Rick Ankiel and a Return to the Mound?

Rick came up to the Cardinals as a 19 year old left handed pitcher. The report on Ankiel before he stepped onto the field at Busch Stadium was that he had the potential to be a great pitcher. He had a fastball that ranged from the middle to the upper nineties. His curveball was real nasty and he could make veteran hitters knees buckle!

What ended up changing his career was the post season of 2000 against the Braves and the Mets. Here he is a twenty year old rookie that lost control and couldn’t find home plate. As a baseball fan, it was really hard to watch a player self destruct.

Rick could not come back and find the success that baseball people anticipated. He was wild and could not get the ball over the plate. Ankiel went to the Cardinal Brass and said he was going to retire. The management mentioned to Rick that they would give him a shot as a position player, and Rick decided to give it a shot.

Ankiel went to the minor leagues and found out he could play the game as a position player. He was a good hitter and had a cannon for an arm from the outfield.

In 2008 Ankiel played in 120 games and managed to hit 25 home runs! He looked good as a hitter and his defense was exceptional!

The success was short term and Rick started to flounder in 2009. The pitchers had found holes in his swing. He then played for several organizations and was very solid on defense but had a lot of problems hitting. I saw Rick play against the Cardinals this year and saw his flaws. It was obvious, but that is another story. He is now unemployed and his career may be over.  http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/ankieri01.shtml

The purpose of this article is to urge Rick Ankiel to start working on a return to the mound, and prepare for next year! Rick is only 34 years old and has a bazooka for an arm. I am sure he still has his nasty curve! 

Rick, I urge you to go to the mound and give pitching another shot! Can you imagine the feeling; Rick would have if we can show him that thousands of baseball fans want to see him back on the hill and dominate hitters like we all know he can!

Bob Brown

Big Dog Baseball USA is an organization dedicated to teaching, discussing, and interacting with baseball fans all across America. Our goal is to teach, explain and promote the game to the masses!

Big Dog Baseball USA will have former Major and Minor League Baseball Players as contributing writers. We are looking for players that are in business for themselves, contractors, or to write for a cause.

One person can make a difference but when you get many pulling in the same direction it can create a tidal wave of success!

 

 

MLB Home Run Baseballs Authenticated

This could be a terrific ongoing promotion for Major League Baseball Teams! This idea is a win for players, team, sponsors and most of all the baseball fans.

Imagine you are at Busch Stadium watching the Cardinals play and you are sitting in the bleachers. The Cards are down by two runs and there are runners on first and second. The Reds have the home team down to their last out. Matt Holiday is up at the plate with the count 2-2 and the fans are going crazy! The Red pitcher is Aroldis Chapman the flame throwing lanky closer. Holiday has fouled off four pitches and then all of a sudden Chapman throws a pitch down and in the middle of the plate. Holiday takes a mighty swing and the ball is hit deep to left field and it is coming in your direction. You calmly set your adult beverage in the cup holder so   not to spill it, and then you put your baseball glove on and get prepared to catch this walk off home run! The ball is coming directly to you and you confidently reach up to catch the ball “using two hands” and the ball glances off your glove and goes directly to a Reds fan three rows back!  The fans are going insane and you are happy but disappointed at not catching the baseball.

An attendant comes down to the Reds fan and asks her if she wants to have the baseball authenticated and of course she says yes even though she is not happy!

As you are leaving the stadium your buddies are giving you some verbal abuse for missing the ball hit right to your glove! They are laughing and poking fun and you half halfheartedly go along with the torment.

The game winning hit is broadcast on the local and nationwide sport stations for all viewers to see you missing the ball and your long face. The TV screen will show you over and over with the look on you face and your friends laughing hysterically at your failure!

Now we are going to get serious and discuss what can happen next with the home run baseball. The attendant will lead the fan to the authentication area on this level of the stadium. This is where the fan will meet the team employee that is trained to authenticate the baseball. The procedure will normally be done very fast because the game is usually still in progress.

The authentication will have a circular label that will go on the baseball. The label will have a serial number, Cardinals logo, date and the hitter’s name. The fan will also receive a certificate with the date, hitter, pitcher, count, inning, and the score at the time of the homer. There will also be a photo taken with the fan holding the ball and certificate. The fan will also inform the authenticator where he is from.

The team could also invite the fan and his party down to a designated area after the game to have the player autograph the ball in person. There could also be pictures taken. This would be some terrific publicity for the home team.

A sponsor can be involved and give the baseball recipient a gift certificate for their restaurant or another business. The restaurant could find a place to put the picture of the fan in their place of business, maybe close to the register.

When a home run is hit during the game it can be announced in between innings who the lucky fan was and where they are from. The field announcer can lead off with the sponsor’s name and then come in with the fan information. This will also be done on the TV and radio broadcast.

The team can charge the sponsor for advertising per home run. I would put on the big screen once a week all the winners and where they are from. The announcers would also do the same on the air.

There can be a drawing once a month for a fan to win two free baseball tickets to a future game! The drawing will be coming from the fans that are in the home run baseball promotion.

There can be a contest in November to see who will win a trip to spring training. This will take all of your home run winners to be involved. They will do a two minute or less video about why they should win the trip to spring training. The fans of the team can go online and vote for their favorite video. This is a good project to have a travel agency involved to handle the details.

This is a terrific promotion that could be put in place for a long time!  

Bob Brown

Big Dog Baseball USA is an organization dedicated to teaching, discussing, and interacting with baseball fans all across America. Our goal is to teach, explain and promote the game to the masses!

Big Dog Baseball USA will have former Major and Minor League Baseball Players as contributing writers. We are looking for players that are in business for themselves, contractors, or to write for a cause.

One person can make a difference but when you get many pulling in the same direction it can create a tidal wave of success!

 

 

Pete Rose – Betting, Steroids and Character

Growing up in the 60s and 70s a lot of young boys and adults looked up to Pete Rose and his ability to play baseball. He not only was a very good player but he gave total effort when he was on the diamond. Pete never failed to disappoint and was always very enjoyable to watch him play the game.

Rose played mainly second base, third base, left field, and first base and he did it all with a lot of  flair and high energy. He played 24 years mainly with the Reds and the Phillies. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/rosepe01.shtml

There is quite a story to tell about Pete who was born in Cincinnati on April 14, 1941. He was one of the fortunate players to be able to play major league baseball for the team he grew up supporting.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Rose

This conversation isn’t so much about baseball, because most people know the type of player that Rose was in his career. This is going to be about people and some of the bad decisions that they make in their lives. We have all made mistakes and we have to own up to them and try to correct our flaws.

I think what started baseball to crack down on any kind of gambling was the 1919 Black Sox scandal. I saw the movie Eight Men Out and need to someday read the book that the movie was derived.  Here is some good information on the Black Sox scandal of 1919.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sox_Scandal

Gambling is legal in parts of the United States and back when this was occurring, Nevada was where the action took place. It was legal for the American people or tourist to place bets on sporting events. Pete was using a bookie to place his bets that is how he got caught, with the paper trail. Here is an article that Rose admitted to only betting on his team the Reds. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2798498

 What transpired from MLB was the permanent expulsion of Rose from the game, I have always agreed with up until a couple of weeks ago. I started to weigh the different issues that have been taking place in the game, in the years since Pete has been expelled.

There was a player Steve Howe that was suspended seven times for alcohol and drug problems. Howe had so many chances to clean up that it ended up being a joke. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Howe_(baseball)

Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins got busted for possession of cocaine, hash and marijuana and only received a two week suspension. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferguson_Jenkins

Another Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda one of my favorites was busted for drugs, and was still able to enter the Hall! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlando_Cepeda

Gaylord Perry was known for being a spitball pitcher and even admitted to loading up. Everybody knew he was doing it and it was really quite comical. He got voted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaylord_Perry

Here is some more information on the spitball, and a little history.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Spitball

There have been other MLB players that had drug and alcohol problems that were able to get second chances and more.

The latest event involves former MLB player Jack Clark and current player Albert Pujols. Jack Clark makes a statement that Pujols is a steroid abuser, and now there are all kinds of accusations and denials. I have written an article discussing this issue that needs to be read.  http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/08/albert-pujols-and-jack-clark-steroids-and-the-character-issue/ This article and other links get more into the steroid and character issue.

On the steroid issue any known abuser should not be able to join the Hall of Fame fraternity! The cheaters must be kept out as they have done enough damage to the game!

I have a huge problem with liars! I don’t see how some people are able to sleep at night with how they live their lives. I was always taught and believe that when you tell a lie, God will pay you back somehow. This can mean stubbing your toe or twisting your ankle.

Rose was in complete denial for about 15 years on his gambling in baseball. I don’t see how it is possible to look a person directly in the eyes and lie! The commissioner’s office knew the truth and Pete went along with the lifetime ban. This was in essence meant that he was guilty of gambling on baseball. But he would still go out into public and say he was not involved in gambling on the game.

I believe that if Pete would have admitted from the beginning that he had a gambling problem. Then had gone out and received help and then apologize to MLB and the fans, he would have been forgiven.  I think the Hall of Fame in time would have allowed a vote and Pete would have been selected.

I think with some of the examples that I have given and a lot of players receiving second and third chances in the game, it is time for Pete Rose to come back to the game he loves! Pete when he wagered on games he only bet on his own team to win. Then he proceeded to bust his rear to win the game for the Reds.

Somebody with the love of the game like Rose would bring a lot to the table. If baseball would announce that they will allow Pete back into the game, he should take the microphone and apologize to the baseball world and say that he will make amends! He should agree to a two year probationary period to prove that he is worthy of being back in the game. He will need to donate time to youth baseball and give free appearances. After this has all been completed and Pete is in good standing, I would hope that the Baseball Hall of Fame would be open to Mr. Charlie Hustle!

Bob Brown

 

Big Dog Baseball USA is an organization dedicated to teaching, discussing, and interacting with baseball fans all across America. Our goal is to teach, explain and promote the game to the masses!

Big Dog Baseball USA will have former Major and Minor League Baseball Players as contributing writers. We are looking for players that are in business for themselves, contractors, or to write for a cause.

Would Cards trade Taveras for Profar?

This would not be a good deal for the Cardinals. We have a chance to have a very good lineup in 2014 if Taveras can be an above average center fielder.I have been seeing reports that his defense in center is improving! If I was coaching him, he would be living in center field before and after games! I have written several times about what the Cards need to do on this subject. I think they are seeing what needs to be done as they see the potential of Adams. I think Baseball America and other ratings organizations are wrong in their ratings of Adams. They rate him high but not as high as some other players. I was shocked with the long term deal that Texas gave Andruss. I like Andruss but Texas could have owned a younger player with a higher ceiling for the future. I thought we would be trying to deal for Andruss, Texas did not make a good decision. I like Kozma, his hitting technique has changed and I think he can be a 260-270 hitter with good speed and an above average shortstop. I think Cardinal fans will be happy with Kozma. If I am wrong there are highly rated shortstops in the minors that we can deal for with some of our strengths. Read the link from the St.Louis Post.  http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/would-cards-trade-taveras-for-profar/article_383d65bc-3b76-5ea8-83bc-c4041230f326.html

Bob Brown

Discussion Mike Matheny Letter to Parents

Mike is a man of strong character and is sharing his strong ethics with the players that he is coaching. I agree with about 80% of what he has stated in the letter to parents. I will give my opinion on a couple of issues that I think Mike might understand.

When I was in the dirt with my players, I had very few problems with any parents. The ages of the boys that I was given the responsibility of coaching were between the ages of 12-15. Before that I was on a staff of other coaches and worked mainly with my son Jeff.

I had a parents meeting with a handout and I explained the rules similar to what Mike says on the responsibility of the players and the parents. I had my parents directly involved with my program and they were part of the success. The team needed the help on fundraisers and travel arrangements. We were a baseball family and with the help of my coaches and associate coaches we were a formidable bunch. We were not a tryout team like a lot of the travel teams in St. Louis. I had all local boys and we won a lot and were always able to win or compete against the cherry picked teams.

My concern with Mike is on the issue of emotions. I can’t see a player that is a competitor that is busting his rear on the diamond cannot show emotion. I would teach my players that when you make a tag, you have to sell it. I am a huge competitor and most young athletes are the same way. If there is a play at second base and the runner is definitely out, for the player to not show emotion is ridiculous! What needs to be done is for the coach to let the players show emotion but not to show up the umpire, by arguing. The players will never argue with the umpires, the player can say “I got him” and then walk away and let the coach take care of the situation. That is what the good coach is for, and he needs to approach the umpire in a firm way and say I think you missed the call. Then smile and listen to what he says and then walk back to the dugout. I think this is the perfect way to run a youth team on this subject.

This level of baseball in my opinion is strictly about player development. I told my players and parents that I was getting my players ready for high school and beyond. I was not as concerned about the umpires’ calls as I was more concerned about playing the game the right way.  We had a play that my third baseman dived to his left and threw from his knees over to first; the ball was in the dirt but scooped up. The umpire said the runner was safe. My coaches went nuts, I calmed them down real fast and said Ross and Brett did everything the correct way. It was real good baseball!

I can’t imagine fans at a baseball game being silent and not yelling support to the players. I would not expect my parents or fans to act this way at a game. What should not be tolerated is any arguing from the stands with an umpire or verbally abusing the other team. When I was in the dirt, I always handled the umpires and always had respect from the men in blue. Head coaches you need to understand you are in charge of keeping your whole baseball family under control. I can’t imagine “Come on, let’s go, you can do it”adds more pressure to the player. I think this is showing support for the player and team. I can’t imagine being at a baseball game and not hearing fans supporting the players.

Mike also writes about the lost of respect because the kids hear their parents complaining about the teachers or coaches. Mike goes on to say that his dad taught him that the coach is always right, even when he is wrong. I do not agree with this at all, I wouldn’t want my son to be a yes person robot to not think for himself and agree with a coach that is wrong. I think we need to have more people to stand up and say what is right and what is wrong.  I have to say, this is one of the reasons I started this business was to improve the coaching at all levels. I think the game of baseball should be played a lot better, and the reason it is not better, is because of poor coaching. I see so many mistakes at the major league level that should not be happening. I am talking about the little things and also basic stuff that major league players should know. I have a lot of old timers that feel the same way I do on this subject.

In conclusion we need baseball coaches that are hard working, honest, responsible, and really know how to teach the game. Mike is one of these coaches and I just disagree with him on the emotions of the game.

Mike Matheny Letter to Parents

Bob Brown

Yankees are a Second Division Team

I was watching the Yankee game last night before the Cardinals game. The Yankee fans are going to have a long season. It is going to be brutal for the followers of the pinstripes! The team has aged and management has not done what is necessary to keep the team competitive by bringing in younger players.

The DL is packed with old injured players that are past their prime. ARod is out for 4-6 months after hip surgery. Derek Jeter, Phillip Hughes, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira are all on the disabled list. Teixeira has a strained right wrist problem and will be out for quite a while. Jeter is recovering from a left ankle surgery, and Granderson has a fractured right forearm and both will be out for a while.

The Yankees have picked up Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells, Ichiro and Lyle Overby. These players are all well past their prime and should not be counted on to get the Yankees in the playoffs. I am looking at the rest of the roster and see a lot of problems on all fronts!

They are going to have a terrible time this year and in the near future. This is totally a management problem that was caused by not turning players over and over paying with huge and lengthy contracts. I don’t think they can buy themselves out of this situation.

The one thing they have going is Baseball America gives the Yankees a number 11 ranking for the prospects in their system. Here is what BA has to say about the Yankee prospects.

11. New York Yankees
2012 Rank: 13th. 2011 Rank: 5th.
Top 10 Prospects
1.Mason Williams, of (32)6.Brett Marshall, rhp
2.Gary Sanchez, c (57)7.Angelo Gumbs, 2b
3.Slade Heathcott, of (63)8.Manny Banuelos, lhp
4.Tyler Austin, of (77)9.Ty Hensley, rhp
5.Jose Campos, rhp10.Rafael DePaula, rhp
How They Got Here: In Williams, Sanchez, Heathcott and Austin, the Yankees have some quality replacements on the way for the lineup—but they’re not going to be ready in time to help this year. Many of their top pitching prospects (Campos, Banuelos, Hensley) have health questions that detract from their upside.
High-Ceiling Sleeper: While RHP Bryan Mitchell has been slow to live up to his $800,000 bonus as a 16th-round in 2009, both his fastball and hard curveball are plus-plus pitches at times.

2013 Rookies: New York is bereft of catching after Russell Martin’s departure and could turn to C Austin Romine. RHP Mark Montgomery’s nasty slider has destroyed minor league hitters (14.6 strikeouts per nine innings) and could win him a bullpen assignment.I think it is going to take some time for the Yankees to be able to compete for the division. I think Toronto will be the top dog in the division this year, with the fire sale of prospects and bringing in some quality veterans. They are counting on going for the big prize over the next couple of years. Here is what BA reports on the Blue Jay farm system and how they have fallen in the prospect rating. 

22. Toronto Blue Jays
2012 Rank: 5th. 2011 Rank: 4th.
Top 10 Prospects
1.Aaron Sanchez, rhp (65)6.Daniel Norris, lhp
2.Marcus Stroman, rhp (98)7.Matt Smoral, lhp
3.Roberto Osuna, rhp8.Anthony Alford, of
4.D.J. Davis, of9.A.J. Jimenez, c
5.John Stilson, rhp10.Tyler Gonzales, rhp
How They Got Here: The Blue Jays were building one of baseball’s best farm systems until they changed course and went all-in to contend in 2013. They gave up three quality prospects (OF Jake Marisnick, LHP Justin Nicolino, INF Adeiny Hechavarria) to acquire Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from the Marlins, then sent two more (C Travis d’Arnaud, RHP Noah Syndergaard) to get R.A. Dickey from the Mets.
High-Ceiling Sleeper: SS/OF Franklin Barreto, signed for $1.45 million out of Venezuela last summer, dominated international amateur competition with his polished bat and plus-plus speed.
2013 Rookies: Banking on veterans, Toronto doesn’t have any obvious rookie candidates. Stroman, the 22nd overall pick last June, has the stuff to get to the big leagues quickly but must serve a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a stimulant.

Bob Brown

 

Central Division 2013

When it comes to the central division race in 2013 it will be a horse race between the Cardinals and the Reds from Cincinnati. The Brewers should be a distant third and the Pirates have a chance to be in the first division for the first time in many years, should follow the Brewers.  The Cubs will be in the cellar.

I will be concentrating on the top two clubs in the division because of all the work; I still need to get done on my business. Next year I will do my prediction on all of Major League Baseball.

I am going to go through each position and rate each starter on his defense and offense. Then we will decide on which team is the best at each position.

First baseman

Reds– Joey Votto is the main man in Cincinnati, he is the real deal! I think he is an excellent power hitter that uses the whole field. He is very difficult to pitch to, and is a professional hitter. The only negative is the condition of his surgically repaired knee. Votto is a capable first baseman and will always give a total effort.

Cardinals– Allen Craig is another professional hitter that uses the whole field. I saw him a couple of years ago in the AAA all star game and you could tell he was going to be a good hitter. Craig is an excellent hitter that thrives in the clutch. This position could open up to Matt Adams if a gimpy Beltran can’t answer the bell. Craig can play right field or left field adequately. Adams should get a minimum of 300 at bats when Matheny rests Holiday and Beltran. He will also get more playing time with the DH. The defense with both of these players are average at best.

Conclusion-There are so many variables with all the players involved, is Vottos knee sound and is Beltran able to play 140 games.  Here is an article on the condition and latest on Votto. I am going to give the edge to the Reds at first base.

Second baseman

Reds– We start with the Cardinals favorite Red, Brandon Phillips. I say that tongue in cheek! Phillips is a fan favorite in Cincinnati; he is very approachable and does a lot for the community. On the field he is a serious threat at the plate to drive the ball and get the extra base. His OBP is not as good as it should be, because he rarely walks. In the field he is an excellent second baseman that turns the double play well and has a lot of range.

Cardinals– Matt Carpenter or Daniel Descalso it all depends on the health of injury prone David Freese. Carpenter is a favorite of mine and has been in the process of learning to play second base since the last game of 2012. My reports are that he is doing an adequate job and will improve with time. For more information on Carpenter go to some earlier Cardinal articles where I go into more detail. Descalso was having a poor season in 2012 until he got in the cage with Big Mac and John Mabry. They worked him real hard and found he was not following all the way through with his swing. After some work Daniel started to drive the ball like he did in 2011. He was an excellent late inning clutch hitter in 2011. The defense with Carpenter will be average at best and Descalso is above average.

Conclusion– I give the Reds the advantage because of the defense of Phillips and he has more of a history than the Cardinals players. The Cardinals need to keep Freese healthy so we can have the professional bat of Carpenter in the lineup.

Shortstop

Reds– Zack Cozart is the Reds shortstop and is a capable player. There is no real flash or anything that really sticks out. There is one thing that caught my eye is how can you hit 15 home runs and have only 35 runs batted in. He has way too many strike outs and not close to enough walks. His OBP is not good at all.

Cardinals– Pete Kozma was the Cardinals # 1 draft choice of 2007. When he was drafted the majority opinion on Kozma was the Cardinals had reached on this pick. His skills were rated as average or just above. His minor league record has been mainly disappointing and the Cardinals almost dropped him from the organization last summer. I have not been impressed with his talents in ST. Louis or in the minors. But something happened in late 2012 and spring training of 2013. His hitting stroke was refined and he now has a short, quick and compact swing. I don’t know who was responsible for working with him, Big Mac, Mabry, or the AAA hitting coach. When I first saw him last year, I mentioned to a baseball man that he looks like a totally different hitter. It was very obvious; he does not try to do much and is very short to the ball. I am going out on the limb, I think Kozma will be an above average shortstop for the Cardinals and the fans will be pleased!

Conclusion-I give the definite edge to the Cardinals because of the new Kozma.

Third baseman

Reds- Todd Frazier played third most of the time in 2012 because Rolen was injured for most of the season. Rolen is no longer with the Reds and is retired, or very close to calling it a career. Frazier is now the Red third baseman and it will be interesting to see how he follows up a good 2012 season. Todd seems to have some power but he needs to improve his OBP and get some more walks.

Cardinals– David Freese is the Cardinal World Series hero of 2011 and local boy. The problem with Freese is the injuries; he has had both ankles operated on and is now on the DL with a bad back.  I have stated before is what the Cardinals need is a monster season from Freese and then a trade. I do not see him staying on the field for 150 games a season during the rest of his career. The Cardinals have the position covered with Carpenter and they also drafted three third baseman in the first two rounds, of the 2012 draft.

Conclusion– I give the edge to the Cardinals because I think Freese and Carpenter have a higher ceiling. I looked at the minor league career of Frazier and have determined he will not be an impact player.

Left Field

Reds-It looks like to me the Reds are going to have ex Cardinal Ryan Ludwick as their regular and Chris Heisey filling in as the fourth outfielder. Ludwick had a monster of a season with the Cardinals in 2008 and then was traded to the Padres in 2010. Since the trade away from the Cardinals, Ludwick has had a couple of bad seasons. He bounced back last year with a good season for the Reds and was rewarded with a two year contract and a mutual option for 2015. Ryan is a good baseball player that will bust his rear on the diamond. He can be pitched to and has some holes in his swing. He is a very good defensive outfielder with a good arm.

Cardinals– Matt Holiday is a good baseball player and can hit the ball as hard as anyone. Matt is what I call a driver and not so much a home run hitter. He will get his home runs but he will hit a lot of real hard singles and doubles. His stats were elevated when he played for the Rockies, but with the Cards you can figure 25-30 home runs, about a 300 average and about 100 runs batted in. He is rated as above average on defense in left field.

Conclusion– The Cardinals have a pretty good edge at the left field position.

Center field

Reds- Shin-Soo Choo is the new Red center fielder replacing wiff king Drew Stubbs. “I would love to work with him” I do not know much about Choo, he played for the Indians and was a pretty decent player.

Cardinals– Jon Jay is the Cardinal center fielder for 2013 and is one of my favorites! He is a very sound player on the fundamentals and is a good teammate. For some reason Jay was an awesome hitter at home but was terrible on the road in 2012. In 2011 he hit a little bit better on the road, than at home. Jay is a slap hitter that uses the whole field and can hit the left-handers as well as the right-handers. He does have the ability to nail one over the fence from time to time. He is a well above average center fielder and always goes all out and is never in the wrong position or throws to the wrong base. He is just a good baseball player.

Conclusion– I have to give the nod to Choo and that is just by the past stats from Choo when he played for the Indians.

Right Field

Reds– Jay Bruce is a power hitting outfielder with a very good arm. He will make some errors but will also throw out a lot of runners going for the extra base. His batting average is usually around 250, but it is a hard hitting 250. Bruce is just twenty six years old and I expect him to become an even better hitter over a period of time.

Cardinals– Carlos Beltran is a gimpy leg right fielder that is just a shadow of his old self. He is a huge liability in right field and I expect to see a change at the position real soon. He was gimpy last year and now he has a broken toe. This position soon will go to future star Oscar Taveras or Allen Craig and then insert Matt Adams at first base. I prefer the latter because of my desire to work Taveras to be a centerfielder.

Conclusion– This position has to go to Bruce. There is a good chance this will change when the Cardinals move Beltran out of right field. The best place for Beltran to continue his career is in the AL as a DH!

Catching

Reds-The Reds have a share situation with Ryan Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco. They are both capable catchers though the Reds are hoping that Mesoraco will be their long time catcher for the future.

Cardinals– Yadier Molina is an excellent catcher and has been a very good hitter the last two years. He reported to camp in great shape and was a little lighter. He was always a little plump but he is now in very good playing shape. If Yadi continues in the direction he is going, he will be a Hall of Famer!

Conclusion– Molina is the winner at the catching position hands down!

Pitching

Reds- All that is needed is for this article to be read. The Reds are extremely talented on the mound and have quality on the whole staff. http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/sports/baseball/reds/the-reds-have-the-best-pitching-staff-in-baseball

Cardinals– The Cardinals have a very young and talented pitching staff. The starting staff is lead by Adam Wainwright who has just signed a five year extended contract for the big bucks. The rest of the starting staff features, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook, and Shelby Miller. The rest of the staff is young but very talented. The Cardinals closer is Jason Motte, but he will be sidelined for a while with elbow problems. Next in line to close is Mitchell Boggs, who was the eighth inning man last year. I think he will handle the job but if he falters they have Trevor Rosenthal in the wings. He is a stud that throws in the upper nineties and will nail one hundred miles per hour at times. Then you add in a nasty curve and you have a potential lights out on the opposition in the 9th inning.

Conclusion– The Reds are the winners when it comes to pitching. I think the Cardinals staff will be good but the veterans and the talent of the Reds gives them the edge over the Cardinals.

Prediction– The teams split on the position players, with only a big edge at catcher for the Cardinals. The other positions were close and with some circumstances like right field. The rating could change over to the Cardinals if Craig needs to be moved to the right field position. I give a slight edge to the Reds because of their superiority on defense and on the hill. This should be a real close race for the top spot. The Cardinals could gain on the Reds if they see that Beltran has no business in right field. If Beltran cannot get better in the field. The move to make would be to bring up Oscar Taveras and hope that he can play a solid center field. Adams would be at first, Craig in right field and Jay would be the 4th outfielder. Beltran needs to be sent to the AL for his benefit and the Cardinals. He will have some value in the AL and the move could extend his baseball career.

UPDATE

Ryan Ludwick will be out for 12-16 weeks with a dislocated shoulder! Chris Heisey will replace Ludwick. This will help the Cardinals, but I think with the pitching of the Reds, they should win the division.

Bob Brown