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The Next MLB Commissioner: Who Will be Bud Selig’s Successor?

Wednesday November 2, 2011

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): Allan H. Selig, or Bud, as he is known around baseball, will go down in history as the commissioner of baseball during one of its darkest times. Bud took over as acting commissioner for Fay Vincent in September 1992, and was almost immediately embroiled in controversy. With the collective bargaining agreement due to expire after the 1993 season, Selig knew that an agreement between the MLBPA and MLB owners was vital. The owners voted to implement a salary cap, eliminate salary arbitration and free agency would begin after four years instead of six. The MLBPA said that while this would solve parity problems in baseball, it would not benefit the players whatsoever. August 12, 1994 was set as a strike date by the players’ association if an agreement was not reached on the new CBA. When that day came, the players walked off the job. By September 14th, when no agreement was reached, the World Series was cancelled by Selig.

It wasn’t until most of Spring Training in 1995 was completed (with replacement players) that Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction against the owners. On April 2nd, the strike was over, which had lasted 232 days. This caused the 1995 season to be 144 games, as opposed to the regular 162 games. Baseball attendance declined by 20% in 1995, and it took a long time for fans to recover. Fans never recovered in Montreal, where their payroll had to be slashed due to losses and eventually the MLB took ownership of the team. The team was eventually moved to Washington for the 2005 season.

In 1998, baseball fans flocked to the baseball stadiums to watch a race of historic proportions. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were blasting balls into the stratosphere at alarming rates, and Roger Maris’ single season record of 61 home runs was being challenged. McGwire ended up with 70 and Sosa hit 66 as America and the rest of the world watched in awe as these two larger than life men hit prodigious home runs. Two expansion teams, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks proceeded to join the MLB.

Home runs over the next few years continued to climb, as in 2001, when Barry Bonds then broke McGwire’s record with 73 home runs of his own. Steroids were allegedly running rampant in the MLB and there was no legitimate testing protocol. In 2005, Selig met with US Congress on the issue. Amphetamines were also on the table to be banned. By March 2006, Selig appointed Senator George Mitchell to investigate the usage of performance-enhancing drugs in the MLB. The Mitchell Report, a 409 page document, was released in December 2007 after a 21 month investigation. It released names of many high-profile baseball players who used PEDs.

Because of this report, stricter policing and testing of PEDs has been put in place, as well as very strict penalties if players are caught. Selig has taken flak over the years for not being more proactive in the matter, however, early in the “Steroid Era”, it would have been almost impossible to know how widespread steroid use was.

Selig brought in two expansion teams, brought the MLB out of a dark time after the strike, has improved MLB’s PED testing and punishment policies.  Most importantly, there has been labor peace for 17 years.

Bud Selig never wanted to be the full-time commissioner, but he had been voted unanimously in 1998 when the acting commissioner title was changed to commissioner. In January of 2008, Selig wanted to retire, but after the owners begged him to stay, he signed a 3-year extension. His current contract is set to expire after the 2012 season, about a year from now. He has been adamant that this will be the end of his tenure as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. He will be 78 years old. Since there has not been a search party constructed to find his successor, it can only be assumed that a short list has already been created, or the owners plan to attempt Bud to stay. Many have been on record of saying that they wish he would stay as commissioner for life.

Major League Baseball must at least entertain the notion that Selig will not be returning as commissioner, and thus, must include these people on their list of candidates:

Andy MacPhail
He has the lineage to succeed in this role. His father Lee was the GM and president of the Baltimore Orioles from 1958-1966. He then became president of the American League and is enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Andy’s grandfather, Larry, was a chief executive with the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees. It has been said he was one of the main driving forces of televising baseball games regularly as well as playing night games. Andy has 2 World Series rings as a GM with the Minnesota Twins, and was the president and CEO of the Chicago Cubs from 1994 to 2006, when he took a job as the President of Baseball Operations with the Baltimore Orioles. He recently stepped down from this role, and has been suggested as a man who could succeed as the commissioner. MacPhail understands the history of the MLB and the commissioner’s role, and has been involved in baseball in many different facets.

Tim Brosnan
Brosnan is currently serving as the Executive Vice President, Business of the MLB. He has been in this role since February of 2000. Tim’s roles with the MLB include licensing, broadcasting both domestically and internationally, and special events. Since the MLB is making every effort to grow globally, it should be noted that Brosnan began working in the Commissioner’s Office in 1991 as Vice President of International Business Affairs. His work internationally would include the many trips to Asia for teams, as well as directly working with the World Baseball Classic.

Derrick Hall

Derrick joined the Diamondbacks in May 2005 after working in the front office of the Los Angeles Dodgers for many years.  In September 2006, Derrick was named President of the Diamondbacks and later added the title of  Chief Executive Officer in January 2009.

The Diamondbacks are very fortunate to have one of the most progressive and dynamic baseball leaders at their helm.  Derrick developed the “Circle of Success” mission statement, the foundation for the management of the Diamondbacks.  A true ambassador to the game, Derrick Hall is a tireless worker in promoting and developing baseball in Arizona.  Derrick is often mentioned by many baseball commentators as a candidate to succeed Bud Selig as Commissioner. 

Rob Manfred
Selig’s right hand man’s role is Executive Vice President, Labor Relations & Human Resources. His main roles are to keep the peace between MLB and MLBPA, as well as HR work with the Commissioner’s Office. 17 years of labor peace as a direct participant in two rounds of collective bargaining with the MLBPA make him a great candidate for the commissioner’s position. He has also represented teams in salary arbitration and has provided advice to teams on salary negotiations with players.

Sandy Alderson
The New York Mets GM could potentially leave his current post to fulfill this role next offseason. Alderson has a career path unlike any of the other men on this list due to the fact that he has worked not only as a general manager, but has spent significant time working with the commissioner. Billy Beane’s mentor first began working for the Oakland A’s in 1981, and was the GM from 1983 until 1997. He then worked in the Commissioner’s Office as the Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations for 7 years. Most recently, after being the CEO of the San Diego Padres from 2005 to 2009, he was a liaison for the commissioner to address the issues of corruption in baseball in the Dominican Republic. Alderson is also a chairman of MLB’s Playing Rules Committee.

While Selig has been most adamant that he will be retiring at the end of the 2012 season, I believe that, once again, he will be convinced to stay on as commissioner. It would be in the best interest of baseball if he were to stay on, with a protégé being in place to learn the ropes from him. With Selig at the helm, the MLB owners have been happy, the players’ union has been happy, and the best product is displayed on the field. Baseball has been more exciting than ever, and I think we all owe a big thanks to Mr. Selig for being a big part of that.

 

A big congratulation goes out to Tony La Russa. On October 31, 2011, he announced his retirement just days after managing the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title. La Russa will surely be a Hall of Famer after his 33 year managing career that saw him compile 2,728 wins with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals. His teams reached the playoffs 14 times, and he won 3 AL pennants with the A’s, winning one World Series title. He also won 3 NL pennants with the Cards, winning two more World Series. Tony won 3 Manager of the Year Awards in the American League, as well as one in the National League. La Russa will go down as one of the greatest managers in the history of the MLB, and he went out on top. Congratulations, Tony, for a great career.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  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 Rob on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  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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Edgar Martinez Should Be Inducted Into Cooperstown: Future Mariners Hall of Famer

Friday August 26, 2011

 

Sam Evans (Intern Candidate- MLB reports):  When you think of the most consistent hitters during the 1990’s, most people think of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire.  One name that always gets overlooked is Edgar Martinez.  He had a .312 career batting average, reached base more than 40% of the time, has never has been linked to steroids, and he arguably saved baseball in Seattle for years to come.

Some of the arguments against Edgar being in the Hall of Fame are that he hardly played in the field, was not a superstar, never won a world series, and that his numbers just aren’t good enough.  As a Mariners fan, I definitely have bias but I’ll try to explain why I think Edgar should legitimately be in the Hall of Fame.  First of all, if his numbers aren’t good enough, why was Andre Dawson’s statistics enough for him to be voted into the hall of fame?  Let’s compare the two hitters:

Edgar (Career) .312/.418/.515. Wins Above Replacement (courtesy of fangraphs.com): 69.9

Andre Dawson: .279/.323/.482 Wins Above Replacement: 62.3 

What’s the difference between these two?  The Hawk is in the Hall of Fame, which Dawson deserved.  Other Hall-of-Famers with a lower WAR than Edgar are Harmon Killebrew, Dennis Eckersley, and Jackie Robinson.  There are over 230 former MLB players in the Hall of Fame.  I think it’s amazing that Edgar is not one of them.

After Edgar missed the 1994 season due to injury, he became the Mariners full-time designated hitter.  He would go on to be the Mariners starting DH for the next ten years.  When asked how that would affect his Hall of Fame chances, Edgar replied, “There are a lot of different opinions about it.  What I think is that the DH makes a daily contribution to the team, just like any position player who plays every day.”  In 1973, major league baseball instituted the Designated Hitter as a real position.  So why should this prevent a primary DH from ever reaching Cooperstown?

In his first season as a DH, Martinez won his second American League batting title, hitting .356 with an OBP of .479 and a slugging percentage of .628.  Hall of famers Hank Aaron and Willie Mays never had a season with an OBP over .425.  It is my estimation that Martinez wasn’t a superstar across the baseball scene because of where he played.  If he played in New York, chances are it wouldn’t be this hard for him to get into Cooperstown.  The low light of Edgar’s career is definitely though that he never won a World Series championship.  Superstars that win the big one tend to be favored in the eyes of Cooperstown voters.

During the 1995 season the city of Seattle fell in love with the Mariners.  After having just two winning seasons in their first sixteen years, Edgar and Ken Griffey Jr. led the Mariners to a 79-66 record.  In the 1995 ALDS series between the Mariners and the Yankees, Edgar reached base 2/3 of the time and had two game winning hits.  On October, 8, 1995, with the series tied 2-2, the Mariners battled back to score two runs and send the game into extra innings.  After the eighth inning, the crowd started chanting “Randy! Randy! Randy!”  Finally Lou Piniella gave in and Randy Johnson walked out to the mound to Welcome to the Jungle booming through the Kingdome’s outdated speakers.  However in the top of the eleventh tragedy struck.  A walk, bunt, and single put the Yankees in the lead, and with their stud pitcher  Jack McDowell coming in to pitch the M’s chances looked pretty slim.  With runners on first and third, Edgar ended up hitting a double down the left field line to win the series for the M’s.  The Mariners were eliminated in the ALCS at the end by the Indians, but the effect of Edgar’s hit had MLB fans everywhere truly excited about Mariners baseball for the first time ever.

The thing is that he wasn’t just successful in the playoffs; Martinez won Seattle one of the more beautiful MLB ballparks, Safeco Field.  Two months earlier, 50.1% of King county voters voted NO on a $410 million proposal for a new stadium, to keep the Mariners in Seattle.  The state legislature later approved a new stadium for the Mariners, mainly due to public pressure.  This led people to think what would have happened if it weren’t for Edgar’s clutch hit.

Edgar was known for his great batting eye, which resulted from a series of drills before every game he utilized to improve it.  He also gave back to the community by founding the Martinez foundation, which helps give minorities’ access to proper education.  When Edgar retired in 2004, Paul Molitor said, “He was one of the most feared right-handed hitters for a long time in this league.  The amount of respect he has from peers speaks to the value of the offensive player he was.”

In 2010, Edgar’s first year eligible for the hall, he received 36.2% of the BBWAA votes.  Martinez  missed the 75% cutoff.  This year he received 32.9 % of the vote.  Who knows if Edgar will ever be in the Hall of Fame, this year definitely wasn’t encouraging.  But in Bert Blyleven’s (elected in 2011, after 14 years of eligibility) second year on the ballot, he received only 14.1% of votes.  So there is reason for optimism.  Whether Edgar ever makes it to Cooperstown or not, he will always be a hero to Mariners fans and one of the best pure hitters in major league history.

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by one of our intern candidates, Sam Evans.  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 Sam on Twitter.***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  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.

Mike Jacobs: Rockies Slugger Receives 50 Game HGH Suspension

Friday August 19, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:  Major League Baseball commenced human growth hormone (“HGH”) testing in the minor leagues in the summer of 2010.  It was only a matter of time before players began to get caught under the new system.  Blood testing for HGH in the minors was the first step in bringing similar tests to the major leagues one day.  With HGH testing now in place as part of the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement, MLB cannot be far behind.  With baseball’s agreement with the union set to expire in December of this year, expect HGH testing to be a big topic on the bargaining table.  The first player to be caught in the minors using HGH and receiving a 50 game suspension is Colorado Rockies slugger, Mike Jacobs.  With the first HGH culprit found, pressure will be intense on baseball to bring similar testing all the way to the major leagues.

Mike Jacobs will forever be known as the first North American athlete to test positive for HGH.  Although HGH suspensions have occurred internationally, Jacobs is the first athlete in a professional North American athlete to be tested and fail a HGH test.  Things should have gone differently for Jacobs in his career.  Originally a 38th round pick for the Mets in the 1999 draft, Jacobs rose from baseball obscurity to star with the Marlins from 2006-2008.  Here is a look at Jacobs’ major league stats: 

Year 5 Tm R HR RBI SO BA OBP SLG
2005 NYM 19 11 23 22 .310 .375 .710
2006 FLA 54 20 77 105 .262 .325 .473
2007 FLA 57 17 54 101 .265 .317 .458
2008 FLA 67 32 93 119 .247 .299 .514
2009 KCR 46 19 61 132 .228 .297 .401
2010 NYM 1 1 2 7 .208 .296 .375
6 Seasons 244 100 310 486 .253 .313 .475
162 Game Avg. 71 29 90 142 .253 .313 .475
               
FLA (3 yrs) 178 69 224 325 .258 .314 .483
NYM (2 yrs) 20 12 25 29 .290 .360 .645
KCR (1 yr) 46 19 61 132 .228 .297 .401
               
NL (5 yrs) 198 81 249 354 .261 .317 .496
AL (1 yr) 46 19 61 132 .228 .297 .401

 

2008 represented the best season of Jacobs’ career.  He hit 32 home runs, to go along with 93 RBIs for the Marlins.  But despite the strong power numbers, critics pointed to his .247 AVG and weak .299 OBP that year and labelled him a one-dimensional player.  The Marlins agreed and traded Jacobs in October 2008 for current closer Leo Nunez.  Jacobs originally joined the Marlins in November 2005 as a package of players for superstar Carlos Delgaldo.  Big expectations were placed on Jacobs to replace Delgaldo ever since he joined the Marlins.  While Jacobs had the strong power numbers in 2008, the team ultimately was not convinced that he would ever fulfill his potential.  While Nunez went on to star in the Marlins bullpen, Jacobs lasted only one season in Kansas City, his last full season in the big leagues.

In 2010, Jacobs spent parts of the year playing in the Mets and Blue Jays farm systems.  He hit 21 home runs and drove in 93 in 120 games combined in AAA, with a .335 OBP and .482 SLG.  This season, Jacobs played exclusively in Colorado Springs and put up inflated numbers in the hitting friendly Pacific Coast League.  With 23 home runs in 117 games, 97 RBIs, .376 OBP and .534 SLG, there looked to be a chance for Jacobs to restart his major league career.  At 30-years of age, Jacobs was looking to have a year-end cup of coffee with the Rockies and leave a strong enough impression to perhaps have a chance in spring training 2012.  Reports had a call up imminent for Jacobs when news of the HGH positive test leaked out.  The Rockies immediately released the slugger, who is now on the MLB sidelines. 

Following the Marlins acquisition of Jacobs in 2005, I expected his career to develop differently.  It was clear the power was going to be there.   It was the rest of his hitting development that I expect to follow.  To stay in the big leagues, Jacobs was going to need to learn patience and to hit lefties.  Following his 2008 campaign, I still hoped in the back of my mind that those qualities would eventually come out.  But they never in fact did.  Looking back at his magical 2008 campaign, there were red flags that Jacobs had major shortcomings as a hitter.  25 of his home runs came against right-handed pitchers.  Against lefties, Jacobs hit .218 with a .248 OBP and .429 SLG.  At best, without improvement, Jacobs was likely destined to be a platoon player for the rest of his career.  Now today, Jacobs stands as the new poster child for HGH cheating.  A scarlet letter that will be difficult, if not impossible to remove.

With Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro gone from the game and the “steroid era” at an apparent end, the focus is now on HGH.  Apparently very wide-spread in the game, baseball officials are said to be taking a hard stance to remove HGH use from the game.  In suspending Jacobs, commissioner Selig indicated that baseball is on top of testing and is not hiding from the process.  I expect HGH testing to be a part of the major leagues as early as 2012.  Despite the tests and the threat of strict penalties, as Mike Jacobs has shown, athletes will continue to try to get ahead despite the risks involved.  Jacobs came clean following his positive test, admitting usage to overcome injuries and regretting his decision to use HGH.  The decision to use HGH will cost Jacobs more than 50 games.  It resulted in his dismissal from the Rockies and likely removal from major league baseball all together.  For a fringe player that was already hanging by a thread, having the HGH suspension on his resume will scare off many, if not most major league teams.

Mike Jacobs had his chances in baseball.  While many sluggers before him are lucky to get one shot at the big leagues, Jacobs had several chances.  Despite playing for three teams over six major league seasons, Mike Jacobs was never able to fulfill his vast potential.  Like many left-handed home run hitters, Jacobs could never hit well against lefties and get on base at a high enough level to compliment his power bat.  Now at 30-years of age, the legacy of Mike Jacobs will be as using HGH and failing the first North American test.  While I expected Jacobs to be fighting for home run crowns at this point in his career, he now sits outside of baseball.  A lesson to be learned for future sluggers.  It is better to play clean and keep your reputation than cheat and get caught.  Once the first failed test hits, any accomplishments in the past and future will always be tarnished.  As Palmeiro, Bonds, Sosa and McGwire can attest, poor public perceptions never seem to go away.  They just continue to linger, seemingly until the end of time.   

 

 

 

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Manny Ramirez: The End of a Nightmare

MLB reports:  As a fan, analyst and writer of baseball, I rarely take pleasure in the misery of others.  Some of my readers would point to Vernon Wells and my “Vernon Watch” in what I commonly refer to as a showcase of blundery.  But Vernon is the exception to the rule.  For the most part, players are athletes that train hard, play with heart and hustle and give it their all on the playing field.  With the career of Manny Ramirez unceremoniously coming to a halt yesterday, there is an overwhelming sense of relief and enjoyment around baseball circles today.  For a man who could hit baseballs like flew other, one of the greatest hitters in MLB history will go down in the baseball archives as a laughingstock and side-show act.  A shame when one looks at the statistics and career of Manny Ramirez.  But for a man who got one too many chances, the punishment fits the crime.  Today we say goodbye to a distraction and one less black eye for the glorious game of baseball.

 

The first questions most MLB fans asked me yesterday was whether Manny deserves to go into the hall of fame?  My answer is simple.  In my opinion, if I had a vote, a definite yes.  Regardless of what Manny took or didn’t take, his statistics speak for themselves.  There have been many drug cheats and cheaters of all kind in baseball over the years.  The bottom line is that not many match to Manny’s outstanding numbers.  But alas I do not have a vote to-date and from what the baseball writers have shown in recent voting history with McGwire and Palmeiro, Ramirez won’t so much as get as much a sniff of the hall.  I can see the arguments for keeping Ramirez out of the hall.  Based on his second failed drug test and choice to retire and run over facing the music cements a legacy of being a quitter and a coward.  Manny gave up on the Red Sox and the Dodgers and got run out-of-town in each instance.  A first failed drug test blamed on some sort of hormone substances.  With a second failed test, Manny decided to take his glove and go home, rather than face the music.  I cannot see fans, let alone baseball writers forgiving him for this decision.  But again fitting for a man who has made a career of bad decisions and turning his back on the game one too many times.

 

Where does the future now lie for Manny Ramirez?  Many ex-players have the option of going into scouting, managing, broadcasting, writing….the field is wide open.  Mark McGwire, got a job as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, but as part of the requirement McGwire had to go on national television and give his apology.  Sort of.  But McGwire always had the eye of the public for his strong image and was somewhat cut some slack by the public.  Manny, with his quirky and aloof personality has a better chance of becoming President of the United States than a baseball coach, manager or broadcaster.  Seen as a liability, Manny is now headed into a self-imposed baseball exile, joining the likes of Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds as the baseball steroids/ped’s outcasts.  I could envision a day where Manny will write a tell-all book, explaining his side of “the story” while outing ex-friends and teammates in the process.  Manny just seems to be one of those guys, concerned more about himself and the almighty dollar than anything else.

 

When we all think to Manny Ramirez in ten years time, we will think of an idiot.  That will be the image in our minds.  Not the young rookie sensation on the Indians, World Series champ for the Red Sox, dreadlocks #99 igniter on the Dodgers or a two-bit player on the White Sox and Rays.  The man who chose to instantly retire rather than face his due punishment.  When faced with his first suspension last year, Manny did not speak to the media the entire balance of the season.  He is that kind of guy.  I did not imagine for the life of me in the offseason that any team would take a chance on him.  In my estimation, Manny was best served going away gracefully at the end of 2010 rather than being one last thorn in the side of an undeserving team.  When the Rays signed Manny, I said publicly that this could only end bad and that he would not last the season.  Rather than being dumped in August, Manny barely survived a week into 2011.  A 1-17 start at the plate will be the final blemish on an otherwise exceptional statistical career.  But as hall of fame voters are now showing, votes go beyond the numbers.  Manny Ramirez in the twilight of his career has been essentially a nightmare for all those involved with him.  Staring today, the nightmare is over.  Baseball does not need or want the Manny Ramirez’s of this world and my hope is that after this latest horror show, baseball will not see another Manny for a long time.  Baseball is built on hustle, teamwork, determination and heart.  Four words that were not in Manny’s vocabulary and for that transgression, we finally say goodbye to Manny for the last time. 

 

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