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MLB 2014 Bold Division + Post Season Predictions, And Gambling Tips For Experts

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

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The 2014 season is quickly coming, and many people are putting together their yearly MLB Record predictions for both of the AL and NL.

One of the things people must remember to do, is to have their teams all equal 2430 wins. Since they are that many games in any given campaign (at least to start with before any cancellations are never played).

This is the 1st thing to look for.

Obviously every team should add to 162 games in the W – L columns of each squad.

Furthermore, you also have to account for the record in Interleague play between the AL in NL (this represents 290 games out of the 2430 game schedule.)

The AL and NL Records will also mirror reflect each other, as that determines a won – loss differential among the leagues. 

If you played all games without interleague all teams would perfect match up even – even on the W-L when you added up all teams in the American League.

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The Best Teams In The MLB From 1980 – 2013: The Biggest Question Is, Who Owns 2004 – 2013, BOS or STL?

The Boston Red Sox started out the season 21 - 8 after their 1st 29 games in 2013.  They rolled it all the way to their 3rd WS Title in a decade - but are they the best team in the MLB during this stretch

The Boston Red Sox started out the season 21 – 8 after their 1st 29 games in 2013. They rolled it all the way to their 3rd WS Title in a decade – but are they the best team in the MLB during this stretch from 2004 – now?

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

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There is only so much one can read in an article, otherwise I would make these lists up from the turn of the 20th century. 

If you gave me enough time as a reader, I promise to backdate this topic with another article featuring the best teams dating back further in years. 

Eventually, all of the years may be dissected and we can have a healthy debate on some of my selections.  I really started watching baseball in the early 1980′s. 

As I became older and discovered ways to research the history of the game, my knowledge and curious mind grew for more information. 

I have studied and read baseball stat books and breezed through the odd Bill James novel. 

If I ever take a break from writing or baseball park chasing, I may find some time down the road to watch the 9 part PBS documentary that Ken Burns did on baseball’s history.

2013 Boston Dream Season – Mature Lyrics – Parental Guidance is Advised

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San Francisco Giants Payroll in 2013: And Contracts Going Forward

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Friday February 8, 2013

Without Marco Scutaro during the second half of the 2012 season who knows if the Giants would've gone nearly as far as they did. He hit a very impressive .362 since joining the Giants in July. He hit a new NLCS record .500 during the 2012 NLCS. Resigning him was definitely a priority for the Giants so signing him through 2015 on a 3 yr./$20,000,000 was huge for both sides of the deal.

Without Marco Scutaro during the second half of the 2012 season – who knows if the Giants would’ve gone nearly as far as they did. He hit a very impressive .362 after joining the Giants in July. He hit a new NLCS record .500 versus the Cards last year. Resigning him was definitely a priority for the Giants so signing him through 2015 on a 3 YR/$20,000,000 was huge for both sides of the deal.

By Kyle Holland (Giants Correspondent):

Coming off of the 2012 World Series victory, the Giants haven’t really done much this offseason. Either way every team in the league is going to be trying to take them down. When you’re the Champion of all of baseball, what team wouldn’t be gunning for you? Their biggest contest is going to be their rivals in the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team has made more moves since August than you can count. The Giants realize what a great team they have and how little moves they made have shown they are confident in what they can do in 2013.

The possibly most important move they have made is resigning the Second-Half-hero Marco Scutaro. His 3 yr./$20,000,000 deal is a great deal for San Francisco. After what he did the Giants probably would have considered paying more for Scutaro. You just can’t match .500 AVG in the NLCS. This man was the definition of clutch for the club. Other very important deals include Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, and Jeremy Affeldt. Pence, who was acquired at the Trade Deadline from the Phillies, was a huge reason the Giants even made it past the NLDS. His inspirational speeches got the entire squad ready before every game. Him resigning for a 1 YR./$13,800,000 deal was huge for him and the Giants. The team gets to utilize his skills for another year – while he gets to prove he’s worth more come next winter.

San Francisco Giants: 2012 World Series Highlights. Mature lyrics- parental guidance is advised:

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Fixing the Pittsburgh Pirates: Robert Whitmer’s Five Point Strategy Plan

Wednesday, Nov.21/2012

Robert Whitmer (Baseball Writer)

So we have a dilemma in this 5-point series. We have a team here that, for the past two years has been in first place at the all-star break and ended up with a losing record. Do they really need a change in the team or do they just need to grow up a little bit and stay consistent through the final 3 months of the season? The first thing that you have to look at is the line-up. Does this crew have the ability to maintain after getting the start that it has the past couple of years? I think with some minor changes the Pittsburgh Pirates from perennial losers to World Series contenders.

On http://www.MLB.com the depth chart for the Pirates shows a couple of areas that they need to upgrade in.  With a total payroll of about $65 million, they have money to spend on free agents that can assist them in accomplishing their goals.  The following five points are designed to provide the pirates with a fix to win now.  I firmly believe that they are on the right track in their minor leagues to sustain their future. Read the rest of this entry

Contact Hitters and Pitching Are Keys to Winning In the MLB Playoffs: Bravo Giants! Attn: Yankees!

Saturday, Nov.10/2012

 

The Giants GM Brian Sabean saw that his offense had significant holes from previous years and before 2012, dealt for Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan. Both are decent contact hitters, with decent power and speed. It also took for the emergence of Marco Scutaro and the renaissance play from Pablo Sandoval to show that teams that can make regular contact (and are armed with great pitching,) ultimately win in the playoffs.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

I can’t believe I am going to utter these next few words, “I am starting to shift on the idea of eliminating the DH in the AL and also I am beginning to find the National League Brand of Baseball a lot better these days.”  I am not just saying this because the National League has registered 5 World Series Wins out of the last seven years (STL x 2, SF x 2 and PHI vs BOS AND NYY since 2006.)  I just find that the American League Baseball is becoming boring.  If you have read my articles in the past, I hate teams that strikeout non-stop and when you put two of these teams together for a Series like the AL routinely does, the games are filled with heavy pitch counts, four-hour games and not much contact.  This years ALCS represented an all-time low for fan excitement.  Put aside that I am a Yankees fan for a minute, it was absolutely brutal baseball.  In fact, last years ALCS was no picnic either.  If the games continue on like this, they might as well scrap the DH, start having the umpires call more strikes on the hitters and have all AL Teams convert to a National League style of game.

The National League has seen the Cardinals give us thrilling moments and comebacks to epic proportions over the last 2 years. I honestly think that Mark McGwire is not receiving enough credit for molding that team into a bunch of contact hitters.  You watch the 2013 offense of the LA Dodgers, they will all have a different approach.  We will save the DH debate for another day,  but lets just say that 2012 was the worst year for DH’s in some time if not ever.  There are only about 3-4 decent DH’s left in the game and if David Ortiz is not in the lineup for the Red Sox, there are no more marquee guys that just hit and not field!  The National League Teams plan on more contact for runs created out of necessity and it is always reflective  by the competitive games we see them play in the playoffs.

In 2012, the Giants made 4 key acquisitions before and during the season to change their offensive demeanor.  If you ask me flat-out as a  baseball observer, there is no way the Giants win the World Series without Marco Scutaro or Angel Pagan at the top of the lineup.  I also am conceding credit to Melky Cabrera’s hitting contributions as a contact hitter before being busted.  Before Melky Cabrera was shown the door for PED’s, he was the same hitter as Scutaro in the 2nd half and postseason, in just hitting every single pitch that was thrown at him.  To be honest here,  Angel Pagan does strike out a fair bit as a lead off hitter, however he also has speed that makes him dangerous whenever the ball is contacted.  It is all about a mixture of power, speed and contact hitters.  To illustrate this fact, Hunter Pence (also picked up near the Trade Deadline) did not hit well in the regular season or playoffs for average, yet he was able to drive in a pile of runs because guys ahead of him were always on base.  All he needed to do was to make contact for his RBI. Read the rest of this entry

What 2012 Really Meant to the St. Louis Cardinals

Thursday November 1st, 2012

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

Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer)

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

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

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

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

Friday, October.26/2012

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

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

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

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

The 2013 Nationals Appear Primed to Make a Run at the World Series

Friday October 26th, 2012

Sam Evans: The Washington Nationals had a somewhat disappointing end to their season, losing to St. Louis in five ALDS games. Nonetheless, the Nationals had a tremendous season and should be pleased with where they stand heading into next year. With the NL East teams around Washington getting older and losing talent, there’s no reason why Washington can’t repeat as division champions in 2013. In fact, the Washington Nationals should be favored to make a World Series push in 2013.

Ever since the franchise moved from Montreal in 2005, Washington had yet to have a season over .500 and finish in the top two in the NL East. 2011 was a surprising season in which Washington won ninety-eight games, the most in major league baseball, and won the N.L. East. Their Pythagorean record (96-66) suggests that the Nationals 2012 season was not a fluke. Washington was led by Ian Desmond, rookie Bryce Harper and a tremendous young group of starting pitchers. 2012 wasn’t a fluke and Washington won’t be putting a team on the field in 2013 that is much different. So why can’t they repeat as division champs? Read the rest of this entry

The San Francisco Giants Are Ready to Return to the World Series

Wednesday October 24th, 2012

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Kyle Holland:  The 2012 NLCS will go down as a series to remember. Firstly from a history standpoint, this was the first time in LCS history that the last two World Series champions squared off. Second, it was played between the 3rd and 4th seeds in the national league. The Giants coming back from being down 0-2 against the Cincinnati Reds, while the Cardinals recovering from being down 6-0 in game 5 in the NLDS to defeat the Nationals 9-7. The comeback kids facing off. This series was sure to be a thriller, and it did not disappoint.

The Giants, being forced to win 3 straight games to make it to the World Series, held off the Cardinals in game 7 to complete the comeback. Read the rest of this entry

Dusty Baker and The San Francisco Giants Just Don’t Mix Well

Tuesday October 23rd, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: The San Francisco Giants and current Reds’ manager Dusty Baker just don’t seem to mix all that well. Baker had a very capable Reds squad just a win away from the NLCS, putting pressure on the Giants to win all of the remaining three games. And they did, doing their best imitation of the comeback kids.

The thing is, the Reds weren’t expected to be on vacation by the end of the second week of October. They were built for a World Series run. They had the pitching, the powerful offense, and air-tight defense all in their favor to make a charge. They didn’t boast the second best record in baseball by accident. This was a team on a mission- a team of destiny.

More simply put, their expectations and the fans’ expectations exceeded a first round departure, especially with a lofty 2-0 lead in their home park. Of course, DustyBaker doesn’t deserve all the blame. He set up his troops to succeed and they didn’t answer the bell at home. It’s that simple, and there really is nothing else he or any other manager could have done differently to alter the outcome of that series. Read the rest of this entry

2012 NLCS Recap: The Cardinals are 1 Win Away from the World Series

Friday October 19th, 2012

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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

How Much do the Giants miss Melky Cabrera?

Thursday October 18th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: When the San Francisco Giants made the playoffs this year for the second time in three years, there was one major question:  Should Melky Cabrera be activated at some point? There were two schools of thought: the business side, which leaned toward activating him; and the emotional fan side, which was against activating him. If Cabrera was activated, there was no doubt he would help the Giants offensively. Cabrera’s .346 average would have won him the batting title (he disqualified himself) and helped the Giants greatly in the postseason. Granted, if Cabrera had not gotten suspended, the Giants might not have gone after Hunter Pence. Still, a lineup going Cabrera-Posey- Sandoval in the three-four-five holes would be dangerous. And, if Pence was added, the offense would be even more potent.

If the emotions and distractions of players and fans were not considered, the Giants would have activated Cabrera immediately. But, with all of the drama surrounding Cabrera’s suspension and him likely lying to many of his teammates, bringing him back might not have been the best decision. Cabrera would definitely draw an abundance of unwanted media attention into the clubhouse and would undoubtedly cause a distraction. Giants’ fans were also mixed. Some wanted him back while some wanted him run out of town. Although not as important, Cabrera’s return could anger some fans, giving the usually electric AT&T Park a different atmosphere.

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The Legacy of Chris Carpenter: Savior in St. Louis

Thursday October 18th, 2012

Chris Carpenter started his career in Toronto after being the 15th overall selection in the 1994 draft. After the 2001 season, the Toronto Blue Jays made a calculated decision not to offer Carpenter a major league contract. He elected for free agency, rather than pitching in the minors for Toronto, and his legacy in St. Louis began when the Cardinals picked him up.

Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer):

The legend of Chris Carpenter started as a 19-year-old pitching for the Medicine Hat Blue Jays in 1994.  He was the 15th overall pick by the World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 draft.  He was a physical specimen built to stand atop a 9.5” hill and stare down at hitters as they stared back at his 6 foot, 6 inch frame.  Drafted out of Manchester, New Hampshire, the 19-year-old already had a plus fastball and a nice curveball.  By 1997, at the age of 22, Chris Carpenter had broken into the Toronto Blue Jays rotation and was pitching against the best hitters in the world.

As a mid-season call up in 1997, Carpenter struggled in Toronto, hosting an ERA above 5.00 and a record of 3-7 over 13 games.  His role in Toronto was mostly to eat innings, and he was there to gain experience and hopefully blossom into what the Blue Jays brass new head could be.  He was in a rotation that consisted of the 1996 AL Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen, as well as the 1997 AL Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, so he had some serious  mentors to help guide him on breaking into the big leagues.  Despite his amazing talent, Carpenter struggled for most of his first season in Toronto and was eventually moved into the bullpen.  In 1998 however, he emerged and gave everyone at least a glimpse  of what would eventually come of Chris Carpenter, while proving himself to already be a competent starter capable of winning games.  He led the Toronto Blue Jays (tied with Pat Hentgen) with 12 wins in 1998, and continued to pitch well into 1999…at least until he became cursed by a spell of injuries. Read the rest of this entry

2012 NLCS Preview: The Clash Of The Comeback Kids

Tuesday October 16th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: You might’ve heard about the Giants’ historical comeback. You might heard about the Cardinals historical comeback in Game 5 of the NLDS against the big, bad Nationals. But all you need to know is these two clubs don’t go away easily. Giants’ general manager likes to call his team “cockroaches” because they never go away, while the Cardinals, well, they aren’t named after a bug, but let’s call them the comeback kids for the lack of a better phrase. 

There’s nothing scientific about it. They both play to the end. The end is the end, but these two teams tend to avoid the end. Down 0-2 heading back to Cincinnati, the Giants were counted out by the world, seemingly. And who in their right mind would say they weren’t done? People aren’t that stupid. Yet, they silenced Reds’ fans for three straight days, and celebrated on their home field.

Then there’s the Cardinals. Adam Wainwright unraveled, and allowed six early runs to put his team in a very deep hole. And what needs to be underscored here, is the fact that they came back against a legitimate Cy Young candidate in Gio Gonzalez. Nothing fazes them. Even Stephen Strasburg couldn’t have helped… as much as people want to use that excuse. 

And now, the two miracle stories clash.

Starting Pitching Preview

The Giants obvious strength entering the playoffs was their strong starting pitching. Even with Tim Lincecum not being the Tim Lincecum he once was, the Giants boasted a very formidable staff with Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner heading the rotation. But San Francisco’s plan to stay in games through their pitching has failed miserably. In the first round, Cain gave up six runs in 10.2 innings pitched, Bumgarner allowed four runs in 4.1 innings pitched, and Barry Zito allowed two runs in 2.2 innings pitched. Ryan Vogelsong was the only one out of the four Giants’ starters to at least have something of a respectable line (5 IP, 1 ER, 3 Walks). Yet, he wasn’t even that good. Read the rest of this entry

The Stephen Strasburg Innings Limit: Was it the Right Move by the Nationals?

Monday October 15th, 2012

Stephen Strasburg is the face of the Washington Nationals. Will Bryce and Harper and he be able to bring a World Series to Washington?

Robert Whitmer:  About two months into the season (May 21st to be exact), I wrote an article about Stephen Strasburg explaining that he was at a crossroads in his career.  We discussed Justin Verlander and his abilities and compared him to the jock that you can find in any high school in the world.  We said that he was the kind of guy that was good at anything that he tried to do.  I said that it was just plain unfair how he abuses hitters at the plate because of the wide variety of pitches that he has to deal with.  We also discussed Mark Prior and how he was the coulda, woulda, shoulda, of the argument.  He did not live up to his potential and injuries were to blame.  I remember saying that we would have to see what happens and where he ends up.  Well the end of the season for the Nationals has come (for Strasburg it came earlier than the teams and don’t worry we will cover that later) so let’s take a look back at how the season that Strasburg had compares to the third season that Verlander and Prior had.  You can read the above mentioned article here.

We shall start with Mark Prior for the sole purpose being that I have his stats up on Firefox first.  Prior had a less than stellar third year for the Cubbies.  He started 21 games but could only squeak out a 6-4 record in 2004.  His ERA wasn’t that great either because it ended up at 4.02.  We compare this to the previous year for Prior when he came in at 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 30 starts.  Let’s look further at the 2004 numbers.  He struck out 139 while giving up 14 jacks.  The other number that is striking is that he only faced 510 batters the entire year.  That’s just over 24 batters per game.  This would be a great number if he were pitching into the ninth inning every game and having almost complete games each outing.  That wasn’t the case.  He started 21 times but only factored into the decision 10 times.  That’s 11 outings where something happened that cause him to get the no-decision as evident by the 0 (zero) complete games that year.  Like I said, it was a less than stellar year but in his defense, he did start the season on the DL for two months. Read the rest of this entry

2012 World Series Predictions: Tigers and Cardinals Will Meet Again in October

Monday October 15th, 2012

Sam Evans: With the Championship Series just beginning, predicting the two teams that will face off in the World Series has never been easier. Still, the teams playing in the ALCS and NLCS right now are pretty evenly matched so it’s still difficult to see which two will advance. Due to their momentum and great ability to come back, St. Louis will prevail over San Francisco in the NL. Due to their outstanding pitching staff and Miguel Cabrera being on his current tear, Detroit has a slight advantage over New York in the American League. Even if these predictions go horribly wrong, the one thing we can be certain of is that these two series are going to include some thrilling games played between some of the best teams in baseball. Read the rest of this entry

Tim Lincecum’s Future in San Francisco

Sunday October 14th, 2012

Kyle Holland:  No pitcher has come out of college before and jumped right onto the Major League scene as much as Tim Lincecum did  by fancying a 56-29 Won-Loss record in his first 4 seasons as a pro. Drafted tenth overall in the first round of the 2006 Amateur Draft, Lincecum came to the Giants pitching staff with great expectations. At the time, his $2.025 signing bonus was the highest amount the Giants had ever given a player.  In just his second season in 2008, he won the NL Cy Young, and followed up with another the next year in 2009.

After these 2 amazing Cy Young seasons in ’08 and ’09, Lincecum led the Giants to their first World Series in San Francisco in 2010.  At only 5’11’’, 163 Ibs, he can routinely get his fastball up to 93 MPH.

With this being his 6th year pitching in 2012, all is not well. For a guy that has usually thrown well enough to be the staff’s ace, Lincecum didn’t even make the NLDS roster as a starter because the Giants decided to use him out of the pen instead.  His 10-15 record for the regular season left a lot to be desired, and the club opted to use Barry Zito after Cain, Baumgarner and Vogelsong.  So how did this happen to such a prolific pitcher? Read the rest of this entry

2012 NLDS Wrap: Giants Defeat the Reds and Will Face Either the Cards or Nats in the NLCS

Friday October 12th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Game One: Reds 5, Giants 2: The first game of the National League Division Series looked to be a pitchers’ duel with Johnny Cueto of the Reds matching up with Matt Cain of the Giants. This possibility quickly went out the window when Cueto was seen in major discomfort after throwing a pitch to the second batter of the game. Out went Cueto with back spasms and in came Sam LeCure. Lecure pitched very well bridging the gap to probable game three starter Mat Latos. Right as Cueto came out, this became a must-win game for the Giants. These first two games would be the only two home games of the series for the Giants, and the ace of the Reds’ staff was out of the game after a third of an inning. While the Reds bullpen and Mat Latos continued to keep the Giants’ offense at bay, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce delivered all the offense that the Reds needed with a two-run bomb to left and a solo shot to right-center. Latos and the bullpen did the rest, only giving up a solo shot to Buster Posey and a run in the ninth inning. It looked as if the Reds had all the momentum taking at least a tie back to Cincinnati.

Game Two: Reds 9, Giants 0: The Reds picked up just where they left off starting the scoring with a Ryan Ludwick solo homer to dead center. In a fall evening in San Franciso, a hitter needs to get all of it for it to be a home run and Ludwick did just that, putting the Reds up 1-0 in the second inning. A few innings later, the Reds continued to pummel Madison Bumgarner scoring three in a rally started by Joey Votto. In what was a weird turn of events, Tim Lincecum came in to pitch in the sixth inning in relief of George Kontos. Lincecum went to the bullpen and only threw a few pitches before heading back to the dugout. Then, to what looked like his surprise, Bruce Bochy inserted him into the game as part of a double switch that put Xavier Nady into left field. Lincecum pitched very well for the limited warm-up tosses he had, shutting down the Reds and keeping the deficit at four. Unfortunately for the Giants the Reds kept going, shelling Jose Mijares and Santiago Casilla for five more runs, bringing up the total to nine. As of Sunday night, it looked like the Giants were completely dead.

Read the rest of this entry

ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: Sunday October 7th

Sunday October 7th, 2012



Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@me.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!

Jonathan Hacohen: The regular season is done. Toast. That’s it. We even finished the one game sudden death Wild Card playoffs. We are now officially in full swing, MLB playoff mode.

It is a bittersweet feeling. I love the playoffs. But it is hard to go without having 12-15 MLB games going every day.  And then I shudder to think what life is like when the playoffs are finished. We are less than 3 weeks away from the World Series.  Can you believe it? This was an incredible season, with many highs and lows.  From all those no-hitters to the countless players undergoing Tommy John surgery. The surprising A’s and Orioles. The disappointing Angels and Phillies. We had quite the year. Valentine Gate. Melky’s suspension. Miggy’s triple crown. Trout’s dominance. Dickey’s greatness. 2012 will go down as one of my favorite baseball seasons of all time.

Before we turn over to your questions, let’s address those Wild Card games. For all the talk of Atlanta’s great season, they are done. One game and over. The St. Louis Cardinals, the defending World Series champs squeaked into the playoffs…and are now heading to the NLDS for a date with the Nationals. Over in the American League, the powerhouse Rangers are done. For a team that led the AL in wins for most of the year and held the AL West crown for almost the entire season, their late season collapse ended in disaster. With a two game lead going into the final season, the A’s sweep in Oakland of the Rangers meant a date at home for Texas with Baltimore. This shows the importance of a division title vs. a wild card spot. While the A’s face the Tigers in a 5-game series, the Rangers had only one chance and blew it. Given the fact that they had enjoyed back-to-back World Series appearances the last two seasons, 2012 will go down as a black mark in Rangers history. It goes to show you: a team can have all the hitting on the planet, but to win- they need pitching. Sure the Rangers hitting cooled off in the 2nd half, but they also did not have enough reliable pitchers to be ready for the playoffs. Now imagine the Rays had a better offense. That’s the type of team that was built to compete in the playoffs. Great, young and healthy pitching is usually the secret to success in today’s game. But without enough hitting, the road was too hard for the Rays. 

As a result, teams like the Orioles and the A’s are in, while the Rays and Rangers are out. The teams may not have the best pitching or hitting- but with a steady amount of both, playoff dreams became a reality. What the A’s and Orioles both enjoy is lights-out bullpens. So called experts may call bullpens/relievers/closers as overrated. Looking at the Orioles success in 1-run games and the A’s in extra innings, I would have to disagree. If a team can lock down a game from the 6th inning an on with a lead consistency, that is what we call a dangerous team. I have no idea if the A’s and O’s face-off in the ALCS. If they do, that should be one explosive series. My crystal ball sees the winner of the A’s/Tigers going to the World Series. In the NL, I see it as the Reds all the way. They are just too stacked and consistent. Anything can happen in a short series, but those are my picks for baseball’s biggest showdown of the season. Stay tuned!

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry

The Philadelphia Phillies Franchise Part 3 of 4: The Pitchers

Saturday September.01/2012

Note from Chuck Booth:  I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5 part series that will focus on 1. The teams history.  2. The hitters 3. The pitchers. 4. The Teams Payroll going into 2013 and 5.The Ball Park that they play in. (The stadium articles will all be done next summer when I go to all of the parks in under a month again.)  Be sure to check my author page with a list of all of  my archived articles here.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):   This team has played for almost 130 years.  As such, they have a great deal of history, so there are going to be several more hitters than pitchers as is the case with most Franchises.  For the first seasons as the Quakers, they had some decent pitchers.  It wasn’t until Pete Grover Alexander joined the club, that Philadelphia Phillies fams got to see a Hall of Fame pitcher before their very eyes.  From Alexander, to Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons, to Jim Bunning, Rick Wise and Chris Short, to Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw and Jim Lonborg, to Curt Schilling and Mitch Williams, to Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, the Phillies Pitchers have been improving in each generation.

Last year when the club won a record 102 games for the Franchise, they had the best 4 starters they had ever assembled in Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Roy Oswalt to take the mound.  Having Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton as your 5th starter is an option most teams would love to have.  The Phillies have been one of the best teams in the National League since 1975.  They have appeared in 9 NLCS’s and 5 World Series while winning 2 of them.  That is an impressive 36 year run.  Going forward, the clubs pitchers still look solid.  Cole Hamels just signed a 6 year extension, Cliff Lee is around for 3 more years and Roy Halladay still has 2 more years left after this.  The club also signed Jonathan Papelbon up until the end of the 2015 season before 2012 began.  Papelbon may have a chance to make this list when someone else chronicles the best pitchers in Phillies history one day 25 years from now.

If you ask me to have a Mount Rushmore of Pitchers it would be: Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Grover Alexander and probably Cole Hamels because of his instrumental pitching since the 2007 season. 

For Part 1 of the Phillies Article Series: The Franchise click here:

For Part 2 of the Phillies Article Series: The Hitters click here:

For Part 4 of the Phillies Article Series:  Team Payroll and Contractual Statuses click here

For the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals Franchise 5 Part Series click here

Steve Carlton Highlight Reel:

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The Philadelphia Phillies Part 1 of 4: ‘The Franchise’

Friday August.17/2012

Note from Chuck Booth:  I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5 part series that will focus on 1. The teams history. 2. The hitters 3. The pitchers. 4.  The Team’s Payroll going into in 2013 and 5. (The stadium articles will all be done next summer when I go to all of the parks in under a month again.)  To follow all of the updates, be sure to check my author page with a list of all archived articles here.

It took the Phillies 77 years to win their first World Series in 1980, however since that time, they have been to 4 more World Series:  In 1983, 1993, 2008 and 2009, while taking home the Trophy in 2008.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):  The Phillies started as a franchise in 1883 in the city of Philadelphia-and have the longest continued stretch as their original name.  It has been a club that suffered tremendous droughts for the player and fans alike.  Only in recent vintage (since 1975) has this team come into permanent prominence, with the now Hall of Fame Mike Schmidt entering  the league and turning the fortunes of the city.  From signing Pete Rose to put them over the top for their 1st World Series Trophy, to just re-signing Cole Hamels to a 144 Million Dollar Contract, the team has been adamantly aggressive in keeping its name amongst the elite in baseballs annals. 

One could even argue that the Phillies had been the best team in baseball from 2008 up until the start of this season.  I recently named this club the best team from the years 1980-1983 and then again for the years of 2008-2009.  But before the likes of: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, or Curt Schilling, Lenny Dykstra and Darren Daulton, or Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and Pete Rose, they were plenty of other men who left a mark on this historic NL Franchise.  We will look at all of the significant players that ever played for the club as a pitcher or hitter.  The pitchers and hitters will be focused on solely in the next 2 weeks.  Let us look and how the team has fared in its history.

Here are the final pitches of the 2008 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. Property of Major League Baseball & Fox.

For Part 2 of The 4 Part Philles Article Series: The Hitters, click here.

For Part 3 of  The 4 Part Phillies Article Series:  The Pitchers- click here

For Part 4 of the Phillies Article Series:  Team Payroll and Contractual Statuses click here

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The Best Teams from 1980-2012: Will Texas claim the title this year from 2010-2012?

Wednesday July.11, 2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-  There is only so much one can read in an article, otherwise I would make these lists up from the turn of the 20th century.  If you gave me enough time as a reader, I promise to backdate this topic with another article featuring the best teams dating back further in years.  Eventually, all of the years may be dissected and we can have a healthy debate on some of my selections.  I really started watching baseball in the early 1980′s.  As I became older and discovered ways to research the history of the game, my knowledge and curious mind grew for more information.  I have studied and read baseball stat books and breezed through the odd Bill James novel.  If I ever take a break from writing or baseball park chasing, I may find some time down the road to watch the 9 part PBS documentary that Ken Burns did on baseball’s history.

Baseball lends itself more to the history than any other sport because of how it has been chronicled throughout their past.  Writers, announcers, former players, parents etc.. have always carried on with the stories of America’s favorite pastime.  I will never be sold that NFL is the greatest pastime in sports right now.  NFL is the greatest gambling sport presently.  It is my firm belief that the only reason why the NFL draws in more cash from its sport is because of the gambling factor.  If you took that aspect out of it, I believe baseball is the #1 sport.  Can you imagine how much attention we would pay to baseball if there were only a 16 game schedule?  Enough with that rant, let’s get down to the list.  Who were the best teams at any specific time period for the last 32 years?  We will start with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1980-1983. Read the rest of this entry

Top Ten Stat of The Week: Odds To Win The AL/NL/WS

Monday July.9, 2012

The Yankees pay at the rate of +190 to win the American League and +375 to win the World Series. They are actually the 2nd favorite in the MLB for both to Texas. These odds are not flattering to throw any money down on either team.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024)- I thought we would try a different top ten today with the ALL-Star Break here today.  This morning I did some research on the odds of what http://www.bet365.com thinks will happen for the rest of the MLB Year based on their gambling futures.  Gambling is an increasing industry like no other entity in the world.  The NFL is better suited for ‘punters’ to throw down some bucks at Vegas.  They have only one game a week and the gambling experts think that baseball is easier for the bad teams to beat the good teams.  I will tell you as one of these ‘so called experts’, they are completely right.  The worst teams in baseball usually can still beat the best teams 1 out of 3 games in a series.  This makes normal gambling for a regular season game really hard to make any money, or minimize losses.  I do think that betting who makes the playoffs and who wins it all has some good value picks.

Y0u have to search for the value in anything.  I never like to play the #1 favorites of each league because they simply don’t pay enough of an odd.  Right now, Bet365.com has the Texas Rangers at +175 to win the AL, or The Yankees at +190.  I love these two teams to probably represent  the AL in the World Series, however these odds are not good at all.  As I list all of the odds for each league first, then the World Series, I will make some notes up.  I have two teams in the NL that I have already wagered with and I am coming up roses on them so far.  It is time for Gambling 101. Read the rest of this entry

Cardinals Win the 2011 World Series and Freese Named MVP

Saturday October 29, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:      The game of the year turned out to be a non-starter at the end.  Before game time I predicted a 5-1 Cardinals victory.  I was close…they took it 6-2.  The big reason for my vision was the fact the Cardinals had ace pitcher on the mound, Chris Carpenter.  The Carp was solid on this night as he gave Tony La Russa as strong out of an outing as could have been expected on short rest.  Carpenter went 6.0 innings, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks and striking out 5.  With the Cards’ ace in the zone, the Rangers could not muster any runs after the 1st.  Not only did the Rangers not score any runs, but the Cardinals bullpen was perfect for the final 3 innings, in not giving up any runs, hits or walks.  Arthur Rhodes, Octavio Dotel, Lance Lynn and Jason Motte played as they did for most of these playoffs as the St. Louis Cardinals became the 2011 World Series champions.

While Carpenter got his second World Series victory, Matt Harrison took his second loss.  Harrison pitched decently, going 4.0 innings and giving up the 3 Cardinals winning runs.  Ron Washington proceeded to bring in Scott Feldman, C.J. Wilson, Mike Adams (who gave up the 4th run), Mike Gonzalez and Alexi Ogando.  The difference in this game hitting-wise was David Freese coming up big again with 2 RBIs and Allen Craig delivering the game winning run, a solo home run in the 3rd.  Those two relatively unknowns coming into the playoffs delivered time and time again for La Russa in this postseason.

There are 4 main components to the Cardinals winning the World Series this year:

1)  David Freese:  World Series MVP was a man on fire in October and was the overwhelming choice for the award.  Freese hit .397 in the postseason, 5 home runs and a record 21 RBIs.  It seems that every time the team needed him, Freese came through.  Considering that the third base was a question mark for the Cardinals coming into the season, Freese was exactly the player the team needed at the right time.

2)  Chris Carpenter:  Every big game, every time the needed a big performance, Carpenter was there.  All Carp did this year was get the team into the playoffs, knock off Roy Halladay and the Phillies in the NLDS and win the final World Series game 7.  Carpenter has been Mr. Steady for the team and fulfilling the role of ace in every sense of the word.  Sure the Cards had other weapons to rely upon.  But no Carpenter…no championship.

3)  The Bullpen:  Looking at the numbers, the Cardinals bullpen was obscene this postseason.  Tony La Russa had so many weapons out there as his pen gelled at the right time.  When a team can almost count on 3-4 shutdown innings every night, they stand a good chance of winning.  Jason Motte blossomed into the closer that was envisioned for him and as he honed his control, he has been nearly untouchable.  Dotel, Rhodes and the boys have been as strong a part of this team as any bullpen I have ever seen.  The Cardinals caught lightning in a bottle with this group and rode them all the way to the World Series.

4)  Tony La Russa:  Say what you want about TLR: the man won the big one.  Another World Series championship under his belt and second one in St. Louis.  Considering how many critics blasted him during the season and the Cardinals seemed to be a non-factor going  into September, credit needs to be given where it is deserved.  Too often in sports we are quick to blast a manager for making a mistake, but not quick enough to throw praise where it is due.  It is my feeling that in the aftermath of the past week, many critics were relentless on their criticism of La Russa after the bullpen phone fiasco in game 5.  But even if there is blame to be laid there, the bottom line is game 5 was that the Cardinals bats went cold in that game and the team could not deliver a win.  A manager can only do so much.  His team needs to play well in front of him.  Game 7 was about Carpenter and the bullpen, with some timely hits by Freese and Craig.  But Tony La Russa helped guide this team, with bullpen selections, lineups and match ups and in-game decisions.  TLR is a master chess player and in 2011, his smarts and wits played a big part in his team over taking the Braves for the Wild Card and beating the Phillies, Brewers and Rangers.  Few, if any managers, are as prepared and knowledgeable as TLR.  The Cardinals manager was one of the main building blocks of this particular World Series championship.

Where do we go from here?  After stories and questions circulated all season long, we will finally find out who will be back in St. Louis come 2012.  After winning their second World Series championship together, I am prepared to bet the farm (if I had a farm to bet) that Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols will be back together next year.  With the foundation of the bullpen, Lance Berkman, Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday, combined with Carpenter and a returning Adam Wainwright, this team has the pieces to make a dynasty run.  Pujols has the chance to create a legacy for himself.  His time, his standing in history, all centre around St. Louis.  Pujols and his manager have too much invented in this city and team to turn away.  Both will be back in 2012 as the Cardinals are now the team to beat going into next year.

With the ending of game-7 of the World Series, the major league season has come to an end for another year.  Heading into this offseason, we will have many topics, issues and news stories to cover.  The MLB Winter Meetings.  Winter Ball.  Free agency.  The Collective Bargaining Agreement.  The future of Bud Selig.  MLB Expansion and Realignment.  Spring Training.  Baseball never ends.  The season, from spring training to the World Series is 8 months long.  We are now coming to the hardest 4 months of a baseball fan’s life.  With baseball news stories everyday, MLB reports will continue to bring you the latest news and analysis that you have come to expect all season long.  MLB 4 Life.  That is the name of the game.  On this day, we congratulate Tony La Russa, David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals on an exciting and well deserved World Series championship.  This has been one of the most exciting postseasons and World Series of all time.  Now…the countdown to Spring Training begins.

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Freese Sends Cardinals to Game 7 of the World Series

Friday October 28, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Much attention was thrown to Tony La Russa and “Bullpen Phone Gate” following Game 5 of the World Series.  Despite the trend to make the Cardinals manager into the goat, the team lost on Monday night 4-2 by failing to execute the clutch and hit with runners in scoring position (1 for 12 in the game).  With the Rangers leading the series 3-2, a Texas win on Thursday would have clinched the first ever World Series title.  But the Cardinals and their improbable hero, David Freese had other ideas on this night.  As a result, we are now headed to a Game 7 tonight (Friday).  The World Series is down to a 1-game playoff, sudden death matchup, for all the marbles.

Both starters in Game 6 enjoyed decent outings.  Colby Lewis pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up 4 runs (2 earned), with 3 hits, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts.  Lewis did give up a 2-run home run to Lance Berkman in the first inning, his only serious blemish on the night.  His counterpart, Jaime Garcia, lasted only 3 innings, giving up 2 earned runs, 5 hits, 2 walks while striking out 5.  Clearly La Russa did not see enough in his starter to leave the fate of his team’s season on his shoulders.  As a result, St. Louis began to trot out their bullpen while Texas followed suit shortly after. 

The Rangers used 7 relievers on the night, while the Cardinals used 6.  Both bullpens were shaky on the night, as the  teams exchanged runs throughout the game.  The Rangers actually held a 7-4 lead going into the 8th, but Derek Holland in his 2nd inning of work on the night gave up a solo home run to Allen Craig to cut the deficit to 7-5.  From there, Mike Adams gave up a couple of hits in 1/3 inning pitched and gave way to closer Neftali Feliz.  With the Rangers a sniff away from the World Series crown, Feliz gave up 2 more Cardinals runs to send the game into extra innings. 

The teams exchanged 2 runs each in the 10th inning.  The Rangers runs came off Cardinals closer Jason Motte, who was uncharacteristically pitching a 2nd inning in the game.  Josh Hamilton, well rested after a couple of days off, launched a  2-run shot to give the Rangers the lead.  But Texas quickly gave back the runs in the bottom of the inning courtesy of a Darren Oliver blown save.  The game proceeded to the 11th inning.  With Mark Lowe on in the bottom of the inning to face David Freese, the probable World Series MVP (if the Cards win it all tonight) launched a solo home run to win the game for St. Louis.  One batter faced for Mark Lowe and the game was done.  St. Louis comes back to take the heat off their manager and breathe new life into the squad as the series is now tied at 3-3.

Looking ahead to tonight’s starting pitchers, anything can happen at this point.  St. Louis will likely go with Chris Carpenter on short rest.  The Rangers can use a combination of different arms, with Matt Harrison possibly getting the nod.  Game 7 will be an exciting game, if for no other reason then it being a one-game sudden death playoff.  But if you didn’t get a chance to watch Game 6, try to locate a copy on tape.  One of the most exciting World Series games of all time, this one will be talked about for years to come.   No matter where you are tonight, do not miss out on tonight’s action.  It will be the final game of the 2011 season and your last chance for live baseball until March.  Game sevens also don’t come along very often.  With two high-octane offenses ready to duke it out in St. Louis, I am counting down the minutes until game time.  Let’s play ball! 

 

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Cardinals Win Game One of the 2011 World Series

Thursday October 20, 2011

 

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  On a cold October night in St. Louis, Chris Carpenter and C.J. Wilson took the mound for their respective squads to battle in the long anticipated game one of the 2011 World Series.  As the title of this article indicates, the Cardinals took game one.  As the mastery and genius of Tony La Russa continued, here is a recap of last night’s action:

 

Texas Rangers at St. Louis Cardinals:  World Series Game One

 Despite the expectation for a high scoring affair, this game turned out to be very close.  The two high-octane offenses of the Rangers and Cardinals were kept at bay by great pitching and mother nature.  Bats seem to get cold in dreary weather for the most part.  Chris Carpenter went 6.0 innings for the win.  With his 8th postseason win, Carpenter passed the immortal Bob Gibson on the Cardinals all-time playoff win list.  Impressive company indeed.  Despite Carpenter getting frustrated with himself at times (and using choice language that came through on the broadcast), he enjoyed a great outing.  Only 5 hits allowed, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts.  His only blemish on the night was a 2-run shot given up to Mike Napoli.  The home run at the time erased the 2-0 Cardinals lead at the time.  But St. Louis was able to come back in the bottom of the 6th, with pinch hitter Allen Craig driving in the game winning run.  From there, the Cardinals pen took over with 3 shutout innings.  Relievers Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Arthur Rhodes and Jason Motte combined to give up 1 hit and 1 walk (both by Salas in 1/3 of an inning) and 3 strikeouts to preserve the win for Carpenter.  Motte continued his incredible postseason run with his 5th playoff save, a 1-2-3 9th inning.

 C.J. Wilson was good, but not great on the night.  The Rangers ace has not come up big when his team needed him most, as he was fairly erratic on the night.  His final line read 5 2/3 innings pitched, 4 hits allowed, 6 walks, 3 earned runs and 4 strikeouts.  Alexi Ogando came into the 6th with 2 runners on and could not get the job done.  Mike Gonzalez and Scott Feldman came in from the pen as well, but the damage was done as the Rangers could not come back against the mighty Cardinals bullpen.  Questions arose after the game concerning Ron Washington’s use of his bench during the game.  Specifically, his choices of having Craig Gentry and Esteban German pinch hit instead of Yorvit Torrealba and Mitch Moreland, who did not end up coming into the game.  The bottom line for me is that Washington went with his feel and instincts.  If the moves pay-off, he looks like a genius.  In this case, they did not.  But let’s give credit where its due.  The Rangers are back on the big stage for a second straight year.  The Rangers must be doing something very right to make it this far.  Regardless of who would have batted in key situations, the Cardinals pen did its job tonight (as it has been doing all postseason long).  Tonight’s game was more about what Tony La Russa did right, rather than what Ron Washington did wrong.  But Washington will need to keep his chess playing skills sharp in this series if he hopes to have his team win the big prize. 

The big heroes on this night for St. Louis were Lance Berkman (2 hits and 2 RBIs), Craig, Carpenter and Motte.  Game 2 goes in St. Louis Thursday night, 8:05 PM ET.  Colby Lewis and Jaime Garcia are set to faceoff.  It will be interesting to see how Garcia responds after receiving an early hook from his manager in his last outing in the NLCS.  This will be a pivotal game for the Rangers, as they do not want to go home to Texas down 2-0.  The Cardinals started off the World Series on the right foot.  Now it is just a question of whether the Cardinals bats and bullpen can keep the magic going for 3 more wins.

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

The Cardinals Are Going to the World Series

Monday October 17, 2011

 

MLB reports – April Whitzman:  The Cardinals heading into last night in Milwaukee were one win away from advancing to the World Series.   Here is a recap of last night’s NLCS action:

 

St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers:  NLCS Game Six

One ex-Blue Jays pitcher got the win in game number six of the NLCS last night.  But it was not the one you would have expected.

Shaun Marcum was on the mound for the Brewers, hoping to bounce back from his previous start.  Things unfortunately did not go as planned, as Marcum lasted only one inning.  During his short stint, he allowed four earned runs on three hits, a walk, while striking out one.  The biggest hit came in the form of  a three-run home run, courtesy of David Freese.

Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson, however, did not fare much better.  He lasted only two innings himself, also allowing four runs.  Jackson actually allowed three home runs, including solo shots to Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, and Jonathan Lucroy.

Heading into the third, the score was already 5-4 in favor of St. Louis.  But the Cardinals weren’t even close to slowing down.  They scored another four runs, thanks to an Albert Pujols home run, a Nick Punto sac fly which scored Matt Holliday, and an Allen Craig two-RBI single that scored David Freese and Yadier Molina.

The Brewers tried to overcome the deficit in the following inning, when Yuniesky Betancourt doubled in Jerry Hairston to make the score 9-5 in favour of the Cardinals.

The Cardinals would continue to add to their lead in the following inning.  After two consecutive singles to start the inning, costly errors allowed Matt Holliday to score on Yadier Molina’s fielder’s choice. The errors also enabled Adron Chambers‘ sacrifice fly to score David Freese, his third run scored of the game.

Knowing how important the win was for the Brewers, they were not prepared to give up in this one.  They scored another run in the bottom of the inning when Ryan Braun grounded out to score Carlos Gomez. The score was then 11-6 for the Cardinals.

But alas, the Brewers offense was a little too late- as the Cardinals went on to add another run.  Albert Pujols hit another RBI single to score Daniel Descalso making it a 12-6 game.

Jason Motte came in for the ninth and got a 1-2-3 inning, as the Cardinals defeated the Brewers 12-6.  St. Louis won the series 4-2, moving on to the World Series to face the Texas Rangers. 

Ex- Blue Jay Marc Rzepczynski ended up  earning the win, pitching 2 1/3 innings, more than any other pitcher in this game.  He allowed one run on two hits, while walking one and striking out two.

Another Ex- Blue Jay, Octavio Dotel, also pitched in the game.  He went 2/3 of an inning without allowing a base runner and struck out one.

After the game, David Freese was named MVP of the NLCS tournament, after going 3-4 with three runs and three RBIs in the game and batting .545 (12 for 22) in the NLCS overall, with three homers, three doubles, nine RBIs and seven runs scored.

Game number one of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals commences on Wednesday night in St. Louis, with the National League enjoying home field advantage in this one (thanks to their All-Star game victory this year).  If it is anything like the series we have been watching thus far, it is going to be an exciting conclusion to an unpredictable and entertaining 2011 MLB postseason.

 
 

 

Today’s feature was prepared by our Blue Jays & Prospects Writer, April Whitzman.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow April on Twitter.

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

MLB Playoffs: Improving and Revamping the System

Saturday October 15, 2011

 

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  I recently received a great e-mail from one of our readers.  The e-mail was a well written commentary piece on improving the MLB Playoffs structure.  So enthusiastic was I with the contents of the message, that I immediately suggested sharing the reader’s thoughts on our site.  I got an enthusiastic thumbs back in response!  Thus today on MLB reports, we are proud to present Guest Writer- Brian Corrigan, with his proposal to improve and revamp the MLB Playoffs:

 

Brian Corrigan (Guest Writer – MLB reports):  The classic pennant chase prior to 1969 made sense.  It rewarded the team that performed consistently over a schedule of between 154 and 162 games.   In a given year, it is possible that one or two teams with the best records in Major League Baseball will win 60% of their games.  However, a team that wins 60% of their games, will routinely lose 3 out of 5 games several times in a season.  And the difference between a team that wins 55% of its games and 60% is almost unnoticeable in any given stretch of games, until you play out the full season.

As the two top seeds in each league have now just been eliminated from the championship games, does baseball really want to go the path of hockey, basketball and football- allowing wild card teams an ever-increasing role in the postseason?  Remember that those are sports where the best teams commonly win 67%+ of their games.  In football, the top teams win 75%+ of their games.  Baseball is a totally different creature.  It requires longer sifting for the really great baseball teams to emerge, although those teams are almost inevitably bewitched by periods of seasonal funks.

Does baseball really want to go in this direction?  Will games in April, May and June really count?  Will fans wait until postseason to tune in?  Will General Managers develop strategies to play on the cheap in the first half of the season, and then make the key acquisitions that will give them the best short-term shot at the postseason?   Do we really want baseball to degenerate in this direction?

I’m a pragmatic person.  I understand that baseball is business.  Given the fact that postseason play is more lucrative, I can understand wanting to expand the number of postseason games.  Ultimately, I’m not going to succeed in rolling back the clock, but I would like to propose a system that is much better than a 10 or 12 team playoff system.

 If I could deliver a postseason schedule that:

1)    Produced more games, and therefore higher revenues than the current system;

2)    Would produce a higher number of expected games, while taking less elapsed time, solving the World Series in November problem;

3)    Would do this even with the existing 8 team playoff structure;

4)    Would encourage the use of the top 3 starting pitching rotations, that fans prefer; and

5)    Decreases the probability that the series will come down to luck or streakiness…

Would I at least have your attention?

What I am proposing does all of this, as well as produce higher revenues for MLB teams and more excitement for the fans.

 

What I am proposing is essentially a best of 9 games “round robin” pennant series, where each of the 4 playoff teams in each league would potentially play each other 3 times – possibly more or less, with up to two tie-breaker games.  The pennant would not be won until one team had secured the best record in the pennant series, getting at least 6 wins.  Until a team took its fifth loss, it would still be playing meaningful games, until one team secured its sixth win.

Each 3-game set would consist of a first game, with the team that does not have home field advantage taking a day off, and then playing on the 3rd and 4th day against the team with the home field advantage.  The fifth day would be off; thus, the use of a 3 pitcher starting rotation would be encouraged.  One league would start one day later than the other, so that baseball games would played on each day. 

Home field advantage would go to the team with the best seed (best regular season record).

But isn’t there a possibility that some of the games wouldn’t count?  Yes, however by giving the postseason teams a share of postseason revenues, there is always a motivation to win.  At the point where two teams have been mathematically eliminated from the pennant series (this should not happen until every team has had a chance to play at least five games, and most likely more), then the two surviving teams would play the balance of the remaining 9- game tournament against each other, even if that means they play more than three times against one another.  For example, if two teams have won their first 5 games, and the remaining teams have lost 5 games each, then the teams that have won five in a row should play their last games against each other.  Effectively, this would create a best of five series for the surviving two teams, until one team gets its eighth win (allowing for a tenth game tie breaker if needbe). 

To increase the probability that the two best teams would play in the final 3 games, I would propose the following schedule:

First 3 games:  #1 seed plays #4 seed;  #2 seed plays #3 seed

Second 3 games:  winner of #1 vs. #4 plays loser of #2 vs #3 series; winner of #2 vs. #3 plays loser of #1 vs. #4.

Of the two teams that won the first series, they will go into the last series with no more than 4 losses (no more than 1 from the first series and 3 from the last series), meaning that at least the first game between those two teams will count for both clubs, since elimination could not yet have occurred for either one.

Taking this year’s National League Division series as an example:  the Phillies won the first two of three against the Cards, and so would have played their next three games against the D-Backs who lost 2 of 3 to the Brewers.  The Brewers would have played their next three vs. the Cards.  The final 3 games would have been Phils vs. Brewers, Cards vs. D-Backs, at least until two of the teams had been eliminated. 

 

In the event that only one team is eliminated, until a second team is eliminated, it is possible that 1 or 2 games will be played for the honor of baseball, or for a share of the postseason revenue.  But once two teams are eliminated, they would step aside and allow the two surviving teams to play up to the balance of the remaining 9 games head-to-head.

The following represents a hypothetical pennant season:

First 3 games:

Phils win 2 out of 3 against the Cards

Brewers win 2 out of 3 against the D-Backs

Second 3 games:

D-Backs win 2 out of 3 against Phils

Cards win 2 out of 3 against Brewers

Game 7 with Resulting records in parenthesis

Brewers (4-3) beat Phils (3-4)

Cards (4-3) best D-backs (3-4)

Game 8

Brewers (5-3) beat Phils (3-5)

Cards (5-3) beat D-backs (3-5)

Phils and D-backs are eliminated; Brewers and Cards play the final 9th game against each other to resolve the pennant.  Since the home field goes to the best regular season record in the 2nd and 3rd games of a 3 game set, the Cards would visit the Brewers for the 9th game.

 Let’s say that Game 8 had gone differently, let’s say  D-backs (4-4) beat Cards (4-4)

 The Phils would play game 9 against the Brewers for honor and bragging rights.

If the Brewers win their 6th game, they clinch; otherwise, there will be a two-way tie for the pennant to be resolved by a tie breaker game.  This system produces lots of wonderful and exciting and meaningful games for fans.

But isn’t there a chance of a tie in this system?  Yes, and you could still get a 10th and 11th game tie-breaker in; and in less time than the current system.  A three-way tie would pit the two worst regular season record teams against each other, and the winner would play the team with the best regular season record.  This could happen if three teams went 5-4, and one team went 3-6 or if three teams went 6-3 and one team went 0-9.  It should not happen that often, and if it does, it generates more games and more excitement for baseball. 

Are you sure this will take less elapsed time?  Yes, the current system must allow for a 5-game division series and a 7-game championship.  That is 12 games in total.  But you get fewer games because only two teams are playing in the last best of 7, and some teams may be eliminated after just 3 games.  In this revised system, no one can get eliminated until after playing a minimum of 5 games.  Even with a 3-way tie-breaker, you play less than 11 games in total vs. a schedule that must accommodate 12 games, as is the case in the current system (and 15 or more in the proposed new system). It works out that the 9th game would be scheduled for the day that the 5th league championship game is currently scheduled.  Since it takes 3 more days to play out the 7 game LCS, there’s enough time to squeeze in up to two tie-breaker games, and still finish up at least 1 day before the current system.  Given the rarity of the two game tie-breaker, the last tie-breaker game could be scheduled for a day before the World Series.

Can you really say that this series cuts down on the luck?  It could come down to the tie breaker game?  If you want to reduce the luck, use the regular season to determine the pennant winner.  The more games played, the less luck involved.  It will take some consistency to fight your way to that 10th game tie-breaker.   The bottom line is really that baseball gets the increased revenue, without opening the door to more and more teams in the playoffs, the way the other sports have gone, thus diminishing the value of the regular season.  In fact, with the suggested homefield advantage rules, the top seed gets 6 out of 9 games at home, and that makes the regular season count for more than the current system.

 

 ***Thank you to our Guest Writer, Brian Corrigan, for sharing his thoughts on the MLB playoffs today with us.  Please feel free to leave any comments and/or questions that you have at the bottom of this article.***

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Tony La Russa Manages the Cards to One Win Away From the World Series

Saturday October 15, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Only one game on the schedule last night- but it was a big one.  The Brewers and Cardinals headed into game five in St. Louis, deadlocked at 2-2.  With the series set to shift to Milwaukee, this was a big game to take the lead in the NLCS.  With two strong pitchers on the mound, this game could have been a pitching duel.  It was far from it and the resulting game surprised many.  Here is a recap of last night’s NLCS action:

 

Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals:  NLCS Game Five

From the title of this article, many readers will take it that the Cardinals won last night.  Indeed they did, a strong 7-1 victory over the Brewers to take a 3-2 NLCS series lead.  This game came down to key factors in my estimation:  the in-game managing by Tony La Russa and the sloppy play of the Brewers.  When referring to La Russa, the talk of last night was the call to the bullpen in the 5th inning.  With the Cardinals up 4-1, the Brewers were threatening with 2 on and 2 out.  Ryan Braun headed to the plate and La Russa ran to the mound.  Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia was stellar up to that point, with 4 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 7 hits, 0 BB and 5 strikeouts.  But as noted by last night’s television commentators, Garcia was starting to get into trouble.  With one Brewers run already in and the hits starting to pile up, La Russa appeared to be nervous that his starter was losing it.  Few managers would take out his starter at that point, but then few managers are Tony La Russa.  With his bullpen on fire in this postseason, La Russa was not going to take any chances.  Octavio Dotel got the call and proceeded to strike out Ryan Braun to end the threat.  From there, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte came on to shut out the Brewers on 2 hits and 1 walk.  Motte finished up the game for the save with Dotel taking the win.

But that is not the end of the story.  Far from it.  As much as this game is about the wizardry of La Russa managing his pitching staff (along with trusty pitching coach Dave Duncan at his side), game five was also about the Brewers throwing it away.  Literally.  To me, Milwaukee was a team intent on giving the game away.  Four errors on the night is completely unacceptable, especially for a game of this magnitude.  It is not like the team was not hitting, as the Brewers had 9 hits compared to the Cardinals 10.  Interestingly enough the Cardinals had 20 LOB, compared to the Brewers 14.  But the Cardinals drove runners in when in it counted.  Here is my logic in a game that came down to inches.  Zack Greinke gave up 5 runs, although only 2 of them were earned.  Marco Estrada in the 8th was a complete train-wreck, giving up 2 runs on 1 hit an 2 walks.  Estrada completely was not finding the zone and was lucky to escape with only the 2 runs allowed.  Take out the Estrada inning and Greinke’s 3 unearned runs, and you are now left with a 2-1 Cardinals lead.  Thus the Cardinals victory relied on La Russa’s management, strong bullpen and Brewers lack of execution and poor play.  A game of inches.
 
Greinke was good, but not great in this one.  In 5 2/3 IP, Greinke gave up 7 hits and 2 walks.  But he was not able to strikeout a batter.  Even without his best stuff, Greinke did keep his team in this one and deserved a better fate.  Had he received the defensive support he needed, Greinke could have stayed longer in this one and the game may have turned out differently.  With a 5-1 score going into the 7th, the Brewers seemed deflated and defeated.  Not the way to win ballgames folks.
 
Did Tony La Russa overreact by pulling his starter early?  We will never know.   Had Braun connected for a 3-run home run off Dotel and evened up the score, La Russa would have been the goat.  But by Dotel striking out Braun, La Russa is a genius.  The bottom line is that the Cardinals are one win away from going back to the World Series against a favored Brewers squad.  I find that critics are too quick to pounce on major league managers when they make mistakes, but not fast enough to give credit when they make the right moves.  La Russa doesn’t manage always by the book and has taken many chances in this postseason.  Last night was no exception.  Without the Brewers uneven play and the strong pitching of the Cardinals pen, the game may not have gone in the Cardinals favor.  But the stars did align and Tony La Russa does deserve his due in this one.  In a game of inches and trying to minimize mistakes, the Cardinals played sound baseball while the Brewers did not.  Cardinals win and go on to Milwaukee for game six with the 3-2 edge.
 
ALCS and NLCS:  Game Six Previews
 
Game six of the ALCS goes tonight in Texas, 8:05 PM ET is the scheduled start time.  Max Scherzer goes for the Tigers, Derek Holland for the Rangers.  Many are counting on this one going seven, as Scherzer has been steadier than Holland in the postseason.  But then Holland is due for a big game.  With the big Rangers bats at home, anything can happen in this one.  Jim Leyland and Ron Washington will pulling out all the stops tonight.  This one will be a classic.  Over the in the National League, game 6 goes Sunday afternoon, 4:05 PM ET in Milwaukee.  Shaun Marcum and Edwin Jackson are set to face-off.  There was speculation that Marcum would be pulled given his poor play of late, but the Brewers are sticking with their starter.  Jackson has been solid since coming over to St. Louis.  With the momentum in the Cardinal’s favor, the Brewers will need a big game or face elimination on Sunday.
 
 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Tigers Stay Alive and NLCS Tied Up: Recap of MLB Playoffs and Notes

Friday October 14, 2011

 

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The Rangers had a chance on Thursday to advance to the World Series.  The Cardinals were up 2-1 in the NLCS and looking to take a commanding lead.  How did they do?  Let’s recap Thursday’s MLB playoffs:

 

Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers: ALCS Game Five

 The battle of the aces.  C.J. Wilson and Justin Verlander.  This game turned into a high scoring affair rather than a pitching classic.  The Tigers pulled out a 7-5 victory to stay alive in the series.  Verlander took the win, with 7 1/3 IP, 4 runs allowed, 8 hits, 3 walks and 8 strikeouts.  The lone home run given up Verlander was in the 5th inning to none other than… Nelson Cruz.  The Rangers slugger hit his 5th home run of the series, a 2-run effort.  Phil Coke came in for the rare save, pitching 1 2/3 innings, allowing 1 run.  C.J. Wilson took the loss for the Rangers.  In 6.0 IP, Wilson allowed a staggering 6 runs, 8 hits, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts.  The long ball did Wilson in, as he allowed 3 of them to the Tigers in their home park.  Alex Avila hit a solo blast in the 3rd, while Delmon Young had a pair on the day (a solo home run in the 4th and 2-run blast in the 6th).  For good measure, Koji Uehara came on in the 7th to give up a solo home run to Ryan Raburn

The crooked number came for the Tigers in the 6th.  Miguel Cabrera hit a ground ball off the third base bag that could have led to a double play, but rather went for a double.  Detroit kept the momentum from there and scored four runs in the inning.  Detroit actually had a 7-2 lead going into the 8th, but the Rangers were able to chip away and stay within striking distance.  Texas now leads the series 3-2 going into game 6 on Saturday.  The game will be played at 8:05 PM ET, with Max Scherzer and Derek Holland set to faceoff.  The Rangers continue to be one game away from that magical trip back to the World Series. 

 

Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals:  NLCS Game Four

The Cardinals held a 2-1 lead in the series with game four to be played at home.  Kyle Lohse was on the hill for the home team, Randy Wolf for the Brewers.  Turns out that Wolf was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Brewers.  The starter pitched a solid 7.0 IP to take the win, giving up only 2 runs on 6 hits, 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.  The only runs allowed by Wolf were on solo home runs, to Matt Holliday in the 2nd and Allen Craig in the 3rd.  Francisco Rodriguez got the hold in the 8th and closer John Axford with the save in the 9th.  Kyle Lohse could not make it out of the 5th, pitching 4 1/3 IP for the loss.  Lohse gave up 3 runs on 6 hits, no walks and struck out 3.  Mitchell Boggs, Arthur RhodesOctavio Dotel and Fernando Salas also pitched in this one.  The Brewers recipe for success in this one was simple.  Great pitching and grinding out runs at the plate.  One could say that the Brewers beat Tony La Russa at his own game.  The Brewers did not hit a long ball in this one, but will certainly take out the well-earned victory.  With the series tied up 2-2, game five goes tonight at 8:05 PM ET in St. Louis.  A great matchup on the mound, as Jamie Garcia and Zack Greinke faceoff. 

 

MLB Notes:

  •  With the Theo Epstein soap opera about to conclude, the focus shifts to Baltimore and Boston for their vacant General Manager positions.  Boston is looking internally to fill the role, while Baltimore is considering everyone and anyone to lead their team.  This is a crucial stage for both teams’ development.  Boston needs to maintain its status as a top flight MLB organization, while Baltimore is on the verge of breaking through (with a great deal of talent in their farm system).
  • The sale of the Houston Astros to Crane will apparently be going through.  The sale will lead to the Astros moving to the American League, playing in the West division.  I will be writing about this subject very soon on the Reports.  But at this point I will say that the move is a win-win for the Astros and its fans.  The team needs stability and  renewed excitement.  A move to the AL West should provide just that and more.
  • Another day, another rumor.  With the Red Sox in apparent turmoil, Big Papi has come out and indicated that he may not return to Boston.  That is his decision and I respect that.  But will Boston be asking him back…and at what price?  If Papi does leave, look for the Jays, Rays and Yankees to all hold discussions with the big man.  The Angels may also be a consideration.  But my money is on a return to Beantown.
  • The expansion of the MLB playoffs will happen.  It is just a question of when.  The latest reports have Major League Baseball adding one more wild card team to each league and a sudden death, one game playoff, to be played by the wild card teams.  I do not know yet how I feel about having just a one gamer to decide the wild card winner.  But I am definitely in favour of expanding the amount of teams.  Personally, I like the idea of each top team getting a full bye into the championship series.  But this may be too revolutionary for baseball.  The expanded MLB playoffs is likely coming as early as the 2013 season.
  • The World Baseball Classic is coming in the spring of 2013.  The qualifying tournament will be played sometime in the fall of 2012.  I am a big fan of this tournament and see it as a big step for baseball expansion throughout the world.  More details will likely not be available until next year, but I will continue to update everyone as information becomes available.   

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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