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Ask the Reports: ATR Answers Your Baseball Questions – May 12th, 2012

Saturday May 12th, 2012



Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@me.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!

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

Q:  (a) What are the chances of the indians moving; and

(b)  Josh Hamilton obviously, Matt Kemp too, but after that Im not sure(maybe Bruce,Braun, etc). Who do you think will be the contestants this year?  Robert

JH: Two questions for Robert this week. A great way to kick off ATR! Now I am getting many messages on the Indians moving, so it is time for some clarification. I had tweeted a couple of weeks back on the hypothetical scenario on “if your team was to relocate or contract, which team would you start to follow and why.”  Completely hypothetical and never intended to be more than that. The Indians came up with Larry, MLB reports’ #1 fan (his fave team)…and based on that discussion, the whole concept of the Indians moving was born. Now digging through the attendance figures for last season, the Indians were ranked 24th with approximately 1.8 million fans. Good…but certainly not great. Just to compare, both the Yankees and Phillies draw approximately 3.6 million fans as the top gates, while Oakland was the worst at 1.476 million. The Marlins and Rays were both very close to the bottom, with the Marlins now having a new stadium and the Rays desperately needing one. If the Rays and A’s don’t get new parks, expect to see these teams move in the next five years. The Indians though are not going anywhere. Not in our lifetimes at least. The Indians as a major league team were formed in 1901 in Cleveland and formally became the Indians in 1915. Translation: too much history and tradition. Still a very popular team. This team is not going anywhere. Progressive (formerly Jacobs) Field opened in 1994, so it is still relatively new. A beautiful park and a loyal fan base that loves their team, the Indians are here to stay.

As far as your second question, I will say this on the MLB Home Run Derby. It’s time is starting to run out. Last year, Ortiz and Fielder were the captains for the event. Contestants included Cano, Bautista, Adrian Gonzalez, Weeks, Kemp and Holiday. Cano ended up winning it, which was suprising considering that he wasn’t even a considered candidate by many. By Rickie Weeks? A little weak in my book. Many players do not wish to participate anymore, given injury risks and the issues it can create with their swings. Remember Bobby Abreu back in 2005? He was never the same after that one. I think we will see more and more young players participating. I think the old guard has had enough, with the young players still looking forward to the event. I would love to see Cespedes, Bruce, Napoli all join in the fun. I think Kemp will want a year off from this one, but Major League Baseball would love to see him and Hamilton duke it out. It boils down to politics vs. players’ preferences. I would expect to see some established stars, but more of the prospects as this event continues to grow. The captains idea was a good one- allowing more players input into the event. Hopefully Major League Baseball can continue to grow and evolve the Derby.

Q:  The Twins are winning the 2012 World Series. Mark it down.  Sully Baseball

JH: The Twins are 9-23 as of today, already 9 games out of first in the AL Central. 5-11 at home, 4-12 on the road. In other words, the Twins are terrible. I certainly hope that you are joking, as it will take a miracle for this team to make it out of the basement. The Tigers will be there in September, the Indians are continuing to prove they are for real, the Royals and White Sox are both improved. The Twins on the other hand, are battling injuries and poor performances. They have Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit leading the charge, with Mauer’s power non-existent and Morneau battling various ailments. Their starting pitching is a disaster (Pavano is the “top” starter with a 5.00+ ERA) and Matt Capps has been the only decent force in the pen. The Twins are not winning anything this year my friend. If they do, you are certainly welcome to come back and gloat in October. I am fine with that…because it ain’t going to happen. Mark that down! 🙂

Q:  I like the idea of a team in Montana. Maybe Billings. The Billings Mustangs averaged more than 2,800 people a game in 2010. Great Falls voyagers got more than 2,700 a game. These are both just ROOKIE-LEVEL clubs. Imagine how big a pro team would be. I think we would see this become a huge baseball state. Can you tell me ur thoughts on this?  Ryan

JH: Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about Montana:

Montana (/mɒnˈtænə/) is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller “island ranges” are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges that are part of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state’s name, derived from the Spanish word montaña (mountain). Montana has several nicknames, none official,[4] including: “Big Sky Country” and “The Treasure State”, and slogans that include “Land of the Shining Mountains” and more recently, “The Last Best Place”.[5][6] Montana is the 4th most extensive, but the 7th least populous and the 3rd least densely populated of the 50 United States. The economy is primarily based on services, with ranching, wheat farming, oil and coal mining in the east, and lumber, tourism, and hard rock mining in the west.[7] Millions of tourists annually visit Glacier National Park, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park.[8]

Being the 7th lease populous state is a bit concerning. The tourism part sounds promising though. Big Sky Country could be a good rivalry for the Rockies at the very least. Montana is bigger than Japan but smaller than Paraguay. Huge territory! The climate sounds good and extensive history makes Montana a great tourist down. But the population is what concerns me. Population close to 1 million for the whole state. Billings is the largest city with only 100K in population. Missoula and Great Falls have over 50K each. To me- this is not a Major League Baseball feasible size territory. To sell out 30K plus for every game, 1/3 of the population of Billings would need to attend. Now, this would not be entirely necessary, as fans from nearby cities and out-of-town would be attending the park for each home game as well. But to obtain a MLB Expansion team- many factors have to be considered. Population. Ownership. Ballpark. Local funding for a ballpark. Television. Merchandise. Likelihood of popularity of team as a visitor in other ballpark. While Montana may have great minor league attendance  (2,700 and 2,800 fans per team that you mention), this does even begin to a measure to a major league team that has to average at least 30,000 per game. If I was scouting more extensively for Major League Baseball, I would need to crunch more numbers. But from what I am initially reading and seeing, my answer at this time is no. Get more people into Montana and I may reconsider my position for a MLB team in the future.

Q:  Ten years is a long time. How long until Angels regret Albert’s contract?  Steve

JH: How does one month sound? Just kidding…but not really. I never liked this deal in the long-term. For many, many reasons. Firstly, Pujols is listed as 32 years of age. Are you kidding me? I am 4 years older than Pujols? I think not. 32 Dominican years equals 35-36 North American years. Yes, this is pure speculation on my part. And just about every other baseball analyst. If Pujols is really 32, then great. All good. But in my mind, watching him for all the years that I have…I am not buying it. Why does this matter you ask? Simple. If Pujols were at least 3 years older, this is 3 prime years that you are losing as a team. There is a big difference between a player playing from 42-45 years of age, versus 32-35. If Pujols were older, you are losing his 3 best years and gaining 3 non-existent years. That is my first point. Nextly, even at 32, you are lucky to get 5 good years out of him. Max. From 37 and on, you will have a declining and likely injured Pujols. Some players can hit well into their 40’s, but they are far and few between. Most hitters start to see a decline in their early 30’s, with the end coming for most in their mid-30’s. Prince Fielder at 28 years of age, I have less of an issue with. No reason why Prince can’t produce for 8 years of his deal. So without a shadow of a doubt, I believe the Pujols deal was a blunder. I would have given him 5-years, $125 million max. Anything beyond 5 years, and you are simply asking for trouble. Now that being said, Pujols will rebound. He just needs time. He has the pressure of a new team, new league and new contract. He is the baseball version of Atlas, the ballplayer who carries the weight of his team on his shoulders. Once he calms down and let’s loose, he will turn into the Albert of old. Look at those stats. .192 average, 6 walks and 17 strikeouts. By July, this will be a distant memory. I won’t quite compare Pujols to Adam Dunn, but to start the year, their transitions to the AL respectively have been similar. While Dunn needed a 2nd year to figure it out, Pujols will get it done in short time. But while Pujols will go back to being the Pujols of old (446 career home runs and 1.027 OPS… he will be back), the trip will not last forever in Anaheim. If the Angels get 5 great years of Pujols, I will be impressed. But I don’t think we will see the 40+ home runs Pujols of old. The new Pujols will be 30+ home runs. Something about playing in Anaheim has a way of sapping hitters’ power. Pujols was already showing somewhat of a decline last year. Players in their 30’s have a way of doing that.

So at the end of the day, I think the reality is that the Angels have regretted the contract almost from the start. They are paying for past performances, not what Pujols will do in the future. If they get 150 home runs out of him between 2012-2016, they will be lucky. But years 2017-2021, expect some very lean years…unless Pujols can channel the fountain of youth as Barry Bonds did late in his career. I don’t blame Pujols. He got offered a great deal and he took. Can’t blame him in the slightest. But much the way that the Vernon Wells deal was a mistake in Toronto, the Pujols deal in Anaheim will turn out the same way. Ironic that Pujols and Wells are now teammates. I guess it goes to show you: if a team does not learn from history, it is doomed to repeat it.

Q:  When can Jays fans expect to see Vlad in TO? Or was the signing an Expos thing with him and AA?  Michael

JH: I fully expect to see Vladimir Guerrero in Toronto this month. The Jays are currently 19-15, only 3 games back from first place. With Adam Lind becoming an automatic out as a first baseman in the #8 spot, more offensive weapons are needed badly in Toronto. I can see Vladdy coming back hungry and motivated to Toronto. As a primary DH, Edwin Encarnacion could move to first- with Lind going to the bench. A 3-4-5 of Bautista, Vladdy and Encarnacion could be quite the threat. I don’t see this move as having anything to do with Vladdy’s Expos days and connection to Jays GM Anthopoulos. While it is nice to see Vladdy come back to his native country so to speak, this is a baseball decision. Plain and simple. Great hitters like Vladdy don’t grow on trees. Rather than move any top prospects in a risky trade, the Jays took a low risk and grabbed a potential star for their team. In the short-term at least. While Vlad was horrible with Baltimore last year, remember he was still a force in Texas in 2010. His career numbers are great in Toronto. Expect Guerrero to get to Toronto soon and quickly become a fan favorite. He may not be the difference maker for the playoffs, but he will at the very least be an extra piece to the puzzle in 2010.


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

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About Jonathan Hacohen

I practice daily yoga. Most foods are organic. If you catch me in the supermarket, it will be in the produce aisle. Warrior 1 Yoga was born from my wish to help people be healthy and happy. I preach the 4 key's to life: nutrition, exercise, water and sleep. This is my journey - I am hope to meet you along the way to share a similar path!

Posted on May 12, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Ask the Reports: ATR Answers Your Baseball Questions – May 12th, 2012.

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