The Week That Was in Baseball: March 26-April 1, 2012
Baseball's "Midnight Special" Season Opener • Who's Ready and Not for 2012
Frank McCourt, Billionaire • Ubaldo Jimenez and Troy Tulowitzki's Rockie Reunion
A Series Only the Graveyard Shift Could Love
So now we reveal it all, beating Geraldo Rivera to the punch and exposing the truth behind baseball’s Stealth Series. The Mariners and A’sthe two teams expected to battle it out for the AL West basement this seasonsplit a pair of games in what was MLB’s fourth journey into Japan to get an early headstart on the year. In the opener, Seattle’s Ichiro Suzukitrying to shake away a rare offseason in 2011collected four hits to help the Mariners to a 3-1, 11-inning victory; the A’s evened the score the next day when they defeated the Mariners, 4-1, in a game that featured the first home run by heralded Cuban export Yoenis Cespedes.Seriously (this time, we mean it), MLB opened in Japan to maintain international exposure as and spread alms to a country still reeling from the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear contamination of a year ago. It all’s good, except perhaps next time MLB should attempt to generate a bit more interest within the landmass from which all its teams operate.
Move Over, Cricket
The biggest problem for MLB in holding a game abroad would be finding a facility worthy enough to hold big league baseball. The largest capacity for a ballpark in the Netherlands is only 3,000, and while England boasts many large stadia, they’re all built for soccerwith fields that don’t reshape well for baseball. (Remember when the Dodgers set up temporary shop at the oval-shaped Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before Dodger Stadium was built? It would be something like that.)
A European-based game probably won’t happen until 2014 at the earliest..
From Dodger Blue to Deep Red to Rich Black
This past week, McCourt finally let go of the treasure he had so long hoped to keepand in the process went from fiscal blight to billionaire status. Buying the Dodgers from him was a group fronted by retired basketball legend Magic Johnson and former baseball executive Stan Kasten, backed by major financial investors who apparently had buckslots of them. The purchase price was a whopping $2.15 billion, easily topping the largest fee ever paid for a pro sports team (the previous high was $1.47 billion for soccer’s Manchester United in 2005). Forbes Magazine estimated last week that the Dodgers were worth $1.5 billion.
With the franchise back in solid standing (or so we believe), the Dodgers will likely soon become a player in the free agent market, something not seen at Chavez Ravine over the last three or so years. Even the parking lots belong to the new regime; McCourt let go of those, too, because when you sell for $600 million more than you expected, why should parking lots matter anymore?
Yes, We Can
And Don't Forget the Whitewalls!
Matt Bush, Meet Paul Crewe
Wounded of the Week
Windfarm at the Ballpark
Veeck on Deck
He Said What?
Now Playing at TGG
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Spring Trained? Who's Ready and Not for 2012
Ready: The Toronto Blue Jays. The majors’ ultimate middle-class entity is acting like a member of baseball’s 1% thanks to a fantastic 22-5 record, fueled by a stellar 2.64 team earned run average.
Not Ready: The Cleveland Indians, struggling at a 6-20 clip and a 5.36 staff ERA; opponents have hit .309 against the Tribe.
Ready: The Kansas City Royals’ offense, which is hitting above .300 with four projected everyday playersEric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Lorenzo Cainall hitting above .400.
Not Ready: The Miami Marlins’ offense, hitting .234 with just 69 runs collectedless than half of what 13 other major league teams have racked up. The Fish’ .297 on-base percentage is also the majors’ worst this spring. This is not a good way to warm up for a new ballpark with accelerated expectations.
Ready: Albert Pujols, Los Angeles of Anaheim. New environment? No problem. Pujols is hitting .404 with five homers in 52 at-bats.
Not Ready: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee. A .176 batting average amid the occasional torrents of catcalls from fans convinced that he cheated his way to a MVPand cheated his way out of a suspension.
Ready: C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles of Anaheim. The other big Angel pick-up, like Pujols, looks ready to rock with a 3-0 record and 1.33 ERA.
Not Ready: Josh Colimenter, Arizona. Five starts, a 0-4 record and an 11.81 ERA. Ouch.
Ready: Andre Ethier, Los Angeles. In need of a statistical comeback, Either is hitting a nice, even .400 with 15 of his 18 hits going for extra bases.
Not Ready: Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay. Another player in search of a more glorious past, the once-and-current Ray hasn’t found it so far with a .111 average and a single RBI in 45 at-bats.
Ready: Brett Lawrie, Toronto. Hitting .545 with seven doubles and two triples among his 18 hits; he’s also stolen five bases.
Not Ready: Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh. The slump marches on for the one-time high-profile prospect: Seven hits, one walk and 20 strikeouts in 42 at-bats, while his play at third base has been shaky to say the least.
Ready: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit. Hitting .455 despite taking a hard bouncer to the cheek at third base that cost him ten days of action.
Not Ready: Bobby Abreu, Los Angeles of Anaheim. Hitting .122 with no homers, and dying to be traded from the Angels (the Indians have already said no thanks).
Ready: Luis Mendoza, Kansas City. The Mexican native with a career 7.36 ERA is 4-0 with a 0.54 mark in 16.2 innings this spring.
Not Ready: Terry Doyle, Chicago White Sox. In 36 official at-bats against him, opponents have knocked out 20 hits for a .556 average; his ERA is a catastrophic 21.60.
Ready: Dee Gordon, Los Angeles. Maury Wills reincarnated? The young shortstop is hitting .382 with three triples and ten steals.
Not Ready: Wilmer Flores, New York Mets. Johnny LeMaster reincarnated? Flores eked out a .083 average in 12 at-bats with 5 strikeoutsand committed four errors in ten chances at short.
Ready: Jordan Danks, Chicago White Sox. Hitting .333 with three doubles, a home run and six walks in 33 at-bats.
Not Ready: John Danks, Jordan’s brother. The White Sox’ rotation asset has been knocked on his asset this spring with a 0-3 record and 5.06 ERA.
Ready: Cody Ross, Boston. After an off-year in San Francisco, Ross looks revitalized for the Red Sox with a .366 average, six homers and 15 RBIs in 41 at-bats.
Not Ready: Dexter Fowler, Colorado. Everyone was raving over how Fowler looked ready to purge his subpar effort of 2011. How looks can be deceiving: He’s hitting .127 with seven hits, two walks and 17 strikeouts.
Ready: Gregor Blanco, San Francisco. A possible replacement for Ross, Blanco may sneak onto the Giants’ Opening Day roster thanks to a .358 average and 12 steals.
Not Ready: Jack Cust. The Astros were counting on the veteran slugger to prop up their anemic offense, but a mere single in 25 at-bats this spring looked even worse; he’s been cut and picked up by the Yankees.
Ready: Zack Greinke, Milwaukee. The former Cy Young Award winner looks like one again, scoring a 0.93 ERA with a spring-high 28 strikeoutswhile walking just two.
Not Ready: Dontrelle Willis, Baltimore. Another former Cy recipient who continues to look far from it; he’s walked seven batters in 3.2 inningsand struck out none.
Ready: Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee. The emerging catcher is red-hot, batting .512 in 41 at-bats.
Not Ready: Brock Kjeldgaard, Milwaukee. He sounds like he’s from Norway, and if he was we would have joked, “No way, Norway” after seeing him go hitless in 15 at-bats with nine strikeouts. (In fact, he’s from Edmonton, which probably looks like Norway in the winter.)
Something for Everyone to Eat
Here’s the background: Jimenez has made no secret of the fact that he’s upset he never got the big contract extension Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez received while in Colorado, leading Tulowitzki to respond via the press that Jimenez should get over it and move on. Maybe it Tulowitzki can stay healthy and Jimenez can reclaim his 96-plus-MPH fastball, then the two have a shot at facing one another this season at the All-Star Game.
You Are There
More Big Bucks for Little Bushers
The exhibition runs through April 28. For more information, go to the exhibit web site.
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|Outguessing the Mayans: TGG's 2012 Baseball Picks
Our annual, fearless preview of the 2012 major league season, with TGG’s Ed Attanasio and Eric Gouldsberry releasing their picks for who will arrive, thrive, dive and cry. Check it out and see if you agree!