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Ask the Reports: Your Baseball Questions Answered – Sunday February 5th, 2012

Sunday February 5th, 2012

Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:

Q: I know you are a Jays fan. What’s your opinion on Joey Bats? How can he go from 15 HRs to leading the league 2 years in a row?  Joe

JH:  I am??!! I have been accused of many things, but a Jays supporter is not one of them. Being based in Toronto, many people naturally assume that I am a Jays fan. Plus we have many Jays readers and followers, so their team often comes up in conversation. Here is the scoop on many Jays fandom. If you have to categorize me a particular “team fan”, then the Tigers will be that pick. Only since AA has taken over the team have I been excited about the Jays prospects. JP did a masterful job of destroying the Jays farm system and creating a mediocre Jays squad for years. AA has swooped in and created a team that looks like they are on the verge of contention for years to come. I am a fan of the game overall (obviously). I like what the Jays are doing and see a bright future ahead…and that’s all I have to say about that.

As far as your Jose Bautista question, I see where you are going with it. Here are my thoughts. Back in August 2008, I was horrified when the Jays traded Robinson Diaz for Bautista. A young catcher with upside for a limited utility player? No thanks I said. From there, I was mortified when Bautista proceeded to become the home run king. I have heard the whispers of steroids/HGH/PEDs and how Bautista became a star overnight. I also heard the talk that Cito Gaston fixed his swing and got him to become more aggressive instead of swinging late. I think the latter, rather than the former are true. With drug testing in full swing, I would like to think that Bautista would have been caught had he been “juicing”. Can I guarantee? Absolute not, considering the Braun scandal. Some players do figure it out late in life and Jose Bautista appears to be one of the lucky few. Unfortunately, our cynical society does not allow us to be 100% confident in many of our modern athletes, with the amount of PEDs that have apparently flowed in the game. I would like to believe in Bautista. I really do. Let’s stick with the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ mentality and give him his due. Unless proven otherwise, Jose Bautista figured it out and turned into one of the best all-around players in the game. I am prepared to give credit where credit is due.

Q: Arbitration hearings have started. Is there a count of how many have been heard, how many left to hear and winners/losers?  Old Man Mack

JH: A shout-out to the final people over at MLB Trade Rumors, as Tim, Ben and the gang do some fine work in providing the latest transactions in the world of baseball. If you haven’t visited it already, they have a dedicated page called Arbitration Tracker which will answer all your arbitration questions. You will be able to see all the figures submitted by both players and teams, the mid-point and the award amounts. By my count there are still 19 players left with scheduled arbitration cases (who could still settle beforehand). I have seen 2 cases heard and the players are 0-2 (Lannan and Niemann both lost their cases). A fascinating process, in my opinion most of these cases should be settled before arbitration. Likely a lot of hard feelings can be achieved but little else from going through arbitration. But budgets are budgets and money is money. Welcome the business side of baseball.

Q: Is Brett Lawrie in the top 100 (fantasy players)?  Forrest

JH: Now that is interesting. Hmmmm….is Brett Lawrie a top-100 fantasy baseball right now? My answer off the cuff is…no. Maybe one day.  But not today. Reason? There are thirty MLB teams. I can think of the top of my head at least 3-4 players per team that are better than Lawrie in fantasy terms right now. Don’t get me wrong, Lawrie is a stud. He is good and will get better. But we only have a very small sample size for him thus far in the big leagues. With his blazing start in 2011, you have to expect a bit of regression this year. It’s called the “sophomore jinx”.  Will Lawrie fall victim? Maybe. Possibly. It also depends on your league. Lawrie to me is a strong player to have in a keeper league, while being less valuable in a non-keeper league. Right this minute, I would rather have players like Youkilis, Verlander, Fielder, Halladay, Rivera, Strasburg, Cabrera, Avila, Choo, Gallardo, Weaver, Haren, Mauer, Hernandez…and the list goes on. Lawrie is not far off and would make my top 120 or 130.  Give him another year and you could be seeing a top 50 player…or higher!

Q: Do you think the Miami Marlins will Contend in the NL East this upcoming Season?  Marty

JH: Contend- yes. Win- no. The Marlins are definitely improved, no doubt. But they have not done enough in my mind to take them over the top. The Phillies are still the team to beat, with the Braves being close behind. The Nationals? With their improved rotation, I would be very nervous about them. Reyes will bring excitement and Buehrle/Zambrano will help stabilize the rotation and Bell solid as the closer. But I just see some of the other teams being too strong. At best, I see the Marlins in 2nd place. But at worst? A 4th place finish. They are still missing a big bat and need all their key players to stay healthy. Too many if’s for my liking.

ATR: Who will enjoy being stretched out in 2012: Feliz, Sale, or Chapman?  Justin

JH: Looking at the crystal ball, I am seeing clear visions. Neftali Feliz and Chris Sale are both headed back to the bullpens by June at the latest. Both have enjoyed success in the bullpen and I can see each being ok but not great starters. They could develop over time, with the White Sox having more patience than the Rangers. But in a sport with a “win now” mentality, both will be relievers if they cannot succeed early on. Chapman on the other hand, I am seeing a different vision. With Ryan Madson entrenched as the closer, I can see Chapman being needed more in the rotation. With his stuff, he would be a very dangerous starter if he could learn some control. That could come sooner rather than later, as early as 2012. At the very least, Chapman could be a fine 4th or 5th starter. He will go 5-6 innings per start and rack up a ton of K’s.  So yes to Chapman, no to Feliz and Sale right now. Especially Feliz- as he will turn one day (if he hasn’t already) into a Papelbon lock-down closer. But if the Rangers aren’t careful, they could be hurting his long-term growth if they continue this see-saw back and forth like the Mariners did with Brandon Morrow some years ago.

Q: Who do you think will be in the World Series?  Ethan

JH: I was discussing this with a reader the other day. He predicted the Dbacks and Tigers. I have to like those picks. If I had to look at the top-4 teams, I am seeing the Tigers/Angels in the AL and Reds/Dbacks in the NL. The Yankees, Rays and Rangers will still be strong, as will the Red Sox. The Phillies, Cards, Brewers and Giants will provide a challenge in the NL. But I can’t get over the look to the Angels and I am sensing good things coming out of Anaheim this year. The Dbacks look very powerful and have built a team that will contend for the next several years. But the Reds are a strong force and manager Dusty Baker should be able to get the most out of that squad this year. I would like to say Tigers and Dbacks as well- that would be my heart pick. But looking at the crystal ball, I am seeing Angels and Reds right now. I can’t say why. The crystal ball says what it says. If it changes in picture, I will let you know.

Q: What do the Nats gain from banning Phillies fans???  Tammy

JH: If this is not THE dumbest thing I have ever heard, it definitely comes close. For those that are not familiar, the Nationals are trying to block Philadelphia fans from buying tickets to Phillies/Nats games by curbing where you reside when buying single game seats. Silly. Silly. Silly. Firstly, the Nats have enough of an attendance problem as it is, so they certainly should not be limiting ticket sales. Secondly, by discouraging Phillies fans at the stadium, it will create a hatred type mentality for those fans that do make the games. Baseball is about the love of the game. Rather than discouraging certain fans, the Nats should encourage all fans to buy tickets to their park. This new idea will have the effect of creating a bitter rivalry between the two teams every time they play in Washington, which might actually be a good thing. But the issues and conflict that it could create in the stands between opposing fans is a negative one. Let’s not forget what recently happened between Dodgers and Giants fans when hatred becomes spread. People can become injured or even yet, have a risk of life. Let’s spread baseball love- not hatred people.

Q: Are the Tigers done? And not will they do this or not, but your thoughts on Jeff Francis for Detroit’s lefty problem?  J Raddy

JH:  They are not done. The Tigers are never done. With the addition of Prince Fielder, the Tigers are even more serious World Series contenders in 2012, despite the loss of V-Mart. When you have Verlander and Fister in the rotation, Avila behind the plate and Cabrera/Prince in the heart of the lineup- you are going to be winning a ton of baseball games. Jeff Francis, or a Francis type pitcher is not the answer. Firstly, he was already signed by the Reds. But secondly, too many question marks surround him. If the Tigers can score a true #3, like Roy Owalt- they will be unstoppable (if they aren’t already). The more likely scenario is the team going with what they have, with a tweak or two. Turner could be the #5 if he has a strong spring, with the club picking up a Fister type pitcher at the deadline. If no Oswalt, the Tigers could sign 1-2 veteran pitchers to minor league contracts and invite them to spring training. Near the end of spring, come cut time, they could then pick someone up to start the year. Dombrowski is a smart guy and knows what he doing. By the time October rolls around, don’t expect the exact same Tigers roster that you see today.

Q: Realignment 2013 Proposal:  Dennis

al east  nyy, bost , tap b, Miami. and balt

al central  detr . min, chic w, torn, and clevel

al west   tex, oak, sea, laa, and houst

nl east phil, atl,  nym, wash, and pitts

nl central  milw, stl, cin, chic c, and kann

nl west  arz, sd, sf, col, and lad

play 4 divisional teams 18 games each and other 10 league teams 7 games each  and one divisional of the league 4 games each.   would only need to play 2, 2 games series in interleague play against the same team home and away    all other series would be 3 or 4 games series.   Only houst , kann, and miami would change leagues, and only Pittsburgh and Toronto would change divisions.

JH: Very ambitious my friend.  Very ambitious indeed.  I prepared an article on MLB realignment back in May 2011 that you should check out. I caught a ton of flack for it, but many people have a tough time with change. It is interesting the route that you have gone. Currently, only the Astros are moving (to the AL West), with the rest of the teams staying put. I agree that the current divisional alignments don’t work and need a shakeup. Ultimately, I would like to have 2 more expansions, bringing the total amount of teams to 32. I think only upon expansion will you see a true realignment in baseball. It’s not that I don’t like your plan- it has merits. But I am not sure geographically and with team rivalries why some of the changes would be implemented. KC and St. Louis in the same division is a no-brainer, as is Miami and Tampa Bay. We can definitely agree that more realignment is needed, but perhaps a shift in the number of divisions or the format on playoff seeding needs to shift as well. For now, we will have to live with Houston in the AL West in 2013 with 2 more likely added Wild Card teams for now.


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Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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Ask the Reports: Sunday November 27th

Sunday November 27, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:

Q:  I know this is off topic but with the Houston Astros moving to the AL West and constant interleague play, what exactly is the point of an American League and a National League, besides of course the DH?


MLB reports:  The existence of the designated hitter is the key to separate the American League and National League.  Without the DH, there is no difference between the leagues.  Otherwise, having separate leagues would simply be a way to divide up the divisions and teams.  With daily interleague games coming, the mystique of having separate leagues is starting to fall by the wayside.  An idea that was thrown around was to have the DH in play in National League parks and no DH in American League parks during interleague play.  That would create strong interest in the different styles of play in the different parks and peak strong interest in interleague play.  But unfortunately, it appears that idea has been scrapped for now.  Long term, baseball needs to decide if it will have a designated hitter or not.  There are arguments on both sides.  Traditionalists like myself would like to scrap the DH all together and introduce National League style baseball throughout baseball.  With the in-game moves and decisions that must be included with the pitcher hitting, I prefer the NL game.  But others see pitchers hitting as hurting the game with “automatic outs” and risking the health and safety of pitchers by having them hit in the NL.  This argument will continue likely for decades until a resolution is agreed upon one way or the other.  Until then, we will continue to have two different leagues in place.  One has a designated hitter and one does not.  With the increase in interleague play, the line separating the leagues has become even blurrier.  Great question!

Q:  What’s the scouting report on Luis Valbuena?  Andrew
MLB reports:  The newest member of the Toronto Blue Jays will be turning 26 this week (November 30th birthday)- so be sure to wish him a Happy Birthday!  Born in Venezuela, Valbuena is a utility infielder at this point in his career, playing second, short and third.  Coming up originally with the Mariners originally in 2008, Valbuena was traded in December 2008 as part of the Franklin Gutierrez swap.  Since then, Valbuena has played parts of three seasons with the Indians.  In 229 career games, Valbuena has 13 home runs, 57 rbis, 84 runs, .226 avg, .286 obp and .344 slg.  Considering that he was designated for assignment, the Jays picked him up for cash considerations makes sense.  He has shown little at the major league level thus far, but is young and known for a strong glove.  Valbuena has shown steady improvement in the last three years in the minors, with a breakout season in AAA Columbus in 2011.  Valbuena popped a strong 17 home runs in 113 games, with 75 rbis, 64 runs, hitting .302 with a .307 OBP and .476 SLG.  If those numbers can be replicated to any degree at the major league level, the Jays may have a hidden gem uncovered.  At worst, we could be seeing another Ramon Santiago type player or the Venezuelan John McDonald.  The Jays need a backup infielder on the roster and Valbuena could be the answer.  Or possibly their next starting second baseman for the next five seasons.  Doubtful…but it could happen!
Q:  Would Yonder Alonso look good on our team?  Would Xavier Nady be a good fit with the Indians or does the Tribe want something more? Martin
MLB reports:  Wow, that is a mountain of questions!!!   Firstly, Yonder Alonso would look great on the Indians.  In fact, he would look great in 29 other lineups.  The kid is a future superstar, no doubt in my mind.  It is just a question of finding him a permanent home.  The Reds have tried him in left field, but do not see him as a long-term solution there.  The team will either have to move him, or open up first by trading franchise star Joey Votto.  At this point, it looks like Alonso will be the one to go.  I am a big Matt LaPorta supporter, but long-term he does not appear to be the solution for the Indians.  He can always move to the outfield or DH, but a change of scenery is likely the best option for him.  LaPorta never lived up to the expectations of being traded for C.C. Sabathia and both the team and player need to move on.  The Indians have prospects to move, although not as many after all their 2011 swaps including the Ubaldo Jimenez trade.  I can’t see the team wanting to trade more parts, as they cannot deplete their farm.  Given what other teams can offer for Alonso, mainly the Rays, I don’t see an Alonso move in the future of the Indians.  It would be a nice acquisition, but not likely to happen.  Nady on the other hand would be a nice low risk pickup.  If healthy, he could bring the leadership and experience the team needs.  Championship teams need strong extra parts and Xavier Nady would be a strong fit in that regard.  As long as comes cheap and doesn’t expect to start, I would say that is a done deal.  The team may look for one or two more strong bats for its lineups, but that would not stop a potential Nady signing.
Q:  Can’t help but think of Scott Kazmir (compared to Gio Gonzalez being looked at but several teams in a trade).  Brandon
MLB reports: Poor Gio Gonzalez.  Why the harsh words? In all seriousness, I see where you are going with the comparison.  High walk, high strikeout pitcher.  After a 3.23 ERA in 2010, Gio lowered it more to 3.12 in 2011.  He has enjoyed near identical 1.31 WHIPs the last two seasons.  He does not give up a ton of hits, but the walks are very high.  He led the league with 91 walks after allowing 92 the year before.  The home/road splits tell a big part of the story.  This season, Gio went 10-5 at home, with a 2.70 ERA and 1.227 WHIP.  On the road, Gio went 6-7 with a 3.62 ERA and 1.424 WHIP.  Pitching in the Oakland ballpark clearly has a strong effect on his numbers.  Similar splits are found in his 2010 numbers as well.  Thus the conclusion is likely that taking Gio Gonzalez out of Oakland and putting him in a hitter’s ballpark (say Wrigley, Fenway or the Rogers Centre) and his numbers will likely balloon.  Pitching in Oakland likely masks much of his warts.  He just turned 26 in September so he still has time to develop.  The next two seasons will tell the tale.  He could become a superstar or the next Scott Kazmir.  Until those walk totals start to drop, you could be on to something.  The kid has a ton of talent, don’t get me wrong.  But he is far from a sure thing.  Until then, your comparison could be close.  Thank you for the comment!
Q:  (Final question:)  Will Kurt Suzuki ever become a superstar?  Bill
MLB reports: Thanks for the question Bill.  I chose this question because I have pondered that question for many seasons.  Suzuki, a 2nd round pick of the A’s in 2004 is now 28-years of age.  They say catchers take longer to develop than other hitters.  Suzuki has been steady behind in the plate, seen as strong defensively and a good game-caller.  The question has been the offense.  The perception has been that Suzuki has pop in his bat and able to take walks in the “moneyball” mold.  Looking at the numbers, that has not transpired in reality.  Suzuki had a career high 15 home runs in 2009 and walked a career high 44 times in 2008.  Suzuki has essentially regressed to a hitter that walks 30+ times, hits a dozen or so home runs in a year, has a .300 or so OBP with a SLG under .400.  He will play in the majority of his team’s games though.  Welcome to Jason Kendall territory.  That is where Suzuki is headed.  My heart says that he will still become a Jason Varitek type hitter as a catcher.  But my brain sees Kendall.  There are a lot worse things in life than becoming the next Jason Kendall.  But for a catcher that had high expectations, more was expected of Suzuki.  I can’t see him ever becoming a superstar at this point.  But I can see a 15-year major league career in his future, built mostly on his catching abilities.

ARCHIVE:  Click here for Past Issues of Ask the Reports

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.

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)


The End of the Astros: Bring Back the Houston Colt .45s

Saturday November 19, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The big news of the day in Houston is the approval of the sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane.  Drayton McLane is out as owner.  The final price tag for the team was $615 million.  The catch?  Starting in 2013, the Astros are being realigned to the AL West.  “Houston” has played in the National League since 1962, the year the team was awarded the franchise.  But after 50 years playing NL baseball, the Astros are off to play in the American League.  Houston fans are somewhat dismayed…all the way to upset.  There are season ticket holders that are choosing not to renew their ticket packages.  Attendance is down.  The team has gutted to the point that it is almost a AAA team.  Now, the team is being moved to the American League.  For fans of National League baseball, this move is hard to swallow.  A big advantage of the move is the rivalry that will come into place with the neighboring Texas Rangers.  But with the Mariners, Angels and Athletics in the same division, time zones will be a big problem for Astros fans watching road games.  With all the minuses in the equation, something else needs to be done.  The move to the AL, may create somewhat of a buzz, but perhaps not enough to repair the damages that will result from the move.  The solution?  Re-brand the Astros.  Bring back the Colts .45s.

For you baseball history buffs, the Houston Colt .45s was the original name for the Houston MLB franchise.  The name was conceived by a “pick the name contest”- and what a name it was!  With the idea of the “old west”, the idea of the old colt .45 gun was very cool and classic.   It really fit the Texas mold.  The team even played at Colt Stadium.  But three years later, the team had its own indoor stadium.  The famous (or infamous) Astrodome.  For thirty-five years, the Astrodome was known as the first indoor MLB stadium with the first non-grass surface (appropriately named AstroTurf).  With the space program popularity in Houston, the team very much built itself on the “Astro” concept.  The Houston Astros.  AstroTurf.  The Astrodome.  But now, Houston:  We have a problem.  The team changed locations into a retractable roof stadium in 2000.  Originally named Enron Field and now Minute Maid Park.  No more Astrodome.  The field in the new park, was grass.  No more AstroTurf.  In fact, only the Rays and Blue Jays still play on turf.  So with the Astrodome and AstroTurf gone, why stick with the “Astros” name? The space program connection was probably very hip and trendy in its day.  But as long as I can remember (80’s – Present), the Astros name is not a beloved or dear brand.  It is time to end the final link to the Astros days.

Everything old is new again.  Retro is in.  People love nostalgia, especially baseball fans.  I can’t recall one baseball conversation that I have ever had that included the Colt .45s without the party getting excited.  There was something about that name and logo.  Part of it was the short life span (only three seasons).  It is a very “cool” name.  Original.  You just don’t see a sports team with a name like that.  Then you take into account the logo and Colt .45s envy begins.  I have been to Cooperstown.  I have been to many major league stadiums.  Bring up the Colt .45s name and you generate excitement.  So here is my proposal.  Starting in 2013, to coincide with their move to the AL West, the Houston Astros would become known as the Houston Colt .45s.  The result?  The team would carry excitement and interest everywhere they go.  Merchandise sales would be through the roof.  For a team with a sub-par talent level playing in a league that is largely opposed by its fan base, renaming the team would give the edge that is needed.

I know what many of you are going to say.  I can hear it now.  You cannot promote guns.  Guns means violence and killing.  It will send a bad message.  Etc…Etc…Etc… I get it.  Yes.  Many of you that are sensitive to these issues may be initially “gun-shy” about the idea.  But let’s be realistic.  There is violence and bad influences all over society, from televisions shows, movies, commercials, music, magazines, video games and much of pop culture.  To me, it is not like it is a picture of a bullet or open wound.  Much of the younger generation wouldn’t necessarily know that a colt .45 was a gun.  From there, with a classic and simple logo- the “gun” part of the colt .45s shouldn’t conjure up violence and negative images.  It is simply a a piece of history.  Almost a work of art.  A piece of Houston history and culture.  Like the old wild west.  When the Colt .45s come to play, it will be like an old-time showdown.  The name is chique.  The logo is very hip.  It will be a winner.

For you baseball fans that are about ready to jump out of your seat and order your Colt .45s jersey, I have some bad news.  The name change is not coming any time soon.  It still remains a figment of my imagination and passion.  But with enough of a vision and push, it could happen.  I have seen stranger things develop.  I can see only good things happening if the Houston Colt .45s return.  Even if the publicity is not all positive, the name change will get many fans talking.  A buzz will be created.  For a team that is on the decline and with little upside to look forward to, a name change is probably the biggest quick-fix scheme you will find.  Let’s bury the Astros name with the Astrodome and AstroTurf.  After erasing two mistakes, let’s finish off the third and final portion and bring back respectability to Houston.  Let’s give the team an old/new identity.  The Colt 45 will become the weapon that Houston uses to climb back to baseball respectability and eventually excellence.

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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.

An A-to-Z Guide to My MLB Offseason

Friday  November 11, 2011

Daniel Aubain (Guest Writer):  Question: What does a fantasy baseball blogger without a blog do during the offseason? Answer: Guest write an article for one of his favorite baseball sites!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Daniel Aubain and I used to run a fantasy baseball blog called Colorado Springs Fantasy Baseball Addict or COSFBA, for short. I recently decided to shut the site down and pursue other writing opportunities but the itch to write has been too strong to ignore. While I am currently working behind the scenes on a new venture, I wanted to take this opportunity today to highlight for you some topics of interest I’ve been or will be following this baseball offseason.

Below is an A-to-Z guide of some of the key topics I am paying attention to this baseball offseason. Enjoy!

  • A is for Awards: So Brett Gardner doesn’t win a Gold Glove (even though he was the best defensive player in all of baseball). Miguel Cabrera doesn’t get a Silver Slugger. And now the Baseball Writers’ Association of America is on Twitter. I’m very excited to see what November 14th through November 22nd has in store for the blogosphere.
  • B is for Baseball: The most minor free agent news or offseason trade (see: Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo) trumps ANYTHING going on in the NFL, NHL (that’s still a thing) and the NBA (how much longer until this is no longer a thing?).
  • C is for Closers: Fantasy baseball GMs know to “never pay for saves”. How come real GMs don’t know this? Ryan Madson possibly getting a 4 year/$44M contract offer from the Phillies? Good luck with that.
  • D is for @DJAubain: That’s right. Shameless self promotion. Be sure to follow me at my new Twitter account name. The link is RIGHT THERE!
  • E is for Exhibition Baseball: I hope all of you with the MLB Network were able to catch some of the Taiwan All-Star Series. It was a nice fix for those of us going through withdrawals after an amazing World Series.
  • F is for FanGraphs: Any aspiring Sabermetrician or fan of advanced baseball statistics has to be familiar with FanGraphs by now, right? Well, why not support their work and show the world you’re a big baseball nerd by purchasing one of these fabulous t-shirts. I’ve got mine.
  • G is for Gold Glove: I still can’t believe Brett Gardner didn’t win a Gold Glove. The mainstream media may love awards such as this (it even had its own television show this year) but those of us with any true understanding on how to measure “worthiness” with more than just web gems and name recognition are left scratching our heads more often than not.
  • H is for Hot Stove: Free agent signings. Winter meetings. Blockbuster trades. What’s not to love about the MLB offseason?
  • I is for Intentional Talk: I’m sorry, MLB Network. For all you do right in my eyes, this is your ultimate worst. I find this show unwatchable. It’s so bad it belongs on ESPN.
  • J is for Jose Reyes: Reyes to the Marlins? Not hating it.
  • K is for Keepers: Fantasy baseball GMs all over the country are anxiously discussing whether or not player X or player Y is worthy of being a keeper. I think it is absolutely crazy that some leagues have already required you locking in keepers. Wait until February or March to lock up keepers. It will make your league better. Trust me.
  • L is for Lefty Specialists: Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver are both 41 years old, coming off of World Series appearances and free agents. Which GMs are going to overpay for 50-60 appearances and 40-50 innings pitched? I’m hoping the Yankees get one of these guys to replace Boone Logan.
  • M is for Mystery Team: Nothing says offseason free agent signings like a good mystery team in the mix. Who will it be this offseason?
  • N is for Nick Punto: Nick has a World Series ring. Ted Williams and Ernie Banks have zero. Just in case you were wondering.
  • O is for Ozzie Guillen: Ozzie is now with the soon-to-be Miami Marlins and every Latin ballplayer is now rumored to be heading his way via free agency or trades. If only I understood a word he was saying in English. Don’t believe me? Check out his Twitter feed during the World Series.
  • P is for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder: How high are these contract numbers going to go and which teams are in the mix? The Yankees can’t sign everyone (in theory). It will be interesting to see where these top sluggers land.
  • Q is for Carlos Quentin: With the Chicago White Sox discussing getting younger and cheaper in 2012, could Quentin be the type of player shipped out of town for a handful of prospects? We shall see. I hear the Marlins have money. Hmmmmm.
  • R is for Realignment: Moving the Houston Astros to the AL West makes absolutely no sense. Thanks, Bud Selig, for the usual knee-jerk reaction to a problem. I’m a huge fan of a radical realignment based on true geographical rivalries. Forget the AL/NL thing. Screw the traditionalists. Make the DH optional. Create regional television networks. Let’s move this game into the 21st century already!
  • S is for Sabermetrics: It’s not going away. It’s not made up of basement-dwelling bloggers. And it is definitely NOT ruining the game of baseball and how it is played on the field. It is a tool used to evaluate and measure the performance of players. Embrace it.
  • T is for Twitter: If you’re not using Twitter, I suggest you check it out. It’s not Facebook.
  • U is for UZR: Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) is one of the most widely accepted defensive metrics available and yet Brett Gardner, the best defensive player at any position, doesn’t win a Gold Glove. Bitter much? Yes.
  • V is for Vernon Wells: Just a reminder, Wells still has three years left on his contract at $21M per year. That is all.
  • W is for Wilson Ramos: Kidnapped? Unreal. This is just a horrible situation. I hope this gets resolved quickly and without tragedy. We wonder why agents and players lie to escape other countries to come to America to play baseball.
  • X is for X-Factor: No, not that horrible television show on FOX. I’m talking about the intangible “x-factor” agents will be talking about their clients bringing to a team’s clubhouse. Jim Thome has it. Francisco Rodriguez doesn’t have it.
  • Y is for Yuniesky Betancourt: According to the Bill James’ 2012 Handbook (and this tweet), Yuniesky has been baseball’s worst defensive shortstop over the last three seasons; costing his teams 46 runs. Keep that tidbit in mind as this Type B free agent lingers on the market.
  • Z is for the AriZona Fall League: If top prospects are your thing, then you need to be paying attention to what’s taking place in ‘Zona (see what I did there?). Check it out online and be sure to follow it Twitter, too.
Thanks to the great folks at MLB reports for allowing me the opportunity to share my voice with their audience. I truly appreciate it. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for updates on what the future has in store for me and all other guest posting articles I’ll be doing this offseason.
 
 
 
 
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.

The Astros Move To The AL West

Sunday  October 30, 2011

MLB reports – Sam Evans:  As an amazing 2011 MLB postseason has come to a close, it’s time to look ahead to next year. The Houston Astros have been,” looking forward to the next year,” since the last time they made the playoffs in 2006. It’s time for a change in Houston and Bud Selig and Jim Crane are currently working on a plan to make a big-time change for baseball’s future in Houston.

Times have been hard recently for Astros fans. Widely considered the worst team in baseball, the Astros home attendance has steadily decreased every year since 2006. They haven’t had a winning season since 2008 and their minor league system shows only small glimmers of hope on the way.

In the middle of June, rumors began  floating around that the Astros would move to the American League, as early as the 2013 season. This would provide each league with an even fifteen teams and six five team divisions. Also, you have to think that Major League Baseball wants to start a rivalry between the Astros and the Rangers. Well now in October, these rumors have become more serious and now it appears inevitable that the Astros will be realigned to the American League West.

Although we don’t know when exactly this move will take place,we have figured out that it will happen. It will be interesting to see if the Astros shop for a DH this or next offseason because if they do move by 2013, having nine Major League quality hitters in their lineup would be a big asset. It would make sense for them to bring back Carlos Lee if they were indeed moving to the AL, because he would be a much more productive DH than an outfielder.

I actually think that this would be a good move both for MLB and for the Astros. For MLB, they finally fix the glaring trivia answer which is, why there is an uneven number of teams in each league.  Balanced divisions, until increased to 32 Major League teams by way of expansion, will lead to an unbalanced schedule.  15 teams per league means that there will need to be an interleague game scheduled every week.  Some love the concept of interleague play, while other detest it.  But for whatever people think of it, interleague is here to stay in the world of Major League Baseball.  Having weekly interleague match-ups will actually help solve the unbalanced interleague issue.  In current play, some fans have complained that the same interleague match-ups are in place every year- with not all teams from each of the different leagues matching up.  Having weekly interleague games means that all AL and NL teams will face-off during the season at some point.  Greater exposure for each of the teams in each MLB city should lead to greater enthusiasm for the fans and a more balanced approach to scheduling interleague games.  It is not a perfect system- far from it.  But until Major League Baseball brings in 2 more teams and creates a 16/16 league split, having the 15/15 split will at least allow for balanced divisions and equal chances to make the playoffs.

For the Astros, I seriously believe they could start one of the best rivalries in baseball with the Rangers. This would be beneficial not only for the Astros as an organization, but their fans and attendance as well. Let’s make one thing clear though in the interim: the current “rivalry” between the Astros and Rangers is a joke. The ony time they face off is in interleague games, and neither team has any more incentives in those games as compared to any other games. However, I think if they actually played each other as division rivals frequently, and the fans became passionate about those games, then they could actually start a strong rivalry for years to come.

Astros fans have been against this move for two main reasons. The first is that they would lose their history with the National League (and specifically, NL Central teams). The main reason however, is that they would play West Coast teams more, which would mean that games against Seattle, Oakland, and Anaheim would start at a later time. I can fully understand and appreciate the Astros fans feelings on the subject. The only counterexample I can offer is what Rangers fans already go through with this same dilemma and they same to have done just fine.

At the end of the day, I think the Astros should move to the American League West. It makes sense for the current MLB system. Furthermore, this franchise looks in need of a fresh start and maybe a new division could help provide that.

Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, 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.

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

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

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

 

 Wednesday August 10, 2011

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

   

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

Thanks for the e-mails and keep them coming!  mlbreports@gmail.com

 

 

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MLB Expansion: Baseball Discussions to Add Two More Teams

Friday July 1, 2011

 

MLB reports:  When looking at the current state of baseball, some very important changes are on the horizon.  MLB reports tackled in the past weeks the topics of MLB realignment, the future of the DH and expanding and changing the playoffs (click on links to view these posts).  Whether you are a traditionalist or modern thinker, we can all agree that revisions to the baseball system are coming.  To compliment many of the new developments that are coming, we have one last topic that we need to cover.  This is a biggie so hold on to your hats:  MLB Expansion.  Major League Baseball, as slow as it is to adapt, has come to the time that it must acknowledge that the American League and National League need a balanced amount of teams.  When contraction didn’t work (Minnesota stayed and Montreal moved to Washington), we were left with thirty MLB teams.  To fix the discrepancy, we need sixteen teams per league.  As a result, get ready for Major League Baseball to expand to two new cities.

Before anyone stars howling, let me insert a disclaimer.  There is no available information yet confirming that MLB will expand.  But from all the signs of the state of the game, it appears that expansion is on the horizon.  It must be.  Expansion will lead to balanced leagues, which will be a must in the addition of more wild card teams.  In 1993, MLB added the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins.  In 1998, the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks joined the mix.  Since then, we have gone thirteen years without expansion.  Baseball popularity is at an all time high, with the economy slowly starting to rebound.  The demand and money are there and anytime the MLB owners can fill their wallets, they will take it.  Expansion fees back in 1998 were $130 million.  To contrast, the Texas Rangers sold last August for $593 million.  Let’s ballpark it and say that each new expansion team could easily bring in $250 million each.  That would be $500 million available to be shared by the existing 30 MLB owners.  That is a minimum of $16 million per team and even that amount is conservative.  Realistically, we could see $25-$30 million per team as the bonus.  Money talks and the lure of the big payday will be too much for MLB owners to pass up much longer.  By having a balanced schedule, leading to realignment and more wild card teams, together with the revenues that are generated, both teams and players should be happy.  It is a win-win for all.

The biggest argument that I have heard against MLB expansion is the dilution of talent.  There is a thin amount of pitching to go around as it is, and by adding more teams to the mix, the talent levels will supposedly be at an all-time low.  I don’t buy it.  Take a look at AA and AAA and how many major league ready players are wasting away due to a lack of opportunity.  Some are there for financial considerations, by teams wishing to delay their arbitration and free agency years.  I acknowledge that.  But there is so much talent at those levels alone that an expansion draft could stock two competitive MLB teams.  I truly believe that.  Then we should take into account the globalization of the sport.  The 2013 World Baseball Classic will feature twelve new countries into the mix.  By creating and furthering the interest in baseball around the world, including Great Britain, Germany, France etc., Major League Baseball will create a deeper pool of talent as a result.  It will take time and the benefits of adding more countries to the WBC in expanding the players that are generated may not be felt for a decade or longer.  But baseball needs to think long-term, not short.  Even if there is a dilution of the quality of players for a brief time, it is not unreasonable to think that the world as a whole with its population could stock 32 MLB teams.  It currently stocks 30 teams quite well and the problem, if any, is that in the future we will actually have more quality players than available teams to play for.

The main benefit of expansion is the created interested in Major League Baseball in more cities and the added rivalries and intrigue to the game itself.  There are baseball hungry fans in many cities that are denied the privilege of watching MLB games live, due to lack of proximity.  Adding MLB teams will create more fans in the new cities and surrounding areas.  Merchandising sales will increase, jobs will be added and economies will benefit in those cities.  As long as each new team has a solid economic plan in creating a business model for itself, from the ballpark to the day-to-day operation of the team, new MLB teams will be cash cows and not drains on their respective cities.  There is a reason why cities and potential owners campaign to be awarded a Major League Baseball team.  Baseball is a lucrative business.  By understanding why expansion is necessary and beneficial, it is time to jump into the candidates.

From everything that I have read and people that I have spoken with, the following is a list of ten potential MLB expansion destinations.  From these ten cities, two may end up being the lucky winners.  I have included a brief commentary beside each candidate for reference:

1)  Las Vegas:  There is money in Vegas and demand for the sport.  The biggest hindrances are the gambling and economic issues for the area.  I think Las Vegas should get a team and baseball may feel the same way.

2)  Portland:  One of the largest cities without a team, this would be a safe bet for Major League Baseball.  This city has been thrown around in almost every discussion on expansion.  This one will likely happen.

3)  San Antonio:  Similar to Portland, but there are already two teams based in Texas.  If any area will get three MLB teams, it is New York (see Brooklyn discussion).

4)  Sacramento:  Is the California market getting saturated?  With Oakland having issues and looking to a move to San Jose, there may be alarm bells that hinder Sacramento.  There is also a chance the city will lose its NBA team which does not help from an image standpoint.

5)  Orlando:  More teams to Florida?  The Rays aren’t exactly busting at the gate and the Marlins are moving to Miami next year.  I could see the Rays moving if they do not get a new stadium, so expansion will likely be held off here for now.

6)  Nashville/Memphis:  Both are great cities but with other viable markets available, Nashville/Memphis are a long-shot.

7)  Mexico City:  This is the sexy pick if Major League Baseball truly wants to become international.  The travel logistics could make this one very difficult.  For a sport that is slow to evolve, this is too much change, too soon.

8)  Vancouver or Montreal:  Stop snickering as this could happen.  Ok, not Montreal, but Vancouver is a possibility.  After the loss of the Expos, I cannot see baseball ever going back to Quebec.  Then when we account for the fact that Vancouver lost its NBA team, baseball may be scared off from these areas as being non-viable.  The Toronto Blue Jays sit middle-in-the-pack for attendance and I think MLB is satisfied with one Canadian squad.  Happy Canada Day to all the Canucks reading this article and enjoy the Jays this weekend.  But as far as more Canadian teams in baseball, I am sorry but I do not see it happening.  Ever.

9)  Brooklyn:  The talk of the Nets coming to Brooklyn soon has sparked renewed interest in the area for baseball.  The Brooklyn Dodgers will never come back to existence, but a new expansion team might.  Given baseball’s rich history and love of everything retro, I really like this selection.  Don’t discount the power of New York, as it is one of the central hubs of sport.  I only give this one a 25% chance of happening, but a very solid 25.

10)  New Orleans:  A feel-good pick, given the tragedy suffered by the city.  But on an economic and rational basis, it is difficult to envision bringing a new baseball team coming to a rebuilding area that still is suffering major financial issues.

That concludes today’s discussion on MLB expansion.  As a starting point for the topic, I am sure that this will not be the last we hear about it.  Given that MLB works in secret ways often, don’t be surprised if an announcement on two new expansion teams comes out of left field one day.  While it would be fun to hold a competition and have cities campaign for selection, MLB may not want to run the risk of alienating and upsetting teams that are not chosen.  At the end of the day, the key for baseball will be to get the right cities and owners in place.  This will happen in the next year or two and should be an interesting process.  Will we see the Portland Sluggers, Las Vegas Aliens or Brooklyn Bombers?  Time will tell on that one.  What we can be sure is that the face of Major League Baseball over the next few years will change substantially.  From the teams, to the playoffs and divisions.  Change is in the air as baseball continues to evolve with the times.

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.

MLB Realignment Proposal: Time to Overhaul the Divisions

Thursday May 19, 2011

MLB reports:  Looking at today’s divisions in baseball, the setup to me does not make sense.  From a geographical and competitive standpoint, the current six divisions in baseball appear to exist without much of a foundation or reason.  After years of watching baseball in its present day form, I believe that it is time for a change.  As a disclaimer, I will warn that this article is not about expanding or changing the playoff format, the unbalanced schedule within divisional matchups and revamping interleague play.  While all these items are worth discussing, they will need to be put on the back-burner for a different day.  For now, the focus is on the division setup and the new MLB divisions as proposed by MLB reports.

In order to create a new structure, we need to look at the recent history of the divisions in major league baseball to understand how we got to the current structure.  Not too long ago, the American League and National league were broken up into two divisions apiece:  the East and the West.  Each league was stocked as follows:

 American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Boston Red Sox

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Milwaukee Brewers

New York Yankees

Toronto Blue Jays

American League West

California Angels

Chicago White Sox

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

Oakland Athletics

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

National League East

Chicago Cubs

Montreal Expos

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates

St. Louis Cardinals

National League West

Atlanta Braves

Cincinnati Reds

Houston Astros

Los Angeles Dodgers

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

There were four divisions in total.  When the playoffs rolled around, the leaders of the East and West in each league faced-off and the winners met in the World Series.  A system that had its flaws, but the majority of people knew it and liked it.  The system worked for many years, but with time inevitably came change.  New teams entered baseball through expansion:  the Marlins, Rockies, Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now Rays).  The Montreal Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals.  Baseball wanted to expand its playoff format and add two more teams per league to the playoff mix.  As a result of the changes, baseball grew from a four division to a six division format.  Both the American League and National League had three divisions each:  the East, West and now Central Division.  Add to the mix that the Brewers moved to the National League, the Angels went through somewhat of an identity crisis and the MLB divisions now look as follows:

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Boston Red Sox

New York Yankees

Tampa Bay Rays

Toronto Blue Jays

American League Central

Chicago White Sox

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

American League West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Oakland Athletics

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

National League East

Atlanta Braves

Florida Marlins

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies

Washington Nationals

National League Central

Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati Reds

Houston Astros

Milwaukee Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates

St. Louis Cardinals

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

Los Angeles Dodgers

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

Checking the totals, we have 14 teams in the American League and 16 Teams in the National League.  Divisions have a range between 4-6 teams each.  From a competitive standpoint, teams in the American League West have the best mathematical chance at a division/wildcard entry, with the fewest amount of teams in their division and fewer teams in the league overall.  Based on competitive records, the impression is that teams in the American League East face the toughest battles, while the National League Central for example is a weaker division.  Finally, from a geographical standpoint, the current setup just doesn’t work.  Looking at a map one day, I thought to myself:  there has to be a better way.  After a geographical and competitive analysis, I believe that I have found the fix.

In order not to change the baseball landscape too much, I have left the current six named divisions in place.  For simplicity of discussion, let’s assume that this portion works.  I believe that too many divisions will create chaos, while too few divisions will create a logjam of teams.  I am prepared to proceed with five teams per division and simply realign the current system.  On that basis, the following is the MLB reports proposed MLB divisional realignment plan.  Featured for the first time ever, our new MLB would look like this:

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Boston Red Sox

New York Mets

New York Yankees

Washington Nationals

American League Central

Cincinnati Reds

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Milwaukee Brewers

Toronto Blue Jays

American League West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

Houston Astros

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

National League East

Atlanta Braves

Florida Marlins

Tampa Bay Rays

Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates

National League Central

Chicago Cubs

Chicago White Sox

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

St. Louis Cardinals

National League West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Los Angeles Dodgers

Oakland Athletics

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

 

From a geographical and competitive standpoint, it is impossible to ever make a perfect division.  But on the basis of 15 teams per league and 5 teams per division, I believe that the above proposal is a vast improvement over the current baseball divisional arrangement.  I will present each division as proposed by MLB reports with the related commentary as to the logic behind each.

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Boston Red Sox

New York Mets

New York Yankees

Washington Nationals

This division was one of the most difficult to build.  The Red Sox, Mets and Yankees were a given as the foundational teams to the new AL East.  Based on their history and makeup, the Red Sox and Yankees were not moving from the East.  Based on geography and rivalry, it was time to add the Mets to the mix and bringing them to the American League will create a fresh start for a team in need of change.  The last two teams for the AL East was between the Orioles/Nationals and Phillies/Pirates.  It would have been nice to see the Phillies in the Yankees/Red Sox division, but location and the team chemistries were part of the equation.   The Orioles and Nationals need to be in the same division based on proximity and are a better fit for the American league.  The Phillies and Pirates are still NL based and without good reason for a move, should remain in the senior circuit.  The Orioles have a long-standing rivalry with the Yankees and Red Sox, with the Mets and Nationals now joining the party that is the AL East.

American League Central

Cincinnati Reds

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Milwaukee Brewers

Toronto Blue Jays

Definitely a different look to the AL Central, this new division is reminiscent of the old AL East.  The only difference is both the Yankees and Red Sox are missing with the Reds now on board in the American League.  After some thought, I think you will agree that the new AL Central will be one of the most competitive and fun to watch in baseball.  The Jays and Tigers have always enjoyed a strong rivalry and based on geography, it makes sense for the teams to be in the same division.  The same goes for both Ohio teams, with the Reds offense now enjoying an extra kick in the American League by adding the DH to their lineup.  The battle of Ohio will be a heated one and it is about time both teams were in the same division.  The fifth and final team came down to a choice of the Brewers or Twins.  While the Milwaukee fans might protest a return to the AL, the team overall seemed to be the best fit for the new AL Central.  A great offensive team that will match up well with the Tigers, Jays and remaining group in this division.

American League West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

Houston Astros

Seattle Mariners

Texas Rangers

After watching the last few years of Angels/Mariners and Rangers/A’s matchups, it is time for a change.  These teams do not have the rivalry factor and the old AL West simply lacked excitement.  The Astros and Rangers in the same division will showcase the battle of Texas, which I believe will slowly become one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports.  The Rockies and Astros have the offensive ballparks that were made for the American League, power and home runs in excess.  The Diamondbacks and Mariners based on location fit best into the new AL West, a division in search of an identity but strong overall in hitting.  Exactly what fans would expect from their AL teams.

National League East

Atlanta Braves

Florida Marlins

Tampa Bay Rays

Philadelphia Phillies

Pittsburgh Pirates

Rivalries, both old and new, will be the highlight of the new NL East as we showcase the new divisions of the senior circuit.  The Marlins and Rays are logical combatants based on their Florida location.  With the Braves not far away and already being rivals of the Marlins in the existing NL East, this division should feature some of the best baseball ever seen.  With the Pirates on the rebuild, the matchups of the Pennsylvania neighbors will bring back memories of the NL East from days gone by.  The Pirates became stagnant in the Central and with renewed rivalries and enthusiasm, this division will be competitive for years to come.  The move by the Rays to the NL should be an exciting one, with strong pitching and youth, the Rays will finally be home where they belong.

National League Central

Chicago Cubs

Chicago White Sox

Kansas City Royals

Minnesota Twins

St. Louis Cardinals

The battle of Missouri and Illinois will run rampant in the new NL Central.  The White Sox after all these years will be the leaving the American League and changing leagues to do battle with their arch-rivals, the Cubbies.  These two teams do not like one another and the Illinois fans will go wild.  After a season or two, people will never understand how these teams weren’t in the same division to start with.  The Royals, with the best farm system in the game and some of the most highly touted young pitchers and hitters will be a force in the NL Central.  The battle of Missouri will ignite Kansas City and bring spark and life to this once proud franchise that needs a fresh start and identity makeover.  Further considering the rivalry between the Cubs and Cardinals, I can see the Cardinals and White Sox having intense face-offs every year.  The White Sox in coming over to the NL also bring their rivals the Twins with them.  The Twins, always built on strong pitching and defense will enjoy their long overdue move to the NL and should continue to match up well against the White Sox, Royals and new division foes.  It may take some time for the Twins to find life in this realignment, but over the long haul they will be better off for it.

National League West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Los Angeles Dodgers

Oakland Athletics

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

Last, but certainly not least, we come to the last and probably the best new division in the baseball, the revamped NL West.  The Dodgers, Padres and Giants are all left in their rightful homes and coming over are geographical based enemies, the Athletics and Angels formerly of the AL West.  The A’s logically will match up well with both the Giants and Dodgers, cross town rivals and former World Series opponents.  Compared to the old matchups with the Mariners and Rangers, the Athletics will see a sharp spike in attendance and popularity in facing geographical opponents that will ignite strong pitching matchups and close baseball games game-in and game-out.  The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, formerly the California Angels and the Anaheim Angels, will battle their “Los Angeles” foe in what will become as heated as the Yankees/Red Sox one day.  Having teams of geographical proximity playing in separate leagues in the past was preposterous.  The new baseball realignment will finally fix the divisional setup and create once and for all, an all California division that will showcase truly what the West Coast is all about.

I hope that you enjoyed reading our feature on the new proposed MLB realignment.  The ideas have been in my mind for some time and watching almost 1/3 of the season in 2011, it was time to suggest to align baseball into divisions that make sense.  The current setup as previously indicated does not make sense.  Baseball in its current form is nothing more than a patchwork set of divisions that quite frankly when viewed do not make sense.  It is time to get teams on more equal footing and create divisions that better reflect geographical proximity and competitive balance.  If major league baseball thought that creating interleague play and wild cards sparked new interest in the game, the new realignment will shake up baseball and bring a whole new level of fans to the sport.  It will be impossible to get everyone to agree on the divisional alignments.  But at the end of the day, most of us can agree that change is needed.  Here is one proposal on the table: let’s discuss it and work towards implementing the best system we can.  The fans deserve it and the game as a whole will benefit as a result.

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