Thursday, June 16, 2011

2011 MLB All-Star Game Starters Predictions

The MLB All-Star game is on the horizon and I've decided to make my predictions for the starters. Unlike those who stuff the ballot boxes at the stadium and mass email their favorite choices for the starters, mine is being done objectively and in many cases against team lines. I've always have had an issue with the fans voting entirely for the starters. I know, before you take me to task by stating that the game is for the fans, often the starters are elected because they are popular picks or their teams mount an aggressive campaign to get them voted in. The starters should start on the merit of their performances and not because of who they are. Ok then, I'll get off of my soapbox now. Here are my predictions:

American League:
 C Victor Martinez (Detroit Tigers)
1B Adrian Gonzalez (Boston Red Sox)
2B Robinson Cano (New York Yankees)
3B Adrian Beltre (Texas Rangers)
SS Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland Indians)
OF Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays)
OF Curtis Granderson (New York Yankees)
OF Jacoby Ellsbury (Boston Red Sox)
DH David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox)
 P Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers)

National League:
 C Brian McCann (Atlanta Braves)
1B Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)
2B Richie Weeks (Milwaukee Brewers)
3B Placido Polanco (Philadelphia Phillies)
SS Jose Reyes (New York Mets)
OF Lance Berkman (St. Louis Cardinals)
OF Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers)
OF Hunter Pence (Houston Astros) 
 P Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies)

Well, there goes. Agree? Disagree?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jeter, Reyes and the future of Shortstop in NYC

I awoke to see the following comments on my Facebook News Feed written by my friend Eric. The article that Eric is referring to is As Yankees face inevitable change from Derek Jeter at shortstop, time to make way for Jose Reyes by Tim Smith of the New York Daily News. Here is what Eric said:

If this kind of thought of trading for big name players at every position were around in the 90's there would have been no Jeter,Andy, Jorge , Bernie or Mariano. The writer is stuck in the Steinbrenner 80's

Now in defense of Jose Reyes, with the exception of the trade for Rickey Henderson in 1984, the Steinbrenner regime of the 1980's never, ever traded for a player of Jose Reyes' caliber. Guys like Jesse Barfield, Roy Smalley and Ken Phelps (I still shudder when I think of that trade) were more like the kind of players that Steinbrenner traded young talent such as Doug Drabek, Al Leiter and Jay Buhner to acquire. You can roll up all the position players that I mentioned and you still don't equal Jose Reyes.

Reyes is a franchise Shortstop as how Derek Jeter was seen earlier in his career. Now both are different types of players but the meaning to each others' organizations cannot be simply quantified. I found it amazing that Jeter's trip to the disabled list for a calf strain was his first stint on the DL since 2003. Sure, many writers and fans alike like to point out Jeter's diminishing skills, he is a consistent presence in the field and at bat for the Yankees. But is Reyes the person to take pick up the mantle from Jeter?

Do I think the Yankees need to look at the future of the Shortstop position. Absolutely. Granted Jeter is signed for the next three seasons, can he be productive in the field in the next two? I think the Yankees have a player currently on the bench that can step right in and that is Eduardo Nuñez. Based on his minor league statistics, Nuñez is a contact hitter with speed and a very good glove and will turn 24 today. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has stated that while Jeter is on the DL, Nuñez is his starter. So we'll get to see what Nuñez brings to the table. So given that, where does that leave Jose Reyes.

Reyes is in an enviable position. As I stated earlier, he's currently a franchise player in a position that is devoid of franchise players throughout the league. With the exception of Jimmy Rollins of the Philadephia Phillies, Troy Tulowitski of the Colorado Rockies, Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers and Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs are there any other Shortstops that you can think of as being franchise players? Add to the mix that Jose Reyes is ONLY 28, tearing up the league and playing on a team that is currently in financial straits. I believe the only course of action for the New York Mets is to trade Jose Reyes (as well as Carlos Beltran and possibly Francisco Rodriguez) for top prospects to replenish the system.

Consider that the top three prospects for the Mets as per Baseball America are 21-year old pitcher Jennry Mejia, 19-year old shortstop Wilmer Flores and outfielder 20 year old Cesar Puello. Mejia is slated to have Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow and will be lost for a year or more. Flores is currently batting .259 and Puello is batting .230 at Class A+ Florida State League. These players are young and have a long way to go before they reach the majors. Keep in mind that the last Mets' prospect to live up to his potential was Jose Reyes.

The move to trade Reyes would come difficult for the Mets. Reyes is beloved by the Mets faithful and is a dynamic player when healthy. I personally believe that he is a better player than Carl Crawford who Mets owner Fred Wilpon stated that Reyes would not garner the same kind of contract that Crawford signed with the Boston Red Sox (7-year $142 million dollars). Consider that from 2005-2008, Reyes averaged 153 games played with a .287 batting average, 195 hits, 14 homeruns, 32 doubles, 17 triples, 66 RBI, 113 runs scored and 64 stolen bases. Aside from two injury filled seasons (2009-2010), Reyes is back to form with a league leading .346 batting average, a league leading 97 hits, 3 homers, 19 doubles and a league leading 11 triples, 27 RBI, 49 Runs scored and 22 stolen bases. So if Reyes is traded, are the Yankees the best fit.

The Yankees have a plethora of minor league talent in the form of catchers Jesus Montero and Austin Romine and pitchers Manny Banelos, Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman and current major leaguers Hector Noesi and Ivan Nova. Ideally, the Yankees should continue the approach that GM Brian Cashman has taken and continue to develop the talent, keeping the system stocked and working from within. As alluring as a trade for Reyes would be, I think the Yankees are better off passing on Reyes and continue to groom Nuñez as Jeter's heir apparent. Where I think Reyes should be traded is San Francisco. AT&T park's wide open spaces (Left field: 335 feet, Left-center: 364 feet, Center field: 404 feet, Right-center: 420 feet, Right field: 307 feet) plays into Jose Reyes' strengths and I believe that his energy would help to ease the pain of the loss of Buster Posey. I know that Giants Shortstop prospect Brandon Crawford has played well since his call-up a few weeks ago but a player like Jose Reyes might be able to swing the balance of power in the NL West back in the favor of the World Champions. Another West Coast destination for Reyes might be Anaheim.

Whether or not new Mets minority owner David Einhorn can make a splash by resigning Jose Reyes past this season remains to be seen. I think the Mets are in a win-win situation when it comes to Reyes. Keep him and retain one of the best players in the game today. Trade him and make tremendous strides in rebuilding the team. Only time will tell what will happen.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Jose Reyes' career statistics from
- Click Here for Derek Jeter's career statistics from

- Click Here for Eduardo Nunez's career minor league statistics from
- Click Here to access the ranking of the Top Ten Prospects in the New York Mets organization by Baseball America
- Click Here to access Tim Smith's article As Yankees face inevitable change from Derek Jeter at shortstop, time to make way for Jose Reyes dated June 15, 2011 from

Friday, June 10, 2011

The 3000-Hit Club Post Derek Jeter

I read an interesting article in today's New York Times written by Neil Payne entitled After Jeter Reaches 3,000 Hits, Who's Likely Next?. In the article, Payne describes who might be the next players to reach the lofty 3,000 hit plateau after Derek Jeter (who is currently at 2,990 hits). The method in which Payne reaches his conclusion is based on Bill James' theory called the Favorite Toy. As per Payne:

the Favorite Toy, a simple means of projecting performance based on a player’s age and most recent career trends.

The formula essentially asks and answers three questions:

1. How far is a player from the milestone in question?
2. How quickly is he approaching the milestone?
3. How much time does he have left to attain the milestone?

So based on the model, the next three players who have the highest probability of reaching 3,000 hits are Alex Rodriguez (2,731), Johnny Damon (2,637) and Albert Pujols (1,969). Time is on the side of these players, especially Pujols. Both Rodriguez and Damon are in their mid to late 30's and I believe will continue to be productive players. Pujols is truly amazing to me since at the age of 31 he is only 31 hits away from 2,000 hits and 78 homeruns from 500. If based on his average of 197 hits per season (his highest of of 212 in 2003 and lowest of 177 in 2006) he's on pace to hit 3,000 hits during the 2017 season. God knows how many homeruns he'll have at that point. Like I said before: truly amazing.

A name that I find surprising that is missing from the top of the list is that of Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. Payne says the following about Ichiro:

Even for a great hitter like Ichiro Suzuki, the trends are pointing down. He ranks 11th among active players, but he is 37, needs 690 hits to reach 3,000 and has fallen off this season

So the man in 37 and is currently having himself an "Un-Ichiro" type season. Keep in mind that even though he currently has 2,310 hits in 11 Major League Baseball season, this is a man that also has 1,285 hits while playing in Japan for the Orix Blue Wave of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. So his total hit figure is 3,595. His track record has proven that he is a consistent hit machine. He has averaged 224 hits a season since his debut in the Majors in 2001 (his highest was 262 in 2004 and his lowest was 206 in 2005) and until he shows me in more than half a year that his skills are in decline, I am going to expect him to live up to his prior production. I'm not saying that age doesn't play a role in the diminishing of skills it does, but I just don't think that metrics of any kind can quantify a man's desire and motivation to achieve personal goals. I think that Ichiro will be the first Japanese ballplayer to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown regardless if he reaches the 3,000 hit plateau but how better to nail down his legacy by getting to 3,000. Whether he gets there playing with the Mariners or not is another story for another day.

I do agree with Payne when he says it might be difficult for Ivan Rodriguez (2,835) and Omar Vizquel (2,823) to reach 3,000. Both players have become utility players and getting over 175 hits to reach 3,000 in that role makes it difficult. The necessary at-bats are just not there. An intriguing player is Vladimir Guerrero.

At 2,494 hits, he will reach the 2,500 hit mark within the next week or two. Based on last year's resurgent season with the Texas Rangers, Guerrero can still be a productive player though he can pretty much only do so in the DH position. I'm not sure if the lack of interest in Guerrero during last season's off-season is a reflection of Guerrero's skills but will the at-bats be there for Guerrero to get the necessary 500 hits to reach 3,000.

As it stand today, the 3,000 hit club only has 27 members. After Jeter makes it 28 within a few weeks and possibly 32 with the potential addition of Damon, Pujols, Suzuki and Rodriguez I think that there will be a period of time where no one will reach 3,000 hits making membership in that club as exclusive as the 300 win club.

Any opinions? Additions and/or subtractions? Let me know.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for an interactive exhibit on the 3,000 Hit club presented by the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown website

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Posey-Collins Collision Aftermath

So here we are a week after the Buster Posey-Scott Cousins collision which led to a serious season ending injury to Buster Posey and the drama seems to be increasing.  One one side you have Giants manager, and former MLB catcher, Bruce Bochy making overtures to Major League Baseball's Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Joe Torre (who is also a former MLB catcher), to re-evaluate the rules in regards to catchers and collisions at the plate. On another side you have Giants GM Brian Sabean making inflammatory and somewhat threatening statements towards Scott Collins of the Florida Marlins regarding his role in the season ending injury to Giants catcher Buster Posey. Add to the mix that Cousins' agent has mentioned that his client has received death threats because of the collision with Posey. In the end, this matter is getting out of hand for a hard and legitimate play that has occurred in MLB for over 100 years. Would the powers that be in the Giants' organization be as vehemently opposed to Scott Cousins if he had collided with Arencibia or the Blue Jays or the third string catcher for the Pirates?

Before anyone accuses me of downplaying what happened, I'm not in any way doing so. I realize the significance to the injury to Posey. I know that he's an important part of the success for the Giants. He's a franchise player. Posey is the kind of catcher that comes once in a generation and this injury could be a career changing one. I would be upset if it happened to one of the Yankees catchers but at the same time, I understand that as a catcher the collisions, nicks, bumps and bruises come with the position. This next statement applies to the Minnesota Twins, as well as, the San Francisco Giants. If you want to ensure that your franchise player is healthy and playing at possible maximum performance: MOVE HIM FROM BEHIND THE PLATE. Follow the Houston Astros model with Craig Biggio and take him out from behind the plate. Even if you don't move Posey, platoon him at other positions to ease the strain of the catching position on his body. Look at the example of Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra.

Berra played a total of 19 seasons of which he played in 1699 games (868 starts) behind the plate. He also played in 353 games (241 starts) at all three outfield positions and a couple of games at first and third. Granted it was mainly done during his later years but it allowed Yogi to HAVE later years. Doing so today would ensure that a catcher remains fresh and healthy. I believe that's what the Giants should do with Posey if he is still able to catch upon his return.

Should the rules be changed? Should the plate be a collision-free zone? Where were the calls for rule changes when Nishioka of the Twins had his leg broken in a break-up of a potential double play by Nick Swisher of the Yankees earlier this season. Is it a knee-jerk reaction to the loss of a young superstar player on the World Champions that is causing the uproar? Sure, Baseball isn't a contact sport in the ilk of hockey or football but it is a game that is played hard and physical contact between players can happen at any time. Ask Ray Fosse about his collision with Pete Rose during the 1970 All-Star game for an example. The rules weren't changed then. Should they be changed now? Like I said earlier, would people be beating the drums for rule changes if it was the third string catcher for the Pirates instead of Posey? I would hope so but I honestly don't think we'd hear a peep from Bochy or Sabean. 

In the end, both Posey and Collins' careers have taken a turn. Posey has a long and painful road to get back to playing ball and Collins will have a hard time dealing with the incident when in San Francisco and when approaching a play at the plate. Time will tell if either player can move forward and succeed after this incident.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access David Brown's article Giants’ Sabean rips Marlins’ Cousins for running over Buster Posey from the Big League Stew blog dated June 3, 2011 for more information on the comments made by Sabean regarding Scott Collins of the Florida Marlins