Sunday January 15th, 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: Any news on moves for Derrek Lee & Casey Kotchman? With Yanks recent pitching acquisitions, does Boston pursue Roy Oswalt more aggressively? Rick
MLB reports: Great questions Rick. No and no are the answers. Sorry! To answer your first question: Lee and Kotchman are plans “c” and “d”, if that, for contending teams. Teams on the rise would prefer to use younger players at first base. So the market for both is limited at best. Both Lee and Kotchman will need to fight to get full-time jobs. Kotchman will find something based on his solid 2011 campaign. Perhaps a return to the Rays is in order. Lee on the other hand, is getting on in years. I could see him retiring at this point, or in a year from now. It just depends on how desperate some teams are to get a veteran presence on their team and if trust is there for either player. With regards to Oswalt, I see him signing very soon. Boston could use him, yes, but I am not sensing a fit. The top teams for his services appear to be the Rangers and Jays. At 1-year and $8 million, he will likely have 20+ teams pursuing him. Boston does need Roy Oswalt in the worst way at this point. He would help stabilize a rotation that needs his presence. But this decision will come down to geography and fit for the player.
Q: Is Jesus Montero– Victor Martinez good? How far is J.P. Arencibia or Travis d’Arnaud from Montero? Derek
MLB reports: The Montero questions begin! I made the comparison on the trade of the trade that Montero was comparable to V-Mart and I stand behind that one. Carlos Santana is another good comparison. Extremely strong bat, will hit for high average with good pop. Glove is questionable. Montero will be good, I am just on the fence on whether it will happen in Seattle. The hope is that with a young team, he will blossom into a superstar. It will depend on whether he feels any pressure to live up to replacing Michael Pineda and ends up putting too much pressure on himself. He seems like a confident young man, so he should do well. The V-Mart threshold is a high one to reach. But we are definitely talking in the same category. Now d’Arnaud and Arencibia are a different story. Being based in Toronto, I get asked on these guys often. Here is my take put simply. Arencibia is a good guy, with good power in his bat. He is popular in the clubhouse and seen as a developing defensive catcher. His liabilities are his low average, high strikeouts and inability to take a walk. A .219 AVG and .282 OBP don’t cut it in my book. If JP doesn’t develop, he will become the Rob Deer of catchers. Travis d’Arnaud, on the other hand, may not have JP’s power (debatable), but he will definitely hit for a much higher average. He also will need to learn to take walks and cut down on strikeouts, but he should be more consistent offensively than Arencibia. Defensively, I have heard mixed things- but both will stick at catcher. So defensively, both Arencibia and d’Arnaud are above Montero. But Montero’s bat is far superior to either of the other guys. He is major league ready now to hit, while JP and Travis are still learning to hit consistently. If I had to rate each, I would give Montero an 8/10, d’Arnaud a 6/10 and Arencibia a 5/10. Montero is far ahead, with only d’Arnaud having the best chance to close the gap.
Q: Do the Phillies really expect Ryan Howard to be fully “baseball ready” before June 1st? Old Man Mack
MLB reports: LOL. That is the hope sir. If I had to be a fly on the wall, I bet the Phillies are hoping that he will be ready before that. But if the Kendrys Morales injury has taught us anything, is that you never know how some of these freak accidents will heal. My crystal ball sees Howard back after the All-Star break. Unless he is 110% healed, why risk it? His long-term health and productivity are at risk. I would not be shocked if Howard took longer to heal and had to miss all of 2012. But chances are that he will be back, just not till sometime in July or August of 2012. If he is back sooner, he better be ready…or a setback could be around the corner. I would say the bigger question is how long he stays in the lineup, rather than when he is back.
Q: What are the Tigers chances on Yoenis Cespedes? Michael
MLB reports: The Cespedes rumors are flying fast and furious. The teams that have been most linked to him are the Marlins and the Tigers. There have been stories of 5 teams, 10, 20…all sorts of numbers thrown around about this guy. Now, people are questioning why he is playing winter ball and in fact hurting his stock. My gut feel is that there isn’t as high of a demand for him as people suspect and that teams are cautious at throwing big money at an unknown quantity. But even if he doesn’t put up the best numbers this offseason, it has to be considered that he is rusty and been away from the game for some time. People should not expect Babe Ruth immediately, just to view his tools and to see if the mechanics are there. I like the Marlins chances best at signing Cespedes. Team Latino gets a 50% chance of landing Cespedes, with the Tigers at roughly 20%.
Q: Does Vance Worley come back to earth in his sophomore season? Justin
MLB reports: Nah man, Vance never left! Just kidding, but I know what you mean. Vance Worley was unbelievable in 2011, with an 11-3 record, 3.01 ERA and 1.230 WHIP. His won/loss record will depend largely on his offensive support and bullpen, so that we will leave to fate somewhat. I see Vance throwing quality strikes and keeping his walks low. He will not be an ace, but he will be very steady. He has the minor league track record and has already proven himself at the highest stage (in one of the most pressure filled environments, Philadelphia). Expect some regression, but not too much. Vance Worley is the real deal. A sophomore jinx should be avoided, but he will still take time to develop. Remember he is only 24-years of age. By year 3 or 4, expect a stud 20 game winner to emerge.
Q: With the new players eligible for the 2013 Hall of Fame class (Bonds, Clemens, Sosa etc.): will any be inducted? Ken
MLB reports: Ken. Ken. Ken. Mr. I say that Tim Raines MUST be inducted. He is back for more… Just playing with you Ken, you know we love ya. 48.7% of the vote Ken, I guess the voters aren’t all sold…yet. Here is my knock on Raines- get ready. Played 23 seasons. Not a bad thing in its own right. But definitely inflated some of his numbers. 980 RBIs. So he averaged less than 50 a year. 1571 runs scored. For 23 years played, not fantastic. A hall of fame leadoff man should easily be scoring 100+ per year, even on poor teams. Raines only did it 6 times. .294 AVG and .385 OBP. Very good. Like those numbers. The man did not hit many doubles or triples. He was basically a singles and stolen base machine. Now go check out our man Vince Coleman. Both in their primes, they were one of the top stolen base threats. Raines got more hits and got caught less stealing. But then Coleman appears to have attempted more stolen bases. Raines played longer and ultimately had the stronger career. But in the prime years, I can’t say that Raines was that much more spectacular than Coleman. Raines is very good and will get into the hall of fame the Jim Rice route. But it is not the Hall of Very Good. It is the Hall of Fame.
Now with your true question: Will any of the new eligible players be inducted into Cooperstown in 2013? The candidates are Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, Sosa, Schilling, Biggio and Lofton. I can tell you right now, based on Palmeiro and McGwire’s poor standings, that there is no chance in heck that Bonds, Clemens or Sosa are getting in. No way. No how. The ones I see getting in are Biggio and Piazza. Secretly, I have fantasized at night about Biggio and Bagwell getting in together. It was just meant to be. If Bagwell does not get in next year, then he will have to wait for some time. I feel next year will be his year. Piazza has to get in as a 1st ballot hall of famer. The numbers he put up as a catcher demand it. Next year is the year that hall of fame voters get their true test. If Piazza is out, then the hall of fame will really have to sit down and work out a better set of criteria for voting. The writers are going to feel like they are on a raft without paddles…it is time to fix the voting mess once and for all. Are these guys hall of famers or not? Let’s lay down the law and be done with it. No more fence-sitting. 2013 will be a big year for sure.
Q: Over/under 13.5 psychotic episodes in Miami? Sam
MLB reports: Under. Way under! I think you will see maybe 5-6 big blow ups. Carlos Zambrano will get into 1-2 confrontations. Hanley will explode about the position change once. LoMo will have one twitter incident. Ozzie will have a couple of issues likely develop. Apparently the Miami Marlins are being considered for the baseball reality show this year. If that happens, watch out. That will be Grade A television!!!
Final Q: Will the Brewers be able to win the central despite losing Prince and no Braun for first 50 games? Eric
MLB reports: My brain says no and my heart says maybe. The reality is that the Brewers are in tough. Very tough. The loss of Prince will be huge (when it happens) and same with Braun if the suspension is upheld. But even with those guys, the Brewers would still be in tough. The Cardinals, even with the loss of the Pujols and La Russa and absence of Duncan would still be a strong team. The Reds though are the team to beat, as they are frontrunners to take the NL Central this year. The Brewers still have Greinke and Gallardo, so they have a chance. But I just see the Reds as the class of the division this year. The Cardinals are going to regress and will have a tough time defending their title. But without their main offensive stars, the Brewers go from stars to ordinary. The window appears to be closing on the Brewers… and opening for the Reds in 2012.
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Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)