The round table four talk .. can the Cubbies contend, questions for Derek Jeter, just what makes the Cardinals successful… and… are the Twins screwing Phil Hughes?
1) The Cubs limped into the All-Star break with a 40-54 record (.423 W/L pct.)… they were 29-33 (.468 W/L pct.) after the break… was it an improvement or a statistical anomaly? And, based on your answer: How far are the Cubs from being a playoff contender?
Archie: They did improve as the year went along, but let’s face it; how much worse can a team get from their 9-17 start? They did not have many options other than up. I do feel like the Cubbies are an up and coming club and they have the talent now to contend within a couple of years.
Joe: Cubs probably could be well over .500 next year but need some people to come through for that to happen. Anthony Rizzo looks like the real deal at 1st and Starlin Castro looks like a mainstay at short even though it always seems his name is being bandied about in trade talks, which I think would be a mistake.
Third base is anchored by Luis Valbuena but the rumor is he’s just keeping 3rd warm for minor prospect Kris
Bryant. And if Bryant is that good then fine because about 15 HRs and barely 50 RBIs from Valbuena isn’t going to cut at a power position. But the Cubbies still need improvements at catcher and second. Chris Coghlan is probably decent enough as one corner outfielder and Jorge Solar look like a strong possibility at the other corner but Arisemndy Alacantra needs to hit more than just barely over the Mendoza line to keep his job in center.
That’s a lot of ifs but it’s also a lot of potential and youth. The future looks extremely bright. They could have a starting nine with no one over 29 come opening day.
The Cubs pitching wasn’t actually not that bad… team ERA of 3.95 and almost a3/1 strikeout to walk ratio and if they can go get a pitcher like say Jon Lester which I think might be a real big possibility their starters next year could be… LHP Jon Lester; RHP
Jake Arrieta (10-5, 2.59 ERA and .0989 WHIP; RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-2, 2.46 ERA and 1.083 WHIP); LHP Travis Wood (had an off year and maybe RHP Jacob Turner who so far hasn’t shown me a lot but I hear folks say he has star potential. But he may be the best out of himself Felix Doubront, Zac Rosscup and Tsuyoshi Wada.
Edwin Jackson is gone or should be.
The bullpen looks good and I think Hector Rondon is an anchor at closer.
Sandy: I don’t think they improved much, but its hard to say if they will be contenders in the near future. Maybe in 4-5 years, but they currently have starting pitchers that either have a high ERA or low number of inning pitched. Also they have only a couple of good hitters, so unless they drastically change this teams personnel, it’ll be a while before they start contending.
Stephan: As I said before, I think the Cubs are going to be a playoff contender next
year. I’m not saying that they are going to get in and win the World Series. However, they are a much improved team, and I believe all the pieces are in place for the Cubs to come out of the cellar and start competing in the National League again. With Anthony Rizzo as the captain of this team, and Starlin Castro putting up All Star numbers. You have the newbies Javier Baez, Solar, and next year should have Kris Bryant. The offense should take off allowing them to compete. Jake Arrietta is the proven ace of the staff, and with one more good arm, the Cubs “could” be smelling post season next year.
2) For the fifth time in the past six seasons, the St. Louis Cardinals are going to the postseason. The Cardinals have been to the postseason 11 of the last 15 seasons. They’ve also played in two of the last three World Series, winning it all in 2011. It’s not a stretch to say they have been the most successful franchise in MLB for the last decade and a half. WHY?
Archie: Why What? That it is safe to say they have been the best the last decade or why have they been so successful? To the first the answer would be yes; they have been the best the last decade. Why? IMO MLB team’s success or failures start at the top with management. The Cardinals organization top level management all the way to the dugout has been the best during that stretch. They have not made those stupid B.J. Upton or Dan Uggla type moves NOR do they allow their top free agents to walk away, with the exception of Pujols that is. And if you remember, they offered him a pretty good deal to
Joe: It’s because they have ownership who knows how to hire good front office people and then stay the hell out of their way. The owners also seem willing to open the purse strings up to go out and spend a little to get someone to fill a hole as long as it’s not an outrageous amount.
And they have a pitching coach, Dave Duncan who is one of the best in the game.
Bottom line is the bosses get the pieces they need and then let the pros do their work.
Sandy: They do have some good starting pitchers, but their success in the regular season has more to do with the division as most divisions have 2 or 3 bad teams. They don’t have a lot of success in post-season when they win the division. Hope that continues as they are playing my team.
Stephan: It is not a stretch. They absolutely have been the most successful franchise in the past decade. Two World Series titles, four pennants. It all comes down to management. It takes nine guys on a baseball field to win games. You don’t have to have a superstar to win. You just have to play hard competitive baseball, and that is what the Cardinals have been able to do for the past 15 seasons.
3) CBS Sports is touting Clayton Kershaw as a lock for another Cy Young award and is in the conversation for the NL MVP… they also are touting Felix Hernandez as a lock for the AL CY Young and they say he also should be considered as an MVP candidate. Your thoughts?
Archie: Our local radio station “The Franchise” features Mickey Tettleton as their analysis and he was dead on this morning (9/25) with this same discussion. And I feel exactly like he does, I will ALWAYS place my vote on a position player for the League MVP. The Cy Young award is designed exclusively to
honor those pitchers like Kershaw for their accomplishments. I ask you this; how do you give the award to a player that appears in less than 20% of the teams games played?
Joe: I don’t belong in the camp that says pitchers can’t be MVPs but I do believe for a pitcher to win the MVP he needs to have had an exceptional season… I’m talking like Sandy Koufax in 1963 or 1965; Pedro Martinez in
1999 or Bob Gibson in 1968. So, Kershaw? He is a maybe… Hernandez? I don’t think so.
Sandy: I think pitchers should be considered for MVP. They don’t win it very often and its probably because
some voters believe they have their own award (CY), but can the best pitchers in the league also be the most valuable, I say yes.
Stephan: Let me start with Clayton Kershaw. Give me another solidified MVP candidate in the NL that really would deserve it over Kershaw? My philosophy is that if there is no clear cut winner for MVP, and one pitcher stands out, then by all means give it to him. I am not above saying that the “pitcher has its own award” so MVP’s should only be for position players. Andrew McCutchen is the only other player that I can name off the top of my head that could win it. But Kershaw is the MVP in the National League, hands down.
As for King Felix? Definitely a CY Young candidate, but there are too many other players that should be MVP over Hernandez. Mike Trout, Jose Abreu, and Victor Martinez should be the top 3.
one, and only one, question. What is your question?
Archie: This is tough. I guess I would put him on the spot and ask him if he ever saw anyone juicing and if he did who was it?
Joe: I’m going to have to ask that how is it possible clean players ( I believe he’s clean; always has been clean and I hope I never have a “Say it ain’t so” moment with Jeter) like yourself didn’t see who was juicing and why didn’t you clean players bond together and tell the MLBPA do something about it?
Sandy: Will you try to stay connected to baseball in some way?
Stephan: In 20 years of baseball. What stands out as your biggest accomplishment, and biggest failure in your career?
5) Wednesday night (9/24) Phil Hughes pitched 8 innings for the Twins… game was delayed over an hour and he didn’t come back out to pitching to another batter. That left him at 209 2/3 IP, a third of an inning short of triggering a $500,000 bonus for 210 IP. He has no more starts scheduled.
Ron Gardenhire, the Twins manager, told reporters after the game that he will not use Hughes out of the bullpen this weekend.
A deal is deal is a deal but through no fault of his own did he fail to meet the final requirement for the bonus.
The question or questions… (1) Is Gardenhire being fair by not letting Hughes pitch out of the bullpen for even one batter in an attempt to get that third of an inning? (2) Did the Twins’ owners tell Gardenhire that Hughes is shut down for the season? And, (3) it’s “legal” but is it “fair” and does that matter?
Editor’s note: After the original question was posed a news item came out that said the Twins had offered Hughes a chance pitch in relief to get his 1/3 of inning needed to trigger his bonus. Hughes declined the opportunity… Our contributors added a second comment (in italics) addressing that situation.
Archie: It is first and foremost not fair; I don’t care about the legal aspect. IF Gardenhire had has a single hair on his ass as a man, and IF he wanted to earn the respect of all his players; he will bring him in for one inning; ownership be damned.
I know I bitch about as much as anyone about the highly inflated salaries for most of these guys, but; this one would have been a matter of “closure” or principle for me. In other words “Complete the mission” build on a positive note for the next season. I would be leaving the season behind with a real “sour taste” in my mouth had I finished knowing I was only 1 out away from a milestone accomplishment
Joe: No way is it fair that Hughes doesn’t get at one shot at facing one batter to get that 1/3 of an inning. I also believe it is Management/Owners telling Gardenhire to not let Hughes pitch again this year and that is really small on their part.
I also think if I am right about Management then Gardenhire needs to take off the pantyhose and grow a set. BUT, if this is really a decision made by Gardenhire… I predict that there will be hell to pay down the line in the clubhouse. Because, if I were a player I would lose respect for the guy after I found that out about him.
$500,000? Even for the Twins that’s essentially chump change. Hell, that’s easily covered with one check that they get from MLBAM, Revenue Sharing or that they get from their local media rights.
Hughes declining the chance to get his third of an inning? Yeah, he’s making millions already but, hell, who can’t use another $500 large ones. Whatever floats your boat but if it was me then I go out and at least pitch to one batter and if I get the out… fine… if I don’t then so goes the war… at least I took a legitimate shot.
Sandy: First, I’m not going to feel bad for a player making $8M.
Hughes was also asked if he wanted to pitch the last weekend to get his $500,000 bonus and he turned it down to keep the best single season K/BB ration of all time intact.
Stephan: Gardenhire is a player’s manager, so I have to think that this is coming from the top. I mean it is their money that we are playing with here. I am convinced that the owners told him not to put Hughes in the game.
This is a tough question because yes on paper, he is 1/3 inning short from the bonus, and you have to draw a line somewhere. There was one rain out during one of his scheduled starts, and he was not able to complete his game. He should be given at the very least an opportunity. What I would do is let him come in for one batter, all or nothing. He gets the out, he gets the bonus, he gets on base, and then at least he had the opportunity to reach his bonus.
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