Wednesday, July 31, 2013

BREAKING: Suspensions and Trades

Despite the title, it's not the goal of this blog to report breaking news.  We all have jobs and there's literally thousands of  different MLB websites for that stuff.  Sure, I could go on a three hour lunch break before the 4 pm deadline and just stay on Twitter....or I could just provide a few of the websites we are all following today as we wait to see which stunningly awful brilliantly helpful trades your team accomplishes today.


A few websites I'm going to be reading the entire day.

MLB Trade Rumors - The Holy Grail of baseball trade news, this site has everything from major blockbuster rumors to which minor league players are shuffling from team to team under the radar.  An absolute must today. 

MLB YardBarker - Do you like to read?  Do you have lots of downtime?  Then you need to catch Yardbarker.  You can narrow down you news to a specific team and get all the post-trade analysis pretty quickly after the trade actually happens.  A good website to get you fired.  

Fangraphs - The biggest time-waster in the office since YouTube was invented, fortunately the web blockers here can't catch this baseball-fanatic's online paradise.  Today they've got a live blog going on the whole day.  You'll want to catch that for sure.  

MLB Daily DIsh - The SB Nation version of Yard Barker. Usually SB Nation is hit or miss with their blogs but I like the idea of mainly amateur "journalists" using blogging to give us a fresh perspective.  They can say pretty much whatever they want.  Kind of like us.


BIOGENESIS UPDATE:
Players are going to get suspended. Only A-Rod will appeal. This makes me sad. Stayed tuned. Suspensions happening very, very soon.




Other things that happened yesterday...


Peavy / Iglesias / Garcia -- Red Sox / Tigers / White Sox
Don't like this at all as a Tigers fan.  Not so much because I'm not a fan of Jose Iglesias, but the fact that we had to give a inter-division rival our second best prospect because our starting shortstop wanted to do PEDs.  Not happy at all.  #trustDD

Alberto Callaspo / Grant Green -- Athletics / Angels
Only someone like Billy Beane could make me excited about swapping utility players

Marc Rzepczynski / PTNL -- Indians / Cardinals
Does anyone care about the Indians? No? Okay moving on.

Cubs and Russell, Schiertholtz 
I'd expect Theo and Jed to find a way to move these guys but times is running out.

Yasiel Puig, you are officially not the most entertaining player on the team.


Happy Trading Deadline Day everyone. Only a few more hours to go!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday Recap: Who needs the DH? Yasiel Puig slides into home, Miggy ejected

Quote of the Day
''Each player does what he can when he gets to the plate. Some people jump, some people slide, some people run,'' Puig said through a translator. ''I have a previous teammate in Cuba that jumped and hurt his ankle. So I decided to slide.''
-- Yasiel Puig on sliding at home plate after his walk-off home run, Sunday against the Reds. 

Personally, I don't think it tops this one from Prince Fielder from a few years ago.  

But regardless, Puig really knows how to grind people's gears, while those same people quietly whisper, "But yeah, that was kind of awesome."





Or you can listen to Vin Scully make the call...



Okay, enough Puigmania for the day.  Love him or hate him, you can't help but admit....the guy is entertaining.  Oh and by the way, the Dodgers are playing some pretty good baseball right now, having won nine of their last ten and sit atop the NL West.  Puig for MVP?

It was an exciting week in baseball.  Let's get to it! 




N.L. pitchers give the finger to the DH Rule

On Sunday the NL pitchers batted in the .270s while their DH counterparts in the AL batted below the Mendoza line.  I can't find any articles to link to but I saw it on Sportscenter so it has to be right, right?  Travis Wood led the NL pitchers hit parade, going 2-3 leading many to believe the Orioles were interested in acquiring him as a DH.  



Nostalgic week at Cooperstown for all three (dead) inductees

It's only fitting that the stain of the Biogenesis scandal come a week before a quiet Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown where there were no living HOF inductees.  Several former players in the exclusive club spoke out with mixed reactions.    




Umpire ejects Miguel Cabrera for hurting his feelings

A few days after David Ortiz yelled, "f--- you" to an umpire, threw a piece of gear on the field and smashed the dugout telephone in an away ballpark, Miguel Cabrera turned to the home plate umpire and said, "That's terrible."  He was tossed immediately.  That prompted Jim Leyland to storm out of the dugout and get tossed too.  Plate umpire Chad Fairchild has already tossed eight players this season and his explanation for the Cabrera ejection makes me believe that he was probably the guy who got his lunch money stolen and was given mega-wedgies in gym class.  There were over 40,000 fans at Comerica Park on Sunday and I can promise you that not one of them paid their money to see Fairchild make ball and strike calls.  Plenty though, paid to watch Miguel Cabrera bat.  Jim Leyland had a more explicit take....



The Philadelphia Phillies felt so bad about the situation, they gave the Tigers eight unearned runs in the 6th inning and the Tigers completed the weekend sweep of Philadelphia dropping them 8 1/2 games out of the NL East race.  For all the teams interested in Cliff Lee, YOU"RE FREAKING WELCOME! ~ Tigers Fans.  


Tino Martinez makes Marlin's players do drills right, gets angry and resigns



Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez stepped down from his position for allegedly shouting and grabbing players for refusing to pick up balls after drills.  It's hard to pick who to side with but it is concerning when a coach has to step down due to these types of issues.  While I doubt that Martinez is a Bobby Knight type, he definitely could be one of those managers that can rub guys the wrong way.  I don't think Tino meant to be malicious but it sounds like a case of an old school manager trying to deal with a new generation of players who are used to being pampered and coddled from high school on up.  Maybe if the Marlins took some of Martinez's advice, they wouldn't be battling the Astros for the title of "worst offensive team in baseball"



Beachy bailed out by Simmons, Braves win

Pitching for the first time in over a year didn't go to well for Brandon Beachy but in the end it didn't matter.   His first start in 13 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Beachy struggled giving up seven runs for the first time in his career but his offense picked him up, erasing a five run deficit capped by Andrelton Simmons walk-off triple.  Must be nice to get some run support said Stephen Strasburg and James Shields.  



Jason Giambi beats the White Sox and Father Time  

It took one swing of the bat for pinch-hitter Jason Giambi to turn back the clock and give the Indians their fifth straight win over Chicago.  His batting average stands at .194 but his blast made him the oldest player to mash a walk-off at 42 years old.  The Indians are streaking but fortunately (for me and Tigers fans) so is Detroit.

The Tribe remains three back of the Tigers and when they do collapse, I hope it's soul-crushing.  Tito Francona for manager of the year?  They've got Kazmir throwing shutouts, Giambi hitting walk-offs like it's 2005 all over again.  They'll be a dangerous team but they basically need to win the AL Central to reach the post season.  Keep an eye out for the Tribe and their politically incorrect and offensive mascot.  Turds.  


Pujols could be out for the year

The end of maximum contract personified by Albert Pujols took another step when the slugger suffered a tear in his plantar fascia.  Pujols will likely be out of the remainder of the season.   A .258 with 17 homers on the year, which wouldn't be that bad but he looked like a shell of his former self while the Angels sit eight games under .500 and 14 back of the Athletics in the AL West.

When you come to the realization that you're not a contender, it makes it easier to sit a guy like Albert for the rest of the year which I expect them to do.  Hopefully, Pujols comes back 100% next season and hopefully the Angels will still suck.  That'd be the ideal situation for someone like me, who hates everything LA but also like talent like Albert.  Does that make me a bad person?  


Judge allows Biogenesis case to continue; most likely playing a guy that has Peralta and Cruz in his fantasy matchup

In your obligatory Biogenesis news, a Florida judge udge denied a motion to toss out the sport’s civil lawsuit against Biogenesis.  This means that we can expect more testimonies and probably more drama in the investigation.  The real question is will players like Everth Cabrera, Nelson Cruz or Jhonny Peralta be suspended?  If they are suspended, they will then have to decide to appeal and potentially hurt their free agency or start serving their suspension immediately and maybe make it back for October.  It's the ultimate team vs. self scenario that doesn't, you know, like involve simply not taking PEDs.  Stay tuned.  More coming very soon...




MLB Tweet of the Weekend


This weekend, regular favorite Brandon McCarthy shares his hotel experience that didn't go so well, apparently for whatever reason.  But we can only guess with something like this...

That's about all we've got for our Tuesday afternoon recap.  The trade deadline is on Wednesday at 4 ET so expect things to happen from now until then.  And of course, no recap would be complete without our...



LINKS-WRAP-UP-FOR-LAZY-PEOPLE


Today we've got trade rumors and news galore.  

TRADE! TRADE! TRADE! TRADE!

Let's get started....



Ervin Santana reactions to trade rumors...




Kate, what do you think about the MLB Trade Deadline? 





       TRADE DEADLINE







That's why we love you Kate,

See you soon baseball freaks! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Remembering Alfonso Soriano


Well Cubs fans, it appears all of your dreams have come true, as the Cubs have finally traded long maligned outfielder Alfonso Soriano.  But let me ask you, was Soriano really that bad in a Cubs uniform?  You may all remember him for the constant debate on whether he should hit lead-off or that stupid hop in left field when a fly ball approached, but Soriano was actually extremely productive in his time on the North Side.  Let's take a look at Soriano through the years in Chicago.

In November 2006, Soriano signed a contract with the Cubs for 8 years and 136 million dollars.  Coming off a 40 home run, 40 steal season with the Nationals, Soriano was primed to get paid, but people thought a 6 year deal in the 100 million dollar range got it done.  

Trying to make the Cubs more attractive to a potential buyer, Tribune company buyer Sam Zell decided that the Cubs needed to have Soriano.  Under his direction, and the pressure of business side executives Crane Kenney and John McDonough, the Cubs overpaid for Soriano and got him to the North Side.  (The rumor is General Manager Jim Hendry was actually mid flight when the deal got done)

Soriano delivered in his first two seasons in Chicago.  Despite nagging leg injuries in 2007 and 2008 that limited him to 135 and 109 games, Soriano still hit 33 homers in 07 and 29 homers in 08, while managing to steal 19 bases each season. Both years he led the Cubs to the playoffs, but struggled each year in first round exits against the Diamondbacks and Dodgers.  

2009 was his worst year in Chicago.  He managed to only hit .241 and only hit 20 home runs.  2010 wasn't much better, as Soriano slightly improved to a .258 average and 24 home runs.  2011 was his finally rough year in Chicago, where he hit .244 and had 26 home runs.  During these years, Soriano seemed to have nothing left in his legs and it was hard to watch him in left field.  At the Cubs convention in early 2012, fans booed Soriano when he was introduced.  Through all of this, Soriano maintained his great clubhouse persona and kept up his second to none work ethic.  


In 2012, the Cubs hired Dave McKay to work with the outfielders, and McKay seemed to inject a youth serum into Soriano.  Soriano not only was great at the plate, hitting 32 home runs and driving in 108, but he also played much improved defense in left field.  Under McKay's direction, Soriano even had the best fielding % among left fielders.  Throughout the season, new front office members Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer had nothing but positive things to say about Soriano, including praising him for how he is in the clubhouse and  his ability to mentor the young Cubs.

Soriano struggled to start the year, but he has gone on a crazy hot streak lately.  Through 93 games with the Cubs, Sori has hit 17 home runs and driven in 51 while continuing his solid defense in left field.  With the emergence of Junior Lake, the Cubs might have had some incentive to move Sori.


The Cubs and Yankees have been talking about Soriano, and while the deal is yet to be 
announced due to the money changing hands, the two teams have agreed on the trade.  The Cubs will eat all but 6.8 million of the 24.8 million left on Soriano's contract.  The Yankees will pay Soriano 1.8 million for the rest of this year and 5 million for 2014.  In return, in addition to the salary relief, the Cubs will receive high A pitcher Corey Black.  Black was a 4th round pick in 2012, and has some nice upside, despite some concerns.  Black throws in the mid to upper 90s, sometimes touching 100, but he has some control issues, and he needs to develop his secondary pitches.  He projects to be a middle inning reliever or possibly an 8th inning guy mostly because of his hard stuff and his command issues.  Black is a very nice return for Soriano.

While I certainly understand the deal, it is hard to see Soriano go.  While I was a big advocate for moving Sori when he was struggling, he has really grown on me in the past few years.  His work ethic and the way he is so well respected in the clubhouse is really apparent.  While I haven't dealt with him personally, everything I have heard from media members is how Soriano is the consummate pro and is always willing to answer questions, win or loss.  Seeing Sori's smiling face in the dugout will be something that I will definitely miss but I wish him well in New York.

Lastly, I had to put this in there, but check out this awesome pimping of a home run by Daniel Vogelbach.  I don't know what level this is at, but it makes me laugh every time.



Keep checking back through the trading deadline for my analysis on the Cubs other trades.  Names that could be on the move include Nate Schierholtz, Kevin Gregg, David DeJesus, James Russell, and Dioner Navarro.

Have a great weekend baseball fans and don't forget to check out exciting new Cub Junior Lake


Friday, July 26, 2013

MLB Friday Funnies: GIF of the Week

Colby Rasmus blows Janssen's save 

I don't know much about Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus.  I know that he didn't get along well with Tony La Russa when he was in St. Louis and I know that he has brothers that play baseball too.  He seems to play adequate defense and his 20+ home run potential makes up for his barely-above-the-Mendoza-line batting average.  I'm sure he's a nice guy off the field.   

But when the Blue Jays took on the Tigers a couple weeks ago, Rasmus took out Omar Infante with a hard (and probably overtly aggressive) slide that landed the second baseman on the DL.  Being the irrationally hateful person that I am, I decided to dislike Colby Rasmus for the rest of his major league career.  

So you have no idea the glee that I felt watching the Blue Jays take a 1 run lead into the 9th inning on Wednesday against the streaking Dodgers.  Casey Janssen, one of my fantasy closers, comes in to hold the lead.  With Yasiel Puig on first and two outs, Andre Ethier laces a line drive to center.  Then this happened...


That botched ball along with Rasmus' aerial rhythmic gymnast kick allowed Puig to score to tie the game.  The Blue Jays ended up losing in extras.  Despite Janssen's blown save, I still got to witness a player I just recently decide to hate f---- up so royally that it cost his team the game.

Yes I'm evil.   I fill my hollow life with baseball and specifically the schadenfreude that results from guys like Rasmus messing up.   (ALSO ON THE LIST: Nick Swisher, any Chicago White Sox player, Alex Rodriguez,)  Maybe he'll think twice about a take-out slide next time they play Detroit.

This week has been an eventful one, with the second half of the season underway, trades, Biogenesis, and Ryan Braun.  If you would like to catch our recaps about Braun, do it here and especially here.

If you want to get the latest Chicago Cubs trade news, catch it here and here.  Hopefully Tommy can put something up about Alfonso Soriano this weekend (who apparently Cubbies fans will miss more than they thought they would).

It was a sad week in baseball....where are you Kate? 



That's right. Have a great weekend baseball fans!



Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Take: A Milwaukee Fan on Ryan Braun



My thoughts on Braun: A Brewers Fan

[Editors Note: We wrote a bit about Braun both before the suspension and then also after.  Today, we get to see a Brewers' fan's perception of the situation.  We'd like to thank Joshua T. Foley for sharing this thoughts with us and hope you find it to be as thought-provoking and insightful as we did as you formulate your own opinion about Braun.]  



"At this moment, I am a sad baseball fan. I look at the game with a romantic eye, believing that every configuration of three bags and a plate is a Field of Dreams. I drove past Miller Park today and my heart sank for my team and my fellow fans. We all saw this coming to a head in one way or another. I will admit to optimism in the case of Ryan Braun, but not total naivete. In early 2012, when Braun vehemently defended his innocence, Brewers fans all wanted to believe him. I convinced myself that I believed him, but I ultimately couldn’t.

I’m not here to regurgitate the story or outline which parts of it I do and don’t believe. I simply wish to express how deeply heartbroken I am. I wish he hadn’t lied to all of us. I wish we didn’t have to go through this because he lied. I wish Brewers fans weren’t made to be total fools for loving this man as an icon, albeit a sports icon.


It’s hard for a small-market club to have or keep nice things. A club like Milwaukee is lucky to have a C.C. Sabathia or a Prince Fielder while they can, and we fully understand why we can’t retain them. That’s why Braun’s longevity and loyalty were so important. It may be a long, long time before we have another national star of that caliber to call our own. Not to mention, in the middle of a monumentally painful slide (96 wins in ‘11 to maybe 96 losses in ‘13), this development is a serious kick in the stones.



There is a lot of hate in my Twitter and Facebook feeds for Ryan Braun.  I can hardly blame these people for expressing their anger and frustration however they need to, but I choose not to participate at the moment. I won’t be burning a #8 jersey or vandalizing his restaurant (ironically, “Graffito”). I just need to go back to the park, sit in the bleachers under Bernie’s slide, and remember why I love the game and my team."


-- Joshua T. Foley



Josh Foley lives in Milwaukee and can be followed on Twitter at @joshuatfoley



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Breaking down the Matt Garza deal

Monday, the Cubs made a huge trade by sending Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers.  In case you have been living under a rock, here are the details of the trade:

Rangers Receive
RHP Matt Garza


Cubs Receive
3B Mike Olt 
RHP CJ Edwards
RHP Justin Grimm
1 player to be named later from Group A or 2 players to be named later from groups B and C

On Friday, I projected that the Cubs would receive a package of Olt, Luke Jackson, and Neil Ramirez from the Rangers.  After a ton of news on Twitter, the trade looked to be done, but never happened.  The weekend was kind of stagnant, but on Monday, the two teams got the deal done.  It seems the Cubs actually did a bit better than what I predicted on Friday.  The cubs receive Olt along with Edwards, who will head to High A, and Grimm who has pitched with the big club this year, but will report to AAA.  The Cubs will then get a PTBNL, which will either be one player from group A (which is rumored to contain Neil Ramirez), or they will receive 2 PTBNL from groups B and C, which are lesser prospects.  Before I share my thoughts on the deal, let's look at what some of the experts thought about it.














As you can see, the general consensus is that the Cubs did really well here.  Let me break down the players that the Cubs got in return for Garza.

Third Baseman Mike Olt
Olt has been a highly regarded third baseman for the last couple years, but he has taken a step back this year.  Olt started the year in AAA, and really struggled, due in part to some eye issues.  He was having blurred vision and even said that when he blinked it felt like he was rubbing sandpaper on his eye.  During the vision problems, Olt's K rate was close to 40%, but since fixing the problem, it has dropped to 33%, which is still not good, but it's a good sign.  Olt has loads of power and is very good with the glove at the third.  You can expect to get a glimpse of Olt in Chicago probably sometime in late 2013.


Right Handed Pitcher CJ Edwards
Edwards is actually a really cool story.  He was drafted in the 48th round in 2011 and has quickly made a name for himself in A ball.  This year, Edwards has 122 strikeouts in only 93 and a third innings.  He has also only walked 34 batters, which is a great sign.  Edwards has a 1.83 ERA and his FIP is actually lower than that, sitting at 1.78.  One astonishing stat is that Edwards has yet to give up a home run in his just over 150 innings of pro ball.  Edwards is tall and very thin and his fastball sits in the low 90s and can rush up to the mid 90s.  He has a very good curveball and a decent changeup.  Edwards is a solid candidate to be a middle of the rotation starter, but his stuff could lead him the bullpen.  Edwards will get a promotion and head to high A Daytona.


Right Handed Pitcher Justin Grimm
Grimm will turn 25 in August and already comes with some big league experience.  In 17 starts with the Rangers this year, Grimm has a huge ERA at 6.37, but his FIP of 4.79 suggests that he has been better than that.  Grimm has a fastball that sits in the low 90s with a good curve and a developing changeup.  He projects to be a solid number 4 starter and due to some forearm issues of late, he will head to AAA to get some work before he possibly gets called up to the big league club later in the year.


Overall, the Cubs made out great here, especially if they can also land Neil Ramirez as a PTBNL.  While I will sorely miss Garza (He's one of my favorite Cubs), the Cubs got a return that will definitely help them in the future.  They didn't get the front line pitching prospect that they were looking for, but Mike Olt has been a highly regarded prospects no less than a year ago.  Garza should perform well for Texas down the stretch and for now, it looks like both teams made out great in this deal.  Texas gets to hold on to high end guys like Jorge Alfaro, Luke Jackson, and Luis Sardinas, while the Cubs get 3 and possible 4 quality guys in return for Garza.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MLB Update: Braun Suspended...

[Our previous take on Biogenesis: here]


Quote of the Day

 "I realize now that I have made some mistakes.  I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions."  

-- excerpt of  Ryan Braun's statement yesterday.  


In early June, back when the idea of Biogenesis started to look like it could become more than a rumor on the back page of a Miami newpaper, we wrote about our thoughts and went as in-depth as possible with what we knew, what the facts were according to what sources were saying, and what we could expect to happen.  

 Here is one of the possible outcomes that we mentioned...
"Scenario #3: All the digging at Biogenesis uncovered a widespread PED operation, complete with detail records and evidence that implications all or more of the players listed. Essentially, there actually is widespread PED use by players with ties to the Biogenesis clininc, and not just that but there is enough sufficient and credible evidence that the MLB needed to move forward with it. This is obviously not the most ideal case for us baseball fans but it has to be considered since I just can't believe that the MLB would be willing to risk everything like this for a phantom accusation..."  [link]
Today, 2011 MVP and the face of the Milwaukee Brewer's franchise, Ryan Braun was suspended, effective immediately for the remainder of the season.  We won't need to go over the details now as I'm sure that you will find out about those in the mainstream sports sites if you haven't already.  The short story is that the suspension will be for the rest of the 2013 season and playoffs.  Braun will lose approximately $3.5 million in salary.


Braun's statement:
“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect.  I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization.
I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country.
Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed -- all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”

MLB's Statement 
“We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions. We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field.”
-- Rob Manfield, MLB Official 



REACTIONS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE



INITIAL THOUGHTS


  • Not good news for baseball.  But at the same time, probably the best news for baseball.  While a player of that caliber getting suspended for PEDs is never great for our sport as fans, it is also means that the MLB is getting serious about cleaning up the game.  Had this happened in 1998 to a McGwire or Sosa, everyone probably would have turned the other way.  In 2013, it means that the MLB isn't afraid to not only suspend but also take the initiative when the Biogenesis case first started making noise.
  • Speaking of taking the initiative, did MLB ever take the initiative on this one.  If this proves anything, it's that MLB is serious and it's ready to do whatever it takes to bust PED users, going beyond the "failed test" and actually doing a complete investigation into the Biogenesis clinic.  Whether you believe that to be a sincere change on the part of Bud Selig or not is your prerogative.    
  • What were Bud Selig's intentions?  Is he actually serious about cracking down on PEDs?  While many (including us) thought that such dogged pursuit of players tied to a clinic with a shady, unreliable and compromised owner/witness was just a Selig-led witchhunt to improve his legacy, there was apparently evidence to both convict and suspend Braun with potentially more names to come. Whatever Selig's true intentions are, we will likely never know.  
  • Braun?  Seriously, I don't know what to think.  Part of me wants to side with the Baseball Tonight or MLB Network analysts that are saying (and if not yet, definitely going to be saying) things like: "Braun is the Lance Armstrong of baseball" or "He's the type of lying liar that symbolizes all that's wrong with the game."
  • The other part of me, thought, is trying to be empathetic.  Not necessarily to Ryan Braun but more to the fans of Milwaukee.  I can't imagine the feeling that Brewer's fans are experiencing right now as the face of their franchise stares at a implacable situation that both condemns the icon of a team and his legacy.  It has to suck and I'm not sure how I would feel if someone like Justin Verlander or Miguel Cabrera was facing the same situation.  From a Brewer's fan perspective, it's clearly different and we'll have a post later in the week from a Brewer's fan's perspective that everyone will want to check out.  
  •  It's clear now that Braun and his attorneys realized the gravity of the charges and requested a second meeting with MLB to make a plea deal.  That screams "guilty."  In addition to the reduced suspension (MLB was aiming for something higher than 50 games), part of the plea bargain likely includes Major League Baseball's agreement to keep whatever substance(s) Braun used confidential.  We'll likely never know exactly what Braun did until an investigative journalist gets on that assignment.


WHO SHOULD BE WORRIED


  • Any player who is using PEDs right now.  You're going to get caught.  MLB is serious now and whether it's in a season or several season, you will be found and will be caught.  If the fallout from Biogenesis is any indication, it won't be pretty for your career or your legacy.

  • The 20+ other players that are linked to Biogenesis.  Their time is coming very soon and suspensions are inevitable.  It will be interesting to see the route that players take when suspensions are handed down.  I'm sure that each case will be different.  Some could appeal, some will accept, some will try to get some sort of plea deal like Braun.  
  • Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon.  Both are players that have already served 50 game suspensions for PED use.  If Biogenesis implicates them for a second offense, they could be facing 100 game suspensions....or worse.
  • The Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers.  Both Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta are having fine, All-Star-caliber seasons in the middle of a playoff run for their respective teams.  If either are suspended, it would be a huge loss for each team.  While the Ranger's have a deep farm system and could probably field a capable replacement, the Tiger's don't have many viable options to replace Peralta.
  • Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta  Both are having big seasons in the middle of contract years.  If either are suspended, they'll need to decide if they want to start the suspension immediately, in hopes of returning for the last few weeks of September and possible the postseason.  The other alternative is to appeal but that could hurt their value in free agency with a cloud of a potential suspension hanging over them.
WHO SHOULD BE RELIEVED?

  • Fans of baseball  Whatever Selig's true intentions are, it appears that the MLB is finally serious about eradicating PEDs from the game...and that they are also willing to go through whatever lengths they can to do so.  While players will always find a way to get an edge and will always go to lengths to stay ahead of the system, deterrents must be in place and this move signals that the MLB is toughing up their steroid policies and will enforce the rules regardless of a player's stature or star power. 

WHO SHOULD BE LIKE, REALLY, REALLY WORRIED


  • Alex Rodriguez  The rumors are that the evidence that baseball has against A-Rod is even more damning than the evidence that they had against Braun.  If this is true, we may have seen the last of Alex Rodriguez.  The aging slugger is currently on a rehab assignment in the minor leagues and scouting reports say that he looks old, slow and a fraction of what he used to be.  While he'd still probably be an upgrade over the scabs New York has been throwing out at the hot corner this season, if he's suspended for a long amount of time, we should expect the Yankees to try and unload him in any way they can, even if they owe him an insane amount of money over the next couple of years.  

We'll have more on Braun over the next few days.  I can't really say much more without being repetitive or say anything that most columnists are already saying.  I'm personally surprised that everything has happened this swiftly.  The punishment handed down sounds severe but actually work out well for both Braun and the Brewers.  Milwaukee is spiraling down, well out of playoff contention and returns a solid, young nucleus next season.  They will not miss Ryan Braun, at least this season.  While he loses $3.5 million this season, Braun will stand to actually receive a pay increase over the next few seasons.

As for his reputation, well, it will be repaired as much as he wants it to go.   It obviously has taken a major hit and he can't recover from that.  But he can take steps to repair his relationship with the Milwaukee Brewers gradually over time.  Reports are that his teammates are pissed.  The fans are probably just confused.  He should apologize to them in some way.  

He should also probably do something extra nice for Dino Lorenzi, the ex-MLB urine handler who's career Braun conveniently threw under the bus during the previous accusation.  The history in steroids in baseball has taught that we are forgiving fans as long as we feel that a player is truly penitent (e.g. Jason Giambi, Andy Pettite).  If Braun approaches this like Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds, you can probably forget about fans ever forgiving him.    

It will also be interesting to see what develops when Braun returns to the field.  Unlike previous players busted for steroids that were either fading stars (Palmiero, A-Rod, Manny Ramirez) or ironically not all that good, Braun is a MVP-caliber player in his prime.  This is an unprecedented situation.  He can probably expect to be booed most places but over time, who knows how the fans will react?  

It's a sad time for baseball fans right now but it's also an important time.  No matter what your thoughts are on  Braun, it appears that for whatever reasons, baseball is serious about getting its act together on PEDs.  This can and should mark the last time that a big name player like this is busted for PEDs.  If players have any sort of intelligence, they should look at the Biogenesis example and think twice before deciding to juice.  Or your career will end up like Ryan Braun's.  MLB will come and find you; that's a fact.  





Friday, July 19, 2013

MLB Friday Funnies: GIF of the Week

 Yoenis Cespedes does the most epic bat-flip ever during Home Run Derby

Yoenis Cespedes is only in his second year in the MLB, and would have won the AL Rookie of the Year any other year but had the misfortune of being in a the same rookie class as Mike Trout.  The Cuban defector is having another solid campaign, despite being limited by injuries.  

Despite all of the career success, Cespedes seems to be a guy that gets overlooked.  A blip on the radar.  An immensely talented guy that has to fight to get the recognition of guys playing in LA and New York.  He's like the kid who got picked last kickball at recess and then went out and surprised everyone by dominating.

One of the reasons is Mike Trout.  Yoenis' fine rookie season last year was overshadowed by the even-better, historic season Trout had just a few hours south in Anaheim.  Another reason is that Cespedes plays for the Oakland Athletics.  The reality is that aside from "Moneyball", the small market team will always be overlooked by their counterparts on the other side of the bay.  And that's just in the same metropolitan area.

In addition, the emergence of Yasiel Puig all over ESPN makes Cespedes not even the most recognizable Cuban outfielder to the casual fan.  Puigmania took over the baseball world for a good month and even his bat-flip got headlines...


On Monday night, Cespedes decided that he was done being overlooked and decided to smack a s--- ton of baseball over the left field fence at Citi Field during the 2013 Home Run Derby.  Cespedes made it look easy smacking 32 balls out of the park and the man who wasn't even in the All-Star game upstaged everyone else in the Derby.

He nailed three balls into the third deck, put a dent in a Chevy truck in center, put a few off the window of the restaurant in the second deck, sent a couple over centerfield and became the only player to win the Derby who wasn't selected for the All-Star game.

He made us all look silly (even I overlooked him in our Home Run Derby Preview) Oh, and in addition to letting America know that he's not a blip on the radar, he also officially challenged Yasiel Puig to a "Bat-Flip Off" with this epic flip after his winning home run.  



It doesn't get any better than that.  No one will wonder who Yoenis Cespedes is again after this week.  And also from the other angle....


 It's your move Yasiel Puig.


After the Midsummer break, baseball resumes tonight.  Have a great weekend baseball freaks...



Thursday, July 18, 2013

All-Star Off Day: Greatest Moments in All-Star Game History

Quote of the Day
"He sounded like a guy who just got called up."

-- David Ortiz on Mariano Rivera's pregame speech before the 2013 All Star Game.  






It's day two of the scheduled off days during the All-Star break and if you're like the rest of us suffering through a two day baseball purgatory, I would recommend going back on your TiVo and rewinding Tuesday night's game to the eighth inning again.  

If you didn't get a chance to watch the game because you were in a coma or your first son was being born, you'll see this for the first time...



It's moments like that that make baseball so f-------g awesome.  Congrats Mariano Rivera.  You deserved every second of that ovation and more.  It is also the last time we'll see a number "42" play in the All-Star game again.

One of the most genuine, kindest, and classiest guys to ever pitch a baseball then completed a perfect inning to help the AL to a 3-0 win.  He's come a long way since this....


There were some other things that happened in the game that were entertaining.  The American League mashers in Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis and Jose Bautista combined their powers  to put the AL on the board early.  Matt Harvey shined at home after some early trouble.  Andrew McCutchen stole a base.  Manny Machado reminded everyone why he's the best defensive third baseman in the world and Prince Fielder even tripled.  Neil Diamond sang 'Sweet Caroline.'  But this was the Mariano Rivera Show tonight.

He's appeared in over a thousand contests, recorded over 600 saves but the numbers only tell part of what makes Mariano Rivera.  His unbridled love of the game and passion for people is the epitome of a future first ballot Hall of Famer.  He's the guy that always says he is "blessed" to play baseball and everyone actually believes him.  Exit Sandman,  We'll miss you Mo. 

And today, we've got a quick list of some other great All-Star game moments.  Baseball's proverbial second half begins tomorrow!  See you then....



1933: Babe Ruth hits a home run in the inaugural All-Star game. 






1934: Carl Hubbel strikes out five future Hall of Famers in 1934




1941: Ted Williams hits walk-off home run




1946: Ted Williams puts on a hitting clinic and homers off Rip Sewell's "eephus" pitch 
(eephus pitch at 1:43)




1955: Stan Musial homer wins it for NL in walk-off fashion




1970: Pete Rose ruins Ray Fosse in extra innings




1971: Reggie Jackson hits a home run at Tiger Stadium that lands in Upper Peninsula.  
It was also Roberto Clemente's final All-Star appearance




1983: Fred Lynn hits only Grand Slam in All Star Game history




1984: Fernando Valenzuela and Doc Gooden mow down the American League




1989: Bo Jackson shows off all Five Tools in California




1993: John Kruk misses Randy Johnson's pitches by 7 1/2 Altuve's 




1999: All Century Team at Fenway, Ted Williams makes us teary and Pedro Dominates




2001: A-Rod makes Cal Ripken Jr. play shortstop, Cal homers too




Torii Hunter robs Barry Bonds; Bud Selig calls a tie




Hall of Famers at Yankee Stadium's last ASG.  AL wins in extras




Jim Leyland talks about Rivera



Rivera talks about the All Star game





That should be enough baseball clips to get you guys through today.  The season resumes tomorrow.  Catch you guys then!