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Four Things To Watch For On The Marlins This Month

 

Jake Marisnick plays tremendous defense out in center field but his bat has been far from impressive in his limited time in Miami this season.

Jake Marisnick plays tremendous defense out in center field but his bat has been far from impressive in his limited time in Miami this season.

Sam Evans ( Baseball Writer and Marlins, Mariners Correspondent):

It’s not exactly easy to get excited about the average Marlins game this late in the season.

With the Marlins struggling to give their pitchers any run support and finding seemingly different ways to lose everyday, it would be easy to give up on the Marlins and just wait for next year.

However, thanks to topics like Jose Fernandez‘s quest for the N.L. Rookie of the Year Award and lefty Brian Flynn‘s recent promotion, there still are reasons to watch the Marlins in 2013.

Here are what I consider to be the top four things to watch for on the Marlins in the final month of the regular season (in no particular order). 

Fernandez shows quick reflexes to grab liner

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Dustin Pedroia’s Contract Extension + Jake Peavy Trade Thoughts

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Sat. August.3/2013

While Shortstop has been a revolving door since the days of Nomar Garciaparra, Second Base has been held down by one of the best in the game since his rookie season in 2007. As impressive an offensive player as Pedroia is, he's equally impressive on defense, saving 73 Runs on at 2nd over his career. His UZR/150 is 9.4.

While Shortstop has been a revolving door since the days of Nomar Garciaparra, Second Base has been held down by one of the best in the game since his rookie season in 2007. As impressive an offensive player as Pedroia is, he’s equally impressive on defense, saving 73 Runs on at 2nd over his career. His UZR/150 is 9.4.

By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer and Red Sox Correspondent): 

I think that one could refer to this time of the baseball season as the “dog days” of the summer.

While much is made of how a team finishes the regular season down the stretch in September, every game counts and August could definitely separate contenders from pretenders.

After ceding 1st place in the AL East briefly, the Red Sox are back where they want to be at the top.

The lead is just 1 game over the Rays currently, but the Red Sox are playing some very exciting baseball including two straight walkoff wins both technically taking place on the 1st of August.

While late July baseball news is usually dominated by trades, the Red Sox took care of some other business before getting involved in the trade scene.

The club signed Second Baseman Dustin Pedroia to a 7 Year $100 Million contract extension.

The deal will take him through the 2021 season, making it increasingly likely that he spends his entire career in a Red Sox uniform.

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Robert Whitmer ‘s All – Felon Team

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Saturday, May.04/2013

In the game of baseball, we have had the unfortunate circumstance of having players that aren't exactly model citizens.  Join me on an adventure of looking at putting together our all-felon team.

In the game of baseball, we have had the unfortunate circumstance of having players that aren’t exactly model citizens. Join me on an adventure of looking at putting together our all-felon team.

Let me start off by saying that this piece that I have written is intended to be a humorous piece.  I am not trying to talk bad about any players, just merely stating facts that are public record.

Everyone makes mistakes.  We are here to make them and learn from them.  I have put together the first Robert Whitmer’s all-felon team.  I have chosen a player from each position that has been either arrested or convicted of a crime.  I hope that you find this entertaining as well as informative.

I do this article to address the “entitlement” that I believe some players feel that they deserve.  I feel that they think they are, somehow, above the law for the sole purpose that they are professional athletes and are known, or popular, in the community in which their team resides.

Pete Rose hit #4192

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42

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Tuesday April.16/2013

#42 - we all know what the number means.

#42 – we all know what the number means.

What significance does a number carry? Obviously we know that a number carries a value of an item or items. They can hold a positive or negative connotation depending on what the number is referring to.

If you are talking about a bank account or an amount of money, the higher the number, the better. If you are dealing with a number of people who want to cause you physical harm, the lower the number the better.

What significance does the number 42 have for you? It can carry many meanings. 42 hours in your individual work week. 42 miles to the gallon that your vehicle gets. 42 miles that you will be walking after your car ran out of gas because you only got 40 miles to the gallon and not the 42 that you thought.

What does 42 mean in the world of baseball? 42 Home Runs in a contract year and you will probably be making 42 million dollars on your next contract. 42 Doubles is a good season.

42 wins by a team in a season is terrible but 42 wins in a row, and they are setting records. Perhaps the most significant use of the number 42 in the baseball realm was by a young 28-year-old Second Baseman named Jackie Robinson.

Movie Trailer for 42:

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Starting Pitching For The DBacks Will Make Or Break Their Season

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Wednesday, March.06, 2013

The Diamondbacks will need their rotation to be a strength as they compete in the NL West for a playoff spot this season.

The Diamondbacks will need their rotation to be a strength as they compete in the NL West for a playoff spot this season.

By Chris Lacey (DiamondBacks Correspondent)

The Arizona Diamondbacks will have to rely on their starting pitching more than ever this season. The two division rivals they have to contend with feature very good pitching rotations along with potent offensive lineups.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have signed Hyun-jin Ryu from South Korea as a Free-Agent, and they also signed the top Free Agent pitcher this winter in Zack Greinke.

The San Francisco Giants have the 2012 NL MVP Award Winner & Batting Champion in Buster Posey. The Giants also have two very good pitchers in Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum to anchor their staff.

30 Clubs in 30 Days Arizona Diamondbacks:

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The Angels May Take The Torch As The Best All Around 1-4 Lineup In The MLB

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Saturday, January.19,  2013

Trout had 49 SB, 129 Runs 30 HRs and 83 RBI in just 138 Games. Might he improve on these numbers with a full year and the addition of Josh Hamilton to the cleanup spot in 2013?

Trout had 49 SB, 129 Runs 30 HRs and 83 RBI in just 138 Games. Might he improve on these numbers with a full year and the addition of Josh Hamilton to the cleanup spot in 2013?

Josh Jones (Angels Correspondent):

The 2013 Los Angeles of Anaheim have the opportunity to post one of the most fearsome foursome’s in Major League Baseball history.  The lineup posts three MVP-caliber talents. American League Rookie of the Year Mike Trout leading off with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton hitting third or fourth respectively makes Angel fans ecstatic to watch this year’s club. Either Howie Kendrick or Erick Aybar will flank Trout and Pujols, hoping to take pitches and take walks in order to allow Trout to run and Pujols to have a bounty of runners on. The 1-4 hitters have the potential to be one of the greatest lineup toppers that the game has seen.  Let’s compare them to some of the best 1-4 lineups in the last few decades:

Josh Hamilton signs autographs right after his Angels Press Conference:

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Ichiro Suzuki: Returning Yankee Is On His Way To 4000 Pro Hits And Maybe Rose’s 4256 Mark

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Monday, January.07/2013

Ichiro Suzuki is tied with Pete Rose for most 200-Hit Seasons a MLB Career with 10.  Suzuki accomplished the feat in consecutive years from 2001-2010.

Ichiro Suzuki is tied with Pete Rose for most 200-Hit Seasons a MLB Career with 10. Suzuki accomplished the feat in consecutive years from 2001-2010.  Ichiro holds the Single Season Record for hits in one year – when he smacked 262 base  knocks during the 2004 Season.  He Broke George Sisler’s previous mark of 257 – set in 1920.

By Chuck Booth (Yankees Correspondent/Website Owner):

3884 hits into his professional career, Suzuki starts his 13th Career in the Major Leagues and his 22nd season overall in 2013, only 116 hits shy of 4000.  He is 308 short of passing Ty Cobb (4191) and 372 hits behind Pete Rose (4256) for the ALL-Time Professional Baseball Hits Lead.  Suzuki just re-inked a 2 YR/13 Million Dollar Contract with the Bronx Bombers.  He has a serious chance to chase down these legendary players in this time frame.  The spry Right-Fielder has 2606 hits on this side of the water – including 10 straight 200+ hit seasons to start his career between 2001-2010.  The last 2 campaigns have seen him regress to only 184 and 178 hits respectively.  These are still decent hit totals, however not really Ichiro-like.  His 3 months in New York has given fans optimism that he can still be a very productive top of the lineup hitter.

Suzuki had a 3 Slash-Line of .320/.340/.794 in New York with 73 hits in 67 games.  The veteran even had 14 SB.  Playing in the Bronx will keep him motivated to play to his fullest potential, as he has never been to a World Series in 12 years.  The Yankees were swept by the Detroit Tigers in last years ALCS, although Suzuki went 6-17 (.353) in the series.  Amongst those hits, was a 4-6 effort in Game #1.  The man just knows how to hit.   He has averaged 221 base knocks a year since coming over from Japan.  He has a .322 Batting Average for his Career and has nailed down 2 Batting Titles, while he has led the American League in hits on 7 different occasions.

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Dissecting The Royals And Rays Trade: Shields And Davis For Wil Myers + Prospects

Tuesday, Dec.11/2012

James Shields has 2 years left on his contract with the Rays.  He was the first player they signed to many years of Club Options.  It is a system they have used to sign Zobrist, Longoria and Moore.  It gives the team the flexibility to option out of a contract with a player heading into any year

James Shields has 2 years left on his contract with the Royals.  He is 31-22 with 448 Strikeouts in 477 IP in the last 2 years.  While he might not be a Premiere Ace, he is a front end starter that Kansas City has not had for a long ime.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner):

We at the MLB Reports have established that we are far more in favor of acquiring hitters than pitchers in today’s MLB.  Why do you ask?  It is simple. The amount of pitchers that end up injured for the year is mind boggling.  You can check out our Tommy John Surgery Tracker Page here.  Point being, is that is risky to trade away top tier offensive prospects for pitching in return.  Having said this, I like this trade of James Shields, Wade Davis and a player to be named later, for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard for both clubs.  It addresses immediate concerns with a look to the future.  To fully assess how this trade will break down we start with the Royals: Read the rest of this entry

2012 AL and NL Rookie of the Year Predictions

Sunday November 11th, 2012

Sam Evans: Even though it may seem as if all of baseball is already focused on 2013, some of the major awards for the 2012 MLB Regular Season have yet to be announced. The AL and NL Rookie of the Year awards will be announced on Monday. Bryce Harper, Wade Miley and Todd Frazier are the finalists for the National League. Mike Trout, Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish are the last three in the American League. I predict that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout will be the two players rewarded for their outstanding rookie seasons by taking home the hardware. Read the rest of this entry

2012 MLB End of the Year Awards: Predictions

Thursday October 11th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:What a year it has been. With the extra Wild Card and a Triple Crown winner, there has been no shortage of excitement. As part of the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance), we are to vote for awards including the Hall of Fame, All Star Game, end of the year awards, and a baseball writer with quality writing and a strong internet presence.

In this segment, I will outline the various end of the season awards (with their announcement dates) and who I believe will win them. Some selections were very, very close.

October 15th: Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year): NL: Davey Johnson (Washington Nationals); AL: Bob Melvin (Oakland Athletics)

Johnson: This decision was a no-brainer. Johnson lead his young Nationals team to the first NL East title in Washington Nationals’ history with a 98-64 record—finishing four games better than the Braves—an early-season favorite for the title. Johnson and the Nats’ secured the number one seed in the playoffs and were the best team in baseball—winning 18 more games than in 2011. This was Johnson’s first full year with Washington and he made it a good one.

Melvin: This was one of the most remarkable stories in a very long time. The A’s were in the midst of rebuilding, trading away aces Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals and Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks. Oakland did not start off too well, having a mediocre first half, but really turned it on after the All Star Break. This was a tough decision because of Orioles manager Buck Showalter also putting up a strong case. The Orioles finished almost identically to the A’s with a 93-69 record (A’s finished at 94-68). In my opinion, Melvin had even less of a team to work with than Showalter, and still won one more game.

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The 2012 Cincinnati Reds Have All The Makings Of A World Series Champion

Monday September 17th, 2012

Jake Dal Porto: The Reds look primed to win the World Series. This year. They have all the making of one of those rare seasons. Young guys have stepped up greatly, veterans are producing, and they sit on an 11 game lead in the N.L Central.

Can they win the World Series?

They have a good chance. With that being said, they aren’t merely the clear-cut favorites. That honor goes to the Nationals in the National League or the Rangers in the American League. But outside of those two clubs, it’s anyone’s best guess as to who will win the pennant in each league. Meaning the Reds would likely be one of the multiple favorites come October. Read the rest of this entry

The Philadelphia Phillies Franchise Part 3 of 4: The Pitchers

Saturday September.01/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Carlton Highlight Reel:

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Baseball’s Greatest One Hit Wonders Part 2: The Pitchers

Wedesday August 22, 2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer) Pitching is the most unnatural motion I can think of.  The human arm is not meant to throw 90-100 MPH repeatedly over and over.  It is for this reason why I am never surprised when Pitchers go out for any injury.  When I was 15, I was the catcher for former Major League Pitcher Chris Reitsma on our ALL-Star Team.  I witnessed this kid throwing 90 MPH as a teenager.  Honestly, no one could hit the guy.  As a catcher for 10 years and having a a decent baseball IQ, I was mad that the coach never let me call his pitches for him.  Why he would even throw sliders, curves and breaking balls is beyond me and it cost us some games versus some California and Arizona teams.   There was no denying that he was a mega talented pitcher.  He did go onto a decent MLB career, even appeared in 84 games for the Atlanta Braves in 2004.  Yet he finished pitching by the age of 29 because he threw junk.  Now I will move on here, I am just pointing out that kids should not be throwing  junk until they are finished high school.  There will be time in future articles to talk about pitching discipline and attitude. 

Just like the hitters that I featured last week, the pitchers I am featuring here took the MLB by storm for a while.  The fan bases were certain that these players would have great careers, only to see them fade quickly.  If you ask me which position is tougher to stay up on top of, I would definitely say pitching!  Remember that if you fail 70% of the time as a hitter, you are still labeled a great hitter.  Pitchers have to have a success rate of 75% to be elite.  Plus when they are out there, it is a continual one after another moment, whereas a hitter has a chance to regroup after an AT BAT.

This set of 5 pitchers (Mark Fidrych, Mark Prior, Jeff Zimmerman, Tommy Greene and Derrick Turnbow) in this list are all pretty much of recent vintage.  I saw 4 of them play as I only started watching baseball in 1980 and Mark Fidrych was already done by that time.  This doesn’t mean that I have not seen countless highlights from the man in the last 30 years.  Here are a couple for your enjoyment before we start.

To see the article about Baseball’s Greatest One Hit Wonders Part 1: The Batters click here Read the rest of this entry

Baseball’s Greatest One Hit Wonders Part 1: The Batters

Wedesday August 15th, 2012

Phil Plantier made his debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1990. During the 1992 season, Plantier crushed 11 HRs and added another 35 RBI in just 53 games. He was then traded in the off-season to the San Diego Padres for Jose Melendez. Plantier then thrived in California.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Music has one hit wonders, some have even made an entire career out of just one stretch of time where they were deemed relevant.  Baseball is like everything else, they have had their fair share of players that fit this mold.  In the next two weeks, we will take a look at hitters and pitchers that were really on fire for a stretch before they petered out just as fast.  I harken back to the movie ‘Tin Cup” for this next saying,  “Greatness Courts Failure.”  The difference between the two in baseball is so miniscule.  Unfortunately for every player that makes it to the show, hundreds never get their chance at all.  I am sure if you ask each one of these players if they were happy at their time in the Major Leagues, they would tell you that they thought they did not perform to their full capability.  

The players would think highly of the time they had their biggest successes and would wish they could have had more of the limelight for a prolonged stretch.  The fans of baseball are left to form their own opinions on these individuals.  Just like what happens in the world, there will be some fans who remember these guys fondly and others will turn the page on them, not thinking much at all.  The split is usually right down the middle.  The next five hitters are players that I remember making a big splash before bowing out just as quick as they came into prominence.   I contemplated adding Sam Fuld to this list, however he has a chance to play in the Major Leagues for years to come, so it is too early to list him amongst these men.  So at the very least, I will give him the video tribute down below before the page break.  Fuld is a great inspiration and I look forward to writing about him in future articles.  Also, other players I considered for this piece were Bob Hamelin and Rick Ankiel.  I gave Ankiel a pass in both pitching and hitting because he was so unique to have done both.  You can read a recent article I wrote about the man here .  In the end, I did not think Bob Hamelin had a standout performance even as a rookie.  He was lucky to have such a weak class of rookies to compete against in the year he won it.

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Top Ten Stat of the Week: Active Saves Leaders in the MLB (A Closers Role)

Monday August.13/2012

Mariano Rivera holds the ALL-Time Record for any closer (active or retired) with 608 Saves. Will he come back in 2013 to add to his totals?

Chuck Booth: (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-  To be a closer in today’s baseball game takes quite the mental fortitude.  There is a lot of psychological warfare one could do to himself in preventing a successful run at saving games.  While I am of the mindset that the relief pitchers of yesteryear seemed to be relied on more for lengthier durations, this does not diminish this stat in any way.  It is hard to acquire the 90-100% save rate that most teams are striving for in a pitching staff.  In any given seasons the average save opportunities average from 45-65 chances to lock a game down.  A lot of this also depends on what team you play for.  There have been several phenomenal stretches put forth by closers of the game in recent vintage.  Who could forget Canadian born Erig Gagne?  This man once saved 85 straight games from 2002-2004.  He is the all-time leader in that category and beat out John Franco’s previous record by an astounding 30 games. Another incredible run was Brad Lidge‘s incredible 2008 season where he did not blow a save opportunity out of 48 games both in the regular season and playoffs.

Sure these guys don’t log 120 innings anymore, or throw for 3 inning saves like Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage did for many years.  By the way, we can all thank Tony La Russa for the invention of specialists pitchers (Rick Honeycutt, Jesse Orosco anyone?) and the one inning save closers.  La Russa perfected this scenario with former starter Dennis Eckersley coming out of the pen for the Oakland A’s during their powerhouse days in the late 80′s.  Eckersley was so dominant every team tried to duplicate their own bullpens to mock the A’s. 

Before this time had come, relief pitchers were all mostly comprised of young pitchers trying to acclimatize themselves into the Major Leagues first, before earning a spot as a Starting Pitcher.  For example, David Wells was once a relief pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays first and then was promoted to a starting pitcher after he proved he could pitch in the Major Leagues.   In today’s baseball world, relief pitchers are now being drafted out of college and high school as relievers whereas they used to all come from the position of starting pitcher.  It also used to be that relief pitchers were players that graduated to a starter and then could not find success as starters and were sent back to the bullpen once again to stay.  When it came down to it, you had only a couple of chances to perform as a starter.  Maybe it was because there were bigger than life characters like Gossage that make remember these pitchers in such favorable terms.  Maybe it was because we never saw them interviewed on a social media platform like today’s athlete is and the mystery surrounded them made them more feared, or maybe it is because we tend to admire things more when they happened in the past.  I still love the closers role in today’s game and nothing has more drama in a baseball game than trying to nail down the last 3 outs!

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It Is The 5 Year Anniversary Of His Re-Debut As A Hitter: What Is Next For Rick Ankiel?

Thursday August.09, 2012

At Age 20 (and starting out the year at age 19), Ankiel finished 2nd in ROY voting, 7th in strikeouts and ERA, 2nd in K’s/Per 9 IP and Hits/Per 9 IP in 2000. He threw 94-97 MPH as a Young Pitcher, however a mental block and injuries plagued him to the point where he changed into a permanent Outfielder in 2005.

­Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Playing the game of baseball is predicated on failure.  Most of us that have played the game, realize how hard it is to hit a flying object with a piece of wood or metal.  The majority of players, that are in the Major Leagues, have honed their skills from the time they were just starting grade school.  Generally it takes a hell of a lot of repetition to become good at something.  As an aspiring baseball player in my teens, I can remember swinging the baseball over 200 times a day in trying to perfect my swing.  I had practice drills that would emphasize on weight transference, foot work and eye-hand coordination.  So I imagine a lot of today’s current players did the same when they were a kid.  Today marks the 5 year anniversary from one of the greatest stories ever produced on the field by a Major League Player.

The Cardinals Drafted Rick Ankiel in the 2nd round of the 1997 Amateur Draft.  Ankiel had great pitching mechanics and made his dream come true on Aug.23 1999 (at the Age of 19),  by making his pitching debut with the St. Louis Cardinals against the Montreal Expos  He sported a 0-1 record in 5 starts to end the year with an impressive 39 Strikeouts in 33 innings, while posting a respectable 3.27 ERA.  Ankiel was a budding prospect with a chance to become a perennial ALL-Star.  In his Rookie year during the 2000 season, he finished with a record of 11-7 with a 3.50 ERA-and was 7th in the league with 194 Strikeouts. 

This season was good enough to finish 2nd in Rookie of the Year Balloting.    The Cardinals needed him to pitch in Game #1 of the NLDS because he and Daryl Kile were the only ones left on the roster as 3 starters from the regular season had become injured.  To further put pressure on this young kid, his mentor for the game of baseball, his father, had been incarcerated in jail at the time as he was making it to the Major Leagues and it ate at him not having him there live to see him play.  Still, Tony La Russa had complete faith in the kid to start in pivotal games at such a young age because of his electric arm. 

It proved to be a costly mistake as Ankiel started to mentally fracture by the 3rd inning of that very game and ended up walking 4 batters and throwing a record 5 wild pitches in one inning-while giving up 4 runs.  Ankiel never recovered from leaving the mound on that day.  Against everyone’s better judgement, La Russa sent out Ankiel again to start in  Game #2 of the NLCS versus the Braves.  His first pitch of the game sailed over Timo Perez of the New York Mets.  5 wild pitches later and La Russa mercifully pulled him from the game.  If you can believe it, La Russa brought out Ankiel to face four more hitters in Game #5 of the Series.  This time he walked 2 more hitters and threw 2 more wild pitches.  The Mets wiped out the depleted Cardinals pitching staff in that 5th game.  If you ask La Russa, these decisions all haunt him more than any other thing that he has ever done as a manager.

Here is a great highlight reel showing off Ankiel’s best moments as a National in 2011.

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Washington Nationals-The Pitchers and Hitters: 2005-2012 Best 25 Man Roster (Part 5 of Expos/Nats Series)

Wednesday July 25, 2012

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

Livan Hernandez leads the 2005-2012 version of the franchise in ALL-Time wins and innings pitched.

Chuck Booth (Lead baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- I think it safe to say that the best days of the Washington Nationals are purely ahead of them.  They have a great nucleus of young talent with Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Drew Storen, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Mike Morse and Gio Gonzalez.  These guys are so good that they all made the ALL-Time 25 man roster for the 2005-2012 Washington Nationals.  I am a firm believer that these guys will be the best team in the National League within 2 or 3 years.  I like Ted Lerner’s attitude on spending for now.  This will ensure the money will be spent on the team to keep competing for the city of Washington’s 1st World Series Title since 1924.  I would venture to say that not many living  fans of the old Washington Senators saw the club hoisting the trophy 88 years ago. 

The Nationals Park went soaring up my ranks as a baseball venue to see in the 30 stadium circuit.  This place is now electric.  I was so elated when I was able to see Strasburg pitch and win for the Nationals back in April.  Next year I hope to see Bryce Harper play ball  when I go on another 30 park tour.   Next year is when I will have the official rankings of all of the ballparks posted here.  I can assure you that the President’s Race will probably be voted the most popular race of any in the Majors at the parks.  My humblest of apologies to the sausage race fans in Milwaukee and racing legend heads in Arizona.  I still follow the campaign to ‘Let Teddy Win’, however that may take all of the fun out of it if Teddy does win one of those races.

As a fan of the old Expos franchise, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Washington Nationals.  Playing meaningful baseball in September and October this year would be incredible to witness.  So without further speak, let us start with our 25 man roster for the best players in the last 8 years.  I picked the roster based on longevity or utter greatness for a couple of players.  If this team was to play an alumni game right now, all of the positions would be filled.  I don’t think I excluded anyone entirely crucial here.  Please feel free to let me know if I did on any social platform.  If you make a solid case for someone for whom I may have omitted, I could always add them later.

For Part 1 of the Article Series, The Expos Hitters: click here

For Part 2 of the Article Series, The Expos Pitchers: click here

For Part 3 of the Article Series, The Demise of the Montreal Expos: click here

For Part 4 of the Article Series, The Washington Nationals Franchise 2005-2012: click here

For Part 6 of the Article Series, The Nationals 2013 Payroll and Contract Statuses click here 

Here is the highlight reel from Stephen Strasburg’s debut at Nationals Park.  14 Strikeouts is amazing!

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Bryan LaHair: The Future of the Cubs or Simply Another Trade Deadline Candidate?

Tuesday July 17th, 2012

John Burns:  The 2012 season has been one to forget for the Chicago Cubs, as they currently stand in fifth place in the NL Central with a 36-52 record. Chicago has had some pleasant surprises this season so far even though the record doesn’t show it. The All-Star emergence of Bryan LaHair brought Cubs fans something to talk about in the first half. LaHair was never even in anyone’s Top 100 prospect list ever in his career. The 29-year-old was drafted in the 39th round of the 2002 Draft by the Seattle Mariners and has spent a majority of his baseball career in the minors. LaHair is having a solid 2012 campaign and earned himself a trip to Kansas City for the All-Star game. Even though LaHair has slowed down, I expect his name to be swirled around at the trade deadline. Numerous teams could be in on LaHair who is hitting .282, with 14 homers and 31 RBIs. 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.

Read the rest of this entry

MLB Reports Monthly Power Rankings: June 2012

Monday June.4, 2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-We are going to bring you monthly power rankings every month of the season.  There will be a few notes written for each team.  Please feel free to let us know your thoughts.  The Texas Rangers are the top ranked team yet once again, although teams are certainly gaining on the them in the last week.  Look out for Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees to make their move towards the top this month.

June Power Rankings-Last Month Rank in Parenthesis

1. Texas-32-22 (1) The Rangers rode Josh Hamilton in the month of May-who enters today on pace for about 60 HRs and 170 RBI while hitting .354.  Nelson Cruz is starting to heat up and the duo of Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler are steady as as ever. Yu Darvish is 7-3 en route to the leading the group amongst Rookie of The Year Contention.  Joe Nathan is looking like his old self again out of the pen with an ERA under 2.

2. LA Dodgers 33-21 (5) Even with Matt Kemp out of the lineup again, the Dodgers are winning ball games with solid contributions from Andre Ethier and A.J Ellis on offense.  The pitching staff has been anchored by Clayton Kershaw and a fast 7-1 start by Chris CapuanoTed Lilly was 5-1 before a stint on the DL.  It is too bad because Lilly is 125-104 since 2004.

3. Tampa Bay 31-23 (2) Hideki Matsui homered in two of his first 3 games back with the Rays.  The team has had steady pitching to stay in contention.  Carlos Pena has really struggled in the last month and will need to pick it up.  Luke Scott with 35 RBI has good production numbers in spite of his .225 AVG. Fernando Rodney has converted 17 out of 18 saves to pace the club.

4. Cincinnati 30-23 (12) Joey Votto has hit .404 in the last 30 days and maybe the best all-around hitter in the National League right now.  Jay Bruce has 12 HRs and 34 RBI and is living up to his all-star potential.  Aroldis Chapman has 27 Strikeouts in just over 14 innings and has yet to yield a run while opponents are hitting a paltry .043 against him.

5. NY Yankees 29-24 (6) The Bronx Bombers have 6 players with 8 HRs or more, which is a good thing because with the exception of Derek Jeter, a lot of them are hitting under their career averages.  The return of Andy Pettitte has helped the rotation with the loss of Micheal Pineda.  Phil Hughes threw a complete game over the weekend and CC Sabathia is on pace for another 20 win season. Read the rest of this entry

Mike Trout vs. Bryce Harper: Who is the Biggest Prospect in Baseball?

Thursday May 3rd, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  For prospect watchers, last Saturday was one of the most exciting baseball days in a long time. Not only was Angels prospect Mike Trout (20) making his season debut against Cleveland, but Bryce Harper, the Nationals prospect and teen-wonder at only nineteen also made his highly anticipated major league debut against the Dodgers. Amazingly, two of Baseball America’s top three prospects debuted on the same day. Harper’s first and second at-bats were a couple to forget, but his third was one to remember. He roped a hard line drive over Matt Kemp’s head in center for a stand-up double. Trout’s debut was nothing special, but after hitting .408 in the minors this year he’s bound to get it going. Read the rest of this entry

Gregg Olson Interview: Talking Ball with One of the Greatest Closers in MLB History

Friday April 6th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: As a big fan of baseball cards growing up (weren’t we all), one of my favorite memories was opening up my first pack of 1989 Donruss. For those of you that never saw that particular baseball card set, it is longer considered one of the ugliest cards of all time. The choice of colors was interesting to say the least. But for those that grew up with it, the cards were beautiful to us and we loved it! In that first pack of cards, I got a Gregg Olson “rated rookie”. The set featured many great rookie cards, including Griffey, Sheffield and Tom Gordon. But the Olson was my fave. The close-up on his wind-up. The intense competitor’s face. That card was forever burned in my mind. I became a huge Gregg Olson fan and watched his career from his MLB debut in 1988 and ROY season to follow in 1989. It all started though from that first pack of baseball cards. Thank you Donruss…wherever you are…

Being based in Toronto, I had the pleasure of watching Gregg Olson pitch on many occasions as a member of those Baltimore Orioles squads. From 1989-1993, Gregg rang up 160 saves in one of the dominant runs I had ever seen from a MLB closer.  The most saves at the time for a closer under 27-years of age. In 1989, Gregg won the AL Rookie of the Year award and finished 6th in CY Young voting. He was named an AL All-Star in 1990 (the only All-Star game nod in his career). Elbow issues unfortunately set back his career and Gregg did not get the chance to jump back into the closer’s role in 1998, while a member of the Diamondbacks. After 14 years in the big leagues and 217 career saves, Gregg Olson had a career that most players could only dream of. Had things played out differently health-wise, we would have seen him in Cooperstown one day, along with the other top closers of the modern-day, including Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera.

Known for his fastball and devastating curveball nicknamed “Uncle Charlie”, Gregg Olson was as good as they get in his prime. It was very difficult in my mind to see him outside of a Baltimore Orioles jersey, but so goes the business of baseball. Gregg ended up playing for 9 major league teams, with a playoff appearance with the aforementioned Diamondbacks coming in 1999. Today on MLB reports, we had a chance to catch up with the Baltimore Orioles Hall-of-Fame pitcher and talk some great baseball. Gregg was at home watching the Masters, but was kind enough to take some time for us. Following his retirement, Gregg Olson has been one busy cat. A Scout for the San Diego Padres. Published Author of the baseball book “We Got to Play Baseball”. Part Owner and President of “Toolshed Sports“- a leading manufacturer of high performance undergear. Gregg has his hands in many facets of the game of baseball! He spoke to us about all parts of his career, from getting drafted and playing with the Orioles to his current ventures and roles (and everything in-between). Gregg is a great personality to speak with. He is funny, sarcastic and extremely knowledgeable. He tells it like it us and doesn’t hold back. Much like the dominant closer in the 9th inning that went straight after top hitters in tight ballgames- Gregg Olson approaches life with the same vigour and intensity. One of my personal favorite baseball players of all-time, baseball fans are in for a treat as I spoke exclusively one-on-one with one of the greatest closers in MLB history.  Today on MLB reports, I am proud to feature my conversation with the one and only, Gregg Olson:


Welcome to MLB reports Gregg.  First question: A 1st round pick (4th overall) in 1988.  Did you expect to go that high in the draft? Did you always know you would be heading to Baltimore?

I actually did. I was told that it was down to Andy Benes and myself for the 1st pick, so it was going to be 1-5. Baltimore wanted me- so it was either going to be San Diego or Baltimore.


It didn’t take you many games- only a handful until reaching the majors in 1988.  How did you get the call? Tell us about that experience.

I really don’t remember how I was told. I had it in my contract that I would be there by September 1st. So it wasn’t a surprise. I do remember flying from Charlotte to Seattle with Curt Schilling (my roomie) for our first trip as big leaguers. Read the rest of this entry

Carlos Beltran to the Giants: Mets Likely to Trade Slugger to San Fran

Tuesday July 19, 2011

 

MLB reports:   The MLB rumor mill is working overtime as the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31st quickly approaches.  With less than two weeks to go, the speculation is heating up as to which players will be changing uniforms.  Francisco Rodriguez is already a Brewer and Jeff Keppinger was just traded to the Giants.  But rumors persist that the Mets and Giants are not finished with their activity.  With both superstars Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran eligible for free agency at the end of the season, talk is that one or both players will be moved out of New York.  With the possibility of the Mets trying to retain Reyes, the most likely scenario is Carlos Beltran changing addresses.  At the center of the speculation is the San Francisco Giants.  The defending World Series champions have been simply atrocious this year offensively.  With their cleanup hitter Buster Posey out for the season, the team cannot afford to miss out on the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes. 

The Giants were very fortunate to win the World Series last year.  The playoffs are a tough road and requires the perseverance normally of a balanced team to make it to the end.  The Giants, while solid in the pitching department, were essentially using smoke and mirrors to score runs last year.  The team relied on the likes of Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross and Freddy Sanchez on offense.  While useful role players, these players are not the big sluggers that are supposed to win championships.  Now with Buster Posey out, the Giants are forced to rely on Eli Whiteside, Miguel Tejada, Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell and company to score the team’s runs.  Possessing one of the best, if not the best pitching staff in baseball, the Giants can ill-afford to limit itself offensively and essentially waste such strong pitching.  To defend its championship, the Giants will have no choice but to beef up their offense.

Carlos Beltran has been one of the most consistent hitters in the game over the course of his career.  Taking a look at his numbers, we see a consistently high level of production:

Year Tm AB R H HR RBI SB BA
1998 KCR 58 12 16 0 7 3 .276
1999 KCR 663 112 194 22 108 27 .293
2000 KCR 372 49 92 7 44 13 .247
2001 KCR 617 106 189 24 101 31 .306
2002 KCR 637 114 174 29 105 35 .273
2003 KCR 521 102 160 26 100 41 .307
2004 TOT 599 121 160 38 104 42 .267
2004 KCR 266 51 74 15 51 14 .278
2004 HOU 333 70 86 23 53 28 .258
2005 NYM 582 83 155 16 78 17 .266
2006 NYM 510 127 140 41 116 18 .275
2007 NYM 554 93 153 33 112 23 .276
2008 NYM 606 116 172 27 112 25 .284
2009 NYM 308 50 100 10 48 11 .325
2010 NYM 220 21 56 7 27 3 .255
2011 NYM 328 54 94 14 59 3 .287
14 Seasons 6575 1160 1855 294 1121 292 .282
162 Game Avg. 621 110 175 28 106 28 .282
               
KCR (7 yrs) 3134 546 899 123 516 164 .287
NYM (7 yrs) 3108 544 870 148 552 100 .280
HOU (1 yr) 333 70 86 23 53 28 .258
               
NL (8 yrs) 3441 614 956 171 605 128 .278
AL (7 yrs) 3134 546 899 123 516 164 .287
 
 

His resume speaks for itself.  Beltran is a 1999 AL Rookie of the Year.  He has won four Gold Gloves for his defensive work in the outfield.  He won two silver slugger awards.  A lifetime .282 AVG, .360 OBP and .495 SLG.  In 2004 he hit the magical 30/30 mark (30 home runs, 30 stolen bases), and was actually two home runs short of 40/40.  For the most part, Beltran in his prime could do it all.  Hit home runs, hit for average, steal bases, catch and throw the ball like few players could.  One of the few true five-tool players in the game.  The aberrations we find in Beltran’s statistics were the last two years.  Due to various injuries, particularly knee woes, Carlos Beltran was forced to miss much of the last two seasons and saw his production sharply decline.  Now healthy and extremely motivated, Beltran has come back in a big way. 

Beltran played in his sixth All-Star game this year in Arizona.  While he rarely steals bases these days, the rest of Beltran’s game has returned as shown by his numbers.  The only issue surrounding Beltran is whether his knee will hold up for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.  From there, a team will need to determine his long-term health and abilities in awarding him a free agent contract.  But from all indications, Beltran is a player that can still play ball at the highest level when healthy.  An ideal fit for the Giants that lineup that desperately needs run production. 

How bad has the Giants offense been in 2011?  Going into tonight, the Giants as a team are hitting .243, with a .309 OBP and .363 SLG.  The team has collectively hit 63 home runs and scored 356 runs.  Yet somehow the team continues to sit in first place in the NL West, 3.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks.  If not for Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Brian Wilson and the rest of the Giants pitching staff, the Giants would be in the basement of the division.  The run of the Giants over the past two seasons has been incredible, but clearly linked to its pitching.  To support its pitchers and put runs on the board, the Giants have to step up and beef up its offense.  While Jeff Keppinger is a useful player, he will not be enough to get the job done.  Rather, the Giants need to acquire a bomber, the way the Cardinals acquired Matt Holliday a couple of years ago in their playoff run.  Or closer to home, when the Astros acquired Carlos Beltran in 2004.  Beltran hit an incredible 8 home runs during the Astros playoff drive that year.  Coincidentally, Beltran was an impending free agent that year as well.  Fast forward to 2011 and the very same Carlos Beltran is available.  Having a fantastic campaign, Beltran in 2011 has hit .287 to-date, with 14 home runs, league leading 28 doubles, with a .381 OBP and .512 SLG.  Again during a free agency year.  Definite playoff calibre numbers and a perfect fit out west in San Francisco.

The Giants and Carlos Beltran are well suited for one another.  San Francisco needs a strong cleanup hitter.   Carlos Beltran wants to compete for a World Series championship and boost his free agency stock for one more prime contract.  The odds of getting a ring don’t get any better than joining the defending world champions.  Some experts have speculated that Beltran may not waive his no-trade protection to join the Giants.  I am not buying that theory.  The Giants are a terrific organization to play for, with highly regarded management, a fantastic ballpark in a beautiful city, and are one of baseball’s most historical and treasured teams.  Beltran would look fantastic in a Giants uniform.  What better way to showcase his abilities and earn his last free agency contract than by playing for a contender and fighting for a World Series championship.

Remember 1994, the year that Beltran was traded from Kansas City to Houston and played like a man possessed in nearly single-handedly leading the Astros to the World Series.  That performance, combined with his numbers to-date, earned Beltran that off-season a 7-year, $119 million contract from the Mets.  Now Beltran is on the cusp of free agency again and has the potential to “earn his pay” so to speak with the Giants in the same manner that he did with the Astros in 1994.  With Scott Boras as his agent, Beltran will surely receive the advice that playoff performance equals free agency dollars.   

The Giants will have a choice in making a pitch to the Mets for Carlos Beltran.  They will either have to absorb the majority of the contract and provide fairly decent prospects, or have the Mets absorb a large chunk of money and offer 1-2 elite prospects in return.  The Giants are well stocked in the minors and have excellent pitching at the major league level.  The Mets may request Jonathan Sanchez off the major league roster or a combination of minor leaguers from the farm.  Outfielder Thomas Neal and pitcher Zack Wheeler could be on the Mets wish-list.  Or perhaps the Giants will be able to give up a package of lower level prospects and not lose their top prospects and major league level.  The decision will boil down to the money involved and players offered by other teams in trade packages.

At the end of the day, much like the Yankees must acquire Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies (see our recent feature), the Giants have no choice but to trade for Carlos Beltran.  The Yankees cannot afford to waste their superior offense without enough top-level pitching and the Giants in turn, need to surround their talented pitching staff with consistent run production.  It is a lot of pressure to have a team win 2-1, 3-1 games night-in and night-out.  Carlos Beltran has proven that he can carry a team on his back when he is on his game.  Well, in 2011 he is definitely playing at his highest level in years.  Beltran needs the Giants for his next contract and a chance for a ring, while the Giants need his bat and glove to increase their chances of a championship.  The perfect marriage, expect Beltran to be a Giant by the end of July.  This acquisition makes too much sense for the Giants and Brian Sabean will continue to stock his team on route to a possible back-to-back World Series run for the Giants.  Carlos Beltran to the Giants.  Not a question of if, just a question of when.

 

 

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