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The Milwaukee Brewers Payroll In 2014 + Contracts Going Forward

Ramirez has 786 Extra Base Hits by the age of 34 - including 80 last year in 2011 (1st in the NL) and managed another 30 XBH this past year.  However the long time veteran has been battling knee problems for years, and it sidelined him for 70 games during the 2013 season.  The Brew Crew desperately needs a healthy campaign in 2014 out of him, as he is the highest paid player of the club at $16 MIL next year.

Ramirez had 786 Extra Base Hits by the age of 34 – including 80 of them in 2011 (1st in the NL) and managed another 30 XBH this past year – in just 304 AB. However the long time veteran has been battling knee problems for years, and it sidelined him for 70 games during the 2013 year. The Brew Crew desperately needs a healthy campaign in 2014 out of him, as he is the highest paid player of the club at $16 MIL next year.  Ramirez has a 2015 Mutual Option for $14 MIL – with a $4 MIL Buyout, so he is looking to have a productive year for sure. At 816 Extra Base Hits for his Career – he also has an outside shot at 1000 for his time in the MLB.  He may be better suited to DH in the AL going forward

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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It wasn’t so long ago that the Brewers carried Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Zack Greinke on the same squad.

The 2013 season represented the worst year Milwaukee has seen since Braun entered the league.  It also featured several Brewers players fighting the injury plague, or having career worst years.

I guess asking Aramis Ramirez to play consecutive healthy seasons was too much ask?

The team’s attendance also dropped another 300K+ – and finished 9th overall for the NL. 

But who could blame them when their superstar took a 65 game suspension – and was drinking Pina Colada’s in Hawaii – while his team suffered in Wisconsin?

Gomez And Lohse Shine 7/24/2013

Read the rest of this entry

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How to Value and Manage Catchers on Your MLB Fantasy Team

Monday October 3, 2011

 

 

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  The catching position is one that is often the most mismanaged by fantasy owners.  A very thin position, it is difficult to find value from catchers in the deeper leagues.  Furthermore, you take a big risk dedicating a high pick or significant auction money at a very injury prone position, as 2011 owners Joe Mauer and Buster Posey owners know all too well.  Even a healthy catcher will sit for a significant amount of games each year due to the wear and tear of the position.

For these reasons, I generally advise to not overpay for a player at this position.  But with that said, for the right price, the top batch of catchers can provide you significant value.  However, too many times before we have seen significant year yo year decline from players at this position.  You simply should not rely on production at this position.  Spend your bucks elsewhere.  Based on matchups and playing time, it is possible to scrap together value for next to nothing.

For example, Chris Iannetta and his .238 average, 51 runs, 14 HR, and 55 RBI, disappointed many fantasy owners in 2011.  But a closer look at the numbers shows the true value he provides.  We all know the effect that Coors Field has on hitters, but for Iannetta it is staggering.  His 2011 home numbers look like this: .301 batting average, 10 HR, 39 RBI and 3 SB.

If you were to only start Iannetta at home in 2011, you would great numbers all across the board for half of the season.  You are essentially getting 50% of Brian McCann for way less than 50% of the price.  The discrepancy in his splits is dramatic that it makes him so easy to use as an owner.  Only start him at home and never think about starting him on the road!

Now, for the days that Iannetta is on the road, there are plenty of options in the bottom half of the rankings that would be available on the waiver wire.  Let’s pick someone like Miguel Olivo.  His 19 HR and 62 RBI provide great production from the thin catching position, but his .224 average leaves a lot to be desired.  However, an owner is much better equipped to muster this average if the number of at bats are cut in half.  If you combine this morph of Olivo and Iannetta, you are looking at these types of numbers:

.260-.270, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 6 SB.

These numbers are essentially right on par with Brian McCann’s 2011 line (.270, 24HR, 71RBI, 3SB).  McCann is a consensus top five catcher, while Iannetta and Olivo are viewed outside of the top-15.  You are essentially creating McCann for a lot cheaper and inherent risk that comes with investing money in the catching position.  Furthermore, there are more options out there if you think Olivo’s average is too much of a killer.  It all depends on your team’s needs and what categories you are chasing.  If you are more concerned about average, guys like Nick Hundley and Jonathan Lucroy might be more attractive options.  Looking for power and RBI production?  Names such as J.P. Arencibia, Russell Martin, Geovany Soto, Kurt Suzuki (there are even more) are all useful under the right circumstances.

For example, look at Geovany Soto’s numbers against left-handed pitching in 2011: .296 average, 7 HR and 15 RBI in just 98 at-bats. This is in stark contrast to his .207 average and 10 home runs in 323 at-bats against right-handed pitching.

The point is that it’s easy to piece together production at this position. There are several players who contribute in the HR and RBI categories and you can get the most out of them by maximizing their strengths based on matchups and ballparks.

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein).***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter (@MLBreports) 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.

Final Rosters are Announced: 2011 MLB All-Star Game Vote Totals and Time for the Final Vote

Monday, July 4, 2011

 

MLB reports:   The day has finally arrived.  After weeks of voting in stadiums and on-line, the 2011 final rosters for the All-Star game are set, coming up Tuesday July 12th from beautiful Arizona, hosted by the Diamondbacks.  Barring injuries and players pulling out, we now know the starting lineups, pitching staffs and reserves representing the American League and National League in the All-Star game.  After the fans voted in the starting lineups, the All-Star managers, Ron Washington for the AL and Bruce Bochy for the NL, filled out the rest of their rosters.  There were some surprises in the announcements to say the least.  We saw some last-minute changes in the voting by the fans to the starting lineups.  From there, the All-Star managers made some very interesting selections as well.  On the whole, the rosters are fair and well deserved.  But some spots are debatable.  Then once you account for the selections by the managers, we enter the realm of a week-long debate.  Let’s take a look at the rosters for each league, including the starters, the pitching staffs and the reserves.  From there, we will analyze the candidates for the coveted “Final Vote” spot as chosen by the fans on-line, between now and 4:00p.m. on July 7th.

American League All-Star Roster:

AL Starting Lineup:
Pos Player
C Alex Avila,Tigers
1B Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
2B Robinson Cano, Yankees
3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
SS Derek Jeter, Yankees
OF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
OF Curtis Granderson, Yankees
OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers
DH David Ortiz, Red Sox

The American League starting lineup as voted by the fans took shape as projected the last few days.  The infield remains with Adrian Gonzalez at first, combined with Yankees Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.  Despite late pushes, Asdrubal Cabrera and Adrian Beltre could not garner enough votes to make the starting lineup, although both are on their way to Arizona as reserves.  David Ortiz joins Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson and Josh Hamilton in a very heavy Yankees/Red Sox lineup.  Jacoby Ellsbury also did not attain enough votes to start but will be a reserve.  Hamilton, the former AL MVP, proved to be too popular on this day.  The one major upset though was Alex Avila, who through very strong play and Tigers fans voting is starting next Tuesday ahead of the reserve Russell Martin.  Considering that Martin held onto the spot for the majority of the voting, Tigers fans were very successful in sending the deserving Avila to Arizona.

AL Pitching Staff:
Pos Player
P Josh Beckett, Red Sox
P Aaron Crow, Royals
P Gio Gonzalez, Athletics
P Felix Hernandez, Mariners
P Brandon League, Mariners
P Chris Perez, Indians
P David Price, Rays
P Mariano Rivera, Yankees
P James Shields, Rays
P Jose Valverde, Tigers
P Justin Verlander, Tigers
P Jered Weaver, Angels
P C.J. Wilson, Rangers

An incredible pitching staff to say the least, but not without its omissions.  Despite such a strong selection, C.C. Sabathia, Jon Lester, Dan Haren, Jeremy Hellickson, Ricky Romero and Bartolo Colon all were left off the roster.  Other pitchers deserving consideration with Jordan Walden, Sergio Santos, Kyle Farnsworth and Jonathan Papelbon.  The selections of Aaron Crow, Gio Gonzalez, Brandon League and Jose Valverde will receive the most criticism in the coming days.  While decent picks, there appears to be more deserving players that were cast aside for the above all-stars.  A dilemma every year, I make the submission that the AL pitching staff is one that needs a second opinion given the candidates left on the board.

AL Reserves:
Pos Player
C Russell Martin, Yankees
C Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2B Howard Kendrick, Angels
3B Adrian Beltre, Rangers
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
OF Michael Cuddyer, Twins
OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
OF Matt Joyce, Rays
OF Carlos Quentin, White Sox
DH Michael Young, Rangers

Notable absences are Paul Konerko of the White Sox and Mark Teixeira of the Yankees.  Despite strong power numbers for each, the AL is only carrying two active first basemen, with Michael Young available as well.  Apparently the limit of Yankees was reached and a spot could not be found for either one.  Konerko though will get a second kick at the can, who together with Victor Martinez are the strongest candidates for the Final Vote spot.  While credit should go to Ron Washington in the selection of Joyce and Quentin, the selection of Cuddyer will be considered curious by some.  His roster spot relates more to the representation of a player for each team than being a top all-star.  So as a result, deserving candidates like Konerko, Teixeira and Martinez may not be in Arizona for the big game.

National League All-Star Roster:

NL Starting Lineup:
Pos Player
C Brian McCann, Braves
1B Prince Fielder, Brewers
2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers
3B Placido Polanco, Phillies
SS Jose Reyes, Mets
OF Ryan Braun, Brewers
OF Lance Berkman, Cardinals
OF Matt Kemp, Dodgers

We are now in the senior circuit and begin with the starting lineup.  The fans were very active in the final week of voting here as four members of the starting lineup were last-minute winners.   Prince Fielder is in over Albert Pujols, Rickie Weeks beat out the reserve Brandon Phillips, Jose Reyes is in while Troy Tulowitzki is out of the lineup and on the bench and Matt Kemp beat out Matt Holliday for the starting position.  All four were very deserving winners and represent a case where the fans pushed hard and got it right.  Together with Brian McCann, Ryan Braun, Placido Polanco and Lance Berkman, the NL has a strong offensive lineup.  The Polanco selection was not one of my favorites but more of a result of a very weak third base class in the NL than anything else.

NL Pitching Staff:
Pos Player
P Heath Bell, Padres
P Matt Cain, Giants
P Tyler Clippard, Nationals
P Roy Halladay, Phillies
P Cole Hamels, Phillies
P Joel Hanrahan, Pirates
P Jair Jurrjens, Braves
P Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
P Cliff Lee, Phillies
P Tim Lincecum, Giants
P Jonny Venters, Braves
P Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
P Brian Wilson, Giants

The NL pitching staff is certainly controversial and as debatable as the AL squad.  Absent are pitchers Craig Kimbrel, John Axford, Drew Storen, Kevin Correia, Tommy Hanson, Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy, among others.  It is hard to argue with many if not most of the NL pitchers selected, although Ryan Vogelsong and Brian Wilson are two selections which are likely to cause the ire of the rest of the baseball world.  How Correia and Hanson in particular were omitted is beyond me.   But again this is part of the All-Star process.  An issue that is coming up every year is the selection of too many of a team’s own players by the league manager.  While Ron Washington was fair in his picks, I see Bruce Bochy as favoring his staff a little too much in this case.  Hopefully this issue gets settled out soon once and for all.

NL Reserves:
Pos Player
C Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
1B Joey Votto, Reds
2B Brandon Phillips, Reds
3B Chipper Jones, Braves
SS Starlin Castro, Cubs
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
OF Carlos Beltran, Mets
OF Jay Bruce, Reds
OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals
OF Hunter Pence, Astros
OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

 Names that are missing off this list are Ryan Howard, Danny Espinosa, Mike Stanton and Andrew McCutchen, among others.  Looking at the selections overall, Chipper Jones was the one that most stands out.  But given the weak third base crop and Jones lifetime contributions to the game, this is actually a fairly classy move in what could be Jones swan song.  But overall I am satisfied with the NL reserves.  Not as many issues as the pitching staff from my standpoint.

With the All-Star rosters in place, fans now get to select the 34th roster spot for each league.  A dog fight is definitely in store for Thursday.

MLB Final Vote Candidates:

AL Nominees:

While Alex Gordon is a feel good story this year and Adam Jones and Ben Zobrist deserve consideration, this spot will come down to a popularity contest between AL Central rivals Paul Konerko and Victor Martinez.  While both are very worthy candidates, it is a question of to which direction the fans will push.  My pick is Paul Konerko but given the success of Alex Avila, I am forecasting Victor Martinez as the Final Vote victor here.

NL Nominees:

Another set of worthy candidates, this one will boil down to the Phillies faithful pushing of Shane Victorino, the hometown Diamondbacks selection of Ian Kennedy or the push for Andre Ethier of the Dodgers.  My selection is Ethier but I can see Victorino landing the spot based on the passion and push of his local fans.  Call it gut on this one, although I can see the worthy Kennedy squeaking in as an option.

***Get ready for a week’s worth of All-Star reporting, as MLB reports has everything All-Star covered between now and the big game on Tuesday.  We will be keeping an eye on the All-Star game itself, as well as the Futures Game, Home Run Derby and everything in between.  The All-Star game is a little over a week away and we will bring you all the latest All-Star game news as it develops.***

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.

2011 MLB ALL-STAR GAME FINAL VOTING RESULTS:

Here are the final numbers as voted by the fans for the starting lineups in the All-Star game:

American League

CATCHER — 1, Alex Avila, Tigers, 4,144,384. 2, Russell Martin, Yankees, 3,646,033. 3, Joe Mauer, Twins, 2,308,436. 4, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox, 2,183,113. 5, Yorvit Torrealba, Rangers, 1,810,755. 6, Carlos Santana, Indians, 1,501,053. 7, J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays, 1,024,020. 8, A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox, 963,463.

FIRST BASE — 1, Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox, 6,034,533. 2, Mark Teixeira, Yankees, 4,174,690. 3, Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, 3,473,849. 4, Mitch Moreland, Rangers, 1,680,462. 5, Paul Konerko, White Sox, 1,323,853. 6, Adam Lind, Blue Jays, 860,203. 7, Justin Morneau, Twins, 781,717. 8, Matt LaPorta, Indians, 750,953.

SECOND BASE — 1, Robinson Cano, Yankees, 6,679,976. 2, Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, 4,391,835. 3, Ian Kinsler, Rangers, 2,729,450. 4, Orlando Cabrera, Indians, 1,538,135. 5, Ben Zobrist, Rays, 1,245,709. 6, Howie Kendrick, Angels, 1,079,227. 7, Will Rhymes, Tigers, 671,674. 8, Aaron Hill, Blue Jays, 587,179.

THIRD BASE — 1, Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, 5,277,823. 2, Adrian Beltre, Rangers, 4,036,191. 3, Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, 4,018,641. 4, Evan Longoria, Rays, 2,804,004. 5, Brandon Inge, Tigers, 1,113,787. 6, Maicer Izturis, Angels, 666,828. 7, Mike Aviles, Royals, 602,091. 8, Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, 505,015.

SHORTSTOP — 1, Derek Jeter, Yankees, 4,536,386. 2, Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians, 4,073,992. 3, Elvis Andrus, Rangers, 2,698,902. 4, Jhonny Peralta, Tigers, 2,301,524. 5, Marco Scutaro, Red Sox, 1,642,606. 6, Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays, 1,104,761. 7, J.J. Hardy, Orioles, 956,073. 8, Alexei Ramirez, White Sox, 946,442.

DESIGNATED HITTER — 1, David Ortiz, Red Sox, 6,324,793. 2, Michael Young, Rangers, 3,072,467. 3, Victor Martinez, Tigers, 2,302,988. 4, Jorge Posada, Yankees, 1,998,551. 5, Johnny Damon, Rays, 1,303,471. 6, Travis Hafner, Indians, 1,206,971. 7, Vladimir Guerrero, Orioles, 1,136,364. 8, Billy Butler, Royals, 891,940.

OUTFIELD — 1, Jose Bautista, Blue Jays, 7,454,753. 2, Curtis Granderson, Yankees, 6,683,877. 3, Josh Hamilton, Rangers, 4,646,394. 4, Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox, 4,609,667. 5, Carl Crawford, Red Sox, 3,213,581. 6, Nelson Cruz, Rangers, 2,704,249. 7, Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, 2,528,532. 8, Nick Swisher, Yankees, 2,277,856. 9, Brett Gardner, Yankees, 2,064,372. 10, J.D. Drew, Red Sox, 2,009,877. 11, Matt Joyce, Rays, 1,597,334. 12, Jeff Francoeur, Royals, 1,505,399. 13, David Murphy, Rangers, 1,458,420. 14, Grady Sizemore, Indians, 1,283,993. 15, Austin Jackson, Tigers, 1,254,267. 16, Carlos Quentin, White Sox, 1,218,968. 17, Melky Cabrera, Royals, 1,201,982. 18, Shin-Soo Choo, Indians, 1,158,749. 19, Alex Gordon, Royals, 1,120,683. 20, B.J, Upton, Rays, 1,081,270. 21, Magglio Ordonez, Tigers, 1,008,145. 22, Torii Hunter, Angels, 927,271. 23, Sam Fuld, Rays, 916,219. 24, Michael Brantley, Indians, 878,556.

National League

CATCHER — 1, Brian McCann, Braves, 4,698,838. 2, Yadier Molina, Cardinals, 2,972,786. 3, Buster Posey, Giants, 2,418,923. 4, Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers, 2,271,498. 5, Ramon Hernandez, Reds, 2,056,263. 6, Carlos Ruiz, Phillies, 1,864,675. 7, Ivan Rodriguez, Nationals, 1,225,342. 8, Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks, 1,149,461.

FIRST BASE — 1, Prince Fielder, Brewers, 4,864,523. 2, Joey Votto, Reds, 4,254,305. 3, Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 4,171,094. 4, Ryan Howard, Phillies, 2,563,736. 5, Freddie Freeman, Braves, 957,816. 6, Brandon Belt, Giants, 917,044. 7, Ike Davis, Mets, 824,681. 8, Todd Helton, Rockies, 761,928.

SECOND BASE — 1, Rickie Weeks, Brewers, 4,460,395. 2, Brandon Phillips, Reds, 4,273,079. 3, Chase Utley, Phillies, 3,345,845. 4, Freddy Sanchez, Giants, 1,627,733. 5, Dan Uggla, Braves, 1,583,903. 6, Neil Walker, Pirates, 993,369. 7, Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks, 862,204. 8, Skip Schumaker, Cardinals, 856,658.

THIRD BASE — 1, Placido Polanco, Phillies, 4,410,701. 2, Chipper Jones, Braves, 2,849,578. 3, Scott Rolen, Reds, 2,251,425. 4, Pablo Sandoval, Giants, 2,213,057. 5, David Wright, Mets, 2,106,800. 6, Casey McGehee, Brewers, 1,877,744. 7, Aramis Ramirez, Cubs, 1,192,220. 8, Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals, 1,137,696.

SHORTSTOP — 1, Jose Reyes, Mets, 4,707,976. 2, Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, 3,932,000. 3, Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, 2,311,689. 4, Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers, 1,695,431. 5, Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks, 1,523,919. 6, Alex Gonzalez, Braves, 1,476,368. 7, Miguel Tejada, Giants, 1,265,544. 8, Paul Janish, Reds, 1,168,551.

OUTFIELD — 1, Ryan Braun, Brewers, 5,928,004. 2, Lance Berkman, Cardinals, 4,345,766. 3, Matt Kemp, Dodgers, 4,293,626. 4, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, 3,948,268. 5, Jay Bruce, Reds, 3,218,003. 6, Andre Ethier, Dodgers, 3,013,030. 7, Carlos Beltran, Mets, 2,631,991. 8, Shane Victorino, Phillies, 2,370,351. 9, Corey Hart, Brewers, 1,875,897. 10, Justin Upton, Diamondbacks, 1,845,385. 11, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, 1,733,281. 12, Jason Heyward, Braves, 1,715,925. 13, Raul Ibanez, Phillies, 1,641,389. 14, Drew Stubbs, Reds, 1,572,673. 15, Carlos Gomez, Brewers, 1,508,939. 16, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, 1,343,144. 17, Hunter Pence, Astros, 1,315,276. 18, Jonny Gomes, Reds, 1,310,142. 19, Martin Prado, Braves, 1,296,763. 20, Alfonso Soriano, Cubs, 1,282,608. 21, Aubrey Huff, Giants, 1,240,980. 22, Chris Young, Diamondbacks, 1,151,443. 23, Ben Francisco, Phillies, 1,124,361. 24, Jason Bay, Mets, 1,114,574.

2011 MLB All-Star Game: Current Vote Totals Before Final Rosters Announced

Thursday, June 30, 2011

 

 

 

MLB reports:  The All-Star rosters for the MLB All-Star game will be announced this Sunday, July 3rd.  With the polling stations set to close shortly, we are nearing the end of the voting process.  After weeks of fan voting on-line and at all MLB stadiums, decision day is upon us in three short days.  But for those of you that don’t like to wait, we have the current vote totals for the AL and NL All-Star rosters by position.  We also prognosticate based on the current numbers as to who will win out and make the final squads.  Let’s begin in the NL, where some open races still exist:

 

2011 NATIONAL LEAGUE ALL-STAR BALLOTING (as of June 26)

CATCHER
Brian McCann, Braves: 3,062,884
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 2,271,887
Buster Posey, Giants: 1,849,984
Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers: 1,451,280
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies: 1,392,944

Prediction:  Brian McCann kept his lead and deserves this spot.  He will be behind the plate in Arizona for the NL squad.  Despite missing most of the season due to injury, Buster Posey still sits in 2nd place.  The state of NL catching is weak this year to say the least.  With no competition in the field, McCann is your first named starter.

FIRST BASE
Albert Pujols, Cardinals: 3,358,432
Prince Fielder, Brewers: 2,903,584
Joey Votto, Reds: 2,832,857
Ryan Howard, Phillies: 1,881,711
Freddie Freeman, Braves: 702,911

Prediction:  Despite his injury and guarantee to miss the game, Albert Pujols will be voted in as a starter (in name only).  Prince Fielder has been enjoying a remarkable season and deserves a better fate.  While Prince will go to Arizona, it will be as a substitute for Pujols.  The lead is just too large and Pujols has too strong of a name recognition for Prince to overcome.

SECOND BASE
Rickie Weeks, Brewers: 2,869,583
Brandon Phillips, Reds: 2,791,186
Chase Utley, Phillies: 2,406,965
Dan Uggla, Braves: 1,223,812
Freddy Sanchez, Giants: 1,184,145

Prediction:  This one is very close to call.  Based on his late push, our money is on Rickie Weeks winning out over Brandon Phillips.  A recent return by Chase Utley has created a mini-push for him as well.  In any other year this position would be Utley’s position to lose.  But clearly fans have determined that Utley has missed too much time and Weeks is deserving of his recognition.

THIRD BASE
Placido Polanco, Phillies: 3,261,718
Chipper Jones, Braves: 2,040,594
Pablo Sandoval, Giants: 1,584,671
David Wright, Mets: 1,497,778
Scott Rolen, Reds: 1,417,248

Prediction:  The Phillies fans have spoken and Placido Polanco will be starting at the All-Star game.  David Wright’s free fall from stardom has paved the way for new/old faces to emerge.  This has been Polanco’s spot to lose from the beginning and has steady play has been enough to win out.  Sometimes slow and steady does win the race.

SHORTSTOP
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 2,955,609
Jose Reyes, Mets: 2,710,777
Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: 1,724,166
Alex Gonzalez, Braves: 1,142,470
Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers: 1,131,078

Prediction:  Another very close race that is difficult to handicap.  The gut feel on this one is that Jose Reyes has received enough publicity and media attention to garner the necessary votes to beat out Troy Tulowitzki.  Reyes has enjoyed quite the comeback year and a starting role in Arizona would be the icing on the cake.

OUTFIELD
Ryan Braun, Brewers: 3,932,100
Lance Berkman, Cardinals: 3,208,183
Matt Holliday, Cardinals: 2,935,965
Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 2,743,927
Andre Ethier, Dodgers: 2,264,640
Jay Bruce, Reds: 2,119,267
Shane Victorino, Phillies: 1,742,128
Carlos Beltran, Mets: 1,639,362
Jason Heyward, Braves: 1,302,127
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: 1,253,728
Raul Ibanez, Phillies: 1,239,678
Corey Hart, Brewers: 1,217,629
Justin Upton, D-backs: 1,141,296
Carlos Gomez, Brewers: 1,016,685
Martin Prado, Braves: 1,012,084

 Prediction:  Ryan Braun and Lance Berkman have been foregone conclusions for some time.  It is the battle for the 3rd and final outfield position that remains.  For a while it was Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier on the heals of Matt Holliday.  While Ethier has bowed out essentially, Kemp continues to get his push.  But will it be enough?  MLB reports says yes.  In his breakout year, Kemp is getting the respect and attention he deserves.  It appears that the fans would agree as well.

2011 AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STAR BALLOTING (as of June 28)

CATCHER
Russell Martin, Yankees: 2,779,592
Alex Avila, Tigers: 2,345,065
Joe Mauer, Twins: 1,699,604
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox: 1,505,143
Yorvit Torrealba, Rangers: 1,309,802

Prediction:  Detroit fans have made a solid plea for the inclusion of Alex Avila as the starting catcher for the AL squad.  But the Yankee faithful have spoken otherwise and continue to lead, together with the Boston Red Sox in most spots.  Catcher is one of them,  with Russell Martin looking to be a lock for Arizona.  The one item of note is that  Joe Mauer will not be voted in.  Mauer when healthy is one of the best, if not the best catchers in baseball.  But this year has been a nightmare for Mauer health wise.  It looks to be a chance for more new/old blood to shine.

FIRST BASE
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: 4,014,722
Mark Teixeira, Yankees: 3,077,242
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 2,184,480
Mitch Moreland, Rangers: 1,209,258
Paul Konerko, White Sox: 932,422

Prediction:  Taking a look at the numbers, 3 million votes for Mark Teixeira and 2 million votes for Miguel Cabrera is very respectable.  But 4 million+ votes takes the cake in this race for Adrian Gonzalez.  The current leading candidate for AL MVP according to many MLB followers has earned his start in Arizona.  The Red Sox faithful are certainly not complaining.

SECOND BASE
Robinson Cano, Yankees: 4,724,816
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 2,979,181
Ian Kinsler, Rangers: 1,896,259
Orlando Cabrera, Indians: 1,127,840
Ben Zobrist, Rays: 963,481

Prediction:  Looking at the numbers, it is all Robinson Cano in this one.  No AL second baseman has come close to matching his production and it shows in the voting.  A well-earned spot for the maturing Cano who is graduating to complete superstar status in New York.

THIRD BASE
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 3,735,406
Adrian Beltre, Rangers: 2,935,373
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: 2,724,286
Evan Longoria, Rays: 2,000,379
Brandon Inge, Tigers: 633,519

Prediction:  Alex Rodriguez will have yet another All-Star game appearance.  While Adrian Beltre got a sudden surge, it is the popularity and steadiness of A-Rod that will win out.

SHORTSTOP
Derek Jeter, Yankees: 3,392,128
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: 2,885,778
Elvis Andrus, Rangers: 1,971,514
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers: 1,178,114
Marco Scutaro, Red Sox: 1,099,744

Prediction:  Another fairly weak field, similar to that of third base in the NL.  Derek Jeter has slumped and/or been injured all season long.  But the name will win out and Yankee fans are excited to see their future hall of fame shortstop going to the All-Star.  Does Jeter deserve this spot this year?  Probably not.  But without a strong Indians base to campaign for Cabrera, the Yankees captain will start.  Just too much of a lead at this point.

DESIGNATED HITTER
David Ortiz, Red Sox: 4,237,014
Michael Young, Rangers: 2,235,504
Jorge Posada, Yankees: 1,453,385
Victor Martinez, Tigers: 1,234,879
Johnny Damon, Rays: 1,028,366

Prediction:  When you think DH, think David Ortiz.  He is his own universe in voting this year.  The DH market is starting to thin out and Ortiz has stood head and shoulders above the rest this year.

OUTFIELD
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: 5,263,840
Curtis Granderson, Yankees: 4,582,419
Josh Hamilton, Rangers: 3,173,000
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: 3,051,675
Carl Crawford, Red Sox: 2,294,337
Nelson Cruz, Rangers: 1,912,783
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: 1,912,062
Nick Swisher, Yankees: 1,648,599
Brett Gardner, Yankees: 1,499,367
J.D. Drew, Red Sox: 1,428,367
Matt Joyce, Rays: 1,226,439
Jeff Francoeur, Royals: 1,061,445
David Murphy, Rangers: 1,057,887
Grady Sizemore, Indians: 1,033,014
Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: 924,326

Prediction:  The first two spots in the AL outfield have been set for some time.  Jose Bautista leads all All-Stars in voting and together with Curtis Granderson will definitely be in Arizona on July 12th.  Josh Hamilton has held onto the 3rd spot for some time, despite missing part of the season due to injury.  Jacoby Ellsbury has narrowed the gap significantly in the last couple of weeks and looks to be a starter by the time the rosters are announced on Sunday.  Ellsbury has enjoyed a solid campaign this year and Red Sox nation is making the push for his inclusion in the big game.  That is usually a recipe for success.

Get ready for July 12th, as the New York Red Sox (aka the AL All-Star team) takes on the NL squad on Tuesday July 12th to determine home field advantage for the World Series.  The rosters will be announced this Sunday July 3rd and MLB reports will bring you all the final details.  Stay tuned!

 

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Latest AL and NL Vote Totals: 2011 MLB All-Star Game

Thursday, June 23, 2011

 

 

 

MLB reports:  With the MLB All-Star Game less than three weeks, the race to finalize the lineups is starting to tighten up.  The majority of the starters have fairly significant leads and will be in Arizona, barring injury or declining the invitation.  However, some of the races have started to tighten up, with the positions up for grabs until the final votes are in.  Let’s take a look at the current leading vote getters per league and position:

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STAR (as of June 21)

CATCHER
Russell Martin – Yankees: 2,226,797
Alex Avila – Tigers: 1,730,511
Joe Mauer – Twins: 1,341,474
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Red Sox: 1,135,617
Yorvit Torrealba – Rangers: 980,697

Verdict:  Martin is in unless Avila gets a huge spike in votes at the end.  While many are pushing for Avila to get the nod, Martin has the numbers and the fan base to likely win out.

 

FIRST BASE
Adrian Gonzalez – Red Sox: 3,017,960
Mark Teixeira – Yankees: 2,407,665
Miguel Cabrera – Tigers: 1,771,893
Mitch Moreland – Rangers: 890,468
Paul Konerko – White Sox: 676,194

Verdict:  A-Gonz will be starting in Arizona.  Take it to the bank.  He has been one of the best players in the AL this season and plays in Boston.  The fans will continue to vote for him until he is announced as the winner.

 

SECOND BASE
Robinson Cano – Yankees: 3,664,498
Dustin Pedroia – Red Sox: 2,239,172
Ian Kinsler – Rangers: 1,452,880
Orlando Cabrera – Indians: 910,941
Ben Zobrist – Rays: 828,771

Verdict:  Cano continues to lead the pack by a country mile.  His season totals justify his position.

 

THIRD BASE
Alex Rodriguez – Yankees: 2,876,537
Adrian Beltre – Rangers: 2,307,380
Kevin Youkilis – Red Sox: 2,025,438
Evan Longoria – Rays: 1,639,405
Brandon Inge – Tigers: 490,734

Verdict:  A-Rod is still A-Rod.  Beltre is getting closer though and could make this one interesting.

 

SHORTSTOP
Derek Jeter – Yankees: 2,654,040
Asdrubal Cabrera – Indians: 2,242,157
Elvis Andrus – Rangers: 1,513,929
Jhonny Peralta – Tigers: 875,371
Marco Scutaro – Red Sox: 813,888

Verdict:  Jeter, the New York Yankees captain, continues to lead the way.  However, an injury and poor play this season have led Cabrera to get closer in the voting.  If Cabrera has a few more strong games, there is a chance he could be in Arizona as the starter.  Either way, expect Cabrera to represent the Indians at the All-Star game. 

 

DESIGNATED HITTER
David Ortiz – Red Sox: 3,116,578
Michael Young – Rangers: 1,760,195
Jorge Posada – Yankees: 1,120,830
Victor Martinez – Tigers: 932,711
Johnny Damon – Rays: 864,535

Verdict:  Papi picked a great year to have a strong campaign.  A free agent at year’s end, he is a worthy All-Star pick.

 

OUTFIELD
Jose Bautista – Blue Jays: 4,156,940
Curtis Granderson – Yankees: 3,473,227
Josh Hamilton – Rangers: 2,400,408
Jacoby Ellsbury – Red Sox: 2,249,323
Carl Crawford – Red Sox: 1,789,097
Ichiro Suzuki – Mariners: 1,537,101
Nelson Cruz – Rangers: 1,462,426
Nick Swisher – Yankees: 1,271,843
Brett Gardner – Yankees: 1,120,179
J.D. Drew – Red Sox: 1,112,720
Matt Joyce – Rays: 1,038,098
Jeff Francoeur – Royals: 906,983
Grady Sizemore – Indians: 867,281
David Murphy – Rangers: 785,630
Shin-Soo Choo – Indians: 764,817

Verdict:  Bautista and Granderson continue to lead the AL outfielders in voting and deservedly so.  Hamilton and Ellsbury are battling it out for the final spot in a competition of what have you done for me lately vs. last year’s statistics.  Depending on where you sit in the debate, the 2010 MVP Hamilton or the 2011 resurgent Ellsbury should be the third AL outfielder.  With Hamilton banged up and Ellsbury playing so well for a first place Boston squad, expect Ellsbury to win out.

 

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE ALL-STAR (as of June 20)

CATCHER
Brian McCann – Braves: 2,301,252
Yadier Molina – Cardinals: 1,836,490
Buster Posey – Giants: 1,573,484
Jonathan Lucroy – Brewers: 1,098,507
Carlos Ruiz – Phillies: 1,095,081

Verdict:  McCann is the best catcher in baseball, not just the NL.  He has received the justified votes and will be starting for the NL squad.

 

FIRST BASE
Albert Pujols – Cardinals: 2,806,864
Joey Votto – Reds: 2,270,211
Prince Fielder – Brewers: 2,066,327
Ryan Howard – Phillies: 1,477,478
Freddie Freeman – Braves: 559,762

Verdict:  Pujols was the leader and remains so despite being placed on the shelf recently.  With Pujols out of the picture, Votto and Fielder will continue to duke it out for top spot.  The power and flash of Prince will likely rule over the steadiness of Votto.

 

SECOND BASE
Brandon Phillips – Reds: 2,286,378
Rickie Weeks – Brewers: 2,094,502
Chase Utley – Phillies: 1,827,194
Dan Uggla – Braves: 1,012,370
Freddy Sanchez – Giants: 987,606

Verdict:  Phillips and Weeks are neck-in-neck in one of the closest positional battles.  Based on Weeks recent play, my money is on him to get the starting role.

 

THIRD BASE
Placido Polanco – Phillies: 2,599,925
Chipper Jones – Braves: 1,558,895
Pablo Sandoval – Giants: 1,302,098
David Wright – Mets: 1,228,710
Scott Rolen – Reds: 1,102,626

Verdict:  Polanco of the NL leading Philadelphia Phillies appears to have this one locked up.  Without much in the way of competition, Polanco has been the best of the bunch according to the fans.

 

SHORTSTOP
Troy Tulowitzki – Rockies: 2,385,991
Jose Reyes – Mets: 1,972,820
Jimmy Rollins – Phillies: 1,354,896
Alex Gonzalez – Braves: 928,992
Yuniesky Betancourt – Brewers: 860,163

Verdict:  Reyes of the Mets is making a late charge but Tulo might have too big of a lead to overcome.  Expect this one to go to the wire as Reyes has been getting much of the press and attention in the past few days.

OUTFIELD
Ryan Braun – Brewers: 3,034,057
Lance Berkman – Cardinals: 2,562,428
Matt Holliday – Cardinals: 2,390,118
Matt Kemp – Dodgers: 2,062,667
Andre Ethier – Dodgers: 1,889,298
Jay Bruce – Reds: 1,681,613
Shane Victorino – Phillies: 1,357,115
Carlos Beltran – Mets: 1,261,308
Jason Heyward – Braves: 1,059,581
Raul Ibanez – Phillies: 982,046
Justin Upton – D-backs: 950,047
Carlos Gonzalez – Rockies: 944,666
Corey Hart – Brewers: 910,550
Martin Prado – Braves: 830,105
Alfonso Soriano – Cubs: 804,303

Verdict:  Braun has the top spot locked up with Berkman almost guaranteed a starting spot in Arizona as well.  The third outfield position will come down a battle between Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.  Kemp is narrowing the margin but based on the vote numbers, St. Louis will likely have 2/3 of the starting All-Star outfield come July 12th. 

 

MLB reports will continue to keep you up-to-date as the voting for the MLB All-Star game comes to a close.  We will announce the starting lineups and rosters as they are made available and let you know on any injury replacements.  This year’s field will be a competitive one and we look forward to catching all the action in Arizona, as the American League and National League battle for home field advantage in the World Series.

 

 

 

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2011 MLB All-Star Game Ballots: American League Vote Totals

Tuesday June 14, 2011

 

 

 

MLB reports:  In part II of our All-Star game feature, we take a look at the leading vote getters for the American League squad.  The MLB All-Star Game is coming up on July 12th from Phoenix, Arizona.  With home field advantage on the line, the question every year is whether the American League will continue its domination in the mid-season classic.  We might as well call this team the New York Red Sox or Boston Yankees given the current composition of the team.  Let’s take a look at the AL vote totals as of today to consider if the fans are getting it right:

 

CATCHER
Russell Martin, Yankees: 1,712,156
Alex Avila, Tigers: 1,093,070
Joe Mauer, Twins: 1,041,798
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox: 763,607
Yorvit Torrealba, Rangers: 751,858

Verdict:  Round one goes to the fans as Russell Martin for the most part has been the best catcher in the American League thus far.  Coming off an unproductive, injury filled 2010 season, Martin has rebounded to reclaim his all-star status.  The 2nd leading vote getter, Alex Avila, has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign and deserves to be up high on the list.  From there, the waters get murky.  Mauer has been injured all year and Salmatlamacchia has been fairly unproductive for most of the season in Boston.  Names like Arencebia and Suzuki should probably be higher up on the list, as much of this list is based on past production and/or popularity vs. actual production.  But Martin is in the lead for being the best catcher in the AL, as much as he is a Yankee.

 

FIRST BASE
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: 2,027,537
Mark Teixeira, Yankees: 1,774,024
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 1,295,547
Mitch Moreland, Rangers: 692,670
Paul Konerko, White Sox: 507,547

Verdict:  One of the early season picks for MVP, Gonzalez has been everything that could have been expected and more for Boston.  Teixeira and Cabrera have also enjoyed productive campaigns and are rightfully at the top of the voting leader board.  A case could be made for any of the three to start at first in Arizona, but A-Gonz has been the best of the bunch and deserves to be at the top.  He just happens to play in Boston as well.

 

SECOND BASE
Robinson Cano, Yankees: 2,649,737
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 1,518,231
Ian Kinsler, Rangers: 1,129,023
Orlando Cabrera, Indians: 732,308
Ben Zobrist, Rays: 633,533

Verdict:  A Yankee in first and a Red Sox player in 2nd in this category.  Are we noticing a trend?  Based on numbers alone, Cano has been far and away the best second baseman in the American League, if not all of baseball.  With almost double the amount of votes compared to Pedroia, fans clearly agree.  The list, one through five, appears to be bang-on with listing the top players at the position.  The fans got it right yet again. 

 

THIRD BASE
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: 2,063,520
Adrian Beltre, Rangers: 1,752,729
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: 1,381,381
Evan Longoria, Rays: 1,226,770
Maicer Izturis, Angels: 364,623

Verdict:  This is not your father’s third base and while this group used to be the elite of the league, the numbers are showing otherwise.  With Longoria injured for must of the campaign, A-Rod continues to be the leading voting getter with Beltre close behind.  I was very surprised to see Longoria as high as 4th, but based on his strong image and popularity, I guess it should have been expected.  A-Rod based on the number deserves this spot, but is here as much for his numbers as the fact that he is a Yankee.  His position as the top player in the game has clearly been eroding for some time.  But for this season at least, A-Rod looks to remain the top third baseman in the American League.

 

SHORTSTOP
Derek Jeter, Yankees: 1,931,670
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: 1,647,802
Elvis Andrus, Rangers: 1,180,962
Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays: 640,395
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers: 540,601

Verdict:  Much outcry has been heard over this vote and I will agree.  For a player that has given so much to the game, Derek Jeter on the numbers does not deserve to be starting in the All-Star game.  Cabrera, Andrus and Escobar have enjoyed very productive seasons for their respective teams and should be ahead of Jeter in the voting.  But alas Jeter is Jeter and the fans have chosen the sizzle over the steak in this case.  A big double thumbs down here.

 

DESIGNATED HITTER
David Ortiz, Red Sox: 1,974,918
Michael Young, Rangers: 1,428,833
Jorge Posada, Yankees: 810,672
Travis Hafner, Indians: 691,205
Johnny Damon, Rays: 672,529

Verdict:  The designated hitter, the who’s-who of players playing out the string in the American League.  Despite strong seasons by Young, Hafner and Damon, it is David Ortiz who has been the best DH of 2011 and as a result has a huge lead in the voting.  Jorge Posada should be near the bottom of the pack, but sits in third place based on his name and team.  Anyone here besides Ortiz would have been an injustice.

 

OUTFIELD
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: 3,042,091
Curtis Granderson, Yankees: 2,406,946
Josh Hamilton, Rangers: 1,799,339
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: 1,447,715
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: 1,231,035
Carl Crawford, Red Sox: 1,222,687
Nelson Cruz, Rangers: 1,123,608
Nick Swisher, Yankees: 937,365
Brett Gardner, Yankees: 796,905
J.D. Drew, Red Sox: 778,871
Jeff Francoeur, Royals: 752,687
Grady Sizemore, Indians: 739,930
Matt Joyce, Rays: 737,377
Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: 642,387
David Murphy, Rangers: 622,160

Verdict:  I will give the fans credit.  Two out of three ain’t bad.  The top two outfielders in the American League have been Bautista and Granderson.  They sit one and two in the lead to be the starting outfielders in Arizona.  Bravo fans.  Bravo.  Josh Hamilton though sits in third place over Jacoby Ellsbury.  Based on last year’s campaign, Hamilton was a far stronger player than Ellsbury.  But this year, Hamilton has missed much of the season due to injury while Ellsbury has rebounded.  Despite the heavy Red Sox and Yankees mix in the lineup, I would have awarded Ellsebury the third outfield spot if given the choice between the two.  But looking at the rest of the voting list, it is beyond me how Swisher, Gardner, Crawford and Drew are at the voting list.  Aside from playing in Boston and New York, these players have done literally nothing to earn their votes.  I am impressed to see Francoeur and Joyce with strong vote totals, proving that smaller names in even smaller markets can still be rewarded for strong play.  Ichiro is also on the list despite one of his worst campaigns ever.  Where I ask is Carlos Quentin, one of the top hitters this year in the American League?  Playing for a poor White Sox team with little attention this year.  King Carlos should be starting, but the popularity contest unfortunately did him in. 

 

 

 

If the voting for the American League All-Star team ended today, 7/9 of the starting lineup would be made up of Red Sox and Yankees players.  While most of the players deserve their positions based on the numbers, it would be curious to see what would happen if those same players were on different teams.  But then if those players were on different teams, they may not end up with the same high numbers they are producing.  Very perplexing.  It would be nice to have greater balance in the voting to include more players from other squads.  But when players like Russell Martin, David Ortiz and Curtis Granderson stand out so far from the crowd, they should be voted in regardless of the city they play in.  While the bias of fans then results in Derek Jeter starting and inferior players like Drew and Swisher receiving high vote totals, looking at the lineups overall, the fans for the most part got it right.  For those critics that do not agree, the best argument is get as many fans from other cities to vote on-line and at the games to make a difference.  But the fans have spoken and we look forward to watching the New York Red Sox take on the National League All-Star team in Arizona on July 12th.

Please click here to read yesterday’s NL All-Star team preview. 

 

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Back Stiffness or Sitting Out, The Posada-Gate Report

Sunday May 15, 2011

MLB reports:  A big tilt was scheduled for last night, Yankees vs. Red Sox.  Always a classic between two of the biggest rivalries in baseball and all of sports.  While both teams have taken time to get out of the gate, signs were starting to appear that each was starting to come around and getting ready for a dog battle for the AL East crown with the Rays all summer long.  One minor sidenote was the lineups, which was shaken up by Yankees manager Joe Girardi.  Struggling DH Jorge Posada, normally batting somewhere in the middle to lower-end of the Yankees lineup, was dropped to the #9 slot.  Considering that Jorge was batting .165 and struggling all season for the Yankees, most baseball fans and analysts would not have given the move a second thought.  In fact, most would have applauded Girardi for making the necessary move to most help his ball club and perhaps ignite his stagnant DH.  But something happened along the way that resulted in Posada missing yesterday’s matchup.  As the mystery of the missing Posada is unfolding, tongues cannot stop wagging and the baseball world has its focus on New York to attempt to solve “Posada Gate”.

From the news and people that I have spoken with, it is clear that Jorge Posada came to manager Joe Girardi before the game and asked to be taken out of the lineup.  Girardi accommodated Posada in his request and changed the lineup.  Somewhere along the way Posada made mention of “feeling disrespected by the Yankees” as well.  The issue becomes blurry as it does not appear that Posada indicated at the time of his removal that he had any sort of injury and the comments on being disrespected is being directed to being placed in the #9 slot in the Yankees batting order.  During the game last night, damage control was in full effect.  Posada’s wife, out of all people, tweeted during the game that her husband was suffering from back stiffness and that was the reason for him missing the game.  The “back stiffness” account was confirmed by Posada’s agent as of this morning and by Posada himself last night after the game.  But something seems awry and not sitting right with me.  Let’s dig deeper to see if we can get to the bottom of this.

Brian Cashman, the Yankees General Manager, informed the media that Posada had removed himself from the game and did not make it known that any injury was behind the decision.  From reading Cashman’s comments, I had the distinct impression that the Yankees were not impressed with Posada’s actions.  Having Posada indicate that he felt disrespected was the kick in the teeth, the igniter of this Yankees fire.  I cannot understand what Posada was thinking in making such a statement, but it is clear that both player and team need to work towards finding a quick resolution to Posada Gate.  The team does not need such a distraction coming from one of its elder players and possible future hall of famer.  But in order for such a resolution to arrive, both team and player need to come clean, apologize and move forward.

Lets be clear from one end.  The New York Yankees do not owe Jorge Posada a single thing.  In 2007, the Yankees granted the then 35-year-old Posada a 4-year, $52.4 million contract.  On the open market, coming off back-to-back 20+ home run, 90+ RBI seasons, Posada would have been lucky to obtain a 2-year, $20 million deal.  The Yankees were essentially bidding against themselves and out of loyalty and reward for Posada’s years of service to the team, compensated him with one last big score.  The team knew full well that Posada would not be able to play out the contract as a catcher and would like move to 1B or DH at some point, making him less valuable from a financial standpoint.  But the team gave Posada his due and he happily accepted the contract.

Taking a look at the situation following Posada’s signing, the value has not been there.  Posada was injured for much of 2008, limited to 51 games.  In 2009, Posada at 37 had his last big season, with 22 home runs, .285 AVG and .885 OPS.  But as we recall, Posada and teammate A.J. Burnett were having issues, as A.J. was insistent that Molina catch his games rather than Posada, based on Posada’s eroding skills behind the plate.  While much of the blame was directed at Burnett, Posada did little to calm the waters.  The Yankees stood behind Posada then, even considering that his defense was no longer acceptable at the major league level.  Going into 2010, Posada remained the Yankees catcher and played 83 games behind the plate.  Finishing the season with a .248 AVG, the Yankees were in a bind.  They had one more year to go with Posada with a monster contract.  Despite needing to make a change sooner, the Yankees showed Posada loyalty by sticking behind him up to that point.  But with the highest payroll in the game and team performance and team results coming first, the Yankees made the right move.  Former all-star catcher Russell Martin was signed as a free agent after being let go by the Dodgers.  The Yankees were able to outbid the Jays and Red Sox for his services and have been handsomely rewarded with Martin’s strong play behind the plate and with the bat.  Beating out the Red Sox, with the second-worst hitting catching tandem in baseball, makes the signing that much sweeter.  With also three of the top catching prospects in the game sitting in their farm system, the Yankees clearly had options.  Jorge Posada, based on his declining numbers and skills, was not one of them.

So here is where we sit today.  Jorge Posada got his big contract.  The team stuck with him through injuries and poor play, despite the fact that it was not the best decision from a baseball standpoint.  Going into 2011, the Yankees said “no more” and moved Posada to DH full-time.  To be able to save wear and tear and focus on offense, experts agreed the move was best for the team and player.  Posada offered little resistance, although he did indicate in the media several times that the adjustment was difficult and one that he did not necessarily enjoy.  But sitting in the middle of May, hitting .165, Jorge Posada was not in a position to make demands or question his manager’s authority.  Posada should be embarrassed with his statistics and working towards improving himself, rather than blaming others.  My feel for the situation, is taking a look at the lineup card Posada did remove himself from the lineup out of pride.  But where is the pride when he collects his giant paychecks every 2 weeks and does little to show for it?  That is the problem with baseball and sports.  When a player does well and is underpaid, he demands higher compensation out of “fairness”.  But when a player is making a lot of money and does not perform, the player does not return the money despite the fact that the team is not receiving its value.  “Respect” seems to go one way but not the other and that is not right.

The Yankees are justified in being upset with Posada, as they have shown him respect to-date as shown above.  When Posada removed himself from the game, the team justifiably took it as a slap in the face and called the player out for his treason.  Coming to his senses and realizing I believe the mistake of his ways, Posada is now trying to justify the situation by claiming “back stiffness” caused his decision to not play yesterday.  But why would he conveniently forget to tell his manager this piece of information?  If the team was aware of Posada’s injury, Cashman would have responded differently to the media.  Posada looks to me like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar and is now trying to get himself out.  The truth would have been best but now with the injury claim, Posada has made himself and his team look terrible and guilty.  Nobody wins in these situations.

The Yankees, don’t get me wrong, are not without fault.  I do not agree with how Cashman spoke to the media.  If Cashman spoke to Posada about the situation, both the player and team should have issued a joint statement after the fact.  But airing one’s dirty laundry in the media is not the proper method to use.  While the team is justified in being upset over Posada’s actions, it should have dealt with the matter privately and in-house.  Now the cat is out of the bag and difficult to hide and clear away.

I have seen this situation time and time again with teams and veteran players.  The issue is not as much the Yankees and Jorge Posada, but teams giving big money and long-term deals to older players.  It rarely works and often blows up in everyone’s faces.  Think to Frank Thomas, Raul Ibanez, Milton Bradley, Aaron Rowand, Barry Zito…how many of these big contracts to older players ended up working out.  What kills me is that the teams pay $10s of millions of dollars and its the teams that are seen as disrespecting the players by sitting them, moving them around in the lineup or releasing them.  That is not fair in my estimation.  If the players are cashing their cheques, there comes a point where they need to shut up, play and do as the team tells them.  But this notion is getting lost in baseball and is being lost in the Jorge Posada story today.

Where Posada Gates goes from here, few of us know.  The likely scenario is that the player will stick to the injury story, the team will grumble under its breath and the relationship will continue smoothly for the rest of the year.  Posada’s agent surely told him that he did not have a leg to stand on and to keep his reputation and contract in check, sticking to the injury story would be best for his image.  After all, if Posada did come out and state that he sat yesterday because he was upset for being dropped in the lineup, he would branded and blasted in the New York media.  But truthfully, I would have respected him more if he had come clean rather than rely on the childish cover-up attempt after the fact.  At the end of the day, the deed is done and we all need to move forward.  Both player and team need to say their respective stories, make peace and move forward.  But based on the Yankees loyalty shown to Posada, let’s remember the full story before we jump to conclusions.

Jorge Posada will be a free agent at season’s end.  The Yankees have already indicated that he is not in their plans and that they will be moving forward come to 2012.  I do not know of many teams that are looking for ex-catchers in their 40s hitting .165 as their lineup targets.  Baseball is evolving like we have never seen before.   Teams are going away from 40-something DHs and keeping the spot open for younger players to rotate throughout games to keep everyone healthy.  With the steroid era at an end and team salaries at an all-time high, baseball is becoming more than ever a young man’s sport.  While many players used to hang around till their 40s to pad their career numbers, players like Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa and Jermaine Dye essentially had mandatory retirement thrust upon them by a lack of interest.  Jorge Posada is one of the lucky ones.  He is getting to play to his 40th birthday and earning a maximum career salary.  While many players in their mid-30s need to play on minor league deals and incentive structures, Posada is getting full and unconditional pay.  Posada had to realize this year that he could no longer play in the field and is looking towards the future and realizing that he soon may not be able to play at all.  Rather than blaming the team, it is time to look in the mirror and to think how much he has left in the tank.  For a team that has given him so much money, opportunities and shown so much faith in him until this year, it is time for him to pay the Yankees back.  I hope to see everyone take the high road on this one at the end of the day.  It is better for the player, the team and the game.  Posada Gate was interesting and provided all of us with good conversation piece.  Now let’s be done with it and turn our attention to the only thing that should matter:  baseball action on the field.

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Top Home Run Hitters: MLB 2011

MLB reports:  For pure fun today, I wanted to scan the major league baseball leaderboard and evaluate the top home run hitters of 2011.  While this list can change at a moment’s notice, looking at the board with over three weeks into the season is always fun.  At least my idea of fun.  I originally planned to make a top ten list, but that was going to prove to be futile.  Six hitters sit at the top of the list with seven home runs a piece and eight hitters tied for second with six home runs each.  Let’s take a close look at the top fourteen then and see which hitters are likely to remain on the list and which have caught lightning in a bottle for a few games.

First Place – Seven Home Runs

Jose Bautista:  Toronto Blue Jays

After 54 home runs last year, is anyone still waiting for a slowdown?  With 19 walks already, .359 AVG and 1.256 OPS, Bautista continues to build on the momentum of last year.  Living up to his large contract extension signed in the off-season, it appears that the new Jose Bautista is here to stay.  At 30 years of age, Bautista is showing that he has enough juice in his bat to approach another 50 home runs this year.

Adrian Beltre:  Texas Rangers

Another big contract signing entering 2011, Beltre has made good on the promise of his bat hitting in Arlington.  Inconsistent throughout his career, analysts have often said that if healthy and playing in a hitters park, the sky is the limit.  Beltre hit 48 home runs back in 2004 playing for the Dodgers and have never approached those numbers since.  At 32 and playing in one of the best hitters park in a stacked lineup, big numbers could come his way.  I see somewhat of a regression, but 30-35 home runs is a safe bet at this point.

Ryan Braun:  Milwaukee Brewers

The Hebrew Hammer has 128 career home runs in four seasons going into 2011.  He has Prince Fielder in the lineup with him.  At 27, Braun is this generation’s Ralph Kiner and Hank Greenberg.  No slowdowns ahead for this Brewer as he shoots for his first 40+ home run season.  The 2007 NL Rookie of the Year is a future MVP and his time could come this year.

Curtis Granderson:  New York Yankees

The only surprise in the top home run hitters category, Granderson has always shown glimpses of brilliance but injuries and slumps have slowed his path.  The 20/20/20/20 season in 2007 was impressive, as was the career high 30 home runs that Granderson hit in 2009 for the Tigers.  Even though he missed 26 games last year to injury, he still was able to amass 24 home runs.  Now healthy and with the short porch in Yankee stadium, Granderson has a good chance at equaling and besting his career best power numbers.  Given the Yankees lineup as well, I would not count him out.  Granderson is unlikely to remain among the league leaders in bombs, but a solid 30+ home run season is definitely in order.

Albert Pujols:  St. Louis Cardinals

Coming into this season, the Great Pujols hit a Ruthian 408 home runs in 10 seasons.  Truly our generation’s Babe Ruth, Pujols has to be considered one of the best home run hitters of all time.  With an .806 OPS, Pujols hasn’t even begun to heat up.  Pujols has Holliday and a resurging Lance Berkman for protection and going into his first free agency year, expect legendary numbers by seasons end.  This is Albert Pujols we are talking about…I do not have to say anything else.

Troy Tulowitzki:  Colorado Rockies

Still only 26 years old, Tulowitzki is working towards becoming the best player in baseball.  Missing significant time in 2008 and 2010, Tulo still has 99 career home runs going into today.  Playing in the home run haven called Colorado, all Tulo has to do is to stay healthy to succeed.  As this is an odd year, history is shown that he will likely play close to a full season.  His career high of 32 home runs is well within reach and I can see a 40+ home run season this year.  The talent and circumstances are all there…all he needs is health.

Second Place:  Six Home Runs

Lance Berkman:  St. Louis Cardinals

Going into the second tier of top home run hitters, we find some resurgent players, surprises and expected studs.  Berkman was an uncertainty coming into season.  The 35-year-old Big Puma has seen 40+ home run seasons in his career.  2010 was an injury shortened season and after getting traded to the Yankees and faltering in New York, critics began to write him off.  I was a big fan of his move to St. Louis, back to the NL Central and the opportunity to play with Pujols and Holliday.  Defense aside, Berkman’s 9 walks and league leading .725 SLG show that the Puma is back.  With the occasional days off and prime spot in the lineup, 35 home runs is my predicted total for this superstar.

Jonny Gomes:  Cincinnati Reds

The man has seem to been around forever but is actually only 30 years old.  Gomes has seen several 20+ home run seasons in his career, including 18 in 2010 playing in a career high 148 games.  With 18 walks, Gomes has disguised his poor .212 avg this season with a .386 OBP and .530 SLG.  The owner of a lifetime .332 OBP and .463 SLG, Gomes will get a fair amount of playing time this year.  While he is not the second coming of Adam Dunn, Gomes has clearly found a home in Cincinnati.  His lower average and 19 strikeouts concern me at this point as he will need to become a steadier hitter to continue to receive steady playing time.  Part of the surprises of this list, expect a return to form in order for Gomes.  Despite lofty totals, I cannot foresee a 30 home run season coming, even though he plays in that ballpark.  He is too streaky and Dusty Baker is not patient enough to stick with him.

Howie Kendrick:  Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Not one of my favorite players to cover, I have always soured on Kendrick for his inability to take walks.  With a career high of 10 home runs (twice), low stolen bases totals and inability to consistently get on base, I have rarely seen the upside of Kendrick at the plate.  This season, apparently as light switch has gone off inside his head or bat, as Kendrick is well on his way to shattering his previous power numbers and already has 10 walks on the season (last year he set a career high of 28).  Does a leopard change its spots…or does a Kendrick learn patience?  I will believe it when I see it.  I have watched Kendrick for too long to be sold on what I have seen thus far.  if he is still able to keep up this approach going into July, maybe I will cut him some slack.  Until then, I expect to see Kendrick off this list by mid-June at the latest.  A nice run, but a run is all this is at the end of the day in my opinion.

Russell Martin:  New York Yankees

The second Yankee on our list has found a new home and new lease on life in the Bronx.  Martin had a career high 19 home runs in 2007 playing for the Dodgers, earning a Silver Slugger award that year.  With an OPS of 1.099, Martin is the early favorite for Comeback Player of the Year.  Playing nearly every game this season and enjoying a healthy hip, Martin apparently has renewed drive and focus that was previously lacking in Los Angeles.  At 28 years old and continuing our trend of young superstars on the list, all Martin really has to do is stay healthy this year.  In the loaded Yankees lineup and with the short porch, Martin has a chance at 25 home runs this year.

Jorge Posada:  New York Yankees

Yankee #3 is on the downside of his career, or so we are led to believe.  The 39-year-old Posada is a full-time DH for the full-time in his career.  While his .153 AVG and .711 OPS, his 6 home runs (of his 9 total hits) is outstanding.  Too many factors are against Posada staying on the leaderboard.  Health is always a concern and despite no longer playing the field, any tweaks at this point could send the elderly Posada to the DL.  Further, his numbers are showing that when he is not hitting home runs, he is simply not hitting or getting on base.  As Posada continues his best Rob Deer impersonation, I don’t foresee great things ahead for the future hall of famer, nearing the end of an outstanding career.

Carlos Quentin:  Chicago White Sox

Both Chicago teams are represented, with the powerful Quentin starting off for the White Sox.  The likely pick for MVP had he stayed healthy in 2008, Quentin has a laundry list of injuries and ailments his entire career.  But when healthy, Quentin is always a home run threat.  With a 1.023 OPS and having Rios, Dunn, Konerko, Ramirez and Beckham in the lineup for protection, Quentin looks to best his career high of 36 home runs in 2008.  I am sitting on the fence on this one.  The potential is there, but so are the injuries.  Expect at least a couple of trips to the disabled list but assuming reasonable health, I will take 30+ home runs for Carlos.  The Adam Dunn factor cannot be discounted, as he will prove to be great protection for Quentin all season long.

Alfonso Soriano:  Chicago Cubs

A 20+ home run hitter for nine straight seasons, Soriano was written off for dead by many experts, yours truly included.  2009 was a dismal season for Soriano and although he had a steady return last year, at the age of 35 and with knee issues, little was expected from the talented Dominican.  Despite his .513 SLG this season, there are several reasons to expect a continuing decline for Soriano.  His BB/K rate this year is an abysmal 3/21, as his .244 AVG and .272 OBP.  If you ask me, I see Soriano slowly decaying into the next Yuniesky Betancourt.  Soriano is still a lock for another 20+ home run year but with the rest of his game on such a rapid decline, don’t expect much else.  If the Cubs have any other options, I expect Soriano to see more time on the bench or even a trade in order.  But at his salary, I cannot foresee any team taking a chance.

Mark Teixeira:  New York Yankees

The last player on our list and Yankee #4, Teixeira clearly did not get the memo that we are in April and not August.  A notorious slow starter, Teixeira is already up to twelve walks, .402 OBP and .621 SLG.  For the 31-year-old Teixeira who has 281 career home runs, his career high of 43 home runs in 2005 could be broken.  Considering that Teixeira has the ability to hit 10-12 home runs per month in the summer, I see a clear breakout year for this superstar first baseman.  The Yankees went out and got him for a reason.  In addition to his gold glove defense, I am smelling a possible silver slugger and MVP award in 2011.

What is the future of this list?  Hard to tell without a crystal ball, as so many factors can arise.  Injuries, playing time, lineup position…things can change.  But a trend is clear from the early season home run leaders.  Most are in the 27-30 year-old age bracket and are proven home run hitters in their careers.  I expect most of the above hitters to remain on the list, with some surprises to fade away and new players to emerge.  Other superstars, like Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez will join this list very soon.  But even in the short span of three weeks into the season, it is clear that even with only a few games played, the home run hitting cream is already rising to the top.

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RUSSELL MARTIN- THE INSIDE STORY

MLB reports:  Imagine living the life of Russell Martin.  The starting catcher for the New York Yankees.  Nine games into the 2011 season, having a .300 batting average, three home runs, eight RBIs, two stolen bases and a .977 OPS.  At the tender age of twenty-eight years older, with two all-star game appearances, a gold glove and silver slugger award under this belt, the world should be at Martin’s feet.  Any person that had not followed baseball for the last couple of years and saw these statistics would be in awe of Martin.  The second coming of Munson or Berra they may ask?  Certainly would seem so, as Martin’s star appears to have been rekindled to its peak levels from 2006 and 2007.  However the road for Martin from baseball obscurity to stardom, to bottoming out and a rebirth is a rocky and fascinating one to say the least.  I present to you an inside look into Russell Martin, catcher for the New York Yankees.

My first real exposure to Russell Martin was in March 2006.  As Major League Baseball was gearing up for it’s ever World Baseball Classic (“WBC”), all of the countries involved finalizing and tweaking their rosters in anticipation of the inaugural event.  Residing in Toronto, I was reading a great deal of information and stories on the Canadian contingent.  News travelled that the expected starting catcher for Canada, a relatively unknown 17th round draft pick in 2002 for the Los Angeles Dodgers by name of Russell Martin had declined his roster spot at the last minute.  Reports indicated that Martin felt that going into spring training he had a strong chance of winning a spot on the Dodgers roster and did not want to hurt his chances by camp and auditioning for his spot in front of the Dodgers’ brass.  Dioner Navarro, the catching incumbent, was seen as a declining player and the chance to unseat him was too great for Martin to pass up.  Max St. Pierre and Pete LaForest were the catching tandem for Canada in 2006 that came within a hair of advancing to the second round (only the runs allowed to South Africa in a blowout win sealed their fate).  Martin ended up making his major league debut on May 5, 2006 and took a stranglehold of the starting catching position for the next five years in LA. 

While Canadian fans were clearly disappointed with his decision, Martin obviously made the right choice for his career.  While representing one’s country in international play is an honor and somewhat of an obligation, fighting for one’s livelihood and paycheque when it is unsettled takes the ultimate priority.  In the 2009 edition of the WBC, Martin kept his word to play for his country and finally suited up for Canada for the first round in Toronto in front of his hometown crowd.  After almost upsetting the United States in game one, Martin and his Canadian teammates went down fairly quietly in another WBC first round exit.  But with his Dodgers catching role firmly secure, it was a thrill to watch Martin play in the 2009 WBC and perform at a high level.  Having attended all the first round games in Toronto personally, my scouting report is that Martin played an excellent series.  He showed tremendous hustle and heart, playing solid defense behind the plate and grinding out at-bats.  Russell Martin left a tremendous impression on me during that series has lasted with me to this date.

Before getting into Martin’s playing career with the Dodgers, I wanted to share several interesting inside perspectives on Russell Martin, the person.  Born in Ontario, Martin grew up in Quebec and lived for a period in France.  Coming from talented bloodlines, his mother is an actress and singer while his father is a saxophone player.  Martin’s full name is actually Russell Nathan Jeans on Coltrane Martin Junior.  His father named him after the famous jazz musician John Coltrane.  Martin for the 2009 season changed the name on the back of his jersey from “Martin” to “J. Martin”.  Hailed as a classy move, Martin was paying homage to his mother as an inspiration and force in his life.  From honoring his mother and country, to playing with heart and inspiration to win both a gold glove and silver slugger in 2007, Martin appeared to have everything on his side.  That is where the move from Los Angeles to New York is a confusing and unsettled story, even to-date. 

From all accounts, Russell Martin, the baseball player, was on top of the world in 2006 and 2007.  From earning the starting catching job on the Dodgers to become one of the top two-way catchers in the game in 2007, Martin appeared to be able to do no wrong.  2008 appeared to be a blip for Martin, as his OPS dropped from .843 to .781.  Going into the 2009 season, Martin was seen at 26 to be a player just coming into his own and due for a huge rebound.  Looking back at 2009 and 2010, everything that had gone so right for Martin quickly soured.  Somehow in the span of two years Martin became a scapegoat and noted malcontent in Los Angeles.  From a gold glove catcher, Martin began to be known through baseball circles as lazy and unmotivated behind the plate.  While previously seen as a growing leader on his team, Martin and the other younger stars on the Dodgers were labeled as disrespectful and cancerous in the clubhouse.  While playing nearly full seasons and being durable from 2007-2009, Martin tore the labrum in right hip in 2010 and cast a doubt over his future in the game.  From a catcher that was walk ninety times in 2008 and steal twenty-one and eighteen bases respectively in 2007 and 2008, the Russell Martin of the last two seasons appeared to have little pop or spark in his game.  At 5’10” and 230 lbs, Martin went from a stocky and agile catcher to an out-of-shape player on the decline.  All at the tender age of twenty-eight.  Clearly a change was in order.

The Dodgers, not always known for protecting their prized prospects well, had traded away highly regarded up-and-coming catcher Carlos Santana to the Cleveland Indians for the seasoned veteran third baseman Casey Blake.  The logic at the time?  The Indians gave the Dodgers the choice of absorbing salary or giving up a top prospect.  The Dodgers chose to sacrifice Santana and save a couple of dollars.  Having had the loss of Santana still fresh in fans’ minds, the Dodgers chose not to tender Martin a contract after the 2010 season in the fear that his hip had not recovered and to save approximately six million dollars in salary.  Now a free agent in the last offseason, Martin had the choice of signing with any team of his liking.

The top noted suitors for Martin’s services all lied in the AL East:  The Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees.  Reports had indicated that other suitors were calling on Martin but looking at him at third base rather than catcher.  After being drafted at the hot corner and moved to catcher early in his career, some teams apparently were nervous about Martin’s abilities behind the plate.  The three finalist teams for Martin were apparently comfortable enough the former gold glover still had abilities to catch in the majors and all offered him apparently deals in the one year, four million dollar range.  Toronto was Martin’s hometown but had a strong up-and-coming catcher themselves by the name of J.P. Arencebia.  Sensing apparently the roadblock in Toronto, Martin from all accounts narrowed his choice to his best opportunity at a full-time catching gig and to win, the Red Sox and the Yankees.  A tough decision I’m sure, the lure of the big apple and pinstripes was too much for Martin to turn down.  With Jorge Posada newly installed as the designated hitter and the Yankees have catching prospects themselves that were not seen as ready, Martin finally with the Yankees in December, 2010.  The baseball world had no idea what to expect from Martin and anticipated his debut in the Bronx in 2011.

Off to a solid start to the year, all reports have been solid thus far on Martin.  Showing a strong presence behind the plate and with the Yankee sluggers protecting him in the lineup, his bat has been reborn.  I see Martin’s keys to success as keeping quiet, playing hard and going back to the basics that led to his successes back in 2006 and 2007.  In an environment filled with hundreds of reporters, Martin will need to be careful of what he says in New York.  It was one thing to be a confident rookie in Los Angeles, as that type of attitude quickly became seen as cocky and arrogant in later years and would be no different in New York.  As long as Martin plays hard and lets the Yankee veterans police the clubhouse, we could see Martin reinvigorate himself back to being one of the top catchers in the game.  With a track record like Martin’s, it is difficult to predict where Martin will be in the next year or two, let alone ten years.  But given what has been seen so far, I am confident to say that I see good things happening for him.  It has been a wild ride for Russell Martin; let’s hope for his sake that consistency becomes his new calling card. 

 

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