Ask the Reports: ATR Answers Your Baseball Questions – April 23rd, 2012
Monday April 23rd, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!
Let’s get to your top questions of the week:
Q: When do the WBC Qualifiers begin? When does the WBC itself begin? William
JH: Starting off with one of our most loyal Twitter followers. A great question Williams, you know we love talking WBC! In fact, we love the World Baseball Classic so much, that we have a dedicated site for it: wbcreports.com. Keep the page bookmarked for all the latest WBC info! To answer your question, the WBC Qualifiers begin September of this year. With the MLB playoffs just about to begin, tensions and debates will begin as playoff-bound teams are unlikely (will not) send their players to the qualifiers. One or two missing players could mean the difference between a WBC berth…or elimination. The tournament itself begins in March 2013. Debates have also raged as to when the World Baseball Classic should be held. Some feel mid-season to replace the All-Star Game. This will NEVER happen, as Major League Baseball depends on the All-Star Game to appease sponsors and is one of the biggest events on the MLB calendar. Some others feel that the WBC should be held after the World Series. This creates issues with players that are tired and worn out from a gruelling MLB schedule…which would likely result in low participation rates. Thus during Spring Training was deemed as the lesser of all the evils as to when to hold the tournament. The start of the tournament has led many to believe that pitchers participating in the tournament run the risk of arm injuries- as they are not prepared and warmed up sufficiently to go all out in March. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. But it is what it is. Fortunately though we are only several months away from the qualifiers. I for one can’t wait!
Q: How can a person think the Mets are the worst team in the league when they have the 13 overall pick in this years draft? I know you’re bad if you have the 13 overall pick, but not one of the worst in the league bad. John
JH: Thank you for your questions John. This is a continuation from our “Ask the Scout” feature from Saturday night, when we fortunate to have an actual scout join us to answer your questions on Twitter. I have to tell you John- you are right. The Mets are bad, but not worst team in the league bad. The problem is that when you play in a huge market that is New York, expectations are increased and mistakes are magnified. The Mets are in actuality a middle-of-the-road team. Not good, but not that bad. You are correct in your assessment with the 13th round selection. If the Mets are selecting at that stage, clearly they are not the worst team. But this is the danger of staying middle of the road. You might compete on many nights, but at the end of the day- you are a .500 team at best. To become a true contender, you either have to spend money like a drunkin’ sailor (on GOOD players…hint hint Omar Minaya…), or blow up a team and build from scratch. With the Wilpons’ finances in a bit of chaos, the spending part is not likely to happen. Thus to blow up the team, collect high ceiling prospects and look to the future is the best route in my opinion. The Rays did it and look at the them now. So did the Pirates on the other hand, who were less successful. The Astros are trying that route now. The Royals are almost there. But in New York, the Mets faithful will likely not allow a bottom-feeding team for the next five years. So while the team may not be in last, it will likely finish 3rd-4th for the foreseeable future. Not the bottom in most MLB cities, but seen that way in New York. I wish your team the best, but I see some drastic growing pains ahead.
Q: Seeing many low run games this month but also hearing pitcher velocity off a few MPH’s. Could K-zone be larger? Old Man Mack
JH: Love the K-Zone. Another great topic choice by ATR faithful reader, OMM. Let’s remember that umpires use their judgement in calling balls and strikes, as K-Zone is simply a television tool by ESPN to allow viewers play armchair umpires. As far as the low scoring games this year, I have a couple of theories. Firstly, bats are cold to start off. Hitters haven’t hit their stride and find it difficult to hit in damp and cold weather. Also, many hitters take a month or two to hit their stride, which gives pitchers a huge advantage. On that token, the pitchers have the edge in most cases to start the year. They have fresh arms. They can throw their hardest. Many young pitchers are on mounds that hitters have never seen before. Some pitchers changed leagues, while there are also many rookie pitchers on the scene. This has nothing to do with K-Zone. It is just a factor of the time of year. But as the weather will heat up going into the 2nd half, all will change. The old expression is that bats heat up with the weather. Just the way it is. The warmer it is, the more pumped hitters are to blast balls. But by the heat of the summer, pitchers start to get tired. Rookie phenom pitchers are going through the 2nd and 3rd time around the league. Same with pitchers who changed leagues. Players and teams start to get the books on the pitchers. We are already seeing as every day goes by that scores are going up. Pitchers are getting injured and dropping like flies. Many teams have untrustworthy bullpens and back of the rotations. We are seeing some of the shallowest depth of pitching in MLB history. Talk to me come June. You will think that K-Zone has been shrunk to the size of a golf ball. Thanks for the question as always!
Q: I would like to see MLB in the future look at the possibility of bringing Major League Baseball to Louisiana. The population since Katrina is booming between New Orleans & Baton Rouge Metropolitan areas and our economy is growing with the leadership of our Governor Bobby Jindal. MLB has recently selected New Orleans for an Urban Youth Academy. The City of New Orleans would need help from the Gulf Coast and Baton Rouge population base. Some has stated a new stadium would work better between New Orleans & Baton Rouge. Summer baseball leagues in the Baton Rouge Metropolitan area are extremely widespread. LSU has won 6 National Championships and attendance is the best in Collegiate Baseball, although we know MLB is a different game as more games are played. With all this being said I know it would be hard for my state to get a MLB team. But it would be nice to see MLB to do their due diligence in my Great State of Louisiana. Roland
JH: MLB expansion. I don’t think I go one day Roland without discussing this topic. MLB fans love it and hate it. Some feel that it might dilute the talent. Others think that there aren’t cities out there that can afford to carry a MLB franchise. From there, assuming expansion will happen- people are torn as to where Major League Baseball should go. One of the most popular articles ever on MLB reports was our posting on MLB expansion back in July of last year. We get comments on it almost every day, with people debating as to where the next baseball franchises should land. New Orleans was my #10 pick on the list- as a feel good pick but unlikely given its economic state. That is where I appreciate your thoughts and honesty on the subject. Yes, Louisiana has been through a great deal of hardship and baseball in the area would be a big boost. It is a great baseball area and there is no doubt that Major League Baseball would be a hot ticket. But it boils down to dollars and cents. How much money is a potential owner prepared to invest in the team and a local stadium- the biggest issue. Will the government support the project with tax incentives and investments- another big question. What is the population base and what kind of ticket sales, television revenues and merchandise sales would the team generate- the last part of the equation. Realistically, I don’t see the area generating the needed funds based on a limited population and economic base. There are just too many other strong markets to compete with. I would definitely support a MLB team in New Orleans- but then if it were up to me, there would be another 10 teams. For now, expansion to 32 teams to create a 16/16 split will need to suffice. Thank you for writing in!
Final Q: Assuming Pettitte and Pineda come back healthy and the rest of the starters settle down, where do you see the Yankees going? Laurence
JH: Cough…cough…sorry about that, I just about choked on my lunch there. I only have one question Laurence: what???? I appreciate your question and clearly you are a Yankees supporter. But that is WAY too many assumptions my friend. Let’s go step-by-step. Michael Pineda has been shut down indefinitely with a weak shoulder. He has been basically out of commission since the start of spring training. People are calling for the worst on this one (sorry). If he pitches next year with any kind of health, I would be happy as a Yanks fan. As far as this year goes, I would not count on him. Then you have Andy Pettitte, turning 40 this June. The same Pettitte who pitched 2/3rds of a season in 2010 and missed all of last year. The same Pettitte who averaged a 4.00+ ERA and 1.400+ WHIP the previous 4 seasons. If he makes it to September, consider it a small miracle. Again far from a sure thing and nothing to count on. Then we go through the rest of the rotation. Sabathia, I am not worried about. He gets hot with the weather. Hiroki Kuroda should be fine. But then you start talking Freddy Garcia. Phil Hughes. Big question marks that have been rightfully worried. Ivan Nova has been steady and should be fine. But he does not have a big track record of success. I see the Yankees though making the playoffs, through one of the Wild Cards. But the rotation is not one of the reasons. Pineda in my book was going to bring the Yankees up several notches. But his loss has dropped them down significantly in the pitching rotation. When you start to miss A.J. Burnett, you know that you are in trouble. There is a saying that you can never have too much pitching in baseball. The Rays are examples of what can go right when you have depth. The Yankees are the counter-example of what happens when you lack the depth. Good luck to your Yanks and we should be seeing you in October!
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Posted on April 23, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged andy pettitte, ask the reports, baseball, baseball questions, k-zone, michael pineda, mlb, mlb expansion, new york mets, wbc, world baseball classic. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.