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2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifier 3: Preview

Estadio Rod Carew en Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá

Estadio Nacional de Panama / Rod Carew Stadium

Chris Kabout (Featured Baseball Writer/Owner – yankeebiscuitfansdtuchblog.mlblogs.com) 

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On March 17 the third qualifier of the World Baseball Classic will start. Panama will host Columbia, France and Spain during this four day event.

The stadium where this four day event will be played is Rod Carew Stadium, which served as stadium for the 2011 World Cup final which was won by the Netherlands.

Also the 2012 Qualifiers were played in this stadium as Brazil surprisingly  beat Panama 1-0 in the final. The stadium’s official name is Estadio Nacional de Panamá.

The stadium was constructed in 1999 and has a capacity of 27,000. Shortly before the Qualifiers start, the Yankees and the Marlins are scheduled to play two exhibition games at the stadium.

This group may have three favorites to advance to the main tournament: Colombia, Spain and Panama.

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast Archives Feb.1, 2013 – Feb.28, 2013 (Episodes 101 – 128)

sunkenDFiamond

Paul Francis Sullivan (please call him Sully) does a podcast 365 days a year – unless it is a leap year – then he will do another 1. He has done a show everyday since Oct.24/2012. This to date represents a streak of 1216 days consecutively!

Past the CLICK TO READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY are episodes 101 – 128 of the Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

Sully starting posting his daily podcasts at the mlbreports.com on Feb.6, 2013. We will also archive all of his podcasts to date (in coming weeks) so they are easily accessible for all his fans. Check out all his Archived info here.

Our website followers have grown larger each year for his podcast.

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To subscribe on iTunes, click HERE.

To subscribe on SoundCloud, click HERE. Read the rest of this entry

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast Archives Jan.1, 2013 – Jan.31, 2013 (Lost Eps 70 – 100)

sunkenDFiamond

Paul Francis Sullivan (please call him Sully) does a podcast 365 days a year – unless it is a leap year – then he will do another 1. He has done a show everyday since Oct.24/2012. This to date represents a streak of 1216 days consecutively!

Past the CLICK TO READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY are episodes 70 – 100 of the Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

Sully starting posting his daily podcasts at the mlbreports.com on Feb.6, 2013. So we will add the dates between Oct.24, 2012 and Feb.6, 2013 in case you missed any of his awesome 1st 105 episodes.

But we will also archive all of his podcasts to date (in coming weeks) so they are easily accessible for all his fans.

Our website followers have grown larger each year for his podcast.

Follow Sully Baseball On Twitter

To subscribe on iTunes, click HERE.

To subscribe on SoundCloud, click HERE. Read the rest of this entry

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast Archives Dec.1, 2012 – Dec.31, 2012 (Lost Eps 39 – 69)

sully baseball funny game

Paul Francis Sullivan (please call him Sully) does a podcast 365 days a year – unless it is a leap year – then he will do another 1. He has done a show everyday since Oct.24/2012. This to date represents a streak of 1215 days consecutively!

Past the CLICK TO READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY are episodes 39 – 69 of the Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

Sully starting posting his daily podcasts at the mlbreports.com on Feb.6, 2013. So we will add the dates between Oct.24, 2012 and Feb.6, 2013 in case you missed any of his awesome 1st 105 episodes.

But we will also archive all of his podcasts to date (in coming weeks) –  so they are easily accessible for all his fans.

Our website followers have grown larger each year for his podcast.

Follow Sully Baseball On Twitter

To subscribe on iTunes, click HERE.

To subscribe on SoundCloud, click HERE. Read the rest of this entry

MLB Team Power Rankings: Week 8

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Monday May.27/2013

The Detroit Tigers were second on the list for moving up rankings with 5 spots.  They have overtaken the Indians - and have 5 players that are hitting north of .300.  Their top 4 Starters may be the best in the game - and they play in an extremely winnable division where teams can`t match them for payroll or talent.

The Detroit Tigers were second on the list for moving up rankings with 5 spots. They have overtaken the Indians in the AL Central  – and have 5 players that are hitting north of .300. Their top 4 Starters may be the best in the game – and they play in an extremely winnable division where teams can`t match them for payroll or talent.  Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter on the planet – and has great support.

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

The Oakland Athletics are making another run at the expense of the lesser lites  in the Division.  This team feasts on the Astros and Mariners – and are not half bad at playing the Rangers and Angels either.  The goal for them is to continue to pitch.  They must try to at least take 2 games versus San Francisco in the 4 game set.

The Kansas City Royals may have rolled up snake eyes in gambling on their 2013 season.  Suffering the longest playoff drought in the majors at 28 years, the franchise traded away its best prospect player in Wil Myers for a 2 year pitching solution in James Shields.

The problem is that their nucleus of young talented hitters have failed them.  Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are being outpowered by some teams Pitching cores in the NL.

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Nate Freiman: Beane Finds Yet Another Hidden Gem… And The A’s Next 1st Baseman

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Friday April 5th, 2013

All Nate Freiman did was carry the Country of Israel during the recent World Baseball Classic Qualifying Tournament. Can this First Base giant do the same in Oakland?

All Nate Freiman did was carry the Country of Israel during the recent World Baseball Classic Qualifying Tournament. Can this First Base giant do the same in Oakland?

Jonathan Hacohen  (Lead Baseball Columnist, Oakland A’s Correspondent and Website Founder):  

Baseball is a funny game sometimes. One minute you’re crying the Chris Carter blues. Then before you  know it, Nate Freiman appears. That is how Billy Beane works my friends. Just when you think he might be slipping, he pulls a magic rabbit out of his hat (better known as the waiver wire in baseball terms). 

On February 11, 2013, I wrote an article outlining Billy Beane’s error in trading Chris Carter. While I have always endorsed the talents of Jed Lowrie, it was my opinion that giving up a future star in Chris Carter was too high of a price to pay.

The trade (which actually took place on February 4th) saw the Astros acquire yet another stud First Base prospect. I wondered out loud what the Astros would do with all their First Base talent (Brett Wallace, Jonathan Singleton, Nate Freiman and veteran Carlos Pena).

It seemed like too many bats and not enough positions in Houston, despite the newfound need for a Designated Hitter. A little over a month later, March 23rd to be exact- I had my answer. Nate Freiman was on his way to Oakland.

The star for Israel in this year’s World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament was going to get the opportunity of a lifetime.

While some felt the A’s were simply acquiring roster depth, I saw a different vision. The A’s had their replacement for Brandon Moss at First Base.

Billy Beane had an uncovered yet another gem that was going to thrive in Oakland. Remember Josh Reddick 2012? Meet Nate Freiman 2013.  

Nate Freiman Interview:

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Top Five Most Memorable Moments from the 2013 World Baseball Classic

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Monday, March.25  2013

The World Baseball Classic Ran from Mar.02 - Mar.19/2013

The World Baseball Classic Ran from Mar.02 – Mar.19/2013.

By Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): 

The 2013 World Baseball Classic was an amazing tournament that had its up’s and down’s; but for the most part, it provided a great opportunity to watch meaningful spring training games during the winter. Having watched almost every game, I can officially say that it exhausted me.

From cheering on the Americans to trying to pronounce all of the Japanese names, there was never a shortage of things going on at the 2013 WBC. There were a very few number of special moments that will stay with me until the 2016 WBC. Without further ado, here are my top five memories from the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

The Final 3 Outs of the World Baseball Classic:

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Baltimore Orioles Player Roster In 2013: State Of The Union Updated Mar.15

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Friday March 15, 2013

The Orioles defied the odds with a 29 - 9 One run games record and a record streak of Extra Innings Wins that reached the teens.  In a vaunted AL East - Vegas has only predicted them as about a 77 win team this year.

The Orioles defied the odds with a 29 – 9 One run games record and a record streak of Extra Innings Wins that reached the teens. In a vaunted AL East – Vegas has only predicted them as about a 77 win team this year.  They used 12 Starting Pitchers and none of them are clear – cut Aces.  Might they call Dylan Bundy up in  May?  Will the management pull the trigger on a proven #1 Starting Pitcher to help them out? Will Brian Roberts be able to stay healthy?

By Kyle Holland (MLB Reports Writer):

2012 was a breakout year for the Baltimore Orioles and the start of something new. They finished the season with a 93-69 record, a record good enough to land themselves a spot in the Wild Card playoff game. This marked the first time since 1997 they were playing October baseball.

The Orioles took down the Rangers in that very game to advance to the ALDS against AL East foe, the New York Yankees. They gave the Yankees a run for their money sending the series to 5 games, only to lose a heart-breaker 3-1 finale of the matchup.  All of this happening with the Orioles having the 18th largest payroll in the MLB.

Orioles Wild Card Celebration:

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The Milwaukee Brewers Player Roster in 2013: State Of The Union Mar.10

There is a Hyperlink below to download our American League Podcast.

triple play al preview

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Sunday, March.10, 2013

Ryan Braun's 162 Game Average is scary for Pitches.  .37 HRs, 118 RBI, 113 Runs Scored, 41-2B, 23 SB, 200 Hits and a .313/.374/.943 Slash Line

Ryan Braun’s 162 Game Average is scary for Pitches. .37 HRs, 118 RBI, 113 Runs Scored, 41-2B, 23 SB, 200 Hits and a .313/.374/.943 Slash Line.  He will be looked upon to carry the Brew Crew for yet another season in 2013.

Ben Dobson (Brewers Correspondent):

Disastrous? Horrifying? Cataclysmic? Damning? Ruinous? Unfortunately for Milwaukee Brewer baseball fans this small collection of words described the 2012 version of the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen. No season in recent memory has produced as many highs, and as many lows as did the 2012 season.

The 2013 Milwaukee Brewers will thrive with an improved bullpen, an upgraded pitching staff, and the continued success of one of the best offensive lineups in baseball. That’s a lot to go right but the ingredients are in place and currently being collected to provide Brewer fans with a World Series contender.

Back to the bullpen in 2013:  29 blown saves & ERA’s of 4.67, 4.38, 4.61, 7.68, and 3.63. Yeah, those types of numbers aren’t going to get it done as a Major League bullpen. The 2012 Milwaukee Brewers bullpen was one of the worst in baseball. On a daily basis Brewer fans rode the Bullpen Roller Coaster not knowing if they would survive.

Most Brewer fans figured John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) would level out and perform like that had in the past. Looking at 2011 and 2012 comparisons that Brewer fans logic just didn’t pan-out: Axford 2011 (1.95 ERA, 46 saves, 1.140 WHIP, and 16 earned runs) 2012 (4.67 ERA, 35 saves, 1.442 WHIP, and 36 earned runs): K-Rod 2011 (1.86 ERA, 1.138 WHIP, and 6 earned runs) 2012 (4.38 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, and 35 earned runs). Axford has the potential to bounce back from his poor 2012 season but history is not kind to Brewer closers. 

Take Derrick Turnbow for example: 2005 (1.74 ERA, 39 saves) 2006 (6.87 ERA, 24 saves) and 2007 (4.63 ERA, 1 save). Hopefully the saying “the best predictor of the future is past behavior” applies with Axford as the Brewers long-term solution at closing games. K-Rod would be a welcome addition back to the bullpen (said no one) so the Brewers will have to look elsewhere for the much-needed bullpen help.

Milwaukee Brewers Highlights 2012:

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World Baseball Classic Week One Update

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Saturday, March 10th, 2013

Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop has turned helped the Netherlands become the most exciting team in the tournament.

Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop has helped the Netherlands become the most exciting team in the tournament.

By Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): 

So far, the World Baseball Classic has been a great way for those of us drooling for baseball to take in some familiar sights. Even though some of the teams look very rusty and not exactly in mid-season form, others look primed to bring a championship home to their country. Group A and B have both finished their first round and have already moved on to Round 2, but Group C and D have yet to concluded their first round. Overall, the first week of the 2013 World Baseball Classic couldn’t have gone much better.

Complete World Baseball Classic Brawl – Canada VS Mexico March 9 2013

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Yoenis Cespedes: While Cuba Misses Their Star in the 2013 WBC – the A’s Slugger Looks to be an A.L. MVP Candidate

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Friday March 8th, 2013

From Cuba to A.L. MVP? Despite not being able to represent his native country in the WBC, Cespedes is a year older and wiser. The more he adjusts to North America life and baseball, opposing pitchers will shudder even more each time Cespedes comes to the plate.

Jonathan Hacohen  (Lead Baseball Columnist, Oakland A’s Correspondent and Website Founder):  

It’s pretty ironic if you ask me. The 2013 World Baseball Classic is here and Cuba is off to a huge start. I had to pick a winner and went with Cuba as my pre-tournament favorite. Considering that Japan has won both editions of the WBC, Cuba was definitely going to be in tough. To top it all off, they are starting off the first two rounds in Japan. Why is it ironic? For Cuba is missing its biggest star for the tournament. Yoenis Cespedes, the Oakland A’s star outfielder is in Arizona for Spring Training.

Far away from the bright lights of Japan, where Cuba finally beat its nemesis this week in WBC play after several failed attempts in the past. With that monkey off their back, Cuba has made the statement that they are ready to win it all. But yet without their biggest star. For when one defects from Cuba, they are forever banished from representing their country again in any baseball capacity.

I couldn’t help but think watching Cuba play in Japan this week that in fact Cespedes and the A’s opened their season last year in Japan. Cespedes actually started off his season with a bang out there and never looked back. On March 29th last year, Cespedes had a home run in the 2nd game of the A’s young season. That bomb in Japan was the start of the legend. Who knew that Cespedes would actually be in Japan a year too early? For all the success that Cuba has enjoyed thus far in the 2013 WBC, imagine if they had Cespedes anchoring that lineup?

Cuba may very still win the 2013 WBC. My money is on that happening. But if Cuba falls short yet again, the what if scenarios will endlessly get bounced around. What if the team had Aroldis Chapman? Alexei Ramirez? And most of all, Yoenis Cespedes? Until Cuba allows its defectors to come home again, the talent drain will continue to affect the country in international tournaments.

Yoenis Cespedes 2012 Highlights Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is Advised:

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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – March 1, 2013

The W

A Spring Training Game by another name

On today’s Sully Baseball Daily Podcast, I break down Ken Rosenthal’s article about the WBC and refuse to buy his reasons why we should care about it.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

2013 WBC Group C Preview

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Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Miggy Cabrera will take his talents to the WBC starting on Mar.2

Miggy Cabrera will take his talents to the WBC (for Team Venezuela starting on Mar.2.

By Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): 

Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Spain have produced some of the most talented baseball players in the world. All four of these countries will be will represented in Group C of the WBC starting on March 7th in Puerto Rico. From Miguel Cabrera to Robinson Cano, this division is filled with popular MLB superstars. Even though the Dominican Republic and Venezuela appear to be early favorites to advance from this division, don’t count out Puerto Rico or Spain to make a run at qualifying for the next round.

World Baseball Classic–Venezuela Vs Puerto Rico–Alejandro Toca Cuatro:

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Toronto Blue Jays: Clubhouse Cohesion, New Faces, And The World Baseball Classic

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Monday, February 18th, 2013

Melky Cabrera, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion. 3 of the first 4 hitters in the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays lineup, and all from the Dominican Republic. In their first year as teammates on the Blue Jays, and one of their first spring training practices, have already become a close trio. Dominican slugger Jose Bautista is missing from this photo, but is the 4th piece of this dazzling 1-4 combination.

Melky Cabrera, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion. 3 of the first 4 hitters in the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays lineup, and all from the Dominican Republic. In their first year as teammates on the Blue Jays, and one of their first spring training practices, have already become a close trio. Dominican slugger Jose Bautista is missing from this photo, but is the 4th piece of this dazzling 1-4 combination.

By Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Toronto Blue Jays Correspondent)

The Toronto Blue Jays had a very well publicized off-season.  Many moves were made, including two blockbuster trades, the signing of one of baseball’s best and most controversial contact hitters, and a new (old) manager.  A core of the former Blue Jays remained intact, but between the big moves made by GM Alex Anthopoulos this off-season, along with the smaller additions, the Blue Jays have 12 new players on their 25 man roster.  These 25 players are expected by many, to hit the gates running, and to at the very least, earn Toronto a spot in the playoffs come October 2013.

Clearly, team chemistry plays are huge part of winning championships.  We have seen numerous teams boasting extremely talented rosters have merely moderate success, and we have seen teams loaded with professional journeymen have historic success.  Michael Jordan is noted for making the comment, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships”.

The 2013 Blue Jays are very unique in that while half of their team is in fact new to Toronto, many of these players have played together and have cultural bonds. The blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins brought a total of 6 players to Toronto, all of whom, were quite obviously teammates in South Florida.  5 of these players are expected to immediately be impact players in the clubhouse. Another big trade with the Mets brought over three players who will likely contribute to the team to varying degrees, and have already formed close ties amongst each other due to the relationship that exists between a knuckleball pitcher and his battery mate.  Right off the bat, we can account for 8 of the 12 new players on the roster who at the very least, already are familiar with each other and are not entering a new city completely unfamiliar with their teammates. The following players might all make their way to the ALL-Star Game at Citi Field this year:  R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion .

2013 Preview of the Toronto Blue Jays:

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2013 WBC Group B Preview

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Sunday, February 17th, 2013

The WBC Tournament runs from Mar..2-19/2013

The WBC Tournament runs from Mar.2-19/2013.

By Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): 

Group B in the 2013 World Baseball Classic is just as talented as some of the other divisions, but some of the best teams in this quartet of teams lack the star MLB players found in other divisions. From Netherlands unique blend of top prospects and washed out big leaguers to Jae Weong Seo’s veteran presence on an inexperienced Korean team, Group B definitely has it’s share of stories. They key for the two teams that will advance out of this round will likely be pitching. There seems to be a lack of proven pitchers in this year’s WBC, particularly in this group. With less than one month before these teams start playing each other, here is a preview of what to expect from Group B in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.  

WBC Highlights 2009 Dominican Republic vs the Netherlands:

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Cuba Is Ready To Win The 2013 World Baseball Classic

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Saturday February 16th, 2013

LazoClasico1.jpg

Pedro Luis Lazo. One of Cuba’s greatest pitchers of all-time. Considered also one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball not to pitch in the big leagues. A legend, he represented Cuba in the 2006 and 2009 WBC tournaments. He will be missed in this year’s edition.

By Jonathan Hacohen  (Lead Baseball Columnist, Oakland A’s Correspondent and Website Founder):  

Going into the 3rd edition of the World Baseball Classic, the #1 question that I get asked on a daily basis is: “Which country will win it all?” A fair question, as all sports fans (not just baseball ones) love to predict champions before the first game is even played. Given that Japan has won the first two WBC titles (2006 and 2009), they have to be the favorites going into this year’s tournament. But as every new WBC edition begins, every country begins to get hungrier and hungrier. We had a qualifier tournament recently, the inaugural one for a WBC. 16 countries battled it out to win the 4 coveted spots into the tournament. Chinese Taipei, Brazil, Canada and Spain will field teams next month.

Canada and Chinese Taipei were two of the four countries that did not receive automatic entries and were required to qualify. Brazil and Spain were the newcomers that got their first taste of the WBC…and evidently loved it. So who will be it folks? Japan beat Korea in 2009 and Cuba back in 2006. Ironically, Cuba lost to Japan twice back in the 2nd round of 2009. If not for Japan, Cuba would have at least WBC title under their belts. Maybe two. So who does Cuba get in their group as part of the 1st Round of the 2013 WBC? Japan, of course. This time around, things will be different. Cuba is ready to knock the Japanese gorilla off their backs and take the 2013 World Baseball Classic.  


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Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 9, 2013

Felix Hernandez is saying no to the WBC, as well he should. (Photo: AP)

In today’s edition of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast, I talk about Felix Hernandez, why the Mariners are smart to extend his deal and why HE is smart for giving the WBC a thumbs down.

And I did this podcast while driving to get a ladder to replace my smoke alarms.

Aroldis Chapman – Starter Or Closer: Perhaps 2013 Will Solve The Answer?

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Thursday, February.07,  2013

Chapman was filthy dominant in the 2012 season, with a 1.51 ERA, WHIP of 0.809 and 38 Saves as the teams closer.  He made the ALL-Star Team, finished 8th in NL Cy Young Voting and 12th in NL MVP Voting.  Will moving him to starter be a mistake?

Chapman was filthy dominant in the 2012 season, with a 1.51 ERA, WHIP of 0.809 and 38 Saves as the teams closer. He made the ALL-Star Team, finished 8th in NL Cy Young Voting and 12th in NL MVP Voting. Will moving him to starter be a mistake?

By Matt Steinmann (Reds Correspondent):

The biggest question from Reds fans this offseason has been if the move from the bullpen to the rotation is the best move for Reds pitcher, Aroldis Chapman and the team. Why fix what isn’t broken? Does he have enough pitches? Can he pitch enough innings?….the answer to these and all of the questions you can think of is pretty simple; we’ll find out.

This plan wasn’t something the Reds came up with overnight, when he was signed to a 6 year $30 Million deal in 2010 it wasn’t to close ballgames. It was to eventually be a member of the rotation. In 2010, the rotation consisted of Aaron Harang, Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, and Homer Bailey. Out are Harang and Volquez, in are Mat Latos and Mike Leake, who looks to be the odd man out in 2013 for Chapman. In his final season for his Cuban team, Chapman pitched 118 Innings as a Starting Pitcher, which won’t nearly be enough for the Major Leagues. The only taste of Chapman as starter against at least some semblance of Major League hitters came last year in Spring Training before closer Ryan Madson suffered a season-ending elbow injury. Chapman went 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA, striking out 17 in 18 Innings, walking only 2.

Aroldis Chapman – Fastest Pitcher ever recorded at 107 MPH:

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Hiring John Gibbons Is A Huge Mistake

Tuesday, Nov.20/2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer):

I am in complete shock that the Jays hired John Gibbons as their recycled coach.  For a guy that has largely supported Alex Anthopoulos on many moves since he has taken over the helm, I can’t believe he pulled this guy off the scrap heap for managers.  Gibbons managed the Blue Jays from 2004-2008 and held down a mediocre 305-305 record.  While he did post back to back winning seasons in 2006 and 2007 in a tough AL East, he also had some talented players to work with.  Roy Halladay was the premier pitcher in the American League from 2005-2008 and would give a 11-13 games over .500 clip just by taking the hill every year.  In the 3 full years that Gibbons had Halladay, he was 44-16 (.733) in 72 starts, so if he had been healthy for 96 starts in this time frame, he would have won about 59 Games versus only 24 losses.  In Gibbons best year as a manager, he was 87-75 with the 2006 club.  Halladay was 16-5 (11 Games over .500).

I would never want to re-hire a manager that has 0 playoff appearances when the current club is going to be graded on exactly that.  The Jays will have a serious ‘PR’ nightmare if this hire does not work out.  No one would have faulted AA for hiring a manager with playoff experience.  If those guys aren’t available as your top choice, at least bring in someone fresh that has not tasted failure for the club.

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World Baseball Classic Groups 3 and 4 Update and Predictions

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Sam Evans:  The World Baseball Classic qualifying rounds in Panama and Taiwan are finally underway. Many of these games were predictable blowouts but some came down to the end. It will only be a few days before it is revealed which teams are advancing, so here is a quick recap of the games already played and a preview of the finals.

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2013 WBC Qualifiers: Groups 3 and 4 Preview

Wednesday November 14th, 2012

Sam Evans: The WBC is coming to Panama and Taiwan! Qualifier 3 and Qualifier 4 both begin on November 15th.  Group 3 will feature Panama, Brazil, Nicaragua and Colombia. Group 4 includes Chinese Taipei, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand. Who will advance out of these two qualifying rounds? Keep reading to find out.

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ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: Yadier for NL MVP, Wild Card Rosters, USA in WBC 2013, Triple Crown for Miggy and Scioscia to Boston?

Sunday September 30th, 2012



Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets! We love to hear from you- so keep the questions coming every week!

Jonathan Hacohen: I am going to channel some Jose Canseco right now. No- I don’t think that I can travel to the future. Or that everyone is out to get me. But I want to send a message to the “haters”. You know who you are. The so-called baseball traditionalists that cry every time our great sport makes any kind of adjustment. Every time there is realignment, relocation, expanded rosters, playoffs…the haters scream to the heavens. They say: leave the game alone! While I love the game the way it is, without a doubt, I still feel the need for improvements. But I take them on case by case basis.  The designated hitter? I say abolish the whole thing and go back to pitchers hitting in both leagues. I love the NL style of play, with real in-game decisions and strategies. But maybe that’s just me. While I may want to go back in time when it comes to the DH, I definitely look to the future on many subjects. For interleague play (assuming DH stays), I would play NL rules in AL parks and vice versa. Let’s mix it up! I say let’s increase rosters- up to 28-30 players per team. Poor attendance teams? Relocate. Expand by 2 teams to bring an even 16/16 split between leagues. From there, completely realign into 4 divisions of 4 teams each. And so the possibility of changes in baseball is endless.

Keeping that in mind, I come to a very hotly contested topic in baseball circles these days:  the Wild Card. Originally set up as one Wild Card team per league, this year we have expanded to two Wild Card spots per league. Coming up on October 5th, we will see the first ever sudden death one game Wild Card playoffs. Haters simply despise these upcoming games. Is it too much change? Is it unfair to the integrity of the game and the playoffs? We could debate that one for weeks…nay… months…nay… years.  But I will tell you this. If you take a look at the MLB standings as they are today, let’s reason the value of the Wild Card spots. In the NL for the last two weeks or so (more), it was a foregone conclusion that the Reds, Giants and Nats were taking the division crowns. Where would that have left the Braves? Cardinals? Dodgers? Brewers? Heck…even the Phillies and Pirates. Having the Wild Cards in place allowed fans for all those cities to remain interested and excited about baseball for weeks while their teams competing for Wild Card positions. No Wild Cards would equal many teams that would have been out of it long ago. Is that good for the game? To have fans in so many cities turned off from the game in August when they know the playoffs aren’t an option? I’m not so sure about that.

In the AL, the Orioles and A’s all still have a chance at division leads. The Angels and Rays still are very much in the playoff hunt. But no Wild Cards….would mean so many of those teams would not have had much of a shot. Unless we see total collapses, most are expecting the A’s and Orioles to face off in the Wild Card game. Considering how both have played, would you want to miss that one? Can you imagine if October came and the Braves, A’s and Orioles were not competing for a playoff position? Me neither. When I think about what we would lose by having so many of these teams going home if the Wild Card spots didn’t exist I shudder. I am not saying we should blow up the game. But before criticizing change just because its different, think about the pros and cons of the move. In this case, I say thumbs up to the extra Wild Card games. If you don’t believe me, check out the games on October 5th. They will be some of the best baseball that you will ever watch. That I guarantee.

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry

Canada and Spain Qualify for the 2013 World Baseball Classic

Friday September 28th, 2012

Sam Evans: With most baseball fans focused on the thrilling MLB playoff races, the 2013 World Baseball Classic hasn’t got as much attention as expected. However, in the first two qualifying tournaments, two teams surprised the baseball universe to advance to the next round. Canada and Spain weren’t exactly favorites in their respective qualifiers, but both won enough games to be playing in March of 2013.

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ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: September 23rd, 2012

Sunday September 23rd, 2012



Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets! We love to hear from you- so keep the questions coming every week!

Jonathan Hacohen: I am in a GREAT mood this weekend! Can you blame me? The MLB season is nearing the playoffs and the WBC qualifiers are well under way! While I love watching MLB action, my heart still favors the World Baseball Classic. If you have ever watched a game involving a team…say like Cuba, Venezuela or the Dominican Republic, you would understand why. In my book, nothing beats international baseball action. The passion of the fans and players simply cannot be beat. To have ones country advance in the tournament is one of the highest levels of joy that a baseball fan can experience.

Going into this week, I was keeping a special eye on Israel and Canada. As I am Jewish (check the last name), I will always root for anything and everything involving Israel. I almost fell out of my seat with excitement when I first heard that Israel was invited to the WBC qualifiers. Now watching this team in action, they certainly have a great chance to qualify for March. I have enjoyed speaking with Cody Decker, Padres prospect and a member of Team Israel over the past few days. To say that Cody is excited to be playing for Israel is an understatement. He spoke very highly of the atmosphere, the level of talent on the team and the feeling of playing with “Israel” across his chest. As Israel plays Spain today for the right to advance to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, I wish my fellow countrymen the best of luck. Behind ya 110%!

Canada has also advanced to the finals of its group, awaiting the winner of the Germany and Great Britain today. Canada will meet the winner on Monday afternoon. Due to its poor play in the 2009 edition of the WBC, Canada was forced to qualify for the upcoming tournament. After 2 strong games on its resume, Canada looks good to advance (will likely play Germany in the finals). As my family and I live in Canada, we have the bias of wanting to see a good showing from the northern squad. Hopefully my wish comes true, and both Canada and Israel end up qualifying. The fact of the matter is that the countries are in different positions. This is Israel’s first try at WBC action, and the team came in with little pressure and everything to gain. Israel will be thrilled to qualify, while Canada must qualify. Canada is known internationally as a strong baseball market and anything less than a victory on Monday for it would be a huge disappointment. To qualify, both Israel and Canada will need defeat strong opponents. Hopefully it will all work out at the end.

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry

Kyle Wilson Interview: Haley Smilow Talks Baseball with the Laredo Pitcher and Member of Team Great Britain in the WBC Qualifiers

Tuesday September 18th, 2012

MLB reports:  Great news folks, Haley is back! And of course, she has brought a friend. Our Junior MLB Correspondent is featured today with her interview of pitcher Kyle Wilson. The 29-year old Wilson is a baseball story of grinding every day and playing the game he loves. A 22nd round pick of the Dodgers in 2004, Kyle Wilson pitched 4 seasons in the Dodgers system. In 2008, he reached AA Jacksonville of the Southern League. The past few years, Kyle Wilson has played indy ball. In 2012, he spent time with both the Gary SouthShore RailCats and the Laredo Lemurs of the American Association.  

Timing for Haley worked out really well (as usual), given that Kyle Wilson is currently in Germany preparing to represent Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers! With the tournament set to begin tomorrow, we get to learn about one of its representatives- up close and personal. Featured today on MLB reports, Haley Smilow speaks one-on-one with pitcher Kyle Wilson:


HALEY:
I know your home games are played at U.S. Steel Yard, what are some of your other favorite ballparks?

KYLE: The best park I have played in was in Jacksonville, FL when I played for the Suns. The stadium was great and fans showed great support. The league I am currently in I would have to say that Kansas City and Winnipeg had the best facilities, fans, and accommodations. Read the rest of this entry

ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: Chapman, Hamilton, WBC, Billy Corgan and Neiko Johnson

Sunday September 16th, 2012



Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets! We love to hear from you- so keep the questions coming every week!

Jonathan Hacohen: I hate being sick. In writing terms, I have been placed on the 5-10 day DL with a chest infection. It actually feels worse than it sounds. I have the cough of George Burns and probably his energy level as well. But the show must go on! ATR appears every weekend and dammit, I’m not letting a little thing like illness get in my way. Write through pain, that’s my philosophy. 

Before I get to your questions, I just want to take a quick look at the MLB standings as of this morning:

  • The Yankees are hanging onto the AL East by the skin of their teeth, with a 1 game lead over the Orioles. But for all the talk of those two teams, don’t forget about the Rays. They are only 4 GB. The Rays have pulled it off before and if I am placing my wager, I give it to Tampa Bay. Just too much pitching in my estimation.
  • As we continue to scan through the standings, I notice that the AL races are far more interesting than the NL ones. I’m not sure if that says much, but perhaps the AL teams will continue to battle each other to a pulp, and become easy pickings for the NL (who enjoys home field advantage in the World Series).  Just a thought.
  • The White Sox hold a 1 game lead over the Tigers in the AL Central. Yes, I bleed Tigers Blue and Orange. But I will admit that my crystal ball sees this season as the year of the White Sox. Sorry Tigers supporters, its nothing personal. Just business. Adam Dunn is back and as long as Chicago can continue their season long magic for a couple of more weeks, they will be playoff-bound.
  • The most interesting division has become the AL West. The Rangers, the 2-time AL champions now hold a slim 2 game lead over the Athletics (after losing to the Mariners and the A’s beating up on the O’s in a key weekend matchup). Chuck Booth and I have called what the A’s are doing as “Moneyball 2”. Let’s consider that when Moneyball the Movie came out last fall, critics were quick to mock Billy Beane and the A’s as being outdated and the movie being a historical piece, with no relevance to the current team. Guess who’s having the last laugh people? That’s right. Billy Beane. The A’s might actually have the guts to pull this thing off and take the division. It would be an incredible shot in the arm for Oakland and a tragedy in Texas. Keep an eye on this race people: if we have learned nothing else this season, the A’s are not going away.
  • The AL Wild Card spots are currently held down by the A’s and Orioles, with the Angels (2.5 gb), Rays (3 GB) and Tigers (3.5 GB) all in shooting distance. If we assume that the Rays, White Sox and Rangers end up taking their respective divisions, we are left with the A’s, Yankees, Orioles, Tigers and Angels as the contenders for the Wild Card spots. I see from there the Yankees and A’s taking the wild cards, with Oakland advancing to the ALDS. It is not an exact science, but playoff predictions are sure fun to create.
  • In the NL, we start with the Nationals, who enjoy a 6.5 game lead on the Braves. Not out of reach, but the Nats are still likely to take the AL East. They have been one of the best stories in baseball this year. Let’s see how far they go sans their ace.
  • In the Central, the Reds have a stranglehold on their division, with a 11.5 game lead over the Cardinals. Dusty Baker and company have a magic number of 6. ‘Nuff said.
  • Over in the NL West, the Giants are pulling away with a 7.5 game lead over the Dodgers. Now Clayton Kershaw may need surgery and be out for the season. It looks like the Dodgers’ big ticket items will not pay off until 2013 at the earliest.
  • The NL wild card race is messier than an algebra exam. The Braves hold a fairly good lead on the 1st spot, almost assuring Chipper Jones of at least one game of playoff action in his final season. The final spot is held in a tie, between the Cardinals and Dodgers. While there are several teams still in contention for that final spot (Pirates 2 GB, Brewers 2.5 GB, Phillies 3 GB, Diamondbacks 4.5 GB and even the Padres 6 GB). Predicting this spot is like taking a shot in the dark. Many are going with the Phillies, given their strong pitching staff (the three aces). I am not counting out any teams at this point, but I will say keep an eye on the Dbacks. It would not surprise me if they somehow face the Braves in the one-game sudden-death playoff series.

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry

2013 World Baseball Classic: Preview of the Upcoming Qualifying Tournament Starting in September- Qualifier Group 2

Wednesday September 5th, 2012

Sam Evans: With more international talent than ever before, this year’s World Baseball Classic should be the best one in the short history of the tournament. The qualifying tournaments feature countries that wouldn’t strike you as baseball factories, but the talent is surprisingly impressive. Earlier, I previewed the qualifier group one, with this being the second group qualifier.

This round is scheduled to take place from September 20th to September 24th in Regensburg, Germany. The games will all be played at Armin-Wolf Baseball Arena. Regensburg, which is located where the Danube and Regen rivers come together, has a population of just under 150,000 people. Single-game tickets for this tournament will cost 15 to 75 euros. Personally, that seems like a lot to me, but I guess Germany should be able to charge more when they are hosting this kind of talent.

Armin-Wolf Arena is the premier baseball stadium in Germany. It has a seating capacity of 10,000 people, and when the local German team plays, they consistently draw around 3,000 fans per game. Don’t expect all of these games to be played in a sold-out arena. However, at the 2009 Baseball World Cup, 10,000 fans filled the stadium when Germany played. Armin-Wolf is a beautiful stadium that rivals any ballpark in Europe. Read the rest of this entry

ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: WBC, Pascucci, MLB Standings, Bonds, Clemens, Pedroia, Bautista and Wild Cards

Monday September 3rd, 2012



Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!

Jonathan Hacohen: I have some baseball thoughts on my mind.  Ok…I have baseball thoughts seemingly always on my mind! Call it what you like. A gift. A curse. I am what I am. And I do love baseball a ton. So before we jump into your weekly questions, here are three topics that I wanted to throw out to the baseball world:

1)  In my respectful opinion, the organizers of the World Baseball Classic should be ashamed of themselves. Yes, I said it. Two of the qualifying groups have their games being played this month before the end of the regular MLB season. How does that make any sense? Firstly, you lose MLB players who still have their games going, who otherwise would have been eligible and possibly participated. For a country like Canada, that is a huge blow which could mean to elimination before the tournament itself even begins next spring. Add to the fact that coverage of the tournament has been literally non-existent, and people need to ask themselves what exactly they are doing. If marketed right, the WBC should be big. Huge in fact. But it’s not. With the addition of 12 new eligible countries in the qualifiers, there should be a huge amount of hype going into the games. But now, people don’t know when these games are being played, where, rosters and even that these games even exist. If we are going to promote baseball to the world, let’s do it right. There is no baseball in the Olympics, so let’s get the WBC to be a bigger global stage. Until that happens, the WBC will not fulfill its potential. Ever. Groups 3 and 4 are playing their qualifiers in mid-November. Now that makes sense.

Quite frankly, I don’t care about excuses on timing, locations etc. There are thousands of ballparks around the world. The games could all have been played much after the World Series and had its own captive baseball audience to shine. I certainly hope that is considered in the 4th edition of this great tournament.

2)  Valentino Pascucci:  Big Val (@PoppaValentino) on Twitter, is a huge guy. 6’6″ and 255 lbs. to be exact. He recently passed the 250 home run mark in the minors. Pretty big stuff. In 14 minor league seasons (8 of them in AAA), he has a .269 AVG, with a .390 OBP and .484 SLG. After representing Italy in the 2009 WBC, I expect to see Val back there in 2013. Glad to see that he will get to represent Italy and play at one of the highest levels of the game in the world. Whenever I think of Val, I always wonder why the man never truly got his “shot”. He got into 32 games with the Expos in 2004 (Expos??!!) and 10 games with the Mets last year. Even hitting 34 home runs in 2007 (AAA Marlins) didn’t do the trick. Could Big Val had become the next Big Papi if given his shot? We will never know. You can never have too much offense in baseball. I wish teams could have seen that and had tried Valentino Pascucci on their team one year. Who knows what could have resulted – 20-30 bombs, 70+ walks. But rather than thriving in the show, Valentino Pascucci will likely one day retire as one of the top home run hitters in the history of the minors. I wanted to take a moment and salute a great hitter in this game. Mr. Pascucci, whether the 2013 WBC will be your last or you stay in the game for another season or two, thank you the home runs and having one of the greatest baseball names we will ever hear. Well done sir.

3) If you were sleeping under a rock and looked at the MLB standings today, your jaw will drop on the floor. Yankees in first place in the AL East, with the Orioles only 2 games back. In September! White Sox and Tigers in a dead heat in the Central. Rangers on top of the West, but the A’s only 3 games back. The NL picture is a little more certain though. The Nationals (is that possible) are on top, ahead of the Braves by 6.5 games. While most of us have accepted the Nationals dominance this season long ago, someone new to the picture would still be doing a double take. Let’s not forget that this was once a losing franchise not so long ago, that just recently put it all together. In the Central, the Reds are close to becoming champs with a stranglehold 9.5 games on the Cardinals. And that is significant considering St. Louis is 10 games over .500! In the West, it’s the Dodgers and Giants, with San Francisco enjoying a 4.5 game lead. Two wild cards per league? If the season ended today, Baltimore and Oakland would meet in the sudden game playoff. If you had bet that in Vegas during spring training, you would be a millionaire soon. But the Wild Card race in the AL is far from done, with the Rays, White Sox/Tigers and Angels all in shooting distance. With much baseball to be played, anything can still happen. In the NL, Atlanta and St.Louis have the Dodgers and Pirates to contend with to clinch their respective Wild Cards. Yes, it has been an unbelievable season thus far with lots more ball to be played. Care to make your predictions at this point? Watch out. As last year taught us, it ain’t over till it’s over.

For our Batting Stance Guy featured video of the week, we bring you Gar’s recent contest:  Who Takes Most Steps Out of MLB Batter’s Box? This one is fun and damn funny: 

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry

ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: WBC Qualifiers, Suspending Aceves, Blowing Up the Red Sox and More

Sunday August 26th, 2012



Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!

It’s 4:00a.m. on Saturday night/Sunday morning. While most of the baseball world sleeps- the Reports doesn’t sleep. Or at least this particular insomniac. Maybe it’s the excitement over the qualifiers of the 2013 World Baseball Classic coming in 24 days. Perhaps I can’t stop thinking about the Dodgers/Red Sox swap and analyzing in my mind who won/lost that trade. Whatever be the case, I’m about to jump into your weekly baseball questions. Some really good ones folks. Keep them coming every week! Tweet, e-mail, post on Facebook or comment on our site. Whatever you have to do, get your baseball voice heard on MLB reports🙂

For the Batting Stance Guy video of the week, we present “Batting Stance Guy Impresses Manny Ramirez“. With all the insanity around Boston this season coming full steam ahead to this weekend’s monster trade, we thought it would be fun to go back in time and remember a kinder and gentler Manny Ramirez. Enjoy! 

Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry

2013 World Baseball Classic: Preview of the Upcoming Qualifying Tournament Starting in September – Qualifier Group 1

Wednesday August 15th, 2012

Sam Evans: With no baseball in this year’s Olympics, international baseball fans are especially fired up for the third instalment of the World Baseball Classic. The newly-added Qualifying Tournament for the upcoming edition will bring even more games and countries to the WBC. One of the four qualifying tournaments will be held at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. The four countries represented will be France, Israel, South Africa, and Spain. Let’s take a look at this Qualifier Group 1 tournament and the rosters starring in it. From there, I will continue to preview the other three qualifier groups in upcoming reports.

First of all, Roger Dean Stadium is normally used as a minor league ballpark hosting two teams; The Palm Beach Cardinals (St.Louis’ FSL affiliate) and the Jupiter Hammerheads (Miami’s FSL affiliate). If everything goes as planned, this WBC qualifier will start on September 19th. The qualifying round in Jupiter will use double-elimination and take five days to complete, according to MLB. The teams will arrive a few days early at Roger Dean Stadium, so if you’re lucky, maybe you could watch an international batting practice or two. Read the rest of this entry

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