Money, Money, Money

BabeRuth1919

On this day in 1927, Babe Ruth became the highest paid player in major league history when the Yankees announced the Bambino would earn $70,000 per season for the next three years. The historic deal is struck when the ‘Sultan of Swat’, who had asked for $100,000, met with Colonel Jacob Ruppert, the club’s owner at the Ruppert Brewery in the Yorkville section of Manhattan. The Colonel got his money’s worth. On the 15th of April, Babe hit the first of his historic 60 home runs off of Howard Ehmke who would go on to win 12 games that season and only give up 13 home runs all season long for the Philadelphia A’s. On May 31st, Babe hit another off of Ehmke on his way to #60 which came off of Tlm Zachary of the Washington Senators on September 30th. If you would like to see it, click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOt0Tmwc2Rk.

George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth scored 158 runs that season; drove in 164 RBIs; 29 Doubles; 8 Triples; he hit .356 and had a slugging percentage of .772 with an OPS of 1.258. In the World Series that season, he hit .400, had 2 home runs and the Yankees won the Championship. All in all, Mr Ruth earned his $70,000 and more.

The Yankee’s payroll was $250,000 that year. The Bambino’s salary was 28% of the entire team’s payroll.

Let’s take a look at what some teams are paying their top player and see if it can guarantee what the Colonel got from Babe’s contract.

The team that has a player who was closest to what Babe was paid in terms of percentage of payroll this coming season the Twins, the Mariners, the Astros and the Mets. First the Minnesota Twins have an estimated team payroll of $82.5 million. Joe Mauer, playing First Base this season will be paid $23 million or 27.9% of the team’s payroll. All Mr. Mauer has to do is hit 60 home runs, drive in 160+ RBIs, have his team win the pennant AND win the World Series. Can he carry his team to the heights to reach the playoffs? That’s what he’s paid to do.

In the Northwest, the Seattle Mariners this season will have a team payroll of $87.5 million and Robinson Cano, their newly acquired Second Baseman will earn $24 million or 27.45% of the team’s payroll. We all know what he has to do to equal and earn this Ruthian salary. All Cano has to do is have his team perform like they haven’t since….well, years and jump over the Angels, the Rangers and the A’s to get into the playoffs. But that’s what Cano is paid to do this year.

Down in Houston, they have a payroll of $49 million. This is the second lowest in the Major League this season. They have good reason for such a low salary. They are in a dispute with their local cable vendor who reportedly have not paid them since the middle of last season. It seems that the affiliate of Comcast, the media giant, has put its affiliate into bankruptcy. What a mess. Therefore, their highest paid ballplayer, a starting pitcher, Scott Feldman, will earn $12 million or 24.5% of the teams entire payroll. If he pulls off his Ruthian equal, that achievement in 2014 will be classified a ‘miracle’.

Then there are the New York Mets. With a team payroll of $82 million, their top player, David Wright who is their Third Baseman, will earn $20 million or 24.4% of the team’s entire salary. If Wright does earn the Ruthian standard set in 1927, the Met’s still will have a struggle to reach the playoffs this season. But that is what Wright is paid to pull off.

As for the other 26 teams, the Indians have a payroll of $80 million and Nick Swisher will make $20 million (18.75%); The Rays with a modest budget of $75.5 million will have David Price making $14 million (18.55%); the Rangers with a payroll of $131 million will have Prince Fielder earning $24 million (18.3%); Pirates payroll is $71.5 and Wandy Rodriguez will be earning $13 million of that or 18.2%. The Cardinals will have a payroll of $108.5 million the most in the Central Division of the National League and they will be paying Adam Wainwright $$19.5 million equal to 18% of the team’s payroll. The White Sox will have a payroll of $89 million and John Danks will be paid $15.75 million (17.7%).

The Rockies have a payroll of $91 million and their All-Star Shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki will make $16 million or 15.9% of the Colorado payroll. In Milwaukee, they will have the third highest payroll in the Central Division of the National League, just north of $100 million  and Third Baseman, Aramis Ramirez will make $16 million or 15.9% of the Brewers team payroll. Washington will have a team payroll of $130.5 million and Jayson Werth, their Right Fielder, will be paid $20 million, 571 thousand, 429 Dollars or 15.75% of the National’s payroll. Meanwhile those mighty Marlins will have a team payroll of $42.5 million and one of the best ballplayers in the Show, Giancarlo Stanton, will make $6.5 million or 15.3% of the Miami payroll.

Then there are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Their estimated payroll of $151 million dollars, the sixth highest in the Major Leagues and fourth biggest in the American League, will have to pay Albert Pujols, their aging First Baseman $23 million or 15.25% of the team’s payroll. Can he pull off a season of Ruthian standard and carry his team to the top?

For the remaining 15 teams, all of them will pay their top player 15% or less of their team’s payroll. And it appears as though this is where the World Champion will come from. The top salary in baseball this season will be $26 million and will be paid to Zach Greinke of the  Dodgers who will have a payroll of $223,000,000. He will only be 11.7% of their payroll. For that amount of money, they better win the pennant, the World Series and a trip to Disneyland, by the bus that will take them there and give everyone FREE Dodger Dogs in the City of Angels for the next year.

Newton’s Theory of Relativity is absolute. What goes up must come down. This bubble will burst. It simply cannot go on forever. Baseball teams are playing with funny money. Television fees are paid because of content that gains eyeballs. Eyeballs bring advertisers. And advertising brings sales. If eyeballs leave, for whatever reason, prices for advertising come down and rights fees decrease. But some of these teams have long-term cable rights for 20-30 years. What if a cable network can’t get the advertisers to pay the teams what they have contracted for? Will it be a giant, Houston Astros v Comcast all over again, but this time on an avalanche sized financial rush downward?

Look, no network pays for boxing rights today. At one time, boxing was the biggest draw on television. The audience left boxing and turned to something else. The Pabst Blue Ribbon Fight Night no longer exists. Neither does the original Pabst Brewing Co.

Money, money, money. Can today’s players really earn the money they are being paid this season? Can their clubs with the pennant?

Play Ball!

A Year In The Minors

No matter who you root for this coming baseball season, more than likely you will be cheering for a minor league caliber team. The New York Yankees signing of Tanaka, giving them a powerful starting pitching lineup along with one of the best catchers in the game, gives them a battery no one else can match. Even with the loss of Cano and Granderson, they will be overwhelming favorites to win the American League pennant. Across the country, the Los Angeles Dodgers have similar talent. Powerful pitching wins games and pennants.
What does talent do to a team? If we are judging baseball teams, talent is everything, especially when you consider pitching. So if you are not a Yankee, Dodger, Nationals, Cardinals, Tigers, Rangers and perhaps a Giant fan, you are an also-ran fan. At least, at the very best, you are an always-hopeful fan. If you are an A’s fan, you are always hopeful. If you are a Pirates fan, you are hopeful another miracle can happen. If you are a Rays’ fan, you have talent and a manager. If you are a Red Sox fan, hope is a built-in principal of life. If you are a White Sox fan you are hopeful the new guy can do what that Dodger kid did last season. To the rest of baseball, there is no hope.
Consider the Brewers. Pitching you have Vonnie and the rest. That’s a 12 win season. They were still playing the buyer’s remorse game with Garza on Sunday morning. But, as of 2P on Sunday, the Brewers signed Garza (for details go to: The Brewers signed Garza. http://www.facebook.com/overtheshouldermedia). Thus pitching would have been same-ol, same-ol if he hadn’t signed. That’s one hole filled. At catcher you have Lucroy. He is a very good craftsman with a good bat. But his arm is not there. At first you have nothing but the largest group of has-beens and wannabe’s in the history of first base. At second, you have a young hopeful. At shortstop, you have a legit All-Star. At third, there is a tiring veteran player on his way out of the game in the last of his contact years. In left you have a young hopeful…untested but a young hopeful.  In center, you have a gifted defensive player who you hope can hit like he did in the first half of last year’s season all of this season. In right you have a guy who one will have to hope he can play without his meds. Watching a fallen star will be brutal in opposing ballparks. Watching in Miller Park will be a lot of shaking of heads and wondering what would have been. You don’t know what his season will be like . How long has it been since he didn’t play with some assistance? That’s on the field. In the dugout the Brewers have average managerial talent and the worst third base coach in baseball. If they get hot at the early part of the season, then perhaps the owner will give the GM the monies to pull off a bold move. Let’s hope it is not for one of their young pitchers or their shortstop. That’s a lot of hope.
Consider the Cubs. Here is an ownership family that says all the right things but simply are very conservative when it comes to spending their money. They have a new ballpark in Mesa for Spring Training. They have a good starting pitcher. They have a hopefully good first baseman. They have an erratic but hopefully improved shortstop who is All-Star quality. Yikes! Its been a long time since Gabby took the Cubbies to the land of dreams.
Consider the Mariners. They have Cano. They have one of the best pitchers in the game. They have an unknown in Cory Hart. They have, however, missed out on one guy who could have put thrill back into the Northwest. Tanaka. They have a new President. When will this management learn not to give up on their great players? When are they going to stop letting ‘The Kid’ go away? A-Rod escape? Johnson let go? And the idol, arguably the best player in the first decade of this Century traded away to the Yankees…Ichiro? Hey…how about another manager? It is time this management stops playing Nintendo and begins understanding that baseball is a game of professionals. Welcome to Peoria this spring.
Consider the Angels. Tanaka was simply too young for them to acquire. They want to give the Arte billions to old, over-the-hill players. Understand A.J. is available for behind the plate duties. Isn’t it time to trade the best young player in the game to the Yankees? He may be too young to keep around those gray hairs who pack the halo’s lineup.
Consider the Padres.
Consider the Rockies. Talk about tight. This ownership’s idea of building a team is in building a party deck in right field. They have a 40-year-old relief pitcher in LaTroy. Doesn’t he understand that the air is thin up there in Denver? Pitchers can’t throw curves in that atmosphere. To win they need to have hammers…big hitters who can win the game 15 to 14 in nine innings.
Consider the Diamondbacks. It is just too bad they couldn’t pull off the deal with Tanaka. They brought in Goldy to assist in convincing the young Japanese star to make the Valley of the Sun his home. It could have given new hope to a team that has disappointed many during the past season or two. Here was a team on the verge of dominance with one of the best coaching staffs in baseball. Now there is no great young outfielder to chastise. Two great coaches in Baylor and Williams have left. They have overpaid an underperforming catcher. And they still have no #1 pitcher. Bullpen? What bullpen?
Consider the Braves. No catcher. No money. Could be a decade of doom for the transplanted Milwaukee nine.
Consider the Orioles. Their manager has done what he has always done in the past. He takes nothing and pushes them to the almost-near the top. He is there again. Can he finally do what he has never done before and win the pennant and World Series? Davis and Hardy need more pitching.
Consider the Indians. Wow! When you get Axford and call that an improvement, I have a bridge I want to sell you. Back to the minors.
Consider the Reds. Why is this team located near one of the biggest package goods manufacturers in the world without funds to rebuild their incredible past? P&G…buy this team and give them some money to make they one of the greats again. Baseball needs it. This is the team who really started it all in the city where pro baseball began. Goodyear will be a terrible place to watch this Spring Training.
Consider the Royals. George Brett must be put into a position to do what John Elway has done in Denver. Ownership has to unload its pockets and provide Brett the monies that can rebuild a once proud franchise. Aoki is a monumental trade improvement. Watch him hit against Darvish and Tanaka. There is hope in KC. Surprise will be a great place to watch baseball this spring.
Consider the Astros. It is a few years off before they will be a power. But will they be able to compete without being paid for their television contract. It seems Comcast owes them monies from last July, August and September. The local Comcast is declaring bankruptcy. The Astro’s are saying Comcast is doing a slight-of-hand. No money…no power. They have the money to improve. We all know they have the city to attract top players.
Consider the White Sox. Money? They have it in spades as they are part owner of the same cable network that carries the Cubs. They are making money hand over fist but can’t seem to do anything to improve their team except to extend their manager’s contract. Yet they did add one key player from Cuba, first baseman Jose Abreu who may be the next big thing in baseball. By sharing Camelback Ranch with the Dodgers this spring, the crowds should be large and boisterous. Unfortunately, there is little shade at Camelback Ranch.
We are only a couple of weeks away before the pitchers and catchers report. Arizona is going to be a great place to begin the season to find out what’s shaking for 2014. Besides, the first games are only a month away in AUSTRALIA. Yep. The D’Backs and Dodgers open the Major League Baseball season Down Under.
Thanks Commish. Great job. Do you have any idea what that gate would draw in LA or Phoenix?
Play Ball!
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Haves And Have Nots

Why is your team not performing better when it comes to winning the pennant or World Series? Many of the game’s top stars play for those who can afford salaries that are norms in today’s sporting world. They are truly Ruthian. When the average household in the country was making $6000 per year, Babe drew a salary of $80,000. Why? The Yankees could afford him in the nation’s largest market, drawing the biggest crowds in sport.

Stars draw top salaries. Stars draw big crowds. Big crowds mean additional monies and a better chance to make the post season.

The other day, the Philadelphia Phillies locked up one of the biggest local television deals in the history of the game. They will average $100,000,000 in TV rights over the next 25 years. It won’t begin at that amount for some time, but the average will adjust to that figure over the complete length of the contract.

Recently, the Los Angeles Dodgers set a mark that is envious. Their 25 year contract which begins this season will give them $280 million per season. Imagine, the ownership of this franchise will receive $280 million to pay for all of their team and farm team salaries and expenses, all of their travel plus a good amount of extra funds before counting one single ticket sale or the monies they will receive from the over three million fans who will come through their turnstiles on food, beverage, snacks, merchandise and other in-stadium opportunities. We are not including parking revenues here. We just talking about $280 million to do with what they want.

Then there are the Yankees. Their massive deal gives them $90 million per year and escalates up to $300 million per year. Their deal runs through 2042. Plus, they remain 34% owners of YES, the Yankees Sports & Entertainment Network. That means more revenue annually. The Yankees have created new ways to bring in revenue. They not only have a pre-game show before their game and post game telecasts, they have a pre-pre-game show.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are no slouches either. Their contract, for only 17 years, gives them $147 million per year plus 25% of the Fox Sports West network. That means they will receive monies from the network that also carries the Dodgers.

There are a couple more teams that may surprise some in this new day of ‘have and have nots’. The Texas Rangers will be receiving a one time fee of $100 million and then begin to receive $80 million per season for 20 years beginning in 2015. Plus they will own 10% of Fox Sports Southwest.

Also in this high atmosphere, are the Houston Astros. Not only did they get all kinds of financial breaks by shifting to the American League West, but they also signed a huge local television deal which began this past season which not only pays them $80 million per year but gives them a whopping 45% equity stake in Comcast SportsNet Houston.

Then there is the other end of the scale. The Milwaukee Brewers receive approximately $21 million per year. Kansas City Royals will receive $20 million per season. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Miami Marlins receive $18 million per year while the St. Louis Cardinals receive only $14 million per season.

Oakland A’s figure is not available but is considered one of the two lowest in the major leagues while the Atlanta Braves, under a horrible deal when Turner Broadcasting sold the club to the present owner, Liberty Media, does not expire until 2031.

Now you have some sort of rough map regarding what certain clubs make through their local TV rights and perhaps you can see how some clubs simply cannot compete except by luck or through their farm system. It is probably safe to say that the Brewers, Royals, Pirates, A’s, Cardinals and Braves cannot compete in a posting war over the likes of Tanaka and the rest of the high-priced free agents.

Yet, year after year, the Cardinals continue to maintain respectability because their system of developing their players through their farm system is superior to any other major league organization.

For the other ‘have nots’ to compete year in and year out, they will have to adopt the Cardinals system of development or languish. After all, none of these teams will be receiving the kinds of local TV revenue all of the others will have.

Play Ball!

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Rangers In Position

Yesterday, one of the key free agent outfielders in the Major Leagues, Shin-Soo Choo agreed to a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers. Choo is just the latest in a series of moves that have positioned the Dallas franchise to make a run for the pennant once again.

The line-up looks like this: Leading off: left handed, right handed hitting, Leonys Martin (CF); Batting second: right handed hitting, Elvis Andrus (SS); Hitting third: right handed hitting Adrian Beltre (3B); In the clean up position: left handed hitting Prince Fielder (1B); In the 5th spot, left handed hitting Shin-Soo Choo (LF/RF); Batting 6th: right handed hitter, Alex Rios (LF/RF); In 7th: left handed hitting Mitch Moreland (DH) In 8th: right handed hitting Geovany Soto (C) and in the 9th spot: switch hitting Jurickson Profar (2B). The flexibility and the power is exceptional. The team will definitely improve their #8 position for runs last season; their 7th place in slugging percentage; and their 10th place in on base percentage. This is a batting order that will wear opposing pitchers out and the bullpens of the opponents will be exposed.

This is a lineup which will be extremely tough on right handed pitchers, and should wear out opposing pitchers as Fielder, Choo and Soto run up pitch counts all day long. But what pitcher would want to face Beltre, Fielder and Choo? This is an extremely dangerous group of hitters, not unlike Braun, Fielder and Hart three and four years back.

Meanwhile, GM Jon Daniels have brought The Rangers closer to a championship and will have the incomparable Yu Darvish at the top of the pitching rotation. A 200 inning starter with a 14-7 record last season, Darvish is due for a big season as he enters his third year in the Majors. With a 3.11 ERA, this is a dominating stopper. Derek Holland, another 200 inning starter with a 12-8 record, should have a great year after coming off of a 3.74 ERA season. They represent a great one-two pitching staff with a lot of power to give them a run or two in most of their starts. Jason Frasor will be the closer this season. He had 60 innings last season and an excellent 3.20 ERA with 61 Ks and only  26 bases on balls.

While defending Oakland A’s will again be strong in their division, the question is will they be able to continue their upward run with the addition of left handed pitcher, Scott Kasmir? The question in Dallas is: did they do enough in the off-season to overcome the A’s in the AL West? Has their pitching situation improved enough to carry this team into and through  the World Series? IF Masahiro Tanaka is eventually posted by his club in Japan and IF the Rangers can sign him, Dallas will be the odds on favorite to win it all in 2014.

This is what the off season is all about, building for the future now. Daniels and the other executives of the Rangers deserve all the credit in making the Hot Stove League extremely warm. There is little question that their hitting will be on par with any team in the majors. On February 27th at Surprise Stadium in Arizona, the excitement will begin as they take on the Kansas City Royals in their first game in the Cactus League.

Play Ball!

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Dollar Time

For many Major League baseball teams during this time of the year, it is a year of ‘what ifs’. What if this didn’t happen. What if that key guy didn’t get hurt. What ifs are part of the game. Now, however, these teams are watching the excitement of the playoffs on the outside looking in. This is also a time when arbitration is on the docket and the budget for next year is put in place. While many teams simply look around to see what is out there with a clear budget in mind, others like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, all of whom are on the outside right now, along with the astute management of the Boston Red Sox, are willing to pay the price for the next guy who will take them to the top. These owners understand ‘star’ power better than most. And they have the money to pull it off.

But for the others, like the Milwaukee Brewers with limited outside revenue,  compared to the ballooning cable fees offered other teams, a budget means a real budget, usually south of $90 million. If this team caught on fire at the beginning of the season, which historically they have rarely done, they could push the 3 million mark in attendance. To a small market team, that is gold. It not only means the generation of $60 million+ dollars in ticket sales, but the added $60 million+ in concessions and merchandise revenue. With their smallish radio and television rights revenue and the team’s share of MLB television revenue, Milwaukee can make a profit, albet a small one. There are a lot of expenses besides those of player’s payroll.

Thus the player budget is critical. This coming year, there are some givens. The key players including Aramis Ramirez will make $10 million. Although no longer considered a key, Rickie Weeks, in what many consider his last big league payday, will earn $11 million, as will Kyle Lohse and the center of all that is Braunschweiger, upon his return from the depths of deceit. Yovani Gallardo will earn the top salary on the team with $11.5 million. All Star centerfielder, Carlos Gomez, unquestionably the MVP for 2013 will earn $7 million. All Star second baseman, Jean Segura will make $505,000 in only his first full season in The Show. One of the top lead off hitters in the major leagues, the solid right fielder, Norichika Aoki, will earn $1.5 million. Tom Gorzelanny who has both started and turned into an excellent long reliever, will earn $2.95 million. These ten players will account for $68,600,000 of the budget next season if no further deferments are negotiated. The remaining 15 players will need to be assembled within a $20 million window. That’s chump change for some of the teams, but not for the club who holds sausage races each home game.

Let’s examine how that might be accomplished. Some of the players, like the closer, Big Jim Henderson, will earn $505,000 as will Brandon Kintzler who also looked good in relief. Martin Maldonado will back up Lucroy and earn $505,000. The jack-of-all-trades, someone the Milwaukee club always is in need of, Jeff Bianchi, will earn $500,000 as will rising star starting pitcher, Wily Peralta. The dueling reserve outfielders Logan Shafer (left handed hitter) and Khris Davis (right handed hitter) are $500,000 apiece. Then there is the next starting second baseman, Scooter Gennet, who will also make $500,000 in 2014. This adds up to an additional $4,150,000 for a total of $72,750,000.

Thus, one has a little less than $15,250,000, give or take a million, to fill in the seven remaining positions on the opening day roster.

The fourth starter on this year’s team that showed promise toward the end of the season was Marco Estrada. He made $1,955,000 last season but is in arbitration. If the team can sign him for under $2,500,000, it will have $12,750,000 for the remaining six players. But is he worth it? If you could pull in a top line starter like David Price, you could let other teams suffer the ups and downs of Estrada. Let’s assume that there is no Estrada in Milwaukee’s future.

Tyler Thornburg and 6’9″ Johnny Hellweg (Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year) can both be paid $500,000 apiece to come out of the pen and be spot starters. Now you would have $14,250,000 available for four players.

Juan Francisco is a player who probably cannot be changed from the “I’ll swing at anything, anytime to show everyone how far I can hit a baseball” school. So many players of Francisco’s mindset have failed to play in the majors for long. It  is probably not worth the time nor the cost to keep him around. Rather, the beloved former All-Star Cory Hart, if he is able to get on his two feet and swing a bat and play first base, should be convinced to take a $2,500,000 plus incentives to see if he can play. Milwaukeeans love him. He IS a true Brew Crew member. The balance of the budget, some $11.75 million, could then be used to offer better pitching to come to the land of brats and beer. You could increase this a little bit more if you decided to have Shafer or Davis recharge in Nashville, to up the ante to $12.25 million on four pitchers. As a replacement for Francisco or Hart, should he fail, Lucroy is the logical candidate.

Doug Melvin is a master at finding a diamond in the ruff. He can find someone or a couple of someone’s who can fill the bullpen bill out of a scrape heep that others have gone through and discarded. But as everyone should know after reading overtheshouldermlb, pitching is everything. If only the Brewers could dump Rickie’s huge $11 million contract and convince the left fielder to donate his $11 million contract for the good of the game and the Brewers (think about it. What a PR coup that would be. Talk about taking liver and making it real Usinger Braunschweiger?), they could go after someone like David Price. Now 3 million fans in attendance could very well be a sure thing AND playoffs could once again be a subject of conversation in the land that Schlitz once made famous.

Rickie: do yourself a favor and ask to defer a healthy chunk of that salary to 2015 and/or 2016. Left fielder: think about what a positive affect you would create by working for $1 this season, without strings attached. Allow the team and the city you emotionally destroyed for a season, recover and once again fall in love with you all over again. Result? Brewers would have an extra $18,499,999+ to be able to use to land a stalwart on the mound.

A star brings fans into the park. Rarely do ‘diamonds in the ruff’ provide such a boost.

Hitting is for show. But pitching is for all the dough.

Come on, Milwaukee. Get back into the game.

Play Ball!

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It’s Who’s Time

Labor Day weekend is a changing point for the fan. The first taste of ‘gridiron fever’ has been feed and few surprises developed, except for North Dakota State’s amazing upset. On the diamond, we already know who will be in and who will not make the playoffs, with a couple of exceptions. The biggest surprise of all is of course Pittsburgh. The Pirates will make the playoffs for the first time since the early ‘90s. Now it is time to make some predictions on who will win the big prizes and who will not be back. Of course, this is only one man’s view.

For the AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers. Nobody in modern baseball does what he does with a bat. There are only two that can be compared to him in the entire history of baseball…Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Yes. He’s that good. Yes. He is the MVP in all of baseball.

For the NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks. He plays in the middle of the night to most of the baseball world. So the world doesn’t know how good this young Gehrig really is. Stay up late one night and see the vision of young greatness.

For the AL Cy Young: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tiger. In one of the worst deals in baseball history, the Diamondbacks gave up on one of their true first round drafted superstars for who? Get this. In a three-team trade, Tigers get Scherzer for Edwin Jackson and sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees who sent Ian Kennedy to the D’Backs who was traded to San Diego for Matt Stites and Joe Thatcher. So, Scherzer (71-43) was traded for Thatcher (8-11 career). This year he is the best pitcher in baseball.

For the NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers. Inordinately talented, he is the best pitcher in the National League and perhaps in all of baseball. He is the one pitcher this year who ‘dominates’ in every game, even when he loses.

For the AL ROY: J.B. Shuck, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Batting .297 as lead-off hitter, he leads all American League rookies in hits. Has 2 HR and 33 RBIs. What makes this a tough choice is that he is from Ohio State but we needed someone from SoCal to offset THE Rookie of the Year in all of baseball. Saint Puig.

For the NL ROY: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers. Descended from heaven, via Havana, and spread peace and grace upon Chavez Ravine as Düsseldorf mustard is to the Dodger Dog. OK. It’s Sunday. What do you want?

For AL Mgr Year: Ron Washington, Texas Rangers. With no star outfielder (Hamilton left for a place behind the Orange Curtain), half a season without their PEDBoy, without great pitching, he is in first place in the West and 16 ½ games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This does not make Arte feel good.

For NL Mgr Year: Don Mattingly, Los Angeles Dodgers. Idiot sports radio babblers ranted about how he should be fired. Then St. Puig descended upon the masses and magic came from each and every decision Donny Ballgame made. Who should be fired? Sports radio personalities in the City of Angels. Who should be hired? Donny Ballgame. His team is 20 games ahead of the 2012 World Champion San Francisco Giants who went from first to worst.

BYE BYE

The AL GM: Jerry Dipoto, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, signed Pujols, Hamilton, traded Segura for Greinke, whom he couldn’t sign and keep. Left his manager hanging. He got rid of Segura, an All-Star shortstop. That alone should get him fired. Plus he doesn’t know how to sell billboard space.

The NL GM: Michael Hill, Miami Marlins, for working under Loria  He should be fired just for making the decision to accept the job and work for Loria. His team is the worst in baseball’s National League, 33.5 games behind division leading Atlanta.

The AL Mgr: Ned Yost, Kansas City Royals.  He should be fired because his name is Ned Yost, which rhymes with ‘most’ but leaves a taste of burnt toast. Neddly just doesn’t know how to manage, particularly young players.

The NL Mgr: Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee Brewers. He should be fired because he is not ready to be a manager. He cannot manage his players nor his coaches. Must have had over 100 lineup changes in first 130 games. His team is 20 games behind Pittsburgh.

The AL Coach: Jeff Manto, Chicago White Sox. Poorest hitting team in the AL and the  poorest performing team in nearly all of baseball. If you can’t hit, you can’t score. If you can’t score, you can’t win.

The NL Coach: Ed Sedar, Milwaukee Brewers, the worst 3B coach ever in the history of baseball.

It’s just one man’s opinion. Now let’s go out for one more month and ….

Play Ball!

Jean Carlos Star

Jean Carlos Enrique Segura is a rising star. He began shinning in 1990 in San Juan, Dominican Republic. But this year, he has become a full-blown star of major proportion. In his first full season as the starting shortstop of the Milwaukee Brewers, he has played in nearly every game and leads the National League in hits (124) with an All-Star batting average of .326. In the last ten games, he is hitting .378.

There are plenty of players who have put up great ‘can’t miss’ minor league stats and never made it big in The Show. Segura is not one of them. Since he hit organized ball, he has proven to be one of the most valuable players. Drafted by the Angels, he was selected an All-Star in 2010 at Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League. The following year he was named Arizona Fall League Rising Star for the Scottsdale nine. Last year, he was  a Texas League All-Star in AA at Arkansas. Also last year he was a Futures Game Selection. This year he was an All-Star at Citi Field for the National League.

This is his first full season.

In batting, he reminds one of a young Henry Aaron at the plate. Lightening quick hands with unexpected power. Segura has hit 11 home runs in his first full season so far. In Henry’s first 1954 season, he hit 13 while batting .280. His All-Star streak began the following year when he batted .314 with 27 home runs. In fielding, Segura has committed 10 errors at shortstop while Henry had 7 errors playing left field (6) and right field (1).

But is it too early to judge a rookie? Not necessarily so. Honus Wagner in his rookie season, and probably ranked as the greatest shortstop of all time, in his first full season in 1898 for St. Louis had 10 home runs and batted .299. Strangely, he never played shortstop in his first year as most of the time he was at first base (75 games), at third base (65) and second base (10). Then there is Alex Rodriguez. During his first full season in 1996 for Seattle he set the standard with a league leading batting average of .358 while smacking 36 home runs. He committed 15 errors. He too became an All-Star in his inaugural full season. He comes back into the Yankee lineup this week in Texas. Then there is Derek Jeter, today’s Captain of the Yankees. His first full season was also in 1996 when he hit 10 home runs while batting .314. He committed 22 errors in his first full season.

Cal Ripken Jr. hammered 28 home runs in his first full season in 1982 for Baltimore while hitting .264. He had only 13 errors all that season playing shortstop. Luke Appling of the Chicago White Sox in his first full season in 1932 (judging a season with over 100 games played) he batted .274 and hit 3 home runs in cavernous Comiskey Park located at 35th and Shields. He had 49 errors, with 37 coming at shortstop, 6 at second base and 6 at third base.

Yet in Milwaukee, every player who ever plays the shortstop position is judged from a point of reference called Robin Yount. In his first full season (1974) he hit .250 with 3 home runs. He matched his uniform number in the field, committing 19 errors.

The beauty of baseball is that comparison are inevitable.  It is part of the game.

This season, all are experiencing the excitement of a rising star. Look for him at shortstop at Miller Park. He is a remarkable young ballplayer.

Play Ball!

One Down, Three To Go

It is that time during every marathon to take stock in how the race is going. We have just reached the quarter-mile post of this years great seasonal march to the crown jewel…  the World Series Championship.

As the second leg begins, in the American League, the New York Yankees are on top of the Eastern Division. So what else is new? They are ahead of Boston, Baltimore and Tampa Bay, all of whom are .500 or better.PREDICTION: Yankees pull away when their big guns return.

In the Central Division, Detroit is the team to beat as they have been for the past few seasons. They have the best 3-4 batters in baseball’s lineup and their pitchers are once again on top of their game. Cleveland, the surprise team is one game back. But, can they keep up with the American League champion all season long? PREDICTION: Detroit will win this division again.

Once again in the Western Division, the Texas Rangers are on top, as they should be. But once again, the Oakland A’s, with a cast of near nobodies, are the only other team over .500 in this division. PREDICTION: This time the Rangers will actually win the division and not collapse completely.

In the National League, the marathon continues with more of the usual suspects atop their divisions. In the Eastern Division, Atlanta has a good lead over the Washington Nationals, the only teams over .500 in this division. PREDICTION: Atlanta moves on again hoping to reach the final rung.

In the Central Division, St. Louis is atop with Cincinnati close behind. Along with Pittsburgh, all three teams are playing plus .600 baseball, the only division playing at this high level. PREDICTION: St. Louis continues in its traditional position.

In the Western Division, the biggest battle looms with three teams, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and the San Francisco Giants are all tied with a .551 record. This year pitching will once again separate the teams as the race enters its second stage. PREDICTION: Arizona Diamondbacks will pull an upset win over the World Champion Giants.

Who do you think will win the marathon?

One down, three to go. The marathon is just getting interesting.

Play Ball!

It Was A Season To Forget For 29 Others

The San Francisco Giants are champions of baseball, once again. Their sold out season at home was a testament to their power in the West and throughout all of the game. The center of attention come spring will be Scottsdale. That is where they will begin to defend their title this past season and second in the past three years. For other teams it was a season to forget.

In Miami, what should have been a season to remember, became a nightmare quicker than you can say Fidel Castro. Of course when Ozzie said those two words, the beginning of the end began. Ozzie is no longer the manager of the Miami Marlins. He’s out of the fish tank. Now he can spout off about the aged dictator in Cuba all he wants with his profanity laced vocabulary. Así que lo siento. Me encanta el béisbol.

In Boston there was a tea party like only Beantown can deliver. They had fired the most successful manager in their history, who won not one but two World Series supposedly because he had lost control of his team. Guys were actually drinking beer in the clubhouse. Imagine that. Baseball players drinking beer in the clubhouse. After that horrible discovery was blabbed throughout New England on every fish wrap and sports talk mediums, there was a long debate between the candidates they would select as the next great Red Sox manager. Suffice to say the guy they should have taken grabbed the job with the Cubs before the Red Sox decided on Bobby Valentine. Yikes!

In Philadelphia and Milwaukee, great pre-season pitching staffs do not materialize to automatically put them into the playoffs. In Minneapolis, they found out that you can’t have a team built around one high-priced catcher. On the North side of Chicago, Dale Sveum is facing, like others who have taken over that franchise before him, another losing season which must be followed with a winning season or Sveum will have swum. On the South side of Chicago, they let a season of great leadership by one of their own disintegrate in September. St. Louis, Atlanta and Cincinnati had hopes crushed by the tidal wave known as the Giants. Arizona’s owner showed how he knows more about baseball than anybody because he has all the baseball cards Topps has ever printed. That makes him an authority. Unfortunately, Gibson can’t manage cardboard players. Houston was seen rushing over to the American League. They forgot to play ball in 2012.

Seattle had a season to remember. They gave up the greatest player in the game to the Yankees but had more great pitching performances at their stadium than anywhere on the planet ever. They are smiling in Seattle. Same with the fans in Washington, DC, where they were rewarded with a team that brought the city their first divisional championship. Quite an accomplishment for a City that had not seen a title winner since 1933.

Pittsburgh did it again. After a hot start, they faded badly. What do you expect from a team  that is managed by Clint Hurdle. Cleveland was never in the papers the entire season. Nor were the Padres. The New York Mets were non-factors this past season. Colorado disappeared in their own thin air plus their manager left after the season. Kansas City’s only claim to fame this season was hosting the All-Star game. The two ‘T-Towns’, Toronto and Tampa Bay had flashes of brilliance but not enough to put them in the big dance. On top of that, the Blue Jays lost their manager who became the head dude of the Boston Valentines.

Then there were the New York Yankees. The rapid loss of skills of A-Rod and the physical loss of The Captain, doomed the pinstripers this past season. In Dallas, the almost unexplainable coldness of Hamilton’s bat late in the season doomed the Rangers third attempt to win it all in three straight seasons. This franchise still hasn’t realized it needs pitching to win. Did you hear that Nolan Ryan? Remember what you did better than most? It wasn’t hitting. And what can you say about Detroit that hasn’t already been said?

That brings us to Baltimore. What a magical season Buck Showalter brought to baseball. 93 wins. Finally, Buck got his due. After rebuilding the Yankees and then getting fired; after building the Diamondback from scratch and setting all of the pieces together to win the World Series and got fired; after rebuilding the Rangers before he got fired; he took over a team that had won only 66 games the year before he got there and in two short years took them to the door of greatness.

Then there is Oakland and Billyball. The Athletics won the American League West title. And they played for the Championship of the American League. Go ahead. Name three players on the A’s besides Coco Crisp. They won an exciting 94 games. This was one of the most amazing stories in baseball. Billy Bean for President. He is the star of this franchise. Nobody understands the game better…on how to get the most out of talent like Mr. Bean.

On the other side of the equation is the Battle for LA. On one hand there is a billionaire who  bought a pig in a poke and thought he could win the American League pennant and finished third. On the other hand there are billionaires who not only  have to improve a team on the field but a stadium they play in and make it once again safe to go and see games. The Pujols Angels were only exciting because of one rookie. Their manager finally showed what he is made of. Arte has to take a look at his manager if he hopes to capture a title soon. As for the former LaLa Dodgers, they have gotten rid of all that has been bad over the past couple of years by taking out of the game the battling McCourts.

Which leads us to the Giants of San Francisco. Jack Elliot once said “Baseball is grown men getting paid to play a game.” In the City by the Bay, men enjoyed playing baseball this season like few before them. The had food fights before the games. One of their biggest boosters was an injured pitcher who played Ernie Kovacs routine of The Nairobi Trio in the dugout during the game. There were more than smiles. There was laughter and joy of being in a game they love to play. Pandemonium ruled. They put new gas into the gashouse gang. Think of them as the laughing gasers. They have all winter to smile the smile of victory.

Play Ball!

From The Navy Yard To Pigsville And Beyond

In case you are living under a rock, baseball fever is at an all-time high due to the expanded playoff spots now up for grabs. It is pandemonium in the parks. All you have to do is watch the Fightin’s and the BrewCrew to see what’s happening. Both teams, picked to finish near or at the top of their divisions before the season began, struggled to find their bearings throughout the summer. But now when the window is closing fast, both Philadelphia and Milwaukee are putting together winning streaks that are defying the odds.

As of this morning, both teams are closing in. The Phillies are only one game behind in the loss column and the Brewers two games behind because the Dodgers pulled off another great 9th inning rally to beat St. Louis and tie the Cardinals for the wild card spot. That leads us all to the next question: if you tie for the Wild Card at the end of the season, do you have a one game playoff? And, where would that game be played? How is it determined? Let’s not forget the D’Backs. There are only 4 games out in the loss column.

Wild Card fever is not only limited to the National League. In the American League, there is an insane rush  for the playoffs going on as well. The Amazing A’s not only are in the driver’s seat for the Wild Card spot, they are only 2 1/2 games behind the mighty Texas Rangers for the top spot in the AL West. Baltimore, behind their Manager of the Year candidate, Buck Showalter, are three games ahead of the payroll laden Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the unbelievable Tampa Bay Rays and the powerful Detroit Tigers. For everyone who wants a final half month of the season to be up for grabs, you’ve got it this year.

The Angels are another interesting story in all of this. With a payroll that is bigger than most, along with an amazing AL Rookie of the Year candidate in Mike Trout, they continue to stumble when they need it the most. The latest Scioscia Slip occurred last night in Kansas City where former Royal’s Cy Young Award winner, Zach Greinke, the former Brewer earlier in the season, took the mound and was Greinkesque. He masterfully shut out his former team for 8 innings. Then Scioscia, as only he can do, decided to let him go  back out to the mound for he 9th. With the pitch count running into the low 100s, Greinke had not finished  a complete game in years. But if Big Mike wills it, it will happen.

Or not.

Greinke got the first two out before he gave up a single into left. Now Mike the Merciless jumped out of the dugout and immediately called for a reliever who promptly gave up a game tying home run and then the winning home run, back-to-back. If you could have seen Greinke’s face in the dugout when Billy Butler slammed the game tying home run, you would have been whisked back to an earlier few days in the season when he had the same experiences while a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. Deja Vu all over again.

How quickly we come full circle back to Pigsville’s favorite ball park. Last night the Crew unloaded against the Mets only to see Scoscia’s disciple, Ron Roenicke bring in Axford in the ninth inning with a big lead. Axford promptly made the game interesting as he gave up his usual runs in the 9th. But unlike what happened in KC or in Dodger Stadium, the game at Miller Park ended with no more runs scoring.

We’re in for a great final few weeks in September. As Jim Murray said, “The charm of baseball is that as  dull as it may be on the field, it is endlessly fascinating as a rehash.”

Play Ball!