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Best And Worst Red Sox Christmas-Time Transactions

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Saturday, December.29, 2012

Can Joel Hanrahan Light up Fenway? Time will Tell

Can Joel Hanrahan Light up Fenway? Time will Tell

By Saul Wisnia,  Red Sox Correspondent (Read his blog ‘Fenway Reflections’ here):

Now that it appears the Red Sox have “wrapped up” their big Christmas week trade with the Pirates, it got me thinking about how the Sox have fared in past late-December moves. It’s too early to say how this swap is going to shake out; if closer Joel Hanrahan pitches in Boston like he did during most of the past two seasons, he’ll be a huge step in the rebuilding effort. Here’s a look back at the success of some other Christmas-time transactions by the Red Sox:

Dec. 28, 2011: Promising outfielder Josh Reddick and minor leaguers Miles Head and Raul Alcantara traded to Oakland for closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney.

Reddick probably doesn’t feel this way anymore.

Result: Not looking good so far. Bailey was injured most of the season and ineffective upon his return. The Hanrahan trade makes it pretty clear Sox management believes Bailey won’t bounce back strong, and Sweeney was allowed to go to free agency after a lackluster .260, 0-homer year with Boston. As for Reddick, he was one of the biggest MLB surprises of 2012, hitting 32 homers and earning a Gold Glove with the A’s. HO-HO-HO Meter — (1/2 HO)

Dec. 24, 2004: Catcher Jason Varitek re-signed as free agent.

A direct result of Tek’s re-tendering — another title.

Result: Strong move for two reasons. Although Varitek turned 33 in April 2005, he remained a productive offensive and defensive performer for most of the four-year deal. More importantly, the captain stabilized an ever-evolving pitching staff and helped lead the Red Sox to another World Series title in 2007. (HO-HO-HO)

Dec. 21, 2001: Outfielder Johnny Damon signed as free agent.

What would Johnny do? Plenty for the Sox.

Result: Idiot’s delight. Damon delivered in every way for the Red Sox over the four-year contract, as a speedy lead-off man with power, an excellent defensive outfielder (minus his throwing arm), as a tough, enthusiastic leader in the clubhouse, and as a clutch performer in the postseason. His grand slam in Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS is one of the biggest hits in team history. (HO-HO-HO-HO) 

December 19, 2000: Outfielder Manny Ramirez signed as free agent.  Over 8 years, Sox fans enjoyed Manny happy moments.

Result: Best free-agent signing in team history. Even at eight years and $160 million, Manny was worth it — teaming with David Ortiz to form a devastating one-two punch and averaging .313/.412/.594 with 36 homers and  114 RBI from 2001-2007 as a major cog on two World Series champions. (HO-HO-HO-HO)

Dec. 22, 1980: Postmark date stamped on a contract mailed to Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, two days after a deadline expired — making Fisk a Free Agent. 

After switching Sox and his number, Fisk kept hitting.

Result: Holy Cliff Clavin. Fisk signs with the White Sox and over next 13 more seasons hits 214 home runs. (No HOs)

Dec. 26, 1919: Outfielder/pitcher Babe Ruth sold to Yankees for $125,000 plus a $350,00 loan.

Harry Frazee ate crow on this move.

Result:  Owner Harry Frazee’s folly. Frazee didn’t like Ruth’s wild ways, or his demands for a $20,000 contract. So he sent the Babe packing, then watched him hit 659 homers for New York through 1934. (No HOs)

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of www.mlbreports.com and their partners.***

A big thank-you goes out to  Saul Wisnia for preparing today’s featured article. Saul shares his Fenway Reflections at http://saulwisnia.blogspot.com. Born just up the street from “America’s Favorite Ballpark,” he is a former sports and news correspondent at The Washington Post and feature writer at The Boston Herald. He has authored, co-authored, or otherwise contributed to numerous books on Boston and general baseball history here, and his articles and essays have appeared in Sports Illustrated, Red Sox Magazine, Boston Magazine, and The Boston Globe. His most recent book, Fenway Park: The Centennial, was excerpted on http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/.  Wisnia lives in Newton, Massachusetts, 5.94 miles from America’s favorite ballpark, with his wife, two kids, and Wally (the cat, not the Green Monster).  Feel free to follow Saul on Twitter .

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Kevin Youkilis: (The Greek God Of Walks) Can Still Help A Ball Club

Wednesday, Nov.28/2012

Youkilis was well short of his .388 Career OBP with the White Sox in 2012 (.346), however the guy is still better than over half of the 3B in the MLB. With the White Sox, his OPS was .772.

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner):

Part of being a baseball writer is leaving some of your fandom behind in the wake of it.  I never thought in a million years I would be writing a praise-full piece about Kevin Youkilis.  But here it is… Last month, the White Sox declined his 13 Million Dollar 2013 Team Option and bought him out for a 1 Million Dollars.  Anyone could have projected this, including Youkilis, but why didn’t Kenny Williams try to get creative with it?  What if they could have offered Youkilis a 2 year extension for 5-6 Million Dollars and bring the total value of the contract up to around 19 Million Dollars for the 3 years with the added $?  Youkilis stabilized the White Sox’s 3B position nicely during his 80 game stint.  His 3 category stat line read .236/.346/.772, with 15 HRs and 46 RBI and 47 Runs in 292 AB.)  If you double that production, his full year totals would have been about 30 HRs, 92 RBI and 95 Runs.  Those numbers will still fetch a pretty penny on the open market.  Now that the White Sox have bought him out, he can sign with anyone. Read the rest of this entry

Chuck Booth’s GWR Streak (MLB Parks 22-24)

The Streak ended at 30 MLB Parks in 23 calendar days!!

I broke my old record of 24 days by being-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 23 days  from April 6th to 28th!

Sked is here: fastestthirtyballgames3021.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/30in20/

Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter

http://mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker/ or at my official website for all updates!

Wednesday May.2/2012

Chuck Booth and Anthony Salter Prior to game #22 in Detroit. Anthony has been to a game with Chuck for every one of his streak quests.

MLB Park # 22 Day # 17

TEX @ DET

April.22/2012

Comerica Park

 

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024)-The passenger exchange was made at 4:30 AM near the Forrest Lawn Oasis.  I jumped from the car that Ken Lee was in to Bob Devries’s rental car.  We were on our way to Comerica Park via Highway 94.  Through the course of the drive, Bob and I realized we know everything there is to know about rental cars.  I rent cars for 365 days a year and Bob rents cars every weekend.  It is not often people can relate to all of my car rental stories.  I haven’t even owned a car since 2009.  If the market was ever to drastically change I would be out of a job and a car.  The day was going to be sunny from our drive in.  After arriving into town early we headed towards HockeyTown and Cheli’s.  We then moved onwards to a Bar Called ‘Bookies’ off of Elizabeth Street. This bar was ideal because it was where we parked for $5.

 I had a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with curly fries inside the Sandwich.  It was tasty and hit the spot.  Bob had the local IPA Beer.  About an hour later we met up with the Salter Family (Joe, Dianne, Anthony, Jake and Robert).  These guys have been part of every one of my streaks.  I met them 1st in 2008 at PNC Park when I almost broke the World Record the first time around.  In 2009, the Salter’s were there with me front and center when MLB Park #30 was completed at Comerica.  I call these guys my good luck ‘surrogate’ baseball family.  I was happy that Bob was there to meet them as well.  We all took pictures and headed up to our seats.

Read the rest of this entry

Stolen Bases: Fantasy Baseball Strategies to Increasing Steals

Thursday November 17, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  Of the five categories in standard 5X5 roto leagues, it is SB’s that fantasy owners most commonly have the incorrect approach. In this article I will highlight players to target and avoid in the stolen base department, as well as discuss basic fantasy strategy.

There are certainly several one trick ponies, such as Brett Gardner, Michael Bourn, and Coco Crisp, who provide elite production in this department. However, there are a couple of things you must consider. These types of players, who will hopefully hit for average and contribute to runs, will hurt your team’s HR and RBI performance. Therefore, be sure that you have excess value dispersed throughout the rest of your lineup to compensate. Secondly, you are heavily relying one on player for your production in this category, and as a result an injury can leave your team devastated. Thus, it is essential, particularly in the early rounds, that you find players who do everything, including steal bases. Even 5-10 steals that a player contributes above the position average will give you a significant edge.

A player to target next year, Eric Hosmer, quietly stole 11 bases in 2011. The young left-hander batted .313 with 11 HR and 44 RBI’s in the second half last season. While his still progressing power production puts him the second tier of first baseman, his double-digit stolen base potential makes him intriguing and perhaps underrated. Still, this guy finished the season with 19 home runs and 78 RBI’s in 128 games played. Since there are a slew of first baseman that finished with 30 home runs and 100 RBI, they will likely be targeted before Homer. Therefore, I like Hosmer as a guy who might just as well approach these power numbers but also steal 15 bases. For this same reason, I like Joey Votto over any other first baseman not named Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera. While, Adrian and Gonzalez and Prince Fielder might put up higher power numbers and similar batting averages, Joey Votto’s 10 stolen bases will make him significantly more valuable. Albert Pujols is also good for ten stolen bases as well. Only Miguel Cabrera out produces Votto enough in the other four categories to excuse his lack of stolen bases.

Now extend this approach to each position. Dustin Pedroia and his 25-30 stolen bases is more valuable than Robinson Cano and his 5-10 stolen bases, despite the fact Cano finished with 7 more home runs and 25 RBI’s. A player I like at this position if you can afford to take the hit in HR’s and RBI’s is Jemile Weeks, who finished with 22 stolen bases in just 97 games. He will get to play full-time in Oakland, and as long as he is hitting above .290, can be valuable to your roster as a good source of steals. On the decline is Brandon Phillips who has dropped from 25 to 16 to 14 stolen bases the last three seasons. This makes him no longer elite, especially when Ian Kinsler is doing 30/30. An interesting group of players, Kelly Johnson, Danny Espinosa, and Ben Zobrist each his 20 home runs and stole over 15 bases. However, they each struggled with average. Again, take not of your team’s strengths. If you own Votto and a couple of other average anchors, these types of players can be good sources of power and stolen bases at the second base position.

Instead of continuing on and telling you the elite base stealers position by position (you can easily look this up), I will give you my 2012 sleepers and busts.

Stolen Base Sleepers:

Don’t forget that Brett Lawrie’s one-quarter of a season not only put him on pace to hit 36 home runs and 100 RBI’s, but also projected him to finish with 28 stolen bases.

Peter Bourjos made noise at the end of the season and once stole 50 bases in the minor leagues. For the speedy outfielder, it was all about getting on base after a 2010 debut in which he batted .204 in 51 games. However, he greatly improved his contact ability, although still needs to improve walk rate, and batted .271 and stole 21 bases for the Angels. He also hit 12 home runs, and has the potential for a productive .280 15 HR 30 SB stat line in 2012.

After stealing 19 bases in 2011, I expect Shane Victorino to reach the 30 mark once again in 2012. It’s not that he didn’t run when he was on base, but his lower than usual BABIP and high than usual ISO (measures true power) simply meant he was not on first base as often as he normally is. With Rollins likely out of Philadelphia, I expect Victorino to ne at the top of the lineup and as aggressive as ever on the base paths.

Keep you eye Cameron Maybin, who stole 40 bases in 137 games for the Padres. As long as he has the chance to play semi-regularly, he is elite in the stolen base category. Furthermore, he appears to be approaching double-digit home run output as well, although he is only a career .255 hitter.

Monitor where Coco Crisp ends up in 2012. I loved him at Oakland in 2011 because he was one of the better hitters on the team (sadly) and at times batted third, but also batted lead off and in the second spot. In addition to leading the American League in steals, he had decent contributions in other categories (8 HR and 54 RBI) compared to some of the other stolen base leaders.

Dexter Fowler is a name to remember because he is simply one of the fastest players in baseball. However, he only stole 12 and 13 bases during the last two years, respectively. He was also caught an alarming 25 times. If he can learn to run on the base paths, he can be elite in this category. It is possible for major leaguers to learn the art of stealing bases. Look at Adam Jones, who was 12/16 on the base paths in 2011 after a 7/14 2010. I expect Jones, who is approaching a contract season, to come closer to 20 steals in 2012.

Speedsters to avoid? Juan Pierre. He really contributes in no other categories and is getting slower, getting caught 17 times in 44 chances in 2011. Furthermore, I do not expect any team to give him the 639 at bats that the White Sox foolishly provided him. Sadly, Ichiro Suzuki is clearly on the decline and appears to be a shell of his former elite self. The same is true with Bobby Abreu.

***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.

Adam Dunn and Alex Rios: The Future of the ChiSox Sluggers

Monday October 10, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  There were perhaps no two bigger fantasy busts than Alexis Rios and Adam Dunn during the 2011 season. Although nobody was “screwed over” more than White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, many fantasy owners surely had a hard time overcoming the incompetency of these two players.

Although Dunn’s performance was unexpected by many, we have seen this from Alex Rios before.  Rios reemerged on the scene in 2010 as one of the rare five category players: .284 avg, 21 HR, 89 RBI, and 34 SB. However, Rios really tailed off at the end of his 2010 season and looked a lot more like the player that the Toronto Blue Jays flat-out released a year prior.  His 2011 numbers look eerie similar to 2009:

2009: .247, 17 HR, 63 RBI, 24 SB

2011: .227, 13 HR, 64 RBI, 11 SB

Oddly, 2008 and 2010 were different stories for Rios, as he amassed a total of 9.3 WAR in those two seasons. There is no doubt that Rios suffered from bad luck in 2011. He .237 BAPIP is 70 points below his career average. However, the fact remains that Rios is now on the wrong side of thirty. It is doubtful any team would make the same mistake Williams already has and taken on his salary, so chances are Rios will still be in Chicago. With his large contract and a new manager in town, I think it is safe to assume it will be his position to lose in 2012.

Rios’ inconsistencies throughout his career make him a difficult player to evaluate, but you have to think he will bounce back and be a good buy-low candidate. Whatever you do just do not overpay. His peripheral numbers indicate that his power is still there and that his batting average should improve perhaps to his career .270 range. We also cannot ignore his strong finish, batting .307, 5 HR and 12 RBI in his last 75 at-bats. It has been said that he “over thinks” and struggles with the mental side of the game, but his physical skills are undeniable. 

The signs indicate that Rios will bounce back in 2012 for a rebuilding White Sox team. Therefore, target him as a backup or final outfield option for a cheap price. Pay for the player he was in 2011 and hope to get the 2008/2010 Rios in return. With his track record it is simply not safe to pay for him as a .280/20 HR/80 RBI/20 SB guy that he could very well be.

I think you have to take the same approach with the other White Sox enigma, Adam Dunn. Dunn was the model of consistent for the last 10 years, and he appeared to be in a great position to succeed in Chicago in 2011. However, his strikeout rate increased to a stagger 35.7 percent, and when he did manage to put the ball in play, his .240 BABIP left him with a .159 season average. Historically bad.

Dunn is also aging and was noticeably out of shape last year. Watching him play every day, he simply seemed over matched and had trouble recovering form an early season appendectomy. Dunn has to realize what is at stake here (his career) and hopefully he picked up something from Paul Konerko’s professionalism and approach to the game.

The fact remains that with his contract, Dunn will get the chance to turn things around in 2012. If he has a repeat performance, then the White Sox might be forced to just cut ties and move on. Therefore, 2012 is truly do-or-die for Mr. Dunn. Thus, I expect him to put in the time in the off-season and bounce back next year. It is not to say that Dunn will put up the same numbers as he has in the past, but the home run total could still exceed thirty. U.S. Cellular Field is a notorious hitters park, and Dunn still has the ability to take advantage of its favorable dimensions.

The good news, fantasy owners and White Sox fans, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn cannot be any worse in 2012! The fact is they will both be giving an opportunity to bounce back in 2012 and try to prove the worth of their 14 million dollar per year contracts. Although, they will never come close to doing this, they can provide value for you next year. These are the types of guys that I love to target for cheap on my fantasy teams. Rios has bounced back before, and although his inconsistencies are mind bogglingly frustrating; it is not crazy to expect him to do so again. Bad luck, reflected by BAPIP, played a factor for both of these players. And with Dunn, if he does put in the offseason commitment, his track record is too long and strong to ignore. Therefore, expect both guys to bounce back.  Just don’t put your self in the position where you are counting on it.

 

***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.

Adam Dunn: The Future of the White Sox Slugger

Wednesday August 31, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:  Not every player can fit onto a particular MLB team.  That is a baseball reality.  In fact, there are very few, if any players that could produce the same statistics playing for any team.  A player’s production is based on many factors, including home park, lineup, adaptability to particular cities and so on.  When a team trades for a player or signs a free agent, the hope is that the new player will be able to meet or exceed previous production levels on a new team.  Sometimes, the hope is that new environment will revitalize a stagnant player and breath new life into them.  In the case of Adam Dunn, the Chicago White Sox signed him to a free agent contract last year.  A large deal, 4 years for $56 million dollars.  A fair deal in my estimation at the time.  The White Sox by signing Dunn were hoping to land an established slugger to fit in the middle of their lineup.   What they ended up with was quite different.

Take a look at Adam Dunn’s current production in comparison to his career numbers:

  BA HR RBI     OBP
Regular Season .163 11 40       .290  
Career .244 365 920     .374  

To say that Adam Dunn has been anything but a disaster since his arrival in Chicago would be an understatement.  Prior to 2011, Dunn’s worst season produced an .819 OPS.  That was in 2003, his 2nd full season in the majors that was cut short by injuries.  Turn the clock and Adam Dunn sits with a .578 OPS this season with no likelihood of redemption.  While some pointed to Dunn playing in a new league for the first time and starting off slow, a turnaround was expected at some point this season.  Dunn has actually regressed to the point that he is benched by manager Ozzie Guillen at a frequent rate.  A sad state of affairs for one of the game’s previously most consistent sluggers.

For a two-year stretch, from 2003-2008, Adam Dunn was a 40 home runs and 100 walks guy.  In his last two seasons, Dunn played in a less than friendly hitters park in Washington and still hit 38 home runs per season.  Moving to the White Sox, expectations were that playing in a hitter’s park with a deep lineup would produce possible MVP type numbers for the burly slugger.  So what happened?  Why the sharp regression?

Part of the issue has been the move to the American League.  The adjustment has not worked for some hitters and we have seen NL hitters in the past that cannot play in the AL for whatever reason.  Glenn Davis is one famous example that comes to mind, who moved from Houston to Baltimore and literally fell apart overnight.  Dunn also is a full-time DH for the first time in his career.  Some hitters never take as well to moving off the field and into a DH role, citing inactivity and removal from the full game experience as distractions from their hitting.  Given though Dunn’s perceived weak fielding, at both first base and the outfield, a move to DH should have been a welcome change for him.  Yet the move was another factor in his year-long slump.

The main culprit in my estimation is the fit, or lack of in Chicago.  Perhaps it is the city, or the ballpark, teammates, media or his relationship with the manager.  Whatever the reason, I ultimately believe that Adam Dunn and the White Sox simply do not mesh more than anything else.  While  a return to the field and/or the National League may help, first and foremost Dunn needs to get out of Chicago and start fresh. 

I think of Chone Figgins and his move from the Angels to the Mariners.  Despite staying in the same division even, Figgins was never able to meet expectations in Seattle and regressed throughout his time with the Mariners.  Had he stayed in Anaheim, the chances are higher that Figgins would have continued playing his game and not transformed into a shell of his former self.  Carl Crawford in Boston and Jayson Werthin Washington are players that also signed big-ticket deals and also stayed in their respective divisions, yet faltered in the wake of big contract expectations.  But the difference with Crawford and Werth is that they have shown some glimpses of life this season, while Dunn has shown none.  I fully expect Crawford at least to be able to make the necessary adjustments and rebound by next season.  In Dunn’s case, I do not see that happening without a trade.

Nick Swisher is a situation that I will point to as an example.  From the moment Swisher was traded from the A’s to the White Sox, nothing went right.  After suffering through the worst season of his career in Chicago, Swisher was traded to the Yankees for pennies on the dollar and blossomed in New York.  The same will likely occur to Dunn.  A move to the Yankees is a possibility, for a high-profile team that can afford to take on or part of most of Dunn’s salary.  A trade for a bad contract is another one, with the Cubs for Zambrano or Giants for Zito as possibilities.  Better yet, a move to the Angels could also be the answer.  With Mike Trout ready to join an outfield of Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter, the Angels may not have room for failed trade acquisition Vernon Wells.  The White Sox could plug Wells into their outfield and Angels use Dunn to replace Bobby Abreu as DH.  A long shot, but certainly a possibility.

No one can be sure if this season is an outlier or an indication of the beginning of the end for Adam Dunn.  Based on his strong body of work until this year, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that a rebound will occur.  The White Sox might wait it out and give Dunn another shot next year.  But then GM Kenny Williams has never been the patient type.  After moving Swisher very quickly, I expect the White Sox to do the same with Dunn.  This would be a classic buy-low situation for another MLB club.  Expect many calls on Dunn in the offseason and a new team by 2012.  Despite Dunn indications of having retirement thoughts due to his poor season, I cannot see him going down in this manner.  Adam Dunn will be back.  The only question is where.

  

 

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Colby Rasmus and Mark Teahen to Jays, Jason Frasor and Zack Stewart to White Sox, Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel to Cardinals

Wednesday July 27, 2011

 

MLB reports:  We first discussed a Colby Rasmus trade to Toronto about a week ago here on the Reports.  The trade as we proposed would have included Rasmus to the Jays and Travis Snider and Jason Frasor to the Cardinals.  It looks like we got half of the players right, as a Rasmus to Jays deal is complete and ready to be announced.  However, in typical Alex Anthopoulos fashion, the trade is a 3-way deal.  Going to the Jays is pitcher Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen in return for reliever Jason Frasor and pitcher Zack Stewart to the White Sox.  The Jays are then flipping Jackson, outfielder Corey Patterson and relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynskias well as three players to be named later or cash to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus, relievers P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet and Trever Miller.  From there, Miller may be on the move to the White Sox to complete the Jackson swap.

 

Here is how the trade breaks down team by team:

 

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Kenny Williams can never sit on his hands come trade deadline time.  As hard as he may try, Williams loves to tinker with his team and this year is no different.  Speculation had Williams eyeing Rasmus for himself.  But with the need to maintain a strong bullpen, it appears that the White Sox are adding Frasor while keeping Matt Thornton.  As the Sox are also deep in the rotation and Jackson was essentially redundant for a team that is unlikely to make the playoffs.  Frasor is having a solid year, with a 2.98 ERA and 1.252 WHIP.  The White Sox may choose to hold onto him or let him go and receive compensation as a type “B” free agent.  Teahen, at one more year and $5.5 million left in salary was an expensive backup at best.   Zack Stewart, one of the Jays better pitching prospects, is currently at 24-year old AA starter with a 4.20 ERA and 1.410 WHIP.  Stewart, who came to Toronto in a package for Scott Rolen, showed very solid numbers until this year, with a lifetime 3.05 ERA in his minor league career with a 1.343 WHIP over four seasons.  The White Sox wanted to stock up their system and Stewart should be a bright addition.

VERDICT:  White Sox win their end of the deal.  Although the addition of Colby Rasmus would have been nice, he was likely a luxury that the team could not afford.  The White Sox end up freeing salary, receiving a useful reliever that could turn into a draft pick and a prospect starting pitcher in a system screaming for prospects, in exchange for two spare parts from their team.  They may even get Trever Miller to boot.   

 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Alex Anthopoulos, the Jays wheeling and dealing GM, is quickly becoming the master of the 3-way trade.  AA’s first big move was trading Roy Halladay as part a of a three-way move with the Phillies and Mariners, with the Oakland A’s joining in shortly after in the Michael Taylor and Brett Wallace swap.  The Houston Astros then traded Roy Oswalt that summer to the Philadelphia Phillies for a package including Anthony Gose, who was then flipped to Toronto for Wallace.  Vernon Wells then this offseason  went to the Angels and a couple of days later the Rangers were involved in the Mike Napoli for Frank Francisco trade.  AA is now back in a big way.  With the MLB non-waiver trade deadline a mere four days away, AA has shocked the slow-moving trade market with the biggest swap of the season.  Toronto parts with Jason Frasor to Chicago along with Zack Stewart and then move recently acquired Edwin Jackson with relievers Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski, as well as outfielder Corey Patterson and three players to be named later or cash  to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus, as well as relievers P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet and Trever Miller.  Mark Teahen then stays in Toronto from Chicago as a backup infielder.

Breaking down the deal for Toronto, they move three middle relievers in Dotel, Rzepczynski  and Frasor.  Dotel and Frasor could have either stayed in Toronto next year or been type “B” free agents with compensation picks coming back.  Rzepczynski, a former starter has been steady in the Jays pen this season but does not project to be more than a middle reliever.   With the Jays having such strong starting pitching at the majors and minor league levels, Jackson was a pitcher who actually would not have been able to crack the Jays rotation.  Teahen, whose last decent season in the majors was 2007, is another Juan Rivera salary dump pickup for the Jays who could hang around for season or be cut loose with salary eaten.  At the end of the day, the Jays at most have traded away three middle relievers/draft picks, a prospect in Zack Stewart to the White Sox and about $5.5 million in salary to acquire Colby Rasmus.  With the logjam in the outfield, Corey Patterson was expandable.  We are not sure yet who are the three players to be named later but apparently the Jays may move cash to the Cardinals instead.  The three relievers received by the Jays, Walters, Tallet and Miller are all spare parts at best, with Miller apparently on his way to the White Sox.  Tallet though enjoyed his best years in Toronto and a Jays reunion may give his numbers a boost.

How good is Colby Rasmus?  Best prospect in baseball good before getting the call to the majors.  A first round pick of the Cardinals in 2005, the 24-year old Rasmus has not seen eye-to-eye with manager Tony LaRussa for some time and a change of scenery was in order.  Once he realizes his potential, Rasmus has Gold Glove and Silver Slugger potential.  He is really that good.  Under team control for another three seasons, Rasmus gives the Jays the center fielder they have desired for so long and a top of the order bat.  Rasmus will perfectly slide into the second spot of the batting order and give the Jays power, speed and the ability to get on base. 

VERDICT:  If the measure of a trade is by the team receiving the best player available, then the Jays win this trade overall hands down.  They have acquired Colby Rasmus, one of the best young outfielders in the game by giving up essentially middle relievers, a prospect starting pitcher and taking on salary.  While Zack Stewart may develop one day into a solid number 2 or 3 starter, for a team that is filled with pitching prospects, Stewart was an arm that the team could afford to move.  AA could actually get arrested for stealing Rasmus from the Cardinals.  This is what you call buying low at the right time.  The Jays should thank LaRussa for his recent comments that Rasmus was not listening to the Cardinals coaching staff.  Playing for John Farrell, with Jose Bautista as a teammate and Cito Gaston as a Jays advisor, Rasmus should be able to quickly realize his potential in Toronto.  Even with the trade of three of their middle relievers, the Jays are still left with Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch in the pen with more call-ups available at AAA.  With the Jays bullpen blowing saves at an alarming rate this year, moving some of the relievers for a star outfielder is a no-brainer.  This trade will also increase the Heath Bell to Toronto rumors, as the Jays continue to pursue the Padres star closer.

 

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

There aren’t many positives to say here.  The Cardinals if they make this move, would be trading away one of their best players for not so magic beans.  The 27-year old Jackson, while filled with potential has never performed fully to his capabilities at the major league level.  Now on his sixth major league team and eligible for free agency at the end of the season with Scott Boras as his agent, the Cardinals will need to overpay to retain his services.  With a 3.92 ERA and 1.422 WHIP on the season, Jackson is as middle-of-the-road as they come.  The Cardinals are hoping that Dave Duncan can work his magic but with less than half a season left, there may only be so much that their pitching coach can do.  The 37-year old Dotel has also been steady this season, sitting at a 3.68 ERA and solid 1.091 WHIP.  The team will also have an option to bring Dotel back next year.  Rzepczynski at 25-years of age broke out this year with a 2.97 ERA and 1.093 ERA.  He remains under team control for four more seasons.   Good numbers, but not enough in my estimation.  For a player of the caliber of Colby Rasmus, I would have expected the Cardinals to receive a top starter and closer back.  Rather, the Cardinals are esentiallly receiving a number four or five starter and two middle relievers.  For a team in dire need of pitching, I would have expected a much greater return.  Corey Patterson is at best a fourth oufielder for the Cardinals and the trio of relievers they sent to Toronto, Miller, Tallet and Walters are of little consequence.

Verdict:  GM John Mozeliak and manager Tony LaRussa must really dislike Colby Rasmus to be giving him away in this fashion.  After both Rasmus and his dad have spoken out by the team in recent years, the LaRussa comments the other day likely sealed the deal.  As the team likely does not want to face Rasmus as an opponent, a move to the American League makes sense.  One would think that other teams, including the Angels, Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers could have offered more.  But it appears that Jays GM Alex Anthopolous was in the right place at the right time and is on the verge of acquiring the Cardinals’ outfielder.  The Cardinals are the big losers in this trade and it is not even close.  In the  event that both Dotel and Jackson are type “B” free agents and leave St. Louis at the end of the season, the Cardinals will be left with two months worth of rental players, a middle reliever and two draft picks as compensation.  That is all they will have to show for trading away one of the best young hitters in the game.  Considering the prospects the Tampa Bay Rays have in their system, if Toronto can pull this swap off, it will be a loss felt in St. Louis for many years to come.

 

 

 

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E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday June 15th

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 June 15, 2011

Q:  Do you think that the Dodgers should rid of Rafael Furcal?  Dee Gordon is looking really good.  From Christopher, Los Angeles.

MLB reports:    Rafael Furcal is injured once again, playing in only 17 games thus far in 2011.  After playing in only 97 games last year, the end might be near for the 33-year old Dominican.  Signed through this year, the Dodgers hold a team option on his contract for 2012, that is almost certain to be declined.  Considering his high salary and low value, chances are that Furcal will play out the string in Los Angeles.  Dee Gordon has played well in limited action so far for the Dodgers.  But remember, he is still only 23.  At worst, Furcal is either going to be on-and-off the DL all year or be an expensive insurance policy for Dee Gordon.  Not to worry, the Gordon ERA has begun in Los Angeles.

Q:    Most common players last name in Major League Baseball?  From London Baesball, UK.

MLB reports:  Great question from the UK.  One would think that it is Smith or Anderson, a very common last name here in North America.  But showing the global-wide spread effect of the game, the answer is Ramirez.  With 11 noted players with the last name Ramirez, including Hanley, Aramis and Alexei, the most common last name in MLB is:  Ramirez.

Q:  With all the talk of realignment in baseball, what are the chances of us seeing the Astros in the American League?  From Bill, Texas.

MLB reports:  Thank you for the e-mail Bill.  Realignment has been the talk of baseball in recent days based on the ESPN article that came out last week.  We actually covered the topic of realignment last month, which you view in our archives by clicking here.  The Astros have been a popular team included in the realignment discussion, based on the natural rivalry with the Texas Rangers.  I had the Astros moving to the AL West in my proposed realignment, with the Rockies and Diamondbacks.  I can see a definite fit for the Astros in the AL.  As a rebuilding team, moving to a new league could lead to fan excitement and increased attendance.  Given their strong hitters park, I could see the Astros having some wild games in the AL.  A definite fit, this story is starting to gain even more momentum. 

 

Q:  Will the Twins rebound this season?  I am very frustrated!  From Kelly, Ohio.

MLB reports:  I do not blame you Kelly as little has gone right for the Minnesota Twins this year.  While I see a good nucleus for future years, it does not appear that the playoffs are in the cards for your team in 2011.  The team is sitting at 26-39 and has just lost Justin Morneau for approximately two weeks.  Joe Mauer has been injured for much of the year, Nathan has not returned back to form and much of the team has either been slumping or injured for most of the year.  Little has gone right and sometimes you just need to chalk things up to bad luck.  I expect the team to regroup, refocus and come out strong next year.  There is still a lot of baseball to be played but I would not expect higher than 3rd place this year for your Twins.  Sorry.

 

Q:  I enjoyed your profile on Mesoraco.   Great prospect for the Reds.  What happened to Chapman.  Did he just lose it all of a sudden?  Is this Dontrelle Willis all over again?  From Barry, New York.

MLB reports:  Hello Barry.  Glad you enjoyed reading on Mesoraco and there is much to look forward to in Cincinnati.  A great ballclub with many prospects on the horizon.  I definitely see the Reds contending and perhaps creating a mini-dynasty in the near future.  As far as Aroldis Chapman goes, there appears to be a mystery as to what has happened to the once future closer for the Reds.  The 23-year old has been simply horrible, both in the majors and minors.  Some have blamed mechanics, while others have said that he is battling injuries.  Maturity may be an issue as well.  The decline of Dontrelle Willis was a gradual one, while Chapman has lost “it” literally overnight.  The Reds will have to be careful to pinpoint his issues and help straighten him out.  The greatest danger is a loss of confidence, which can be very difficult for a young player to overcome.  Injuries can be healed.  But if mechanics are the issue, the best bet is to keep him in the minors and to get Chapman straightened out, no matter how long it takes.  I would treat him with kiddie gloves at this point and hope that he gets back to form by 2012.

 

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Top Home Run Hitters: The MLB Leaderboard

Sunday June 12, 2011

MLB reports:  Another week goes by and we find that there are more changes on the MLB Home Run Leaderboard.  Jose Bautista finally has some competition and the proven long ball hitters of seasons past have finally made the list.  Let’s take a look at the home run leaders in Major League Baseball as of today:

Tie 1st:  Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays:  20

Jose Bautista hit #20 on May 28th.  Since then, he has remained stuck on 20 while the rest of baseball starts to catch up.  For a man in a home run draught, he still has 58/35 BB/K on the season, with a .338 AVG, .490 OBP and .692 SLG.  As Bautista works to recapture his early season form, Adam Lind has come back to the Jays as a man on a mission.  Lind is hitting .327 on the season with 11 home runs of his own, a beneficiary of the protection that Bautista can afford him in the lineup.  Realistically speaking, Bautista was never going to hit 80 home runs this season.  But he remains on pace for 50+ and Bautista may still match or exceed his 54 long balls from last year.

Tie 1stCurtis Granderson, New York Yankees:  20

There is a 2nd sherif in town and his name is Curtis Granderson.  One of three Yankees on our list, Granderson has enjoyed a rejuvenation at age 30.  Granderson is close to matching his 24 home runs from last year and well on his way to exceeding his career high of 30 home runs from 2009.  Granderson’s 27/65 BB/K ratio tell me that he has not necessarily changed his free swinging ways at the plate and a “market correction” may be in order here.  But despite his .267 AVG, Granderson has not shown any slow downs in the power department.  2011 has been Curtis Granderson’s coming out party and if Bautista isn’t careful, we may have another home run king on the season very soon.

Tie 3rdMatt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers:  19

Matt Kemp (“The Bison”) at the age of 26, has finally started to cement his place in the book of baseball superstardom.  With 19 home runs on the year, to go along with his incredible .331 AVG, .408 OBP and .632 SLG, Kemp has gone from prospect to star seemingly overnight.  After hitting 26 and 28 home runs over the last two seasons respectively, Kemp is on pace to hit 40-50 home runs this year.  Hitting in the heart of the Dodgers lineup with Andre Ethier, Kemp has been the heart and soul of the team this year.  As he matures as a person and leader, so has his game developed on the field.  The sky is the limit for this young superstar, who has future MVP written all over him.

Tie 3rdMark Teixeira, New York Yankees:  19

The last two spots on our top-five list should come as no surprise, starting with Yankee slugger Mark Teixeira.  With 39 home runs in 2009 and 43 in 2005, Teixeira has showcased his home run strengths in previous years.  A consistent 30+ home run threat, Teixeira is on his way to setting a career high in the category, showing his enjoyment playing in Yankee Stadium with its short porch.  Teixeira, with his smooth swing, home run park and protection in the lineup, has all the factors in his favor.  By season’s end, I expect him to remain near the top of this list and could very well finish at the #1 position.

5thPrince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers:  18

The final spot goes to Prince Fielder, the impending free agent slugging first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers.  Prince has literally done it all this season.  He has shown a great eye, with 36/31 BB/K in 2011, to go along with his .300 AVG, .410 OBP and .614 SLG.  The man hit 50 home runs in 2007 and 46 in 2009.  With a BIG payday ahead (rumored to be in the $200 million range), Fielder is showcasing his skills this year.  At 27-years of age, Prince will be able to write his own ticket when picking his next home.  He has certainly ensured to give himself the best chance to make the big bucks in the future by his strong play in the present.  Fielder’s agent?  None other than Scott Boras.  Expect Fielder to continue to explode on the field all season with teammate Ryan Braun as the Brewers make one more giant push with its hulking first baseman steering the ship.

After looking at such an impressive top-five list, the rest of the sluggers represent the who’s-who of baseball.  Bruce, Braun, Quentin, Pujols, Cabrera, A-Rod…yes, they are all here.  Mike Stanton with 16 home runs has come together quickly in his 2nd season to become one of the top home run hitters in the game.  As we discussed several times to start the season, the cream always rises to the top as the months go by.  As we sit at almost the halfway mark of the season, the proven home run sluggers have proven just that.

The Best of the Rest:

Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds:  17

Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox:  17

Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals:  16

Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox:  16

David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox:  16

Mike Stanton, Florida Marlins:  16

Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers:  15

Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers:  14

Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals:  14

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers:  13

Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies:  13

Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees:  13

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E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday June 8th

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 June 8, 2011

 

Q:  Do you think that  Kansas city will trade Wilson Betemit to a contender while he his playing well and with Mike “Moose” starting to hit great in Triple-A?  If so to whom will he get traded to possibly?  From Pam

MLB reports:  Thank you for the question Pam.  I see that you have beeen following the Reports closely, as you know that I enjoy discussing Royals prospects, especially the up-and-coming bats.  With Hosmer on board, it is only a matter of time before Mike “Moose” Moustakas is next.  In 54 games played in Omaha, the Moose has 10 home runs,  43 RBIs, 36 runs scored, .282 AVG and .835 OPS.  His 18/43 BB/K ratio does not get me terribly excited, as it does not appear that Moose will ever have the batting eye of Eric Hosmer.  That being said, Moustakas should hit for decent average with a ton of power.  At 22 years of age and on his second tour of duty in AAA, it is only a matter of time before he gets called up.  Wilson Betemit, on the other hand, has played fairly well this year, with a .297 AVG and .776 OPS.  The power is down with only 2 home runs but he has 13 doubles already.  I see the Royals keeping him around for insurance and versatility.  With the Royals very much in contention, they do not have an incentive to trade Betemit unless they got young pitching back (which few teams would give up at this stage).  Betemit also has a very affordable contract ($1 million/2011) and will not likely be moved. 

 

Q:    What do you think of the rumored group of Garvey and Hershiser to purchase the Dodgers?   From Larry, Laughlin.

MLB reports:  This story has surfaced and has started to gather steam.  If not for Steve Garvey, I could see the Orel Hershiser name attached to the bid providing a great deal of credibility.  Hershiser is seen as a clean-cut individual with great heroics in years past for the Dodgers.  Garvey on the other hand, while a strong player in his day, does not have the best reputation.  Based on the news that I am hearing, I think having Garvey on board will likely kill the chances of this group winning any future bids to control the Dodgers.  Frank McCourt is still lurking in the background, but his time is almost done.  With all the turmoil surrounding the Dodgers in recent years, MLB and Selig will take their time to find the best possible ownership situation for one of its prized franchises.  Stay tuned as this story is far from over.

 

Q:  So has Matt Purke pitcher for TCU been drafted yet? If so, where to?  From Nolan, Texas

MLB reports:  What a fall from grace.  Purke, drafted by the Rangers 14th overall in 2010, was drafted in the 3rd round, with the 96th pick by the Washington Nationals this year.  After battling a sore shoulder and having signability issues based on the Rangers failure to sign him, many teams got scared off from this prospect.  I expected Purke to go in the 1st round this year, likely to the Jays or back to the Rangers.  But the Nationals, who continue to stock up top prospects, landed a 1st round talent in the 3rd round.  A very successful selection as Purke will become a solid #3 solid for the Nationals down the road, as early as 2013. 

 

Q:  Hosmer have a legit chance at AL ROY this year?  From Jerry, Lawrence KS

MLB reports:  You think?  At age 21 (a year younger than Mike Moustakas), Eric Hosmer has simply dominated major league pitching since getting the call to join the Royals.  In 29 games, Hosmer has 5 home runs, 20 RBIs, 14 runs, .304 AVG and .834 OPS.  His batting eye has not been on par with his numbers from the minors, as he sits at a 7/22 BB/K.  But with his strong average and power to-date, Hosmer will cut down the strikeouts and increase the walks as the months and years go by.  We are watching the Royals first baseman for the next decade or so.  He has the potential to match the bat of Will Clark and Mark Grace and the sky is the limit for this future all-star.  I compare him most to Logan Morrison of the Florida Marlins, as they are very similar players.  Great company to be in.  Michael Pineda has been outstanding for the Mariners but as the summer is upon us, his arm may get tired and innings become limited.  On the flip-side, I can see Hosmer getting hot as the season progresses and could make a strong push for the Rookie of the Year award in the American League.  Definitely keep an eye on this kid.

 

Q:  What’s your thoughts on the White Sox drafting Keenyn Walker at 47?  From James, London, ON

MLB reports:  I was very surprised to see Walker drafted this early.  After being drafted by the Cubs in the 16th round in 2009 and the Phillies in the 38th round in 2010, I did not expect Walker to go as high as he did.  The kid is a speedster, stealing 65 bases in 63 games played this year.  Compared by some to Devon White, he sees himself as the next Torii Hunter.  Despite his strong bat and 6’3″ frame, I have concerns if his bat will translate to the major league level.  The speed and defense are definitely there, but it’s the power and batting eye that he will need to prove to advance in the minors.  A good project player with a high ceiling, but much too early for the White Sox at this slot.

 

Q:  Looks like Francisco brought his “A game” again. Why is he still closing?  From Jennifer, Toronto

MLB reports:  For some reason, there is a code in baseball that you stick with your “established” closer(s) and keep trotting them out there until they absolutely cannot be trusted.  Looking at the Frank Francisco’s numbers, I believe that time has come.  He has given up far too many hits and runs on the season and with a 6.06 ERA and 1.78 WHIP, in my opinion he should have been pitching in middle relief long ago.  With Jon Rauch also struggling to maintain consistency, many so-called experts have looked to Octavio Dotel to take the closing job in Toronto.  While Dotel has been steady, he has not shown the necessary consistency in my estimation.  If it were up to me, I would call upon Casey Janssen or Jason Frasor to become the new Jays stopper.  Both have brilliant on the season and earned the right ot pitch in the 9th inning.  Frasor has the experience but I would give the role with Janssen and see if he can run with it.  The Jays are fortunate to have so many closing options and can try out different pitchers until they find the right fit.  But why Francisco continues to get the call is beyond me.  He is most suited to pitching the 7th or 8th inning and has proven in Toronto, like he did before in Texas, that he is not a dependable closer. 

 

Q:  What are your thoughts on the season that Jonny Venters is having so far?  Also what about how terrible Uggla has been?  From Kyle

MLB reports:  Craig Kimbrel has pitched well this season, with 17 saves (2nd in the NL), 2.79 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.  But while Kimbrel has been good, Venters has been great.  All Jonny Venters has done is given up 2 ER in 35.2 innings pitched, to a the tune of a 0.50 ERA and 0.76 WHIP.  Kimbrel is younger at 23 compared to Venters at 26 and was seen as a stronger prospect going into the season.  Also Venters is a lefty and baseball for some reason favors right-handed closers.  But the numbers don’t lie and should Kimbrel falter at all, Venters will be given the first crack at the job.  The Braves are in a really good situation with these two youngsters pitching at the back end of their bullpen.  If their worst problem is who should pitch the 9th, the Braves will not mind that at all.  As far as the slumping Uggla goes, there are several factors for his poor season.  At 31-years of age, he starting to hit his decline.  He always had high strikeout numbers but his walks have taken a huge dive this season.  For whatever reason, he has not been comfortable playing in Atlanta and has had troubles adjusting to his new team.  Add to that the pressure of living up to his new 5-year, $62 million contract and you have a case of player that is out of place and playing under pressure.  Uggla though is a solid veteran and I expect him to heat up as the summer is upon us.  The only direction for him is to go up and as long as he goes back to basics and does all the little things that has made him successful in the past, he should rebound nicely.  Uggla is still Uggla, give him time.

 

 

 

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Jeter vs. Swisher: Love and Baseball – Friday Faceoff

MLB reports:  This week’s edition of the Friday Faceoff was originally scheduled to be a battle between the Cincinnati Reds top catching prospects or two of the Oakland A’s mega hitting prospects.  We get many requests for stories and updates on prospects on MLB reports and try to accommodate whenever we can.  We love the MLB stories but stories of up and coming players always carries a soft spot for us.  But then an e-mail came through this morning from Jenny in Texas as follows:

” Derek Jeter should have never gotten engaged.. Since his engagement he has been in a slump…. Ha .. Happy Friday.”

Simple and to the point, a classic message.  It got me thinking about Derek Jeter and his love live vs. his baseball performance.  I had read before that Jeter was engaged to actress Minka Kelly sometime during the past few months and was dating her since 2008.  Then I thought about one of my personal favorites, Nick Swisher.  Swisher married actress Joanna Garcia this past off-season after getting engaged in mid-2010.  Two Yankee players, both in serious relationships and both mired in deep slumps.  I started thinking that Jenny was on to something.
 
In comparing the Jeter/Swisher relationships and baseball performances, let’s take a deeper look into each story:
 
Nick Swisher
Swisher has been linked in the past to dating a model, but otherwise his love life has been kept fairly private compared to Jeter.  From his Oakland and Chicago days, Swisher was known as the long-haired party guy who liked to have fun and bring excitement to the clubhouse.  Following Swisher on twitter and facebook, he kept very active in the social media corresponding with fans and was not afraid to hold back.  2009 and 2010 were solid campaigns for Swisher, as he immediately adjusted to the Bronx and brought his “A” game to New York.  At the tender of age of 30, nothing appeared to hold him back.  Then Swisher met actress Joanna Garcia, got engaged during the 2010 season and got married during the past offseason.  From there, I started to see a new Nick Swisher emerge.
 
As soon as Swisher got married, I noticed that his twitter and facebook accounts were not very active.  When Swisher would make any posts, they would be of the generic variety, very plain vanilla so to speak.  Swisher appeared in two different television series before the season: Garcia’s “Better with You” and “How I Met Your Mother.”  I could smell trouble a mile away, as spending more time behind the camera and not focusing on baseball is never a good thing.  While Swisher is extremely popular on twitter (1.3 million followers makes him more popular than MLB on twitter), he has evolved from fun-loving single guy to serious, concerned and calculated married man.  The results show on the field.
 
29 games into the season, Swisher has a grand total of one home run, .214AVG and .614 OPS.  Brutal numbers for a man who averaged 29 home runs over the last two seasons and .869 OPS.  At 30 years of age, Swisher has not lost his skills…but rather his mojo.  There was talk that Swisher is continuing to look for acting opportunities and may get a part in a movie in the future.  Great for his acting resume, bad for his baseball career.   In my estimation, fair or unfair, he has to get his priorities in order and focus on what pays the bills: baseball.  Acting may be fun and works well with his wife’s career, but Swisher needs to get back down to basics to what brought him MLB success.  I do not profess to know Swisher personally and do not spend time with him in the batting cages, weight room or at home.  But something is going on with Swisher that has caused a dive in his numbers and it appears that his personal life may be playing a part.
 
We have seen over the years how divorce can affect a player’s performance, especially in athletes (see Jeff Gordon and Chipper Jones).  When someone has a distraction at home, it can create chaos in that person’s job.  Baseball is no different and distractions, good or bad, can affect play on the field.  In the case of Swisher and as we are about to see Derek Jeter, a change in relationships and lifestyle can possibly have a detrimental effect on playing performance.
Derek Jeter
When researching and writing this piece, I had an instant issue with categorizing Jeter as suffering on the field by scoring off the field, so to speak.  A long-time playboy, Jeter has been linked with many famous females including Mariah Carey and Jessica Biel.  The golden boy of endorsements as well, George Steinbrenner criticized Jeter at one point for worrying too much about his life off the field and should focus more on his baseball play.  While some critics blasted Steinbrenner, I agreed with the statement.  Although Jeter has had solid numbers in his career, I believe he could have done more if he had partied less and worked harder at baseball. My opinion, right or wrong, is how I have always felt.  Now watching the Derek Jeter of 2011, I believe lifestyle has finally caught up to him.
 
Jeter got involved with Minka Kelly according to reports in 2008 and became serious in 2009.  According to reports, the pair got engaged in recent months with a wedding date still unknown.  This is where the tricky part lies.  Jeter started his deterioration in 2010 and has been abysmal to-date in 2011.  This year, Jeter has no home runs, .250 AVG and .577 OPS.  He is on pace to set career lows in many categories.  This comes after a 2010 campaign where he hit .270 with a .710 OPS.  At 36 years of age, is lifestyle or age the culprit for the decline in Jeter?  I would argue likely both, but for the purpose of this article, I will focus on lifestyle.
 
Jeter has his own cologne line “Driven”.  He was rated this year by a marketing firm as the most marketable baseball player.  He has endorsements with Gillette, Nike and Gatorade, just to name a few.  While Swisher learns to become an actor, Jeter is going strong as a pitchman.  I don’t think Yankee fans appreciate the extra-curricular activities if it takes away from their playing performances.  Based on the start of 2011 and judging by the numbers, I am convinced that both players are guilty of a lack of focus and drive.  The fact that Jeter has gotten engaged and planning to get married to Kelly says that there is something different about her for him compared to other relationships.  Whatever that it is, I do not see it helping his performance on the field.  As soon as things got serious for Jeter off the field, his play on the field declined.

The Verdict:

My message to Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher is quite simple.  Go rent the movie “Major League 2″ and recall what happened when Ricky Vaughn cut his hair, wore suits, dated an executive and was featured in his own television commercials.  Willy Mays Hayes starred in his own action movie in the offseason and came to camp with a new attitude and approach.  Both players failed miserably and had to go back to basics and lose “the attitude” so to speak to get back to playing at a high level.  Still not convinced?  Take the case of real life baseball players Kris Benson and Cole Hamels.  Each married a celebrity, a model/playmate and reality star respectively and each began to change.  Both became focused on marketing themselves and building their image than playing the game of baseball.  Look a the stats, the numbers do not lie.  I see the same slippery slope for both Jeter and Swisher.  My verdict is that both players are guilty of letting their love lives and off-field careers interfere with their baseball play.  My hope is that both will shape up before it is too late.  At Jeter’s advanced age and rise in the marketing game, he is likely not going to rebound much.  I do not see much hope in his case.  Maybe Swisher stands a chance, but if his acting career does take off, prepare for the new and declining Swisher to hang around.  It goes to show you:  love and baseball do not always mix.

 

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E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday April 20th

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, April 20, 2011

Q:  Here’s my plan:  Ozzie Guillen as General Manager, Paul Konerko as Manager and A.J. Pierzynski as a coach.  What do you think?  Sounds awesome to me :)  From Tina, Chicago.

MLB reports:  A great plan in principle, but I do not see it happening.  Firstly, I agree that Kenny Williams is on borrowed time.  After winning the 2005 World Series, the White Sox have not even had a sniff at another title.  After the Jake Peavy fiasco, I think management will eventually put Kenny’s head on the chopping block as the reason behind the White Sox recent failures.  Williams has a way of trading young talent and taking on big contracts which I think will end up being his downfall.  From there, the new general manager will likely want to bring in his own manager and will need his stamp on the team in order to gain respectability.  Also remember that the Marlins did not hire a big name head coach after the Valentine talks broke down.  Further, the Marlins had inquired as to the availability of Ozzie from the Sox in the off-season and were told it would cost them Mike Stanton in return.  If Ozzie plays out his deal with the Sox, as a coach with the 2003 World Series champions Marlins, I could see him taking over the as the manager as they open their new ballpark in Miami.  Ozzie has a great deal of experience as a manager but not as a general manager and at this stage of his career, I see Ozzie remaining in the dugout. 

To rebuild the team and start fresh, I can’t see the Sox going to an existing member of the team to take over the general manager role.  With Kenny and Ozzie likely gone, it will be up to Konerko and Pierzynski as to whether they continue on in the game in any capacity after they retire.  I have not heard great things about Pierzynski the player in terms of attitude, thus coaching to me does not appear to be a reality.  Konerko however, I can see taking such a role on as he is an extremely hard worker and well-respected in baseball circles.  But given the difficulties Sandberg had to get a major league managing job and the time Don Mattingly had to put in before landing the Dodgers gig, I can’t see Konerko getting a managing role without a great deal of coaching experience beforehand.

Q:  I’m still pulling for Jonathan Broxton.  Let’s not kid ourselves.  Who else do the Dodgers have to go to?  Kuo on DL and Jansen isn’t ready.  From Matthew, Los Angeles.

MLB reports:  Broxton is 5 for 5 in save opportunities, but that 6.14 ERA is not pretty.  Looking at the numbers, the only person with a shot is Mike MacDougal as the veteran has a very solid start to the campaign with the Dodgers.  If Broxton continues to give up runs like they are going out of style, MacDougal will get a shot.  I seriously hope for your sake and Dodgers fans everywhere, Broxton can get it together.  I don’t see many options on the horizon, you know your Dodgers pitching well.

Q:  How do you think the Jays will do against the Yankees this week?  From MLB reports Agent, Toronto.

MLB reports:  For those that are not aware, my niece was kind enough to intern on MLB reports to keep up the tweeting reports while I was away on my honeymoon in February.  Now joining us on Twitter, our agent in the field will mostly be looking after postings, articles and photographs  on our Facebook page and helping with the occasional tweets.  Great first question Ms. Agent.  The Jays had a hard-fought win last night with Travis Snider hitting the game winner in the bottom of the 10th to take the first game of the series.  Game 2 goes today and has Bartolo Colon for the Yankees and Brett Cecil for the Jays.  Should be a high-scoring game as I do not expect either starter to be very effective.  After a hard loss I expect the Yankees to come out firing early and take the 2nd game.  A 1-1 split would still be considered solid work for the Jays and much to build on going into the weekend series with the Rays.  That matchup will really show what the Jays are made of as the Rays are a tough inter-division squad with very solid pitching.

Q:  I read on the site this week about some pitchers who had been injured.  I felt that there should have been one more.  What’s the status on Jake Peavy?  It’s just a thought.  I just wanted to know how he was doing.  From Richard, Roanoke.

MLB reports:  Peavy was supposed to return on April 29th but he has been postponed due to arm discomfort.   The official word is that Peavy has soreness of the lat muscle that was reattached during his July 2010 surgery.  Peavy will be taking anti-inflammatory medicine for a week and if all goes well, could be going back to a rehab assignment by the end of the month.  Given that Peavy is getting on in years and had radical experimental surgery, I cannot understand the Sox insistence to rush him.  Looking at what happened to Ben Sheets and Brandon Webb, there is nothing to gain by rushing Peavy and everything to lose.  I can see Peavy back in uniform if all goes well sometime in May, but a relapse is very probable, if not certain.  My prediction is that Peavy will either have another surgery and/or be shut down again at some point this season.  He does not seem to be fully healed and apparently can re-injure himself at a moment’s notice.  I am a big Peavy supporter and would love to see him out on the field battling for the Sox, but sometimes the body just has a way of saying no.   Time will tell.  To see my previous updates on Webb, Sheets, Morrow and Francisco that was posted this week on the website,  please click here

Q:  What is the chance of Jhoulys Chacin on the Rockies winning the Cy Young this year? From Joe, Atlanta.

MLB reports:  At 6’3″ and at the age of 23, Chacin has not even entered his prime yet.  You are looking at his 3-0 record, 1.64 ERA and 1.091 WHIP and getting excited.  I can’t say I blame you as Chacin had a solid 2010 campaign as well with a 3.28 ERA and 1.274 WHIP.  The potential is clearly there and given what Jimenez did in 2010 (19 wins, 2.88 ERA), anything is possible.  I give his chance at winning the Cy Young this year at about 2%.  Why so low you ask?  Mostly the competition: from Halladay, to Lee, Oswalt, Lincecum, Gallardo, Greinke, Lincecum…the list goes on and on.  Chacin still plays in a difficult pitcher’s park and likely will be 2nd on his own team behind Ubaldo as the top pitcher.  Chacin still has 2-3 years to grow into ace-status and while he has a good chance at 15 wins, I think that a Cy Young is still years away.  Pitchers of Chacin’s age still tend to go through ups and downs during their growing pains.  Don’t discount the experience factor in overall Cy Young voting and final statistics.  Experience often carries the day.

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Part III – My Name is Oney: Making My Name in the Guillen World

(Welcome to part III of a III part profile and interview series with Oney Guillen)

In part III of my interview series with Oney Guillen, I explore the future of Oney.  From his current career plans, to future opportunities, to even the possibility of rejoining the White Sox organization, Oney shared many insights to his fascinating life.  I also learned about Oney’s brothers, Ozzie Jr. and Ozney and discussed their careers as well.  Without further adieu, I present to you the final section, Part III, as I give you:  Oney Guillen.

MLB reports:  After having worked in the White Sox front office previously, would you take a job with a major league team if the opportunity presented itself?

Oney:  Absolutely I would definitely join another major league team.

MLB reports:  Could you envision yourself working for an organization other than the White Sox?

Oney:  I could only see myself working for another team.

MLB reports:  Why not the White Sox?

Oney:  After everything that has happened between myself and the Sox and considering the hard feeling, I definitely don’t think that the Sox and I will ever be the same.  It saddens me because my father is the manager of the team and I still cheer for the team.  But this is how things have worked out and that is ok.

MLB reports:  What role(s) could you see yourself taking on for a major league team?

Oney:  I know that I would be a great coach or manager one day.  Perhaps I could take a job in scouting, even scouting oversees.  I would also consider just being in the front office, which in the right situation would be great because I would actually have a say in the operations of the team.  There are so many things that you can do in baseball which makes the game so great.

MLB reports:  Describe briefly your relationship with your other brothers, Ozzie Jr. and Ozney.  Do you spend much time with each of them?

Oney:  Well, my dad told us that we should always be best friends.  My dad also made sure that his boys were very close and always took care of one another.  All my brothers were very close growing up and still remain close today.  I actually live with Ozzie Jr., so we see each other and spend time together all the time. 

MLB reports:  What do the Guillen boys do for fun?

Oney:  We like to go out and just do normal guys things.  We play video games, sports…you name it.  All three of us have a great dynamic together.  For example, we can get into heated arguments but it doesn’t reach a level where we insult one another personally.  As our father taught us, we hold each other accountable for our actions.

MLB reports:  Do you spend more time with one particular brother?

Oney:  I spend more time with Ozzie Jr. because we live together and Ozney is in Miami.  I have a great relationship with Ozney though and talk to him on the phone all the time and see him as often as I can.  I have always talked to Ozney like he was a man, even when he was little…maybe that’s why I felt like he was already man a couple of years ago.  Plus Ozney is as tall as sh*t… he is huge!

MLB reports:  Getting to another subject, you have become well known for your voice on the internet, including Twitter.  After your Bobby Jenks tweets in December, did you feel that you needed to change your approach or what you could say on Twitter?

Oney:  As far as I know, the reason for Twitter is for people to be able to give their opinions.  If the truth be known, I would have never said anything on Twitter if Jenks had not spoken out about the White Sox organization or my father.  But Jenks did speak out and I felt the need to respond, to defend both my dad and the Sox.

MLB reports:  Any regrets?

Oney:  I was heated when I wrote those tweets and maybe shouldn’t have said a couple of the things I said, sure.  But I can’t take them back now.  I don’t live in the past; I learn from my experiences and just look to the future.

MLB reports:  Have you spoken with Jenks since the tweets?

Oney:  We have spoken and everything is ok.  Let’s just say that everyone has moved on.

MLB reports:  Were you approached by anyone, including the White Sox organization or your dad with regards to your tweets, including limiting or changing them?

Oney:  No.  I was not approached by anyone.

MLB reports:  Following your career in baseball, you have taken on several new roles, from Triple Crown Productions to hosting/producing on 670 The Score.  Please describe for our readers what is Triple Crown Productions and please provide background on your current projects.

Oney:  Well, Triple Crown Productions is a marketing and branding company that my brother Ozzie Jr., friend Eddie and I started about a year ago.  We started it because we know so many people in the game and we really wanted to maximize our skills the most productive way.  So far, I can report that things have been really great with our company.

MLB reports:  What are some current projects of Triple Crown?  What is http://www.ozzieguillen.com?

Oney:  We handle all of the marketing for Ozzie Guillen and look after all his activities off the field, as well as for Joey Cora and a couple of other players so far.  We put together recently the “Ozzie Roast” which was a very successful event and other projects as well, including the official website for Ozzie Guillen, which we work with Major League Baseball on.  The site is great and we will continue to grow it.  We truly feel that http://www.ozzieguillen.com will be the best athlete website ever when it is completed. 

MLB reports:  Why the delays on the website?

Oney:  We have been working on the website for over two years because the process was delayed in approvals from MLB.  I am just glad that it is finally up and running.  As far I see it, better to be late than never.

MLB reports:  I understand that Ozzie Jr. is currently broadcasting White Sox games on the radio and Oney is playing baseball for the University of South Florida.  Any updates on your brothers and how they are doing?

Oney:  Oz Jr. is broadcasting both Bulls game and Sox games and he absolutely loves it.  Oz Jr. and I have a radio show on the Score 670 that broadcasts once per week.  It’s always fun when you get to talk about sports for a couple of hours every week.  We are in the process of getting another radio show with another company as well…stay tuned…

MLB reports:  What about Ozney?  How is your little brother doing?

Oney:  Ozney is currently studying and playing baseball at Miami Dade College.  He loves living on his own in Miami and absolutely loves living life.  If Ozney stays healthy, he should do just fine on the ball field.  If you want to know the truth, I have seen many players get a chance at playing in the minors and they were horrible.  With his ability, I don’t see why Ozney with his talent should struggle.  My brother will be alright.

MLB reports:  Where do you see Oney Guillen being in five years from now?  What do you see yourself doing and how will you be connected to baseball?

Oney:  In five years, I expect Triple Crown Productions to already be established and respected in the marketing and branding arenas.  Our client list is definitely growing.  I would love to still be doing radio and stay connected to the game of baseball in that way.  But really, no one knows what the future will hold.  All I know is that I want to be healthy.  As long as that happens, I’m going to be just fine.  For my family to be healthy and happy as well…all the chips will fall where they have to.

MLB reports:  Oney, thank you again for joining MLB reports.  It has been a pleasure speaking with you and learning about you.  Thank you for giving us the inside scoop and on behalf of baseball fans everywhere, we wish you well on your future endeavors.  Please keep us up to-date so that we can give your fans the Oney reports.

Oney:  Absolutely.  Thank you as well.  It was great meeting you and thank you for sharing my story.  We will definitely keep in touch.  Thank you as well to all my fans and supporters of the Chicago White Sox and Ozzie Guillen.  To the greatest baseball fans, I say:  Go Sox!

***A special thank you to Oney Guillen for his time and effort as part of being interviewed for this interview series.  Oney agreed to share private photos from his family album as part of this series.  A thank you as well to Peter Stein, my editor in helping to prepare this piece.***

Please click here to read Part II of Oney Guillen. 

Please click here to read Part I of Oney Guillen.

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MLB Scores and Player Highlights from Monday April 11th

MLB reports:  A roundup of all the results from yesterday’s MLB action and the players that shined and ones that did not quite perform as well:

Rangers 2- Tigers 0:  The Rangers moved to 9-1 on the season while the Tigers fell to a dismal 3-7.  Alexi Ogando, the former Rule 5 pickup, upped his record to 2-0 and no runs earned on the season.  The entire Rangers pitching corps has been dominant all season and in this game Oliver got his 4th hold and Feliz with his 4th save already.  Verlander went the distant in the tough loss and now has a 3.13 ERA on the season.  Cabrera with two hits for the Tigers is now hitting .382 on the season, while Peralta is at .344.

Rockies 7- Mets 6:  The Rockies won a thriller decided in the 8th inning and are now 7-2 on the season.  Mets are still treading at 4-6.  Houston Street picked up his 5th save on the season.  Both starters, Jason Hammel and Mike Pelfrey pitched ok but nothing spectacular.  Tulowitzki hitting cleanup hit his 4th home run of the year while Carlos Gonzalez had 3 ribbies in the 3rd spot for the Rockies.  David Wright replied with his own long ball, 2nd of the season and Jose Reyes tripled among his 2 hits for the Mets.  Reyes at .340, Wright at .325 and Davis at .351 are all positive signs for the rebuilding Mets.

Rays 16- Red Sox 5:  At equivalent 2-8 records, two of the best teams in baseball have been slow out of the game.  On this day the Rays brought out their whipping sticks to take it to the Sox.  Matsuzaka, Wakefield and Wheeler all got beaten early and often, while Hellickson despite giving up five walks in 5.1 innings pitched two run ball for the win.  The big story was Sam Fuld, with 2 doubles, a triple and home run (so close to a cycle) from the leadoff spot for the Rays.  A throw-in as part of the Matt Garza trade, Fuld was the hero in this game.  The Rays pounded to the Red Sox for 20 hits, as Damon, Zobrist, Upton, Jaso and Brignac all had big games.  Crawford had two hits for the Sox in the leadoff spot and Ellsbury hit his 2nd home run of the year.

Cubs 5- Astros 4:  In a battle of central division rivals, the Cubs record is now 5-5 while the rebuilding Astros are at 2-8.  Ryan Dempster gave up 4 runs but had 9 SO in his first win of the year, while Marmol is now up to 4 saves.  Figueroa gave up 5 runs in 4 innings for the loss.  Castro had 3 hits for the Cubs in the leadoff spot and stole his first base.  Alfonso Soriano chipped in with a couple of RBIs for the Cubs. 

Athletics 2- White Sox 1:  The Athletics moved to 5-5 on the year while the White Sox felt to 6-4.  In a tough matchup, Dallas Braden pitched one run ball over six innings with seven SO, while Brian Fuentes got his 4th save of the year.  Mark Buehrle pitched 8 shutout innings and left with a no-decision.  Kurt Suzuki had two hits, including his first home run of the season, for an Oakland team that is still having a difficult time generating much offense.  Lillibridge had his first home run of the year for the White Sox.

Cardinals 8- Diamondbacks 2:  Within 4 wins apiece on the season, the Cardinals finally had a strong offensive showing against a decent Arizona squad.  Kyle McLellan, pitching Dave Duncan style ball, gave up one run over six innings for his first win of the year.  The star was Lance Berkman, with 2 home runs and 3 RBIs in the 5th spot.  Albert Pujols remains at an unsightly .150 average.

Reds 3- Padres 2:  The high-flying Reds are now 7-3 on the season, beating a tough Matt Latos and Padres team that is now 4-5.  Fantasy Ace Latos in his first start of the year gave up 3 runs in 6 innings with 7 SO.  Volquez moved to 2-0 by giving up 2 runs over 6 innings with 5 So, but remains with a 5.82 ERA.  Cookie Cordero got his 2nd save of the season.  Gomes got his 3rd home run of the young season while Brandon Phillips is hitting .410 on the season and Votto is at .444.  Orlando Hudson at 2 hits and is now at .313 for an otherwise dismal Padres offense.

Cleveland 4- Angels 0:  The 8-2 Indians, led by Willy Mays Hayes and Wild Thing are hot to start the year (major league 4?)  The Angels, after taking 2 out of 3 against Toronto now stand at 5-5.  Mitch Talbot pitched 8 shutout innings for the win, while Tyler Chatwood (who? exactly) took the loss.  Scott Downs, back off the DL pitched an inning for the Angels.  Asdrubal Cabrera is up to 4 home runs on the year (wow!) and Matt LaPorta had a 3-run bomb for the Indians.  Travis Hafner, by the way is up to a .355 average on the year and Orlando Cabrera is hitting .361.  The Angels only managed 5 hits as a team and 2 total walks, all from Bobby Abreu.  For those following my Vernon Wells watch:  Again hitting 5th as he has all year.  Another 0-4, average down to .091.  I believe a benching and move down the lineup is in order if the Angels hope to ignite their offense.  Callaspo at .353 and Trumbo with his strong power need to move up in the order.

Mariners 8- Jays 7:  In the shocker of the night, the Jays had a 7-0 lead after 6 and 7-1 lead after 7 and still managed to lose 8-7 in the 9th.  The hometown Mariners are still a low 3-7 on the year while the Jays are at an even 5-5.  Jesse Litsch pitched 5 shutout innings for the no-decision but played with fire all night with 4 walks and 5 hits given up.  Purcey, Dotel and Camp all got hit hard as the Jays bullpen imploded in Seattle.  The King was not his usual majestic self and gave up 7 runs and 12 hits in his own no-decision.  Milton Bradley got 2 hits including his first home run of the year.  Rodriguez had 3 RBIs and Justin Smoak finished with 2 hits and 2 walks.  Corey Patterson in his first game as a Jay hit a home run, while Encarnacion and Nix both had 3 hits each.  Adam Lind was 0-5 with 3 SO while Jose Bautista was 2-3 with 2 walks.

Dodgers 6- Giants 1:  In the final game of the night, the Dodgers moved to 6-4 while the World Series Champions Giants moved to 4-6.  Clayton Kershaw was his usual dominant self, pitching 6.2 shutout innings with 7 SO for his 2nd win of the year.  Madison Bumgarner has been slow out of the gates again, falling to 0-2 with 5 runs given up in 5 innings.  Andre Ethier was 2-4 with 2 RBIs and is up to a strong .368 on the season, while Matt Kemp went 1-2 and continued to show a good eye with 2 walks and is at an outstanding .441 on the season.  These 2 young hitters are truly coming into their own and Kemp is finally living up to his “Baby Manny” nickname from his rookie season, minus the issues.  Huff and Burrell both had 2 hits for the Giants, Burrell with his 4th home run and had 2 walks as well, despite hitting .222 on the year.  Posey is at .250 on the season while Brandon Belt is going to be packing his bags soon for AAA with his .143 average on the year.  A strong player and future star for the Giants, it appears some seasoning is still required for the youngster. 

 

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Manny Ramirez: The End of a Nightmare

MLB reports:  As a fan, analyst and writer of baseball, I rarely take pleasure in the misery of others.  Some of my readers would point to Vernon Wells and my “Vernon Watch” in what I commonly refer to as a showcase of blundery.  But Vernon is the exception to the rule.  For the most part, players are athletes that train hard, play with heart and hustle and give it their all on the playing field.  With the career of Manny Ramirez unceremoniously coming to a halt yesterday, there is an overwhelming sense of relief and enjoyment around baseball circles today.  For a man who could hit baseballs like flew other, one of the greatest hitters in MLB history will go down in the baseball archives as a laughingstock and side-show act.  A shame when one looks at the statistics and career of Manny Ramirez.  But for a man who got one too many chances, the punishment fits the crime.  Today we say goodbye to a distraction and one less black eye for the glorious game of baseball.

 

The first questions most MLB fans asked me yesterday was whether Manny deserves to go into the hall of fame?  My answer is simple.  In my opinion, if I had a vote, a definite yes.  Regardless of what Manny took or didn’t take, his statistics speak for themselves.  There have been many drug cheats and cheaters of all kind in baseball over the years.  The bottom line is that not many match to Manny’s outstanding numbers.  But alas I do not have a vote to-date and from what the baseball writers have shown in recent voting history with McGwire and Palmeiro, Ramirez won’t so much as get as much a sniff of the hall.  I can see the arguments for keeping Ramirez out of the hall.  Based on his second failed drug test and choice to retire and run over facing the music cements a legacy of being a quitter and a coward.  Manny gave up on the Red Sox and the Dodgers and got run out-of-town in each instance.  A first failed drug test blamed on some sort of hormone substances.  With a second failed test, Manny decided to take his glove and go home, rather than face the music.  I cannot see fans, let alone baseball writers forgiving him for this decision.  But again fitting for a man who has made a career of bad decisions and turning his back on the game one too many times.

 

Where does the future now lie for Manny Ramirez?  Many ex-players have the option of going into scouting, managing, broadcasting, writing….the field is wide open.  Mark McGwire, got a job as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, but as part of the requirement McGwire had to go on national television and give his apology.  Sort of.  But McGwire always had the eye of the public for his strong image and was somewhat cut some slack by the public.  Manny, with his quirky and aloof personality has a better chance of becoming President of the United States than a baseball coach, manager or broadcaster.  Seen as a liability, Manny is now headed into a self-imposed baseball exile, joining the likes of Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds as the baseball steroids/ped’s outcasts.  I could envision a day where Manny will write a tell-all book, explaining his side of “the story” while outing ex-friends and teammates in the process.  Manny just seems to be one of those guys, concerned more about himself and the almighty dollar than anything else.

 

When we all think to Manny Ramirez in ten years time, we will think of an idiot.  That will be the image in our minds.  Not the young rookie sensation on the Indians, World Series champ for the Red Sox, dreadlocks #99 igniter on the Dodgers or a two-bit player on the White Sox and Rays.  The man who chose to instantly retire rather than face his due punishment.  When faced with his first suspension last year, Manny did not speak to the media the entire balance of the season.  He is that kind of guy.  I did not imagine for the life of me in the offseason that any team would take a chance on him.  In my estimation, Manny was best served going away gracefully at the end of 2010 rather than being one last thorn in the side of an undeserving team.  When the Rays signed Manny, I said publicly that this could only end bad and that he would not last the season.  Rather than being dumped in August, Manny barely survived a week into 2011.  A 1-17 start at the plate will be the final blemish on an otherwise exceptional statistical career.  But as hall of fame voters are now showing, votes go beyond the numbers.  Manny Ramirez in the twilight of his career has been essentially a nightmare for all those involved with him.  Staring today, the nightmare is over.  Baseball does not need or want the Manny Ramirez’s of this world and my hope is that after this latest horror show, baseball will not see another Manny for a long time.  Baseball is built on hustle, teamwork, determination and heart.  Four words that were not in Manny’s vocabulary and for that transgression, we finally say goodbye to Manny for the last time. 

 

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Part II – Interview with Oney Guillen: Making My Mark in the Guillen World

(Welcome to part II of a III part profile and interview series with Oney Guillen)

MLB reports:  In part II of my interview series with Oney Guillen, I jump right into my conversation with Oney.  I tried to cover a broad spectrum of Oney’s life and career, but it was up to Oney, as the interviewee to provide the amount of detail he wanted for each of the selected topics.  My goal at the end of the series was to give the baseball world an insight as to who Oney Guillen is and more background about him as a player, son, businessman and person.  Without further adieu, I give you:  Oney Guillen.

MLB reports:  Hello Oney.  Thank you for joining me and agreeing to this interview series.

Oney:  My pleasure.  Thank you for having me.

MLB reports:  Let’s jump right into it Oney.  You were born in Venezuela and moved to Chicago in 2004.  You were a 36th round pick of the White Sox in 2007.  What were your first reactions when you found out that the White Sox drafted you?

Oney:  Well…it was an honor and very cool to be drafted.  I felt like I had worked very hard to get to that point and deserved to be drafted by a major league team.  Being drafted by the White Sox was a bonus.  I very much wanted to get my career started and play minor league baseball.  I felt that I earned it and was ready to play in the minor leagues.  I remember being curious as to what would happen to me after being drafted.  For the most part, I was just happy and grateful for the opportunity.

MLB reports:  Did your thoughts on being drafted change over time? How did you find the minor league experience?

Oney:  When I joined Bristol right after being drafted, I fit right in with my new teammates.  When I met the guys right away we got along great and it was a very interesting journey for all of us.  The truth is that playing in the minors is not as glamorous as some people think it would be.

MLB reports:  Oh No?  What was the minor league experience like for you?

Oney:  I always said that I grew up backwards as I went from being in a big league clubhouse every day as a youngster to riding the bus in the minors for many hours.  The minor league experience was able to show me the amount of baseball knowledge that I had and I often compared myself to the coaches that I met in the minors.  I realized in the minors that I had a special gift when it came to the game within the game.

MLB reports:  That’s great Oney.  It sounds like playing in the minors gave you a good idea of where your baseball future was headed.

Oney:  I knew that I had the knowledge and the ability to succeed in the game.  My challenge was to find my role in the game.

MLB reports:  How would you describe Oney Guillen the baseball player?  What do you consider your greatest baseball skills to have been?

Oney:  I was a very good defensive player and that was always my favorite part of the game.  For me it was making the great catches and making all the defensive plays, including turning two.   As a second baseman, with Venezuelan heritage, defense was always preached to me to be the key part of the game.   But aside from my defense on the field, as a player I relied heavily on my mind.  My years of experience in major league clubhouses and all the knowledge passed to me by my family and father not only helped me on the field, but it was wisdom that I was able to pass along to some of my teammates.

MLB reports:  Do you miss playing baseball?

Oney:  What I miss the most is being around the guys on the team.  I made so many friends in my minor league career and I miss being around them in the clubhouse and going to war with those guys.  I enjoyed teaching guys my age and even older players that baseball is a thinking game as much as it is physical.  It is the mental side of baseball that is usually neglected and can destroy many players’ careers.  I really enjoyed teaching my teammates how to be mentally tough and to train their brain as well as their bodies.  I miss being on the road with my teammates…many stories come to mind…

MLB reports:  Really?  Do tell.

Oney:  Let’s just say it was a really neat experience.  My playing career was definitely the highlight of my baseball career thus far.

MLB reports:  Reflecting on your playing career, what were your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?

Oney:  Well, truth be known, my career wasn’t that long (grin).  I played for four teams over two seasons, for fifty-two total games in my career.  My favorite memory as a professional that I am most proud of is playing exhibition games in Mexico with my father Ozzie as my manager.  That was pretty cool.  My last game also happened to be in AAA with many of the White Sox stars, which was a perfect ending to my playing career. 

MLB reports:  Who was your favorite player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?

Oney:   I definitely admired the way my dad played the game.  He was hardnosed and played the game the right way.  But I most idolized Roberto Alomar growing up.  Robbie was my all-time favorite.  I admired him so much that I even tried to wear my uniform like him. 

MLB reports:  I guess it was no coincidence that you played second base.

Oney:  Correct.  Alomar definitely influenced my position choice.

MLB reports:  Did you ever get to meet Roberto and if so, what was that like?

Oney:  Roberto Alomar was a family friend, so it was great getting to spend time with him.  I got to talk to him and hang out with him on many occasions.  I will never forget my time with Robbie as he is an incredible baseball person and I had so much that I learned from my time with him.

MLB reports:  On the flipside, which current MLB player do you most enjoy watching?

Oney:  Right now, my favorite player has to be Robinson Cano on the Yankees.  Cano makes all the plays look so smooth and effortless.  In my opinion, Cano is the best player that the Yankees have right now, which says a lot since he plays on a team with so many stars. 

MLB reports:  Getting back to your father Ozzie for a moment., how much of an influence did he have on you as a baseball player and a person?

Oney:  My father and I have a very unique and special relationship, as many fathers and sons do.  Look, I got to grow up in a house with Ozzie Guillen, so it definitely was not dull.  My dad was a great player and an even better manager- but by far, his most successful job has been his role as dad.  He was always honest with his kids and never sugarcoated anything.  He always treated me like a man and brought me up to act like one.

MLB reports:  What did you most learn from Ozzie Guillen, the father?

Oney:  My dad always gave all of children love and education.  Those were the two biggest things that he could ever give my brothers and I.  My dad always told me to stand up for what I believe in and to never be afraid of anyone.  At the end of the day, my father always insisted that I tell the truth and by telling the truth, I would never have regrets.  The discipline that my father instilled within me carried me as a baseball player and into the man that I am today.

MLB reports:  Not many people know that after your playing career, that you joined the White Sox head office in the scouting and video department.  You resigned in 2010.  Do you miss it?

Oney:  Truthfully, I do not miss working in the front office.  The part of the game that I miss somewhat is being around the game itself, on the field, in the dugout and clubhouse.  Being around the game every day on the field is like a drug, it is something that I was addicted to and could never get enough of.

MLB reports:  What did you like and not like so much about working in the White Sox front office?

Oney:  From my experience, working in a major league front office really opens your eyes, as to what is really going on and how the day-to-day operations of a team works.  It was great because I learned what it took to be a part of a front office and the experiences and lessons I learned will stay with me for a lifetime.   However, what I also saw was how little some of the people that I worked with in the Sox front office knew about baseball.  I observed people that had more of a say on the team due to the mere fact that they were older or had spent more years in the front office than me.  Just because those people were older or had more years than me, when it came down to baseball knowledge some of those guys did not know very much.  The politics of that side of the game really bothered me.

MLB reports:  Did you dislike anything else about working in the Sox front office?

Oney:  I did not miss being away from home for long stretches at a time.  I’m glad that in my current role that I can be home and continue to watch the Sox.  It used to me kill me that I did not know what was going on in the front office decision-making.  Looking back, I wish things could have been handled differently.  I wish someone had had the courage to give me feedback and openly discuss my role in the head office rather than choosing to hide and not communicate with me.  Truth be known, communication was poor on both sides I guess.

MLB reports:  Any regrets of leaving the White Sox organization?

Oney:  I do not regret anything.  I do not live in the past and I feel that my life is better now as a result of my decision to leave the Sox organization and pursue other opportunities.  What transpired between the White Sox and myself was going to happen one way or another.  While I was employed with the White Sox, I was told that my father could not have his own website and twitter account as they did not fit in the team’s policies.  After the team refused to allow me to create and operate a website for my father, I decided to resign.  The ironic part is that since I departed, the team has allowed my father to have a twitter account and website.   I operate the website with my brother through our company, Triple Crown Marketing. 

MLB reports:  Let’s touch upon Triple Crown shortly.  If you would have been allowed to create and operate a website for Ozzie, do you think you still would have been with the White Sox front office today?

Oney:  No, because what transpired was going to happen, one way or another.  I feel like I was being made into a scapegoat for some team problems and I am fine with that.  I am a man that takes accountability for his actions and knows what really happened between myself the team.  But I do not regret anything that has happened.  I truly feel that everyone involved is better off this way.

MLB reports:  ………

Thank you for reading Part II of my Oney Guillen interview.  Stay tuned for Part III, the final chapter of the interview as Oney discusses his future in baseball and working for the White Sox and any other major league team.  He also comments on twitter, his brothers, his current career and what the future holds for Oney Guillen.  All coming up next week.  Subscribe to the MLB reports by following the link at the top of our site to be notified on this article and all daily baseball posts.      

       

***A special thank you to Oney Guillen for his time and effort as part of being interviewed for this interview series.  Oney agreed to share private photos from his family album as part of this series.  A thank you as well to Peter Stein, my editor in helping to prepare this piece.***

 

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.

Opening Day 2011: No-Hitter?

MLB reports: With the 2011 MLB season commencing today, I started to think about milestones and achievements.  Recalling Doc’s no-hitter in last year’s playoffs, I started to blend no-hitter and opening day in my mind.  What did I come up with?  The only man to throw a no-hitter on opening day, the one and only Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians.

On April 16, 1940, in the old Comiskey Park in Chicago, Feller and the Indians beat the White Sox by a 1-0 score.  A tight pitchers duel, Feller and Eddie Smith of the Sox were on their games that day.  A cold and blustery day, the hitters could not get their bats going.  But Feller at the tender age of twenty-one made in his mark in history.

Bob Feller went on to throw two more no-hitters in his career, during the 1946 and 1951 seasons.  Just imagine in that perspective what Roy Halladay was able to accomplish in 2010.  Roy threw a perfect game against the Marlins in Miami at the start of the year and then the second no-hitter in post-season history, joining Don Larsen.  A perfect game and no-hitter in the playoffs.  Boggles the mind doesn’t it?  Another entry in the history book is the back-to-back no-hitters thrown by Johnny Vander Meer in 1938 against the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers. It is doubtful that we will ever see that feat again, although I’m sure many pitchers will continue to try.

Halladay broke new ground last year by throwing a no-hitter in the playoffs against the Reds, ensuring that Don Larsen would forever have company in the record books.  Vander Meer’s record is likely to remain intact until the end of time, as the probability of a pitcher in this day and age throwing back-to-back no-hitters is likely nil. Thus the next record to go is the opening day no-hitter.  Feller, who passed away last December at the age of 92 was a great pitcher and one of the best of all time.  Will any pitchers join him this year in the record books?  The story will unfold today and tomorrow.  Although very unlikely, there a couple of pitchers going who have a chance.  The truth is that on any given day, everyone has the chance to be great.  That is part of why we all love baseball so much.  Enjoy opening day and thank you for walking down memory lane with me.  Lets play ball!

 

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My Name is Oney: Making My Mark in the Guillen World

(Welcome to part I of a III part profile and interview series with Oney Guillen)

MLBreports:  Here is the scenario:  Put 10 baseball fans in a room.  The degrees of knowledge and experience in the group vary.  It’s irrelevant.  State to these fans one singular word:  “Guillen”.  Ask the focus group to indicate their first reaction and response.  The Likely result, 10 out of 10 times will be “Ozzie”.  Go ahead and try it.  Use any scale of testing group that you like.  100.  1000.  It doesn’t matter.  Ozzie will win out every time.  Now imagine your name is Oney and your father is Ozzie.  You have two brothers, Ozzie Jr. and Ozney.  Your last name is Guillen.  As one of the sons to the great Ozzie Guillen, imagine trying to come out from under that shadow, especially with the two brothers trying to do the same thing as you. I would imagine this is pretty difficult, perhaps impossible.  But then again, you don’t know Oney Guillen.  Some of you might think that you do, but the truth is that “unless you walk in the shoes of a man” as the old adage goes, you will never truly know him. So, let’s take a walk in the shoes of the aforementioned Oney Guillen.  While Ozzie may have left big shoes to fill in baseball, Oney has taken the non-traditional route and chosen a completely different pair to walk his journey in the game of life.  The imprints are already there and the roads in his career remain limitless.  This is the story of Oney Guillen as he makes his mark in the Guillen world.

I initially corresponded with Oney one evening via twitter.  I replied as a follower to a comment that Oney had tweeted and he replied.  We conversed on twitter for some time on baseball.  A few minutes later Oney followed me.  Ozzie Jr. followed a couple of minutes later.  Oney and I struck up a friendship that has continued to evolve ever since.  I commented on a child in one of Oney’s pictures that I mistook as his daughter and turned out to be his niece.  She turned out to be similar in age to my own son.  We discussed our mutual love of children, life and most of all, baseball.  I was instantly drawn to Oney’s charisma and zest for life.  A regular chip off the old block I thought.  I admittedly did not know Oney well yet at this point.  But as I got to know him and later interview him for this article, I was left in awe of the man that he was and the amount of baseball life that he had already lived at such a tender, young age.  As our discussions continued and grew, so did my interest in his story.

I was exposed to Ozzie and Oney at different stages of my life.  Ozzie, in fact, I have met in person on a couple of different occasions, both as s a player in the early 1990’s with the Chicago White Sox and later as a manager with the same South Siders in 2006.  Our first encounter was at a local hotel lobby when Ozzie was a young player signing autographs.  I found him to be young, polite and friendly to the fans.  As a manager, Ozzie and I met briefly at an MLB sponsored party after the home run derby in Pittsburgh.  Ozzie was the center of attention at his table, hanging out with family and friends including Miguel Cabrera, then of the Florida Marlins.  We spoke several words that night, but, again, Ozzie was nothing but polite and courteous.  A strong character and often rough image is portrayed to MLB fans by the media when it comes to Ozzie Guillen.  But without knowing contexts and scenarios, how many of us really know Ozzie Guillen- the man behind the sound bites we hear on television and read in our local newspapers?  Having met him personally on different occasions over the years, I can firmly say that the Ozzie Guillen I have met and know is not the same one that is often characterized by baseball fans.  For those fans that think that Ozzie is a loose cannon or angry person, think again.  How do you know this person?  What basis exists for such conclusions?  These were the same questions that I wish I had originally asked myself the night of December 28th last year.

I try to always acquire as much baseball knowledge as I can and stay on top of all baseball news and facts.  If you had quizzed me several months ago, I would have told you that Ozzie Guillen has three sons.  I would have guessed that two, maybe all were drafted at some point by the Chicago White Sox.  Call it one of my crazy baseball quirks, but I love following baseball drafts and prospects and learn the stories behind the players.  How Tommy Lasorda had pulled in some favors to have the Dodgers draft Mike Piazza in the late rounds of his draft year.  Gregg Zaun’s uncle is Rick Dempsey.  Brady Anderson’s father is not Sparky.  Mariano and Ruben Rivera are cousins.  Jose Canseco has a twin brother who also played professional ball, Ozzie…who allegedly posed this past weekend as Jose in a celebrity boxing fight…well; let’s leave those details for another day.

From there the influx of next generation players is overwhelming- Patrick Leyland, Cale Iorg, Dee Gordon, Delino Deshields Jr., Nick Swisher, Shelley and Chris Duncan, just to name a few.  The list literally goes on and on.  But to name the Guillen boys, I truthfully would have said at the time Ozzie, Ozzie and Ozzie.  Much in the way of George Foreman and his 10 children, with five boys all named George.  Ozzie Jr., Oney and Ozney are not far off in essence.  Each named as a direct or indirect variation of their father’s name.  This is a great honor on one hand, but somewhat of a curse on the other.  A curse in the sense that establishing a name for themselves would be that much more difficult.  Exposure is one arena, solidification is quite another.  The aforementioned night in December last year, I like much of the baseball world, got my first exposure to Oney through twitter.  My perceptions from that day have long been altered.  By sharing my conversations with Oney in this article, I am betting your opinion will change as well.

The story behind Oney’s tweets are well chronicled and do not require elaboration at this juncture.  Needless to say, references were made by Oney with respect to ex-White Sox pitcher Bobby Jenks and the twitter world was abuzz.  I will admit on record that the tweets were my first true exposure to Oney.  But tweets on a singular evening do not define a man, a body of work in totality does.  Over the course of the weeks after my friendship was struck with Oney, I prepared notes and went through an extensive interview with him.  I have to admit, I could not put the papers down.  Reading them again and again, I was mesmerized by his story.  The tale of Oney Guillen begins as many of a baseball story does: getting drafted and playing major league ball. 

Thank you for reading Part I of my feature article on Oney Guillen.  In part II of this feature, I will present the first portion of my interview with Oney Guillen and share his thoughts, feelings and dreams in his own words.  From his experiences growing up to his start in professional baseball as a player and working in the head office of the Chicago White Sox, to an in-depth look into his relationship with his dad and brothers.  In part III you will hear from Oney as to his current roles in baseball as well as those of his brothers, and learn about his future goals and dreams.  Stay tuned, the story of Oney Guillen in baseball is one not to be missed.  

 ***A special thank you to Oney Guillen for his time and effort as part of being interviewed for this interview series.  Oney agreed to share private photos from his family album as part of this series.  A thank you as well to Peter Stein, my editor in helping to prepare this piece.***

 

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.

     

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