Tag Archive | "MLB"

Hello Win Column!


I have been looking into adding some regular posts and figured I would start with a segment I will call, Hello Win Column!  This will be a periodical look at the standings, power rankings, and other things such as great wins.

This week I thought I would take a look at the standings for the first 36 games (22.2% of the season).  So let’s go through division by division and see where the surprises and disappointments are.

AL East

I think here we have one of the biggest surprises so far.  The Tampa Bay Rays are not only in first place, but have the best record in baseball.  Now don’t get me wrong, in no way is them having a good record surprising.  I think everyone felt this team would contend, but I don’t think they thought this team would play this good so far.  The Yankees are right behind the Rays which is not surprising, but the order of the next two teams is.  Toronto, with hot hitting Vernon Wells, is in 3rd while Boston is struggling around .500 in 4th.  The Red Sox are scoring runs, but giving up more.  And with little fanfare the Orioles are in the basement of the East with the worst record in baseball.

AL Central

Before the season I felt this division was wide open.  So far it is a two team race that could come down to the wire.  Right now the Twins lead Detroit by 1.5 games.  This could stay like this for most of the year, but don’t count out Chicago getting back in the race later on in the season.  I wouldn’t put must stock into K.C. or Cleveland as they will vie for the cellar here.

AL West

Another wide open race to begin the year, it is shaping up to be a three team race.  It could be wide open come summer with all four teams looking to take the division, but I don’t see Seattle getting back in it.  Right now the Rangers lead the West by 2 over Oakland.  I look for the Rangers to win this division, but it should be a good race all year long.

NL East

Philly is the class of the division here.  I am not sure what is more surprising, Atlanta in last place or Washington in 2nd.  I don’t think the Braves will end up in the cellar, at least not with the Mets in the division.  Philly is clearly the head of the class here and should have no real issues winning the East.

NL Central

One of the bigger surprises in the NL is Cincinnati.  They trail the Cardinals by only .5 game.  In the long run I think the Cards will take the Central, but it will be a fun summer if the Reds can make it a race in the end.  They are young and exciting to watch.  Mike Leach is on his way to a great season.  I would say ROY if Jason Heyward wasn’t in the race as well.  No big surprise that the Astros, Cubs, Pirates, and Brewers aren’t in the race for now.  Unless there are some changes I don’t see any of them contending.

NL West

The biggest surprise in the NL to me is the Padres leading the West.  I think everyone thought that the Dodgers and Giants would compete for the division here. The Dodgers are on a winning streak, but have lost one of their better players to a broken finger in Andre Ethier.  In the end this division will be wide open.  Look for the Dodgers, Rockies, Padres, and Giants to all contend.  In the end I like the pitching of the Giants, but don’t count anyone out.

I look forward to the next month and a half to see where we are come All-Star break.  I do think we will see some changes in the division leaders by then.  It is shaping up to be a great summer of baseball.

For those of you who didn’t grow up listening to Ranger games, the title of this may not have much meaning.  Mark Holtz was the radio play-by-play announcer from 1982 to 1994, then he moved into the television booth until 1997.  After every Ranger win, Holtz would display his signature phrase, “Hello Win Column!”

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When Will Congress Stop?


Time to get up on my soapbox for a moment.

I saw this article the other day and was furious when I read it.  Congress looking into smokeless tobacco use

Let me start by saying that I do not use tobacco in any form, but since when is it Congress’ job to decide who does?  Are there not bigger issues to worry about?  Our country is headed downhill in a hurry and these boneheads are worried about what children might think if they see a MLB player using tobacco.  Shouldn’t they be more concerned about educating them?  Maybe teach them the effects of the products so they won’t use it instead of forcing professional athletes not to use it because little Jimmy might want to try it.

There is a bigger issue at stake if that is the case and it starts at home.  I can understand the steroids use and Congress wanting something to be done about it.  But there is a bigger issue there, steroids are illegal.  They are so concerned about the kids looking up to pro athletes and not so concerned that little Jimmy’s father might take him to a game and get drunk.  Should we ban beer next?  Why not educate people instead?

Tori Hunter points makes a good point.  What about the people in the homes that are using the same smokeless tobacco?  Are you going to ban them from using it?  Maybe we should concentrate on being better parents so the kids will look up to them instead of the ballplayers.  Or maybe I was just blessed with parents that truly cared about what I did and became.  There are so many problems in our country and a lot of them could be solved if we simply got in touch with the kids.  Teach them what is right and wrong and be a role model for them so they don’t have to go looking for a role model elsewhere.

I am stepping down off my soap box now.  What are your thoughts on the issue?

Congressional Seal

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Baseball Salaries vs Values


I was recently sent a story from Forbes about the value of MLB teams, and I started to wonder how that list corresponded to the salary list.  So let’s take a look at the top 10 most valuable MLB franchises according to Forbes.

Top 10 MLB Team Values

Home Plate at the Ballpark in Arlington

  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. New York Mets
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Chicago Cubs
  6. Philadelphia Phillies
  7. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  8. St. Louis Cardinals
  9. San Fransisco Giants
  10. Chicago White Sox

The top 5 on the list out distance the rest of the clubs by a long shot.  The Yankees weight in at $1.6 billion with the Red Sox in 2nd at $870 million.  A big drop off is seen after #5.  The Cubs come in at $726 million, but there is nearly a 200 million drop off to #6 in Philadelphia. So how does this translate to salary levels?  Below is the top 10 MLB salaries according to cbssports.com.

Top 10 MLB Team Salaries*

*bold teams on both lists
  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox
  3. Chicago Cubs
  4. Philadelphia Phillies
  5. New York Mets
  6. Detroit Tigers
  7. Chicago White Sox
  8. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  9. Seattle Mariners
  10. San Francisco Giants

Only 2 teams valued in the top 10 by Forbes are not on the list of the top 10 salaries for 2010 (Los Angeles Dodgers & St. Louis Cardinals).  The Dodgers come in at #12 on the salary list, while the Cardinals come in at #13.   The Seattle Mariners (#14 on the Forbes list) and the Detroit Tigers (#22 on the Forbes list) are the only teams not in the top 10 of value that are in the top 10 in salary.

So we can see that the majority of the highest valued teams also have the highest payrolls, but it is the same with the lower valued teams?

Bottom 10 MLB Teams in Value according to Forbes

  1. Baltimore Orioles
  2. Detroit Tigers
  3. Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Cincinnati Reds
  6. Toronto Blue Jays
  7. Florida Marlins
  8. Tampa Bay Rays
  9. Oakland Athletics
  10. Pittsburgh Pirates

This really isn’t too surprising a list.  Most of these teams have not won for many years.  Despite a few having new stadiums, more are playing in older parks built at least 15 years ago.  But how does it translate to salaries.

Bottom 10 MLB Teams in Salary*

*bold teams on both lists
  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Washington Nationals
  4. Cleveland Indians
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks
  6. Florida Marlins
  7. Texas Rangers
  8. Oakland Atletics
  9. San Diego Padres
  10. Pittsburgh Pirates

Most of the teams down at the bottom of Forbes list in terms of value are on the list of the lowest payrolls.  I find it interesting to see how the two list compare with one another.  For the most part a team with low value has low payroll and vice-versa.  There are however exceptions to the rule.  Detroit is a lower valued team but is spending.  The Texas Rangers are a higher valued team (#12) but are not spending much on payroll.  Of course, they are going through an ownership change that can’t come quick enough.  There will always be exceptions, but as a general rule it looks as though the higher the value team, the more spent on payroll.

Perhaps the most telling sign is the difference between the Yankees at #1 and the Pirates at #30.  The Yankees payroll comes in at just over $206 million, while the Pirates top out at just under $35 million.  When you break it down per player that is $8.2 million to $1.2 million.  There are all sorts of stats that simply blow you away like how the top 4 individual player salaries are all Yankees.  Their salary added up for this year is more than 21 teams.  I really can’t think of how that is good for baseball.

So, does this money spent translate into wins?

The biggest favorites for a World Series title this year come from the teams that are on the list of the higher payrolls.  Looking at possible playoff teams from the lower third of the payroll, you can still find one or two possible playoff teams, but none that you would expect to contend for a World Series title.   This has got me thinking about what teams have won in the playoffs being in the bottom third of league salary levels.  I am going to do some research and get back to you on that.

What are your thoughts on these lists?  I have some more thoughts on salaries, but I will save that for later.

The two lists that I used.

The Forbes.com List of Baseball Team Values

CBSsports.com MLB Salaries List

20. Kansas City Royals $72,267,710 $2,491,990
21. Tampa Bay Rays $71,923,471 $2,663,832
22. Toronto Blue Jays $62,689,357 $2,089,645
23. Washington Nationals $61,425,000 $2,047,500
24. Cleveland Indians $61,203,967 $2,110,482
25. Arizona Diamondbacks $60,718,167 $2,335,314
26. Florida Marlins $55,641,500 $2,060,796
27. Texas Rangers $55,250,545 $1,905,191
28. Oakland Athletics $51,654,900 $1,666,287
29. San Diego Padres $37,799,300 $1,453,819
30. Pittsburgh Pirates

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First Game of 2010


I am sitting on a bus with an older man standing behind me, and all I can think about is how bad he needs a shower.  This was not the way I wanted to start such an important day.

I get up at 11 am and immediately check to see if my camera batteries are charged.  I hear the day going by outside my window, but all I can think about is a hot shower.  I need to get moving because today is a big day.  It’s the first weekend of baseball, and today I am going to see my first game for the year.  First things first though, I look for breakfast.

I head for the bus stop after I stop at Dunkin Donuts for my customary weekend blueberry bagel.  I have my iPod blaring some Jimmy Buffett, and I wait for the bus to take me to the park for the days festivities.  I have been looking forward to this for a few months now, and the excitement continues to build.

As I make the 30 minute trip downtown to the stadium, I can’t help but notice the smell of the gentleman behind me.  I tune it out as best I can.  The anticipation of seeing my first Korean baseball game overrides even the bad B.O. that waifs through the bus.  I arrive near the stadium, and I walk toward the park so giddy I feel like I am skipping.  A young boy walks up next to me and smiles.  I ask him if he likes baseball, and he just smiles.  I doubt he speaks any English.  Today I feel like I am a little boy again going to his first game.  I walk along the road with the sun beating down on my neck, and I can’t help but think about how far I have come in a year.

I remember arriving at the ballpark hoping and praying the rain would stay away.  The weather was not looking good for baseball that day.  I was very excited about finally getting to see Opening Day in Atlanta, home of the Braves.  The weather held off for several hours, and our seats were just under the edge of the overhang in the upper deck.  So there was a slight chance that even with some rain, we might not get too wet.

As the game wore on, the weather slowly turned.  A light rain began to fall, but in the distance the black sky was moving closer.  Then suddenly the sky opened and the downpour began.  Everyone started running for cover as the rain got harder.  We made our way down underneath the stands and started walking around getting a better look at Turner Field. I was a little saddened that I had finally made it to Opening Day in Atlanta, only to have it storm.  The game was postponed in the 4th inning, and would be for just over 2 hours.  By the time they resumed play, my friends and I had made it back to the house to finish watching the Braves win in extra innings on TV.

Today there is no TV, just a beautiful spring day.  We watch the game from behind a section down the right field line, and I boo and cheer with every crack of the bat.  Spring is a beautiful time of year.  It’s a time of rebirth, and a time for baseball.  I realize today that while I am still a stranger in a strange land, for a  few hours we are all cheering for the same team.  I feel the game of baseball brings me a little bit closer to the Koreans I am cheering with.  We may cheer in a foreign language to the other, but I have a feeling we are saying the same things.  A home run is hit, and I give a little nod to a man nearby.  Baseball helps bridge our language gap for this one day.  I really enjoy the experience of today as I walk away from the park.  Thomas and I call over a cab.  It carries us toward our dinner destination, and I can’t help but think of where I might be next year on Opening Day.

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Spring is in the Air and So is Baseball


So the other day I am looking over some stories from MLB Spring Training, and I am getting excited about the new additions to my two favorite teams the Braves and Rangers.  The Braves have fallen on hard times after 14 straight division titles, and the Rangers have struggled for some time to make the playoffs.  Will this be the year they get back to the promised land?

This winter the Braves made a few changes with some notable additions and one notable subtraction.  Gone in a trade with the Yankees is Javier Vasquez.  In return the Braves picked up Melky Cabrera and a few pitching prospects.  Most notable is Arodys Vizcaino a top pitching prospect in the Yankees farm system.  The Braves had an arm to spare with Hudson returning to action.  Vazquez had a great season last year, but with one more arm than needed the Braves had wiggle room to make a deal.  The rotation still looks solid with Lowe, Hudson, Jurrjens, Hanson, and Medlen/Kawakami battling it out for the 5th spot. 

What the Braves needed last year was offense and power to be specific.  Hopefully with the additions of Glaus, Cabrera, and Hinske the Braves will have a little bit more power.  Cabrera has the potential to put up around 20 HRs.  If Glaus can stay healthy and get back near his old form, he will provide the much needed protection to Chipper in the cleanup hole.  The addition of Hinske shouldn’t be overlooked either.  He is a solid role player who can fill in at different positions and provide some power off the bench.  Add in a young Heyward who might make the team out of spring training and this could be an exciting season.

I am really excited about the prospects for the Braves this year.  Some of our key players are getting a bit old though and need to stay healthy.  A nice rebound year for Chipper is a key as well and if he can get someone hitting behind hime again, I think that is exactly what we will see.

The Rangers made some interesting moves in the AL as well.  Adding the biggest Ranger killer of them all over the past decade in Vladimir Guerrero  was a good start.  He is relegated to DH duty now with bad knees but he can still hit and will provide some protection in the middle of the order.  With Marlon Byrd now a Cub, the Rangers are still looking at a crowded outfield.  With the speedy Borbon in CF, Hamilton in LF, and Cruz in RF the Rangers look like they have a solid foundation.  Add in a nice lefty in Murphy and Ron Washingon will have plenty of players to spread ABs to.  Offensively I am confident in the Rangers.  Michael Young is coming off one of his best seasons.  Kinsler looks to rebound and won’t be saddled with hitting leadoff the entire season.  Elvis Andrus is only going to get better, and Hamilton now has some protection behind him in Bad Vlad.  There are still some questions with health in Hamilton, and a question of how will Chris Davis rebound from last season.  If Davis can continue to hit like he did after his call up late last year, he will be a solid addtion to the bottom of the order. 

The pitching staff is another question all together.  I like where they are headed, but I am not sure they are where they need to be just yet.  How will Feldman hold up under the preasure of being the Ace?  And how will everyone else fall in behind him?

I was really looking forward to watching some games online via MLB.com, but I was really disappointed when I found out that South Korea is one of only a few countries that live games are blackedout in.  I can still watch them as archived games, but not sure I can go 12 hours and not know the scores.  I’ll have to see what other alternatives I have to watching games.

Less than 3 weeks till opening day in Korea, and 4 weeks till the first pitch in the MLB.  Spring is in the air and it’s almost time to hear those 2 little words that mean so much, “Play Ball!” 

‘Till next time,

The Baseball Journeyman

TBJM

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There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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