ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: Yadier for NL MVP, Wild Card Rosters, USA in WBC 2013, Triple Crown for Miggy and Scioscia to Boston?
Sunday September 30th, 2012
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Jonathan Hacohen: I am going to channel some Jose Canseco right now. No- I don’t think that I can travel to the future. Or that everyone is out to get me. But I want to send a message to the “haters”. You know who you are. The so-called baseball traditionalists that cry every time our great sport makes any kind of adjustment. Every time there is realignment, relocation, expanded rosters, playoffs…the haters scream to the heavens. They say: leave the game alone! While I love the game the way it is, without a doubt, I still feel the need for improvements. But I take them on case by case basis. The designated hitter? I say abolish the whole thing and go back to pitchers hitting in both leagues. I love the NL style of play, with real in-game decisions and strategies. But maybe that’s just me. While I may want to go back in time when it comes to the DH, I definitely look to the future on many subjects. For interleague play (assuming DH stays), I would play NL rules in AL parks and vice versa. Let’s mix it up! I say let’s increase rosters- up to 28-30 players per team. Poor attendance teams? Relocate. Expand by 2 teams to bring an even 16/16 split between leagues. From there, completely realign into 4 divisions of 4 teams each. And so the possibility of changes in baseball is endless.
Keeping that in mind, I come to a very hotly contested topic in baseball circles these days: the Wild Card. Originally set up as one Wild Card team per league, this year we have expanded to two Wild Card spots per league. Coming up on October 5th, we will see the first ever sudden death one game Wild Card playoffs. Haters simply despise these upcoming games. Is it too much change? Is it unfair to the integrity of the game and the playoffs? We could debate that one for weeks…nay… months…nay… years. But I will tell you this. If you take a look at the MLB standings as they are today, let’s reason the value of the Wild Card spots. In the NL for the last two weeks or so (more), it was a foregone conclusion that the Reds, Giants and Nats were taking the division crowns. Where would that have left the Braves? Cardinals? Dodgers? Brewers? Heck…even the Phillies and Pirates. Having the Wild Cards in place allowed fans for all those cities to remain interested and excited about baseball for weeks while their teams competing for Wild Card positions. No Wild Cards would equal many teams that would have been out of it long ago. Is that good for the game? To have fans in so many cities turned off from the game in August when they know the playoffs aren’t an option? I’m not so sure about that.
In the AL, the Orioles and A’s all still have a chance at division leads. The Angels and Rays still are very much in the playoff hunt. But no Wild Cards….would mean so many of those teams would not have had much of a shot. Unless we see total collapses, most are expecting the A’s and Orioles to face off in the Wild Card game. Considering how both have played, would you want to miss that one? Can you imagine if October came and the Braves, A’s and Orioles were not competing for a playoff position? Me neither. When I think about what we would lose by having so many of these teams going home if the Wild Card spots didn’t exist I shudder. I am not saying we should blow up the game. But before criticizing change just because its different, think about the pros and cons of the move. In this case, I say thumbs up to the extra Wild Card games. If you don’t believe me, check out the games on October 5th. They will be some of the best baseball that you will ever watch. That I guarantee.
Now let’s get to your top questions of the week:
Q: Yes sirrrrr. As kids (the Molina brothers), they started as 1B. Bet you didn’t know that. Their father knew what he was doing. Luis Lopez
JH: In case you missed it on Twitter the other day, we had a great conversation with Luis Lopez. A 18 year veteran of professional baseball, Luis has done it all and seen it all. The conversation arose on Luis touting Yadier Molina for the 2012 NL MVP award. Looking at his numbers and overall game, that is hard to dispute. While Buster Posey and Ryan Braun get a great deal of MVP buzz, there is a strong contingent of baseball writers that are pushing Yadier’s case. Clearly, Luis Lopez is one of the knowledgeable baseball people who sees the same thing.
Amazingly enough, Yadier is one of three baseball catching brothers. Jose and Bengie were both solid MLB catchers in their primes. Bengie was the better offensive Molina, while Jose was the defensive one. But each of the Molinas readily admitted that youngest brother Yadier would be the best Molina of them all. While we all knew them as the Catching Molina Brothers for many years, I had no idea that they were originally first basemen. A nice inside tip by Luis. It goes to show: you learn something new everyday. When it came to Yadier though, he was certainly seen as having gold glove defense from the time he came up. It was his bat that was the question. Well, that side of his game developed over time and this year, it finally all came together. Will he win the MVP award? It depends on how much the baseball writers will penalize Braun for last year’s PED test. My heart says Yadier but my brain says Braun. Should be one of the most interesting MVP races of all time.
Q: ATR ?? Wild Card 25 man rosters. Possible playing & WC game. Will teams name just 1 starter, leaving more spots 4 bullpen & PH’ers? Old Man Mack
JH: Our biggest ATR fan is back! Hello Old Man Mack! Not a day goes by that I’m not asked about the state of the Wild Card rosters and whether MLB needs to make changes to the rules. Personally, I will tell you my thoughts. I think this is much ado about nothing. Every team plays by the same rules. So why the uproar? Let’s take those Wild Card rosters. Let’s assume that starting pitchers that had just pitched would not be put on the rosters. Fine. What about starters expected to go in the division series if the team advances? Leave them off the roster? I would say that is playoff suicide. When you have a one game sudden death playoff game, you have to live for the day. As tomorrow may never come. Take the Braves. Let’s start they start Kris Medlen on October 5th. Do people think they will leave all of their other starts, including Hudson and Minor off the WC roster? I say no way. There will still be plenty of room for relievers and pinch hitters.
But even if some starting pitchers are left off the roster, they will be replaced by relievers and hitters that couldn’t cut the roster otherwise. Fringe players for the most part. If a manager wants those types of players on their roster to use in the team’s most critical game of the season…well then…good luck to them. You never know how long a game could go. If it goes 18 innings, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be caught with my pants down and not have a starting pitcher ready to go 4-5 innings if needed in a pinch. Those fringe relievers will go at most an inning a piece…and you never know what you will get. I would have no problem burning through all my starting arms if it meant that my team made the division series. Play for today, worry about tomorrow…tomorrow. That’s my philosophy. I have seen too many times teams that played a game safe in preparing for games that never were to be. In the MLB playoffs. World Baseball Classic. All-Star games. Play for today. So rather than complain on the subject, I am thrilled that the Wild Cards games have their own 25 man rosters. It will separate which managers most want to win. My gut is most managers will use their ordinary rosters, and simply take out the arms that cannot pitch on October 5th. They know the pros and cons. They want to win the one game playoff.
Q: Why MLB organizers placed the USA team in a such easy piece of cake group?
In Group D playing against Mexico and Italy!!!!! Please give me a break.
Why the USA team was not place in a group like the death group where the organizers placed Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic?
This is totally unfair since the beginning.
This totally stinks.
The MLB trying to help the USA team to advance very easy and not facing real opponents.
What a joke MLB Ivan
JH: I love this comment. I would definitely rate it as the best of the week. You are bang on in your assessment Ivan and like you, I am very confused and upset. Apparently, the opening round groups for the upcoming 2013 WBC were based on competitive balance, geography, fan interest and blah blah blah. The 4th team needs to be added to each group once the qualifiers are completed. But as of right now: Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are facing off in one group. Japan and Cuba are in the same group. Then Korea faces Australia and Netherlands? The U.S. faces Mexico and Italy? I would say that Venezuela, Dominican and Puerto Rico are getting the shaft. Even Japan/Cuba is a very hard division. While Mexico is no slouch, they are not yet a dominant WBC team. Combined with Italy, means that the U.S. was given a very good chance of making Round 2. But Korea in my book got the best pairing. Australia and Netherlands? Definitely not shaking in my boots. The pairing I believe are done by the international baseball federation, not Major League Baseball. Korea got a very easy road, while the U.S. is getting a strong push as well. When I look at the other two groups and the represented countries, I shake my head. Imagine if the U.S. was paired with Japan? Dominican? They would be very unlikely to get out of the first round. Call it what you want, it is all politics at the end of the day. The WBC will grow quicker if it takes off in the U.S. For that to happen, Team U.S.A. needs to be competitive and go far in the tournament. Welcome to the wonderful world of life. It is not fair. Good things can happen to bad teams, and bad things can happen to good teams. The more I think about it, I simply agree: it’s not fair!
Q: Would love to see a triple crown this year! Larry
JH: You and me both my friend. You and me both. As discussed throughout the second half, Miguel Cabrera certainly has a good chance to make baseball history this year. Will he follow in Carl Yastrzemski’s footsteps and win a triple crown? Yaz certainly thinks that Miggy has a shot. Actually, Yaz has been quoted as saying that he is surprised that it has taken this long for someone to win a triple crown. Yaz thinks it will happen…and soon. In all the years I have been around baseball, I would have to say that Miguel Cabrera has the best chance that I have seen of being the next triple crown winner. Looking at the numbers: right now Cabrera is tied with Hamilton for the home run lead with 43. In RBIs, Cabrera has a comfortable lead over Hamilton with 136 (to 125). In average, he has the lead over Trout (.327 to .321). If I was a betting man in Vegas right now, I would put down a decent amount of coin on Cabrera coming through. My gut feeling is that RBIs should be there for him at the end of the year. Average may be tough, but he is looking good in that category. It is the home runs that will decide the day. The ironic part is that to swing for the fences, he will need to likely sacrifice his average. But to boost his average and go for base hits, he will need to sacrifice the power.
My advice if Miguel Cabrera was sitting in front of me right now? I would say, “Miggy…who the hell am I to give you advice??!! You are Miguel Cabrera freakin’ Cabrera. A freak of nature. Somehow you can get your base hits while keeping your power at a high level. Don’t think about it. Don’t look at the boxscores. Just go up there during every at-bat and do your thing. If it is meant to be, it is meant to be.” I remember reading about Roger Maris and how his health deteriorated during his home run chase. The Tigers are shooting for the playoffs. Cabrera has already suffered through his self-inflicted demons in the past. Especially during a recent playoff chase. More pressure is certainly not needed. The AL Central crown is the main crown that Miguel Cabrera needs to work towards attaining. Anything else from there is gravy. Some things are in our control. Some things are not. For the triple crown to happen, things will depend on how Miguel Cabrera plays, as well as his closest challengers. It involves skill, but also a whole pile of luck. When luck is involved, anything can happen. Hope for the best is what I can tell you. We are all rooting for this achievement to happen. Keep an eye on it. As there is a real chance that this may be the only triple crown winner that we will see again in our lifetimes. Good luck Miguel Cabrera!
Q: Boston hopes Anaheim parts ways with Scioscia… Mike
JH: Here we end another week of ATR with one of my favorite topics: the Boston managerial situation. I had tweeted a few days ago that perhaps the Marlins and Red Sox should look at a swap of managers. Think about it. The Marlins were looking at Bobby Valentine before going with Ozzie Guillen. With the Marlins apparently upset with Ozzie, why not go with Bobby Valentine? On the same token, the Red Sox need a change. They apparently need a kinder, gentler manager. One that can get along and relate to his players. I am not saying that Bobby V is not that guy, but the stories are out there as to what transpired in Boston this year. I can’t think of a bigger players’ manager than Ozzie Guillen. For the most part his players love him and will go to war for him. Check that White Sox World Series ring on his finger if you aren’t sure. So I thought the idea was plausible: Send Ozzie to Boston and Bobby V to Miami. Trade the managers and everyone moves on!
The response I would say was not exactly positive in twitter land. Boston fans didn’t seem keen on the Ozzie idea, while Marlins fans didn’t want anything to do with Bobby Valentine. I guess once the scarlet letter is painted on a manager, it is hard to wash it off. As far as what will happen in Miami, nobody is sure. But given Mr. Loria’s history of booting out managers, it is safe to say that Ozzie Guillen can begin to look over his shoulders for the next few days. Then in Boston, the rumors persist that John Farrell will be traded by the Jays to the Red Sox. Farrell is the guy that the Red Sox wanted all along, or so they say. They tried to get him last winter, but the Jays asking price was seen as too high. Given the state of the Blue Jays and some comments that have come out on Farrell from the Jays’ clubhouse recently, perhaps it is time for the manager and team to part company. But is Farrell the right man for the job? Hard to say. Let’s give him some healthy talent and see what he can do. But then Mike brings in an interesting twist. Speculation is that if the Angels don’t make the playoffs, they may look at dumping manager Mike Scioscia (despite his hefty contract). If that happens, should the Red Sox take a sniff?
Firstly, I don’t think Scioscia will be available this winter. He is highly respected in the Angels organization. The team’s slow start is the main culprit for their playoff predicament. Perhaps calling up Trout sooner would have done the trick? If that is the case, I can’t blame the manager there. But even if he was made available- is Scioscia the man for the job? Not sure on that. Big ego manager. Demands respect. Still some pretty big egos in that locker room. Would he be another Bobby Valentine all over again? The man I thought the Red Sox were going to land (before he pulled out of the running), was Rangers pitching coach, Mike Maddux. He is more of a talk softly and carry a big stick type of leader. From anyone who is anyone in the game that I have spoken to in the past, Mike Maddux was always highly thought of. But for whatever reason (geography, job, management), Maddux didn’t want the job. But Farrell might. He was the pitching coach before in Boston. He knows the city and team. But I don’t know if he would be the right fit. In my opinion, listening to his press conferences and watching his approach, he may not be much different from Scioscia. But at least we know that Farrell can work in Boston. Scioscia…would be an expensive unknown entity if hired. So I’m sure the Red Sox will consider Scioscia if he is made available. But all else being equal, it looks like it will be John Farrell’s job to lose. Hopefully the Blue Jays can land more for Farrell than the Red Sox got for Theo Epstein. All I have to say.
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Posted on September 30, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged angels, ask the reports, atr, baseball, baseball questions, bengi molina, bobby valentine, boston red sox, jose molina, miguel cabrera, mike scioscia, mlb, playoffs, team usa, Triple crown, wbc, wild card, world baseball classic, world series, yadier molina. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.