2013 MLB Breakout Stars: Chris Davis, Max Scherzer and Yasiel Puig

5 Jul

th270px-Chris_Davis_on_August_10,_2011imagesCADKMZB9A little more than a week until MLB Baseball’s All Star Game and we already at the half way point of the season, I wanted to look at some of the breakout or star baseball players in the first half. There are several young and veteran MLB stars , but there are three that stand out to me so far.

Chris Davis of the Orioles has hit 32 home runs and a .330 batting average so far and could be on pace to break Roger Maris “normal and untainted” record of 61 home runs and Babe Ruth at 60 which were the single season records for home runs before the steroid era in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Mark McGuire hit 70 home runs and Barry Bonds hit 73.

But those records are tainted and as soon as a power hitting star like Davis has a big year, the naysayers and critics say steroids or HGH which is somewhat unfair until proven true and then that’s always tricky as we’ve seen with several suspected players. But a great start for Chris Davis and congrats to him.

Also an amazing start for Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer who is 13-0 after a 6-2  Tigers victory over the Blue Jays in Detroit. He has kind of passed by Justin Verlander as the ace and best pitcher currently in Detroit and Verlander is a 2 time Cy Young winner and has pitched a couple no hitters. But Scherzer is the first pitcher to start 13-0 since Roger Clemens started 14-0 in 1986 for the Boston Red Sox.
Scherzer has also matched Tigers pitcher Bobo Newsom from 1940, with 18 starts without a loss. Scherzer should start the All Star Game for the American League, and in a real outside shot could Scherzer go after another former Tigers pitcher Denny McClain’s record of 31-6 back in 1968. Everything would have to go right in the second half, but the way Scherzer is pitching right now who knows what kinds of heights he can reach.

Finally , Yasiel Puig,  the Cuban star right fielder on the Los Angeles Dodgers has been an instant success. Puig is the first major leaguer with 34 hits and 7 home runs in the first 20 games of his career. He hits for power and average, he can steal bases and he has an arm like a cannon that has already thrown out three runners from right field. It will be very interesting to see how Puig develops once  he and other players adapt to his games. And we’ll see if Puig is just a flashing star or a superstar. Some like Phiilies reliever Jonathon Paplebon have questioned his ability, while others think he could or should be voted into next weeks All Star Game even after only a month of major league play. He’s been that good, and the All Star Game is played under bright lights and for home field advantage in the World Series so its important for a number of reasons. But is Puig deserving for his short time of play in the major leagues. That is the question.

As I said there are many excellent stars in the major leagues right now but Chris Davis, Max Scherzer and Yasiel Puig are the brightest lights at this time. Best wishes and enjoy the baseball games and its stars.

References: MLB Statistics, Bleacher Report

Checking out the Chicago Cubs in 2013. Is there hope on the North Side of Chicago?

11 Jan

Checking out the Chicago Cubs in 2013. Improvement?

Published by: Doc on 11th Jan 2013 | View all blogs by Doc
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Besides covering the Milwaukee Brewers, I wanted to cover a few other teams that I follow and like and today I’ve been looking into what the Brewers NL Central Division Rivals the Chicago Cubs are doing.

The Lovable Losers from the Friendly Confines at Wrigley Field. But it hasn’t been so lovable lately as the Cubs lost 101 games for only the third time in their long history dating back to the 1800s.

But don’t despair Cubs fans there is hope, and you don’t need to send the team down to Peoria as a minor league team. Although in a weird way that’s exactly what they’re doing to build this long time proud franchise back up.

Under the direction of team president Theo Epstein who constructed the Red Sox championship teams last decade, Jed Hoyer the general manager and Dale Sveum the manager the Cubs are building for the future while playing for the present as well.

They are bringing up some minor leaguers like Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson, Ian Stewart and Wellington Castro. They brought in a 32 year old pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa a possible closer from Japan. He will work alongside Cubs closer Carlos Marmol for late innings. Meanwhile outfielder Kosuke Fukodome who spent part of 5 years with the Cubs will return to Japan.

The Cubs also signed infielder Luis Valluena to a one year contract. Meanwhile the Cubs biggest acquisition was right hander Edwin Jackson who pitched for Washington last year and once pitched a no hitter in the majors while with Arizona in 2011. Jackson will be part of a Cubs rotation possibly with Matt Garza if he isn’t traded and returns from injury and Jeff Samardzija who has become a nice starter/reliever for the Cubs. Other pitchers the Cubs picked up include Scott Baker from the Twins, Scott Feldman from the Rangers and Carlos Villenueva who used to pitch for the Brewers.

Some other non roster invites of note that the Cubs will bring in to look at are Darnell McDonald who has had a good clutch bat for the Red Sox at times I remember and has a nice glove. Brent Lilibridge has played some infield for a few major league teams most recently the Braves and Dontrelle Willis who was once a very good pitcher for the Florida Marlins and pitched in Detroit for the Tigers for a few years as well. He is looking to make a comeback to form.

Add in veterans Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney who make a nice double play combination and Alfonso Soriano who still has good power at age 37, and this could be an interesting mixture and year for the Cubs.

They likely won’t win the division or get a playoff spot, but they shouldn’t lose 100 games again either. From what I’ve read the Cubs model for success is the Washington Nationals. The Nationals have had some great drafts for young talent, (Stephen Strasberg and Bryce Harper) and signing some good free agents to become a playoff team which they were last year and look to contend again this year.

The Cubs will be better so don’t lose hope my Cubs friends no selling out to Peoria. But the team is a year or two away likely from being really good again. However help is on the way and the building process has begun. So keep watching and pretty soon you’ll be able to start enjoying Wrigley Field again for more than the ballpark and ivy. Go Cubs Go and Hey Chicago What do You Say the Cubs are going to WIN today. Hopefully for Cubs fans that after winning game chant at Wrigley will be sung more often in the future. Cubs fans need that HOPE. Good luck! Doc.

 

 

 

Baseball Hall of Fame or Shame. The Great Debate.

10 Jan

Hall of Fame or Shame? What should consitute induction?

Published by: Doc on 10th Jan 2013 | View all blogs by Doc
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Well getting back to baseball, and the topic of the day has been the Hall of Fame or Hall of Shame. For the first time since 1996 ironically around when this steroids era started, no one was inducted Of course this 2013 class could have been one of the greatest classes ever. Barry Bonds with 762 home runs the all time home run leader. Roger Clemens with 354 wins as a pitcher. Sammy Sosa with 609 home runs.

And then you have others in question like Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza. Of course all these great players are linked to the steroids era and that’s a shame no matter what happened it was a part of the culture and time in baseball. 500 home run hitters Mark McGuire and Rafeal Palmerio’s legacies are also stained.

Even some players thought to be clean like 3000 hit member Craig Biggio and 3 time World Series champion Curt Schilling were excluded. And some long time veterans like pitcher Jack Morris, reliever Lee Smith, base stealer Tim Raines who had a cocaine problem himself and others. Of course we haven’t talked about the all time hits leader with 4,256 hits Pete Rose who remains banned for life for gambling.

So why is Ty Cobb the second all time hits leader with 4,191 hits in the Hall of Fame? He was considered one of the most dirtiest ruthless players ever. And Babe Ruth was a heavy beer drinker and ladies man lol.

I don’t know what the answer is for these Hall of Fames in football and baseball especially. But instead of just statistics, it seems like a lot of these choices are made by stuffy and traditionalist writers.

Now I’m not saying what these players did was right. It wasn’t. But it was a culture of the game at the time and their records and performance wasn’t banned like Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1919 Chicago Black Sox were when the White Sox were accused of throwing the World Series against the Cincinatti Reds and profiting from it.

But we all watched these players like Bonds, McGuire, Sosa and Clemens among others. And we were drawn into their performances maybe in a falsehood but they and others still played the games and had to achieve these performances whether they took the stuff or not or how much it benefited or hurt them.

I wish we could go back and erase the whole thing but like vacating performances and championships it doesn’t change what happened or memories. The New Orleans Saints for example won the 2009 Super Bowl after some of their players were accused of being involved in bounty hits. But they’re still the Super Bowl Champs and their record still stands right? Reggie Bush and USC could still be college champions as well but his/their performances were vacated.

So what I’m saying is vacate all of it, if it never happened or accept it as a part of the game’s less than perfect history and these players tainted and all have a place in the Hall of Fame. Or is it a popularity contest and Good Samaritan Hall of Fame. In that case Tim Tebow and Tony Romo will get a call tomorrow lol. Best wishes, Doc

Brewers relieving situation in 2013

4 Jan

Further Checking out the Brewer Relievers for 2013 and an upgrade!

Published by: Doc on 4th Jan 2013 | View all blogs by Doc
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As I’ve talked about in the last couple blogs about the Milwaukee Brewers, they haven’t had a spectacular winter as far as big splashy names and high prices, but that can often sink a small market team like the Brewers without a salary cap. But Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is smarter than that and he has been around baseball more than a block or two, and he knows how to run a baseball team productively on a budget. Is this Moneyball 2? Who will be the Brewers Brad Pitt in this movie lol. Seriously Melvin has gotten rid of unproductive relievers such as Jose Veras, Fransisco Rodriguez, Tim Dillard, Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, Mike McLendon and Livan Hernandez. He kept the good ones in John Axford who when he’s on is pretty reliable and Jim Henderson who’s like the new farm boy flamethrower. He filled in or shared the closing duties nicely with Axford last summer. And the new guys I’ve mentioned Burke Badenhop, Tom Gorzelany, Mike Gonzalez the last two from the 2012 playoff Washington Nationals should be good. Both Gorzelany and Gonzalez are left handed specialists and it’s always good to have a southpaw to throw from the other side of the plate. Another name the Brewers relievers will be counting on is Brandon Kintzler who is a quality reliever when healthy. That should fill six of the seven bullpen spots for the Brewers. And one last name to look out for is right hander Michael Olmsted who could be promoted soon from the minor leagues. He is a 6-6 power pitcher who had pitched in the Boston system and then in Japan. Boston didn’t want to lose him, but didn’t have a spot on their 40 man roster. Boston, the Red Sox loss could be the Brewers gem or diamond in the rough . We’ll see. Anyway in closing the Brewers don’t have a lot of big names behind Axford and AX needs to return to his lights out 2011 performance when he didn’t blow a save after opening day until the playoffs. The relievers may be inexperienced and the quality may be underrated for now but the depth is there which the Brewers needed, and if they shine in the major leagues that quality will shine through like a bright light on opposing hitters in Milwaukee this season. So Shine the Light Brewer pitchers and especially the relievers. Like a flashlight shining in your face, that’s how hard they want to make it to hit Milwaukee pitching. Lights Out! Have a great season and Go Brewers Go! Doc.

 

Milwaukee Brewers 2013 Prospects and A look at the Brewers 2013 Season

2 Jan

Milwaukee Brewers exciting new prospects and the state of the team heading into 2013.

Published by: Doc on 2nd Jan 2013 | View all blogs by Doc
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Well the calendar has turned to 2013, so we are officially in the year of the next baseball season. I’ve been checking out the Milwaukee Brewers, my old hometown team and the team that I’m going to be covering mostly for Basebook this year which I’m really excited about. For my first assignment I’ve been asked to check out the Brewers young prospects and the state of the team heading into 2013. And it’s coming quicker than you already think. Pitchers and catchers report in 40 days. Spring and time out at the ballpark and watching baseball are almost here again. For the Brewers, they have a couple exciting position player s developing in the minor leagues that I found out about at Brewers.com . Hunter Morris is a first baseman and a left handed bat in the Southern League where he was the MVP of Double A Ball last year. Whenever he comes up he could fill in for Corey Hart at first base who is in the final year of his contract unless he gets an extension. He could also send Hart last year at first base, back out to right field as insurance. Also the Brewers have a young second baseman at Triple A Scooter Jennett, who is good defensively and has some good pop in his bat even though he’s a small guy. The word on these minor leaguers is that they are not in the class of a Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart former Brewer farmhands who became star major league players. But they are good and they could be up in the majors sometime this year or in 2014. Meanwhile the Brewers also have some young arms to bolster their rotation and they have made some improvement in the bullpen as well. Willie Peralta, Mark Rogers and Mike Fiers all spent time on the mound for the Brewers in 2012 and they could be starting pitching options for the Brewers in 2013. Also Marco Estrada is another option and Chris Narveson will be back from shoulder surgery. Yovanni Gallardo also returns as the ace for the Brewers and a quality pitcher and bat as well. He once hit a home run against 300 game winner former flamethrower Randy Johnson a few years back so that’s a bonus. Also the Brewers picked up Tom Gorzelany a left hander from the Washington Nationals last year. He will bolster a Brewers bullpen that was last in the National League last year and he could be a starter as well. Another reliever the Brewers picked up was right hander Burke Badenhop acquired in a trade last month from the Tampa Bay Rays. So the Brewers may not have gotten a top name quality pitcher like starter Ryan Dempster who was in the Brewers eyes, but ended up with the bigger market Boston Red Sox. But Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is crafty with his budget and signings and has kept a small market team competitive in Milwaukee for the Brewers. Finally the Brewers are also set pretty well with their position player starters for 2013, so they didn’t make any big moves there. And they have an exciting young 22 year old shortstop Jean Segura who has a nice arm and bat at shortstop so that’s exciting. The Brewers led the National League in homers and stolen bases this year so with a quality offense that’s why they have concentrated on improving the pitching this winter. And even though they didn’t sign any big splashy names, costing more money , they have found a way to remain competitive and I’m excited to see how this young and veteran group of Brewers meshes together in spring training and into the 2013 season. I think this could be an exciting season where the Brewers can compete again for a division title or wild card position in the National League. And I am from Milwaukee, and sometimes get up to Miller Park in the summer to see a game. Wouldn’t that be exciting to do a game and field report from there! Go Brewers and Slide Bernie Brewer Slide as Brewers Hall of Fame Announcer Bob Uecker calls another home run Get up and get out of here Gone for the Brewers. Talk soon. Doc.

 

Memorable Moments of the 2012 Baseball Season and remembering Roberto Clemente after 40 years

30 Dec

Memorable Moments from the 2012 Baseball Season, Also remembering Roberto Clemente after 40 years

Published by: Doc on 30th Dec 2012 | View all blogs by Doc
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It’s the end of the year 2012, and it was another great and memorable year in baseball. The San Fransisco Giants won their 2nd World Series in 3 years after going 56 years and a city change from New York since winning their last World Series in 1954 when Willie Mays was catching fly balls there. The last out of the World Series on a called third strike was Miguel Cabrera as his Detroit Tigers got swept by the Giants. But Cabrera had a pretty good year capturing baseball’s first Triple Crown in 45 years since Carl Yasztremski won the honor in 1967 and Frank Robinson in 1966. Someone has tough shoes to fill this season if there is to be a repeat Triple Crown winner in baseball. His teammate pitcher Justin Verlander was pretty good winning the AL CY Young Award and he did good dugout interviews leading to Tiger rallies. What he couldn’t do was get batters out in the All Star Game and World Series mainly to San Fransisco Giants batters like Pablo Sandoval who hit a triple off him in the All Star Game, and then 3 home runs in the World Series Game 1. Also his Giant teammate Melky Cabrera hit a home run off Verlander in the All Star Game and won the MVP giving the National League home field advantage in the World Series. But Cabrera wasn’t able to share in the Giants joy after being suspended for 50 games for PED (Performance Enhancing Drugs). And later he was released and ended up with the Toronto Blue Jays. There were three perfect games in baseball as well. Phillip Humber of the White Sox, Mait Cain of the Giants and Felix Hernandez of the Mariners which was the first time that three perfect games had happened in one season of baseball. Bobby Valentine was fired by the Boston Red Sox for poor managing and volitale behavior. Ozzie Guillen was fired by the Florida Marlins for poor managing and insensitive comments about Cubans. The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros lost over 100 games each and the New York Yankees got swept out of the playoffs by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS before shortstop Derek Jeter their captain had his season ended with a broken ankle. Ouch I know what that feels like as I have been recovering from a broken foot this fall. The Texas Rangers after two tough World Series losses in 2010 and 2011, blew a big AL West lead to the Oakland A’s and then lost a wildcard game at home to the Baltimore Orioles one of the surprise teams in baseball. And then the Rangers lost free agents Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli. Some big bats to fill and the Rangers will likely be the Texas Strangers this year. And a team I like and will be focusing on Basebook here this next year, the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t play well until August after winning the NL Central and going to the NLCS in 2011. But the Brewers caught fire the last month in a half of the season and made a late playoff run behind 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun and a load of bats and improved pitching which could be even better in 2013. So we’ll see what happens in 2013. The Washington Nationals formerly the Montreal Expos made their first postseason appearance since 1981 when they were in Montreal. They lost a tough deciding game to the 2011 World Series Champion St Louis Cardinals who had another great year, but their miracle comebacks and finishes were finally finished in a pouring rainstorm down 9-0 to the San Fransisco Giants in Game 7 of the NLCS. And as I write this catcher AJ Pierzynski formerly of the White Sox has signed a 1 year 7.5 million dollar contract with the Rangers. So maybe they’ll be a little less strange after although AJ can be a volitaile and feisy character and catcher having been in a few brawls, but he also helped lead the White Sox to the 2005 World Series Championship. So we’ll see what happens this coming season and their will be more moves ahead before spring training for sure. Finally before I go a tribute to a legendary player, who many of us younger fans never saw other than highlights Roberto Clemente who died or disappeared in a tragic plane crash 40 years ago on New Years Eve in 1972 while delivering relief supplies to Nicaragua struck by an earthquake. from his homeland Puerto Rico. Clemente was only 38 years old . In an 18 year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates he played and won two World Series in 1960 and 1971. In the 1971 series he batted .414 in a 7 game Series win over the Baltimore Orioles. His last regular season hit was his 3000th so he’s the original and true Mr 3000. Also what I liked about Clemente was he had power, speed and a great arm. He always hustled and more impressively he did it while playing hurt with chronic back pain and other injuries. Roberto Clemete. I would have loved to see him play and his body was never found which adds to his everlasting mystery and mystique. We’ll remember the great Latin #21 player Roberto Clemente always. RIP. Talk soon and Have a Happy New Year and I look forward to Playing Ball Soon!! Best wishes Doc.

Red Sox sign reliever Joel Hanarahan and a Celebration of Baseball

30 Dec

Red Sox acquire new reliever Joel Hanarahan and celebrating Baseball

Published by: Doc on 27th Dec 2012 | View all blogs by Doc
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It’s the end of the year after Christmas and fairly quiet in the baseball world in these parts until football is over in early Febuary now with the Super Bowl. Then college basketball carries on the next couple months.

In the meantime pitchers and catchers will be reporting south in mid Febuary and spring training gets into full gear in March, before the regular season starts in early April or sometimes late March just as the college basketball season is ending. The seasons almost always change in symmetry so we have something to look forward to.

But in the offseason there are moves in the hot stove starting with the winter meetings in early December and they can happen all winter through spring training.

You never know exactly when a deal will be made either depending on the economics and other baseball situations.

This week the Boston Red Sox one of the teams I like best picked up a reliever, 31 year old Joel Hanarahan, in a 6 player trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Hanarahan is a big stocky righthander with 76 saves since 2011. He had a 2.72 era in 2012 and an even better 1.83 era in 2011. His walks have gone up from 2.1 to 5.4 the last few years. But you never know with relievers from day to day and year to year. Eric Gagne had 85 saves in a row several years back for the Dodgers, but by the time he got to play for the Milwaukee Brewers a couple years ago he was struggling. So you never know and just have to live with the moment That’s baseball especially, a sport where every day and situation is different which makes baseball special and most unique of different sports.

As I write this I’m listening to a new cd I received about legendary Milwaukee Brewers and funny man announcer Bob Uecker with a lot of his famous calls and stories. What great ambiance as I write this blog and I look forward to writing many more here at Basebook as the new year and season begins. Talk soon. Yours in Brewers and Baseball. Doc.