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Booed Off The Team

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Booed Off The Team

Posted on 28 February 2013 by Jennifer Gosline

Every season there is that black sheep of the team. The one that has to endure embarrassing ridicule from their own fans.

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The player has to constantly listen to the collective booing throughout the ballpark. Heckling angry voices on their own turf.

When fans are upset with a particular player they have no issue letting them know. Sometimes the cruelty happens even before the struggling player steps into the batter’s box. He is supposed to be supported at his home field, instead he is viciously mocked before he even has a chance to swing the bat.

As the regular season approaches, I wonder who will be singled-out this year.

It is no question that fans will be disappointed when a player’s performance is lacking, but how does all their negativity affect the player? The distraction must make it more difficult to break out of that struggle. Then as the howling gets louder, the player becomes worse until eventually some are booed off the team.

I often think about what goes through these players minds when all of this is happening. If they want to get traded or released after being constantly rejected, or if they use the haters as motivation to prove them wrong.

When I initially started to write this post it was more in the favor of the fans. I did not want the risk of the negative comments and being basically booed off this website, but I suppose no matter what the opinion is, some people are always going to find a way to tear it down.

So this is how I really feel: I do not agree with the lack of compassion that some fans display. Not only lack of compassion, but complete disregard for good sportsmen-ship. No one is polite anymore.

I do, however, understand the fan’s point of view.

I get why the fans are so upset. They are paying good money for some fine entertainment and they want to see their team win. They are the ones buying the tickets, buying the merchandise, filling the stands, so they should be able to voice their opinions. It is their team and they have the right to be involved. That I agree with.

But what I do not agree with is the obnoxious rants coming from an enormous amount of people. The basic disrespect of others. Just because they are professional athletes does not mean they are immune to emotions. During interviews they say they shake off the negativity and focus on the game, but I think it is more like pouring salt on an open wound. Kicking them when they are down. Constantly being bullied has to play a role in their continuing struggle in the game.

This is supposed to be America’s favorite past time, not a place to be surrounded by complainers. And not a place to show children, some of them future ballplayers, how to tear somebody down.

We live in a society where every one is aware of the bullying that goes on in schools. Adults try to stop it at all costs. There are meetings about it. Articles about it. Videos about it. Adults do not want their kids bullied. So what makes it any different if it is a school or a baseball field? A child or an adult?

Do people think it is okay to harass athletes because they get paid millions of dollars? Yes, I agree if they are paid they need to be doing what they are paid for, but bullying will not make them perform any better. Just as bullying a co-worker or a fellow student will not make them suddenly change.

The players already know they are struggling.

Obviously, being booed off a team is not ideal, and if I have to find a silver lining in all of this, I will. So here is my attempt: There seems to be a pattern where after these players get away from the unforgiving environment, they thrive. It seems like a huge weight is lifted off their shoulders when they find a new team. Suddenly they remember how to make contact with the ball. They figure out how to make plays on the field. They see the ball better.

Brandon Inge, for example, was basically booed out of Detroit and not long after putting on an Oakland Athletics’ uniform he cleared the bases with a Grand Slam. His former teammate Ryan Raburn also heard the boo-birds as a Tiger, and now with the Indians he has gone yard a few times in Spring Training already.

Josh Hamilton was torn apart by Ranger fans and is now expected to be very successful as an Angel. During Nick Swisher’s last at bats as a Yankee, he was maliciously booed and is now an Indian with a new outlook. Justin Upton had some unwelcoming cheers in Arizona as a Diamondback, and now has a fresh start in Atlanta.

Why has it become the norm for fans to be hateful? This simply should not happen. Not to their own team.

I am not saying the players need their hands held, or that they need a medal and some gold stars for just showing up on the field. And I am not trying to put the blame entirely on the fans for a player underperforming. I just think that fans need to remember that ballplayers are only human. They make mistakes. They are not perfect. That is what makes a great game. If everyone was perfect at everything, every single minute of the day, I think that would be boring.

Fans should still be able to cheer and mutter disappointment or use friendly banter, but there is a time when it goes too far. This is, after all, a classy sport.

Respect the game.

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The Roster Report – February 1, 2012

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The Roster Report – February 1, 2012

Posted on 01 February 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hey there, hardball fans! Welcome to the first edition of  The Roster Report here at Full Spectrum Baseball. I’ll be breaking down transactions big and small here at FSB on a twice-weekly basis. Basically, I’m here to get you caught up on the major and minor moves that shape your favorite MLB squads, and give you the best analysis as to how that will affect their on-field success in the future. And if there’s a chance that a move will affect your fantasy baseball team, well, I’ll cover that too! Lastly, if you have any questions or comments, please reach out in the comments section or via Twitter (@bgrosnick), and I’ll do my best to keep up.

This week’s article features acquisitions from the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, and New York Mets. Let’s get to it!

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The Detroit Tigers sign 1B Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214MM contract.
Yeah, you’ve probably already heard about this one. Let’s not talk about Prince, who is already entrenched as the new Tiger 1B, and should continue to be a productive power hitter for at least a few more years. Instead, let’s talk about the rest of the Detroit Tigers, and how this team will be affected by his arrival. First, and most importantly, incumbent first-sacker and perennial MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera is off to third base. While Cabrera’s bat is potent, his glove is not. Cabrera was a poor-fielding third baseman in 2006 and 2007, and he was an average-to-poor fielding first baseman over the past four years, whether you look at advanced metrics like UZR, or just the eye test. With an infield of Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Ryan Raburn, and Prince Fielder, Detroit could offer one of the worst defensive squads in major-league history. They’re basically the opposite of the Ventura-Ordonez-Alfonzo-Olerud “Greatest Infield Ever” that the New York Mets had in the early 2000s. Even worse, Delmon Young, the prohibitive Opening Day left-fielder, is equally awful in the field. The Tigers are going all-in on hitting, and their run prevention will suffer as a result. I would not want to be a ground ball pitcher like Rick Porcello in 2012.

Fielder’s addition and Cabrera’s move definitely changes the makeup of the Detroit bench. With only four bench spots available on most AL squads, versatility will be especially key for the Tigers and manager Jim Leyland. A backup catcher (Gerald Laird) is a necessity, and Ramon Santiago will likely platoon with Ryan Raburn at 2B and back up Jhonny Peralta at short. The last two slots should be going towards a backup outfielder (likely Andy Dirks, who can play all three OF positions), and perhaps long-time Tiger Brandon Inge. Leyland sees Inge as a super-sub who can cycle in not just at his natural 3B, but also at catcher, outfield,  and (according to Leyland) 2B and SS. Inge has never played in the middle of the infield before, but if he can, he would be one of the most versatile players in the majors this year. That’s great and everything, but he still can’t hit a lick. Fortunately, offense should be in heavy supply in the Motor City this season. Don Kelly, who may start the season as the DH, can also back up at the corners.

The Tigers’ addition of another massive bat to the lineup certainly shook up the AL Central, but it shouldn’t shake up the fantasy order of things too much. Miguel Cabrera’s move to third, a woefully weak position in 2012, makes him an easy top-5 pick in any mixed fantasy draft. I’d even look at him as the No. 1 overall choice in many leagues. Prince Fielder may see a drop in HR due to Comerica Park’s debilitating effect on left-handed power, but his overall stats will still keep him as a high-ranking 1B option.  The rest of Detroit’s offensive starters will see a small boost due to the addition of another great hitter, and all of Detroit’s pitchers should lose value due to the newly-porous defense. Doug Fister may have had a brilliant breakout 2011, but his reliance on D will hurt him this season. And I would run away from Rick Porcello, a ground-ball specialist, like he was on fire.

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The Philadelphia Phillies sign LF Juan Pierre to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
Dominic Brown, and plenty of Phillies fans, must be shaking their heads at this one. Though Pierre isn’t guaranteed a spot on the major-league roster, he’ll provide increased competition for the void in left field left by the departure of Raul Ibanez. Competition in LF will be tight, as Pierre must fend off new Phillies Ty Wigginton and Laynce Nix as well as holdovers John Mayberry Jr. and Dominic Brown. Wigginton will probably start at 1B with Ryan Howard out to start the season, but when and if Howard returns (or if Jim Thome can handle everyday duties at first), expect the former Rockie to fill in at LF.

Before the signing of Pierre, the best bet for left field was probably a platoon of John Mayberry Jr. and newly-acquired Laynce Nix. A Nix-Mayberry platoon is actually a pretty solid left fielder, as Mayberry can do some real damage against lefties and Nix strikes the ball hard against right-handers. Both players have home run power and positional versatility. But Dominic Brown is still an excellent prospect with a well-rounded skillset. He’s also one of the few Phillies young enough to be a long-term fixture at Citizens Bank Park. With the Phillies looking to make another run at the World Series, manager Charlie Manuel may want Juan Pierre’s “veteran leadership” more than he would want a good ballplayer in LF, and that’s bad news for those of us who think Brown could be a star soon.

From a fantasy standpoint, Pierre gets another stay of execution. If Juan gets the Opening Day start, it will probably be atop the Philadelphia order, and he’ll go back to racking up SB, R, and batting average, owned in all leagues. Steals are valuable, and even as Pierre’s SB totals slide, he still finds value on any fantasy squad that values speed. But make no mistake, Juan Pierre is no longer a starting-caliber outfielder in real-world baseball. Sooner or later, the Phillies are going to have to run a real player out there in left field, whether it is Dom Brown, Laynce Nix, or John Mayberry. If Dominic Brown gets the LF job, then he’s worth a fantasy own, but Nix and Mayberry may not get enough plate appearances to be fantasy factors in anything but NL-only leagues.

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The San Francisco Giants sign RP / SP Clay Hensley to a one-year, $750K contract.
The Giants signed former Marlin Clay Hensley to a non-guaranteed one-year contract. In my opinion, this is a great, low-risk deal for a reliever who’s been effective in the past. In a full year in relief for the Marlins in 2010, Hensley was very solid, posting an unreal 2.16 ERA and 2.87 FIP. But that isn’t what you should expect from him going forward…he’s unlikely to strike out a batter an inning again. Last year, Hensley regressed, though part of the reason his stats (5.19 ERA, 4.90 FIP) were so bad was due to an unimpressive nine-game run as a starter. Left to his devices in the bullpen, and especially benefiting from San Francisco’s wacky park magic (ESPN’s Park Factors have AT&T Park as the most pitcher-friendly park in MLB), Hensley will probably notch solid rate stats and more than a few holds. This is the kind of low-risk deal on a reliever every team should shoot for.

Quick Hits

  • The San Francisco Giants also added Ryan Theriot on a one-year, $1.25MM contract. The Riot is completely replaceable, a very average option at 2B or SS. But we all know how much Brian Sabean likes bringing in veteran retreads, so this feels like a natural fit. If and when Freddy Sanchez gets injured again, he’ll probably take over at 2B. Avoid in fantasy.
  • Dan Wheeler, a journeyman reliever who last pitched for the Red Sox, signed on with the Cleveland Indians. Wheeler made a bad business decision when he turned down arbitration from the Sox, but then had to settle for a minor-league contract. He’s a very solid reliever, and will probably fit nicely in the Cleveland bullpen, as he posted his best FIP and xFIP in three years with Boston last year. Wheeler even has a little closing experience, so he could get the call if Chris Perez implodes during the season.
  • The Indians also acquired Russ Canzler from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for cash considerations. Canzler hit quite well at Triple-A Durham for the Rays, won the International League MVP award, and could very well compete with Matt LaPorta for time at 1B this season. Canzler has a .411 wOBA over the past two seasons in Double-A and Triple-A, hits for power, and has remarkable plate discipline. Steve Slowinski at DRaysBay advocated making him a part of the Rays major-league roster earlier this offseason, so this could very well be an under-the-radar move that pays big dividends for Cleveland. If he gets a starting gig, he’ll play in fantasy leagues too.
  • The Phillies made another move as part of their bullpen revamp, adding Chad Qualls on a one-year, $1.15MM contract. It’s a good deal for a reliever because it only lasts one year, and Qualls has had a lot of success in the past. In 2011 with the Padres, Chad saw his K rate fall off by two strikeouts per nine innings, but his walk rate and HR rate fell as well, balancing things out. Qualls probably isn’t an elite reliever, or even as good as Antonio Bastardo, but he’s a solid piece for the rebuilt Philadelphia ‘pen, and he came much cheaper than Jonathan Papelbon did.
  • The Mets added former top prospect Matt Tuiasosopo, previously of the Seattle Mariners. Despite being a toolsy player and a former top prospect, Tui played very poorly in Triple-A last season, and is probably nothing more than an organizational depth guy. Tui’s only impact will be on spell-checkers, as he shouldn’t be a factor in fantasy or for the major-league squad. He’s just a guy.

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