aug.09/2013

Kenley Jansen has given Dodger fans confidence going into the 9th inning with the game on the line once again. He has picked up the 7 saves in his last 10 appearances and has not blown a save in that stretch. He also has 17 saves in 20 opportunities this year to close the dominance of the Dodger pitcher lately.

Kenley Jansen has given Dodger fans confidence going into the 9th inning with the game on the line once again. He has picked up the 7 saves in his last 10 appearances and has not blown a save in that stretch. He also has 17 saves in 20 opportunities this year to close the dominance of the Dodger Starting Pitchers lately.

By Enrique Rivera (MLB Reports Dodgers Correspondent)

Sure, the Dodgers wouldn’t be where they are without the help of Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, and Clayton Kershaw but the Dodgers bullpen has also given the Dodgers the greatest effort during its two month stretch that has brought the Dodgers into first place. 

Guys like Ronald Belisario, J.P. Howell, Brandon League, and Kenley Jansen has stepped up from their first half woes and have shined after picking up games from starters.

They’ve also brought in rookies like Paco Rodriguez and Chris Withrow to help out the pen and have brought in former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.

Kenley Jansen closes out a hot Reds team as the Dodgers continued their amazing run

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Dodgers Climb Into Second Place Behind Quiet Heroes

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Tuesday, July.09/2013

Ramirez had 5 hits including two triples during the weekend series against the San Francisco Giants as the Dodgers took two out of three games against the defending champions. Probably another impressive thing about Hanley's recent success is the fact that he has SO'd only three times during the last 10 games. He hasn't SO'd more than once in any of those 10 games. Hanley Ramirez has taking the role as the cleanup hitter pretty well as he has an 18-game hitting streak and is hitting .472 with 2 HRs and 6 RBIS in his last 10 games.

Ramirez had 5 hits including two triples during the weekend series against the San Francisco Giants as the Dodgers took two out of three games against the defending champions.Probably another impressive thing about Hanley’s recent success is the fact that he has SO’d only three times during the last 10 games. He hasn’t SO’d more than once in any of those 10 games.Hanley Ramirez has taking the role as the cleanup hitter pretty well as he has an 18-game hitting streak and is hitting .488 (20 Hits and 12 Runs Scored) – with 2 HRs and 7 RBIS in his last 10 games.

By Enrique Rivera (Dodgers Correspondent) 

Much has been said about Dodgers’ rookie Yasiel Puig and rightfully so. He has had one of the most memorable first months in MLB history. He has played in 32 games and is hitting .409 with 8 HRs and 19 RBIs.

You can easily connect Puig’s success with the Dodgers’ success as they’ve quietly got back in the division and are in fact now 2nd place in the NL West.

But another guy who has had the same if not better success than Puig during their first 32 games of the season is Dodgers’ shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

Hanley Ramirez smashes a homerun to the third deck at Petco Park:

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Top Five MLB Holds Leaders In 2013

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Tuesday June 25th, 2013

mound

Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer):

Depending on the year, we can usually say if it is pitcher-dominant or hitter-dominant. This year, it is very hard to say. One could make the case that the MLB is being dominated by hitters with Miguel Cabrera tallying over 70 RBI before July.

That argument could be helped by the facts that Cole Hamels already has 11 losses and Justin Verlander has a high three ERA. Either way, the season will still go on and pitchers and hitters will still record their statistics.

One statistic that is not looked at or talked about much is the hold. A hold is given when a reliever enters in a save situation, records an out, and leaves the game without having given up the lead, but also does not get a save.

Usually the guys that get the most holds are setup men. In this piece, I’ll take a look at the top five (with a bonus!) holds leaders for the year.

Mitchell Boggs (2012 Holds Leader in some lighter days)

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2 And A Hook Podcast Ep #8: Dodgers (Puig Especially), White Sox + Braves Talk With Awesome Guests!

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Thursday, June.20/2013

MLB reports and The Benchwarmers Show present 2 and A Hook Podcast

MLB reports and The Benchwarmers Show present 2 and A Hook Podcast.

’2 And A Hook’ is an expression from Baseball:  ‘Throw the guy 2 Fast balls and then a Hook’ (AKA Curve Ball, Wiggly one, Chair etc..)

By James Acevedo – Host (Podcast Veteran )

On today’s show, brought to you by MLB Reports (www.mlbreports.com) & yours truly The Bench Warmers, I talked with MLB Reports Braves correspondent Bob McVinua (www.braveschoptalk.wordpress.com) about the Atlanta Braves season so far, what’s to come for them the rest of the season plus other things…

Then I talked to MLB Reports Dodgers correspondent Enrique Rivera about their phenom Yasiel Puig, if the Dodgers somehow can get back in the playoff race amongst other issues…

Also I interviewed MLB Reports White Sox correspondent Brian Madsen about the White Sox offensive struggles, is their farm system producing any future ball players & other stuff…also I do my Stats & Facts segment as usual so check out this baseball podcast that talks baseball like it outta be!!! SPREAD THE WORD!! Thank you all for your support!!!

People in this Podcast:

Bob McVinua (MLB Reports Guest Braves Correspondent – About 9 Minutes in and a 21 Minute Segment)

Enrique Rivera (MLB Reports LA Dodgers Correspondent – 31 Minute Mark and a 15 Minute Segment) 

Brian Madsen (MLB Reports White Sox Correspondent- 53 Minutes In and a 17 Minute Segment) 

(Stats and Facts done by James at the 1 Hour and 10 Minute Mark for 20 Minutes and for the 1st 9 Minutes.)

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Greinke Return Can Turn The Dodgers Season Around

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Friday May.17/2013

Zack Greinke hits an RBI single in his first at-bat since his return from the DL. Greinke earn a quality start against the Nationals 5.1 innings and only allowed 1 ER with 4 SOs.

Zack Greinke hits an RBI single in his first at-bat since his return from the DL. Greinke earn a quality start against the Nationals 5.1 innings and only allowed 1 ER with 4 SOs.

 By Enrique Rivera (Dodgers Correspondent for MLB Reports)

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Dodgers haven’t had a very mary month of May and with halfway through the month, they are 4-9. This includes an eight-game losing streak that went from May 1st to May 10th.

During that losing streak, the Dodgers committed a Dodger sin by being swept against their Rivals the San Francisco Giants at AT and T Park.

Usually when this happens to a team with a lot of talent, fans begin pointing fingers and try to figure out what the issue is. Either that or begin giving up on the team’s season right away.

Fingers have been pointed at many different things-from Dodgers’ skipper Don Mattingly to the injuries themselves.  The biggest blow for the Dodgers was the injury that made their expensive new pitcher Zack Greinke miss several starts.

ESPN analysts Manny Acta and Alex Cora analyse Zack Greinke’s comeback

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Carl Crawford Is Off To A Surprisingly Hot Start As The Dodgers Leadoff Guy

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Tuesday Apr.30/2013

Outfielder Carl Crawford has been red hot offensively hitting .307 with team leading 4 HRs and 6 RBIs. He has been a huge surprise in his comeback season.

Outfielder Carl Crawford has been red hot offensively hitting .307 with team leading 4 HRs and 6 RBI. He has been a huge surprise in his comeback season.  The former Rays and Red Sox player is hitting far above his Career 3 Slash Line of .293/.333/.706 – by posting a line of .308/.388/906 to date.  More importantly than any other statistic – Crawford has crossed home plate 20 times in 25 Games Played in 2013.  This would put him on pace for about 130 Runs this campaign.  This is lieu of Matt Kemp’s slow start and Hanley Ramirez not being in the lineup at all.

By Enrique Rivera (Dodgers Correspondent)

When the Dodgers acquired Outfielder Carl Crawford last year, they definitely didn’t know what they were getting, it was a pretty much a gamble they were able to afford. With the Dodgers’ new ownership willing to spend the big bucks on big players, this trade seemed like the ideal move to do for General Manager Ned Colleti. 

Crawford wasn’t able to perform at all right away after he got traded to the Dodgers as he was rehabbing from his Tommy John Surgery but he was able to get healthy just in time for Opening Day. He has been healthy ever since.

Dodgers’ skipper Don Mattingly right away decided to make Crawford the leadoff hitter since Opening Day and has not disappointed. Through April 29th, 2013, Crawford is hitting .307 with OBP. of .390 (obviously doing his job as Leadoff hitter) with 4 SB and has been caught twice. He has also walked nine times but perhaps the most impressive stat is his team leading 4 HRs.

Slow motion video of Carl Crawford’s Home Run swing

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LA Dodgers Organizational Depth Charts, Rosters And Salaries (Majors And Minors)

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Thursday, Mar.28/2013

When Magic Johnson and his ownership group spent 2 Billion Dollars on acquiring the Franchise, that should have been a red-flag that they were going to outspend every club when it came to payroll.  Get ready for it baseball world!  With the MLB not having a Salary Cap - and a whimsy penalty for 1st time offenders for the 1st violation of the Luxury Tax Threshold

When Magic Johnson and his ownership group spent 2 Billion Dollars on acquiring the Franchise, that should have been a red-flag that they were going to outspend every club when it came to payroll. Get ready for it baseball world! With the MLB not having a Salary Cap – and a whimsy penalty for 1st time offenders for the 1st violation of the Luxury Tax Threshold – how high will the LA club go?

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): and welcome Jeff Kleiner (Salary, Roster and Depth Chart Expert for the MLB – visit his website  here 

You guys are all in for a treat.  Jeff Kleiner recently contacted me about a partnership merge for the website.  He has developed a site (prosportsrosters.com) that covers all organizational affiliates in the Minors for all of the Major League Baseball Clubs.  We are going to combine efforts to bring you the best look at salaries, current 25 Man Player Rosters and Depth Charts for all 30 teams.

Jeff is going to provide the documents in form of spreadsheets and I am going to accompany the posts with deep analysis of what the numbers tell us from my perspective.  If you can’t wait for all of my assessments for each club, go and visit Jeff’s website over at http://www.prosportsrosters.com.

In Speaking with Jeff, he is one of the more passionate fans I have come across towards the game of baseball.  He spends enough time in updating his MLB Facts for it to be a Full-Time Job.  So after the usual Video Clip and READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY button, you will find some serious &*!@?!#!

For a Full 3 year Salary Outlook plus last years Stats for every player in the Dodgers Organization click here

LA Dodgers Great Moments:

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The LA Dodgers Player Roster In 2013: State Of The Union Mar.28

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Thursday Mar.28/2013

 

The Dodgers are putting the other National League teams to shame with payroll and have assembled an ALL - Star Squad with 8 Starting Pitchers, perhaps the best athletic Outfield in the Major Leagues.

The Dodgers are putting the other National League teams to shame with payroll – and have assembled an ALL – Star Squad with 8 Starting Pitchers, with perhaps the best athletic Outfield in the Major Leagues.  The Dodgers spent most of the 1st half of the 2012 campaign in the NL West before injuries crippled the product on the field.  A blockbuster trade late in August saw the club win 8 of the last 10 games after struggling to gel early.  Skipper Don Mattingly is in the last year of his contract, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez will try to put their 2012 fiasco behind them.  Home grown talent, Kemp and Ethier will be in the best opening lineup since they came up to the Majors. Could all of this equal a World Series Berth?

By Enrique Rivera (Dodgers Correspondent): 

The Los Angeles Dodgers franchise had an exciting 2012. From March, when Magic Johnson was announced as part of a group that had bought the Dodgers, to June, when Los Angeles gave Yasiel Puig $42 Million, this has been a wild year for the Dodgers.

After all of the hype surrounding the new Dodgers seemingly died down, they committed $147 Million to Zack Greinke. The N.L. West has been dominated by the Giants in the last couple years, but one has to wonder if the Dodgers recent moves make them the favorite to win the N.L. West in 2013?

Clayton Kershaw 2012 Highlights – Mature Lyrics So Parental Guidance Advised:

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LA Dodgers Payroll In 2013: And Contracts Going Forward

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Thursday Mar.28/2013

Adrian Gonzalez flew into LA last year  and paid immediate dividends as he clubbed a 3 run HR in the 1st Inning with his new team. Gonzalez is in the 3rd year of a 7 YR/154 Million Dollar Contract. At age 30, he is a career .294 hitter with 214 HRs and 750 RBI in 1176 Games.  Perhaps a full season back in California will re – ignite his MVP like numbers with the Padres during the 2009 and 2010 seasons – where he hit 71 HRs, drove in 200 RBI and hit for an OPS well over .900.  He also is a 3 Time Gold Glove Award Winner in the National League.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst And Website Owner):

I must say I am completely shocked at the Dodgers spending as much money as they are since the ownership change.  I listened to Magic say how he ‘was not going to do anything stupid’, I will give him this much.  However, the amount of payroll the team has taken on is enormous.  The Dodgers are going to be over 200 Million Dollars in Payroll for years to come. 

After I put their top ten salaries on the board, I will break down the rest of the roster to analyze some more projections for salary.  The Dodgers have about 218 Million Dollars in signed contracts. 

If you can believe this next part, they even are paying Manny Ramirez 8.33 Million Dollars still in 2013, Andruw Jones 3.375 Million and Huroki Kuroda 2.0 Million.  That is roughly 13 Million Dollars on guys that are no longer in your organization.

Back to the trades that have brought in several players.  I do agree for the mentality of it.  The Dodgers fans were given a raw deal by the past management and the new guys are showing the rest of the MLB that they intend to be the big dog. 

With Cole Hamels re-signing with the Phillies, their coveted starter was no longer available in Free Agency.  Gonzalez was there to be had if they would take on the Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett contracts. 

The team went out and signed Zack  Greinke (15 – 5 with a 3.48 ERA split between the Brewers and Angels)  instead.

Here is a nice highlight clip of Carl Crawford below.  As a side note:  The only inside the park Home Run I have ever witnessed at a game live was hit by Carl Crawford at Us Cellular Field in 2008.  He was one of the best lead-off hitters back then.

Carl Crawford Highlights – Mature Lyrics So Parental Guidance is Advised:

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What 2012 Really Meant to the St. Louis Cardinals

Thursday November 1st, 2012

2012 was a season that ended with disappointment which ultimately distracted us from recognizing what a successful year it really was. 2012 highlighted a lot of the greatness that is to come for this great franchise.

Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer)

The St. Louis Cardinals came into 2012 as the defending World Series Champions.  In 2011 they just eked their way into the post season on the final day of the regular season when they defeated the Houston Astros and the Braves, who were tied for the wild card spot with St. Louis, ended up losing to the Phillies in extra innings.  Coming into the 2011 postseason, the Cardinals were huge underdogs.  That didn’t stop them from going for what they wanted: to win it all.

While most analysts amongst the sport would not have guessed St. Louis would even make it to the World Series, yet alone win it, the Red Birds emerged to show their true colors.  The current team that the city of St. Louis has assembled and gets to watch for 81 games a year is, undoubtedly, a team that plays on all cylinders and the highest octane fuel.  They play with the intensity of a little league team that wants nothing more than the coach to bring them out for ice cream when they win. Watching the Cardinals brand of baseball is to watch baseball again as a game, and not just as a competition played by millionaire athletes with tremendous talent.

Watching the scrappiness of St. Louis native David Freese in the 2011 playoffs is the perfect example.  His David Eckstein-like approach to the game reminds us all of one of our teammates back in middle school.  The one at the sandlot that always slid hard, tried to steal home, and complained when the rest of us wanted to go home because “it was getting dark”.  In 2011, David Freese and his 39 teammates played baseball together as a true team and sent Tony LaRussa home with a World Series title in his final year managing.  Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB Flashback: Looking Back at the Seven No-Hitters

Tuesday October 30th, 2012

Sam Evans: The 2012 Major League Baseball season featured more no-hitters than any season since 1991. Of the seven no-hitters thrown in 2012, only one of them involved more than one pitcher. While pitching has regained its presence since the Steroid-Era has started to dissapear, the amount of no-hitters and perfect games in Major League Baseball has certainly taken off. Here’s a look back at the seven games in 2012 where one team was held hitless:

April 21st, Philip Humber, White Sox Vs. Mariners:  Philip Humber finished the 2011 season with a 3.58 FIP in twenty-eight starts. In 2012, Humber pitched in twenty-six games, sixteen starts, and posted a 6.44 ERA. However, on one day in April, everything clicked for Humber as he struck out nine and finished with a perfect game. Putting aside a debatable strike call with a full count against Brendan Ryan in the bottom of the ninth, Humber truly was perfect. His slider and changeup both were tremendous pitches in this one outing and against a weak Mariners offense, Humber was able to dominate the game. Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB Trades And Deadline Deals Revisited for Contenders: Who Won and Lost

Friday, October.26/2012

Ichiro Suzuki played the best baseball he has in the last 2 years with the Yankees. It would be a wise move to re-sign the guy for at least the next season. In my opinion, they should have Jeter and Suzuki linked together on the club until they retire.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

I love the new era of baseball.  One thing the 2nd Wild Card team enabled this year was a flurry of transactions right near the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline, plus we even saw a bunch of trades between Aug.01-31 as well.  I am not going to breakdown the trades for who went the other way (unless both teams were in contention) since we have a dedicated page for that here.  What I am going to do is see who made out well with their new player.  I will tell you right  now that the hands down winner was the San Francisco Giants for picking up Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence.  Marco Scutaro hit .362 for the Giants and smacked 90 hits in 61 games.  He has parlayed another 19 hits in 59 AB during the playoffs (.322).

I am going to be writing a series of payroll breakdowns for each MLB team in the offseason.  I have already compiled reports for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals.  These reports can be found in my author archives here.  In addition to this, I am going to write another piece on Payroll Strategy specifically geared towards making runs at trades near the deadline.  Look for those in the coming weeks.  The work never ends here, and we will have you game ready for spring training when it comes to all of the clubs. Read the rest of this entry

Giants and Dodgers: Who Will Take the N.L. West Crown?

Thursday August 2nd, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Now that each team is for the most part set going into the final stretch, the NL West is up for grabs. The Dodgers were the most prominent buyer this year and the Giants didn’t stand idly by. Los Angeles acquired Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Brandon League, and the Giants got Hunter Pence. Before any deals were made, I would say the Giants had a better overall team. But after getting some of the best talent that was made available at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Dodgers might have grabbed a slight edge. Both teams may still make more moves before the year is done, but at this point the N.L. West race will be coming down to the wire.

The Giants

With arguably the best pitching staff in the whole National League, the Giants have a great advantage in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. This year with Tim Lincecum in a bit of a funk, Matt Cain leads the strong staff including Ryan Vogelsong, Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Barry Zito. Heading into this season, Barry Zito was the weak link, going 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA in 2010, and 3-4 with a 5.87 ERA in 2011. Zito was left off the playoff roster in the Giants’ World Series-winning season in 2010. This year has been a good one for Zito—he’s 8-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 20 starts. The weak link in the pitching staff this year has been Tim Lincecum. He is 5-11 with a 5.62 ERA, but has shown some signs of coming out of his season-long slump. If he can replicate some of last season or his performance in the 2010 playoffs, the Giants will have no problem making the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry

2012 Trade Deadline Update #8 7/31: Final Deals: Victorino, Pence, and More

Tuesday July 31st, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  What a busy day! Here are the last of the major deals that led up to the 4:00 p.m. eastern time deadline:

Hunter Pence to the Giants

The Giants and Dodgers are in a tie for first in the NL West as of today. Leading up to the deadline, the Dodgers have acquired Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Brandon League. With the Dodgers making such big moves to add to their offensive lineup, the Giants needed to get a big bat. Hunter Pence is the solution the Giants were looking for, hitting .271with 17 homers and 59 RBI. For Pence and cash considerations, the Giants sent outfielder Nate Schierholtz, minor league catcher Tommy Joseph, and minor league pitcher Seth Rosin. This year, Schierholtz hit .257 in 196 plate appearances. Joseph hit .260 in 335 plate appearances in Double-A, and Rosin held a 4.31 ERA in 56.1 innings in Single-A. I love this move for the Giants. Already with Pablo Sandoval (on the DL now but expected back soon), Melky Cabrera, and Buster Posey in the lineup, the Giants look good. Now with Hunter Pence, they will put up some serious competition to the Dodgers for the NL West crown. The Phillies also get some good talent. Nate Schierholtz never really made it with the Giants, so hopefully he will get a fresh start in Philadephia. Tommy Joseph also was a highly regarded prospect in the Giants organization, and he looks like he will be the catcher of the future. Read the rest of this entry

2012 Trade Deadline Update #7 7/31: League, Snider, Thames, Soto, and More

Tuesday July 31st, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Monday night and Tuesday morning turning out to be a busy one for MLB General Managers! Here are the flurry of deals before the MLB Non-Waiver Trading Deadline:

Brandon League to the Dodgers

With the Giants talking to the Mariners about League, I think the Dodgers traded for him just so the Giants wouldn’t get him. They really don’t have a reason to get him other than that. Their bullpen has been solid this year with Kenley Jansen holding it down at the back and Josh Lindblom highlighting the other relievers. League would’ve been key for the Giants. They lost Guillermo Mota at the beginning of the year for 100 games due to his second failed drug test, Sergio Romo has been a bit shaky lately, and Santiago Casilla hasn’t been the best closer. Not to mention Brian Wilson went down with an elbow injury after only a few appearances. Although League hasn’t been the best this year (0-5 with a 3.63 ERA) he will definitely help strengthen the already strong Dodger bullpen. After acquiring Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Dempster, the Dodgers are definitely ahead of the Giants in my mind. For League, the Mariners get OF Leon Landry and RHP Logan Bawcom. Landry this year in Single-A Rancho Cucamonga has hit .328 with eight homers and 51 RBI, and Bawcom has gone 3-3 with a 2.60 ERA in 27 games with Double-A Chattanooga. League was removed from the closer’s role in Seattle in favor of Tom Wilhelmsen earlier this season, so losing him won’t drastically affect the Mariners. League is apparently owed $1.85 million for the rest of this year.

Eric Thames to the Mariners

Right after trading League, the Mariners went ahead and traded Steve Delabar to the Blue Jays for outfielder Eric Thames. Thames adds some more youth to the Mariners and looks like the fourth outfielder right now. This year, in 42 games, Thames is hitting .243 with three homers and 11 RBI. The Blue Jays add to their bullpen after getting Brandon Lyon and J.A. Happ (who can either start or come out of the bullpen) from the Astros. Delabar held a 4.17 ERA in 36.2 innings for Seattle this year. Neither team seems to be going anywhere, so it looks like each is building for the future, as each player is signed through 2017.

Travis Snider to the Pirates

Snider went to the Pirates for reliever Brad Lincoln right before Eric Thames was traded. The Blue Jays seem to be bolstering their bullpen by getting rid of young outfielders. Snider started the season in Toronto last year before being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, and stayed there until recently being called back. The Blue Jays must have finally given up on him after he hit .225 last year and .235 this year in nine games. Snider will join the mix of Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley, and Starling Marte in the outfield for Pittsburgh. The Blue Jays get reliever Brad Lincoln in return, who has gone 4-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 59.1 innings this year. He’s only 27 so he should be with Toronto for a while.

Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to the Braves

After losing out on Ryan Dempster, the Braves went out and got Paul Maholm, who has been doing well for the Cubs going 7-4 with a 3.74 ERA. The Braves also received Reed Johnson. Johnson has hit .307 for the Cubs this year and will join Jason Heyward, Michael Bourn, and Martin Prado in the outfield. He should serve as a fourth outfielder and possibly come in late in games as a pinch hitter. The Cubs will get Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Vizcaino went 1-1 with a 4.17 ERA with the Braves last year. Chapman, this year for Triple-A Gwinett, has gone 3-6 with a 3.52 ERA in 53.2 innings.

Geovany Soto to the Rangers

Soto will go to the Rangers after they designated catcher Yorvit Torrealba for assignment. Soto will primarily catch while Mike Napoli will see some time at first base. Soto struggled this year for the Cubs, hitting just .195 with six homers and 14 RBI. He makes $4.3 millon this year. Hopefully for the Rangers, Soto will put up better numbers than Torrealba, who hit .236 with three homers and 12 RBI. The Cubs will obtain pitcher Jacob Brigham, who went 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in124 innings for Double-A Frisco. Soto just wasn’t cutting it for the Cubs; maybe he’ll have a fresh start with the Rangers.

***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, Baseball Writer & Facebook Administrator.  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 Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***

 

Please e-mail us at: mlbeports@me.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.

Brandon is Out of His League as Seattle Changes Closers

Tuesday May 29th, 2012

Ryan Ritchey (Baseball Writer):  There is bad news in Seattle and that is Brandon League has been taken out of his ninth inning role for the Mariners. League who has been struggling to get the job done lately, hasn’t lost his closer’s role permanently. He just needs to work on his command for the time being in non-save situations. League has blown 4 saves in 13 chances this season and the Mariners want to work with him to see if they can change that. The same thing happened last season with League, when he was taken out of the closer role to work on mechanics. He ended up finishing the year with 37 saves. For a closer that is what you call a successful season.

The Mariners aren’t naming another closer because as manager Eric Wedge put it: “Brandon is our closer. We’ll match up with what we think works”. The Mariners only have 7 guys in the bullpen and they could end using up to 6 of them, depending on the situation, in the ninth inning. Using the closer by committee could help the Mariners while League works on command, or it could end up putting them in a worse hole to dig out of in the West. We will just have to see how long it takes League to get back to his game saving ways.

The Mariners are doing everything they can to get League’s command back, as he threw an extended bullpen yesterday. With this being said, League should be back in the closer’s role in a couple of weeks. He is doing everything he can to regain his command and that is all Wedge is asking of him. “The same thing happened last year”, Wedge said. This is nothing new for League- so it should be a quick fix.

The candidates for the job in League’s absence are Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush and Lucas Luetge. Wilhelmsen is going to see the most attempts. This should be a great few weeks for him to get a chance to show what he’s got in the ninth and maybe become trade bait come July. Good luck to Brandon League on regaining his form. The Mariners are counting on League to become once again a valuable trading chip at the deadline, with League looking to cash in during the free agency the coming offseason. We hope to see League back in the ninth inning soon.

Ryan Ritchey is a Baseball Writer for MLB reports. I am a high school senior, play second base and plan on studying sports journalism in college. I am a huge fan of Barry Larkin and Brandon Phillips. Have been a baseball fan my whole life and have been writing about baseball since freshman year. You can reach me on Twitter (@Ryan13Ritchey)

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@me.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitterand 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.

Fantasy Baseball Report: Week of May 28th

Monday May 28th, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  In this week’s fantasy focus, I take a look at a group of hitter who have improved significantly in one category and as a result have seen a tremendous increase in their overall value. While some of these guys are legit, others should be traded while their value is at a peak. Also, do not miss the “Closer Corner”, as the saves category has been as frustrating and hard to predict as any in 2012. 


Martin Prado
has always been a serviceable infield option, although now only eligible at third base, due to his ability to hit for average and decent power and production. However, his average took a hit in 2011 (.260) and his career highs in home runs (15) and stolen bases (5) leaves a lot to be desired. In 2012, Prado has made an effort to be more aggressive on the base paths and has already stolen 7 bases in 8 attempts. Even 15 stolen bases would tremendously increase his overall value. I expect him to approach 20, especially as he is getting on base more with an even 21:21 walk to strikeout ratio. His average is a robust .333 (career .297) and his new approach at the plate could have Prado ending the year with a line looking something like this: .310/14/80/20.

After crushing 21 home runs in 2009, Billy Butler has disappointed many owners by hitting 15 and 19 home runs in his follow-up seasons. He is an OPS machine and the power seems to be developing in 2012, as he already has 11 home runs. Due to his size, 240 pounds, people expected the power to develop right away, but we cannot forget that he is only 26 years old. Guys typically do not reach their full power potential until their late twenties. While we know we can expect a .300 average from Butler, is appears that he will at least come close to approaching 30 home runs in 2012.  The fact that he hit 13 of his 19 home runs in the final three months of the 2011 season is even more promising for Butler owners. The only discouraging thing about Butler is that he is only eligible at the DH position in most leagues. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Closer Report: Where Does Your Team Stand?

Sunday May 6, 2012

Bryan Sheehan (Baseball Writer): Seeing Mariano Rivera go down with a torn ACL is like driving by a car accident and reflecting on how easily it could have been you in that accident, or in this case- how it could have been your team’s closer cringing in pain on the warning track. And this is the year of the injured closer: from Boston’s Andrew Bailey to San Francisco’s Brian Wilson, closers across the league have been dropping like flies. Other closers, like the Angels’ Jordan Walden, have stayed healthy but haven’t played well enough to keep their coveted ninth inning role. Even though there has only been a month of baseball so far, much has changed for some clubs.

Today, I’ll be taking a look at every team’s closer situation, and breaking down how it got to be the way it is: Read the rest of this entry

Those Clutch Guys: A Preview of the American League Closers in 2012

Wednesday February 1st, 2012

Sam Evans: Closing ballgames takes confidence, skill, and experience. There are select players that have earned the closer role at the highest level possible. These players come in all shapes and sizes, with diverse backgrounds. 

Without further adieu, here are the closers for all fourteen American League teams:

New York Yankees: The Yankees have had the same closer for the last fifteen years. That is by far the longest stretch of any closer with their current team. Arguably the most successful closer of all time, Mariano Rivera has constructed his whole career around one pitch.

Rivera’s cutter is simply dominant. He breaks more bats than any other closer in the league, and he knows where to throw it to specific hitters. Even at 42 years old, hitters know what’s coming but still have no chance of making solid contact. In 2011, Rivera had a 1.91 ERA and he recorded 44 saves. Mariano Rivera still has at least five more years closing out games. The Yankees should be content with him as their closer for as long as he wants to pitch.

Tampa Bay Rays: Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth had a surprisingly effective 2011. Coming into the year, he was expected to compete with young prospect Jake McGee for the closer role. Farnsworth stole the show and was Tampa’s closer for the whole season. He posted a 2.18 ERA in 2012, along with 25 saves. It was a nice bounce back year for the once overpaid, angry reliever.

The Rays picked up the fiery reliever’s option for 2012, so he will likely retain his job as the Rays’ closer. However, if Farnsworth can’t get the job done, Joel Peralta or Fernando Rodney (87 career saves) will step in.

Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox bullpen has had a perplexing offseason so far. They let their closer leave in free agency and they moved two of their other best relievers to the rotation. Now, they’ll be trusting a young, former Rookie of the Year, who hasn’t thrown fifty innings since 2009. I think the Red Sox made the right move by letting Jonathan Papelbon walk, but I don’t see the benefit in moving Daniel Bard to their rotation.

Moving from Oakland to Boston, Andrew Bailey will have to learn to deal with constant criticism and media pressure. He’ll go from pitching in front of 10,000 people every night to almost 40,000. It’s impossible to quantify how much of an impact that will have on Bailey, but it’s got be at least a small factor.

The Red Sox will have a strong bullpen, despite which of their relievers end up in their rotation. Besides Bard, the Red Sox also acquired Mark Melancon who could see time as Boston’s closer. Melancon isn’t as good of a pitcher as Bailey, but he is still a strong option for late-inning relief.

I’m not high on Bailey and I see him having issues in 2012. Bailey relies too heavily on his fastball and his curveball was not effective last year. If he succeeds in Boston, then the Red Sox will look like geniuses for trading for him. If he struggles, then new General Manager Ben Cherington will have some questions to answer about the future of this bullpen. (I wrote more about the Red Sox bullpen here.)

Toronto Blue Jays: With the abundance of closers on the market, Toronto went out and got their closer of the present and future, in Sergio Santos. They had to give up Nestor Molina, a young starting pitching prospect, but they scored Santos and his team-friendly contract.

Since being converted from shortstop to pitcher a couple of years ago, Sergio Santos has molded into a top-notch closer. In my opinion, he has the second best slider in baseball. (Braves closer Craig Kimbrel gets a slight edge.)

The Blue Jays have a fairly strong bullpen and General Manager Alex Anthopoulos could always trade for more bullpen pieces. Rebuilding Toronto’s major league team is going to take a couple of years and right now the bullpen appears to be the least of their worries.

Baltimore Orioles: Jim Johnson emerged as a star for the Orioles in 2011. The twenty-eight year old reliever threw ninety innings but recorded only nine saves. The Orioles leader in saves last year was Kevin Gregg with 22 saves. This was surprising considering Gregg wasn’t even one of the Orioles top three relievers.

I’ve been a huge fan of Pedro Strop ever since he was with the Rangers organization. The twenty-six year old had a 2.62 FIP in 2011, and the Orioles have implied he’ll be their setup man in 2012. With Johnson, Gregg and Strop all gunning for the Orioles closer job in 2012, they’ll definitely have competition throughout the year. I’d expect Johnson to get the most saves, but Strop could have a breakout season as a 9th inning superstar.  Plus Alfredo Simon could always get hot and take back the role if he fails as a starter.

Detroit Tigers: For the Tigers, having a closer they can trust to close out games in 2012 will be huge. The Tigers are going to have plenty of late-inning leads, thanks to a strong pitching staff and a powerful offense. Jose Valverde has been the Tigers closer for the last two years and he’s excelled at the back of the Detroit bullpen.

Papa Grande took a step forward in 2011. He saved 49 saves in just as many opportunities in 2012. His electric (and to a lesser extent, annoying) personality provides a spark at the end of Tigers games.

Valverde will be back in 2012 and will help Detroit down the stretch as they look to make a run at the World Series.

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox no longer have a clear closer after trading Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays. Now, their bullpen will rely on the flame-throwing lefty Matt Thornton and rookie Addison Reed.

Matt Thornton had a rough 2011. He lost his closer job to a former shortstop and saw his strikeout rates plummet. In 2010, he struck out 12.02 batters per nine innings. In 2011, he saw that rate drop to 9.5. He also walked more hitters than he had in previous years, and his LOB% dropped to 61.2%. In 2012, he will probably see his numbers improve moderately- but not to the level they were at in 2010.

Addison Reed is the best prospect in the White Sox deprived farm system. He will probably start the year in the majors. He has a higher ceiling than any other White Sox bullpen arms and that might lead to a job closing for Chicago. Reed is a nice sleeper in 12-team leagues, in which you are looking for saves.

Manager Robin Ventura has said that Reed is likely to make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. He also said that the closing job is Matt Thornton’s to lose. I don’t think it will be very long before Reed takes over the job from Thornton, so Reed will probably get the majority of saves for the White Sox this year.

Kansas City Royals: Last year, it seemed inevitable that the Royals would trade away their longtime closer Joakim Soria. Then Soria’s value dramatically dropped. In May, Soria gave up ten runs in ten innings, and Royals fans started to panic. Eventually, Soria got back to the pitcher he always was. He finished 2011 with 28 saves, his lowest total since 2007. General Manager Dayton Moore made the right move hanging on to Joakim Soria because his value was so low at the trade deadline.

For 2012, Soria will be the Royals closer barring a trade. Not to be forgotten is former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton who was signed this offseason. The Royals have a talented young bullpen that has the chance to develop into one of the best in the league.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins have no real closer heading into the 2011 season. Sure they have Matt Capps, who has 124 career saves. But he’s not a legitimate option if they plan on contending this year. They recently signed former Detroit Tiger Joel Zumaya who is coming back from a serious arm injury, but he used to be able to throw triple digits.

For fantasy players looking for sleepers, this team isn’t a bad place to start. Any one of the Twins pitchers could step up and take the closer role. This might be the worst bullpen in the league, so Minnesota will probably have to make some moves this year.

Cleveland Indians: The Indians a strong bullpen that should be able to give their starters a proper amount of rest. Vinnie Pestano is the best reliever on the team… and he’s not even closing. Pestano was worth 1.5 WAR in 2011, and he had 23 saves. If Chris Perez were to slip up in his closing duties, Pestano could easily fill in.

Chris Perez is a very good closer because he is a clutch performer. He doesn’t strike out many hitters and he walks a lot of hitters (1.50 K/BB in 2011), but he doesn’t blow many saves. He was 36 for 40 in save opportunities last year.

Even though Perez will likely be the starting closer on Opening Day, if Pestano keeps pitching like he has, he could eventually take over the position.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners probably should have traded their closer, Brandon League, this offseason. As strong of an asset as League is, the Mariners won’t be contending in 2012.

When Brandon Leauge decides to throw it, he has one of the best splitters in the league. Last year he threw his splitter 28.2% of the time. Mariners fans want him to throw it more because of how dominating it can be. In 2011, using his splitter more led him to 37 saves and a 2.78 FIP. If League were to be traded or injured, Shawn Kelley, Tom Wilhelmsen, or Chance Ruffin would likely step into the role.

Oakland Athletics: Since the A’s traded Andrew Bailey, their closer responsibility is no longer set in stone. Brian Fuentes will likely start the year as their closer, but he has 37 career blown saves and is no longer the pitcher he once was.

The next pitcher in line to get saves is probably Fautino De Los Santos. As a rookie in 2011, De Los Santos struck out 11.61 batters per nine innings. Fautino De Los Santos may be electric but he only has thirty-two career saves (all of which were in the minors.)

Texas Rangers: The Rangers have the most depth out of any bullpen in the AL West. Joe Nathan will be the closer out of spring training. If Nathan were to fail, the Rangers also have Mike Adams, Koji Uehara (barring a trade) and Alexi Ogando (if he doesn’t start) waiting in the wings. If the Rangers bullpen were a flavor of milkshake- they would be banana. Not always the first thing that comes to mind, but after you try it, it’s much better than you expected.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels should have spent more money this offseason on their bullpen. Jordan Walden is far from a sure thing. Although it was his rookie year, Walden had his ups and downs in 2011. Walden looked nervous at times. Hopefully in his second year, he will have a better ” closer’s mentality.” 

Setting up Walden will be most likely be Scott Downs, who was extremely lucky in 2011. Downs had 26 holds and a 1.34 ERA. He had a 3.40 xFIP and he left 86.4% of his men on base.  In 2012, there’s no question that Downs is going to regress. The only question is how much. 

Overall:  The bullpens in the American League aren’t as strong as they look. There are talented pitchers on nearly every team, but no bullpen stands out as the clear winner. 2012 is going to be the an important year for closers, as there will be many AL teams in contention (especially if the 2nd Wild Card goes through). Some say that the whole closer role and mentality is not important. But once this year’s playoffs are upon us, I think 2012 will prove just how important closers really are.

***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***

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.

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