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ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: September 23rd, 2012

Sunday September 23rd, 2012



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, 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! We love to hear from you- so keep the questions coming every week!

Jonathan Hacohen: I am in a GREAT mood this weekend! Can you blame me? The MLB season is nearing the playoffs and the WBC qualifiers are well under way! While I love watching MLB action, my heart still favors the World Baseball Classic. If you have ever watched a game involving a team…say like Cuba, Venezuela or the Dominican Republic, you would understand why. In my book, nothing beats international baseball action. The passion of the fans and players simply cannot be beat. To have ones country advance in the tournament is one of the highest levels of joy that a baseball fan can experience.

Going into this week, I was keeping a special eye on Israel and Canada. As I am Jewish (check the last name), I will always root for anything and everything involving Israel. I almost fell out of my seat with excitement when I first heard that Israel was invited to the WBC qualifiers. Now watching this team in action, they certainly have a great chance to qualify for March. I have enjoyed speaking with Cody Decker, Padres prospect and a member of Team Israel over the past few days. To say that Cody is excited to be playing for Israel is an understatement. He spoke very highly of the atmosphere, the level of talent on the team and the feeling of playing with “Israel” across his chest. As Israel plays Spain today for the right to advance to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, I wish my fellow countrymen the best of luck. Behind ya 110%!

Canada has also advanced to the finals of its group, awaiting the winner of the Germany and Great Britain today. Canada will meet the winner on Monday afternoon. Due to its poor play in the 2009 edition of the WBC, Canada was forced to qualify for the upcoming tournament. After 2 strong games on its resume, Canada looks good to advance (will likely play Germany in the finals). As my family and I live in Canada, we have the bias of wanting to see a good showing from the northern squad. Hopefully my wish comes true, and both Canada and Israel end up qualifying. The fact of the matter is that the countries are in different positions. This is Israel’s first try at WBC action, and the team came in with little pressure and everything to gain. Israel will be thrilled to qualify, while Canada must qualify. Canada is known internationally as a strong baseball market and anything less than a victory on Monday for it would be a huge disappointment. To qualify, both Israel and Canada will need defeat strong opponents. Hopefully it will all work out at the end.

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week:

Q:  Nate Freiman does it again. Israel wins 4-2.  Kris

And Padres 1B prospect Nate Freiman has been a one man bash bro in the first two games. Two straight seasons with an AVG over .290, 20+, and 100+ RBI wasn’t a fluke!!  Joshua

JH: Tons of comments this week on Team Israel’s power machine in the WBC qualifiers, Nate Freiman. Two games- two home runs in each would do that. Had you heard of Nate Freiman before this tournament? Gulp, I will admit that I had not either. No relation to Travis Fryman (different spellings). So I jumped over to the stats page to dig a little deeper on the kid. Nathan (Nate) Freiman was drafted by the Rangers in the 2008 draft but did not sign. From there he was drafted by the Padres in the 8th round of the 2009 draft. He is turning 26 this year (December 31st baby). A big boy at 6’7″ and 225 lbs, he is the poster-child for a power hitting first baseman. He has completed 4 seasons in the Padres organization and has improved every year. Brad Ausmus works for the Padres, so it is no surprise that he grabbed Nate for his squad. As Freiman has climbed the ladder every year, his home runs have jumped from 11 to 14, 22 and 24. Last year in AA, Freiman scored 80 runs and drove in 105, to go along with a .370 OBP and .502 SLG. He has a career .294 average, with a .364 OBP and .482 SLG. The exact benchmarks (.360/.480) that I set as a minimum for stars. 

If he wasn’t on the radar before, Nate Freiman has certainly created a name for himself in the WBC qualifiers. If Israel advances, I certainly expect him to get a chance to make team. Even with Ike Davis being eligible, to go along with Ryan Braun and Kevin Youkilis, this team certainly can use Nate Freiman’s bat in March. The Padres will certainly be keeping a close eye as well. With Yonder Alonso entrenched at 1st, Freiman will either need to move to another position or be traded. But sometime, somewhere…expect this young man to get his shot at the big leagues. He is too good and talented not to receive at least a few sips of coffee along the way in his career. If he plays in the majors anything close to the way he has this September, the Padres may have a real prospect on their hands. Mazel Tov Nate and good luck!

Q:  Huge Dodger fan here. This new ownership group is really ready to win. I am thrilled for the future even though I am now a hypocrite because I loathe the Yankees and what they have done to baseball. Oh well… the haves and the have nots. By the way, Magic is absolutely not the big spender, that honor goes to Mark Walter. Magic ‘only’ owns about 3.4%. And A-Rod (to the Dodgers). Baseball Gods forbid.  Kent

JH: Howdy Kent. Thank you for your comment. Many fans in LA are very excited on the Dodgers’ new ownership group and its spending ways. Frankly, adding Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to any contender should make the fans very excited. As far as A-Rod goes, I don’t see him going to the Dodgers. While the Yankees have a love/hate relationship with their star third baseman, he is a bat that the team sorely needs. For his career, I think having a DH option on some days is critical. Stranger things have happened in baseball, and I have learned to never say never. But A-Rod to the Dodgers…I only give a 2% chance of happening. Good luck the rest of the way Kent and I hope your boys in blue have a great ending to their season. Who knows, maybe you will even get some playoff action!

 

Q:  Haley you are such a rockstar!! at 11 years old your already reaping for women in sports journalism. Great questions, keep up the good work. I look forward to reading your work for years to come!!  Octavia

JH: You have certainly found our most popular writer…by far! Every time Haley Smilow writes an article, we get countless e-mails and comments supporting her! For those that missed it, here is the lastest interview by Haley Smilow (interviewing pitcher Kyle Wilson). Personally, I think that Haley is the greatest thing since sliced bread. And believe me, sliced bread is pretty amazing! Considering that she is only in Grade Six, this little girl has so baseball reporting potential. I am absolutely proud and thrilled that Haley is our Junior MLB Correspondent. We look forward to many more Haley Smilow reports in the months and years to come. Go Get ‘Em Haley!  

Q: I hope Chris Carpenter is ready soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Mike 

JH: Oh he’s back baby…in a big way! Chris returned to the mound to face the Cubs on Friday. Considering it was his first start of the year, I would have to rate it as a huge success! Carp went 5 innings, giving up only 5 hits and 1 walk, struck out 2 and gave up 2 runs. A 3.60 ERA and 1.200 WHIP is fantastic. Now, the fact that the Cards bullpen imploded is another subject for another day. With the Reds clinching the NL Central yesterday, the only hope for the Cards to make the playoffs is to grab a Wild Card spot. They currently hold down the 2nd spot (Braves 1st), with the Brewers, Phillies, Dodgers and Dbacks all breathing down their necks. Having their ace return certainly gives the Cards a huge boost.

With only 12 days to go until the Wild Card showdowns, Carp likely has 2 more starts left in him. With every win being crucial at this time of year, a team will take any advantage that it can get. I wouldn’t say that this guarantees the Cards a playoff berth, but their chances certainly look better. Only one problem though. Even if they do grab the 2nd Wild Card seed, they still have to go to Atlanta to play the Braves for the one game playoff. Given how the Braves have played this year and this being Chipper Jones last season, the Braves look to be the team of destiny. But remember the Braves collapse last year and the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series? Bottom line: never count out the defending champs.

Q:  Think Blue Jays are bad, try watching the Rockies for a week or so. They are absolutely horrible in the last three Septembers.  Steve

JH: Firstly, a huge shoutout to one of my favorite baseball guys on twitter. Steve has more baseball knowledge in his pinky than most people have in their entire bodies. Yes, he is that smart. He is also a Rockies fan and a tormented one at that. In recent times, he has had to suffer through the ups and downs of Ubaldo Jimenez (and later trade), Todd Helton injuries, a punchless offense and a pitching staff from a horror movie. Of course, there is Steve’s favorite: the 4-man pitching staff and 90-100 pitch limits. Steve is as big a fan of those moves as getting a root canal. Now we come to a funny comparison: which team is worse- the Rockies or Blue Jays? I’m sure the Astros, Cubs, Indians and Red Sox would all “love” to be a part of that conversation. But while I suffer through any other Blue Jays season, Steve has to do the same with the Rockies. The Blue Jays record currently sits at 66-84, last place in the AL East. .440 “winning” percentage. The team is 21.5 games in the division. Five losses in a row, a 2-8 record in their last 10. 36-38 record at home, 30-46 on the road. 

Now let’s take a look at the Rockies. 58-93 record, .384 “winning” percentage. 30.5 games back in the division. Losers of 8 in a row and 1-9 in their last 10. 31-46 record at home, and 27-47 on the road. Just to compare, Houston has a .329 PCT and the Cubs enjoy a .388 PCT. The Rockies are in fact the second worst team in baseball, worse than the Cubs! The Blue Jays are the 7th worst ball club in terms of wins. So yes Steve, your Rockies are terrible. I knew it was bad. But I didn’t realize it was that bad. I am sorry my man. No wonder your team is making you ill these days!

The ironic part, is let’s a look at the numbers. Offensively, the Rockies are 7th in baseball with 711 runs scored. 5th in hits with 1409. 13th in home runs with 158. Walks? 23rd (430). 17th in steals (96). 3rd in average (.271). 6th in OBP (.328). 4th in SLG (.436). So how could do the team be THIS bad? Ask Steve and he will tell you. Pitching. Some of the worst you will ever find. Team ERA? 30th (5.26). Imagine, as a pitching staff giving up an average of over 5 runs per game over a 162 game season. EEEKK!!!!!! Saves 26th (32). Hits allowed? Worst in baseball (1531). Runs still worst (839) and earned runs (775). Home runs allowed? 3rd worst (180). 3rd worst in walks (530). 25th in strikeouts (1068). A baseball worst average allowed (.291??!!!) WHIP- again a baseball worst (1.56…worst by a country mile).

They say its tough to pitch in Colorado. But to pitch this bad, you have to pitch poorly everywhere. Home and the road. The Rockies offense, by the numbers is very good. If this team even had decent, middle-of-the-road pitching, it would be contending. But the Rockies look to be throwing A-ball pitchers against major league hitters. This is a catastrophe! My advice? Find the pitching guru. Don Cooper, Dave Duncan or Mike Maddux. Pay one of them over $2 million per year and get them to right the ship! As Ubaldo proved before, pitchers can pitch in Colorado. Remember when Texas had some of the worst pitching in baseball because of their hitters’ park? Mike Maddux proved that all you need is a great pitching coach. The problems and solutions always start at the top. I don’t want to throw the Rockies coaching staff under the bus, but this is completely unacceptable. You can’t have pitching this bad and hope to win. The Rockies have some talent on their staff, I know they do. Now its is time to harness their potential. Bring in one of the best pitching coaches in the game and watch. This thing will get fixed in the hurry. 

And Steve, I owe you an apology. As painful as it is to watch the Blue Jays in the 2nd half, I can only imagine your pain this year viewing the Rockies. I am sorry man. My advice? Turn on the World Baseball Classic. Watch some Wild Card playoff action in 12 days. Stay as far away from the Rockies that you can until April. 7 months away from your team might be the rest and therapy you need. MLB 4 Life.


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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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