Toronto Blue Jays SS Yunel Escobar expected to surpass disappointing 2010 season

01/29/2011 10:02 AM - Devo

Yunel Escobar.jpgWhen Alex Anthopoulos traded Alex Gonzalez to the Atlanta Braves for Yunel Escobar, the majority of Jays’ fans were fine with it. 

Gonzalez on average will give you 16 HR and 70 RBI.  Escobar on the other hand, had a great 2009; 14 HR, 76 RBI, .299 BA, .377 OBP.  Not bad for a third year player in only his second full season commanding the middle infield. 

Technically, not much difference when comparing the numbers, only that Anthopoulos traded for a much younger player, one whose skills and ability looked to be ready to blossom.  Trouble is, Escobar seemed to regress in 2010. 

Escobar was playing in a pitchers park – Turner Field – while Gonzalez was in the friendly confines of the Rogers Centre.  Unfortunately, Escobar’s number pre-and-post trade were extremely underwhelming and beg one to ask why? 

The “shortstop of the future” showed signs of life when arriving in Toronto.  Case in point, Escobar’s slugging percentage jumped 72 percentage points, unfortunately that can be attributed to a hitter friendly park and pitchers that are not familiar with his abilities. 

The tell-tale sign of an unnoticed or quite possibly underlying issues was Escobar’s inability to produce; his 35 RBI’s weren’t even half of his 2009 total.  It mystifies me that someone with all the attributes was unable to find a rhythm in an offense that led the majors in home runs and slugging. 

If this sounds familiar you’re right.  The underachieving tag has made its way to Jose Reyes, who, for whatever reason, has not quite lived up to the lofty expectations that we as fans paste on many. 

In the meantime, Reyes and Escobar are on opposite ends of the spectrum.  Reyes an established veteran at 28 entering his ninth MLB season, never had the drop-off Escobar had, and for $9 million plus a season, no matter what Reyes does might not ever be good enough.   

Escobar’s salary is equivalent to approximately 31% of his National League counterpart.  In layman’s terms; Yunel can get away with this for another year or two until the what if whispers become a reality.

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective

Devon is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey.  He is also a contributor to the Canadian Baseball Network.  Devon is a Demand Media Studios writer, featured writer on Examiner.com , member of the Yarbarker Network, and is an Associate member of The Professional Writers Association of Canada.

Devon is a former professional baseball player with the
River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies

He has continued to further his knowledge by completing Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class and interning with The Football Outsiders.

Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com

You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and facebook

 

The curious case of Jose Bautista

01/23/2011 12:09 PM - Devo

Jose Bautista 2.jpg54 home runs, 124 RBI, fourth in the American League MVP voting, and still no love for this guy. 

Despite his career year with Toronto Blue Jays, filled with career highs and team records, and the infamous distinction for biggest home run differential from one year to the next, Bautista’s 2010 campaign is being treated as an apparition. 

Many are comparing it to Brady Anderson and his breakout year of 1996.  Anderson who had never hit more than 20 big fly’s up to that point burst onto the scene with a year he would never come close to duplicating; 50HR, 110RBI, .297/.396/.637.  Of course there are many other cases, and its not just the majors where a career year comes and goes. 

Take for example, Ian Church of the 2006 Kalamazoo Kings.  In Church’s three previous Indy seasons he totalled nine home runs and 87 RBI.  In 06’, after some obvious adjustments, Church left the yard 31 times tallying 78 RBI.  Again, numbers he would never duplicate. 

The question is, can Bautista come anywhere near the numbers he has just produced? 

Since the Jays traded their 1997 first-round pick Vernon Wells to the Anaheim Angels, all signs are pointing to Bautista getting his long-term contract.  Of the other two options, a one-year deal or go to arbitration, the obvious suggests Bautista walks away with more than the $2.4 million he earned last season one way or another. 

Questions obviously arise from how and why Bautista, under the radar for so long, appeared out of nowhere to have one of the greatest turnarounds in the game’s history?

PED and steroid questions arose in late August while Bautista put #40 on the board.    Unfortunately, speculation exists, and will always exist until the stigma of “the steroid years” subsides. 

Because of the speculation coupled with the meteoric rise in his numbers, Alex Anthopoulos is in a precarious position. 

Vernon Wells is the perfect example.  He signs an astronomical contract, doesn’t live up to the hype and is literally a sacrificial lamb to anyone looking for a reason why the Jays can’t topple the mighty New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.  Management is in a unique position where it can avoid the big pay day for at least one more year. 

Wanting more proof of the calibre of player the Jays have, this can go to arbitration and the Jays can bite the bullet for one season.  If Bautista produces anywhere close to what he accomplished, all the better. Prepare the papers and sign him up.  If midway through the season Bautista appears to regress into his MLB average, undoubtedly you have made the right decision. 

Of course this process can leave a bad taste in the mouths’ of all parties involved.  The curious case of Jose Bautista is just that. 

The team is blessed with an unknown commodity where values can fluctuate on a whim.  A difficult situation indeed, but what makes me cringe is if Bautista hits 30 home runs this year, his historic 2010 will be written off as fluke. 

Whether its right or wrong, it’s all up for debate.

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective

Devon is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey.  He is also a contributor to the Canadian Baseball Network.  Devon is a Demand Media Studios writer, featured writer on Examiner.com , member of the Yarbarker Network, and is an Associate member of The Professional Writers Association of Canada.

Devon is a former professional baseball player with the
River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies

He has continued to further his knowledge by completing Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class and interning with The Football Outsiders.

Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com

You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and facebook

 

Crowning one Independent Champion is achievable

01/19/2011 5:28 AM - Devo
Baseball Champions.jpgThe North American Baseball League formed with the merger of three Independent Leagues; Golden Baseball League, Northern League, United League. 

The collaboration is more than the financial constraints and difficulties that one way or another contributed to its inception.  There is more to it than that, the NAL is now the largest, in number of teams and geography, professional Independent baseball league worldwide

Those unfamiliar with the Indy game should really make a point of viewing the websites of the six majors; 

American Association  

Atlantic League

CanAm League

Frontier League

North American Baseball League

Pecos League

 The Indy’s represent that last chance for many players looking for their shot at glory, on the other end of the spectrum the leagues represent an opportunity for players who believe they were skipped over in the draft and deserve that one opportunity. 

Every team is faced with obstacles that are at times, impossible to overcome. Why the goal is to be successfully financially and at the same time producing a quality product, its tough when the city they plan in is surrounded by popular metropolitan areas each with their own big four franchise; MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL. 

How can a team with a limited budget and resources expect to survive when competing against corporate conglomerates? 

Grass roots marketing at its most basic level is likely what each franchise is reduced too. All lack major corporate sponsorships, limited opportunities to be seen on television and all without that one personality who can attract the masses.   

My two month foray into professional Independent baseball, was more or less what I had expected it to be.  The game at any professional level is a business, something I grudgingly accepted after the fact.  When you are a big fish in a small pond and thrust into a situation where hundreds are attempting to do the exact same thing as you, it really puts the situation into perspective. 

And while I was no one special, the talent on any of the teams could rival that of a High single-A or Low double-A minor league affiliate (obviously depending on the league).  My teammates on the Gateway Grizzlies had played in every class of professional ball from single-A with the now defunct South Georgia Waves (affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodger), up to triple-A with the Sacramento River Cats, (affiliate of the Oakland Athletics). 

With all that experience and after preparing my piece on the birth of the NAL, I started thinking about how and if one ultimate Independent Champion could be crowned.   

On the surface it seems pretty simple; at the end of the year all league champions meet up in a winner take all tournament to finally lay claim to the true Independent Champion. 

Puncturing the surface of the issues at hand, sooner or later exposes the real issues, leaving hopefuls disappointed at the amount of work needed to see this through. 

The length of time to complete this would be well beyond the capacity of everyone involved. 

 If we were attempting to crown one winner, all league champions would square off in one tournament at the end of the season; one game-sudden death-winner take all style.  #1 seed v. #6 seed, #2 v. #5 and so on.  Here is where it gets tricky. 

Four of the leagues play approximately 100 games a season while the Pecos League plays only a 68 game schedule and the Atlantic League tops out at 140 games per year. 

Upon speaking with Mr. John Kuhn, president of the 2010 Frontier League Champion River City Rascals, one of the main obstacles, in all actuality, would be the time frame that this process would take, 

"In someways this could work, however financially it would not pan out for some players, as many of them are trying to finish graduate school, and/or have jobs outside of the game" 

Makes complete sense.  Keep this in mind though, even if each league cancelled their playoffs, the Atlantic League season runs into mid-to-late September while the Frontier League completes it season near Labour Day. 

For arguments sake, let’s agree that in a perfect world all leagues complete their season before school starts and everyone is available for some sort of year end tournament.  Is it even feasible to sustain a plan this big with so many moving parts?

After speaking with Mr. Rich Ehrenreich, president of The Lake County Fielders; he noted that numerous areas have to align before something of this magnitude could take place, 

 "I think it could work with a significant advertising partner, revenue sharing among the participants, and certainly the right location". 

Following my conversation with Mr. Kuhn and Mr. Ehrenreich, this proposal shows signs of promise, regrettably there are many forces working against it. 

Ultimately the collaboration that made up the NAL is what led to me taking on this cause.  With that being said, what better person to speak to than Mr. Kevin Outcalt, Chief Executive Officer, North American Baseball League. 

When speaking to Mr. Outcalt, there were many questions relating to the new NAL, salaries, structure, the ultimate formation of the league, eventually leading to his thought regarding the Independent Champion idea, 

Find below part of my discussion, 

Devon:  Mr. Outcalt, with the merger of the Golden Baseball League, Northern League, and United League Baseball, the North American Baseball League is now the largest independent professional baseball league in existence.  With the economic struggles facing many sports teams and leagues in general, theoretically the NAL has the opportunity to take Indy ball to the next level.  It can increase viewership, increase revenue, and open the eyes of many to the calibre of baseball that is played throughout the Independent Leagues.  The influx of talent in your organization can comparably rival those of any independent league.  What would you think of determining an Independent Champion, just for the sake of bragging rights?

Kevin Outcalt:  It could definitely benefit the state of the game.  If you could group the top teams from each league in a tournament style setting in one venue over a three-to-four day stretch, conceivably it could happen and be very successful... The North American League is ready to participate in this at the conclusion of this season and would be willing to host the Championship Tournament.
 

Will the baseball world get to see an Independent Champion in the near future?   

I can’t really answer that question.  There are positives and negatives to each side.  Different leagues have different calibre of players, some play unrelenting schedules, and various outside factors play a bigger role than we may think.   

In any case, it’s worth a second look, and perhaps some entrepreneur or an advertising guru is already concocting a proposal that might bring the impossible to a reality near you! 

In preparation for this article I have been fortunate enough to speak to some very generous people who gave their time to benefit this piece.  I am very grateful for their contributions, insight, and wish them all the very best for the upcoming 2011 season. I would like to thank John Kuhn, Rich Ehrenreich, and Kevin Outcalt for the time and expertise.  Without your first-hand knowledge and experience, it would undoubtedly lack the authenticated feel it presents.

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective

Newest member of the Pecos League: Ruidoso Osos

01/16/2011 4:28 PM - Devo

Ruidoso Osos.gifTo continue my latest string of Independent baseball news, the new upstart Pecos League has introduced its newest club: Ruidoso Osos. 

Ruidoso fills the void left by the Clovis Pioneers who unfortunately will be left out in the cold after John Harris departed to run the Amarillo Sox of the American Association. 

According to the Pecos League website, Ruidoso is an ideal location, located in a tourist hot spot.  Makes sense to me! 

Everything is a go for the Osos, for now, yet this is not the best way to start off the New Year. 

The Pecos League literally took the place of the Continental League, probably the least known of all Indy Leagues, and in my estimation could have inherited all the problems that came with it.  Quite possibly a brand new start is what everyone needed? 

Now that Golden Baseball League, Northern League and United League Baseball merged to form the North American Baseball League, you must, in all sincerity wonder if the new kids on the block can hang in there for a full season.  I would love to see it. 

Look at their motto for instance ““The league's high power offenses are fueled by high altitudes and smaller ballparks” 

While the Pecos League is new and is presenting a product very familiar with millions of people, it might have just found its niche. 

Behind the eight-ball with all the odds stacked against them, this organization might surprise many,  and that is exactly what we are hoping for!

  Devon Teeple is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of  Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey.   Devon is also a contributor to the Canadian Baseball Network

Devon is a
Demand Media Studios writer, featured writer on Examiner.com and is now a member of the Yarbarker Network.

He is a former professional baseball player with the
River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies.

Devon is a former student within
Sports Management Worldwide’s Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and is an intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels.

 Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada.  He can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com , thegmsperspective@yahoo.com ordevon@businessofsportsnetwork.com

**Devon is member of The Professional Writers Association of Canada**
**Devon is available for hire or freelance opportunities**

 

 


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