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By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
The time has come for the June Power Rankings with Stats Edition. There will be one each for May, June, July, August, September – and then a special playoff edition Power Rankings will be done in October.
I will not do a weekly Power Rankings during this weeks, because in essence, these are the weekly rankings done on a much larger scale.
These Reports are done with a heavy thought to how the teams project by the end of the season – along with how the clubs have fared so far.
I will point out who has had great months for the all 30 MLB Teams. I reward the good performances in these rankings – and leave the poor ones for the Podcasts or future articles. CLICK THE READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON or scroll past the video and picture
Chris Davis 2013 Highlights:
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Monday May 13th, 2013
DH on our home site pages – Stands for Daily HR Hitters in the Majors.
We are going to run the gauntlet on the previous days HRs for all MLB Players.
I loved it when MLB XM Radio used to do a running total every night on their Roundtrip with Mike Ferrin (Laser Show). So I am bringing it every day on this website. To view every nights big boppers for the whole year (from May 8th on) visit the DH page!
Click beyond the Youtube link or click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON to see who hit yesterdays big flies.
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Friday March 8, 2013
By Kyle Holland (Giants Correspondent): Follow @TheKHolland13
2012 was certainly a season to remember for the NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro. After spending 8 years in the American League with the Oakland A’s, Toronto Blue Jays, and the Boston Red Sox, Scutaro made his return to the National League appearing in a Colorado Rockies uniform. Halfway through the season they shipped him out to San Francisco in return for Second Base prospect Charlie Culberson. This turned out to be probably the Giants most important move of the season.
When Scutaro made his return to the Bay Area he was only hitting .271, about average for the league. Colorado thought it would be a good idea to trade the 36 year-old for a top prospect and plan for the future. The Rockies weren’t the only team to benefit from gathering a solid prospect for a 36 year-old average ball player.
Marco Scutaro 2012 NLCS Highlights:
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Friday, Mar. 02/2013
With the acquisition of Denard Span to play Center Field and bat Leadoff, a new defensive home had to be found for Harper. In 2012, advanced stats didn’t just rate Harper as a good defensive Center Fielder he was rated as a great one.
The Span move makes the Nats better in two positions of weakness and it also allows Harper to move to a more offensive position and focus on that aspect of his game. Left field is the second least important defensive position according to the defensive matrix, and often times it is the home of some of the games best sluggers.
For a quick comparison the average MLB Center Fielder hit for a 3 Slash Line of.265/.330/.418 in 2012 – and the average Left Fielder .261/.327/.431. While Left Field is traditionally a more offensive position current Left Fielders only managed a .009 OPS advantage over their CF brethren in 2012.
This doesn’t nor should it change the perception of Left Field as the less important defensive position of the higher offensive position. All it means is that there aren’t a lot of good Left Fielders right now. In WAR there are built-in bonuses for playing different positions, a good offensive player at an up the middle position will be rated higher than a good offensive player at a corner position, because an up the middle player that can hit is more valuable.
Bryce Harper Highlights as a 16 Year old hitting bombs and Tropicana Field 2009:
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
A few months ago, our Lead Columnist/Website Founder (Jonathan Hacohen) wrote a brilliant piece about the assembly of the Oakland Athletics roster. He called it “MoneyBall 2.” Right after the piece, the A’s surged to the greatest record in the second half of the season and won the AL West. The team is now constructed of power hitters and power pitchers. The man behind it all is Billy Beane. I will not get into too much of this philosophy as you can read that piece here. What I intend to do is to show the roster of how it was comprised by Beane in the form of a roster tree. It is just like a family tree, however this shows trades dating back 2,3,4,5,6 fold etc.. in order to show you the mastery of the GM’s ability to field a roster on a limited budget.
The Future of the Oakland A’s: The Mustache Gang Meets the Bash Brothers: Revealing Billy Beane’s Master Plan click here.
The Oakland A’s 2013 Roster Tree Part 2: The Pitchers click here.
Thursday, November 22nd, 2013
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst)
Since the Blue Jays and Marlins blockbuster trade, there has been a lot of discussion about Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. Jose Reyes is going to have an amazing presence at the top of the lineup, getting on base, steal bases and playing beautiful shortstop on the left side of the infield with Brett Lawrie for the Blue Jays ground ball pitchers. Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle immediately make the Blue Jays rotation a top rotation in all of baseball by being inserted in. Effectively, they got two top of the line starters to create an elite rotation that makes them serious contenders.
Friday November 2nd, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Writer and Analyst):
In 2011, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a really nice push in the AL West and finished with 94 wins, 8 games ahead of the second place San Francisco Giants. They performed well above expectations, and they did so with a relatively unglamorous starting rotation, that consisted mainly of Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter, Daniel Hudson and a revolving 5th starter. What really carried the team in 2011 and made the Arizona Diamondbacks a competitive in 2011, happened to be their weakest link in their miserable 2010 season: the bullpen.
The Diamondbacks won 29 more games in 2011 than they did in 2010. The most drastic changes made by the organization were in the bullpen where the D-Back’s added closer J.J. Putz and setup man David Hernandez. The 2011 bullpen allowed 100 fewer runs than their predecessors in 2010 and dropped their group ERA from 5.74 in 2010 to just 3.71 in 2011. It goes without saying that their newly revamped bullpen allowed Arizona to stay close in a lot more games and gave them a better chance to be winners.
Following their great 2011 season, the D-Back’s found themselves reverting back to their former ways in 2012. Finishing 13 games behind the first place Giants, and just barely hanging on to a .500 record, the Diamondback’s finished 81-81. You want to know something interesting? It was their bullpen, once again, that failed. Read the rest of this entry
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024
I am pleased to always write about a player that has appeared one of my #UnheraldedAwarenessWeeks on Twitter. For those that don’t know what that is, every week I pick a retired player and a current player to talk about and share info, stats, stories and funny anecdotes about. Marco Scutaro was one of those players in September. My buddy Patrick (who hosts a PODCAST I do MLB Expert Interviews on called ‘The Big Ticket Show‘) was the first one to say this signing was good. I did remember that Scutaro was able to plate a 100 runs for the Jays in 2009 despite only playing in 144 games and also provided solid offense out of the Shortstop Position. He was hitting in low .300′s at the time of the trade on July.27 to the San Francisco Giants from the Rockies. I wasn’t as sold on the guy heading to AT &T Park to play half of his games at home. I quickly came on board when he started tearing it up in his 1st week as a Giant. Boy did I ever turn out to be wrong with him batting in San Francisco too, where he hit .352 in 33 games at AT &T Park in 2012. That is an incredible average for what is one of the toughest parks on player averages in the Major Leagues!
Scutaro ended up being the best trade deadline acquisition in the Major Leagues this year. Not only did he hit .339 in the second half, he also hit .402 in the month of September and the last 3 games of the regular season in October. After going 0-12 in the 1st 3 games against Cincinnati in the NLDS, Scutaro has put a 9 game hitting streak together-and he had 6 multi-hit games in the NLCS en-route to being named the NLCS MVP. He has pivotal game changing hits in Game #2 (where he also got run into by a hard and controversial slide by Matt Holiday before leaving) and in Games 6 and 7. Scutaro tied and LCS record by recording 14 hits in 28 AB for a .500 Average. while scoring 7 runs. The man has also contributed solid defense at second base, a position the Giants have struggled to fill since Jeff Kent left almost a decade ago. Read the rest of this entry
Friday October 19th, 2012
Kyle Holland: The 2012 postseason has been all but “normal” so far, considering all division series went to 5 games. Conclusion? The NLCS has yet to disappoint. The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants. Both teams had to battle to even still be playing to this point. The Giants had to come back down 0-2 and beat the hot Cincinnati Reds in three straight games in Cincinnati.
The Cardinals, after first having to win the play-in wild card game, had to beat the Nationals, who had the best record in baseball. To make it worse, the Nationals were up 6-0 in game 5… and blew it. Both of these teams have a lot of fight, and experience this late in the season.
There is something unique about the Giants and Cardinals facing off in the 2012 NLCS. This is the first time in MLB history that the last 2 world champions are playing in the LCS (the Giants in 2010 and the Cardinals in 2011). Read the rest of this entry
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024
In what could be one of the most exciting days in MLB History, we present to you a special edition of the MLB Reports Power Rankings,
1. Cincinnati Reds: The reason I have chosen these guys is because of their path to the World Series is probably easier than any other team in the MLB when it comes to Strength of Schedule. Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier will challenge for NL Cy Young Votes and the Rookie of the Year Award. They have a healthy Joey Votto and it is time for Brandon Phillips to show his playoff metal. They have the greatest bullpen in the playoffs and are playing in the 1st round against the San Francisco Giants. The Great American Ball Park should be a great home field advantage.
Unheralded Player to watch in this Playoffs: Starting Pitcher Homer Bailey has pitched really well this year and is coming off a recent no-hitter.
2. Detroit Tigers: The Tigers are playing their best baseball of the season and caught a break when the Athletics won the AL West. Miguel Cabrera was on fire in September en route to his AL Triple Crown win. The Tigers were 32-11 in their last 43 home games and their solid pitching bodes well versus all of the homer centric teams in the AL. Their toughest competition would be the Yankees and Rangers and I am not sure those teams will be able to match the pitching of the club. While in my rankings I have given the #1 ranking to the Reds, the Tigers were my preseason pick to win the WS Title and it will all be on the backs of Prince Fielder and Cabrera.
Unheralded player to watch in the Playoffs: Omar Infante. He is a great all around player who comes up with clutch hits.
Tuesday September 25, 2012
Alex Mednick: 1967 was the year that boxer Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing world championship because he refused to join the U.S. Army. There were 475,000 US Troops in Vietnam. The Beatles had just come out with Sargeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Woodstock music festival was still 2 years away. Never had a man stepped foot on the moon, a gallon of gas cost $0.33 and Federal Minimum Wage was $1.40 per hour. It was also the last time that any professional ballplayer was awarded the triple crown: Carl Yastrzemski.
Here we are, in present day 2012, and 29-year-old phenom Miguel Cabrera is vying to be the first man to hit for the triple crown since 1967…after almost a half century. Back in 1998 when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire reignited national interest in our pastime, they were pursuing Roger Maris’ single season record for most home runs. Without deducting any valor from the record which I believe still belongs to Mr. Maris, the triple crown does not only take home run power into consideration; rather the triple crown validates a hitter based upon the three most important (Sabremetrician’s may disagree) measures of a hitters overall productivity. Read the rest of this entry
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024 To say that this year has been a good year for baseball is an humongous understatement. I thought after last years finish, that nothing was going to duplicate the experience. Everyone forgets (or maybe not) that there should not even have been many races last year with Atlanta and Boston having such substantial leads on playoff spots. The Red Sox and Braves collapsed like a couple of bowling pins with King Kong Bundy splashing down on them!
This year, there are 15 teams still vying for 10 playoff spots. So far the only probable locks are Washington for a playoff spot-and Cincinnati to probably win their division The player races for all of the categories is almost as fascinating. Will Andrew McCutcheon catch Melky Cabrera for the Batting title? Or will 2012 be forever cemented in baseball folklore by a stained player like Cabrera? He could still end up determining who wins the World Series in the Fall Classic by his Testosterone filled antics in his MVP ALL-Star Game. The big question is, will the San Francisco Giants fans cheer for him if he comes back in the playoffs? They cheered for another league leader before when it was obvious he was guilty. Right now if you are the Giants, you will take an opportunity to boo or cheer for Cabrera because that means you would be in the playoffs.
Will the spending happy Dodgers have to wait another year to capitalize on their new plan to make the playoffs? If they ultimately miss the playoffs outright, are they going to buy every player they can in the off-season? I sure hope Magic knows that there are Luxury Tax penalties for spending over 178 Million Next Year. 1st year fine is 22.5%, 2nd year is 30%, 3rd year and beyond is 40%. So if they plan on having a 250 Million Dollar Payroll in 2013 (by adding 2 or 3 more top Free Agents) will the Dodgers just forego the worry of any financial penalties on a yearly basis– just to dominate the whole National League (plus baseball for that matter.) Every other team has to consider the urgency in cashing out a World Series right now while the Dodgers have not had a full off season with the new management yet. Can Oakland and their ‘New Money Ball philosophy’ make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2006?
The Best Players over the last month were: Buster Posey, Prince Fielder, Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Yovani Gallardo, Kris Medlen, Adam Wainwright, Aroldis Chapman and Felix Hernandez. The best teams have been Oakland, Washington, San Francisco, San Diego, Baltimore and Texas. The worst teams have been Houston (at least its better to go down hard and stockpile #1 Draft Picks guys.) I have a feeling you will be there for a while with the division you are heading into and may even challenge the 120 Loss Single Season Record. At least you are not going into the NL West to compete with the LA Dodgers! The Cleveland Indians have fallen to an epic drop-off as well. Toronto misses their top sluggers. What has happened to the Minnesota Twins? The Mets have ownership and payroll problems, so at least they have an excuse. Plus they lead the world in guys being hurt. When David Wright has been your healthiest player, you know the season has been backwards! So sit back, get your notebook and popcorn ready for this Month’s Rankings! Read the rest of this entry
Sunday September 2, 2012
John Burns: The season for the reigning World Champions the St. Louis Cardinals has been one filled with surprises. With one of the biggest surprises being long time Cardinal Albert Pujols leaving the franchise to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. In an attempt to replace Pujols, the Cardinals re-signed veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran. Although Beltran is not Albert Pujols, he is having a very good season for St. Louis with 28 HRs and 86 RBI. Nobody expected Beltran to play this well and basically be matching Pujols numbers.
As of September 1st, the Cardinals have a 72-61 record and are in possession of the second NL Wild Card Spot. We all know the story of the Cardinals last year when they got hot and never looked back-until they were holding up the World Series trophy. They are in a very similar situation this year, (as they were last year) by being in the hunt for a Wild Card spot. This year’s Cardinals squad is not the same as the 2011 World Series team version. With Tony La Russa, Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman, and Albert Pujols all gone or injured, the Cards have a different look. All three of those players played a major significance in the Cards winning the World Series in 2011.
Highlights courtesy of FOX and ESPN and MLB Reports is not the copyrights holder
Saturday, July. 14/2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- In the first 10 years of Coors Field, or the Rockies existence for that matter, the baseballs were being belted out of the park at a historically record rate. Some of this was due to the steroid era. Most of it was arrived at by the dry air of Colorado. The reason is simple, in dry air the ball travels further than in thin air, thus causing more frequent home runs. Baseballs being stored in drier air become harder and therefore explode off of a bat when contacted. After nearly a decade with inflated numbers at Coors Field for offense, a decision was made by baseball and the Colorado Rockies to start holding/storing the game baseballs in a room-sized Humidor-that was installed at the Park in order to keep them moist. This was done so the baseballs will not carry as far when hit with impact. Elevation would still play a role in the baseball games. Baseballs carry farther in the thinner air and especially when they are rising in trajectory. Remember that in Denver, you are nearly a mile above sea level already. In fact, there are purple bleacher tickets that you can buy at Coors Field that indicate where that mile marker is.
The cause and effect is harder on pitchers, whose curveballs curve less with the thin air than at sea level-leading to fewer strikeouts and the result is less pitches to use in their arsenal. So has the Humidor worked since being implemented before the start of the 2002 season? The answer is yes. The amount of HRs hit now sits with the rest of the MLB Parks that are amongst the top 10 over the last decade. The averages have dropped only around 10% of what they were, however Colorado is routinely in the top 4 or 5 parks for average on a yearly basis in the MLB and dominate the NL in home average. In 2012, the hotter temperatures(and dry air) have helped the team to lead every offensive category in the Major Leagues once again. Now, there is still a decisive advantage to playing at Coors for hitters when it comes to playing an 81 game schedule there. I am going to look at the careers of some previous players to show you the weighted advantage of having this park as a home venue. We are going to look at the careers of Larry Walker, Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez and Garrett Atkins. It is easier to use the hitters as a barometer when deciphering this study because not many pitchers ever prosper again in any city after playing for the Colorado Rockies. See: (Jeff Francis, Ubaldo Jimenez, Mike Hampton and Jason Jennings once they left Coors Field or before they arrived at Denver after playing somewhere else first.)
For Part 3 of the Article Series: The Coors Field Effect: Part 3 of A 3 Article Series click here.
Wednesday July.4, 2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-We are going to bring you monthly power rankings every month of the season. There will be a few notes written for each team. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts. The Texas Rangers are the top ranked team yet once again, although teams are certainly gaining on the them in the last month. If this report was being done last week I might have put the New York Yankees in 1st and Texas in 2nd. A 7 game winning streak help preserve another month for Texas on the leader-board. There were superior months by Aaron Hill, Jose Bautista, Joey Votto , Jason Heyward and a new phenomenon was born with Jose Altuve. It was a great month for the MLB. With 20 teams within 5.5 games or less for the playoff races, we are sure to see some serious movements in the Power Rankings in the 2nd half of the season.
Standings taken before play Tuesday July.03/2012
July Power Rankings-Last Month Rank in Parenthesis
1. Texas-50-30 (1) The Rangers rode a 7 game winning streak to end up 18-8 for the last month. David Murphy, Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus all hit over .300 in the last 30 days. The Rangers were able to weather a slow spurt from Josh Hamilton, in which he hit .222 with only 4 HRs for the month. Matt Harrison has asserted himself as an ace on the staff with a 5-0 month with a 1.29 ERA, while leading the American League with 11 wins on the year. The Rangers have 6 players going to the ALL-Star Game including 3 starters. Yu Darvish can make a 7th if he is voted into the final roster spot with his rookie campaign of 10-5 so far.
2. NY Yankees 48-31(5) The Yankees have ridden good pitching and a hot bat from Robinson Cano to a 19-7 record over the last month, with a 5 games lead over their competition in the AL East. Cano hit .370 with 12 HRs and 24 RBI in the last month. Derek Jeter is hitting .298 overall but saw his average go from .389 in April, to .283 in May to .232 in June. He still tops a list of 4 Yankees heading to the ALL-Star Game including 23 HR homer man Curtis Granderson. Phil Hughes went 5-1 in the month with a 2.59 ERA and Ivan Nova won his 3 decisions with a miniscule 1.32 ERA. Rafael Soriano has converted 18 out of 19 save opportunities since taking over as team closer.
3. San Francisco 45-30 (9) The Giants went 16-11 in the month and saw a perfect game from Matt Cain, with a few other 1 hitters. The team shutout the Dodgers 3 games in a row in a series last week. The Giants have Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera starting in KC next week. The Melkman continues to show that last year was no fluke with his .352 Average and he is leading the Major Leagues with 111 base hits. The Giants pitching staff has coped with the loss of Brian Wilson and the ineffectiveness of starter Tim Lincecum, by the rest of the staff having career years.
4. LA Angels 45-35 (12) The Angels have been really steady since the end of May. They just finished going 17-8 in the last 25 days on the backs of ALL-Stars Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and resurgent Albert Pujols. Trout might be the most exciting player on the planet these days and is a lock for AL Rookie of the Year if he keeps this up. Trout hit .367 over the last month and has taken over the AL batting lead with a .342 AVG. Trumbo hit 10 HRs and drove in 28 RBI for the month and Pujols hit .337. to raise his average 40 points. C.J Wilson was good enough in June to be named as CC Sabathia‘s replacement at the ALL-Star game.
5. Washington 45-32(9) Mike Morse has returned to the lineup with a vengeance during the last week with a .484 average. Super Sub Tyler Moore has also hit .415 in the last 14 games with 4 HRs and 12 RBI. Ian Desmond had 16 Extra base hits for the month to go along with 20 RBI, while he made the ALL-Star game as a reserve. Ryan Zimmerman awoke from a season long slump to plate 17 RBI. Adam LaRoche still contributed 7 HRs and 15 RBI despite a paltry .191 average in June. Stephen Strasburg is 9-3 on the year with a 2.81 ERA and a league leading 122 SO. Gio Gonzalez is 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA. Both Gonzalez and Strasburg made the ALL-Star squad. Read the rest of this entry
Monday May 28th, 2012
Robert Whitmer: Pumas are a sleek and agile animal. It will eat any animal it can catch. It has no preference. It must, however, consume red meat to survive. There is no type of vegetables or greens for this beast. It is the opposite of everything your mother told you to do. Instead of chasing down its prey with speed and sprinting, it prefers to stalk its prey and stare it down. Then, when the prey thinks that it is safe, the puma pounces and digs the ten claws at its possession into the haunches of the animal. With one mighty snap of his jaws he breaks the neck while knocking it to the ground. From this precisely calculated strike, the puma will feast for a week before it must start again; seeking another prey out and repeat the process with centuries of genetics telling him exactly how to execute his game plan. Such is the same with Lance “Big Puma” Berkman. He honed his craft at Canyon High school in New Braunfels, TX (30 miles down the road from me). He then took his talents to Rice University. Then, after being taken with the 16th pick in the 1997 MLB draft, he began his journey to the show.
It had to be 2004 when I was sitting in Bank One Ballpark in downtown Phoenix, AZ. The Diamondback were playing the Astros. Lance Berkman was in town. I had heard of him; seen him play on television, but never in person. I was lucky enough to have decent enough seats (it was an empty game and I knew the seating attendant from frequenting the stadium so we got better than what we paid for) to be pretty close to the plate when Berkman stepped in. After his first at-bat, and researching pumas for this article, I realize where he got his nickname. Stepping into the box, he didn’t break his eye contact with the pitcher even when he was spinning himself around and trying to psych himself up to pitch to the Astros best hitter. As Berkman got set and the pitcher was getting the signs, that stare never broke. The pitcher, content with his sign, hurled the ball toward the plate, the puma pounced on his prey. His feet turned, his hips twisted and his claws gripping his bat, swung it around and smashed it into the ball. His prey traveled 400+ feet and hit off the Fridays Restaurant windows above the left field bleachers. The man is an animal. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday May 10th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Whether or not the Athletics stay in Oakland has been an ongoing issue since John Fisher and his ownership group bought the team in around 2006. The A’s have played in a multi purpose stadium for baseball and football since the 1960s. At first, the stadium wasn’t bad, with a great view of the Oakland Hills out past the center field wall. When the Raiders returned to the Coliseum in 1995, their owner, Al Davis built suites and more seats (sarcastically dubbed “Mount Davis”) that stretched higher than the upper deck of the rest of the stadium. The once beautiful views were blocked and the stadium became a concrete bowl. In late summer and early fall, the centerfield grass (where the bleachers are placed for football) is in a state of disrepair compared to the otherwise perfect playing surface. Still, when the A’s were winning, they managed to draw crowds. The A’s had many prosperous years, winning the World Series in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1989, and losing in the World Series in 1988 to the Dodgers and in 1990 to the Reds. More recently, in their “Moneyball” season of 2002, the A’s won 20 consecutive games and made the playoffs, but lost to the Twins in the ALDS.
It’s been a long time since the local fans have seen a winning A’s team. The last time the A’s made the playoffs was 2006, when they lost to the Tigers in the ALCS. The only time they went .500 since 2006 was in 2010. This could be due to general manager Billy Beane’s knack for trading everyone away. Notable trades include Andre Ethier for Milton Bradley, Carlos Gonzalez for Matt Holliday, and Mark Mulder for Dan Haren (who eventually was also traded). The team hasn’t been consistent since 2006. Last year, the team looked like it was finally going to be competitive with pitchers Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson healthy and ready for the season. Top prospects Michael Taylor and Chris Carter were ready to make an impact. Unfortunately Anderson got injured and needed Tommy John surgery, Cahill didn’t pitch to his potential, and Taylor and Carter spent the majority of the season in the minors because they didn’t perform in the majors. The final blow came when this winter, the A’s traded Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals and Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks. All of these events together had the fans asking: are we ever going to contend again? Read the rest of this entry
Saturday April.22, 2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- I found Ben Wahrle’s website over a year ago. All of his MLB Park write-ups are highly detailed as you can find on the web. This young man has a strong future ahead of him in this business. I recently had a chance to interview Ben about Milwaukee, tailgating and other traditions at Miller Park.”
DB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Miller Park Expert Interview Ben. Please tell us about yourself and then give us some information on your life as a Brewer fan?”
BW: “I am 19 years old and currently working as a professional pizza chef at a local pizzeria. I have been to 24/30 current MLB ballparks. My goal is to make to every MLB ballpark. On average I go to 28 games at several different ballparks a year. I am die-hard Brewers fan and have been to every home opener the last 6 years. I always try to make it to at least 4 Brewer road games.”
DB: “You have been to many of the MLB teams parks Ben, what is your favorite park outside of Miller Park?”
BW: “Fenway Park- The atmosphere and the surrounding area is like nothing else around in MLB. The crowd seems like it is into every pitch. As soon as you walk into Fenway Park or Wrigley Field as a baseball fan you admire the history of the park.”
DB : “Talk about what inspired you to create www.benwahrlebaseballparks.com?”
BW: “As I was going to more baseball games I wanted a way to track all the games and ballparks I had been to. It was also a great way to show my friends, family and the public about each park. My site has a lot of great detail and stories. It also shows my upcoming trips, and every time I go to a game I keep track of each player’s statistics.”
DB: “Miller Park is on everybody’s short list for the best tailgate ballpark in the MLB, what can you tell us about these pre-game rituals?”
BW: “It is a party like atmosphere whether it is opening day or the 40th home game of the season. Everyone enjoys the time with their friends by grilling out and playing beanie bag toss.”
DB: “What advice would you give for somebody experiencing Miller Park for the very first time?”
BW: “You have to tailgate at least once at Miller Park. Lastly if you go to a “hot” game make sure you buy parking in advance.”
DB: “What is your favorite method of transportation to Miller Park?”
BW: “Miller Park is very easy to get to unlike some parks where you have to take a train, cab or a bus. Miller Park is right off the interstate, so everyone drives to the park.”
DB: “What is the food like at Miller Park? What is your favorite ballpark food there?”
BW: Over the last couple of years they have done a great job of adding different foods like garlic fries, pasta, and many different kinds of sandwiches. My favorite ballpark food at Miller Park has to be the loaded nachos or the honey roasted nuts.”
DB: “What is your favorite all time game that you have been in attendance for at Miller Park?”
BW: “Hands down it is the Carlos Zambrano no-hitter vs Astros in 2008. In Houston a hurricane occurred, MLB decided to locate the game to Miller Park. I remember going to the game and it was supposed to be a home game for the Astros but I would say about 90% were Cubs fans. This was a home game basically for the Cubs.”
DB: “Bob Uecker is one of the best radio personalities in the game. In your own words, how does the city of Milwaukee like him?”
BW: “He is an inspiration to this city, the fans adore him for what he has done. Over 50 years in the booth is a great accomplishment.”
DB: “With Prince Fielder leaving, the Brewers were lucky that Ryan Braun did not have to miss the 1st 50 games for the PED scandal. Does this give the Brewers a chance to contend in the NL Central now?
BW: “I think all the facts need to come out first before we decide Ryan Braun guilty. Obviously no one can replace Prince and what he brings to the team day by day. Aramis Ramirez can make up some of the production. Ramirez had a terrific year last year hitting .306 with 26 home runs. This central division is wide open. The Brewers still have a good rotation in Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf. Also the bats of the NL MVP Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart, and Rickie Weeks. Even though the Cardinals lost the best player in the game- Albert Pujols , they are getting Adam Wainwright back. They will have a David Freese for a whole season with Matt Holliday. The Reds are another team with good pitching. The starters did not do a good job last year for the Reds. Acquiring Mat Latos was huge for the Reds this offseason. The Reds lineup has a lot of depth with Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, Drew Stubbs. Overall I still like the Brewers chances of getting back to the postseason.”
***Thank you to our Miller Park Expert- Ben Warhle for participating in today’s article. If you would like to read more about Ben and his baseball travels click here ***
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Friday December 30, 2011
Sam Evans: This has been anything but a fun offseason for Cardinals fans. Losing you best player from the past ten years has got to be rough on a franchise. However, they did win the World Series in 2011, and they have the right mix of players to potentially return to the playoffs in 2012.
Offseason: Despite losing Albert Pujols to the Angels, the Cardinals signed six-time All-Star Carlos Beltran and brought back middle infielder Rafael Furcal. Beltran was signed to a two-year, $26 million deal. This was a very nice move for the Cardinals. They acquired a proven veteran outfielder who will be a large upgrade over Allen Craig.
Rafael Furcal is another solid player to have in your lineup. The Cards signed Furcal to a two-year $14 million deal. In 2011, Furcal hit only .231 in 87 games, but as recently as 2010, Furcal was worth 4.2 WAR. Furcal will be 34 heading into the upcoming season. Heading into the season, Furcal will be the fifth-oldest Opening Day shortstop. The main problem holding Furcal back is injuries. He hasn’t played one hundred games per year for two straight years since 2006. For 2012, IF Furcal can find a way to stay healthy, he should be able to hold down the shortstop position for St.Louis and be the spark at the top of the lineup.
Starting Rotation: At the head of the rotation is Chris Carpenter. Carpenter is the kind of pitcher that you build your franchise around. He threw 273 innings last year and he started game seven of the World Series. For 2012, Carpenter should have another mid-3′s ERA and be the true ace at the top of the rotation.
Following Carpenter will be Adam Wainwright. The return of Wainwright is really the wild card heading into the season. Wainwright was injured during spring training in 2011. His injury required Tommy John surgery and he missed the entire 2011 campaign. If Wainwright could return to his 2010 form, in which he was a Cy Young contender with a 2.42 ERA, then the Cardinals would be one of only a couple of teams with two true aces.
Next, comes the twenty-five year old lefty Jaime Garcia as the third starter. Garcia had a breakout year in 2010, but was somewhat inconsistent in 2011. If you take the average of Garcia’s last two years, you can find a realistic projection for this upcoming season. In this projection, he would be worth roughly 3.4 WAR per year. He’s signed through 2015, making roughly $6.5 million a year, so technically if Garcia is valued at 3 or more wins above replacement, he will be worth his contract. Overall, Garcia is a solid number three pitcher that is outperforming most pitchers his age.
Kyle Lohse will probably fall after Garcia in the rotation. Lohse is the Cardinals third-highest paid player, but he is simply not that good. Lohse had a 3.39 ERA in 2011, but a 4.04 xFIP suggested that he wasn’t as good as his numbers may imply. Lohse is a dependable number four starter who just happens to be overpaid.
Filling in the last spot in the rotation will likely be Jake Westbrook as the veteran fifth starter. Westbrook is a decent hurler who posted a 4.66 ERA last year. However, one has to wonder just how long it will be until Shelby Miller takes over the fifth spot in the Cardinals rotation.
Bullpen: Bullpen’s are easy to assemble in the world of baseball, so I never try to get too worked up over a bullpen. The Cardinals have a couple of hard throwing relievers in Jason Motte and Fernando Salas. Not to mention, Mark Rzepczynski made a good impression after coming over from the Blue Jays. My guess is that Fernando Salas may eventually become their closer because of his young age and upside.
First and Third Base: Starting at first base for the Cardinals will be Lance Berkman, who takes over for the departed Pujols. Berkman had a bounce-back year in 2011 making his first All-Star team since 2008. I’d expect Berkman to perform more like his 2009 numbers, where he hit .274 with 25 homers. That is still a large discrepancy compared to Pujols’ stats, but the Cardinals will try to make up for it in other places.
At third base will be David Freese, the new Cardinals golden boy. Freese of course, was the NLCS and World Series MVP. Without Freese, the Cards probably wouldn’t have won the World Series. During the regular season, Freese hit .297 with ten homers in 97 games. Who knows if Freese can perform at the level he did during the playoffs in 2012. The key for Freese is going to be his health. He has never played over a hundred games at the major league level before. If he can stay healthy during the season, he is a great candidate to have a breakout year.
Middle Infield: At shortstop Rafael Furcal will be starting. You have to think that the Cardinals regret trading away Brendan Ryan last year. They believed that Ryan Theriot was their shortstop of their future, and traded away Ryan who was under a minimal contract through 2012. Besides Furcal, the Cardinals have Tyler Greene and Ryan Jackson as backups. Greene will stick with the major-league club, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Green was a midseason call-up who got some playing time.
Skip Schumaker should be the Opening Day Cardinals second basemen. Schumaker is an average hitter who plays below-average defense for a second basemen. The Cardinals should look to sign Carlos Guillen, or another second basemen that will be an upgrade over Schumaker.
Outfield: Most likely, Beltran will start in right field. He should be a crucial key to the Cardinals success. If Beltran can play like he did last year, then he will be worth his new contract.
In centerfield will be the youngest outfielder, Jon Jay who also played a key role in last year’s playoffs. Jay played in 159 games and hit .297. If Jay is to improve in 2012, he needs to have a more disciplined approach at the plate. Jay only walked 28 times last year. Jason Bay played in thirty-six fewer games than Jay, but he walked twice as many times as Jay.
In left field, Matt Holliday is the starter. Matt Holliday’s 7-year $120 million contract was part of the reason that the Cardinals couldn’t afford Pujols this offseason. Nonetheless, Holliday is a very good four-tool player. Holliday was worth 5.0 WAR last year, which is roughly how much he should be producing given the size of his contract. Looking at his peripherals, Holliday is due to have a somewhat better year than his 2011 campaign. Similar to many of his teammates, if he can stay healthy, Holliday should have another great year patrolling the Cardinals outfield.
Minors: In the last couple of years, St.Louis has greatly improved the depth and talent of their farm system. With names such as Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, and Tyrell Jenkins on the rise, there is no doubt that the St.Louis rotation will be very strong in the coming years.
Conclusion: 2012 will be a enthralling year for Cardinals fans. The team’s first year without Manager Tony La Russa and their franchise player Albert Pujols will have a much different feel than their previous seasons. Fans will be expecting a lot out of their players, and the team will need some breakout years from its key players to compete in 2012. However, given the current state of the NL Central, I believe the Cardinals can win the division once again and be a force in next year’s playoffs.
***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***
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