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30 MLB Team Power Rankings: Week 11 MLB 2014

battle of the bay

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer): 

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Well, another few weeks have gone by, and there has been some separation from all the Divisions and the 2nd place squads, except for the NL East dogfight right now between the Nats and Braves.

9 teams are within the top 2 Wild Card Slots in the AL, with the Angels and Mariners holding onto the 1st and 2nd spots respectively.

Preseason NL favorites Los Angeles joins the reigning NL champs ‘The Cards’ at 0.5 Games behind the playoff bar – constituting either Atlanta or Washington (presently in a dead heat) – and the upstart Marlins. 

The Reds, Rockies and Pirates are within striking distance as well, but look for the Dodgers and Cardinals to take off from here, leaving the current Division leaders and those 2 as the 5 playoff teams.

Arizona and Houston have at least jumped into the conversation with recent good stretches of play, after brutal starts.

*** Denotes Division Leaders

Records are before play Monday June 9, 2014

RK Team  Current Rec  Last Wk Rnk  ()  -  Last 13 Days Rec

***1. SF 42 – 21: (1) 9 – 3:  Must be an even year in the teens of this century.  The offense has a different hero everyday.

Playing .667 ball this late into the year bodes well.  9.5 Games ahead of next club in your Division also will land you as slot #1.

***2. OAK 39 – 24: (2) 8 – 4: Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson both towers of strength and Sean Doolittle is the best Closer no one has heard about 40+SO/1 BB rate is sick.

Billy Beane continues to find gems like Drew Pomeranz, Jesse Chavez – and Kyle Blanks has fitted in well.

The team could still trade for a 2B that can hit, or bring up Billy Burns, flip Jed Lowrie over to 2B.

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With Moore Out For TJ Surgery – The Rays Should Hold Onto Price Through 2015

Matt Moore finished 17 - 4 with a 3.29 ERA in 2013, but was off to an even better start in the 1st half before he had some elbow soreness.  Losing this LHP will hurt the club, however the team was deep with Price, Archer and Cobb still manning the 1 - 3 slots in the rotation.  That was, until Cobb went down with an injury himself.  With the teams projected #2 Starter being down for the next 12 - 18 months from his very best, the franchise should not trade Price at any cost.

Matt Moore finished 17 – 4 with a 3.29 ERA in 2013, but was off to an even better start in the 1st half before he had some elbow soreness. Losing this LHP to TJ Surgery hurts the club, however the team was deep with Price, Archer and Cobb still manning the 1 – 3 slots in the rotation. That was, until Cobb went down with an injury himself.  The squad will have to weather the storm for a few months with some organizational players that might include the players: Erik Bedard, Nate Karns or Cesar Ramos. With the teams projected #2 Starter being down for the next 12 – 18 months from his very best, the franchise should not trade Price at any cost in 2014 and 2015..  Moore is under Team Control through the 2019 year, and when he comes back to the fold at 100% in 2015, hopefully the Rays will be vying for another postseason berth in the second half.

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

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Lets face it.  The Tampa Bay Rays have had an incredible run at it.  The Florida squad trails only the Yankees for wins since the start of the 2008 season in baseball.

The club has made it to the postseason 4 out of the last 6 years, and possess 5 out of 6 years with 90+ Wins.

All of this with a shoestring budget, and incredible use of stretching dollars on player talent.

Every year, Andrew Freidman finds a bargain Free Agent that becomes an ALL – Star once he dawns the blue and purple. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Player Profile: How Valuable Has Ben Zobrist Been To The Rays?

Ben Zobrist has quietly tuned into one of the best all around players in the game.  He has finished in the top for WAR in 3 of the 4 years - including 1st in 2011 and 2nd in 2009.  . Zobrist who continues this season with his musical chairs role on the team has not let his bat cool down ays fans need not worry this early. With only 10 games played in the young season now is not the time to start throwing in the towel and saying that GM Andrew Friedman and his staff have lost their touch.

Ben Zobrist has quietly tuned into one of the best all around players in the game of baseball. He has finished in the top for WAR in 3 of the last 5years – including 1st in 2011 and 2nd in 2009.  Zobrist, 32,  who continued this season with his musical chairs defensive role on the team this year, has two years left on his current contract, and will be a Free Agent at the end of the 2015 season.  It was the summer of 2006, that the brass traded Aubrey Huff for the young player.  Zobrist has played 1500+ Innings in 4 different defensive positions for the franchise (SS/2B/RF/LF – and it helps Joe Maddon bring in favorable platoon matchups for several other lineup spots).  He has a career 3 Slash of .263/.354/.789 in 8 seasons for Tampa.

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

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Picture how bad the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were when the Houston Astros traded Ben Zobrist with Mitch Talbot to the Tampa Bay Rays for Aubrey Huff and cash on July.12/2006.

The team was in the 8th season out of 9 years of under .500 ball.  The guy he was traded for had great offensive acumen, and was the franchise leader in several career categories as he departed the door.

Zobrist had an auspicious beginning with the Rays, struggling during the 2006 – 2007 years.  His OPS numbers for those years were .572 and .391 respectively.

Joe Maddon was not as worried as others were about the 6th Round Drat Pick of the Houston Astros back in 2004,because the guy would be a Maddon type of player.

Ben Zobrist 2 Part Interview

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Soriano Has Led The Resurgent “Bombers” – ARod’s Pending Suspension – Best Get Out Of Jail Card Ever + Reynolds Signing

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Thursday Aug.15/2013

Alfonso Soriano has given the Yankees team an infusion of power that they have not seen from the Right Handed hitting players in their lineup since Vernon Wells took off in April. The LF destroyed the Angels for 4 HRS and 13 RBI on Tuesday and Wednesday combined While Cashman never liked this idea to bring back the Veteran, I called for it all the way back in April. The offense has gone back to being the Bronx Bombers, putting up 36 Runs in their last 5 Games, among a 4 - 1 record.  In 18 Games for his return to NY, the 37 Year Old has a 3 Slash Line of .296/.324/.944 - with 7 HRs, 22 RBI and 17 Runs scored.

Alfonso Soriano has given the Yankees team an infusion of power that they have not seen from the Right Handed hitting players in their lineup since Vernon Wells took off in April. The LF destroyed the Angels for 4 HRS and 13 RBI on Tuesday and Wednesday combined. While Cashman never liked this idea to bring back the Veteran, I called for it all the way back in April. The offense has gone back to being the Bronx Bombers, putting up 36 Runs in their last 5 Games, among a 4 – 1 record. In 18 Games for his return to NY, the 37 Year Old has a 3 Slash Line of .296/.324/.944 – with 7 HRs, 22 RBI and 17 Runs scored. –Photo courtesy of faniq.com.

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

Sometimes as writers we prognosticate things that end up panning out, other times our predictions are lit up bigger than a New York Dumpster Fire in the brunt of summer.

Back when Curtis Granderson was 1st hurt this year, I wrote an article on the options for the Yankees to replace him – check it out here.

I stated that I thought Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano would be good additions for the year – considering where the Yankees wanted to go during Mariano Rivera‘s last season.

Alfonso Soriano Grand Slam 8/14/2013

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Who Owned Baseball Yesterday (July.24th) – Updated Yearly ‘WOB’ Standings

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Tim Hudson was pitching a shutout into the 8th inning before his ankle was broken and his career was put in jeopardy. He wound up getting career win 205 in what could be his last game, an 8-2 win over the Mets.

Nate Schierholtz went 3-6 with a homer, 5 RBI and the go ahead 12th inning double that propelled the Cubs over the Diamondbacks, 7-6.

Eric Hosmer hit a pair of homers including a 2 run game winning shot. His slugging helped set up Kansas City’s 4-3 walk off victory against Baltimore.

David Price needed only 97 pitches to throw a complete game against the Red Sox, letting up only one run and walking none. The Rays won 5-1, moving just 1/2 a game out of first place.

They all owned baseball on July 24th, 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

MLB Player Profile: Indians OF/1B/DH Nick Swisher

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Tuesday January 22nd, 2013

Nick Swisher has a Career 3 Slash Line of .256/.361/.828.  His numbers were better over the last 4 years with the Yankees .268/.367/.850.

Nick Swisher has a Career 3 Slash Line of .256/.361/.828 heading into 2013. His numbers are even  better over the last 4 years with the Yankees – .268/.367/.850.  If you are an Indians fan – you can probably bank on a decent Batting Average, a nice OBP and 25-30 HRs and 80-90 RBI per year from him.  He also can play 3 different positions for you at 1B/OF/DH.

By Larry Myers (Indians Correspondent)

Nick Swisher is the latest free agent player the Cleveland Indians have signed this off-season. Nick Swisher is the son of former MLB catcher Steve Swisher, who played for a few National League teams back in the 1970′s and 1980′s. Swisher was born in Columbus, Ohio, but grew up in West Virginia. Before his professional career, Swisher played college football for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 2002 MLB Draft, Swisher finally made his MLB debut with the Athletics in 2004.

During the 2004 season, Swisher played in only 20 games. In 2005, Swisher went on to hit 21 HRs and 74 RBI in 131 games. He finished 6th in the American League Rookie Of The Year Voting. During his 4 years in Oakland, Swisher hit 80 home runs and 255 RBI – while playing in 458 games. Not known as a player with a high average, he became a leader on a young Athletics teams. Swisher showed a great amount of durability during his time in Oakland compared to his teammates who spent a large portion of time on the Disabled List. Swisher made his Post Season debut in 2006. While sweeping the Twins, Swisher got 3 hits and an RBI in that series. Losing to the Tigers in the ALCS, Swisher hit .100 with only 1 hit.

One On One Interview with Nick Swisher Jan.03/2013 (Sports Time Ohio):

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The Tampa Bay Rays: The Pitchers 1998-2012: Part 3 Of A 5 Part Article Series

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Friday, December.28, 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 section here.

James Shields ALL-Time so far. David Price may not take very long to surpass all of is Franchise Records James Shields has been the teams best chucker of ALL-Time so far. David Price may not take very long to surpass all of his Franchise Records with Shields heading to KC  now

James Shields  enjoys most of the Teams  ALL-Time Pitching Records so far.  David Price may not take very long to surpass all of his Franchise Records with Shields heading to KC now.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner):

The Rays had several lean years of pitching before a starter really made his mark.  Out of the gate, Roberto Hernandez had helped the team with closing at least.  In the early years, the best pitching was done by Rolando Arrojo, followed by Victor Zambrano, before he was traded for Scott Kazmir.  The Mets/Rays trade was the foundation for the pitching staff finally evolving.  Soon James Shields was up with the big club.  In 2008, the teams 5 starters towed the hill for all season in what would be an eventual World Series Birth.  Newly acquired Matt Garza, joined Shields, Kazmir, Edwin Jackson and Andy Sonnanstine for double-digit wins and winning records.

David Price was next to join the staff in 2009 and he has not looked back since. Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore joined the pitching staff in the next few years after that.  The stable of bullpen relievers keeps coming and going. J.P. Howell has been the biggest mainstay there.  Even with departing starters of Davis and (the Franchise Leader in several pitching categories) Shields, the team is not bare at the kitchen cupboard.  The Rays finished 1st in Team Pitching ERA last year for all of the MLB.  The next closest team in the AL was the Oakland – at almost a third of a run more. 

The Rays have been blessed with some great years recently out of lower salaried closers.  Whether it was Troy Percival, Kyle Farnsworth, Rafael Soriano or Fernando Rodney, Andrew Friedman has had a knack for gluing together a bullpen on a  shoestring budget.  With David Price winning the Cy Young Award in 2012, the best pitching may be yet to come for the AL East Team.  Honorable Mentions went to these players, but they were not the same caliber as everyone else:  Esteban Yan, Andy Sonnanstine, Kyle Farnsworth  SP/RP  Rick White RP  Lance Cormier and RP Jim Mecir.

Scroll Down past the Franchise Links for the Pitchers or click on the Read The Rest Of This Entry Icon just past the Video Clip.

Franchise Series Links:

Franchise History: The Tampa Bay Rays: The Franchise 1998-2012: Part 1 Of A 5 Part Article Series

The Hitters  The Tampa Bay Rays: The Hitters 1998-2012: Part 2 Of A 5 Part Article Series

2013 Team Payroll Part 4 of 5:  Tampa Bay Rays Payroll 2013 And Contracts Going Forward: Updated for Myers Trade Dec.11/2012

Tropicana Field Expert Part 5 of 5:  An Interview with Tropicana Field Expert Kurt Smith

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The Tampa Bay Rays: The Hitters 1998-2012: Part 2 Of A 5 Part Article Series

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Friday, December.21, 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 section here.

Carl Crawford Leads as the ALL-Time Club Record Holder in most offensive categories.  Will Evan Longoria run him down..or will the club trade him?

Carl Crawford Leads as the ALL-Time Club Record Holder in most offensive categories. Will Evan Longoria run him down for all of the team records..or will the club trade him in a few years when his contract escalates in pay?

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner):

The Rays have only been around for 15 years, however they have seen their share of talent grace the club.  In their inaugural year, the club signed Free Agents Fred McGriff and Wade Boggs.  A few years later when Boggs retired, they added Vinny Castilla, Jose Canseco and Greg Vaughn all to the club.  This movement did not work out.  It was the drafted talent of the club that started to surface in the early 2000′s.  Aubrey Huff and Carl Crawford emerged as AL offensive threats.  Other picks like Rocco Baldelli, Jorge Cantu and Jonny Gomes started out on fire, yet quickly flamed out.  The club saw other guys come and go before the 2007 started to show what the team was really capable of.  Carlos Pena gave them a bonafide HR guy.  Soon Evan Longoria was called up to the Major Leagues and the club featured one of the best attacks in all of Major League Baseball.

The offense has suffered a bit of a drop-off in the last few years, but newly acquired Wil Myers is one of the best offensive prospects in the game of baseball.  Longoria is signed through 2023 and Ben Zobrist is a great all-around offensive talent signed for the next 3 seasons.  While the team will still be predominantly based with great pitching, the club should see some well-rounded offensive players. 

Tropicana Field is one of the harder places to put up great numbers, so we will see what the future holds.  We must look at the past.  In these Series I have been doing for the teams, a lot of criteria had to be met to be included in the Franchises best hitters or pitchers.  Obviously with a 15 Year Old team, the stakes are not raised as high.  I still looked for significant contributions to the team.  Of course if anyone ever leads the American League in any category, that is usually grounds for inclusion.

Franchise Series Article Links:

The Tampa Bay Rays: The Franchise 1998-2012: Part 1 Of A 5 Part Article Series

The Pitchers:  The Tampa Bay Rays: The Pitchers 1998-2012: Part 3 Of A 5 Part Article Series

2013 Team Payroll Part 4:  Tampa Bay Rays Payroll 2013 And Contracts Going Forward: Updated for Myers Trade Dec.11/2012

Tropicana Field Expert:  An Interview with Tropicana Field Expert Kurt Smith

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The Tampa Bay Rays: The Franchise 1998-2012: Part 1 Of A 5 Part Article Series

Thursday, December.20, 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 section here.

The many Rays Logo's over the years.  Is the best of this franchise yet tom come

The many Rays Logo’s over the years. Is the best of this franchise yet to come?

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner):

The Tampa Bay Rays Franchise can be summarized into two different categories:  “The Devil Rays Days” and the “Rays Days.”  The Devil Rays endured 10 straight losing seasons to start the club’s history.  From 1998-2007, was a complete gong show (645-972) and last place finishes in a tough AL East every year, except for 2004, when they finished 4th, although they did stockpile several top Draft Picks based on their horrid regular seasons.  In 2008, all of that changed when the ‘Devil’ was literally and figuratively knocked away from the Tampa Bay team.  Their young stars finally saw their potential realized and they appeared in the 2008 World Series versus the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Franchise would lose in 5 hard-fought, weather fulfilled games, however the team was now one of the model clubs in baseball.  From 2008-2012, the club has gone 458-352.

The Rays have made the playoffs in 2010 and 2011 since, plus featured two other over .500 records in 2009 and 2012.  The club has now had 5 winning seasons in a row.  There is still a long way to go as they feature the worst winning percentage in MLB History, with a 1103-1327 Franchise Record (.454).  The next worst team is the Padres at .463.  The Arizona DiamondBacks were the NL Expansion cousins of the Rays and they feature a Win Percentage of (.498), which is second overall for the Expansion teams.  The Arizona DiamondBacks also have made the playoffs 5 times and won the World Series in 2001.  Still if you asked anyone right now, the Rays would gladly be the team everyone picked.

Franchise Series Links:

The Hitters:  The Tampa Bay Rays: The Hitters 1998-2012: Part 2 Of A 5 Part Article Series

The Pitchers:  The Tampa Bay Rays: The Pitchers 1998-2012: Part 3 Of A 5 Part Article Series

2013 Team Payroll:  Tampa Bay Rays Payroll 2013 And Contracts Going Forward: Updated for Myers Trade Dec.11/2012

Tropicana Field Expert:  An Interview with Tropicana Field Expert Kurt Smith

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Philadelphia Phillies: Brotherly Love and the Upton Brothers

Saturday November 3rd, 2012

 

Can Phillies Phans fathom having these big-league-brothers manning the outfield at Citizen’s Bank Park?

Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer):  Both B.J. Upton and his younger brother Justin will be available this offseason.  Bossman Junior (B.J.) will be a top centerfield free agent option, and Justin signed a lucrative 6-year deal just two years ago, is widely known to be on the trading block from Arizona.  The Upton brothers are the two highest drafted brothers in sports history.  B.J. was a second overall pick in 2002 and Justin, the first overall pick of the 2005 draft.  They have both had ups and downs in their young careers, but both have performed extremely well and shown glimpses of brilliance.  Justin has already cashed in on his first big major league contract, and B.J. is looking to so this offseason.  Where B.J. will sign, we will find out over the next months.  But one thing that is clear…he makes since for just about any team out there.

The Philadelphia Phillies are one of those teams that could envision B.J. Upton gracefully patrolling centerfield for 162 games.  As a premier center fielder facing free agency, B.J. as become far too expensive a commodity for the Rays to retain going forward.  He plays top-notch defense in centerfield and has a cannon for an arm.  All he did in 2012 as 27-year-old (in his 8th year in the MLB) was hit 29 doubles, 28 home runs and steal 31 bags.  Yes, with this amazing tool set that combines defense with speed and power comes a lifetime .255 batting average and about 150 strikeouts a year.  There are weaknesses in every player’s game, but B.J. Upton’s strengths make him a very attractive target for any team that doesn’t have Joe DiMaggio manning centerfield.

There is no doubt that B.J.’s speed and power will fit very nicely into the Phillies lineup along with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard.  We have to also consider what it is going to take to get B.J. signed to a contract.  Right now, we know that the Tampa Bay Rays have offered B.J. a qualifying offer.  While the chances of B.J. agreeing to this are virtually ‘zero’, it does mean that whoever signs B.J. is going to have to sacrifice their first round draft pick next year to Tampa.  For a team like Philadelphia that can afford to sign top free agents, giving up a top prospect is an acceptable part of doing business. Read the rest of this entry

The Philadelphia Phillies Franchise Part 2 of 4: The Hitters

Friday August.24/2012

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): -The Phillies have had an incredible run in the last decade of baseball.  Most of that time has been spent at Citizens Bank Ball Park which is a very hitter-friendly park.  The management was smart enough to draft a whole bunch of offensive talent like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Pat Burrell, Scott Rolen, Jimmy Rollins and even J.D Drew(who never signed in 1997 with the Phillies and went back into the 1998 draft.)  They also traded Scott Rolen for Placido Polanco.  These guys have all taken advantage of the new baseball cathedral.  Ryan Howard leads all active players in HRs per AB in the Major Leagues with hitting a HR per just a little over 13 AB.  There is still a long way to go to chase down Michael Jack Schmidt.  His 548 Career HRs and 1595 RBI  lead the ALL-Time totals on the Phillies by quite a big margin.

Criteria for being put on this list was quite simple.  You had to be a player of significance on the Franchise.   Great watermarks are: 1000 hits, 100 HRs, 1000 games, if you led the league in any category for a few seasons or batted .285 or higher for the duration of your time.  This is what I was looking for to include the players on the list.  It has taken me a lengthy period of time to siphon through 130 years of baseball to bring you this list.  From Ed Delahanty and Billy Hamilton, to Richie Ashburn and Dick Allen, to Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinki, to Von Hayes, to John Kruk and Lenny Dykstra, to Bobby Abreu and Scott Rolen-to finally get us to the gentlemen aforementioned in the first paragraph.  I want this study to be as interactive as I can with the readers.  If you feel that there is someone worthy of being included in the list for hitters, please feel free to comment or send me an email to booth7629@gmail.com.  I would be glad to edit this post and add to it.  After all, if you are reading this, chances are you are a Phillies fan, I am just a baseball historian.

For Part 1 of The 4 Part Phillies Article Series:  The Franchise- click here

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

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

Ryan Howard Highlight reel

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The Truth Behind Jason Hammel’s Amazing Start

Monday May 14th, 2012

Sam Evans:When MLB Reports first wrote about the Rockies/Orioles trade that sent Rockies’ pitcher’s Matt Lindstrom and Jason Hammel to Baltimore in exchange for Jeremy Guthrie, the Orioles seemed like early candidates to come out ahead in this trade. It’s still too early to tell, but because of Hammel’s hot start, the Orioles look like they got a bargain deal. Hammel has been so impressive because of his new pitch and his superb strikeout-to-walk ratios. The Orioles are currently on top of the A.L. East with a 22-13 record, and they owe a lot of the credit for their success to Jason Hammel. Still, there are multiple reasons why they can’t expect Hammel to keep this up.

Coming up in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays system, Jason Hammel was considered a fairly decent pitching prospect. He stands six feet and six inches tall, and weighs roughly 215 pounds. However, when Hammel reached the majors in 2006, just four years since being drafted out of high school, he struggled mightily. In 2008, Hammel’s last year with the Rays, he had a 5.25 FIP. Eventually, the Rays decided that their younger pitching prospects deserved a spot in their rotation more than Hammel. As a result, Hammel was traded before the 2009 season to the Rockies for Aneury Rodriguez. In Colorado, Hammel improved as a pitcher, but he was never considered above-average. Read the rest of this entry

Are Fred McGriff and Larry Walker Heading to Cooperstown?

Sunday December 11th, 2011

Sam Evans: During the pinnacle of their careers, Fred McGriff and Larry Walker, each averaged over thirty home runs a year. Now, in their first couple years of eligibility, both players have shown promising signs that they are on their way to becoming Hall-of-Famers. However, I’m not quite sure if they both deserve it.

Larry Walker: Larry Walker was an amazing power-hitting outfielder from 1989 to 2005. He actually was a very solid defensive right fielder, considered one of the best in baseball history. Walker played for the Expos, Rockies, and Cardinals during his seventeen years in the majors.

Walker helped popularize the game back in his home country of Canada. He was the first Canadian ever to win the MVP in 1997. He hit .366 with 49 HR, 130 RBI,  and 33 stolen bases. When he retired in 2005, he had been nominated to five All-Star games, he won seven Gold Gloves, and Walker finished with 67.3 WAR, which is 67th all-time among position players.

Unfortunately, Walker also played during the height of the Steroid Era. We are learning more and more about these dangerous drugs as time passes, and we still can’t be positive who is using PED’s (See Ryan Braun announcement from today). It would not come as a big surprise to me if Walker was using PED’s in the 90′s. However, as great as it is to see a player that had a successful career without PED’s, (e.g. Ken Griffey Jr.), we have to remember that performance enhancing drugs were not banned back then. I am sure that the public suspicion that Walker was a steroid user though are hurting his Hall of Fame chances.

Another knock against Walker is that he never won a World Series. It is hard for voters to vote for a proclaimed winner, if they never won a championship. In 2011, Walker’s first year of eligibility, he received 20.3 of the BBWAA votes. The requirement is seventy-five percent, but overall, this was a strong first year showing for Walker.

If you look at Walker’s career as a whole, I’m pretty certain he will be considered a Hall-of-Famer. I really think Cooperstown though needs to redefine what being a hall of famer is all about. Is it about the impact players made on the game? Or what their numbers look like? The Hall-of-Fame has a lot more problems with its standards then I think most people realize.

Fred McGriff: McGriff is another top power hitter. McGriff holds the MLB record for homers in the most different stadiums with forty-two.

McGriff hit 493 homers in his career, good enough for 25th all-time. “Crime Dog” also finished with a .284 BA, and an average of 86 walks per 162 games. McGriff was nominated to five All-Star games and led the league in home runs twice. On the other hand, McGriff was not known as a great defensive first basemen. Also, he never really stayed with one team for an extended amount of time.

When looking at McGriff’s long career, the homers obviously stand out. He hit just as many homers as current HOF’er Lou Gehrig. Another highlight of McGriff’s nineteen year career was winning the World Series with the Braves in 1995.

McGriff will surely be named a Hall-of-Famer before his fifteen years are up. He played during an era where power was easy to find, and McGriff relied on his power to provide him with a lengthy career. However, 483 homers, and being tabbed “Baseball Superstar” in Tom Emanski’s infamous commercials is apparently enough for an election to Cooperstown.

McGriff is really a “push” candidate for the Hall-of-Fame. I’m not completely sure he will a fair chance to make it because of the era he played in. In 2010, McGriff received 21.5% of the BBWAA votes, and then in 2011, he took a step back only getting 17.9% of the votes.

For both of these players, writers are more reluctant to vote for them because of who the group they played with. As was evidenced with the Ryan Braun news, Americans have a very negative reaction to PED’s. We just want to enjoy baseball nostalgically, with”real” athletes that don’t need to cheat to succeed. The truth is, cheating is a huge part of the game. From corked bats to spitballs, this kind of thing has been going on for over a hundred years. The effects that PED’s have in the human body are devastating, and turning yourself into a superhuman should not be allowed in baseball. However, the era in which Larry Walker and Fred McGriff played in should not be the reason to keep them out of Cooperstown.  Both players should be judged on their numbers and performances, if that is possible.

***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 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.

What Is The Future Of The Tampa Bay Rays?

Wednesday November 30, 2011

Sam Evans: Ever since the Rays organization eliminated mistakes from their front office, and combined traditional scouting with advanced numbers, they have produced a winning baseball team in the hardest division in baseball. Unfortunately for the Rays, nobody in Tampa Bay noticed. The Rays have only finished in the top-ten in attendance in the AL twice in their fourteen years of existence. Tampa Bay has the ugliest ballpark in baseball, and now the only question is: How long will they be able to stay there?

What the Rays have done in the last five years is extremely impressive. They have won the division twice and won the wild card once in the last five years despite having the second-lowest payroll in all of baseball. The Rays have discovered market inefficiencies and taken advantage of them. For example, after the 2010 season, the Rays let their top relief pitchers leave in free agency, and they not only received draft compensation, but they easily replaced them in 2011. Also, signing young talented players to long-term deals has been a huge factor in their success. Overall, the Rays have found ways

The Rays have no reason to worry about their on-field product. The team is 368-260 in the last five years, and they show no signs of stopping their pace. They have more pitching depth than almost any other team in baseball, and Evan Longoria is signed through 2016 in what is one of the most team-friendly contracts in all of baseball. Despite having a winning ballclub for four straight years, the Rays are barely filling half of the stadium’s capacity per game.

Low attendances lead to a low payroll, and while the Rays would certainly like a larger payroll, they have still managed to be competitive within the AL East. The new CBA will hurt the teams with the lower payrolls around the league, but it will hit the Rays especially hard. They will no longer be able to take chances on international free agents for a low-cost and they will still be competing with the Red Sox and Yankees revenues.

The main contributor to the Rays low attendance has been the stadium. Tropicana Field is, by far, the worst stadium in baseball. It is the only domed stadium in baseball that is not retractable. The blueprint for the stadium was not well thought out, as evidenced in the catwalks that hang down from the ceiling. The bullpen is are almost nonexistent, and the interior design is the worst in baseball. Not to mention, the ballpark is not at the center of the city’s population unlike most other ballparks in baseball.

After the 2011 postseason, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said that he was disappointed about the future of baseball in Tampa Bay. That is a very bad sign for Rays fans. Sternberg is not a bad owner, and has shown dedication to making the Rays a more popular franchise in Tampa Bay. The Rays have tried everything to get fans to come to the ballpark, from Vuvezelas to a touch tank to a new enlarged scoreboard. Sadly, none of those techniques have worked to this day.

The Rays technically are signed through 2027 according to St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster. This contract that the Rays have with the city states that the Rays cannot enter discussions with other communities. However, with the right lawyer, the Rays would be able to escape this lease agreement. If the Rays can’t find a place to build a stadium in South Florida, then there are many cities that would love to host a Major League franchise. If the Rays are forced to move, then Las Vegas is the perfect fit. It is very sad to watch a team not be able to sell out a game in the ALDS.

I really feel bad for those devoted Rays fans. Living in Seattle, I had to go through the process of losing our hometown basketball team, the Sonics. It was a very similar situation where you could sort of sense the relocation coming. The stadium was not up to par, and the league was impatient. I’m not sure if baseball will ever thrive in Tampa Bay, but I am definitely rooting for this organization to find a way to boost attendances and keep their team in Tampa.

 ***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.

The Next MLB Commissioner: Who Will be Bud Selig’s Successor?

Wednesday November 2, 2011

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): Allan H. Selig, or Bud, as he is known around baseball, will go down in history as the commissioner of baseball during one of its darkest times. Bud took over as acting commissioner for Fay Vincent in September 1992, and was almost immediately embroiled in controversy. With the collective bargaining agreement due to expire after the 1993 season, Selig knew that an agreement between the MLBPA and MLB owners was vital. The owners voted to implement a salary cap, eliminate salary arbitration and free agency would begin after four years instead of six. The MLBPA said that while this would solve parity problems in baseball, it would not benefit the players whatsoever. August 12, 1994 was set as a strike date by the players’ association if an agreement was not reached on the new CBA. When that day came, the players walked off the job. By September 14th, when no agreement was reached, the World Series was cancelled by Selig.

It wasn’t until most of Spring Training in 1995 was completed (with replacement players) that Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction against the owners. On April 2nd, the strike was over, which had lasted 232 days. This caused the 1995 season to be 144 games, as opposed to the regular 162 games. Baseball attendance declined by 20% in 1995, and it took a long time for fans to recover. Fans never recovered in Montreal, where their payroll had to be slashed due to losses and eventually the MLB took ownership of the team. The team was eventually moved to Washington for the 2005 season.

In 1998, baseball fans flocked to the baseball stadiums to watch a race of historic proportions. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were blasting balls into the stratosphere at alarming rates, and Roger Maris’ single season record of 61 home runs was being challenged. McGwire ended up with 70 and Sosa hit 66 as America and the rest of the world watched in awe as these two larger than life men hit prodigious home runs. Two expansion teams, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks proceeded to join the MLB.

Home runs over the next few years continued to climb, as in 2001, when Barry Bonds then broke McGwire’s record with 73 home runs of his own. Steroids were allegedly running rampant in the MLB and there was no legitimate testing protocol. In 2005, Selig met with US Congress on the issue. Amphetamines were also on the table to be banned. By March 2006, Selig appointed Senator George Mitchell to investigate the usage of performance-enhancing drugs in the MLB. The Mitchell Report, a 409 page document, was released in December 2007 after a 21 month investigation. It released names of many high-profile baseball players who used PEDs.

Because of this report, stricter policing and testing of PEDs has been put in place, as well as very strict penalties if players are caught. Selig has taken flak over the years for not being more proactive in the matter, however, early in the “Steroid Era”, it would have been almost impossible to know how widespread steroid use was.

Selig brought in two expansion teams, brought the MLB out of a dark time after the strike, has improved MLB’s PED testing and punishment policies.  Most importantly, there has been labor peace for 17 years.

Bud Selig never wanted to be the full-time commissioner, but he had been voted unanimously in 1998 when the acting commissioner title was changed to commissioner. In January of 2008, Selig wanted to retire, but after the owners begged him to stay, he signed a 3-year extension. His current contract is set to expire after the 2012 season, about a year from now. He has been adamant that this will be the end of his tenure as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. He will be 78 years old. Since there has not been a search party constructed to find his successor, it can only be assumed that a short list has already been created, or the owners plan to attempt Bud to stay. Many have been on record of saying that they wish he would stay as commissioner for life.

Major League Baseball must at least entertain the notion that Selig will not be returning as commissioner, and thus, must include these people on their list of candidates:

Andy MacPhail
He has the lineage to succeed in this role. His father Lee was the GM and president of the Baltimore Orioles from 1958-1966. He then became president of the American League and is enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Andy’s grandfather, Larry, was a chief executive with the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees. It has been said he was one of the main driving forces of televising baseball games regularly as well as playing night games. Andy has 2 World Series rings as a GM with the Minnesota Twins, and was the president and CEO of the Chicago Cubs from 1994 to 2006, when he took a job as the President of Baseball Operations with the Baltimore Orioles. He recently stepped down from this role, and has been suggested as a man who could succeed as the commissioner. MacPhail understands the history of the MLB and the commissioner’s role, and has been involved in baseball in many different facets.

Tim Brosnan
Brosnan is currently serving as the Executive Vice President, Business of the MLB. He has been in this role since February of 2000. Tim’s roles with the MLB include licensing, broadcasting both domestically and internationally, and special events. Since the MLB is making every effort to grow globally, it should be noted that Brosnan began working in the Commissioner’s Office in 1991 as Vice President of International Business Affairs. His work internationally would include the many trips to Asia for teams, as well as directly working with the World Baseball Classic.

Derrick Hall

Derrick joined the Diamondbacks in May 2005 after working in the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers for many years.  In September 2006, Derrick was named President of the Diamondbacks and later added the title of  Chief Executive Officer in January 2009.

The Diamondbacks are very fortunate to have one of the most progressive and dynamic baseball leaders at their helm.  Derrick developed the “Circle of Success” mission statement, the foundation for the management of the Diamondbacks.  A true ambassador to the game, Derrick Hall is a tireless worker in promoting and developing baseball in Arizona.  Derrick is often mentioned by many baseball commentators as a candidate to succeed Bud Selig as Commissioner. 

Rob Manfred
Selig’s right hand man’s role is Executive Vice President, Labor Relations & Human Resources. His main roles are to keep the peace between MLB and MLBPA, as well as HR work with the Commissioner’s Office. 17 years of labor peace as a direct participant in two rounds of collective bargaining with the MLBPA make him a great candidate for the commissioner’s position. He has also represented teams in salary arbitration and has provided advice to teams on salary negotiations with players.

Sandy Alderson
The New York Mets GM could potentially leave his current post to fulfill this role next offseason. Alderson has a career path unlike any of the other men on this list due to the fact that he has worked not only as a general manager, but has spent significant time working with the commissioner. Billy Beane’s mentor first began working for the Oakland A’s in 1981, and was the GM from 1983 until 1997. He then worked in the Commissioner’s Office as the Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations for 7 years. Most recently, after being the CEO of the San Diego Padres from 2005 to 2009, he was a liaison for the commissioner to address the issues of corruption in baseball in the Dominican Republic. Alderson is also a chairman of MLB’s Playing Rules Committee.

While Selig has been most adamant that he will be retiring at the end of the 2012 season, I believe that, once again, he will be convinced to stay on as commissioner. It would be in the best interest of baseball if he were to stay on, with a protégé being in place to learn the ropes from him. With Selig at the helm, the MLB owners have been happy, the players’ union has been happy, and the best product is displayed on the field. Baseball has been more exciting than ever, and I think we all owe a big thanks to Mr. Selig for being a big part of that.

 

A big congratulation goes out to Tony La Russa. On October 31, 2011, he announced his retirement just days after managing the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title. La Russa will surely be a Hall of Famer after his 33 year managing career that saw him compile 2,728 wins with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals. His teams reached the playoffs 14 times, and he won 3 AL pennants with the A’s, winning one World Series title. He also won 3 NL pennants with the Cards, winning two more World Series. Tony won 3 Manager of the Year Awards in the American League, as well as one in the National League. La Russa will go down as one of the greatest managers in the history of the MLB, and he went out on top. Congratulations, Tony, for a great career.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  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 Rob 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 onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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