Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Top 10 MLB Network Insiders And Contributors Right Now

As inspired by MLB Network's Top 10 Right Now Series on the best players at each position in the game today, my version of the MLB Network Top 10 Right Now Series is back once again ranking the on-air talent as broken down in each specific category based on their respective job descriptions of Hosts, Analysts, and Insiders and Contributors.  Following the model of the real Top 10 Right Now series, the final installment will focus on the Insiders and Contributors of MLB Network. These are the guys who are responsible for reporting the latest news such as trades, free agent signings or any other important news going on throughout the year in Major League Baseball.

NOTE: Insiders And Contributors placement in rankings is based on their completed body of work and overall performance during the 2016 Major League Baseball regular season as well as the 2017 Hot Stove off season. 

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1. Ken Rosenthal-You read that right! Ken Rosenthal is a champion once again in 2017. The Senior Baseball writer and MLB Network Insider continued his dominance at the head of the MLB Network Insiders and Contributors class in 2016 and he's off to a good start so far in 2017.

Having been with MLB Network since its debut season in 2009, Ken Rosenthal has maintained a level of consistency across a wide array of the network's programming. The long list of programming appearances throughout Rosenthal's career at MLB Network includes appearances on MLB Tonight, Hot Stove and occasionally on MLB Central, The Rundown and MLB Now.  On the off season morning program Hot Stove, Rosenthal's Insider talent are evident on the Leading the League segments where he provides the latest news and most up-to-date information on any and free agent signings and trade rumors. It should also be noted that Ken does a very good job at following one of the more important rules in journalism by giving proper credit to any other reporters or insiders who may have reported on a particular story or news item before he did.

2016 was a year of special circumstances and was particularly noteworthy in Major League Baseball towards the end because of the expiration of the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement. Like all of the other network's Insiders and Contributors on this list, Rosenthal put in a lot of work and did a very good job in covering all that happened during the labor negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.  Luckily for fans of Major League Baseball and MLB Network like myself, we won't have to worry about hearing too many discussions about any potential labor disputes or disagreements for at least five more years through the 2021 season. On the other hand, it would have been interesting to see how the network would have gone about filling its airtime had a lockout occurred. Thankfully that didn't happen and fans and employees of  the network can keep calm and carry on with their business as usual.

A few more things that further solidify Rosenthal's spot at number one the list are his excellent weekly columns and stories he writes for which he frequently refers to during his numerous programming appearances on MLB Network and his on-location live reporting duties from the annual General Manager meetings as well as the Winter Meetings and Spring Training each year.

In addition to all of that, Rosenthal also served as one of the the field reporters for FOX Sports during their coverage of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. As a field reporter for FOX, Rosenthal has become well known for his Bow Tie For A Cause movement in which he wears various bow ties that help support and spread the word of various charitable organizations such as the ALS, Alzheimers, American Diabetes and American Heart Associations just to name a few.

Lastly, at the end of July each year, Rosenthal takes part in the network's coverage of the trading deadline letting viewers in on the latest news about which players may or may not be changing uniforms in the middle of the season from a non-contender to a contender and vice versa.

At the start  of the 2017 new year, Ken took part in the Insiders View Hall of Fame special on MLB Network where he discussed the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot and class. As a baseball writer and an actual member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), Mr. Rosenthal does have a vote for the Hall of Fame. He also took part in the network's exclusive coverage of the actual Hall of Fame announcement on January 18. He has also ventured out to Spring Training in Arizona for its first week of action to do some live reports at a few of the team training camps across the Cactus League for the Hot Stove morning show.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2017, the only question will be if he will still be on top for a third year in a row? Only time, effort and hard work will tell. One thing that is certain is that the rest of the Insiders and Contributors field will have their work cut out for them if they want to dethrone the now 2-time champion of the Top 10 MLB Network Insiders and Contributors Right Now.
2. Jon Heyman-Retaining the number two spot on this year' installment of the Top 10 MLB Network Insiders and Contributors Right Now is Jon Heyman. Another one of the network's original Insiders from 2009, Jon Heyman also serves as a writer for Today's Knuckleball and FanRag Sports.

As an MLB Network Insider, Heyman offers his own fair share of insider news on MLB Network's various programs such as MLB Tonight, MLB Now, The Rundown and Hot Stove. On Hot Stove, Heyman sometimes fills in for Ken Rosenthal during the Leading the League segments. Sometimes he even beats Ken Rosenthal to the punch in reporting on various trades and free agent signings. Like all other Insiders as well, Heyman was present for the network's coverage of the 2016 Trade Deadline and the 2016 Winter Meetings in Washington D.C.

In 2017, Heyman also took part in the network's coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame election announcement where he discussed his ballot.

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Caryn Rose
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3. Tom Verducci-The Sports Illustrated (SI) writer comes in at number three on the list once again. As a writer for Sports Illustrated, Verducci is well known for his annual article called The Year-After Effect. Specifically, the Year_After Effect looks at what kind of impact an increase in a pitcher's innings workload will have on them as compared to the previous year.  That increase in a pitcher's innings can lead to a greater risk of an injury or regression on a pitcher's arm or possibly any any other part of their body such as a shoulder or leg.

During the 2016 season, Verducci was a part of the MLB Tonight crew throughout the season at various times. He also continues to make occasional appearances on MLB Now and Hot Stove. Unlike Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman, Verducci does not contribute to the Leading the League segments of the program.  When he is on the Hot Stove program, he usually only appears on one segment only either in the first or second hour of the show discussing a variety of topics.

Having said that, Verducci's working resume in 2016 and so far in 2017 is still quite impressive. As I mentioned above, Tom Verducci put in time on MLB Tonight in 2016. In 2016 he continued his duties with FOX Sports as a color analyst and field reporter.

He also has a new book coming out in March of this year called The Cubs Way in which he chronicles the Cubs postseason playoff run to their first World Series title in 108 years.

Lastly like most of the other Insiders on this list, Verducci also has a vote for the Hall of Fame each year. Not only did he take part in the network's coverage of the Hall of Fame election announcement this year but he was also part of the panel that participated in the Insiders View network special about the 2017 Hall of Fame ballot. During the Insiders View program, Verducci went on the record to say that he would never vote for any players who have been connected to the usage of Performance Enhancing Drugs during their playing career.  Regardless of how you might feel about those players, Verducci deserves a lot of credit for being so open and transparent as possible about his stance on this particular polarizing subject.

4. Jon Paul Morosi-Jon Paul Morosi is the first Insider on this year's list to move up one spot from number five to number four.  Morosi's big contribution to MLB Network over the past year or so has been his numerous and detailed reports about the upcoming 2017 World Baseball Classic that will be held in March before the start of the regular season. Morosi has done so much work reporting on the 2017 World Baseball Classic that they should also give him the official title of World Baseball Classic Insider if they haven't done so already.

Throughout the 2016 regular season and 2016-17 off season, Morosi has made several appearances on MLB Central, The Rundown, MLB Now and Hot Stove with his own World Baseball Classic roster update segments. He even continued the roster update segments from the 2016 Winter Meetings on the Hot Stove morning show.

Jon Paul Morosi is another one of those MLB Network on-air talent employees who also works at the NHL Network in addition to his Insider contributions that he does for MLB Network. At this point I must confess that I haven't actually seen any of the work that Morosi has done for the NHL Network at this point, having mainly been focused on evaluating the broadcasting work he has done for MLB Network.

Unlike most of the other MLB Network Insiders and Contributors on this Jon Paul Morosi has the distinct privilege of being only one of two classified as an Insider of MLB Network to do some of his insider reporting from the comfort of his own home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The bottom line for Jon Paul Morosi is that his overall body of work has remained strong and consistent enough to stay in and even climb up a little bit in this year's rankings of the Top 10 MLB Network Insiders and Contributors Right Now. If he keeps up the good work, I see no reason why he wouldn't be at or anywhere near the top four or five on next year's list.

5. Peter Gammons-Dropping one spot from the last Insiders and Contributors list that I did is Peter Gammons. The fact that Peter Gammons dropped one spot on the countdown doesn't diminish or take away the importance of Mr. Gammons work as an Insider in 2016-17.

During his time at MLB Network since 2010, Peter Gammons has been one of the more consistent Insiders with his extensive resume of programming appearances on the network such as MLB Central, The Rundown, MLB Now, MLB Tonight and Hot Stove.

Gammons also took park in the network's coverage of the 2017 Hall of Fame election announcement during the month of January when each member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), revealed their voting ballots. The results of said ballot voting revelations were then debated ad nauseum leading up to the actual announcement. He also gets credit for appearing on the network during their coverage of the 2016 trading deadline last July/August as well as the 2016 Winter Meetings from Washington D.C.

In 2017, he also done a few live reports from various team training camps during Spring Training.  

In addition to appearing across most of MLB Network's various programs, Peter Gammons also has his very own website called Gammons Daily in which he publishes various articles and columns with the latest news on the game of Major League Baseball from his unique perspective.

Gammons has also demonstrated a somewhat hidden talent of guitar playing and vast knowledge of numerous genres of music. In previous years, Gammons has taken part in the Hot Stove, Cool Music concert show playing a Fender Stratocaster guitar with a group of Boston musicians serving as the rest of the band

Peter is also so knowledgeable about music that during most of his Insider appearances on MLB Network, he has his own music segment called Song of the Day in which he gives the viewing audience a single song selection that he has listened  to recently to help get their day started on a positive note.  

Peter Gammons is also the second of the MLB Network Insiders and Contributors to have been given the special accommodation and privilege like Jon Paul Morosi one spot above  of doing most of his Insider reporting segments from his home as well in Cataumet, Massachussetts on the "Gam Cam."

Lastly, Mr. Gammons can serve as the perfect example to Matt Yallof (get well soon) of a big name member of the baseball media who has recovered quite nicely and has done great work since suffering a brain aneurysm almost 11 years ago while still working for ESPN.

6. Joel Sherman-Coming in at number six on the Top 10 Insiders and Contributors Right Now list for the second time in a row is Joel Sherman. In addition to his role as an MLB Network Insider, Joel Sherman is also a baseball columnist for the New York Post.

As an MLB Network Insider, Joel Sherman has showcased his Insider talents and abilities on pretty much all of MLB Network's regular season and off season programming from MLB Central, The Rundown MLB Now and MLB Tonight to Hot Stove. On Hot Stove, Sherman has had the honor of filling in for Ken Rosenthal from the band box of Studio K during the Leading the League segments of the off season morning program.

Like all other MLB Network Insiders in 2016 and 2017, Joel Sherman was also present for the network's coverage of the 2016 trading deadline, the 2016 Winter Meetings and the 2017 Hall of Fame election announcement.

So far in 2017, Mr. Sherman has done a few live reports from Spring Training. I'm pretty sure we the viewers will continue to see that trend being utilized by MLB Network over the next few weeks to come for most, if not all of their Insider reporters and Contributors. If he maintains a strong Insider preence and a good overall performance during the 2017 season, Joel Sherman should be able to climb up a lttle in next year's rankings.

7. Anthony Castrovince-Making his debut on the Insiders and Contributors list at number seven is Anthony Castrovince. Anthony is the first individual on this to serve as a Contributor to MLB Network.

Castrovince has a pretty lengthy writing resume to go along with his duties as an MLB Network contributor. Over the past few years, Castrovince has written numerous articles for and Sports on Earth.

As a contributor to MLB Network, Anthony has made several appearances on MLB Central, The Rundown and Hot Stove primarily from his home base in Cleveland, Ohio, often discussing the various articles he has written throughout the regular season and off season.

As the 2017 season gets underway, Castrovince figures to continue being a big part of MLB Network roster of insiders and contributors for what is hopefully many years to come.

8. Bob Nightengale-Coming in at number eight for the first time on the Top 10 MLB Network Insiders and Contributors Right Now countdown is Insider Bob Nightengale.

When he is not doing Insider work for MLB Network, Bob Nightengale works as a Major League Baseball columnist for the sports division of USA TODAY. He is also apparently the chairman of the Arizona chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). With such a job title, one would think that Mr Nightengale also fills out a voting ballot each year for the Hall of Fame and he does. On his Hall of Fame ballot for 2017, Nightengale is just one of a growing number of baseball writers who have started to vote players such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens who were suspected of using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDS), during their playing career.

Since he came on the scene at MLB Network, Nightengale has done pretty much what any other Insider or Contributor ha done by appearing on a majority of MLB Network's regular season and off season programming consisting of MLB Central, The Rundown MLB Now MLB Tonight and Hot Stove.

As we get closer to the start of the 2017 season, Bob Nightengale is another Insider on this list who could definitely rise in the rankings next year if his overall work and performance remains consistent or gets even better than it already is.

9. Nick Cafardo-Coming in at number nine on the list is another first timer in Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. According to his Twitter page, Cafardo refers to himself as an MLB Network correspondent. For the purposes of this countdown, the title of correspondent is good enough to also qualify for a spot as a Contributor on this list.

In addition to his work at the Boston Globe as a national baseball writer, Cafardo is also a correspondent for the New England Sports Network (NESN), a regional sports network in Boston that televises games for the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins.

As a contributor MLB Network's coverage of Major League Baseball, Nick Cafardo has made several appearances on the network often discussing various news items about baseball. Most of the time, these news items often pertain to stories about what is going on with the Boston Red Sox at any time during a particular season. There are a few exceptions however when the topics of discussion for Cafardo have been about other major league teams besides the Red Sox.

Based on his overall performance on MLB Network over the last few years, Mr. Cafardo figures to still be a big part of the Insider and Contributor scene during the upcoming 2017 season.

10. Tony Massarotti-Rounding out the Top 10 MLB Network Insiders and Contributors Right Now is Tony Massarotti. When he does not appear on our TV screens as an MLB Network Contributor, Massarotti is the host of his own radio show on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, Massachusetts alongside Mike Felger.

Massarotti came on the scene as a worthy contributor to MLB Network during the 2016 season when he made a few guest hosting appearances on the network's High Heat show filling in for Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo on certain occasions. He also took part in a few appearances on MLB Network's other programs such as MLB Central.

During his appearances on MLB Central in 2016, Massarotti would come on the show during some of the Get Off My Lawn segments in which he would discuss certain issues or aspects about the game of baseball that would potentially bother him during a particular week in the season.

Interestingly enough, when the Get Off My Lawn segments were originally introduced as part of the MLB Central morning show, the main star of the segment was, and still is, Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo! However if my memory of how certain things unfolded is correct, Russo mentioned during one of his Get Off My Lawn segment appearances that he would only be appearing three times a week or so on the aforementioned segment of the network's regular season morning show.

As the 2017 season get nearer to starting, here's to hoping that we see the network continue to utilize Massarotti in some form or another based on the overall body of good work he did for them as a Contributor in the 2016 season.

Those Who Missed The Cut in 2016-2017:

Nobody missed the cut on this year's list. I even  expanded the list to include/combine the Contributors as part of it because of the fact that MLB Network classifies only a small number of its on-air talent as an actual Insider or Contributor.

The only possible exceptions and omissions that could garner future consideration as an Insider or Contributor are Richard Justice, columnist for and Phil Rogers, also a columnist for

In both cases for Justice and Rogers, the competition for the Top 10 spots on the lists was so crowded that unfortunately they were unable to potentially secure a spot somewhere in the Top 10 this time around. On future lists however, their respective bodies of work will be taken into account for consideration during the overall evaluation process.

Tim Musick
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