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By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
Well, the Atlanta Braves are the toast of the MLB right now, Prince Fielder is the hottest hitter on the planet, John Buck is doing his best Johnny Bench impersonation – while Chris Davis is giving new definition to the nickname ‘Crash’.
The Mets and Rockies have had the biggest ‘Cupcake Schedules’ thus far in the Major Leagues – and I am still not buying stock in these teams.
The Angels pulled out a couple of wins versus the Houston Astros to end the week 5 – 8 (You guys are supposed to beat Houston whenever you play them this year!
The Yankees rode a 4 – 1 week among a schedule that was blown apart by weather induced cancellations in Cleveland, to climb the standings.
To quote Joe Pesci in (‘ My Cousin Vinny” when Fred Gwynne tells him he is in contempt of court) in response to Jose Reyes being injured. ”There is a f—— surprise!
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Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024
Once upon a time in Baltimore there was this speed demon, 40 2B+, 40 SB and 100 Runs a Year guy that played for the Baltimore Orioles. He was the best player on a team that hadn’t been competitive in quite some time. The team rewarded the player with a 4 YR/$40 Million Dollar Contract. I am talking of course about Brian Roberts.
Earlier this week I wrote a similar column about how Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner were also world – beaters amongst AL hitters before a rash of injuries had grinded their careers down to a halt. Read that blog right here .
It must have been bittersweet for Roberts to see his teammates celebrate with a champagne bubble bath – after clinching the clubs first Post Season Birth in 15 years. Heck, it was only a few years later (in 1999) that the Second Baseman was taken in the 1999 Amateur Draft (5oth pick overall).
Brian Roberts speaks about Post Concussion Recovery:
Tuesday November 13th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: While the baseball world has shifted the focus to the hot stove rumors, the main yearly awards are starting to be announced. This year, the manager of the year is very intriguing with several surprise teams making their mark on a memorable MLB season.
Here’s who should win and who will win in both leagues:
Who Should Win: Davey Johnson
Johnson transformed the Nationals into a middle of the pack team to baseball’s best team record wise in the span of a year. That alone, is an impressive feat, but his case goes on. Read the rest of this entry
Saturday November 10th, 2012
Kyle Holland: The Orioles had by far surprising run in 2012. Not one ESPN or MLB Network reporter predicted them to make as strong of a run as they did. After finishing the 2011 campaign 69-93, they turned it around with an impressive 93-69 record. They won an amazing 16 extra inning games in a row, an MLB record. The Orioles were definitely strong contenders this year, but lacked in one key area. Starting pitching.
Solution to this pitching problem? Zack Greinke. Greinke is the best pitcher on the free agent market this year and an ace like him is exactly what the Orioles need. Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen had probably the best seasons on the starting staff, but neither are a go-to ace. Hammel had a 3.43 ERA in 20 games started with an 8-6 record. Chen lead the team in wins, ERA, and strikeouts (with a qualifying amount of innings pitched). He tossed 154 Ks with a 4.02 ERA through collecting 12 wins along the way. The O’s pitching was their downfall in the ALDS. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday November 6th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: OK, maybe it’s not big deal that the Boston Red Sox pulled a fast one on the Toronto Blue Jays, in a trade where they acquired ex-Blue Jays’ manager John Farrell. This whole conundrum is minor in terms of the impact it will make on both teams. But the Jays could have done a lot better in terms of the talent they received back, to say the least.
According to multiple reports, the Red Sox craved John Farrell deeply. So with that in mind, you would have to think that they would have gone above and beyond to snatch him from Toronto. Yet, they did not need to use maximum effort to obtain him, trading just Mike Aviles in compensation.
Aviles isn’t an entirely blank asset. He complied a .663 OPS in 2012, including a career-high 13 home runs and 60 runs batted in. On the same note, he is far from a star, which is precisely why the Blue Jays should have set their sights a tad higher. If Boston really wanted Farrell at the helm, they would have probably been willing to exchange a player (or players) with higher ceilings. Or more simply, a player with room to grow, instead of a veteran whose best years are most likely behind him, a la Aviles. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday October 7th, 2012
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Jonathan Hacohen: The regular season is done. Toast. That’s it. We even finished the one game sudden death Wild Card playoffs. We are now officially in full swing, MLB playoff mode.
It is a bittersweet feeling. I love the playoffs. But it is hard to go without having 12-15 MLB games going every day. And then I shudder to think what life is like when the playoffs are finished. We are less than 3 weeks away from the World Series. Can you believe it? This was an incredible season, with many highs and lows. From all those no-hitters to the countless players undergoing Tommy John surgery. The surprising A’s and Orioles. The disappointing Angels and Phillies. We had quite the year. Valentine Gate. Melky’s suspension. Miggy’s triple crown. Trout’s dominance. Dickey’s greatness. 2012 will go down as one of my favorite baseball seasons of all time.
Before we turn over to your questions, let’s address those Wild Card games. For all the talk of Atlanta’s great season, they are done. One game and over. The St. Louis Cardinals, the defending World Series champs squeaked into the playoffs…and are now heading to the NLDS for a date with the Nationals. Over in the American League, the powerhouse Rangers are done. For a team that led the AL in wins for most of the year and held the AL West crown for almost the entire season, their late season collapse ended in disaster. With a two game lead going into the final season, the A’s sweep in Oakland of the Rangers meant a date at home for Texas with Baltimore. This shows the importance of a division title vs. a wild card spot. While the A’s face the Tigers in a 5-game series, the Rangers had only one chance and blew it. Given the fact that they had enjoyed back-to-back World Series appearances the last two seasons, 2012 will go down as a black mark in Rangers history. It goes to show you: a team can have all the hitting on the planet, but to win- they need pitching. Sure the Rangers hitting cooled off in the 2nd half, but they also did not have enough reliable pitchers to be ready for the playoffs. Now imagine the Rays had a better offense. That’s the type of team that was built to compete in the playoffs. Great, young and healthy pitching is usually the secret to success in today’s game. But without enough hitting, the road was too hard for the Rays.
As a result, teams like the Orioles and the A’s are in, while the Rays and Rangers are out. The teams may not have the best pitching or hitting- but with a steady amount of both, playoff dreams became a reality. What the A’s and Orioles both enjoy is lights-out bullpens. So called experts may call bullpens/relievers/closers as overrated. Looking at the Orioles success in 1-run games and the A’s in extra innings, I would have to disagree. If a team can lock down a game from the 6th inning an on with a lead consistency, that is what we call a dangerous team. I have no idea if the A’s and O’s face-off in the ALCS. If they do, that should be one explosive series. My crystal ball sees the winner of the A’s/Tigers going to the World Series. In the NL, I see it as the Reds all the way. They are just too stacked and consistent. Anything can happen in a short series, but those are my picks for baseball’s biggest showdown of the season. Stay tuned!
Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024
Buck Showalter has a knack of coming in when a franchise is down and rebuilding the team within 2-3 years after. He started with the struggling Yankees back in the early 90′s and almost brought them to the promise land a couple of times. The Players Strike cost him a chance in the 1994 season and he was on the back-end of a hot 1995 Seattle Mariners club, (who were left for dead and caught lightning in a bottle with the emergence of Randy Johnson.) Showalter was blamed for not being able to reach the stars on the club even though he was a master tactician with young players. Don Mattingly quickly retired and a new wave of young players were meshing with the old stars . The Yankees went onto hire Joe Torre, while Buck was left to view the club win 4 World Series in 5 years and make 6 out of 7 World Series Appearances overall. Showalter’s managerial record was 313-268 with the Yankees.
Joe Torre was a great manager, however I am of the belief that if Buck Showalter was given one more chance with the PinStripers, that he would have succeeded. So Showalter went to the Arizona DiamondBacks 2 years before the franchise was even playing so he could hit the ground running, From the get go, the D’Backs brass were willing to sign premier free-agents. In the second year of the club’s existence, Showalter took the team to a playoff appearance with a 100-62 record- and was was named NL Manager of the Year. He left the club after the 2000 season. Bob Brenly swept into the fray and reaped the benefits of all the hard work put forth by Showalter, by winning a World Series with the D’Backs in 2001. Showalter was left to watch from a distance yet again. Actually it was his two former teams in the World Series of 2001 as the D’backs ousted the Yankees in 7 games. Showalter left the Arizona franchise with a 250-236 record. Read the rest of this entry
Wedesday August 15th, 2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Music has one hit wonders, some have even made an entire career out of just one stretch of time where they were deemed relevant. Baseball is like everything else, they have had their fair share of players that fit this mold. In the next two weeks, we will take a look at hitters and pitchers that were really on fire for a stretch before they petered out just as fast. I harken back to the movie ‘Tin Cup” for this next saying, “Greatness Courts Failure.” The difference between the two in baseball is so miniscule. Unfortunately for every player that makes it to the show, hundreds never get their chance at all. I am sure if you ask each one of these players if they were happy at their time in the Major Leagues, they would tell you that they thought they did not perform to their full capability.
The players would think highly of the time they had their biggest successes and would wish they could have had more of the limelight for a prolonged stretch. The fans of baseball are left to form their own opinions on these individuals. Just like what happens in the world, there will be some fans who remember these guys fondly and others will turn the page on them, not thinking much at all. The split is usually right down the middle. The next five hitters are players that I remember making a big splash before bowing out just as quick as they came into prominence. I contemplated adding Sam Fuld to this list, however he has a chance to play in the Major Leagues for years to come, so it is too early to list him amongst these men. So at the very least, I will give him the video tribute down below before the page break. Fuld is a great inspiration and I look forward to writing about him in future articles. Also, other players I considered for this piece were Bob Hamelin and Rick Ankiel. I gave Ankiel a pass in both pitching and hitting because he was so unique to have done both. You can read a recent article I wrote about the man here . In the end, I did not think Bob Hamelin had a standout performance even as a rookie. He was lucky to have such a weak class of rookies to compete against in the year he won it.