Daily Archives: January 29, 2012

Ask the Reports: Your Baseball Questions Answered – Sunday January 29th, 2012

Sunday January 29th, 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: Hey guys; How close do y’all think Mr. Selig is to getting his 2nd Wild Card team hooked up to the ’12 season?  Old Man Mack

MLB reports: Back again on Ask the Reports. Congrats OMM! Great question as always. This one is one of my favorite topics: the MLB playoffs. Bud Selig wants to a second Wild Card team to each league, starting this season. What Bud wants, Bud usually gets. Given that Selig just signed a contract extension, he is definitely not going anywhere for a long time. With the owners and union recently agreeing to their new agreement, baseball is truly functioning in one of its golden ages. Despite economy issues in the US, baseball popularity has never been higher. To capitalize on that fandom and increase the stakes, Selig should be able to put through the added Wild Cards (I give it a 92% chance of happening).  The way it will work is simple. Each league will have two Wild Card teams. To start the playoffs, the Wild Card teams will face-off in a one-game, sudden death elimination game. Winner moves on to the playoffs (same format otherwise), with the loser going home. The Wild Card playoffs will be two of the most exciting games of the year. Yes, it should happen, it will likely happen and I fully expect it to happen. At the very least, it will give two more teams a chance to win the World Series and make August/September that much more interesting for more cities and fans.

 

Q:  Will Tyler Pastornicky‘s solid contact skills and plate discipline shape up enough to secure a lead-off slot?  Justin

MLB reports:  That is what the Braves are claiming. Their website shows Pastornicky pencilled in as the starting shortstop. Will he? Should he? That is debatable. The 22-year old Pastornicky was acquired by the Braves from the Jays in the 2010 Yunel Escobar swap. A 5th round pick in 2008, Pastornicky was considered a fringe prospect at the time of the trade. A .250-.260 hitter with .330 OBP capabilities was his story. The number that jumps out is the stolen bases. 57 steals in 2009 (in 75 attempts) and 35 steals in 2010 (in 44 attempts). He could steal some bags, but was definitely not a refined baserunner. Somewhat raw, good tools and upside is how he was seen going into 2011. Last year, his first full one in the Braves organization- Tyler broke out. While the steals still needed work (27 in 38 attempts), the rest of his game started to jump. .314 AVG, ..359 OBP and .414 SLG. 32 walks/45 strikeouts in 117 games. While he still was not walking enough, he was clearly starting to hit while keeping the k’s down. With the glove, the number that jumps out is 26 errors last year. I am very nervous about Pastornicky as a starting shortstop in the majors. Spring training will determine if he graduates to the opening day lineup, but my gut is that the Braves will bring in a veteran between now and April to play shortstop. If he regresses back to his .250 AVG ways, with little power, inconsistent base stealing and errors in the field, this could be a recipe for disaster. I think Pastornicky needs time to develop, to play under a veteran that can mentor him and bring up his game. He is still young and clearly has the tools and potential. But if you throw him to the wolves too early, you can shatter his confidence. He may get there, but I don’t think he is ready yet. Especially on a playoff contender like the Braves, that relies on pitching and defense, this is one gamble that they are not likely to make.  Great question- thank you for sharing!

 

Q:  How do I get players to sign cards through the mail?  Joe

MLB reports:  Thanks for the question Joe. Fans love autographs, it is a big part of the game. If you are looking to meet your favorite player, there is a variety of way to get signed items. If you can make it down to spring training, that is an autograph hound’s paradise. Players are very accessible and accommodating in the spring. During the year, hanging out early in batting practice in the outfield, by the lines or near the dugouts are usually great spots. Teams often host autograph events and promotions before and after games, plus around local cities. Be sure to check the website of your favorite team to see their promotion schedule. If mail is your preferred route: here is what you do. Pull off the address for the team stadium that your chosen player plays at. Send that person a letter enclosing the item that you would like signed with a nice personalized letter. Be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope inside for the return of your signed item. They may be well paid, but don’t expect the players/teams to pay for your postage- they get too many requests! Some tips: be polite, send a nice letter, be reasonable in your request (what you would like signed and send only 1-2 items) and be patient. Players get hundreds of requests per week and returning mail back to you can take time. Some are more likely to send back than others. My expectation: if you send out 20 requests, you may get 3-4 back. Reading the internet and watching games, you should get an idea on which are the “nice” players and likely to respond back. Good luck and let us know how your autograph hunts go! If any readers have other autograph tips for Joe, please feel free to include them in the comments section below, with your stories.

 

Q: Wouldn’t landing Oswalt make the Cards rotation even better than the famed Phillie crew?  N.P.

MLB reports:  When I first read that question, I almost choked on my breakfast. But then the more I thought about it, you are actually not that far off. The “famed” Phillie Fab-Four were Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. Assuming Oswalt lands in St. Louis (which is likely to happen at this point, great fit based on NL Central), Oswalt/Oswalt balance out. That means we are left with the Phillie Three Aces against Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia. It’s not far off as it may appear, but it involves many “ifs”. Will Carpenter stay healthy? Can Wainwright come back from surgery and a year missed time and re-establish himself as an ace? Will Jamie Garcia continue to evolve into a top starting pitcher and returning to his 2010 form…or his is 2011 regression a sign of things to come?  Too many ifs for my liking. At their best, the Cardinals rotation could come close to the Phillies rotation, if all the pitchers pitch to their peak potential and 1-2 of the Phillies pitchers have off-years. Otherwise, the answer is no. Taking them one by one: I take Halladay over Carpenter. I know Carpenter won the famed 1-0 game in the NLDS, but that is one game. Overall, Doc is healthier, more consistent and one of the best of all-time. Cliff Lee is Cliff Lee. He is as solid as them come. Wainwright if he comes back might be close to Lee, but still won’t be Lee in my opinion. Lee is just on another planet and Wainwright just needs to prove health, let alone be an ace. Hamels is due to be a free agent at season’s end. He may end up signing an extension (likely), but regardless of his contract situation- he is far superior to Garcia. The Cards should have a great rotation overall. But the Phillies staff…they still ain’t. But consider Dave Duncan is on a leave of absence and may not be back this season and I give the Phillies advantage in the rotation.

 

Q: Where do you see Edwin Jackson landing?  Sox Wamp

MLB reports: This one is easy. If it boils down to money and years, he will land in Baltimore or a city like Seattle.  If he wants to contend, Jackson may have to take a 1-year deal from the Red Sox. I am not an Edwin Jackson guy. Never have been. Never will be.  Well…never say never never (hey Justin Bieber).  At 28-years of age, Jackson may figure it out. It feels like he has been around forever, considering he has played 9 major league seasons. That shows you how young he was when he came to the bigs. If he was allowed to refine himself in the minors and learn control and the true art of pitching, Jackson could be one of the best on the planet. His stuff is that good. But with a 1.476 lifetime WHIP (1.437 in 2011), he is far from a control ace pitcher. The funny thing is that he doesn’t even strike out enough people. A pitcher who doesn’t strike out many, gives up too many hits and walks????!!!!  No thank you. Someone will pay and give him a 3-year, $30 million contract. Or he may go to Boston and try to build up value. Jackson though would be smart to take the guaranteed money. He is a ticking time bomb that could go off at any time. Good luck to the team that signs him, I hope they have a strong pitching coach and lots of video to coach this quasi-project still.

 

Last Question (this is a biggie):  No lefty has hit more than 14 HR at Comerica in one season. If that is the Avg do you see him (Prince Fielder) hitting 24 on the road?  Steve Karsay

MLB reports: Yes folks, this is THE Steve Karsay appearing on Ask the Reports. A good friend of ours, we appreciate Steve taking the time to write in with his inquiry. Firstly, thank you Steve for the question. A great one…one that many fans have been asking since the big signing. As you and I have talked before on Prince, you know that I am a believer of the big man. I like the move for the Tigers on many levels (check out my top 10 reasons why the Prince signing will work, my recent feature on the Reports. There are some factors to consider. Carlos Pena back in the day had those 14 bombs. Other than Pena and maybe Granderson, have the Tigers ever had a left-handed power-hitting machine like Prince? I would say no. Maggs? Righty. Juan Gonzalez? Righty. Miggy? Righty. So in fairness to Prince, we don’t have a scale of players to compare him against. Also in 2003, the park dimensions changed and it became easier to hit balls out of Comerica. I have attended many many many games in Comerica in my day. I have seen approximately 2 home runs per game on the average. Now that may not be the biggest sample size (50-75 games), but large enough that I would say that park is far from a pitcher’s haven. I can see Prince hitting 24 home runs on the road, yes. But I see him hitting at least 20 home runs per year at home. Maybe not every year, but it will happen. The great thing about records, is that they are meant to be broken. That is part of Prince’s object to coming to Detroit. To establish new records and become “the man” in Motown. Fans are excited to see what a Prince/Miggy combination can do in Detroit. For your Indians Steve, it means the road to the playoffs just got that much tougher. Thank you for the question and you are welcome anytime back on the Reports!

 

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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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Mike Murray Interview: Giants Slugging Prospect – Baseball Runs in the Family

Sunday January 29, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Welcome to the world of Mike Murray! You think we love baseball? This guy grew up in the game! From a father that played pro ball, a brother who was drafted and a sister who captained her university softball team- to say baseball is in his genes is an understatement. Murray is a catcher in the Giants organization. To be a catcher and control a baseball game, you know that he has baseball smarts. He came to the Giants in 2010, playing in two different levels. Last year, Murray played the entire season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanos in the Northwest League. How are the numbers you ask?  Good.  Really…really…good! In the field, Murray has proven to be a solid defensive catcher. A .980 fielding percentage, to go along with a 33% caught stealing in his career thus far. But the real magic has been at the plate. A .331 lifetime BA. .394 OBP. Last year, Mike had close to a 1:1 walk/strikeout ratio (28/37).  A lifetime .460 SLG. Last year, he popped 6 home runs in only 63 games. At the age of 23, we expect to see Mike Murray in AA Richmond very soon (how does 2012 sound?) 

An intelligent young man beyond his years, I can tell that Mike has received a great education. Both in the college classroom (Wake Forest  Dean’s List!), as well as at home. He is grounded, yet confident. He has shown great potential, yet continues to want to learn. If baseball smarts and determination were the 6th tool, Mike Murray would rate an 80 on my scale. Watch out Buster Posey, there is yet another talented catcher rising up the Giants ranks! Mike is showing that San Francisco really knows how to scout and develop solid all-around catchers. With stories of Buster Posey moving to another position one day a real possibility, San Francisco is ready to groom the next top starting catcher from its farm. It might be behind the plate, first base or outfield. But with his slugging bat, Mike Murray is making a statement that he deserves his shot one day- regardless of position.

When all is said and done, to top it all off: Mike will one day be heading to law school and eventually work his way up to a GM role in baseball. The future Billy Beane in the making? We will have to wait to find out, as Mike still has many years left of grinding left on the diamond. Today on MLB reports, meet one of the brightest prospects coming up the San Francisco Giants system – Mike Murray:

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

Mike Murray:  Growing up I was a huge fan of Paul O’Neill. I loved the passion and intensity he had when he played.  I always felt as a fan that you knew you were always getting his best, which is something I try to think about when I play.  As a hitter, I loved the way he used the whole field and never took at bats off.  My first MLB game growing up was in 1995 when he received his batting title from the strike shortened season at Yankee Stadium.


MLB reports:  Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

Mike Murray:  Derek Jeter.  I was 8 years old when he broke in, and was very lucky to grow up in baseball through his career.  I appreciate how seriously he takes himself, the game, and his role in baseball.  I believe that one of the most important things about being a player is being reliable for your teammates.  You always know that Jeter is going to be prepared and will go through a wall to help win games.

 

MLB reports:  Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?

Mike Murray:  In the summer of 2002 my dad took my siblings and me up to Cape Cod for a vacation to see a few Cape League games.  The first night we found the Chatham vs. Orleans game. I remember my dad talking to me about the league and how cool it would be to get to play in it.  In 2009 my dad and siblings got to come to Fenway and watch me represent Chatham in the All-Star game.  That night was special for me.  

On the pro side, my first night in the Northwest league in 2010, I hit a home run in the ninth with two outs that was the game winner.  It was my first professional home run, one that I will always remember.


MLB reports:  What are your goals going into the 2012 season?  

Mike Murray:  My first goal going into camp is to break with the San Jose club.  Many of the Giants high round picks from last spring and top performers from the Sally league will already be slated to SJ, so competition to make the club will be for a few spots.  As a hitter my goals always stay the same, to keep my approach consistent and produce runs.  I have been working a bit more this off-season on getting consistent power and backspin.  As I defender, I have been working out a lot at first base and also doing some outfield work.  It is still an adjustment not doing a ton behind the plate, but I’ll be prepared to get at-bats wherever I can and wherever in the field that means.

 

MLB reports:  What was the process like signing with the Giants in 2010?

Mike Murray:  I felt like coming off of a real good summer in the Cape League and following it up with a really solid senior campaign at Wake Forest that I had positioned myself pretty well for the draft.  As it worked out, the teams that showed the most interest in me ended up taking catchers earlier in the draft and it didn’t work out on draft day. About 4 or 5 days later, I got a call from Giants’ area scout Jeremy Cleveland with a contract offer.  That phone call was a relief knowing I was going to get the opportunity to play professionally.  It was also a challenge to prove the Giants right and a whole lot of other people wrong.  It drives me each day I am on the field.

 

MLB reports:  What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Mike Murray:  My best skill on the field I have is what I do in the batter’s box.  Everybody that plays professional baseball has some talent as a hitter, and I do believe I am a talented hitter as well.  What I think is more important is that I have a good understanding of my swing, my approach, and how to adjust those things at bat to at-bat, game to game.  I try to think like a catcher when I hit, thinking of how I would try to get myself out if I were calling pitches.  So much of hitting is your approach and confidence, and whether it is true or not, I always believe I am going to win that battle with the pitcher each at-bat.

 

MLB reports:  What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

Mike Murray:  I am working at a couple of new positions for me. I have been a catcher primarily for my whole life, and I feel extremely comfortable and understand the nuances of catching from experience.  As I am learning first base and the corner outfield, it is all about the repetition for me in learning the intricacies of the positions I am learning now.  Getting acclimated at first base especially has been a focus of my offseason.  

 

MLB reports:  How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game?  Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?

Mike Murray:  I have always absolutely hated striking out.  The high school stat I was most proud of was that I only had 12 strikeouts in over 350 plate appearances in my career. I think I hate striking out to the point that I won’t even give up a few more strikeouts to hit more home runs.  One of the adjustments I have tried to make as a hitter is being ok striking out a few times more if it translates into more extra base hits.  Our player development staff always preaches that 50% of all at-bats come with two strikes, so you better have a good approach with two strikes.  

I think that a good approach with two strikes and a good amount of walks are stats directly correlated to how good a hitter is in his pitch selection.  The pitchers we face are too good to help out.  I never go into a game trying to walk, as I think that takes away from how aggressive you need to be successful, but you have to make sure you are aggressive at pitches in the zone.  If I can be consistent doing that, I will be happy with where my walk and strikeout numbers end up.

 

MLB reports:  Long term do you see yourself staying behind the plate considering Buster Posey is the current starting catcher? How do you view your role in the organization?

Mike Murray:  Piggybacking on what I mentioned earlier, I see my career moving forward more as a part-time catcher and more so in first base, DH, left field roles.  Even deeper then Buster, the Giants have done an outstanding job getting great catching depth in the minor leagues.  Hector Sanchez, Tommy Joseph, Jeff Arnold, Dan Burkhart are all guys I have worked with and played with that do a great job behind the dish.  I haven’t gotten to see any of second round pick Andrew Susac, but all I hear is great things.  

I’ll help out whenever I need to or can behind the plate, but I know my role in the organization is to hit my way through it, and work to become a solid enough defender wherever there is a spot available.


MLB reports:  How do you see defense as part of your overall game?

Mike Murray:  I always took a lot of pride in being a reliable backstop for my pitchers and my teams in college and summer ball.  As I mentioned, the Giants catching depth hasn’t provided for a ton of opportunities behind home plate, so my focus is on taking the same amount of work ethic from behind the plate into becoming a better defender elsewhere on the field.

 

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?

Mike Murray:  I would love to have an answer to this question other than I have no idea… but no idea is about as honest as I can be.  One of the things about being a Free Agent and not being a huge bonus guy is that you have to prove yourself each and every day and each and every season.  I don’t think I would want it any other way.  

I understand that signing for more money or in a higher round buys you opportunities and that those types of guys have more equity to cash in if they have a below average year.  I don’t have that luxury and that drives me to produce each and everyday.  I have no plans of having a down year at any point. I will grind my way to really productive offensive seasons and see where that lands me.


MLB reports:  Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far?

Mike Murray:  Pro ball has been mostly what I expected.  There are certainly nights where you are sleeping on a bus floor that you ask yourself if you are crazy. But you usually wake up knowing you are where you are supposed to be and appreciate the opportunity.

 

MLB reports:  What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?  Best friend(s) on the team that you most hang out with and what do you guys like to do to chill?

Mike Murray:  In the offseason I chase around my dog, pick shows to catch up on Netflix, do a lot of reading, and spend a good bit of time in New York City.

I have been fortunate to have some great pro ball teammates.  The great thing about pro ball is that your teammates come from such broad backgrounds.  As a four-year college guy and graduate, my perspective is different from a JC guy, HS guy, or an international sign that is in the country for the first or second summer.

Now that we all have twitter, we are able to keep in pretty good touch over the offseason.  I spend most of off-season texting back and forth with Garrett Buechele over our fantasy sports troubles and recently headed down to Philly with Joe Panik for the Winter Classic to root on the Blue Shirts.  

 

MLB reports:  A .331 lifetime average going into the season. A .394 OBP last year. You can hit and you can take walks. We are intrigued- what has been the secret to your success thus far?

Mike Murray:  Being a college senior sign after four years presents its challenges as a prospect.  You go in with less investment from the Club and a bit older than people may like for prospects.  However, my college career in the ACC, Cape Cod, NECBL, and Valley League have prepared me well to succeed in pro ball.  I had over 800 at bats in those four years against big leaguers, first rounders, and really talented guys.  The experience I have as a hitter has made the transition to pro ball that much easier.

I talk a lot with some of our younger hitters in the organization about approach, staying positive, learning their swings, and I always tell them how much respect I have for them making the jump from High School or after a year of college.  My experiences in college really taught me how to fail and succeed and the best way to put myself in a position to be more successful.  I don’t know if I would be the same hitter if I didn’t have those experiences where I did.


MLB reports:  Do you have a favorite pre-game meal?

Mike Murray:  The favorite pre-game meal has everything to do with where I am.  When I was in the NWL this past summer, my roommates and I made a habit of finding our way to Big Town Hero for our pre-game meal.  When in Scottsdale, there is no better place to start your day then at the Breakfast Club.   


MLB reports:  Final Thoughts?

Mike Murray:  Just figured I’d give you a little more personal information in final thoughts…

I graduated in 2010 from Wake Forest university with a degree in Political Science and History. I was an ACC Honor Roll and Dean’s List student, and captain of the Wake Forest baseball team. I deferred admission into law school when I signed to play professional baseball.  When I am done playing I am going to go to law school, with the hopes of eventually getting into the front office and becoming a GM.  

My dad played minor league ball in the Chicago White Sox organization.  My younger brother was drafted last year by the Houston Astros, but decided instead to enroll at Georgia Tech.  He is a freshmen catcher there and was last year’s New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year.  My younger sister was the Captain of the University of Maryland’s softball team last year and also is a catcher.

Thank you MLB reports!  M.M.

 
***Thank you to Mike Murray for taking the time today from his offseason training to speak with us on MLB reports.  Also, a big thanks to Mike for providing the photos used in today’s feature from his collection. You can follow Mike on Twitter (@MMurray15).  Mike Murray is a name to remember. So give him a follow, say hello and wish him well as grinds his way up to San Francisco!

 

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.

The Future of Alfredo Simon

Sunday January 29th, 2012

Sam Evans: Alfredo Simon has not had the Major League career that most people grew up dreaming about. He’s never maintained success in his four years in the big leagues, plus he was accused of murdering a man during the last offseason. Luckily for Simon, he has a chance to be a starter in Baltimore’s talent-deprived rotation. He is still a promising player with a good build and a fastball that can touch up to 95 MPH.

Simon should be an inspiration to all minor league players. He spent seven years in the minors before he ever reached the majors. During those seven minor league years, he played for the Rangers, Orioles, Dodgers, Phillies, and the Giants. Simon never posted amazing minor league numbers and had problems with his offspeed pitches. What kept Simon on teams was his fastball in the upper 90’s and positive veteran influence. In 2008, Simon finally got his chance. The Orioles called him up to the majors and gave him a chance to showcase his abilities against major league hitters.

When Alfredo Simon signed with the Phillies over ten years ago, he claimed to be almost two years younger than he was, as he went by the name Carlos Cabrera. This wasn’t a huge deal, but eventually the information about Simon’s name and age was released to the public. Little did Simon know, this was just the start of his legal issues. Last year, on New Year’s, Simon was accused of killing Michel Castillo Almonte and wounding his own brother. As the story was told, the locals were all bringing in the New Year at a huge party, with Simon celebrated by firing his gun into the air twice. I’m not a lawyer, but this seems very suspicious. If Simon was firing his gun up into the air, how did he kill someone? I don’t speak very fluent spanish, but according to a Dominican news telecast, Simon was at a street block filled with hundreds of people, away from Almonte at the time of the murder.

The justice system in the Dominican Republic is far from perfect. Simon could have just paid off people to cover this up after he actually did murder Almonte.  Or this could have been a misunderstanding or tragic accident. However, the court found indisputable evidence that Simon was not the murderer. He had approximately three hundred witnesses testifying his innocence. What I find amusing is that almost all of them showed up for the court appearance, dressed in Orioles gear and Simon’s jerseys. On November 8th, Simon was acquitted of all charges of involuntary manslaughter.

Back to baseball, Simon has never been able to maintain success for long periods of time in the majors. He has shown glimpses of being an electric closer at times. He’s also had moments where he looks like a potential innings-eater starter. Nobody, even Simon, knows where this talented veteran will fit into the Orioles roster. Whether it’s as a starter, or as a late-inning bullpen arm, Simon could be a breakout player in 2012.  Or he could end up on waivers.

Simón can still heat up the radar gun, even now at age thirty. Last year, his average fastball was 94.4MPH. He threw his fastball almost 1 MPH faster in 2010, but that’s likely because he was used out of the bullpen. Speaking of 2010, that was the year when Orioles fans got to see the potential of this 6’6” giant. Due to a Mike Gonzalez injury, and a dreadful Orioles bullpen, Alfredo Simón was name the O’s closer. Simon took complete advantage of the situation and he finished with 17 saves in 21 chances.

Simon’s peripherals suggest that he has been consistently getting lucky during his time in Baltimore. He has a 5.23 career FIP, but only a 4.19 career SIERA (Skill-Interactive ERA). Simon is starting to look like another pitcher who consistently outperforms what their sabermetrical numbers suggest they should be. Sabermetrics are far from perfected statistics always and they could be misleading, in terms of Simon’s production.

In 2011, Simon returned to starting pitching. He had sixteen starts and he threw more innings in one year (115.2), than he’d thrown since 2007. He still missed time due to hamstring issues, but overall, Simon threw some quality ballgames for Baltimore. Eight of his sixteen starts were for six innings or more. If Simon can perfect his offspeed pitches better, I could see him having a Carlos Silva in 2004-esue year. That’d make him one of the Orioles best pitchers and he would then be due for a payday in 2013.

Recently, both Manager Buck Showalter, and General Manager Dan Duquette, have made it clear that they want to have players competing in Spring Training for a spot in the Orioles rotation. According to Orioles beat writer, Brittany Ghiroli, Simon has lost ten pounds this offseason and he’s been preparing to be a starter. There will be approximately eleven players competing for five spots in the Orioles rotation this spring. Fortunately for Simon, the majority of them are not very good.

If the Orioles coaching staff can ameliorate Simon into a starter who goes deep into games, without losing his velocity or blocking a younger prospect, then they will have gem of a pitcher at a fraction of the cost of most top starting pitchers. I really do believe in Simon’s capabilities. He has the potential and given that he has a good opportunity coming up this spring, I don’t see any reason why he can’t spend the entire year in the Orioles rotation (health permitting).

If starting doesn’t work out for Simon, he can still be an effective late-inning arm. The Orioles need to develop their pitchers better and stop messing with their roles. They can tell Simon if they want him to be a starter, or a reliever, but the worst thing they can do is have him switch back and forth. For Simon’s career, it’s now or never. 2012 will be the most important year of his career and the Orioles need him to produce at the Major-League level so that they don’t have to rush their young prospects any further.

***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 hereand follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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