Like when the first robin appears in New England, the sound of ball smacking into leather means pitcher and catchers are reporting for Spring Training and spring is about to be sprung.
Baseball is back next week!
Until then… the MLBRT crew talks about oodles and oodles of baseball…
1) Spring training season is officially opening is just one or so weeks away… how much are you chomping on the bit for some damn baseball at long last?
Archie: Not at all really. For the second year in a row my beloved Braves are peeking at a dismal season dead in the face. I see no silver lining to the clouds this year.
I’m happy basketball and hockey are still in full swing for me to at least be able to manage the sports lull, but, I’m beyond ready for baseball to begin. Not because my team (Milwaukee Brewers) are expected to compete in the Central or for a Wild Card spot or at all but because I’m a baseball fan and a baseball lover.
Earl: Now that football season is over, I’m looking forward to some baseball.
The start of spring training for me, feels like Winter is limping towards the finish line and some Cactus and Grapefruit League ball gives me the warmth that I am not getting outside my window.
Joe: Two things get me through the winter each year… the day of the winter solstice when the daylight hours start to get longer every day and the coming of spring training in February…
So, damn straight I’m chomping at the bit for some baseball and summer.
Steve: I have been waiting for the start of the baseball season ever since the final out of the World Series. Maybe it is because I am really looking forward to see what the Cubs can do. Could this finally be their year?
Opening day is just around the corner, and I can’t wait.
2) Arguably the Mets have the best overall starting five in MLB and most of them are years away from even sniffing free agency… Matt Harvey is the closest with just a hair more than 3 years total service time (6 are needed to be a free agent)… the questions are: (1) Can the Mets realistically keep these pitchers together for the long haul, and, if you think the Mets can, then, (2) how much do you think would it cost the team to do that
Archie: The Mets fan base is all about winning.
IF they win, the crowds will pour in and the Mets organization will have the Benjamins to pay whatever is necessary to keep them together. Along with that, winning is appealing and pitchers like position players tend to lean towards signing/resigning with winning clubs.
Dan: I believe the Mets can keep the starting five they have currently for one main reason: the market. They’re in the New York market with a lot of money available. They should be able to keep these players.
For their first major big league contracts, I don’t expect them paying no more than $12 million per year per starter. That’s $60 million. Not too bad to have one of, if not the best rotation in baseball.
Earl: If, the Mets continue in this frugal mode that they are in, then, it is highly unlikely they can keep the gang together. I’d imagine at least Harvey will be traded away at some point in order to acquire some younger and controllable talent.
So, no I don’t imagine the Mets can keep this rotation together, so, I won’t even venture a guess as to how much it would cost to keep them here in New York.
Joe: I don’t envision the Mets keeping these guys all together going past 2017… at least one of the staff will be traded in my opinion. Probably, either Matt Harvey or Steven Matz. Just got a feeling it will be one of the two.
So, the question about how much it would cost to keep them as the Mets’ rotation going into the future is a hypothetical question at best… but… assuming they could sign all five starters then I would think they should look to lock each player at an average contract of 4 years at about $15 million a year.
And, if, that scenario were possible then they should be do it in a heart beat because at least two, and maybe three, of these pitchers will at least have some very good to excellent years… maybe Cy Young years… and the money “lost” on the players who don’t go onto have big careers in the Majors will be worth the investment, especially if it translates into multiple World Series rings.
Steve: If, all of these guys have the careers that many project that they will, these could be some of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time to come. I’m talking ranks of the Braves 90’s rotation, and, they may be in the same conversation as that.
No way the Mets will be able to keep all of them with what kind of contracts pitchers are getting now a days.
3) Ichiro needs 65 hits to become the 30th member of the 3,000-hit club, which in all likelihood is a very doable proposition for the 2016 season… does that make him a lock for the Hall of Fame? First ballot?
No steroid talk. The fact he got a late start to his MLB career compared to others and then he still got to the magic number should put him is 1st Ballot, no problem.
Dan: I believe that Ichiro already deserves to get into the Hall of Fame. 3,000 hits makes him a lock in my opinion. I think that’s a “lock” number for the Hall of Fame for the most part.
Do I think Ichiro will get in on the first ballot? No. While I would vote him in on the first ballot, I think the voters will make him wait a ballot and he’ll get elected on ballot number two.
Earl: As long as he gets the at bats, and I assume he would if he’s healthy, then, yeah, he’s going to get to 3,000 hits. That would make him a lock for the Hall.
First ballot? That depends on who else is up for election at the time, but, I think 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball on top of the impact he had both in the United States and Japan would be enough to get him in on the first try.
Joe: Barring injury and as long as he does get the requisite ABs he should get 3,000 hits.
I think there are only two guys with 3,000 hits that aren’t in the Hall and both have connections to PED use. Ichiro never has had that connection, so, I see no reason why he won’t get into the Hall on his first try… MVP and Rookie of the Year in his first year in MLB, 10 years straight with 200 or more hits; holds the single season hits record (262); led the league in hits 7 times; lead the league in BA twice; lifetime .314 batting average; All-Star MVP and 10 time All-Star… and (in all liklihood) 3,000-plus hits… that’s first ballot Hall Call.
Steve: Easily Ichiro is a first ballot Hall of Famer, he has a life time batting average of over .300, brought some international notoriety to the game, and, was one of the most popular players in the game.
I see him getting over 90% in his first year of eligibility for the Hall.
4) What comes first… the winning and then the team comes together or “team chemistry” and then the winning?
Archie: This is something that kind of builds at the same time. I have seen numerous teams spend big bucks to bring in all these superstars and they never gel and win like they should. Each has their own shining moments and accomplishments throughout the season but the team fails to accomplish end season goals.
However, I have also seen teams made up of veterans and young’uns alike and they just seem to get on a roll of early wins and it leads to team chemistry that takes over and carries them through long stretches.
One thing is for certain; you NEVER hear of good team chemistry on losing teams.
Dan: I believe the team chemistry comes first followed by the winning.
You can have the best players in the league playing together, but if they’re not clicking; if they’re not feeding off each other’s energy; if they’re not playing together as a whole unit, you won’t have a winning squad.
Earl: I like this chicken or the egg question. You can make a strong argument for either one, but, I think chemistry comes first.
If, you get a team that is really playing for each other, that would lead to winning. We’ve seen some team first underdogs win, and, we have seen some loaded teams flounder badly. So, I think it helps to get chemistry on your side instead of building a team full of mercenaries only looking out for themselves.
Joe: I think winning begets chemistry. No matter how big the egos, if, a team is winning then everybody is getting along and playing at a high level…
However, a team can have the nicest bunch of guys ever put together and, if, they are losing… sorry… then all the chemistry in the world won’t help a thing.
Steve: Without team chemistry you cannot win. It takes 9 guys to play together on the baseball field to win games. Look at all those Yankee teams that on paper were the best team in baseball; then look at the Rays, who really had no business in the playoffs a few of those years. They had fun playing the game, and worked well together. They had a strong dynamic with the chemistry of that team led by Joe Maddon.
I think that is more important.
5) What’s the one batter vs pitcher confrontation (for example Josh Donaldson vs Felix Hernandez) that you would rate as the number one “must watch” scenario?
Archie: Back in the day it was John Kruk vs Randy Johnson, “that shit was funny”.
I really don’t have anyone from today’s game in mind at the moment.
Dan: I think the top batter vs pitcher confrontation is Buster Posey vs Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw owns Posey, striking him out 16 times, walking him twice and letting up only 17 hits in 79 plate appearances. It’s a great match-up to watch and both have it out for each other. What adds to fuel to this fire is that they’re on rival teams with Posey in San Francisco and Kershaw in Los Angeles.
Earl: I’d go with Matt Harvey versus Bryce Harper.
Truthfully, I’d go with any of the Mets aces versus Bryce Harper.
Joe: Once upon a time I would have said Sandy Koufax against Willie Mays…
Today… probably Aroldis Chapman vs Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson or Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded; two out and in the 9th inning.
Steve: I can’t really think of one certain match up in todays game because we probably have seen most matchups in todays game. So, I will play a little fantasy video game and say Greg Maddux (1995) vs Mike Trout (today).
Best pitcher vs the best hitter? Should be fun to watch.
2016 Spring Training Reporting Dates: Major-League Teams…
|Organization||Pitchers & Catchers||First
|First full workout|
|Arizona D-Backs||Feb. 17||Feb. 18||Feb. 22||Feb. 23|
|Atlanta Braves||Feb. 19||Feb. 20||Feb. 24||Feb. 25|
|Baltimore Orioles||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 23||Feb. 24|
|Boston Red Sox||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 23||Feb.24|
|Chicago Cubs||Feb. 19||Feb. 20||Feb. 23||Feb. 24|
|Chicago White Sox||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 22||Feb. 23|
|Cincinnati Reds||Feb. 18||Feb. 18||Feb.23||Feb. 23|
|Cleveland Indians||Feb. 17||Feb. 18||Feb. 21||Feb. 22|
|Colorado Rockies||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 24||Feb. 25|
|Detroit Tigers||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 22||Feb. 23|
|Houston Astros||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 22||Feb. 23|
|Kansas City Royals||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 22||Feb. 23|
|Los Angeles Angels||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 23||Feb. 24|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Feb. 19||Feb. 20||Feb. 24||Feb. 25|
|Miami Marlins||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 21||Feb. 22|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Feb. 19||Feb. 20||Feb. 24||Feb. 25|
|Minnesota Twins||Feb. 21||Feb. 22||Feb. 26||Feb. 27|
|New York Mets||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 25||Feb. 26|
|New York Yankees||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 24||Feb. 25|
|Oakland Athletics||Feb. 20||Feb. 21||Feb. 25||Feb. 26|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Feb. 17||Feb. 18||Feb. 22||Feb. 23|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 22||Feb. 23|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Feb. 17||Feb. 18||Feb. 22||Feb. 23|
|San Diego Padres||Feb. 19||Feb. 20||Feb. 24||Feb. 25|
|San Francisco Giants||Feb. 17||Feb. 18||Feb. 22||Feb. 23|
|Seattle Mariners||Feb. 19||Feb. 20||Feb. 24||Feb 25|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Feb. 21||Feb. 22||Feb. 25||Feb. 26|
|Texas Rangers||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 23||Feb. 24|
|Feb. 21||Feb. 22||Feb. 25||Feb. 26|
|Feb. 19||Feb. 20||Feb. 24||Feb. 25|
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