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Ask the Reports: ATR Answers Your Baseball Questions – May 27th, 2012

Sunday May 27th, 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: What do you think about Honolulu (for MLB expansion)? They would get so many people during the summer for vacation.  Robert

JH:  Robert! I don’t think a week goes by where I don’t receive a question from you on MLB expansion. You know that it is one of my favorite topics- so inevitably, we end up discussing it seemingly at least once on ATR every week. Honolulu now…that is interesting. As we discussed in previous expansion talks, Major League Baseball will consider many factors in its next round of expansion. Population base and the availability of fans for games will be one key factor. Honolulu has apparently 337,000 residents while Hawaii itself is closing in on 1,000,000.  Not bad. Not bad at all. But even with a strong population base, we would have to be realistic on the area. Travel will be a killer. Which division would we even consider putting them in? The climate would be perfect though. Nice and dry in the summer, warm but not overbearing. A very population destination for tourists, but with most trying to enjoy sun and beaches, I am not sure how baseball would go over as a tourist attraction.

Ultimately, distance will be the killer. Also, taxes I understand may be an issue as well. Les Murakami Stadium in Honalulu is home to the University of Hawaii baseball team. The stadium holds 4,312 and has turf. Guess what? A new stadium will need to be built to accommodate MLB. Will that happen? Many of the other candidates for MLB expansion will need to build a stadium as well. But at least those areas have a decent shot at a team. To get a good stadium, you need a rich owner with a supportive community willing to subsidize the venture. Hawaii folded its winter league in 2008, but I have read reports it could return. If the area could not keep the winter league, I think MLB expansion would be a tough sell. But if nothing else, distance is the killer. You can have one team in Hawaii and expect all the other teams in the league (especially in the division) to travel such a distance. Ten hours from Hawaii to NYC? No thanks. We need to be creative in thinking MLB expansion, but Honolulu is reaching a little too far.

 


Q:  Dear MLB Reports,

My name is Patrick Languzzi, I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan that also writes for a sports blog called the Bleacher Report.  I’ve recently launched (on Opening Day) a brand new blog in support of former Red Sox great Dwight Evans for The National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The site is designed to educate people on Evans’ career accomplishments and Hall of Fame credentials, including: Video Footage, Hall of Fame player comparisons, complete statistics, pictures, and a direct link to an online petition for people to add their name to should they feel they would like to support Evans.

The Red Sox organization is well aware of my efforts having met with front office personnel Dick Bresciani and Tom Catlin. The organization has been supportive in encouraging me to reach out to various online sports related sites such as MLB Reports to help promote this grass roots campaign.

I thank you in advance for your consideration, please let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Patrick Languzzi   www.calltothehall.com

JH: Patrick, thank you for the message. While MLB reports will be featuring Patrick soon in a guest feature discussing the Call to the Hall campaign, I wanted to share Patrick’s e-mail with our readers. Looking at the numbers, Dwight Evans had a long and productive career with the Red Sox. 20 years (19 with the BoSox, 1 with the Orioles)- .272 AVG, .370 OBP, .470 SLG, 385 HRs, 1384 RBIs, 1391 walks/1697 strikeouts, 3 All-Star game appearances, 8 gold gloves, 2 silver sluggers…the list goes on and on. A well-rounded player, Evans played in a non-juice era and put up great numbers for a strong defensive outfielder. We here at MLB reports support your campaign Patrick to put Dewey in the hall and encourage our readers to check out your site. Good luck and see you soon on the Reports!

 

Q:  Went to a club last night. My friend asked me why I kept kicking my leg at girls. Told him I was doing the El Duque.  Jon

JH: And you want to be a MLB reports Intern. Sheesh. I don’t know if to toss the resume or hire you on the spot. You may need help at picking up the ladies Jon, but you certainly know how to impress the folk here at the Reports! I suggest saving the El Duque kick for baseball stadiums and YouTube impersonations. For the club, I would suggest more impersonations of Justin Timberlake and less Orlando Hernandez. Just a thought…if you don’t want to strike out.

 

Q:  Is the Bullpen turnaround for the Angels sustainable?  Greg

JH: The Angels bullpen, like its rotation, like the rest of the team- is of high quality. It just needs the time to gel and then…watch out! Heck, when C.J. Wilson is your 4th starter, good things will happen for your team. But you are concerned at the bullpen for the moment, so let’s stick with that topic. Firstly, Scott Downs is the closer for now. He has the experience and he is gritty. I know Downs well from his time in Toronto and bottom line, he is a dependable guy that you want in your pen. Look at this year’s numbers. 5 saves in 7 opportunities. 0.00 ERA.10 strikeouts and only 4 walks in 16 innings. 0.88 WHIP. Yes, he is as dependable as they come. I really like this kid Ernesto Frieri they picked up from the Padres. Big kid. Young. 0.00 ERA in 11 games for the Angels. A whopping 23 strikeouts to 8 walks. I don’t know what the Padres were thinking when they let him go in a trade- but meet your future closer. Solid pitching this season from LaTroy Hawkins. Jason Isringhausen (hopefully the two vets can contribute in the 2nd half and stay somewhat healthy). Remember your closer to start the year, Jordan Walden? Don’t look know, but he has a 3.07 ERA in 17 games with 1.16 ERA. Not only is the Angels pen going to keep doing what they are doing, but they are going to excel right into September. while my prediction of the AL West crown for the Angels might have been slightly ambitious, I wouldn’t count these guys out just yet. The Angels will still be a force right until the end of the year and their pen will be a big reason why.

 

Q:  You know what’s a good topic of discussion? The aura surrounding the “quality start” very overrated if you ask me…  Jade

JH:  We talked about this one extensively on Twitter, but I wanted to share the topic with our ATR readers. Like many fans of the game, I am not a big supporter of the Quality Start stat. To qualify for a quality start, a starting pitcher needs to pitch at least 6 innings and give up 3 earned runs or less. As you pointed out Jade, 6 innings at 3 earned runs gives you a 4.50 ERA. Not too great. I agree that it is time to fix the quality start. I threw out a couple of options. 6 innings at 2 earned runs gives a 3.00 ERA. Good…but not great. So I turned it up a notch. 7 innings at 2 earned runs or less to qualify for a Quality Start. That give a 2.57 ERA. I am all for option “B” for 2 reasons. Firstly, it forces a pitcher to go 7 innings to qualify for the stat. I mean, seriously folks. How often do we groan when a pitcher is out after 5 innings and reminisce on the good old days when pitchers pitched complete games regularly?? Pitching 7 innings is a good compromise. It is not a complete game, but it is very close. If a starter can go 7 and then leave the game to the 8th innings setup man and then the closer, I see that as a quality start. Then giving up 2 earned runs or less. To me, an ERA between 0.00 and 2.57 is true quality. Those are great numbers. Not just good. But great. So when determining a quality start, let’s set the bar for quality much higher. I would love to hear what readers have to say on this topic so please feel free to share everyone. Would you change how a Quality Start is calculated or do you think it is fine the way it is?

 

Q:  With Astros moving to AL in 2013 how do you see overall schedule working out w/interleague play almost every day?  Old Man Mack

JH: ATR without Old Man Mack is like baseball without reports. Just plain silly. I think the schedule will still need many tweaks. Let’s face it, until MLB expands by 2 teams to 32 and has complete realignment, we need to work with what we have. With the Astros moving to the AL West, we now have a 15/15 team split between leagues. This means interleague play everyday of the season essentially. Now there are certain measures that will be in play to limit interleague at the start and end of the year, especially at the end to ensure that there are no interleague games on the road in September. Makes sense during a playoff run. My understanding is that the divisions will rotate every year in interleague. So while the games for example can center on the AL East vs. NL East one year, it could be the AL East and NL West the following year. So MLB is still sticking to a division-focused schedule for interleague. There is one idea that has not been implemented though that could have been the difference maker. Here goes: AL rules in NL parks and NL rules in AL parks. Translation: during interleague games, no DH in AL parks and use the DH in NL parks. Now that would make things interesting! I know that baseball purists would scream to the heavens, but still, if we are making it this far- let’s go all the way. Living in an AL city (Toronto), I would love to watch NL style ball at home. I am sure that there are those in say…Cincinnati that could go for some ballgames with a DH. Let’s make it fun for the fans and mix it up.

But, alas this is not happening anytime soon. But even without my radical changes, I like the interleague play everyday. There is no choice with the 15/15 split and having 6 teams in the NL Central and 4 teams in the AL West just never made sense. To have balanced divisions, interleague play is the compromise. Plus, quite frankly: how many times can A’s fans watch the Mariner? Cubs fans watch the Pirates? Let’s balance things up. Interleague allows teams to face-off against a greater pool of rivals. In a 162-game schedule, we need to have more excitement for the casual fans. This is a definite step in the right direction. More interleague play won’t solve anything and I guarantee you there will be more changes coming in the future as the system is tweaked. But you have to start somewhere to know where you are going. This is a step in the right direction for Major League Baseball. It comes slowly for our fave sport…but it does come eventually.

 

Q:  Hello…
I just sort of stumbled on this mlb realignment proposal website with the changes in divisions
and description!

https://mlbreports.com/2011/05/19/mlb-realignment/

Great read and put together perfectly!

Is this how it will look next year?

I’m very nervous and a little bummed on what I’m hearing how it might look next year but maybe because I’m not even sure really what it is still!!

This page and breakdown gave me goosebumps on how intricate, and fresh yet keeping the historical value implemented!

It makes dam good sense!!!

The thought and energy put into it, how could it be any other way!!

I love baseball and hate when things start to change in a certain way.

I applaud this article and look and wish this would go right into effect next year!!

Bryce

JH: Bryce, even if I paid you, I don’t think a person could have written a nicer or more complimentary message than yours. Thank you sir and I am glad that you enjoyed the article! The realignment piece was very well received for the most part. Some loved it. Some not as much. But it created dialogue and thought for our readers, which at the end of the day is key. I personally am tired with the old stale divisions and see a need for change. Even with the Astros coming to the AL in 2013, I need more change. The changes that I propose are not getting implemented next year. Maybe in the future, but this will ultimately depend on what direction MLB owners wish to take the sport. Baseball is scared of change. Always has been and always will be. There is an old guard that likes the status quo. Fortunately, there are young, up-and-coming executives with ideas to push the sport forward. We have night games. Interleague games. Expanded divisions. Wild Cards. The sport has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Now the sport is at a crossroads. How much interleague play is too much? Should the DH be abolished or expanded into the NL? What is the ideal roster size? How many teams should make the playoffs? The questions are never ended. At the forefront is the number of teams, divisions and alignment of the divisions. While realistically I do not see Major League Baseball adopting the full realignment that I proposed in this article, I can see a large push for realignment when 2 more teams are added in expansion. Then, baseball will have no choice as the time will be right to align divisions better based on geography and competitiveness. When will that happen? Your guess is as good as mine. Five years would be ideal. But I think 10 years is more realistic. I am glad to see that there is so much love for baseball that fans want to see the sport evolve, grow and thrive. Thank you for writing in and enjoy the Reports!


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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!

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