The Round Table starts off with some thoughts on how does MLB get the crème de la crème of America’s young athletes attracted to playing baseball… especially those kids that are financially challenged.
And, it’s pitchers and catchers coming to the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues and every team is thinking grand and glorious thoughts for the 2015 season.
So, of course, the MLBRT crew is chiming in with some thoughts on some of the early preseason predictions by some of the so-called sports experts’ predictions…
1) CBSSports.com recently wrote this on their website: “For many kids from lower-income families like McCutchen, an athletic scholarship is their best chance to go to college, and since baseball scholarships are limited, many of the best athletes are winding up in other sports. That’s not good for baseball at all. MLB needs to work to bring more of the best athletes to the sport.”
CBSSports.com also quoted Pirate all-star Andrew McCutchen: “Fixing (the economic) problem is complicated, but when I was a kid, I looked at baseball players growing up in Latin America with a lot of envy. If you’re a talented kid in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, a team can come along and say, ‘We’re going to sign you for $50,000 and take you into our organization and develop you, feed you, take care of your travel.’ To me, as a 14-year-old kid whose family was struggling, that would have meant everything to me. I would have taken that deal in a second.”
Should MLB begin thinking about developing some type of programs in the US as there are in Latin Countries for lower-income youth?
You have the legal side here in the States that evidently you don’t have in the DR or PR. That alone would be a nightmare for any MLB team to deal with and on the surface make it not very appealing.
The scout system used for MLB is supposed to be the best in the world and they already have more bust than booms. When you figure there is already 1200+ kids drafted each year from high school and college and the ratio for making it to the Majors is about 10.5 percent that does not exude much confidence for MLB to go after a younger age and start throwing heavy bank at kids to play. There would be no guarantee at all in their investment for a return. The kids would not be able to join in any legal contract at that age so that brings in the parents.
I would not even want to think about all the corruptness that would exude from such an adventure here in the states once the parents and lawyers get involved. That type of program would not make it through the first year without headlines capturing some case of “child slavery” or someone trying to sell their kid into the program.
I’m not sure about all the specifics of the way MLB goes about developing young athletic talent in the Latin countries, but, I see no reason why MLB can’t set up similar programs in the US to help financially challenged kids develop their skills and maybe go onto bigger and better things in pro baseball.
I do know of one program in the Domincan Republic called I Love Baseball® (ILB). The stated goal of ILB is to improve the future for young men in the Dominican Republic by encouraging them to pursue an academic education in addition to getting specialized training in baseball.The suggested donation to sposnor an ILB player is $32. For that $32 each sponsored DR kid gets a program of baseball for half of the day and then school for half a day where they are required to maintain an 80% average. AND, they also get a decent wholesome midday meal, which the ILB website says is, for many of the kids, the only nutritious meal they might get on a given day.
Why MLB couldn’t be instrutmental is helping to create a similar program for financially challenged kids in the US is beyond me.
Let me just throw this out there to the Jackie Robinson squad; Don’t hang your head. You accomplished something special, and have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Despite what the adults did, you kids inspired so many youths in America, and you should be proud.
Now back to the question, MLB should take notice to what other countries are doing. There are some great home grown talent across America, but, baseball seems to take a back seat to other sports, simply because it is readily available to them. MLB should invest in the talent that is out there, and, bring back America’s game.
2) The Atlantis sports book in Reno recently posted their over/under lines for all MLB teams for the upcoming season. The NY Yankees line is 80 wins. In your opinion is that a realistic outlook… a below .500 team… for The Yankees in 2015?
Archie: At this point going into spring training the sporting book can be as optimistic or pessimistic as they like and I can see where pushing that line will draw a lot of Yankee money to their boards.
I personally do not think the Yankees will win anything this year. I can see where many fans would be more optimistic; after all they are the frigging Yankees, come July they will go buying if they need help.
I would be putting money on that bet. I will take the Yankees every year to win 80 games. If I had done that in my lifetime, for every season they played during a Non-Strike year you have to go all the way back to 1992 to find a year they did NOT accomplish said number.
Now, if, you are asking should they be placed winning more like 88 or better then my answer would be a resounding no.
Earl: The Yankees are in a weird position. So many unknowns with their lineup, their pitching staff, and the A-Rod spectacle hanging over them. It’s such a weird position that I would take that bet that the Yanks are an 80 win team.
I see the Yanks challenging for a wild card in 2015.
Steve: It is so hard to tell with these rankings. I have the Yankees fourth in the AL East, so, that would put them around 78 to 80 wins in my opinion. They have some pitching to work on, and, will lack some leadership.
I think that Jeter being gone hurts them as a team, and, bringing back A-Rod will prove to have some distractions to the team. I don’t see the Yanks doing much this season.
Archie: Why would they? Hamels has been their mainstay for 9 seasons now, and, he shows no signs of being any less that his typical 30+ starts while hovering around the 3 ERA mark. He pitches deep into games giving the bullpen much relief. So, in reality, if, the Phillies cannot make some type of block buster deal in getting rid of him then they are not going to let him go. And, any team looking to trade for him is not getting a bargain basement deal when they inherit his $20+ million dollar contract through the 2019 season.
Earl: I think they’d love nothing more than to deal Hamels to the Red Sox. Boston does have a need for him, but the Phillies want too much. However, in this game of chicken I’d expect the Phillies to blink first. They have no real incentive to hang on to Hamels. The Phillies aren’t expected to make a run at the NL East and they do need to rebuild, so, they got to do something with Hamels between now and the trade deadline.
Joe: Sometimes I really wonder. I mean what the hell are they waiting for? They shouldn’t just take any old offer, but, if I were them, I would seriously think about making a deal before he starts to play in some games and maybe gets some sort of injury that might make teams that have an interest say… hmmmm…
Steve: I can’t imagine the Phillies holding on to Hamels. I think they are going to be the runt of the National League East, and, they are most definitely in a rebuilding mode. Hamels will produce some high level prospects, and, the Phillies would be stupid to hang on to him.
4) David Schoenfield of ESPN.com recently ranked all the MLB teams and his top four teams are #1 Washington Nationals, #2 Los Angeles Dodgers, #3 Pittsburgh Pirates and #4 Cleveland Indians.
Your thoughts on those rankings?
Archie: I do believe the Nationals are minimum #2 going into the season. I think the Dodgers did slip some during the offseason with some of the trades they made. I think they are still a playoff contender for at least a WildCard slot.
I don’t think the Pirates did enough to be considered #1 or 2. Behind McCutchen, Liriano and Burnett their lineup reads like a list of Who’s Not Who.
If one looks at trades and FA signings alone with the expectation that those work then you have to figure the Padres and Red Sox moved way up the ranking ladder. I have not seen the list but I would figure they would have to have moved into the top 5.
And some teams did not need much tweaking in the offseason to begin with. Without making much noise in the offseason I feel they are still the team to beat in the AL west. I believe they need to be considered in the top dog rankings as well.
Earl: I agree with #1 and #2. The Nationals and Dodgers should be up there. The Pirates and Indians, though? I can’t see that. Both squads have young talent and they are capable of winning their respective divisions, but I’m not sold on either one to agree with the ranking.
His other 3 choices? I’m not inclined to agree with him.
The Dodgers lost some important talent and I don’t believe they replaced that lost talent with equal talent. I see then maybe struggling to make it as wild card team. I’m not sure if they are even the number 2 team in just The NL forget about all of MLB.
The Pirates? Maybe they can win their division, but, the #3 team in MLB? Nope.
And, the Indians? See my thoughts on the Pirates. They may win their division, but, they are definitely not the 4th best team in MLB.
I read Schoenfield’s stuff a lot and sometimes I just gotta shake my head on some of his thinking and ask what’s he been smoking?
Steve: The Nationals should absolutely be #1, I think the 92 win mark was actually a little low. I see the Nationals winning close to 100 games this season with the pitching rotation that they have in 2015. Not only that, but, they have a solid offense to go along with the pitching.
The Dodgers are a wild card, I think they still compete, but, I don’t even have them winning the division next year, as I think you will see the San Diego Padres have the biggest turnaround from last year. Dodgers should win 85 plus games, but, I don’t see them in the 90’s.
The Pirates and Indians, you just never know.
The Pirates are going to be tough, but, they are also in a tough division now with the Cardinals, Brewers, and now the Cubs. The Indians have to compete with the Tigers, and White Sox, who made some nice offseason moves. I don’t see any of those two winning more than 87 games.
5) Pitchers and catchers report this week… essentially the Hot Stove season is over and Spring Training is about to gear up as MLB preps for another season… What does your favorite team need to accomplish in Spring Training to successfully compete in the 2015 season?
They don’t have much in the way of big names or talent left on the team and if ANY one of them gets hurt their season will be dismal.
I’ll take a season where both of them have a strong season and stay into the wildcard chase for as long as possible. I’ll consider it a success if both organizations can do that.
Joe: The New York Yankees need to just keep on the path they have appear to be taking so far heading into Spring Training… Developing a team instead of an amalgam of big time and aging supposedly star players. Manager Joe Girardi and his coaching staff need to instill into the players a sense of team baseball with the occasional big bop always lurking.
With their fragile starters, it’s also necessary to just keep everyone as healthy as possible in their rotation and just get into the mind set of pitching a strong 6 innings and then turning the game over to what may be one of the top 5 bullpens in MLB.
Spring Training will also be as much about making sure the vets who had injuries last year stay healthy going into the season and letting the younger players play the games to see what works and who’s gonna fit where… either as a player on the field or as a backup on the bench.
The 2015 edition of the Yankees will be younger and deeper than in previous years. With a mixture of youth and veterans and Girardi managing like he did when he was with Marlins I think they can get a wildcard in 2015.
Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, but, adding Nick Markakis and Shelby Miller. It seems as if the Braves are wanting to rebuild, yet, still sign some big names. So, at this point in time, I would have to say that I really don’t know what the Braves are trying to do for 2015.
Ultimately, I think, they are going to try and rebuild to have a solid competitive team in 2017 when they open their new stadium.
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