Advertisements

Daily Archives: January 22, 2012

Ian Kadish MLB Guest Blog: I Owe It All to Them…

Sunday January 22, 2012

Ian Kadish (Guest MLB Blogger):   Once again, I was lucky enough to be asked back to write another blog post for MLB Reports!  I always love being asked to write for them!  This time they asked me to write about the biggest baseball influences in my life…and I’m warning you, this could take a while!  I have been playing baseball for as long as I can remember, so obviously I am going to have many people that have influenced my baseball career.  If I don’t mention you specifically, I am sorry, but the list is way too long and I have to pick the biggest influential people in my baseball career. 

I am going to start by saying my parents are easily the single biggest influence in my life, whether it be on or off the field.  They have molded me into the man (sometimes little kid) that I am today and I am a product of them.  They have always supported me no matter what I do and they have always been there for me through thick and thin.  They have been there for the hardest times and have somehow always gotten me through it.  They have taught me to chase a childhood dream and put everything I have into it.  They taught me to never give up, they taught me to work harder than anybody else, they taught me to play the game right, the list could go on for days of what they have taught me and I could never thank them enough.  For that and everything else they have done for me, I owe it all to them.  I love you Mom and Dad!

The second biggest influence in my baseball career is an easy choice.  It is a guy named Mike Maundrell.  He was my pitching coach when I played at Midland and started the molding process of the pitcher that I am today.  He has taught me literally everything I know about pitching and is still teaching me today.  I have known him since I was 16 and he completely changed me as a pitcher and as a person.  He was the first coach I had who taught me what hard work really was and what I had to do to better myself.  I still work with him to this day and I have been training with him this offseason here in Cincinnati.  I can honestly say, I would not still be playing baseball if I had never met Coach Maundrell.  He knows more about pitching than any human probably should know and he could talk about pitching for days on end.  I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with him for several years and will forever be in debt to him for everything he has taught/ is teaching me about pitching.

Another big influence in my baseball career is Tim Adkins.  He and I both will admit we had our tough times together, but he was the one that gave me the great opportunity to play collegiate baseball at Marshall University.  He was the pitching coach at Marshall at the time and he pushed me to great lengths.  He pushed me to the breaking point, but he made me as strong as I am today because he pushed me to such great lengths and found that breaking point.  He was the one that truly found out what made me tick and what got me going.  I learned so much from him not just on the baseball field, but off as well.  He continued to teach me what hard work is and he taught me to find out what works for me.  I owe him a tremendous amount of credit because he developed me into the hard worker that I am and taught me that if I want something to go get it and let nothing get in my way.  Along with Coach Adkins, I owe Coach Waggoner a tremendous amount of credit as well.  He was my head coach at Marshall University and he has always been there for me.  He always told me if I ever need anything at all to call him and he would be there for my family and me.  He genuinely cared about my family and me and I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate it.  He always had confidence in me whether I was really good that day or extremely bad.  He deserves a great amount of credit for how much he stood behind me and I thank him for that.

Coach Adkins departed from Marshall University after my Sophomore year and was replaced by Joe Renner.  Coach Renner and Coach Maundrell are like brothers and they both teach the same concepts.  Coach Renner continued to teach me what Coach Maundrell taught me.  Coach Renner and I grew to become extremely close in just 2 years.  I feel like I can go to him with anything and talk about it and he will help me through it to the best of his ability.  It was extremely sad to walk off the field after my last collegiate game and see tears in his eyes because it was the last game he would coach me in.  It brought tears to my eyes and I will never forget the 2 years I worked with him.  He worked extremely hard to get me to the next level and I am very thankful for everything he has done for me.  I know we will remain in contact for years to come!

The last person that I want to mention who has been tremendously influential in my baseball career is Clarence Mitchell.  He was my baseball coach when I was 13-15 years old and I am telling you what, he was the strictest coach I have ever had.  He taught me the true meaning of discipline and made sure he engraved it in our heads.  I still remember to this day taking a ground ball to the eye during infield practice and the eye swelling up instantly and bleeding profusely, but refusing to come out because of the discipline he preached or  the running for hours on end if we messed up or did something the wrong way.  He taught me what hustling is and I still to this day have everything he taught engraved into my baseball actions and life in general. 

Other people that were influential in my baseball career include Chris Fiehrer (my high school coach), Scott Humes (Midland Coach), Jeff Newman (Midland Coach), and Bernie Barre,  Although Bernie Barre wasn’t a baseball coach and had nothing to do with baseball, he taught me life lessons I can use on the baseball field.  He was my football coach and was one of the best football coaches in the history of Ohio High School Football. 

I also want to mention Dennis Holmberg.  He was my very first professional baseball manager and he taught me so much more about the game of baseball that I never knew.  I made sure I wrote down everything he taught me so it will be with me forever.  He made my first professional season one that I will never forget. 

I can’t begin to express how much I appreciate everybody that has had an influence on my baseball career.  I owe them all a HUGE thank you and I would not be where I am today without them.  I am so grateful for everybody that has influenced me so Thank You from the bottom of my heart!      Ian

Thank you to Ian Kadish for preparing today’s MLB Guest Blog.  Please feel free to contact Ian on Twitter (@BearJew36)  or through his website (http://livinginthelifeofian.blogspot.com) for comments and questions.   We also thank Ian for sharing the photographs used in today’s feature from his own private collection. 

Previous Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog Entries on MLB reports:

Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog:  Part 2 – Offseason and Expectations for 2012  October 3, 2011

Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog:  Part 1 – Recap of My 2011 Season   September 30, 2011

Ian Kadish Guest MLB Blog:  My Baseball Journey  September 11, 2011

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.

Advertisements

Ask the Reports: Your Baseball Questions Answered – Sunday January 22nd, 2012

Sunday January 22nd, 2012

Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:

 

Q:  Pirates chances in the semi-weakened NL Central this year?  John

MLB reports:  Great question John. Many Pirates fans are very hopeful this year. But in the opening may not be as clear as some would think. Houston we have to figure is in rebuilding mode and heading to the AL West in 2013.  That leaves the Cardinals, Reds, Brewers and Cubs as the main competitors. The Cubs are going to be better, but still have ways away. New management needs time to rebuild the farm and create a lineup in the image that they foresee. That leaves the Reds, Cardinals and Brewers. Even assuming that Prince Fielder is gone and Ryan Braun is lost to suspension, the Brewers are incredibly strong. Gallardo and Greinke to head up the rotation, Axford and Rodriguez at the back of the pen. The Brewers are unlikely to make the playoffs, but will still be in the race. Same goes with the Cardinals, sans Pujols and La Russa. They still have an offense led by Holliday, Berkman and Beltran, with one of the best rotations heads in Carpenter and Wainwright. They will be finding their way this year, but the Cardinals are still the defending champs. Lastly, the Reds will be the team to beat. Latos will now be their ace and Ryan Madson the closer. In between, this team is fairly stacked and can hurt you in so many ways, led by Votto and Phillips. The best that I can see the Pirates finish is 3rd…and that is a long-shot. To me, I see 4th place as being the likely scenario with anything higher being gravy. As far as anything higher? Wait 2 years or so until their farm starts harvesting some really key prospects to the majors.

 

Q:  Question on ’13 HoF vote. Do most of the voters believe Barry Bonds was a HoF’er before using (clear/cream) possible PEDs?  Old Man Mack

MLB reports:  There is no doubt in most “experts” minds that Barry Bonds was going to Cooperstown before the whole performance enhancing drugs issue arose.  Before bulking up in San Francisco and reinventing himself as the home run champion, Barry Bonds was one of the best players in the game. He could do it all and was one of the best 5-tool players the game ever saw. But the reality is that most voters will not look or think in that manner. All they will remember is Balco and the question marks that surround Bonds. Looking at the McGwire and Juan Gonzalez vote totals, I am seeing writers that are not prepared to vote in certified or even heavily suspected PED users. The vote on Bonds, like Roger Clemens, will be very interesting. Without clear criteria and guidelines, voters won’t know which way to go. Some will vote Bonds in, by consideration that he was a worthy candidate even before the Balco mess. Others will consider that he did use PEDs and as a result, should not go to Cooperstown. If Bonds gets 50% of the vote based on what I’m hearing, I will consider that a high total. The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot will be one of the most difficult ones in history. We all look forward to seeing what will transpire.

 

Q:  Are the Red Sox in a rebuilding year or waiting on a certain sign from the Baseball Gods to replenish the rotation and the B-pen?  Nick

MLB reports: LOL.  The Red Sox are never rebuilding. They may have a new manager and GM, but they are still the Red Sox. Adrian Gonzalez. Jacoby Ellsbury. Dustin Pedroia. Josh Beckett. Kevin Youkilis. This team still has the horses to make a run for a playoff berth. Yes, they just traded away Marco Scutaro, in a rumored attempt to make a run at Roy Oswalt. So no, the Red Sox are not waiting for any signs. They are just staying in a budget and putting the best team that they can put together within their means. Their bullpen is still loaded to the max. Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon and Daniel Bard (if he doesn’t win a rotation spot). These Red Sox are maybe one starting pitcher away. Some tweaking may still be ahead…but rebuilding, no no no. Far from it.

 

Q:  Do you think Tigers Pitcher Justin Verlander Deserved to win the AL MVP Award last Season? Pitchers don’t win MVP Awards often!  Marty

MLB reports: Another great question Marty. You always ask the right questions! Let’s take it another way: if I had a vote, would I have given Justin Verlander the MVP award. Absolutely- yes. I have heard all the arguments why pitchers should not win the MVP award. They have their own award- it’s called the CY Young award. They don’t play everyday and thus are not as valuable as top hitters. It goes on and on. I get it. In 2011, the fact remains that Verlander was the most valuable player on his team. Look at the stats- they are mind boggling. 24 wins in 34 starts. 2.40 ERA. 251 innings pitched. 250 strikeouts and only 57 walks allowed. A 0.920 WHIP. The man won the pitching triple crown and dominated hitters consistently all year long. If you take Verlander off the team, they do not make the playoffs. There were many great players in the American League last year. Jose Bautista. Adrian Gonzalez. Jacoby Ellsbury. Curtis Granderson. But until they make a hitters-only award, the Most Valuable Player award means any player. That player was Justin Verlander in 2011 and yes, he definitely deserved his award.

 

Final Question:  I hope the A’s make Playoffs this year! That would be Something special!  Eric

MLB reports: Eric. Eric. Eric. I love your passion and commitment to your team. But I am sorry to be the one to tell you this- ain’t happening. The A’s are in yet another rebuilding mode. The team was destined for 3rd or 4th place before trading Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey. Not to mention the losses of Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui. The return of Coco Crisp just won’t cut it. While the Mariners should be an improved squad, the A’s have a ton of young talent that will come together in 3-4 years. I’m sure all A’s fans would love a pennant. For now, they will need to settle for last place and a chance at a high draft pick. Until the stadium issue is resolved and the team can figure out a permanent and financially viable stadium option, winning Oakland baseball will continue to be a rarity for the foreseeable future. 

 

ARCHIVE:  Click here for Past Issues of Ask the Reports

 

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.

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

Garlic Fries and Baseball: The Book Review

Sunday January 22, 2012

“Garlic Fries and Baseball: The Book” –  By Ronni Redmond  (2011)

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  From baseball blogger to author. This is the story of Ronni Redmond and her website: “Garlic Fries and Baseball.”  As you have probably guessed from the title, Ronni loves ballpark food. Heck, she loves everything baseball. I had no idea what to expect from this book. Perhaps a list of top ballpark foods. A ballpark recipe book. It could have gone in many directions. It turned out to be a bit of everything. Probably one of the easiest and funniest baseball reads you will ever find. Garlic Fries and Baseball: The Book, turned out to be an enjoyable baseball journey. Ronni threw just about everything but the kitchen sink into this one and produced a book to be proud of.

Ronni Redmond is not the Shakespeare or Hemingway of the baseball writing world. Nor does she profess to be. Ronni is a baseball fan, pure and simple. She loves talking about the game and sharing her insights. She does some deep level baseball thinking and likes to share her questions with the readers. GF&B is a book born from her website. From logging a baseball trip on-line (and you know I LOVE baseball trips), the website was born. In the book, Ronni shares the details of the road trip, from the parks she visited, the food she ate, to the hotels she stayed at. For anyone who has ever attempted or completed a baseball vacation, Ronni’s story will be one that you will appreciated. But once the trip was done, Ronni didn’t stop writing about baseball and her website exploded. It grew so much, that she felt the need to write this book.  I am certainly glad she did. 

A San Francisco Giants fan, Ronni is not afraid or apologetic for sharing the love of her favorite team. That is an art that is missing sometimes in baseball writing. Even if a person writes and analyzes baseball, there is nothing wrong with having an allegiance to a certain team and/or players. Most, if not all, baseball writers are deeply rooted baseball fans from birth. We can love something and still be objective. It is an acquired skill, but definitely can be done. In GF&B, Ronni talks about her team’s climb to the World Series championship in 2010.  To hear the story from a fan’s point of view was interesting and heartwarming. Baseball fans live to see their teams go all the way. In 2010, Ronni got to experience those emotions and I enjoyed the ride through her eyes.

From baseball trips and a World Series win, Ronni then covers many more baseball topics. Derek Jeter. Stephen Strasburg. George Steinbrenner. Joe Mauer and shampoo. Recipes. Ronni has a little bit of everything in this one. If I could consider this book in Seinfeld terms:  it is a baseball book about nothing that seems to talk about everything. Sometimes I like reading autobiographies. Sometimes historical pieces. Other times give me statistical analysis manuals. But when I have had a hard day and just want to read, laugh and enjoy myself, GF&B was a good comfort book. A little chicken soup to the baseball soul.

Ronni Redmond: when I finished this book, I had a smile on my face. I laughed. I smirked. Sometimes I agreed with you. Sometimes I shook my head. But you got me thinking and talking baseball. Thus your book, Garlic Fries & Baseball is a success in my estimation. Well done for a first-time author. It will be enjoyed by baseball fans of all levels and ages. Also…I can’t wait to get my hands on some garlic fries. I love baseball food and they sound delicious!

***Garlic Fries and Baseball: The Book is available to purchase as a kindle e-book and can also be found on the GF&B website:  http://garlicfriesandbaseball.wordpress.com.  Be sure to pick up your copy today and let us know your thoughts and comments. Half the fun of reading a baseball book is to share your experiences with our fans and readers!***

 

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.

Can the Yankees Win It All in 2012?

Sunday January 22nd, 2012

Sam Evans: Last year, the Yankees won 97 games in the talented American League East. 97 wins was enough for the Yankees to win the division and guarantee themselves home field advantage in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they ran into the Tigers and their superb pitching staff. The Yankees long season came to a early close when the underdog Tigers took three out of five from New York in the ALDS. Now, with only a couple of new faces on a veteran roster, the Yankees will try yet again in 2012 to return to the World Series.

If the Yankees win the World Series, it will be with their veterans leading the way. The average age of the Yankees Opening Day lineup will be 32. This might be something that Yankees GM Brian Cashman should be worried about in the future, but not especially in 2012. Position by position, the Yankees are one of the strongest teams in baseball. Their weak spots are obvious, but let’s see how they stack up against the other teams in the A.L. East.

Catcher: Russell Martin: Martin struggled in 2011. He had a 57 wRC and hit only .237 in 125 games. Part of his offensive struggles were due to a .252 BABIP; but the reality is that he has never been able to play at the level he did in 2007. For 2012, Martin should play five days a week with Francisco Cervelli getting the other starts. I love watching Cervelli play because of his competitive grittiness. If he could learn how to hit, he’d be one of the best catchers in the league. Overall, the Yankees catchers aren’t very good. Luckily for them, they have top prospect catchers Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine on the way. In two years, the Yankees will have some of the best catchers in the league.

Rank at the Catcher position out of A.L. East teams: 3 out of 5

First base: Mark Teixeira: Tex had just an average 2011. He is still one of the best offensive and defensive first basemen in the American League. Teixeira hit .248 with 39 home runs. A lot of his bad average was due to his miniscule BABIP ( .239)- which compared to Matt Kemp‘s .380 BABIP, shows how unfortunate Teixeira was. Teixeira should see some of his numbers get back to where they were before last year.

Rank at the First Base position out of A.L. East teams: 2 out of 5

Second Base: Robinson Cano: Robinson Cano wasn’t ever considered a highly touted prospect, but he never failed at any level the Yankees had him at. Ever since Cano was called up in 2005, he has been morphing into a perennial All-Star. 2011 was a great year for Cano. He won a Silver Slugger award, the Home Run Derby and he was the second best hitter in a loaded Yankees lineup. In 2012, Cano could improve his defense and keep producing offensively, in order to improve as a player and possibly become the best second baseman in the game.

Rank at the Second Base position out of A.L. East teams: (A close) 2 out of 5

Shortstop: Derek Jeter: Derek Jeter has seen his overall production plummet in the last two years. He had a solid second half in 2011, but you have to wonder how many more years he’ll be the Yankees starting shortstop. There’s no question that the thirty-seven year old will be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer one day. However, there will be a time when the Yankees need to find a new shortstop… and that time is coming soon. 2012 could be Jeter’s last year at the position, and I’m sure he’d like nothing more than another World Series championship.

Rank at the shortstop position among A.L. East teams: 3 out of 5

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez: As much as I can’t stand him, A-Rod is one of the best players in baseball. The only thing that has kept Rodriguez from numerous MVP awards is his health. He hit 16 homers in 99 games in 2011. This offseason, A-Rod went to Germany to have an experimental procedure done on his knee. In the NBA, Kobe did a similar thing, in going to Germany receive some sort of voodoo procedure on his knee. He came back feeling rejuvenated with a new healed knee. I’m not sure that the surgery will work for Alex Rodriguez, but if it does- it could add a year or two to his career. If A-Rod is healthy this year, the Yankees will have a huge boost to their lineup.

Rank at the hot corner amongst A.L. East teams: 2 out of 5

Corner Outfield: Nick Swisher: Nick Swisher is known as one of the most likeable and funny players in the league. The one time Oakland Athletic has been a solid outfielder for the Yankees the last three years. Swisher got off to a rough start in 2011. He hit only .213 up until June, causing Yankees fans to wonder if they would need to trade for a new outfielder. Then all of a sudden, Swisher starting making solid contact and he hit .326 and .323 in the coming months. Swisher is a solid outfielder who is capable of hitting .260 with 25 homers and ninety walks in the coming year.

Corner Outfield: Brett Gardner: Gardner is one of the best players on the Yankees, but he never seems to get enough recognition. The pesky outfielder played resplendent defense and posted 5.1 WAR last year. He stole 49 bases in 2011, and in 2012 he should get the steal sign from his coaches more often. The biggest mistake the Yankees could make would be to trade Gardner away.

Rank among other A.L. East Corner Outfielder pairs: 1st out of 5

Center Field: Curtis Granderson: The ” Grandy Man” has become one of New York’s most beloved players in recent memory. Granderson had a bounce back year in 2011, hitting 41 home runs. Granderson’s contract has a team option in 2013, which they Yankees will most likely pick up. For 2012, Granderson probably won’t hit forty home runs again, but he could easily take advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium and hit 30 to 35 bombs.

Rank among other A.L. East Center Fielders: 2nd out of 5

Rotation: C.C. Sabathia is one of the best pitchers in the games and the perfect candidate to lead the Yankees pitching staff. With his large frame, it should come as no surprise that Sabathia has thrown over 180 innings eleven straight years. Sabathia showed no signs of age last year. He posted a 2.88 FIP and struck out 230 batters during the regular season. Sabathia’s 2011 WAR ( 7.1), was worth over $32.2 million according to fangraphs. Sabathia is set to make $23 million in 2012. So while it might not look like it, the Yankees are actually getting a bargain for Sabathia’s production.

A week ago, the Yankees traded their most promising young bat (Jesus Montero) for Michael Pineda. The Yankees are betting that Pineda will evolve into a top of the rotation arm for years to come. Pineda is by no means a complete pitcher. He has an above-average fastball and slider, but his changeup is below par. The impressive thing about Pineda is that he’s already learned how to control his pitches and he demonstrates great command. If he wants to take his game to the next level, then he is going to have to improve his changeup.

On the same day the Yankees acquired Pineda, they also signed former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda to a 1 year, $10 million deal. This is a low risk deal for a team with such a high payroll. Kuroda didn’t come cheap, but this looks like a solid acquisition for the Yankees. In 2011, Kuroda had a 3.07 ERA in thirty-two starts. His numbers might not be as strong moving from a pitcher’s park to the hitter friendly Yankee Stadium. I could see Kuroda struggling somewhat in New York, but he brings much-needed talent to the Yankees rotation.

C.C. Sabathia was the only Yankees pitcher who threw two hundred innings in 2011. The Yankees need their pitchers to work deeper into games, so they don’t have to overwork the bullpen. The back-end of the rotation will be critical for the Yankees success. They have the veterans A.J. Burnett and Freddy Garcia, and then the younger pitchers Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes. Most likely, all of these guys will see time starting in 2012. I think that Nova is the best of the bunch, but Burnett might have a slight advantage for a rotation spot with his huge contract.

Starting Rotation rank out of A.L. East teams: 2nd out of 5. They would’ve been third or fourth without adding Pineda and Kuroda. Adding those pitchers were good moves, since they want to keep up with the best teams in the East.

Bullpen: is as strong as it’s been in years. As all Yankee fans know, Mariano Rivera doesn’t age so he should be ready for another year of closing for NY. David Robertson was last year’s unsung hero out of the Yankees ‘pen. The difference between Robertson in 2011 and the Robertson of old, is simple. In 2011, he increased his fastball velocity. This led to a higher strikeout rate (13.50 K/9 in 2011, 10.42 K/9 in 2010)  and a lower amount of home runs allowed(0.14 HR/9 in 2011, 0.73 HR/9 in 2010).

The Yankees bullpen should also include Joba Chamberlain, who fell into a nice groove as the Yanks 7th inning man last year before falling to Tommy John surgery, should be back.  He will face competition from those pitchers who lose the race to become the Yankees’ fifth starter. Dellin Betances, considered by most as one of the Yankees top prospects, might see more innings this year as a long reliever. The loss of Noesi will hurt, but the Yankees have the pieces in place to trade midseason for extra bullpen help as they have done in the past.

Bullpen Rank out of A.L East Teams: 2nd out of 5

With a loaded team and a smart General Manager who knows how to operate a large payroll, Manager Joe Girardi should led the Yankees back to the playoffs in 2012. There are not very many teams that can compete with this Yankees offense… and if Pineda and Kuroda thrive in New York, they will have a very solid rotation. Yankees fans have a lot to be excited about for the upcoming year. But then again, don’t they always?

***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.

%d bloggers like this: