7/9 MLBRT: All-Star break & some MLB musings…



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It’s almost the All-Star game time and that means MLB takes a mid-summmer break from the regular season… the RT crew mulls over some opinions about the internal prospects signings, Tom Seaver’s thoughts on pitch counts, who is the best manager in the game right now & more relay discussion….  then they tackle their appraissals of the season up to the break…

Yadiel Alvarez... 19 years old  & 16 million richer
Yadiel Alvarez… 19 years old & 16 million richer


1) Taking a page from the NY Yankees, the league’s newest big spender, the LA Dodgers, are spending big bucks to hopefully build the best minor league system in baseball. Recently, the team announced the signings of nine international prospects, including the most coveted pitcher on the market Cuban right-handed pitcher Yadiel Alvarez, who the team has clocked throwing as hard as 100 mph as well as other international players such as outfielder Starling Heredia; infielder Ronny Brito; shortstop Oneal Cruz and outfielder Christopher Arias.

By surpassing the MLB allotted spending limits for international players, the Dodgers will be largely on the sidelines for prize international players for the next two signing periods. They won’t be allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during either of the next two signing periods and they must pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage.

It appear as if a team feels that it’s worth the gamble in a particular year then they can go hog wild, pay whatever penalties they are assessed, sit tight for two years and then simply do it over again… 

The question is: If, there are spending limits that are ignored with a penalty that is not that much of a deterrent to certain teams willing to deal with the penalty, then why have the limits at all?
Archie1Archie: There has to be some kind of limits and based on the question it appears that those in place are not working as designed.
Small market teams just simply cannot afford to go after those coveted international players like the Dodgers and Yankees do and it brings me to mind that more should be done in the way of leveling the playing field. IMO, the best way to do that is that for every player outside of the MLB draft that teams go after and sign, then, they lose a draft pick. I understand there would have to be someone determining which round the team would lose but there HAS to be something in place. Teams that sign FA’s here in the states lose picks so why not those teams that spend large to bring in Major League talent from the outside? 

International Prospects
International Prospects
Dan: I think the limits there are okay. What other type of penalty do you want or expect MLB to put in?
If, a team goes over the limit and ignores the penalty for a year, then they have a 2 signing period wait and a tax they’re required to pay. If, they want to defy the penalty they have consequences.
If, they face the consequences and then do it again, then there should be a longer waiting period to spend over the $300,000 limit, like 4 years. Then after that, 6 years. And, so on, and, so forth. 
E.J. 12Earl: Earl is on a temporary leave…
He will be back as soon as he is able.  
major leagueJoe: Good question… why indeed have any limits.
Maybe, it’s time MLB reassessed the international signing procedures and establish an international draft and then a team could pay whatever they deemed reasonable to sign their picks. If, a player doesn’t sign with the team that picked him, then the team, within a specified time frame, can either try to trade his rights to another team that he would like to sign with or he goes back into the next year’s pool.
There would be a lot of issues to be worked out to make sure an international draft were correctly done, but, if done correctly… and yeah that can be a big “if”… then it allow some of the other teams without access to as much money  as some of the larger market teams to get into the international pool of talent on a more fair basis. 
Steve 01Steve: So, MLB can make money off of these clubs.

Lucius Fox, SS, Bahamas - Giants ($6,000,000)
Lucius Fox, SS, Bahamas – Giants ($6,000,000)
There is and their isn’t a salary cap in baseball. I mean, yes, to avoid a tax penalty, you can’t spend a certain amount of money. But, the money that comes with winning, do teams really care? Some do, some don’t.
Selig wanted to create a fair playing field so that the smaller market teams can compete for championships. And, to be honest, they are competing despite that. How many titles have the Yankees won since 2000? The answer is 1. How many titles for the Dodgers since 1988? 0. Point is, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to compete. You have to have nine guys going out there and playing hard.  
2) ESPN surveyed 50 scouts, front-office executives, coaches and media analysts in a multitude of categories and asked who the best manager is?
So, who, in your opinion, is the best manager?

Archie1Archie:  Without reading the article, my first thought would be that it would be hard to argue against Bochy. He took the Giants to and won 3 World Series out of the last 5 played.
I can’t remember any of those times where the Giants were favorites going into the season. I personally don’t think he garnishes the credit he deserves. 

Dan:  The best manager in my opinion is Joe Maddon. He led the Tampa Bay Rays, with a lot of young talent, far into the playoffs and made them a contender. Now, he’s taken over a Chicago Cubs team and made them a contender in the NL Central division.

Bruce Bochy is also a great manager with what he’s doing with the San Francisco Giants, but ,my vote goes to Maddon.

E.J. 12Earl: Earl is on a temporary leave…

He will be back as soon as he is able.
major leagueJoe: Hmmmm… I’m tempted to go with a homer pick here… hell, why not… NY Yankees’ Joe Girardi.


Considering the Yanks have had their problems with player personnel and injuries the last few years, I think Girardi does a decent job of manipulating the pieces that he has and keeps the Yanks in the mix for a shot for the playoffs. He seems to know when to rest a player and when to mix up his lineups so he can position the team, at least, to be in a position to win. He’s also a no-nonsense kind of a manager… for instance… I liked the way he handled the ARod situation this year… he essentially said he was going to be the DH and not much else and that was that. He said it not in an insultingly manner, but, in a way that said I’m the manager and I tell the players where they fit in and then they better play well enough and earn their positions or place on the team or they simply won’t play.


The choice of who is the best manager is really a tough choice, though. I wouldn’t argue with anyone who took Bruce Bochy in Frisco. .. I mean… the Giants are almost never picked to win anything, yet, he has them being the champs three times in the last five years.

Others that wouldn’t surprise me if they were picked… Joe Maddon because of his previous work in Tampa and now what he has the Cubs doing as well as A. J. Hinch in Houston.  

Steve 01Steve: If, the choice could be the St Louis Cardinals front office, I would choose that them as they are always competing for championships every year. But, I will go out on a limb and say Bruce Bochy.
How can you argue with 3 World Championships in the last 6 years? He did it last year without the luxury of a mega superstar. I mean, you can make a case for Buster Posey, and, even Sandoval last year.
This year they are up and down, but, injuries have played a role in that, and, he still has his Giants right in the thick of things.
Don’t be surprised if Bochy has the Giants back in the post season, to defend their title.  
3) Joe Girardi used a replay to erase Evan Longoria’s one-out double in the 11th inning of game last week. Longoria was called safe but lifted his foot just the slightest as their second baseman held the tag against his leg.  Assistant to baseball operations Brett Weber viewed the replay and gave Girardi the thumbs up, the manager challenged and won.
A lot of online and print writers said it probably wasn’t done within the spirit of the rule, but, it worked.
What is the so-called “spirit” of the replay rule and did the Yankees do anything that is really questionable or even against a some sort of new unwritten rule?
Archie1Archie: Every team is doing it. I have seen multiple times now where managers exit the dugout to talk to the pitcher, ask the umpire a question or some other slight “Stall” tactic to delay long enough for the booth review and the message to come down as to whether to challenge or not.
I don’t think it is an unwritten rule now, I think it is something we are just going to have to deal with. Managers work to maintain their jobs as much as win games, and, when, the game introduces another tool in accomplishing both of those goals then the smart ones are going to use them to their advantage.
Dan:  In my opinion, the point of the replay rule is to get the call correct. What Girardi did was challenge an incorrect call and got the call correct. mlbf_117911283_th_45
I don’t believe in unwritten rules in baseball. You do whatever you have the ability to do within the written rules to win and to get calls correct. That’s what he did. I have no problem with what he did, there was absolutely nothing wrong.
The runner at second base should’ve been out, but was called safe, Girardi challenged, the call was overturned. Good challenge, got the correct call. That’s the point of the replay and he abided by the rules.
E.J. 12Earl: Earl is on a temporary leave…

He will be back as soon as he is able. 
major leagueJoe: The entire replay system is terrible… it takes much too long to review plays and too often they still get it wrong.


As for this new unwritten rule thing and being in the spirit of the rule? The rule, or the use of replay, is there to get the play right. If, a fielder puts a tag on the runner and he lifts his foot off the bag while still being tagged then he should be out. That’s what happened and since they allow team officials to review the play and see what’s what and then advise the manager if he should appeal the call or not then what spirit of the  replay system was possibly violated?

The man was out and should have been called out but the ump couldn’t see it. But, with the replay available a Yankee official could see it from another angle and told Girardi “Go ahead, appeal.”

umps waiting for replay call.
umps waiting for replay call.

They did, and, in his instance, the play was eventually called correctly.  

Want my true feelings about all of this? Can replay and let the umps do their job… baseball was better off the other way around. Plus, the arguments were entertaining at least. Now, with replay we get to watch three umps stand around watching another ump with headphones on talking to some schmuck in NY reviewing the play for anywhere from about three to six minutes or more. But, that ain’t gonna happen…

I would modify my anti-replay stance slightly though… I think baseball could allow replays for such situations as questionable home runs or fan interference calls.

You can call me old fashioned or an anachronism but baseball is meant to be played by live folks on a grass and dirt field with all their human foibles… the less automation the better off the game will be.

Steve 01Steve: As someone who has a dis-taste for the Yankees and their organization, I would love to tell you that they were out of line here. I just can’t though.
The umpire missed the call, and, Girardi did what he should have done as the manager of the Yankees. The call if it stood would have put Longoria in scoring position to get the go ahead run in an extra inning game, so, you have to what you have to do within the rules to help your team win. If, baseball is going to have an instant replay tool to be used by a manager’s discretion, then, he made the right call to challenge the call on the field, and, he won.
I have zero problem with this.  
4) Recently, Tom Seaver, (who in a Cy Young year had only four no-decisions, 18 complete game and 25 wins in 35 starts in 1969) in a NYDN article, while speaking about the Mets’ latest stable of young and very promising starters and their lack of run support, said, “At least we were allowed to stay in games and keep them close ourselves, don’t get me started on pitch counts… All this business today of seven innings and out… who started this? That question to the manager when he comes out to the mound… ‘What are you doing here?’ Nobody asks that anymore. There’s no more foxhole mentality. The sweetest words I ever heard were ‘Kid, you’re throwing great. I’m not coming back.’ Pitch counts! I had my own pitch count. It was 135. I knew what I had and when I was starting to lose it. (Jerry) Koosman’s was 145 and Nolan (Ryan)’s was 155. Today, these kids are told when they’re losing it. It’s crazy.”
Does Seaver’s criticism hold water or not?
Archie1Archie: Uh, maybe? 51i3iMTbwdL__
I do think every pitcher is different and that some pitchers can go longer than others. But, I also think the talent at the plate today is better as well and good hitters adjust as the game progresses. By the 4th AB a batter has seen everything a pitcher has. Those that can recognize and adjust simply make a pitcher pay for staying in too long.
One of the hardest things a manager can do today is make the decision as to when it is time to pull their starters, but, I think they use individual historical stats to back them up. IF, a pitcher’s stats of 25+ games states that after 90 pitches he starts losing 2-3 mph on his fastball, or, his slider’s tilt loses measurable break, AND, hitters start having higher BA’s against him then a manager is actually foolish to ignore those stats, IF, and, when, that pitcher approaches the 90 pitch count mark. And so on and so forth, it works the same for extending his start if the stats state he measurably does NOT lose effectiveness until say the 120th pitch.
Every pitcher does not have Seaver’s stamina. I would be interested to see his stats after the 110 pitch count that showed his velocity, break and location after that many pitches. Another thing to remember as well, in today’s MLB world of “specialist” coming in late for that one crucial at bat, that in itself cuts many starters from the game. 
Dan: Yes, I believe it does.
Tom Seaver
Tom Seaver

I understand the point of the pitch counts now – because teams invest so much money into pitchers they can’t afford to let them get injured – but why, at one time, were pitchers throwing 120-130 pitches at least a night? They all were pitching complete games it seems like. Why not let them go back to doing that? With all the training and everything they have now, they should be able to handle that workload even better nowadays. If, a player can do it, let them do it. There’s no reason to limit them from their full abilities.

E.J. 12Earl: Earl is on a temporary leave…

He will be back as soon as he is able. 
major leagueJoe: Yes, it does. I totally agree with him about pitch counts.
All of this 100 pitches and then go to he bullpen is a lot of hooey. Let them pitch. Personally, I think that if an injury happens then it’s probably gonna happen whether you limit a pitcher’s pitch count or not. There was a reason why guys like Seaver and Ryan as well as many others back then could go deep into games and many times go the distance and stay away from injuries. Why not explore what they did and then try and replicate that instead of playing nursemaid to up and coming young pitchers?
I’m not saying a manager should ignore statistics that tells him that after a pitcher gets around his 100th pitch that he begins to lose his stuff and tends to get hit a lot more, but, at the same time, if, the numbers tell a manager he’s not getting weaker and at least maintaining his competitive edge then why not leave him in a game? thMIJHH25U
I mean, if a manager doesn’t let a pitcher see what he can do in certain tough spots, or, even finish what he started, then, in some sense, aren’t you hurting his career more than helping it? This age of specialization and going to the bullpen for one batter and then bringing in another reliever for another batter, is hurting the game more than helping it, in my opinion… and… it’s hurting some pitcher’s careers. Let the pitcher’s pitch as long as the numbers tell you he ain’t losing any heat on the fastball and his breaking stuff and off-speed stuff is doing what it’s supposed to do.   
Steve 01Steve: I mean kinda, but, at the same time, look at how many pitchers are throwing their arms out and end up on the DL, or, worse, they have Tommy John surgery.
It is a new era, and, there are guys that are going out there and throwing their arms out because they are left in too long. I understand where Seaver is coming from, but again it is a new time.  
5) All-Star game and the midsummer break of the 2015 season is just about here… what’s your appraisal of the year so far and what is the biggest surprise(s) so far?
Archie1Archie: I think my biggest surprise this year is the total LACK of attention Paul Goldschmidt has received compared to Bryce Harper and others. Goldschmidt
I know the market you play in has much to do with Media coverage but give me a break. I just hope he gets an opportunity to shine in the ASG and that he comes through.
As far as the ASG itself, I probably will not even watch. It has become nothing more than a candy coated turd for me. MLB put all the emphasis of it “meaning” something for WS home field advantage just to get fans to watch and turn out for the game. That in itself, told me the entire thing was a farce. And, like we discussed a week or so back, until they fix the voting it will remain so.
Dan: I think it’s been a great year in baseball as usual.
The biggest surprise for me this season is the success of the Houston Astros. They’ve gone from 22 games under .500 last year (70-92) to 1st in the West and 12 games over .500 (48-36). They’ve done a complete 180 and really improved. Astros
Another surprise is the Milwaukee Brewers. They went from 1 of the hottest starts in MLB last year to the coldest starts. They’ve started to heat up but I was expecting competition for the NL Central title this season out of them. They’ve definitely disappointed. They’ve had 1 of the worst records in baseball all season but finally are starting to turn it around going 9-1 in their last 10 games.  
E.J. 12Earl: Earl is on a temporary leave…

He will be back as soon as he is able. 
major leagueJoe: I’ve been watching more baseball on TV than I have in a long time and I got to say the games have been pretty damn good so far this season.

Teixeira & McCann
Teixeira & McCann
The biggest surprises to me… a lot of good pennant races… especially the AL East. 
Also, Miami is under .500, when I thought they would contend at least for a wild card this year.
AND, I knew the Astros would be better in 2015, but, the fact that they are winning in a real big way and contending AND actually leading their division, as I write this, by 3 games is way surprising in a big way.
Plus, I bet a lot people are surprised that the Yanks are fighting for first place in a tight AL East.  More than a few folks picked them for last place. But, I thought the pitching would be there, especially the relife piotching, and,  I expected bounce back years from Mark Teixeira and Brain McCann, so, maybe, they could be contenders this year and my faith in them, so far, is proving itself out. 
Let’s get these All-Star shenanigans over with and start the second half… right now!
Steve 01Steve: It’s been a pretty good year so far.
I am really excited to see what the Cubs can do with their young talent like Bryant, Rizzo, and Russell. These guys could be the future of baseball.
Trout & Pujols
Trout & Pujols


But, I think the biggest surprise has to be the Houston Astros. They seem to be clicking on all cylinders. Keuchel is having a career type season, especially at home. They brought up Carlos Correa, and,  he is having a fine start to his career. Along with a solid bullpen, and a complete offense, it appears these guys are in it for the long haul.
The Angels are also surprisingly disappointing. Pujols and Trout are crushing the ball, and, they have the ability to put up 10 plus runs, but, then again, the defense, and the pitching can also give up 10 plus runs. Hopefully with the changes in the front office, the Angels can regroup and do what they are supposed to do.
It should be a fun second half of the season, especially in the AL West.

Extra Innings…



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