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E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday August 10th

Thank you for reading the E-mailbag.  Please send all your questions to mlbreports@gmail.com and please include your first name and City/Country.

We will be compiling a list of your questions from our e-mailbag and posting the responses on Wednesdays.

 

 Wednesday August 10, 2011

 

 

Q:  Once Anthony Rendon signs with the Nationals, do you see him moving to 2B?  What’s your best guess?  From Flips, parts unknown.

MLB reports:  The Rice product, drafted 6th overall by the Nationals this year is likely to sign with the Nationals by the August 15th deadline.  In the unlikely event that he does not sign, then the Nationals would get a compensation pick next draft.  But luckily for Washington, Rendon is expected to join the club this year.  With Ryan Zimmerman entrenched at 3rd base, many people have speculated at which position Rendon will end up.  I have heard 2nd base tossed around, but the smart money is 1st base.  Adam La Roche is a temporary solution for the squad and not the long-term answer.  The Nationals appear to be set up the middle with Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond.  Rendon’s bat has never been a question.  To get him quickly into the lineup, expect the Nationals to move him to 1st base right away after being signed.  The outfield is another option, but more of a last resort. 

 

Q:  Will this be the year that the Texas Rangers win the World Series?  From Anne, Dallas. 

MLB reports:  If the Rangers had been able to sign Cliff Lee, my answer would have been yes.  But they did not and the Halladay-Lee combination will lead the Phillies to victory in the fall in my opinion.  Don’t get me wrong, the Rangers have an excellent team.  An offense led by Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and company.  C.J. Wilson as the ace.  The bullpen trio of Neftali Feliz, Mike Adams and Koji Uehara.  The Rangers can do it all.  But firstly, just to make it to the World Series the Rangers will need to pass the Yankees and Red Sox.  Even then, the Phillies if they end up as their opponent will be tough to beat.  The Phillies have a solid offense core of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Hunter Pence.  The bullpen has been steady, led by closer Ryan Madson.  But it is the starting pitching that will see the Phillies through.  With all the roadblocks in the Rangers path, I see them as a strong contender but not necessarily the favorites to win the World Series this year.   

 

Q: Why is it legal to bulldoze a catcher when he clearly has the ball, but not a fielder at any other base?  From G Homan, Ohio.

MLB reports:  You will have to check the rule book on this one.  It is just as legal to take out a catcher as it is an infielder during play, but it depends on the nature of the play.  A baserunner cannot run outside of the baselines to purposely run over an infielder or a catcher.  But in the course of running the bases, runners can collide with an infielder as they would a catcher.  Now the runners cannot purposely injure a defensive player, like using the spikes or an elbow to the face.  But to reach base safely, a strong slide or collision is a part of the game and can happen at second base the same way it can at home.  Despite cries to change the rules after the Buster Posey injury, strong and aggressive base running remains a vital part of the game.

   

Q:  Will the Phillies get an arm for their bullpen through waivers?  From Miguel, Philadelphia.

MLB reports:  Last time I checked, your team was stacked fairly well at the back-end of their pitching staff.  Ryan Madson as closer.  Brad LidgeAntonio Bastardo, Jose Contreras (when healthy) and Kyle Kendrick.  I wouldn’t be too worried about the pen.  Some people are calling for Heath Bell still to go to the Phillies.  But with the waiver process in effect, I can’t see Bell falling to the Phillies before getting snapped up earlier on waivers.  Another arm or two might out there, but nothing too special.  The Phillies most likely go with what they got and that is still much above most other pens in baseball.   

 

Q:  If you look at the numbers, you will find out that Indianapolis, IN and San Antonio, TX are the most populous cities without a MLB team.  I would think size of market would drive who gets the next teams.  It is obvious that MLB is financially doing really well.  I would keep two leagues, and give the expansion teams to the AL, since they are the league with only 14 teams.
 
American League:

West                       Midwest                   East                 Atlantic
LA Angels                    Rangers             Indianapolis     Yankees
Oakland A’s                  KC Royals        Tigers                   Red Sox
San Antonio               Twins                  Indians                Orioles
Mariners                    White Sox           Rays                    Blue Jays
 
National League:

West                             Midwest                  East            Atlantic
Dodgers       Colorado Rockies        Chicago Cubs        NY Mets
Padres          Houston Astros           Cincinnati Reds    Phil Phillies
Giants           St. Louis Cardinals     Atlanta Braves     Florida Marlins
Dbacks         Brewers                           Pitt Pirates            Wash Nationals
 
I tried to used a US map,and place teams in divisions according to how the line up East and West.  From Tom, Orange CA.

MLB reports:  Very interesting alignment Tom.  Indianapolis and San Antonio have been two very popular destinations for our readers in selecting the next two expansion MLB cities.  There has been resistance by Bud Selig to further expand baseball.  However, as discussed in our previous articles on the subject, baseball needs to add two more teams to balance out the leagues to 16-teams a piece.  Also realignment is in order to create better geographical rivalries and even out the number of teams per division.  So far, the most that we have heard is that baseball is planning to realign by moving one NL team to the AL by 2013 (as the 2012 regular season schedule has already been prepared in draft format).  The problem with the 15/15 split is that an interleague game would need to be played most days, which does not seem like a worthwhile proposition.  Houston by most accounts is the team most likely to move.  So while we appreciate your thoughts, the expansion and radical realignment ideas are unlikely to happen… yet.  If and when they do, we would like to see more shifting of teams to create new excitement and rivalries in baseball.  But the framework you have laid down is a very good start.  Thank you for sending it in.     

 

 

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Dillon Gee, Mets: The Toast of New York

 Tuesday June 28, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:   Our last feature was on Danny Espinosa, the Nationals rookie second baseman who is taking Washington by storm.  For all the talk of Espinosa’s strong play, many readers wrote in to suggest that Dillon Gee should be at the top of the National League Rookie of the Year talk.  For many MLB fans, the first question will be:  Who the heck is Dillon Gee?

Dillon Kyle Gee was born and raised in Texas.  The 25-year old right-handed pitcher went to high school and university in Texas.  The New York Mets drafted the 6’1″ pitcher in the 21st round of the 2007 draft.  That is where the story should begin and end.  Most players chosen beyond the 2nd round have a very small chance of ever making it to AAA, let alone the majors.  This is the not the case though for Dillon Gee, who as a 21st round selection has beaten the odds to make it to the show.

Before joining the Mets full-time this year, here is a snapshot look at Dillon Gee’s career numbers in the minors:

Year Tm Lev W L ERA IP H BB SO WHIP
2007 Brooklyn A- 3 1 2.47 62.0 57 9 56 1.065
2008 2 Teams A+-AA 10 6 2.92 154.1 135 24 114 1.030
2008 St. Lucie A+ 8 6 3.25 127.1 117 19 94 1.068
2008 Binghamton AA 2 0 1.33 27.0 18 5 20 0.852
2009 Buffalo AAA 1 3 4.10 48.1 47 16 42 1.303
2010 Buffalo AAA 13 8 4.96 161.1 174 41 165 1.333
2011 Buffalo AAA 1 1 4.63 11.2 7 5 8 1.029
5 Seasons   28 19 3.78 437.2 420 95 385 1.177
AAA (3 seasons) AAA 15 12 4.76 221.1 228 62 215 1.310
AA (1 season) AA 2 0 1.33 27.0 18 5 20 0.852
A- (1 season) A- 3 1 2.47 62.0 57 9 56 1.065
A+ (1 season) A+ 8 6 3.25 127.1 117 19 94 1.068

 

Dillon Gee was good, but not great in his minor league career based on the above numbers.  While he was stellar in the lower minors, Gee was not exactly “lights out” in AAA.  In 221.1 innings pitched in Buffalo over parts of three seasons, Dillon Gee had a 4.76 ERA and 1.310 WHIP.  By failing to dominate in AAA, one would have realistically expected Gee to require more seasoning before coming to New York or end up running the risk of getting lit up in the majors.

 

As you can see from Gee’s Mets numbers, quite the opposite has occurred:

Year Tm W L ERA G GS IP H HR BB SO WHIP
2010 NYM 2 2 2.18 5 5 33.0 25 2 15 17 1.212
2011 NYM 8 1 3.32 15 12 76.0 60 5 30 51 1.184
2 Seasons 10 3 2.97 20 17 109.0 85 7 45 68 1.193
162 Game Avg. 18 6 2.97 37 31 200 156 13 83 125 1.193

 

Dillon Gee’s numbers speak for themselves.  8-1 record, 3.32 ERA and 1.184 WHIP.  While he walks a shade too many batters (30/51 BB/K), he gives up far fewer hits than innings pitched.  Based on his minor league numbers, I do not expect him to keep up his current pace.  The 2nd and 3rd times through the league, I expect NL batters will have a better book on Gee.  As the amount of innings pitched increases as well in the hot summer months, Gee will likely wear down.  In 2009, Gee missed most of the season due to a shoulder injury.  The Mets will likely wear kid gloves with him to some extent and not over extend his arm or risk causing further injury.

The New York Mets currently sit at 39-39, a .500 record with almost half a season completed.  Not much was expected of a team with a great deal of scandal and turmoil surrounding it.  One of the few bright spots though, in addition to the strong play and resurgent seasons by Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, has been the emergence of Dillon Gee.  The patchwork pitching of the staff is nothing to write home about.  Jonathon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano and R.A. Dickey have combined with Gee to keep the Mets afloat and the team competitive in ball games.  Chris Young fell early in the season and Johan Santana remains out following shoulder surgery.  If not for the play of Dillon Gee, the Mets could have found themselves in the basement of the NL East.  Instead, the team is in striking distance of the Braves for 2nd place in the division.

We should know by August if we have a possible Rookie of the Year in New York or another hot-shot prospect that had a couple of good months in Dillon Gee.  With so much misery surrounding the Mets, it is a pleasure to see a bright hope emerge within its pitching staff.  Dillon Gee this year evolved from an unknown minor leaguer that was considered a middle-of-the-road prospect to top starter status.  Mets fans are hoping they have caught lightning in a bottle in Gee for the long-term success of its team.  In the meantime, Gee will continue to pitch every fifth day in New York and give his team the best chance to succeed.  That is really all the Mets can ask for at the end of the day.

 

 

 

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Danny Espinosa,Washington Nationals: Hidden National Treasure

 Monday June 27, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:   With the shortage of quality second basemen in baseball, teams are always on the prowl for the next Roberto Alomar or Ryan Sandberg.  We often hear the names Dustin Ackley and Neil Walker thrown around.  Sitting quietly in Washington though is one of the better all-around second basemen in the game.  With each home run, the secret is starting to get out of the bag.  The Nationals keep winning games and building towards the Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg era.  But before the next can’t miss prospects make their mark, Washington already has a rookie assaulting the MLB record books.  His name:  Danny Espinosa.

The 24-year old Espinosa was born in California and selected by the Nationals in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft.  He made his major league debut last year and retained rookie eligibility in 2011.  The heir apparent to the shortstop position from once incumbent Christian Guzman, Espinosa moved to second for 2011,  took a hold of the job and ran with it.  Considering he had to learn a new position on the fly, Espinosa’s production is that much more impressive.

 

Here is a look at Espinosa’s numbers during his time in the minors:

Year Tm Lev AB R H HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
2008 Vermont A- 64 8 21 0 4 2 2 17 17 .328 .476 .359
2009 Potomac A+ 474 90 125 18 72 29 11 74 129 .264 .375 .460
2010 2 Teams AA-AAA 481 80 129 22 69 25 11 41 116 .268 .337 .464
2010 Harrisburg AA 386 66 101 18 54 20 8 33 94 .262 .334 .464
2010 Syracuse AAA 95 14 28 4 15 5 3 8 22 .295 .349 .463
3 Seasons   1019 178 275 40 145 56 24 132 262 .270 .365 .455

 

Now let’s take a look at what Danny Espinosa has produced in the majors:

Year AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
2010 103 16 22 4 1 6 15 0 2 9 30 .214 .277 .447
2011 277 39 67 12 4 14 47 9 2 22 70 .242 .323 .466
2 Seasons 380 55 89 16 5 20 62 9 4 31 100 .234 .311 .461
162 Game Avg. 581 84 136 24 8 31 95 14 6 47 153 .234 .311 .461

 

In addition to have a top-rated glove defensively, Espinosa has produced quite well offensively in the majors.  He is on pace for an outstanding 30+ home runs with close to 100 RBIs.  Middle-of-the order type numbers are what we are projecting, not the standard second base type production.  As with many rookies, Espinosa still has a difficult time making contact and his BB/K ratio will require substantial improvement for him to develop into a batting champion one day.  But the numbers in the minors show a great deal of promise.  The power has come at an early stage for Espinosa, it is the balance of his offensive game that needs to be rounded into form.

As with any young players, it is difficult and somewhat unfair to have comparisons to establish major league players, let alone ones of the Hall of Fame variety.  But Danny Espinosa is showing some Ryan Sandberg type qualities at the plate at an early age with his strong power bat.  Second basemen traditionally have strong gloves and any production offensively would be considered a bonus.  Players of the Danny Espinosa variety do not come along very often.  Washington currently sits with a 40-39 record, above .500 as we near the All-Star break.  With the team playing explosive baseball (7-3 in last 10, 22-13 at home), the baseball world is starting to turn its attention to Washington.  At the forefront is rookie Danny Espinosa.  A possible All-Star come next month, expect to see Espinosa in many All-Star games to come.  Come one October soon, we expect to see Espinosa, Harper and Strasburg competing for a World Series title.  The word is out on Danny Espinosa, who will form a core for the next decade in building Washington into the next powerhouse team. 

 

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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