Right around the time TGR started I saw an article about a Jewish baseball blog. I went an visited the site called jewsinbaseball.blogspot.com. It was awesome. So I reached out to its creator Josh Borenstein for an interview to find out about his blog and every Jewish baseball player present and future. I must say that Josh’s interview was as great as his blog.
The Great Rabbino: Hello Josh, thanks for agreeing to doing an interview for us about your blog.
Josh: Thanks for having me.
TGR: So, tell our fans what your blog is all about.
Josh: It’s pretty self-explanatory. The blog covers past and present JMLs (Jewish Major Leaguers). During the regular season, I relate what each player did in each game and occasionally stick in my own two cents. I’ll offer up some analysis on trends that I’ve noticed or something to look out for in the near future.
TGR: How did you get your start? And why did you chose to follow Jewish ballplayers?
Josh: I started the blog after a friend made the suggestion. He knew I liked to write and that I had become somewhat of an authority on the subject. Jewish baseball players have a special place in my heart, as baseball has been a lifelong passion for me. We’re in the midst of a golden age for JMLs.
TGR: So there is clearly a controversy over who is better Kinsler, Braun, and Youkilis. Since you follow them every day, who is the best Jewish ball player?
Josh: That’s actually a tough question. They each have a lot to offer and have made strides in different areas of their game.
Youkilis is the most versatile of the three and is definitely the best two-way player. He’s always been great at getting on base, but this year in particular he’s been sensational. While Dustin Pedroia is the reigning AL MVP, you’d get little argument from Red Sox fans if you said Youk is their best player.
Braun has the most power of the three and is probably the best pure hitter. I foresee a lot of seasons where he hits .300 and above. Moving to the outfield from third base has also made his stock rise, as he wasn’t much of a third baseman. He’s also been more selective at the plate this year, which has made him more of a complete player.
Kinsler looks like he could be a perennial 20/20 player. The combination of power and speed he boasts is pretty rare. Traditionally, JMLs haven’t been dangerous on the basepaths. Kinsler is an exception to that rule. So is Braun, to an extent. Kinsler has always had great range at second base, but in the past he’s made too many errors. This year has been a different story. That said, durability has been a problem for him.
But to finally answer your question, I would say Youk is the best player right now. His value can be measured by both his offense and his defense. However, Kinsler and Braun will probably wind up with better career counting stats because Youk got a late start.
TGR: What kind of player do you think some of the young Jewish arms will be, specifically Aaron Poreda and Scott Feldman?
Josh: I like Poreda’s ceiling, but he needs to work on his command and offspeed pitches. If he can get his breaking ball and changeup over with consistency, he’ll give hitters nightmares. He was blessed with the ability to throw absolute gas. If he develops his secondary pitches to go along with that fastball of his, there’s no telling what he’ll be able to do. I wrote a post in July on the blog about why I thought him moving to the NL with the Padres will be beneficial to him.
Scott Feldman is an interesting pitcher. He’s only 26 years old, and yet he’s already reinvented himself. He got his start in the bullpen as a sidearm pitcher. And it was a good start. In the 50 2/3 combined innings he pitched in 2005 and 2006, his ERA was 3.38 and his WHIP was 1.243. But the two seasons that followed were mired in mediocrity. He remained in the pen in 2007. Last year, he was moved into the starting rotation and wasn’t particularly sharp. In the offseason he worked on developing a cutter, changing his arm slot, and adding a few MPH onto his fastball – and it has certainly paid dividends. He’s inducing more groundballs now and of late has been missing more bats. His recent performance against the Rays where he had 11 Ks in 7 innings showed that he isn’t just a finesse pitcher; he can be dominant if he has it all going. Like Poreda, he has an ideal pitcher’s frame. His mechanics are sound. Is he the next Sandy Koufax? No, but he might be the next Steve Stone.
TGR: Are there any Jewish minor league or college players people should watch out for?
Josh: Lots. James Rapoport (Cardinals), Brian Horwitz (Giants), and Jason Kipnis (Indians) are all promising Minor League outfielders. I especially like Kipnis. Sam Fuld is getting a chance to shine with the Cubs right now. Isaac Davis (Mets) looks like he could be a stud at first base. I still haven’t given up on Josh Whitesell (Diamondbacks). Jonathan Fixler (Astros) has a lot of power for a catcher. Ryan Braun’s brother, Steven, is a second baseman in the Brewers organization.
The Minors are teeming with pitchers, including the aforementioned Poreda. We’ve already seen a little of Ryan Sadowski (Giants), but there’s a southpaw in that Giants organization who also looks pretty good. His name is Ari Ronick. The Phillies have two pitchers in Joshua Zeid and Michael Schwimer. The Indians have two pitchers in Jason Knapp and southpaw Eric Berger. The Mets have two pitchers in Jacob Goldberg and Jeffrey Kaplan. The Mariners have Brett Lorin. And last but not least, the Yankees have Jason Hirsh in their organization, who has been very good since coming over from Colorado. There are probably hordes more of good looking Minor Leaguers. It’s hard to find these guys, as they don’t get that much publicity.
I’m not as familiar with the college players, but I can tell you that my brother, Zach, is a very good player. He plays for Eastern Illinois and was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball. As a true freshman, his line was .394/.506/.547 in 137 ABs. He led all Division I freshmen in the nation in OBP and was ranked in the Top 25 overall in OBP. His average was in the Top 100 in the nation. Among freshmen, it was in the Top 10. I know this is shameless promotion on my part, but aside from the numbers he’s put up, I’ve seen him play my whole life. And I firmly believe he’s got what it takes.
TGR: Since baseball isn’t year round, what do you do in the offseason?
Josh: In the offseason, the posts are more infrequent, but I tend to talk about players and achievements from the past, compelling human interest stories, leaders in various statistical categories, and transactions that have taken place. I’m also thinking about including some coverage of Minor Leaguers.
TGR: Josh thank you for spending some time with TGR. I know I will be following your blog as the playoffs draw closer. Good luck with everything.
Josh: Thank you. It was a pleasure. Ditto.
And Let Us Say…Amen.