Daily Archives: January 1, 2012
Sunday January 1, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to email@example.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!
Let’s get to your top questions of the week:
Q: With just 7 weeks until spring training, which teams are looking really good for the 2012 season? Heather
MLB reports: Great question Heather. I presume you mean which teams are playoff contenders for 2012. At this point, I really like the Rays, Tigers, Angels and Rangers in the AL. These teams have the best balanced rosters that are built to make it to the playoffs. In the NL, it’s the Phillies, Reds, Dbacks and Braves (maybe Cards). Those are the strongest 8 teams that I am projecting for playoff positions at this point. There will be many improved teams to keep an eye on. The Jays continue to be on the rise in Toronto. The Royals are slowly preparing to make their move. I like what the Nationals are building in Washington. The Pirates are slowly putting together a nice stable of young prospects. The Padres are going to be a serious force very soon, perhaps as soon as this year. The common theme is good pitching and depth within the lineup. The above teams are the ones that are getting it right in my book.
Q: Will the Baseball Writers snub Tim Raines once again? David
MLB reports: Raines since 2008 has his percentage of votes rise from 24% to 37.5%. This is a tough one for the voters. I have studied the numbers and I don’t give Raines a vote. He was very good…but not Hall of Fame good in my book. Ultimately Raines will get in, as he is more deserving that say Jim Rice in my opinion. But he is one of those slow candidates that will climb every year and get to 75% in the last couple of years of eligibility. Raines is a fringe hall of fame candidate and it shows in his vote totals. Keep in mind it is the hall of fame, not the hall of very good. If we are going to put only the best of the best in the hall, Raines should not be in. But considering the track records of some recent inductees, then yes, Raines should be in. But don’t expect it anytime soon and definitely not in 2012. Raines will have to play the waiting game like many other fringe candidates.
Q: Any chance the Mets sign Prince Fielder? I know- I doubt the money is there, but still… I’d also like to think they can win the WS… Jon
MLB reports: All I have to say is…huh? You must really love your Mets, but you need to get a reality check on their chances. To answer your questions: firstly, no chance the Mets get Prince Fielder. For so many reasons. They cannot afford him. Given the Wilpon financial issues and the fact that the team is looking for a minority owner for a bailout, the team cannot take on Fielder’s salary. All the money in the budget has already been spent, so the team will go with Ike Davis again at first base. Davis has been a pleasant surprise and should continue to develop. Secondly, no way that Prince will want to go to the Mets. The team is not a contender and has too many black eyes from an image perspective. Prince would not want to get caught in the Mets mess right now. Plus, even with the outfield dimensions changing, I doubt Prince will want to play in that ballpark. As far as winning the World Series, pop in a DVD and watch the glory year of 1986. It should give you some comfort until the team returns back to glory, sometime in the next 5-10 years. I don’t mean to be hard on you Jon, but sometimes in baseball the fans need some tough love. I am being honest because I care. Don’t stop supporting your Mets: just be realistic so that you are not in for a letdown. Expect nothing and you will have your expectations exceeded!!!
Q: What’s your opinion on how my Kansas City Royals will fair this season? Michael
MLB reports: Better than many people think Michael. The Royals will not make the playoffs, but they will be a .500 squad. The hitting is really coming together and could get the boost of Wil Myers in mid-2012 if he gets the call. Things are on the rise in Kansas City. The Royals will be finishing in 3rd place, behind the Tigers and Indians. I could even see a 2nd place finish if everything falls into place. The team just has so much talent at every position, with the rotation being the only question mark for me. Perez, Butler, Hosmer, Giavotella, Escobar, Moustakas, Gordon, Cain and Francoeur. A bullpen stacked by Soria, Broxton, Crow, Collins, Mijares, Wood and Holland. On the field and in the pen, the Royals have the power to succeed. The rotation is a little more of a patchwork job. The team needs Danny Duffy to put it together and top pitching prospect John Lamb to return to form after a lost year to injury. I see 2013-2015 being the Royals time to shine. But with the team set to host the All-Star game this coming year, they should have an exciting product on the field. This will not be their year, but the first real step towards respectability. Enjoy this young team, if nothing else they will be fun to watch.
Final Question: What are the chances of any of these guys coming to Boston: Oswalt(P) Garza(P) Saunders(P) Spilborghs(RF) Quentin(RF)? Rick
MLB reports: Great question Rick. Fans are wondering what the Red Sox have up their sleeve. Unfortunately, I don’t think you will like the response on this one. Matt Garza comes at a big price of prospects that the Red Sox will not likely pay. Plus considering how long it took for Theo to make the jump to the Cubs and the negotiation of compensation and movement of front office staff, I don’t see the teams matching up well for a trade. Roy Oswalt will have many options considering that he will only get a 1-2 year deal. I don’t think he will be that excited to play in Boston. I see him more likely ending up back in the NL, or going to Texas or the Jays. Carlos Quentin is already in San Diego and will be the team’s new cleanup man. A native son, Quentin could stay long-term in San Diego. Whether the BoSox get Ryan Spilborghs or not is irrelevant for me. He just doesn’t excite me as a player with much potential. I could see Joe Saunders heading to Boston as a middle of the rotation starter. He would be an innings eater more than anything, not a real impact guy. It looks to me like the BoSox are going with what they have for the most part, with only minor tweaks coming. The team has the talent, so the bigger question is how the players respond to new manager Bobby Valentine. How Bobby V gets his players prepared and focused will decide if the BoSox can return to their glory days.
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Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
Sunday January 1, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: Today on MLB reports we are proud to feature Philadelphia Phillies Prospect: Cameron Rupp. Originally drafted by the Pirates in the 43rd round in the 2007 MLB Draft, Jake was later drafted and signed with the Phillies after being taken in the 3rd round in 2010. One of the most dynamic players that we have enjoyed the pleasure of getting to know, Cameron is truly one in a million. Born and raised in Texas, Cameron chose in 2007 to attend the University of Texas over signing with the Pirates. After a successful career at Texas, including a trip to the College World Series, Cameron was drafted by one of the best organizations in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies. Coming up their system, Cameron just competed a full season in A-ball, playing for the Lakewood Blue Claws. As his twitter description says, Cameron loves “drinkin beers and killin deers.” A good old-fashioned Texas boy at heart, Cameron loves the game of baseball and is an extremely grounded young man. For an organization in need of a long-term solution behind the plate, the team has the answer coming up through its system in the form of Cameron Rupp. The 23-year old Rupp has a bright future ahead, as strong catching prospects are a rare breed in the game today. Watch out Philadelphia: Cameron Rupp is on his way!
Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Cameron Rupp, Catcher Prospect with the Philadelphia Phillies:
Cameron Rupp: Living in Texas is Cowboys and Oil Barons in some parts, and I have had the fortunate opportunity to be around that lifestyle, riding horses, working cattle, etc. But for the most part it is a normal life, like most kids in a suburb town north of Dallas playing sports and hanging with my friends.
MLB reports: Love your Twitter profile: “I’m from Texas, drinkin beer and killin deers is my way of life”. All true?
Cameron Rupp: A buddy of mind made that for me. I do enjoy being from Texas. I do enjoy a beer from time to time with my buddies and going deer hunting with my cousins.
MLB reports: You were originally drafted by the Pirates in 2007. You chose to go to Texas and become a Longhorn. Easy decision? What was the process like in deciding on school over pro ball?
Cameron Rupp: The fact that I was drafted in the 43rd round made it an easy decision and a college education was an important goal for me. In order for me to have decided on pro baseball out of high school, it would have required a substantial signing bonus and an early round draft pick. I believe the decision that my family and I made was a very good decision and time has shown that. I had a terrific career at the University of Texas, which was a life long dream. The chance to play in the College World Series and for a National Championship was awesome and I have a lot of lifelong friends and teammates as a result.
MLB reports: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
Cameron Rupp: Ivan “Pudge” Rodriquez. He was a catcher and played for the Texas Rangers, my team growing up. He was successful and played the position the way I wanted to be able to play it.
MLB reports: Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
Cameron Rupp: Derek Jeter. He does it right, both on and off the field.
MLB reports: What are your goals going into the 2012 season?
Cameron Rupp: I want to continue to progress with my skills and become more consistent. I would like to be a better defensive catcher, working on my throwing and working with the pitchers to call a game to their strengths. Offensively I want to hit .300 with some power. I want to continue to move through the organization to my ultimate goal of playing in the big leagues.
MLB reports: You go from a 43rd round pick by the Pirates to a 3rd round pick by the Phillies in 2010. How did you find out you were drafted? Big party that night?
Cameron Rupp: I was playing in the Super Regional that week at the University of Texas. We were practicing the morning of the draft and during practice, the head of baseball operations walked out and told me the Phillies had drafted me in the 3rd round. A number of my teammates were drafted so we celebrated together that evening.
MLB reports: Did you expect to go to the Phillies- did you think you would go as early as the third round?
Cameron Rupp: Honestly I was hoping to go earlier, as I had talked to many different organizations that had said that was a possibility. But the third round was great. The Phillies were a surprise because I had conversations and interviews with other organizations that seem to show more interest. But I hope I can show the Phillies made a good choice and justify their confidence in me to draft me in the third round.
MLB reports: You start off your career as a Williamsport Crosscutter and then moved to being a Lakewood Blue Claw last season. Tell us about your first two professional teams.
Cameron Rupp: Of course there is a transition from college to pro and it took a little time for me to adjust, as I went like 0-15 to begin my pro career. I think you press a little at the beginning and being an early draft choice, you feel the pressure to perform.
I enjoyed the my first year at Williamsport learning how to play pro ball and hit with wood on a consistent basis. You begin to learn the routine of going to the ballpark and playing everyday.
The second season in Lakewood was great, adjusting to a full season of 140 plus games and learning to manage the grind. But when you love something as much as I do playing baseball, it’s not too much of grind.
In Lakewood, I started really slow but finish much stronger during the second half of the year. I need this to carryover into my third year and put together two halves like the second half of last year.
I also enjoyed the people of both Williamsport and Lakewood. The support of the minor league fan is outstanding.
MLB reports: How did you feel going from school to professional baseball? What was the transition like?
Cameron Rupp: I was very excited to start a new part of my baseball career. Playing baseball at UT (University of Texas) was a phenomenal experience. They kind of treated like us like we were in the big leagues, so it was adjustment. It was nice not to have to worry about school and classes and to just focus on baseball. As mentioned before, learning to hit with wood, learning the routine of playing everyday, going to the ballpark and staying mentally focused everyday, for every at-bat and pitch.
MLB reports: At what age did you know that you would be a catcher? Do you see yourself staying behind the plate long-term?
Cameron Rupp: I began catching at the age of 8 and have caught ever since. It is a position I have enjoyed, to be so involved in the game, working with the pitcher and being a position of leadership. I want to stay behind the plate for the majority of my career. I think I have the skills and the drive to work to do that. If towards the end of my career first base is an option to extend my career, that would be great.
MLB reports: What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?
Cameron Rupp: I think my best skill is my work ethic and love of the game. I am not sure what is my best skill. I believe that I have a strong-arm and the ability to be a good power hitting catcher.
MLB reports: What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?
Cameron Rupp: Consistency in all phases. I believe at times we all show big league ability. It’s about doing it over and over again.
MLB reports: If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?
I would like to think that I can have an opportunity within the next couple of years. In order to do that, I probably will need to hit with power more consistently.
MLB reports: Favorite baseball movie of all-time and why?
Cameron Rupp: Bull Durham, it really was my first exposure to minor league baseball and it is probably pretty close to reality.
Also, The Sandlot is a great baseball movie. It was more of my dad and uncle’s time, but it showed how baseball becomes such an important part of your life, that your friends and can carry through your whole life.
MLB reports: Have you been to Philadelphia yet? Are you ready for the Philly Phaithfuls?
Cameron Rupp: I have been to Philly. Right after the draft I was fortunate to see a game at Citizens Park, meet some of the Phillies and visit with the organization. It was a great opportunity for me.
I don’t know if the Philly Phaithfuls are ready for me, as I am a big Cowboys fan.
MLB reports: Final Thoughts?
Cameron Rupp: It has been a lifelong dream to play in the big leagues. I love the game of baseball and have been very fortunate to do the things I have been able to do because of baseball. The friends I have made, the opportunity to play at Texas, and now to play professional baseball.
With hard work and focus, hopefully I will be able have a long career playing the game that I love.
Thank you again to Cameron Rupp for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports. We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Cameron. You can also follow Cameron on Twitter (@CameronRupp)
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.