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Friday, December.07, 2012
Since the list of Hall of Fame nominees was announced in the last month, I’ve been pondering whether first-time candidate Roger Clemens would be earn my vote if I had one to give.
The Rocket has undeniable Cooperstown credentials, topped by a record seven Cy Young Awards, the 1986 AL MVP, and 354 victories. He struck out 4,672 batters during his long career, a total topped only by Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson, and twice had 20-K games in which he didn’t walk a single batter. That combination of power and control also helped Roger Clemens lead his league in ERA seven times.
In my memory bank of Red Sox pitchers, which dates to the mid-’70s, only Pedro Martinez resonates as more dominant over a sustained period of time. But while Pedro was a delicate thoroughbred rarely allowed to reach past the seventh inning, Clemens was a good-old-fashioned workhorse who regularly finished what he started. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday October 17th, 2012
Codey Harrison(Lead MiLB Prospect Analyst): Jason Giambi, who was once a superstar with the Athletics and Yankees, is more recently known for his role with the Colorado Rockies as the team’s go-to pinch hitter. Giambi, currently rehabbing from offseason surgery, has been given a chance to interview for the vacant Rockies Managerial position. Most people in baseball believe Giambi doesn’t have a legitimate shot at being named the Rockies next manager, given that Giambi is still an active player and has no coaching experience. However it is worth noting that during his tenure in the Rockies organization, Giambi has helped the young Rockies hitters grow and mature on and off the field, as well as discussing strategies with former Rockies manager Jim Tracy. A mentor and leader, Giambi now has the chance to graduate to MLB manager.
The Rockies this year become known for unconventional decisions running the franchise, whether it was the failed experiment of the 4-man starting rotation, or believing in Jim Tracy for so long as they did- given that so many people in baseball thought of Tracy as arguably the worst manager in all of baseball. This is a team that is seen to be run almost completely by the front office. With so much politics and turmoil surrounding the team, it may be very difficult for the Rockies to get an experienced winning manager to take the job. Thus the team may need to look in order directions, including giving Giambi a shot at the vacant role. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday September 26th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: Melky Cabrera went from a legitimate MVP candidate to a lost cause within the matter of a few hours. The Giants were shocked to hear the news, the baseball world was shocked. Then other than shocked, they wanted revenge. Cabrera won the National League the MLB All-Star game MVP. He had the Giants in first place for a while. Simply put, Melky Cabrera made a huge impact on the overall landscape of the MLB.
Thus our question of the day: Should the Giants bring Melky Cabrera back for the playoffs?
He Would Solve The Empty Hole In Left Field
Cabrera’s void was going to be hard to fill anyway. But the fact that he was so productive out of left field made his loss even more difficult for San Francisco. Mainly because the alternatives were slim at that point, and the same can still be said.
The addition of Xavier Nady has helped the Giants. However, he was on the shelf for a little bit more than a week, so his contributions have been marginal thus far. In 29 at-bats, he owns a triple slash of .310/.394/.414. He has also driven in six runs during his short stint. Simply put, his contributions have certainly been beneficial compared to what Gregor Blanco and Justin Christian provided. But Nady on his own can’t nearly match what Cabrera brought to the table. That’s a rather obvious theory too.
Plus, Nady’s defense is questionable. He isn’t the quickest of outfielders, which permits him from catching anything outside of his small circle. In some stadiums he could get by playing sub-par defense, but that’s not the case at AT&T Park.
Melky Would Add Depth To The Giants Lineup
It’s not like the Giants desperately need a jolt, but a jolt definitely wound’t be frowned upon. San Francisco has scored the third most runs in the National League since September 1st. Their Buster Posey led offense also owns the best batting average since September first as well.
If you were to add Cabrera into an already strong offense, then the Giants would be even tougher to beat with their solid pitching staff.
Manager Bruce Bochy had a lineup of Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Cabrera for exactly one day. By mischance, that day just happened to be the day before Cabrera was suspended by the league. Yet, players have stepped up since the suspension. Since August 1st, the Giants have four of the top seven batting averages in the N.L. Buster Posey leads that group with a .361 average, Marco Scutaro is third (.355), Angel Pagan is sixth (.328), and Brandon Belt ranks seventh (.326). It just goes to show how something like a suspension or injury can fire up an entire team.
However, in spite of their success without Cabrera, I’m sure the Giants wouldn’t mind having his bat back in the mix.
Unsettled Issues In The Clubhouse
When Cabrera was ruled out for the remainder of the season, it’s almost like he just disappeared. He didn’t speak to his fellow teammates or apologize in person. It just wasn’t a very classy move on his behalf. In his defense, it has to be hard to speak about a suspension in front of the entire clubhouse, but it’s a step that needs to be taken to clear the air. Some of his teammates recently spoke about his shyness. That could’ve been a factor as well.
But despite all of the factors, he shouldn’t have left the team the way he did. Clearly none of the Giants were pleased, feeling as if he let them down. And this could lead to some internal issues which is the last thing that needs to occur in the playoffs.
Plus, a boatload of attention would be put on the Giants, but not in a good way. Questions from the media wouldn’t be about the team, they would be about Cabrera. It could be just too much to handle when the team is focusing on reaching the World Series.
While Cabrera was among the upper echelon of players before being suspended, there’s no guarantee that he will return to that elite class if the Giants elect to bring him back.
The minor league season ended a few weeks ago, meaning that there isn’t necessarily a place from him to go and work off that rustiness. Yes, there are instructional leagues, but how is that going to prepare Cabrera to face some of the best pitching staffs in baseball?
The NLCS will only go seven games at best, which means that Cabrera has little time to perform and prove that he was worth bringing back.
While Melky Cabrera certainly was a hot commodity in July, the cons outweigh the pros. The Giants have continued to win without his presence, and they should continue with the same players that put them in the situation where they currently are. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While Cabrera could potentially help the Giants in October, overall there is too much of a risk that he will hurt the team. Given how well the Giants have played since Cabrera’s suspension, that is a chance that the team is just simply unlikely to take.
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
Jake Dal Porto is a Baseball Writer with MLB reports and a student from the Bay Area. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @TheJakeMan24
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Sunday September 2nd, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: It has been a couple of weeks since Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon were suspended for taking Performance Enhancing Drugs, but their respective teams have thrived since receiving the bad news. The Giants are 12-5 since losing their star outfielder, while the A’s are 10-1 since losing arguably one of the best pitchers on their staff. It’s safe to say that both clubs have put negative news behind them, and are focused on making the playoffs. However, just because both teams have found success in the wake of the suspensions, doesn’t mean that they won’t feel the effect down the stretch drive.
The Giants clearly lost more than the A’s. They lost an everyday player, as opposed to a player who can make an impact every five days and is older and injury prone. When Cabrera was suspended he led baseball in the hits department, and was among the top five in batting average. Now, he leads the National League in batting average (.346), and yes, he can still win that honor despite the suspension. But Cabrera was a fixture in the Giants’ lineup. When the team was struggling, he seem to continuously spark them with one big hit after another. And once San Francisco acquired Hunter Pence from the Phillies, their three through six batters were seen as a legitimate powerhouse. But only for one game did they have all four hitters intact. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday January 22nd, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!
Let’s get to your top questions of the week:
Q: Pirates chances in the semi-weakened NL Central this year? John
MLB reports: Great question John. Many Pirates fans are very hopeful this year. But in the opening may not be as clear as some would think. Houston we have to figure is in rebuilding mode and heading to the AL West in 2013. That leaves the Cardinals, Reds, Brewers and Cubs as the main competitors. The Cubs are going to be better, but still have ways away. New management needs time to rebuild the farm and create a lineup in the image that they foresee. That leaves the Reds, Cardinals and Brewers. Even assuming that Prince Fielder is gone and Ryan Braun is lost to suspension, the Brewers are incredibly strong. Gallardo and Greinke to head up the rotation, Axford and Rodriguez at the back of the pen. The Brewers are unlikely to make the playoffs, but will still be in the race. Same goes with the Cardinals, sans Pujols and La Russa. They still have an offense led by Holliday, Berkman and Beltran, with one of the best rotations heads in Carpenter and Wainwright. They will be finding their way this year, but the Cardinals are still the defending champs. Lastly, the Reds will be the team to beat. Latos will now be their ace and Ryan Madson the closer. In between, this team is fairly stacked and can hurt you in so many ways, led by Votto and Phillips. The best that I can see the Pirates finish is 3rd…and that is a long-shot. To me, I see 4th place as being the likely scenario with anything higher being gravy. As far as anything higher? Wait 2 years or so until their farm starts harvesting some really key prospects to the majors.
Q: Question on ’13 HoF vote. Do most of the voters believe Barry Bonds was a HoF’er before using (clear/cream) possible PEDs? Old Man Mack
MLB reports: There is no doubt in most “experts” minds that Barry Bonds was going to Cooperstown before the whole performance enhancing drugs issue arose. Before bulking up in San Francisco and reinventing himself as the home run champion, Barry Bonds was one of the best players in the game. He could do it all and was one of the best 5-tool players the game ever saw. But the reality is that most voters will not look or think in that manner. All they will remember is Balco and the question marks that surround Bonds. Looking at the McGwire and Juan Gonzalez vote totals, I am seeing writers that are not prepared to vote in certified or even heavily suspected PED users. The vote on Bonds, like Roger Clemens, will be very interesting. Without clear criteria and guidelines, voters won’t know which way to go. Some will vote Bonds in, by consideration that he was a worthy candidate even before the Balco mess. Others will consider that he did use PEDs and as a result, should not go to Cooperstown. If Bonds gets 50% of the vote based on what I’m hearing, I will consider that a high total. The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot will be one of the most difficult ones in history. We all look forward to seeing what will transpire.
Q: Are the Red Sox in a rebuilding year or waiting on a certain sign from the Baseball Gods to replenish the rotation and the B-pen? Nick
MLB reports: LOL. The Red Sox are never rebuilding. They may have a new manager and GM, but they are still the Red Sox. Adrian Gonzalez. Jacoby Ellsbury. Dustin Pedroia. Josh Beckett. Kevin Youkilis. This team still has the horses to make a run for a playoff berth. Yes, they just traded away Marco Scutaro, in a rumored attempt to make a run at Roy Oswalt. So no, the Red Sox are not waiting for any signs. They are just staying in a budget and putting the best team that they can put together within their means. Their bullpen is still loaded to the max. Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon and Daniel Bard (if he doesn’t win a rotation spot). These Red Sox are maybe one starting pitcher away. Some tweaking may still be ahead…but rebuilding, no no no. Far from it.
Q: Do you think Tigers Pitcher Justin Verlander Deserved to win the AL MVP Award last Season? Pitchers don’t win MVP Awards often! Marty
MLB reports: Another great question Marty. You always ask the right questions! Let’s take it another way: if I had a vote, would I have given Justin Verlander the MVP award. Absolutely- yes. I have heard all the arguments why pitchers should not win the MVP award. They have their own award- it’s called the CY Young award. They don’t play everyday and thus are not as valuable as top hitters. It goes on and on. I get it. In 2011, the fact remains that Verlander was the most valuable player on his team. Look at the stats- they are mind boggling. 24 wins in 34 starts. 2.40 ERA. 251 innings pitched. 250 strikeouts and only 57 walks allowed. A 0.920 WHIP. The man won the pitching triple crown and dominated hitters consistently all year long. If you take Verlander off the team, they do not make the playoffs. There were many great players in the American League last year. Jose Bautista. Adrian Gonzalez. Jacoby Ellsbury. Curtis Granderson. But until they make a hitters-only award, the Most Valuable Player award means any player. That player was Justin Verlander in 2011 and yes, he definitely deserved his award.
Final Question: I hope the A’s make Playoffs this year! That would be Something special! Eric
MLB reports: Eric. Eric. Eric. I love your passion and commitment to your team. But I am sorry to be the one to tell you this- ain’t happening. The A’s are in yet another rebuilding mode. The team was destined for 3rd or 4th place before trading Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey. Not to mention the losses of Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui. The return of Coco Crisp just won’t cut it. While the Mariners should be an improved squad, the A’s have a ton of young talent that will come together in 3-4 years. I’m sure all A’s fans would love a pennant. For now, they will need to settle for last place and a chance at a high draft pick. Until the stadium issue is resolved and the team can figure out a permanent and financially viable stadium option, winning Oakland baseball will continue to be a rarity for the foreseeable future.
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MLB reports: As a fan, analyst and writer of baseball, I rarely take pleasure in the misery of others. Some of my readers would point to Vernon Wells and my “Vernon Watch” in what I commonly refer to as a showcase of blundery. But Vernon is the exception to the rule. For the most part, players are athletes that train hard, play with heart and hustle and give it their all on the playing field. With the career of Manny Ramirez unceremoniously coming to a halt yesterday, there is an overwhelming sense of relief and enjoyment around baseball circles today. For a man who could hit baseballs like flew other, one of the greatest hitters in MLB history will go down in the baseball archives as a laughingstock and side-show act. A shame when one looks at the statistics and career of Manny Ramirez. But for a man who got one too many chances, the punishment fits the crime. Today we say goodbye to a distraction and one less black eye for the glorious game of baseball.
The first questions most MLB fans asked me yesterday was whether Manny deserves to go into the hall of fame? My answer is simple. In my opinion, if I had a vote, a definite yes. Regardless of what Manny took or didn’t take, his statistics speak for themselves. There have been many drug cheats and cheaters of all kind in baseball over the years. The bottom line is that not many match to Manny’s outstanding numbers. But alas I do not have a vote to-date and from what the baseball writers have shown in recent voting history with McGwire and Palmeiro, Ramirez won’t so much as get as much a sniff of the hall. I can see the arguments for keeping Ramirez out of the hall. Based on his second failed drug test and choice to retire and run over facing the music cements a legacy of being a quitter and a coward. Manny gave up on the Red Sox and the Dodgers and got run out-of-town in each instance. A first failed drug test blamed on some sort of hormone substances. With a second failed test, Manny decided to take his glove and go home, rather than face the music. I cannot see fans, let alone baseball writers forgiving him for this decision. But again fitting for a man who has made a career of bad decisions and turning his back on the game one too many times.
Where does the future now lie for Manny Ramirez? Many ex-players have the option of going into scouting, managing, broadcasting, writing….the field is wide open. Mark McGwire, got a job as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, but as part of the requirement McGwire had to go on national television and give his apology. Sort of. But McGwire always had the eye of the public for his strong image and was somewhat cut some slack by the public. Manny, with his quirky and aloof personality has a better chance of becoming President of the United States than a baseball coach, manager or broadcaster. Seen as a liability, Manny is now headed into a self-imposed baseball exile, joining the likes of Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds as the baseball steroids/ped’s outcasts. I could envision a day where Manny will write a tell-all book, explaining his side of “the story” while outing ex-friends and teammates in the process. Manny just seems to be one of those guys, concerned more about himself and the almighty dollar than anything else.
When we all think to Manny Ramirez in ten years time, we will think of an idiot. That will be the image in our minds. Not the young rookie sensation on the Indians, World Series champ for the Red Sox, dreadlocks #99 igniter on the Dodgers or a two-bit player on the White Sox and Rays. The man who chose to instantly retire rather than face his due punishment. When faced with his first suspension last year, Manny did not speak to the media the entire balance of the season. He is that kind of guy. I did not imagine for the life of me in the offseason that any team would take a chance on him. In my estimation, Manny was best served going away gracefully at the end of 2010 rather than being one last thorn in the side of an undeserving team. When the Rays signed Manny, I said publicly that this could only end bad and that he would not last the season. Rather than being dumped in August, Manny barely survived a week into 2011. A 1-17 start at the plate will be the final blemish on an otherwise exceptional statistical career. But as hall of fame voters are now showing, votes go beyond the numbers. Manny Ramirez in the twilight of his career has been essentially a nightmare for all those involved with him. Staring today, the nightmare is over. Baseball does not need or want the Manny Ramirez’s of this world and my hope is that after this latest horror show, baseball will not see another Manny for a long time. Baseball is built on hustle, teamwork, determination and heart. Four words that were not in Manny’s vocabulary and for that transgression, we finally say goodbye to Manny for the last time.
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