After Further Review-This Is Conclusive

Technology has allowed the advance of reviewable plays in baseball. Sure, there are kinks that must be ironed out and not everyone is happy. But progress brings pain and stress at times. The ultimate goal is to “get it right.”

I’ve been asked lots of questions about what plays are and are not reviewable?
Thanks to a release from Major League Baseball, the questions become more clear.

Here is exactly what MLB has distributed to help us understand this new addition to the game. Note: Reviewable plays and all the ramifications are still a work in progress.

REVIEWABLE PLAYS

Manager Challenge
Most Common Plays
-Force Plays (excluding neighborhood plays and tag ups on fly ball)
-Tag Plays
-Fair/foul in outfield only (at or behind the umpire)
-Catch/No Catch in outfield (behind the infielder)
-Batter hit by pitch

Boundaries
-Ground rule doubles
-Fan interference
-Stadium boundaries (skywalk, fielder into stands, etc.)

Base Running
-Timing Plays (who got there first)
-Touching a base (requires appeal before challenge)
-Passing runners

Umpire Discretion (Manager may request but cannot challenge)
-Home runs
-Home plate collisions
-Record keeping (ball-strike count, outs, score, illegal substitutions, rules check)

ANY play not listed above is not reviewable

Deadline to Initiate Replay
- Play within an inning: Before the pitcher steps on the rubber and batter gets in the box
-Pitching change: Before the signal of the pitching change (defense) or before the pitcher crosses the warning track or foul line (offense)
- End of ann inning: Manager must leave the dugout immediately to hold the defense, then has 30 seconds to challenge
-End of the game: Immediately

Review Outcomes:
-Confirmed (clear and convincing evidence that the call on the field was correct)
- Stands (No clear and convincing evidence to confirm or overturn the call)
-Overturned- Clear and convincing evidence that the call on the field was incorrect

———————-My thoughts——————-
I think it will take time for all the nuances and particulars to be finalized and memorialized. Patience by players, managers, front office personnel and fans will be crucial. It will all be for the greater good. Your team will win some. Your team will lose some.

I believe every close play at the plate should be reviewed and not require an appeal or request. If it’s close, it deserves to be reviewed.

I’ll visit this topic again later in the season. For now, I have no further clarification or answers beyond the release above. I wish I could, but I can’t provide any more details. They will all evolve.

As always, thank you for reading my work on MLBPipeline.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. Your support of my work is appreciated.

That’s it. I’m done.

Thoughts At The End Of The Week

I guess I’ll never fully understand why a guy that pitches a perfect 8th inning can’t go out and at least start the 9th. If he gets in trouble, pull him. The entire closer concept is so major in the game today. I just watched John Axford implode in an Indians loss. They had just taken the lead in the 8th. Nightmares.

On twitter the other day I listed great players with awful batting averages so far this young season. My point? This is a marathon, not a sprint. Generally, a good hitter will find his groove when the weather heats up.

The Reds and Dbacks are both in big trouble with the loss of a major starting pitcher. With Mat Latos and Patrick Corbin both on the shelf, their tough starts become even more magnified.

The White Sox Alexi Ramirez is really on fire. He’s on my underrated list.

The Dodgers Dee Gordon stole a base off Randal Delgado when Delgado was tending to grooming the pitcher’s mound. I saw Gordon do that in Spring Training in 2012. Stole 2B on the throw back to the pitcher.

I have been singing the praises of Josmil Pinto and he is showing why. The man has outstanding power and he makes contact at the plate. He is really helping the Twins.

Ike Davis was a pitcher as well as position player at Arizona State University. I wonder what his career would be like if he would have stuck to pitching? He was darn good.

I still think Stephen Drew will end up with the Yankees. His glove and bat can really help them. I still haven’t figured a good landing spot for Kendrys Morales.

The Dbacks had 25 hits in two days against the Dodgers and lost both games.

Even though he was off to a great start, Sam Fuld couldn’t keep a job with the Athletics. Numbers caught up with him. I think managers would love to have 25 guys with his heart.

I’m really happy for the Brewers and their fans. Their off to a tremendous start. Don’t know if they can keep it up, but the hitting and pitching have come together at the same time. Momentum is a great teammate.

Last year I thought Hyun-Jin Ryu would be best working out of the bullpen to start his career. The baseball was different from the one he was used to in Korea. I thought he’d need some time to adjust. Boy was I wrong. He’s an outstanding lefty. His changeup is a great pitch. Very underrated pitcher.

The loss of Ryan Zimmerman is crucial for the Nationals. It takes a big bat out of the lineup and moves players from their normal defensive positions.

Dustin McGowan had a great start this week. I’ve always liked his stuff, but injuries have taken their toll. Is he all the way back? The Blue Jays would certainly like to see a healthy McGowan and Brandon Morrow. What a lift.

One of my columns next week on MLBPipeline.com will be about Indians reliever Austin Adams. Remember the name. I think at some point he can be a solid arm in the pen.

I don’t think I’m concerned about Miguel Cabrera hitting without Prince Fielder, am I? Man, I hope not. He’s still a great, great hitter. I guess I should follow my own advice. Don’t panic.

I would guess the Randy Wolf tenure will begin very soon for the Dbacks. I’m just sayin’.

As always, thanks for reading my work on Pipeline.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

That’s it. I’m done.

Wonders and Worries

In some ways I feel the first week of the season brought as many questions as answers.

I’m wondering if Justin Smoak is feeling more comfortable at the plate and reaping the benefits of having Robinson Cano in the lineup? He put some outstanding at-bats together, but it’s early. The Mariners have stuck with him and perhaps their patience is paying dividends.

I’m wondering if the Twins Chris Colabello is for real? I saw some big gap hits off his bat as he and Jason Kubel had some huge hits to help the Twins off to a nice start. My jury is still out. I’m not sure he can sustain.

I’m worried about the Indians rotation. Especially the inconsistency. I’ve seen Justin Masterson dominate and I’ve seen him dominated. We saw both the first week. I’m not convinced he can master left-handed hitters. And his start against the Twins exposed a weak arsenal if he can’t command his fastball

I’m worried about the Dbacks rotation. What happens if they sustain an injury? What happens if Randall Delgado gets pounded and then pounded again? I don’t think it’ll be helpful if they have to turn to Archie Bradley in April. And after Bradley, who?

I’m wondering if the Athletics will give a call to Billy Burns sooner than later? He has game changing speed. They can use a spark. He can provide that spark.

I’m wondering if we have all overrated the Angels hitting ability. Is Albert really back? What about Kole Calhoun-can he hit enough in the leadoff spot? Will the Angels score enough runs to cover some mediocre pitching?

I’m wondering what the Yankees have seen in Yangervis Solarte is what is actually showing up in the first week? And-I’m wondering why I didn’t see that? Or you, for that matter? Who knew they’d let Eduardo Nunez go in favor of Solarte? Certainly not me. Last year at this time, the Yankees were very high on Nunez.

I’m worried a bit about the slow start of the Astros Marc Krauss. Does a woefully slow start mean a permanent trip to the dog house? I believe in Krauss. But I’m not sure his leash is long enough to keep him from finding a room at the kennel.

Speaking of a long or short leash, I’m wondering how long the leash is on Billy Hamilton? I guess we won’t know for a while. So far, the results aren’t real pretty.
Run Billy run. But get on base first.

I’m wondering how long it will be before Josmil Pinto becomes the permanent Twins catcher? It could happen. That’s how much I like his bat.

I’m worried that Tanner Scheppers may pitch his way out of the Rangers rotation. That’s where he wants to be, but is that where the Rangers want him to be? Colby Lewis is on his way. We’ll see how long Scheppers lasts as a starter.

I’m wondering if the Mariners can keep up the momentum of a solid start?

I’m worried about Ryan Braun’s thumb. I always worry when there’s an issue with a hand, fingers, wrist or anything attached to the arm. So far, Braun has been fine.
But it’s a long season.

I wonder if my early season predictions of a great year for Brandon Belt will hold up? His swing is shorter, sweeter and far more potent than in the past.

I’m wondering if Martin Prado can use the left side of the field? It sure seems his bat drags through the ball and he hits a ton of balls to the right side.

I’m wondering if what we’ve seen from Mark Trumbo will extend for the rest of the season. So far, I’ve seen big boom in the bat and ability to take pitches all over the field.

I’m wondering if the future Pirates outfield of Marte, McCuthen and Polanco will be the fastest in baseball? And I’m wondering how soon that will become reality?

I’m worried that the injury to Matt Moore so early in the season will require the Rays to dig deeper into their pitching depth sooner than they ever believed possible. And just where is that depth.

I’m wondering if the Yankees are breathing a bit easier after C C Sabathia’s second start than they did after his first? I know I am.

I’m wondering who the Indians will jettison when Bourn and Giambi return?

I’m wondering if we all realize how few games have been played and how worry and panic this early is non-productive. To be trite-the cream always rises to the top. Some great players are scuffling. Some mediocre players are playing beyond what their history dictates. It will all return to the norm.

As always, thanks for reading my work on MLBPipeline.com. Hope you’ll check it out, as my prospect profiles have returned. And please follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

That’s it. I’m done.

National League Pennant Predictions

Yesterday I shared my predictions for the American League pennant races. Today, I look at the National League.

National League West

Los Angeles Dodgers- This isn’t a perfect team. There are flaws. But there is enough pitching to win the West. And the hitting isn’t too shabby either. Ryu can become a real star. I hope Dee Gordon can stick. Age and injuries a concern. 91 wins

San Diego Padres- Here’s my surprise. This team can play. If the pitching can stay healthy, I see lots of hope for a big future. They’re short a big bat. Quentin? Nope. He’s um…….hurt and on the disabled list. Don’t know if he’ll ever be able. 84 wins.

San Francisco Giants- A lack of firepower will catch up with them. I think Belt and Pence will have huge years. Not so sure the pitching is anywhere close to the past. I’ve always found Bumgarner a bit inconsistent. Could be boom or bust with them. 83 wins

Colorado Rockies- If they were the Cleveland Rockies or Detroit Rockies I’d love em. But I don’t think Cy Young could pitch at Coors. It takes so much good fortune and inducing ground balls to win there. Good hitting as usual. Suspect pitching, as usual. 80 wins

Arizona Diamondbacks- I see very thin pitching in the rotation and the pen. At Chase Field, the gaps are wide and the balls fly out of the park. Pitching, pitching and more pitching is required. On offense, I see Goldy, Trumbo and and then who? 78 wins

National League Central

St. Louis Cardinals- The most balanced team I’ve seen with fabulous pitching and a formidable offense. And depth at every position-but especially on the mound. I have a concern about balls getting by at shortstop and hurting the pitchers. Still great. 92 wins

Pittsburgh Pirates- I wish they would have fortified their rotation with at least one starter. However, help is on the way in Taillon. Glasnow down the road a bit. And Gregory Polanco is close. McCutchen is fabulous. Balanced Wild Card team. 85 wins

Cincinnati Reds-Lots is riding on Billy Hamilton’s ability to get on base. Almost too much IMO. Not enough depth in offense or pitching. Injuries could kill them. I do think the rotation is solid if they stay healthy. They’ll miss Choo and Arroyo. 82 wins

Milwaukee Brewers- Again, a lack of depth hurts this club. No real 1B option and no help at 3B if Aramis Ramirez goes on the DL (again). Pitching has some promise with prospects near being ready. Braun returns with a solid offensive year. 75 wins

Chicago Cubs- I see no 2014 hope for this club. And I see way too much pressure on the prospect core to “save the day” when they arrive. Pitching is beyond thin. Castro has to produce. Baez is in the wings. Maybe Bryant, too. Have to pitch to win. Nope. 68 wins

National League East

Washington Nationals-Maybe not quite as balanced as the Cardinals, but very close. They can sustain an injury or two. I look for Bryce Harper to continue to get better and better and lead the club. Pitching is superb in rotation and pen. No issues. 92 wins

Atlanta Braves- The distance between the Braves and the Nationals is like the Grand Canyon. Braves took a huge rotation hit and may not recover. I think they will take a major dip in wins this season. Have to really score some runs to hang in. 83 wins

Miami Marlins- This is a club on the rise in a weak division. The prospect pitching is outstanding. Position players will mature. Stanton needs protection, and I don’t see it. Yelich has to start to hit like he can. Fernandez is my #2 pitcher in baseball. 77 wins

New York Mets- Not much here until they get Matt Harvey back in 2015. Then they’ll have Harvey, Wheeler and Syndergaard. Nice. Offense seems non-existent to me. Pitching wins games, but where will the runs come from? Next year’s better. 75 wins

Philadelphia Phillies-I really like Cliff Lee. The end. I don’t see an influx of young blood to take over for the Howard, Utley, Rollins trio. Pitching was once strong. Now the depth has disappeared. I think the outfield is very weak and infield is aging. 68 wins

National League Champion- Washington Nationals
Most Valuable Player- Andrew McCutchen
Rookie Of The Year- Oscar Taveras

World Series Champion: Washington Nationals

Thanks for reading my work on MLBPipeline.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. And please don’t be angry with me if I didn’t rate your team as highly as you might have wanted. It’s just one person’s opinion. I mean, we’re still friends, right? That’s what’s wrong with making predictions. People are passionate about their team and they take it personally. I get that.

That’s it. I’m done.

The Marathon Begins

So much has happened this spring, it’s difficult to believe we’re now watching games that count. The injuries have piled up and I believe they’ll impact several pennant races. Injuries are part of the game-and the teams with enough depth to overcome adversity may well prevail.

Here are my American League predictions for the season (including an off the wall prediction in one of the divisions):

American League West-
Los Angeles Angels-too much firepower and an improved pitching staff make it very tough on teams that have been banged up. I think the trio of Trout, Pujols and Hamilton will play to expectations. Pitching is better. 90 wins.

Rangers-Loss of starting pitchers will be difficult to overcome. I do like the new offense with Fielder and Choo. They’ll have to score plenty of runs though.-89 wins

Athletics- They, too, have some pitching injuries and not as much firepower as the two other clubs. However, we’ve all said that before and we’ve seen what happened. 86 wins

Mariners-Better, but not there yet. Cano will help. But why pitch to him? They need another bat to push them further towards the top. I like their young players and see promise in them-79 wins

Astros- I’m not as convinced that they will turn things around even with Appel, Springer and Singleton. They get much better when Carlos Correa arrives. He’s the key for me. 62 wins

American League Central-
Detroit-In a nutshell, it’s the pitching, but Miggy will miss Prince. They’ll all miss Fister. Left side infield defense will be a major problem for their outstanding pitchers. Still the best though. The team to beat in the division-90 wins

Royals-The popular flavor of the month, I don’t think they have nearly enough pitching to keep up with or catch the Tigers. Offense is coming together. I really like Yordano Ventura and Sal Perez. Kyle Zimmer will help later in the season. 85 wins

Cleveland- No Ubaldo, no Kazmir and not as much good luck in close games. And can they beat up Chicago like last year? No. I see regression. I think Kipnis will have a huge year along with Kluber. Santana is no worse at 3B than Chisenhall. 82 wins

White Sox-People will buzz about how good Jose Abreu hits. But I still don’t think they’ve turned the corner—yet. I have just a bit of a concern about Avisail Garcia after watching him this spring. I hope I’m wrong. Holes at 3B, 2B, C. Pitching isn’t there. 70 wins.

Twins-I think they’ll be counting too much on Buxton and Sano (when he gets healthy) for their future. Too much pressure on them. Lack organizational depth in pitching and position players. Tough year. 67 wins

American League East-
Baltimore-I really like the offense and I think the pitching will surprise. They can flat out kill the ball, especially in that park. They’ll miss Machado. Need him quickly. 90 wins

Rays-I think they might be a tad overrated. I really like Cobb and Price but I wonder about the rest of the rotation. Very good pen. Need another bat IMO. 89 wins

Yankees- Too many infield holes to fill. 1B will be an issue if Tex can’t hit. Like the additions of Ellsbury, Beltran and McCann. Not enough though. Pitching solid. 84 wins (tie with Boston in wins)

Red Sox- I think they’ll miss Ellsbury and Drew. I liked Bogaerts at 3B with Drew at shortstop. Victorino being hurt to start the season is a bit of an issue.. Lots of offensive pressure on Ortiz. Pitching is stable and good.-84 wins (tie with New York in wins.)

Blue Jays- They never fixed their pitching. It’ll come back to haunt them in such a tough division. Big, booming bats in spots and pop guns in others. 73 wins.

AL Champs: Angels
Most Valuable Player- Mike Trout
Rookie Of The Year- Jose Abreu

Tomorrow: National League Predictions.

Thank you for reading my work on MLBPipeline.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. You can listen to Short Hops podcast every Wednesday on iTunes.

That’s it. I’m done.

Rounding Third

We’re into the last week of Spring Training. I must admit I felt it went rather quickly. But I’m still exhausted.

I want to thank you so much for your great comments and questions on twitter during the entire spring marathon. We’ll continue with baseball talk during the regular season.

I want to share some of my impressions of the spring before I do my last Spring Training blog at the end of the week and before the “real” season starts.

The Dodgers have to be flying high following a two-game sweep of the Dbacks in Australia. On the other hand, how would you like to travel that far and come away with no wins. Demoralizing, to say the least.

I think the Dbacks will have pitching issues all season. The loss of Patrick Corbin was crucial. There just isn’t enough depth.

If you ever go to Peoria for Spring Training, try the chicken/rice bowl from a vendor on the concourse. Superb.

I’ll be going to the new Cubs park tomorrow for the first time.

These are some guys I saw this spring I’m very high on. Remember-this is not a complete list. These are guys that made me sit up in my seat: Jose Abreu (White Sox)
Francisco Lindor, (Indians) Yordano Ventura (Royals) Kole Calhoun (Angels) BILLY BURNS (Athletics) Dustin Ackley (Mariners) Stefan Romero (Mariners) Brad Miller (Mariners)
Rougned Odor (Rangers) Andrelton Simmons (Braves0 Nick Markakis (Orioles) Ubaldo Jimenez (Orioles) Henry Urrutia (Orioles) Mike Foltynewicz (Astros) Carlos Correa (Astros)
Steven Matz (Mets) Tim Cooney (Cardinals) Anthony Rendon (Nationals)

Of course, there were countless other guys that I really, really liked. But these guys showed me some special talent. They may not all make it to the big leagues this season. And of course, many are already big names.

I didn’t see the Rays, Red Sox, Yankees or Blue Jays.

I think Brad Ausmus and Matt Williams will be fabulous managers.

The Angels have to have everything go well with their starting pitching. They have no (as in zero) pitching depth.

Most clubs have a gap the size of the grand canyon after their third starters. Good teams must—and I mean must—beat up on the 4th and 5th starters.

There are few home runs to be found.

I look at their team and I can’t figure why the Mariners don’t win. They have a collection of good players. But they don’t play them. Stefan Romero is a good player. Will Corey Hart ever be healthy? Nick Franklin is a good player. Where will he play? Does having Robbie Cano make them a contender? Will he sell lots of tickets? I’m just askin.

Why haven’t the Tigers signed Stephen Drew? Why didn’t Max Scherzer take the Tigers offer? Does he think he can win a World Series elsewhere next season? And for even more money than the Tigers offered? Lots of questions with the Tigers.

How much money is enough money? I’m just asking here.

I’m getting more and more annoyed by these blind sales calls on the telephone. I thought they were banned five years ago when we signed the “don’t call” list. No-I don’t have caller ID. Don’t try to call me and sell me new shingles for my roof. I just had three calls in a row trying to sell me something and I’m trying to write here.

You know what ticks me off? When a fan pays money to see a Spring Training game and excepts to see some recognizable names. He gets to the park and maybe one or two of the guys are starters. It’s wrong. Almost immoral in my book. Most box seats cost $23 or $24 bucks for a non-premium game. I don’t feel sorry for players that have to take a bus trip to the game. It’s their job. Fans take airplanes to see those games. It’s wrong!

I was a little kid when Herb Score got hit in the eye in Cleveland by the Yankees Gil McDougald. It made me sick then. Now-this injury to Aroldis Chapman. It was sickening. And it really shook up Salvador Perez. Really. He was devastated.

I know Billy Hamilton gets lots of publicity for his blazing speed. But have you seen Billy Burns of the A’s? Yikes! He’s a blurrr from home to first.

I worry about Michael Bourn. Can he hit? I’m just asking here.

I haven’t given up on Trevor Bauer. But I’m gettingthisclose.

The hamburgers at Salt River Fields are outstanding.

Ever get to Freeport, Illinois? I suggest you visit Little Cubs Field at Read Park on Empire Street. And throw em a few bucks to help keep the place going.

Have I told you yet that I love the Orioles this year? I do. And once they get Manny Machado back, they’ll be even better. Chris Davis. Are you kidding me? He sees a fastball and has to wipe the drool off his shirt. Very balanced club with a good manager in Buck.

Why? Why didn’t the Indians go get another pitcher or two? Or keep Kazmir and Ubaldo. And why will they let Justin Masterson go? Yes-I know why. And to think–George Steinbrenner wanted to buy the Indians but he was refused by the current owner at the time. What might have been.

The most sacred words in baseball are….draft pick. Ask Stephen Drew. Or even Nelson Cruz or Ubaldo Jimenez or Kendrys Morales or Kyle Lohse. I hope that rule gets changed. These guys are too good to be held hostage to a….draft pick.

Five Falling: Atlanta, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh

Five Flying: Kansas City, Colorado, Baltimore, Washington, San Francisco

No change in the rest. They’ll be as good or as bad.

Next blog: My predictions.

Warning: Don’t be upset with me if I think your team is falling or staying the same. I try to be honest with what I see. If you disagree, just agree to disagree. Don’t be angry. The world is too full of anger. We should agree to like each other. Fair enough.

As always-thanks for reading my work on Pipeline.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. And remember-the podcast with Derek Van Riper and myself comes out every Wednesday on iTunes.

That’s it. I’m done.

Shins, Elbows, Yikes!

I’m never happy when I start my blog talking about injuries. But we have had a horrible injury related week in baseball.

If you followed my work the past few years, my top picks in the spring have included Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. I have always liked the way they attack hitters, throw strikes and take charge of games. Removing them from the Braves rotation due to elbow issues sickens me. It would be like stealing Yo Yo Ma’s cello for a year and telling him you hope it works them same when he gets it back. Medlen and Beachy are quality starting pitchers. I wish them both well.

Beachy left with “forearm” issues. Same as the elbow. Same tendon.

Not to mention that another of my highly touted pitchers, Patrick Corbin (who I begged fantasy players to take two years ago) is getting a second option on his UCL in the left elbow. More ligament damage. If he has to have surgery, he will miss a year. If he has to just rest, it’ll be for months. Randall Delgado seems to be the next in line to join the rotation. Not Archie Bradley. Bradley has not had good control yet this spring and needs more development time.

And just thinking about the shin splints being suffered by Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias makes me feel very grateful I don’t suffer from them. Or gout. There is no medicine he can take to make the shin splints go away. He has to rest. Stay off his feet. Tough to do for a baseball player. Will Stephen Drew get a call? I think the Tigers will look to Steve Lombardozzi to fill the void. Iglesias could be gone a while. Who knows? But will the Tigers call Drew or stick with Lombardozzi and others?

Thank you to SABR for having Barry Bloom, Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and myself on a panel yesterday at their metrics conference in Phoenix. Met some great people.

A little guy named Max asked me if he could interview me for his blog. He was a perfect gentlemen. I was intrigued. I was blown away when I learned that the articulate, well-dressed, confident young man was….12 years old. Go Max.

I saw Jose Abreu. I am very impressed with his maturity on the field. He is very fundamentally sound and looks like he’s adjusting very well. The White Sox have a real winner and a guy with some pop in his bat. He and Avisail Garcia should form a very solid one-two punch in that lineup for years. That’s an improved club.

Justin Masterson has been brilliant by offering the Indians a counter offer for an extension. What happens if the ownership doesn’t step up to a less than market value offer? The ball is in the owner’s courts. Masterson has done what he can to stay.

I clocked both Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton at 3.9 going from home to first. That’s pretty darn fast. Ichiro is the fastest I’ver ever clocked at 3.5. Major League average is said to be 4.3 but I have seen it more at 4.5 in the past few years.

The Mariners are in a great position with Nick Franklin available for trade. Countless teams could use his service including the Yankees. Now add the Tigers. And with the prospect of Dodgers free agent Alex Guerrero starting in the Minor Leagues, the Dodgers could probably check in as well. Lots of suitors for Franklin.

Do the Dbacks trade one of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings or Cliff Pennington for a pitcher now that Corbin is hurt? I wouldn’t. I’m just asking. I would hold on to each of those guys and wait until things got really hot–second half of the season—and extract a heavy price’. And yes, I’d keep Didi. With Dbacks pitching being a bit more marginal now, defense from shortstop is critical. There are few better than Didi. Trade one of them to New York for Phelps or Warren? Not enough. Maybe Pineda. Maybe.

Nick Markakis could have his best year ever. His 40 pound weight gain is distributed well, with his upper body being the biggest beneficiary. He’s my under the radar, once mediocre, now rejuvenated guy.

I can’t remember a spring without running into Jim Fregosi and hearing his voice in either Florida or Arizona. Man, I miss that. What a character. And what a great baseball guy. He is missed. A major voice has been stilled.

OK-that’s it for now. Thanks for reading my work on MLBPipeline.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. Much appreciated. ˙Hope you’ll tune in to Short Hops which is available on iTunes every Wednesday.

That’s it. I’m done.

Observations from the Sunshine State

So I’m almost winding up my trip to Florida’s Spring Training parks. Let me share a couple of observations. And then I’ll talk about some players, of course.

So I’m driving into Jupiter from Tampa and on the highway there’s a sign to Roger Dean Stadium. Beneath the sign is another sign in small letters that says
“Game Today-1:05PM.” I get off the ramp and there it is again. Way cool. So I think to myself, “who comes out here everyday and changes that sign?” Then it dawned on me. The park is shared by the Cardinals and the Marlins. There’s a game every day. No need to change the sign for a month. Duh! But wait, what about night games? And then it dawned on me. There are no night games in Jupiter. Duh again!

Last year at Lakeland I was surprised when there wasn’t any hot water in the press box bathroom. It’s a great place, well maintained. So I thought there was a problem with the hot water line. Old, etc. So this year I came back, went to the bathroom and …no hot water. So I asked the attendant. The City of Lakeland has shut off all the hot water at the park for the past two seasons. Ok. But I’ll say this. The cold water is really cold.

My favorite park in Florida? I have to say Ed Smith Stadium-home of the Orioles. I’m told the same person that helped with renovations at Fenway did the renovations and remodel of Ed Smith Stadium. It’s really classy. Very well done and very practical. I like practical, not fancy.

For charm, McKechnie Field, home of the Pirates beats them all. Going there and to Dunedin to watch the Blue Jays is like walking into a time machine. But I love it. It’s been renovated, it’s wonderful and it’s intimate. They have no food service for the media, so that’s taken care of by walking a short bit down the street to a fabulous sub-shop. Every sandwich is named according to something having to do with baseball.

I’m so glad I’m high tech because my room in Tampa is in a new hotel. Everything is high tech. Fits me to a tee. Touch the door with your key card and the door opens. No locks, etc. It only took me 15 minutes to get the lights in the room turned on. Not bad. I stubbed my toe and walked into the wall, but that’s not bad. Two showers heads. However, the desk told me they get calls every day about how to turn off the shower. Push it in. Don’t turn the handle. I got that right away after I spent a few turns of the handle and the water got hotter and then colder. No-it isn’t obvious. Not at all. But I didn’t have to call the desk.

OK-now on to some players.

Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard exposed two issues that I hadn’t seen before. He is slow to the plate with a runner on first. Opposing teams will run on him. And he doesn’t repeat his delivery consistently. He has to finish his pitches to keep in the strike zone. I still think he’s a star in the making. He isn’t on the 40-man roster yet. If he makes the club, someone will have to be removed from the 40-man.

Tigers pitcher Bruce Rondon looks so much better to me this spring than last. Why? He is using off-speed and secondary pitches more and not living with the fastball only.

Steve Lombardozzi is a very good shortstop. Better than I thought. I would not be surprised if he makes the Tigers roster and plays a great deal.

Torri Hunter is still a great outfielder. I saw him make one of his circus catches.

Phil Coke is a puzzle. Do the Tigers keep him as a lefty out of the pen? Is he reliable? I’m just askin’. I have my answer but I’m not sayin’.

I can’t tell you how good Ubaldo Jimenez looked when I saw him in his first start for the Orioles. He was mixing his pitches, throwing strikes and missing bats. Can he do it over and over. I’m beginning to believe he can.

I think the Orioles are one very good club. They have hitting, pitching and good enough defense to win. I still think they need another outfielder. But Nelson Cruz and Jimenez could make major contributions. I also have concerns about their closer.

The Marlins complained that the Red Sox didn’t send any regular players to their sold out game in Jupiter. The game was tagged with a “premium” price. I see that every day. It’s a crime that clubs don’t follow the rule of sending at least 4 regular players to each game on the road. It just doesn’t happen. Especially in Florida. Fans expect to see the guys they know and have heard of. I hope something gets done about it.

Ervin Santana can help the Blue Jays. As I write this, it isn’t final. But I think that’s where he’s going.

Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp caught my eye with a big home run. He’s big and strong at 6-foot-2, 250-pounds. I really like his stroke at the plate. He’s on the 40-man. Remember the name. I’m just sayin’.

They’ve given out a free newspaper at every Tigers home game that I’ve ever attended. It’s really a nice tradition. And fans like the player poster insert.

I hate to say it, but I see some of the old Dom Brown habits creeping back. My bell is ringing. The bell that says, “stay away in fantasy, Bernie.” I will. But that’s just me.

I’ll see the Pirates today.

Oscar Taveras has returned to the playing field for the Cardinals after recovering from his injured ankle-foot. I didn’t get to see him on this trip.

Washington manager Matt Williams has deployed some weird shifts so far. He had two first basemen in one arrangement. The umpire pointed out that the player closest to first base is the only player allowed to wear a first baseman’s glove. I had never heard of that before. Apparently the real first baseman was closer to second than the other player. Confused? Read it again, you’ll get it.

Bryce Harper. I’m looking for a huge year.

Thank you for reading my work on MLBPipeline.com and MLB.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. And I hope you’ll listen to Short Hops-available on iTunes free each week. Very much appreciated. Always.

That’s it. I’m done.

Live (I think) From Florida

So here I am in Florida for Spring Training.

Last Saturday when I arrived I asked for a rental car with low mileage and XM radio. I got a car with 2,000 miles, but no XM. So every 20 minutes as I leave an area, I have to find a different sports station.

When I return the car the odometer will have no resemblance to the one I picked up. It seems all I do is drive, watch games and sleep. There are no parks close to each other. I remember that from my past trips here, but this year is different. I have teams I want to see for their prospects so I’m criss-crossing the state. And my eyes.

So who has impressed me so far? You may want to remember these names:
Mike Foltynewicz who’s name I can’t pronounce pitches for the Astros. Let’s just call him Mike. Mike threw strikes in the game I saw. Yes, his Minor League history shows a lack of command and control. I saw a huge, 6-foot-4 guy with a gun for an arm. I think he can probably hit 100 with ease. He’s on my futures list. I think he’ll be a star if he continues to progress.

Steve Matz is a Mets lefty with great promise. He threw at about 92-94 when I saw him. Nothing was hit hard. And he consistently repeated his delivery. I think the Mets have a left-handed gem a couple years away. Maybe he’ll change his name to Steve Mets.

Then there’s Tim Cooney of the Cardinals. It’s not as if they don’t have enough pitching to stock two full rotations, here comes an amazing lefty in Cooney. All he did was throw strikes and make hitters miss. And he’s only their 5th or 6th or 7th best pitching prospect. It really is amazing.

So there are so many people visiting in Florida at this time of year that the hotel internet band width can’t keep up. So how’d ya like that? Don’t ever tell me I’m not technologically savvy. I can drop a “band width” with the best of em. So anyway, my connections have dropped every night in every hotel I’ve been in. Maybe they need a new ISP (internet service provider) how’d ya like that one?

The trio of Carlos Correa, George Springer and Jon Singleton showed why they are good prospects. BUT-and here’s the but. Each is still raw. Each has a part of his game that needs refinement before being exposed day in and day out to Major League pitching. But I’m way out on a limb with Correa. He’ll be outstanding. And he’s a huge 6-foot-4 at age 19.

I saw the Twins. I feel sorry for my Twins fan friends. The team is empty. There is little to no depth. And the loss of Miguel Sano is a crushing blow.

Lou Brock took the lineups to home plate before the Cardinals game I saw. Way cool.

The water in Phoenix tastes much better than Florida’s water. But the best water anywhere? Chicago. By far. Love Chicago water.

Tigers don’t look as solid and as complete to me this year. Their fine at the top of the order, but it goes sour very quickly thereafter. And I have concern about their top prospect-Nick Castellanos. Will he hit Major League breaking balls? I’m just askin.

I think the Tigers will really miss Doug Fister. And Jhonny Peralta. And Price Fielder.

Look for Brad Ausmus to attempt more stolen bases, put on the hit and run and be more aggressive than Jim Leyland. He’s going to make things happen.

Who plays left field for the Tigers now that Andy Dirks is having back surgery? I look for a platoon of Rajai Davis and Don Kelly. And by the way, Jose Iglesias has not played yet. There are concerns he may not be available for opening day. Hernan Perez? Ramon Santiago is gone. There are some holes Tigers fans. Some holes.

Jhonny Peralta hit two home runs against the Tigers. In a Cards uniform.

Someone with the Yankees told me there are times they have nearly 100 Japanese media following Masahiro Tanaka. And when I saw Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch for the Mets, there were about 30 Japanese media at that game. It’s fabulous that they love their players so much and their fans have such a thirst for the progress of their guys.

I’m not eating well. Either is Rafael Furcal. Looks like he’s put on a few lbs. Well actually, more than a few. But he’s the Marlins second baseman. For now.

The Tigers and Marlins could use Stephen Drew. And that’s just among the teams I’ve seen so far. How does he not have a job yet?

We have a 90% chance of rain today in Orlando. That means there’s a 10% chance it won’t rain. And you thought I couldn’t do math. So today you learned I’m a computer wizard (remember band width from above) and a math genius.

Oh, by the way. Some of you have asked if I’ll have my fantasy selections on BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD. The answer is….yes. As soon as this weekend. I’ll talk about guys I want and guys I’ll avoid.

OMG, IMO I can LOL at my limited computer skills. How’s that for knowing computer talk? Bet you didn’t know I could do that. I can sling it with the best of you. Or, not.

And listen, thanks for reading my work at MLBPipeline.com and for following me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff.

That’s it. I’m done.

Spring Training-The First Week

Ok-so here I am in Jupiter Florida after watching a few games in The Cactus League the first week.

I haven’t seen Clayton Kershaw throw up high as often as he did on Opening Day at Salt River. And that’s a no no against professional baseball hitters. Kershaw didn’t look comfortable at all on the mound. After he left the game, he threw another 15 pitches in the pen. I have no worries about Kershaw. But it was interesting. Nothing was working for him.

Yes, I noticed that Yasiel Puig looked bigger. It was all in his lower body. I didn’t see any weight gain that impacted his speed on a ringing double he hit to dead left-center. It was a shot that just jumped off his batt. Great, great bat speed.

Brandon McCarthy was playing catch in his first start. He looked as sharp and as confident as I’ve ever seen him. If it keeps up, you’ll see smiles on the Dbacks faces.

I still think J. J. Putz will not give up his closer role to Addison Reed without putting up a fight. But I still think Reed will close. At least to begin the season. We’ll see.

We all talk about Didi Gegorius and Chris Owings being in a battle for the shortstop role in Arizona. But let me tell you–Cliff Pennington is a fine defensive shortstop. He makes all the plays and he has a gun for an arm. A club or two may want him.

Paul Goldschmidt was beaten on pitches up in his eyes. In three weeks he won’t swing at that pitch. For now, however, the high pitch probably looks too good to pass up.

The Indians and Reds both wore new jerseys. The Indians have the traditional C on the front and a red and blue combination on the back. I like em. The Reds sported a black warmup and they looked beautiful. I had never seen those before.

The Reds Logan Ondrusek is 6-foot-8, 230 pounds and he pitches downhill. What a great weapon he is is for the pen.

I got my first look at Alex Guerrero. He’s smaller and lighter than I had thought. His power has to come from somewhere. He was late on some pitches but I think he’ll come around. I see him as a wrist hitter. Good swing. Henry Aaron was the best wrist hitter I’ve ever seen. So if Guerrero uses his wrists, I can see some pop.

Where does Jedd Gyorko get his power? He has huge legs. His lower body does much of the work in his swing. I can see him hitting for power. Very strong guy.

Worries for the Mariners. Iwakuma and Walker are going to be delayed. A couple of injuries that have to be monitored and not rushed. Suddenly, a rather nice pitching staff could take an early April hit.

I look for Mike Zunino to have a very solid year for the Mariners. Rushed to the big leagues a bit, Zunino has everything needed to succeed with the bat. His defense is still a work in progress.

Jesus Montero is the balloon we see once the party is over. It starts to deflate a bit. He had some promise. But the Yankees must have known what they were doing. I can’t describe how awkward and desperate his swing looked. It was like-”Let me try this.” It doesn’t look pretty.

It was good to see the Padres Rymer Liriano playing again. He blew out his arm and had surgery. He’s back now, and I think he can have an impactful bat.

I’d like to see Lonnie Chisenhall hit against every left-hander possible this spring. There is no way he will ever get better (and he does need to get better) watching them from the bench or just hitting against them in batting practice. If Chisenhall is going to be a player, he has to play. And he has to hit lefties.

John Axford may have been the beneficiary of the Cardinals pitching gurus. Believe me, he looked very smooth on the mound with his mid-90′s fastball working with sink for the Indians.

Thank you for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my work at MLBPipeline.com. It is much appreciated.

That’s it. I’m done.

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