MLBRT 6/18… More pressing baseball questions

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The pressing baseball questions that just beg for answers in this week MLB Round Table include…

Closers… can a team live without one?

What’s this fun stuff David Price keeps nattering on about?

And… what’s with draft picks, Bryce Harper and Albert Pujols?

The crew discusses it all here and now…

1) Most teams have a dedicated closer… the guy that always comes in when it’s “close” with a lead in the 9th inning.

In your opinion how valuable is that closer? Are they really all that important?

Archie1Archie: Out of all of the “specialist” in MLB today, I do believe the “closer” is the most unique and most important.

We all know the days of the starter going a full 9 every time out is WAY gone and relief pitching is becoming more and more a premium. And, not only is relief pitching at a premium but it appears that managers are more and more into the “specialist” guy that comes in late innings for the one at bat that may swing the momentum of the game. But, when it comes right down to the bottom line, if, you can’t FINISH what did you actually gain in the first 8 innings?

Kimbrel as a Brave
Kimbrel as a Brave

My Braves, after trading away Craig Kimbrel this season, already have 12 blown saves this season. They only had 13 total all of last year and 16 the year before that. The main guy they had as the closer, Craig Kimbrel, was an astounding 97 of 105 chances during those two seasons. That is Mariano Rivera territory running at almost 90% success rate. And, while Jason Grilli has done pretty well saving 16 of his 18 opportunities this season, the rest of the relief core for the Braves are 3 for 13 in saves. Consequently the Braves are the worst team in all of MLB in allowing runs from the seventh inning or later.

So, while everyone looks to the starters to put them in the playoff race, that race runs out of stamina and steam pretty quickly IF the team cannot close the deal.

E.J. 12Earl: It’s the most important of the specialist positions in the game.

A dominant closer takes makes a difference. Sometimes they may get too much glory, or too much credit but they are beyond necessary.

64432_1353574773361_2104488_nJoe: I’m having trouble answering this question… why? Because, I personally think the rule for a save is too liberal and sometimes a so-called closer comes into a game with a four run lead but bases are loaded and the possible winning run is on deck. Three runs may score but he gets the sufficient number of outs and his team wins and he gets the save… not because he was effective but more because he got lucky. Not so sure that should qualify as a save.

Goose Gossage
Goose Gossage

There are other scenarios that occur that make me think sometimes compiling saves, especially on areal good team, is more luck than any real skill on the closers part.

I am also from a time when a reliever would come into a game and pitch more than just to a few batters or sometimes even just to one batter.  I remember relievers like Goose Gossage who often would come into tight games, even as early as the 7th inning, get out of a jam and pitch two or three innings to really close out a game.

So, yeah I’m having a problem…

But, I do understand that in a really close game that one guy coming into the 9th inning can sometimes, if not often, make all the difference in the world as to which team is victorious on that day.

Sooo… my answer is… a qualified yes, the closer is valuable but sometime he gets more credit than he deserves.

Steve 01Steve: The closer is huge, if, it is for a team who is consistently in close games. For teams that are below average and are not in many games, it is really irrelevant.

Miller Time in NY
Miller Time in NY

Take the Cubs for example. They seem to always be in close games, extra inning games, and, they are in desperate need for a bullpen and a solid closer. Rendon is good, but, he makes things a little too interesting. With the acquisition of Soriano, this may be the piece that the Cubs need to make their run. So, it is a very important role, but, it also makes a difference on where your team is.

I’m interested to see how the Yankees do without Andrew Miller for a couple weeks, Miller has been a huge part of the Yankees success this season being able to close out games.

Another example is Padres closer Craig Kimbrel, when he gets the chance to close, he is lights out. Problem is, the Padres are underachieving this season so far, and he has not been able to produce.

2) Recently David Price said that he wants to win but he also wants to be on a team that has fun… he pointedly mentioned the Cubs as team who has young players that are signed to relatively long contracts that are having fun and winning.

Specifically he said, “They have a lot of guys they can control for a long time. It’s very similar to when I first came up in Tampa. Just a bunch of young guys out there having fun. That’s what it’s about. You have to be able to have fun. I don’t want to win and not have fun. I wouldn’t rather lose and have fun but it’s pretty close.”

Joe Maddon, the then Tampa manager and the now Cubs manager said, “I’m a fun guy. David and I are friends. I’ve said in the past he’s probably one of the best teammates I’ve ever been around. It’s a process that has to be worked out. I wish him the best with it. He’s a unique individual.”

Is this a possible tampering case by Maddon?

Archie1Archie: Tampering with what?DavidPrice

The Fact that DP is a FA at the end of the season? In MLB there is no such thing, that I am aware of, where a player that will automatically be a FA at the end of the season cannot already be talking to ALL clubs about the following season. There are no “club options” on his contract that I am aware of. I read it as if DP will be a complete unrestricted FA at the end of the season.

So, no, there are no tampering issues here that I can see.

E.J. 12Earl: Maddon shouldn’t have said that, but, no, it’s not tampering.

The two men have history together in Tampa, and, I can see Price wanting to join the Cubs this offseason and playing with Maddon again.

64432_1353574773361_2104488_nJoe: In this case, I don’t think so… but sometimes Maddon really toes a tight line and I just wonder about stuff he is involved with behind the scenes.

Maddon (R) having fun
Maddon (R) having fun

But, then I’ll bet a lot of other managers and front office peeps do similar stuff. So, I guess as long as no one objects and he doesn’t really cross that line it’s all good.

Steve 01Steve: OH Jesus H. NO!!!!!

Price played under Maddon for what, 5 or 6 years? They have a history together. He is making a comment on a former player that he helped develop. They helped Tampa to there one and only World Series appearance in 2008. Why are people making a big deal out of this? Price made the comment about the Cubs, Maddon responded.


3) Recently an article in said… “In those other sports, it’s part of life, part of the intrigue, part of the drama of draft day. Who’s trading up? Who’s trading down? Who’s scheming? Who’s listening? In those other sports, the trading of draft picks is a given. Taken for granted. Buzzed about for weeks. An indispensable part of the fun.”

The article continued, “And in baseball? Still stuck in a 50-year-old time warp. Still banning something that would increase interest in the draft by about a billion times. Trade your first-round pick? Still as illegal as the spitball after all these years. Ridiculous”

Should MLB allow teams to trade draft picks?

Archie1Archie: When you think about it, MLB is STILL the only one left where entry level talent is kept pretty even across the boards. The intent is still valid and for the most part always will be. If, it were not I have seen days where some owners would do nothing but run a shitty club year in and year out to gain high draft only to be sold to the highest bidder come draft day.

MLB draft day 2015
MLB draft day 2015

No other sport drafts down into the High School level either so in that aspect there has to be a more restrictive measure in place to ensure that all teams have a balanced and equal chance at bringing young talent to their organization. Add the fact that only a small percentage of baseball draftees EVER make it to the Major League level also shows what a crap shoot the baseball draft is when compared to the NBA, NHL or NFL. It is a very rare thing to see ANY baseball player drafted in April and on the MLB roster the next season. Mike Trout drafted 2009 MLB debut 2011. Bryce Harper drafted 1st pick overall in 2010 MLB debut 2012.

So, just to give sense that MLB officials are doing all in their power to ensure the Fans of ALL teams they wish for a competitive product on the field, the no trade clause gives hope to those fans who have their team finish in the cellar.

E.J. 12Earl: I watched the MLB Draft. Never have before but I like watching drafts and I wanted to check it out. With that said it’s a boring experience.

There are only a handful of players there and little intrigue since you can’t trade picks. If, Major League Baseball wants to make it into a televised event, then, they need to introduce picks being dealt and find a way to schedule the draft after the college baseball season so you can have more players present at the draft.

64432_1353574773361_2104488_nJoe: The draft for baseball is different than the draft for say basketball or football… where almost all the players are drafted with college experience and many players are involved with some big time programs who provide both the NBA and NFL with players who are ready to be part of the pro experience immediately.

Baseball is not like that at all… and, in fact, while MLB does draft players from college programs, they also draft players straight out of high school and other amateur leagues. Then those players are assigned to begin their pro experience in developmental leagues as well as various levels of MLB sponsored/affiliated minor leagues. Very rare is the player who makes a MLB team right after being drafted… in fact, some top picks may take three, four or more years in the minors befog they even get to the major league level.

The point of this… draft picks and positioning in a draft of players is not as important to a MLB team’s immediate future as it is in the NBA or NFL. So, its not really all that important for teams to want to trade up for certain players in the draft.

That being said… is that any reason to disallow a team to try to trade picks if they so choose?

Trout on draft day
Trout on draft day

Let me use Mike Trout as an example… when he was being drafted he was very high on the Yankees 2009 selection list… in fact, if he was available when their turn to pick came up they assuredly would have chose him.

One problem… the Yanks had the 29th pick in that draft.  However, as the picks were announced Trout was still on the board.

Finally, Trout was drafted by the Angels with the 25th pick. Ironically that pick was a compensation pick they had got from the Yankees after they had signed free agent  Mark Teixeira.

You don’t think that the Yanks would have made some teams some offers so they could trade up in the 2009 draft to try and snag Trout?

It probably wouldn’t happen often but why shouldn’t MLB teams have the choice to trade draft picks if they think it would enable them to get someone they think is sure thing?

Steve 01Steve: I don’t see what the big deal is here.

Cardinals' 1999 draft pick 13th round... Albert Pujols
Cardinals’ 1999 draft pick 13th round… Albert Pujols

The Baseball draft, outside of maybe the top ten picks, is really irrelevant. It is way too long and drawn out, as players are selected from college, high school, and from some where in tin-buck-too. I don’t think it would make any difference to me, as I don’t even watch the Baseball draft, now as it is. And, I am a huge baseball fan.

Simply put, college baseball is not a draw like football or basketball. So, the intrigue is not there, unless you have a phenom like Strasburg or Harper in the draft.

Quick, tell me where Albert Pujols was drafted. That’s what I thought. 

4) Bryce Harper recently twittered a selfie of himself in the Yankees fabled Monument Park standing next to Mickey Mantle’s retired number plaque… first the fans began the talk with tweets that said they wanted Harper wearing the Yankee pinstripes… then various writers continued the talk about how when Harper is eligible to be a free agent (2019 @ age 26) that in all likelihood he will sign with the Yankees…

Harper and the Mick
Harper and the Mick

What’s your opinion about all this speculation?

Archie1Archie: There is no doubt at all in my mind that he aspires to be listed among the greats of the Yankee heroes. And, with that short porch in right field, I see every possibility that would be a match made in heaven for him and for the Yankee organization.

And, knowing how the Yankees approach drawing talent to their club like a moth to the flame, I don’t see any outside interest scenario that would change that prediction other than if Las Vegas comes up with a MLB team between now and then.

E.J. 12Earl: Harper and the Yankees just feels so inevitable. The Yanks will always have the ability to throw big money at players, and, they would have even more money to throw since all of their horrible contracts will be off the books by 2019.

Harper and that short right field porch just feels way too good to be true. I think it’s a match made in heaven and it will happen. Just got to wait 4 years.

64432_1353574773361_2104488_nJoe: Truthfully?Harper 1

This is all just about some Yankee fans who reacted just like some fans would act after Harper tweeted his selfie next to Mantle’s plaque in Monument Park. And, some media dummies ran with it. Must of been a slow news day or something.

Come on… Harper won’t be eligible to go free agent until 2019… and, who the hell knows what will happen in the four years between now and then.  Injuries, Nats sign him to a long term deal, etc….

So, before we get all crazy with this stupidity, let’s sort of save any speculation for at least 2018 when he might be playing into his free agent year?

Steve 01Steve:  Alright Yankee fans, lets not get our panties in a bunch so quickly.

Harper as a fan
Harper as a fan

Any baseball players dream is to play at Yankee Stadium, not just to play as a Yankee, but as a visitor as well. Bryce Harper is still a fan of the game and loves the history of the game of baseball. Personally, I am not a Yankee fan, far from it, but I would love to take a picture inside of Yankee Stadium, monument park, along side all of those historic figures’ plaques. This is just a fan moment for Bryce Harper.

I won’t even begin to say where he is going to end up in 2019. We are way to far away from that point to think about it. 

Passes Double X
Passes Double X

5) On Thursday (6/11), Albert Pujols hit his 537th homer to move past Mickey Mantle into sole possession of 16th place on the career list. At 35 years of age, he is, in all likelihood, already a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Considering he probably can play another three to five years and add considerably to his career stats, when the all-time greatest players in the game are listed, where do you rate Pujols on that list?

Archie1Archie: Maybe 6th all-time on the HR list.Pujols... Cardinals

I’m not sure he has enough left to hit 127 more in 4 years to gain and pass Willie Mays but I do believe he will catch and pass Ken Griffey. His power numbers have dropped significantly over the past four seasons and I don’t see anything to indicate that they will be coming back up.

E.J. 12Earl: With all due respect I will pass on the projections, but, yes Pujols is Hall of Fame worthy.

His stint with the Angels may not have gone as well as he would have hoped, but the man is a Hall of Fame player. Might not be 1st ballot but he will get in.

64432_1353574773361_2104488_nJoe: The man is already Hall of Fame worthy… and not just because of his HRs but just look at his overall stats. He is approaching numbers across the board that few players have ever approached.albert-pujols

Right now, I think just on that basis alone he is easily in the top twenty as one of the best to ever have played the game. I think he has a chance, if he keeps on producing at least decant numbers for the next four or five years to move into rarified air and be one of the top ten players of all time.

He has 17 HRs right now in 2015… I’ll give him another 20 this year. Now, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he plays injury free for another five years…  and… say he averages 20plus HRs over that time… lets give him another 110 HRs.

That’s 130 more HRs which puts him at 667… lets make it 670… which would eke him by Willie Mays 660. when he retires. That would mean he will be the 5th best all time HR slugger in MLB.

Of course that is assuming a “best case scenario”…  I think, at the worst, again assuming no significant injuries, he can get by Sammy Sosa (609) and Jim Thome (612), currently 8th and 7th respectively on the all-time list, but, maybe not surpass the next player at 6th on the list, Ken Griffey Jr (630).

So, that would mean he would be 7th all time on the career HR list.

Steve 01Steve: Okay, this all will be determined by where Alex Rodriguez ends up on the all time list, and how many Pujols hits.Pujols... Angels

I project the same five years with an average of 26 homeruns over that span. That would put him at 667. So I will round that up and say that Albert Pujols will end up with 670 home runs before he calls it a career.

So, I put him either fourth or fifth on the all time list. I can only assume Alex Rodriguez will hit more than 670 as of writing this, he has 665. You never know though, Pujols is having another solid season, and he could very well creep up to that 700 mark.

My money is on 670 plus minus 10. 

Extra Innings…

Once upon a time in NYC… there were three centerfielders…

talking baseball



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  1. I have always felt that the rule for what a relief pitcher is responsible for is quite unrepresentative of the actual situation. I propose the following for both RBI stats and “save” and “hold” stats:

    The runners on base that the reliever is responsible for depends on the number of outs in effect when the change is made. If there are no outs, the reliever is not responsible for anyone on base. For one out, (s)he is responsible only for anyone on first. With two outs, the reliever is responsible for all runners on first or second.

    While this improves the current situation, it is still somewhat out of whack with observations. It thus might need additional tweaking. But baseball has been tweaked so much since its inception that I feel it could survive some more.

  2. I think there was some confusion on the closer debate. I did not understand the debate to be about what constitutes a save or save opportunity but more about closing out the game. I could give a rat’s butt really about the actual “save” stat but more about the pitcher “closing” the deal and his team winning the game.

    However, the only stat used really to look back on to see how effective the pitcher was in that role is the saves vs. SVO.

  3. You were correct in the intent of the debate/question and as far as I am concerned your answer was on point.

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