October 2011

Great Article

http://espn.go.com/espn/page2/story/_/id/7152611/st-louis-cardinals-mlb-champions-page-2-predicts-25-world-series-winners

This is a very creative article from ESPN’s Thomas Neumann.  I find it interesting how much the game can change, given how little it actually has over the last 100 years.  It would really be interesting to see MLB move into a true “WORLD” Series by developing divisions in various markets in Japan, Europe, and China, cashing in on the expansion of the game.  Take a look at what Neumann creates here, it is definitely worth a look.

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Freese + Postseason = Mr. October

David Freese was just another role player for the Cardinals this season.  Their lineup was built around Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday and they got lucky when Lance Berkman decided to try again after bailing on the Astros last season.  Well, Freese is now a cornerstone at the hot corner, and he becomes a legend due to 18 games.

In 18 games this postseason, Freese has posted a .397/.457/.794 slash, scoring 12 runs, with 25 hits, including 8 2B, 1 3B and 5 HR.  His 21 RBI are a postseason record.  While Freese showed some skills in April before an injury caused him to get just 14 at bats in May and June combined, his overall stats in his 604 at bat career wouldn’t lead to anyone being intimidated by him:

.298/.354/.429 with 72 R, 30 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 98 RBI and a 141/47 K/BB

Getting hot at the right moment is what it is all about in October.  While Albert Pujols’ 3 homer, 6 RBI-night will be remembered due to his ultimate legacy, Freese has given himself a couple of years in St. Louis to establish himself as their third baseman.  Leading a team to a World Series title when you’re making $416,000 is a big deal, especially when Pujols could get $30 million per season and will never have a postseason like Freese did in 2011.

No one will ever have a postseason like Freese has had.  Not bad for a 28-year-old who looked like organizational depth when he was acquired from the Padres for Jim Edmonds in 2007.  He has become a story, the story.  While so many thoughts will immediately jump to where Albert Pujols ends up after the World Series is completed and Free Agency begins, Freese deserves better than that, and as the Cardinals lead 5-2 in the top of the 7th in Game Seven as I finish this, he is worthy of the World Series MVP, even if the Rangers come back.

Miracle in the First Week

Theo Epstein may have brought two championships to Boston, but Ben Cherington isn’t lagging in working miracles in his first week as General Manager for the Boston Red Sox.  Before the World Series has finished, Cherington has already made a move that could make the Red Sox become the team to beat in the American League East in 2012…He will be putting John Lackey on the Disabled List due to Tommy John surgery.

Lackey has been, quite possibly, the worst Free Agent signing this side of Carl Pavano.  His 5-year, $82.5 million deal seemed like a solid deal for Boston after he went 102-71 with a 3.81 ERA over eight years for the Angels.  However, it just hasn’t work out for the Red Sox.  Lackey is 26-23 with a 5.26 ERA since “earning” his mega-deal with Boston.  His success and bulldog mentality made him a great fit when he signed, but now, he’s earning the “how-many-more-years” question from Saux fans.  Due to this elbow injury, Boston can have him at the league minimum in 2015 as a vesting option in his contract…if they want him!

Long-term contracts for the aging (see 8-year contracts to 31-year olds, like Alfonso Soriano) are a thing of the past, as are steroid to create longevity in success of aging players.  You have to wonder when gambling on veterans with long, pricy contracts will be a thing of the past, as well.  Epstein earned his legacy in Boston by building a winner.  While clubhouse horrors continue to creep out from under the rug, Boston steps into rebuilding a roster full of aging veterans and handicapping and financially debilitating contracts.  Cherinton’s magic has just begun.  We’ll see if he can manipulate any other tricks with some hidden gems like this.

 

It’s Always Something…

2,365 times Tony LaRussa has lost as a Major League manager, but only in the last couple of seasons does it seem like there is someone to blame other than himself or his team.  In Game Five of the World Series on Monday night, LaRussa called the bullpen twice.  Twice he, supposedly, asked to get Jason Motte up and warmed up.  Derek Lilliquist, the Cardinals bullpen coach, got Marc Rzepczynski up the first call and Lance Lynn up the second time.  No Motte.  The visitor team can’t see the visiting bullpen from the dugout at the Ballpark at Arlington, but there isn’t much of an excuse here.

LaRussa’s gaffe was that he didn’t make sure that the right man was up.  Whether the stadium was louder than any stadium in history or the Cards couldn’t see who was up, it is his responsibility to make sure that things are aligned.  If having a telephone as the only line of communication doesn’t work and the Rangers don’t have cameras, maybe it would have been in the best interests of the Cardinals or the League to step things up prior to the series.  No one did.  Deal with it.

Who knows if the bullpen phone was an excuse, though.  LaRussa has long been the manipulator of the bullpen and maybe he was throwing someone else under the bus for Rzepczynski’s inabiltiy to get Napoli out.  Rzepczynski is much better against left-handed hitters, but it’s not like anyone else has had much luck getting Napoli out this season, the man hit .383 after the break!  You can’t say that even if Motte or Lynn were on the mound at that point, they would have been able to get anything done.  It probably would have been Napoli-ever-after anyway.

Just add it to the list of excuses.  As a first-year teacher, I have heard quite a few interesting excuses already, but LaRussa and the Cardinals inability to adapt and accept what is thrown at them is assanine.  Since they lost home-field advantage when they lost Game Two at home, are they going to say that the 2-3-2 alignment isn’t fair when they lose Game Six?  Blame the League for not having enough off days if Kyle Lohse is their Game Seven starter?  The balls aren’t rubbed enough, the lights got in the way, the fireworks made the field too smokey, and you still need to shut your mouth and play the next game.  Against the wall, the Cardinals need to find themselves and get over it.

Measuring the Greatest

If you assume that Alex Rodriguez will break Barry Bonds’ homerun record, which he has until 2017 to do with his most recent contract, A-Rod will need to hit just 133 homeruns over the next six seasons.  JUST 133 homers is a big deal when you think about a 36-year-old who has had hip injuries and some steroid “issues” that have come about.  Is he the greatest hitter of this generation?  What is it that makes a player great?  Production?  Below are the greatest players of the current generation (have played in the last five seasons), showing their overall and average yearly production (162-games) and similar players that are members of Cooperstown.

* Albert Pujols – 11 seasons

CAREER:

1,291 R, 2,073 H, 455 2B, 15 3B, 445 HR, 1,329 RBI, 84 SB, 704/975 K/BB, .328/.420/.617

162-game AVG:

123 R, 197 H, 43 2B, 1 3B, 42 HR, 126 RBI, 8 SB, 67/93 K/BB

Hall Comparisons: Johnny Mize, Joe DiMaggio, and Duke Snider;

* Alex Rodriguez – 18 seasons

CAREER:

1,824 R, 2,775 H, 495 2B, 29 3B, 629 HR, 1,893 RBI, 305 SB, 1,911/1,166 K/BB, .302/.386/.567

162-game AVG:

123 R, 187 H, 33 2B, 2 3B, 42 HR, 128 RBI, 21 SB, 129/79 K/BB

Hall Comparisons: Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, and Jimmie Foxx;

* Manny Ramirez – 19 seasons

CAREER:

1,544 R, 2,574 H, 547 2B, 20 3B, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI, 38 SB, 1,813/1,329 K/BB, .312/.411/.585

162-game AVG:

109 R, 181 H, 38 2B, 1 3B, 39 HR, 129 RBI, 3 SB, 128/94 K/BB

Hall Comparisons: Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson;

* Miguel Cabrera – 9 seasons

CAREER:

852 R, 1,597 H, 346 2B, 13 3B, 277 HR, 984 RBI, 29 SB, 1,009/643 K/BB, .317/.395/.555

162-game AVG:

102 R, 191 H, 41 2B, 2 3B, 33 HR, 118 RBI, 3 SB, 121/77 K/BB

Hall Comparisons: Hack Wilson

The best right handed hitter of this generation lies within the above four players.  While legacies of Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez have been tainted due to their involvement in steroids, baseball remains a game of statistics and theirs are better than others.  Rodriguez’s numbers have also been tainted by injuries, as he has played in an average of just 124 games since the 2008 season.  Pujols (31) and Cabrera (28) have plenty of time remaining to continue adding to their careers, but they also could fall short due to injury or personal issues (Cabrera’s previous battles with alcoholism are well documented).  Regardless, put who you think the best hitter of this generation is in a comment.  I’d love to see who others feel rank at #1.  I would go with Pujols based on the longevity of his production without any negative character flaws (besides playing for the Cardinals, but he didn’t have a choice in that).  Beyond that, all four of these guys would be a fine choice.  Let me know if I left someone out, as well!

The Perfect Trade

James Shields could be moved this offseason due to the $7 million 2012 price tag and the Tampa Rays financial restraints.  Andrew Friedman, GM and VP of Baseball Operations for the Rays, could get another affordable piece for a team that could continue to win in a tough situation for years to come.  He could deal Shields to the Florida Marlins for Logan Morrison.

The trade would do three things:

1) Open up a rotation spot for Matt Moore, who combined to go 13-3 with a 1.97 ERA in 164 1/3 IP and a 225/49 K/BB between the Minors and Majors this season.

2) Get a cornerstone first baseman who is just 24 and won’t be a Free Agent until 2017.  He also has 25 HR, 45 2B, a .351 OBP and an .811 OPS in just 185 games, showing solid on-base skills and power.  He has fallen out of favor in the Marlins organization, even getting demoted for unannounced reasons earlier this season.

3) It will give the Marlins a staff ace heading into a new stadium.  At 30, Shields will be a nice fit with Josh Johnson (if he can stay healthy), Anibal Sanchez, and Ricky Nolasco in the Marlins rotation for the next few seasons.  His contract is reasonable, escalating to $7 million in 2012, $9 million in 2013, and $12 million in 2014.  After posting a 2.82 ERA, a league leading 11 complete games and career highs in innings pitched (249 1/3) and strikeouts (225), Shields will be coveted by many teams as the Rays look for new ways to pinch pennies.

The Hot Stove League will start after the World Series and provide numerous rumors and exciting deals for the next few months.  As the Packers roll to another Super Bowl Championship, why not focus on a league with more equality in their teams, MLB.

Ron Washington = Chapelle’s Black Gallagher?

 

 

 

 

 

 

VERSUS

Cheesy Love for Colby

Colby Lewis is 32-years-old and really hasn’t had a career that you would look to and say “I hope I can do that.”  He came up in 2002 with Texas, started 26 games in 2003 somehow winning 10 games with a 7.30 ERA, and then he started bouncing.  He bounced to the Tigers, the Nationals, the A’s and the Royals before leaving the states for Japan for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.  That is where it all begins.

Lewis pitched for the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants in 2008 and 2009, compiling a 26-17 record in 54 starts, with a 375/46 K/BB in 354 1/3 innings in Japan.  His control was better than he ever showed in the Majors and he earned himself a 2-year, $5 million deal from the Rangers for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, after never earning more than $339,500 in a season prior to leaving for Yomiuri.

After two seasons with the Rangers, Lewis is a mid-rotation starter at best, going 26-23 with a 365/121 K/BB over 401 1/3 IP and a 4.06 ERA.  However, Lewis has been much more than that in the playoffs for the Rangers.  Two seasons in Arlington and twice the Rangers have been in the World Series.  Lewis has been their best postseason pitcher during this time and if the Rangers continue their success, he could be considered one of the best postseason starters ever.

With a 4-1 record over 7 starts and a 2.22 ERA, Lewis has been very successful.  While he has thrown just 44 2/3 innings, he has a 40/19 K/BB and a .161 BAA.  While he has ways to go to reach Andy Pettitte’s 19 postseason wins and 263 innings pitched, he has a nice start and the Rangers have a great core to continue their playoff runs.  Even if he doesn’t get there again, this one-time journeyman has shown that his gamble to get back to the Majors was worth the time overseas.

Uncomfortable Conversations about Groins

Looking back, nothing is quite as funny as the ol’ groin shots that dads always seem to take on America’s Funniest Home Videos.  Although Bob Saget made it an awful show (he’s much funnier when he is lewd), you knew the wiffleball bat  to the groin was money in the bag.  Still is.  However, there isn’t really anything funny about pain in the groin, especially if you’re a man and even moreso if you are a Rangers fan.

Josh Hamilton’s groin is getting talked about more than Ron Jeremy’s ever was, and he isn’t even sporting a porn-stache.  Hamilton has been bothered by his left groin injury for over a week, telling ESPN 103.3 FM in Dallas that he is playing at “about 50 percent” on October 16th, acknowledging the injury as far back as October 13th.  His groin and Ron Washington, the Rangers’ manager, don’t seem to be on the same page, though.

Ron Washington will have Josh Hamilton playing in Game Three of the World Series Saturday night, but he won’t be the Designated Hitter…oh no…he’ll be covering centerfield for the Rangers.  Michael Young will be the DH, Mike Napoli will move to first base and Yorvit Torrealba will be behind the dish at catcher.  With an off day on Friday, Napoli should have been back behind the plate.  If Hamilton is still one of your top hitters, even at 50 percent, but you want him around for the remaining games, why would you put him in the field when he could DH and rest his ailing groinal region?

Craig Gentry  handled centerfield for Hamilton in Game Two and his speed could be valuable for the score-at-any-cost mentality of the World Series so far.  Certainly the Rangers lose something by having Gentry in center and David Murphy in left, but they lose even more if Hamilton tears his groin or injures it further while playing center in Arlington.  The warmer weather could help him, the adrenaline will definitely help him, but Ron Washington’s choice to mess with Josh Hamilton’s groin is a decision that I can’t agree with, and I’m not talking about religious viewpoints or anything besides baseball here.

Ratings Fail

I understand that Major League Baseball has sold rights to the Turner Network, but something needs to be done about having a deciding game on a cable network instead of a national broadcast.  I’m one of the few who don’t have cable.  I watch my MLB through MLB.TV online and on a Roku attached to the internet and a television.  With that being said, I don’t get any games that are shown on Fox or a cable network since Time Warner Cable is offered in the Cincinnati-area.

The issue is this: If Texas lost to Detroit on Saturday, forcing a game seven, those two teams would have played on Fox in the afternoon, around 4:15 PM, and the Brewers and Cardinals would have played on Fox at 8:00 PM.  Since Texas bent Detroit over without KY Jelly, MLB moved the game to one of the cable networks while Fox plays The X-Factor.  Simon Cowell is great…playoff baseball has been greater.

MLB has had excitement overload in the final weeks of the regular season and even great baseball in the Divisional Series and Championship series to this point; however, they really dropped the ball here.  The greatest number of eyes is what the sport needs to re-establish itself as America’s game, continuing to win back fans who they lost and gain fans who never thought much of it.

I admit that I am in the minority when it comes to not paying for cable, but I can get everything except second-rate college games, Monday Night football, and now, meaningful baseball games, on network television.  Sue me.  I’m a fan who deserves better and leagues who are looking to rebuild their foundation of fandom should really look into re-visiting basic television for their viewerships.  I think CBS could eliminate one of their eight CSI spinoffs to play a game in the middle of the week, there are only sixty shows that are exactly the same that can be viewed later in the week.

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