Wednesday, January 29, 2014

NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks

Our prediction for the 2014 season will see the National League West as the toughest division in Major League Baseball. While everyone may view the Dodgers as the cream of the crop, the NL West will be stacked with four clubs that have a legitimate chance for postseason glory.

The two clubs that catches our attention the most are the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. Both clubs made significant moves this offseason to significantly bolster their lineups, and if key players are able to stay off the DL this season, the NL West will be the most competitive division in baseball. For this blog post, we’ll focus on the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In Arizona, the club received a huge boost to their lineup with the acquisition of Mark Trumbo, another power-hitting right handed bat that will provide protection to NL MVP runner-up, Paul Goldschmidt. Around the horn, the D’Backs will anchor a reliable defense behind Goldschmidt, Hill, Prado, and Gregorious. However, the defense in the outfield is another story, and perhaps the only weak spot for the club. Trumbo, who is better suited playing 1B, will man RF, with A.J. Pollock taking center, and Gerado Parra
moving to right field. Only Parra has demonstrated consistent play in the outfield, and if one thing could possibly ruin the D’Backs chance for postseason, it’s their defensive play in the outfield.

As far as the starting rotation is concerned, it should be rock solid - no fancy names here, but all of these guys will eat innings and give the D’Backs a chance to win every game. Patrick Corbin, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley and Brandon McCarthy should round out the first four spots, with Randall Delgado, Daniel Hudson and Archie Bradley fighting it out for the fifth spot. The bullpen is another bright spot for the club, they now have three potential closers that come into a game at any time. With the acquisition of Addison Reed, the club will now have Reed, J.J. Putz, and Brad Ziegler - figure this to be a huge advantage for the D’Backs in the second half of the season.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Star Wars Related Stadium Giveaway for 2014 Season

The Giants released their final promotional schedule this morning, and as expected they added a few new items that were not on the original list that was released late last year. The one new giveaway that caught our attention is the Star Wars R2D2 Beanie giveaway slated for August 31st. It's safe to say, this will be the most sought-after SGA for the entire season. The giveaway will be available for the first 20,000 fans, and yes, we expect huge lines to queue up hours before the game. Oh, by the way, the Giants are playing the Milwaukee Brewers for that Sunday afternoon game.

At this point, we still don't know what the beanie will look like or how the Giants logo will be incorporated, but we are pretty sure it will not matter to the legions of Star Wars fans out there. At best, we think the beanie will look like something pictured below. In any event, this will most likely be the most talked about giveaway item in recent memory.

This is not the exact SF Giants R2D2 beanie giveaway, but it will most likely look something like this.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Case for Juan Perez

In light of Gregor Blanco’s new contract ($2.5 million) for the 2014 season, it had us thinking that our preference is to have Juan Perez be designated as the fourth outfielder for the Giants for the upcoming season. At the age of 26, Perez made his Major League debut this past season, and during his brief stint (97 plate appearances and 34 games played) he showed us something. His ability to go with the pitch and hit to the opposite field, his great speed, his defensive prowess (see his catch at Chase Field, and his then perfect-game saving catch for Petit).

Our fear is that the Giants front office will give Blanco the fourth outfielder tag, instead of looking at who is actually the best player for the job. In his 2013 campaign, Perez batted .258 with 23 hits, 1 HR, 8 RBI, and two stolen bases. Defensively, he had a .987 fielding percentage, committed just one error, and had eight assists. What we like most about Perez is that he just looks like a better overall player than Blanco, and given the opportunity, would put up better numbers than Gregor. As always, as the season plays out, players that deserve playing time will get it. If Perez is able to continue how he ended the 2013 campaign, he’s in line for a lot of playing time.

Juan Perez making a spectacular catch at Chase Field on June 9, 2013.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spring Training: Time to Cut it Short

Soon, Major League clubs will converge to Arizona and Florida for their annual rite of passage - the start of spring training. Each spring, all 30 clubs approach spring training with hope, optimism, and the dream of postseason glory. Originally, spring training was a platform for ballplayers to get into shape for the upcoming season. It wasn’t long ago when players had to supplement their income in the offseason by having seasonal jobs. In doing so, physical fitness and staying in shape wasn’t the highest priority for ball players. Now, being a professional Major League ball player is a full time job, and players are diligent in staying in top physical form to be ready for spring training and a 162-game schedule.

This year, pitchers and catchers will report on February 14th, and then the full squad reports four days later. On February 26th, most clubs, including the Giants will start their spring training schedule. What entails soon after are 40 games in the Cactus League, including split squad games, followed by another three games in the Bay Area for the the Bay Bridge Series against Oakland. All told, we’re looking at 43 spring training games before the season even starts. Now, we know what the club owners and front office folks are going to say to substantiate the high number of games. We want to evaluate our 40-man roster, and our minor league prospects, blah, blah. However, the real truth is, the clubs do not want to give up the extra revenue that is generated from spring training. Spring training in recent years have become a big business for everyone involved. Which includes hotels, restaurants, bars, golf courses, rental car agencies, and so on.

No one wants to kill the golden goose. But the question remains, is it necessary to have so many spring training games? Players have  never been more well equipped, and have never been in better shape. The purpose of spring training has diminished, and players and coaches themselves have even expressed that it’s just too long. With Major League Baseball on the verge of making some historical changes to the game (Buster Posey rule, instant replay), isn’t time for them to curtail the spring training schedule too?  If we had our way, the spring training schedule would cap out at 30 games - that’s more then enough games to evaluate talent and form your 25-man roster. Let’s save the players for the regular season.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Tip to Alex Rodriguez: Be Nice to Your Friends, and Nicer to Your Partner in Crime

We just finished viewing the 60 Minutes’ interview of Anthony Bosch, founder of former South Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis, and the man that cooperated with Major League Baseball to bring down one of the most prolific hitters of all time. During the interview, one thought continued to resonate with us ... what type of arrangement did Barry Bonds strike with Greg Anderson. Anderson if you remember was Bonds' former trainer, who has now served more than a year in jail for refusing to testify against Bonds in the BALCO grand jury proceedings as well as three months' prison time for his role in BALCO. In essence, Major League Baseball would have loved for Anderson to fold and cooperated in indicting Bonds for using banned substances, but that never happened.

The difference between ARod and Bonds comes down to the relationships they had when it came down to their respective handlers. Bosch didn’t have any loyalty to ARod, and why would he, they didn’t grow up together and weren’t even friends before all of this. In fact, Bosch even remarked in the 60 Minutes interview that he felt he wasn’t being paid enough. Anderson, on the other hand, grew up with Bonds and his family, probably knew more about Barry than anyone else. And with that, perhaps there was an agreement already in place, you take the bullet more me and I’ll take care of you and your family. Perhaps if ARod deployed the same strategy, he wouldn’t be looking at a complete ban from competing in the 2014 season.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Secondary Ticket Market Grows

We all know how successful the Giants have been in recent years (see 2010 & 2012 trophies), and what that comes significant demand from fans to attend a game(s) at AT&T Park.  For those individuals that are not season ticket holders, typically you're at the mercy on what's available with the Giants ticket office or you scan the secondary market for better selection and/or a better deal. In previous years, online sites such as Stubhub and eBay filled that void. However, in 2014, another entity has entered the market - TicketMonster. Ever hear of it? Don't worry we haven't heard of it either. TicketMonster is a Korean-based ticket and e-commerce company that was acquired by Groupon in November, 2013. The sale was finalized earlier this month, but the question remains, how is Groupon going to leverage this acquisition in regard to game day tickets with the Giants? TicketMonster has already produced a press release regarding game dates for the Giants, we must assume they will become an open marketplace for tickets. The follow-up question, since Groupon now owns TicketMonster, will 2-for-1 deals now be the norm? How will that impact the secondary market? How will that impact season ticket holders that are paying full price?

A lot questions remain, but it's tough to answer them since the rollout of TicketMonster has not commenced.

TicketMonster Mascot