When it was first reported that the Cincinnati Reds had plans to convert Aroldis Chapman–known for his overpowering fastball, that’s been clocked up to 106 MPH–from closer to a starter, to begin the 2013 season, I couldn’t help but question the decision.
Chapman struggled a bit last year after pitching in multiple outings in a row, so I don’t understand what good would it really do to make him a starter. And now, with the recent comments from Chapman himself that he would prefer closing out games over starting, I question the change even more.
“In the beginning when I started closing, it was something I didn’t know,” Chapman stated in an interview. “But as I started throwing and getting into the late part of the game when the game is more exciting and has more meaning, I kind of liked it. Yeah, the adrenaline goes up and I like to be in that situation. I would like to be a closer, yeah, but there are some things that I can’t control.”
I understand that the Reds would like for Chapman to have a greater impact on the entire game, rather than just the ninth inning, but I feel they should just leave things the way everyone’s used to: With Chapman as their closer. That’s where Chapman feels the most comfortable, and where he has proven to be the most dominant–recording 38 saves off a 1.51 ERA, with 122 strikeouts in 71.2 inning pitched, last season.
To me, there’s too much uncertainty to have the move work out in the long run, especially with Chapman not fully on board.
In other news, Wil Myers was reassigned to minor league camp on Saturday, ensuring that he will begin the 2013 season with Triple-A Durham. Thus finally answering the question everyone had on their minds throughout the entire offseason, of whether or not Myers would break camp with the big league club.
Myers seems to be taking the news well, stating, “It was something I knew was going to come eventually. It wasn’t a surprise at all…I’m really looking forward to getting down there [to minor league camp] and getting some at-bats….I really enjoyed my time here, it was a blast. But now I’m ready to get down to business.”
While I somewhat disagree with the Rays’ decision, Myers beginning the year with Durham guarantees the opportunity for fans, like myself, to see the number four prospect in all of baseball in action. So I can’t really complain all that much.
The Reds have made the decision to leave Aroldis Chapman as their closer.
If you’ve followed this blog for awhile you’re aware that although this is a Major League Baseball blog for the most part, I tend to throw in entries on the Minor Leagues every now and then. Well, get ready for the biggest MiLB blog entry I’ve ever put together, as I’m set to attend tomorrow’s Triple-A National Championship game in Durham, NC.
The Championship game will see the Pawtucket Red Sox (International League) and the Reno Aces (Pacific Coast League) squaring off in a winner-take-all game in front of a sellout crowd. Trevor Bauer, of the Aces, and Nelson Figueroa, of the Red Sox, are due to take the mound for their respective teams. If you can’t make it to the game you can still watch it all unfold on NBC Sports Network at 7:05 EST. It’s sure to be a great game.
And….that’s pretty much it. Not much else can be said about it. Check back on Wednesday* for a recap of my time spent at the ballpark, and the game itself. With the kind of storms we’re supposed to have around here tomorrow, who knows; I might have a story of what it feels like to be struck by lightning. (Fingers crossed that I don’t.)
*The game is set to be played on Tuesday, however, there is a good chance of rain so it may not be played until Wednesday. If that occurs, my blog entry on the game obviously won’t be able to be posted until Thursday, as the game wouldn’t have taken place yet by Wednesday afternoon.
Since the beginning of the season the Washington Nationals have had a plan. A plan for their Ace, Stephen Strasburg, that they hope will ensure a healthy arm in the many years to come; as this is his first full season since having Tommy John surgery, in 2010.
But the decision to play it safe, by placing Strasburg on a 160-innings limit–combined with making him a starter out of the gates, on Opening Day–is proving to be a somewhat questionable one. As now that the Nationals are pretty much guaranteed a playoff spot, they won’t have Strasburg to mow down hitters in those all-important October games.
Had the Nationals taken the approach to Strasburg, that the Braves have taken with Kris Medlen–in this his first full season since Tommy John–by pitching him out of the bullpen to start out the year, they wouldn’t be in this situation. Strasburg would be nowhere near his innings limit, thus he could continue pitching on into the post season. Instead, the Nationals took the opposite route, and it’s costing them. (Though I truly don’t feel the Nationals will be hindered too much by the loss of Strasburg. They’re too good of a team as a whole.)
The thing that sets the Nationals apart from nearly every other team in the Majors is the fact that they not only have a heavy duty line-up–consisting of guys like Danny Espinosa, Michael Morse and of course, rookie phenom, Bryce Harper, who’s been heating up as of late–but they also have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. A lot of teams vying for a spot in the post season have one or the other, but very few have both. That’s what makes the Nationals special. And that’s what I think will enable the loss of Strasburg to be more of a speed bump, rather than a road block.
While it would be impracticle to say that the loss of Stephen Strasburg will have absolutely NO impact on the Washington Nationals, I also find it rather ill-informed to state that the Nationals have little chance to win in the post season without Strasburg. They certainly have a chance. (An extremely good one, at that.)
What it really comes down to is whether or not the Nationals pitching staff can step it up without Strasburg in the rotation. The key three to their staff, being Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson, can’t let it get to them. The line-up shows no signs of slowing down–thus they should perform well come crunch time–but if the starting pitching isn’t there, it’s a lost cause.
In the end, anything short of a World Series title, come November, and the spotlight will be immediately bestowed upon Mike Rizzo and Nationals, with the question forever being: “What if?”
Stephen Strasburg is 15-6 on the year, with a 2.94 ERA. He’s set to make his final home start of the season on Friday; with his final start of the season coming September 12th in New York, versus the Mets.
Stephen Strasburg was officially shut down for the season after his start on September 7th. He finishes the year 15-6, with a 3.16 ERA.
With the first five months of the 2012 MLB season in the books I thought I’d take the first day of the September to recap the season thus far.
Instead of talking about the events that have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that leads that particular category. I’m planning on posting an entry like this on the first day of each month. (That would make 1 more of these if you’re keeping score at home.)
The following lists are categorized into hitting and pitching, but NOT AL or NL:
MLB LEADERS (AL and NL)- HITTING
Most games Played-Michael Bourn and Chase Headley. (132)
Most At-Bats-Derek Jeter (553)
Most Hits-Derek Jeter (177)
Highest Average-Melky Cabrera (.346)*
Most Runs-Mike Trout (106)
Most Triples-Dexter Fowler (11)
Most Home Runs-Adam Dunn (38)
Most RBI’s-Josh Hamilton (112)
Most Base On Balls-Adam Dunn (94)
Most Strikeouts-Adam Dunn (190)
Most Stolen Bases-Mike Trout (42)
Most Caught Stealing-Jose Tabata (12)
Most Intentional Base On Balls-Prince Fielder (17)
Most Hit By Pitch-Carlos Quentin (16)
Most Sacrifice Flies-Mark Teixeira (11)
Most Total Bases-Miguel Cabrera (300)
Most Extra Base Hits-Miguel Cabrera (67)
Most Grounded Into Double Plays-Miguel Cabrera (23)
Most Ground Outs-Derek Jeter (256)
Most Air Outs-Ian Kinsler (185)
Most Number of Pitches Faced-Adam Dunn (2,488)
Most Plate Appearances-Michael Bourn (608)
MLB LEADERS (AL and NL)- Pitching
Most Wins-Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez and R.A. Dickey. (17)
Most Losses-Erik Bedard, Ubaldo Jimenez and Tim Lincecum. (14)
Best ERA-Felix Hernandez (2.43)
Most Games Started-Seven players tied for most. (28)
Most Games Pitched-Shawn Camp (68)
Most Saves-Jim Johnson (41)
Most Innings Pitched-Felix Hernandez (196.2)
Most Hits Allowed-Rick Porcello (194)
Most Runs Allowed-Ricky Romero (105)
Most Earned Runs Allowed-Ricky Romero (99)
Most Home Runs Allowed-Tommy Hunter (32)
Most Strikeouts-Justin Verlander (198)
Most Walks-Edinson Volquez (91)
Most Complete Games-Justin Verlander (6)
Most Shutouts-Felix Hernandez (5)
Most Hit Batsmen-Gavin Floyd (14)
Most Games Finished-Alfredo Aceves (54)
Most Groundouts Achieved-Clayton Richard (277)
Most Double Plays Achieved-Henderson Alvarez and Clay Buchholz. (26)
Most Wild Pitches-Ubaldo Jimenez (15)
Most Balks-Franklin Morales (5)
Most Stolen Bases Allowed-Ubaldo Jimenez (28)
Most Pickoffs-Clayton Kershaw and Ricky Romero. (8)
Most Batters Faced-Justin Verlander (784)
Most Pitches Thrown-Justin Verlander (3,084)
For once I’m not using an entry to get caught up on the things that I’ve failed to blog about. There really hasn’t been much for me to write about since the last time I blogged. The three things that I’m going to discuss in this entry are things that have happened very recently in baseball, and I just want to get my personal opinion out there.
Please leave a comment if you have anything further you’d like to say about the topics being discussed.
ALBERT PUJOLS’ HOME RUN DROUGHT
Albert Pujols homered 37 times in 579 at bats last season. That’s once every 15.6 at bats, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll round it up to 16. So far this year Pujols has had 45 at bats, and has hit a grand total of zero home runs. If you go by last year’s trend of 1 homer per 16 at bats, he should have 2-3 home runs already. So what’s going on?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Albert physically, nor do I feel it’s the mental emotion of being with a new team. In my personal opinion, I just think it’s a streak of bad luck. Every player goes through a rough patch from time to time. It’s just that Pujols has had so few in his career that when a long streak of bad luck like this hits him, it’s big news.
Now I’m not saying that Pujols will get his first home run this week or even this month, but I am saying that he won’t end the season still stuck at zero home runs. For a guy like him, once he gets that first one past him, the pressure will be gone, and he’ll become the old Pujols that the Angels were looking for when they shelled out big money for him.
One thing’s for sure. If Albert Pujols wants to keep of his steak of at least 30 home runs in every season of his career, he needs to figure things out, and start getting hot.
JAMIE MOYER WINS AT AGE 49
Jamie Moyer made his start last night against the Padres with the hopes of becoming the oldest pitcher in MLB history to win a regular season game. He would achieve his goal, as although he never even reached 80 miles per hour on the gun, he was still able to have a successful outing and record the win at age 49 and 150 days.
To record a win in a MLB game at age 49 is truly incredible. To give you an idea of how long Moyer has been playing, the starting pitcher for the Padres, Anthony Bass, was born a year after Moyer’s debut. Pretty insane if you think about it.
The oldest pitcher to ever play in a MLB game was Satchel Paige at age 59, though he didn’t record the win.
JOHNNY DAMON MAKES IT OFFICIAL
I talked about the Damon deal a little while ago, but now that he’s officially an Indian I thought I’d bring it up again.
Damon joins the Indians just 277 hits shy of 3,000 for his career. If he hopes to reach the milestone he’ll have to play at least one more season longer that his 1-year 1.25 million dollar contract from the Indians. It’s unclear as to whether or not he plans to do that, as he has to make it through this season first.
The plan for Damon is for him to continue working out at the Indians’ spring training facility in Arizona. He’s then expected to join the Triple-A affiliate of the Indians (the Columbous Clippers) for a short while, before joining the Indians up in Ohio in early May.
It should be interesting to see if Damon still has the ability to help his team win. According to Damon, that’s his main goal for the year, as he made the following statement after signing:
My track record shows that I play hard and I play to win. That’s why I’ve helped teams win championships, and I’ve helped some teams that aren’t so good be better…I play for the organization, not for myself.
I hope things work out between Johnny Damon and the Cleveland Indians. Damon can be a really exciting player to watch when he’s performing well.
This is my second year playing Beat the Streak and quite frankly I’m not very good at it. I didn’t get started last season until sometime around July, so I figured starting out from day one of the 2012 season would give me a better chance of getting to that magic number of 57 needed to win the grand prize of 5.6 million dollars. Well, I was wrong. If anything I’m having worse luck than last year. But it’s still early, and I’m hoping things will begin to turn around for me in the coming days/weeks.
The fantasy baseball game Beat the Streak has been around for the past several seasons, and the rules are fairly simple: Pick a player everyday that you think has the best chance of getting at least one hit. (Can be the same player or a different one. It’s up to you.) As long as that player gets a hit your streak continues–whether they go 4-4, or a mere 1-4 in that particular game.
A slight twist has been added this year to make it more exciting. In years past you would pick your one player and that was it. This season you have the option to double down and pick two players that you think will get a hit. If they do, your streak increases by two instead of the conventional one. Like most things in life however, there is a catch. If either of your two picks fail to get a hit your streak goes back down to zero. So it’s high risk, but can also be high reward if you’re lucky enough to have both players record a hit.
So far this season I’ve failed to increase my streak to more than two. Each day of the season thus far I’ve chosen to take “advantage” of the double down feature, but haven’t had much luck. I might just end up doing one pick at a time if this continues to be a problem for me.
If you’re not already playing, I suggest you start. CLICK HERE to be taken to the main page. If you have an account already, just log in. If not, don’t worry, it’s really easy, and most importantly, free. Even if you’re like me and have terrible luck, it’s still fun to play. And who knows? You might just get lucky and win the 5 million bucks. (In which case you have to give me half.)
I decided to do something a little different today. Instead of blogging about the latest news, or my opinion on something, I decided just do an entry on home run milestones.
Below you’ll find a bulleted list of the home run milestones that *should* occur in 2012. I say should because there’s no guarantee that any given player on the list will reach the milestone; they could get injured, have a bad season, or whatever.
In order to make the list, the player had to meet the following criteria:
You can’t be a pitcher. Although there are some pitchers that can hit home runs, you won’t find any on my list. Reason being is that they’re not everyday players.
You have to have hit at least one home run in the Major Leagues. There are around 50 players going into 2012 that haven’t hit an MLB home run, but adding them to the below list just didn’t make sense.
You have to be closing in on an even milestone, like 100, 200, 300, etc. I din’t include anyone that’s a few homers away from number 50, 75, 125, etc. It just didn’t seem necessary.*
The list is organized by player name–team–milestone they’re going for–and how many home runs they are from that particular milestone:
2012 Home Run Milestones
Geoff Blum, Diamondbacks–Home Run number 100 (1 home run away)
Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks–Home Run number 100 (2 home runs away)
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners–Home Run number 100 (5 home runs away)
Mark Ellis, Dodgers–Home Run number 100 (8 home runs away)
Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays–Home Run number 100 (8 home runs away)
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks–Home Run number 100 (9 home runs away)
B.J. Upton, Rays–Home Run number 100 (10 home runs away)
Orlando Hudson, Padres–Home Run number 100 (10 home runs away)
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies–Home Run number 100 (23 home runs away)
Adam Jones, Orioles–Home Run number 100 (25 home runs away)
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox–Home Run number 200 (5 home runs away)
Dan Uggla, Braves–Home Run number 200 (10 home runs away)
Travis Hafner, Indians–Home Run number 200 (11 home runs away)
Chase Utley, Phillies–Home Run number 200 (12 home runs away)
Justin Morneau, Twins–Home Run number 200 (15 home runs away)
Nick Swisher, Yankees–Home Run number 200 (15 home runs away)
David Wright, Mets–Home Run number 200 (17 home runs away)
Curtis Granderson, Yankees–Home Run number 200 (33 home runs away)
Jose Bautsta, Blue Jays–Home Run number 200 (44 home runs away)
Ryan Howard, Phillies–Home Run number 300 (14 home runs away)
Bobby Abreu, Angels–Home Run number 300 (16 home runs away)
Torii Hunter, Angels–Home Run number 300 (19 home runs away)
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers–Home Run number 300 (23 home runs away)
Paul Konerko, White Sox–Home Run number 400 (4 home runs away)
David Ortiz, Red Sox–Home Run number 400 (22 home runs away)
Jim Thome, Phillies–Home Run #610 to pass Sammy Sosa (6 HR’s away)
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees–Home Run #631 to pass Ken Griffey Jr. (2 HR’s away)
I don’t know whether or not you noticed the asterisk on criteria number three, but I did it because Jim Thome and Alex Rodriguez don’t meet the criteria of having to be going for an even number such as 100, or 200. Thome and A-rod were included in the list just for the fact that they’ve hit SO many home runs that they’re going for milestone home runs such as passing the games greats.
Whether or not you found the above information useful, I hope you at least found it enjoyable to read. I’m planning on doing a stats blog entry the first day of every month during the season, of the leaders of different categories from month to month. Similar to the one I did last season. So be looking out for that starting May 1st.
I apologize for being lazy and not blogging for nearly two weeks. I couldn’t seem to motivate myself to type one up, but I’m back now, and ready to go. Look for at least three blog entries a week starting Monday.
Going into Sunday’s Spring Training game against the Phillies, the number one thing on the minds of the Yankees–owners, players, and fans alike–was whether or not their highest paid player and power slugger, Alex Rodriguez, was going to perform well. After having a less than satisfactory end to the 2011 season, A-rod had to do something to get the fans back on their feet again. They needed a reason to cheer, and aiming to please, Rodriguez delivered.
The first pitch to Rodriguez–a fastball from Phillies Ace, Roy Halladay–was drilled the opposite way for a home run. Given the wind was whipping in that general direction, which no doubt helped carry the ball further than it would have traveled on a less blustery day, it was impressive none the less; and he wasn’t done yet.
Rodriguez reached base safely in each of his next two plate appearances. Recording a single and an RBI double, before being plucked from the game. Just a short glimpse at the old, injury free, Rodriguez, was a sight for sore eyes.
The problem with Rodriguez is that he can’t seem to stay healthy for very long, and using last year as an example, takes a while after recovering from an injury to get back into the groove of things. Taking all of this into consideration, many people foresee A-rod having a season similar to 2011, but I for one don’t see that taking place.
First of all, Rodriguez is too good of a player to not put up impressive stats, while healthy. He obviously wasn’t his normal self last season, due to injuries. However, if his first game of the year is any indication, Rodriguez seems to be fully healthy, and ready to go for 2012. Subsequently, that should equal a season with similar stats to years past. Yes, Rodriguez is older than he was back in the day, but he’s still not THAT old. At age 36, Rodriguez more than likely still has two or three more good seasons left in him; if he can stay injury free.
If in fact Rodriguez can avoid the injury bug for the full duration of the season, he should be able to reach several milestones. Currently one home run shy of tying Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all time home run list, A-rod should be able to check that off his list of things to do before he retires within the first week of the season. The next stop would be Willie Mays, who is currently fourth on the list with 660 career home runs. While I feel Rodriguez will come close, I don’t think he’ll quite reach it this year.I could however see Rodriguez tying (or passing?) Lou Gehrig for first on the all time grand slams list, with 23. (Rodriguez currently has 22 for his career.)
Moving onto a few other milestones that I could see A-rod achieving this season. Needing to drive in 107 base runners I could easily see Rodriguez reaching the 2,000 RBI mark. However, just like with passing Willie Mays in all time home runs, he might have to wait until 2013 to do so. 500 doubles is pretty much a guarantee, however, as he needs a mere 5 to reach the milestone.
I’m not trying to be unrealistic. Rodriguez isn’t going to come out and hit 40 home runs, and drive in 130 runs, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for him to have a 30 home run, 100 RBI year. He still has the determination, and most importantly the talent, that he’s had in years past.
I look for Alex Rodriguez to surprise a lot of people this year. He’s no longer 20, and thus is never going to play at the same level he was playing at in the prime of his career, but even a healthy 36-year old Rodriguez is enough to put fear into any opposing pitcher’s eyes. Or at least it should be.
As I sat on my couch last night, watching MLB Network, a very valid questions was posed by the network analysts of whether or not Derek Jeter has a shot of getting to 4,000 hits, or better yet, the even bigger milestone of passing the all-time hit leader, Pete Rose. Rose, who had a total of 4,256 hits in his career, is currently over 1,000 hits ahead of Jeter, who has 3,088 hits to show for his 17-year career. No chance of him getting over 1,000 hits before he retires, right? Well, although it’s an uphill climb for Jeter, the idea of Jeter getting at least to 4,000 hits isn’t out of the question. When you compare Jeter to Rose, in terms of hits through 2,426 games, Jeter is 22 hits ahead of Rose. A pace I feel he can keep up.
Jeter recorded 162 hits this past season alone, and if he can keep up an average of at least 150 hits a season, he could get to 4,000 hits in 6-years time. That’d put him at 4,000 career hits by his 24th season; or age 43. Though Jeter is already considered old (by baseball standards) Rose didn’t retire until age 45. Add two extra seasons onto Jeter’s career and you end up with roughly 20 hits more than Rose had in his career. I’m not saying that it’s extremely likely that Jeter will pass Rose, I’m just saying that it’s more likely than people are giving Jeter credit for. Jeter does an incredible job in his at-bats of fouling off tough pitches for one he can loop over an infielders head for a base hit. It’s this skill that I feel will lead him to a 4,000 (or more) hit career.
So, do you agree, or disagree with me? Do you think Jeter is on track to a 4,000 hit career? Maybe even more? Let me know:
In my last blog entry I made the prediction that Bernie Williams, Barry Larkin and Edgar Martinez would recieve enough votes (75% worth) to make the Hall of Fame this year–given Bernie Williams was a long shot being a newcomer. Yesterday, at 3 0′ clock Eastern, the announcement was made that Barry Larkin–long time Cincinnati Red’s short stop–was the only player from the 2012 ballot to exceed the 75 percent of the votes needed to make the Hall. (Larkin recieved 495 votes, or 86.4%.)
Before I get into my thoughts on Barry Larkin being the only player elected this year, I want to take a second to say that I’m shocked at the voting results for the newcomers to the ballot. Of the 13 newcomers, Bernie Williams is the ONLY one of them that recieved enough votes to return to the ballot again in 2013. (6 of the 13 newcomers didn’t recieve a single vote whatsoever.) Although I didn’t see any of the other newcomers (besides Williams) getting into the Hall of Fame this year, I didn’t think that they’d all be completely blanked in the votes category. To me it’s unreal.
Getting back to the only newcomer to recieve more than 5 percent of the vote, Bernie Williams (who recieved 9.6%), I think he will eventually get into the Hall of Fame. Maybe not next year, due to the many great names that are due to make the 2013 ballot. Maybe not in this decade. But my gut tells me that Williams will get into the Hall before his 15 years of eligibility are up. He had average career stats for a center fielder, but when you look at his post season stats, they’re off the charts. Combine those post season stats with four Gold Gloves and four World Series rings, and you get what I feel is a Hall of Fame worthy player.
Now that I’ve gotten all of that off my chest, I’ll get back to Barry Larkin. Larkin made the largest percentage jump to gain election since Herb Pennock, back in 1948–jumping from 62.1% last year, to his 86.4% this year. Larkin’s election makes him the 297th member of the baseball Hall of Fame. He also becomes the 24th short stop and 48th player to play with the same team his entire career, to be elected. Truly remarkable.
Barry Larkin had this to say about his feelings on being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame:
…an unbelievable experience….almost an out of body experience….I’ve got young kids out there doing their thing, but 20, 30, 40, 100 years from now when they’re old–and gone–and their grandkids, or their kids, are there doing whatever, they’re always going to be able to say “that guy right there”, my grandfather, great grandfather, great great grandfather, whatever it is, he was one of the best in the game. I am so phenomenally proud to be a new member of the Hall of Fame.
Barry Larkin will be officially inducted into the Hall, on July 22nd, in Cooperstown, NY.