Who is Trae Santos?

The Frontier League Homerun Derby took place at Carshield Field in O’Fallon, Missouri this week.  Fans filled the stadium for a chance to see former Cardinals greats compete with Frontier League All-Stars in matchup of local favorites vs. unknown up and comers.  Former Cardinals Mark Whiten, Ray Lankford, Kerry Robinson and Rick Ankiel were set to put on a show for the thousands in attendance. To their surprise they were upstaged by a little known first baseman playing just across the river for the Gateway Grizzlies.  His name was Trae Santos.

Trae Santos put on a show from the first pitch launching mammoth homers over the giant right field wall at Carshield Field.  Santos ran through the Frontier League competitors smashing 22 homers in the first two rounds, setting up a matchup with former Cardinal P/OF Rick Ankiel.  Santos dispatched of Ankiel rather quickly beating his 3 homers in just a few swings.  Fans that had come to see the former Cardinals greats swing left wondering who was this power hitting machine manning first for the Grizzlies.  Who was Trae Santos?

In 2005, star pitcher and first baseman Trae Santos led the Guam Little League team all the way to the semifinals of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. With that success, the Santos family made a momentous decision. They decided to move their family to America where Trae began to make his mark the baseball community. Drafted in the 17th round of the 2013 MLB draft by the San Diego Padres out of Troy University.  Playing 4 seasons in affiliated ball Santos had trouble standing out.  Hitting his peak during the 2015 season, Santos hit 14 homers and drove in 60 runs for the Fort Wayne Tincaps of the Midwest League. Unable to improve on those numbers the Padres released Santos after the 2016 season, leaving Trae at a crossroads in his career.

“The phones weren’t really ringing last year.  I just kept working on my swing and hitting the gym everyday. Waiting for that opportunity.” said Santos when asked about taking the 2017 season off.

Manager Phil Warren gave Trae a call with an invite to tryout for the Gateway Grizzlies.  With the departure of long time first baseman Craig Massoni their was an opening on the Gateway roster.   Looking for pop in the middle of the order Santos seemed to fit right into the needs of the team.  Beating out Kristian Brito for the starting first baseman spot, Santos jumped right into the middle of the Gateway lineup.  Santos came out the gates struggling in 2018.  Showing signs of rust from the year off of competitive baseball.  After a few weeks into the season Santo was hitting well below .200.  Phil Warren refused to give up on the young slugger.

“I sat Trae down and told him to stop putting so much pressure on himself.  These guys are out here trying to get you out.  Stop worrying so much and just do what you know you can do.” said Warren.

The brief conversation paid off huge for Santos as he was able to turn things around almost immediately.   Hitting .288 with 11HRS, 34RBI’s, earning himself a slot in the Frontier League All-Star game his comeback was complete.

Santos has had a roller coaster career so far in baseball.  Right now he is heading towards the top of the coaster in hopes that there will not be the long drop this time.  At the age of 25 getting a call back to affiliated ball will be a long shot.  But the statement he made during the Homerun Derby will live on in the history of the Frontier League.  Maybe Santos will not be the second player ever to make it to the Majors but he will go down in the Frontier League history books along with the creation of the Baseball’s Best Burger and Brett Gray’s 25 strikeout night.

Come see Trae Santos lead the Gateway Grizzlies in the second half of the season beginning July 14th vs. the River City Rascals.

All Star Snubs, Who they should replace.

All Star games are for the fans first and foremost.  Most of the time the fans make a wrong choice here and there to get a fan favorite in the game…Bryce Harper.  For the mot part the fans got the teams right.  Still there are times where even with the help of the coaches, players and fans the choice are wrong.  Let’s dive into the five biggest mistakes.

Eddie Rosario, OF, Twins.  Should replace: Michael Brantley

Eddie Rosario has struggled over the last few weeks when compared to the start of the season.  Still he owns nearly every statistical advantage over Indians left fielder Michael Brantley.

Brantley, 11HR, 49RBI, .306/.351/.490

Rosario, 18HR, 53RBI, .301/.342/.536

Brantley has the luxury of playing along side stars like Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion.  He has protection all around him as well as many more chances to knock in runs on a team that is loaded with talent.  Rosario features a lineup with the minimal protection.  Currently hitting in front of career utility man Eduardo Escobar has made him target for pitching around.  I get that the Indians are a superior team, but rewarding their 4th best position player with a spot on the All Star team seems a bit ridiculous.



Blake Snell, P, Tampa Bay Rays.  Should Replace: Joe Jimenez

Blake Snell could be he best pitcher in the entire American League…right now.  Snell owns the American Leagues best ERA (2.09) as well as an impressive 12-4 record.    Despite his ideal numbers Snell has fallen victim to another player on his teams success.  With his catcher Wilson Ramos making the team it seemed as if it was decided that the Rays are only allowed one representative. Snell should not only consider this a snub, he should be asking why he isn’t starting the All Star game.

This injustice continues when you see a guy like Joe Jimenez on the roster.  The Tigers are a sinking ship that will be looking to unload every last bit of extra cargo at the trade deadline.  I have never been a proponent of every team should have an all star, but if you are going to have one, make sure they chose the right all star.  Joe Jimenez has had a fine season but a reliever with a solid but not overly impressive 2.45ERA should not be in the All Star game.



Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinal. Should replace: Buster Posey

Buster Posey is a future Hall of Famer.  He is a former MVP, no doubt he deserves a shot at the All Star game.  This year he should have fell short of that honor.  It has nothing to do with Posey’s abilities as a player.  This is all about the offensive output of the multi time Gold Glover Yadier Molina.  Despite missing time with an injury I choose not to speak of, Yadire Molina has put on one of his best offensive seasons in his storied career.

Molina’s 13HR 38RBI and .495Slug are all on pace to be career highs for the Cardinals backstop.  Molina’s responsibilities with a young pitching staff has made them one of the most effective staffs in years despite dealing with a flurry of injuries, including to mainstays like Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright and ace Carlos Martinez.  When you are dealing with two great players the debate can go on for a long time, this one I can live with.



Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers. Should replace: Joey Votto

Reputation clearly matters, and before this season the Milwaukee first baseman didn’t have much of one. Aguilar is a destructive force in the middle of a first place lineup. 22 home runs and 63 RBI, and his 1.001 OPS is tops in the NL overall.  Yet he is hoping on the fans to vote him in on the last ballot.

Joey Votto is a great player with a great background.  He is one of the best players in the National League over the last five seasons, but the Reds have representatives at two different places on the infield, Votto should have not even been in the conversation of being an All Star.  It’s debatable whether he should be in over any other first baseman in the NL Central.

Hopefully the fans make the right decision and vote him in.  This selection should never have made it to this.  Shame on the MLB.

 

Don’t Blame Boogie

Unless you live under a rock you probably saw that DeMarcus Cousins has signed with the Golden State Warriors.  The 4-time All-Star joins the two time defending champions creating arguably the best lineup in the history of the NBA.  In the eyes of most fans the NBA title was wrapped up before the end of most teams first summer league games.  Outrage broke out in the social media community ridiculing the Warriors and especially Boogie Cousins for his choice to join the dynasty that has ruled the NBA for the last four years. The world can be as mad as they choose at DeMarcus Cousins but he is not to blame for this situation, NBA GM’s have to be given the blame for the way this situation worked out.  Don’t blame Boogie for making the best choice for himself.  Look at you team’s front office.

One of my greatest pet peeves is when I am drafting a fantasy team whether it is football, baseball or any other sport.  You hear another person yell “I was gonna take him” after you make a pick.  I always say the same thing to that person, if you were going to take him then you should have with your first pick.  DeMarcus Cousins was a free agent, 29 other teams had the chance to make their offers to the skilled big man but they didn’t want to commit their money to him.  Whether it was his injury or his locker room history, Cousins was not looked at as a cornerstone piece deserving of a mutli-year contract.  Cousins, one of two players ever to average 25 PPG, 10RPG, 5APG, 1.5BPG, 1.5SPG, the other  being Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, thought he was a high level player that deserved a max contract.  But when teams thought they could low ball him he decided to turn the table on them.  Instead of allowing front offices to have control he took it upon himself to control the outcome.

The Warriors are the lucky recipients of a market that undervalued a great asset.  Cousins achillies injury could hold him out of the start of the season, by signing with the Warriors he will not need to rush back. He will be able to make sure he is fully healthy before returning and for once not watch his team fall out of a playoff hunt.  Those who question whether Cousins is hurting his chances of getting a max deal because his numbers will most likely take a dive during the 2018 season are not taking into account that this move is more of a public relations decision rather then a professional one.  The former Kentucky big man skills have never been questioned, his ability in the block is second to none, but teams worry about his ability to keep his head straight, front office personal have labeled him as a “cancer”.  Playing with the personalities that the Warriors have will be a great test to see what kind of a person he is.

Adding a fifth All-Star to an already dominate team is scary for the NBA.  I argue that watching greatness is what I look for when I watch the NBA. The only thing better than greatness is seeing David conquer Goliath.  Now the entire NBA is David, the ratings to watch the potential upset will be earth shattering.  There is always the chance that the mix of talents doesn’t work.  Just ask Karl Malone and Gary Payton what happens when you try and make a super team and it doesn’t work out.  There will be more pressure then ever on this Warriors team.  If they don’t win a championship their legacy will be forever tarnished.  This will make blowing a 3-1 lead in the finals look like losing an AAU season game.

I will admit that seeing DeMarcus Cousins signed a 1-year 5.3Million dollar deal with the best team in the world was deflating as an NBA fan.  Blaming Cousins for this is not fair to him.  If he signed with Boston would they not be the clear favorites in the East making that conference all but pointless?  Everyone can have their own opinion but this was a mistake made front offices that they will regret for the upcoming season.  It will be a nice learning experience for everyone.