The Reds and Great American to host the 2015 MLB All-Star Game!!!!

21 01 2013

I didn’t realize this announcement was forthcoming, but the news was leaked that the Reds are getting the 2015 All-Star Game!

Tall Stacks GABP 63004

Scoreboard Bleachers GABP 63004

15 years ago I saw Larkin and Sabo battling the American League in Riverfront Stadium.  In 2 years I hope to see Votto and Phillips doing the same at Great American Ballpark!

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Are the Dodgers the new Yankees?

10 12 2012

I haven’t been paying that much attention to the hot stove league this year – with a baby, things like that kind of go by the wayside.  Plus I’m in a fantasy basketball league and am in the playoffs for fantasy football.  Green Bay’s defensive touchdown just now may have done me in.

2012 Heritage Fantasy Keepers Kemp

But while surfing ESPN I just saw that Zach Greinke had signed with the Dodgers.  The Dodgers now project to have the highest payroll in the majors next year – yes, more than the Yankees.  And I don’t think it’s all that close.  I read something like $230 million.  The largest payroll in history (which is admittedly an inexact science – but I believe is based on the team at the beginning of the year) of any team thus far was the 2008 Yankees, who were at $209 million.  The Yankees have been the highest payroll every year since 1998, when the Orioles were surprisingly the top team (the Bombers were second that year).  That streak will almost assuredly end this year.  Here’s the projected Dodgers payroll for 2013.  Guys in italics were not on the 2012 opening day roster.

  • $29 million (estimate) – Zack Greinke (signed as a free agent this weekend – owed $147 million through 2018)
  • $21 million – Adrian Gonzalez (obtained in 2012 season via trade with Red Sox – owed $127 million through 2018)
  • $20 million – Matt Kemp (owed $148 million through 2019)
  • $20 million – Carl Crawford (obtained via Red Sox trade – owed $102 million through 2017)
  • $15.75 million – Josh Beckett (obtained via Red Sox trade – owed $31 million through 2014)
  • $15.5 million – Hanley Ramirez (obtained in 2012 season via trade with Marlins – owed $31 million through 2014)
  • $13.5 million – Andre Ethier (owed $100 million through 2018, potential buyout in 2018)
  • $12 million – Ted Lilly (free agent after this season)
  • $11 million – Chad Billingsley (owed $37 million through 2015, potential buyout in 2015)
  • $11 million – Clayton Kershaw (arbitration eligible after this season, unrestricted free agent after 2014)
  • $8 million – Juan Uribe (free agent after this season)
  • $7 million – Aaron Harang (owed $14 million through 2014, potential buyout in 2014)
  • $6 million – Ryu Hin-Jin (signed from Korean league this weekend, owed $36 million through 2018, plus they paid a $25.7 million posting fee to negotiate)
  • $6 million – Chris Capuano (owed $12 million through 2014, potential buyout in 2014)
  • Brandon League (obtained in 2012 season via trade with Mariners – owed $28 million through 2018)
  • $5.25 million – Mark Ellis (owed $11 million through 2014, potential buyout in 2014)

That’s $177 million for 15 players next year, $113 mil of which was not on the opening day roster.  If you factor in the posting fee for Hin-Jin, add $26 million to each of those.  This doesn’t count that they owe Manny Ramirez money deferred from his previous contract (around $8 million this year).

I’m not exactly sure what this means.  On a macro level, this off-season contract figures have really jumped up, continuing a trend that seemed to start with the Angels and Marlins last year.  This could have future ramifications on a couple of levels.  If Greinke gets $147 million at age 29, what will Kershaw command next year at the age of 25?  Heck, stepping outside of the Dodgers – what would a guy like Johnny Cueto command in 2 years?  King Felix will be poised to break the bank after the 2014 season!  David Price could do the same in 3 years ago.  That may be too far ahead, and prices could contract as their may be fewer big players in the market then (since the Dodgers, Nationals, Angels and even the Blue Jays are going to be feeling the longer-term effects of their moves this year).  For the Dodgers, it’s hard to see them being anything but the World Series favorite next year – but if they don’t win a championship over the next three years or so – they could be severely hamstrung.

Anyways, I just thought that was interesting.  I kind of like it, to be honest.  They aren’t in the Reds division, and I feel like the playoffs are a bit of a crapshoot.  Aside from the Yankees, the Dodgers are up there (maybe with Boston and the Cubs) as the most recognizable franchise in the sport.  I like the Yankees not being first in payroll for once, but I also hope the Dodgers don’t turn into a richer version of the Marlins (meaning they need to dump salary on to someone else) 3 years from now.





Mudville

12 10 2012

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the ‘Nati Nine that day;

The score stood six to three, with but one inning more to play,

And then when Phillips died at first, and to bat Cozart came,

A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

 

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest

Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;

They thought, if only Bruce could get but a whack at that –

They’d put up even money, now, with Bruce at the bat.

 

But Cozart, and Ludwick preceded Bruce, as did the 2010 MVP,

But the former was a rookie and the latter had a bum knee;

So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,

For there seemed but little chance of Bruce getting to the bat.

 

But Cozart worked a walk, to the wonderment of all,

Votto and Ludwick both tore the cover off the ball;

And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw they both were safe,

Zach had scored, and the others hugged first and second base!

 

Then from 45,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell (Bruuuuuce);

It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;

It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,

For Bruce Almighty was advancing to the bat.

 

There was ease in Bruce’s manner as he stepped into his place;

There was pride in Bruce’s bearing and a smile on Bruce’s face.

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,

No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Bruce at the bat.

 

A million eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;

A thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.

Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,

Defiance gleamed in Bruce’s eye, a sneer curled Bruce’s lip.

 

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,

And Bruce fouled the pitch straight back to who knows where.

He fouled off 8 more pitches, and took just 2 more balls.

A battle had ensued, to decide the fate of the Reds cause.

 

He wrapped his hands around the bat, and once more the spheroid flew;

But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

They saw his face grow stern, and they saw the look in his eye,

And they knew that Bruce wouldn’t let the next ball go by.

 

The sneer is gone from Bruce’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;

He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,

And now the air is shattered by the force of Bruce’s blow.

 

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

But there is no joy in Cincinnati — Bruce Almighty has flown out.





My MLB Awards – The Rock

10 10 2012

The last award that I voted for in regards to the idea from Jason at the Writer’s Journey was a “for fun” award.  This one was – who’s the best player who’s not in the Hall of Fame.  I excluded anyone who isn’t eligible – which means nobody:

  • like Pete Rose and Joe Jackson, who are permanently ineligible,
  • someone like Griffey or Piazza who are up in the future,
  • current players like Pujols or Jeter.

I also excluded guys like Palmeiro or McGwire who have the stats to be in, but are not in because of association with steroids.  I don’t think that was the point, and I don’t feel like going there anyways.  I also excluded anyone whose first year was 2010 or later – Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker clearly belong in my mind, but the point is someone who’s an oversight.  They aren’t oversights – they just aren’t clear first ballot guys, and they’ll get their chance.

Best player not in the HOF – Tim Raines

 

I kind of forgot on this one that I could vote for more than one player.  Alan Trammell and then Dale Murphy are the first two players who jump to my mind – they would be 2nd and 3rd if I had thought that part through.  Lou Whitaker would be right behind them.  I’d also like to point out that Kenny Lofton is up soon, and I think he’s a very underrated Hall of Fame case.

The next two categories weren’t part of Jason’s groupings, but I thought I’d throw them out there anyways.

NL Manager of the Year – Dusty Baker

The Reds had a bounce-back year, and as much as you can disagree with some of the moves he makes, his record speaks for itself.  He clearly gets his guys to play for him; that’s true anywhere he’s been.  And this year, it’s hard to say anyone had more adversity than the Reds.  Before the season started, the Reds lost their $8 million dollar free agent closer.  Their best player was out for 7 weeks, and when he came back for the last month of the season, Votto didn’t hit a single long ball.  Almost every position player had a significant drought at some point in the season, yet Dusty kept them winning, to the tune of 97 games.  The second best record in baseball.

AL Manager of the Year – Buck Showalter

I don’t think I need to explain this one.  Like Trout, this should be a unanimous selection.  And I don’t even like Showalter – that backward cap thing with Griffey 18 years ago still sticks in my craw.  But no manager has had a bigger impact on his team’s bottom line than Showalter.





My MLB Awards – MVP

9 10 2012

On to the biggest award I voted for in the first annual BB Blog Awards.

Again – the rules are you could vote for up to 5 players – obviously ranking them 1 to 5.  I voted for as many people as I thought were in the argument and/or deserving of a nod.

Today, I pick the Most Valuable Player.  These were both essentially two-man races that can bring up great debate about the award and what it should be or represent – though both races do so in different ways.

AL Most Valuable Player – Miguel Cabrera

2nd – Mike Trout

3rd – Adrian Beltre*

4th – Derek Jeter*

I’m sorry, but if you win the Triple Crown, you win the MVP.  I know this has become the perfect storm for the new vs. old school statistical comparisons.  Trout had a historic season, for sure.  But it’s been 45 years.  How many things have happened in the baseball world since Carl Yastrzemski won the last Triple Crown in 1967?  Too many to mention.

  • The dimensions of play weren’t even the same – the mound was higher
  • Free agency didn’t exist
  • The was only round of the postseason – they called it the World Series!
  • Babe Ruth’s career home run record was broken by Hank Aaron, and 30 years later that was broken by Barry Bonds
  • In 1967, only one pitcher (Walter Johnson) had over 3,000 strikeouts.  Since then, 4 pitcher have struck out over 4,000 and one has struck out nearly 6,000.
  • Four players won all three jewels of the triple crown in this time frame – but neither Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Andres Galarraga, nor Albert Pujols could win the triple crown.

45 years is 2 generations of baseball players who couldn’t accomplish this feat.  Ken Griffey was a sophomore at Donora High School in Pennsylvania.  He got drafted by the Reds, played on the 2 World Champions as a member of the Big Red Machine, then played with his son Ken Jr. in Seattle in the twilight of his career.  After that, Junior played 22 years in the Majors, retiring with 630 homers in 2010.  In all that time, no player won the Triple Crown.

Reggie Jackson played his only season in Kansas City at the end of the ’67 season.  Reggie retired 20 years later, the same year Bonds got 6th place in the Rookie of the Year voting.  Bonds played 20 more seasons after that, finishing his career in 2007. Yet in all that time, no player had won the Triple Crown.

But in 2012 – Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown.  And he should win the MVP.

I’d like to add that I’m sick of the supposed backlash against RBIs.  Yes, when I was growing up RBIs were thought of as the most important stat in baseball.  At that point, the statistic was definitely overrated.  But now you hear arguments like RBIs are completely lucky.  I think this is overreaching the backlash.  On any given year, 95% of the runs scored have an RBI attributed to them.  So 95% of the time, that run scored “took two to tango”.  After watching the postseason the past few days, it’s hard to buy the argument that clutch hitting doesn’t mean anything.

* – Obviously this was a two-man discussion.  I added Beltre and Jeter because I think they both had pretty notable seasons, and I thought it was worth that distinction even though they aren’t really in the discussion.  The Yankees had a lot of injuries this year, and their big guns really didn’t deliver as much as they should have.  But Jeter kept them afloat in the dog days, and got them to yet another division title.  You could say something similar for Beltre – he is just so good on both sides of the ball.

NL Most Valuable Player – Buster Posey

2 Giant ROYs, soon to be 2 Giant MVPs

2nd – Andrew McCutchen

3rd – Yadier Molina

4th – Joey Votto

Shawne Merriman Ryan Braun is the wild card here.  He will get some first place votes, and he will get left off some ballots.  I fell in the latter category – I’m not voting for him this year.  Not when he got off on a technicality, said he was innocent, but offered no further explanation (like Shawne Merriman).  Next year may be different in my mind, but he should have missed the first 50 games of 2012.

Plus, Posey is the more deserving player.  Already having a great season, he stepped up even further when Melky Cabrera was suspended, and the Giants are looking like a sexy World Series pick thanks to it.  McCutchen seemed like the easy choice a month and a half ago – but he’s still had a great season and deserves 2nd.  Molina was also incredible, and Votto deserves a nod for having an OBP that puts any recent player other than Barry Bonds to shame.  If he hadn’t been hurt, he may have broken the single season doubles record, which may be one of the most unbreakable records in the game.





My MLB Awards – Cy Young

8 10 2012

Here’s the pitchers awards I voted for the awards from Jason at the Writer’s Journey.

The rules were you could vote for up to 5 players – obviously ranking them 1 to 5.  I voted for as many people as I thought were in the argument and/or deserving of a nod.

Today, I pick the Cy Young.  Nothing clear-cut for either league – but I do think AL Cy Young is the second-easiest choice (behind Trout for Rookie of the Year).

AL Cy Young – Justin Verlander

2nd – David Price

3rd – Jered Weaver

I do have a little remorse here – I probably should have put Fernando Rodney in what I emailed to Jason.  I’d put Rodney ahead of Weaver if I could do it over, and maybe even ahead of Price (but probably not).  His ERA+ is comical – 634.  On the surface, this looks like a 3-horse race.  If you look closer, it’s clear that Weaver doesn’t belong in the category with Price and Verlander – he did go 20-5, but he didn’t come close to some of the other guys in IP.  You could argue Hiroki Kuroda, Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez had seasons that were just as good.

So it’s between 20-5 Price and the 17-8 Verlander.  Price had the slightly better ERA (2.56 to 2.64), though he pitches in a better park.  He also has to go against better competition in the AL East.  But Verlander led the majors in innings, throwing 27 more than Price.  He threw 6 complete games, led the majors with 239 K’s, and had the best ERA+ in baseball. And his WHIP of 1.06 is definitely better than the 1.1 of Price.  On the surface, it might look close.  But if you really dig into it – it’s hard to argue anything but giving Verlander back-to-back Cy Youngs.

NL Cy Young – R.A. Dickey

2nd – Johnny Cueto

3rd – Gio Gonzalez

I also think of this as a 3-horse race.  Upon closer inspection here, I do think any of these 3 guys could win it.  In fact, I might be overcompensating against my own internal bias to Cueto as a Reds fan.  I also probably should have thrown defending Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw in the mix.

Gonzalez won the most games, but he gets thrown out pretty quickly for me when you realize that he a) pitched under 200 innings (compared to 217 for Cueto and 233 for Dickey) and b) had the worst ERA of the 3 despite pitching in the best pitchers’ park.  So it’s down to Cueto and Dickey.  Dickey had 16 more innings, pitched back-to-back 1-hitters, struck out a league-best 230 hitters and won 20 games while keeping the Mets relevant for a lot longer than people thought they would be.  Cueto did win 19, and racked up about the same ERA as Dickey – though in what’s got to be the toughest pitcher’s park in the league.  In the end, I’m giving a slight edge to Dickey.  The innings and strikeouts do it for me, plus he’s just such an interesting story.  Cueto was definitely the leader in late August, but he had a 3 or 4 start stretch where he hurt his chances.  He came back on toward the end of the month – thanks to a get-well start against the Cubs that I witnessed.





My MLB Awards – Rookie of the Year

7 10 2012

Jason over at the Writer’s Journey sent an interesting email out to me and a bunch of other bloggers earlier in the week.  Seeing if I wanted to vote for the MLB awards as part of a blogger / fan poll.  Well, I’m not a card-carrying member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, but I am the author of this small little blog, and this was my best chance to vote on an award like this.  And, most importantly, then voice my opinion on said blog…

The rules were you could vote for up to 5 players – obviously ranking them 1 to 5.  I voted for as many people as I thought were in the argument and/or deserving of a nod.

Today, I pick the Rookie of the Year.  This award might be the most different between the two leagues – it’s about as clear-cut as you can get in the AL, and wide open for interpretation in the NL.  Here were my votes.

AL Rookie of the Year – Mike Trout

2nd – Yoenis Cespedes

3rd – Yu Darvish

This one is probably up there as the easiest award selection in the history of baseball.  Not only was Trout’s season historic from a rookie’s perspective – it was historic, period.  In the history of baseball, only two players have hit 30 homers and stole 50 bases in the same season – Eric Davis in 1987 and Barry Bonds in 1990.  Trout missed doing this by 1 stolen base, and he didn’t play for almost the entire month of May.  He galvanized his team – the woeful Angels had the best record in the AL since he was called up.  His WAR is incredible; it isn’t my favorite statistic but is at least a good starting point.  Here are the hitters with seasons higher than Trout’s WAR of 10.7:

Ruth, Yastrzemski, Hornsby, Bonds, Gehrig, Ripken, Mantle, Mays, Morgan, Cobb, Wagner and Musial.

That’s basically the list of who’s who in baseball history.  The best first baseman ever, the best two second baseman ever, the best two shortstops ever, and 6 of the best 8 outfielders ever (Ted Williams had a 10.7 season, while Hank Aaron’s best was in the 9 range).  None of those players had such a high impact in their rookie season or even their second season.  It’s safe to say, in 2012 Mike Trout had the best rookie season in baseball history.

NL Rookie of the Year – Wade Miley

2nd – Bryce Harper

3rd – Todd Frazier

4th – Nori Aoki

 This was a much tougher choice.  I think you could make an argument for any of these guys.  I probably went with the pitcher because it’s hard to differentiate between the other 3 guys.  Aoki was probably the most consistent throughout the season, while Harper had the most hype and does the best in the value statistics like WAR.  But Todd Frazier was the clear leader at the start of September, and even though his playing time diminished and he went into a slump in the last month, it was really him and Ryan Ludwick that enabled the Reds to expand their lead while Joey Votto was hurt.

With the three hitters being so close, and all of them being good but not that good, I find it hard to pass on a pitcher with 16 wins, a 3.33 ERA and nearly 200 innings.