Interesting week in Spring Training as teams pare down to their opening day rosters with just a week (less actually) to go before it’s MLB for real in 2015. And, the then the battles begin for “Who is #1?”
And, some interesting topics appeared on the various sports sites… among them were David Ortiz saying he deserves a Hall Call… who’s the best at first… more arguing back and forth over Kris Bryant … which by the way the Cubs just made kind of a moot point as they sent him back down to the farm… sign now for security or wait and gamble on free agency go for the big bucks… and… are the Pirates for real?
So? What’s the MLBRT crew think? Here’s what…
1) Recently, there was an interesting article on ESPN.com about David Ortiz… in the article Ortiz discusses many things but predominately the article centers on his take about and his association with PEDs, including the rumor that he was one of the names that surfaced in connection with steroids in 2009, when the New York Times reported that he was among the 100 players who had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. (MLB first tested players for steroids in 2003, and the results were supposed to be anonymous.)
The article… also has Ortiz saying… “Hell yes I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame…”
If, he retires right now… is he a Hall of Famer?
Archie: Given the fact that NONE of the “highly suspected” steroid users with numbers that would normally warrant an induction are still not there, it is very hard to believe that Big Papi will make it in. There are currently 10 players with more homeruns than David (probably only 8 by end of season) and of those ten at least 5 of them are NOT in the Hall already due to steroids or still active. Of those still active, A-Rod and Pujols, only Pujols will probably come through all this era clean and make it into the hall. Also, given the fact that most of David’s longevity has been due to his DH role, many voters that cover the NL teams are not inclined to vote for DH to the hall.
Earl: I think he is a Hall of Fame player, but he does have that cloud of suspected steroid user hanging over him. So, I can’t see Big Papi being a first ballot Hall of Fame player. But, based on his numbers and what he means to a historic franchise such as the Red Sox, he will get into Cooperstown eventually.
Let’s get the PEDs thing out of the way first… no real proof he ever did PEDs, so, I gotta say unless someone comes up with something concrete… aka proof… that says he did them then I assume he didn’t. We don’t convict people on just suspicion, especially shaky suspicion.
Next, he has a lifetime slash line of .285/.379/.547 with 466 HRs and 547 doubles 1533 RBIs and 1267 runs… which is better than Willie Stargell, Andre Dawson, Orlando Cepeda… comparable to Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killibrew. The point being that those players are all Hall of Famers… (FYI: a couple of those guys, in my opinion, don’t belong in the Hall but that’s another argument for another day)… so, all things considered his numbers say he is probably a Hall of Famer.
The thing that makes me hesitate is that DH thing… He was predominately… overwhelmingly predominately… a DH for his career. Right now, I say a very shaky no to him getting a Hall Call. Give me a few years on the DH thing and I might well be saying… yeah, he should be in.
Steve: I read this article the other day and was really intrigued on how Ortiz portrayed himself, though I was not surprised. I think Ortiz on numbers alone is a Hall of Famer, plus his off the field contributions makes him a strong ambassador of the game. During his rant, he mentions that he has been tested more than any other player in baseball. To me he was saying that MLB was on a witch hunt, and figured that if he was tested 75 or 80 times, then he is sure to fail one of those tests. He has not, so Ortiz should not be in the same category as those who did take the juice. Ortiz is a Hall of Famer, maybe not first ballot, but he has had a Hall of Fame caliber career.
2) Kris Bryant and Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, both are saying he belongs on the Cubs’ opening day roster. Bryant wants to be in the lineup on opening day and he says… “I look at it as ‘Why not me?’”, and, Boras says the Cubs are putting business reasons ahead of baseball reasons.
Cubs’ GM, Theo Epstein, says he has never started a top prospect, with no MLB experience, on a MLB opening day roster but waits until the right moment during the season… when he was the Red Sox’ GM Epstein waited to promote the teams’ best prospects until the season was underway… e.g. Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester.
Now, Commissioner Rob Manfred has chimed in… “I don’t think the Cubs’ decision with respect to Kris Bryant is really any of Scott Boras’ business.”
Boras returned volley with… “Since I work for the player under the mandate of the MLBPA… how insightful. The new commissioner’s pre Marvin Miller state of mind.”
The issue here is that by not promoting Bryant until a few weeks or more into the season, the Cubs get to keep Bryant through 2021, instead of 2020… the first year Bryant could be a free agent.
When the commissioner was asked about a team trying to get around the rules, Manfred said he disagreed with that phrasing. Manfred said that “Clubs manage the rules.”
a) Is this all about the money and control, i.e. stalling Bryant’s free agency, and nothing more?
b) Should the commissioner stay out of this unless invited in?
I do believe it is about club control over a very talented young player, however, I don’t see the whole damn thing as a positive image for either side. When you consider how long the Cubs have been missing from post-season and a legitimate shot at a title, then one has to ask “why the hell did they go out and get Maddon and the rest”, if, they are not looking to compete?
AND, IF, they are looking to compete then why not field the best they can right from the word go?
This issue basically comes down to the clubs and their control over young players. Bryant deserves to be in the opening day lineup. By delaying him a few weeks just to get the extra year of control is shameful, but, that’s the business. Sucks, but it is what it is.
Like Boras or not, he’s doing what an agent is supposed to do regardless how obnoxious he can get about it. But, in my opinion, both Bryant and Boras are right.
However thems the rules, so, they … the Cubs… get to do what they want here. (FYI: Bryant was just sent down to the Minors as of 3/30).
Now, the commish…
It’s a so-called free country, so, he can say what he wants, but, really, in my opinion, he should shut the hell up. Boras is right… again… he… Boras, that is… works for Bryant by the mandate of the collective bargaining agreement between MLBPA and MLB, and, his… the commish’s… opinion sounds like he would love to return to the days when a player’s rights were owned by one team forever at, essentially, whatever controlled price a team wanted to pay that player.
What the commissioner is saying is, frankly, wrong and regressive.
After thinking a little harder on the issue, this really may not be about money. This is about keeping this young potential superstar on the payroll for another year.
I have no doubt in my mind that Kris Bryant is going to make a lot of money, and, Theo Epstein is going to pay him, but, he wants to see how he produces in the majors before committing.
And, I get that. But, you have to give this kid a chance.
I see the commissioners office a lot like the Government. They get involved too much and need to stay the hell away from the day to day operations. Manfred should not be getting involved, but, to his defense, he was asked the question, he never jumped into the party, and, I don’t see him getting involved more than just answering a reporter’s question.
3) ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield recently wrote… “Trick question: How many times has Miguel Cabrera been the best first baseman in the majors in the past three seasons?
The answer: Zero.”
He was a third baseman (and MVP) in 2012 and 2103… as a first baseman in 2014, he battled injuries, and still had 25 HRs and 100 plus RBIs.
Now, as the 2015 season beckons, ESPN lists him as the #1 first baseman in MLB…
Is Cabrera the #1 first baseman in MLB?
Archie: IF. you believe that Jose Abreu’s season last year was not a fluke, then, no, Cabrera is not the best anymore. IF, you do believe it was a fluke and that the young man will come down to earth, then, Miggy could still be the best.
I personally think Cabrera is probably the best.
Miguel has been one of the best players in the game for a few seasons now, and although I was pretty high on Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox coming into the season, and, I blogged about it in one of my The Blog About Nothing editions (shameless plug), I don’t see Abreu surpassing Cabrera just yet.
Joe: ESPN’s top four on their top-ten first basemen list, in order, are Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Abreu and Anthony Rizzo.
I have no argument with that list… if, I was drafting a fantasy team, and, I had to take any of those four, I would be very happy with the selection.
But, is Cabrera the top pick?
Simple way to solve this… Cabrera admittedly had injures last year and still had a very productive year… more on that later.
Some say Goldschmidt was on the way to an MVP year before an injury stopped his season. How good a year? In 109 game he had a slash line of .300/.396/.542 with 75 runs, 69 RBIs, 39 doubles and 19 HRs. Assume the slash line stays the same… then over 162 games… that’s 112 runs, 102 RBIs, 58 doubles, 28 HRs. Very nice, but, not, IMO, MVP caliber in 2014.
Abreu… In 145 games he had a slash line of .317/.383/.581 with 80 runs, 107 RBIs, 35 doubles and 36 HRs. Rookie of the Year… #4 in MVP votes. I think that’s a fair appraisal of the year he had. Note that Rookie award. Exactly… he has had one year in the Bigs, and, as great as that year was, can he do it over and over again?
I ain’t ready to anoint him the #1 first baseman just yet.
And, Rizzo… In 140 games, he had a slash line of .286/.386/.527 with 89 runs, 78 RBIs, 28 doubles and 32 HRs. Which was actually better than his 2013 year when he played in 162 games. Good, but, the #1 first baseman? I don’t think so.
Now back to Cabrera… he had a year where he was slowed by injuries and still put up a slash line of .313/.371/.524 with 101 runs, 109 RBIs, 52 doubles, and, 25 HRs.
That’s very arguably better than any of the other 3 players. What would he do if he was healthy?
Have another of his MVP years?
Or, even one of the 2 years he had prior to those MVPs? Years where he averaged a slash line of .338/.426/.613 with 108 runs, 127 RBIs, 40 doubles and 39 HRs?
So who’s #1?
Steve: I think so, but Jose Abreu is right behind him. Plus, you can never count out this guy Pujols who plays for Los Angeles. But, yes, Cabrera deserves to be the number one first baseman in baseball right now.
I could see guys like Abreu, or Rizzo, two up and coming stars in the game start to overtake him as the #1 first baseman in the game, but for now, it is Cabrera at number 1.
4) You are a player with above average talent and have had some consistently good to pretty damn good years in the Bigs… team offers you decidedly above average money for four to five years… do you take the deal and the security of guaranteed money or gamble you can stay free of any major injuries; continue putting up your good to pretty damn good years and wait until you can be a free agent and go for the really big bucks?
Archie: I think there are many more tangibles to throw into the equation. Do I like the city I am in? How does my family fair where we are and versus how would they do in say a hotter or colder climate? How am I doing now financially? Am I good with my money or go through it like crap through a goose? I personally think that about 70% of those players take the guaranteed money.
While I have respect for a guy like Andrew McCutchen who in my eyes took a below average deal to stay with the Pirates, because he loves the organization, I can’t help but think how much money he’d really earn if he went into pure free agency. He’d be getting paid a lot more from a big market team compared to what he’s making in Pittsburgh.
I get loyalty, but, I’m about them dollar signs! You gots to pay me!
Joe: Me… I take the deal. Screw the long term gamble. I want the security. I could blow out a knee tomorrow and never play again. I recently read where a player… not sure, but, I think it was McCutchen… who actually took a pre-free agency deal and at one point said how much money do I really need? I agree with him.
FYI… in McCutchen’s last year (2018) of the deal he’ll make 14-mil plus and still… if his numbers continue how they been going so far… be young enough to get a 9-year multi-hundred-million bucks deal.
To me, if, I am getting paid to play the game that I have loved to play since I was three years old, I would consider that a blessing and just be proud to play the game at the highest level. I have always said that it would not be about the money, but, about the longevity of a career in baseball.
For example, if, the Yankees offered me a 3 year, 30 million dollar contract, but, the Braves offered me a 6 year, 30 million dollar contract, I would go with the Braves offer as this gives me three more years, and, I figure if I cannot survive and take care of my family for 5 million dollars a year, then something is seriously wrong with me.
Which is also why I would be my own agent, and, negotiate my own contract.
5) ESPN’s Buster Olney is on record as predicting the Pittsburgh Pirates will not only make the playoffs but be in and win the World Series. For the record, Olney has the Pirates beating the Seattle Mariners in the World Series.
What’s your opinion about Olney’s prediction for the Pirates?
He had the Braves winning the NL East last year, and, the Diamondbacks winning the west. In 2013, he had the Nationals facing and beating the Tigers in the WS, and, the Cardinals were not even in his playoff picture.
One hundred and sixty two games is a LONG WAY away and no one has a crystal ball that can forecast that far out. Back in 2013, on 3 June. when Yasiel Puig made his debut, the Dodgers were in the NL West cellar and 8 games below .500. They finished, as we all know, with 92 wins and the Division crown.
“Ya just never know!”
My opinion? Red Sox vs. Marlins. I’m not even going to give a reason to back it up. Why? It’s my damn opinion!!
Joe: It could happen. Pirates have a real nice team both defensively and offensively and with some decent pitching… who knows. I wouldn’t count them out. I also wouldn’t count out the Nationals, the prohibitive favorite to win it all right now, the Cardinals or the Marlins in the NL.
Let’s just say I might, at the right odds, bet the doghouse on the Pirates to win it all, but, I wouldn’t bet the ranch… or, even the garage.
Now, to be fair, the Pirates are going to win a lot of games this season, and, in my playoff predictions, I have the Pirates at the top of the NL Central. They have probably the best outfield in baseball, a great offense, and some decent pitching to go along with that offense.
I see the Pirates winning 92 games, and, think they will win the Central by a couple of games over the Cubs and Cardinals.
World Series for the Pirates? I can’t wrap my thumb around that pick, as I still don’t see anyone beating the Nationals in a playoff series with that pitching staff. It is not a bad pick by any sense of the meaning, but, I just don’t see it.
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