Daily Archives: November 19, 2011

Ask the Reports: Saturday November 19th

Saturday November 19, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen:  Ask the Reports is back! After some thought and re-branding: we have decided to drop the E-mailbag moniker and to keep this section as “Ask the Reports”, which will appear every weekend.  E-mails is but one form you can reach MLB reports. You can follow us on Twitter  and tweet and direct message your questions and comments.  You can “Like” us on Facebook and write on our wall.  You can also leave all questions and comments at the end of each article and page on the website. With social media exploding as it has, we are truly connected in so many ways.  

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Let’s get to your questions:

Q:  If a modern-day MLB pitcher won 20 games for 20 seasons, he would still be 111 wins short of Cy Young’s win record..  From Eric, LA
 
A:  Great comment.  A true reflection on the evolution of the game.  Let’s start by taking a look at the career of Cy Young:
Denton True Young (aka Cy Young).  Born March 29, 1867 in Ohio.  Threw right-handed, stood 6’2″ and weighed 210 pounds.  He played for 22 seasons: 1890-1911.  He finished his career with a 511-316 lifetime record.  He actually had 5 seasons of 30+ wins.  36 in 1892 and 35 in 1895 being the career highs.  The man pitched in 906 games, starting 815 of them.  He threw 7356 career innings.  Ponder that one for a minute.  He had 5 seasons of 400 + innings and a dozen more seasons of 300-399 innings.  17 years of 300+ innings pitched.  If a modern-day pitcher were to pitch 200 innings per year for 20 years, he would reach 4000 innings.  About half of Cy Young.  That says a lot to me.  In the modern age, the only person that will come close to pitching those kind of innings was Nolan Ryan.  The Ryan Express pitched for 27 seasons.  807 games, 773 starts.  5386 innings pitched.  Career record:  324-292.  So to win as many games as Cy Young, you would need to win 25 games per year for 20 years.  An impossible feat in today’s modern game.  A pitcher would need to start 35-40 games and pitch 300-400 innings per year.  With closers, middle relievers and the stats of MLB bullpens, teams will not allow their starters to go deep into all those ballgames.  A “quality” start is 6 innings pitched.  At 30+ starts per year, most starters today are lucky to crack 200 innings.  Without the starts and innings, starting pitchers have less and less chances to stay deep in games to win.  Plus pitchers need offensive support and health to stay on the field and have a chance to gain wins.  Teams have 5-man rotations and also skip  or push back starts during the season.  We will never see another Cy Young.  Not the way baseball is played today.
 
 
Q:  What do you think Pat Burrell will do after he retires?  Fans of Pat Burrell
 
A:  I could see Burrell taking time off from the game.  Counting his dollars and maybe taking in a party or two (rumor has it that he is somewhat of a ladies’ man…).  But given his quality eye at the plate with pop, Burrell clearly knew a thing or two about hitting in his day.  Almost 300 home runs and 1000 walks do not happen by accident.  When Pat the Bat is ready to return to the game, he will join the Giants or Phillies likely as a minor league hitting instructor, or full-time hitting coach.  If he can show he can coach in the minors, you could see him as a hitting coach or 1st base coach one day in the major leagues.  Pat the Bat has a future in baseball- provided that he can teach and work well with the kids in helping them develop their abilities at the plate.
 
 
Q:  With 8 years and $160 Million, is Matt Kemp worth Manny Money or did L.A. pay a $30 Million premium to keep him off the open market next year?  Or both?  From Jason
 
A:  They did call Matt Kemp “Baby Manny” for a reason.  The Bison has always been highly touted coming up with the Dodgers.  For the last 2 seasons going into this year, some of that promise was starting to show.  Campaigns with 26 and 28 home runs respectively will catch people’s eyes.  Kemp looked like a .290 hitter with 20+ home run pop.   Pretty good- but not a superstar.  Then in 2011, Kemp simply exploded.  He led the league with 39 home runs and 126 RBIs, a difficult feat considering he had little support in the lineup and played his home games in a pitcher’s park.  With a .324 average, we nearly had a triple crown winner.  Kemp had a .399 OBP and .586 SLG.  Superstar numbers.  I am torn in analyzing him.  He was a year away from free agency.  Is he worth $20 Million per year for 8 years?  That is all relative.  Here is how I can best put it: what if Kemp would have hit .290, with 25 home runs with 90 runs and 90 RBIs in 2012 and hit free agency?  Would he have received the same deal?  Very likely.  At that point would the Yankees or Red Sox given him 7 years and $140 million to sign?  Carl Crawford got that same deal last year.  At 28 years of age, Kemp has shown good health and appears to be in great shape.  To say he is able to keep this pace until 35-years of age is not a stretch.  At worst, Kemp would have landed $15 million per season for 7 years, a total of $105 million.  So my thoughts are that the Dodgers would have needed to pay him $20 million for 2012 regardless.  By signing him early, they may have overpaid by $35 million over the life of the deal.  Or Kemp could have signed for $5 million per season on the open market (if no other alternatives) and cost an additional $35 million.  In a perfect world, it would have been nice to have seen more 2011-type seasons from Kemp before handing him this type of contract.  But given his fairly strong track record, health and young age, the Dodgers needed to lock him up now or risk very much losing him after 2012?  Did they overpay?  Not much by free agency standards.  Even if they overpaid by $30 million over the life of the contract, as long as Kemp continues to stay healthy and produce great to strong numbers, this was a deal that had to get done.  With the ownership turmoil and inability to attract and keep key players, this signing sends a message that the Dodgers are “back in business.”  Exactly what the fans want to hear.
 
 
Q:  Thoughts on Cespedes and Darvish? Any chance Blue Jays sign ’em?  From Thomas
 
A:  There are approximately fans from 30 MLB teams that are hoping their teams will make a push for the 2 likely biggest international free agents.  Yu Darvish from Japan and Yoennis Cespedes from Cuba.  While Darvish will need to be posted and bid upon, Cespedes once declared would be free to sign with any team.  At 26-years of Cespedes is reported to be major league ready.  Viewers of his YouTube video are excited at his abilities at the plate.  He will reportedly cost in the $50 million range to sign.  Darvish, at 25-years of age, is one of the most highly touted pitchers ever to come from Japan.  If he is posted (which is still a big-if at this stage), Darvish is likely to cost north of $100 million (with the posting fee) to sign.  Will the Jays sign either or both?  My answer: no.  Not because the team is not competitive.  Far from it.  But because they will not throw a lot of money on risky propositions.  Neither player has played a single inning of Major League Ball.  No matter how each has fared competitively to-date, few could predict how their games will translate to the major leagues.  The Jays are already stacked in the oufield, with Bautista, Rasmus, Snider and Thames to choose from.  Edwin Encarnacion is even being tried out in the outfield in winterball.  Anthony Gose is also a young hot-shot prospect that will be landing in Toronto soon.  The Jays do not have a strong need for an outfielder and certainly will not want to devote a large portion of their budget to an unknown like Cespedes.  Especially given the mixed track record of Cuban hitters thus far in the majors.  The Jays’ budget would be better spent on pitching.  But to pay $50 million to win the Darvish posting and then sign him for another $50 million, that could translate to $20 million per season for 5 seasons.  That is insanity money.  At that point, I would rather sign C.J. Wilson for 5-years $100 million.  A far more certain return.  The Jays will pick up a strong DH bat this offseason, perhaps a new first baseman and 1-2 new starting pitchers.  They will be shopping.  But no mail-order-players are likely coming anytime soon to Toronto.
 
 
Final Q:  Psychology professor asked what our biggest stressors in life are. I said Brandon Inge still being a Tiger. Everyone looked at me weird.  From Ashley
 
A:  Time to change schools?  If any of your classmates are baseball fans, they must not watch the Tigers very often or simply fail to grasp the horrible play of Inge.  I rarely use the word “hate”. But as a Tigers follower (yes…they are my team), I do not have the time of day for Inge.  The team has him signed for 1 more season at $5.5 million and a team option for $6 million in 2013 or a $500K buyout.  Expect the buyout.  I get that he is a great team guy, and blah blah blah.  In 144 games in 2010, he hit .247 with 13 home runs.  Looking at his numbers, he had a great year in 2006 and 2009.  That is it.  But yet the Tigers have him signed through to 2012.  Last year, Inge hit .197 with 3 home runs and earned himself a trip back to the minors.  At 34-years of age.  He is done.  Done as dinner.  Stick the fork in him.  One of the most gifted defensive players that I have ever watched, he could do it all with the glove.  Perhaps he sticks around as a late-inning defensive replacement.  He is a good emergency catcher and strong third baseman.  But his career as a full-time player is over.  If the Tigers are prepared to leave him on the bench and mentor the young players, I am all for it.  But otherwise, they need to hang onto Ramon Santiago and simply let the Inge-era end.  Brandon Inge has cool tattoos and has provided some spark hits through his career.  Its time for the Tigers to thank him for his contributions and move on.   Thank you Ashley for understanding.  I feel your pain.
 
 

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Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)


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The End of the Astros: Bring Back the Houston Colt .45s

Saturday November 19, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The big news of the day in Houston is the approval of the sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane.  Drayton McLane is out as owner.  The final price tag for the team was $615 million.  The catch?  Starting in 2013, the Astros are being realigned to the AL West.  “Houston” has played in the National League since 1962, the year the team was awarded the franchise.  But after 50 years playing NL baseball, the Astros are off to play in the American League.  Houston fans are somewhat dismayed…all the way to upset.  There are season ticket holders that are choosing not to renew their ticket packages.  Attendance is down.  The team has gutted to the point that it is almost a AAA team.  Now, the team is being moved to the American League.  For fans of National League baseball, this move is hard to swallow.  A big advantage of the move is the rivalry that will come into place with the neighboring Texas Rangers.  But with the Mariners, Angels and Athletics in the same division, time zones will be a big problem for Astros fans watching road games.  With all the minuses in the equation, something else needs to be done.  The move to the AL, may create somewhat of a buzz, but perhaps not enough to repair the damages that will result from the move.  The solution?  Re-brand the Astros.  Bring back the Colts .45s.

For you baseball history buffs, the Houston Colt .45s was the original name for the Houston MLB franchise.  The name was conceived by a “pick the name contest”- and what a name it was!  With the idea of the “old west”, the idea of the old colt .45 gun was very cool and classic.   It really fit the Texas mold.  The team even played at Colt Stadium.  But three years later, the team had its own indoor stadium.  The famous (or infamous) Astrodome.  For thirty-five years, the Astrodome was known as the first indoor MLB stadium with the first non-grass surface (appropriately named AstroTurf).  With the space program popularity in Houston, the team very much built itself on the “Astro” concept.  The Houston Astros.  AstroTurf.  The Astrodome.  But now, Houston:  We have a problem.  The team changed locations into a retractable roof stadium in 2000.  Originally named Enron Field and now Minute Maid Park.  No more Astrodome.  The field in the new park, was grass.  No more AstroTurf.  In fact, only the Rays and Blue Jays still play on turf.  So with the Astrodome and AstroTurf gone, why stick with the “Astros” name? The space program connection was probably very hip and trendy in its day.  But as long as I can remember (80’s – Present), the Astros name is not a beloved or dear brand.  It is time to end the final link to the Astros days.

Everything old is new again.  Retro is in.  People love nostalgia, especially baseball fans.  I can’t recall one baseball conversation that I have ever had that included the Colt .45s without the party getting excited.  There was something about that name and logo.  Part of it was the short life span (only three seasons).  It is a very “cool” name.  Original.  You just don’t see a sports team with a name like that.  Then you take into account the logo and Colt .45s envy begins.  I have been to Cooperstown.  I have been to many major league stadiums.  Bring up the Colt .45s name and you generate excitement.  So here is my proposal.  Starting in 2013, to coincide with their move to the AL West, the Houston Astros would become known as the Houston Colt .45s.  The result?  The team would carry excitement and interest everywhere they go.  Merchandise sales would be through the roof.  For a team with a sub-par talent level playing in a league that is largely opposed by its fan base, renaming the team would give the edge that is needed.

I know what many of you are going to say.  I can hear it now.  You cannot promote guns.  Guns means violence and killing.  It will send a bad message.  Etc…Etc…Etc… I get it.  Yes.  Many of you that are sensitive to these issues may be initially “gun-shy” about the idea.  But let’s be realistic.  There is violence and bad influences all over society, from televisions shows, movies, commercials, music, magazines, video games and much of pop culture.  To me, it is not like it is a picture of a bullet or open wound.  Much of the younger generation wouldn’t necessarily know that a colt .45 was a gun.  From there, with a classic and simple logo- the “gun” part of the colt .45s shouldn’t conjure up violence and negative images.  It is simply a a piece of history.  Almost a work of art.  A piece of Houston history and culture.  Like the old wild west.  When the Colt .45s come to play, it will be like an old-time showdown.  The name is chique.  The logo is very hip.  It will be a winner.

For you baseball fans that are about ready to jump out of your seat and order your Colt .45s jersey, I have some bad news.  The name change is not coming any time soon.  It still remains a figment of my imagination and passion.  But with enough of a vision and push, it could happen.  I have seen stranger things develop.  I can see only good things happening if the Houston Colt .45s return.  Even if the publicity is not all positive, the name change will get many fans talking.  A buzz will be created.  For a team that is on the decline and with little upside to look forward to, a name change is probably the biggest quick-fix scheme you will find.  Let’s bury the Astros name with the Astrodome and AstroTurf.  After erasing two mistakes, let’s finish off the third and final portion and bring back respectability to Houston.  Let’s give the team an old/new identity.  The Colt 45 will become the weapon that Houston uses to climb back to baseball respectability and eventually excellence.

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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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