Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Change.  Sometimes it's good.  Sometimes not so much.  For me, this is a not so much time.

I have a very big problem with the way MLB held Jim Crane hostage and would only let him buy the Houston Astros if he agreed that the team would be moved to the American League.  Supposedly, the rationale is that two  15-team leagues would create a more proportionate schedule.  Bud Selig tweeted that "15 teams in each league would necessitate interleague play every day but it will be better schedule overall.''  Oh, where do I begin?

My first thought, if it's that important to have balance between the two leagues, why didn't they simply move the Milwaukee Brewers back to the American League?  Honestly, I don't remember what necessitated that move but I do remember that Bud's former team had to be the one to bite the bullet and make the move that no one wanted to make. 

I have a huge problem with the second part of Bud's statement.  Interleague play every day!?!  I want MLB to do away with interleague play!  Sure it was a novel idea at first and I was thrilled to see Cal Ripken Jr. play at Turner Field but the novelty has worn off.  I think interleague play ruins what was one of the greatest things about the World Series.  Two teams that had never played each other.  What's next?  Forcing the National League to permanently add the DH?  In fact, why even have two leagues?  If everyone plays each other all the time, do we really need two leagues?  Ok, now I'm all riled up!

Let's move on to another change that I don't like.  The second Wild Card team.  Nope, don't like it.  You think I would.  If that had been in place this year, my Braves would have been in the post season.  So would the Red Sox.   And we would have lost the most exciting last day of the regular season in baseball history.  It would have been a ho-hum ending and two teams that didn't deserve to make the playoffs would have.  Am I making sense?

Of the big four sports in our country, baseball has the fewest teams that make the post season.  Over the past few years, that has become a bad thing.  In baseball, the best of the best made the post season but now it seems that we need to throw in some teams that were only pretty good.  Why does MLB want to get away from the very things that set it apart from the rest?

I know change has always been a part of the game.  I just wish that the changes would be good for the game.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Show Me The Money. Seriously. Where Is It?

Perhaps one of you can answer this for me.  Apparently the Florida, I mean Miami, Marlins have made offers to Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Ryan Masden.  Where is Miami's magical money tree?

I know the Marlins are christening a beautiful new ball park this year and they're expecting attendance to go way up.  Lord knows it can't go down much further.  But what if attendance doesn't go up?  How are they going to fulfill these massive contacts?  Rumor has it they've offered Albert a "substantial" amount over nine years and Reyes $90 million over 6 years.  There's still money left for Buehrle and Masden after that?  How are they affording this?   Inquiring minds want to know.

The Marlins have always fascinated me in a train-wreck kind of way.  They basically bought a World Series title in 1997 and then had a massive fire sale.  They did the same thing in 2003.  It's no wonder they have such a weak fan base.  But what really intrigues me is that they always trade away their best players (Josh Beckett, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Cabrera) but still manage to stay competitive.  I guess it goes back to their farm system and trading good players (the ones they won't be able to afford to re-sign) while they can still get something good for them. 

Knowing how the Marlins have operated year after year and seeing what is going on now makes very little sense to me.  It's so out of character and hard to figure out.  Are they attempting to buy another World Series title?  For the sake of their fans and the integrity of baseball, I hope not.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Congrats to Craig Kimbrel!!  Not only for winning the National League's Rookie of the Year Award, but for doing it in such a strong fashion.  It was a unanimous decision for Kimbrel.  Who was the last rookie to do that?  You might have heard his name before.  Albert Pujols.  That's certainly nice company for Craig to be in.

How dangerous is the Braves closer and how do other teams view him?  Well, look at it this way.  The Phillies tried to re-up Ryan Madson quickly.  When they hit a road block, they immediately went after and signed Jonathan Papelbon.  Yes, the Phillies are tired of collapsing in the playoffs and signing Papelbon was part of rectifying that.  But also, the road to winning the NL East goes through Atlanta and the Phillies know what they're up against when facing Craig Kimbrel.  They're trying to fight fire power with fire power.  I'd take Kimbrel over Papelbon any day. 

Freddie Freeman finished a strong number two in the National League voting and I couldn't be happier for him!  The Braves have numbers one and two in the Rookie of the Year voting.  It speaks volumes about the Braves scouts and farm system.  I can hear the champagne corks popping in Atlanta, Gwinnett, Rome and Mississippi.  They all played a huge part in this.  And let's not forget.  The Braves had the National League's number two vote-getter last year in Jason Heyward. 

Craig Kimbrel is the fifth Atlanta Braves player to win Rookie of the Year.  The number should truly be six and don't even get me started on that.  It still gets me all wound up when I think about it...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Parting With Prado?

It's no secret that the Braves are entertaining offers for both Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens.  Don't freak out.  In the past, the Braves have always listened to offers for any player.  If someone called today and asked Frank Wren about the availability of Brian McCann, Frank would listen.  But that doesn't mean he'd make the trade. 

I don't want the Braves to lose Martin Prado.  I think it would be a huge mistake for them to let him go.  Yes, he had a sub par year in 2011 but much of that can be attributed to the time he spent on the DL with a staff infection.  He wasn't right the rest of the season.  Knowing Martin's work ethic, he didn't take a day off after the season's last game.  I can guarantee that he's already been working harder than ever to ensure that he has a huge turnaround next year.  It's the one constant thing we hear about him.  Martin Prado is the hardest working player on the Braves roster.  Omar Infante once said that he always watched Martin and did exactly what Martin did so that he could succeed at the major league level.

After the disaster known as September, I knew the Braves front office would react strongly. We're certain to see some big changes.  I just hope that it doesn't include Martin.  The Royals and Rockies have expressed an interest in him.  I don't know what they could give us in return to make it worthwhile.  It would have to be something huge.  Something that neither of those teams has. 

Could Martin move to short?  Could the Braves pick up Michael Cuddyer?  There would have to be some rearranging but the team needs more plate production from the outfield.  Cuddyer plays right and center.  As much as I love Michael Bourn, we only have him for one more year and Scott Boras is his agent.  That's never promising. 

What will happen?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Look Into The Crystal Ball

The books are officially closed on the 2011 season, free agency is in full swing and the awards are being handed out.  We all hope that our favorite team will have multiple winners and that our favorite players will garner even more national recognition.  We want the world to be reminded that our team has the best players, even if they didn't go all the way.  We all have our predictions.  There are those who we want to win and those we don't.  It's true.  We never want to see the validation of our least favorite players and teams! 

We saw some amazing performances all season long.  There are multiple, quality candidates for every award and strong cases can be made for each.  No category is cut and dry. but for me the toughest to choose is MVP.  Each league has 3 or 4 players that are well-worthy of the award.  It simply depends on the way you choose to view it. 

We all have our picks and it's fun to see how close we come to the "right" answer.  "Right" has to be in quotations because we don't always agree with the recipient, especially when it's based upon the opinions of others.   So here is your chance.   I want to know who you think should be awarded each league's biggest honors for 2011.

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Manager of the Year
  • Cy Young
  • MVP

I'm a gamer so here are my picks:

National League
Rookie of the Year - Craig Kimbrel / Atlanta Braves
Manager of the Year - Kirk Gibson / Arizona Diamondbacks
Cy Young Award - Clayton Kershaw/ Los Angeles Dodgers
MVP - Ryan Braun / Milwaukee Brewers

American League
Rookie of the Year - Eric Hosmer / Kansas City Royals
Manager of the Year - Joe Madden / Tampa Bay Rays
Cy Young Award - Justin Verlander / Detroit Tigers
MVP - Jose Bautista / Toronto Blue Jays

Now it's your turn.  Your picks are....

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gentleman Jim

I suppose I 'discovered' Jim Thome in 1995, his fifth year in the big leagues and on the biggest stage of all.  Even though he was a major threat and I got very nervous every time he stepped to the plate, there was still something extremely likable about him.  I liked his attitude and the way he played the game.  Sure, maybe I wouldn't like him quite as much if the World Series had ended differently, but since that October I've always been a huge fan. 

So I was excited this morning when I saw that Jim had signed a 1 year deal with the Phillies.  I'm happy he landed somewhere and very happy that I'll get to see him often in Atlanta.  But what I don't quite understand is the move back to the National League.  Jim's basically been a DH for the past six years.  He started off at 3rd base, moved to first in the late 90's and has only dabbled in both since moving primarily into the DH role.   Yes, I know he'll be coming off the bench as a pinch hitter late in games, sometimes staying in the game to play either first or third.  But wouldn't he get more plate appearances if he stayed in the American League?

I think a large part of the decision is that Jim will be reunited with Charlie Manuel.  Charlie was Jim's hitting coach in Cleveland.  Earlier this season, after Jim hit home runs 599 and 600 I watched his post-game press conference.  After talking about his parents (his father was at the game, his mother had passed away in 2005 after a long battle with lung cancer ) the next person he spoke about was Charlie Manuel.  Jim was very excited, grinning ear-to-ear and it seemed almost still in disbelief of what he had just accomplished.  He mentioned Charlie and then almost as if he was thinking aloud said, "I don't even know if he knows about this yet."  Jim went on to talk about what a huge part Charlie played in getting him to 600 home runs.  The things that Charlie taught him as a young player had served him well and extended his career.  It was so wonderful to see someone so accomplished immediately shine the spotlight on those who had enabled him to get there.  

That is one of the many reasons I love Jim Thome.  He's a class act, he knows how fortunate he is and he shares it.  He's putting his ten neices and nephews through college.  And at 41 he still has gas in the tank and a pure passion for the game in his heart.  One of my favorite Jim Thome quotes?  "I think I'll love this game long after my body gives out."

I wish there were more players like him.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


There is no question that Brian McCann is the best all-around catcher in baseball right now.  He plays smart, he knows how to call a good game, he plays hard every day and he's doing what he needs to do in the 
off-season in order to have a long and productive career.

Brian won his fourth Silver Slugger Award yesterday.  Fourth in a row actually.  He's the only Brave to have ever won five Silver Sluggers and he's only the sixth catcher in baseball history to win at least five.  Congratulations Brian!

All that said, I was a little surprised that Brian won the award this year.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled, but I really thought it would go to Yadier Molina, the second best catcher in the game right now.  Yadier is the better defensive catcher.  We were reminded of that in the post season.  Brian is the better offensive player.  But this year, he wasn't.

I don't know all the details and ins-and-outs on how the Silver Slugger is awarded, but comparing stats Yadier had a better season at the plate.  Maybe I'm missing something or there's something that just I don't know.  Either way, I won't feel too bad for Yadier.  He won the Gold Glove Award.  Oh yeah, and he got a new ring.  His second ring, in fact.  It's not easy keeping up with those older brothers!  And seriously, what did Mrs. Molina feed those boys growing up!?!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who's On First?

The feeding frenzy for two of the best players in baseball is underway.   Prince Fielder may have played his last game as a Brewer.   Albert Pujols may have played his last with the Cardinals.  I hope not in both cases.   I love the idea of both men spending their entire careers with one team. But that doesn't happen too often anymore.  Can either team even afford to keep those players?   Probably not.  Would either player be willing take a home town discount?  How creative can these teams be from an accounting perspective?

I started writing this post a few weeks ago, before the Cardinal's World Series victory and before Tony LaRussa retired.  Now there's a whole different wrinkle in St. Louis.  Can the Cardinals afford (in a non-monetary way) to let the face of their franchise go?  The names Pujols and LaRussa are inextricably linked in baseball lore.  Can the Cardinals suddenly be without both?  But we must remember, baseball is a business and emotion must, and will, be set aside.

The teams that can best afford Albert or Prince aren't in need of a first baseman. The Yankees have Teixeira.   The Red Sox have Gonzalez.   The Phillies have Howard.   Perhaps the Cubs?   Would Albert dare consider them?   That would drive a stake through the heart of St. Louis.   The Rangers may need someone new at first and we know they have the ability to spend money.  The question is whether they'll spend it on keeping C.J. Wilson or someone new at first base.  Is there enough in their coffers for both?  Mitch Moreland is signed for awhile but he is very tradeable.  What about San Francisco?  Their season was a huge disappointment and a big bat in the lineup would really help turn things around.  Aubrey Huff has one only year left on his contract.

Not only are Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols great players, they're good people too.   The kind of people that every team wants.   They lead by example.  They are leaders on the field, in the clubhouse and in the community.  I don't know where they'll end up.  Your thoughts?