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Passing The Torch From Greatest MLB Player To Player During The Years 1979 – 2013: From Brett To Cabrera

Cabrera has had back to back AL MVP seasons in 2012 and 2013.  He has also won 3 straight AL Batting Titles.  Cabrera is the best player offensively in the universe.  He has put up 10 straight 100+ RBI campaigns, but he has racked in 276 RBI, and also 88 HRs.  The 11 Year Veterans totals would have even been higher in 2013, but he fought a torn groin for the last half of the year.

Cabrera has had back to back AL MVP seasons in 2012 and 2013. He has also won 3 straight AL Batting Titles. Cabrera is the best player offensively in the universe. He has put up 10 straight 100+ RBI campaigns, but he has racked in 276 RBI, and also 88 HRs – while featuring an OPS well north of 1.000. The 11 Year Veterans totals would have even been higher in 2013, but he fought a torn groin for the last half of the year.  The 8 time ALL – Star and 5 time Silver Slugger Award Winner has improved even greater on his totals over the last decade.  Cabrera has a Career 3 Slash Line of .321/.399/.967 – with 365 HRs and 1260 RBI in just 1660 Games Played.

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

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While watching Miguel Cabrera this year, I started thinking about the best players in the MLB over the last 33 years.  I am talking the best player of the game at any point of time. 

I tracked back to 1979 for this article.  I may expand further back in follow-up articles.  I didn’t rank defense as  highly as offense when I came up with the players. 

I agonized over players like Mike SchmidtJim Rice, Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken for some of the years given in specific time frames.  These gentlemen were given every consideration. 

In the end, we are talking about the best player in the game though and it is always subject to debate and personal opinion. 

The criteria had to involve leading the league in several different offensive and/or defensive categories, followed by routinely being in the top 7 in MVP balloting (if not taking home the honor), All-Star Appearances for every year I listed them for and most of them won silver sluggers and/or Gold Gloves as well.

Cabrera’s 3 HR Game – 2013

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Texas Rangers: Different Year Than 2012, Or Same Result?

Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, and Jurickson Profar are just a few of the great players up and down their roster. Last season they lost the American League West to the Oakland Athletics on the last day of the season. Will the same happen this season, or will their be a different result?

Yu Darvish, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, and Jurickson Profar are just a few of the great players up and down their roster. Last season they lost the American League West to the Oakland Athletics on the last day of the season. Will the same happen this season, or will their be a different result? With 25 Games left to play, and identical 79 – 58 records in the AL West, The A’s and the boys from Arlington are embattled in a tightly Division Race in 2013.

Ryan Ritchey (Featured Baseball Columnist): 

The 2012 season didn’t end as planned for the Texas Rangers. They had a five game lead over the Oakland Athletics in the American League West with nine games remaining and lost the division. It was crushing for the team and the fans.

Losing the division put them in a one game playoff with the Baltimore Orioles. Coming off the shock of losing the division, the Rangers lost to the Orioles 5-1 at home. 

Will this season be the same for the Rangers, or will there be a different result? Here are three reasons why it could be the same and three why it could be different…

Yu Darvish Dominates Diamondbacks with 14 K’s:

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Who Owned Baseball Yesterday (August.22nd) – Updated Yearly ‘WOB’ Standings

Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images

Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images

Chris Herrmann doubled home a run in the first and drove in the winning run in the 8th with another double. He finished 3-5 as the Twins beat the Tigers in Detroit, 7-6.

Jose Tabata went 3-4 with an RBI double, drove in 3 and scored a pair as the Pirates demolished the Giants, 10-5.

Jose Quintana pitched 7 strong innings, letting up only 4 hits, 1 walk and 3 runs, striking out 7. He didn’t get the decision but his strong start set up the White Sox 4-3 12th inning win against the fading Royals.

Mat Latos was wonderful over 8 innings, letting up 1 run and walking none, as the Reds snuck past the Diamondbacks, 2-1.

They all owned baseball on August 22, 2013.

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

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

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

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

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – July 25, 2013

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The names of the Joe Mauer Twins, why the Giants lousy month was a blessing in disguise and a salute to Tim Hudson.

Those topics and more on today’s episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

Eric Hosmer, Nate Schierholtz, David Price and Tim Hudson  all owned baseball on July 24, 2013.

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

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – July 25, 2013
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Can Cleveland Keep Pace in the Second Half?

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Sunday July 7th, 2013 

The Cleveland Indians are in second place in the American League Central 3.5 games back of the Detroit Tigers. Kipnis has come out of his shell and is leading the team in Hits, RBI, Average, and On Base Percentage. Kipnis will be an All-Star on July 16th at Citi Field. The pitching is below average ranked throughout the league but for them to keep pace with the Tigers in the second half they will have to pick it up and try to carry the team. Guys like Jimenez, Swisher, Bourn and Kazmir will have to have a great second half for the Indians to make the playoffs. As it sits right now the only way they will make the playoffs is by winning the American League Central and beating the Detroit Tigers.

The Cleveland Indians are in second place in the American League Central 3.5 games back of the Detroit Tigers. Jason Kipnis has come out of his shell and is leading the team in Hits, RBI, Average, and On Base Percentage. Kipnis will be an All-Star on July 16th at Citi Field. The pitching is below average ranked throughout the league but for them to keep pace with the Tigers in the second half they will have to pick it up and try to carry the team. Guys like Jimenez, Swisher, Bourn and Kazmir will have to have a great second half for the Indians to make the playoffs. As it sits right now the only way they will make the playoffs is by winning the American League Central and beating the Detroit Tigers.

By Ryan Ritchey (Baseball Writer): 

The Cleveland Indians are three games above .500 but are still 3.5 games behind the first place Detroit Tigers after losing the first two game of the series at home.

New manager Terry Francona has done a great job with this club but he still has a lot more to do in order for them to make the playoffs. 

Big names that have produced so far this season are Jason Kipnis and Justin Masterson.

Swisher came over to Cleveland this winter by signing a four-year $56 million contract. The contract includes a fifth year vesting option worth $14 million.

Swisher has given the team a huge boost with his personality but hasn’t produced as much as wanted on the field. Only having 30 RBI has really hurt this club as it has put a lot of pressure on other guys to perform. 

Cleveland Indians 2013 Preview- MLB Network: 

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More Minnesota Twins Trade Candidates

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 Wednesday July.03 /2013

Kevin Correia is, in my mind, the most likely Twin on the move. Not far behind are Morneau, Willingham, and Burton. Correia isn't the best Starting Pitcher on the market, but he is pitching well and has shown the same ability in the past. He was an All-Star for Pittsburgh in 2011. He has turned out to be a pretty good sign this off-season by the Minnesota.

Kevin Correia is, in my mind, the most likely Twin on the move. Not far behind are Morneau, Willingham, and Burton. Correia isn’t the best Starting Pitcher on the market, but he is pitching well and has shown the same ability in the past. He was an All-Star for Pittsburgh in 2011. He has turned out to be a pretty good sign this off-season by the Minnesota.

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

Our new ‘Lead Baseball Columnist’ Chris Lacey wrote about the Morneau and Willingham Trade Market yesterday here – and it had me thinking who else could be on the block – and my thoughts on those guys?

Much like the last article I wrote on the Chicago Cubs trade candidates, the Minnesota Twins will be in selling mode too as the 2013 trade deadline approaches.

With that being said, the Twins have less selling to do. Twins fans will remember they already did some of that this past offseason.

The Twins have a record of 36-44 just 7.5 Games Back of 1st place. However they are in 4th place only ahead of the Chicago White Sox, and it is my belief that is where they will end the 2013 season.

They won’t upgrade their Major League roster via trade this year, but they may add to the talent in their farm system which is growing to be pretty strong.

The Twins had the 4th ranked farm system at the start of the season according to Baseball Prospectus.

I’m not sure how much to trust the rankings because they have the Yankees ranked above the Red Sox which is laughable in my opinion, but my points stand, they are still in the rebuilding process and are doing well at it.

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The Most Recent No Hitter For Each Franchise

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Last season had a flurry of no hitters, ending with Homer Bailey‘s gem that eliminated the Pirates from contention.

This season has been filled with one near miss after another, including close calls from Yu Darvish and Anibal Sanchez. When would the first no hitter of 2013 be thrown?

I guess only Homer Bailey is allowed to throw no-nos now. He threw a gem with only one walk against the punchless Giants and joined the likes of Roy Halladay and Mark Buehrle as a pitcher with multiple no hitters.

Let’s take a look at each franchise’s most recent no hitter:

THE MOST RECENT NO HITTERS
FOR EACH FRANCHISE
CINCINNATI REDS
Homer Bailey – July 2, 2013.
3-0 over San Francisco.
SEATTLE MARINERS
Felix Hernandez – August 15, 2012.
1-0 over Rays. (Perfect Game)
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Matt Cain – June 13, 2012.
10-0 over Houston. (Perfect Game)
NEW YORK METS
Johan Santana – June 1, 2012
8-0 over St. Louis.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
Jered Weaver – May 2, 2012.
9-0 over Minnesota.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Philip Humber – April 21, 2012
4-0 over Seattle. (Perfect Game.)
DETROIT TIGERS
Justin Verlander – May 7, 2011.
9-0 over Toronto.
MINNESOTA TWINS
Francisco Liriano – May 3, 2011
1-0 over Chicago White Sox
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Roy Halladay – October 6, 2010
4-0 over Cincinnati. (Playoff Game)
TAMPA PAY RAYS
Matt Garza – July 26th, 2010
5-0 over Detroit.ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Edwin Jackson – June 25, 2010
1-0 over Tampa BayOAKLAND A’S
Dallas Braden – May 9, 2010
4-0 over Tampa Bay. (Perfect Game.)
COLORADO ROCKIES
Ubaldo Jimenez – April 17, 2010
4-0 over Atlanta.CHICAGO CUBS
Carlos Zambrano – September 14, 2008.
5-0 over Houston.
BOSTON RED SOX
Jon Lester – May 19, 2008.
7-0 over Kansas City.
FLORIDA MARLINS
Anibal Sanchez – September 6, 2006.
2-0 over Arizona.
HOUSTON ASTROS
Roy Oswalt, Peter Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner -
June 11, 2003.
8-0 over New York Yankees.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Bud Smith – September 3, 2001
4-0 over San Diego.
NEW YORK YANKEES
David Cone – July 18, 1999.
6-0 over Montreal. (Perfect Game.)
PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon – July 12, 1997.
3-0 over Houston. (10 innings.)
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Hideo Nomo – September 17, 1996.
9-0 over Colorado.
TEXAS RANGERS
Kenny Rogers – July 28, 1994.
4-0 over California. (Perfect Game.)ATLANTA BRAVES
Kent Mercker – April 8, 1994.
6-0 over Los Angeles.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Bret Saberhagen – August 26, 1991
7-0 over Chicago White Sox.WASHINGTON NATIONALS (AS MONTREAL EXPOS)
Dennis Martinez – July 28, 1991.
2-0 over Los Angeles. (Perfect Game.)
BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson – July 13, 1991.
2-0 over Oakland.TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Dave Stieb – September 2, 1990.
3-0 over Cleveland.
MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Juan Nieves – April 15, 1987.
7-0 over Baltimore.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
Len Barker – May 15, 1981.
3-0 over Toronto. (Perfect Game.)

Bonus

WASHINGTON SENATORS
Bobby Burke – August 8, 1931
5-0 over Boston.

The Padres are still on the clock. And it would be nice to simplify the list with the Nationals having a no hitter instead of including the Expos and Senators.

When will the next no hitter be?

Well, when’s Homer Bailey’s next start?

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Who Owned Baseball Yesterday (May 7th) + Updated Yearly WOB Standings

image-1-1337895

Matt Harvey may not have pitched a perfect game, or a no hitter, or even get credit for the Mets 1-0 win over the White Sox. But any pitcher who throws 9 innings, no runs, no walks, 1 hit and 12 strikeouts is going to be honored here.

Shin-Soo Choo hit a pair of home runs including the walk off shot with 2 outs in the 9th as the Reds stunned the Braves, 5-4

Scott Diamond threw his fourth straight good start. He pitched 7 shutout innings against the Red Sox, surrendering only 3 hits and no walks as the Twins won 6-1.

Matt Wieters drove in 3 of Baltimore’s 4 runs including the 8th inning go ahead tally as the Orioles squeaked by the Royals, 4-3.

They all owned baseball on May 07, 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 – click here Read the rest of this entry

Pirates Payroll In 2013 And Contracts Going Forward

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Friday, February.8, 2013

Pittsburgh GM Neil Huntington has found creative ways to help the Budget out - by taking risks on Wandy Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett.  They are both being paid portions of their contracts by their previous teams.

Pittsburgh GM Neil Huntington has found creative ways to help the Budget out – by taking risks on Wandy Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett. They are both being paid portions of their contracts by their previous teams.  Signing Andrew McCutchen to a long-term contract has also given the franchise the ability to add players in 2013 if need be.

By Brad Cuprik (Pirates Correspondent)

On August 8 of last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates were 63-47, 2.5 games back of the First-place Cincinnati Reds, securely into the second Wild-Card Spot – and had the fourth-best record in the National League. The wheels came off, the Bucs finished on a 16-36 slide, 18 games back of the Reds and with the 10th-best record in the NL. Reality could have caught up to a overperforming squad, or a youthful team took the next step in learning how to win. Either way, the Pirates enter 2013 with breaking a streak of 20 losing seasons on their minds.

General Manager Neal Huntington has been shrewd and active, signing MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen to a long-term deal in 2012 and getting other clubs to eat up significant chunks of their largest contracts when acquiring their top two starters. Starting pitching depth has been added and Huntington is even taking more high-priced risks, landing Catcher Russell Martin as a Free Agent.

Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Highlights:

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Pittsburgh Pirates Roster in 2013: State Of The Union

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Pirates have not made the playoffs since the 1992 Season. That year, Barry Bonds could not throw out Sid Bream from deep Short - and he subsequently left the team for the SF Giants.  20 Losing Season have since occurred.

The Pirates have not made the playoffs since the 1992 Season. That year, Barry Bonds could not throw out Sid Bream from deep Short in Game #7 of the NLCS versus the Braves – and they were eliminated for the 3rd straight year in the playoffs before reaching the World Series.  Bonds subsequently left the team for the SF Giants in 1993 – and 20 losing seasons have since occurred. Only the Kansas City Royals have a longer streak of not making the playoffs (1985). Will this change in 2013?

By Brad Cuprik (Pirates Correspondent)

Although the Pirates made significant strides in 2012, they still finished in fourth place in the National League Central – with a 79-83 mark – extending their professional sports record for consecutive losing seasons to 20. After being active at last season’s trading deadline, the Bucs added two key Free Agents in the offseason. One of those signings, LHP Francisco Liriano, agreed to 2 YR Deall for just under $13 Million – but broke his arm from an undisclosed injury in late December. The two sides agreed to a deal that lowers the first-season payout if Liriano misses any time due to the injury.

That has not dimmed the enthusiasm swelling around Pittsburgh and very few roster spots are up for grabs as the 2013 season nears. With the Houston Astros moving to the American League West, the division is down to five teams, but the Pirates still have numerous questions surrounding their ability to compete for a Post Season Berth.

Andrew McCutchen hitting mechanics: Mature Lyrics Content – Parental Guidance is Advised

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2012 Trade Deadline Update #6 7/29: Lirano to the White Sox, Johnson to D-Backs, and More

Sunday July 29th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Here are some of the latest key baseball trades that have taken place over the last 24 hours:

Francisco Liriano to the White Sox

After losing out on Greinke, the White Sox needed to make a move. Their pitching needed an extra boost. Chris Sale hasn’t been himself his last two starts, giving up five earned runs in each, and Jake Peavy has been on and off lately, going 1-2 in his past three starts. Although Liriano has for the most part had a terrible year, holding a 3-10 record with an atrocious 5.31 ERA, he hasn’t been all that bad in his last few starts (excluding his last start against Chicago—2.2 innings, seven earned runs),striking out 10 and 15 in the two starts before facing Chicago. The White Sox are hoping that Liriano will continue his turnaround and help them reach the playoffs. This could be tough for the White Sox though; the Tigers seem to have the makings of a playoff team to not make the playoffs, and the AL West looks like it could produce three playoff teams as of now. But, with all this, Chicago does look promising after the acquisition of Kevin Youkilis earlier in the year. Adam Dunn has returned to form, hitting more home runs and striking out just as much. It looks like the White Sox will have a good shot to play in October. Read the rest of this entry

2012 Trade Deadline Update #4 7/27: The Dodgers Need More Pitching- Evaluating the Options

Friday July 27th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: After acquiring shortstop/third baseman Hanley Ramirez from the Marlins, the Dodgers got exponentially better. With Hanley, the Dodgers gained an offensive force on the left side of the infield. With two solid pitchers, the Dodgers are good team, but a third would take them to the next level. There are several options out there:

Cliff Lee, Phillies

Signed through 2015, Lee will be a long-term option that could cost a premium. Fortunately for the Dodgers, money isn’t too much of a factor now with the new ownership. The left-handed Lee would fit well possibly as the number-three starter after Chad Billingsley to rotate left/right/left with Clayton Kershaw at the top of the rotation. The Phillies might trade Lee this year due to his out-of-character 1-6 record with a 3.95 ERA.  Signing Cliff Lee could potentially put at risk the ability to re-sign Clayton Kershaw, since Kershaw’s two-year $19 million contract expires after next year. The Dodgers would be busy paying Lee the last three and a half years of his five-year $120 million contract, so Kershaw might have to settle for a little bit less (even with the new ownership) or sign with another team—the last thing the Dodgers would want. Acquiring Cliff Lee will be highly unlikely for this reason, plus the fact that the Phillies might want to hold onto their 2nd/3rd ace. Read the rest of this entry

Justin Morneau: Twins Trade Bait or Damaged Goods?

 

Thursday July 12th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Over the past few years, Twins fans have been disappointed with Justin Morneau’s performance. He’s been plagued by a concussion he sustained in Toronto two years ago after sliding into the leg of Aaron Hill. Before the injury, Morneau was hitting .345 through 81 games, hit .274 in the year before that (2009), finished second in MVP voting in 2008 after hitting .300 with 23 home runs and 129 RBIs, and won the AL MVP award in 2006 after hitting .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBIs. The big question is: Can he return to his original form? Read the rest of this entry

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

Monday July.02/2012

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

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

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

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Passing of the Torch as The Greatest Player in The MLB: From Pujols to Hamilton

Wednesday June.6, 2012

Josh Hamilton is on pace for 64 HRs and 177 RBI in 2012 with a .345 AVG. He has taken over as the best player in MLB from Albert Pujols -Photo Courtesy of http://www.real-fans.com

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- While watching Josh Hamilton this year, I started thinking about the best players in the MLB over the last 33 years.  I am talking the best player of the game at any point of time.  I tracked back to 1979 for this article.  I may expand further back in follow up articles.  I did rank defense highly when I came up with the players.  I did agonize over Mike Schmidt,  Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken for some of the years given in specific time frames.  These gentlemen were given every consideration.  In the end, we are talking about the best player in the game though and it is always subject to debate and personal opinion.  The criteria had to involve leading the league in several different offensive and/or defensive categories, followed by routinely being in the top 7 in MVP balloting(if not taking home the honor), All-Star Appearances for every year I listed them for and most of them won silver sluggers and/or Gold Gloves as well.

George Brett won batting titles in 3 different decades and flirted with .400 in 1980 while hitting .390 for the year. -Photo courtesy of lanius.wordpress.com

George Brett 1979-1983-George Brett was the best hitter in the game from 1979-1983.  He hit for a .320 average and slugged his way to having the Royals as perennial contenders.  He led the league in triples (20) and hits in 1979.  In 1980, he hit .390 with a .454 OBP, 664 SLG and a 1.118 OBP which led the league.  In 1983, Brett led the league in slugging an OPS once again.  Brett won the MVP in 1980 and was the runner-up in 1979.  In 1985, George Brett would lead the Royals to a World Series.  He later won a batting title at age 37 with a .329 average.  This was the toughest time frame to judge from 1979-1983.  Mike Schmidt was an incredible force at third base with huge power and Jim Rice also put up mammoth numbers, but in the end I chose  George Brett because he was more consistent out of 3. Read the rest of this entry

The DH Tandem of Ibanez and Jones Are Providing Great Value Amongst the Position

Monday, May.28/2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones might only be hitting about .250 as a combined DH unit, however they are providing some much-needed power from the DH slot for the New York Yankees.  Ibanez is batting .260 with 9 HRs and 27 RBI in 137 AB, Jones is .227 with 5 HRs and 10 RBI in 66 AB.  The two totals combined equal 14 HRs and 37 RBI in 193 AB.  This is really good production in the power department.  This puts the duo on pace for about 45 HRs and 120 RBI out of the DH slot.  These numbers are comparable to Chicago White Sox primary DH Adam Dunn, who is .240 with 15 HRs and 35 RBI, and Edwin Encarnacion for the Toronto Blue Jays, who is .274 with 15 HRs and is second in the AL with 39 RBI.

There are factors that cancel out the production of both Encarnacion and Dunn.  The Blue Jays first base position has killed any type of edge that Encarnacion’s start should have provided.  Adam Lind hit himself out of the Majors with his under .200 average, thus negating the production that the position of 1B needs to have in order to compete along with a DH.  Adam Dunn has racked up 74 strikeouts to add to his power numbers.  While this has been a renaissance year for Dunn so far, the all or nothing philosophy does hurt in the clutch sometimes.  I think the White Sox have to be happy with his production, plus Paul Konerko has been the best player in the AL outside of Josh Hamilton. Read the rest of this entry

Kansas City Royals: Do They Have Enough Pitching to Become Contenders?

Thursday May 24th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: This season was all set up to finally be the year that the Royals would have a good chance to contend. The division became less competitive than normal with the White Sox losing Mark Buehrle and manager Ozzie Guillen, the Twins not making any big moves in the offseason besides signing Josh Willingham, and a second wild card being added to increase the possibility of making the playoffs. Royals’ fans have long waited for the team to make the playoffs as they have only had a winning record once since 1993. This year, the Royals have no shortage of hitting with young stars Eric Hosmer (first base)—who is struggling as of late but is showing signs of coming around, and third baseman, Mike Moustakas who is hitting .285. The Royals also have a strong outfield with Alex Gordon and veteran Jeff Francouer. Prospect Wil Myers, who was just promoted to Triple A, may offer more strength in the future, and Billy Butler, hitting .301 is the designated hitter. With a strong bullpen and hitting lineup beside the slumping Hosmer, right now the only weakness for the Royals is their starting pitching. Presently, Felipe Paulino is an exception with a 1.93 ERA, but it is doubtful that he will keep up his performance. Read the rest of this entry

The Future of Delmon Young

Wednesday May 23rd, 2012

Sam Evans: There is a reason Delmon Young was selected with the first pick in the 2003 Amateur draft. Young has always had the potential to be a perennial All-Star, but he has never been able to sustain success over the course of a couple of major league seasons. Now, at twenty-six years old, Delmon Young is barely hanging on to a starting major league job. What’s in store for this former top five prospect in all of baseball? Keep reading to find out.

When Delmon Young was drafted out of high school back in 2003, the Rays made a smart choice taking him #1 overall. Even though things didn’t go as planned, the Tampa Bay organization drafted the most talented player available. Young possessed a rare combination of all five tools. The younger brother of MLB slugger Dmitri Young, Delmon could hit for power and had a strong arm, which projected well for a future corner outfield position. After a couple of impressive seasons in the minors, one of which he was suspended fifty games for hitting an umpire with his bat, Young finally reached the majors with the Rays organization in 2006. Read the rest of this entry

Twins Pitching Prospects to Remember

Tuesday May 1st, 2012

Sam Evans: The Twins have made it obvious they have no plans of contending this year. Their whole infield is pretty depressing and the pitching staff has looked awful. Minnesota doesn’t have an amazing farm system, but they do have some pitchers that probably will be in the majors in the coming years. Here is a review of a couple of the top Twins pitching prospects.

Madison Boer, RHP, A-Ball: Madison Boer is a twenty-two year old right-handed throwing starting pitcher. He was drafted in the 2011 2nd round out of the University of Oregon but he was born in Minnesota. His fastball sits in the low-90′s and he also has a slider and a splitter. Last year, in fifteen games pitching in relief in Rookie ball, Boer struck out thirty-one of the sixty-seven batters he faced.

In 2012, Boer has gotten off to another hot start. Facing A-Ball hitters, Boer has posted a 3.31 FIP. Unfortunately, his strikeout rates have not been close to where they were in 2011. This year, Boer has faced one hundred and sixteen batters, and only struck out twenty. He’s only had five starts, but his strikeout rates will definitely be something to watch this year. Overall, Boer could turn into a solid #3 starter for the Twins. I’m sure the Twins would be thrilled if they could get that kind of value from a second round pick. Read the rest of this entry

Joe Mauer vs. Alex Avila: Who is the Top Catcher in Baseball?

Saturday February 11th, 2012

Sam Evans: Joe Mauer and Alex Avila have become two of the best catchers in the American League. Both players are at a crossroads in their respective careers heading into 2012. For Avila, can he build on his breakout season last year and lead the Tigers to the playoffs again? Mauer needs to find out whether he can stay at catcher without injury, and if he can return to the level of his previous offensive years. Read the rest of this entry

A Tribute to Frank “Sweet Music” Viola

Tuesday December 6, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  This week, I take a look at back and crunch the numbers of an intriguing former great player, Frank Viola. Nicknamed “Sweet Music”, the crafty left-hander finished his fifteen-year career with a 3.73 ERA and a 176-150-career record. Impressive numbers that earned Viola an induction to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. However, his qualifications by no means ended up landing him a spot in Cooperstown with the big boys.  Viola only received 2 votes in 2002 (0.4%) and went off the ballot after only one year of eligibility.

Since I was only nine years old when Viola retired in 1996, I don’t have the pleasure of seeing him pitch firsthand. I have heard a lot about the lefty, and while examining his career at a closer level; there are uncanny parallels to my favorite pitcher of all-time, Mark Buehrle. As much as I have tried to the case for Buehrle as a HOF, and as much as he has accomplished, he is simply not a dominant player of his generation. The same was true for Viola.

In the prime of his career, Viola was masterful and ate up a lot of innings. He consistently finished the season around 250 innings pitched and threw a whopping 74 career complete games. He had the ability to miss bats, but only surpassed the 200-strikeout plateau once in his career. He allowed a lot of hits, one per inning throughout his career, but he did have good control and kept the walks to a minimum. Not blowing hitters away, Viola creatively maneuvered around the strike zone and made the most of his “stuff”, a term used to describe a pitcher’s repertoire and arsenal.

Outside of my own wishes and perhaps members of the White Sox nation, Mark Buehrle is not considered a HOF caliber player at this point in his career. However, a move to the National League and another six-plus years of strong pitching, then he truly becomes a candidate if he can surpass the 250-win level. Remember, this is a guy who has thrown a no-hitter, a perfect game, started AND saved a World Series game, and started and won an All-Star game. Since becoming a starter in 2001, he has thrown at least 200 innings in one 10 games in each season.  A model of consistency. With a 161-119 career record and 3.83 lifetime ERA. His numbers stack up nicely compared to Viola, despite throwing 30 fewer games.

Admittedly, Viola was more dominant than Buehrle during several of his best seasons, particularly in 1984, 1987, 1988, and 1990. Viola was a 3-time all-star selection, a World Series champion and MVP in 1987, and was the 1988 AL CY Young Award winner. Clearly, Viola was good and even dominant for a few years. However, he does not stack up against the true greats. Overall, he amassed a 43.9 career WAR in fifteen seasons, ranking him 106th overall for pitchers. Buehrle, with a 46.6 career WAR to date, in through just 11 seasons, is ranked 92nd overall.  

Therefore, based on this comparative analysis, if Frank Viola should have been HOF worthy, than so is Mark Buehrle – right now. Their career numbers are almost identical, as well as their style and stuff, despite the fact that Buehrle has pitched about one fewer full season of games. While Buehrle still has an outside chance to one day reach Cooperstown, Frank “Sweet Music” Viola, simply did not have enough dominant seasons to reach the Hall of Fame. Viola though did enjoy an outstanding career and will forever be remembered as one of the pitching greats of his generation.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  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 Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

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.

David Ortiz to the Jays or Yankees? Try the Rays or Angels

Monday October 17, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  With the World Series all set to commence on Wednesday (Cardinals and Rangers)- our attention is slowly shifting to the upcoming free agency period.  A big name (literally) of discussion has been David Ortiz, or better known in baseball circles as “Big Papi”.  The rumor mill is running wild as to where Ortiz will play in 2012.  Let’s shed some light on the subject and clear up the confusion.

The soon to be 36-year old Ortiz is coming off one of his finest seasons in recent memory.  Papi finished with a steady all-around season:  29 home runs, 96 RBIs, 84 runs, 78/83 BB/K, .309 AVG and .953 OPS.  Ortiz was named to his 7th all-star team and finishing up a 5-year, $64.5 million contract.  For a player that appeared to be in decline back in 2009, Ortiz has shown the last two seasons that he has some juice left in the tank.  But with the Red Sox in shambles, given the departure of long-time manager Terry Francona and soon to be ex-GM Theo Epstein, Ortiz himself has said that Boston has become too much of a soap opera.  The question on every baseball fan’s mind:  will he stay or will he go?

 The Ortiz decision to stay in Boston will largely depend on several factors.  Firstly, it is unclear whether the team wishes to retain him or go in a different direction.  As an aging team with hitters that could use the rest from playing in the field every day, the Red Sox may not longer wish to commit the DH spot to one exclusive batter.  Taking that into account with Papi’s streaks and slumps that past few years and recent comments, may be enough for the Red Sox upper management to wish to move on.  But if the team does wish to retain him, or give in to fan pressure to keep Ortiz (which is likely to come given his immense popularity), will Papi himself want to remain in Boston?  Only the man could answer that question.  To know the answer, one would have to get into the player’s head.  Does Otiz get along with his teammates or are there divided fractions?  How much did the 2011 collapse take a toll on his morale?  When will a new GM come into place and will he be able to have a good relationship with Ortiz?  Same issue for a new manager…and you get the idea.  There are many variables that put into question whether Ortiz could or would stay in Boston.

In my estimation, Ortiz is on his final contract.  He will likely obtain a 2-year contract, with an option for a third.  Based on his rich history and legacy in Boston, I think that when push comes to shove- the player will stay.  Boston needs Papi; and Papi needs Boston.  It would not feel right to see Ortiz in another uniform (check out highlights from his days in Minnesota and you will see what I mean).  Major League Baseball also would love to see Ortiz remain in Boston for marketing purposes.  With so many vested interests in getting this deal done, I believe it will happen.  But what if it does not?  What if Papi jumps ship? I see his options as far and few between.

The first option that jumped out was the Yankees.  It will not happen.  While the Yankees would love to stick it to Boston, they will not likely want another aging DH on their hands after the Jorge Posada fiasco this past season.  The Yankees also have Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and company that need days off the field, A-Rod especially given his failing health.  With A-Rod becoming a part-time DH as soon as next year, the Yankees cannot afford to take on Papi at this stage.  Plus the team has up-and-coming superstar Jesus Montero that needs playing time and has nothing more to prove in AAA.  So the Yankees rate as a no.

 The next options for Ortiz?  It will only be American League teams as he is only a DH at this stage of his career.  The only realistic teams that have the open position and fit are Toronto, Tampa Bay and Anaheim.  The Jays are being thrown around many circles as a possible destination.  It makes sense for several reasons.  Ortiz knows the ballpark well from his AL East days.  He gets along well with Jose Bautista and would serve as a great mentor for the Jays young hitters.  Toronto was missing production last season from the DH spot and would welcome Papi’s bat.  But despite these factors, I don’t see this signing happening.  Ortiz will want to play on a contender and fight for another ring.  His career is winding down and so are his chances.  While Toronto has a strong young nucleus, they are at least 2-3 years aways.  As much as this would be a feel-good signing, I would rate is as another no.

Thus the battle for the services of David Ortiz will boil down to the Tampa Bay Rays and Anaheim Angels.  Two strong playoff contending teams that desperately need his bat.  Tampa Bay should be the favorite, given the familiarity of the AL East and the strong need of the team.  The Rays have the lineup spot for Ortiz and should make a big push for him.  The Angels have the same need, but not the best fit for position.  The team has a logjam in the outfield with Mike Trout likely to be with the big club next year and Kendrys Morales returning to the team from injury.  But when there is a will, there is a way.  Like many other squads, the Angels would need to do some creative shuffling to make room for Ortiz.  Vernon Wells may need to be moved for a bad pitcher’s contract in return (Carlos Zambrano anyone?)  Kendrys Morales may not be recovered or Trout may not be ready.  The Angels went through a desperate need all year in 2011 for runs and will not want to face the same issue come 2012.  Papi could be the perfect short-term solution for the Halos.

The four-horse race to sign David Ortiz will come down to the Red Sox, Jays, Rays and Angels.  The Rays are my dark horse favorite and best overall fit.  The Jays would love to take him on, it will just depend on the confidence Papi has in the team’s ability to compete.  Boston will hang in right till the end and the Angels will need to be aggressive to get him.  If we are playing the odds, I would rate Boston as a 70% favorite, followed by Tampa Bay at 20% and the Jays/Angels at 5% each.  Once the World Series ends, let the David Ortiz sweepstakes begin!

 

 

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

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How to Value and Manage Catchers on Your MLB Fantasy Team

Monday October 3, 2011

 

 

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  The catching position is one that is often the most mismanaged by fantasy owners.  A very thin position, it is difficult to find value from catchers in the deeper leagues.  Furthermore, you take a big risk dedicating a high pick or significant auction money at a very injury prone position, as 2011 owners Joe Mauer and Buster Posey owners know all too well.  Even a healthy catcher will sit for a significant amount of games each year due to the wear and tear of the position.

For these reasons, I generally advise to not overpay for a player at this position.  But with that said, for the right price, the top batch of catchers can provide you significant value.  However, too many times before we have seen significant year yo year decline from players at this position.  You simply should not rely on production at this position.  Spend your bucks elsewhere.  Based on matchups and playing time, it is possible to scrap together value for next to nothing.

For example, Chris Iannetta and his .238 average, 51 runs, 14 HR, and 55 RBI, disappointed many fantasy owners in 2011.  But a closer look at the numbers shows the true value he provides.  We all know the effect that Coors Field has on hitters, but for Iannetta it is staggering.  His 2011 home numbers look like this: .301 batting average, 10 HR, 39 RBI and 3 SB.

If you were to only start Iannetta at home in 2011, you would great numbers all across the board for half of the season.  You are essentially getting 50% of Brian McCann for way less than 50% of the price.  The discrepancy in his splits is dramatic that it makes him so easy to use as an owner.  Only start him at home and never think about starting him on the road!

Now, for the days that Iannetta is on the road, there are plenty of options in the bottom half of the rankings that would be available on the waiver wire.  Let’s pick someone like Miguel Olivo.  His 19 HR and 62 RBI provide great production from the thin catching position, but his .224 average leaves a lot to be desired.  However, an owner is much better equipped to muster this average if the number of at bats are cut in half.  If you combine this morph of Olivo and Iannetta, you are looking at these types of numbers:

.260-.270, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 6 SB.

These numbers are essentially right on par with Brian McCann’s 2011 line (.270, 24HR, 71RBI, 3SB).  McCann is a consensus top five catcher, while Iannetta and Olivo are viewed outside of the top-15.  You are essentially creating McCann for a lot cheaper and inherent risk that comes with investing money in the catching position.  Furthermore, there are more options out there if you think Olivo’s average is too much of a killer.  It all depends on your team’s needs and what categories you are chasing.  If you are more concerned about average, guys like Nick Hundley and Jonathan Lucroy might be more attractive options.  Looking for power and RBI production?  Names such as J.P. Arencibia, Russell Martin, Geovany Soto, Kurt Suzuki (there are even more) are all useful under the right circumstances.

For example, look at Geovany Soto’s numbers against left-handed pitching in 2011: .296 average, 7 HR and 15 RBI in just 98 at-bats. This is in stark contrast to his .207 average and 10 home runs in 323 at-bats against right-handed pitching.

The point is that it’s easy to piece together production at this position. There are several players who contribute in the HR and RBI categories and you can get the most out of them by maximizing their strengths based on matchups and ballparks.

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  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 Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

 

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.

Jobless in 2012 – MLB Managers on the Hot Seat from 2011

Saturday September 10, 2011

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): When a team has a disappointing season, the most likely candidate to lose his job is the manager.  So far in the 2011 season, there has already been three managers who have either resigned or been fired.  The Oakland Athletics fired Bob Geren on June 9th and replaced him with Bob Melvin.  A week and a half later, Edwin Rodriguez resigned from his post as manager of the Florida Marlins.  Jack McKeon became the oldest manager since Connie Mack at 80 years old.  Yet another week later on June 26th, Jim Riggleman of the Washington Nationals resigned and was replaced by Davey Johnson two days later.  With only a few weeks left in the regular season, who are the frontrunners to be replaced after the World Series?

With eight managers being new to their respective teams to start the 2011 season, one would think there can’t be too many jobs to lose.  The first criteria I look at in order to predict who will not be returning his club is if the team was expected to contend for the playoffs, and fell short.  Another thing I look at is the perception of the clubhouse, ie. if players get along, or if the manager is able to manage egos.  Of course, the manager’s ability to create a lineup and manage a bullpen is taken into consideration.  Other factors such as injuries and expectations of players are measured as well.  The list that follows are my top 3 managers who could be canned after this season.

Mike Quade, Chicago Cubs

It is not often that I would think a first year manager would be fired like this, but there are so many circumstances that make me believe he will be gone.  First, there has been grumbling since day one in Chicago that Quade was hired over franchise icon Ryne Sandberg.  The Cubs have been packed with talented players such as Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Marmol.  Add in Matt Garza and Starlin Castro, and you would think they could at least come close in the terrible NL Central.  They are 22 games behind the streaking Milwaukee Brewers, and 21.5 behind Atlanta for the Wild Card.  Their record is 62-81 with a 35-40 record at Wrigley Field.

Bud Black, San Diego Padres

With 2011 being Black’s 5th season with the Padres, a 62-82 record and already 21 games behind Arizona for the NL West title, he could be on the way out.  The Padres have yet to reach the postseason under Black, however they were involved in a 1-game playoff with Colorado for the Wild Card title in 2007 that many of us will never forget as one of the most exciting games we have ever witnessed.  In 2010, the Padres held a 6.5 game lead over eventual World Series Champs San Francisco Giants on August 25th.  After a 10 game losing streak, the Padres were still in contention, and were not officially eliminated from the playoffs until the final day of the regular season with a 90-72 record.  Those were the only winnings seasons in Black’s tenure and his time in San Diego may be up.

Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins

Is it really fair to say Gardenhire’s job is in jeopardy?  Probably not, but it definitely is possible.  Over his 10 year career with the Twins, he has amassed an 861-740 record and they have been in the playoffs 6 times.  However, they have only won 6 games, 4 of which were in one series, in Gardenhire’s first season; 2002.  The Twins have not won a playoff game since 2004, being swept in 2006, 2009 and 2010 in the American League Division Series.  This year, Gardenhire has had to deal with crippling injuries of former AL MVP’s Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.  Statistically, the best hitter has been Michael Cuddyer, hitting .282 with 18 home runs and 64 RBI.  The best pitcher has been Scott Baker who is 8-6 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 131 2/3 innings.  Francisco Liriano has not been the same as he was before undergoing Tommy John surgery after the 2006 season, and aside from his no-hitter against the White Sox on May 3, he has been downright awful and is now on the 15-day disabled list.  When the best players don’t perform, or are hurt, the manager is forced to do the best he can with what he is given.  However a 59-84 record may just be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back for Gardenhire.

This year, with 3 mid-season changes already, and eight new managers at the beginning of the season, shouldn’t see too much activity.  I do believe that with the Cubs’ search for a new general manager under way, Quade’s days are numbered in Chicago.  I also believe that Black’s inability to get the always promising Padres to the next level will leave him without a job by November.  Gardenhire has not proven to me that he can bring the Twins to the World Series, and that is what the job description entails.  Has it ever happened where both Managers of the Year from their respective leagues gets fired the following year? It could happen if Black and Gardenhire are let go.

 

 

***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.***

 

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E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday August 17th

Thank you for reading the E-mailbag.  Please send all your questions to mlbreports@gmail.com and please include your first name and City/Country.

We will be compiling a list of your questions from our e-mailbag and posting the responses on Wednesdays.

 

 Wednesday August 17, 2011

 

 

 

Q:  Watched the Tigers / Twins game today ( Aug 15th ) and was happy to see my fave player, Jim Thome hit 600.  I consider him one of the best home run hitters of all time.  My question to you:  Thome has done most of his damage as a DH and on non playoff teams. What are his chances to make it to the Hall Of Fame and if he does go in, what hat do you think he will wear?  From Larry, Nevada.

MLB reports:  A great question Larry.  I wouldn’t expect anything less from our #1 reader!  Taking a look at Thome’s numbers, you may find a few surprises.  Thome in his career has played 1102 games at 1B and 492 games at 3B.  Thome did not become a full-time DH until 2006.  Considering that he came up with Cleveland in 1991, I do not believe the DH role late in his career will affect him much, if any.  The cloud of the steroid era may, as it seems that many big sluggers from Thome’s generation will have a difficult, if not impossible time getting into Cooperstown.  But unlike Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, Thome is seen as one of the “clean” home run hitters of his generation.  At 600+ home runs, a lifetime OBP over .400 and SLG over .550, I view Thome as a definite first ballot hall-of-famer.  With 12 years and 334 home runs in Cleveland, I can guarantee you that Thome will go into Cooperstown as a member of your beloved Indians. 

 

Q:  Any insight on Wade Miley?  From Joseph, Nashville.

MLB reports:  Great question, thank you Joseph.  Wade was a 1st round pick of the Diamondbacks back in 2008 (43rd overall), after being drafted in the 20th round by Tampa Bay in 2005 and not signing.  The 24-year old Miley is a 6’1″ left-handed starter in the Diamondbacks organization.  Currently pitching in AAA after a recent promotion, Miley has a 3.64 ERA , to go along with a 4-1 record and 1.270 ERA.  With this being his 4th season in the minors and showing steady development, it should come as no suprise that Miley got the call today as he has been promoted to the big leagues.  With Jason Marquis on the DL, Miley may get a few spot starts for Arizona and at the very least, a spot in their pen the rest of the way.  2010 was a breakout season for Miley and despite some regression this year in AA, he has gotten better as the season has progressed.  With the amount of pitching prospects in the Diamondbacks system, Miley will have a difficult time fighting for a rotation spot with the big club.  Long-term I see him as trade bait for an organization that has room in its rotation for him or perhaps a bullpen role.   He may yet develop into a solid #4 starter for the Diamondbacks, but at this point that remains to be seen.  The future is still bright for Miley, but 2012 will be a big year for him in Arizona.  We wish Miley the best of luck on his recent promotion, as he joins the first place Diamondbacks in the quest to win the NL West division this year.

 

Q:  Sorry if I missed it, but have you done a report on the Angels CF, Peter Bourjos?  That kid can fly?  From Craig, Texas.

MLB reports:  I answered this one briefly on twitter but wanted to elaborate.  I have received many questions on Bourjos this year, but have not filed a report on him to-date.  It was a calculated decision, mostly due to the fact that not many fans have asked about him outside of Anaheim.  Looking at the numbers, Bourjos is a steady, but not spectacular hitter for the Halos.  .271 AVG, .328 OBP, .416 SLG, 5 home runs and 15 stolen bases.  At this point, Bourjos is keeping a spot warm for future superstar Mike Trout.  Originally a 10th round pick, the 24-year old Bourjos may blossom into a future superstar.  But I have my doubts that will happen.  Long-term I see Bourjos as a #4 outfielder on most teams, with the chance of becoming a good leadoff hitter if he can increase his on-base percentage.  We will all continue to keep an eye on Bourjos, but be sure to keep expectations in check until a breakout occurs.

 

Q:  Do you think that the Indians are going to get a RH bat?  If so, who?  And do you think they are going to win the Central?  From Martin, Cleveland.

MLB reports:  Let the Indians theme continue!  Many solid questions Martin, I take it that you are a big supporter of the tribe.  One of the biggest surprises of the week was Delmon Young moving to the Twins to the Tigers.  Probably one of the better right-handed bats was passed over by the Indians to their division rivals in Detroit.  By passing Young over, my gut feel is that the Indians are likely done tweaking their lineup.  With the additions of Kosuke Fukudome and Ubaldo Jimenez, the Indians will go with their current roster for the most part in battling for the AL Central crown.  There is a chance that the team may add one more depth player, but I do not expect any real player of consequence at this stage.  As far as the AL Central race goes, it is a 3-team race between the Tigers currently in 1st place, the Indians 3.0 games back  and White Sox 3.5 games back.  This one is too close to call.  I will admit that I am very partial to the Tigers and like their chances at this point.  While the Indians seemed to be a team of destiny at the start of the year, the Tigers look to be prime for a division title led by Justin Verlander.  The Indians end the season going up against the Tigers in Detroit, while the White Sox face the Blue Jays in Chicago.  The AL Central will come down to the final week, with my money on Detroit to take it all. 

 

Q:  Any news on Yu Darvish?  Will we see him in North America next year?  From Shane, Kansas.

MLB reports:  Darvish is represented by an agent (Arn Tellem) and at 25-years of age would be a prime addition to any major league team.  There has been a debate in baseball circles whether his Japanese club, the Nippon-Ham Fighters will post him, which really boils down to Darvish wanting to leave Japan to come to the major leagues.  Despite mixed messages I have read in his interviews, it sounds like Darvish is ready to make the jump (and pocket the large paychecks that will follow).  Expect Darvish to arrive in 2012, with at least 8-10 teams fighting for his services.  The Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays and many others will be fighting for his services.  This one will simply boil down to which team is willing to pay the most and when Darvish is ready to make the change.   As one of the best, if not the best pitchers not currently in North America, Yarvish should be an instant ace for the team lucky enough to land him.  We will keep following this story and let you know as we have updates.

 

 

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MLB Draft Signing Deadline: Who Will Sign By August 15th

Friday August 12, 2011

 

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):   With the August 15 deadline for all 2011 MLB draftees to sign, players and teams are getting down to the wire with negotiations.  Only two of the top ten picks have been signed, right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer, and second baseman Cory Spangenberg by the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, respectively.  Of the 33 first round picks, 9 have signed, as well as 14 of the 27 picks in the supplemental first round.  It is expected that most of the picks from the first round will go down to the last hour, if not minute.  However, there is a lot of speculation about who will not sign, and the fans of each team are hoping and praying their team will get their guy.  Some players come into the draft with lofty expectations and high estimates of signing bonus money.  As a result, many of the lower budget franchises stay away from these players, and draft “safe” players, who will sign for a more reasonable price.

The Oakland Athletics’ GM Billy Beane was made famous through the book “Moneyball”, which portrayed the club as a bottom feeder organization financially.  They had to pick lesser talents in order to sign all their draft picks.  They shied away from the big “sexy” names on draft boards and targeted players with specific skill sets.  Other teams who have done this in the past to varying degrees of success are the Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals.  In the last couple of years, these organizations have turned their philosophies around, drafting tough to sign players with higher ceilings, and ending up signing most of them.  Today will highlight a few of the players drafted who will be tougher than others to sign.

From this year’s draft, one of the players who was known to be extremely difficult to sign was Josh Bell.  On talent alone, he was rated as an early first round pick, yet dropped to the second round to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He had sent a letter to Major League Baseball advising teams not to draft him on account that he wanted to attend the University of Texas.  Some have said this was just a bargaining tool to simply add more leverage to his situation, while others think he will not sign under any circumstances.  It has been predicted that it will take a minimum of $10M and a Major League contract in order to sign him.  I feel that the Pirates are an extreme long shot to sign Bell, and he will attend U of T and be a Longhorn for the next three years.

High school right-handed pitcher Tyler Beede could have been a top 10 pick, with his 95 mph fastball and devastating change-up.  Beede was widely known to be seeking a bonus upwards of $3-4M.  The Toronto Blue Jays and their new management have made it a point to take the best player available when they it is their turn to select a player in the draft.  So, when it came to their turn as the 21st selection, the Jays did not hesitate to choose Beede, who has said it will come down to money in the long run.  I believe the Jays will sign him in the final minutes for close to $3M.

With the 5th overall pick, the Kansas City Royals had a tough decision to make.  Outfielder Bubba Starling, a hometown kid from Kansas, was widely considered the top prep offensive talent in the draft was still on the board.  Starling has a scholarship to the University of Nebraska to play both football and baseball.  It is very likely that a bonus upwards of $8M will be what it takes for Starling to sign with KC on August 15.  Expect this deal to get done.

Gerrit Cole, the flame throwing right-handed pitcher from UCLA was taken by the Pirates first overall in the draft.  Cole has reached 102 mph on radar guns and routinely hits triple digits.  Cole has yet to sign, but is widely expected to join the Pirates.  A Major League deal for 4 years and $8M or so is likely.

Rice University has been known to producing top talent, as witnessed by having eight first round picks in the last 11 years, most notably when Phil Humber and Jeff Niemann went 3rd and 4th overall in the 2004 draft.  Another first rounder from Rice was Lance Berkman in 1997.  So when one of the top three candidates for the first overall pick came down to an infielder from Rice, who just happened to win the Dick Howser Trophy, (essentially the Heisman Award for college baseball players), nobody was surprised.  Anthony Rendon may not have above average speed or the best glove, but he has an above average arm and was considered by most to be the best hitter in the country.  Rendon dropped to #6 to the Washington Nationals due to signability concerns but should sign for $4M plus.

Shortstops with ultra talent often get huge signing bonuses and Cleveland Indians’ first pick (8th overall), Francisco Lindor will be no exception.  Lindor has the talent to warrant a $3M bonus, but should hold out for more.  The Indians tend to shy away from this kind of pick, but the talent speaks for itself and I believe the Indians will go as high as $3.5M to sign the talented shortstop.

There has arguably not been a better high school pitcher in the last decade than flame throwing Dylan Bundy.  The right-hander has reached 100 mph and has 2 plus secondary pitches.  His high school pitching numbers are straight out of a video game.  71 innings, 2 earned runs. TWO!  He also had 158 strikeouts to 5 walks. FIVE WALKS!  Good for a 31.6:1 K:BB ratio.  Oh, and the fact that he can also hit, as evidenced by his 11 home runs and 54 RBI in only 105 at-bats doesn’t hurt.  The University of Texas commit could command a Major League contract and $6-8M.  He should sign; my guess is $6.5M.

 

Here is the breakdown of the entire 2011 first round of picks, with players in bold having already signed:

1 Gerrit Cole RHP Pittsburgh Pirates
2 Danny Hultzen LHP Seattle Mariners
3 Trevor Bauer RHP Arizona Diamondbacks – ML deal 4/$7M
4 Dylan Bundy RHP Baltimore Orioles
5 Bubba Starling OF Kansas City Royals
6 Anthony Rendon 3B Washington Nationals
7 Archie Bradley RHP Arizona Diamondbacks
8 Francisco Lindor SS Cleveland Indians
9 Javier Baez SS Chicago Cubs
10 Cory Spangenberg 2B San Diego Padres – $1.86M
11 George Springer OF Houston Astros
12 Taylor Jungmann RHP Milwaukee Brewers
13 Brandon Nimmo OF New York Mets
14 Jose Fernandez RHP Florida Marlins
15 Jed Bradley LHP Milwaukee Brewers
16 Chris Reed LHP LA Dodgers
17 C.J. Cron Jr. 1B LA Angels – $1.467M
18 Sonny Gray RHP Oakland Athletics – $1.54M
19 Matt Barnes RHP Boston Red Sox
20 Tyler Anderson LHP Colorado Rockies
21 Tyler Beede RHP Toronto Blue Jays
22 Kolten Wong 2B St. Louis Cardinals – $1.3M
23 Alex Meyer RHP Washington Nationals
24 Taylor Guerrieri RHP Tampa Bay Rays
25 Joe Ross RHP San Diego Padres
26 Blake Swihart C Boston Red Sox
27 Robert Stephenson RHP Cincinnati Reds
28 Sean Gilmartin LHP Atlanta Braves – $1.13M
29 Joe Panik SS San Francisco Giants – $1.116M
30 Levi Michael SS Minnesota Twins
31 Mikie Mahtook OF Tampa Bay Rays
32 Jake Hager SS Tampa Bay Rays – $963K
33 Kevin Matthews LHP Texas Rangers – $936K

 

I think that although you can’t be sure about these kinds of things, my gut feeling is that every first rounder this year will actually sign by August 15th.  I also predict that at least one signing will come minutes after the deadline, probably a Scott Boras client, and the league will allow the deal to pass.

 

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, 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.***

 

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Analyzing the 2011 MLB Draft: 1st Round Steals and Misses

Tuesday June 7, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:  Day one of the 2011 MLB Draft is now in the books and we are moving on to Round 2.  The most hyped draft in recent memory did not disappoint, as the results of Round 1 featured many surprises and shockers.  With the amount of mock drafts and industry experts covering the big event, you would think that the first round results would have been more predictable.  But many teams took diverse routes in making their selections in the first round and now the second-guessing begins.  While the analysis may look very different in 1-5 years from now, the day after the draft- we take a look at the highlights of the first round and our most noted steals and misses.

 

STEALS

6.  Washington Nationals:  Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice

A team is simply not supposed to land the top hitter of the draft at the #6 slot but that is exactly what the Nationals did with Rendon.  If not for injury concerns, Rendon would have gone as one of the first two picks.  While Rendon does carry some risk, the Nationals loved his upside and had to make the selection.  The best pick of the draft for the slot in my opinion.

 

12.  Milwaukee Brewers:  Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas

15.  Milwaukee Brewers (for unsigned 2010 first rounder Dylan Covey):  Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech

The Brewers really cleaned up by landing not one but two top-ten starting pitchers by drafting Jungmann and Bradley.  Jungmann is the 6’6″ gunslinging Texas pitcher and Bradley is one of the top lefty pitchers.  Just like that, in one round the Brewers began the process of restocking their farm system with top pitching prospects.

 

19.  Boston Red Sox (from Tigers for Type-A Victor Martinez):  Matt Barnes, RHP, UConn

26.  Boston Red Sox (from Rangers for Type-A Adrian Beltre):  Blake Swihart, C, Rio Rancho (N.M.) Cleveland HS

The mighty Red sox were at it again by landing a top-ten starting pitcher and the top catching prospect in the draft with the #19 and #26 picks.  Barnes was considered to go high, considering his 6’4′, 205 lbs frame and fluid delivery.  Then Swihart, whom the Red Sox were known to have targeted at #19, fell all the way to them at #26.  A great day for a team that knows how to draft well, plain and simple.

 

24.  Tampa Bay Rays (from Red Sox for Type-A Carl Crawford):  Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Columbia (S.C.) Spring Valley HS

31.  Tampa Bay Rays (from Yankeesfor Type-A Rafael Soriano):  Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU

With ten top picks, the Rays were armed with the means to obtain prospects and they got two great ones in Guerrieri and Mahtook.  Maturity issues dogged Guerrieri and based on talent alone, he should have gone in the top-12.  Mahtook was seen as a possible Mets pick at #13, with a solid glove, bat and speed.  Possibly the next Carl Crawford, the Rays showed that good scouting pays off even when you draft late.  The Rays may have lost Crawford and Soriano to free agency but they will have the last laugh when both Guerrieri and Mahtook make the majors one day.

 

MISSES

13.  New York Mets:  Brandon Nimmo, OF Cheyenne East (Wyo.) HS

Nimmo was picked for the most part based on signability and cost.  With the Mets in financial limbo, the team passed on many far superior talents to take Nimmo at #13.  The kid is considered a project as he never played high school ball and should have been a 2nd round pick.  For a team that desperately needs to rebuild its system, this pick will be a miss.

 

16.  Los Angeles Dodgers:  Chris Reed, LHP, Stanford

See Nimmo at #13.  The Dodgers are in poor shape financially and like the Mets made their selection based on cost and signability.  For another kid that was projected to be a 2nd round pick and also likely to be a reliever, this draft slot was too much of a reach.  Overall a great opportunity for Reed, but a huge blow to the Dodgers farm system.

 

18.  Oakland Athletics:  Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt

Reports have Oakland viewing Gray as a starter, but I see the #18 pick likely as a future reliever.  Based on his size (5’11″), there will be questions of durability and ability to succeed at the major league level.  With so many quality prospects still available, the jury is definitely out on this pick.

 

29.  San Francisco Giants:  Joe Panik, SS, St. John’s

The media will have a field day with this pick as the Giants appear to have made a “Panik” move with the selection of Joe Panik in the first round.  In desperate need of offense, the Giants opted to grab a shortstop late.  With Josh Bell still on the board, a higher risk/reward pick may have been in order.  Panik has a strong glove and decent bat, but does not project to have first round type talent. 

 

30.  Minnesota Twins:  Levi Michael, SS, North Carolina

See Panik at #29.  The Twins were in the same boat as the Giants when making their selection.  However, the difference is that the Giants are open to spending on draft selections while the Twins tend to be more fiscally responsible (cheap).  With the new ballpark in place, the Twins should have gone after a selection with higher upside.  They played it safe with Michael, but the ceiling is not high enough to warrant the selection with Bell and Purke still available.

 

 

Previous Draft Articles by MLB reports:

The 2011 MLB Draft:  Recap of the Results, 1st Round Picks and Future Stars

Updating the 2011 MLB Draft:  Baseball Prospects and Draft Projections

The 2011 MLB Draft: The Report and Inside Scoops

 

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MLB 2011 DL: Injury Updates

 

MLB reports:  To answer many of our readers inquiries, here is an update on some of the casualties and wounded in the world of baseball and when each player is expected to return from the disabled list:

Phil Hughes:  Yankees

Hughes went on the 15 day disabled list in mid-April with a “dead arm” and has not returned since.  On April 28th Hughes received a cortisone shot and reports have indicated that his shoulder has responded well.  The timetable for Hughes to return to the mound is 6-8 weeks, which would put him sometime into July.  Hughes has not started throwing yet but has visited specialists who have ruled out surgery at this point.  With a dead arm type injury, it is not always easy to predict where the future lies.  Justin Verlander went through such an episode in his career and has come back stronger than ever.  The fear though is that the velocity will not return and surgery could be lurking in the background.  Until Hughes begins throwing and regains his velocity, Yankees fans will continue to huddle in prayer and hope for Hughes to come back and reclaim his 2010 form this year.

Carlos Guillen:  Tigers

Guillen has been bothered by a sore left knee and out of action since mid-March and going on the 15 day DL.  Reports have indicated that Guillen is taking ground balls, but no other baseball activities at this point.  The original prognosis of mid-May does not appear likely, with an end of the month or early June return a possibility.  With his wonky surgically repaired knee, Guillen will likely be a DH at best if and when he returns to the Tigers lineup.  There is a possibility of a relapse here, so the Tigers are progressing forward without Guillen and any contributions this year will be considered a bonus.

Joe Mauer:  Twins

The $184 million dollar man is off to a dreadful start in 2011, the first season of his monster contract.  After having surgery on his knee in the off-season, Mauer has been bothered by leg weakness all season.  Mauer has started hitting and throwing, but his return is up in the air.  Once considered to be the greatest catcher in baseball, talk has already started about a position change in his future.  After moving prospect Wilson Ramos, the Twins cannot be happy about the state of Mauer’s health.  Like the other members of this list thus far, Mauer’s return date is unknown at this point.  With the Twins off to a terrible start this season, there is much pressure to get Mauer into the lineup to get the team going.  But considering the investment in the catcher, the team will likely be cautious and continue to bring him along slowly in the fear that further damage could result in rushing him.  Expect Mauer back sometime in June likely, but his catching days appear to coming to an end in the near future unfortunately.

Josh Hamilton:  Rangers

After breaking a bone in his right arm from a home plate collision early in the season, Hamilton is nearing his return to the Rangers lineup.  Hamilton is taking swings and should hopefully ready soon for a couple of minor league rehab appearances.  I would expect Hamilton back in the Rangers lineup in the next two weeks if all goes well.  The brittle Hamilton continues to endure bad luck in the health department, with the Rangers sorely needing a healthy Hamilton in order to contend in the AL West.

Chien-Ming Wang:  Nationals

After 2 missed seasons, Wang continues to try to come back from a torn shoulder capsule and pitch once again in the majors.  After breaking his right foot in 2008, Wang ended up injuring his shoulder and has not returned to pitch in a professional game since.  Still rehabbing in the Nationals system, it appears unlikely that we will see Wang pitch again.  Fans still hope that the former back-to-back 19 game winner can find health and pitch again, but after a prolonged absence, the window of opportunity continues to close further every week/month that goes by.

Johan Santana:  Mets

Another torn shoulder capsule survivor, Santana underwent his surgery last September.  Reports have indicated a possible July return for Santana, which appear to be optimistic at best.  With a similar injury to Wang, there is no guarantees of when Santana and what condition he will be in.  Good news in that Santana is throwing off a mound and flat ground and reported no setbacks to date.  But with these types of injuries, relapses are always a possibility.  If the Mets flounder this year as expected, the smart advice is to rest Santana and bring him along slowly, with a 2012 return being the better bet.  Only time will tell if Santana will return and reclaim his spot as one of the top starting pitchers in baseball.  At this point, I would not be counting on it.

Chase Utley:  Phillies

With injuries all around in baseball, few have been more anxious than thedisappearance of Chase Utley.  With the Phillies offense built around Utley and Howard, a long-term absence by the second baseman was seen as damaging by the Phillies faithful.  Talk at the start of the season was a possible September return by Utley, based on the knee injury.  Philadelphia got a great shot in the arm when Utley’s rehab progressed so well to the point that he is already DHing this week in minor league rehab games, with a possible return by the end of the month.  Far ahead of schedule, the hope is that Utley is fully recovered and will be strong for the remainder of the season.  Utley’s story is one of the few bright spots in our long list of injuries in this report.

Scott Rolen:  Reds

Placed on the DL at the end of April with a strained shoulder, Rolen is no stranger to baseball injuries.  But being the professional he is, Rolen also works very hard and keeps himself in strong game shape to attempt to avoid long-term absences.  Rolen has been taking batting practice this week and has also been running the bases and participating in fielding drills.  No timetable on his return at this point, but based on his advanced baseball activity, I would expect a return by the end of this month.

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The Minnesota Twins 2011: What Went Wrong

MLB reports:  With the daily moans and groans filling my message box on the state of the Minnesota Twins in 2011, I decided to dig deeper today to analyze what is ailing this team thus far in the season.  A steady team that is a perennial contender every year, 2011 has been an unmitigated disaster thus far for the Twins.  The Twins record currently stands at 12-21, last in the AL Central.  The team is 10.0 games out of first, battling for the basement with the White Sox, who are 14-22.    I will be looking at the team’s overall statistics and then view individual players that have flopped and those that still offer hope.  To a very special Twins fan out there, I am sorry about the state of the team in 2011, but this article is for you.

Record:

With their 12-21 record, the Twins have the least amount of wins in baseball.  At home, they have been a respectable on 4-6, but 8-15 on the road.  Ouch.  The Twins are 3-7 in their last 10 games and currently are on a 3-game losing streak.  A 10-game hole in early May is still fixable, but the Twins have to be careful not to slide too much further or a 15-20 game deficit could result.  For a team that was expected to be a playoff contender, 2011 has turned into a nightmare for the team and it’s fans.

Team Offense:

The Twins have the 3rd worst offense in baseball, just ahead of only the Nationals and Padres.  In the American League, numbers like this just don’t cut it:

  • .230 AVG:  3rd last in majors
  • .292 OBP:  last in majors
  • .320 SLG:  last in majors
  • 15 total Home Runs:  last in majors
  • 46 Doubles:  2nd last in majors
  • 104 Runs scored:  last in majors
  • 93 RBIs:  last in majors
  • 93 Walks:  3rd worst in majors
  • 354 Total Bases:  last in majors

Sitting at the bottom on near bottom of almost every major offensive category, the Twins clearly have had little offense this year.  They are not hitting, walking, scoring or driving in  runs and hitting home runs.   At these kinds of numbers, a team cannot expect to win many games.  At 12 wins thus far, the Twins will need to get the bats going if they hope to climb back into contention this year.

Individual Hitters:

Looking at the Twins hitters, it is quicker to summarize which players are playing well than those that are not.  Literally only 2 Twins hitters have had good numbers this year, while all of the rest of the batters have either been injured or underperformed this year.  Jason Kubel has been the rock all season.  With a .347 AVG, .397 OBP, .508 SLG and 3 home runs, Kubel has shown good production this year.  Span has also been decent, with a .298 AVG, .361 OBP and 17 runs scored.  Essentially every other hitter has been missing in action, from Morneau, to Cuddyer, Young and Thome, the bats have been ice all season.  Valencia has been decent with 3 home runs and 18 RBIs, but a .229 AVG will just not cut it.  The health of Mauer will help, with a rebound from Morneau, Young and return by Nishioka to help ignite the offense.  Unfortunately the team may need to look on the open market for some offensive help if they want to improve their numbers.  Otherwise, runs may be difficult to come by all year.

Team Pitching:

For all the hitting woes the Twins have endured this year, the pitching has not been much better.  With the 3rd worst pitching staff in baseball, only the Orioles and Astros are below the Twins.

  • 4.62 ERA:  3rd last in baseball
  • 168 Runs allowed:  2nd last in baseball
  • 178 strike outs:  last in baseball

The above numbers are fairly indicative of the Twins pitching.  They are giving up a lot of runs and not striking out many batters.  Another recipe for disaster.  However, looking at the individual pitchers on the team, not all is doom and gloom.  The bullpen has been fairly steady and the Twins have received decent to good outings from some of its starters.  For a team built around pitching, hope still exists on the mound.  If the pitching can continue to return back to form, all the Twins will need is some offensive support to jump-start its team.

Starting Pitching:

The Twins starters have been as good as they have been bad all year.  Pavano and Liriano have been abysmal all year (except for Liriano’s no-hitter, which still came with a tag of 6 walks allowed).  Blackburn has been steady and Baker/Duensing have been very solid.  It is ironic that the team’s top 2 starters have caused the most problems for the team this season.  Both with ERAs over 6.60, both Pavano and Liriano have to pick up their games if the team is to contend.  Kyle Gibson, the team’s top pitching prospect has been decent in AAA, with a 1-1 record, 3.66 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.  If he keeps it up, Gibson may get the call this year if the team needs an additional arm.  While the prospect does need some more seasoning, the state of the other arms will tell.  Kevin Slowey has also pitched well in relief and having come off the disabled list, could take a turn in the rotation if called upon.

Bullpen

The Twins bullpen has actually been very good this year.  Matt Capps has taken on the closer role and run with it, sitting at a 3.14 ERA and 5/6 in save opportunities.  Glen Perkins has been a rock setting-up, with a 0.55 ERA in 15 appearances.  Mijares also has been successful most nights, with a 3.18 ERA in 16 appearances.  The problem child has been their former closer to start the season, Joe Nathan.  With an 8.18 ERA, 8/9 BB/K ratio, Nathan has clearly not yet regained the form that made him an all-star closer.  Thrust too soon into the closing role, Nathan and the Twins dug a hole for themselves that has been hard to climb from.  Expect Capps to keep the role for the majority of the year and the bullpen to continue to improve, together with the starting pitching for a team known for its pitching.

The Verdict:  The season is still young and it would be foolish to write off the Twins at this early stage of the year.  There is nowhere to go but up for this team.  With so much talent on its roster, the Twins are due for a hot streak soon.  Hitting and pitching are contagious and as the Twins have shown this year, slumps tend to affect most players at the same time.  But assuming that the majority of the players can get hot at the same time, 7-8 game winning streaks could be in order.  The AL Central has been tough to figure out this year, with the Indians and Royals playing much above expectations and the rest of the teams playing much below.  Everything comes in cycles and once the Twins start hitting the hot weather, expect the team to heat up as well.  The numbers show that the team has done little from a hitting and perspective in 2011.  A continuation of these efforts would bring about one of the worst seasons in team history.  But the end is not here yet and the next month or so will be more telling of where the team is headed.  That is one of the things we all love about baseball: we never know what is going to happen.  Good luck to the Twins and we hope to see you battling for the playoffs come September.

Thank you for reading my feature on the Minnesota Twins.  Please contact me if you have any questions and suggestions for future topics.  The E-mailbag will be posted Wednesday so please be sure to get all your MLB and fantasy baseball questions in by e-mailing me at:  mlbreports@gmail.com
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

MLB Pitchers and Walks: Flirting with Trouble

MLB reports:  Walks can make you and walks can break you.  That is our motto here at MLB reports.  If there is one stat that I use more than others to measure a player’s performance, its BB…base on balls…walks.  Recently, I featured an article on patient hitters and looked at the hitters that were the MLB leaders in walks.    As part of this post, I reviewed how walks could potentially improve every facet of a hitter’s game and why a good batting eye is a high indicator of future success.  Based on the response to that article, today we will look at the flip side, the MLB pitchers leader board in walks allowed.

In my opinion, there is not many things that are more frustrating about pitchers than those who give up a lot of walks.  Pitchers that walk hitters tend to get themselves in all sorts of trouble and create pressure on themselves as well as their team.  Defenses become on guard to avoid runners advancing and scoring, especially the catcher.  A stolen base, sacrifice and passed ball is all take to turn a walk into a run.  Pitchers that give up walks are often young hard-throwers who have not yet learned to command the ball.  They are throwers who need to develop into pitchers.  A veteran pitchers who throws soft and has no command will rarely survive in baseball (unless he has a lethal knuckleball, ala Tim Wakefield).  Regardless of strike outs, walks in baseball often lead to pitchers beating themselves.  I often tell young hurlers to trust in their stuff and led the hitters beat them.  By walking hitters, a pitcher will simply beat himself in the long run.  Looking at the MLB top 5 list of walks allowed, it is a who’s who list of potential, some success and plenty of frustration.

1)  Edinson Volquez, Reds:  28

The man traded for Josh Hamilton has one of the best power arms in baseball.  After undergoing Tommy John surgery (apparently a must-have these days to become a top pitcher for some reason), Volquez came back strong last year to reclaim his spot on the Reds pitching staff.  With a 28/38 BB/K ratio this year 38 1/3 IP, Volquez despite his 3-1 record is showing why he has unsightly 5.63 ERA.  With almost a hit allowed per inning, Volquez is playing with fire every game and needs to curb the walks to ultimately find long-term success.  Check out Volquez’s breakout year in 2008.  17-6 record with a 3.21 ERA.  Sparkling numbers on the surface.  His 93/206 BB/K ratio that year shows that when Volquez wasn’t striking guys out, he was loading them up on base.  In a hitter’s park like Cincinnati, numbers like that simply will not do.  Volquez has a lifetime 4.47 ERA and 1.49 WHIP.  At 27 years of age, he should be entering his prime year.  But Volquez is sitting on top of our leader board for a reason:  he walks the most hitters compared to any other pitcher in baseball.  That is a high feat and one that he should not be proud of.  A top pitcher can walk maybe 50 hitters a year at most to stay successful.  By walking 93 in 2008, Volquez showed that even in a breakout year he never completely figured it out.  Luck can only be on a person’s side so long and if Volquez does not transition better to being a pitcher, the sub-4.00 ERA and 1.50 WHIP will result unfulfilled potential and mediocrity.  The best pitchers in my opinion have figured out that sacrificing strikeouts for ground ball outs can be just as effective and less taxing on their arms and walk rates.  This realization has not occurred yet to Volquez, but that will end up being the difference from becoming the next Pedro Martinez or Ramon Martinez, to a certain degree.

2)  Jonathan Sanchez, Giants:  26

The poster child for walks, Jonathan Sanchez is victim #2 on our list to high walk totals.  After becoming a full-time starter in 2008, Sanchez had his breakout year last year with the Giants.  13-9 record with a 3.07 ERA and 1.23 WHIP are solid numbers.  His 96/205 BB/K ratio though left a lot to be desired.  Almost a mirror image of Volquez from 2008 if you compare the numbers.  This year, Sanchez sits at 2-2 with a 3.45 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 26/47 BB/K ratio in 38 IP.  The best starting pitchers keep their WHIPs down below 1.20 and at most sit at 1.25.  Anything from 1.30 and above is considered a high WHIP, with 1.50 being unacceptable.  Despite his success in 2010, Sanchez still has a 1.38 career WHIP.  When people ask me why trade rumors consistently persist around Sanchez despite being 28 and in his prime, I simply point to the walk rate.  Granted he has unbelievable stuff and is literally untouchable when he is on (as all of the pitchers on this list are).  But one good outing for every three bad outings don’t cut it.  Sanchez throws hard and can successfully strikeout over 200 batters per season if he chooses to.  But with his high walk rate, he will likely suffer the same fate as Volquez.  Men on base can translate into runs allowed, which is unhealthy for a team’s won-loss record and a pitcher’s ERA.  Until Sanchez can cut down on those walks, I will continue to simply see him as a middle-of-the-road pitcher with unfulfilled potential.  If he can cut his walk rate in half, I could see 20 wins in his future.

3)  Kyle Drabek, Jays:  25

Another Tommy John surgery survivor, Drabek is the 2nd of 3 pitchers on this list that lead baseball in walks allowed and had the procedure in their careers.  Is there a correlation?  We will need to find out one day in another post perhaps.  I could see there being a link between the motion that pitchers use to high walk rates and leading to Tommy John surgery.  An interesting little sidenote.  But I digress.  Drabek is the only rookie on this list, as all the other pitchers have experience in the majors.  None of the players on the list are vets yet, although Liriano and Volquez are starting to get there.  In his first full major league campaign, Drabek has a 2-2 record in 2011 with a 4.50 ERA, unsightly 1.63 WHIP and 25/28 BB/K ratio.  With almost a hit allowed per inning as well, Drabek is loading up the bases far too often in getting burnt.  In my estimation, I see Drabek differing from the first two players as follows.  Volquez is wild and needs to learn control.  Sanchez is occasionally wild but often tries to be too perfect in making his pitches and misses his spots.  Drabek quite often is trying be perfect and misses his spots, but otherwise has good control.  Drabek, like Sanchez, simply need to trust their stuff and just go after the hitters.  With nearly un-hittable stuff, Drabek and Sanchez would find they will beat hitters more often than not.  But a walk every inning a half will not cut it in the majors.  Not if Drabek is to fulfill his potential and become the Jays ace one day.  The comparisons between father and son will always continue for Drabek until he makes his own way in the world and I will take a brief look at Doug’s numbers.  The elder Drabek never walked more than 69 hitters in a season and finished with a career WHIP of 1.243, with 155 wins and 3.73 ERA.  He also finished with 1594 career strikeouts, with a season high 177 in his final season in Pittsburgh in 1992.  Kyle has the potential to succeed his dad, as son as better stuff than his dad and the potential for far more punch outs than his dad ever did.  If Drabek Jr. will figure that out one day, the Jays will have their ace for the next decade guaranteed.

T4)  Francisco Liriano, Twins:  24

The fourth member of our list of frustration, Liriano proved this week how utterly frustrating he can be.  Consider this:  Liriano this week threw a no-hitter against the White Sox.  Perhaps a no-hitter by the records, but the rest of his numbers were by no means special.  Liriano threw almost as many balls as strikes, finishing with 6 walks and only 2 strike outs.  These numbers translate to little or no control, but somehow not giving up a hit in otherwise poor pitching performance.  The no-hitter actually is in line with Liriano’s start to the season.  2-4 record, 6.61 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 24/20 BB/K ratio in 2011.  Not only is Liriano now not striking guys out, but he is walking hitters at an astronomical rate.  Liriano had one incredible partial season: In 2006 he had a 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 32/144 BB/SO ratio in 121 IP.  Superstar numbers and an ace in the making.  Since then, health issues and poor performance have plagued the hurler for the most part.  The 3rd Tommy John survivor on our list, Liriano appears to have the same Volquez type control issues.  Last season I thought that we had seen a rebound from Liriano.  14-10 record, 3.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 58/201 BB/SO ratio.  Maybe not ace numbers, but very solid pitching numbers.  Believe it or not, Liriano is on pace for approximately 150 walks this season.  Just when he looked like he might be coming around, Liriano regresses.  Then he goes out and throws a no-hitter and nobody knows what to think.  But I will tell you this much, walking hitters is a disaster…while walks and few strike outs means a complete implosion.  I suspect that there may be more to this story than meets the eye, as Liriano may be having health issues that is leading to his poor numbers.  Otherwise, at 27 years of age, Liriano may be continuing his hurler mode rather than becoming a fine-tuned pitcher as is preached by the Twins organization.  The potential is there, but until we know his health situation is better, all bets are off.

T4)  Charlie Morton, Pirates:  24

The last member of our group may not be a Tommy John survivor, but he is a 27 something year old pitcher (only Drabek is the youngster at 23).  Morton is also not on his original team, as he has been traded together with all the members of our list except Sanchez.  It is not a coincidence in my estimation that young hurlers with control issues would be moved by a major league team.  Liriano, Volquez and Morton were all seen as expandable by their respective teams in order to obtain needed talent.  Sanchez has been mentioned in trade whispers for years now and Drabek was moved, but only because the Jays demanded him in the Halladay swap.  Morton was moved in the McLouth deal, with the Braves moving an extra arm and the Pirates stocking up on much-needed pitching talent.  After previous frustrating campaigns, Morton appears to finally be coming around this year.  His 2011 record sits at 4-1 with a sparkling 3.13 ERA.  He is allowed less than a hit per inning, which is promising.  His 24/24 BB/K ratio means that Morton is striking out as many batters as he is walking.  The 1.41 WHIP is the issue with Morton, as it is with all the hurlers on this list.  Morton has a career 1.57 WHIP, so he is improving in the category.  Once he is able to put it together, Morton is able to get major league hitters out.  He may not have the stuff of the other members of this list, but he apparently knows how to get major league hitters out.  While not an ace, developing into a solid #2 or #3 starter could be in his future.  If Morton could limit his walks to approximately 50 in a season, I would love to see what he could do over the course of that year.  I see potential and improvements to warrant hope.  For a pitcher that used to give up over a hit per inning, those numbers are vastly improved.  Time will tell if the rest of his numbers will fall in line.

With young hurlers that have little control, teams do not often know what they are ultimately going to have.  In the time that it takes for a pitcher to learn control, the issue becomes whether a pitcher will be able to get major league hitters out by going for ground ball outs and fly outs while reducing walk totals.  Roy Halladay is the poster child for high strike outs and low walks.  With ERAs in the low 2.00s, WHIPs in the low 1.00s, 20 wins consistently, Halladay is everything that a pitcher strives to be.  But then take a pitchers like Andy Sonnanstine.  One of my faves on the Rays, Sonnanstine rarely walks hitters.  But without striking out many hitters either, Sonnanstine unfortunately does not have the stuff to get major league hitters out on a consistent basis and gets hit hard often.  As a result, Sonnanstine is constantly shuttling between the rotation, bullpen and minors.  If you take Sonnanstine’s control and the stuff of any of the pitchers on this list, you would have Roy Halladay.  Perhaps a touch oversimplified, but you get my message.  For pitchers like Jonathan Sanchez and Kyle Drabek, my advice is just go after and trust your stuff, good things will happen.  For Edinson Volquez and Francisco Liriano, I think a change in mechanics and approach is in order.  I see too much wildness with little change in the future.  If these pitchers do not change their walking ways, the potential that each has will never be fulfilled and talent will end up being wasted.  With the emphasis in baseball on strike outs, pitchers like Volquez and Liriano fall into the trap in concentrating on punch outs and disregarding the finer points of the game.  The emphasis is on pitching, not throwing: I hope these guys understand that one day.  Unfulfilled potential at the end of the day is just failure in my book.  Remember that the next time when you watch these hurlers flirting with trouble in their next starts.

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