Archive for the ‘ Offseason Recap and Preview ’ Category

8/21/13 Rays at Orioles: Camden Yards

Again my day did not get off to a good start. But unlike the previous day, it didn’t get all that much better during batting practice. So when I got to Gate H, I kept expecting other ballhawks to be there as well, but none showed up. Both Tim Anderson and Alex Kopp had apparently gone to Dempsey’s, which is a restaurant inside of the warehouse. Once I realized this and found another season ticket holder to use the card of to buy a discounted ticket from, the gates were opening. So as a result, I was like 3-5 minutes late getting in. This may not seem like much, but for a ballhawk right at the time the gates open, it’s an eternity.

So with all of the better spots in left field taken once I got there, it was a no-brainer for me to go down the left field line when the Rays started throwing for toss-ups. Pretty much the only thing that made me want to stay in left was that my next baseball was going to be my 100th at OPACY, so I would have rather it been a hit baseball on the fly. But like I’ve said before, I’m not nearly good enough to be able to choose how I get a baseball. I’m just happy if I get the ball.

That said, Wil Myers looks as though he could become something in the majors, so irrelevant of it being my 100th OPACY ball, when there was a decision to be made of whether to ask him or Evan Longoria for a ball, I got Myers to toss me my first ball of the day and my 100th at OPACY (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, for those of you who are confused):

82113 Ball 1

And with this, I became I believe only one of three ballhawks who have snagged 100 baseballs at five or more ballparks. So that was pretty cool, and not an indication of me being anywhere near the league of the other two ballhawks I share the distinction with. And an even cooler thing was one of my more favorite players, Ben Zobrist came over to sign right after that, and I got him to sign the 100 baseball.

I then moved down the line and awaited for the pitchers to be done throwing. And when Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona) was finished throwing, I waved at him for the ball, but he put up a finger as if to say, “One minute.” He then proceeded to do what is known among pitchers “shadowing”, so I assumed when he was done with that, he would throw me the ball. Turns out I didn’t even need to wait that long, because when a ball got hit in hsi direction, he picked it up and chucked it to me:

82113 Ball 2

I then headed back to left, but quickly thereafter left to go to right-center because the non-season ticket holders were being let into the seating bowl. There, I used something I had noticed one of the previous two days. I had seen a kid ask Rays bullpen coach, Stan Boroski, for a ball by name, and Boroski tossed it to him saying, “You’re one of the only people besides this guy (pointing to Scott Cursi) who knows my name in this stadium.” So I though if I got Boroski’s name right, it would be the easiest toss-up in the world. And it was:

82113 Ball 3

After taking the picture, I gave that ball away to a kid who was standing to my right. That was when Alex showed up in the section and reported to me that he had been having a really good day and was already at 6 baseballs. He would then get his seventh from Alex Cobb. He probably could have gotten to double digits, but the Rays ended batting practice 30-40 minutes before the visiting team normally does. So we sat in the center field seats and talked for a while:

82113 Alex CF

Alex would then get his eighth ball that we had both been eying for about 40 minutes from a groundskeeper about ten minutes before game time. I initially stayed out in right field with him for the game, but when I realized that eight of the Rays nine hitters were righties, I moved to over here where this was my view:

82113 Foul Ground

But sadly there were no foul balls within fifteen feet of me. I then headed to the umpire tunnel at the end of the game, but Joe West ran out of baseballs before he got to me.

Thankfully, though, I didn’t just walk back to Alex’s house at that point. Instead I went to the Rays dugout. As the relievers walked in, I saw Joel Peralta had a ball in his rolled up glove, so I asked him for it in Spanish. He completely ignored me, but as he walked into the dugout, I saw a ball bounce towards me on the dugout roof. Apparently Fernando Rodney had heard my request and tossed me a baseball he had with him:

82113 Ball 4

Then I saw that Stan Boroski and Scott Cursi were way behind the relievers, so I quickly changed from my Rays hat to my MLB Fan Cave hat (I already had my MLB Fan Cave shirt on at that point) to disguise myself from Boroski, who had tossed me a ball earlier in the day. And so I again asked Boroski, but this time by last name, and he tossed me my fifth ball of the day. Then I saw a kid next to me with a glove, who had not gotten a ball from Boroski, so I gave him the ball. I was just happy that my disguise had paid off:

82113 Fan Cave Disguise

And so I headed back to Alex’s place by foot. At the time I thought there might be a possibility I’d be back in Baltimore over the weekend, but with talking to my mom on the car ride back to Washington (she and my step-dad picked me up at Alex’s) I learned that wasn’t really a feasible option given the time and day my flight left. So this would prove to be my last game at OPACY in 2013.

STATS:

  • 5 Balls at this Game (3 pictured because I gave both Boroski balls away)

82113 Baseballs

Numbers 675-679 for my “lifetime”:

82113 Sweet Spots

  • 233 Balls in 52 Games= 4.48 Balls Per Game
  • 5 Balls x 28,323 Fans=141,615 Competition Factor
  • 114 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 19 straight Games with 2 Balls
  • 16 straight Games with 3 Balls
  • 8 straight Games with 4 Balls
  • 2 straight games with 5 Balls
  • 104 Balls in 23 Games at OPACY= 4.5 Balls Per Game
  • 23 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • 13 straight Games with at least 2 Balls at OPACY
  • 11 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at OPACY
  • 9 straight Games with at least 4 Balls at OPACY
  • 2 straight games with  at least 5 Balls at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 4:33-11:49= 7 Hours 16 Minutes

6/1/13 Tigers at Orioles: Camden Yards

Wanna see my view more or less as the gates of Camden Yards opened?

6113 Opening Picture

While Avi and I had gotten to the train station at a time that normally would have gotten us to the gates by the time they opened–and by Avi, I mean Avi Miller, the person in the foreground of the picture–the train was having problems with the signals art a couple stations, so instead of taking 20 minutes or so, the train took over an hour to get to our final destination from the time it pulled into Avi’s stop. Long story short: we got to OPACY over half-an-hour late. Had it been Yankee Stadium, I would have turned around and let Avi, but the way I saw it I still had the power-hitting Tigers’ BP to rely on, and if I didn’t manage to snag a ball then, I could always play the dugouts for third-out balls and the cross-aisle for foul balls in between that, with the security blanket of the umpire tunnel after the game.

When I entered the ballpark, the seating bowl was already opened up and the Tigers were already hitting, so I didn’t even try to go to the left field seats. Actually, correction: I went towards the left field seats right as I entered the stadium, but when I saw the seating bowl had already been opened, I turned around and made a beeline for the center field seats. And by “beeline” I mean slow jog, because I had essentially all of my stuff for my whole trip in my backpack since I planned to go back to Washington directly from the game. There I asked a couple of players for balls such as Luke Putkonen and Don Kelly, but got rejected by both of them. Then a ball got hit almost directly in line with me in the stands. I went down to the first row, but it fell about a foot out of my reach. Thankfully though, since I don’t have a ball-retrieving device made this year, it went back onto the field where Rick Porcello got it:

6113 Porcello in the OF

And apparently he had seen my Tigers gear as I had lunged out to reach for the ball because without me even asking he tossed the ball up to me. I then immediately handed the ball to a kid whose dad had been begging Don Kelly for ball as well. Kelly’s response to all of us was, “I’ll hit a couple out here when it’s my group’s turn to hit.”

After getting the ball form Porcello, I headed out to the flag court in right field. It was packed and I couldn’t get any toss-ups, but I justified it by telling myself, “You got more than enough toss-ups in Minnesota and can go for toss-ups any other day. Today one of the best hitting teams in the league is here, so you might as well go for hit baseballs.” This picture doesn’t do the crowd in the flag court any justice, but it was my view until pretty much the end of batting practice:

6113 View from the flag court

I’ll cut to the chase and say that I didn’t snag anything for the remainder of batting practice, but the star of the show, who I would have had an extra baseball had he not been there, was Alex Kopp. Here he is in this picture with his glove shading his eyes:

6113 Alex in the flag court

He caught three balls on the fly while I was there including one that was right in front of my glove. I believe it was an Andy Dirks home run. I tracked the ball perfectly off the bat, and had my glove in position to make the catch, but all of a sudden I saw two gloves go up in front of mine. They were of Alex and another person. Alex, though, had his glove in the right spot, so he caught the ball, and all I could do was smile because that was his third catch out there. He was just putting on a clinic. I mean the Tigers were going pretty crazy with all of the baseballs they were hitting up there, but it was also insanely packed given the size of the flag court. Every time a ball was hit up there, it was like a mini-stampede erupted. I was actually pretty concerned a little kid was going to get seriously injured out there, because while I check to make sure I have a clear running lane to the ball every five seconds or so, I knew there were people that were just reacting to the ball and keeping their eye on the ball and not where they were going–which is a recipe for disaster; either for the kids of the area or for the person, because there were the flag poles to be run into.

During the Tigers position players’ infield warm-ups, I should have snagged my second ball of the day. What happened was I got Omar Infante’s attention despite being fifteen rows up in the stands by waving my arms, so he tossed the ball to me:

6113 Omar Infante

but he was off with his aim, so the ball sailed above me and to my left. I reached, but I tried to be careful because reaching full-extension would also involve me elbowing the woman standing next to me in the head. So with all of this happening, the ball tipped off the edge of my glove and into the lap of a person behind me. Bleh.

An even more frustrating thing happened during the game. I don’t know how many home runs there were in this game (a lot) but only one made its way out into the flag court. It was the fourth inning, and Victor Martinez was the hitter. I happened to be looking away because a person said something to me in the flag court, but suddenly I heard a roar in the crowd and a ball whizzing towards the foul pole. I then ran towards the ball and played the ricochet I have always failed to do in the home run balls I have botched in the past. Unfortunately the ball bounced back towards the field after landing in the flag court because it hit the beer stand out there. Had it kept going towards Eutaw Street, I’m 95% sure I would have had the ball because I was the only one in the back of the flag court who even saw the ball, much less reacted. Are you a little confused? Here, I drew up a diagram from the perspective of where I started out when the ball was hit. The dotted line is the flight of the ball, and the solid line is the path that I ran:

6113 Diagram

And if you want, here is the link to the video. At the first point you can identify where I am when they cut to the view of the flag court, I am here:

6113 Video 1

You can then pretty easily identify as the person running across the flag court for the ball. It looks like I was going pretty fast from the video, but I remember that I was purposely taking it slow in case the ball did bounce to the back of the flag court, which I expected it to do, because I didn’t want a repeat of the ball that hit me in the head during my first game here in Baltimore or anything of the sort. The next time when you can more clearly see me is after the ball had bounced back to the fence:

6113 Video 2

After this you can see I’m one of three people actively going after the ball. I can also say I probably would have had it had the person who eventually got the ball was a foot taller. It was actually a kid who got the ball. And I say I would have gotten the ball had he been taller because he had to go under one of those rope-type dividers that you see at airport/bus terminal check-in lines. You know what I’m talking about, right? The black poles that connect by rope in order for people in line to zig-zag their way through. Well anyway, the kid didn’t have to duck much to get the ball, but had he been a foot taller, that half-second he would have taken to duck underneath was all I would have needed to get the ball. But oh well. Palante.

I then spent the rest of the game awaiting another home run that never came, all while this great view of the game and all its action:

6113 Flag Court view

(Yay?) At the end of the game I headed down for one last try at an umpire ball this series, and whaddaya know, I got it:

6113 Ball 2

As I got to the umpire tunnel there were actually kids in the corner spots on each side of the dugout, so I had to go a little further up. Home plate umpire, Hunte Wendelstedt(?), gave out a couple of baseballs to the kids at the front of the tunnel and then moved on. Just in case he still had a ball with him, I called out to him, “Mr. Wendelsedt, do you have any extra baseballs?” He was already past me in the tunnel, but upon hearing his name, he turned right around and tossed me the baseball you see above. I then headed to the Tigers dugout, but I didn’t get anything there, so I walked up to Baltimore-Penn Station and took the next Amtrak train back to Washington.

STATS:

  • 2 Baseballs at this Game (1 pictured because I gave the other 1 away)

6113 Baseball

Numbers 536-37 for my “career”:

6113 Sweet Spot

  • 91 Balls in 22 Games= 4.14 Balls Per Game
  • 2 Ball x 38,965 Fans=77,930 Competition Factor
  • 85 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 45 Balls in 11 Games at OPACY= 4.09 Balls Per Game
  • 11 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at OPACY
  • Time Spent On Game 12:47-10:48= 10 Hours 1 Minute

5/25/13 Braves at Mets: Citi Field

So after the adventure I had gone through the previous game, and the state I awoke in, I feel as though I shouldn’t have been in the mood to go back to Citi Field any time soon, but so I did. I woke up at about 11:00 in the morning, and since the Mets had announced when the game was postponed that the gates would be opening at 4:10 and trains/buses run less regularly on the weekends, I almost immediately headed up to the apartment of a friend I was staying with this week in the Bronx, showered, got changed in to clothes that were more suited for the 50-degree temperatures, took all of the stuff I didn’t need in my backpack out, and headed off to Citi Field.

The way this game would work is the resumption of the previous night’s game would begin at 6:10 and the regularly-scheduled game would start soon after that. People who had tickets could exchange them at the box office for tickets that were that same dollar amount or lower. But since I was hopefully not going to be back at Citi Field after Sunday’s game (this entry you’re reading about is of a Saturday) and I had picked up a collective three ticket stubs the game before, I exchanged them in the following way: Two tickets for this game and one for the Sunday game:

52513 Opening Picture

The two tickets for this day’s game were behind the third base dugout and in left field, and the Sunday ticket was for further down the third base foul line. I figured that I would want more flexibility for this day’s game, and the next day’s game I already knew would be full of ballhawks, so I wanted to stay away from behind the dugouts and left field, which are the two most popular spots for ballhawks during the games at Citi Field. Also, it was John Franco bobblehead day, which Ben Weil was coming to specifically for the bobbleheads, so having two tickets to this game would enable him to get an extra bobblehead. (Even if I was stupid and gave him the ticket I already scanned to get in.)

I learned when I got to the stadium, though, that the bad-phrasing Mets had changed the gate opening time from 4:10 to 5:10 somewhere between me sleeping on a fleece and getting to the game, so I now had to wait for another hour, and it would also be another hour that I wouldn’t have inside the stadium I wasn’t worried about my streak because I would have 10+ innings with a dugout seat, but it was just annoying to know that I rushed to the game when I could have been relaxing on an actual bed for that extra hour. The Mets actually then changed that *while* I was waiting at the gate and made the new opening time 4:45. Unfortunately, when I got in, there was still a whole lot of nothing going on:

52513 Nothing going on

Since there was nothing of the players going on, I went and saw some other interesting things going on in the stadium:

1.

52513 Tarp cover thingy

The groundscrew put the thing that covers the tarp in the stands down the third base line.

2.

52513 Ladder

Mets employees for whatever reason had a ladder going from the second to the third deck in left field.

3.

52513 Winning Seat

The random “lucky seat”s that the Mets have throughout the stadium in section 123 was two seats from my ticketed seat in that section, which was seat 4 in that same row.

I quickly got bored with these things, so I took a peek inside the dugout:

52513 View in the dugout

When I didn’t see anything going on in there, I decided to take pictures of the top of the visitor’s dugout:

52513 Dugout 1 52513 Dugout 2

Like I said, I was bored.

At around 5:15, Ben arrived in the stadium, so I talked to him briefly but then quickly became designated bag carrier as he made several trips in and out of the stadium to get the extra bobbleheads. At the end of his many trips, he had a ton of bobbleheads. I think he said he had gotten ten by the time he was done. I mean here are just a little over half of the bobbleheads:

52513 Bobbleheads

Normally Ben only gets two of a bobblehead; three if he really likes the player. But in this case, he came across some extra tickets that came without people wanting the bobblehead, so Ben ended up keeping seven of the ten bobbleheads for himself.

When it came time for the first game, here was my view of the action:

52513 View for the game

See the only kid in the picture on the seat all the way to the right? His name is Harrison, and he approached me during this game and asked me if I went for baseballs often. Through our talking, he remembered that he had actually first talked to me over a year ago at this game (I apologize in advance for the awful writing) and I remembered that he was the one who had taken the picture of me in my poncho outside the rotunda in the entry before this one. It turns out he is an autograph collector who has gotten 1,000+ autographs at games, and usually sits in the seats you see him in, which is how he has seen ballhawks a lot before. I ended up talking with him and some guys who arrived in the second game for the majority of the game.

In the first inning of the game (or the ninth inning, if you will) the Mets struck out to end the inning, and although I was on the outfield end of the dugout, the stands were empty enough for the resumption game that there was an empty row of seats that I managed to get to the home plate end of the dugout through, and so I got Brian McCann to toss me a ball. On my way back to my seat on the outfield end, I saw a kid with Braves gear, so I gave the ball to him.

When the first game ended, I stupidly forgot for a couple seconds that the umpires would be exiting the field, and this hesitation may have cost me a ball as I was out of position at the umpire tunnel and didn’t get a ball from the home plate umpire. The time between the games wasn’t all bad, though. It was in this time that I had pre-arranged a meet-up with fellow MLBlogger, Bryan Mapes of the popular blog, Three Up, Three Down. He was in the club level of Citi Field, but came down to meet me in the concourse of the field level:

52513 Bryan Mapes and Mateo Fischer

Despite having conversed many times over Twitter and our respective blogs, this was the first time we had ever met in person. So there’s that.

I then headed back to my seat where I enjoyed the same view–except darker–for the rest of the night despite not snagging another ball:

52513 Dugout view 1 52513 Dugout view 2

And so that was it. The Mets lost both games, which made Bryan, a Braves fan, very happy, but I pretty much just sat, enjoyed the games, and got to cross another thing off my baseball bucket list. Even if I probably never would have thought to put this exact scenario on my bucket list ever.

The Mets even had the firework that were supposed to go off the previous day go off in honor of my 1-ball performance:

52513 Fireworks

I would go back to the Bronx knowing that the next day would be just another day back at the ballpark, but with a lot more batting practice and ballhawks than I had been seeing the past two days. And I would have one mission: snag two baseballs to get to 100 all-time at Citi Field.

STATS:

  • 1 Ball at this game (not pictured because I gave it away
  • Number 524 for my “career”
  • 78 Balls in 18 Games= 4.33 Balls Per Game
  • 1 Ball x 27,622 Fans= 27,622 Competition Factor
  • 80 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
  • 98 Balls in 37 Games at Citi Field= 2.69 Balls Per Game
  • 37 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Citi Field
  • Time Spent On Game 12:02-11:49= 11 Hours 47 Minutes

Observing Baseball’s Two-Year Anniversary

Sorry it’s two days late– given October 13th was Observing Baseball’s two-year anniversary– (YouTube was giving me problems uploading it, FOUR TIMES) but this is a video tribute-type thing I did for two years of Observing Baseball. Feel free to pause the video to click the links below the video that I allude to in the video itself. The reason I wanted to celebrate this way is because I know a bunch of you have joined on in the past year. Also, sorry for the length. I prioritized having everything in there over making it watchable for people with ADD. Enjoy:

1. One-year anniversary of Observing Baseball

2. Sabermetrics (the explanation)

3. 2011 Baltimore Orioles Offseason Recap and Preview

4. Survey of Adults’ Perception of Baseball

5. Case Study on Morality in Baseball

6. 4/17/11 Rangers at Yankees: Yankee Stadium

7. 6/15/11 Cardinals at Nationals: Nationals Park

8. 7/2/11 Cardinals at Rays: Tropicana Field (100th Ball game)

9. Ballhawk Fest 2011

10. 8/9/11 Red Sox at Twins (First Shutout)

11. 8/23/11 Diamondbacks at Nationals: Nationals Park (Earthquake Game)

12. Re-view of the Preview: Kansas City Royals

13. Collected Baseball knick-knacks

14. Some Statistical Blog Stuff

15. 4/7/12 Twins at Orioles: Camden Yards

16. 4/10/12 Fordham Prep at Elmira: TicketReturn.com Field

17. Blast From The Baseball Past: 8/23/08 Dodgers at Phillies: Citizens Bank Park

18. 6/22/12 Nationals at Orioles: Camden Yards

19. 7/6/12 Rockies at Nationals: Nationals Park

20. 8/20/12 Braves at Nationals: Nationals Park

21. 9/13/12 Royals at Twins: Target Field (Trevor Plouffe home run game)

And one good thing about being two days late on this entry is I get to shoutout all of the cool people who wished me a happy birthday. Here are said cool people:

San Francisco Giants 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

So, Brian, what happened last year?

Grade: F

Notable Additions:

Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, Clay Hensley, and Ryan Theriot.

Notable Subtractions:

Carlos Beltran, Pat Burrell, Orlando Cabrera, Mark DeRosa, Bill Hall, Jeff Keppinger, Ramon Ramirez, Cody Ross, Aaron Rowand, Jonathan Sanchez, and Andres Torres.

Why?: Before I started looking at their offseason, I was one of those people who thought the Giants could seriously contend for the NL West with the Diamonbacks. Now, not so much. Sure they added a couple good people to soften the blow, but the subtraction column is just massacre. It is the combination of both an astounding quantity advantage over the additions and a substantial quality advantage over it.

Let’s go through the additions and subtractions just by what the players mean to the team, shall we? They added: two average starting outfielders, a decent reliever, and a solid infielder. They lost: an All-star outfielder, two above-average outfielders, two slightly-below-average outfielders, a decent shortstop, two power-hitting utility players, two alright relievers, and a high potential starter, who has already thrown a no-hitter. While we’re at it, you can just tack on a partridge in a pear tree.

I over-value pitching in a team more than any other person that I know, but I can’t see how the Giants will consistently win, in AT&T Park especially, with the team they have. They don’t have any ways of scoring runs repeatedly that I can see. I mean Brian Wilson should be better this season now that he is (probably) healthy, but a closer only benefits a team when they have the lead.

Predicted Record Range: 80-85 wins

Next Up: Wait, you mean I don’t have any more entries of this sort? Yipee!! I won’t be able to go to games consistently until June, so I’ll figure out some other types of entries to write, so stay “tuned”, or whatever the word is for following a blog.

Colorado Rockies 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

Last year was not a good one for the health of the Rockies:

 

Grade: C

 

Notable Additions:

Michale Cuddyer, Casey Blake, Tyler Chatwood, Tyler Colvin, Jeremy Guthrie, D.J. Le Mahieu, Guillermo Moscoso, Josh Outman, Zach Putnam, and Marco Scutaro.

 

Notable Subtractions:

Kevin Slowey, Mark Ellis, Jason Hammel, Chris Ianetta, Matt Lindstrom, Kevin Millwood, Clayton Mortensen, J.C. Romero, Seth Smith, Ian Stewart, Huston Street, and Ty Wigginton.

 

Why?: The Rockies were one of those teams that quitely made a lot of additions that really benefitted the team. None of the trades were dealbreakers in themselves, but together they added a lot to the team of last year. So why did I give them a “C”? Well, even though they added a whole lot, they lost just as much.

 

Actually, they added and lost a lot just by looking at the lists. I’m probably mistaken, but I think this entry may contain the first “three liners” in both categories. As in, both the notable additions and subtractions take up three lines of the page.

 

As for the 2012 season, it’s tough to say how it will go for them. First of all, they were bad last season, only winning 73 games. However, that is understandable with the teams they were fielding on a nightly basis. I alluded to this in the opening paragraph, but let me give you some numbers to allow you to get a better idea of how much they were missed. Their huge re-signing in Jorge De La Rosa only started 10 games, their MVP candidate of a year prior, Carlos Gonzalez, played only 127 games. Since Ubaldo Jimenez was never really the Ace of the rotation last season, it was Jorge De La Rosa that probably would have taken that role had he not been injured. So the Rockies were without their biggest contributors on both sides of the ball injured for a big chunk of the year.

 

Predicted Record Range: 73-78 wins

 

Next Up:  San Francisco Giants (Last Team!!!!!!)

Arizona Diamondbacks 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

For so many years prior, the Diamonbacks had always been the team “with the talent to break through”. Finally in 2011, under the hands of Kirk Gibson, they did break through and won the division title:

 

Grade: B

 

Notable Additions:

Trevor Cahill, Craig Breslow, Jason Kubel, and Takashi Saito.

 

Notable Subtractions:

Jason Marquis, Sean Burroughs, Ryan Cook, Collin Cowgill, Armando Galarraga, and Micah Owings.

 

Why?: Just as the Padres’ situation was a “quality over quantity” situation favoring the subtraction column, this is a “quality over quantity” situation favoring the additions. Sure there aren’t as many additions as there are subtractions, but the talent level on the addition side of the equation vastly outweighs that of the subtraction side. On the addition side you have Jason Kubel and on the subtraction side you have Sean Burroughs (who I only included, because I almost caught his first HR back from his addiction problems the day of the Virginia earthquake). You can see how this would add up to me giving them a B.

 

The Diamonbacks actually got over-shadowed this offseason in terms of being a really good team that made improvements. The two teams getting the most press in that department are the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers. I really think people should be making a bigger deal about them than they are. The scary thing is that they won as many games as they did (94) with being a flawed team. The highest batting average on the team came from Gerardo Parra, who was quite possibly the weak spot in the lineup. If guys like Justin Upton and Chris Young could have higher batting averages instead of being just power threats, there’s no telling how good this team could be. I really can’t explain how this team won as many games as they did, yet it didn’t feel flukey.

 

Also just a thing that I find interesting. Anyone remember when the Diamondbacks were about to trade Justin Upton? He was on the block and everything, but they decided to keep him. What happens to this team if he is on some other team? Just an interesting thought.

 

Predicted Record Range: 91-96 wins

 

Next Up: Left are the only two team I did vlogs for in the last series of entries

San Diego Padres 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

Lost in the Red Sox’s collapse was how well Adrian Gonzalez did on the Red Sox. Even more lost was how devastated the Padres were without him. Let us not forget, this was the team dominating the NL West for most of the season just a year prior. In 2011 however:

Grade: D+

Notable Additions:

Houston Street, Yonder Alonso, John Baker, Andrew Cashner, Mark Kotsay, Micah Owings, Carlos Quentin, and Edison Volquez.

Notable Subtractions:

Heath Bell, Aaron Harang, Mat Latos, Wade LeBlanc, Pat Neshek, Chad Qualls, and Anthony Rizzo.

Why?: While it is true that there were more “notable” players added than were lost, this seems like one of those “quality over quantity” situations. In the aggregate, the quality level of the players lost was just that much higher than that of the players gained to merit a D+ as a grade for their offseason.

 

It appears, though that the additions have a lot of potential to be integral parts. Huston Street is coming from the park most associated with being hitter friendly to the one most recognized with being a pitcher friendly park, so that can only serve to help him, as far as his statistics are concerned. Andrew Cashner are more obvious in that they are just high-potnetial prospects that could or could not pan out for the Padres. Micah Owings is a sort of double-edged sword of potnetial. The first is that he has the potential to become a great pitcher, but he is probably better known for his hitting, so if he isn’t pitching that well…hey, Babe Ruth was once a pitcher. Both Carlos Quentin and Edison Volquez are great talents that actually have shown themselves to be great players. Now it may be tougher for Quentin to do so in the monstrousity that is PETCO Park, but anyone remember when it was said that the EdisonVolquez-Josh Hamilton deal was said to be a win-win, because Hamilton and Volquez were doing so well for their respective teams?

 

The reason, though, that I gave the Padres the grade I did is that all this potential is just that, potential. The guys they lost were more consistently proven than those they gained. So it is *possible* that the subtractions show this grade to be unsure, but as of now, the additions are enough worse than the subtractions (as a whole) to earn a D+ grade. For those of you who don’t know, a C means the team gained/lost no talent, a C+ would mean they made a slight addition to the talent of the previous year, and a C- would mean they lost a bit of talent-not to be confused with potential. So if a team traded Bryce Harper for someone like Jonny Gomes, and Bryce Harper was not going to play that year, the team would probably get a C+, because Harper would not have helped their team that year anyway, but Gomes could help the team in that year. Except it would be done for all of the team’s additions and subtractions.

 

Predicted Record Range: 70-75 wins. I realize that I have the talent on the team getting worse, but I have this feeling that they were a little unlucky and shouldn’t have lost as many games as they did.

 

Next Up:

Los Angeles Dodgers 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

For the Dodgers, it was the year of the star player. First there wa Andre Eithier making noise with his big hitting streak at the beginning of the year:

Then there was Matt Kemp with extraordinary MVP-type season:

Finally, who could forget the amazing season Clayton Kershaw had that won him the Cy Young Award:

 

Grade: C+

 

Notable Additions:

(That is actually a picture from a game that I went to, I made sure it was specifically for the guest I had during that game, because he almost called a no-hitter before the game started. So, Chris, as in Cositore, if you are reading this, that picture is for you.) Chris Capuano, Todd Coffey, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston Jr., Aaron Harang, Adam Kennedy, and Matt Treanor.

 

Notable Subtractions:

Hiroki Kuroda, Rod Barajas, Casey Blake, Jonathan Broxton, Jamey Carroll, Hong-Chih Kuo,and Vicente Padilla.

 

Why?: This is a pretty sticky situation to try and decipher. No, not because of the whole “sale of the team” thing, but because the Dodgers rid themselves of two guys that, if they perform up to what the have shown previously, could make this a very bad offseason for them. Those two would be: Jonathan Broxton and Vicente Padilla. Think about it, if those guys get back to how they were not too long ago, the Dodgers would have gotten rid of a front-to-middle of the rotation starter and a bona fide closer.

 

Even outside of the offseason AND the sale of the team situation, the Dodgers are a mystery. Take Andre Eithier for example, this is a guy that we have seen hit 30 HRs in a season and drive in 100 runs before. If he does this last year, the Dodgers are probably in 2nd place in their division. He is just one example, but this team could easily be a contender in the division if all the players on their team matched what they have shown they can be. I realize that any team would be better if they did so, but it seems to apply to the Dodgers much more so than to any other team (last year the team I ascribed this trait to was the Arizona Diamondbacks).

 

Predicted Record Range: 81-86 wins

 

Next Up:

Atlanta Braves 2012 Offseason Recap and Preview

The Braves’ story of 2011 should have been their historically great bullpen back three:

Sadly, it was their semi-historically great collapse at the end of the season:

Grade: D

Notable Additions:

Nothing. They really added absolutely nothing notable to their team. They *re-signed* a couple of notable people, but they added nothing that wasn’t already on the team.

Notable Subtractions:

Derek Lowe, Brooks Conrad, Alex Gonzalez, Wes Helms, Scott Linebrink, Julio Lugo, Nate McLouth, and George Sherill.

Why?: I get the fact that I created this category and made its title the rhetorical question that it is, but honestly, I cannot imagine why anyone would ask “Why” I gave the Braves such a bad grade. They added NOTHING! In addition to that, their subtraction list is almost a two-liner. Sure they’re not franchise-makers that are on that list, which is why I didn’t give the Braves an “F”, but it’s enough to say they lost a whole lot more than they brought in, which is the qualification for a “D”.

That silly little self-responsive rant said, the Braves are a young team, whose starters are on the upswing. I mean Jason Heyward can only bounce back from his past season. Any worse and they would just have to replace him with a replacement-level player.Freddie Freeman showed amazing spouts of talent that could make him into a very good 1st Baseman, Tommy Hanson still has to show us what he can do with a full season of work, my favorite Braves player, Julio Teheran, still has to show us what made him their top prospect. I could go on but those are the major names.

What it comes down to for the Braves in the end is that they have the potential to have a VERY good rotation (Jurrjens, Hudson, Hanson, Teheran, and another), they already have the best back end -if not entire bullpen- in the major leagues (O’Flaherty, Venters, and Kimbrel), and they can have an explosive offense if their pieces come together (Jones, Uggla, McCann, Heyward, Freeman, Bourn, and Prado). This team could actually surpass their season win-total from last season this year.

Predicted Record Range: 87-92 wins

Next Up: Los Dodgers de El Pueblo Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula

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