Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Knuckle Ball:Volume Five

In the fifth edition in the critically acclaimed "Knuckle Ball" segment, I will analyze three items in the world of baseball that I decipher need discussing.  At one point this summer I made the ascertation that I would eat crow if the Minnesota Twins stay in the playoff race or do the unthinkable and actually make the post-season dance. This playoff push has been a unexpected one for the fine folks of St.Paul, but the point of interest that deserves to be explored is whether fan favourite Joe Mauer is actually bringing the team down in the midst of this run. Second, I give my opinion on who deserves to start the opening game for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League divisional series, Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke. To finish off the slate, although some may vehemently disagree with this I will look to theorize why I'm of the belief that Houston Astros manager A.J Hinch has gone from quite possibly being considered the favourite to win the American League Manager of the year to being on the hot seat a little less than a month later.

Joe Mauer was to Minnesota baseball as to what fictional Gordon Bombay was to Minnesota hockey. Without living in the market and using the power of social media to come to this conclusion, Mauer's fandom has surpassed that of the early 90's superstar, the late great Twin Kirby Puckett. For years, it was the Mauer and Morneau show in Minny, I believe affectionately known as the M & M. Chronic injuries to the Canadian Morneau led to his sudden dismissal from Vikings county(cmon,got to throw some NFL into the mix). Since then, Mauer has taken complete control of the leadership dynamic, off the field anyways as on the field his production has tapered off. I think the issue I have with Mauer is the mis-management for how he is used. Courtesy of baseball-reference.com, I was able to bring up the statistics for this Minnesota native and it's clear, him hitting in the third hole is counterintuitive. Throughout his eleven year career he has totaled one hundred and seventeen homeruns and twenty eight of those came in the same year. Mauer is the prototypical on base guy, but event that has decreased over the last two seasons. As reported in the opening, Minnesota has defied even my greater expectations and full credit goes out to former Toronto Blue Jay and current Twin manager Paul Molitor. He's restructured the mindset of this franchise and for that they're in the thick of the wildcard race. I can continue to throw compliments Molitor, but getting back to the subject at hand, I would like to see Molitor alter Mauer's role in the lineup. The Toronto Blue Jays for a  long time were using newly acquired shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the lead-off and Tulowitzki doesn't possess top of the lineup speed and nor does Mauer. Mauer can get on base and allow the likes of Aaron Hicks and Brian Dozier to set the table immaculately for slugger Miguel Sano. This philosophy has begun to gravitate towards the popularity spectrum as more and more teams are focusing on instilling a lead-off hitter who excels with getting on base, not necessarily stealing bases. Get with the times Twins!


Kershaw or Greinke? Greinke or Kershaw? The rotation order will be long debated in Southern California.Truth be told, there isn't a wrong answer, but I'm going to down a certain angle that will lead to only one answer. The fact of the matter is in sports, what would you rather have, a scape goat who's contractually tied to your team long term who a bad loss could potentially rupture the player-fan relationship for years(Kershaw) or somebody you could throw to the wolves if things go awry who's out of a contract after this 2015 campaign(Greinke)? The only answer is starting Greinke in a game one/deciding game scenario because their's too much on the line that could so, so wrong if Kershaw were to start and fail. I'm certain this theory will aggravate most of everybody, particularly die-hard Dodgers fans but I'm okay with this because I'm not one to back down from a strong(crazy) opinion. Dodgers have already talked about making a change managerially if things finish on a negative note thus losing the N.L.D.S(hello Ozzie Guillen???) and what the team needs more than anything is a confident, committed Kershaw going forward. It seems ridiculous to worry about next year in a midst of being in World  Series contention but such is the life of Major League Baseball executive.

Remember Robbie Ftorek? You probably don't, but to refresh the memories of the general observers Robbie Ftorek was the New Jersey  Devils head coach heading into the 1999-2000 season but then was abruptly fired on March 23,2000. I know all about termination but I'm sure in Ftorek's case he wasn't terminated in large part for using "too complex of vocabulary" when sending out e-mails to government corporations(apparently the word aforementioned was too intimidating for my ex-manager). Some company I worked for! Anyways, getting back to Ftorek, after he was let go on that unfortunate March 23rd day, assistant coach Larry Robinson was promoted for the playoff bound team and they went on to win the Stanley Cup. This kind of story is a rare commodity so I wouldn't expect it to be effective but for Houston Astros Manager A.J Hinch, one may proclaim a drastic change is in order? The Houston Astros as of this writing(September 15th,2015) have lost their stake of the American League West lead after carrying it since July 26th. This is a tricky one to decipher because the Astros had zero expectations coming in but now they're here, do they just let status quo overtake everything they've built up or do they try to take advantage of an unprecedented season and make a bold managerial move. I'd be kidding myself if I thought a move such as that was actually going to happen but for fans in Houston, it's time to man up or shut up as the season is falling apart quicker then Tiger Woods' golf game so we shall see if Astros organization has the same level of guts as the New Jersey Devils did.

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