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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 25, 2017

teamphoto_1978THE TEAMS THAT SHOULD HAVE WON: The first part of a series on the podcast that I will do for the next 31 Saturdays.

I look at the teams that if they had won the World Series, they would have done so under the best circumstances and with the best collection of players. First team I cover are my Red Sox and I look at the 1978 squad.

First of a month of Saturdays with this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

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Scott Boras, Is He Good For Major League Baseball?

A man ahead of his time, Boras was one of the original moneyball players.  For his career, Boras had 133 walks and only 76 strikeouts.  Those numbers were for good for a lifetime .363 OBP, to go along with his .288 AVG.  Knee injuries unfortunately cut his career short and Boras only made it as high as AA ball.  With the baseball experience under his belt, Boras went on to practice law and from there become a full-time baseball agent in the early 1980s.

A man ahead of his time, Boras was one of the original moneyball players. For his career in the Minor League, Boras had 133 walks and only 76 strikeouts. Those numbers were for good for a lifetime .363 OBP, to go along with his .288 AVG in the Minor Leagues. Knee injuries unfortunately cut his career short and Boras only made it as high as AA ball. With the baseball experience under his belt, Boras went on to practice law and from there become a full-time baseball agent in the early 1980s. (Caption courtesy of Jonathan Hacohen).

By Patrick Languzzi (Cooperstown Correspondent)

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He has a billion dollar smile, a list of clients taller than Shaquille O’Neil and is considered Major League Baseball’s super agent.

In 2006 Baseball America named him the most influential non-player in 25 years, beating out Major League commissioner Bud Selig, yes, that Bud Selig!

Major League Baseball has had to change its rules in response to him on multiple occasions and he has a list of clients that include or have included Jayson Werth (126m), Matt Holliday (120m), Barry Zito (126m), Carlos Beltran (119m) and now the wealthier Jacoby Ellsbury (153m) – just to name a few, and the list goes on..

Fans, teams and general managers may despise him for fear that he is destroying Major League Baseball.

We’re talking about Scott Boras.

Boras Interview From 2009 (After being named the most influential non – player for last 25 years)

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What Buster Posey’s New Contract Means For The Giants

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Wednesday April.3,  2013

I don't that there is a single Giants fan that didn't want this to happen.  Buster Posey has done about as much as any player could possibly do for a city in his few years with the Giants, and I think we're all glad that he has the opportunity to retire as a career Giant.  While this signing on the surface looks like every other major extension, a player does something better than most and rightfully gets payed handsomely for it, this signing a few interesting implications along with it.

I don’t know that there is a single Giants fan that didn’t want this to happen. Buster Posey has done about as much as any player could possibly do for a city in his few years with the Giants, and I think we’re all glad that he has the opportunity to retire as a career Giant. While this signing on the surface looks like every other major extension, a player does something better than most and rightfully now gets paid handsomely for it.  This signing brings a few interesting implications along with it.

By Jon Schifferle ( Giants Correspondent – visit his own personal website here.) 

 5 Points About Posey’s Contract:

1.The Giants are ready to compete for a long time.

Through the extensions of Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, and Buster Posey, the Giants have shown that they are ready to keep this core, build around it, and compete every year with it.  

When franchises are starting to let their stars go, or even trading away their stars for younger players with little experience but lots of potential, it is generally the first sign of a rebuilding club.

 This is not always true, sometimes the players are forced out, or they have fallen out of favor with the team, and then are traded, but generally it is  the start of a bad pattern that eventually causes the team to end up looking like the Cubs or the Astros.  

The Giants clearly feel that they won’t need to take this path to be competitive in the future, and that they can refuel their farm system without trades or extra draft picks.

Buster Posey Highlights from 2012 – Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:

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Did Braun and Verlander Deserve Their MVP Awards?

Wednesday November 23, 2011

Sam Evans: Over the last two days, Major League Baseball announced their 2011 MVPs. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers took home the award in the American League while Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers won the National League award. Now that the voting is over, we can look at who really deserved the awards.

American League MVP: In August, Buster Olney sparked discussion on the AL MVP, when he said on Twitter that if he had a vote it would go to Verlander. At the time, I thought that the award was Jose Bautista‘s to lose. However, after watching Verlander dominate team after team, it became clear to me that this was the most valuable player in the American League. He meant more to his team than any other player in the league. Verlander finished with a with a 2.40 ERA in 251 innings. Verlander threw more innings than any other pitcher in the majors, and to have that strong of numbers in those innings makes it even more impressive.

Verlander also threw his second career no-hitter this year, and led the majors in strikeouts. Jacoby Ellsbury and  Jose Bautista are not shabby candidates either, but they didn’t have the effect Verlander did on his team. The Tigers expected to win every single time that Verlander was on the mound. Overall, even if the BBWAA made this decision based on Verlander’s twenty-four wins, it was the right choice. Verlander became the first pitcher to win the MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992.

National League MVP:  In somewhat of a surprising decision, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was awarded the NL MVP award, receiving 20 out of 32 first place votes, and a total of 388 points. Finishing a close second was Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who received 10 first place votes, and a total of 332 points.

First of all, these were obviously the top two candidates. They both had amazing years that should not go unnoticed despite who actually won the award. What I think it came down to was that Braun made the playoffs and Kemp didn’t. This is somewhat understandable because you can make the argument that if a certain player had such a big impact on their team then they should have made the playoffs. The real question is did Braun really make his team that much better, or did he just play on a much better team? Also, did the distractions surrounding the Dodgers and its ownership affect Kemp’s chances of winning the MVP? It definitely did not help his case.

To truly compare these players first you have to evaluate their defense. Kemp played a much harder position then Braun and he had to cover more ground. Kemp had a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating, a stat used to show how much ground a player covers) of -4.6. Braun had a UZR of -3.8. Neither of these is very impressive, so I guess we can just call this comparison a draw.

As for offense, in my own opinion, Kemp had a stronger year. Both players were very similar in normal statistics. Braun hit .332 with 33 HR and 111 RBI. Kemp hit .324 with 39 HR and 126 RBI. What impresses me is that Kemp scored more runs than Braun despite not having Prince Fielder batting behind him. Also, Kemp had a harder ballpark to hit in, and plays in a stronger pitching division. Kemp was really the only dangerous hitter in the Dodgers lineup, so pitchers could avoid him more than Braun.

According to Baseball-Reference WAR, Kemp was by far the more valuable player. Kemp led the NL with 10.0 WAR, which make Braun’s 7.7 seem miniscule. Kemp also led the National League in total bases, with 353, and Adjusted OPS + with 171.

These two players had almost identical years. If I had a vote, it would have gone to Kemp. But I don’t think Braun winning is anything to get worked up about.  A strong case could have been made for him, as shown by Braun being the winner of the 2012 NL MVP award.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, 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.***

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, 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.***

Projecting MLB Sluggers: The Top 5 in 2012

Tuesday November 22, 2011

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports):  Accompanied with my projections and analysis, I profile the top-five fantasy baseball sluggers to target for 2012. I encourage your thoughts and feedback!

1. Ryan Braun

2012 Projections: .321 38 HR 119 RBI 108 R 32 SB

Given that he is at the prime of his career having just turned 28 on November 17, Ryan Braun ranks at the top of the list. He is the complete package and enjoyed a 2011 season that had fantasy owners drooling and was named the 2011 NL MVP today! He was a machine in all five of the standard fantasy categories with a .332 average, 33 home runs, 111 RBI’s, 109 runs and 33 SB’s. The exciting thing is that the will only continue to get better. The home run total has the potential to reach 40 and I don’t see reason why Braun won’t steal 30 bases again. Braun is by no means one of the speediest players baseball, but he is truly one of the smartest base runners. He steals at a career success rate of 80% and was only caught 6 times in 2011. Some people wonder about the effect that Prince Fielder’s potential departure will have on Braun, but I am not overly concerned. Braun is truly a special and hall of fame caliber player because he not only possesses all of the physical tools, but also is one of the game’s smartest players. He continually makes adjustments and just has such an impressive knowledge of the game that allows him to better utilize his talents than others.

2. Albert Pujols

2012 Projections: .312 39 HR 120 RBI 117 R 12 SB

Albert Pujols has been the best fantasy player in baseball since he emerged onto scene in 2001. Ten Ruth-like seasons later, the slugger might find himself in a new uniform. Furthermore, his somewhat “down” season in 2011 has caused concern for many fantasy owners.  But before we expect an A-rod-like decline, lets take a closer look at the numbers. Through the Cardinal’s first 54 games, Pujols batted .257 with 8 home runs and 28 RBI. That means in the team final 108 games, which included the time missed with the wrist injury, he batted .322 with 29 home runs and 71 RBI’s. That is the Pujols that we have all been accustomed to over the last decade. I will not go into detail explaining just how good Pujols has been throughout his career because you should already know by now. Last year was the first season he did not put up .300 30 HR and 100 RBI. He missed this feat by one RBI and one point of average, in a season that included an uncharacteristic 50 game stretch (contract issues?).  I expect Pujols to be back in St. Louis next season, and all though he well on the back nine of his career, he is still too good and has a lot left in the tank. Expect the usual numbers, the type that he continued to put up despite his slow start to the season in 2011.

3. Miguel Cabrera

2012 Projections: .336 34 HR 122 RBI 109 R 2 SB

Did you know that Miguel Cabrera is only 28 years old? I sure didn’t. He has been an offensive force for almost a decade. In my mind, he is the game’s best pure hitter and will only continue to get better. He managed to have another elite season in 2011, despite all the controversy and off the field issues he had to deal with.  He continues to improve at the plate and BB right is on the incline while his K rate declines. For these reasons, and his career .317 average, there is no reason to not expect his average to hover around .330. He is an average anchor for your lineup that will also exceed 30 HR and 100 RBI’s and runs. The only thing he does not do is steal bases. However, refer to my article last week, Cabrera is the type of average and power anchor that can allow your team roster a space for the one-trick ponies, i.e. Michael Bourn. Overall, just expect more of the same from Cabrera: which means elite production in four of the five standard fantasy categories, average, runs, home runs, and runs batted in.

4. Matt Kemp

2012 Projections: .296 33 HR 108 RBI 103 R 34 SB

At 27 years of age, Matt Kemp is also just entering his prime. He missed a 40/40 season by just one home run and batted .326 and drove in 126 runs, which led to being the runner-up for the 2011 NL MVP award. However, he is easily the most difficult to predict on the list. If I expected him to improve upon or even just repeat his 2011 season, he would be at the top of the list. We simply cannot expect Kemp to be this fantasy-tastic again in 2012. Matt Kemp’s .380 BABIP lead all of major league baseball, however he does hold a career .352 clip, which is tops in baseball. Therefore, expect regression in his batting average in the .290-.300 range. Kemp also strikes out a lot, not like in 2010, but he still struck out in 23 percent of his at bats in 2011.  When you are not putting the ball in play at a high rate, there is potential for a lot of volatility. Given his skill set, 2011 was essentially a best-case scenario for Kemp.  The other four guys on the list make contact much more consistently and therefore have been more consistent throughout the career and are easier to project forward. Furthermore, I am not encouraged by the line up around built around Kemp. He is still elite, but it is unwise to expect him to repeat 2011. He will come down to earth but still provide across the board value for your team.

5. Joey Votto

2012 Projections: .316 32 HR 112 RBI 115 R 11SB

At 28 years of age, Joey Votto is also in the prime of his career. His 2011 season, with heavy expectations after an MVP season, was a down season for Votto. A down season in which he batted .309 29 HR 103 RBI 8 SB. And if this type of season is Votto’s worst-case scenario, you can live with it! However, given his age and peripheral stats, all signs point to an improved season for Votto in 2012. Votto is a pure hitter who continues to gain better command over strike zone, as his walk rate his increased steadily in each of the four last seasons. The average will always be there for Votto, just a notch below Cabrera. The biggest concern for fantasy owners was the drop in power, form 37 to 29 home runs. However, Votto hit the ball in the air more often in the second half of the season and hit 16 post all-star HR’s in 260 at-bats, compared to just 13 in his 339 at-bats before the break. Furthermore, his .222 ISO was well below his 2010 season (.276) and career average of .237. Therefore, expect him to bounce back to the 35 HR territory with elite average. The true wildcard for Votto is what he does on the basepaths. He stole just 8 bases in 2011, but if he puts a greater emphasis on running like he did in 2010, with 16 stolen bases, then he has the potential to provide extreme five-category value to your roster.

Honorable Mention:         

Jacoby Ellsbury: His .230 ISO in 2011 (career .152) explains his surprise 30-home run season. Ellsbury’s peripheral indicate he will be more of a .300 20 HR 80 RBI 40 SB type players, making him a notch below Braun and Kemp.

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

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

Should Dale Murphy be Elected into Cooperstown?

 Sunday November 20, 2011

Sam EvansDale Murphy was one of the best baseball players of the 1980’s. He played in 2180 games, hit .265, with 398 home runs. Now, after twelve years of eligibility, Murphy still has not been voted into the Hall of Fame.

Dale Murphy was not a dominant player during his era. He was a very good player, he won two MVP’s and five straight gold gloves. However, when you look back at his two “peak” years, he only posted a 6.1 WAR in those years combined. We can’t fully be sure of WAR’s (wins above replacement) ability to fully show the defensive prowess of players, but either way that is not impressive enough for a Cooperstown candidate.

On the field, Murphy was an inspiration to others. He truly looked like he wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world. Off the field, he wasn’t any different. Just ask Joe Torre, who had this to say about Murphy, “If you’re a coach, you want him as a player. If you’re a father, you want him as a son. If you’re a woman, you want him as a husband. If you’re a kid, you want him as a father. What else can you say about the guy?”  Murphy truly was an American hero as evidenced by his Lou Gehrig award and Roberto Clemente award.

From 1980 to 1989, Murphy had more total bases than anyone in the majors. He had a perplexing career in terms of statistics. He never dominated any one category. A typical season from Murphy would look along the lines of: 30 HR, 90 RBI, 130 K, 15 SB, and a .265 AVG. That is a pretty good year by all standards. The player that was most similar to this stat line in 2011, was Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds.

Let’s make one thing clear. Based on his statistics alone, Dale Murphy is definitely not a Hall of Famer. A 44. WAR is not enough for a Hall of Famer. That is in fact less than Red Sox fourth outfielder J.D. Drew. However, if you want to make a case for Murphy’s election by including his contributions to the game of baseball off the field, I can see a stronger case for his candidacy.

Last year, Murphy received only 12.6% of the BBWAA voted for the Hall. He has a long ways to go, in terms of voting, and not a lot of time to do it. I really am indifferent to whether or not Dale Murphy is Hall of Famer. If he makes it in, I will be pleased that his great character and steady numbers had been noticed. The bottom line is that regardless of whether he is eventually elected into Cooperstown, Dale Murphy should always be remembered as a tremendous player that truly was a role model to kids and adults who followed his career.  Even if he does not fit the Cooperstown mold, he was one of the top players of his generation and should be regarded as a strong role model for future wave of Major League Baseball players to come.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, 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.


Ask the Reports: Saturday November 19th

Saturday November 19, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen:  Ask the Reports is back! After some thought and re-branding: we have decided to drop the E-mailbag moniker and to keep this section as “Ask the Reports”, which will appear every weekend.  E-mails is but one form you can reach MLB reports. You can follow us on Twitter  and tweet and direct message your questions and comments.  You can “Like” us on Facebook and write on our wall.  You can also leave all questions and comments at the end of each article and page on the website. With social media exploding as it has, we are truly connected in so many ways.  

So keep reading MLB reports. Everyday. Twice a day or more if your schedule allows it. Subscribe to the site to have all current articles sent to your e-mailbox. But most of all:  participate. Send tweets. Write on our Facebook wall. Comment on articles and leave feedback. MLB reports is for you: the readers. The love of baseball is best nurtured if enjoyed as a community. So don’t be shy. Get in touch with us as often as you can. Let your voice be heard on our Facebook wall. There is nothing better than an old-fashioned baseball debate.  We call it MLB4Life on Twitter because we all love baseball for life. Baseball is more than a passion.  It is a lifestyle. Thank you for enjoying MLB reports and we look forward to hearing from you.  Plus you never know when your questions will be answered in “Ask the Reports”: so keep checking and asking your questions every week!

Let’s get to your questions:

Q:  If a modern-day MLB pitcher won 20 games for 20 seasons, he would still be 111 wins short of Cy Young’s win record..  From Eric, LA
 
A:  Great comment.  A true reflection on the evolution of the game.  Let’s start by taking a look at the career of Cy Young:
Denton True Young (aka Cy Young).  Born March 29, 1867 in Ohio.  Threw right-handed, stood 6’2″ and weighed 210 pounds.  He played for 22 seasons: 1890-1911.  He finished his career with a 511-316 lifetime record.  He actually had 5 seasons of 30+ wins.  36 in 1892 and 35 in 1895 being the career highs.  The man pitched in 906 games, starting 815 of them.  He threw 7356 career innings.  Ponder that one for a minute.  He had 5 seasons of 400 + innings and a dozen more seasons of 300-399 innings.  17 years of 300+ innings pitched.  If a modern-day pitcher were to pitch 200 innings per year for 20 years, he would reach 4000 innings.  About half of Cy Young.  That says a lot to me.  In the modern age, the only person that will come close to pitching those kind of innings was Nolan Ryan.  The Ryan Express pitched for 27 seasons.  807 games, 773 starts.  5386 innings pitched.  Career record:  324-292.  So to win as many games as Cy Young, you would need to win 25 games per year for 20 years.  An impossible feat in today’s modern game.  A pitcher would need to start 35-40 games and pitch 300-400 innings per year.  With closers, middle relievers and the stats of MLB bullpens, teams will not allow their starters to go deep into all those ballgames.  A “quality” start is 6 innings pitched.  At 30+ starts per year, most starters today are lucky to crack 200 innings.  Without the starts and innings, starting pitchers have less and less chances to stay deep in games to win.  Plus pitchers need offensive support and health to stay on the field and have a chance to gain wins.  Teams have 5-man rotations and also skip  or push back starts during the season.  We will never see another Cy Young.  Not the way baseball is played today.
 
 
Q:  What do you think Pat Burrell will do after he retires?  Fans of Pat Burrell
 
A:  I could see Burrell taking time off from the game.  Counting his dollars and maybe taking in a party or two (rumor has it that he is somewhat of a ladies’ man…).  But given his quality eye at the plate with pop, Burrell clearly knew a thing or two about hitting in his day.  Almost 300 home runs and 1000 walks do not happen by accident.  When Pat the Bat is ready to return to the game, he will join the Giants or Phillies likely as a minor league hitting instructor, or full-time hitting coach.  If he can show he can coach in the minors, you could see him as a hitting coach or 1st base coach one day in the major leagues.  Pat the Bat has a future in baseball- provided that he can teach and work well with the kids in helping them develop their abilities at the plate.
 
 
Q:  With 8 years and $160 Million, is Matt Kemp worth Manny Money or did L.A. pay a $30 Million premium to keep him off the open market next year?  Or both?  From Jason
 
A:  They did call Matt Kemp “Baby Manny” for a reason.  The Bison has always been highly touted coming up with the Dodgers.  For the last 2 seasons going into this year, some of that promise was starting to show.  Campaigns with 26 and 28 home runs respectively will catch people’s eyes.  Kemp looked like a .290 hitter with 20+ home run pop.   Pretty good- but not a superstar.  Then in 2011, Kemp simply exploded.  He led the league with 39 home runs and 126 RBIs, a difficult feat considering he had little support in the lineup and played his home games in a pitcher’s park.  With a .324 average, we nearly had a triple crown winner.  Kemp had a .399 OBP and .586 SLG.  Superstar numbers.  I am torn in analyzing him.  He was a year away from free agency.  Is he worth $20 Million per year for 8 years?  That is all relative.  Here is how I can best put it: what if Kemp would have hit .290, with 25 home runs with 90 runs and 90 RBIs in 2012 and hit free agency?  Would he have received the same deal?  Very likely.  At that point would the Yankees or Red Sox given him 7 years and $140 million to sign?  Carl Crawford got that same deal last year.  At 28 years of age, Kemp has shown good health and appears to be in great shape.  To say he is able to keep this pace until 35-years of age is not a stretch.  At worst, Kemp would have landed $15 million per season for 7 years, a total of $105 million.  So my thoughts are that the Dodgers would have needed to pay him $20 million for 2012 regardless.  By signing him early, they may have overpaid by $35 million over the life of the deal.  Or Kemp could have signed for $5 million per season on the open market (if no other alternatives) and cost an additional $35 million.  In a perfect world, it would have been nice to have seen more 2011-type seasons from Kemp before handing him this type of contract.  But given his fairly strong track record, health and young age, the Dodgers needed to lock him up now or risk very much losing him after 2012?  Did they overpay?  Not much by free agency standards.  Even if they overpaid by $30 million over the life of the contract, as long as Kemp continues to stay healthy and produce great to strong numbers, this was a deal that had to get done.  With the ownership turmoil and inability to attract and keep key players, this signing sends a message that the Dodgers are “back in business.”  Exactly what the fans want to hear.
 
 
Q:  Thoughts on Cespedes and Darvish? Any chance Blue Jays sign ’em?  From Thomas
 
A:  There are approximately fans from 30 MLB teams that are hoping their teams will make a push for the 2 likely biggest international free agents.  Yu Darvish from Japan and Yoennis Cespedes from Cuba.  While Darvish will need to be posted and bid upon, Cespedes once declared would be free to sign with any team.  At 26-years of Cespedes is reported to be major league ready.  Viewers of his YouTube video are excited at his abilities at the plate.  He will reportedly cost in the $50 million range to sign.  Darvish, at 25-years of age, is one of the most highly touted pitchers ever to come from Japan.  If he is posted (which is still a big-if at this stage), Darvish is likely to cost north of $100 million (with the posting fee) to sign.  Will the Jays sign either or both?  My answer: no.  Not because the team is not competitive.  Far from it.  But because they will not throw a lot of money on risky propositions.  Neither player has played a single inning of Major League Ball.  No matter how each has fared competitively to-date, few could predict how their games will translate to the major leagues.  The Jays are already stacked in the oufield, with Bautista, Rasmus, Snider and Thames to choose from.  Edwin Encarnacion is even being tried out in the outfield in winterball.  Anthony Gose is also a young hot-shot prospect that will be landing in Toronto soon.  The Jays do not have a strong need for an outfielder and certainly will not want to devote a large portion of their budget to an unknown like Cespedes.  Especially given the mixed track record of Cuban hitters thus far in the majors.  The Jays’ budget would be better spent on pitching.  But to pay $50 million to win the Darvish posting and then sign him for another $50 million, that could translate to $20 million per season for 5 seasons.  That is insanity money.  At that point, I would rather sign C.J. Wilson for 5-years $100 million.  A far more certain return.  The Jays will pick up a strong DH bat this offseason, perhaps a new first baseman and 1-2 new starting pitchers.  They will be shopping.  But no mail-order-players are likely coming anytime soon to Toronto.
 
 
Final Q:  Psychology professor asked what our biggest stressors in life are. I said Brandon Inge still being a Tiger. Everyone looked at me weird.  From Ashley
 
A:  Time to change schools?  If any of your classmates are baseball fans, they must not watch the Tigers very often or simply fail to grasp the horrible play of Inge.  I rarely use the word “hate”. But as a Tigers follower (yes…they are my team), I do not have the time of day for Inge.  The team has him signed for 1 more season at $5.5 million and a team option for $6 million in 2013 or a $500K buyout.  Expect the buyout.  I get that he is a great team guy, and blah blah blah.  In 144 games in 2010, he hit .247 with 13 home runs.  Looking at his numbers, he had a great year in 2006 and 2009.  That is it.  But yet the Tigers have him signed through to 2012.  Last year, Inge hit .197 with 3 home runs and earned himself a trip back to the minors.  At 34-years of age.  He is done.  Done as dinner.  Stick the fork in him.  One of the most gifted defensive players that I have ever watched, he could do it all with the glove.  Perhaps he sticks around as a late-inning defensive replacement.  He is a good emergency catcher and strong third baseman.  But his career as a full-time player is over.  If the Tigers are prepared to leave him on the bench and mentor the young players, I am all for it.  But otherwise, they need to hang onto Ramon Santiago and simply let the Inge-era end.  Brandon Inge has cool tattoos and has provided some spark hits through his career.  Its time for the Tigers to thank him for his contributions and move on.   Thank you Ashley for understanding.  I feel your pain.
 
 

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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)


Time Has Come For the Royals to Trade Soria

Tuesday November 15, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  With the free agency season in full swing, some teams may not be happy with the sticker prices on available players.  Especially when it comes to pitching, including closers.  Jonathan Papelbon recently grabbed $50 million from the Phillies and reports have Ryan Madson looking at a deal in the $40 million range.  These figures make existing closers signed to reasonable deals an attractive trade commodity, despite the amount of available relief pitchers on the market.  There may be a quantity of closers, but certainly not quality.  Outside of Mariano Rivera and Papelbon, there are few sure-fire closers currently in baseball.  Enter Joakim Soria of the Kansas City Royals.

A 2-time All-Star, Soria has put up some impressive numbers in his 5 seasons in Kansas City.  Two seasons of 40+ saves, Soria has a career 2.40 ERA and 1.043 WHIP.  Soria will only be 28 next year and could theoretically be a building block for the next few seasons in Kansas City.  However, closers are generally considered to be foundational players.  Soria is no exception.  2011 was his most difficult seasons in the majors, as he did save 28 games but put up a 4.03 ERA and 1.276 WHIP (all career worsts).  Soria is signed for $6 million this coming season and has 2 more team options at roughly $8 million per season.  The Royals are faced with a decision: hold onto their star closer, or cash in while his market is at its peak.

The Royals are on the way up.  No doubt about it.  Mike Moustakas, Erik Hosmer, Wil Myers, John Lamb and company are expected to come together at the same time to make the Royals the next powerhouse squad.  By my estimation, they should be World Series contenders by 2015.  But with a couple of more seasons of growing pains ahead, can they afford the luxury of Soria?  My argument is no.  Soria’s salary in 2012 is still considered a “deal”, but from 2013 go-forward at $8 million, the Royals would be wise to spend their salary dollars in other areas.  There are still holes to fill on the squad, including 1-2 more bats and starting pitching.  The team will also need to lock up some of its young star players early to avoid unaffordable contract demands down the road.  Joakim Soria can bring back a nice haul to fill needs and stock the team for a future championship.  The team needs to be realistic of where it is today, where it is going in the future and the players it needs to get there.

The Royals also have options to replace Soria.  Aaron Crow (if he is not moved into the rotation) and Tim Collins could all get a shot.  Luke Hochevar, who has been hot/cold during his career in the rotation may eventually settle into the bullpen.  Options are there.  Heck, the Royals plunked Soria from the Rule-5 draft and transformed him from a Padres outcast into a star closer.  With the risk of injury and ineffectiveness always hanging over closers, the Royals may be gambling if they hang onto Soria much longer.  Another season like 2011 could severely damage his trade value, while he could bring in a nice crop of 2-3 prospects if traded this offseason.  The Royals need to do some soul-searching and realize that Soria is worth more in a trade than on their roster.

Teams will surely line-up if Joakim Soria is made available.  The Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Angels, Tigers, Rangers, Nationals and Cardinals would all surely inquire as to his availability.   From all reports, the Yankees and Blue Jays are the strongest contenders to land the Royals closer.  Don’t get me wrong- I am a Joakim Soria fan.  I believe the kid is immensely talented and has the talent and determination to remain a top MLB closer for another decade (health permitting).  But on a losing ballclub that is rebuilding, Joakim Soria is a luxury that the Royals simply cannot afford.  If the team has to trade a Moustakas or Hosmer given their budget but retain Soria, that would be a big mistake in my estimation.  The team needs to build for 2015- not 2012.  This offseason represents a golden opportunity for the Royals to continue to replenish its roster and fill more holes.  The Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez was that type of step in the right direction.  If Melky was a Prince, it is time for the Royals to flip their King for a pair of Wild Cards.  It could prove to be their ultimate winning hand.

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

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Phillies Sign Papelbon Over Madson: The Stare Arrives in Philadelphia

Saturday November 12, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The Philadelphia Phillies seemingly fooled everyone this week.  Earlier in the week, reports indicated that the team had locked up its incumbent closer, Ryan Madson for a 4-year, $44 million contract which could climb all the way up to a $57 million deal with an additional option year.  Reactions were for the most part negative, as the baseball world could not believe that the team would pay (overpay) for a reliever coming off his first season as a full-time closer by handing out one of the largest contracts ever to a non-starting pitcher.  At that money, people began to wonder why the Phillies did not seek out the best closer on the market and one of the best overall in the game, Jonathan Papelbon.  The Red Sox closer, after endless 1-year pacts with Boston was in his first free agency period in 2011.  But then something interesting happened.  The Madson deal, which required the approval of the team’s higher brass all of a sudden was delayed and then fell apart.  A couple of days later, Papelbon became a Philly!  At 4-years and $50 million, Jonathan Papelbon finally received the long-term deal he has craved all of these years and Philadelphia signed a lock-down closer.  But what happened?  How did the Phillies switch to Papelbon mid-stream after coming so far along in negotiations with Madson?

The marketing term for what the Phillies did is called a “bait and switch”, meant when a retailer will advertise a discounted product and will then offer you a higher priced replacement when you arrive at the location to find that the advertised good has mysteriously sold out.  Often, that discounted good was never actually available, but was a merely a ploy to get the consumer to first get to the store and secondly, buy a more expensive product.  In the case of the Philadelphia Phillies, I do not believe that the team ever planned on signing Ryan Madson to the reported high-end contract.  While being groomed to be a future for many seasons, the team was never completely sold on his true sustainability at the position.  While Madson received the occasional closing opportunities in his 8-year career leading up to 2011, he actually converted only 20 saves going into this season.  But something funny happened this season.  Madson became solid.  So solid, that he saved 32 games with a 2.37 ERA and 1.154 WHIP.  With Scott Boras as his agent, the Phillies knew that Madson would not come cheap.  But the Phillies faithful for the most part loved Madson and would mourn his departure.  The Phillies needed to secure themselves at the closer position while softening the blow of not signing Ryan Madson.  The team’s actions this week were a stroke of genius and the team played its cards perfectly.

The plan for 2011 was to have Brad Lidge close for 1 more season, with Ryan Madson as the set-up man and fill-in closer.  In the offseason, the Phillies were going to target Jonathan Papelbon and sign him to a  large pact.  But Lidge was injured and ineffective in 2011, forcing the Phillies to use Madson as their primary closer for most of the season.  The reliever that they were hoping to sign for a reasonable 3-years, $21-$24 million deals was about to cost them almost double to retain.  But how could the team sign another reliever and let their incumbent closer go?  Simple.  Propose a deal with Ryan Madson and float the scenario out to the public to record and evaluate the reaction of the public.  The possibility existed that the fans, writers and analysts would applaud the deal, in which case the Phillies could consider actually proceeding with it.  But in all likelihood, the team knew that the outcry would be against the deal.  By then pulling the Madson deal and reaching out to sign Papelbon, the approval rating would be through the roof.  It is almost the same as proposing a 20% tax hike and then only increasing taxes by 5%.  Throw out a worst-case scenario and set expectations low- then substitute a better plan and watch people jumping for joy.

The Phillies in my estimation used Ryan Madson as a pawn.  While Scott Boras has been the master for years at playing teams against one another to benefit the pocketbook of his clients, the Phillies in this case used Boras and Madson to get what they wanted.  If the Phillies had gone out right away at the start of free agency to sign Jonathan Papelbon, fans and critics would have blasted the team for overpaying and proposing that the team should have kept Ryan Madson at a hometown discount.  The Phillies were able to eliminate such sentiments by showing that Madson would have cost them top dollar to stay put.  At an additional $1.5 million per season for the same 4-year contract, the Phillies replaced a closer with 1 full year of closing experience with a closer (Papelbon) who is the same age (31), has 6 full years of full-time closing experience in one of baseball’s biggest and highest pressure markets (Boston) of 30+ saves per season, to go along with an almost perfect postseason resume.  The Phillies traded in a solid Buick for a Mercedes, with still plenty of mileage to be driven.

For those of you that may doubt the “conspiracy theory”, just take a close look at the Phillies rotation.  Since Spring Training, I have been calling for the Phillies to sign Papelbon.  The team has shown to seek out the best pitchers on the market and bring them on board.  Roy Halladay.  Cliff Lee.  Now Jonathan Papelbon.  When the Phillies go shopping for pitching, they do not shop in the bargain bin.  Aside from obtaining Mariano Rivera, the team signed the best available closer for their staff.  So while Ryan Madson would have been a nice luxury to keep on the staff for insurance and to set-up, the team knew it would be seeking Jonathan Papelbon all the way.  The plan would have worked to have both Papelbon and Madson on the team, had Madson not closed out so many games this past season.  As a middle reliever setting-up, his contract would have been affordable.  But an outstanding closing record in 2011 along with Scott Boras as his agent, meant that Madson was priced out of the Phillies budget.  With Papelbon set to come on board, there would be no room for Madson.

The Phillies faithful have to be pleased today.  While they will miss Ryan Madson, most will know that there was no guarantees he could duplicate his numbers over the life of a 4-5 year contract.  At the numbers that were tabled for him to stay in Philadelphia, the team by all accounts did the right thing to sign the superior Papelbon.  While he will cost the team its 2012 first-round pick, a pick should be recovered, along with a supplemental pick, when Madson is signed by another team.  The cost/benefit of this move was essentially a no-brainer.  The Phillies went with more of a sure-thing by signing Papelbon.  While there are no guarantees in baseball, especially with pitchers (arm problems) and especially closers (who can lose their jobs at a moment’s notice), Jonathan Papelbon is as money in the bank as they come.

A couple of last points that helped trigger the change of closers.  By continually signing 1-year deals in Boston, many expected Papelbon to bolt once he was eligible for free agency.  The team could not lock the player down to a long-term deal and with the max-exodus of players during this past offseason, it seemed that Papelbon was another candidate to seek a change of scenery.  But some people may not remember that not too long ago that Ryan Madson’s wife, Sarah, making negative comments on Phillies fans.  At the time, it seemed like a ticket out-of-town for Madson, but his success this season seemingly made the comments disappear.  Except that the Phillies brass did not forget and the publicity that surrounded the event at the time was one that likely set a chain reaction for the plan for Madson to leave at the end of the season.  Baseball is a game of short-term memories, but not for all.

When I floated the idea of a Jonathan Papelbon signing all season long, Phillies fans did not have one positive comment back to me.  Their fans, as well as most in baseball, had very negative things to say about Papelbon.  Outside of Boston it seems, many were unable to or refused to recognize his talent.  But while Papelbon was beloved in Boston until now, those sentiments will transfer over to Philadelphia by next season.  The stare, as it is known, will become one of the most famed times in Philadelphia Phillies history as the team and its fans get revved up watching Jonathan Papelbon close out games for the next 4-seasons.  There is a changing of the guard in Philadelphia.  The Phillies have Halladay, Lee and Hamels to start things off and now can rely on Papelbon to close them out.  The stare now makes its residence in the city of brotherly love.  Another World Series may not be far behind.

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.

MLB Free Agent Closer Carousel

Friday November 11, 2011

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports):  Every one of the MLB’s franchises will be looking for bullpen help, and most will be looking to add a major contributor to the back-end.  The closer position is one that is seen as the most underrated as well as the most overrated job in all of baseball.  On one hand, some people may over-value a closer’s “makeup” and poise, where others say “it’s the same as pitching at any point in the game.”  While I like to sit somewhere between these two concepts, most fans like knowing that their team employs a “proven veteran closer.”  All you have to do is look at the St. Louis Cardinals of 2011 to notice that is not necessarily the case.  Their closer was Jason Motte, although Tony La Russa refused to officially anoint him so.  Motte had 12 career saves going into the postseason, 9 of which were in 2011.  However, the fireballer was dominant in the postseason, and helped to bring in another World Series title to St. Louis.

In 2007, the Boston Red Sox employed a closer by the name of Jonathan Papelbon, a 2nd year closer, and they went on to win the World Series.  There are several other times where a homegrown closer has led his team to a championship, Brian Wilson of the 2010 San Francisco Giants being another recent one.

There are many closers without a set home for 2012, with Papelbon headlining that list.  It has been said that Papelbon is looking for a 4 year contract, and could even get a 5th guaranteed year on the open market.  Much of the early talk about closers this off-season has surrounded Ryan  Madson, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies.  It was rumored that he had agreed with the Phillies to a 4 year, $44M contract with a 5th year as a vesting option.  It was said that the Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was awaiting approval from team president David Montgomery.   It has recently come to light that Amaro Jr. has vehemently denied these rumors.

Frank Francisco, Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, Joe Nathan and Francisco Cordero are all closers who may be looking for new homes in 2012.  Also available are Matt Capps, Jon Rauch, David Aardsma, and Takashi Saito.

The Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, LA Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Florida Marlins and Houston Astros are some of the teams who figure to be in the market for a closer, if not to upgrade.

Because of the Madson fiasco that has been taking place, I doubt he re-signs with the Phillies.  The Phillies seem to have moved on to their next target, Papelbon.   All Papelbon has done in his 6+ seasons with the Red Sox is accumulate 219 saves with a 4.43 K/BB ratio.  His career ERA sits at 2.33 while his FIP isn’t far off at 2.60, showing just how good he actually is.  I think a 4 year deal worth $51M and a vesting option of $15M would likely get the job done.

Madson’s early “almost signing” may have set the bar for Papelbon, and Madson will be looking for something in the same range. He may have to settle for a bit less as the Phillies look to get the signing done quickly.  Madson took over for Brad Lidge, who battled injuries in 2011 as the Phillies closer.  A 3.88 K/BB ratio and a ground ball rate close to 50% ensured a very successful season where his FIP was 2.25.  4 years and $40M should get it done, and I see him going to the LA Dodgers.

Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) was traded at the deadline from the Mets to the Milwaukee Brewers, but didn’t get an opportunity to close out games.  His displeasure with the situation was coming out, even though incumbent closer John Axford was performing extremely well, and the club was on its way to a playoff berth.  The Miami Marlins (still doesn’t feel right to say) are looking to be huge spenders this off-season, and I see no difference with K-Rod.  Rodriguez  has 291 saves in his career, including a single season record 62 in 2008 with the LA Angels of Anaheim.  I see the 30-year-old signing a 3 year deal worth $30M to usurp the incumbent Marlins closer, Juan Oviedo (previously known as Leo Nunez).

Heath Bell is a closer who has had tremendous numbers over the last three seasons, albeit in ultra spacious Petco Park as his home field.  His K rate dipped this year, and may have been a bit lucky with a .261 BABIP.  San Diego Padres GM Josh Byrnes has already said he would likely offer arbitration to Bell, a Type A free agent.  Bell has also said in the past that he would accept arbitration, as he likes San Diego.  This presents a slight problem for the cash-strapped Padres, who prefer to keep their payroll lower.  Bell will be due a raise from the $7.5M he made in 2011, so a $9-10M 1 year deal will likely be in place here with the Padres.

Joe Nathan is a special case, because he had an option of $12.5M declined by the Minnesota Twins, who would still like to bring him back.  Nathan did not pitch in 2010 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, and threw 44 2/3 mediocre innings in 2011.  However, over his last 27 innings, he gave up only 20 hits, 5 walks and 10 runs, really finishing strong and proving he is healthy again.  The downfall is that by spring training, he will be 38 years old and clearly looking at the end of his career.  The Toronto Blue Jays are looking for a closer to anchor a bullpen that will see a lot of turnover, and Nathan could be had for $4M and a club option for 2013.

Jonathan Broxton is another closer looking to establish his value.  The hulking 6’4” 300 lb closer had a disappoint 2011 season, and just had surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow in September.  His K rate has steadily declined from the career high of 13.50/9 IP in 2009.  His ground ball rate, BB/9, ERA and FIP have all suffered at the same time.  Broxton will likely get a one year, incentive-laden deal to prove he is healthy.  He will likely have to settle for a setup man role, and I think he could work with the Mets in spacious Citi Field.

Francisco Cordero has had a 13 year career that started in Detroit, then took him to Texas, Milwaukee then finally Cincinnati.  The Reds recently declined his $12M option, but GM Walt Jocketty has said he hopes to bring the closer back.  However, I don’t see him donning the Reds jersey any longer, as the soon to be 37-year-old will look to move on and close out his career.  While his fastball still averages 93 mph, it is 3 mph slower than Cordero’s prime.  Because of this, his K rate has dipped to 5.43/9IP from 12.22/9IP in 2007.  While his stats have declined, he has averaged 39 saves the last 5 seasons.  He will probably settle for a one year deal worth $6M, where the Minnesota Twins will sign him.

It’s a carousel in the closing world, as more teams are beginning to put less stock in having an established closer at the back of a bullpen.  Homegrown closers are becoming a more popular choice, but some teams look for that slight edge, and if it means overpaying for a pitcher who will throw roughly 5% of the team’s innings, they will do so. 

***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.***

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Mike Maddux: The Next Great MLB Manager and the End of the Rangers

Saturday November 5, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  I rarely get excited about coaches in the game.  Not for the reasons that you may think.  Many coaches are great at their craft.  But most MLB coaches work behind the scenes and are rarely heard from or spoken to.  In the MLB revolving door game, it seems that many players, as well as coaches, are seen be teams as interchangeable commodities.  When teams hit slumps or fail to meet expectations, it is easier to change the coach(es)/manager than it is to replace twenty-five players on the roster.  So when a coach stands out and gets me excited, you know that he is a game-changer in my opinion.  Two such coaches currently exist in the ranks.  Both are pitching coaches and both are being reviewed for changes in employment.  The first is Dave Duncan in St. Louis and the second is Mike Maddux in Texas.

With the retirement of Tony La Russa in St. Louis, many have wondered as to the future of his former pitching coach, Dave Duncan.  Widely seen as one of the best in the business, Duncan’s control and shaping of his pitching staff is seen as one of the overriding factors in helping Tony La Russa achieve his success in the game.  No Duncan = inferior pitching = no championships.  This is the man who took Jeff Weaver and Joel Pineiro and made them into the second coming of Cy Young.  Ok…so many Duncan isn’t such an effective miracle worker.  But the man is damn good at what he does and all else being equal, there would be 29 other teams that would love to discuss employment if he was available.  But rather than seek a managerial position, Duncan- who start coaching in the late 1970s with Cleveland, has indicated that he will be honoring his contract and remain the pitching coach in St. Louis.  The man clearly knows his strengths and his goals in the game.  For the future manager of St. Louis, he will be inheriting a right-hand man to guide his pitchers like no others.

Well…with the exception of one man perhaps.  While Duncan is seen as one of the game’s greatest pitching coaches of all time- Mike Maddux has grown into the being the next best coach, if not “the” best.  In his 9 seasons as pitching coach, Maddux has successfully transformed the Brewers pitching staff (during his time in Milwaukee) into one of the best in the game.  From there, Maddux has taken a Rangers squad that has been known seemingly forever as being all bats and no arms.  The Rangers have had one of the worst statistical pitching staffs for much of its stay in Texas.  Maddux has successfully lowered the team ERA every year in the past three years and has helped transform the Rangers pitchers into stars.  C.J. has gone from middle reliever/occasional closer into the staff ace.  Alexi Ogando excelled in the rotation, as has Neftali Feliz as closer.  Some may argue that the Rangers have more pitching talent in the history of organization.  That may be true on many levels, but the team still plays half of its games in one of the most dangerous hitters’ ballparks in baseball.  By working his magic with the Rangers pitching staff, considering its home ballpark, Mike Maddux is a miracle worker to me.

It is my understanding that Mike Maddux is the highest, or one of the highest paid pitching coaches in the game.  To get him to leave his status in Texas, he would need to be offered a strong position that presented a challenging and rewarding opportunity in the game.  As the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox both come calling this week, Mike Maddux will likely be choosing soon whether he is ready to take on the top leadership on the field of one of the two top franchises in the game.  The Rangers have already granted Maddux permission, as Nolan Ryan and company do not wish to stand in the way of Mike Maddux’s success.  With Ron Washington leading the Rangers to two straight World Series appearances, the managerial position was unlikely to be offered to Maddux any time soon in Texas.  So the draw will likely come down to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in Chicago convincing Maddux to lead the Cubs, while Ben Cherington does the same in Boston.

Is Mike Maddux up for the role?  Hard to say.  A great pitching coach won’t necessarily lead to success as a manager.  But Maddux has many of the essential intangibles for success.  He is known as a hard worker, dependable, well liked but respected by his players.  For all the years I have watched him, he always seemed to be a calming influence over his pitchers.  If he can exercise that same attitude for the other coaches of a team and its players, we may be forming the next great MLB manager.  Other managerial positions may open up, but for the time being, it appears that the Cubs and Red Sox have the edge in luring him away from Texas.  Both are major markets and present the chance to build/groom winning ball clubs.  The Red Sox have more talent, but also have the older squad with referenced difficult players and personalities to manage.  The Cubs, while younger and less talented, may be more moldeable for Maddux if named manager.

Mike Maddux did pitch for the Red Sox over two seasons.  While he never played in Chicago, he will know the Cubs and Wrigley well from his Brewers coaching days.  Mike’s younger brother, Greg was a star pitcher for many years for the Cubs and can give him much insight into the team.  The decision will boil down to fit.  Does Mike Maddux want to manage?  Likely, the answer is yes.  With his experience and reputation at the game, it will be difficult to not want to take on the job of a lifetime.  Money will be no object, as both squads could offer Maddux 3-5 year contracts at approximately $3 million per season.  So the answer will come down to where Maddux would most want to manage.  The answer will likely be Chicago.

Having coached in the division for some time and having his brother’s experiences as a strong influence, I see Mike Maddux being attracted to being a manager in Wrigley.  For all its talent and fandom, the mix of veterans and difficult personalities will likely be more than Maddux as a rookie manager will want to handle.  The Cubs, with more youth present a bigger challenge for Maddux.  Yet, the team will also likely be more moldeable under him.  Mike Maddux looks to me like a long-term thinker.  After taking the Rangers youngsters and turning their pitchers into stars, Maddux will likely want to do the same in Chicago.   Both teams will go aggressively after him, but at the end of the day, I expect Maddux to be wearing the “C” cap by opening day.  Theo Epstein started the groundwork for Mike Maddux while still running the Red Sox.  He seems to be a sharp guy and what Theo wants, he usually gets.  As the Jays denied the opportunity for John Farrell to be available, Epstein will now need to seek another former pitching coach turned manager.  Mike Maddux appears to be his man.

What does this all mean for the Texas Rangers?  I can’t say they will regress back to the old poor pitching squad of yesteryear, but I certainly think the team will suffer greatly if Mike Maddux departs.  As today’s MLB is strongly built on pitching, the Rangers would be losing their not-so-secret weapon if Mike Maddux was to jump ship.  This is a loss that the team most cannot afford to occur.  All else being equal, retaining Mike Maddux in my opinion is more important than having C.J. Wilson on the squad.  This is the value of Mike Maddux.  But after giving Maddux the biggest coach’s contract to come Texas, there is little the Rangers can do to keep Mike Maddux as they cannot offer him a promotion.  Nolan Ryan would need to be very creative if he had hoped to keep his pitching coach.  But at the end of the day, money is one factor.  Job title is another.  The Rangers clearly have realized this as they granted teams permission to talk to Mike Maddux.  While showing good faith in rewarding their pitching coach for a job well done, the team is likely shooting itself in the foot and risking its long-term viability if Mike Maddux does end up leaving.

I expect Mike Maddux to be successful wherever he goes.  If he joins the Cubs or Red Sox, it is almost guaranteed that the team will have a fantastic pitching staff.  Will the rest of the team excel and contend?  A good question, which will come down to whether Mike Maddux surrounds himself with smart coaches as a manager.  For the 50-year old Maddux with the younger brother who is a future hall-of-famer, he is clearly building his own legacy in the game.  My expectation is that we will have an announcement in the next 7-10 days,  confirming Mike Maddux as the new manager for either the Cubs or Red Sox.  If that is the case, expect those teams to be playoff regulars in the near future.  In the same token, expect the Rangers run of World Series appearances to end as soon as Mike Maddux to leave.  He may not have been their everything, but should he depart, the secret weapon of the Rangers will disappear as well.  Good luck to Mike Maddux:  he has exciting but difficult decisions to make in the near future.

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.

John Lackey to Undergo Tommy John Surgery: The Aftermath in Boston

Wednesday October 26, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The Boston Red Sox announced this week that starting pitching John Lackey would be undergoing Tommy John surgery, ending his 2012 season before it began.  In a twist of irony, this move actually comes as relief to Red Sox nation as Lackey has been anything but stellar since coming to Boston.

In 8 seasons with the Angels, Lackey had a 102-71 record, good for a 3.81 ERA and 1.306 WHIP.  In his past 2 seasons with the Red Sox, Lackey’s numbers ballooned to a 26-23 record, with an unsightly 5.26 ERA and 1.504 WHIP.  Lackey’s winning record in Boston is attributable more to the Red Sox strong offense, rather than Lackey’s own production.  2011 was a miserable season statistically for Lackey with 2012 not looking much promising either.

In hindsight, John Lackey’s contract is one of the worst in baseball.  Lackey is signed to a 5-year, $82.5 million deal running through 2014.  For the final 3 years (2012-14), Lackey will get paid $15,250,000 per season.  The one bit of relief to the Red Sox is that the injury kicks in a 2015 vesting option, whereby Lackey will only be paid $500K for that season.  A small consolation given the magnitude of the money and disappointing numbers from Lackey to-date.

For whatever reason(s), the relationship between John Lackey and the Boston Red Sox is not working out.  Lackey has battled personal issues while in Boston, including his wife’s health and battle with Cancer.  While clearly we can all sympathize with Lackey’s difficulties in playing while dealing with personal issues, the reports from the end of the season of his involvement with drinking in the clubhouse and eating fried chicken during games brings into question Lackey’s commitment and focus to the team and game.  Before news of his surgery, many outlets were reported that the Red Sox were actively shopping Lackey in the hopes of removing him from the team.  A strong rumor was a swap with the Padres and reuniting Lackey with his old pitching coach from his Angels’ days, Bud Black.  The Padres and Petco would have been an ideal environment for Lackey, provided that the Red Sox would have picked up the majority of his contract in the deal. 

But the reconstructive elbow surgery has brough the Lackey rumors to a halt.  He will be staying in Boston for the foreseeable future.  The Red Sox have faced bad luck this year with Tommy John, as pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Rich Hill both underwent the same procedure in 2011.  Theo Epstein was wise to include the injury provision in the Lackey contract; but then again, he may have been better off avoiding the pitcher all-together.  News of the Lackey injury was the first announcement by Ben Cherington as the new Red Sox GM.  From all the offseason transactions and news that will follow in Boston, this one will be taken as one of the more positive moves.

The Red Sox have many decisions facing them this offseason.  The re-signing of David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon.  The integration and structure of the organization with a new GM.  The hiring of a new manager.  The departure of J.D. Drew and possibly Marco Scutaro.  The comeback of Carl Crawford.  These are surely hectic times in Boston.  The team will need to make many roster changes for 2012, including  the signing of 1-2 new starting pitchers.  The injury to Lackey could prove to be a blessing in disguise.  The surgery may pinpoint that his terrible numbers in Boston were based more on declining health than eroding skills.  With a year-off to rehabilitate and re-energize, the Red Sox may see a new and focused John Lackey.  The team would have had to eat most of his contract to trade him; perhaps they are better off paying and playing him.     

In the worst case scenario, the Red Sox will need to either trade or release John Lackey between now and 2014, if they do not believe that he can rebound and be a useful asset for the team.  There is always the chance that Lackey is not able to recapture the form he displayed back in his Angels days.  Also, there may be enough bad feelings between the player and organization that a fresh start will be in order.  At this point, the Red Sox are best off to take a “break” so to speak for a year from John Lackey.  Come to 2013, the team may find that they have a new valuable asset that they never counted on.  John Lackey at the end of the day is a classic example of the risk involved handing a 30 something year-old pitcher a 4+ years contract for big dollars.  The Red Sox in this case gambled and lost.  But at least the decision can be put off for a year whether to write John Lackey off completely or try to recover pennies on the dollar.  I wish John Lackey a successful surgery and healthy recovery.  While I don’t expect to see him emerge as a MLB ace upon his return, my sense is that we will see an older and wiser John Lackey on the mound.  The talent has always been there.  Now he just needs to find the health and heart to fulfill the remainder of his potential.

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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David Ortiz to the Jays or Yankees? Try the Rays or Angels

Monday October 17, 2011

 

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  With the World Series all set to commence on Wednesday (Cardinals and Rangers)- our attention is slowly shifting to the upcoming free agency period.  A big name (literally) of discussion has been David Ortiz, or better known in baseball circles as “Big Papi”.  The rumor mill is running wild as to where Ortiz will play in 2012.  Let’s shed some light on the subject and clear up the confusion.

The soon to be 36-year old Ortiz is coming off one of his finest seasons in recent memory.  Papi finished with a steady all-around season:  29 home runs, 96 RBIs, 84 runs, 78/83 BB/K, .309 AVG and .953 OPS.  Ortiz was named to his 7th all-star team and finishing up a 5-year, $64.5 million contract.  For a player that appeared to be in decline back in 2009, Ortiz has shown the last two seasons that he has some juice left in the tank.  But with the Red Sox in shambles, given the departure of long-time manager Terry Francona and soon to be ex-GM Theo Epstein, Ortiz himself has said that Boston has become too much of a soap opera.  The question on every baseball fan’s mind:  will he stay or will he go?

 The Ortiz decision to stay in Boston will largely depend on several factors.  Firstly, it is unclear whether the team wishes to retain him or go in a different direction.  As an aging team with hitters that could use the rest from playing in the field every day, the Red Sox may not longer wish to commit the DH spot to one exclusive batter.  Taking that into account with Papi’s streaks and slumps that past few years and recent comments, may be enough for the Red Sox upper management to wish to move on.  But if the team does wish to retain him, or give in to fan pressure to keep Ortiz (which is likely to come given his immense popularity), will Papi himself want to remain in Boston?  Only the man could answer that question.  To know the answer, one would have to get into the player’s head.  Does Otiz get along with his teammates or are there divided fractions?  How much did the 2011 collapse take a toll on his morale?  When will a new GM come into place and will he be able to have a good relationship with Ortiz?  Same issue for a new manager…and you get the idea.  There are many variables that put into question whether Ortiz could or would stay in Boston.

In my estimation, Ortiz is on his final contract.  He will likely obtain a 2-year contract, with an option for a third.  Based on his rich history and legacy in Boston, I think that when push comes to shove- the player will stay.  Boston needs Papi; and Papi needs Boston.  It would not feel right to see Ortiz in another uniform (check out highlights from his days in Minnesota and you will see what I mean).  Major League Baseball also would love to see Ortiz remain in Boston for marketing purposes.  With so many vested interests in getting this deal done, I believe it will happen.  But what if it does not?  What if Papi jumps ship? I see his options as far and few between.

The first option that jumped out was the Yankees.  It will not happen.  While the Yankees would love to stick it to Boston, they will not likely want another aging DH on their hands after the Jorge Posada fiasco this past season.  The Yankees also have Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and company that need days off the field, A-Rod especially given his failing health.  With A-Rod becoming a part-time DH as soon as next year, the Yankees cannot afford to take on Papi at this stage.  Plus the team has up-and-coming superstar Jesus Montero that needs playing time and has nothing more to prove in AAA.  So the Yankees rate as a no.

 The next options for Ortiz?  It will only be American League teams as he is only a DH at this stage of his career.  The only realistic teams that have the open position and fit are Toronto, Tampa Bay and Anaheim.  The Jays are being thrown around many circles as a possible destination.  It makes sense for several reasons.  Ortiz knows the ballpark well from his AL East days.  He gets along well with Jose Bautista and would serve as a great mentor for the Jays young hitters.  Toronto was missing production last season from the DH spot and would welcome Papi’s bat.  But despite these factors, I don’t see this signing happening.  Ortiz will want to play on a contender and fight for another ring.  His career is winding down and so are his chances.  While Toronto has a strong young nucleus, they are at least 2-3 years aways.  As much as this would be a feel-good signing, I would rate is as another no.

Thus the battle for the services of David Ortiz will boil down to the Tampa Bay Rays and Anaheim Angels.  Two strong playoff contending teams that desperately need his bat.  Tampa Bay should be the favorite, given the familiarity of the AL East and the strong need of the team.  The Rays have the lineup spot for Ortiz and should make a big push for him.  The Angels have the same need, but not the best fit for position.  The team has a logjam in the outfield with Mike Trout likely to be with the big club next year and Kendrys Morales returning to the team from injury.  But when there is a will, there is a way.  Like many other squads, the Angels would need to do some creative shuffling to make room for Ortiz.  Vernon Wells may need to be moved for a bad pitcher’s contract in return (Carlos Zambrano anyone?)  Kendrys Morales may not be recovered or Trout may not be ready.  The Angels went through a desperate need all year in 2011 for runs and will not want to face the same issue come 2012.  Papi could be the perfect short-term solution for the Halos.

The four-horse race to sign David Ortiz will come down to the Red Sox, Jays, Rays and Angels.  The Rays are my dark horse favorite and best overall fit.  The Jays would love to take him on, it will just depend on the confidence Papi has in the team’s ability to compete.  Boston will hang in right till the end and the Angels will need to be aggressive to get him.  If we are playing the odds, I would rate Boston as a 70% favorite, followed by Tampa Bay at 20% and the Jays/Angels at 5% each.  Once the World Series ends, let the David Ortiz sweepstakes begin!

 

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports

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Yu Darvish – 2012 MLB Savior?

Saturday September 17, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): This offseason, there could be only two elite pitchers available for teams to bid on.  While C.J. Wilson looks to sign a deal close to $100M, CC Sabathia may be looking at opting out of his current contract with the Yankees.  Before the 2009 season, Sabathia signed a 7 year, $161M contract in which he makes $23M annually from 2010-2015.  Add in the fact that there will be at least five teams fighting for the services of two pitchers, an alternative must be found.

Yu Darvish, a Japanese right-handed pitcher could be the answer.  Although it has not been confirmed that Darvish will even make the trek to North America to play in the MLB, teams are lining up to watch him pitch.  Darvish’s ERA in the Japanese Pacific League for the Nippon Ham Fighters sits at 1.47.  He also has 223 strikeouts.  His 4-seam fastball sits in the 91-94 mph range with a great 2-seamer (or shuuto) with a lot of movement at 89-91 mph.  He has a slurve, as well as a split-finger, which seems to be his choice for an out pitch.

Many teams will be interested in Darvish, but how many really have the financial ability to bid for him in the posting process.  The process is basically a silent auction, with all teams that are interested putting a bid in, and the highest bid wins.  The winning team then has 30 days to agree to a contract with the player.  If an agreement is not reached, the posting fee is then returned back to the MLB team.

A player of Darvish’s magnitude rarely comes up in the posting process, so estimating a potential price is difficult.  Really, the only comparison is Daisuke Matsuzaka.  In 2006, the Boston Red Sox bid of $51,111,111 earned the rights to negotiate with the right-handed pitcher.  Matsuzaka then agreed to a 6 year, $52M contract, that could be worth as much as $60M with incentives.  Matsuzaka has been dominant at times, as witnessed by his 2008 season, where he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA.  He was 4th in Cy Young Award voting after keeping hitters to a .211 average.  He has also been below average, as this year, before going on the disabled list, he walked 5.5 batters per 9 innings.

There are very few teams with the financial flexibility to pull off such a move, while the other teams will pass Darvish up.

New York Yankees
With a payroll over $200M annually, the Yankees can always be in on any free agent, especially a high profile one.  Behind CC Sabathia, who may opt out of his current contract, the Yankees have a lot of question marks in the rotation.  Ivan Nova has had a solid season, but AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes had extremely disappointing campaigns.  If the Yankees want to continue their success in the AL East, Darvish may be the key.

Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox, like the Yankees, have a lot of question marks in the rotation.  Behind Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz, who were extremely solid this year, the rotation has been a mess.  Matsuzaka struggled, Lackey has been pretty bad, and Tim Wakefield is nearing the end of his career.  They don’t NEED Darvish like the Yankees do.

Toronto Blue Jays
General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has recently said that he was in Japan scouting Darvish.  The Blue Jays also have question marks beyond ace Ricky RomeroBrandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Brett Cecil underperformed this year, while 21 year old Henderson Alvarez has really impressed in the second half.  The Blue Jays have stated they could take on a payroll of $140-150M when the team is ready to contend.

Texas Rangers
GM Jon Daniels was in Japan in the summer to watch Darvish pitch, and could be a frontrunner for his services.  With CJ Wilson ready to hit the free agent market, the Rangers will have a lot of quality innings to replace. Derek Holland is developing into a solid starter, to go along with Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando.

LA Dodgers
If the Dodgers ownership issues ever get solved, with the young core of players they have, they could put in a very serious bid.  With the franchise struggling, and Hiroki Kuroda’s $12M coming off the books, expect the Dodgers to be aggressive this offseason if a new owner is put in place.  One of the most storied franchises in baseball could get a huge boost in having Darvish come to town.  Clayton Kershaw and Darvish could create a very formidable duo on the mound.

While other teams such as the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners have shown interest, I feel as though these five teams are the best possible fit.  They have the money, and they have the willingness to shell it out to the right player.

I believe a posting fee near $65,000,000 will gain the negotiating rights to Yu Darvish.  While the Yankees and Red Sox are always dangerous, I think that CJ Wilson is the biggest wildcard in the situation.  If he walks from the Rangers, look for them to be very aggressive with Darvish.  The winning team will likely have to cough up around 6 years and $75M in a contract, meaning the total amount spent by the team would be around $130M over 6 years.  For that kind of money, these teams better be sure they are getting the ace they are looking for to take them over the top.

 

 

***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.***

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Contenders for AL Rookie of the Year Award: Who Will Win?

Monday September 12, 2011

 

 

Sam Evans (Intern Candidate- MLB reports):  With the regular season coming to an end, it’s time to start looking at baseball’s awards. The American League Rookie of the Year will definitely not be an easy choice for BBWAA voters. Even though the top candidates are pretty clear, there is still about 20 games left for most teams. This last month is important for candidates to solidify their numbers and argument for the award. Here is my opinion on who should win the award.

Three of the five last winners of the AL ROY award have been pitchers. When choosing who I think deserves the award one of my key requirements is playing time. In my opinion, a mediocre pitcher who pitched the whole season is more impressive than a position player who was only in the majors for half of the season. Also, I don’t think the team of the players record is important enough to be a consideration for voters. This award should be chosen for a player’s impact in the majors, not how hyped up of a prospect he is. So I’ll try to look past the shock value and breakdown some of the candidates.

 

        Eric Hosmer: Kansas City Royals

Hosmer  made his Royals debut on May 6th and has been the Royals starting first basemen ever since. For the year, Hosmer has batted .286/.334/.462 with 17 HR and 69 RBI’s. He has been the consistent middle of the order bat that the Royals have lacked ever since Carlos Beltran got traded.

 

        Michael Pineda: Seattle Mariners

When Pineda was named the Mariners fifth starter right before the season started, most Mariners fans didn’t know what to expect. Michael was an American League All-star and has slid into the Mariners #2 starter spot. His numbers have tailed off a little as the season has gone on, but the Mariners still haven’t made the decision to shut him down. He has a 3.72 ERA in 167 innings with 171 strikeouts. That’s more than Jon Lester and Matt Cain. Also as his 3.42 FIP suggests he has actually been better than his ERA suggests. However, he has pitched in a pitcher’s park this year which have probably helped his numbers.

 

         Ivan Nova: New York Yankees

Nova just barely has eligibility, but he has had a surprisingly solid season as one of the Yankees backend starters. He is 15-4 with a 3.94 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 144 innings. Obviously, the number that stands out is the fifteen wins, which is impressive for any pitcher. Still, with the Yankees offense wins aren’t a great stat to judge performance.  Speaking for myself, I just don’t think his numbers are impressive enough to be the 2011 AL Rookie of the year.

 

        Jeremy Hellickson: Tampa Bay Rays

Going into the season, there were pretty high expectations set for Hellickson. ESPN fantasy baseball teams were drafting him at an average of 163rd. He definitely has lived up to those assumptions and maybe even exceeded them. He is 12-10 with a 2.96 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 170 IP. Not to mention, he has done this while pitching in the toughest in baseball. He has had a lot of luck this season, as his 4.30 FIP and 4.57 xFIP suggest (courtesy of fangraphs.com). Also, he has the highest LOB% among all pitchers that have thrown over 100 innings.

 

Mark Trumbo: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

After the Angels received the news that Kendry Morales would start the year on the disabled list, the Angels first base options looked bleak. Trumbo was the favorite to win the job but wasn’t a very heralded prospect. Baseball America had him as the Angels 9th best prospect. Trumbo not only won the job, but he ran with it. On the season, he is hitting .256 with 26 HR and 80 RBI’s. He leads all rookies in homers, RBI’s, and SLG%( for rookies with more than 300 plate appearances). Not to mention, he has provided an above-average glove at first base. His batting average is not great, and his OBP% is under .300(.295), so he hasn’t been perfect this year. In the end, he has made contributions to his team unlike any other candidate.

 

         Honorable Mentions: Dustin Ackley, Desmond Jennings,   Jordan Walden.

I think Ackley and Jennings didn’t play enough games to deserve the award, and Walden has been too inconsistent. However, if Jennings were to lead the Rays to an improbable playoff spot, I think he should win the award or receive strong consideration by the voters.

 

If I had a vote at the end of the day, I would vote for Trumbo- with Pineda, and Hellickson following. There is still plenty of time left, but in my mind Mark Trumbo deserves the 2011 American League Rookie of the year award.

 

 

 

***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.***

 

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Sunday MLB Insider Report: Our Views on the Latest Baseball News

 

Sunday September 4, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:  Here is our weekly look at Major League Baseball and the latest news, together with analysis and of course, our opinions:

 

I am about to finish the latest baseball book that I am reading and will be posting a review this week.  “The Fastest Thirty Ballgames”, by Ballpark Chaser extraordinaire, Doug Booth.  I don’t want to give away much of my report, that will be saved for the review.  Needless to say, the book has inspired me to fulfil my goal of seeing all thirty MLB ballparks.  While it takes me ordinarily a couple of days to a week to complete a baseball book, this particular book has taken me much longer.  I have read and re-read this book over and over, going back to read favorite sections.  For any baseball fan who loves baseball road trips or is thinking of taking one, this book is the perfect travel companion.

One of the biggest topics on the lips of Yankees fans is the contract status of C.C. Sabathia.  After Ivan Nova, the Yankees have several question marks as to their rotation going into the playoffs.  Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett are all in the mix.  But if Sabathia were to hypothetically opt out of his deal and test free agency, the Yankees pitching staff could collapse like a house of cards.  It appears that Sabathia has enjoyed his time thus far in New York and plans to continue pitching as a Yankee.  Although Sabathia will likely opt out, both player and team will do everything possible to keep the big guy in pinstripes.  Sabathia will become even richer on a new deal, as Alex Rodriguez was on his decision to opt out and sign a new Yankees deal.  For the team with the highest payroll in baseball, to contend it will re-sign its ace in the offseason.

Rumors are circulating that many MLB General Managers will be wooed to change teams in 2012.  Brian Cashman of the Yankees, Andrew Friedman of the Rays and Theo Epstein of the Red Sox are all apparently in demand, as is Billy Beane in Oakland and Mike Rizzo in Washington.  From all the best GMs that will be considered for the Cubs position, the only one I could see is Cashman.  With his contract up in New York and the Steinbrenner regime exercising control in decision-making (see the Rafael Soriano deal), Cashman may have had enough and makes the move to the Windy City.  All of the other GMs are in great positions, with little or no incentive to make the leap.  Some have called for the Astros to make a strong play for Friedman, but I see him staying put in a great situation with a strong talent base.  Friedman will see his team through to an eventual World Championship.

I had several conversations with baseball people about the World Baseball Classic, with the third edition coming up rapidly in 2013.  As discussed in a previous article, there are some changes to the WBC that have been instituted, including a qualifying tournament in the fall of 2012.  New countries in the mix include Great Britain, France, Israel and Brazil.  In all there will be 12 new countries, together with 4 holdover countries vying for 4 open spots into the tournament.  From the 16 existing WBC countries, 12 were granted automatic berths into the tournament.  The challenge facing MLB and WBC officials is to have eligible players play for their respective countries.  One particular country I discussed was Israel.  Imagine a team lead by Ian Kinsler, Ryan Braun and Kevin Youkilis.  Quite the powerhouse offense.  To have this tournament ultimately succeed, star players that are eligible for new and less known baseball countries need to play for these countries and increase the exposure of the sport in those regions.  That is really what the WBC is all about.

For fans in Kansas City, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Washington, and San Diego, please be patient.  Your teams will be better.  It might be hard to believe and some of you must be sick of hearing it, but your teams have great young talent and each will be a contender one day.  The only variable against you is time.

With their victory over the Giants last night, the Diamondbacks now hold a six game lead in the NL West.  How Kevin Towers remained on the market so long before being hired in Arizona is beyond me.  Derrick Hall and company have put together a nice young team, with strong management on the field and in the front office.  Towers has put together the team and manager Kirk Gibson has molded them into a contender.  It goes to show that a bleak situation can be transformed almost overnight, if you have the right people in place.  Baseball, as much as any other sport, starts with the people in charge.  A solid management foundation flows through the whole organization and can make or break a major league team.  Arizona is the team of destiny in the NL West in my mind and while they will have a very difficult time passing the Phillies if they make the playoffs, just playing in October this year will be considered a huge victory for the team.

Outside of New York and Boston, many baseball fans are apparently sick of talking about the Red Sox and Yankees.  For as much as fans may despise the teams, as baseball fans they should still respect them.  Baseball, without the history and tradition of the Red Sox and Yankees, would have a large void.  During my recent trip to Cooperstown (with a full report on my experiences coming soon), I was fascinated by the Babe Ruth exhibit and all the features on the two powerhouse squads.   There are no guarantees that either the Red Sox or Yankees will be in the World Series this year.  But having the teams in baseball is a good thing.  Attendance figures on the road when either team in town shows the demand.  You may hate the Red Sox and Yankees.  But you love to hate them.  For those of you that are either Red Sox or Yankees fans (can’t be both), you are some of the most passionate and knowledgable fans in baseball and I salute you.

I have been speculating since spring training that Jonathan Papelbon will leave Boston and join the Phillies this offseason.  I read some speculation this week that the Yankees may look to add him as the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera.  I could only imagine the feeling in Fenway the first time Papelbon would step foot on the mound in Pinstripes.  Unlikely to happen in my opinion, but speculating can be fun sometimes.  Until I hear otherwise, I am predicting Papelbon to the  Phillies.

With the playoff races in baseball almost completed, it is time to turn our attention to October and thinking about the teams that will play in the World Series.  My picks at this point are the Rangers and Phillies.  Call it a hunch.  Call me crazy.  I am seeing a Texas Philadelphia matchup and one of the best fall classics in recent history.

Finally, I made a point on Twitter yesterday that the regular season is almost done.  If you have not made it a live game yet this year or even if you have gone to twenty or more games, try to attend as many September games as you can.  When November hits, the winter can be quite a sad time for baseball fans.  Unless you can make it out to Arizona or Mexico, chances are that you will not be able to watch winter ball.  With the internet, those games can be found to be viewed on your computer.  But as fans can attest, nothing beats a live ball game.  Enjoy as many of those games as you can now. 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 Wednesday August 10, 2011

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

   

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Remembering Hideki Irabu: Japanese MLB Pitcher and Link to Donnie Moore

Sunday August 7, 2011

 

MLB reports:   Hideki Irabu was born on May 5, 1969 in Hirara, Okinawa.  Irabu played in Japan (Nippon Professional Baseball) from 1988-1996 and then again from 2003-2004.  In North America, we will most remember Irabu as a member of the New York Yankees from 1997-1999.  Irabu also played with the Montreal Expos from 2000-2001 and the Texas Rangers in 2002.  The baseball world sadly lost Hideki Irabu on July 27, 2011, an apparent victim of suicide.  A loss to the baseball world at the tender age of 42, Irabu was survived by a wife and two young children.

The story of Hideki Irabu is well-known in the baseball community.  He had his contract purchased by the San Diego Padres from his Japanese club, the Chiba Lotte Marines.  Irabu refused to sign with the San Diego Padres and stated his intention of only playing for the New York Yankees.  The Yankees were able to swing a deal for Irabu’s services, for a package of players including Ruben Rivera and cash.  Hideki Irabu ended up making his debut with the Yankees on July 10, 1997  and for his career pitched in 74 games for the Yankees over 3 seasons (64 starts).  Irabu won back-to-back World Series rings in New York in 1998 and 1999.  He was then traded to the Montreal Expos for Ted Lilly, Jake Westbrook and Christian Parker.  A good haul for the Yankees considering the career spans of Lilly and Westbrook (had they stayed in New York).  Irabu then signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent and played out his last MLB season as a closer before returning to Japan to resume his NPB career.  After a stint in independent baseball, Irabu apparently had the intention of returning to Major League Baseball, but alas a comeback was not in the cards.  Reports have indicated that Irabu hung himself in his California home, with autopsy results to follow.  Today we look at the career of Hideki Irabu and the road that led to his untimely passing this year.

When joining the New York Yankees in 1997, Hideki Irabu was labelled the “Japanese Nolan Ryan”.  By the time he left New York, he was stuck with the moniker given to him by team owner George Steinbrenner “the fat toad”.  Looking at Irabu’s MLB numbers, he unfortunately fell short of the Nolan Ryan comparisons:

 

Year Tm W L ERA SV BB SO WHIP
1997 NYY 5 4 7.09 0 20 56 1.669
1998 NYY 13 9 4.06 0 76 126 1.295
1999 NYY 11 7 4.84 0 46 133 1.335
2000 MON 2 5 7.24 0 14 42 1.665
2001 MON 0 2 4.86 0 3 18 1.500
2002 TEX 3 8 5.74 16 16 30 1.426
6 Seasons 34 35 5.15 16 175 405 1.405
162 Game Avg. 11 12 5.15 5 58 134 1.405
               
NYY (3 yrs) 29 20 4.80 0 142 315 1.362
MON (2 yrs) 2 7 6.69 0 17 60 1.626
TEX (1 yr) 3 8 5.74 16 16 30 1.426
               
AL (4 yrs) 32 28 4.90 16 158 345 1.369
NL (2 yrs) 2 7 6.69 0 17 60 1.626
 

Injuries played a part in Irabu’s MLB career.  Irabu had both knee and shoulder surgeries after leaving the Yankees and blood clots ultimately led to his retirement from Major League Baseball following the 2002 season.  Bouts of heavy drinking, depression and rage also factored into Irabu’s career.  But despite all the distractions and factors that led to his unravelling in baseball, Irabu did show some glimpses of promise.  In addition to the two world series titles he earned in New York (despite playing in only one career post season game in 1999, giving up 7 ER in 4.2 IP to the Red Sox in the ALCS), Irabu had his best numbers during his time with the Yankees.  He earned both of his career shutouts in New York.  His best statistical season was 1998, where he went 13-9 for the Yankees, with a 4.06 ERA and 1.295 WHIP.  As a closer for the Rangers in 2002, Irabu earned 16 saves.  That unfortunately went together with a 3-8 record, 5.74 ERA and 1.426 WHIP.  For a proud young man who fought hard on and off the field, his major league career was taken from him much too early.  Despite attempts at a comeback, we never did see Hideki Irabu in a MLB uniform again after the 2002 season.

In our society, it is much too easy to write off the passing of another human being, especially a celebrity, without considering the person behind the name.  Granted Irabu faced many demons in his life and career.  But I think some people feel the need to label a player like Irabu an alcoholic and rageaholic and simply write him off when learning of his passing.  That is a tragedy in my estimation.  When I learned of Irabu’s passing, my immediate thoughts led to Donnie Moore.  For those of you not familiar, Moore was the Angels pitcher that gave up the tying and winning runs to the Red Sox in game five of the 1986 ALCS.  Many critics pointed to Moore as the reason that the Red Sox ended up beating the Angels and advancing to the World Series.  Moore was a popular target of Angels fans the following seasons and ended up shooting his wife and taking his own life.  A tragic story in itself, Moore like Irabu suffered from deep depression.  But without analyzing and comparing both men too much, I believe that it was the name calling and the reputations of each men that contributed greatly to their respective passings.  Victories and failures take place on baseball diamonds each and every day.  Moore in the playoffs and Irabu in New York, suffered their failures on some of the biggest baseball stages that you can find.  Had their losses been forgotten and each man allowed to continue fresh, they may have enjoyed longer and productive careers in baseball.  They may have also been able to enjoy their personal lives to a greater extent and still been with us today.  But the stigma of failure which was likely reminded to Moore and Irabu for most of their last days on this earth, was likely too much for each to bear.

Hideki Irabu, being of Japanese descent, was a very proud man.  Respect and reputation are considered very important in Japanese circles and criticism is often not taken very well.  Irabu, like Ichiro Suzuki after him, had a lifelong battle with the Japanese media.  Being of mixed descent, Irabu rarely discussed his background which was a difficult subject for him.  Before coming to North America, the Japanese media labelled him with very strong nicknames, including the “Shuwozenegga” and “Kurage”, which translates to jellyfish, for the sting of his pitches.  From there, being called the Japanese Nolan Ryan came with a set of expectations that Irabu could never live up to.  If that was not bad enough, the “fat toad” comment by George Steinbrenner stuck with him to his very last days.  It was my understanding that Irabu through most of his MLB career could not be in any baseball cities, especially New York without hearing some reference to the toad comment.  For a proud individual that did not take criticism well, such a nickname probably stuck within him like a dagger.  By no means do I directly blame Steinbrenner for Irabu’s suicide.  Far from it, as Steinbrenner lately expressed remorse for his comments and publicly apologized for his remarks.  But the choice of media and select fans to continue to remind Irabu of the nickname most likely helped contribute to his passing.  We cannot bring Hideki Irabu or Donnie Moore back.  But we can learn from their passings and help other athletes avoid similar fates.

I link the taunting of Irabu and Moore before him in public and media outlets to bullying in schools.  We have read stories of children and teenagers being harassed in schools and outlets like e-mails and Facebook to the point that they are driven to taking their own lives.   Words do hurt and a bully can be charged criminally.  For those people that went up to Hideki Irabu in a restaurant and called him a “fat toad”, or approached Donnie Moore in a shopping mall and called him a “choke” and “failure”, think about the result of those actions in retrospect.  Since athletes are in the public eye, that leads to many people feeling a sense of entitlement to judge and criticize players as they see fit.  Irabu by earning over $15 million over 6 seasons in Major League Baseball, was apparently fair game as a target to all forms of criticism that people chose to throw his way.  I have no issue with judging an athlete’s numbers on the field.  Analysis and discussion is what sports is all about.  But once we start with the name calling and viciousness, I feel that a line needs to be drawn.

Donnie Moore and Hideki Irabu chose to become professional athletes and were in the public eye.  That does mean that their wins and losses will be known to millions and discussed and analyzed by many.  But sports can go to extreme levels.  Homes vandalized.  Children harassed.  Even murders.  Critics and extreme “fans’ can go to dangerous levels in criticizing athletes.  While extreme situations, they do take place all too often.  These instances stem from bullying, which is not acceptable in schools with children but allowable in public forums with public figures.  We as members of society need to draw the line of what is acceptable in reviewing and criticizing athletes.  Although they choose to be in the public light, they are still human beings with real feelings and emotions.  Hopefully more people will remember that the next time they hurl disparaging remarks at an athlete, whether it be in a stadium, restaurant, radio talk show or newspaper.  Words do hurt and in the case of Donnie Moore and Hideki Irabu, they can also kill.

Donnie Moore, if you weren’t aware, played professional baseball for 13 seasons for 5 different teams.  He had a career 3.67 ERA.  His best season was 1985, where he has a 8-8 record, 1.92 ERA, 31 saves and 1.087 WHIP.  He followed up the following season with 21 saves.  He was an all-star in 1985, finishing 6th in A.L. MVP voting and 7th in A.L. CY Young voting.  Moore also pitched two perfect innings for the Braves in the 1982 NLCS.  But most people don’t remember those numbers.  When they hear the name Donnie Moore, they think of the 1986 ALCS defeat and suicide.  Hideki Irabu has now met a similar fate.  Many people do not remember that Irabu was the man responsible for the Japanese posting system.  By refusing to sign with the Padres, MLB helped institute the current posting system for Japanese players to come to North America.  If not for Irabu, the entire system of transferring NPB players to MLB could be much different today.  Irabu won two World Series rings and enjoyed some success in North America.  Before that, Irabu enjoyed great success in Japan on the baseball diamond.  But when people reflect on his passing, the main words that are spoken now are “fat toad” and suicide.  Even in death, Irabu and Moore continue to be criticized and bullied.  That is the saddest reality of all.

 

 

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Summary of all Trades- 2011 MLB Trade Deadline Report and Analysis

Monday August 1, 2011

 

 

MLB  reports:  Another hectic MLB trade deadline is in the books.  This year’s trade market was just as much about the trades that were not made as the ones that were.  For all the speculation leading up to the deadline, star players like James Shields, B.J. Upton, Heath Bell and Carlos Quentin stay put.  The trades that did go down included Ubaldo Jimenez, Mike Adams, Doug Fister, Colby Rasmus and much more.  Here is a rundown of all the trades that took place in Major League Baseball as part of the non-waiver MLB Trade Deadline, which was 4:00p.m. on Sunday July 31st:

 

Michael Bourn and cash (Astros) for Jordan Schaefer, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens, Juan Abreu (Braves):  The Braves get a solid leadoff hitter, center fielder and base stealer from the Astros for four average prospects.  Without having to give up any of their top prospects and filled a huge hole in their lineup and outfield, top marks goes to the Braves.

 

Hunter Pence and cash (Astros) for Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid and a player to be named later (Phillies):  A win for the Phillies, as they get one of the top outfield bats in the game in Pence, who remains under team control going into next year.  I like the return of Singleton, one of the top hitting prospects in the minors.  But still, the Astros should have received a higher return for Pence who was the face of their franchise.  A win for both squads but give the edge to the Phillies.

 

Mike Adams (Padres) for Joseph Wieland and Robert Erlin (Rangers):  A win for both sides.  The Rangers get one of the top relievers in baseball (Adams), who remains under team control after the season.  For a team that is a World Series contender, Adams and Uehara give the Rangers a suddenly formidable pen.  Wieland and Erlin were two top pitching prospects in the Rangers system and give the Padres much more depth.  For a team that acquired what it needed most without giving up any of its top prospects, the Rangers can chalk this trade up to a huge win.  The Padres did not do badly either, as Adams was a luxury they did not require and the Padres farm system all of a sudden became much stronger.

 

Brad Ziegler (A’s) for Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto (Diamondbacks):  A deal that works for both teams.  Ziegler is a useful reliever that strengthens the Dbacks pen in a push for the NL West crown.  Allen is a highly considered first base prospect who should slot well in Oakland plus Noberto is another arm in the A’s organization.  It is too bad for the A’s that the Lars Anderson plus prospect for Rich Harden deal fell through with Boston, but Allen is a good runner-up prize.

 

Erik Bedard and Josh Fields (Mariners) for Trayvon Robinson (Dodgers) and Chih-Hsien Chiang, Tim Federowicz, Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife  (Red Sox):    Red Sox get Bedard and Fields (the reliever, not third baseman currently in Japan, Mariners get Robinson and Chiang, while Dodgers get Federowicz, Rodriguez and Fife.  Confused?  Good.  This was one of those three-way deals that when all is said and done, you are left scratching your head.  The key to this deal is Erik Bedard for the Red Sox.  If he stays healthy, and that is a big if, the Red Sox might have a valuable addition to their starting rotation.  Fields should also slot in well in the Red Sox pen.  Both Robinson and Chiang are considered to be good prospects and should have a very good chance at cracking the Mariners’ outfield.  The trade of Robinson came as somewhat of a surprise and the Dodgers have received a great deal of negative press on the deal.  The team however was looking for a prospect catcher and believe they have found it in Federowicz and the additional parts in Rodriguez and Fife.  The Mariners are the big winners in this deal, while the Red Sox play with fire and the Dodgers likely just got burnt.

 

Ubaldo Jimenez (Rockies) for Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner and Matt McBride (Indians):  What a difference a year makes.  The Indians are going for it and have beefed up their rotation with the addition of Jimenez.  When on his game, Ubaldo is one of the best in baseball.  Further, Ubaldo continues to be under team control, so the Indians don’t simply acquire a summer rental here.  The keys to this deal for the Rockies are Pomeranz and White.  Considered to be the Indians two best pitching prospects, the Rockies add to their farm while losing their ace.  While Pomeranz is considered highly in baseball circles, I would have expected to see the Rockies get more major league ready talent.  Considering that they were supposed to get Jesus Montero and Ivan Nova from the Yankees or Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and/or Homer Bailey from the Reds, I give the Indians the edge on this deal.  Ace pitchers do not grow on trees and the Indians got one without giving up any of their major league talent or some of their other finer prospects, including Nick Weglarz.  Competing with the big boys, the Indians get the prize of the trade deadline and likely a division title as well.

 

Derek Lee (Orioles) for Aaron Baker (Pirates):  The Pirates are going for it and while Lee is an aging first baseman, he is an upgrade offensively over incumbent Lyle Overbay.  Baker is a Class A first baseman that is not considered a top prospect.  This trade is a draw, as the Pirates beef up for their playoff run and the Orioles auction off an impending free agent to stock their system.

 

Orlando Cabrera (Indians) for Thomas Neal (Giants):  This deal came out of left field, as the Indians are still contending and were expected to hold onto Cabrera.  With many young infielders on their roster, the Indians were prepared to sacrifice their utility man for one of the Giants higher rated prospect bats.  Speaking to Neal on several occasions, he is one of the nicer young men you will ever want to meet in the game.  Considered a great tools player, both offensively and defensively, the Indians have added another piece to their offensive puzzle while sacrificing a veteran that was expandable.  The Giants, with injury and offensive woes, took a chance on Cabrera, a good luck charm for each of his respective teams in the postseason.  While Neal was a big price to pay, the Giants are in win-now mode.  A draw, as both teams will away happy from this exchange.

 

Koji Uehara (Orioles) for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis (Rangers):  This is a good old-fashioned baseball trade.  The Rangers pick up a veteran reliever, who is enjoying his finest campaign in the big leagues and could be a setup man or closer.  The Orioles continue to stockpile prospects and add a starter and first baseman to their mix.  Davis has one of the most explosive bats in the game when he gets hot and the Orioles could have their cleanup hitter for the next 5-7 years.  Hunter should be a good #3 or #4 starter for the team.  A draw as both teams achieve their respective goals in this deal.

 

Mike Cameron (Red Sox) for player to be named later or cash (Marlins):  Cameron was not hitting in Boston but could be a valuable veteran presence in Florida.  I like this move for the Marlins as Cameron is solid player and person, perfect for their clubhouse.

 

Felipe Lopez (Rays) for cash (Brewers):  Lopez still has pop in his bat and could be useful for a playoff push.  There was no room for the Rays on their roster and they will happily take the financial relief.

 

Jason Marquis (Nationals) for Zach Walters (Diamondbacks):  I am a fan of what the Diamondbacks are doing in Arizona, but this trade doesn’t work for me.  Marquis will pitch in Arizona, but I don’t see him being the effective starter the team needs to fight the Giants for a playoff berth.  Walters is a prospect shortstop who could have been Stephen Drew‘s replacement one day when he left the team.  Walters has a good offensive bat and was not worth the price of Marquis.  Advantage Washington for adding another prospect to its growing farm while dumping a veteran pitcher that had no place on their roster.

 

Mike Aviles (Royals) for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz (Red Sox):  The Red Sox get some sort of infield insurance, which was unnecessary in my estimation with both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie on the roster.  If Lowrie is out beyond early August as projected, then this deal makes sense.  Otherwise, to give up two decent prospects for a player who has struggled this season and is unlikely to hit much in Boston does not equate for me.  Advantage Royals for dumping a player who did not fit on the team and continuing to stock their system.

 

Jerry Hairston Jr. (Nationals) for Erik Komatsu (Brewers):  The Brewers get depth for their playoff run and the Nationals get a marginal prospect back.  A draw.

 

Wil Nieves (Brewers) for cash (Braves):  Yawn.  An average catcher for cash.

 

Francisco Rodriguez and cash (Mets) for two players to be named later (Brewers):  A good trade for both teams.  The Brewers strengthen their pen with the addition of K-Rod, who could close or set up for the team and is a free agent at season’s end.  The Mets get salary relief and likely two decent prospects back.

 

Colby Rasmus, P.J. Walters, Brian Tallet (Cardinals) for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen (White Sox) for Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, Corey Patterson and Zach Stewart, three players to be named later or cash (Jays):  The good news with this trade is that I will not have to struggle to spell Rzepczynski anymore.  But in all seriousness, this was the first three-way deal of the deadline and probably the most interesting trade that went down.  The White Sox shed the contract of Teahen (to the Jays) and acquire Frasor and Stewart.  The Cardinals get Jackson for their rotation and Dotel/Rzepczynski for their bullpen, as well as three more PTBNL or cash from the Jays.  The Jays get the biggest prize, Rasmus to play center and bat second, as well as Miller, Tallet and Walters for their pen.  The Jays in our opinion win out, as they get a rare top prospect bat and only give up three middle relievers.  The White Sox did well in getting salary relief, a prospect arm in Stewart and a useful bullpen arm in Frasor.  The question marks surround the Cardinals, who give up the top player in the trade and might get left with very little more than adqueate playoff rentals as both Jackson and Dotel might not be with the team in 2012.

 

Nick Green and cash (Orioles) for Zach Phillips (Rangers):  Marginal reliever for marginal shortstop.  A push.

 

Ryan Langerhans (Mariners) for cash (Diamondbacks):  A depth player at best, the Diamondbacks hope to get one or two big hits out of Langerhans in the push for a playoff berth.  It looks like this was the best the Mariners could do in dumping another salary.

 

Doug Fister and David Pauley (Mariners) for Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and a PTBNL (Tigers):  For a Tigers team that was considered early in the day to be in the hunt for Ubaldo Jimenez, this one is a bit of a let down.  Fister will be a #4 or #5 starter for the Tigers, good but not great.  Pauley was having an incredible season for the Mariners in their pen and should do well in Comerica.  Wells will likely slot immediately into the Mariners outfield and the rest of the players are prospects to their stock their farm.  While I’m not excited about what Detroit received, I am equally not impressed by what they gave up.  Call this one a draw.  Middle of the road players for players at this point.

 

Rafael Furcal (Dodgers) for Alex Castellanos and cash (Cardinals):  With Dee Gordon in the minors and money woes being an issue, this trade for the Dodgers is about getting younger and saving money in the process.  The Cardinals are pushing for a playoff spot and if healthy, Furcal should give the team a spark offensively.  Personally, I would not trust Furcal based on his injury history.  The Dodgers get back a marginal prospect in this swap.   The fact that the Dodgers unloaded Furcal and got the Cardinals to pick up a large portion of his contract, I will label this trade a Dodgers win.

 

Juan Rivera (Jays) for player to be named later or cash (Dodgers):  Considering the Dodgers just released Marcus Thames, I am not sure why they chose to acquire Rivera.  They are very similar players, although I would give the edge to Thames for his better defense.  A win for the Jays, dumping a player that had no role on their team and was not hitting very much.

 

Jonny Gomes  and cash (Reds) for Bill Rhinehart and Christopher Manno (Nationals):  Gomes should be a good bat for the Nationals but with the team out of the playoff picture, it is a little curious why the team would give up prospects at this point.  Reds get the advantage as there was no room in their outfield for Gomes, they acquire two prospects and open up space for Yonder Alonso to play everyday.

 

Carlos Beltran (Mets) for Zack Wheeler (Giants):  One of the best trades of the year that will benefit both teams.  The Giants get the top bat they so badly needed after Buster Posey went down.  Together with salary relief (the Mets will kick in about $4 million), the Mets get one of the top pitching prospects in the game.   The Giants had to go for it and could not afford to waste their top pitching rotation without providing offense.  With Beltran an impeding free agent, the Mets strengthen their rotation for years to come.

 

Jeff Keppinger (Astros) for Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel (Giants):  The Giants get more bench depth for the playoffs and the Astros get back decent prospects.  Another boring but necessary trade for both.  Consider a draw.

 

Ryan Ludwick (Padres) for a player to be named later (Pirates):  The Pirates are looking to make a strong playoff run and former Indian Luckwick would fit well in their offense this year.  It remains to be seen what the Pirates have to give up, but for a player in as strong demand as Ludwick, as long as it is not too much, give the edge to the Pirates.  This one will hinge on the quality of the prospect going to the Padres.

 

Kosuke Fukudome and $3.9 million (Cubs) for Abner Abreu and Carlton Smith (Indians):  This trade is all about the Indians going for it in a year when the AL Central is ripe for the taking.  Fukudome, largely considered a disappointment in Chicago, is sent with cash to the Indians for their stretch run.  Good to get on base with the occasional pop, the hope is that the change of scenery will do Fukudome good.  The prospects the Cubs received back are marginal at best, as this trade was mostly about a salary dump.  Credit to Chicago for ridding itself of one its huge mistake contracts, with more such contracts to go.  The Indians hope they catch lightening in a bottle, but likely will get only decent production out of their latest Japanese import.

 

Wilson Betemit (Royals) for Antonio Cruz and Julio Rodriguez (Tigers):  The first trade in the deadline dealings, the Tigers upgrade their third base situation over Brandon Inge.  The Royals shed a contract and get two decent prospects.  We will call this one a draw.

 

 

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Jonny Gomes Traded to the Nationals and Yonder Alonso Called Up by Reds

Tuesday July 26, 2011

MLB reports:  The trades are trickling in very slowly thus far as the MLB trade deadline approaches.  First Wilson Betemit was traded last week to the Tigers by the Royals.  Now, Jonny Gomes is off to Washington with cash in exchange for two minor leaguers.  Of most significance is the Gomes move allowing the Reds to call up super prospect Yonder Alonso.  The question is whether the Reds are showcasing their rookie outfielder in a potential blockbuster trade or have called him for good to man left field for the next decade in Cincinnati.

Gomes was the darling of the Reds faithful the past two seasons.  He slugged 20 home runs in 2009, playing in only 98 games.  He followed up with an equally strong campaign last year, blasting 18 home runs with 86 RBIs and 77 runs scored.  The Red had signed Gomes after the 2009 season to a 2-year, $2.55 million contract which looked like a bargain going into it this season.  The 2011 season however, has not been kind to Gomes.  Entering play today, Gomes was batting a paltry .211, with a .336 OBP and .399 SLG.  After receiving every day playing time to start the year, Gomes was relegated to part-time duty as the season progressed.  A change in scenery was in order and with prospect outfielder Yonder Alonso on the horizon, roster space needed to be opened up.

Gomes is now off to Washington to play out the string.  The Nationals, in dire need of an offensive boost, took a chance on the 30-year old Gomes in the hope that he will be able to reclaim some of his past magic with Washington.  The Nationals did not hurt themselves, as Gomes comes at a very reasonable salary which will be subsidized by the Reds and cost the team only two fringe prospects.  Plus as a potential type “B” free agent at the end of the year, the Nationals would receive a compensation draft pick for Gomes if he is offered arbitration by the team and does not accept.  Given Gomes’ offensive potential, it was a low-risk and high-reward move for a team that needed to send a message to its fans that it was serious about contending.  Even though the team is out of the penant race this season, the Nationals needed to remain competitive through September to send the right message to its fanbase.  Jonny Gomes is a step in the right direction in that respect.

The prospects headed to the Reds are pitcher Christopher Manno and outfielder Bill Rhinehart.  Manno, a 38th round pick of the Nationals back in 2009 and then again in the 26th round in 2010 has shined since joining the organization.  The 22-year old Manno, a 6’3″ left-handed pitcher, has a 1.47 ERA over 2 seasons in the lower minors, with 13 saves, only 32 hits given up in 61.1 IP and 25/98 BB/K.  Rhinehart, 26-years of age, was drafted in the 11th round in 2007.  Having made it all the way to AAA in 2010, Rhinehart was playing this season in AA.  Up to the time of this trade yesterday, Rhinehart was enjoying his finest professional season to-date.   Hitting .283 with 21 home runs, 59 RBIs and .963 OPS, Rhinehart was exhibiting great pop in his bat.  But given that neither Manno nor Rhinehart are established major league players and are fringe prospects at best at this point in their careers, the Nationals have to be considered the winner of this trade.  They acquired an established major leaguer without giving up any of their top prospects.

From the Reds’ perspective, the bigger corresponding move is the recall of Yonder Alonso.  With his .296 AVG in AAA with 12 homer runs and .860 OPS, Alonso had little left to prove in the minors.  Scouts have never questioned his bat, as he has displayed the rare combination of power and patience from a very young age, far advanced for his years.  The only knock is his defense, as Alonso is a converted outfielder after having been blocked at first base by perennial MVP candidate Joey Votto.  But all the reports that we have seen is that Alonso has progressed well in learning the outfield to the point that he is considered adequate.  Although he is no danger of ever winning a gold glove, Alonso’s bat more than compensates for any defensive shortcomings.  The debate for the next five days will be whether Alonso is remaining with the Reds or being shipped in a blockbuster.  My gut is that he is staying put.

The two biggest names being linked to the Reds in trade talks is Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies and James Shields of the Rays.  Either player would cost a substantial package in return, including possibly Homer Bailey, Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco, Yasmani Grandal and Yonder Alonso.  The package that I have read for both players would be centered around Alonso and 1-2 more top prospects in the Reds’ organization.  From all indications, the Reds are in on the two superstar hurlers but are attempting to hold onto their top prospects if possible.  In a perfect world for the Reds, they would be able to land Jimenez while only giving up Bailey and Grandal.  But the Rockies, like the Rays, will demand a package that includes Alonso and/or Mesoraco.  A deep price to pay talent but reasonable, considering the upside and the high level of talent that would be coming back to the Reds.

At the end of the day, I believe that the Reds will regret it if they move Alonso.  He is rare hitter that will be an All-Star for many years to come.  While top flight pitching is hard to find and develop, it usually comes at a high price and risk.  Pitchers, given the strain and wear and tear they put on their arms, are the most likely position to be injured and thus come with the highest risks and question marks.  The hope is that the Reds appreciate the talent that they have in Yonder Alonso and continue to cultivate and develop him.  With such a deep pool of talent, they should still be able to make the headliner trade they are shooting for without giving up their top rated young hitter.  They were able to move Gomes to Washington to make room for Alonso, now hopefully we can sit back and watch Alonso combine with Mesoraco, Votto, Phillips and Stubbs to form the newest version of the Big Red Machine.  The Reds are on the verge of putting together something very special.  Hopefully they stick to the plan.

 

 

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Hiroki Kuroda: Pitcher Looks to be Possibly Traded From the Dodgers to Rangers

Monday July 25, 2011

MLB reports:  One of the most underrated pitchers in the game is currently on the auction block.  Los Angeles Dodgers hurler, Hiroki Kuroda, is currently being shopped to major league teams as the July 31st trade deadline is nearly upon us.  The 36-year old Kuroda has been very consistent since joining the Dodgers, enjoying solid numbers despite a constant lack of run support.  With a no-trade clause, Kuroda has the ability to refuse a trade in remain in the Los Angeles for the rest of the season.  But with demand high for the hurler and teams likely to offer incentives (in the $1-$2 million range), it appears that Kuroda will be changing addresses in the next six days.

A veteran of the Nippon Professional Baseball League, Kuroda played from 1997-2007 with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan before coming over to North America.  As a free agent outside of the posting system, Kuroda was free to sign with any major league team.  In 2007, Kuroda signed a 3-year, $35.3 million contract with the Dodgers and last offseason re-signed for 1-year, $12 million.  A look at his major league numbers show that Kuroda has been a solid and dependable veteran:

Year W L ERA IP H BB SO WHIP
2008 9 10 3.73 183.1 181 42 116 1.216
2009 8 7 3.76 117.1 110 24 87 1.142
2010 11 13 3.39 196.1 180 48 159 1.161
2011 6 12 3.19 127.0 122 33 97 1.220
4 Seasons 34 42 3.52 624.0 593 147 459 1.186
162 Game Avg. 11 14 3.52 207 197 49 152 1.186
 

The teams that have pursued Kuroda are the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.  Looking at the numbers, I don’t blame them.  In some ways the second coming of Hideo Nomo, Kuroda may not be as flashy but he has been dependable.  Except for 2009 when he suffered through injuries, Kuroda has pitched close to 200 innings every season since joining the Dodgers.  This year has been one of Kuroda’s finest, with a 3.19 ERA and 1.220 WHIP, which have only led him to a 6-12 record on a meek Dodgers squad.  With better run support, his record could easily be 12-6.  Now with July 31st rapidly approaching, people are wondering whether a) Kuroda will waive his no-trade clause; and b) which team will acquire him.

I am surprised that more teams are not pursuing the hurler.  With so few quality starters available at exorbitant prices, including Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies and James Shields of the Rays, Kuroda may be the best and most affordable quality starter available to a team that needs a starting pitcher for its stretch run.  While Jimenez and Shields will take approximately 3 top prospects, Kuroda may only take 1 or 2 decent prospects.  Not a high price to pay considering what a team will get back in return.

From the names thrown around, I would see the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers having the best chance to land Hiroki Kuroda, with the Rangers being the most likely to win the Kuroda derby.  The Rangers have a great farm system and many solid prospects for the Dodgers to choose from.  As well, the Rangers give Kuroda the best chance of winning a championship, having made it last year to the World Series.  Other teams will surely take a run at the hurler, especially the Yankees and Red Sox.  But when push comes to shove, expect Kuroda to grab his cowboy hat and boots and head to the lone star state.  We don’t profess to have a crystal ball and anything can happen this week.  The Los Angeles Dodgers will base their final decision on receiving full salary relief and the best prospects in return for their star pitcher.  It is always fun to speculate at the trade deadline time.  Let’s see which team ultimately offers the best package to acquire one of baseball’s best Japanese imports:  Hiroki Kuroda.

 

 

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Final Results and Recap: 2011 MLB Home Run Derby and All-Star Futures Game

Tuesday July 12, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports):  The MLB Home Run Derby is one of the greatest events in comparison to the All-Star games of any sport.  Fans flock in droves to watch the event, hoping to catch an amazing feat such as Josh Hamilton hitting 28 in the first round in 2008, only to come in 2nd place, and Bobby Abreu hitting 41 total home runs on his way to winning the title in 2005.

When the teams were announced, the fans booed both Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks.  Fielder was chastised for his selection of Weeks, as most casual fans were not aware of the pure power that he possesses.  Weeks was chosen over Justin Upton, who would have been great in front of his Arizona hometown crowd.

Early on this Derby lacked excitement, save for Robinson Cano’s first round, in which he had his father, former major leaguer, Jose Cano, pitching to him.  Cano blasted a number of balls deep into the right center field bleachers, his longest being 472 ft. Jose Bautista was a bit of a disappointment, smashing only 4 home runs and ended up being eliminated in the first round of the derby.  Other disappointments included the aforementioned Rickie Weeks and Matt Kemp, who hit 3 and 2 home runs, respectively.

There was some excitement at the end, as both David Ortiz and Fielder hit 5 home runs a piece to tie Matt Holliday, forcing a 3-player swing-off for 3rd and 4th place.  In this swing-off, each player received 5 swings in which to hit as many home runs as possible. Holliday led off with 5, Ortiz hit 4, and Fielder hit a perfect 5, two of which were mammoth shots.

The second round started off with Ortiz, and he began to show his age.   Ortiz was likely tired after the first round plus enduring the sudden death swing-off.  Ortiz hit only 4 home runs in the second round, and his average distance was 426 ft.  Then came the Robinson Cano Show again.  Cano launched 12 home runs in the second round, averaging 436 ft.  His swing was picture perfect, and it seemed as though any time he didn’t hit a home run, his dad would be upset with him.  Robinson’s dad knows his son’s strengths, and was confident he could hit that many.  That is likely why Cano was named Robinson by his father, after the late and great Jackie Robinson.

Gonzalez was also able to put on a show in the second round, consistently pounding the ball 430+ft.  He put on a display, hitting theball to the opposite field, and straightaway center field on his way to finishing with 11 in the round, and 20 total, tying him with Cano.  Fielder was up next, and aside from his first swing, that he hit 474 ft, he was not able to do much else.  He finished with 4 in the round, 9 in total.  So, it came down to the Yankees and Red Sox again.  Cano and Gonzalez square off in the finals.

Gonzalez immediately impressed, hitting 8 home runs in his first 3 outs.  He cooled off and finished with 11 in the finals.  With the most impressive rounds of the night, Cano hit 10 in his first 16 swings, needing only 1 more to tie Gonzalez.  The crowd erupted as he hit a home run over 470 ft to tie it up.  The very next swing was the one that did it, as he hit it out to right center field.  Gonzalez had a record 11 home runs in the last round, and Cano was clutch in beating that.

What started off as a slow, uneventful night, wound up being a compelling night of watching the Yankees battle the Red Sox in a pure power slugfest.  Robinson and his dad embracing by the mound.  The American League beating the National League.  All in all, this year’s edition of the Home Run Derby was nothing short of spectacular.

 

 

Chase Field, Phoenix — AL 76 defeats NL 19
Player Team Round 1 Round 2 Subtotal Finals Total
Robinson Cano Yankees 8 12 20 12 32
Adrian Gonzalez Red Sox 9 11 20 11 31
Prince Fielder Brewers 5 4 9 9
David Ortiz Red Sox 5 4 9 9
Matt Holliday Cardinals 5 5 5
Jose Bautista Blue Jays 4 4 4
Rickie Weeks Brewers 3 3 3
Matt Kemp Dodgers 2 2 2

 

2011 ALL-STAR FUTURES GAME RECAP
 
 

 

In a game showcasing most of baseball’s brightest shining up and coming stars, there were several players who stood out from the pack.  Although Bryce Harper (WAS) stole the spotlight in both the pre-game and post-game festivities, he did not shine quite as bright during the game.  He was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts and 2 ground outs to first.  One of which was hit fairly hard but a nice play by Yonder Alonso got the out.

Aside from two big innings, a 4-run 6th inning by the World Team hitters off of Drew Pomeranz, and a 3-run 8th inning off of Kelvin Herrera by Team USA, this was a game largely dominated by flame-throwing pitchers.

For the US Team, my standout hitters were Jason Kipnis, (CLE) who led off the bottom of the 1st with a home run over the right-centre field wall, and Grant Green (OAK).  Green crushed a double off the top of the wall in straight-away center that I thought would have been gone in any other park.  He also stroked another double, going 2 for 2 with 2 doubles, a run scored and RBI on his way to earning MVP of the game.  On the mound, I was blown away by Matt Moore, Tampa Bay’s mega pitching prospect.  He threw 11 pitches, 9 of which were strikes.  His fastball was clocked consistently between 94 and 98 mph, and he was also throwing a devastating slider at 86 mph.  Phillies prospect Jared Cosart was also very impressive.  He racked up 2 strikeouts and a fly out on 10 pitches; 8 strikes.  Sitting at 96 with the heater, he also displayed a plus change-up.

Jose Altuve (HOU) is a guy that doesn’t get much credit, because he stands at about 5’6”.  However, the Venezuelan native has hit everywhere he has played.  He was 2 for 3 with a single and a double, and I came away impressed with the diminutive infielder.  Jurickson Profar (TEX) may have been the youngest player there, but he was not overmatched, as he stroked a triple off Drew Pomeranz and displayed his impressive speed.  On the bump, Canadian James Paxton stood out to me.  The University of Kentucky product threw 6 pitches; all fastballs, and induced 3 quick outs. He was between 94 and 96 and showed better control than I remember the last time I saw him.  Henderson Alvarez (TOR) was also impressive, with a fastball that topped out at 98 mph, and getting Harper to ground out to first on a 95 mph sinker.

The US team jumped out to an early lead thanks to the leadoff home run by Kipnis in the first, and an RBI fielder’s choice by Wil Myers (KC) in the 2nd inning.  Team USA then made it 3-0 in the 5th on Green’s first double, which scored Gary Brown after he singled and stole second.  In the top of the 6th, Drew Pomeranz (CLE) struggled, and gave up 4 runs.  Alfredo Silverio (LAD) homered to left, scoring Dayan Viciedo (CWS) who had singled 2 batters prior.  A walk to Chih-Hisen Chiang (BOS) and a double to Sebastian Valle (PHI) spelled the end of the night for Pomeranz. With the score knotted at 3, Profar then hit his triple off Kyle Gibson (MIN), scoring Valle in the process.

Green led off the 8th with a double, and Tim Beckham (TB) drove him in with a double of his own to tie the game at 4.  After an Austin Romine (NYY) single and a Nolan Arenado (COL) double to right field, the damage was done, and the US had a 6-4 lead.  Jacob Turner (DET) and Matt Harvey (NYM) split duties to close out the game for the US Team.

The US has now taken a 7-6 lead in the all-time series.  A good number of these players will be on Major League rosters by season’s end, so be sure to check in on the minor league squads of your favorite teams for updates.

 

U.S. Futures 6, World Futures 4
July 10, 2011
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
World Futures      0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 4 8 0
U.S. Futures      1 1 0 0 1 0 0 3 x 6 10 0
World Futures AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Marte, CF 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 .333
  c-Fuentes, PH-CF 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Altuve, 2B 3 0 2 0 0 0 1 .667
  Schoop, 2B 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1.000
Alonso, 1B 2 0 0 0 2 1 1 .000
Viciedo, DH 3 1 1 0 0 1 4 .333
  d-Martinez, F, PH-DH 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Liddi, 3B 3 0 0 0 0 1 3 .000
  Marte, J, 3B 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Silverio, RF 4 1 1 2 0 1 0 .250
Chiang, LF 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 .000
Rosario, W, C 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  a-Valle, PH-C 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 .500
Lee, SS 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
  b-Profar, PH-SS 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 .500
  Teheran, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Hendriks, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Paxton, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Martinez, C, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Perez, M, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Alvarez, H, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Vizcaino, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Herrera, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Marinez, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 34 4 8 4 3 7 11 .235

a-Doubled for Rosario, W in the 6th. b-Tripled for Lee in the 6th. c-Flied out for Marte in the 6th. d-Popped out for Viciedo in the 7th.

BATTING
2B: Altuve (1, Skaggs), Valle (1, Pomeranz).
3B: Profar (1, Gibson).
HR: Silverio (1, 6th inning off Pomeranz, 1 on, 2 out).
TB: Marte; Altuve 3; Schoop; Viciedo; Silverio 4; Valle 2; Profar 3.
RBI: Silverio 2 (2), Valle (1), Profar (1).
2-out RBI: Silverio 2; Valle; Profar.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Liddi; Viciedo; Fuentes.
Team RISP: 1-for-5.
Team LOB: 6.

BASERUNNING
CS: Schoop (1, 2nd base by Gibson/Romine).
PO: Schoop (1st base by Gibson).

FIELDING
DP: 2 (Liddi-Altuve-Alonso, Lee-Altuve-Alonso).

U.S. Futures AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG  
Kipnis, 2B 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 .500
  a-Green, PH-2B 2 1 2 1 0 0 0 1.000
Machado, SS 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  b-Beckham, PH-SS 2 1 1 1 0 1 1 .500
Harper, LF 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 .000
Goldschmidt, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000
Mesoraco, C 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1.000
  Romine, C 2 1 2 1 0 0 0 1.000
Middlebrooks, 3B 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 .500
  Arenado, 3B 2 0 1 1 0 0 1 .500
Darnell, DH 3 0 0 0 1 1 3 .000
Myers, RF 3 0 0 1 0 1 2 .000
Brown, G, CF 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 .500
  Szczur, CF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Skaggs, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Peacock, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Miller, S, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Moore, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Thornburg, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Pomeranz, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Gibson, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Cosart, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Turner, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  Harvey, M, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 32 6 10 6 1 6 11 .313

a-Doubled for Kipnis in the 5th. b-Struck out for Machado in the 5th.

BATTING
2B: Green 2 (2, Perez, M, Herrera), Beckham (1, Herrera), Arenado (1, Herrera).
HR: Kipnis (1, 1st inning off Teheran, 0 on, 0 out).
TB: Kipnis 4; Green 4; Beckham 2; Mesoraco; Romine 2; Middlebrooks; Arenado 2; Brown, G.
RBI: Kipnis (1), Myers (1), Green (1), Beckham (1), Romine (1), Arenado (1).
2-out RBI: Green; Romine; Arenado.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Beckham; Darnell.
GIDP: Middlebrooks; Myers.
Team RISP: 4-for-10.
Team LOB: 4.

BASERUNNING
SB: Brown, G (1, 2nd base off Perez, M/Rosario, W).

FIELDING
Pickoffs: Gibson (Schoop at 1st base).

World Futures IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA  
Teheran 1.0 1 1 1 0 1 1 9.00
Hendriks 1.0 2 1 1 0 0 0 9.00
Paxton 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Martinez, C 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Perez, M 1.0 2 1 1 1 1 0 9.00
Alvarez, H (H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Vizcaino (H, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Herrera (BS, 1)(L, 0-1) 0.2 4 3 3 0 1 0 40.50
Marinez 0.1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Totals 8.0 10 6 6 1 6 1 6.75

 

U.S. Futures IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA  
Skaggs 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.00
Peacock (H, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Miller, S (H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.00
Moore (H, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Thornburg (H, 1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Pomeranz (BS, 1) 0.2 3 4 4 1 1 1 54.00
Gibson 1.1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Cosart (W, 1-0) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Turner (H, 1) 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Harvey, M (S, 1) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Totals 9.0 8 4 4 3 7 1 4.00

Balk: Perez, M.
HBP: Mesoraco (by Martinez, C).
Pitches-strikes: Teheran 19-13, Hendriks 18-10, Paxton 6-4, Martinez, C 11-6, Perez, M 23-11, Alvarez, H 11-6, Vizcaino 6-5, Herrera 23-14, Marinez 11-8, Skaggs 17-11, Peacock 9-7, Miller, S 20-12, Moore 11-9, Thornburg 10-7, Pomeranz 23-14, Gibson 16-11, Cosart 10-8, Turner 9-6, Harvey, M 3-1.
Groundouts-flyouts: Teheran 1-1, Hendriks 2-1, Paxton 2-1, Martinez, C 1-0, Perez, M 1-0, Alvarez, H 2-1, Vizcaino 2-0, Herrera 0-1, Marinez 0-0, Skaggs 1-1, Peacock 1-0, Miller, S 2-0, Moore 2-0, Thornburg 2-1, Pomeranz 0-0, Gibson 0-2, Cosart 0-1, Turner 0-1, Harvey, M 1-0.
Batters faced: Teheran 4, Hendriks 5, Paxton 3, Martinez, C 3, Perez, M 5, Alvarez, H 4, Vizcaino 3, Herrera 6, Marinez 1, Skaggs 5, Peacock 3, Miller, S 5, Moore 3, Thornburg 4, Pomeranz 6, Gibson 5, Cosart 3, Turner 2, Harvey, M 1.
Inherited runners-scored: Marinez 1-0, Gibson 1-1.
Umpires: HP: Ben May. 1B: Will Little. 2B: Jimmy Volpi. 3B: Scott Mahoney.
Weather: 74 degrees, roof closed.
Wind: 1 mph, Varies.
T: 2:38.

 

***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the 2011 Home Run Derby and All-Star Futures Game.  You can follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

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Team USA: Preview of the 2011 MLB All-Star Futures Game

Friday, July 8, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports):  With the World Team roster covered here on the Reports, we now bring you the potent line-up of Team USA. They are highlighted by standouts Mike Trout (LAA) [named to the squad but just called up to the Angels] and Bryce Harper (WAS).  Team USA also boasts an electric mix of pitching arms, including Shelby Miller (STL) and Jacob Turner (DET).

 

PITCHERS

Jarred Cosart – RHP –Texas – PHI –Clearwater Threshers – A – Florida State League

Jarred sits in the mid 90s and has touched 99 in some starts.  This is his second straight year at the Futures Game, although he did not pitch last year.  He has average command, as witnessed by his 36 walks in 92 innings, but if he can improve upon that, many scouts see him as a frontline starter.

 

Kyle Gibson – RHP –Indiana – MIN –Rochester Red Wings – AAA – International League

Gibson has the look of a middle of the rotation innings eater.  His fastball has late sink, which gets him a ton of ground balls.  With better defense as he moves up, and his ability to throw strikes, he could be a fairly useful 3rd starter.

 

Matt Harvey – RHP –Connecticut – NYM –Binghamton Mets – AA – Eastern League

Harvey pretty much carved up the Florida State League earlier in the year, but in 3 starts in AA, he has not been able to get past the 5th inning.  He strikes a lot of guys out, and doesn’t walk many.  As he matures and makes adjustments, he should succeed. He is expected to fast track to the Mets rotation, possibly as early as 2012.

 

Shelby Miller – RHP –Texas – STL –Springfield Cardinals – AA –Texas League

Ranked as the 4th pitcher in Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects List, Miller has been skyrocketing through the ranks, as he got to AA before his 21st birthday.  Miller has struck out 119 batters in 91 innings, while his WHIP sits at 1.10.  His fastball usually sits in the low 90s with sink and run.  He also possesses an above average changeup and a good curveball.  Miller has all the tools to win a Cy Young Award someday.

 

Matt Moore – LHP –Florida – TB –Montgomery Biscuits – AA – Southern League

Moore is rated 3rd overall on BA’s list, and has top of the rotation stuff.  He led the minor leagues in strikeouts in both 2009 and 2010, collecting 384K in 267 IP between High-A and AA.  Moore has picked up where he left off, with 125 K already this season.  His best pitch is a curveball from a low ¾ arm slot.

 

Brad Peacock – RHP –Florida – WAS –Harrisburg Senators – AA – Eastern League

Another pitcher who seems to finally have put it all together, he has 129 K and hitters have a paltry .179 average against him.  Peacock is wiry and should fill out to increase his velocity.  I see him as a mid rotation guy with a good fastball and breaking ball and decent change.

 

Drew Pomeranz – LHP –Tennessee – CLE –Kinston Indians – A –Carolina League

Pomeranz sits at 92 with his fastball, with good command.  His breaking ball can be a plus, although it is inconsistent.  He keeps the ball in the yard, and due to his large workhorse type frame, he could be an innings eater at the  number 2 or 3 spot in a rotation. 

 

Tyler Skaggs – LHP –California – ARI –Visalia Rawhide – A –California League

Skaggs has gained 15 pounds over the offseason, which has allowed him to raise his velocity a couple notches.  For a lefty who throws from a ¾ slot, he has surprisingly little movement.  His changeup has improved this year, which makes me believe his ceiling could be as a number 2 starter, but most likely settles in the 3-4 range.

 

Tyler Thornburg – RHP –Texas – MIL –Brevard County Manatees – A –FloridaState League

This 3rd rounder in 2010 has simply overmatched his competition so far this year.  With an ERA under 2.00, and opponents hitting under .200 against him, even after a move up to the Florida State League, Thornburg has the tools to succeed.  He has a good fastball and a power curve while his changeup needs time to develop.  If it doesn’t, a career in a setup role is possible.

 

Jacob Turner – RHP –Missouri – DET –Erie Sea Wolves – AA – Eastern League

Turner has a heavy fastball with late life that sits around 93, touching 95.  He has a sharp, but inconsistent curveball, which if he polishes, could be a devastating combo out of the pen.  For a guy who just turned 20 playing AA, Turner has pitched very well with a K:BB ratio at 2.7:1.  Opponents have also only hit .233 off of him.

 

CATCHERS

Devin Mesoraco – C –Pennsylvania – CIN –Louisville Bats – AAA – International League

Catchers with 25-30 homerun power are so rare that they often get moved to first base or even the outfield.  Mesoraco’s defense is average at best, so the move does seem likely in a few years.  Mesoraco walks a fair amount and is a doubles hitting machine, which makes me think he will be an above average regular by 2013.

 

Austin Romine – C –California – NYY –Trenton Thunder – AA – Eastern League

Romine hasn’t wowed anyone with his bat, but has shown steady improvements from year to year.  In his second year of AA he has raised his average, OBP and OPS.  He has a cannon for an arm and quick feet, although his receiving isn’t quite ready.  He could be a solid regular in a few years if the Yankees give him the chance.

 

 

INFIELDERS

Nolan Arenado – 3B –California –COL –Modesto Nuts – A- California League

This big, strong third baseman has decent feet and an average arm, so I see him being Todd Helton’s replacement in the future.  He has a power bat that should develop even further as he matures.  Arenado doesn’t strike out much and walks enough to have a decent OBP, so his bat will suffice at any position.

 

Tim Beckham – SS – Georgia – TB –Montgomery Biscuits – AA – Southern League

Although he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype of his number 1 overall selection in the 2008 draft, he has shown enough skill to keep moving up the ladder.  Every year, his numbers have improved, and I believe he is close to a breakout.  He is still a plus defender which will keep him in the big leagues for a very long time.

 

James Darnell – 3B –California – SD –Tucson Padres – AAA –Pacific Coast League

Darnell just got called up to AAA after dominating Texas league pitching.  His defense is simply average, and may have to move to a corner outfield.  However, his bat is his plus tool, as he has shown even more improvements from his 2010 season in which he struggled.  He already has 19 home runs, and has walked 52 times as opposed to only 48 strikeouts, so his approach at the plate is advanced.

 

Paul Goldschmidt – 1B –Delaware – ARI –Mobile Bay Bears – AA – Southern League

Goldschmidt has unreal power potential.  He has been a solid hitter at every level, but has taken his game to another level this year.  He already has 25 HR and 77 RBI, and he walks a ton.  This guy could be in a big league uniform as early as this September, but more than likely will be sometime in 2012.

 

Grant Green – SS –California – OAK – Midland Rock Hounds – AA –Texas League

Green profiles as a true shortstop with slightly above average hands and arm, with the ability to produce good numbers offensively.  He hit 20 HR last year in high-A, and the move to AA this year has stunted his power, but he still walks and gets on base at a good clip.  He isn’t flashy but he gets the job done and could be one of the better regular shortstops in the league.

 

Jason Kipnis – 2B –Illinois – CLE –Columbus Clippers – AAA – International League

This former center fielder shifted to 2B, where his lack of range still limits him to being only an average defender.  However, his bat will keep him in the big leagues for many years.  His numbers have improved every year, despite moving up a level.  He walks at a good rate and has some pop.  Doesn’t have a high ceiling, but what you see is what you will get.

 

Manny Machado – SS –Florida – BAL –Frederick Keys – A –Carolina League

Machado is still thin, but looks like he could fill out, in which case a move to third would be warranted.  He has a plus arm and solid footwork to go along with his very soft hands.  Although he has struggled a bit since being called up to high-A, he has the IQ to really succeed at the plate.  He takes pitches and isn’t afraid to hit with 2 strikes.

 

Will Middlebrooks – 3B –Texas – BOS –Portland Sea Dogs – AA – Eastern League

Middlebrooks has had a slow ascent through the minors, and with continued production, he could get a look at the big leagues by next year.  He is a solid defender at third, with a good bat.  Needs to work on discipline as his K:BB ratio is at 59:18.  Could be a regular in the big leagues by 2013.

 

 

OUTFIELDERS

Gary Brown – CF –California – SF –San Jose Giants – A –California League

Brown has absolutely blazing speed, with a very good bat.  He has stolen 35 bags, but also been caught 14 times, so he must learn to choose his spots more wisely.  Brown also shows the ability to hit for power, stroking doubles in the gaps consistently.

 

Bryce Harper – RF –Nevada – WAS –Harrisburg Senators – AA – Eastern League

By now, everyone knows the legend of Bryce Harper, and he has lived up to the billing.  He dominated the Arizona Fall League as a taxi squad player, and showed enough early in A-ball to warrant a call-up straight to AA.  The fact that Harper could even surpass people’s expectations is astounding, and I believe he could be a September roster addition for the Nationals.

 

Wil Myers – OF –North Carolina – KC – Northwest Arkansas Naturals – AA –Texas League

Myers moved from catcher to outfield in the fall of 2010, and this move should pay off for him in the long run.  He is aggressive at all times, and he is extremely raw still.  He lost part of the season due to an infection from a cut, so he is just rounding into form now.  AA has been tough for him, but his tools will shine in the long run.  One of the favorites of the Reports, keep an eye on this kid.

 

Matthew Szczur – OF –New Jersey – CHI Cubs –Peoria Chiefs – A –Midwest League

Szczur has tremendous speed and he covers a lot of ground in the outfield.  He hits well for average, but hasn’t quite developed his power yet.  This could happen as he matures.  He walks at a decent clip, and has the ability to steal a ton of bases, so he could be a mainstay near the top of the Cubs line-up.

 

**Mike Trout – CF – New Jersey – LAA –Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – MLB

As I began writing this, it was reported that Trout had been recalled to the big league team, and no replacement has yet been named.  Trout does everything well, and many people were very excited to see him play alongside Harper.  He may not offer as much power as Harper, but he might be one of the fastest players in the big leagues. 

 

Many people will be disappointed that Trout and Harper won’t be playing alongside each other in the Team USA outfield in the Worlds Game, but there is so much talent at this year’s event that nobody will leave Chase Field disappointed.  MLB`s ability to showcase not only current talent, but future stars, highlighted by this year’s fanfest events, make the MLB All-Star Weekend festivities the best of any of the major sports.  Get ready for an explosive Futures Game this Sunday, as the youngsters duel for the spotlight and the chance to make the major leagues one day soon.

 

 

***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the All-Star Futures Game, preview of the World Team.  You can 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 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 All-Star Futures Game 2011: World Team Preview

Thursday, July 7, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern Candidate for MLB Reports):   Since its inception in 1999, the Futures Game, now sponsored by XM Satellite Radio, has grown steadily in popularity.  The players involved are split into two squads:  USA and the World team. The rosters comprise of 25 players each, with every MLB organization represented, and no more than two players from each team.  This year’s game will be played at Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field on Sunday, July 10th, a day before the MLB All-Star Homerun Derby.

Previous editions of the Futures Game has been littered with immense talent, and this year is no exception.  The MVP of the inaugural event was Alfonso Soriano, and in other years it was Jose Reyes (2002), Grady Sizemore (2003), Aaron Hill (2004), and Billy Butler in 2006.  Other notable past participants were superstars Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, Robinson Cano of the NY Yankees, and Clayton Kershaw of the LA Dodgers.

This year’s game is no different, as 14 of MLB.com’s Preseason Top 50 Prospects List will be participating in the event.  That number could very easily be higher, but more than a dozen of those 50 are currently playing in the MLB.  This year’s USA crop is highlighted by Mike Trout, #1 on the top 50 list, (LAA) and Bryce Harper, #3, (WAS) sharing the same outfield.  The World team boasts a strong pitching staff, led by Julio Teheran, #10, (ATL) and Henderson Alvarez of the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Let’s take a close look at the featured players that will be respresenting this year’s World Team:

 

WORLD TEAM

 

PITCHERS

Henderson Alvarez – RHP -Venezuela– TOR –New Hampshire Fisher Cats – AA – Eastern League

Alvarez is a right-handed starter who is in his second turn at the Futures Game. He has always possessed plus command, walking only 1.8 batters per 9 innings in his 5 year minor league career.  An increase in weight over the offseason has also helped increase his velocity, as he touches 98 mph.

 

Liam Hendriks – RHP -Australia – MIN –New Britain Rock Cats – AA – Eastern League

Had an appendectomy just days before last year’s game, so this is a reprise for him.  Not unhittable, but throws a ton of strikes; just 18 walks in 90 innings so far.  Sits in the 87-91mph range with average secondary offerings.

 

Kelvin Herrera – RHP -Dominican Republic – KC – Northwest Arkansas Naturals – AA –Texas League

Diminutive right-handed reliever who has been almost untouchable this season. Since his call-up to AA early in the season, he has walked 2 batters to 35 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.  He sits around 95-96mph with a plus change-up.

 

Gregory Infante – RHP -Venezuela – CHISox – Charlotte Knights – AAA – International League

Another flame-throwing righty, he has managed to lower his walk rate and raise his strikeout rate in getting to AAA this year.  He gets enough groundouts and doesn’t give up many homeruns.  His lack of a consistent second pitch is holding him back, although his curve shows flashes of brilliance in the low 80s.

 

Jhan Marinez – RHP -Dominican Republic –FLA –Jacksonville Suns – AA – Southern League

Another righty reliever that can touch 98, with an exceptional 2-seamer that sits at 92.  His problem, as most young arms, is control.  Over his career he has average 6 BB/9, and has so far managed 7.9 BB/9 this year.  He has struck out almost 12 per 9 innings though.

 

Carlos Martinez – RHP – Dominican Republic – STL – Palm Beach Cardinals – A – Florida State League

A Latin pitcher, thin and wiry who sits mid 90s with his fastball which has a good late cut.  He has given up only 31 hits in 44 2/3 innings pitched, and is able to induce a lot of ground balls.

 

James Paxton – LHP -Canada – SEA – Jackson Generals – AA – Southern League

A tall, strong lefty, who didn’t sign after being selected in the supplemental first round in 2009, got a later start on his professional career after three years at the UniversityofKentucky.  He sits 92-95mph with an above average curve, a power slider and average change-up.  As a starter this year, he has struck out 81 batters in 60 2/3 innings.

 

Martin Perez – LHP -Venezuela –TEX – Frisco RoughRiders – AA –Texas League

A left handed starter with a fastball that sits around 92mph, his bread and butter is his sharp, hard-breaking curveball.  His command is average, as he walks close to 4 batters per 9 innings.

 

Julio Teheran – RHP -Colombia – ATL – Gwinnett Braves – AAA – International League

It’s not often you see a 20-year old in AAA with his numbers. 9-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 90 2/3 IP.  He possess a plus fastball that sits 92-94, with a plus plus change-up with great sink.  Projects to be a #2 starter, if not a true ace in the big leagues.

 

Arodys Vizcaino – RHP -Dominican Republic – ATL –Mississippi Braves – AA – Southern League

Strong, well developed legs allow him to sit in the 91-94 range, topping at 95. His curve and change have yet to fully develop, but show flashes of promise.  He has the ability to miss bats, as he has compiled 76 K in 78 2/3 IP.

 

CATCHERS

Willin Rosario – C -Dominican Republic –COL -Tulsa Drillers – AA –Texas League

He possesses 30+ HR power, but lacks discipline and doesn’t walk.  He has power to all fields but strikes out in almost 20% of his at bats.  If he can learn some patience, he could be one of the top young catchers in the game.

 

Sebastian Valle – C -Mexico – PHI –Clearwater Threshers – A –Florida State League

Valle is a catcher who has hit at every level so far, yet still lacks patience, which is very common with young backstops.  If he can raise his walk rate, and keep hitting the ball to all fields, he could be a special catcher in the Phillies organization.

 

 

INFIELDERS

Yonder Alonso – 1B/OF -Cuba – CIN –Louisville Bats – AAA – International League

Alonso is a very polished hitter.  He has begun to play more innings at left field, because the Reds have Joey Votto as a lock at 1B.  He hits to all fields, with some pop, and he walks a fair amount, which has led to his .861 OPS in AAA.

 

Jose Altuve – 2B -Venezuela – HOU – Corpus Christi Hooks – AA –Texas League

Listed at 5’7”, but plays as if he was 6’3”.  Altuve is currently hitting .362 with 4 HR and 22 RBI in 31 games in AA after starting the season in A-ball, where he hit over .400 in 52 games.  He doesn’t walk much, but when he is hitting everything thrown at him, he doesn’t really need to.

 

Hak-Ju Lee – SS -South Korea – TB – Charlotte Stone Crabs – A –FloridaState League

He is a plus defender at shortstop with good speed.  Lee needs to work on his base stealing to better utilize that speed.  He is having the best offensive season of his career, and is really looking like a steal in the Matt Garza trade with the Cubs.

 

Francisco Martinez – 3B -Venezuela – DET –Erie Sea Wolves – AA – Eastern League

Martinez is a prototypical third baseman with a quick bat and strong arm.  Once he fills out his athletic frame, he should develop plus power.  He still strikes out too much as he adjusts to AA pitching.

 

Alex Liddi – SS -Italy – SEA –Tacoma Rainiers – AAA –PacificCoast League

As the first Italian position player to sign a professional contract, he was seen as a bit of a project back in 2005.  He has begun to develop his power, bashing 15 HR so far this season, but strikes out a ton; around 30% of his plate appearances end with him walking back to the dugout.

 

Jeffry Marte – 3B –  Dominican Republic – NYM – St. Lucie Mets – A –Florida State League

Marte has good gap power and has a decent eye at the plate, as well as being smart on the base paths.  May not be able to stay at 3B long term, but as long as his bat continues to progress, could make it to the big leagues as an outfielder.

 

Jurickson Profar – SS – Curacao –TEX –Hickory Crawdads – A –South Atlantic League

Premium defender at shortstop, with speed and the ability to drive the ball all over the field.  He walks more than he strikes out, and once he fills out his 165lb frame, he could eventually become a 20/20 shortstop in the big leagues.

 

Jonathan Schoop – 3B – Curacao – BAL –Frederick Keys – A –Carolina League

Possesses the skills to play anywhere in the infield, his long term future looks to be 3B.  He has quick feet and a good arm, with a quick bat.  As he gets stronger, he could be a 20 HR guy that can drive in a ton of runs.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Chih-Hsien Chiang – OF -Taiwan – BOS –Portland Sea Dogs – AA – Eastern League

After five years of mediocrity in the minor leagues, he seems to have put it together this year.  Hitting in the middle of Portland’s line-up, he has not only driven in 58 runs and hit 14 homeruns, but also hit 26 doubles, giving him a .618 SLG.  Over half of his hits have been for extra bases, with gap power, he could prove that Boston’s roots in Asia are only getting stronger.

 

Reymond Fuentes – CF – Puerto Rico – SD –LakeElsinore Storm – A –California League

One of the pieces in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, he should be able to man center field at Petco Park for years to come with his speed.  He already has 34 stolen bases, and he gets on base quite frequently.  He may never hit for power, but could be a leadoff type hitter in the big leagues.

 

Starling Marte – CF -Dominican Republic – PIT –Altoona Curve – AA – Eastern League

There aren’t many players in baseball that could push Andrew McCutchen to a corner outfield position, but Marte could be one of them.  He possesses the speed to cover a lot of ground, and although his power hasn’t quite developed, he could be a 10-15 HR player with a good OBP if his discipline continues to progress.

 

Alfredo Silverio – LF -Dominican Republic – LAD –Chattanooga Lookouts – AA – Southern League

Silverio has always seemed ready to be the power/speed combination outfielder the Dodgers envisioned when they signed him in 2003, and almost eight years later, he may finally be hitting his stride.  If his discipline can improve, he could be in the big leagues quickly.  Lacks a good arm, so he is basically destined for left field.

 

Dayan Viciedo – RF -Cuba – CHI Sox – Charlotte Knights – AAA – International League

Finally moved to the outfield this year, he has a solid arm for right field, and he flat out mashes.  Many see a 30 HR player in the near future, as he uses all parts of the field with a quick compact stroke.

 

The World team is comprised of players from twelve countries: eight from the Dominican Republic, five from Venezuela, two from Cuba and Curacao, and one each from Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Italy, Colombia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

Stay tuned for analysis on the US roster.

 

***Thank you to Rob Bland for preparing today’s article on the All-Star Futures Game, preview of the World Team.  You can 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 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.

 

 

E-MAILBAG: Ask the Reports, Wednesday July 6th All-Star Edition

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 July 6, 2011

Q:  I enjoyed your article on the Home Run Derby this week.  Which players were selected to play in this year’s derby?  From:  Dave, Chicago.

MLB reports:    Thank you Dave.  So glad that you enjoyed our feature on the Home Run Derby.  As indicated in the article, captain David Ortiz has included Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano and Adrian Gonzalez on the AL squad.  The NL team, which was announced yesterday by captain Prince Fielder, includes Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, Matt Holliday of the Cardinals and Rickie Weeks of the Brewers.  For the most part we have a very solid derby lineup.  The only criticism that I can offer each team is the choice of the respective second basemen.  While Rickie Weeks and Robinson Cano are fine players, there are far more powerful bashers that I would have preferred to see this upcoming Monday in Arizona.  Curtis Granderson in the AL and Ryan Braun in the NL are the first two names that come to mind.  It should be an interesting Home Run Derby regardless.  So enjoy it!

 

Q:    I am boycotting the All-Star game this year.  It is nothing but a glorified exhibition game.  I suggest you do the same.  From:  Sam, Vancouver.

MLB reports:  Ouch Sam, you really do not like the All-Star game!  As much as the game itself receives negative press, the truth is that all our readers are writing about in the last two weeks is the All-Star game.  They cannot get enough of all the All-Star game coverage on the Reports!  While the game itself may frustrate us, with the length of time it takes to play, number of substitutes etc, the truth is that the game has much merit.  The All-Star game does decide home field advantage for the World Series, which is a huge reward.  The players are playing for pride and in my opinion, the last few games have been exceptionally entertaining for the most part.  Lastly, most of us love debating which players should be included on the rosters and analyzing the exclusions.  Baseball is a sport of non-stop analysis and the All-Star game is no exception.  Rather than focusing on the flaws, take in what is good about the game.  With the glass-half-full approach, maybe you will become a fan again.

 

Q:  My fave part of All-Star week is the Prospects Game.  The up and coming stars get to play and I get to see them live.  Will we get reports on the Prospects Game?  From:  Jason, Los Angeles.

MLB reports:  Funny you should bring up the Prospects Game Jason, you have read our mind.  As part of our search for the MLB reports Intern, we have Rob- a candidate for the post, preparing his feature article on the Prospects Game as we speak.  We agree that the Prospects Game is a very important game, if not the biggest game of the break for many baseball fans.  For the diehards that subscribe to Baseball America and try to learn all the prospects, many do not have the opportunity to watch the prospects live.  For those of you that subscribe to mlb.tv, you may not know that you can add the Milb package as well for only a few dollars.  But otherwise, the top prospects in the game will be playing this weekend.  While MLB reports will have the game covered this weekend, we will be featuring Rob’s preview of the game starting tomorrow.  Stay tuned for this must read feature!

 

Q:  Do you see MLB ever getting rid of the All-Star game?  Perhaps replacing it with the WBC or Olympics some years?   From:  Bruno, Mexico City.

MLB reports:  Hello Bruno, great question.  I can answer your question with one word:  Never.  The MLB All-Star game is a huge event for baseball that will continue until the end of time.  The game itself is as much about pleasing the sponsors as it is the fans.  The game is a showcase of Major League Baseball to the sponsors and baseball’s chance to wine and dine the greatest financial contributors the game.  The All-Star game contributes a great deal of revenue and publicity for the home town sponsoring team and the battle to host the big event is fierce every year.  The WBC, as featuring in our recent article, will be back as part of the 2013 edition.  While experts have debated hosting the tournament during the middle of the season or at season’s end, the time and commitment required makes the logistics almost impossible.  For now the WBC is remaining as a pre-season tournament, with qualifying taking place in the fall of 2012 and the WBC in March 2013.  From the Olympics perspective, baseball is not even currently included as a sport.  In 2013, the IOC will vote on whether to include baseball as an Olympic sport in the 2020 games.  Baseball will be competing with karate, roller sports, softball, sports climbing, squash, wakeboard and wushu for one spot.  The Olympics will be discussed on a different day, as the exclusion of baseball by the Olympics is unforgivable in my opinion and simply a harsh tactic to force Major League Baseball to send professionals to the Olympics.  Baseball is strong in its stance though and even if baseball does rejoin the Olympics, it will not interfere with the All-Star game.  The mid-season game is simply to valuable to baseball to let go.  Ever.

 

Q:  The National League won the All-Star game last year, its first win since 1996.  Who will win this year?  From:  Tiffany, Miami.

MLB reports:  I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you Tiffany, but the AL will win this year.  Call it gut, call it bias.  I just can’t see how the NL can control the bashers in the American League.  Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson are just some of the big names representing the American League.  While the NL has Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp, Lance Berkman, Brian McCann etc, I think the AL has too strong of an offensive team.  The AL pitching is also stacked, led by Justin Verlander, David Prince, James Shields, Jered Weaver and company.  While the NL pitchers get much of the press, the AL has its share of star pitchers.  The game should be an interesting one, with the run total likely to be very high.  But when all is said and done, expect the AL to come out on top and giving the Rays home field advantage over the Phillies in the World Series (did I just make a prediction?)

 

 

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2011 MLB Home Run Derby: New Format, Ortiz and Fielder as Captains and Picks

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

 

MLB reports:   Change is in the air as Major League Baseball has revised the format for the Home Run Derby, coming up on Monday, July 11th from Chase Field in Arizona.  The biggest change is the appointment of captains.  Former home run derby champions David Ortiz and Prince Fielder will serve as the leaders of the AL and NL squads respectively.  Each captain is able to select three additional players of their choice to fill out their home run derby team, regardless of being selected as an all-star.  The Home Run Derby team selections are due today, but David Ortiz has already jumped the gun to fill out his roster.  Papi’s selections are about to be listed, but first the format change for the Home Run Derby this year.

According to Major League Baseball:

“While the format to determine the individual champion will remain unchanged, the total number of home runs hit by all players in all rounds will be tabulated for the AL and NL to determine the winning team, captain and charity recipient. Each player will get 10 outs per round, the four players with the highest total of home runs will advance to the second round, and the two players with the highest cumulative number of home runs in the first two rounds will advance to the Championship Round, where first and second round home runs do not carry over for individual scores.”

Thus the derby now becomes a team effort right up until the final round, where an individual winner will be selected.  Thus the 2011 Home Run Derby will have a winning team, as well as an individual champion.  With the format of the Home Run Derby becoming somewhat stale and many players declining invitations, change was needed.  There was also talk of the “Derby Curse”, where participants in the Home Run Derby would find their home run totals slip in the second half of the season.  From Bobby Abreu in 2005 to Josh Hamilton in 2008, the curse has taken on a life of its own.  With teams starting to put pressure on its players to avoid the home run contest, the new format is a breath of fresh air.  Having the teams and captains brings fun and competitiveness back to the event and should rejuvenate a great brand for Major League Baseball.  While this year’s format will likely require future tweaking, in my opinion at least, MLB has done a great job in building excitement to the upcoming derby.

As mentioned, today is the deadline for the team captains to submit their home run team picks.  For the American League, Captain David Ortiz has made his selections.  Representing the AL in the 2011 Home Run Derby will be Adrian Gonzalez of the Boston Red Sox, Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays and Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees.  Gonzalez and Bautista were the first two selections by Ortiz that accepted their invitations.  Cano teammate, Mark Teixeira, was originally selected as the fourth member of the squad, but declined his invitation.  Cano has since happily accepted and will be launching home runs for the AL next Monday.

On the current MLB home run leader board, Bautista sits at #1 with 27 home runs, Ortiz at #11 with 17, Gonzalez at #18 with 16 and Cano at #27 with 14.  Ortiz made some interesting choices, as Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz and Paul Konerko were not selected despite being in the top 10 home run hitters in the game as of today.  I don’t believe that many people would argue with the selections of Bautista or Gonzalez.  It is the selection of Cano that would likely have some tongues wagging.  Most experts would have preferred Teixeira on the squad, but unfortunately he declined the invitation.  Personally, I would have gone with Granderson or Miguel Cabrera for the position.  But regardless of preference, the AL squad is a mighty one and should give the AL a strong chance to win this year’s Home Run Derby.

In the National League, Prince Fielder continues to ponder and calculate his selections, which should be announced later today.  Prince, at #6 on the home run leader board with 21, has many candidates to choose from.  One selection apparently confirmed is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, who is #4 with 22 home runs.  Other strong candidates are Fielder’s teammates Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks (with rumors have Weeks likely to receive and accept an invitation).  Other possibilities are Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals, Jay Bruce of the Reds, Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies and Mike Stanton of the Marlins.  If you are handicapping at home, my predicted NL squad is Fielder, Weeks, Holliday and Bruce.  We will find out later today if Prince and I are on the same page on this one.

No matter who ends up representing the AL and NL, Ortiz and Fielder will captain exciting and dynamic home run hitting squads that will electrify the Arizona crowd next Monday.  I cannot recall a more anticipated Home Run Derby in recent history.  Good luck Prince and Papi and don’t forget to eat your wheaties this week.

 

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

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

2011 MLB ALL-STAR GAME FINAL VOTING RESULTS:

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

American League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

National League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 4, 2011

 

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

American League All-Star Roster:

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

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

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

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

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

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

National League All-Star Roster:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MLB Final Vote Candidates:

AL Nominees:

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

NL Nominees:

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

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

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

2011 MLB ALL-STAR GAME FINAL VOTING RESULTS:

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

American League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National League

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Boras: The Contracts. The Clients. Who’s to Blame?

Sunday July 3, 2011

 

 

MLB reports:   The man behind the billion dollar smile, Scott Boras is a big business.  The Boras Corporation represents close to 200 MLB players.  This is one of the most influential, if not important people in baseball today.  But the man is categorized in many baseball circles as “the devil”, for “forcing” major league teams to dish out excessively large contracts to his clients.  Is this really the case?  Is Boras bad for baseball or simply a man who knows how to do his job and do it well?  Let’s take an inside look at Scott Boras and search behind the contracts. 

We took a look yesterday at Randy “Macho Man” Savage, an athlete that aside from being a wrestling superstar, was a baseball player.  On the same token, Scott Boras the agent, was at one point Scott Boras the baseball player as well.  Here are the numbers that Boras put up in four minor league seasons in the Cardinals and Cubs organizations:

 

Year Lev AB R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
1974 Rk 95 13 0 10 .274 .402 .347
1975 A 300 39 2 36 .277 .402 .373
1976 A 437   2   .295   .387
1977 AA-A 343 54 1 33 .292 .392 .367
1977 A 78 17 0 7 .346 .440 .423
1977 AA 265 37 1 26 .275 .377 .351
1977 AA              
1977 AA              
4 Seasons   1175 106 5 79 .288 .363 .374
A (3 seasons) A 815 56 4 43 .293 .354 .385
AA (1 season) AA 265 37 1 26 .275 .377 .351
Rk (1 season) Rk 95 13 0 10 .274 .402 .347

 

A man ahead of his time, Boras was one of the original moneyball players.  For his career, Boras had 133 walks and only 76 strikeouts.  Those numbers were for good for a lifetime .363 OBP, to go along with his .288 AVG.  Knee injuries unfortunately cut his career short and Boras only made it as high as AA ball.  With the baseball experience under his belt, Boras went on to practice law and from there become a full-time baseball agent in the early 1980s.  Imagine if the 58-year old Scott Boras had made it to the majors and had played for 10+  years.  He would have been playing well into the 1980s, when his agent career took off.  But alas, Randy Poffo the wrestler became Randy Savage the baseball player.  Scott Boras the baseball player became a player agent.  Certain things are meant to be and some roles seem to be predestined.  But it is still fun to think what could have been and had Boras been able to continue in for professional baseball as a player for many seasons, Scott Boras the agent might have never come into existence.

The exploits of Scott Boras as an agent are legendary.   From the Bill Caudill contract with the Jays, Todd Van Poppel deal, J.D. Drew refusing to sign with the Phillies, the Alex Rodriguez contract, Darren Dreifort contract, negotiations for Stephen Strasburg and Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boras has done it all and seen it all.  Let’s take a peak at 10 of the biggest contracts negotiated by Boras:

10. Adrian Beltre, Seattle Mariners: 5 years, $64 million

9. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox: 6 years, $52 million

8. Kevin Millwood, Texas Rangers: 5 years, $60 million

7. Carlos Beltran, New York Mets: 7 years, $119 million

6. Kevin Brown, Los Angeles Dodgers: 7 years, $105 million

5.Matt White, Tampa Bay Devil Rays: $10.2 million bonus

4. Andruw Jones, Los Angeles Dodgers: 2 years, $36.2 million

3. Chan Ho Park, Texas Rangers: 5 years, $65 million

2. Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants: 7 years, $126 million

1. Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers: 10 years, $252 million

 

The list literally goes on and on.  Boras Corporation has negotiated contracts well over a billion dollars in my estimation and the number keeps rising by the day.  We can pick any contracts negotiated by Boras for review, but these ten deals are particularly interesting ones.  What do these contracts all have in common?  Firstly, they are for very large dollar amounts and very often far exceed what most experts predicted for each particular player.  Secondly, none of the teams that signed their respective deal appeared to have benefited from the deal.  In the sense that I would argue each team on this list had buyer’s remorse and would take back the contract if given the chance.  Lastly, all of these contracts were negotiated and signed by Scott Boras and each respective major league team owner and general manager.  It takes two to tango and in this case, sometimes three or four parties.  For as much as teams and fans want to burn Scott Boras at the stake for destroying baseball, these contracts were signed by the free will of each team. Furthermore, each team pursued their respective players and courted them to accept a contract and join their team.  At some point, MLB teams need to look at the mirror if they want to change the economic landscape of the game and stop blaming Scott Boras and the player agents of this world. 

An agent’s job is to land the biggest contract for his or her client.  A team’s job is to field the most competitive team at the most economical price.  When a player turns out to be a bust or financial albatross, it is the team that did not do their job.  The baseball world fell over when Jayson Werth signed his seven-year, $126 million contract.  The blame fell to Scott Boras for the most part for extorting such a large figure out of the Washington Nationals.  Why?  Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals organization are all big boys that can make their own decisions.  Without seemingly any strong bidders against them, the Nationals literally outbid themselves in handing Werth such a lucrative and absurd contract.  Most analysts, myself included, felt that this contract could only end up failing the Nationals.  Werth as an injury prone player without a proven track record was going to likely have a hard time justifying his deal.  But don’t blame the player or agent. No, they did their job in the process.  It is the team that needs to take responsibility for its actions.  An important lesson in life is to learn from one’s mistakes.  But teams keep making the same financial blunders, over and over when it comes to player contracts.  That is not the fault of Scott Boras.  It is the teams.

When free agency opens up each offseason, I compare the winter meetings to children being handed large wads of money and being thrown into a candy store.  They cannot control themselves and have to buy more and more to satisfy their hungers.  As it is not the children to blame when they are spoiled, it is really not the General Managers either when they have large spending budgets.  As parents need to take responsibility for their children, team owners need to account for their General Managers.  The large contracts that are handed out every year must be approved by each team owner beforehand.  Thus the way a child comes to ask for a $500 remote control car, a General Manager will ask for a $126 million Werth.  When the parent and team owner both say yes, they only have themselves to blame.  The toy and player inevitably break down or are seen as too expensive in hindsight.  But by then, the toy cannot be returned to the store and the player contract cannot be voided.  The lesson is to learn from the experience and to avoid similar mistakes in the future.  But teams refuse to listen and learn and as a result, player contracts in baseball are exploding with no end in sight.

Let’s keep Scott Boras in perspective.  The man does his job very well and pushes the limit of player contracts in baseball.  He might be a very intelligent person and a great salesperson.  But at the end of the day, he is simply doing his job.  For myself as a consumer, if I buy a brand new car for $30,000 when I could have bought a similar model down the road for $10,000 less, I cannot blame the car dealer or its salesperson.  It was up to me as the consumer to shop around and get the best deal I could.  There would have been other cars, the same way for MLB teams there will always be other players. But teams don’t see it that way.  They get caught up in the negotiations and the thrill of the hunt and get determined to land their “guy”.  The Red Sox begged and pleaded to get Dice-K into a Red Sox uniform.  The same Sox and Yankees battled it out to land Mark Teixeira.  The Texas Rangers and then owner Tom Hicks literally handed Alex Rodriguez a blank cheque to land the marquee free agent.  Again and again, MLB teams go out of their way to land the players they want and end up blaming the players and their agent when the contracts do not work out. 

One man I will give credit to is Fred Wilpon.  In criticizing the Carlos Beltran contract, he blamed the team for overpaying the outfielder based on one good playoff run.  This is a man who at the very least took responsibility for his actions and knew where to lay the blame.  Since the Beltran deal, the Mets, along with the Braves and Angels, are three teams that tend to stay away from dealing with Scott Boras and the players he represents.  That is ultimately the best approach and the only way that any order can be established.  If teams do not want to dish the money, all they have to say is no.  But as long as the money is there and being handed out by the teams by the truck loads, Scott Boras will be there with open arms, negotiating the best contracts for his clients that he can.

Scott Boras has accomplished some amazing feats during his agent career.  From changing the rules on arbitration and free agency, Boras pushes the boundaries and finds all the loopholes to change the economic system of the game.  The sign of a great lawyer, negotiator and agent.  Before fans are quick to condemn the man, lets step back and appreciate what he has accomplished.  Scott Boras and the Boras Corporation are a billion dollar industry.  They provide marketing services, training facilities for their clients and look after their clients every needs.  Boras has a team of experts that are constantly studying and keeping track of the game.  Scott Boras stays on top of the game and thus is able to stay competitive and negotiate the best contracts for his clients.  While not everyone agrees with his methods, particularly the Alex Rodriguez opt-out with the Yankees which led A-Rod to leave Boras, he may have the ideas, but it is up to players to accept them and teams to listen.  As long as players keep lining up to hire Scott Boras and teams await with open arms and wallets, the system will not change.  Scott Boras may be a lot of things, but the devil he is certainly not.  He is simply a smart, hard worker who does his job well at levels that few can attain.  A baseball pioneer, Scott Boras has certainly left his mark on the game.  While many fans and teams do not agree with his methods, at the end of the day he gets the job done.  Scott Boras:  Genius or madness?  You decide.

 

Please see the list below of some of the clients in the Scott Boras stable.  The list is growing by the day:

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

 

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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

 

 

 

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

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE ALL-STAR (as of June 21)

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE ALL-STAR (as of June 20)

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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