Results tagged ‘ MLB ’

Carlos Gomez

After watching what happened in Pittsburgh yesterday when Carlos Gomez hit the long fly ball to center and flipped his bat, then jogged until he saw it wasn’t going out of the park, at which point he decided to run. He ended up sliding into third with a triple, and when Gerrit Cole said something to him, Gomez charged off of third base at him. A couple of things come to mind when I see that. The first being that if I were Cole I would have charged back and tagged him out.
The second is wondering how many times this sort of thing has to happen with the same player instigating animosity between teams before something is done about it!

Last year it happened when he hit a home run off Paul Maholm. Even in the NFL there is a penalty for taunting. But there is no such rule in baseball. Since there is no rule, the players have to handle it themselves. I am speaking for both hitters and pitchers. If a pitcher strikes a hitter out in the middle of a game and stares down a hitter, or does anything that shows that hitter up, I think the opposing pitcher has every right to send a messege to an opposing hitter that he better have a talk with his pitcher. I am of the firm belief that as a pitcher there is one out that you can celebrate, and that is the last out of a game.

As for hitters, I have no problem with teams that get a big hit and drive a run in and look to their dugout and do an antlers sign or whatever it is that the team has come up with. That creates team chemistry and it shows grown men who make a ton of money still are able to have fun. What I couldn’t and can’t stand is a hitter who hits a home run, flips his bat and stands to admire it. As with pitchers the only home run that I think a hitter can throw his hands up in exultation and run as fast or as slow as he wants — as long as he runs while doing it — is a walk-off home run.

That is not what is being done by Gomez. The ball he hit yesterday wasn’t even a home run. So in my opinion Cole has every right to say something to him. The fact that Gomez felt the need to charge off third base after Cole should warrant a suspension.

Back in the old days, any time hitter showed up a pitcher, the next guy up got drilled. When that happens, the offending hitter’s teammates will take care of it. That doesn’t happen anymore. A few years ago, the Rangers were playing the A’s and Vicente Padilla gave up a home run. The hitter didn’t stand and admire it. He didn’t do anything to show up Padilla. But Padilla drilled the next hitter. As a pitcher, if you make a mistake and a guy hits a home run off you and doesn’t do a thing to show you up and you hit the next guy, you are an idiot. The next inning, Michael Young came up and the A’s pitcher threw at him the entire at bat, until finally hitting him. In my opinion, that is what should have happened. Young even knew it was going to happen. Following the game, the Rangers released Padilla. Well handled by the Rangers. So I don’t just take the pitcher’s side in these matters.

But when it comes to what Gomez did, let’s look at this from a pure common sense standpoint. Gomez has played eight years, averaging 14 home runs a season. He should be running hard out of the box every ball he hits. Adam Dunn has played 14 years and has averaged 38 home runs per season. He hits balls that are no-doubt bombs. And yet Dunn drops his bat and runs. Miguel Cabrera has played 12 years and averages 35 home runs a year. He drops his bat and runs, too. Neither of them are speed burners, and they know when they have hit it out. But neither of them does anything to show up a pitcher.

Last year Miggy hit a ball really well to right center in Detroit he took off running. The ball was caught and as he jogged across the mound, Miggy slapped the opposing pitcher on the butt as to say good job. That is respecting the game! And the people you are playing against. I think Carlos Gomez has a ton of talent, but he needs to learn respect for the game and the players who play it. Like I said, the players should have fun and let their personalities show. But not in a way that disrespects the pitchers they are facing. Would Gomez like it if a pitcher struck him out, and pointed his finger like it was a gun, and blew the the smoke off the barrel and waved him back to the bench? No, he wouldn’t.

But at this point, that would be warranted.

There is a great quote by Barry Sanders when asked why he didn’t celebrate when he scored a touchdown. He said, “I think you ought to act like you’ve been there before.”

Pitching Injuries: Why?

At what point does baseball as a whole finally figure out that a pitch count is not the way to stop arm injuries? By the way, who was the pitching mastermind who decided 100 pitches was the magic number?

There are teams that are without some of their best pitchers due to injury. It seems to me that it is happening way more today that it ever did back in the 80s and earlier.

It is not the number of pitches thrown. It is the manner in which they are thrown. When will organizations get back to what is really important? That being teaching proper mechanics and throwing a whole lot more than they do presently. They spend all this money to get pitching, then treat it as though it is a fragile piece of crystal. If I’m an owner and I am going to pay the kind of money they are paying, I would make darn sure that the pitching coach knows the proper way to throw a baseball to limit injury.

The only real way to strengthen all the throwing muscles is to throw every day and do it properly. I watch pitchers at the big league level that long toss and the mechanics of their long toss is absolutely nothing like the mechanics they use on the mound. They are trying to throw the ball 300 feet. Casting the ball way up in the air with terrible throwing mechanics. Long toss is not tossing the ball in the air 300 feet.

It should be called long throwing. That is getting a maximum of 120 feet and walking into it using the same arm slot, the same step, and staying behind your head with your fingers on top of the ball and throwing it as hard as you can high to low. That is how you strengthen the throwing muscles.

The other thing: eliminate the slide step to hold baserunners. You hold baserunners by holding the ball, stepping off and throwing over. The best way to slow down a basestealer is to make him wait and tense up; change your timing to the plate. I don’t believe in sacrificing stuff and command to hold a baserunner. I believe in getting your lower half in a position to deliver the ball with the least amount of stress on the arm as possible.

Bottom line is: it ain’t the number of pitches thrown, it is the manner in which they are thrown. The only people in a baseball stadium who should have a clicker are the people counting how many hot dogs they have sold. If you need a clicker to tell you when a pitcher is tired, you shouldn’t be a pitching coach. A pitcher’s body doesn’t feel the same every day! Some days he may be tired after 80 pitches, some days he may not tire until 150 pitches. That is why there are pitching coaches. To sit and watch their pitcher and know when his legs are breaking down, when his mechanics are changing to deliver the ball, or when the other team is beating him all over the park. A clicker can’t tell you any of those things.

I played professional baseball from the time I was 17 until I was 32. In that time, there was never a day that went by that I didn’t throw if we were at the ballpark. I never got stiff, sore or hurt. My arm was trained to throw — and to throw a lot. But I did it correctly.

People laughed at my delivery, because I fell off the side of the mound after throwing. Two things accounted for that: I threw across my body, and from 1990 until 1997 I had no PCL in my right knee. So at a certain point, my landing leg would give out. I don’t care if a pitcher bursts into flames after he lets go of the ball. As long as he gets up and back with his lower half to allow his arm to catch up and be in the correct spot at release, that is what matters.
These pitchers are not china dolls. They simply need to throw more and throw correctly.

Miggy’s new deal

The Detroit Tigers have given Miguel Cabrera an eight-year, $248 million extension, adding to the two years he has left on his existing deal. This means Miggy will be guaranteed $292 million over the next 10 years, and there are two additional vesting option years that could push the deal to around $360 million.

The big question is: will it be worth it in the end? Many people don’t think so. Miggy is 30 years old. They want to compare this deal to Albert Pujols’ deal. So far, the Pujols deal has not been worth it.

I happen to be one of the people who believes this deal will be worth it. First of all, Miggy is going back to first base. This will put less stress on his body. Secondly, the city of Detroit has had more than its share of financial problems over the past several years. The Tigers have to remain a relevant team to keep fans coming and generating revenue for a city that desperately needs it. Detroit fans knowing that Miggy will be there 10 more years to go along with Verlander being there for the majority of that time virtually will guarantee the fans will keep coming.

Reportedly, Max Scherzer turned down a six-year, $144 million deal. I really like Max. He is a terrific guy. And last year he had a Cy Young season. But up until last year, Max had been a guy with tremendous stuff, but who was a little inconsistent. He is a Scott Boras client. There is no question Boras has done some good deals for his players, but I can’t see Max Scherzer walking away from a $144 million deal without the advice of Boras. This is just my opinion, but if Max goes out this year and, God forbid, gets hurt, there ain’t gonna be $144 million waiting for him next year.

I would guess that Boras wants a Verlander-type deal, which would be $180 milion. I ain’t the smartest dude in the world, but I am smart enough not to gamble $144 million to get $36 million more. And the fact is that Max’s numbers don’t match up to Verlander’s over the last six seasons. Max has thrown 200 innings just once in his career.

But back to the Miggy deal and why I think it is worth it. He is the best hitter in the game! He probably can play first base for another five years, then move to DH. At the end of the deal, Miggy will be 40. Big Papi is 40 and still is producing very well. And he is not the pure hitter that Miggy is.

Also, you can’t quantify what kind of revenue Miggy generates for the Tigers organization and the city of Detroit.
More importantly, the owner Mr. Ilitch has not made himself very wealthy by making bad business decisions. If someone is willing to pay it, you are worth it. After my second season in 1987, I signed a two-year deal for $690,000. My dad told me that I just signed a deal that will pay me more in two years than he had made in his lifetime. And I wasn’t worth it! If someone is dumb enough to give it to you, be smart enough to take it.

Best trades before Winter Meetings

As we head into Winter Meetings there have been some trades made that have made some teams better and other teams weaker in my opinion. I will deal with just two trades in particular. Both of them involve the Tigers.

It is only my opinion, but the trading of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister have made the Tigers much weaker today than they were at the end of the season. I know Prince had a bad postseason, but you have to take into account the protection he provided the 2012 and 2013 MVP, Miguel Cabrera. Prince had a down year in the homer category. He still was able to drive in over 100 runs for the second straight year in Detroit, and behind a guy who has driven in over 280 runs during that time. Prince hit over .400 following a walk to Miggy. Ian Kinsler is a good player, but the Rangers definitely got the better of that deal. Prince could hit over 50 home runs a year in Arlington. Also, whoever he hits behind in that Ranger lineup can expect to see their numbers go up dramatically.

The other trade the Tigers made that I feel weakened them was the trade of Fister — probably the best fourth starter in baseball — to the Nationals. The Nats got better and also now have insurance in case Stephen Strasburg is hurt again. They had to give up a utility player, a lefthanded reliever and a youngster. The lefthander will help the Tiger bullpen, but the loss of Fister weakens their rotation.

What this tells me is that the Tigers are freeing up money to sign Max Scherzer, or to go out and sign another big name hitter and a proven closer like Joe Nathan. The closer role and bullpen in general were the reasons the Tigers didn’t advance to World Series this past season.

Dave Dombroski is to smart to make these trades without a replacement plan in place. But as we sit here today, they have not come out on the right side of either trade.

2013

My predictions for 2013 didn’t go as well this year as they have in previous years. But when it was all said and done, we had a great season to look back at and say there were some really big surprises. And some not-so-big surprises.

I will start with who I picked to make the postseason:

AL East: Tampa Bay (Won Wild Card,  lost in ALDS to Boston.)
AL Central: Detroit (Won division, lost in ALCS to Boston.)
AL West: Texas (Lost Wild Card Tiebreaker Game.)
AL Wild Card: Boston (Won division and World Series) and Kansas City (Finished 5.5 game back, on the right track and will be back fighting in the Central next year)

NL East: Washington (The biggest disappointment in baseball in my opinion. I had them not only winning the east but making it to World Series. I still believe they will be a postseason team next year.)
NL Central: Cincinnati (Lost Wild Card game to Pittsburgh.)
NL West: Giants (Didn’t play nearly like the team that won the World Series in 2012.)
NL  Wild Card: St. Louis (Won division and lost World Series to Boston) and Arizona (Started off strong before fading badly.)

The only positive thing I can say about my predictions is at least five of the teams I picked to make the postseason did so.

Looking back at what teams did this year that shocked me, first and foremost the pirates making the postseason was the biggest surprise by far. What that team and Clint Hurdle did this year was amazing to me. Another surprise was how well the Braves played when they got no production out of two of the guys they were counting on most in Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton. In spite of that, they ran away with the NL East. Great job of managing by Fredi Gonzalez. Also in my opinion the NL MVP is Freddie Freeman.

The game is so much about starting pitching these days that I believe sometimes great bullpens and bad bullpens get overlooked. The Pirates had the season they had in large part because their bullpen was awesome. The same can be said for the champs in Boston. They had two closers go down with injuries, yet managed to find a guy in Koji Uehara who was almost unhittable. The Cards’ young pen got them to the World Series in the postseason. Edwin Mujica did a great job of closing games until September, then Trevor Rosenthal and his 100-MPH fastball took over.

For the teams that had great rotations and subpar bullpens, we only need look as far as Detroit. Joaquin Benoit took over as closer in the second half and did great. But in the ALCS, the guys who were charged with getting the ball to Benoit were not so good, and cost the Tigers a chance to play in the World Series. It would not surprise me at all to see the Tigers go out and sign a free agent closer Joe Nathan, then trade Rick Porcello to land a couple of good, young arms — both left-handed and right — to add to their pen. If they do that, I will be picking them again next year.

Three of the saddest moments of this year were Charlie Manuel getting fired in Philly, Jim Leyland stepping down as manager of the Tigers, and Mariano Rivera retiring. Why are these sad to me? Because each and every one of those guys are what are sport should be about: pride, integrity, and class. Baseball will miss all of them. Of the three, I think we might see Charlie Manuel again. I’m not sure he has the game out of his system yet. I hope not anyway.

All in all, 2013 was a great year for MLB. Congrats to the Red Sox for bringing celebration to Boston after the senseless and inhumane act of the Marathon bombing.

Cold weather pitching in Game 6

With the series 3-2 in favor of the Red Sox heading into Game 6 tonight, there are many people who think it is over with the series moving back to Boston. I for one don’t think it is over, mainly for one reason. That reason is 22 years old and stands 6’6″ tall.

Michael Wacha! This kid has proven the big stage and bright lights don’t bother him. The Cardinals were down 0-1 in the series when he got the ball in one of the most hostile places in sports to play in, Fenway Park. He proved he was not intimidated by that.

The other reason is that he counts on his fastball and changeup. If you have to pitch in cold weather, those are the two pitches that your grip affects the least.

The Red Sox are not a team that is going down without a fight. John Lackey has proven that he is a big game pitcher. But his curveball is a huge part of his arsenal. If he doesn’t have a good grip on it, it will affect the bite and location of it. Game 5 really was the only game where a mistake didn’t lead to a team winning or losing. I believe the team that plays the best defense in Game 6 will win.

For Lackey to win, Boston is going to have to make more plays defensively than the Cards, because I believe Wacha will strike out more guys. That being said, to predict a winner in this series simply is a guess on anyone’s part. These teams are very evenly matched. All I am going to guess is that there will be a Game 7!

League Championship Series

For all of those reading this, I’m a little late with my predictions for who will advance to the World Series. But I will say this: Game 2 of the ALCS hasn’t started yet, but with the Tigers winning Game 1 in Boston 1-0, I can tell you that I would have bet all I own that there was no way that the Tigers could have won a game against the Sox 1-0 where the Detroit bullpen had to throw three innings.

I really like Benoit as the closer and Smyly as the lefthander, but the rest of the Tiger pen has been a coin flip. I picked Detroit to win the series before it started, but that was based on their rotation. I wouldn’t hesitate to predict that a Tigers starter would go eight shutout innings and Benoit one inning in a 1-0 win.

The tigers have the best rotation in baseball, in my opinion. But for them to win the series, they can’t expect to get three innings a game out of their pen. Their starters will have to go deep in games. The Sox struck out 17 times last night. Even with Scherzer and Verlander being the next two starters, I don’t expect the Sox to punch out that much again. This series may go seven games.

As for the NLCS, at the very least I would have expected LA to leave St. Louis with a split. They had their top two starters going with Greinke and Kershaw. The Cards don’t hit lefties very well, and they didn’t yesterday, with the only run coming off a down-the-middle passed ball that put Freese on third with one out and John Jay hitting a sac fly for the only run. Meanwhile, Greinke threw eight innings and allowed just two runs, while the Cardinals started Kelly, who didn’t have great command, but got threw six innings, allowing only two runs. Both of those games should be wins for the Dodgers.

There are two really big reasons I don’t think the Dodgers can come back and win this series. The first being that Hanley Ramirez didn’t play in Game 2 because of bruised ribs from being hit by a Joe Kelly fastball. Since he couldn’t play yesterday, I don’t think he will play again in this series. That really hurts the Dodger lineup.

The second reason is now they have to face the Cards’ ace, Adam Wainwright, in Game 3. Oh yeah, and the Cardinals’ bullpen that has rookie after rookie that can come on and throw 98 to 101 MPH will make every game much shorter for manager Mike Matheny. Carlos Martinez throws 98 with movement and a wipeout slider, then you have Siegrist from the left side also throwing 98. And to top it off, their closer all year long, Edward Mujica, has not seen the field in two one-run games.

The closer’s job is now Trevor Rosenthal’s. He had three saves in September. Yesterday he came in to face the middle of the Dodger order and blew all three guys away like it was nothing. The last five outs of a 1-0 win were all strikeouts recorded by rookie Cardinals relievers.

I always have said that there is nothing more dangerous than youth, talent and confidence. This St. Louis team is loaded with all three of those things. The Cards will be in the World Series. The identity of their opponent is up in the air, but I believe it will be the Tigers because of their rotation.

Postseason preview

With the season over and the playoffs upon us, I wish I could sit here and tell y’all who is going to win. It is so close in both leagues that it is almost impossible to predict.

We still don’t know the final Wild Card team from the AL. The Dodgers haven’t been playing that well to finish the season. Neither have the Tigers. The Dodgers lost Kemp for the postseason. The Tigers got no-hit in their last game. The hottest teams going into the playoffs are St. Louis and Pittsburgh in the NL and Cleveland in the AL. But Cleveland has had trouble with teams with winning records this season.

Experience plays a big role in the postseason, so I think the Reds will beat Pittsburgh in the NL Wild Card Game. I think Texas beats the Rays in the Tiebreaker Game and then Cleveland in the AL Wild Card Game. I had picked the Dodgers and Tigers for the World Series, and I am sticking with the Tigers. But I believe St. Louis will win the NL pennant. And I am sticking to my pick from before the season and taking the Tigers to win it all.

All that being said, this has been the most interesting trek to the postseason I have ever seen! And that is because of the Wild Card teams. Kudos, Bud Selig!

Jose Fernandez

What happened in the Marlins-Braves game last night was one of the dumbest and most embarrassing things I have seen on a big league field.

For those who didn’t see what happened, Jose Fernandez of the Marlins is pitching against the Braves and Evan Gattis hits a bomb off him, then proceeds to style and profile and stare Fernandez down. Fernandez just turned around and walked toward second base saying, “Wow” — meaning he crushed that ball. Mistake Number One by the Braves.

Then Chris Johnson comes up later, takes a pitch and shakes his head as to say, “You got nothing,” to Fernandez. Then Johnson proceeds to fly out to left, at which point he yells at Fernandez the whole way to first base. Then Johnson says “weak [blank] fastball” to Fernandez. Mistake Number Two by the Braves.

Fernandez was upset by this — any pitcher would be. In his next at-bat, Fernandez hits a home run, stands there and styles and profiles. When he reaches home plate, Brian McCann tells him he can’t being doing that, someone’s going to get hurt. I agree totally with McCann, as long as he had the same conversation with his teammates, Gattis and Johnson. Fernandez could have done what I would have done and drilled someone on purpose, possibly injuring one of the Braves’ pieces vital to their World Series hopes. Instead Fernandez did what was done to him: stood and watched his home run.

Then we come to find out that some of the Braves players didn’t like the fact that Fernandez smiles and has fun playing the game. That’s why Johnson was yelling at him. To me, that is absurd. There is nothing more entertaining than watching players smile and have fun. They play a game for a living.

Gattis has a very inspiring story to his big league career. So does Fernandez. He had to defect from his native Cuba to come to the U.S. and play baseball and get paid for it. Why should he not smile? It is not disrespectful to your opponent to smile. If you are one of those players who thinks the game of baseball owes you something and you want to be miserable playing it, that is your choice. Torii Hunter has been smiling for over 15 years and no one has a problem with that.

Then to make things even worse, in his postgame press conference, Marlins manager Mike Redmond basically threw Fernandez under the bus for what he did, saying, “That is not how we do things around here.” He did not stand up for his player in any way. If I am a member of that team, at that very moment I would have lost all respect for him as my manager. He didn’t mention one word about what Johnson and Gattis did to provoke the actions of Fernandez.

Many people out there think I’m a Braves hater. Not true. I have a ton of respect for many players on that team. Brian McCann being one of them. They have the player who I believe is the NL MVP in Freddie Freeman. They have probably the most dominating closer the game has seen in years in Craig Kimbrel. What I don’t respect are guys who play this game and have a problem with a guy smiling and having fun. Anyone who has a big league uniform on should be smiling. You are playing a game and getting paid for it. They don’t know what Jose Fernandez went through to come to the United States and play baseball.

My advice to Jose would be to keep respecting the game the way you do, because this kid respects the game. I have spoken with him. Also keep smiling and being yourself. Smiling is not showing up your opponent. Finally, don’t let anyone show you up. You get respect by earning it. You are not the one who should have been embarrassed last night. The guy who went 0-for-3 with a punch-out and talked trash all the way to first base should be embarrassed.

Pirates

2013 has turned out to be the year that the Pirates have broken a 20-year stretch of losing seasons. Last night they won their 81st game of the year. It has been a great story to watch unfold and I am happy to see that streak come to an end.

There are players on that team who have endured a lot over their time in Pittsburgh. There are also fans who have had to live through those dismal summers. They have one of the nicest ballparks —  if not the nicest ballpark — in the game. Now they have a team that has made it worthwhile to come out and watch. This team is not loaded with superstars. It is, however, loaded with guys who play every out of every game. As a former player, I love to see that. I believe that with the money players make now (and even when I played), that they owe that effort every night to their fan base. This years Pirates do that.

Now comes the question: Will they make the Postseason? I believe they will. But I believe it will be as the first Wild Card team. I still believe that the Reds will win the Central. I think the they have too much talent. They have yet to get on a run, but I believe they will. I could be very wrong, but that is how I see it.

I also see a St. Louis pitching staff that is young and getting tired. When a pitcher is tired, he has to make pitches. Add in the stress of a pennant race and I just feel that the Cards’ staff is running out of gas. I would say — as so many are saying — that both NL Wild Card teams will come out of the Central. But with the weakest division in the NL being the East , I am not sure that the Nationals might not slip in there for the second  Wild Card spot. They will play most of their games in their own division in September, as will the Cardinals. That’s to Washington’s advantage, as the Central is a much tougher division.

Back to the Pirates. Congrats to them, but I have a feeling they ain’t satisfied with just a winning season. They have too much fight in them to set their goals that low!

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