Is It Time for a Robot Strike Zone?

Posted on October 14th, 2015 by Matt | Posted in Uncategorized

Every baseball fan knows the feeling – you are watching your favorite team play a close game, when a bad ball or strike call costs them a chance to score a run. As a fan, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing the bat taken out of a player’s hands due to a mistake by an umpire. Of course, umpires have an incredibly hard job, as the ball is frequently flying past the plate at more than 90 miles per hour. To get all of the ball and strike calls correct would be impossible for a human – which is why so many fans are now calling for the use of a robot strike zone.umpire

This is a compelling option for one specific reason – the technology is already in place. Each stadium is already equipped with the gear to track proper ball and strike calls, and that data is used to evaluate umpire performance on an ongoing basis. So, instead of using that data to teach the umpires, why not just use the computer to call balls and strikes in the first place? It seems like an obvious step to take.

The Devil is in the Details

Getting calls correct game in and game out would obviously benefit baseball as a whole. It leaves a bad impression on fans when umpires get in the way of an otherwise good game, so having the computer call balls and strikes would improve the experience for everyone involved. However, it would have to be implemented in such as way that it would not slow the game down or fundamentally chance the course of action. The home plate umpire would still be required because there are other non-ball/strike calls and decisions that need to be made. Perhaps that umpire could be given a device that would indicate whether each pitch was a ball or a strike? Something that works seamlessly into the flow of the game would obviously be the goal.

Not If, but When

It seems like a forgone conclusion that balls and strikes will be called by ‘robot umpires’ at some point in the near future. Baseball resisted instant replay for years, only to add it and have it be largely successful. It will likely be the same story for the robot strike zone. Once the idea is seriously considered, there will be resistance at first until everyone finally understands that it is for the good of the game in the long run. Certainly long-time baseball fans will find the concept strange at first, but everyone will be able to enjoy a game that is fairly contested without the risk of a bad ball or strike call at a crucial time ruining the competition.



Trout and Harper – Stars on Islands

Posted on October 7th, 2015 by Matt | Posted in Uncategorized

Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are two of the best young players in the game – on that point, there can be no debate. Both Trout and Harper combine power with speed in a way that is rarely seen. Trout has already established himself as the best player in the world with this performance over the past three years, but Harper is working hard to challenge him for that title. Hopefully, both of these players will stay healthy and baseball fans will be able to seem them thrive for many years to come.trout

Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing either of these great players in the 2015 playoffs. Both the Angels and Nationals have had success in recent years, although neither have been able to get all the way to the World Series. This year, each team has taken a step back, as the Nationals were blown away late in the year by the Mets and the Angels struggled to score runs for much of the season. The baseball playoffs will still be plenty exciting, but not having either Harper or Trout present is somewhat disappointing to the average fan.

The Outlook

Between the two, it seems more likely that Harper returns to the playoffs in the near future. The Nationals have a collection of talented players beyond Harper, such as Anthony Rendon and Max Scherzer. While they struggled with injuries in 2015, the Nationals could quickly rebound with the help of a few offseason adjustments.

The outlook for the Angels, however, is not quite as rosy. Trout is under contract for several years to come, which is obviously great news. On the other hand, so is Albert Pujols, who has already declined dramatically from his glory days with the Cardinals. After 138 games in the 2015 season, Albert has offered plenty of power with 38 home runs – but little else. He is hitting just .245, with a .306 OBP that is way below his career average. At this point, Pujols is contributing some benefit to the offense, but it is yet to be seen how long that will continue. There are six more years left on Pujols contract, including a $30 million salary due in 2021. It seems rather unlikely that Pujols is a significant contributor at that point. The money tied up in Pujols contract could weigh heavy on the budget for the next few seasons.

Hopefully both Mike Trout and Bryce Harper will be back in the playoffs in the near future. They are exciting young stars who both bring plenty of excitement to the game in their own way. Of course, baseball is a team game, and each player will need a solid supporting cast if they are going to move deep into October.

Three Big Free Agent Targets for 2016

Posted on September 30th, 2015 by Matt | Posted in Uncategorized

Every offseason seems to bring with it a new crop of highly talented free agent players – and the 2016 list will be no different. There are plenty of great names that will be hitting the free agent market, and huge contracts are sure to be handed out all winter long. While you can’t necessarily buy your success in the offseason, you can certainly help your chances by bringing in one of the top names on the market. A front line starting pitcher or a middle of the order power hitter can mean the difference between making the playoffs and going home early next fall.chrisdavis

There are far more than three great players on the free agent market this winter, but the three below are likely to land some of the biggest contracts.

Jason Heyward

What makes Heyward unique is not just his set of skills, but also his age. Jason Heyward will only be 26 years old when the season starts next year, which is unusual for a free agent. Since he made his debut at such a young age, Heyward started the ‘clock’ on his free agency date younger than most. Also, unlike a player like Mike Trout, Heyward never signed an early contact extension, meaning he is hitting the market looking for his first big deal. Of course, he will have no trouble finding it. The power numbers haven’t really come along for Heyward like many expected, but he is still an excellent player. With plenty of speed, skill on defense, and the ability to get on base, somebody is going to write a big check to bring in this talented outfielder.

Chris Davis

The Orioles slugger will be hitting the market this winter, and there are plenty of teams around both leagues that could benefit from a power hitting first baseman. Davis is picking an excellent time to have a good season, as his stock is certainly higher now than it was at the start of the year. Davis will be 30 when the 2016 season starts, which may limit the length of his contract slightly – but he should still be expected to command a large sum.

David Price

It just might be that David Price ends up with the biggest contract of all during the offseason. There simply isn’t anything not to like about what Price brings to the game. He throws hard, he works deep in games, and he has been durable to this point in his career. His stock doesn’t need to go up any further for him to command a $200 million deal, but his profile will be enhanced even more if he takes the Blue Jays all the way to a World Championship.

Toronto Suddenly Looks Like the World Series Favorite

Posted on September 23rd, 2015 by Matt | Posted in Uncategorized

No team has waited longer between playoff appearances than the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays won the 1992 and 1993 World Series, only to see the 1994 World Series cancelled by a labor strike. While it didn’t seem likely at the time, those back-to-back World Series titles were the last playoff appearances period for the Blue Jays for more than two decades. While there have been plenty of bad Blue Jays teams over the past twenty years, they have also had the bad luck of playing in the same division as the Red Sox and the Yankees. However, that is all changing, as the 2015 version of the Blue Jays will head into the playoffs as a World Series favorite.

Josh Donaldson Coup

Getting Josh Donaldson from the A’s last offseason might be looked back on as the one transaction that changed the path of the Blue Jays for several seasons to come. Donaldson very well could wind up donaldsonwinning the AL MVP in 2015, as Mike Trout has faded from what was considered to be a two-horse race. Through 141 games, Donaldson has hit 38 home runs and driven in 119 runs – certainly MVP-caliber numbers. Add his high-quality defense to his proven offense and you have one of the very best players in the game. The players that Toronto gave up in order to get Donaldson – Franklin Barreto, Kendall Graveman, Brett Lawrie, and Sean Nolin – are unlikely to ever combine to produce the kind of impact that Donaldson has already had in Toronto.

Adding Mr. Price

As if having Josh Donaldson to go along with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion isn’t enough, the Blue Jays were also able to add free agent-to-be David Price to their rotation at the trading deadline. With Price heading the pitching staff and an offense that is unrivaled in terms of power, it is hard to see the Jays as anything but Series favorites heading to October. David Price will likely not be around for long in Toronto, but he will be remembered fondly if he is able to deliver the fans a World Series title.

Will the Power Disappear?

The big question for the Blue Jays heading into the playoffs is whether or not the power will continue to show up all the way through October. Teams that are highly reliant on the home run notoriously struggle in the playoffs for a variety of reasons. For one, the weather cools down, making it harder to hit homeruns. Also, in short series, managers can match up pitchers better to hitters, making at bats harder in general. While there is plenty of talent in Toronto on both sides of the ball, the Jays and their fans will need to hope there is no power outage when October rolls around.

Could Yoenis Cespedes Really Be the NL MVP?

Posted on September 16th, 2015 by Matt | Posted in Uncategorized

The 2015 version of the New York Mets included a great pitching staff, but the offense didn’t seem to have enough punch to take the Mets to the next level. The Nationals were considered the clear favorite in the East, and the Mets appeared to have little chance of securing a Wild Card spot to get into the playoffs. At least, that was the story in the middle of July. In only a couple of months’ time, however, the story has changed, and the Mets are running away with the division title.cespedes

What happened? Yoenis Cespedes, mostly. A July 31st trade send Cespedes from the Tigers to the Mets, and the team hasn’t been the same since. In his first 41 games with the Mets, Cespedes has hit an incredible 17 home runs, to go along with 42 RBI and a .309 batting average. He has quite simply be one of the best players in the game for the second half of the season, and the Mets offense looks nothing like the light-hitting squad that played the first few months of the year.

Is He MVP Worthy?

The big question surrounding Cespedes is concerning his candidacy for NL MVP. There are strong arguments on both sides of the debate, but the argument really comes down to this – can a player win the MVP with only two years in the league? After all, Cespedes played the first four months of the season in Detroit, while Bryce Harper was already busy tearing up the National League. So, does Harper win the award for a year-long campaign, or should Cespedes get it for leading the Mets past Harper’s Nationals?

There isn’t an easy answer to this question. In the end, Harper will very likely win the award based on his full season of work. And it’s not like he isn’t deserving – Harper has had one of the best seasons by a player in any league for a long time.

Getting Paid

Yoenis Cespedes probably isn’t worried too much about the NL MVP trophy, mostly because he is going to be getting paid big time in the coming offseason. As an impending free agent, there will be countless teams pursuing Cespedes to help them push for the playoffs. He has already proven what he can do for a team that needs some offensive punch, so there are sure to be plenty of 9-figure offers waiting for this powerful player.

Fast Start in the A.L. Central

Posted on May 20th, 2015 by Matt | Posted in Uncategorized

Before the season began, there were question marks surrounding two specific American League Central teams – the Tigers and the Royals. The Royals were coming off of a World Series appearance, but they had lost both James Shields and Billy Butler. The Tigers are the defending division champions, but Justin Verlander was forced to start the season on the DL and there have been health concerns for both Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. When spring training wrapped up, the door seemed to be wide open for a team like the Indians or the White Sox to make an impression in the division. That hasn’t happened.

Scorching Start for Both

All the Tigers and Royals have done to start the season is go a combined 21-5 while sanchezoutscoring their opponents by a total of 68 runs combined. Each team has thoroughly dominated their competition, and none of the other teams in the division are above .500 in the early going. Where it appeared that the division would be wide open heading into the summer, it now looks like it might be a two-horse race all season long.

Incredible Pitching by the Tigers

Even with Justin Verlander on the DL, the Tigers lead the American League having allowed just 36 total runs in 13 games. As would be expected, their offense has done the rest, already scoring 70 times in those 13 games while going 11-2. Cabrera has looked like the star that he is, and Victor Martinez has mostly picked up where he left off last season. Should Verlander be able to make a healthy and effective return to the rotation, the Tigers just may be the best team in the American League after all.

Surprising Royals Offense

Even during their run to the American League Pennant last season, the Royals were never a team that was intimidating at the plate. They used mostly speed and small ball to score a few runs, and then would turn a lead over to their dominant bullpen for the win. That recipe was a success last October, but so far this April, they have turned the offense up to a new level. Leading the league with 75 runs scored, the Royals have managed to combine excellent hitting with their reliable pitching. Just when everyone was ready to assume that the Royals playoff run was a one-year experience, they appear to be right back in contention for the 2015 campaign.

Four 2013 MLB Rookies to Watch

Posted on September 4th, 2013 by Matt | Posted in Players, Uncategorized

It is no secret that rookie card are among the most valuable collectibles in the baseball market. If you are able to secure a nice collection of rookie baseball cards from players who go on to be big stars, you can see that collection accumulate nicely in value over the years. The trick, of course, is identifying those rookies before they get famous and their cards become too expensive to bother investing in. You need to pay close attention all around the league and spot players with the tools and opportunity to make a big impact in the game. While guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper don’t come along very often, there are usually one or two rookies a year that will go on to have great careers.

Consider all of the following four players who are rookies in 2013 for your collections. Not all of them will go on to the Hall of Fame, but these players a good bet to have long and successful major league careers.

Yasiel Puig – Los Angeles Dodgers

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have certainly seen the exploits of this Dodger outfielder on a regular basis this summer. Driving the resurgence of the Dodgers, Puig has been hitting for average and power, playing great defense, and exciting the crowd. He has since cooled off after an incredible start, but is still playing at an All-Star level. If he is able to learn some plate discipline and make pitchers throw him strikes going forward, Puig could be a force for a long time to come. Yasiel Puig-Dodgers-Baseball Card

Wil Myers – Tampa Bay Rays

Many in baseball thought that the Royals made a mistake when giving up the young Wil Myers for James Shields last off season – and it is sure looking that way right now. Myers is killing the ball in Tampa Bay and has held them in the A.L. East race despite the struggles of Evan Longoria. With easy power and impressive plate discipline for such a young player, it is hard to imagine much that could go wrong with his game.

Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves

The fire balling rooking right hander for the Braves has really come on of late, amassing more than 120 strikeouts in just 22 starts. While the Braves continue to run away with the N.L. East, Teheran has steadied the rotation after the freak injury to veteran Tim Hudson. If Atlanta is to make their way into the Fall Classic this October, it is likely that Teheran will be a big part of the equation.

Yan Gomes – Cleveland Indians

Young catchers don’t tend to draw a lot of attention (unless they are named Joe Mauer). However, Gomes is starting to turn some heads by hitting over .300 in his rookie season. Gomes is 26 already, limiting his future to some degree, but if he keeps hitting like he has there is little in the way of an excellent career. Catcher is a position that is hard to fill with talented offensive players, so Jon Gomes will be a player to watch in the coming seasons.

Baseball Collectibles as Investments Part 2

Posted on May 18th, 2012 by admin | Posted in Baseball Cards, Bats, Uncategorized

(Continued from Baseball Collectibles as Investments Part 1)

Baseball Collectibles as Investments Part 2

Part one discussed current and future players that baseball collectors should consider “investing” in, as their value will more than likely increase over time.  This article will continue to delve into baseball collectibles as investments, but in this case providing five principles to consider when investing.

As stated in the previous article, the economy isn’t in the best of shape right now, making investments in places such as the stock market very risky, with drastic changes occurring more often than not on a daily basis.  A great way to diversify your investments is to consider baseball collectibles that will increase over time if kept in the right condition.  Here are five principles to keep in mind if you are trying to invest in baseball collectibles.


It is important to realize that price plays a considerable role when it comes to baseball collectibles.  What makes baseball collectibles such a great investment is that there is an up-front cost to purchase the particular collectible, along with any sort of protection for it such as a case.  After that though you don’t have to do anything, just sit back and watch the item appreciate over time.  Therefore, make sure to keep this in mind when purchasing a baseball collectible.  It may cost you more upfront to get the added protection, but it will be well worth it in the end.

Buy and Sell at the Right Time

Like the stock market, there is a time to buy and a time to sell when it comes to baseball collectibles.  In order to get the most money off of the baseball collectible you must buy it when the player is the least well-known.  Perhaps and injury occurred or this particular player had an offseason.  Whatever the case, it is always best to avoid buying collectibles of a player when they are in their prime, as there will be potentially less room for appreciation.

Buy Genuine Collectibles

What do I mean by this?  Make sure that the collectible is authentic and real before even considering buying it.  If you really want to build up sound investments of baseball collectibles, all of them will have to be authenticated in some way or another, so as to allow their re-sale value to be as high as possible.  If you don’t buy a collectible that has been authenticated you run the risk of it being a copy or a fake, which not only means a loss of money but a loss of time and effort as well.

Less Signing is Better

Generally speaking, it is always best to buy autographed collectibles from baseball players who rarely sign things as opposed to players who do it often?  Why?  It is simply a matter of supply and demand.  If there are a lot of autographed collectibles out on the market by a particular player, the value of them will more than likely be low, whereas if there are few the prices of them will go up considerably.  Remember, less signing is better when it comes to players and autographed collectibles.

Focus on High Quality

Last but not least, in order to have a sound baseball collectible as an investment it must be of the highest quality possible.  There are some instances where there are collectibles that will be in fair condition no matter what due to age, and that is okay, so long as you know it is one of the best-conditioned collectibles out on the market today.  Only buy from the most reputable dealers, and as stated earlier always make sure that it is authenticated.  If you follow all of these principles you should do fine for yourself when using baseball collectibles as a form of investment.