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Nate Freiman: Beane Finds Yet Another Hidden Gem… And The A’s Next 1st Baseman

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Friday April 5th, 2013

All Nate Freiman did was carry the Country of Israel during the recent World Baseball Classic Qualifying Tournament. Can this First Base giant do the same in Oakland?

All Nate Freiman did was carry the Country of Israel during the recent World Baseball Classic Qualifying Tournament. Can this First Base giant do the same in Oakland?

Jonathan Hacohen  (Lead Baseball Columnist, Oakland A’s Correspondent and Website Founder):  

Baseball is a funny game sometimes. One minute you’re crying the Chris Carter blues. Then before you  know it, Nate Freiman appears. That is how Billy Beane works my friends. Just when you think he might be slipping, he pulls a magic rabbit out of his hat (better known as the waiver wire in baseball terms). 

On February 11, 2013, I wrote an article outlining Billy Beane’s error in trading Chris Carter. While I have always endorsed the talents of Jed Lowrie, it was my opinion that giving up a future star in Chris Carter was too high of a price to pay.

The trade (which actually took place on February 4th) saw the Astros acquire yet another stud First Base prospect. I wondered out loud what the Astros would do with all their First Base talent (Brett Wallace, Jonathan Singleton, Nate Freiman and veteran Carlos Pena).

It seemed like too many bats and not enough positions in Houston, despite the newfound need for a Designated Hitter. A little over a month later, March 23rd to be exact- I had my answer. Nate Freiman was on his way to Oakland.

The star for Israel in this year’s World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament was going to get the opportunity of a lifetime.

While some felt the A’s were simply acquiring roster depth, I saw a different vision. The A’s had their replacement for Brandon Moss at First Base.

Billy Beane had an uncovered yet another gem that was going to thrive in Oakland. Remember Josh Reddick 2012? Meet Nate Freiman 2013.  

Nate Freiman Interview:

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WBC 2013 Final Results, Recap And Review

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Wednesday March 2oth, 2013

Congrats to the Dominican Republic: The 2013 World Baseball Classic Champions!

Jonathan Hacohen  (Lead Baseball Columnist, Oakland A’s Correspondent and Website Founder):  

After the initial WBC in 2006, the tournament returned in 2009.  The decision was made to have the WBC played three years after the inaugural edition and then four years later from there.  

As result, after a long wait for baseball fans…the third World Baseball Classic was back for the 3rd edition in 2013.

 It was a thrilling March- with the final 2 countries facing off for global baseball supremacy:  The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.  The DR won the game 3-0 behind the MVP bat of Robinson Cano.  

Congrats to the Dominican Republic on being crowned the 2013 WBC Champions!

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World Baseball Classic Week One Update

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Saturday, March 10th, 2013

Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop has turned helped the Netherlands become the most exciting team in the tournament.

Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop has helped the Netherlands become the most exciting team in the tournament.

By Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): 

So far, the World Baseball Classic has been a great way for those of us drooling for baseball to take in some familiar sights. Even though some of the teams look very rusty and not exactly in mid-season form, others look primed to bring a championship home to their country. Group A and B have both finished their first round and have already moved on to Round 2, but Group C and D have yet to concluded their first round. Overall, the first week of the 2013 World Baseball Classic couldn’t have gone much better.

Complete World Baseball Classic Brawl – Canada VS Mexico March 9 2013

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Yoenis Cespedes: While Cuba Misses Their Star in the 2013 WBC – the A’s Slugger Looks to be an A.L. MVP Candidate

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Friday March 8th, 2013

From Cuba to A.L. MVP? Despite not being able to represent his native country in the WBC, Cespedes is a year older and wiser. The more he adjusts to North America life and baseball, opposing pitchers will shudder even more each time Cespedes comes to the plate.

Jonathan Hacohen  (Lead Baseball Columnist, Oakland A’s Correspondent and Website Founder):  

It’s pretty ironic if you ask me. The 2013 World Baseball Classic is here and Cuba is off to a huge start. I had to pick a winner and went with Cuba as my pre-tournament favorite. Considering that Japan has won both editions of the WBC, Cuba was definitely going to be in tough. To top it all off, they are starting off the first two rounds in Japan. Why is it ironic? For Cuba is missing its biggest star for the tournament. Yoenis Cespedes, the Oakland A’s star outfielder is in Arizona for Spring Training.

Far away from the bright lights of Japan, where Cuba finally beat its nemesis this week in WBC play after several failed attempts in the past. With that monkey off their back, Cuba has made the statement that they are ready to win it all. But yet without their biggest star. For when one defects from Cuba, they are forever banished from representing their country again in any baseball capacity.

I couldn’t help but think watching Cuba play in Japan this week that in fact Cespedes and the A’s opened their season last year in Japan. Cespedes actually started off his season with a bang out there and never looked back. On March 29th last year, Cespedes had a home run in the 2nd game of the A’s young season. That bomb in Japan was the start of the legend. Who knew that Cespedes would actually be in Japan a year too early? For all the success that Cuba has enjoyed thus far in the 2013 WBC, imagine if they had Cespedes anchoring that lineup?

Cuba may very still win the 2013 WBC. My money is on that happening. But if Cuba falls short yet again, the what if scenarios will endlessly get bounced around. What if the team had Aroldis Chapman? Alexei Ramirez? And most of all, Yoenis Cespedes? Until Cuba allows its defectors to come home again, the talent drain will continue to affect the country in international tournaments.

Yoenis Cespedes 2012 Highlights Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is Advised:

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Cuba Is Ready To Win The 2013 World Baseball Classic

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Saturday February 16th, 2013

LazoClasico1.jpg

Pedro Luis Lazo. One of Cuba’s greatest pitchers of all-time. Considered also one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball not to pitch in the big leagues. A legend, he represented Cuba in the 2006 and 2009 WBC tournaments. He will be missed in this year’s edition.

By Jonathan Hacohen  (Lead Baseball Columnist, Oakland A’s Correspondent and Website Founder):  

Going into the 3rd edition of the World Baseball Classic, the #1 question that I get asked on a daily basis is: “Which country will win it all?” A fair question, as all sports fans (not just baseball ones) love to predict champions before the first game is even played. Given that Japan has won the first two WBC titles (2006 and 2009), they have to be the favorites going into this year’s tournament. But as every new WBC edition begins, every country begins to get hungrier and hungrier. We had a qualifier tournament recently, the inaugural one for a WBC. 16 countries battled it out to win the 4 coveted spots into the tournament. Chinese Taipei, Brazil, Canada and Spain will field teams next month.

Canada and Chinese Taipei were two of the four countries that did not receive automatic entries and were required to qualify. Brazil and Spain were the newcomers that got their first taste of the WBC…and evidently loved it. So who will be it folks? Japan beat Korea in 2009 and Cuba back in 2006. Ironically, Cuba lost to Japan twice back in the 2nd round of 2009. If not for Japan, Cuba would have at least WBC title under their belts. Maybe two. So who does Cuba get in their group as part of the 1st Round of the 2013 WBC? Japan, of course. This time around, things will be different. Cuba is ready to knock the Japanese gorilla off their backs and take the 2013 World Baseball Classic.  


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2013 WBC Group A Preview

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Friday, February 9th, 2013


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Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): 

With the World Baseball Classic starting not too long from now, it’s time to preview all of the teams and their individual superstars. Group A is perhaps the most talented division. Japan, China, Cuba, and Brazil will make up the structure of Group A, which will begin play in Fukuoka, Japan on March 2nd. This division appears to be one of the strongest and definitely one of the most interesting.

2009 WBC Highlights from the final – Japan vs Korea:

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Yu Darvish: What Needs To Be Done For An Encore In 2013

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Tuesday January 29th, 2013

Yu Darvish ended up with a 3.90 ERA at the end of the 2012 season, helping the Rangers into the Wild Card Game.

Yu Darvish ended up with a 3.90 ERA at the end of the 2012 season, helping the Rangers into the Wild Card Game play in game.  While Darvish went 10-2 before the ALL-Star Game – and then 6-7 afterwards, however the the ERA only went from 3.88 (1st half) – 3.92 (2nd half).

Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer):

Yu Darvish was up there with the most hyped players ever to sign out of Japan. There was a bidding war just to get the rights to negotiate with him, and the half-Japanese half-Iranian pitcher ended up signing with the Texas Rangers for over $50 Mllion and another 53.7 Million in a posting fee.. Darvish had what many would call a successful season with the Rangers in 2012, going 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 191.1 Innings Pitched. He was just what the Rangers needed in a front-of-the-rotation type pitcher who could eat up innings. Darvish signed a 6-year contract before 2012, so the Rangers will still get a minimum of five more years from him. In this feature, I will discuss what Yu Darvish needs to do in order to continue to be the successful starter the Rangers signed.

All in all, Yu Darvish had a great 2012 season. All of his numbers were right where they needed to be, and the pitcher did not have any major issues. Darvish struck out 221 and carried a 1.28 WHIP. The only statistic that was a bit eye-catching was the number of walks. Darvish walked 89 batters over the course of the season, and held a 2.48 K/BB ratio. Darvish’s control was the one part of his skillset that was rather questionable. There were games last season in which Darvish walked four, five, even six in a game. In fact, Darvish walked six in a game three times, and five in a game twice. He had no games in which he did not walk anyone. In his last seven starts, however, Darvish did not walk more than two in a game—which could possibly mean that Darvish worked out whatever was causing him to lose control.

Yu Darvish 2012 Highlights:

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Adam Lind: Ready For His Last Season in the Big Leagues

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Friday January 4th, 2013

Adam Lind better hope he continue his strong second half in 2012 for the Jays, where he hit.304 with 4 HRs and 25 RBI in 161 AB after his recall from Las Vegas.  As an AL East Contender, the Jays can't afford any struggles like his 2012 first half.  It could be curtains for a Career if he is sent to the Minors

Adam Lind better hope he continue his decent second half in 2012 for the Jays, where he hit.304 with 4 HRs and 25 RBI in 161 AB after his recall from Las Vegas. As an AL East Contender, the Jays can’t afford any struggles like his 2012 first half. It could be curtains for a Career if he is sent to the Minors.

Jonathan Hacohen  (Baseball Writer and Website Founder):  

Living in Toronto, I have watched MANY Adam Lind At-Bats in my time. Watching Adam Lind recently, I start to ponder back to the days of Russ Adams and Josh Towers. Watching each of these players (hit and pitch respectively), I continually asked myself one question: how do these guys still have jobs? Perhaps the manager really likes them. Perhaps the organization sees immense potential. I am not really sure, but eventually the Adams and Towers bubbles came to burst. In 2013, I sense the same thing will happen to Adam Lind.

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2012 MLB Postseason Preview: Every Pitch Counts

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

October is the time when there is a quiet current of electricity surrounding baseball. There is an intensity in every second between pitches, and the players really zone in. This is the reason they played 162 games through the regular season. They are all after one thing: A World Championship.

Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer):

With the last games of the 2012 regular season being officially completed yesterday I get the same feeling I do every season…it’s a sickening pain in my stomach, that makes me want to hibernate and not wake up until April comes around.  For baseball lovers, we are all very familiar with this feeling.  We find solace in the fact that with the exception of the month of November, we can still follow  baseball transactions all year-long.  Furthermore, we cannot get too upset; baseball isn’t really over.  In fact, some might argue that it is just beginning!

The boys of summer play all those games in the summer heat for one reason.  The grueling 162 game schedule sees many ups and many downs, and all of these challenges are met with a firm resolve:  to do whatever it takes to get to the postseason.  October is the time when the weather turns cold, and ball players become unshaven warriors duking it out to be the victorious few who have the honor to take a championship ring home this offseason. Read the rest of this entry

Ask the Reports: Sunday December 25th

Sunday December 25, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!

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

Q:  As things stand right now, who wins the divisions and Wild Cards from AL/NL in 2012?  Steve

MLB reports:  It’s not even 2012 and you want me to give you a sneak on predictions?  Sure.  I’m game!  Which MLB teams will make the playoffs in 2012.  I am looking at the crystal ball.  We are going to assume there is still only one Wild Card team per league.  I am finding it a little hazy at this point, but here is what I am seeing:

American League:

East:  Tampa Bay Rays:  Still the cream of the east.  Nobody is touching that pitching staff, led by David Price, James Shields and company.  The Rays could still add a bat or two before the season starts.  If pitching is king, the Rays are royalty.

Central: Detroit Tigers.  The class of the division and this one isn’t even close.  Justin Verlander. Miguel CabreraVictor MartinezAlex Avila.  Full seasons of Doug Fister and Delmon Young.  MLB should just hand them the division title right now and save everyone else the trouble.  It is a great time to be a Tigers fan.

West:  Houston Astros (just kidding…they don’t get their chance until 2013).  Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Surprised?  Me too.  Most would expect me to say the Rangers.  But with the Angels pitching and offense bulked up by Albert Pujols, the Angels get my vote.  Jeff WeaverC.J. WilsonDan HarenPeter Bourjos.  I see where the Angels are headed and they have the horses now to take the West.  Their pitching is still stellar and with all that offense that is coming….a miracle will happen in Anaheim in 2012.

Wild Card:  Texas Rangers.  The AL West will go down to the last day of the season likely.  With that offense led by Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli…Texas will be tough to beat.  The difference will be pitching.  Sure they have Yu Darvish.  But I don’t think he will be enough to get the AL West title.  But it will still get Texas into the playoffs again.

National League:

East:  Philadelphia Phillies.  Yes Ryan Howard is out for some time.  Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are getting older.  But Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels equates to an automatic division title.  Book it.

Central:  Cincinnati Reds:  My pick for the second straight year.  With the Brewers and Cardinals both losing key parts, it is time for the Reds to shine.  A pitching staff led by Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto. The dangerous offensive weapons of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay BruceDevin Mesoraco becoming the full-time catcher.  2012 will be a bright year for the Reds.

West: Arizona Diamondbacks.  No longer a surprise, the Dbacks are loaded to make another strong run in 2012.  On top of the returning team, Trevor Cahill will be a strong addition.  Kirk Gibson has a nice mix of offense, defense, starting pitchers and a deep pen.  The Dbacks are the team to beat in 2012.

Wild Card:  St. Louis Cardinals.  The 2011 World Series champions are back for more.  While the loss of Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa will be devastating, Dave Duncan returns as the pitching coach.  Carlos Beltran should pick some of the offensive slack, plus Adam Wainwright will be back from injury.  With Wainwright, Carpenter and Garcia leading the rotation, the Cards should make the postseason.

Q:  (a)  Exactly how does the “bidding”, say for Yu Darvish work?  Where’s that $54 million go towards?

(b)  How will Fielder (likely) and Pujols leaving the NL Central affect the division?   Lee

MLB reports:  A two-part question for you today Lee, nicely done! (a)  The Darvish posting fee ($51.7 million) goes to his former Japanese team, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters as a transfer fee.  All MLB teams had a window in which to submit a bid for the rights to negotiate with Darvish.  In that time, the Rangers submitted the highest bid.  The Ham Fighters did not know the team, only the winning bid.  Now the Rangers have 30 days to sign Darvish to a contract.  If Darvish signs, the Ham Fighters keep the $51.7 million.  If no contract, Darvish goes back to Japan for next year and can be re-posted in 2013.  Expect Darvish though to sign with Texas and the Ham Fighters to keep the posting fee. 

Now on to part 2 of your question.  You are correct in your estimation, as Prince Fielder is likely to join Albert Pujols and leave the NL Central.  The departures of the two stars means that the NL Central crown is up for grabs.  As per my earlier answer, the Reds are now the heavy favorites to win the Central.  The Cards will still be in it, as the return of Wainwright will drastically help the team.  But nobody can know how the team will play without Pujols and its former manager, Tony La Russa.  The Brewers could be in big trouble, especially if Ryan Braun is lost for any lengthy period of time.  Prince Fielder did not get enough credit for the success of the Milwaukee Brewers.  Now the team will have a reality check when he is gone in 2012.

 

 Q:  As of today, what are the top-5 rotations in MLB?  Fredy

MLB reports:  A great…great…great question.  What a fantastic discussion point and source of debate.  With all the cries about the lack of pitching in baseball, there are some fantastic rotations out there.  Now, with trades and free agent signings, this list could change.  But as of today, here are my top rotations in baseball (in order):

1)  Tampa Bay Rays:  Some teams may have a better 1-2-3 punch.  But for overall depth and quality, the Rays are the class of baseball.  David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson can run with the best of them.  Then add Matt Moore, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann into the equation and you have baseball’s best rotation.  With even more good young pitchers coming through the minors, the Rays have an embarrassment of riches.  A trade could still come through the pipe, but even still, the Rays are my selection.

2)  Philadelphia Phillies:  Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are the most devastating top-2 starters I have ever watched in my life.  They have the chance of being one of the best duos of all time, and that is saying a lot.  Cole Hamels could be an ace for many other teams and is playing for his next big pay-day.  Vance Worley had a solid 2011 campaign and should do much of the same this year for the Phillies.  The 5th job will likely be between Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton, unless another move is made.  The Phillies may not be the most complete team in baseball, but they certainly have one of the top rotations in the game.

3)  San Francisco Giants:  This team does not require much explanation.  Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison BumgarnerRyan Vogelsong and Barry Zito to round out the squad.  You would have a very difficult time finding a better top-3 when they are on.  Cain is one of my personal favorites and one of the most underrated players in the game in my estimation.

4)  Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:  My pick to win the AL West and a big reason is this staff.  Jeff Weaver and Dan Haren are the foundation of the team.  C.J. Wilson should be a great #3 on a team where he will not be expected to be the ace.   Between Ervin Santana, Jerome Williams and Garrett Richards, Mike Scoscia should be able to fill in the rest of his rotation. 

5)  Atlanta Braves:  I struggled with this one.  I was thinking Cards, Reds and even the Nationals.  While each of those teams had some top guns, it was their lack of depth that made them fall of the list.  The Braves are my pick for having strong pitchers, but just the best depth in the rotations that were left.  Tim Hudson.  Jair Jurrjens (if not traded).  Tommy Hanson (if healthy).  Brandon BeachyMike Minor.  Randall Delgaldo.  Julio Teheran.  Just having Teheran alone shoots this rotation up the list.  They may not be the flashiest, but the Braves have a choice of starting pitchers that other teams just drool over.

Q:  Will Ubaldo Jimenez regain his 2010 first half form?  David

MLB reports:  Is there a bigger source of frustration in baseball?  The Ubaldo from 2011 looked nothing like the recent Ubaldo we have come to know.  He will be turning 28 in January (in Dominican years) and should just be entering the prime of his career.  I will tell you my gut feeling…and Cleveland fans, you will not like it.  I have seen this pattern too many times over the years.  Occasionally a pitcher goes through a dead-arm period, where their numbers and performance all of a sudden drops drastically.  Through rest and a change in mechanics, the form can return.  But that is the exception to the rule.  Usually when a decline like Ubaldo’s appears, it means that there is an injury in hiding.  I will be very surprised if Ubaldo regains his form overnight.  I am looking at a crystal ball and my sense is a visit to Dr. Andrews in his future.  This is a gut feeling, but a very strong one.  It could be heartburn, but I doubt it.

 

Q:  Tim Wheeler and Seth Smith for Prado or Jurrjens? Joe

MLB reports:  Its a possibility, but I don’t see it happening.  Wheeler is the real deal and I can’t see the Rockies moving him at this point.  Smith is a useful role player and could blossom into a steady every day player, but I have my doubts.  Between Jurrjens and Prado, I take Jurrjens if I’m the Rockies.  A great pitcher, but has issues staying healthy.  The key component in this trade is Wheeler.  The former 1st round pick is highly rated and was terrific last season with 33 home runs in AA.  Rockies say no, Braves say yes.  But if it happens, it would be for Jurrjens also.  Martin Prado is another useful player, but not a star and worth the cost of a top prospect.

 

Q: Which team makes the biggest jump in the ‘Power Rankings’ if they sign Fielder?  Bleacher GM

MLB reports:  Another great question!  Prince Fielder will instantly help any team that signs him.  But who will make the biggest jump…now that is a different story.  I could see the Jays being stronger playoff contenders with him.  The Rangers would be even that much more dangerous.  But the biggest jumps would be based on a team with potential that needs to go the next level.  My picks in order would be the Nationals, Mariners and Orioles.  With Prince on board, I could see the Nats finally climbing from potential to contenders.  The Mariners and Orioles would go from the basement to respectability overnight.  Yes, Prince has that kind of power and abilities to make everyone else around him better.  But the Nationals get my vote, given their emerging pitching staff and great young hitters.  If the Nats sign Prince, we could be looking at the Nats in the playoffs by 2013.   The Mariners are still far too behind on offense to become contenders and the Orioles are still emerging and integrating as a young team.  The Mariners get the edge based on their pitching staff.  But imagine Prince hitting between Harper and Zimmerman.  Just the thought gets me very excited!

 

Final Question of the day: Here’s a good question, what was the one moment that made you realize baseball was your niche?  Eric

MLB reports:  I needed a week to ponder this one Eric.  One of the most insightful and deep questions ever presented to me.  I always knew that I had a deep love for baseball.  I have read about the game and its players and studied the sport for most of life.  I have always enjoyed writing about baseball, but never knew where it would be headed.  In conducting interviews, I felt a good connection to the game and the people associated with it.  But the true point when I knew it was my calling- now that is a different story. I would have to say when a leading baseball writer for a well-known baseball publication told me that he reads the site regularly and enjoys my work, that was the instance I felt that I had something special.  When a writer of his caliber and experience was quoting my work and praising it, I literally had goosebumps.  That was the defining moment in my career.  From there, when I get emails and messages from baseball fans all over the world- it makes all the hard work very gratifying.  I enjoy touching people’s lives and being able to deliver to them positive information and analysis on the game of baseball.  Finding the right writers who had the same principles, work ethic and ideas was the key to the growth of the site.  I definitely love what I do.  I believe that people lead busy lives and time is precious.  By people taking the time out of their lives to read my work, I have an obligation to provide them with the best baseball writing that I can deliver.  It is an honor that I get to interact with as many baseball fans that I do as part of my role as a Baseball Writer.  It is the greatest game on the planet and I am proud to be able to make contributions to baseball through my writing.  Thank you for the question!

 

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

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.
 
 

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


Ichiro Suzuki: What Happened in 2011 to the Mariners Superstar and Looking to 2013

Friday September 16, 2011

 

 

Sam Evans (Intern – MLB reports):  When Ichiro Suzuki came into the league in 2001, people did not know what to expect from him.  He exceeded any and all expectations, becoming the second MLB player all-time to win rookie of the year and MVP in the same season.  The next eight years seemed easy for Ichiro; the highlight moment coming when he set the all-time hits record in a single season record in 2004 with 262.  Not to mention, he became the first player in MLB history to have 200 hits in ten straight years.

Going into 2011, few analysts considered Ichiro’s production tailing off drastically.  Sure, he was 37 years old, but he might be in better shape than any other player in the majors.  In April of this year, Ichiro batted .328 and stole ten bases.  However, in May and June he batted .210 and .282 respectively.  This season has turned out to be Ichiro’s worst year in the majors by a large margin.  From 2001 to 2010, he never hit below .303.  In 2011, he’s hitting .272 with 5 HR and 72 RBI.

Ichiro’s production relies on his ability to get on base and create havoc on the base paths.  Last year Ichiro had 53 infield hits, while this year he only has 32. Even though Ichiro’s 32 infield hits currently leads the majors, it is still the lowest total Ichiro has ever had in his career.  It is not like these are cheap hits either, as former Detroit Third Basemen Brandon Inge commented to the New York Times on August 22,2009, “I wish you could put a camera at third base to see how he hits the ball and see the way it deceives you. You can call some guys’ infield hits cheap, but not his.  He has an amazing technique.”

One of the arguments that has been set out in attempting to explain Ichiro’s decline this year has been that he is getting slower and slower.  I disagree with this statement.  He is on pace to steal 43 bases, which is right around his career average.  In the field, Ichiro may have gotten a tad slower, but I think that is due to his taking bad angles to the ball, rather than a decline in his abilities.  However, while not attempting to insult Ichiro as a player, it is apparent though that his intensity is a definitely a lot lower this year.  This leads to the following conclusion in my opinion; Ichiro Suzuki is a human being.  He is playing for a Mariners team that has not reached the playoffs since 2001.  He has consistently been playing about 150 games a year, not including spring training.  It seems like no matter how good of a season Ichiro has, the players and team around him are disappointing.  After all, we are talking about the Mariners.  A player can only take so much losing at a certain point, even the great Ichiro.

One factor explaining Ichiro’s off-year is bad luck.  This is his first year with a BABIP under .300 (Ichiro’s career average is .352), and according to Baseball Info Solutions, he has lost more hits than any other big leaguer on “good fielding plays.”  No matter how you read the stats, the bottom line is that Ichiro has had a pretty bad year by his standards.   He has played below-average defense, and at times looked lazy in the field.  His On-Base-Percentage is at a career low .312, and he would  need an incredible 30 hits in his last 13 games to reach 200 again.  To make everything worse, Ichiro turns 38 in October.

Next year, will be interesting one for Ichiro Suzuki.  It is his contract year and the Mariners are starting to acquire some legitimate pieces around him.  A playoff year is probably out of the question, but a .500 year is very possible.  Personally, I think he will bounce back and hit over .300 with another 200 hit season.  With a better surrounding cast, I see glimpses of the old Ichiro returning.  I don’t think he’ll ever return to the level he was on in 2004, but as long as he stays interested in the game, I think he will be an above-average right fielder for the next five years.

Without a doubt, Ichiro is a first ballot Hall-of-famer.  He is the only player to have ten straight seasons of 200 or more hits.  He also holds the all time record for hits in a single season with 262.  Ichiro’s contract runs out at the end of 2012.  The main question I believe is whether he will want to keep playing in North America.  His friends and family are back in Japan, where he is a fashion icon.  If Ichiro does continue to play baseball, I would be shocked if it were for a team outside of Seattle.  When his career is finally over, most people will remember Ichiro for helping break the barrier between professional baseball in Japan and MLB.  Overall, I expect most will remember Ichiro as being the greatest Japanese baseball player of all time.

 

 

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

 

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Remembering Hideki Irabu: Japanese MLB Pitcher and Link to Donnie Moore

Sunday August 7, 2011

 

MLB reports:   Hideki Irabu was born on May 5, 1969 in Hirara, Okinawa.  Irabu played in Japan (Nippon Professional Baseball) from 1988-1996 and then again from 2003-2004.  In North America, we will most remember Irabu as a member of the New York Yankees from 1997-1999.  Irabu also played with the Montreal Expos from 2000-2001 and the Texas Rangers in 2002.  The baseball world sadly lost Hideki Irabu on July 27, 2011, an apparent victim of suicide.  A loss to the baseball world at the tender age of 42, Irabu was survived by a wife and two young children.

The story of Hideki Irabu is well-known in the baseball community.  He had his contract purchased by the San Diego Padres from his Japanese club, the Chiba Lotte Marines.  Irabu refused to sign with the San Diego Padres and stated his intention of only playing for the New York Yankees.  The Yankees were able to swing a deal for Irabu’s services, for a package of players including Ruben Rivera and cash.  Hideki Irabu ended up making his debut with the Yankees on July 10, 1997  and for his career pitched in 74 games for the Yankees over 3 seasons (64 starts).  Irabu won back-to-back World Series rings in New York in 1998 and 1999.  He was then traded to the Montreal Expos for Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook and Christian Parker.  A good haul for the Yankees considering the career spans of Lilly and Westbrook (had they stayed in New York).  Irabu then signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent and played out his last MLB season as a closer before returning to Japan to resume his NPB career.  After a stint in independent baseball, Irabu apparently had the intention of returning to Major League Baseball, but alas a comeback was not in the cards.  Reports have indicated that Irabu hung himself in his California home, with autopsy results to follow.  Today we look at the career of Hideki Irabu and the road that led to his untimely passing this year.

When joining the New York Yankees in 1997, Hideki Irabu was labelled the “Japanese Nolan Ryan”.  By the time he left New York, he was stuck with the moniker given to him by team owner George Steinbrenner “the fat toad”.  Looking at Irabu’s MLB numbers, he unfortunately fell short of the Nolan Ryan comparisons:

 

Year Tm W L ERA SV BB SO WHIP
1997 NYY 5 4 7.09 0 20 56 1.669
1998 NYY 13 9 4.06 0 76 126 1.295
1999 NYY 11 7 4.84 0 46 133 1.335
2000 MON 2 5 7.24 0 14 42 1.665
2001 MON 0 2 4.86 0 3 18 1.500
2002 TEX 3 8 5.74 16 16 30 1.426
6 Seasons 34 35 5.15 16 175 405 1.405
162 Game Avg. 11 12 5.15 5 58 134 1.405
               
NYY (3 yrs) 29 20 4.80 0 142 315 1.362
MON (2 yrs) 2 7 6.69 0 17 60 1.626
TEX (1 yr) 3 8 5.74 16 16 30 1.426
               
AL (4 yrs) 32 28 4.90 16 158 345 1.369
NL (2 yrs) 2 7 6.69 0 17 60 1.626
 

Injuries played a part in Irabu’s MLB career.  Irabu had both knee and shoulder surgeries after leaving the Yankees and blood clots ultimately led to his retirement from Major League Baseball following the 2002 season.  Bouts of heavy drinking, depression and rage also factored into Irabu’s career.  But despite all the distractions and factors that led to his unravelling in baseball, Irabu did show some glimpses of promise.  In addition to the two world series titles he earned in New York (despite playing in only one career post season game in 1999, giving up 7 ER in 4.2 IP to the Red Sox in the ALCS), Irabu had his best numbers during his time with the Yankees.  He earned both of his career shutouts in New York.  His best statistical season was 1998, where he went 13-9 for the Yankees, with a 4.06 ERA and 1.295 WHIP.  As a closer for the Rangers in 2002, Irabu earned 16 saves.  That unfortunately went together with a 3-8 record, 5.74 ERA and 1.426 WHIP.  For a proud young man who fought hard on and off the field, his major league career was taken from him much too early.  Despite attempts at a comeback, we never did see Hideki Irabu in a MLB uniform again after the 2002 season.

In our society, it is much too easy to write off the passing of another human being, especially a celebrity, without considering the person behind the name.  Granted Irabu faced many demons in his life and career.  But I think some people feel the need to label a player like Irabu an alcoholic and rageaholic and simply write him off when learning of his passing.  That is a tragedy in my estimation.  When I learned of Irabu’s passing, my immediate thoughts led to Donnie Moore.  For those of you not familiar, Moore was the Angels pitcher that gave up the tying and winning runs to the Red Sox in game five of the 1986 ALCS.  Many critics pointed to Moore as the reason that the Red Sox ended up beating the Angels and advancing to the World Series.  Moore was a popular target of Angels fans the following seasons and ended up shooting his wife and taking his own life.  A tragic story in itself, Moore like Irabu suffered from deep depression.  But without analyzing and comparing both men too much, I believe that it was the name calling and the reputations of each men that contributed greatly to their respective passings.  Victories and failures take place on baseball diamonds each and every day.  Moore in the playoffs and Irabu in New York, suffered their failures on some of the biggest baseball stages that you can find.  Had their losses been forgotten and each man allowed to continue fresh, they may have enjoyed longer and productive careers in baseball.  They may have also been able to enjoy their personal lives to a greater extent and still been with us today.  But the stigma of failure which was likely reminded to Moore and Irabu for most of their last days on this earth, was likely too much for each to bear.

Hideki Irabu, being of Japanese descent, was a very proud man.  Respect and reputation are considered very important in Japanese circles and criticism is often not taken very well.  Irabu, like Ichiro Suzuki after him, had a lifelong battle with the Japanese media.  Being of mixed descent, Irabu rarely discussed his background which was a difficult subject for him.  Before coming to North America, the Japanese media labelled him with very strong nicknames, including the “Shuwozenegga” and “Kurage”, which translates to jellyfish, for the sting of his pitches.  From there, being called the Japanese Nolan Ryan came with a set of expectations that Irabu could never live up to.  If that was not bad enough, the “fat toad” comment by George Steinbrenner stuck with him to his very last days.  It was my understanding that Irabu through most of his MLB career could not be in any baseball cities, especially New York without hearing some reference to the toad comment.  For a proud individual that did not take criticism well, such a nickname probably stuck within him like a dagger.  By no means do I directly blame Steinbrenner for Irabu’s suicide.  Far from it, as Steinbrenner lately expressed remorse for his comments and publicly apologized for his remarks.  But the choice of media and select fans to continue to remind Irabu of the nickname most likely helped contribute to his passing.  We cannot bring Hideki Irabu or Donnie Moore back.  But we can learn from their passings and help other athletes avoid similar fates.

I link the taunting of Irabu and Moore before him in public and media outlets to bullying in schools.  We have read stories of children and teenagers being harassed in schools and outlets like e-mails and Facebook to the point that they are driven to taking their own lives.   Words do hurt and a bully can be charged criminally.  For those people that went up to Hideki Irabu in a restaurant and called him a “fat toad”, or approached Donnie Moore in a shopping mall and called him a “choke” and “failure”, think about the result of those actions in retrospect.  Since athletes are in the public eye, that leads to many people feeling a sense of entitlement to judge and criticize players as they see fit.  Irabu by earning over $15 million over 6 seasons in Major League Baseball, was apparently fair game as a target to all forms of criticism that people chose to throw his way.  I have no issue with judging an athlete’s numbers on the field.  Analysis and discussion is what sports is all about.  But once we start with the name calling and viciousness, I feel that a line needs to be drawn.

Donnie Moore and Hideki Irabu chose to become professional athletes and were in the public eye.  That does mean that their wins and losses will be known to millions and discussed and analyzed by many.  But sports can go to extreme levels.  Homes vandalized.  Children harassed.  Even murders.  Critics and extreme “fans’ can go to dangerous levels in criticizing athletes.  While extreme situations, they do take place all too often.  These instances stem from bullying, which is not acceptable in schools with children but allowable in public forums with public figures.  We as members of society need to draw the line of what is acceptable in reviewing and criticizing athletes.  Although they choose to be in the public light, they are still human beings with real feelings and emotions.  Hopefully more people will remember that the next time they hurl disparaging remarks at an athlete, whether it be in a stadium, restaurant, radio talk show or newspaper.  Words do hurt and in the case of Donnie Moore and Hideki Irabu, they can also kill.

Donnie Moore, if you weren’t aware, played professional baseball for 13 seasons for 5 different teams.  He had a career 3.67 ERA.  His best season was 1985, where he has a 8-8 record, 1.92 ERA, 31 saves and 1.087 WHIP.  He followed up the following season with 21 saves.  He was an all-star in 1985, finishing 6th in A.L. MVP voting and 7th in A.L. CY Young voting.  Moore also pitched two perfect innings for the Braves in the 1982 NLCS.  But most people don’t remember those numbers.  When they hear the name Donnie Moore, they think of the 1986 ALCS defeat and suicide.  Hideki Irabu has now met a similar fate.  Many people do not remember that Irabu was the man responsible for the Japanese posting system.  By refusing to sign with the Padres, MLB helped institute the current posting system for Japanese players to come to North America.  If not for Irabu, the entire system of transferring NPB players to MLB could be much different today.  Irabu won two World Series rings and enjoyed some success in North America.  Before that, Irabu enjoyed great success in Japan on the baseball diamond.  But when people reflect on his passing, the main words that are spoken now are “fat toad” and suicide.  Even in death, Irabu and Moore continue to be criticized and bullied.  That is the saddest reality of all.

 

 

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E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday May 25th

Thank you for reading the E-mailbag.  Please send all your questions to mlbreports@gmail.com and please include your first name and City/Country.

We will be compiling a list of your questions from our e-mailbag and posting the responses on Wednesdays.

 

Wednesday May 25, 2011

Q:  Is Jose Bautista’s start for real?  Do you think he can keep it up?  From Brian,Toronto

MLB reports:  Hello Brian.  Great choice of topics as Bautista has been the talk of baseball in 2011.  Considering his body of work, every day that goes by you have to believe that the Jays slugger is for real.  After a great September in 2009, Bautista hit 54 long balls in 2010 and is already up to 19 in 2011.  It is mind boggling considering that Bautista has missed several games this season already for personal reasons and neck issues.  We prepared a profile on Jose Bautista at the Reports, which you can view here.  Jose Bautista appears to be a late bloomer that has discovered his stroke and is here to stay.  He is now the face of the Toronto Blue Jays and a home run force for several seasons to come.

Q:  What is your favorite major league ball park and why?  FromAngela,Vermont

MLB reports:  Although I have not been to every MLB stadium, I have definitely seen my fair share. J If I had to select a favorite, it would likely be PNC Park in Pittsburgh.  The view of the water, the layout of the stadium and the overall baseball feel is one that is without comparison.  I have enjoyed every seat that I have seen in Pittsburgh and would highly recommend seeing the park if you can.  A close second is Comerica Park in Detroit.  Comerica is a combination of my love of the Tigers team with a beautiful stadium and rich history.  That stadium really has it all.  But for overall look and feel, PNC wins out. 

 

Q:  If you could watch baseball in any country, which would you pick and why?  I am thinking Japan?  From Larry, San Francisco

MLB reports:  You are correct Larry, Japan goes to the top of the list.  Clearly you have been paying attention to my tweets!  The enthusiasm and energy from a Japan baseball game, as I have seen on television, literally has no comparison in any other country.  I cannot wait until the day when I am in Japan and watch a game live at a local stadium.  From the food, cheering fans, uniforms, style of play…Japan has it all.  I also have Cuba very high on my list.  From what I watched in the World Baseball Classic, Cubans take their baseball very seriously and my gut feel is that diehard fans would love watching live baseball in Cuba.  Hopefully it works out for me one day, we shall see!

 

Q:  I have been a Cubs fan for 30 years.  I think that I’m done suffering and looking to change teams.  Are my cubbies ever going to win?  From Bruce, Windy City

MLB reports:  Bruce…Bruce…Bruce.  Stand by your team!  I cannot blame you for being discouraged.  But if the Red Sox and White Sox can win the World Series, so can the Cubs.  If your team goes all the way and you are off the bandwagon, I think you will feel very sorry.  Part of a sports fan, especially baseball, is that you will have to suffer for many years sometimes.  In your case as a Cubs fan, for a lifetime potentially.  But team loyalty is key and stick with your Cubs.  They are on the right track in slowly rebuilding the farm system and should be a contender hopefully in the near future.

 

Q:  Will Mariano Rivera ever stop being good?  I wish he had signed with the Red Sox when FA.  He throws one pitch and is over 40, what’s up with that?  From Gene,Boston

MLB reports:  The mystery of Rivera and the famous cutter will live in baseball legendary for years to come.  How he does it few of us know, but somehow he was able to master one amazing pitch and has used it to build a hall of fame career.  You can dream, but Rivera was never going to leave the Yankees.  He came up a Yankee and will retire as a Yankee.  The Red Sox did make a play for him in his last free agency year, but he indicated all along that he was staying in New York.  But despite his magical career numbers which grow with his strong 2011 season, the time is drawing near for the Sandman.  I can see Rivera having 1-2 years at most left in the tank.  But once age and injuries finally catch up, we will know when he is done.  Mariano Rivera is probably the greatest reliever of our generation, if not of all time.  It has been a pleasure to watch him and we wish him the best as he writes the final chapters of his storybook career.

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