Welcome to the MLB Roundtable. This week, Joe and Archie go one on one to talk baseball offseason, Japanese players declaring for the draft, the eternal question of the DH, free agent leftovers, and who is the queen of the double-wide trailer!
1. Should Japanese players be forced to “declare” for the MLB draft so each team can draft the talent on an equal basis?
ARCHIE: Now that the posting fee has been established at the maximum $20 million dollar mark then yes, any player that wishes to join MLB from Japan should declare for the draft. As it is now, any player that wants to be posted ask his team for a posting release, so why not let them enter the draft and take their chances on which team gets them? Young college players are bound by the draft why should these other guys not be bound by the same commodity investment style?
JOE: That might seem the fairest way to have the upper echelon Japanese players come into the majors but I doubt it will ever happen. The Japanese teams want the money they get from the posting fees when a Japanese player is signed by a MLB team. So unless that posting fee is kept intact and tied somehow to the draft I just don’t see the Japanese players declaring for the draft.
2. Which teams has had the best and worst offseason so far?
ARCHIE: I would have to say the worst in the NL was the Milwaukee Brewers. They have basically sat on their heels and did nothing to improve their team for next season. They signed one decent pitcher in Will Smith, one serviceable pitcher in Zach Duke and a utility player in Elian Herrera.
In the AL, the Blue Jays basically did the same thing. They signed at catcher Dioner Navarro, but other than that, they only added serviceable players in Getz, Morel, Ohka, Johnson and Kratz.
The best offseason moves in the NL was made by the Rockies. They shored up their pitching by adding Brett Anderson and Franklin Morales both good Starting pitchers without being household names. While Morales had a down year last season with Boston, if he gets back to form he is a very serviceable pitcher in the rotation. The Rockies continued to beef up their bullpen with the addition of Boone Logan and LaTroy Hawkins. Although Hawkins turned 40 last season he still posted an ERA+ of 120.
Justin Morneau should see a significant lift to his power numbers playing in the thin air of Colorado as well.
The best offseason moves in the AL is without a doubt the Yankees. Again, they opened their pockets and spent a small fortune to acquire, McCann, Ellsbury, and Beltran. These three alone beat any other team moves. And even though I gave Joe a rash of shit for them letting Cano walk away, (And I STILL don’t understand) they are going to save on the A Rod salary this year. Update, the Yankees just won the Tanaka race and signed him to a 7 year $155 million contract. They win at the offseason races again.
They also added veterans Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts to compete for the second base job. I’m not sure how this will work out but in either case.
The Milwaukee Brewers simply didn’t do anything and that in itself is significantly bad. Their big move of the offseason was that they traded Norichika Aoki to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Will Smith. They also lost first baseman Corey Hart who signed elsewhere due to free agency. It’s true that the Brewers are rebuilding so adding big time free agents probably wasn’t a big option but they did nothing on the trade market with their potential trading chips either. For instance, I would think pitcher Yovani Gallardo could have gotten them some decent young talent from a pitching needy team.
The Philadelphia Phillies have fading talent and they are old. They also did nothing to improve that situation. The first step is admitting you have a problem and the Phillies need to admit their time has passed and they need to rebuild. They have plenty of chips to use to begin a rebuild… Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz and Cliff Lee… but instead of working deals and adding young talent who can be developed they added Marlon Byrd and an average starting pitcher, Roberto Hernandez, and resigned Ruiz. They need to trade their old players who still have some value for young prospects and to create payroll flexibility.
The St. Louis Cardinals didn’t need a lot, but for the areas they had needs, they addressed them.
They got a big upgrade defensively in center field when they acquired Peter Bourjos from Anaheim for essentially David Freese. If, he plays a full healthy season and hits .260 or better he could also add speed on the bases (30-40 SBs?) and score some runs.
The Cardinals needed an upgrade at shortstop, so they signed the arguably best available shortstop, Jhonny Peralta. Then they signed veteran second baseman Mark Ellis for added depth.
The Tampa Bay Rays don’t spend a lot of money but they do add players and then somehow get more out of them than other teams did in the past.
They added Heath Bell who has the potential to be their big time closer; Ryan Hanigan, who I touted all offseason as the catcher to get if a team needed a backstopper… he won’t light up the offensive numbers but won’t do terrible either, and, he plays probably the best defense at catcher in the game today.
They also re-signed James Loney and David DeJesus to team-friendly deals. And they opened up their pocketbook to avoid arbitration with David Price and signed him to a team high and team record contract of $14 million. He could be packaged for some excellent prospects before all is said and done, but regardless, they avoided arb with him and that was a big move and money wisely spent whether he stays or goes.
3. If your team could sign one of the remaining Free Agents who would you choose?
ARCHIE: Given the fact the Braves whiffed on Garza and other good veteran starters earlier; I feel the Braves should do all they can to re-sign Eric O’Flaherty. Eric was a huge part of the setup plan in front of Kimbrel prior to his injury and I believe he can be again. This is what I had prior to reading on Wednesday that the A’s just signed O’Flaherty. Now, screw it…..I’m not sure who the Braves should go after.
JOE: Answer: I’m greedy. I want both Bronson Arroyo and Matt Garza for my pitching needy Yankees.
4. Should MLB eliminate the player position or designation of DH? Explain your choice.
ARCHIE: Hell to the Yes. I agree with Joe in the strategic part of when to take out a pitcher to create offense, I don’t agree that 30 players will be out of a job. If you look at the stats for the past several years, those players listed as DH only average about 4 per year.
The AL teams already platoon guys off the bench to play the DH role for any given game so why not eliminate the DH as a player stat position? The AL can continue to use the rule as it is written just do not have the designation as a separate player position for the All Star voting or stats.
JOE: Answer: Yes… But it won’t happen because that means 30 players will not have a job if it is eliminated and the MLBPA won’t let that happen unless they get something big back.
Why would I eliminate it? Because I just think the strategy of letting a pitcher hit adds that much more to the game. When do you pinch hit for him, do you use the bunt and play for a run, etc… But, then I like a well-played pitcher’s duel and I think most people like offense more.
ARCHIE: I am going to start this answer with a caveat; NO PLAYER in ANY sport is worth $31 million dollars per year. I understand the greed that flows in all of Professional sports but I don’t agree that if the players don’t get more the owners do. Why not allow the FANS to enjoy their sport more WITHOUT paying exorbitant prices at the gates, at the kiosks, at the snack bars, etc.?
AND, once again, I will point out that ALL teams in MLB are not created equal when it comes to equal opportunity to field a competitive team year in and year out. When large market teams such as the Dodgers give Kershaw $31 million a year, what happens when the Kansas City Royals develop the next Clayton Kershaw and he reaches arbitration or first year Free Agency? He moves on to another team due to the Royals not being able to match the Yankees or Dodgers.
This last part is where I have a HUGE problem with current financial rules.
Hell, the Braves could not afford to keep one of their own in Brian McCann for Christ’s Sakes!
JOE: Answer: My opinion has been, and still is, that the market is set by what a buyer is willing to pay for a commodity, or, in this case: a team for a player. If someone is willing to pay a player $31 million a year then that player is worth that much to that team. And the bottom line is it doesn’t mean diddly squat what you, or I, think.
Will Kershaw put up the same numbers he has been putting up and in that sense be worth the money or will he be a dud after a year or two and then the money will be money flushed down the drain?
I think Kershaw pitches on an elite level for the next 6 to 10 years so in that sense he will be worth the money.
6. In 2004, there were ten teams that did NOT surpass the 1000 strikeout total. In 2013 every team did. How do you explain the increase of strikeouts? (As a side note for all the readers, in 1993 only 6 out of 28 teams had more than 1000k’s.)
ARCHIE: When MLB got involved with the McGuire and Sosa Homerun chase and came out with the “Chicks dig the long Ball”, pride in good At Bats was thrown out the window.
No longer did players strive to make contact. Everyone started swinging for the fences. I will use as an example Marcus Giles. This player was 5’8” and weighed 180 pounds. In 2003 he hit 21 dingers and had OPS+ of 136. His last year in MLB at age 29 he only hit 4 with an OPS+ of 69. Now, I have never heard that he was ever guilty of steroids but come on. I was sitting deep in the left field seats at Turner field and he flew two 15 rows behind me during one game. This is a guy that had warning track natural power at best but the flow of the game might have caused him to do things that if he played in the earlier years of baseball he never would have done.
This is a prime example of the mentality established by MLB themselves. And even though they claim they have pretty much eliminated the Steroid issue, players are still swinging for the fences instead of making good contact. And pitchers being savvy as they are take advantage of the over swinging and trying to pull it out of the park every time.
The homerun versus strike out mentality is the reason players like Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton still have a job in MLB.
JOE: Answer: the simple answer is Chicks dig the long ball…
The game has changed. You just don’t see players that concerned over striking out as much as they used to when I was first falling in love with the game of baseball. And personally that is sad, because every time you strike out you essentially don’t allow your team its best chance to do something during your at bat on the field. … simply put it is always going to be an unproductive out barring any very weird circumstances happening like a passed ball on a third strike, etc…
However when a player makes contact with the ball players are in motion; moving up an extra base even if you make an out, or fielder might make an error, throws need to be made that could go awry or that other fielders could drop… in other words, the chance for something productive to happen if a ball is in play is a lot greater than if a ball is not in play.
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