Bryce Harper gets the Barry Bonds treatment… walk, walk, walk, walk, walk and walk…
Yankees buying or selling… Big Papi’s farewell… Cubs going after Yanks 1998 season…
And, whats up with the NL West?
The crew discusses it all…
1) According to Elias Sports Bureau, Nationals’ Bryce Harper set a MLB record when he reached base 7 times without an official AB. He never swung his bat. The Cubs walked him 6 times, twice intentionally, and hit him once… 27 pitches and only 2 were strikes.
Also per Elias, he walked 13 times in the Nats/Cubs 4-game series which no player in MLB history had ever done, either.
Is that the strategy to be used against the Nationals? Keep Harper from swinging the bat and teams can beat the Nationals more times than not?
That strategy worked many times against the Giants when Bonds drew so many walks. It just seemed like most teams did not get the memo.
You can see what teams used to do with Barry Bonds. Almost every other at-bat he was intentionally walked. It took a lot away from the Giants’ offense when teams did that and the same is going to happen with Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals. I expect it to start happening more & more all season.
But, I don’t think the Nats are that much improved over last year’s team, so, I expect to see more of this strategy of pitching around Bryce Harper, than less of it, as the season goes on.
While Harper got on base nearly every single at bat, they prevented the other National hitters from knocking him in. I think the Nats just got exposed and the other players need to start hitting, and, not rely on Bryce Harper to win games for them every day. They have a talented lineup, but, if, they are going to be competitive in the National League or the East for that matter, they are going to have to come through when Harper gets on base.
2) It’s still early but considering how the Cubs are going right now… winning percentage of 80% for a 24-6 record (as of May 9) some writers are already comparing them to the 1998 Yankees. That Yankees’ team went 114-48 in the regular season, then swept the Rangers in the ALDS, beat the Indians, 4 games to 2, in the ALCS and swept the Padres in the World Series for a final MLB record of 125-50.
Is this comparison fair right now, or, is it a case of putting the cart before the horse?
We all know the Cubbies. We know the history of the goat. Let’s not get the cart in front of the horse… or the goat.
Dan: I think it’s a little too early to start making these type of comparisons, but with the talent and roster the Chicago Cubs have, I don’t think the comparison is that far off. We’ll see later in the season, when the time is appropriate to make this type of comparison (All-star break time or end of June.)
Will they win their division? I think so.
Go to the World Series? I, they get by the Mets, then, yes they will.
Win it? Unless they are playing against the Yankees, then I certainly hope so… the team as well as their long suffering fan base deserve it.
But, will they be another ’98 Yankees, or some other similar type of team? I’m leaning to saying “No.”
Yes, it is too early to say that the Cubs will win the World Series, but, I will say this to all Cubs fans out there. Enjoy this, and enjoy the ride, because this is going to be a very fun season. Barring any serious injury to one of their top three pitchers, the Cubs are heading back to the playoffs, and, are the front runners to win the National League and the World Series for the first time since 1908.
As a fan of the Cubs, I will say this. The difference between this year and years past, is that I never feel that the Cubs are out of any game. Last Sunday when Arrieta struggled and the Cubs were down 3-1 in the 7th inning. Before, I would have said “Damn they are losing.” On Sunday, I said, “Oh they are only 2 runs down, they can come back from that.” And, they did. Finally, winning in extra innings with a Javier Baez Home Run.
This is a great time to be a Cubs fan and for many long time fans of this team, now is the time to celebrate this team and get excited.
3) The NL West barely has 2 teams above .500 with everyone else hovering around the .500 mark. Even last place San Diego is within 6 game of sniffing .500. Is this the best this division can offer for the 2106 season or do you see at least 1 team making a run at .550 won/loss percentage or better?
Dan: Really, this NL West is just a big question mark. I thought the Giants and Dodgers would be the clear run-aways, but it doesn’t look like it this year. It’ll be a tough division this season and I would compare it to an NFC East-like division in the NFL where any team can win it.
I do think that a couple teams will be able to get to .550 win-loss percentage but that’ll be about it. It’ll be a tough race and whoever wins the division will hit 90 wins max. I’m just not feeling any team.
Joe: I think, eventually, somebody will begin to win more game than they lose on regular basis in the AL west and my crystal ball is telling me it will be the Giants who wind up in first wit ha 89-73 record.
The Rockies are an improved squad, but they won’t finish around .500, and, I don’t think the Diamondbacks are going to see the investment this year pan out. The Padres will see the bottom of the NL West, as they will come to life and show what kind of team they really are.
I think both the Giants and Dodgers will be around .550 at the end of the year, and will only be separated by a couple games.
4) David Ortiz is, as of May 9, hitting .308 with 12 doubles, 9 HRs, 27 RBI and 17 runs, Projected over a 162 game season it is a season of epic proportions… at least 50 doubles and 50 HRs, 150 RBIs and 95 runs. Chances are he doesn’t come close to these final numbers… days off and a slump or two here and there… but, say he has 30 doubles and 30 HRs and nears 100 RBIs with a .300 BA, do you think Big Papi would rethink his retirement?
Archie: At age 40 I doubt it. The Red Sox have an $10 mil option for ’17 and I doubt they would want to offer more. As well as, that would be a $6 million pay cut, AFTER he has already decided to retire.
I think he is done after this season.
Dan: No, I think David Ortiz is firm on his retirement. The better season he has, the better it’ll look. It’s always great to end on a great season than to end with a horrible season and then have everybody talking about how he should’ve retired last year. For him to play this season is a great ending to a great Hall of Fame career.
But, no, I don’t think he’s having any thought on playing another season. It’s already a tough decision to retire, so him un-retiring and re-doing his decision won’t happen.
Joe: The only way Ortiz does not retire is if he has an epic type of season… which, I strongly doubt he has the capabilities to do at his age. And, even if, he did have that epic season I seriously doubt the Red Sox would give him a big contract… assuming he changed his mind about retirement… when they have plenty of prospects knocking at the big league door plus veterans they need spots for. Besides, they would probably be thinking the “epic year” was just an aberration and there would be no chance in hell that he could produce anything near that type year again. So, whatever he would want, as far as salary, would be a no go.
Bottom line… unless I am totally reading this all wrong… Ortiz will end the season by having decent numbers and then ride off into the sunset with the knowledge that he had a nice long and prosperous career in MLB.
Steve: Ortiz is going to retire despite his numbers. He is over 40 years old and has stated that he is ready to step away from the game. I admire Ortiz and what he has contributed to Baseball, on and off the field. He has been a true ambassador of the game, but, it won’t matter if he hits 30 or 40 home runs, this is his last season.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands a hitting instructor job right after he retires, nor would I be surprised if the Red Sox try to convince him to stay one more year.
5) The Yankees are presently at 11 and 18 (.379) and in last in the AL East. If, they don’t pull out of this sooner or later, do they eventually become a seller (maybe trading Aroldis Chapman to a relief starved contender for young pitching), or, do they spend some of whatever talent they have in the minors for either pitching or a big bat or both?
Dan: I think the Yankees need to become sellers. Not only can they flip Aroldis Chapman for a better haul than what they gave up for him, they can also get rid of some of these wasteful contracts and start to build up their farm system.
How dangerous would New York be with a seemingly unlimited money supply and a deep farm system? That should be their goal this season and in the off-season. Start to build the farm system and get prospects. They can always sign players, but that farm system is where it’s at now. You can see all the teams that are switching their focus to their farm system and all the players who are developing in a farm system and then coming through the organization. Yankees made too many mistakes with contracts, they need to change up their flow of things. This season they’ll end up doing so.
Joe: IF, the Yanks are really, really far behind by the time the trade deadline nears, then, yes, I think they might become sellers and offer up the only real thing of value that they have that some team that is in the running for a playoff spot might want… which would be Chapman. Plus, remember, Chapman is not signed for any longer than the 2016 season, so, he would also be very expendable at that point. AND, only if, the asking team was willing to give up some real good prospects. Otherwise, I think GM Cashman would roll the dice and hope he could resign Chapman.
IF, however, the Yanks are still anywhere near being in the playoff, they might be buyers or simply just stand pat and hope they get at least a wild card spot.
Steve: It’s hard to say that the Yankees would ever be considered sellers, even when their record is one of the worst in baseball right now. So, to answer this, I would say a definite YES! Chapman will be returning to the Yankees after his domestic violence suspension that was handed down to him earlier this season. Without him, they still had one of the best bullpens on paper in baseball. They have really under performed so far, and, if, Chapman does not spark some light into the Yankees, they could be shopping him at the trade deadline.
Max Scherzer enters MLB record books with 20 strikeouts…
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