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2012 AL and NL Cy Young Award Winners

Thursday November 15th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  Both Cy Young awards were announced yesterday. R.A. Dickey won in the National League and David Price won in the American League. Dickey won by a large margin; he had 209 points by 27 first place votes and five second place votes. This race was not even close. Price on the other hand, won by four points. He received just one more first place vote than Justin Verlander, who finished second. Here’s my take on how the voting went down.

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2012 MLB End of the Year Awards: Predictions

Thursday October 11th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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Can the Rangers Win the 2012 World Series?

Sunday November 6, 2011

Sam Evans: The last two years have been like a roller coaster for the Texas Rangers and their fans. The Rangers have been extremely successful, winning two straight American League championships.  But both years they have fallen short in the world series. 2012 is sure to be a critical season for the Rangers organization.

Rotation: I think that C.J. Wilson is making it pretty obvious that he wants to return to the Rangers next year. If we assume that he does, then he will be the Rangers #1 starter. Barring a trade or a signing, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, and Alexi Ogando will follow him. An interesting decision that Rangers have to make is whether they move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. Feliz is a very intriguing pitcher, who in my opinion, at least deserves one spring training to show what he can do as a starter.

If the Rangers decide not to bring back Wilson, there are not many other top of the rotation starters. Jon Daniels has scouted Yu Darvish, so the Rangers might be in the mix to sign Darvish. However, the Rangers payroll including arbitration player and existing contracts is expected to be over 100M. The consensus opinion is that Darvish will cost over 100M. I’d be surprised if the Rangers could afford a contract like that and if they would prefer Darvish over Wilson at similar money. Other options in free agency include Mark Buehrle and Erik Bedard.

The rotation is going to be immensely important for the Rangers in 2012. You could make the argument that with Cliff Lee, the Rangers would have won the World Series last year. If the Rangers could move Feliz and keep Wilson, they would have one of the stronger rotations in the American League.

Catcher, Third Base, Shortstop, and Second Base: These four positions are written in stone for the Rangers. Adrian Beltre might be the best third basemen in baseball and he is signed through 2015. Mike Napoli had a breakout year last year, and despite playing in only 113 games, Napoli was the Rangers most valuable offensive weapon. 2012 is Napoli’s contract year, so if everything goes wrong for the Rangers, Napoli might be traded for prospects.

As for shortstop, Elvis Andrus has improved ever since he first got to Texas. I think that in 2012, Andrus has the chance to take a big step forward. If he could steal 40 bases (just three more than he did in 2011), and hit over .300, he would become one of the best shortstops in the American League. At second base, the Rangers have Ian Kinsler who is their best player. If he continues at his current pace, he is a dark horse MVP candidate. In 2011, he posted a wRC+ of 128, he played defense better than any other second basemen in baseball, and he hit 30 homers and stole 30 bases. One of the reasons why I don’t think that the Rangers should make a big splash in free agency is that they already have Mike Napoli, Ian Kinsler, Colby Lewis, and Josh Hamilton. Kinsler has a $10M option, which I’d be surprised if the Rangers didn’t accept.  No matter what happens, it is sure to be an expensive offseason.

First Base, Designated Hitter, and Outfield: The Rangers first base situation is a much bigger deal than most people think. Mitch Moreland is far from a sure thing, and with reports now emerging that he battled wrist soreness in the second half of the season, more uncertainty arises from the situation. Moreland batted .241 in the second half of 2011, with a OBP of .300, and only five home runs. That’s simply not good enough for an American League team. Do you think the Rangers are glad they didn’t trade Michael Young? Young hit .338 in 2011 with 213 hits. Young did have a BABIP of .368, so he is probably due for some regression in 2012.

The Rangers have the best duo of corner outfielders in baseball. Josh Hamilton can be penciled in for 2012 as the Rangers cleanup hitter. Nelson Cruz is another middle of the order bat who is an amazing talent. Both of these hitters are capable of hitting .300 with thirty home runs a piece. The biggest question for these guys is whether they can stay healthy. Both have had serious injury concerns throughout their career, but if they could both stay healthy they could help propel the Rangers toward another 2012 AL West championship. As for center field, the Rangers can either test their luck with Julio Borbon, Craig Gentry, and Leonys Martin, or they could turn to free agency. If they were to shop for a center fielder, I think that the underrated Coco Crisp might be a good fit. With the strength of their lineup, center field is really not the biggest of the Rangers worries.

Prospects: Thanks to one of the most extensive scouting departments in Major League Baseball, the Rangers have a very strong minor league collection of prospects. 16-year-old international signings Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman are very intriguing prospect, but both are at the least four years away from making a MLB impact. Jurickson Profar is the best shortstop prospect in all of baseball, and a top-5 prospect overall. Profar isn’t quite ready for the Majors, but if he continues to rake in the minors, he could be a September call up. Martin Perez is the Rangers top pitching prospect but he struggled in AAA last year. In the long-term, if just some of these prospects develop, then the Rangers will continue to have a really good baseball team for years to come. Unfortunately, this system is what scouts call, “bottom heavy”, meaning that most of the highly touted prospects are in the lower ranks of the minors.

Bullpen: The status of the Rangers bullpen all depends on what the Rangers decide to do with Feliz. Texas has Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, and Yoshinori Tateyama all returning for 2012. Darren Oliver is a type A free agent, but at 41 years of age, I expect him to return to Texas. Bullpens are the easiest position to assemble in baseball, so don’t expect the Rangers to have much trouble finding the right pieces to fill out their ‘pen.

In 2012, the Rangers have a chance to be a very special team. If they are not currently the best team in baseball, they are definitely in the top five. It’s highly improbable these days that a team reaches the World Series three times in a row.  But I think that the Rangers have a legitimate chance in 2012.  The Rangers just need the right mix of players to get over the hump and win the big one.  Otherwise, another World Series loss could turn them into the modern day Atlanta Braves (minus the championship).

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us onTwitter 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. 

Expanding the MLB Postseason: More Wild Card Teams Coming

Friday October 21, 2011

MLB reports – Rob Bland:  Expanding the playoffs has been a hot topic for many years now.  While the move will not be as drastic as when the MLB added the first wild card team in each league, it has drawn the ire from a lot of critics.  In 1994, MLB was to use the postseason system currently in place; however the season was cut short due to a player strike.  It was then that the MLB went to three divisions in each league (East, Central, and West) as well as a wild card team (the best non-divisional winner record in the league).  The American league Divisional winners would have been the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox in the Central and Texas Rangers in the West (with a record of 52-61).  Conversely, the Cleveland Indians would have been the wild card winners at 66-47.  In the National League, the East would have been won by the Montreal Expos, who had the MLB’s best record of 74-40.  The Central and West would have been won by the Cincinnati Reds and LA Dodgers, respectively, while the wild card winner would have been the Atlanta Braves.

However, due to the strike, which also shortened the following season, 1995 was the first year this system actually came into play.  This season saw a shortened 144 game schedule.  The NL East winners, Atlanta Braves had to go through the slugging Colorado Rockies; the first NL wild card team.  They then faced the Reds, and the eventual World Series Champions Cleveland Indians.  The Indians took a very peculiar path to the World Series.  After leading the MLB with a 100-44 record, the Indians faced the Boston Red Sox, winners of the AL East, who had the 2nd best record in the American League.  The Yankees were the wild card winners, who were defeated by the Seattle Mariners in the AL Division Series.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the commissioner, Bud Selig, with the MLB and its players’ union expires in December of this year, and an extension of five years is expected to be reached any day.  One of the main hold-ups to a deal is the addition of another wild card team.  The 2nd best non-divisonal winner would get into the playoffs.  This may not seem like much, where every other major sports league in North America has at least 3 “wild card” teams, but in baseball, tradition is always at the top of people’s minds.  Adding a team to each league’s postseason picture could lengthen the MLB season, which is something that is a major concern to most people involved in the process.

One option that was bandied around was to have the two wild card teams face off in a best 2 out of 3 series.  The advantage of this short series is that both teams that didn’t win their division would have to play extra games while the winners get a short break to recuperate their injured players.  Also, the extra games give opportunities to more teams to earn extra postseason revenue, which benefits the league.  However, the extra 2-4 days off that the other teams would have to endure could also cause a team to lose its momentum gained at the end of the season.

However, it is believed that the MLB will go to a one game sudden death playoff between the two wild card teams.  In my opinion, the biggest advantage to this is that it gives the winner of the game a monumental disadvantage going into the second round.  The wild card teams would be forced to pitch their ace in the playoff, and therefore would not be able to pitch until at least game 3 of the next round.  This means the team’s best starter would only get one start in a best of 5 series.  Not only would the team with the best record in the league have home-field advantage, but they would see their opponent’s best pitcher in only one game.

In the current state of the MLB postseason, ten wild card teams have made it to the World Series, out of a possible 34 teams going back to 1995, including 2011.  Roughly 29% of wild card teams make it into the World Series.  If you figure that 1 out of 4 teams in each league make it to the World Series, or 25%, then you have a better chance of making it as a wild card than as a divisional winner.  Four World Series have been won by wild card teams.  25% of World Series have been won by a team that should have a distinct disadvantage, but obviously do not.  It is due to this that MLB must make it a bigger hindrance for not winning your division.  Playing an extra game, extra travel and burning your ace are ways to weaken a wild card team’s chance of making it to the World Series.

With the union and MLB reps meeting every day trying to hammer out the extension for the CBA, you should see the added teams in the playoffs in 2012 or 2013.  It is widely expected that the deal will be reached in the middle of the World Series to take advantage or the added publicity it would gain.  I am fairly certain that the new playoff format will come into effect for the 2012 season, and there will be a lot of teams looking to push the envelope and make an appearance.

 

 World Series:  Game 2 Recap

Game 2 was a bit of a surprise, as Jaime Garcia, whom many picked to implode in this guy, had a great start.  Through 7 solid innings, he gave up only 3 hits and 1 walk to 7 strike outs.  Colby Lewis was equally as impressive until the 7th inning, where he was able to strike Matt Holliday out to lead off the inning.  David Freese then singled and Yadier Molina flew out.  Nick Punto then hit a ground ball towards first base that went off of Michael Young’s glove and into right field, moving Freese to third.  With runners on the corners and one out in the 7th, Alexi Ogando came in to face the hitter in the pitcher’s spot.  That hitter: Allen Craig.  The same hero of game 1 that hit a single to right field that scored the go ahead and eventual winning run.  Craig promptly lined a ball to right field to score David Freese, breaking the dead lock.

What would a playoff game be without drama? Jason Motte came in the 9th to close out the 1-0 game.  So far in the postseason, he had given up 1 hit in 29 plate appearances.  Ian Kinsler led off the inning with a bloop single off the end of the bat.  Elvis Andrus came up to the plate and looked to get a sac bunt on the ground, but Kinsler decided to take matters in his own hands, and stole second base by the smallest of margins.  Andrus then lifted a 2-2 pitch to center field for a single.  While Kinsler was held at 3rd, Cardinals CF Jon Jay threw the ball wide of the cutoff man, which allowed Andrus to slide safely into 2nd base.

Manager Tony La Russa then yanked Motte for lefty Arthur Rhodes to face Josh Hamilton.  On the first pitch, he hit a fly ball to right that scored Kinsler and advanced Andrus to third.  Even more like La Russa, he brought in Lance Lynn to face Michael Young, who hit a 3-2 curveball deep enough to center to scored Andrus, and the Rangers lead the game 2-1.

Rangers closer Neftali Feliz took the mound in the bottom of the 9th and walked Yadier Molina on 5 pitches 97 mph or faster, hitting 100 on the radar gun with the first pitch.  Nick Punto came to the plate, bunted two balls foul up around his eyes, then swung feebly to strike out.  Feliz then struck out Skip Schumaker and induced a fly ball off the bat of Rafael Furcal to seal the victory.

With the series tied at one game apiece, an off day tomorrow and game 3 slated for Saturday night in Texas, this series is only going to get better.  Keep checking MLB reports for your daily fix of updates on the World Series.

 

Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

The Texas Rangers are Heading Back to the World Series

 

Sunday October 16, 2011

 

 

MLB reports – Sam Evans:  On Saturday night, Nelson Cruz and the Rangers advanced to the World Series, eliminating the Tigers from the playoffs. Let’s look at how the Rangers accomplished this feat:

 

Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers:  ALCS Game Six

The Tigers got off to an early lead with a Miguel Cabrera solo home run in the top of the first. Then in the top of the second, Jhonny Peralta homered to add another run to the Detroit lead. 17 of the Tigers 25 runs in this series came via the longball. If there was one thing that Derek Holland did wrong, it was leaving too many pitches up in the zone. Then, in the bottom of the third everything went wrong for Max Scherzer and the Tigers.

With one out, Elvis Andrus walked and Josh Hamilton followed him with a single. Then Michael Young jumped on the first pitch he saw and ripped it into left field, scoring Andrus and Hamilton. A quick visit to the mound did nothing for Scherzer who gave up a single then walked two straight batters before being replaced. Daniel Schlereth came into the game with the bases loaded and he allowed a 2 run single to David Murphy. Tigers manager Jim Leyland had a short leash with Schlereth, choosing to pull him and bring in the Tigers’ game four starter, Rick Porcello. Thanks to some clutch hitting from the Rangers and shabby defense by the Tigers, by the time this nightmare inning was done, the score was 9-2 Rangers. This set a Texas franchise record for most runs in one inning in the playoffs. Most of the Rangers hits in the third resulted from their hitters jumping on pitches early in the count.

Detroit scored two more runs in the fifth off an Austin Jackson home run. Still, the Texas offense seemed to be unstoppable for the Detroit pitchers. Nelson Cruz continued his hot streak by hitting his sixth home run of the ALCS in the 7th. This is equally impressive considering Cruz was only 1-15 in the ALDS. Neftali Feliz came in to get the final three outs in what turned out to be a clobbering, with the final score 15-5 Rangers. This obviously wasn’t an easy game for the Tigers and their fans to watch, as the big third inning proved to be the killer for the Tigers.

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers and their entire organization for advancing to their second consecutive World Series. They will face either the Cardinals or the Brewers starting Wednesday night.

 

 

Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Tigers get the “Purr-fect” Comeback: Recap of Game 3 of ALCS

Wednesday October 12, 2011

 

 

April Whitzman (Blue Jays Writer – MLB reports):  After losing the first two games of the series to the Rangers, the Tigers headed home, needing a win. Thankfully, with the hometown crowd of 41,905 behind them, they got exactly that.  Here is a recap of ALCS Game Three: 

 

New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers:  ALCS Game Three

It didn’t start off good for the Tigers, however, as the Rangers started the game with three singles, the last of which was Josh Hamilton’s RBI single that scored Ian Kinsler.

While the Rangers then had the 1-0 lead, Victor Martinez didn’t let it stay that way in the forth as he crushed a home run to right field to tie the game.

In the following inning, the Tigers added some more with three 2-out hits, one of which was a 2-RBI double off the bat of Miguel Cabrera that scored Austin Jackson and Ramon Santiago.

With Fister now in a groove, there was no looking back. Evidently, Jhonny Peralta thought so too, as in the sixth, he also belted a home run to left field. Still in the same inning, Austin Jackson scored Andy Dirk, and with that the Tigers had a 4-1 lead.

Cabrera wasn’t done yet, though, as in the seventh inning, he also hit a home run, the Tigers’ third of the game, and his third RBI of the game. With that the Tigers had a 5-1 lead.

The Rangers tried to catch up in the eighth when Yorvit Torrealba started off the inning with a double, and scored on Ian Kinsler’s groundout, but the damage had already been done.

Jose Valverde came in to pitch the ninth, allowing a leadoff double by Josh Hamilton, but nothing more, as the Tigers went on to beat the Rangers 5-2. They now trail 2-1 in the series.

Doug Fister earned the win, going 7.1 innings pitched, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while walking none and striking out three. Rangers’ Colby Lewis, on the other hand, received the loss, going 5.2 innings pitched, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out six.

Tigers’ Rick Porcello hopes to have a similar fate as Fister with the hometown crowd, but Texas’ Matt Harrison is hoping for a different outcome.  Stay tuned as game four is coming up shortly.

 

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. Comment below, email MLBreports@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter at @Alleycat17.

 

 

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

2011 MLB Playoffs: Recap Monday October 3rd

Tuesday October 4, 2011

 

 

April Whitzman (Blue Jays Writer – MLB reports):  With the National League taking the night off, we were treated to game three in both ALDS series.  Here is a recap of the scores and highlights from Monday’s games: 

 

New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers:  ALDS Game Three

It may not have been the pitching duel that everyone expected, but Monday’s game between Yankees’ CC Sabathia, and Tigers’ Justin Verlander was still an exciting one.

While Verlander pitched a strong 120-pitches-eight innings hitting 100MPH continually, striking out 11 and allowing four runs, six hits and three walks.  Sabathia, on the other hand, never made it through the sixth, allowing four runs and seven hits with six walks in 5 1/3 innings.

After the first inning, however, one would not have expected that outcome.  Derek Jeter hit the first pitch he saw for a single, scored on Curtis Granderson’s triple, who then scored on Alex Rodriguez’s groundout. T he Yankees had an early 2-0 lead.

The lead didn’t last long as Sabathia had control issues right away, walking four of the first six hitters he faced.  Double plays proved to be the Tigers’ Achilles though, as they grounded into a double play to end both the first and second innings.

In the third, however, things turned around for the Tigers.  Brandon Inge started the bottom of the inning with a double, Austin Jackson walked, Santiago scored Inge on a single, then Young singled, loading the bases for Miguel Cabrera – who homered in game 2.   He grounded into the Tigers’ third double play of the game, but still tied the game at 2 apiece.

While the Tigers were continuing to put numbers on the board and grabbing the 4-2 lead, Verlander was dominating.  He also proved his excellence on this night by striking out the side on 10 pitches in the fifth.

Yankees’ Brett Gardner finally got to the 24-game winner in the seventh, hitting a two-run double.  Delmon Young, who also homered in Monday’s game off Sabathia, allowed the Tigers to regain the lead with a home run to right field that gave Detroit a 5-4 lead.

That would be the way the game ended, as a shaky Valverde struck out Derek Jeter with runners on 1st and 2nd to end the game, giving the Tigers a 2-1 series lead.  In today’s must win game for the Yankees, A..J. Burnett is on the mound against Tigers’ Rick Porcello.

 

Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays:  ALDS Game Three

The Rays and Rangers match was just as tight and nerve-wracking for the fans.  Tampa Bay’s David Price hit the mound against Texas’ Colby Lewis.  Both pitchers were dominant through seven, as the Rays held a 1-0 lead thanks to Desmond Jennings leadoff home run in the 4th.

But in the top of the 7th, the Rangers answered back.  Once Adrian Beltre got on with a leadoff single, Mike Napoli hit the next pitch he saw over the centerfield wall to take a 2-1 lead.  Josh Hamilton would later hit a 2-RBI double to increase their lead to 4-1.

But the Rays werenot going to go down without a fight.  They got a run back in the bottom of the inning, when Sean Rodriguez grounded out but scored Johnny Damon.  The Rays cut the Rangers’ lead to 4-3 in the eighth, when Desmond Jennings hit his 2nd home run of the game.

Neftali Feliz kept the score intact though in the 9th, inducing a Kelly Shoppach double play with Jennings on deck  to end the game, earning his 2nd save of the playoffs.  The Rangers took a 2-1 lead in their ALDS series.

In today’s game, Matt Harrison for the Rangers faces off against Tampa Bay and Jeremy Hellickson.  It is a must-win game for the Rays, but after their historic win against the Yankees to make it to the post-season, my gut says this series should go the distance.

 

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. Comment below, email MLBreports@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter at @Alleycat17.

 

 

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

2011 MLB Playoffs: ALDS Day One Recap

Saturday October 1, 2011

Sam Evans (Intern – MLB reports):  Going into the day, the opening day of playoffs had some pretty high expectations to live up to.  While the games weren’t as electrifying as the last day of the season, it was pretty fun to finally watch some high pressure postseason baseball.  Here is a recap of what happened today:

 

Tampa Bay Rays vs.  Texas Rangers:  ALDS Game One

The Rays came into this game with energy and by most accounts, the number three rated prospect in all of baseball taking the mound.  Perhaps the most emotional part of the game was the first pitch thrown out by Cooper Stone.  Cooper’s dad Shannon was killed after falling while trying to catch a foul ball.  The game started in pleasant 80 degree weather in Arlington with a stadium filled with fans wearing Rangers colors.  After the Rays had scored six runs in the first three innings, it became obvious that the Rangers would need to rely on their offense.  This is something they’ve done all year, but Matt Moore proved to be too much for the Texas sluggers.  He was so dominant that in the sixth inning Josh Hamilton, of all people, tried to bunt for a hit (his effort was unsuccessful).  Moore pitched seven scoreless innings while allowing only two hits.  Talk about impressive.  Matt Moore is only twenty-two years, and this was only his second start in the majors (fourth appearance).  If the Rays thought they could hide Moore in the minors for a few months next year, now it seems next to impossible.  To have such a big time performance in front of the whole country will be something that will stay with him forever.  (Another thing that will stay with him forever is his extremely bushy eyebrows, but that’s a different story for another time.)  The Rays other hero was Kelly Shoppach, the thirty-one year old backup catcher.  Shoppach went 3 for 5 with 5 RBI and 2 homers.  That’s pretty impressive considering he batted .176 with 11 HR on the season.  When asked after the game about Matt Moore, Shoppach had this to say, “His nameplate said Matt Moore and I said, ‘Who is Matt Moore?’ … Nobody will forget his name now.”  This game wasn’t a thriller but it showed how many different players on a given day have to contribute in order for the Rays to have success.

Result:  Rays win 9-0 to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers:  ALDS Game One

This game started off with Delmon Young going deep off C.C. Sabathia to right field.  The ball carried just inches over Nick Swisher’s glove and gave the Tigers an early lead.  However, the Yankees battled back to score in the bottom of the first.  After that, the rain started.   This is becoming a trend for postseason baseball and it’s not good for the game at all.  In my opinion, Bud Selig should shorten the season or start spring training earlier in order to avoid this in the future.  Nobody enjoys watching how weather affects the game.  We just want to see the best players square off against each other.  Anyways, the rain kept coming until at fifteen minutes past 11PM in New York, the umpires decided to suspend the game.  Since this is the postseason, that means that the current score, outs, strikes, etc. will be delayed until Saturday at 8:37PM ET.  The only real bummer is that Sabathia and Justin Verlander won’t be able to finish their matchup.  Sabathia wants to pitch tomorrow but I think that’s doubtful and a bad idea no matter how thin the Yankees rotation is.  According to Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch, Ivan Nova is likely to get the start tomorrow.  So if that is true the “starters” will be Nova for New York, and Doug Fister for Detroit.  Fister is 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA since being traded to Detroit, so he will provide a challenge for the Yankees offense.  It should be a fun game to watch, providing the rain holds up.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Game 162 and Beyond – Can MLB Top That?

September 29, 2011

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): In order to write all of this, I needed to step away from my TV and computer, take a deep breath, and sleep for a while.  The excitement of last night was almost too much for my fragile heart to bear, so the time away to clear my head was necessary.

I find myself repeating, “What just happened??” in my head.  What happened last night was unfathomable.  Not only were there two teams in each league tied for the Wild Card, but both teams that had been leading, suffered epic failures along the way.  Go back to September 1, and the Boston Red Sox held a 9 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Atlanta Braves held an 8.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams chances of reaching the postseason were over 99%.  Nobody could have actually predicted seriously at that time, that both the Cards and Rays would win the Wild Card on the final day of the regular season.  Especially not the way that the AL Wild Card was eventually decided.

The Rays started David Price against the Yankees.  Sounded promising enough, until Price gave up 6 runs in 4 innings.  The game was pretty much over with the score at 7-0 in the Rays’ half of the 8th inning.  3 runs plated in the bottom of the 8th, then Evan Longoria took over the game.  A 3-run home run put them within one run, and Tropicana Field exploded.  Then with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, Rays manager Joe Maddon made one of the gutsiest calls I have ever seen: pinch hit with Dan Johnson.  Johnson was 9 for 90 this season.  He hadn’t gotten a hit since April.  He had 36 hits since 2008.  With one swing of the bat, the pandemonium levels in Florida had never been so high.  Then, as if he hadn’t done enough already, Longoria blasted another home run, this one of the walk-off variety that would vault the Rays to the postseason.

What hasn’t been said about Boston and their collapse? It has been covered by so many people from so many angles.  You could blame the whole organization from top to bottom, and you wouldn’t be wrong.  What happened was an epic collapse, capped off by a 2 out rally by the Baltimore Orioles of all teams in the bottom of the 9th inning of game 162.  The Orioles had nothing to play for but pride, and the love of the game.  Robert Andino’s walk-off single to win the ball game will be remembered by Boston fans for years to come.

Hunter Pence hit a bloop-ish 120 ft infield single to win it for the Phillies over the Braves.  In the 13th inning.  After Craig Kimbrel, the super rookie, blew a lead in the 9th inning.  The game saw the Phillies march out nine pitchers and the Braves used 8, including Scott Linebrink, who eventually gave up the winning run in the 13th.

Chris Carpenter twirled a gem for the Cardinals, a 2 hit shutout with 11 strikeouts and 1 walk against the Astros.  This performance sealed at the very least a one-game playoff game against the Braves had they won.

Wow what a night.

Now onto LDS matchups:

Rays vs. Rangers

The Rays come in with unlimited momentum, and a pitching staff that is so deep, that manager Joe Maddon is having a difficult time naming the starter for game 1.  While Matt Moore seems to be the obvious choice to me, Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis could be viable options as well.**  James Shields would have to go on short rest, and Price pitched last night, so one of the other three will be chosen to go against C.J. Wilson and a Rangers offense that is ready to take on all comers.  Shields will go game 2 and Price go the 3rd.  Beyond that is a toss-up.  For the Rangers, Wilson will go Game 1, Derek Holland game 2, and still undetermined the rest of the way.

Adrian Beltre had a phenomenal September, earning AL Player of the month, and Mike Napoli has been dominant all year, bashing home runs all over the field.  Michael Young worked his way into the MVP race after a tumultuous offseason that saw him switch positions yet again.  Josh Hamilton is as dangerous as ever, and Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler are still hitting home runs at a high rate.  Kinsler actually became only the third 2nd baseman to join the 30-30 club, with 32 HR and 30 SB.  The Rays may not have the prodigious bombers that the Rangers have, but they have athletic, smart ballplayers that never say die.  They ultimately seem like a team of destiny, and I will not discount the fact that they may have the best manager in all of baseball at the helm.

** Note: Matt Moore has been named the starter for game 1.

Rays in 4

Yankees vs. Tigers

So the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, and the Tigers have the 10th, about $100,000 between them.  Should be easy, right? Yankees should take this series in 3 games.  Wrong.  Detroit has one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball in 2011 in Justin Verlander, who should win the Cy Young vote unanimously.  He should also garner serious MVP interest.  Against him will be CC Sabathia, who has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball the last 7 or 8 years.  Doug Fister was brought in to shore up a shaky Tigers rotation, and with Max Scherzer, the Tigers look like they have a pretty decent chance.  Behind Sabathia will be rookie Ivan Nova, who I am not sold on, and after him is Freddy Garcia, who is having a fine year, but is nowhere near the pitcher he used to be.

Robinson Cano has been his usual stellar self playing 2nd base for the Yankees, but there were a lot of subpar seasons by other Yankees.  Derek Jeter was better than last year, A-Rod was almost nonexistent for a lot of the season, and aside from Curtis Granderson, the lineup struggled to find consistency.  The Posada soap opera continues, but giving Jesus Montero more at bats needs to happen.  The kid can swing it.  The Tigers have another MVP candidate in Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez has been stellar, and they have a young kid behind the plate named Alex Avila who could be in line for a Silver Slugger award.  The Tigers are younger, and hungrier to win, but the Yankees have more overall talent.  Even if their roster is aging, and this one should go down to the final out.

Tigers in 5

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers

The two best managers in the NL this year; Kirk Gibson of the DBacks and Ron Roenicke of the Brewers square off in this ultimately tight series.  Arizona did it this year with a cast of relative nobodies and no real superstar other than Justin Upton.  The Brewers have Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Zack Greinke, John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez.  They have star power up and down the lineup and rotation, and they have a great fan base.

Ian Kennedy may be a Cy Young candidate, but the Brewers have more depth in their rotation.  Yovani Gallardo will oppose him in game 1, followed by Shaun Marcum and Greinke, who will be opposed by Josh Collmenter and Daniel Hudson.  The Brewers also have the dominant back-end of the bullpen in K-Rod and John Axford, who was 46 for 48 in save opportunities.

Brewers in 5

Cardinals vs. Phillies

Prince Fielder just missed his 11th straight season of .300/ 30 HR/ 100RBI.  He hit .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBI.  The cards are not just a one trick pony, however, as Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina have been stellar all season long.  If they can get solid contributions from their secondary players they could make the series interesting.  The Phillies, like the Brewers, have tremendous star power in Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.  Not to mention one of the best deals of the year in Hunter Pence.  They have a veteran presence filled with guys who have been to the postseason five years in a row, and have the ability to hit any team’s pitching.

If you ask anyone who knows anything about baseball what team has the best pitching, the unanimous decision would go to the Phillies. The 4 Aces look to lock up Philly’s second World Series in the last 4 seasons.  Led by Roy Halladay, or Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels, every team in the postseason should be scared.  It is not very often that a team could have 3 pitchers in the top 5 for the Cy Young Award, but it could happen this year.  Roy Oswalt will pitch game 4 if necessary.   Tony La Russa has decided to open the series with veteran Kyle Lohse, which seems asinine.  Edwin Jackson will go Game 2 and Chris Carpenter game 3.  Jaime Garcia, who could be their most talented pitcher, will throw game 4 if necessary.

Phillies in 4

All 4 series should play pretty close, and the series I am most excited to watch is Arizona vs. Milwaukee.  If Game 162 was any indication of what is to come of the postseason this year, then everyone needs to grab their popcorn and beverages, get bunkered down, and get ready for a long, gruelling, exciting month of baseball. 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

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Derek Jeter: New York Yankees Captain Joins the 3000 Hit Club

Saturday  July 9, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:   Only in New York.  Derek Jeter entered today’s play with 2,998 career hits.  Only two hits short of the magical 3,000 mark.  Up against tough lefty pitcher David Price of the Rays, there was no certainty that Jeter would achieve the mark today.  But this being Jeter, playing in New York in front of the Yankees faithful, you knew that the captain would not disappoint.  Jeter ended up putting on a show for the ages today that few will ever forget and cementing his place in history as one of the best Yankees of all time.

Jeter started off the afternoon with a lead-off single.  Coming up in the 3rd inning, one hit away from 3,000, Jeter took David Price deep for a home run.  The captain hit out of the park in every sense of the word.  After celebrating the accomplishment, Jeter proceeded to have three more hits and finish the day a perfect 5 for 5.  Jeter is only the second player ever to get five hits in getting to 3,000, Craig Biggio being the other in 2007.

 

To put this into perspective, let’s take a look at the exclusive 3,000 Hit Club that Derek Jeter has just joined:

Player

Hits

Average

Date

Team

 

 

 

Pete Rose

4,256

.303

May 5, 1978

Cincinnati Reds

 

 

 

Ty Cobb

4,191

.366

August 19, 1921

Detroit Tigers

 

 

 

Hank Aaron

3,771

.305

May 17, 1970

Atlanta Braves

 

 

 

Stan Musial

3,630

.331

May 13, 1958

St. Louis Cardinals

 

 

 

Tris Speaker

3,514

.345

May 17, 1925

Cleveland Indians

 

 

 

Carl Yastrzemski

3,419

.285

September 12, 1979

Boston Red Sox

 

 

 

Cap Anson

3,012

.334

July 18, 1897

Chicago Colts

 

 

 

Honus Wagner

3,415

.328

June 9, 1914

Pittsburgh Pirates

 

 

 

Paul Molitor

3,319

.306

September 16, 1996

Minnesota Twins

 

 

 

Eddie Collins

3,315

.333

June 6, 1925

Chicago White Sox

 

 

 

Willie Mays

3,283

.302

July 18, 1970

San Francisco Giants

 

 

 

Eddie Murray

3,255

.287

June 30, 1995

Cleveland Indians

 

 

 

Nap Lajoie

3,242

.338

September 27, 1914

Cleveland Naps

 

 

 

Cal Ripken, Jr.

3,184

.276

April 15, 2000

Baltimore Orioles

 

 

 

George Brett

3,154

.305

September 30, 1992

Kansas City Royals

 

 

 

Paul Waner

3,152

.333

June 19, 1942

Boston Braves

 

 

 

Robin Yount

3,142

.285

September 9, 1992

Milwaukee Brewers

 

 

 

Tony Gwynn

3,141

.338

August 6, 1999

San Diego Padres

 

 

 

Dave Winfield

3,110

.283

September 16, 1993

Minnesota Twins

 

 

 

Craig Biggio

3,060

.281

June 28, 2007

Houston Astros

 

 

 

Rickey Henderson

3,055

.279

October 7, 2001

San Diego Padres

 

 

 

Rod Carew

3,053

.328

August 4, 1985

California Angels

 

 

 

Lou Brock

3,023

.293

August 13, 1979

St. Louis Cardinals

 

 

 

Rafael Palmeiro

3,020

.288

July 15, 2005

Baltimore Orioles

 

 

 

Wade Boggs

3,010

.328

August 7, 1999

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

 

 

 

Al Kaline

3,007

.297

September 24, 1974

Detroit Tigers

 

 

 

Derek Jeter

3,003

.312

July 9, 2011

New York Yankees

 

 

 

Roberto Clemente

3,000

.317

September 30, 1972

Pittsburgh Pirates

 

 

 

 

Derek Jeter is only the 28th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits.  An incredible feat indeed.  To put it further into perspective, every member of the 3,000 Hit Club is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, with the exception of Biggio (not yet eligible), Jeter (active), and Palmeiro/Rose (steroids, gambling).  With 3,000 hits, a player almost guarantees his entrance to the Hall.  With the exception of Rose and Palmeiro, every member of the 3,000 Hit Club has been a first ballot HOFer since 1962.  Jeter certainly deserves all the attention that he is receiving today.  Not only did he reach the mark, but he did it on baseball’s stage in the true style of a superstar.

 

Looking at Derek Jeter’s career numbers, the man has definitely proven to be one of the game’s greats:

Year AB R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1995 48 5 12 0 7 3 11 .250 .294 .375 .669
1996 582 104 183 10 78 48 102 .314 .370 .430 .800
1997 654 116 190 10 70 74 125 .291 .370 .405 .775
1998 626 127 203 19 84 57 119 .324 .384 .481 .864
1999 627 134 219 24 102 91 116 .349 .438 .552 .989
2000 593 119 201 15 73 68 99 .339 .416 .481 .896
2001 614 110 191 21 74 56 99 .311 .377 .480 .858
2002 644 124 191 18 75 73 114 .297 .373 .421 .794
2003 482 87 156 10 52 43 88 .324 .393 .450 .844
2004 643 111 188 23 78 46 99 .292 .352 .471 .823
2005 654 122 202 19 70 77 117 .309 .389 .450 .839
2006 623 118 214 14 97 69 102 .343 .417 .483 .900
2007 639 102 206 12 73 56 100 .322 .388 .452 .840
2008 596 88 179 11 69 52 85 .300 .363 .408 .771
2009 634 107 212 18 66 72 90 .334 .406 .465 .871
2010 663 111 179 10 67 63 106 .270 .340 .370 .710
2011 280 40 72 2 22 24 33 .257 .321 .329 .649
17 Seasons 9602 1725 2998 236 1157 972 1605 .312 .383 .449 .832
162 Game Avg. 659 118 206 16 79 67 110 .312 .383 .449 .832
  AB R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
 

Derek Jeter, also known as Mr. November or Captain Clutch, has enjoyed a storybook career.  AL ROY in 1996, five gold gloves, 11 All-Star game appearances, a World Series MVP and All-Star game MVP,  4 Silver Slugger awards, 4 World Series rings…the list goes on and on.  For a man who grew up cheering for the Yankees, Jeter will one day have his plaque in Cooperstown and jersey retired in Yankee Stadium.  Although clearly on the decline at age 37, which started to show rapidly last year, Jeter proved today that he still has some big hits left in his bat.  Congrats to Yankee captain Derek Jeter, or as he will be known from now on, Mr. 3000. 

 

 

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Dillon Gee, Mets: The Toast of New York

 Tuesday June 28, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:   Our last feature was on Danny Espinosa, the Nationals rookie second baseman who is taking Washington by storm.  For all the talk of Espinosa’s strong play, many readers wrote in to suggest that Dillon Gee should be at the top of the National League Rookie of the Year talk.  For many MLB fans, the first question will be:  Who the heck is Dillon Gee?

Dillon Kyle Gee was born and raised in Texas.  The 25-year old right-handed pitcher went to high school and university in Texas.  The New York Mets drafted the 6’1″ pitcher in the 21st round of the 2007 draft.  That is where the story should begin and end.  Most players chosen beyond the 2nd round have a very small chance of ever making it to AAA, let alone the majors.  This is the not the case though for Dillon Gee, who as a 21st round selection has beaten the odds to make it to the show.

Before joining the Mets full-time this year, here is a snapshot look at Dillon Gee’s career numbers in the minors:

Year Tm Lev W L ERA IP H BB SO WHIP
2007 Brooklyn A- 3 1 2.47 62.0 57 9 56 1.065
2008 2 Teams A+-AA 10 6 2.92 154.1 135 24 114 1.030
2008 St. Lucie A+ 8 6 3.25 127.1 117 19 94 1.068
2008 Binghamton AA 2 0 1.33 27.0 18 5 20 0.852
2009 Buffalo AAA 1 3 4.10 48.1 47 16 42 1.303
2010 Buffalo AAA 13 8 4.96 161.1 174 41 165 1.333
2011 Buffalo AAA 1 1 4.63 11.2 7 5 8 1.029
5 Seasons   28 19 3.78 437.2 420 95 385 1.177
AAA (3 seasons) AAA 15 12 4.76 221.1 228 62 215 1.310
AA (1 season) AA 2 0 1.33 27.0 18 5 20 0.852
A- (1 season) A- 3 1 2.47 62.0 57 9 56 1.065
A+ (1 season) A+ 8 6 3.25 127.1 117 19 94 1.068

 

Dillon Gee was good, but not great in his minor league career based on the above numbers.  While he was stellar in the lower minors, Gee was not exactly “lights out” in AAA.  In 221.1 innings pitched in Buffalo over parts of three seasons, Dillon Gee had a 4.76 ERA and 1.310 WHIP.  By failing to dominate in AAA, one would have realistically expected Gee to require more seasoning before coming to New York or end up running the risk of getting lit up in the majors.

 

As you can see from Gee’s Mets numbers, quite the opposite has occurred:

Year Tm W L ERA G GS IP H HR BB SO WHIP
2010 NYM 2 2 2.18 5 5 33.0 25 2 15 17 1.212
2011 NYM 8 1 3.32 15 12 76.0 60 5 30 51 1.184
2 Seasons 10 3 2.97 20 17 109.0 85 7 45 68 1.193
162 Game Avg. 18 6 2.97 37 31 200 156 13 83 125 1.193

 

Dillon Gee’s numbers speak for themselves.  8-1 record, 3.32 ERA and 1.184 WHIP.  While he walks a shade too many batters (30/51 BB/K), he gives up far fewer hits than innings pitched.  Based on his minor league numbers, I do not expect him to keep up his current pace.  The 2nd and 3rd times through the league, I expect NL batters will have a better book on Gee.  As the amount of innings pitched increases as well in the hot summer months, Gee will likely wear down.  In 2009, Gee missed most of the season due to a shoulder injury.  The Mets will likely wear kid gloves with him to some extent and not over extend his arm or risk causing further injury.

The New York Mets currently sit at 39-39, a .500 record with almost half a season completed.  Not much was expected of a team with a great deal of scandal and turmoil surrounding it.  One of the few bright spots though, in addition to the strong play and resurgent seasons by Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, has been the emergence of Dillon Gee.  The patchwork pitching of the staff is nothing to write home about.  Jonathon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano and R.A. Dickey have combined with Gee to keep the Mets afloat and the team competitive in ball games.  Chris Young fell early in the season and Johan Santana remains out following shoulder surgery.  If not for the play of Dillon Gee, the Mets could have found themselves in the basement of the NL East.  Instead, the team is in striking distance of the Braves for 2nd place in the division.

We should know by August if we have a possible Rookie of the Year in New York or another hot-shot prospect that had a couple of good months in Dillon Gee.  With so much misery surrounding the Mets, it is a pleasure to see a bright hope emerge within its pitching staff.  Dillon Gee this year evolved from an unknown minor leaguer that was considered a middle-of-the-road prospect to top starter status.  Mets fans are hoping they have caught lightning in a bottle in Gee for the long-term success of its team.  In the meantime, Gee will continue to pitch every fifth day in New York and give his team the best chance to succeed.  That is really all the Mets can ask for at the end of the day.

 

 

 

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*** As a special note, the Dillon Gee feature represents the 100th article in the history of MLB reports.  We wanted to thank you, the readers, for all your support.  We hope that you enjoy reading our articles as much as we enjoy writing them.  At the end of the day, it all comes down to one love for all of us:  Baseball. ***

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