Base Running Mistakes “Watching the Ball”

There is a time to watch the ball and a time to not watch the ball. I have seen mistakes at all levels of play and it is a pet peeve of mine. I am going to do my best to teach others the proper way to play the game. I will also give the reason why my way is the correct way.

This is real simple, if the play is in front of you, it is your decision to advance to the next base. In youth baseball the coaches almost always make the decisions on advancing to the next base. This is just fine until about the age of twelve, then there is a need to give the players some freedom on the plays in front of them. This age and up is important to teach as much instincts as possible when running the bases.

I have had numerous players in youth baseball that would watch the ball totally. This is a very frustrating situation for a coach and it can be hard to break. All you can do is to pound into the player the proper way to run the bases. The players need to be told that when you turn to watch the ball you lose foot speed.

I see this at the Major League level and it really drives me crazy! I will name a few players “Fernando Vina, Jim Edmonds, David Freese, and Albert Pujols” and you notice they are all ex Cardinals or current Cardinals.

There was a play last year that Freese was on first base. There was a pickoff and the ball was thrown down the right field foul line. Freese came back to first base and then took off for second base. On his way to second base he was watching the play develop almost to second base. He was rubber necking and had no speed on his way to second. He then decides to go to third base. Guess what he was gunned out! I wasn’t happy at all, and then Ricky Horton “Commentator” said the Cardinals are teaching the runners to do this play exactly as Freese did. This is hard to believe and by the way Horton sounded like he was on my side.

The proper way to do this play is the first base coach is yelling and pointing where the miss fired ball is and then yells for Freese to move it to second. Freese knows the ball is down the line and he is thinking third base.  He should not be watching the ball! Freese should be picking up his third base coach and is in the process of rounding the bag. The third base coach is very animated and can have the player stop, round it, or come all the way to third. If the coach has the player stop, or round the bag, he has to point to where the ball is, then the player can make his own decision. If the ball starts to squirt around the infield or if there is a bad throw he can make his own decision. On this particular play the coach should have been yelling and wheeling him to third the whole time. If this was done correctly Freese would have been safe. This is real simple and has to be taught this way.

Albert Pujols was just terrible on the base paths on this subject. Pujols would watch the ball way too much and when he did this he would lose foot speed. He had very good instincts on when to attempt to steal a base or if the play was directly in front, he usually made the right decision. There were times that he was way off on some base running decisions, but overall his instincts were good.

Vina and Edmonds were very bad at watching the play develop at the wrong time. This is so frustrating to see at the major league level. Players have to be pounded into; when you watch the ball you lose speed. I have heard baseball people say Willie Mays could watch the ball and keep himself at full speed. That is all just a bunch of bull! All players slow down a little when they have to turn to watch the ball. Teach the game the proper way!

Bob Brown

 

Oscar Taveras sent to Memphis

Everybody needs to read Bernies column first and then read my article.

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-bytes-free-oscar-taveras/article_5998bada-0e0d-565f-9186-2fa1afd8cb10.html

Bernie is not looking at the total picture on what is best for the Cardinals in 2013 and 2014. I have written before that you cannot run a team one year at a time. There are exceptions, at the trading deadline when your team is a buyer. A good example is when we traded Rasmus and was only able to keep Scrabble the next year. The Cardinals looked at this trade as a chance to get to the World Series, and it worked! We would not have won without this deal.

I hope we are able to keep Taveras down in Memphis the whole year, this means we are injury free and all of our players are playing up to their capability.

One reason is we get to control Taveras for a longer amount of time. This is real important to be able to keep an eye on your cost of running the club.

My main focus is to have us set for 2013 and beyond. We have a player in Matt Adams that can be an impact player for the Cardinals and they should do all they can to see that he can be part of the future. If you have read my other articles you are aware of my high opinion of Adams. He has a short quick bat and uses the whole field and he understands that he needs to make an improvement on defense. Adams can get 350-400 plate appearances this year if Matheny rests Holiday and mainly Beltran more than he has in the past.

Now we get to the main reason for Taveras to stay at Memphis as long as possible this year. I am really hoping he can be our center fielder in 2014.  Most of the scouts have him penciled in as a right fielder, but I read an article where a scout said that he could be a center fielder in the show at this time. I understand this is one scout versus the majority whom say he is a right fielder.  This is more of a reason for him to work hard at the AAA level to be a center fielder. If I was the coach, he would be living in center before and after games. I am really hoping he can be an above average center fielder in 2014 and beyond!

Our best lineup for 2014 has Taveras in centerfield flanked by Holiday and Craig. This will open up first base for Adams and his power bat. I have stated this before, it is important for fan favorite David Freese to have a monster year and to stay injury free. This will give the Cards more value in a trade; I am of the opinion that Freese will have a tough time staying on the field because of his health issues. He’s had both of his ankles operated on in the past.

This will open up third base for Matt Carpenter; you know how much I like him as a player. The second baseman will be Kolten Wong our number one draft choice of 2011.

I am going to stick my neck out on this player; I think Pete Kozma is the real thing! His bat is totally different from what it has been in previous years. He was like a flailing high school player in his previous times up with the Cards. He almost got let go in midsummer of 2012. I think Big Mac and Mabry did some work with him as they did for Carpenter. It could have also been the AAA hitting coach that changed him to become a better hitter. He has been a totally different hitter late in the 2012 season and in spring training this year.  I mentioned it several times last year to baseball people that he looks totally different. I said to one guy that I was shocked that he hasn’t hit better in the minors, the reason is his swing is totally different. He is now short and quick to the baseball. I am going on record and saying that Kozma is going to be an above average shortstop.

I don’t agree with Bernie, I think he is just looking at one player and not the whole picture.

Bob Brown

Wainwright: ‘This means a lot to me’

I have two links for our readers to checkout. One is an article in the Post Dispatch and the other is Baseball Reference.

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cardinal-beat/wainwright-this-means-a-lot-to-me/article_1f3295f2-dd32-50de-af5e-6fe759d4a536.html

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/wainwad01.shtml

I was on the way home last night and happened to catch The Jack the Ripper Show on Kfans out of St. Louis.  The host is the always to the point and with no bull, Jack Clark. He had on my favorite guest “The White Rat” Whitey Herzog. If you ever get a chance to listen to Whitey, go for it!

They were discussing out of numerous subjects the Wainwright situation. Whitey had the opinion that the Cardinals should wait on signing Wainwright until they see if he can get his velocity back. Before his Tommy John surgery he was throwing consistently 93-95. I agreed with Whitey on this subject, but I do believe the Cardinals feel his velocity is back or it will be  soon. I think even if he doesn’t get his velocity back, he still has the hook!

The history on Tommy John surgeries is the pitcher can come back with even more velocity than what he had before the injury. I do believe that Waino will work his tail off to get back to his former self.

I have read where the press is saying he left some money on the table to stay with the Cardinals. This is correct, but the reason that players sign a contract early is for the security in case of an injury. What if half way through the season he reinjures his arm and he had not signed the contract. He would be up a creek!  I think this is a real good deal for Adam; he gets his security and gets to remain a Cardinal for probably his whole career.

If the Cardinals would have waited until he was a free agent, they would have paid dearly or would have lost him. That is if he would have had a real good season, he would have commanded top dollar. The top dollar could have been 24-25.

This will benefit the Cardinals if he comes back and pitches the way he has in the past. There is another issue that is just as important or even more.  It is good to have a solid stud veteran at the top of the staff that will be a leader of all of our young pitchers. He will be a role model on and off the field. The torch has been passed from Morris, to Carp and now to Waino!

There is always a gamble when you sign a long term deal like this, but I believe this is a good deal for all of Cardinal Nation!

Bob Brown

Pirates Training Style Draws Scrutiny

I read this article in Baseball America a while back and I want to give my opinion on what the Pirates are doing in their organization.

I want everybody to read the article first and then read my piece.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/prospect-pulse/2012/2614542.html

I think what the Pirates are doing is just total nonsense. When I teach or watch baseball, I want to see players that have been taught the proper way to play the game. The players are going through exercises like the Navy Seals do in their training. We are trying to build baseball players that are physically fit and mentally prepared to excel at the game.

I firmly believe the best way for players to get into the best condition is to intertwine conditioning with baseball skills. I am working on another EBook that will go into great depth on what needs to be done. This will be a coaching manual that will really help your program, get to the next level.

Now back to the Pirates, I doubt very much if the players are sold on this way of training. When players are not a believer in what they are being taught or drilled, they will not give their full effort and will not be very happy!

There has been some injuries to key prospects, I wonder what the Pirate fans think of this way of training? I don’t think this will help the Pirates get out of the second division. They will be competitive in the near future because of having some good pitching prospects on the farm.

Bob Brown

 

Cardinals – Mets Game 3-24-13

Here is the situation; the Mets had a runner on second base with less than 2 outs. There was a routine ground ball to the third baseman, he looked the runner back to second and threw to first to retire the hitter. This is a real simple play except for what the runner didn’t do on this play.

What the runner did on this play was to go back to the bag and literally stand on the bag after the ball was thrown across the diamond. I was beside myself and thought this player was not taught the right way to play the game.

What the runner is supposed to do is get as far off the bag as possible and not get picked off. When the third baseman throws across the diamond to the first baseman the runner should be creeping closer to third base. This has to be done in case there is an errant throw, or a ball in the dirt. The runner could advance to third or even home.

A runner needs to always think the unexpected will happen. He has to always be in a position to advance a base, and not to play it safe.

My players knew this when they were 12 and 13! I will be concentrating a lot on the little things that the commentators will not touch, as we go forward with Big Dog Baseball USA. I will be doing a lot of my comments on twitter. I hope to be tweeting on a lot of the Cardinals games.

Bob Brown

First Baseman Wandering

I had the privilege of watching Albert Pujols hit and compete for the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols was an awesome hitter and he competed to the maximum.

I am just guessing but I think a lot of organizations are teaching the first basemen to range as far as possible to field a ground ball. Pujols was a master at wandering way over to the second base position to field a ground ball. I read that Chris Duncan said Pujols wants to win a gold glove as a second baseman. Chris is right, it was that bad! I am glad Chris had the guts to say the truth, when others were afraid to speak the truth.

Who can forget the play in the world series of 2011 when Chris Carpenter had to cover first on a play and had to dive to touch the bag? He was tumbling and touched the bag with his glove, while he was laying on the ground. All the commentators were talking about how great of a play Carpenter made. I was beside myself and was waiting for someone to talk about Pujols roaming. If you watch the play he fielded the grounder in front of the second baseman and almost threw the ball from second base! The commentators would have said something if Carpenter would have been injured. But they didn’t have the guts to say anything at the time.

Pujols would do this all the time and did create some problems. One of the problems is the pitcher has to take his lumbering self over to first base and try to coordinate this play. This play is worked a lot in spring training and then ignored the rest of the year. It is so easy for a pitcher to twist an ankle or to have a collision. Why is the first baseman going way to his right, when it would be an easy play for the second baseman? This is real hard to understand how this is the proper way to play the game!

After Pujols left the Cardinals, I did hear a couple of commentators talk about how Pujols would wander too far.  Why didn’t they comment when he was here?

I grew up watching Keith Hernandez who was a great fielding first baseman. He had a lot of range but he knew how far he had to go and where the second baseman was playing. I saw him dive and field hard hit ground balls to his right, but he never fielded a ground ball when it would have been an easy play for the second baseman.

This is the way the play needs to be taught. The first baseman has to always know where the second baseman is playing at all times. It can be different on each pitch, so he has to pay attention. He needs to know the range of the second baseman to his left. If the second baseman is shaded towards the right field foul line the first baseman knows he does not have to go as far to his right.

There is no excuse for the first baseman to wander into the second basemen’s territory! This was happening all the time with the Cardinals and Pujols. It is common sense; it is a much easier play for the second baseman.  Pujols did this all the time, and it drove me nuts.

One more point is if there is a runner on first base and less than two outs. The first baseman can go far to his right to turn the double play or at least get the lead runner. This is an easier play for the first baseman than the second baseman. The first baseman is going towards second and the second baseman is going away from the bag.

Bob Brown

Jason Motte Flexor Muscle in Elbow

The Cardinals are going to put Motte on the DL to start the season. I am just guessing this could be a 2-4 week timetable. They say at minimum a week, and then he has to go through rehab.

Mitchell Boggs is in line to close until Motte is ready to pitch. I think Boggs is a good choice to take the mound in the 9th inning. He had a shot at this a couple of years ago and had one bad outing and was sent to the bench. I think he will be up for the challenge. We have enough depth to handle this with our young power arms.

I think this could end up being a bonus for the Cardinals in 2013 or 2014. My reasoning for this is if Boggs can go out and do the job and be successful. This will raise his value to other clubs that are looking for a closer.

There will always be clubs that are going to be looking for some help down the stretch or if their closer has an injury. The Cardinals will have the hammer and will be able to get more in return for Boggs.

There is one position on the club that may be a weakness. That is at shortstop with Kozma, we will know a lot about his situation in the first two months of the season. What I would like to see out of Kozma is a solid dependable glove and a 250 average.

I saw him play in Springfield and really didn’t care for him as a hitter. He had some time on our bench in 2011 and he was not impressive at all. Then we get to late last year and spring training, he seems to be a different hitter. He now seems to have a short quick compact swing and maybe he has learned what it takes to be a hitter. It is hard to forget the 230 average in the minors, but we have to hope for the best.

The reason for bringing up Kozma is Boggs could be trade bait for a good young shortstop. What if Kozma can’t handle the job after a couple of months or after the season is over the Cardinals could make a move for highly rated young shortstop.

How about a package after the season of Freese and Boggs for the top rated shortstop in the minors Jurickson Profar with the Rangers. The Rangers have a top notch shortstop with Andruss and they could pull the trigger. The Rangers can use Boggs and Freese. I think it would be good for Freese to go to the AL and be a DH. This can only work if Boggs and Freese have monster seasons.  We will probably have to put some more icing on the cake to get Profar

I think the Cardinals will be ok with Motte out for a little while and if Boggs can pick up the slack it will benefit the team.

Bob Brown

Cardinals Spring Training

I believe smart baseball people look at their team and make decisions over minimum of a 2 year period.  This discussion will be about the Cardinals of 2013 and 2014. I will concentrate on the position players and what I think should be done to keep the team highly competitive for this year and the future.

I have seen Matt Adams play a couple of years ago in AA Springfield and came away very impressed. I have not changed my opinion and I feel even stronger, that he can be a very good Major League first baseman. At the plate he has a short quick swing with good extension. He does have a tendency to get long sometimes and to get pull happy. But I do think with a good hitting coach he can keep him focused on what is best for him. I like very much that he uses the whole field and with power. He came to camp in very good shape, and got rid of his baby fat. He knows he needs to work on his defense and I believe with some hard work, he can be average, or above.

Adams is on my team this year and will get about 400 plate appearances. His time on the field will be when Beltran and Holiday need a rest. Matheny didn’t give both of these players enough time off last year and it showed with both players. Allen Craig can relieve both Holiday and Beltran at the corners. Adams can be the DH in the games against the American League.

There is another reason to get Adams as much time on the field as possible, as trade bait. If they trade him this spring in a package deal for a quality shortstop, they will have to include one of our young pitchers. This would not be the direction the Cardinals need to go. Adams value will increase this season if he can show some good numbers.  This means the Cardinals will not have to give up a power arm

Another smart move would be to have Oscar Taveras play down in Memphis for the whole season. This time table could change with injuries, or a trade.  The reports from the scouts say he is primarily a right fielder. He played mainly in centerfield last year in Springfield, and I read that one scout said he has improved enough to play the position in the big show.  If I was the coach, Taveras would be living in center field before and after games and working on being a better center fielder.

The ideal move for the 2014 season is to have Taveras as the centerfield, flanked by Holiday and Craig. I really like Jon Jay, but in this scenario he would be your fourth outfielder, and getting 350 – 400 plate appearances. This would open up first base for Adams.

I am a big fan of Matt Carpenter! I saw him a couple of years ago in Springfield and didn’t really care for his potential as a Major Leaguer. He came to spring training in 2011 and had a good spring. I still didn’t care for him; he was just a slap hitting third baseman.  Now we go to spring training in 2012 and he got a lot of work from Cardinal hitting coach Mark McGwire and assistant John Mabry. They all worked real hard and taught him how to drive the ball to right field. It was a huge success! Carp is what I call a professional hitter; he uses the whole field and can slap the ball and also drive it over the wall or in the gaps! He also has the ability to work the count and forces the pitcher to pitch.

Matheny told him when last season was over to get a second baseman’s glove. He took a lot of groundballs from his Dad in the off season and worked his rear off! I have heard that his ability to play second base has been a success! Matt is my second baseman on the 2013 Cardinals.

Daniel Descalso will  be a very important backup at second base, shortstop, and third base. I am a fan of Descalso and would make sure he received ample playing time.

We have a second baseman at Memphis that will be ready to move up to the big club in 2014. Kolten Wong was the Cardinals number one pick in 2011, and from reports, he is the real deal. Wong is my second baseman on the Cardinals 2014 club.

Our current third baseman is David Freese a big home town fan favorite. I like Freese as a player, but he seems to be injury prone. He has had operations on both of his ankles and seems to get around tentatively. His back is now giving him problems; I do think it is a temporary setback.  I am really hoping he can stay healthy and have a monster year. There are two reasons I want him to have a monster season. Number one is to help the Cardinals to another World Series Win! The second is for him to increase his value for a trade. I think his future with his ankles and all of his other aches and pains will not keep on the field. I would trade Freese in a heartbeat, and my 2014 third baseman is Matt Carpenter! He is a natural third baseman and his upside on the diamond is greater than what Freese has to bring to the table.

The Cardinals shortstop has to be Pete Kozma, he has earned this from what he did late last season and in the post season. He has also had a very good spring and deserves to be given a shot. He is a gamble because he was just a 230 career hitter in the minors. Kozma was the Cardinals number one draft choice in 2007 out of high school. The critics said that it was a reach as he didn’t grade out on the 20-80 scale as anything above average, or at best a little above average. He was almost let loose by the club in the summer of 2012. He was playing a lot of second base in more of a utility role, down in Memphis. Ryan Jackson was the starting shortstop and a number five draft choice in 2009. Jackson is known for having a very good glove and with some punch at the plate. He came up to the big club last year and has been buried by the organization for some reason. I don’t know why, he was rated as perhaps our next shortstop.

Then you come to the catcher position with one of the best catchers in the Major Leagues! Yadi Molina is worth the price of admission to watch how he handles himself behind the plate.

Bob Brown

 

 

 

Wounded Warrior Project

I almost joined the military out of High School, but couldn’t get in because of epilepsy. I found out several years later that I did outgrow the neurological condition. If I could have enlisted I would have been a Marine.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for our Men and Women in the Military! They are doing things that few of us are willing to do. Our guys in combat never have a good day, and are there for our country.

I will give a 30% discount coupon on our hats and apparel to any of our readers that donate money on a monthly basis or gives a onetime donation of $50.00 to The Wounded Warrior Project. This is a cause that Americans cannot help enough.

Link done soon for discount!

Big Dog Baseball USA Dog Charities

I am a dog lover and have been surrounded by dogs my whole life. When I was young we lived by my Grandparents and they always had 2-3 dogs at all times. We had some names “Tina, Boots, Butch, Teeth, Midge, Whitetail, Robin hood, and Brownie” There was never a dull moment at Grandma’s house.

We moved away from Grandma and then we had Smokey a Big German Sheppard. We also had Markus, Joe, and Sam.

When I moved out of my parent’s house, and then along came Casey, Bear, Saucey, Boone, and now Bruno.

The reason I am stating all of this is to let you know that I have a love and appreciation for our four legged friends. They are there when we are sick, and have the instincts to know this and are there to comfort. We have a need of them for security, and companionship. They are working dogs for the military and police. I have seen where they are able to sniff out diseases and warn doctors, patients, and family members of problems.

I have some Dog Sites that I am fond of and I think you will be also. I am offering to give a 30% discount coupon on our Hats, and Apparel to anyone that signs up to make a monthly donation to any three of my Dog Charities. I will also do the same if you make a onetime donation of fifty dollars.

Stray Rescue of St. Louis- Randy is the main man and some of the work that his people do is quite amazing! He ventures into the rough parts of the city and rescues some abused and homeless dogs. Very few people could do what this man does in the city.

Aspca- Is another organization that is doing some real good stuff for our friends.

The Animal Rescue Site– Everybody should get signed up with this site! You can have daily reminders to click on a tab on their site. When you click on the tab, your click will provide food and care for a dog in need! This can be done every day. They have all kinds of information on their site.

Link done soon for discount!