Blog Archives

ALL – Time Tommy John Surgery Tracker, Updated For Tyler Chatwood

For all the talk of baseball players (pitchers mostly) that will be undergoing Tommy John Surgery, we will be keeping a running list!  E-mail us at mlbreports@gmail.com if you have any names to add to our totals.

How many players are having or had TJ in history? You are about to find out: Read the rest of this entry

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – June 16, 2014

Jeff Topping Reuters

Jeff Topping Reuters

Today’s episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast. is a tribute to Tony Gwynn, the best hitter of his generation and one of the easiest players to root for in baseball history.

May he rest in peace.

Derek Norris, Travis Wood, Troy Tulowitzki, Hisashi Iwakuma, Mike Trout, Chris Tillman, Jonathan Lucroy and Madison Bumgarner all added to their totals for Who Owns Baseball

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Is Masahiro Tanaka The Next Young International Superstar Pitcher?

Mashahiro Tanaka was 24 - 0, with a 1.27 ERA in with his team in the NPBL last year.  He has followed countrymen Yu Darvish, Hiroki Kuroda and of course the 1st man from Japan, Hideo Nomo as superstars to take their talents to North America.

Mashahiro Tanaka was 24 – 0, with a 1.27 ERA in with his team in the NPBL last year. He has followed countrymen Yu Darvish, Hiroki Kuroda and of course the 1st man from Japan, Hideo Nomo as superstars to take their talents to North America.  Tanaka has pitched with the whole world watching him, as part of the 2013 WBC team for Japan.  He will be counted on at the top of the New York Yankees rotation for years to come.  Fans in New York can only pray this guy is much more like the guys aforementioned in this caption – rather than former Yankees Starting Pitcher Kei Igawa, who never panned out in his time with New York.

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

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Today we are talking about young International Phenom pitchers.  I picked 5 former and current pitchers that hailed from other places other than the USA to concentrate the story on. 

I came up with Fernando Valenzuela from Mexico, Hideo Nomo and Yu Darvish from Japan, Eric Gagne from Canada and Juan Marichal from the Dominican Republic. 

The 5 baseball players all flashed onto the scene as young pitchers, 3 of them dominating their peers from the get go. 

Eric Gagne, the 5th member of this study, only started to dominate when the Los Angeles Dodgers sent him to the bullpen.  

Speaking of the Los Angeles Dodgers, three of these five pitchers were both with the club when they started out.  It is a credit to their scouting staff. 

There is a reason why no other team has turned out more ‘Rookie of the Year’ players in the last 30 years than the Dodgers.

Hideo Nomo’s No – Hitter Game

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – January 6, 2014

Photographer: Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

Photographer: Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

Today’s episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast is a salute to Jerry Coleman.

The man did so many things with his life as a baseball player, a soldier and an announcer and reached the pinnacle in all of them.

His was a life worth celebrating.

To subscribe to The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast on iTunes, click HERE.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – January 6, 2014

Arizona May Have To Rethink Their Team Salary In The NL West With High Spending LA + SF

The Arizona Diamondbacks didn't have the type of year in 2013 that they had wished for, however the future looks really strong.  Aided by a slugging 1st Baseman (Paul Goldschmidt), and great young Staring Pitching like Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin, added with Veterans Miguel Montero, Martin Prado and Aaron Hill, with prospects A.J. Pollock and Adam Eaton being the future core, this team should see some heavy duty improvement from year to year.

The Arizona Diamondbacks didn’t have the type of year in 2013 that they had wished for, however the future looks really strong. Aided by a slugging 1st Baseman (Paul Goldschmidt), and great young Staring Pitching like Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin, added with Veterans Miguel Montero, Martin Prado and Aaron Hill, with prospects A.J. Pollock and Adam Eaton being the future core, this team should see some heavy duty improvement from year to year.  Having said this, they compete with the two most expensive payrolls in the NL – in their Division with the Dodgers and Giants.

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

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Chase Field is a pretty cool ballpark.  The Diamondbacks have been often voted as one of the better organizations in the MLB for how they treat their fanbases for guest services, value and overall baseball experiences.

While the D’Backs finished in 14th for NL Attendance this year, they cracked the 2 Million fan barrier for the 15th straight year since entering the league.

Over the last 8 years, the team has kept comfortably between 2.0 MIL and 2.5 MIL.

Back in the first few seasons of MLB in the desert, the franchise was drawing well over 3 Million fans..

Paul Goldschmidt 2013 Highlights

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Who Owned Baseball Yesterday (September.26th) – Updated Yearly ‘WOB’ Standings

 (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)

(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)

Jurickson Profar came off the bench to crush a walk off homer that kept the Rangers in the Wild Card hunt by topping the Angels, 6-5.

Tommy Medica got on base 3 times and scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th, giving Padres fans something to cheer about in PetCo’s season finale, 3-2 over Arizona.

Alex Cobb was not intimidated  by an emotional Yankee Stadium crowd. He kept New York off the scoreboard with 7 innings of 3 hit shutout ball, giving Tampa Bay the 4-0 victory and inched closer to the post season.

Tim Lincecum pitched what could have been his final game as a member of the Giants. He made it a good one, letting up only 2 runs over 7 innings. He did not get the decision but was the star of San Francisco’s 3-2 victory over the arch rival Dodgers.

They all owned baseball on September 26, 2013.

My explanation for “Who Owns Baseball” can be found here.

At the end of the year, we will tally up who owned baseball the most individual days and see how it compares to the final MVP and Cy Young vote.

To view the Yearly Leaders for Who Owned Baseball Standings – Click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON OR SCROLL DOWN.

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Who Owned Baseball Yesterday (September.16th) – Updated Yearly ‘WOB’ Standings

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Alexei Ramirez scored twice in the first inning and reached base five times, homering and missing the cycle by just a triple. He also drove in three as the White Sox embarrassed the Twins, 12-1.

Alex Cobb retired the first 9 batters he faced and gave the Rays 8 strong innings, letting up just 2 runs and striking out 10 Rangers as Tampa Bay finally won a crucial game, 6-2.

Andrew Cashner nearly threw the first no hitter in San Diego Padres history when he held the Pirates hitless for the first six frames. He settled for a 1 hit, 2-0 shutout of Pittsbugh for his first major league complete game.

And Cliff Lee was brilliant on the mound with his 8 inning, 14 strikeout domination of the Marlins. But he is on this list for his bat as he went 3-4 with a triple and 4 RBI, winning the game for the Phillies in every way, 12-2.

They all owned baseball on September 16, 2013.

My explanation for “Who Owns Baseball” can be found here.

At the end of the year, we will tally up who owned baseball the most individual days and see how it compares to the final MVP and Cy Young vote.

To view the Yearly Leaders for Who Owned Baseball Standings – Click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON.

To View The List of just the nightly winners (WOB dedicated Page) starting from Mar.31/2013 – today click here

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Who Owned Baseball Yesterday (August.21st) – Updated Yearly ‘WOB’ Standings

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Shin-Soo Choo led off the game with a home run and finished with 4 hits, driving in 3 and scoring 3 as the Reds hung on to top the Diamondbacks, 10-7.

Ian Kennedy threw 7 shutout innings, giving up just 4 hits and striking out 8, leading the Padres past the Pirates, 2-1.

Jacoby Ellsbury led a Boston attack with three hits, including a double, a stolen base and a pair of runs scored, as the Red Sox won a much needed laugher in San Francisco, 12-1.

Wei-Yin Chen helped keep the struggling Orioles in playoff contention. He threw 7 strong innings, allowing only a pair of solo homers, and got the 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

They all owned baseball on August 21, 2013.

My explanation for “Who Owns Baseball” can be found here.

At the end of the year, we will tally up who owned baseball the most individual days and see how it compares to the final MVP and Cy Young vote.

To view the Yearly Leaders for Who Owned Baseball Standings – Click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON.

To View The List of just the nightly winners (WOB dedicated Page) starting from Mar.31/2013 – today click here Read the rest of this entry

Who Owned Baseball Yesterday (July.29th) – Updated Yearly ‘WOB’ Standings

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

David Price dominated the Red Sox for the second time in less than a week. He pitched into the 8th inning, finishing with 7 1/3 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 8 strikeouts and no walks, as the Rays leap frogged past Boston into first place, 2-1.

Yoenis Cespedes was a double shy of the cycle, driving in 3 runs, as the A’s defeated Toronto 9-4.

Francisco Liriano pitched another gem for the Pirates. He stifled the Cardinals over 7 innings, striking out 8 and letting up only 4 hits and 1 earned run. Pittsburgh’s 9-2 triumph over the Cardinals pulled the Bucs within 1/2 a game of first place.

Chris Denorfria came off the bench to club a bottom of the 9th, 2 run, walk off, come from behind homer off of Aroldis Chapman, as the Padres stunned the Reds, 2-1.

 

 They all owned baseball on July 29th, 2013.

My explanation for “Who Owns Baseball” can be found here.

At the end of the year, we will tally up who owned baseball the most individual days and see how it compares to the final MVP and Cy Young vote.

To view the Yearly Leaders for Who Owned Baseball Standings – Click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON.

To View The List of just the nightly winners (WOB dedicated Page) starting from Mar.31/2013 – today click here Read the rest of this entry

San Diego Padres: Within Striking Distance

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Tuesday June 18th, 2013

Within the first 12 games of the MLB season, the baseball world, after watching the San Diego Padres struggle, knew the team was headed for yet another rough year. This still might be the case. But, currently, the Padres sit just one game back from the top of the National League West standings. The team carries a 36-34 record—a record that many would deem impossible to achieve after watching the team start off 2-10.  Bud Black has seen his time ascend to near the top of the NL West by going 34 - 24 in their last 58 games played

Within the first 12 games of the MLB season, the baseball world, after watching the San Diego Padres struggle, knew the team was headed for yet another rough year. This still might be the case. But, currently, the club sits just one game back from the top of the National League West standings. The team carries a 36 -34 record —a record that many would deem impossible to achieve after watching the team start off 2-10. Bud Black has seen his time ascend to near the top of the NL West by going 34 – 24 in their last 58 games played.

Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer):

The NL West is not exactly living up to expectations, though. The Dodgers are having a disaster year with Matt Kemp, the team’s superstar, spending time on the DL. Hanley Ramirez, whom the Dodgers acquired last season to provide offense, has spent all but a few games on the DL. Carl Crawford, who the Dodgers expected to be healthy this year, has also caught the injury bug. 

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Who Owned Baseball Yesterday (June 14th) – Updated Yearly “WOB” Standings

AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

Eric Stults let up a lead off double and a hit in the ninth, and no hits in between as he went the distance in San Diego’s 2-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Gregor Blanco led off the game with a homer and then drove in a second inning run, setting the tone for the game going 2-5 as the Giants clobbered the Braves, 6-0.

Justin Masterson didn’t get the decision, but his 7 innings of 2 hit, 1 run and 10 strikeout pitching set up the Indians 2-1 walk off win against the Natioals.

Billy Butler drove in three runs during three separate rallies leading the Royals to a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays .

They all owned baseball on June 14th, 2013.

My explanation for “Who Owns Baseball” can be found here.

At the end of the year, we will tally up who owned baseball the most individual days and see how it compares to the final MVP and Cy Young vote.

To view the Yearly Leaders for Who Owned Baseball Standings – Click the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON.

To View The List of just the nightly winners (WOB dedicated Page) starting from Mar.31/2013 – today click here Read the rest of this entry

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – May 9, 2013

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The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast is jammed packed today.

I talk about steroids, bad instant replay, the surging Padres, the free falling Dodgers and Angels. And I am at peace with WAR.

Paul Goldschmidt, Felix Hernandez, Mike Minor and bad call victim Adam Rosales owned baseball on May 8, 2013.

To see the up to date tally of “Who Owns Baseball?,” click HERE.

Subscribe on iTunes HERE.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – May 9, 2013

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Chase Headley: Contract Talks Or Trade Bait?

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Monday May 6th, 2013

Headley led the NL with 115 RBI in 2012 amongst 31 HRs, he will need to put up monster numbers for the Padres to compete with the LA Dodgers going forward.  Headley caaptured a Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger in 2012. He ended up finishing 5th in NL MVP voting.  He hit 23 HRs and 73 RBI in just 75 Games after the 2012 ALL-Star Game.. Chase Headley actually fared well at Petco Park in 2012 - with a 3 Slash Line of .272/.357/.812.  He added 13 HRs and 51 RBI.  He could potentially hit a few more out with the fences drawn in.

Headley led the NL with 115 RBI in 2012 amongst 31 HRs, he will need to put up monster numbers for the Padres to compete with the NL West teams  going forward Chase Headley actually fared well at Petco Park in 2012 – with a 3 Slash Line of .272/.357/.812. He added 13 HRs and 51 RBI. He could potentially hit a few more out this season with the fences newly drawn in.

Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer):

For the past few seasons, Chase Headley has been the one guy on the roster that the San Diego Padres can rely on. Last year, he put up MVP-like numbers, hitting 31 HR and driving in 115 runs.

This year, he is really the only guy in the lineup that can truly produce runs. Yonder Alonso has that capability, but he is still a bit raw. Headley is signed to a one-year $8.58 million contract.

He becomes Arbitration-eligible in 2014 and is a Free Agent in 2015. The Padres are faced with a conundrum: should they trade Headley?

This third baseman is 28 years old—about the time when most players enter their prime. With the season we saw from Headley in 2012, I think it is safe to say that he has already entered his prime, and probably has two or three more years similar to 2012 ahead of him.

If the Padres are building for the future, which I sure hope they are, they need to trade Headley right away.

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San Diego Padres 2013 Rotation: What To Make Of It?

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Wednesday April 24th, 2013

Volquez is coming off an up-and-down year with the Padres. He went .500 with an 11-11 record and had an average ERA at 4.14. He should be prepared for the 2013 season as he threw against real competition in the 2013 WBC so he'll already have all of his stuff developed for the duration of 2013.

Volquez is coming off an up-and-down year with the Padres. He went .500 with an 11-11 record and had an average ERA at 4.14. He should be prepared for the 2013 season as he threw against real competition in the 2013 WBC so he’ll already have all of his stuff developed for the duration of 2013.

Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer):

The San Diego Padres currently have one of the most boring Starting Rotations in all of baseball. I cannot think of a rotation with more average pitchers than the one the San Diego organization has.

If someone presented me with the statistics of each pitcher in the Padres rotation, I probably would not be able to discern between the number one and five starters. The ace of the Padres — if we can call him that — is Jason Marquis. So far this season in four games, he has a 4.63 ERA to go with a 1-2 record.

Now some pitchers do get off to rough starts, so we cannot judge him based on his ERA and record. But, after looking further into Marquis, I found that his career ERA is 4.60. Is this really the career ERA a team would want for their “ace”?

Tyson Ross, whom the Padres acquired from the A’s was penciled in and made three starts in the five-slot in the rotation. Ross recently went on the 15-day DL with a left shoulder subluxation.

This year, Ross made three starts, none of them more than 5.1 Innings. Although Ross has a solid 3.86 ERA through those starts, it is unlikely that he will keep this up.

Edinson Volquez at the 2013 WBC:

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San Diego Padres: How Will They Fare Without Chase Headley?

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Tuesday April 2, 2013

Chase Headley actually fared well at Petco Park in 2012 - with a 3 Slash Line of - .272/.357/.812.  He added 13 HRs and 51 RBI.  He could potentially hit a few more out with the fences drawn in

Chase Headley actually fared well at Petco Park in 2012 – with a 3 Slash Line of – .272/.357/.812. He added 13 HRs and 51 RBI. He could potentially hit a few more out with the fences drawn in.

Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer):

2013 was going to be a rough year for the San Diego Padres even before they got the news that their highest powered offensive weapon would miss a significant amount of time. Chase Headley was the only spark in the weak Padres lineup in 2012, hitting 31 HR and driving in 115 runs. A performance like this could not get the Padres out of second-to-last place in the NL West, so I am afraid to see how the Padres will fare after they start 2013 without their third baseman.

This year, the West is stronger as Zack Greinke has been added to the Dodgers most notably, the Diamondbacks have improved their team, and the Giants are the defending World Champions, having extended the reigning NL MVP. The Rockies also have power-hitting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki back in the lineup after missing most of last season due to injury.

If the Padres were going to contend this season, they would need to get off to a hot enough start to keep up with the rest of the teams. Without Chase Headley, I do not see how that is possible. Even with Headley it would be a very tough task. The Padres have not made any notable additions, so it looks like it will be more of the same in San Diego.

Headley Highlights _ Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is Advised

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Petco Park: The Effect Of Moving In The Fences

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

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Yonder Alonso will be one of the benefactors for Petco Park once the fences are brought in.  He only hit 3 HRs in 261 AB in SD last year - absolutely abysmal power from the First Baseman Position.

Yonder Alonso will be one of the benefactors for Petco Park once the fences are brought in. He only hit 3 HRs in 261 AB in SD last year – absolutely abysmal power numbers from the First Baseman Position.

Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): 

By altering the dimensions of Petco Park, the Padres could be playing a very different brand of baseball in these coming years. Long thought of as one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in all of baseball, Petco Park might have a new identity in the future. Due to their decision to move the fences in, the Padres will have to build their team in a different way. For players like Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko, the new dimensions could be extremely beneficial to their success at the plate. However, for pitchers like Edinson Volquez and Eric Stults, they are going to have to learn to keep the ball on the ground more in 2013.

Petco Park As A San Diego Attraction:

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The Oakland A’s 2013 Roster Tree Part 1: The Hitters

Saturday, Dec.01/2012

How important was Cespedes to The A's Lineup?  They went 83-47 with him in the lineup and 12-20 without him.  He was the biggest reason the team has soared into the playoff race and wont the AL East.  Beane secured him Free Agency last year without trading any prospects.   He is signed for 3 more years.

How important was Cespedes to The A’s Lineup in 2012? They went 82-47 with him in the lineup and 12-21 without him. He was the biggest reason the team soared into the playoff race and won the AL East. Beane secured him in Free Agency before the start of last year. He is signed for 3 more years at 9 Million Dollars Per Year.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner):

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.

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The Reds Sunday Select – Mesoraco vs. Grandal: Did the Reds Make the Right Choice? Plus the Billy Hamilton Report

Sunday July 8, 2012

Ryan Ritchey (Reds Expert): Welcome back to the 2nd edition of Reds Sunday Select. As the All-Star Break approaches, the weekend will be filled with All-Star Weekend previews. This week I have a little sympathy for the catchers out there with this one. The big debate around Reds country is: did Walt Jocketty keep the right catcher for the future? It is my job to debate this and I am going to do just that. The two catchers I am talking about are Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal. Yasmani was given up to the Padres in the Mat Latos trade over the winter. Yes the Reds picked up a pitcher that become an ace in the present and future. But did they send the wrong catcher in the deal?

Lets start out with the positives of keeping Mesoraco, as I am in a positive mood at the moment. Mesoraco is a solid young catcher with some pop in his bat. He can become one of the top catchers in the National League, hit 15 homers and be solid behind the dish. The only problem is that he is splitting time with Ryan Hanigan, who in my mind is the right guy for the job at the moment. Mesoraco on the bright side has a lot more power than Hanigan does. The downfall to that statement is that he also strikes out a lot, and does not currently have the ability to hit for average. Mesoraco, who strikes out almost double the amount of times he walks, isn’t the kind of hitter you want hitting in front of the pitcher. You want a contact guy who can get on base in front of the pitcher, so he has a chance to bunt him into scoring position. Hanigan is that strong OBP kind of guy. Read the rest of this entry

Top Ten Stat of the Week: Players with 40 HRs on 4 Different Teams Or More

Monday July.02/2012

Gary Sheffield hit 30 HRs and 120 RBI in both 2004 and 2005 for the Yankees before injuries held him to just 39 games in 2006. Sheffield also hit 40+HRs on 5 other teams (per stay) besides the Bronx Bombers in his career. –Photo courtesy of exposay.com

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- As the world of Twitter and Facebook has invaded the internet these days, I am brainstorming about all sorts of stats I have had in my head for years.  This stat came to my head because of Gary Sheffield.  A few years back, I watched a game on my birthday at Safeco Field.  It was the New York Yankees and Sheffield visiting.  There are players that you are sure to watch live in person.  Gary Sheffield was one of these hitters.   Not only is he one of 25 player in history to hit 500 HRs, but he had one of the fiercest swings ever.  The man would wiggle that bat back and forth like a toothpick before striding and swinging with daunting ferocity.  It was an unorthodox style that must have made Little League coaches cringe, yet it was effective.  Sheffield was a bit of a hot head though, this may have led to him being traded or not re-signed by several teams.  Hitting 40 HRs for 6 different teams is definitely impressive and may never be duplicated.  I knew he had played on several teams already so the seed of today’s article was planted back in 2005.

Fred McGriff was the exact opposite of Gary Sheffield when it came to temperament.  This man was traded several times in his career because he could flat-out hit.  Jose Canseco is the only other player besides McGriff and Sheffield to hit 40 HRs with 5 different teams.  The reason many older players are not on this list is because free agency never arrived in the MLB until the early 70’s when Curt Flood challenged a trade and the Players Union saw it through.  Now player movement has enabled more players switching teams each season than ever before.  Rusty Staub was the 1st to make this list and Alfonso Soriano is the last player to make this list and the only current player left.  I have a feeling we will see more players arrive on this list in the next 25 years.

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PNC Park Book Excerpt from ‘The Fastest 30 Ballgames’ Novel

Wednesday April.25/2012

Original Print of the book was June 2011
Book Excerpt writeup By Chuck Booth

“This was the first of two visits to PNC Park during streak chases of 2008.  This date was on July.7/2008.  The events that happened right after this game caused me to restart the Guinness Streak on July.08/2008.  A little diversion from a closure in the Lincoln Tunnel heading towards LGA cost me a flight from New York to Dallas.  Hmmm..  I have not had a lot of luck in flying to Dallas have I?”

Game #7 Day #6

PNC Park

Pittsburgh PA

July.07/2008

It was not my first time to see the Pirates play at ‘PNC’, the previous year I watched a doubleheader featuring Barry Bonds last games to be played in Pittsburgh—for awhile I was thought he might pass Hank Aaron for the all time Homer list for the games I was attending. Barry had surpassed Aaron a week earlier but I was still glad to see him in the starting lineup.  Now I was back less than a year later. 

I was ready to rebound from the day before.  I drove 340 miles from my brother’s house in New Jersey—to arrive in Pittsburgh with lots of time to spare. 

I parked in a business building across the “Roberto Clemente Bridge.”  PNC Park is very convenient for parking, as they close off most of the bridges directly nearest to the ballpark.  The park looks immaculate from the bridges and especially in reverse from the park where you can see the bridges. 

Pittsburgh is a blue collar town but it a beautiful city downtown.  The crowd was not bustling that night.  There were 13,223 fans for the game and half that many were there when I arrived.

There may not be a better new ballpark when it comes to respecting the history of their team.  There are statutes for just about any significant member ever associated with Pirates.  There is a great amount of history of the World Series Runs of 1971 and 1979.  The area my ticket was in was the left field bleachers section for a $9 price.  Quite simply it is the best value in the majors considering it is general seating.  You are right on top of the left fielder. 

I made it over to “Greentree Pizza”—located just behind the huge scoreboard.  I was staving so I ordered the large fourteen inch Pepperoni Pizza.  It is made on a light thin crust and is one of the best singular foods in the majors.

Around the park, people were texting each other on their cell phones as the Pittsburgh Pirates display between every inning on their scoreboards.  This is a fun thing to do—and very fan interactive. 

They have two mascots that are running around the empty park.  ‘The Pirate,’ (who will steal your food if you are not looking and/or opposing team ball caps that fans wear) and ‘The Parrot,’ (who is a lot more kid friendly and usually can be found occupying seats in the empty lower bowl.).  I was pleasantly surprised that the ushers were so nice to me when I told them about my record streak.  The lady talked to me for thirty minutes about the ballpark and even asked if I had time for a tour while in the city, she said she could call her boss if I wished.  I politely declined as I had a long drive back to New York City.  It was then I realized I actually needed a quick game.

It was one of the plane fares bought before the trip started and impossible to change because it was too costly.  I would have about six hours to drive back to New York for a five and a half hour drive.  There was not much wiggle room.

One of the coolest things about the PNC Park-is the size of left field center scoreboard.  They play a four minute introduction at the start of the game that shows years of Pirate highlights and it always pumps me up.  Then there is a segment where a cartoon pirate is away at sea with his crew and they come across the opposite team boat. A 3 minute battle ensues with the Pirates crew eventually taking ownership of the other boat.  The pirate laughs and then it is game time. 

 The scenery is beautiful with the backdrop. The big green fence in right-center field has ‘Pirates’ perfectly hedged in shrubs.  The only thing that is kind of weird is you can’t walk in the general area entirely across the outfield sectors.  The seat’s in right field are in the 3rd level and is quite a shot from home plate to hit a  home run.  It is even a better sight at night with the bright lights of all the bridges illuminating the park.  If only the franchise was in better shape.

The food courts are impressive for the limited amount of people attending.  They are quick with the vendors—and have some of the longest serving staff of any in the majors. 

In the left field bleachers there is a sit in restaurant that features live performances out on the patio deck including ‘mariachi band’s’ and groups that sing ‘a cappella.’  There is not much going on downtown directly around the park inside of the bridges that does not pertain to the ball game. 

That night began sunny but soon clouds over giving me the worry of a rain out.  The Houston Astros ran out to a 3-0 lead on a towering homer by Carlos Lee.  The Pirates responded with a 4 run bottom of first. The inning took about forty-minutes and I was in time trouble again.

Fast forward to the 4th inning and it was 10-7 Pittsburgh—and we were already nearing 9:15 PM.  I was sweating the game big time.  If I left about 10:30 PM—I would be in massive trouble.  I had done the drive from Pittsburgh to New York a few times before so I had some confidence to make good time. 

It is a scheduling nightmare the certain Monday and Thursday baseball games on the condensed nights of the MLB when you are chasing this record. 

There were not too many other nights I could see the Pirates playing.  Again I was thinking about the July.9th restart option.

I was happy to see a quick 5th and 6th inning.  The only thing that made me happier then that—was the game went the last 5 innings—only with one hit, and no runs after 17 runs in the 1st four innings. The last 5 innings only elapsed 40 more minutes in time. 

 I thanked the ushers for signing my logbook and ran out of the southwest corner near the ‘Clemente Bridge.’  I was happy at this moment it was Pittsburgh—as the crowd was smaller to navigate back to the highway.  I had 7 hours in order to make it there for an hour before my flight.

I had prepaid the parking fare in the business garage, and was horrified to see the PT Cruiser I had rented the previous week in New York had now been keyed by someone.  I was relieved that I had added the extra insurance to the car rental-which I usually forego however, because of the New York City garage experience the last time I had been to New York—I took the insurance. 

This was still a concern.  The car rental place would certainly want to discuss this.  Just like some other rentals the scratches were not too visible and for a minute I thought they had been there the whole time.  The scratches were on the passenger side so I had not seen that area much in the week.  I pressed on.

I was revving on adrenaline as the time and miles wore away.  I stopped at the edge of NJ State to stop for gas.  All I had to do was go through the Lincoln Tunnel merge onto the ‘FDR’—in order to merge onto the 495-S Long Island Expressway.  It was just after 4:40 AM-when I was headed for the tunnel.

“You have got be friggin kiddin me!!!! I yelled as I approached the tunnel which was closed for construction.  I was at a loss for what was next.  I knew the FDR would take me to the bridge I needed to take over.  I then remembered the “Holland Tunnel” would work.  I starting making way in that direction as panic set in.  It was only starting to become daylight.  At 5:00 AM-I made it to ‘Times Sqaure.’ I then finally made it to the FDR before merging onto the 495—and was on the Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway within reason. 

Then the fun began.  LGA is an airport dropped into a rural neighborhood.  I made it to the airport okay—the problem was the car rental place was up the street.  I arrived into ‘Thrifty Car Rental’ at 5:25 AM-with the flight leaving at six sharp I had a chance at that point. 

I was on the shuttle bus awaiting the driver to leave for the airport which would have taken about 5 minutes—maybe another 10 minutes for early morning security and then I would have 10 minutes to run to the gate.  The shuttle was away.

 “Yes, I am going to make it,” I pronounced—it would be the closest miss yet.  The shuttle driver had informed me that there was not much of a lineup for people traveling without checked baggage.  The sun popped out and all of a sudden I loved New York City.  Despite a small detour, I had overcome it by feeling out my way through it like I did as a courier back home.

A knock on the loading window stopped the shuttle bus smooth–and a grey haired, tall lanky old man with glasses came on the bus and pointed in my direction.  “There is damage to your Cruiser. We need you to fill out an accident report.”

“Sir, I have full insurance and have a plane to catch, there is no time.  I will be back this way next week watching a baseball game at Shea Stadium can I fill it out then?”

“Son, I could get in serious trouble for that.  If you hurry there is another shuttle leaving in 5 minutes.”

I knew if I left the shuttle I would miss my flight.  The only saving grace was that ‘Air Tran Airways’ are nice enough to their travelers—by letting them fly stand by on remaining flights to their original destination should they miss their flight.  It was a stand-by option good for one day only.  I knew there were two more flights to Dallas that day—both had a lengthy stop over in Atlanta.  The first flight arrived in Dallas at 3:30 PM.  I had designated that flight the first time I was going to book the flight.  I then mistakenly thought the drive from Pittsburgh was only 5.5 hours-like it was from my brother’s house to PNC Park.  I had the two confused in my final booking of the flight! 

I opted for the earlier flight because I would arrive in Dallas at 11:00 AM-and could check into the Motel 6 right away to catch up sleep.

 I filled out the accident report and made the next shuttle to LGA. Like I was a possessed addict chasing an addiction I ran to the ticket window at ‘Air Tran’.  It was 5:45 AM.  The system had already shut me out of the flight.  I ran to the window were a mid-40’s gentleman was typing a keyboard and looking at me running at the same time.

“Flight to DFW right?” he questioned, he knew the answer.

“Yeah, I thought that you could print out the tickets up to 10 minutes before?” I answered, somehow gaining a glimmer of hope that he could radio ahead, stop the plane until I got there.  I heard stories growing up of this happening.

“Actually you need to be in the boarding area 10 minutes prior to gates closing-we cut off the boarding passes 20 minutes before sorry.”

“Ah, man.”  I was pissed, I half-wanted to race back to the car rental facility and drag the manager out into the street and beat him to a pulp.  “How does the next flight look to Dallas?”

 “Lemme check that for you.”  The man typed quickly as he could, a man who was late for the same flight I was—came in line to be helped next.  “The flight is oversold and there are 7 people on the waiting list ahead of you.”

If there is one thing I know is waiting for stand-by on flights.  My step-mom had worked in the airline industry for 25 years.  I was able to fly whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted provided there were available seats.  7 seats was a lot for a 9:00 AM Flight.  It would have been different if it was the flight I had just missed.  I had to try it.  New York traffic had swallowed me up that morning, maybe it would swallow up others.  “Print me the pass, I will try.”

“You never know sir you might also get a family that does not want to fly separately. You are a single traveler so you have a better chance than others.”

I grabbed my new boarding pass and headed trough security, and pressed onward to the gate.  There was not much open for breakfast so I was happy to have polished off that huge pizza in Pittsburgh the night before.  I needed to call the airlines to see if I could arrange other travel arrangements to Dallas. 

I searched for the internet at ‘LGA’ which was non-existent at that time.  I called every airline up.  It was going to be $600 or $700.  Day of flight’s prices sky rocket on same day sales.  My plan was simple now.  I would see if I made the next flight before another decision was to be made.  I called Visa in the meantime and I was appalled to see that I had little credit left with all of the pre-authorizations against the car and hotel rentals.  I was awaiting a payment to go through as well.  I had $450 left.   I was stuck.  Not only was I in danger of missing my game in Texas—but my streak reset needed to start over in San Diego the next day.

It was a lost cause at ‘LGA’ and I left the airport at 10:00 AM-by boarding what I thought was a charter bus in between ‘LGA’ and “JFK.” I wanted to be at JFK incase I was stranded-since there were more amenities and late night domestic flights.  At 10:30 AM-the charter bus let me off downtown in Manhattan.

 “Wait a second I purchased a bus-ride all the way to JFK.”  I said to a heavy set German fellow.

“You boarded the wrong bus.”  The man replied.

“No I didn’t.” I was right–the man had forgotten to switch the template on the bus signage based on what I had seen back at ‘LGA’- he had deceived me. 

“I paid for a ticket to JFK, and that is what your sign said.  I know you are going to try to stiff me,” I was being rude back to the rude New York people now, “so why don’t you tell me how I get to JFK, it has been a brutal morning.”

The man radioed a bus a block away, “hold the bus for a minute, I need to drop a passenger for you to take to JFK, I made a mistake, no charges either.”  The man actually smiled and nodded at me.  I was relieved but knew that New Yorkers were good at nearly breaking you and then surprising you with doing the right thing.

I made it to JFK at noon in the hot heat, it was approaching 90F.  I was still not ahead of the game.  Like LGA-JFK did not have internet accessible terminals anywhere.  I was running out of options.  I called my buddy Dan Dion.

Dan Dion and his brother Justin had given me the time off delivering newspapers for the trip.  I had known them both for eight years.  Justin was doing one of my routes for me while I was away.  I had to forfeit the second route because of the timing, but was promised a different route when I returned in August. 

 Dan was in Langley, British Colombia, and was in front of his computer.

“Dude, It’s me, missed my flight to Dallas because of an idiot car rental worker and a bridge closed for construction, I need your help, are you online?”

 “Ya, I am online right how. Where are you?”

 “I am on the Air-Tram at JFK circling the gates and don’t know where to go because I don’t have a plane ticket yet, I need you to go to the site www.kayak.com.”

 “10-4 man.”

 “Man, I am glad you are home.  Okay click on the flights icon and then enter JFK letter into the: ‘from part’-and ‘SAN’ letters in the: ‘to’ part, and don’t forget to make this a one-way flight.”

“How is it in the big crapple?” Dan was laughing and typing at the same time.

“Dude, this is a brutal city sometimes, good thing I always had the reset option, knew I was probably going to need it after that Philly/New York doubleheader miss anyway.”  Some girl left here tote-bag on the seat next to me and I was going to hand it in. 

Some old man freaked out on me saying I was stealing it.  All this was happening while awaiting results.

“Cheapest flight is $545.”

“Not good, okay try LAX from JFK, I need to return there tomorrow night anyway so it will work for a car rental.”  The man scoffed a look of disgust at me again.  If I was not on a good will ambassador tour I would have sworn at him for his ignorance.

A few seconds elapsed, “Dude, I got an American Airlines flight leaving at eight your time arriving at just after eleven in LA-price is $160.”

“That is awesome, book that dude, click on it for me and I will give my credit card number to buy it-and then you can give me the confirmation code, then I will need to hit Budget Car Rental’s site next.”

Dan helped me for the next fifteen minutes and I was now going somewhere again.  I had several hours before the flight to kill.  I was fortunate enough to have the reset option.  The new attempt was still 30-26 days.  I had a grueling stretch of 4 doubleheader attempts in 5 days: SD Padres-Los Angeles Dodgers, followed by a Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians attempt; followed by Chicago Cubs/Milwaukee Brewers; then Toronto isolated by itself before a Washington Nationals/New York Mets attempt to hit the all-star break. 

If all were hit all games I would be at 9 games in 5 days, even with the 3 day penalty for the all-star break I would have a chance on the other side of it.  I arrived in LAX without a hitch.

I had just enough credit on my visa to rent the car and I had $150 cash.  I knew there was lots of deposit money coming off by the next night at midnight eastern time.  I had to make it the next 24 hours with the money I had.  There was $30 for parking/probably $20 for gas and $100 left for food and shelter.  I drove to San Diego right away.  I tried the Motel 6-but no there was no vacancy.  I wish I would have known about the hostel downtown then.  I decided to keep all my money.  I had an idea to shower at a ‘YMCA’ in the morning.  Besides I had to spend money on batteries for the digital camera-plus I needed some health and beauty aids. 

 I ate 7-Eleven food for dinner and drove around San Diego for a few hours before resting at a ‘Rite-Aid.’  I slept for a few hours and finally it was open. A homeless man was outside and needed some money bad to eat.   I only had $60 left after the drugstore but decided to give him $5. He was so thankful.  I talked to him about my day in New York City. He informed me that my day was about to change for the better.  After I drove away somehow I finally believed it.

Great American Ball Park Book Excerpt from the Fastest 30 Ballgames Novel

US Cellular Field Book Excerpt from “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” Novel

 ***Thank you to our Lead Baseball Writer- Chuck Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here  or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***

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

Dynamic Scalping – A Fan Manifesto

Monday April.23, 2012

Lori Martini at Citizens Bank Park at the April.9th game on Opening Day 2012. The Phillies are at a 102% sellout rate capacity and don’t need dynamic pricing like some of the other clubs that are featured in this article.

Lori Martini (Baseball Writer and @lorimartini on twitter)- Kenneth J. Silver (Special Guest Contributor):

Imagine you’re standing on line to purchase film tickets on its premiere day.The film has just received very good reviews. When you initially passed by the box office you saw that each ticket was the standard local price of $12. After your long wait, when finally came your time to purchase admission, the ticket seller said that your $12 was no longer a valid admission price, that due to the laws of “supply and demand,” the theater was now at 70% capacity, which was a signal that the owner of the theater that s/he could raise his price up to $15. Too shocked to argue, you pay for your ticket and take your seat. You strike a conversation with the patron next to you, who tells you that s/he blindly paid for an advance ticket for the film months ago at $10 per ticket. Same film, same time, same place—but three different price tiers, manipulated by the owner’s need to raise quick cash for investment before the product is rolled out, a “bargain” that is only a bargain if one has absolute blind faith in the proposed product and/or unlimited funds to invest in an iffy proposition. Read the rest of this entry

The 2012 Padres Rotation Will Be Just Fine

Sunday April 8th, 2012

Sam Evans: From what I’ve heard around baseball about the Padres rotation, the Padres have no chance of contending in 2012. This was surprising to me, when actually the Padres slim chance of contending this year is due to their abysmal offense. The Padres rotation is fairly average compared to the rest of baseball. Obviously, losing your ace would hurt any MLB pitching staff. But I believe that the 2012 Padres rotation is almost criminally underrated.

At the forefront of the Padres rotation is newly acquired right-handed pitcher from the Reds, Edinson Volquez. Volquez was one of the players included in the Mat Latos trade in December. He was always a highly esteemed pitching prospect coming up in the Rangers minor league system, the problem always being his command. After being traded to the Reds following two average seasons with the Rangers, Volquez had a breakout year with the 2008 Reds. He threw 196 innings with 206 strikeouts, a 3.21 ERA, and a 4.3 BB/9. Due to his ridiculous first half of the season, Volquez made the 2008 National League All-Star team. The next year, Volquez got off to a decent start, but then was forced to miss the rest of the year with Tommy John surgery. Coming back from Tommy John surgery is not an easy thing, but multiple MLB pitchers have come back from the surgery, pitching just as good (if  not better) than they did when they were healthy before. Read the rest of this entry

An Interview with Petco Park Expert Ken Lee

Saturday April.07/2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- I had the chance to talk to my fellow co-author of the “Fastest 30 Ballgames” Ken Lee recently about Petco Park.  Ken has made numerous trips to San Diego to visit this newer ball yard.  This is what we discussed.

DB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Experts Interview Series Ken.  Please tell us about yourself and then give us a bit of background information on your life as a baseball fan?”

KL:  “My name is Ken Lee, I am a General Manager for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service and I live in Marysville, WA with my wife Yvonne and our 2 pup pups, Boomer & Tilly. I am a co-writer of the book titled “The Fastest 30 Ballgames – A Ballpark Chasers World Record Story” that came out last year. I grew up playing baseball and loving every aspect of the game. I attended my first MLB game in April of 1977 @ the Kingdome in Seattle (Yankees vs Mariners). Since then I have attended about 1,000 games or so. I have seen games at 29 outta 30 current ballparks (the lone exception being the new Marlins Park – which I will pick up on May 14th & 15th) and I have seen 42 different MLB ballparks overall.”

DB: “You recently joined me in writing the book “The Fastest Thirty Ballgames”. What does having your name permanently as an author in the ‘Library of Congress’ mean to you?” Read the rest of this entry

Is Yu Darvish the Next Young International Baseball Superstar?


Monday, February 13th, 2012

Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth (Baseball Writer)- One of the first names I forgot in my blog about ‘young phenom pitchers’ taking the league, plus a city by storm was Fernando Valenzuela.  I immediately thought of another blog right after.  That is young International Phenom pitchers.  I picked 4 pitchers that hail from other places other than the USA to concentrate the story on.  I came up with Valenzuela from Mexico, Hideo Nomo from Japan, Eric Gagne from Canada and Juan Marichal from the Dominican Republic.  The 4 baseball players all flashed onto the scene as young pitchers, 3 of them dominating their peers from the get go.  Eric Gagne, the 4th member of this study, only started to dominate when the Los Angeles Dodgers sent him to the bullpen.   Speaking of the Los Angeles Dodgers, three of these four pitchers were both with the club when they started out.  It is a credit to their scouting staff.  There is a reason why no other team has turned out more ‘Rookie of the Year’ players in the last 30 years than the Dodgers. (more…)

Casey Lawrence Interview: Blue Jays Pitching Prospect (Casey’s Got Game!)

Monday January 16, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  I love talking baseball prospects. I can discuss them and debate them all day long. I get asked all the time: how do you know which prospects will make it? The truth is…picking prospects is not an exact science. Some highly touted ones end up falling off the map, while relative unknowns can shoot up and shine. But if you ask me my measuring stick, it always begins with one statistic. Walks. I look for hitting prospects that take walks and pitching prospects that give up very little walks. It is that simple. The process if far more complicated and this is an oversimplification. But if a walk total stands out, you definitely have my attention.

On the hitting side, take Jaff Decker in the Padres system. The outfield prospect took 103 walks last year in AA. Ranks him very high in my books. But as rare as it is to find  a hitting prospect who can take a walk with pop in his bat, it is even more rare to find a good control pitcher in the minors that gives up few walks and punches hitters out. Let’s say I was to find you a pitcher. In his first two professional seasons combined, here are his numbers: 21-11 record, 2.80 ERA, 1.082 WHIP, 228 1/3 IP, 211 hits allowed, 172 strikeouts and…only 36 walks allowed.  Interested? That is a 4.78 SO/BB ratio. Only 1.4 BB per 9 IP. At 24-years of age, welcome to the world of Casey Lawrence.

At 6’2″, Casey has good size for a pitcher. He stepped into professional baseball in 2010 and has dominated from day one. As starting pitchers goes, I really like his potential. There is a common obsession in baseball circles to favor pitchers who throw 99 mph gas but are generally wild. In my book, an out is an out. Casey Lawrence still has a good share of strikeouts, but it is his control and stinginess on walks that separates him from the pack. 2012 will be a big year for the kid who’s got game. I would like to see what he can do in AA. He has shown that he can pitch. The Jays now need to take that potential and put it up against the next level. If he continues on his current path, Toronto will not be too far behind. 

For all his success to-date, Casey has not let the numbers get to his head. With his down to earth nature, Casey is not getting too far ahead of himself. He does not consider himself above the game, but rather a student of the game. This is what we call the total package- and Casey Lawrence will continue to turn heads in the coming years. Featured today on MLB reports, we are proud to present our interview with Blue Jays Pitching Prospect, Casey Lawrence:

MLB reports:  Welcome to the Reports Casey!  First question we like to start off with: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?

Casey Lawrence:  The player that I most idolized growing up was Cal Ripken Jr. of the Orioles. I admired Cal for his ability to show up to the field day in and day out, without ever taking a day off and playing through injuries. I admired the way he accepted a position change from SS to 3B for the betterment of his team. I admired the way he played the game and had fun doing it.


MLB reports:  Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Casey Lawrence:  Today, I admire Derek Jeter for the way he handles himself on and off the field. He is the type of player that has become a household role model. He plays the game the way it is supposed to be played and has that “it” factor; the ability to make the big play, clutch hit, and find a way to win.


MLB reports:  Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?

Casey Lawrence:  My most proudest accomplishment of my career-to-date would have to be a combination of two: the day I signed my contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and being given the honor of starting the 2010 New York-Penn All-Star Game. I consider both to be honors and rewards for the hard work I’ve put in each and every day.


MLB reports:  You started your baseball career with the Jays organization in 2010.  Did you expect to be signed by Toronto? What was that process like?

Casey Lawrence:  I had been shown some interest from a few teams after my junior year at Albright College heading into the draft. While no teams took a chance then, I still had faith that my time would come after graduating my senior year. My senior year was greeted with several more teams showing interest, but yet again the draft came and went without a single phone call from any of the 30 MLB teams. That means I had been passed over in the draft 3,000 times in two years. But wasn’t the first time I had been looked over, so I had accepted the fact that I had to continue to prove people wrong each and every day. I had actually been in Florida for vacation during the 2010 draft. I returned home that Sunday and pitched in a local men’s league game for the Brushtown Bulldogs. Monday morning I received a phone call from Blue Jays scout Bobby Gandolfo saying that they would like to offer me a contract. I flew back to Florida Tuesday morning and my journey started.


MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Casey Lawrence:  I consider my knowledge of the game as one of my greatest baseball skills. I grew up learning and playing  the game I love from my Grandfather, who was offered a professional contract from the St. Louis Browns. But he turned it down because my Grandmother insisted he stay home and take care of the family, my Father and my Uncle. I really enjoy talking the game and strategy of baseball every day and don’t know what I’d do without it.


MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Casey Lawrence:  I am continually working to better myself within this game whether it be mentally or physically. I always keep “The Mental ABC’s of Pitching” close by me and consider it a pitcher’s Bible. I also have been striving to continue to get stronger and increasing my arm strength in order to stay healthy and consistent.


MLB reports:  I am very impressed with your numbers.  Good win totals, low ERA and WHIP.  I am particularly blown away by your low walks rates.  What’s the secret of your success?

Casey Lawrence:  The secret to my success is no secret at all but rather hard work. I have always worked hard at throwing strikes, locating all my pitches, getting ground balls, and allowing the defense to make plays. My Uncle Dave (also my pitching coach at Delone Catholic High School) and Gary Yeager Jr. (my pitching coach at Albright College) always preached about pounding down in the strike zone and that hasn’t changed since signing with Toronto.


MLB reports:  Long-term do you see yourself as a starter or a reliever?

Casey Lawrence:  Long-term I see myself doing whatever the team asks me to do. Obviously, I’d love to continue to start; but if they feel I’d help the team more by relieving ,then that’s what I’ll do.


MLB reports:  What pitches do you throw?  Best pitch? Anything you are currently working on?

Casey Lawrence:  My repertoire consists of a 2-seam sinking fastball, 4-seam fastball, change-up, slider and curveball. I’m continuing to develop my breaking pitches into being more consistent and sharper.


MLB reports:  If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

Casey Lawrence:  That’s a tough one, really putting me on the spot with this one! I’ll say this. I see my arrival in the big leagues whenever the team feels I’m ready. Obviously, everyone wants to get there sooner rather than later, but it takes a lot of hard work to get there. They are the greatest players in the world. The truth is “if you think you’re ready, you’re probably not”. Every day is another opportunity to get better and learn something new. No one is guaranteed the opportunity to play at that level and if I’m fortunate enough to one day have that opportunity, that would be a blessing.


MLB reports:  What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?

Casey Lawrence:  When I’m not playing baseball, I enjoy going to the movies, watching television, playing some video games and golfing.


MLB reports:  Have you visited Toronto yet?  

Casey Lawrence:  I honestly have never been outside the United States. My passport is ready if the time calls for it, but I’d rather not just visit.


MLB reports:  You just completed your second professional season, finishing in High-A ball.  Do you know where the Jays likely plan to start you this season?

Casey Lawrence:  I have no idea where the Blue Jays plan on starting me this season. I’m anxious for Spring Training to start and earn a spot on the team they feel I fit best.


MLB reports:  If you could send out a message to the Jays fans, what would it be?

Casey Lawrence:  My message to the fans of the Blue Jays would be to continue with their unbelievable support and that the whole entire organization is working very hard day in and day out to bring them a World Series. Hopefully in the near future!


MLB reports:  Final thoughts?

Casey Lawrence:  Finally I’d like to thank my family, friends, and fans for their continued support. I don’t think they get enough credit for what they have meant to me in my life. It’s truly a blessing and I thank God each and every day for the opportunity I have to play the game I love for a living.

***Thank you to Casey Lawrence for taking the time today to speak with us on MLB reports (and the pictures used in todays’ feature)!  You can follow Casey on Twitter (@CaseyLawrence). Casey is very social media savy, so please feel free to send him any questions/comments you have.  Good luck in 2012 Casey, the crystal ball sees big things for you this season!***

 

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

 

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.

My Top Six Worst MLB Teams in 2012

Sunday January 8th, 2012

Sam Evans: It’s no fun to be a fan of a losing team. Every game seems longer and it hurts to look around and see fans of the other teams loving every moment. There’s always supposed to be next year, but that kind of talk just hurts the players and coaches as much as it does the fans. Let’s look at my bottom five teams in 2012: based on the major league roster and talent in the system that could make an impact in the upcoming season.

25. Seattle Mariners: As a Mariners fan, this one hurts. It’s been eleven years since the Mariners made the playoffs. A city blessed with a beautiful new ballpark, Seattle hasn’t had much of chance to cheer on many winners in recent times.

Since he was hired in 2008, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has transformed the Mariners farm system into one of the best in the game. The problem is that the major league club is still struggling, and fans are losing interest. The Mariners are like New Year’s resolutions. They’re so promising at first, but after two weeks, most people just give up.

So far this offseason, the Mariners have been rumored to be actively pursuing Prince Fielder. The argument for Prince Fielder is that his contract would be worth the risk for the team given all of the fans he would draw… not to mention, the M’s need for a middle of the order slugger. However, other fans feel that Fielder is overpriced and point to the fact that if the Mariners signed Prince, they would be only the fourth team with two players making over $20M in 2012.

The Mariners do have some young promising players. Justin Smoak, a former top 10 BA prospect, will finally be healthy heading into the new year. Also, the M’s have a trio of young pitchers in the minors that are all top 100 prospects. James Paxton and Danny Hultzen could possibly see time in the rotation this year. Furthermore, last time I checked Felix Hernandez was still a Mariner, and he’s signed through 2014.

26. New York Mets: The Mets have always been second to the Yankees in New York in terms of popularity, but there’s never been this much of a difference. The Mets have been silent this offseason, except for a swap of outfielders with the Giants, and bringing in some bullpen help. The Mets do have Zack Wheeler (acquired in the Carlos Beltran trade) and Matt Harvey (2010 1st rounder) on the way, but neither will make a huge impact in ’12.

Jason Bay has struggled ever since receiving his enormous contract two years ago. In 2009, Bay hit 36 homers for the Red Sox. In 2010 and 2011, Bay had only eighteen homers. Part of the decline in numbers is the park factor that Citi Field has on hitters (which is due to change with the new park dimensions in 2012). It should be noted though that Bay hasn’t hit a home run to right field since June 28, 2010.

This year, the Mets should get Johan Santana back. I wrote about Johan in November here. If he is healthy this year, hopefully the Mets can get something out of Santana, who is due $24M in 2012.

The Mets future will be based on how they spend their money and how they control their prospects. If the Mets hadn’t pushed Jenrry Mejia, chances are he wouldn’t have gotten injured. If the Mets hadn’t signed the Jason Bay and Johan Santana contracts, then they would have had the money to go after Prince Fielder this offseason (in theory). New York has a long ways to go to compete with the other N.L. East teams, and they’re going to need to make smart long-term decisions to get there.

27. San Diego Padres: The Padres acquired Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso this offseason in an attempt to boost their offense. They ended up trading away Mat Latos and Anthony Rizzo, and losing Heath Bell and Aaron Harang to free agency.

Carlos Quentin is really going to struggle in Petco Park, and Alonso is going to have his share of issues developing into a power hitter with his new team. The fact is that the Padres will never have a terrible pitching staff due to the spacious Petco Park effect. But their rotation is actually as bad as it has been in some years. I also am a supporter of Will Venable, and I think the Padres would be making a mistake if they traded him.

San Diego plays in a division where it’s not impossible that they could make a nice run and make the playoffs. But I would be surprised.

28. Oakland Athletics: Led by GM Billy Beane, the Athletics have been extremely active this offseason. They’ve shipped away their best pitchers and let their best hitter leave in free agency. The A’s have had a good offseason, thanks to all the new talent that they’ve imported into their farm system.

2012 is not going to be the year of resurgence for the A’s. 2013, maybe, but right now the Angels and Rangers are just too good. The A’s strength is probably their middle infield which will feature Jemile Weeks and Cliff Pennington. If Chris Carter can show some power in the majors, then he will do just fine at DH.

With acquisitions such as Derek Norris, Jarrod Parker, and A.J. Cole, Billy Beane has shown he’s not afraid to trade his best major league players in order to obtain talent that won’t be ready for a year or two.

29. Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles were a promising team heading into 2011. The “Fighting Showalter’s” had a late run in 2010, and Buck Showalter seemed to be really getting through to the players. Unfortunately, 2011 didn’t go as expected for the Orioles. They finished 69-93 and solidified their reputation as the worst baseball team in the A.L East, if not the whole American League.

The  2011 Orioles will forever go down in baseball history not for their season, but for their last game against the Red Sox on September 28, 2011. The Orioles were down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth on the last day of the season. Going into the game,  the Red Sox were 77-0 on the season when leading after the eighth inning. The Orioles came back to win, and they will forever be remembered for their contributions to one of the best days in baseball history.

2012 can be a  successful year for the Orioles if they discover an ace… and if Adam Jones improves his game to the next level. It’s not going to be easy, but if everything falls into place, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette could lead the Orioles out of the A.L. East basement in the next coming years.

30. Houston Astros: Moving into the 2011 season, the Astros were projected by pretty much everyone in baseball to be the worst team in baseball. Well, at least they didn’t let anyone down. The Astros finished 56-106, which was the worst record in all of baseball.

I traveled to Houston this summer and I expected to find an uninterested Astros fanbase. I was surprised to see countless devoted fans who truly cared about their team. Astros fans are out there and they will start coming back to Minute Maid Park when the team starts winning.

Sorry Houston fans, but 2012 isn’t going to be much fun for you. Chances are that you will return to the basement of the N.L. Central and lose over one hundred games. Nevertheless, there is hope. Jose Altuve is turning into a nice young second basemen who can hit for average . Jordan Lyles can be a #3 starter, and Jarred Cosart could finally reach the bigs in 2012.

Another piece of the silver lining is Houston’s new General Manager Jeff Luhnow, who is involved in sabermetrics and helped build the Cardinals who won the 2011 World Series. Luhnow was in the Cardinals scouting department since 2003 and helped produce major league talent from the draft. He also has been a General Manager for Petstore.com, and has an M.B.A from Northwestern. His first move was trading for Jed Lowrie. On the surface this seems like a solid deal, whereby he attained a young talented infielder for his new organization. In my opinion, this is going to look like an amazing hire in four years time.

So even if 2012 is rough, Astros fans can start looking towards the future. It might take a couple of seasons, but it won’t be long  before the Astros are packing Minute Maid Park everyday. Ironically, the road to the respectability for the worst team in the majors won’t happen until they move to the A.L. West. With the Rangers and Angels waiting in their new division, the journey towards success for the Astros will get that much tougher in 2013.

**Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us onTwitter 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.

Who is the Padres First Baseman of the Future?

Wednesday December 21st, 2011

Sam Evans:On Saturday, the Padres pulled off a blockbuster deal with the Cincinnati Reds for Padres pitcher Mat Latos. One of the players the Padres received was first baseman Yonder Alonso. Prior to the trade, the Padres were heading into the season with Anthony Rizzo as their projected first baseman. Now, the Padres have some big decisions to make that will affect the outcome of their franchise for years to come.

San Diego acquired Anthony Rizzo in the Adrian Gonzalez trade a couple of years ago. In 2011, I watched Rizzo play once in Triple-A, and again in the majors. Rizzo came into the season as a top-fifty prospect, and solidified his stature with a strong start to the season. With the Tucson Padres in 2011, Rizzo batted .331 with a 149 wRC+. Rizzo made his debut on June 9 against the Nationals, and hit his first Major League homer two days later.

Unfortunately, that would be Rizzo’s only homer in the big leagues all year. Despite his dominance of the lower levels, Rizzo batted .141 for the big league team over forty-nine games. Rizzo plays with extreme intensity, and I would not be surprised (given that he is a young player), if he was down on himself after his poor performance in San Diego.

Rizzo struggled in the majors with making solid contact and squaring up the ball. He has a very long swing, which he might consider changing this offseason. If everything works out perfectly for Rizzo, he would project to be a .280/.350/.500 hitter.

Yonder Alonso is a very intriguing prospect. First of all, he is 240 pounds and two years older than Rizzo. He is not as athletic as Rizzo, and not a strong defender. In 2011, Alonso played shaky outfield defense because he was blocked by Votto at first base. From what I have heard, the majority of people think that Alonso can’t stick in the outfield. He lacks speed, and experience at the corner outfield positions.

Offensively, Alonso is an outstanding hitter. A great comparison for Alonso is a right-handed Carlos Lee. In his 69 games with the Reds over the last two years, Alonso has hit .299 with a .354 OBP and .479 SLG. If you add a couple more homers to those numbers, that would give you a good idea of what Alonso is capable of doing.

The San Diego Padres have a problem on their hands. However, some people are forgetting that this is a great issue to have. San Diego has the choice to either trade one of the above named players, or try to find a new position for one of them. If San Diego keeps both players, Rizzo will probably end up moving to the outfield. With his athleticism, he would probably do just fine. The Padres could also trade Rizzo, and they would probably get some decent to excellent players in return.

It will be interesting to see what the Padres do with this situation. They have several different options available to them. Personally, I would move Rizzo to the outfield and keep Alonso at first base. Nevertheless, I am still worried about Rizzo’s ability to hit Major League pitchers given his current swing. There is no doubt that this decision has a strong potential to change the course of the Padres franchise for years to come.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter (@MLBreports) 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.

Interview with Jaff Decker: Padres Prospect and Future MLB Superstar

Wednesday December 14, 2011

 

Jonathan Hacohen:  Get ready folks, as you are in for a big treat today.  Exclusively on MLB reports, we have one of the top prospects in the game, outfielder Jaff Decker of the San Diego Padres.  Jaff was recently featured by us prior to this interview.  As a former 1st round pick of the Padres (2008 draft, 42nd overall), Jaff came to professional baseball as a very highly touted talent.  After working hard and improving every year in the minors, Jaff is on the verge of cracking the Padres lineup in the near future.  I had a chance to take some time to speak with Jaff recently.  We discussed his childhood, learning the game of baseball, getting drafted in the 1st round, his career to-date and future plans in baseball.  Despite being featured in many baseball publications and rated as a top prospect in the game, it was refreshing to find that Jaff has not allowed his notoriety to get to his head.  He is a down-to-earth person, who genuinely works hard and takes nothing for granted.  He believes in himself and his abilities, but with a strong sense of humor and humility.  I project that Jaff will have a long and productive career in the big leagues.  He has the talent, work ethic and focus to succeed in baseball.  Attention Padres fans: Jaff Decker is knocking on the doorstep and will be a big part of your Padres team very soon.   

Featured on MLB reports, I am absolutely thrilled to present my interview with Jaff Decker.  Former 1st Round Pick.  San Diego Padres Outfield Prospect and Future MLB Superstar:

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 MLB reports:  Welcome to MLB reports Jaff.  It is a pleasure to be speaking with you.  As you are a highly rated prospect in the game, do you receive many requests for interviews at this stage of your career?

Jaff Decker:  It has definitely started to pick up more and more as I have moved up each year in levels, especially with the teams I have played on the last couple of years.  Winning 2 championships out of 3 years has really helped the interviews out.

 

MLB reports:  It is impossible to have a conversation about Jaff Decker without first discussing the walks.  You had 85 walks in 2009 and 103 this past season.  How did you become a walk/obp machine?  At what age did you develop your strong batting eye?

Jaff Decker:  I would have to say it is pretty hard to go without talking about the walks I have had the past couple of years. Good and bad. My dad has taught me everything I know about the game of baseball and the hitting aspect of it. He has always taught me great fundamentals and has preached to me that “a pitcher has 3 pitches to get you out.  As the pitchers pitch you, work the count. A walk is just as good as a hit.”  But I am also learning to be a little more aggressive in the count as well, which I have worked real hard on by watching film and working on pitches.

 

MLB reports:  I often use Nick Swisher and Adam Dunn as comparisons to you.  What current and former players did you grow up idolizing and/or patterning your game after?  Have the names that I mentioned come up before?

Jaff Decker:  Yes, actually Nick Swisher has come up a lot.  I really enjoy watching how hard he plays the game and how much he enjoys playing this great game. Growing up though the years, it was always Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Tony Gwynn. I had so many opportunities to watch them play being from Arizona, so I always watching them during the spring. Funny story: when I was about 5-years-old, I caught a home run ball over Tony and actually got the ball signed by him after that inning.  That will always be a great moment in my mind.

 

MLB reports:  You were a 1st round pick in 2008.  One of the highest honors a young player can experience in the game.  Did you know that you would be drafted that high going into the draft and were the Padres the team that you expected to take you?

Jaff Decker:  Being drafted where I was a great accomplishment.  We had a huge party at my house during the draft and all my family and friends were there to experience it with me.  When my name finally got called, it felt like the house was shaking (laugh).  To answer your question, I actually had no idea that the Padres were going to pick me there. There were many teams that had talked to me before. But they (the Padres) kind of flew under the radar and I couldn’t be happier with this organization.

 

MLB reports:  What was the first “big” purchase you made after signing with the Padres?

Jaff Decker:  My first and only purchase was a car. Everything else has been put away. But I did have to promise my mom who is a teacher that I would go back to school after I was done playing (grin).

 

MLB reports:  You started off the first two seasons of your career with a bang.  How did you find your 2010 season?  What was that season like and tell us about your strong finish that year.

Jaff Decker:  I had battled an injury during the first half of 2010 and I struggled a little bit.  It (the injury) did get to me a little bit, as I was not helping the team like I knew I was capable of doing. So I had a few days off at the all-star break that year and went home.  Just like when I was younger, my dad spent those 3 or 4 days putting in many hours in the cage with me working on the fundamentals and just the mental side of hitting.  When I came back, everything fell back on track. The big thing was not trying to do too much at the plate and just trusting myself and to start using the whole field again.

 

MLB reports:  Your 2011 season was magical in my eyes.  You crossed the magical 100 walks plateau, while flashing strong power, driving in and scoring runs at a healthy clip.  Looking back on this past year, what are your feelings?  Satisfied?  Areas of improvement?

Jaff Decker:  I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% satisfied.  I felt that I had ups and downs all year and my struggles related to being too patient at times at the plate.  There were points that I would know when I was getting pitched around.  No excuses at all, but I became a little complacent with what I call “maybe pitches”, that were called strikes by the umpires, but in my eyes were balls.  We also didn’t play in the most hitter-friendly ballpark.  I did feel though that I came up with some big hits at times during the season. But I still need to work on different parts of my game to get to where I want to be and stay there.

 

MLB reports:  In my estimation, you clearly put yourself in the driver’s seat going into 2012.  You are turning 22 in February.  What are your goals for the upcoming year?

Jaff Decker:  I would have to say my goals would include coming to spring training in better shape again. I love proving people wrong and to show them that I can be a five-tool player, even without being 6 feet and built like a specimen. But I want to work hard to prove them (the critics) wrong and I just try to soak everything I can in.  I work out at a place with many proven big leaguers. I just can sit and listen to what they say for hours because I know they have been there and who better to learn from than them.

 

MLB reports:  Have you watched and/or read Moneyball?  You have been labelled a Moneyball-player throughout your career.  Thoughts? 

Jaff Decker:  Yes I have seen the movie (big laugh) and I loved it.  I love seeing that a ballclub can be put together that is not based on how you look, but how you control the game of baseball.  Because by no means when you look at me, am I built like a brick house.  But I’ve been taught how to play the game the right way and I think it’s helped me get to where I am today.

 

MLB reports:  Is conditioning a strong concern for you, either as your own goal or anything communicated by the team?

Jaff Decker:  Conditioning is huge for me.  Like I said earlier, I am no way a guy you look at and say he could be a model (chuckle).  I do have to work harder than some other guys and be smarter how I treat my body.  I am learning how to do that and love seeing everyone’s faces when I show up after a long hard offseason of workouts and preparation.

 

MLB reports:  You hit .236 this past season, but have a career .273 AVG.  You also have a .411 lifetime OBP.  How do you view OBP, strikeouts, batting average and home runs as part of your game?  If the walks and home runs remain consistent, is there any concern that your average needs to be raised?

Jaff Decker:  I believe that I had a slight down year in the average department, but I know I can hit a whole lot better than I did.  I felt like I came through with runners in scoring position and by walking, I got on base for the middle of the lineup behind me.  Getting on base equals scoring runs (laugh).  But my power was there throughout this year.  It was just about taking what the pitcher gives me, even if it’s a single the other way instead of a double in the gap.

 

MLB reports:  Long-term, do you project that you will remain in the outfield?  How important is defense to your overall game?

Jaff Decker:  I believe I can handle my own in the outfield. I have worked very hard every year and tried to learn a lot from other guys.  A big part of my game on defense is getting good jumps and routes on balls, because I can run well- but not blazing.  I need that to become a great outfielder and that is what I have worked very hard on every year to become better at.  I love being able to take hits away from opposing batters, especially if they (the other team) are taking them away from me (big laugh).

 

MLB reports:  The MLB reports crystal ball sees you arriving in San Diego as early as this upcoming year and latest 2013.  When do you see yourself arriving in The Show?  What do you need to do to get there?

Jaff Decker:  That is great to hear (big grin).  I know I can play this game with the best of them.  I always have and when the chance comes, I don’t plan on missing it.  I have some things to iron out and I am working day and night to become that complete player that I know I can be.

 

MLB reports:  Did you always know that you would be a professional baseball player?  What would you be doing right now if you weren’t playing ball?

Jaff Decker:  Honestly I get that question a lot. I have asked my mom and dad the same thing.  They said they knew the time I first stepped on the field and was diving for balls, throwing guys out and just had a natural feel for the game.  Even when I was 4 or 5, I was playing with older boys and having to lie about my age so I could play with them.  I have always loved this game since I can remember.  I was constantly standing in front of the television and mimicking all the big leaguers stances.  I was even sleeping with my new bats or gloves.  There is honestly nothing else I could be doing right now… or ever.

 

MLB reports:  Last question Jaff:  What legacy do you want to leave in baseball?  What do you need to do to have a successful baseball career?

Jaff Decker:  I want to be remembered as the guy that played this game to the fullest, had fun doing it and played the best I could every time I stepped in-between the lines. Even if I didn’t have my best stuff every game, you can always say that I went out there with everything I had to be great.

 

Jaff Decker:  Thanks again Jonathan and I look forward to being back on MLB reports soon. Thanks for everything.  I have really enjoyed speaking with you!

 

Thank you to Jaff Decker for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports.  We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Jaff.  You can also  find Jaff Decker on Twitter (@JaffDecker22).  He may be a top MLB prospect, but yes- he does answer back!

 

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

 

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.

Interview with Robbie Erlin: San Diego Padres Prospect

Monday October 31, 2011

 

Jeff P (Guest Writer – MLB reports):  I had the pleasure to recently interview one of the top prospects in the game, Robert Erlin of the San Diego Padres.  The 21-year-old Erlin was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft.  After posting incredible numbers in his brief time in the Rangers organization, Erlin was traded in July 2011, with Joe Wieland for reliever Mike Adams.  While Adams was a solid addition to the Rangers bullpen on the road to the World Series, Erlin exploded after the trade.  In 6 starts with San Antonio in AA, Erlin had a 1.38 ERA, 1.154 WHIP and 31/4 SO/BB.  On the fast track with the Padres, Erlin has a good chance of making his major league debut as early as 2012.  Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Padres Prospect, Robbie Erlin:

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MLB reports:  Hey, Robbie.  First of all, I want to thank you for being with us today, it really is an honor to have you with us.  I’m sure you have a busy schedule so, let’s get this started.  First off:

MLB reports:  You have been outstanding to late, and even became a nominee of MLB.com‘s top 50 prospects, who can you thank for your success?

Robbie Erlin:  I would thank my dad who taught me how to pitch at a young age, Dave Salter, my pitching coach since I was 13 years old, all the coaches in the Texas Rangers organization who I have worked with during my first couple years of pro ball, and the coaches on the San Antonio Missions who I got to work with for a couple of months this season. 

 

MLB reports:  Was it hard to adjust from the Rangers to the Padres?

Robbie Erlin:  It wasn’t too hard to make the adjustment. The Padres and Missions staff let me stick with my routines and throwing program and the players were very helpful with any questions that I had.

 

MLB reports:  What do you think is unique about the San Diego Padres organization?

Robbie Erlin:  The amount of young talent that they have in both the minor leagues and at the major league level. 

 

MLB reports:  What are your daily rituals, and hobbies off the field?

Robbie Erlin:  I watch the TV show “Las Vegas” everyday before I go to the field. In the offseason I enjoy spending time with my family and visiting my friends who are in college.

 

MLB reports:  You have been dominating lately. What changes have you made in order to succeed?

Robbie Erlin:  I have really tried to concentrate on hitters’ tendencies and gaining information about offenses so I can apply it in my outings. Also, I have made small adjustments in my delivery so it looks the same on every pitch. 

 

MLB reports:  What were the reactions on you getting drafted, and the after party?

Robbie Erlin:  My family, friends, and I were very excited about getting drafted. I wanted to play baseball after high school and the Rangers provided me with the opportunity. 

 

MLB reports:  Out of your fastball, curveball, and change-up, what would you say is your strongest pitch?

Robbie Erlin:  Fastball.

 

MLB reports:  Is it safe to say we can see you in MLB in late 2012, or 2013?

Robbie Erlin:  That is a decision for the Padres to make. I am going to focus on pitching and improving as much as I can. 

 

MLB reports:  Who do you look up to in the MLB?

Robbie Erlin:  There is not one specific player. I watch all of them and try to learn from how they play the game.

 

MLB reports: What kind of music can one find on your iPod?

Robbie Erlin:  Country, Classic Rock, Pop, and Rap. 

 

MLB reports:  What’s your favorite sport besides baseball?

Robbie Erlin:  Football.

 

MLB reports:  Who was the hardest batter you’ve faced in your professional career?

Robbie Erlin:  Cody Hinze from Houston has always been a tough out for me.

 

MLB reports:  Let’s end it off here: If you weren’t a baseball player, where would you see yourself today?

Robbie Erlin:  I would be in college working towards a degree. 

 

MLB reports:  Thank you very much for taking your time out of your busy schedule so we can have you with us. Much appreciated!

Robbie Erlin:  No problem. Thank you very much for the interview!

 

Thank you again to Robbie Erlin for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports.  We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Robbie.  As well, please follow Robbie on Twitter (@RobbieErlin11)

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by Jeff P, Guest Writer to MLB reports.  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 Jeff 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.

John Lackey to Undergo Tommy John Surgery: The Aftermath in Boston

Wednesday October 26, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The Boston Red Sox announced this week that starting pitching John Lackey would be undergoing Tommy John surgery, ending his 2012 season before it began.  In a twist of irony, this move actually comes as relief to Red Sox nation as Lackey has been anything but stellar since coming to Boston.

In 8 seasons with the Angels, Lackey had a 102-71 record, good for a 3.81 ERA and 1.306 WHIP.  In his past 2 seasons with the Red Sox, Lackey’s numbers ballooned to a 26-23 record, with an unsightly 5.26 ERA and 1.504 WHIP.  Lackey’s winning record in Boston is attributable more to the Red Sox strong offense, rather than Lackey’s own production.  2011 was a miserable season statistically for Lackey with 2012 not looking much promising either.

In hindsight, John Lackey’s contract is one of the worst in baseball.  Lackey is signed to a 5-year, $82.5 million deal running through 2014.  For the final 3 years (2012-14), Lackey will get paid $15,250,000 per season.  The one bit of relief to the Red Sox is that the injury kicks in a 2015 vesting option, whereby Lackey will only be paid $500K for that season.  A small consolation given the magnitude of the money and disappointing numbers from Lackey to-date.

For whatever reason(s), the relationship between John Lackey and the Boston Red Sox is not working out.  Lackey has battled personal issues while in Boston, including his wife’s health and battle with Cancer.  While clearly we can all sympathize with Lackey’s difficulties in playing while dealing with personal issues, the reports from the end of the season of his involvement with drinking in the clubhouse and eating fried chicken during games brings into question Lackey’s commitment and focus to the team and game.  Before news of his surgery, many outlets were reported that the Red Sox were actively shopping Lackey in the hopes of removing him from the team.  A strong rumor was a swap with the Padres and reuniting Lackey with his old pitching coach from his Angels’ days, Bud Black.  The Padres and Petco would have been an ideal environment for Lackey, provided that the Red Sox would have picked up the majority of his contract in the deal. 

But the reconstructive elbow surgery has brough the Lackey rumors to a halt.  He will be staying in Boston for the foreseeable future.  The Red Sox have faced bad luck this year with Tommy John, as pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill both underwent the same procedure in 2011.  Theo Epstein was wise to include the injury provision in the Lackey contract; but then again, he may have been better off avoiding the pitcher all-together.  News of the Lackey injury was the first announcement by Ben Cherington as the new Red Sox GM.  From all the offseason transactions and news that will follow in Boston, this one will be taken as one of the more positive moves.

The Red Sox have many decisions facing them this offseason.  The re-signing of David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon.  The integration and structure of the organization with a new GM.  The hiring of a new manager.  The departure of J.D. Drew and possibly Marco Scutaro.  The comeback of Carl Crawford.  These are surely hectic times in Boston.  The team will need to make many roster changes for 2012, including  the signing of 1-2 new starting pitchers.  The injury to Lackey could prove to be a blessing in disguise.  The surgery may pinpoint that his terrible numbers in Boston were based more on declining health than eroding skills.  With a year-off to rehabilitate and re-energize, the Red Sox may see a new and focused John Lackey.  The team would have had to eat most of his contract to trade him; perhaps they are better off paying and playing him.     

In the worst case scenario, the Red Sox will need to either trade or release John Lackey between now and 2014, if they do not believe that he can rebound and be a useful asset for the team.  There is always the chance that Lackey is not able to recapture the form he displayed back in his Angels days.  Also, there may be enough bad feelings between the player and organization that a fresh start will be in order.  At this point, the Red Sox are best off to take a “break” so to speak for a year from John Lackey.  Come to 2013, the team may find that they have a new valuable asset that they never counted on.  John Lackey at the end of the day is a classic example of the risk involved handing a 30 something year-old pitcher a 4+ years contract for big dollars.  The Red Sox in this case gambled and lost.  But at least the decision can be put off for a year whether to write John Lackey off completely or try to recover pennies on the dollar.  I wish John Lackey a successful surgery and healthy recovery.  While I don’t expect to see him emerge as a MLB ace upon his return, my sense is that we will see an older and wiser John Lackey on the mound.  The talent has always been there.  Now he just needs to find the health and heart to fulfill the remainder of his potential.

 

 

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

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