MLBRT is back with a new season of baseball thoughts…
A legend (and future 1st ballot Hall of Famer?) is gone and a new one is being born… maybe…
Some players might be looking at their last stands, and, maybe some teams that have been perennial also-rans are ready to move on up…
The Round Table crew discusses it all…
1) ESPN says one of the 2015 baseball storylines will be “It’s time to cue the ‘Jeter has retired, so Trout takes over as the new face of baseball’ storyline.” Is that a fair statement or is it grossly unfair to hang that title on Trout?
IMO, Jeter was NEVER the face of MLB. He was definitely an ambassador for the game, and, playing in New York, he did what many All Stars fail to do in that media outlet; he survived a flood of negative controversy that the media tried to generate. His approach on the field over exceeded all the headlines slouchy media writers tried to place on him for his off the field endeavors.
Putting Mike Trout in as the face of MLB is not going to go over very well with many fans, as well, due to his locale; he is with the Angels not the Dodgers. While, Los Angeles is a huge media market, it is STILL not New York. Jeter NEVER split media time with any Met. Trout has to split his time and coverage with an entire organization in his own back yard. Basically, I guess, what I am saying is the Angels are to the Dodgers what the Mets are to the Yankees; an afterthought.
And, let’s be honest as well with this kid; as talented as he is, he has still not reached the plateau that Pujols was on in his Cardinal days. I’m not saying the potential is not there for him to achieve that level, I am only saying let’s not put that crown on his head as of yet. One of my reasons for feeling this way is due to one category that Trout led the league in last year that is not a good thing; strikeouts… he led the AL with 184 last season. Pujols has NEVER struck out over 100 times in a season.
Joe: Personally… I think it’s grossly unfair. Regardless of how good he’s been the first four years of his career. Placing that sort of a tag on anyone is simply, sort of irresponsible, and, in my opinion, asinine. So, what happens if he tanks the next three years in a row… then we go, “Oopps… our bad he ain’t the face of baseball but this other guy is now?
And, that’s the other problem with making a statement “the face of” declarations… why is Trout the chosen one… there aren’t other players who been around longer and had just as good careers, if, not, even somewhat arguably, better careers up to this point? Clayton Kershaw… Andrew McCutchen… Felix Hernandez… Buster Posey…
One of the problems with media is that they think everything needs a tag or some kind of buzz phrase.
How about we just let things play themselves out and let the fans choose who they consider the face of baseball by which guy they follow the most.
Steve: I wouldn’t say that it is unfair to Trout to take over as the face of MLB, I would take that as a huge compliment from ESPN. However, I think the real question here is, Is Trout the right guy to be the new face of baseball?
You have guys like Kershaw, Stanton, and some other up and coming stars like Bryant of the Cubs, that really could be something special in Baseball.
So is Trout the right guy to call the new face of Baseball? He is a top candidate for that, but there are so many other guys that the title could go to as well.
I personally don’t think there should be ONE true face in baseball.
So unfair? Not to Trout.
2) Rumors say there are teams interested in SS Stephen Drew, but, that Scott Boras’ asking price of 9 to 10 million is a tad too steep, and, unless that price tag comes down Drew will remain unsigned. Realistically, regardless of the money Drew may or may not sign for, what is your opinion of Drew’s future in MLB?
Archie: Above 9 million a year is way too steep for Drew, I don’t give a crap who his agent is. The guy has not played more than 124 games in any of his last 5 seasons. He stays hurt and he is average at the plate. He has average-minus base stealing speed. And, he is has less than league average at fielding his position. So, Scott Boras needs to chill and just find the guy a team willing to pay the average SS salary for a veteran player. Personally, I think around 5.5 to 6 million a year would be more than fair.
He will land somewhere, but I’m not so sure he will reach the lofty mesa Boras is asking.
Essentially, I see him as decent starter on an already strong offensive team, or, a super utility player, or, as a bench player who is insurance in case the regular shortstop or second baseman gets injured… nothing more than any of those scenarios. In my opinion, Drews’ best days are behind him.
Drew is the kind of player that you want and can utilize in multiple roles, but, he is nowhere near worth that asking price. If, I was a GM in baseball, it would be somewhere along the lines of 5 years, 20 million. So, 4 million a year.
3) Grade the San Diego Padres Hot Stove Season to this point and what, if any, needs do they still have to address?
Archie: They received a pretty good grade in their early moves by acquiring Kemp, Upton and Myers. However, I am not understanding the two relief pitcher moves in Kelley and Maurer. Neither of those guys are what you would call Bullpen bolstering acquisitions. I know the headlines advertise them as such but if you look the stats do not support that assumption. All the other additions the team has made, I see no real impact players there as well.
I see their entire infield as either old as hell, (Barmes) or young as hell and none of them scare anyone at the plate. Derek Norris is almost guaranteed to get the majority of starts behind the dish with Tim Federowicz backing him up. Neither of these guys has more than 4 seasons under their belt and only Norris handles the bat very well. Both are under the league fielding % for catchers as well so that might become a liability.
When the dust settles and the grades are in I only go about a B- on their offseason. They will NOT win the NL West this season. To me, to earn an “A” they need to add a quality starter to their rotation. I Know they were 4th in all of MLB last year in team ERA, but, they worked with only three primary starters and the 4th and 5th by committee last year. I am not convinced yet that Cashner can fill the innings required for a 4th full time starter.
Joe: I think they get a B-plus for upgrading their offense. Now, they need to do something about their pitching. I still believe pitching, ultimately, gets you further in the playoffs than hitting does.
I think with the offense as it is they might be able to beat the “bad” teams often enough, and the “good” teams just enough and their resulting record might enable them to squeeze into the playoffs. So, if, they don’t upgrade their pitching, I’m not sure they are capable of much more than being a competitive team that could make the playoffs and then not go much further.
And, yes, the improved offense will improve some of the pitchers’ records, up to a point, but, not enough to overcome the really good teams who have better pitching.
Justin Upton brings much needed power to their lineup, and, Josh Johnson is a good number 2 behind Andrew Cashner, who quietly had a very good season despite his record. He had an ERA under 2.30, but his team could not score when he was on the mound. Cashner, with this newly formed offense of Upton, Kemp, and Myers along with a group of good core players, is going to win anywhere from 18-20 games next year.
San Diego needs to bolster their bullpen, and, make a few moves to strengthen that, if they do that, we may be talking a decent run in the post season.
4) Based on their present probable rosters, which team will have the better season in 2015… Cubs or White Sox?
Archie: I will give the first advantage to the Cubs. One reason, Joe Madden. I think he is one of the better decision makers and baseball minds in the dugout and I can see where his philosophy and motivational skills will play a huge roll in that young club.
I think the Sox made a good move in signing Adam LaRoche but I don’t think he will be enough difference to push the Sox into playoff contention in that division even with the addition of Samardzija and Cabrera. After watching Cabrera at Atlanta, he is only a drug test away from being suspended again (yes, I think he is still using) if he hopes to have the same kind of season he had at SF.
The Cubs however beefed up their pitching to an “A” status with Lester and they already had some young studs on the rise to compliment Starlin Castro. Many felt the Cubbies had a good core set of players to build on from last year’s squad and now that they have a full season to build on I can see where the Cubs will do better this year than their cross town rivals.
OBTW…neither win their division.
Or… Melky Cabrera, David Robertson and Jeff Samardzija added to the Sox… Samardzija now joins Chris Sale and Jose Quintana to make up a very good1 through 3 in the rotation.
The Cubs counter with Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel 1 through 3.
I’m going to give the present edge to the White Sox because of the pitching. I just trust the pitchers at the top of the White Sox’ rotation more than I do the Cubs.
Due to the division they are in, I think the Sox could end up with a better record next year. However, the Cubs, in my opinion, have the better roster from top to bottom. Starting with the leadership all the way down to the players. The Sox lack depth and player leadership now that Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn are gone, and that could be a key issue for them in the later part of the season.
5) Is this a make it or break it year for Tim Lincecum?
Archie: I don’t know if I would use the “make it or break it” for Tim, but, I do believe that we are done with seeing Timmy pitch 200+ innings in a season while maintaining a 120 ERA+. His stuff has dropped dramatically in the last 3 seasons, and, I, for one, think it is due to overwork in his four years beginning with the 2008 season.
Many think that the fastball wears out pitching arms more than other pitches but I personally think it is those that use the curve that have bigger issues later in their career. One only has to look at the speed of his fastball, as well, to see a definite slip in nastiness. When a batter has to worry about a 96+ mph fastball and then adjust to a 12-6 curve, it makes the curve more effective. If, that same batter only has to worry about an average 89-90 mph fastball, then, the curve is nowhere near as effective. He will still be used somewhere in the league as a specialist here and there, but, his days as a starter might end with the closing of this coming season, IF, he does not rebound and get that 12-6 curve falling off the plate again and boost his fastball average back to around 91-92 mph.
Joe: I don’t think it’s “make it or break it” time for him career wise, yet. But, I do think it’s getting closer to finding out, if, he is he going to be a back of the end of the rotation type of pitcher who might wind up being trade fodder, or, maybe even relegated to the bullpen as a middle innings type of reliever.
OR, if, he can he be at least a “three” pitcher that a manger can depend upon to give him at least 6 or 7 innings every time he goes to the mound.
He is only 30 years old and is coming off a 12 win season. He enjoyed a little success in the post season with the Giants. I do think it is a make it or break it year with the Giants and Lincecum. If, Lincecum cannot get back to at least close to his form of 3 or 4 years ago, the Giants may look to trade him to another team, which would be good for both sides. If, he stays healthy, he still can pitch for 5 maybe 6 more quality years.
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