Cubs still the best? MLBRT 6/30

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Is it still in the Cards for the Cubs to have smooth sailing through the season in the NL Central? Are they still the cream of the NL Central despite hitting some bumps in the road?

What about the Miami Marlins… playoff bound or not?

And… is it time for the Bucs to see what teams would offer if they walked the plank on McCutcheon?

The crew tells what they feel about it all… and more… in this week’s Round Table…

1) Jake Arrieta is becoming human again…jake-arrieta-cubs1

He isn’t exactly struggling on the mound but he’s not dominating or going as deep into games as he has in the past, either…

Plus, the Cubs have had a few injuries and recently the Cardinals swept them…

Is it time for the media to put a halt to the Cub being a presumptive NL Central winner never mind being a World Series participant and start taking the Cardinals serious… again?

Archie1-300x277Archie: Whoa, hoss, let’s not get too quick here. While the Cards always seem to find a way to sneak into the playoff race, the Cubs are still the best team in the Central IMO. I would not get too carried away just yet that the Cards will make a hard charge to the forefront of the NC Central. While, I do think they can make a WC spot, I am still holding out for the Cubbies to win the Central this season.

Dan 3Dan:  I don’t think so. The Cubs are the team to beat in the NL Central as well as the entire National League in my opinion. Yeah, they got a little cold but doesn’t every team? I wouldn’t be worried.

But, I don’t think anybody didn’t take the Cardinals serious. They’ve been a contender for multiple years in a row and nobody can see that ending any time soon. Always count the Cardinals in as a top team to make a run for the NL Central crown. The top of the NL/NL Central is their home and they’re there to stay.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: Arrieta has become human again, but I won’t read too much into this other than an early summer swoon.

If, Arrieta’s struggles last longer than the next few weeks, then I would be worried. But, the Cubs have the motivation and assets to do all that they can to make moves and strengthen this team to cover them through this early Summer swoon.

Me (2)Joe: Plain and simply I never count the Cardinals out of anything and I think neither should the Cubs.

Cubs year...finally?
Cubs year… finally?

Having said that I don’t think Arrieta is going to be headed to being a bad pitcher nor will the Cubs start losing lots more games than they win. Besides, I don’t think the Cubs management…field manager Joe Maddon or Baseball Ops head Theo Epstein… will allow that to happen.

Bottom line… I think the Cubs are lock to win their division, BUT, I wouldn’t quite pencil them in as a World Series participant just yet.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I would hope that the Cubs and the team’s fans would never ever ever ever count out the St. Louis Cardinals. This is a kind of team that can and will rise from the dead and catch this team.

I think the Cubs are in a good enough position to keep their lead in the division, but, with their recent struggles, I think it would be a fair statement to not pencil in the Cubs for the National League championship. Nor would I be confident as of yet to pencil them in as Division champions. I think they will still win the Division, but, lately, the Giants, Nationals, and, yes, even those pesky Cardinals may have something else to say about that.

2) As of Friday (6/24) the Miami Marlins are in a tie with NY Mets for 2nd place in the NL East (4 games out of first) and a virtual tie (with three other teams) for a wild card spot.

Their offense is very decent and it appears Giancarlo Stanton is waking up from a prolonged slump which can only greatly help the offense. Plus, their defense is not that bad either…

Their weak spot, outside of Jose Fernandez, appears to be starting pitching.

Should they make a big splash and try to reinforce a run for the playoffs by trying to acquire pitching? Or, roll the dice with what they have?

Archie1-300x277Archie: Okay, who are they going to get and at what cost?

The biggest reason most of the bottom dwellers are where they are in the standings is that they don’t have the stellar pitching. So, exactly who is out there the Marlins can trade for that will actually help their Starting pitching?fish win

I don’t THINK Teheran is going to be available from Atlanta. The Twins do not really have anyone that would help. Drew Pomeranz of the Padres would be a shot in the arm but I doubt the Padres would part with him without requiring a very good return of which, the Marlins do not HAVE at the Major league level and the Marlins were ranked 29th out of 30 for their farm system talent last year… so, they pretty much don’t have much to offer.

Dan 3Dan:  I think the Marlins should roll the dice with what they have, because, I feel that if they try to make a splash, they’ll end up giving up something they don’t want to or risk ruining the chemistry they have. Just take what they have and run with it.

I think their team is good enough to make the playoffs and win the East, but, more than likely will end up with a Wild Card spot.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I can see the Marlins standing pat, or at the very least making small deals to upgrade the roster but I cannot see the Marlins making a big splash. It might have been what the organization would have done years ago, but that is not the Marlins now. I can’t see them giving up the farm to make a quick run.

Not now anyway

Me (2)Joe: While it would be nice to see the Marlins make a move for some pitching, I really don’t see any great starters out there that would be available by the trade deadline from any of the teams that would be selling and I don’t know that the Marlins have anything to offer in a trade that wouldn’t weaken their team because of their lack of depth.

So, they need to roll the dice with what they got… not because of any other reason than it’s all they can do at this point.Marlins

Steve-01-288x300Steve: There are going to be some pitchers out there… maybe, a Chris Sale?… that may be on the market. So, if, the Marlins are in it to win it, then, why not go for broke and try and get a big named pitcher to help them try and get into the playoffs.

Known fact, the Marlins have never lost a playoff series in two appearances in the playoffs. So, if, history proves correct; if, they can get into the playoffs, then all bets are off.

Now, am I picking this? Not a chance, I don’t think the Marlins will pull the trigger and do anything. I see them doing just the opposite and possibly seeking a trade to unload a guy like Jose Fernandez but it wouldn’t come cheap.

3) Recently Matt Snyder of suggested that now may be the time to trade Andrew McCutchen even though he is having a down year up to this point. Snyder is not alone in the suggestion. So much so that an ESPN reporter asked the Pirates GM Neal Huntington about the probability of McCutchen being traded.   

Huntington said, “We’re aware of the narrative, but it’s not on our radar.”

If, by the time the trade deadline nears (August 1st) and the Pirates present trend of losing a lot more than they are winning continues, should the Pirates dangle McCutchen out there and see what kind of treasures they might be able to get in return?

Archie1-300x277Archie: McCutchen is 29 and this is by far the worst start/season of his career. But, he is a big time fan favorite. It is players like him that put Asses In Seats, especially when a team is on the brink of “not so good.” I have NEVER been in favor of a club trading a “franchise” type star away, especially, gaining an unknown in the process.

So, IMO, NO, do NOT trade him. He is your rock, someone just needs to cover for him until he gets out of his funk.mccutcheon

Dan 3Dan:  I think that they should keep Andrew McCutchen, but, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take offers and see what they can get for him.

In my life, I take it as everything has a price on it and everything is for sale. You can buy whatever you want for the right price. Same goes with sports. You give the Pirates the right price, they’ll let go of McCutchen. Definitely take offers and see what you can get for him. If, the price is right, take it. Otherwise, they’re still in a position to keep him. No harm no foul. But don’t openly shop him around.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: You cannot trade McCutchen. He means too much to the Pirates and the City of Pittsburgh. You cannot trade him this season anyway.

Yes, he’s been off but there has to be some loyalty for a guy that has shown plenty of loyalty to the franchise.

Me (2)Joe: If I’m the GM… I wait around and see if anybody asks about McCutchen’s availability. then, I see what they might be willing to give up to get him. If, they overwhelm me?  I pull the trigger… but… when I say overwhelm me, I mean they better be offering up an everyday player plus prospects.

In the real world… I doubt this will ever happen but still.. a GM needs to listen up and be prepared for anything that might arise.mccutcheon1

Steve-01-288x300Steve: If, the Pirates are under .500 at the break, then, yes, I think you, at the very least, listen to offers for McCutchen.

Problem is that McCutchen’s stock may have dipped a bit as he is not having the kind of season like he has had in the past few seasons. He has struggled quite a bit at the plate but does seem to be starting to wake up. If, the Pirates shop him, then the city of Pittsburgh may be in for many more crying years after four successful seasons.

Hey, at least they got the Stanley Cup.

4) It’s a good bet the NL starting pitcher in the All-Star game this year will be one of these guys… Jake Arrieta (Cubs), Johnny Cueto (Giants), Jose Fernandez (Marlins), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Steven Strasberg (Nationals) or Noah Syndergaard (Mets).

Which pitcher is your starter for the NL in this year’s All-Star game and why?

Arrieta NL All-Star starter?
Arrieta NL All-Star starter?

Archie1-300x277Archie: Arrieta, mainly for his ability to get through the first couple of innings unscathed. While Kershaw and Bumgarner are great at it as well, Arrieta makes short work of the first few innings. The best in my opinion.

In the ASG, he is only going to pitch a couple anyway, might as well shut them down early.

Dan 3Dan:  I give the nod to Clayton Kershaw. He’s the best pitcher in the National League with a 1.79 ERA (only Arrieta is beating him with a 1.74 ERA), has an incredible 0.73 WHIP and the highest WAR of 4.5.

Another interesting fact that hasn’t been mentioned anywhere, that I can recall, he has 145 strikeouts which leads the league while having the least amount of walks (besides Josh Tomlin who has 8 in almost 30 less innings and only 56 strikeouts).

Or is it Noah?
Or… is it Noah?

Kershaw is the best pitcher in the NL, deserves the spot and should get it.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I’m going to be a homer here, because, honestly I don’t really care who starts the game. But, if, I had to pick one I would go with Syndergaard. Let Thor start the game, and move on from there

Me (2)Joe: If, Kershaw keeps up what he’s doing on the mound, then, I got to pick him. If, he has another “burp” like he recently did against the Pirates, then, I start thinking about one of the other pitchers.

But, anyone of these guys could start in the All-Star game and the NL would not be hurting.

maybe Cueto (l) or Kershaw?
Maybe… Cueto (l) or Kershaw?

Steve-01-288x300Steve: You really can’t go wrong with any of these pitchers. It will really depend on where they are in the rotation, if’ they pitch the weekend prior, and’ what not.

But, if you are going based on pure statistics? Clayton Kershaw is your starter for the National League. He is having a season for the ages led by his Major League leading ERA and his record breaking walk to strikeout ratio.

That being said, these six pitching in the same game for the NL? I think we may see the NL win this All-Star Game for the first time in several years.

5) The Mets have signed Jose Reyes to a minor league contract as of Saturday (6/25). Word from the front office is that he will play in their Minor League affiliate in Brooklyn for a week to 10 days and then be brought to the Mets to serve as supersub at second, short, third and some centerfield. 

Whats your opinion on this move by the Mets? And is this their last attempt to jump start their anemic offense as of late (.238 and last in all of MLB as of 6/25 in June).

Archie1-300x277Archie: Not worth the trouble. Jose is about finished. His OPS+ of 66 is just about as low as it gets for a MLB player. I guess that is why Toronto and Colorado both gave up on him this season.

There comes a time in every players life that…

Dan 3Dan: I think that it will be a nice addition to the roster as I still believe Jose Reyes is a great player with a lot left in him. He was a great fit on the Mets and I believe he’ll continue to be now, after the Rockies up and released him, which I didn’t think was completely fair. He has something to prove which will end up pushing him even harder.

Reyes playing with Binghamton Mets
Reyes playing with Binghamton Mets

The Mets do need all the help they can get on offense and while this addition will help, I don’t think it’ll be enough to really get their offense up into the middle level of MLB. They still have some work to do.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: Reyes will come cheap since the Rockies will pay his salary, and with David Wright out for the rest of the season it doesn’t hurt to sign him. It’s a desperate move, granted, but their offense has been woeful. It’s been woeful to the point that the Nationals are about to become the 4th team this season to allow a rookie pitcher to make his first start against the Mets. Opposing teams do not fear that lineup, and taking a shot on Reyes might be the cheap shot in the arm that it needs.

Me (2)Joe: Personally, I never thought the Mets should gave resigned him regardless of the bargain cost. Reyes just ain’t worth it. His best days are behind him and besides, I think there is another reason he got dropped by Colorado… not just the domestic violence stuff either. I wonder if there weren’t some other internal questions and what Reyes brought to the clubhouse. I mean teams don’t just eat 20 mil just because they think oh what the hell its only money.

We’ll probably never know and its just speculation on my part but still…

I do understand why the Mets thought bringing him back would be a good thing… a true lead off man and some speed on the base paths… but, sorry I just don’t see it happening and I think he may wind up being more of a bench clogger and a pain in the manager’s ass than he is worth when all is said and done.

At least when they cut him loose it won’t be as expensive to them as it was to the Rockies.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I think that I called this last week on the Roundtable that Reyes would be a great fit for the New York Mets. And, I also called it at the beginning of the season that Reyes would end up in New York. So that means that I am smarter than everyone… okay… so. maybe not that far.

But, as you can guess, I am not surprised on this at all. With the looming injuries that the Mets have had, especially in the infield, this pick is a no-brainer for them. Reyes has ties to New York, and, was an All-Star with them a few years ago. Good move for the Mets.

Extra Innings…

On Friday, June 24th the Battle Creek Bombers hosted a “Second Amendment Education Night” in Battle Creek, Michigan. The event was sponsored by Freedom Firearms. No guns will be sold but trigger guards will be given away… it was essentially advertised as a gun safety and education program but, interestingly, “open carry” was allowed in the ball park.  An official notice from the sponsors did say that anyone carrying and drinking will be asked to leave immediately.Battle-Creek-Bombers

Also, since the Bombers have drawn over a million people in a season (which is pretty good for an independent team) the event is not necessarily being held to draw more people, although that could be a secondary effect of the event.

 (Note: The Battle Creek Bombers play in the Northwoods League, which isn’t affiliated at all with Major League Baseball or Minor League Baseball. Its what is usually called a school league…an independent league where college players continue playing in the summer once their school league has ended. It is said that some of the best college baseball players from the Midwest participate in this league.) 

What is your opinion regarding this event being held in a baseball park?  

Archie1-300x277Archie: I do not have a problem with it. And, the fact the official notice stated that anyone carrying and drinking will be asked to leave should be a “non-factor.” Most states tell you and have regulations governing the CCW permit that states you “May not drink/consume alcohol while carrying concealed or you will forfeit your permit if caught.” Or, at least something to that effect.

Dan 3Dan: I have no problem with it. There was a lot of security, everybody was safe and it was okay. It doesn’t matter the location, it just matters what the level of security is and how everybody is handling their weapons.2nd-amendment

Obviously, you don’t let machine guns/heavy artillery in, bu,t hand guns are fine. I don’t see where it’d be an issue. Seems to me the event was under control and there was little risk of people being harmed. I’m sure they took every precaution they could regarding the circumstances and the location of where they were

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I’m neither here nor there to be honest.

The team can do what it wants.


Me (2)Joe: I’m kind of divided on this issue… obviously this date has come and gone and we haven’t heard of any incidents. So, that’s a good thing.

Let me say I think I have to take everyone at their word and say that if its a gun safety type of thing then that’s a good thing to be teaching young people… hell… any people.

Still… I wouldn’t allow any weapons at any baseball games anywhere in America…

Sorry, but, the chance for some stupidity occurring is just too great. And, I would rather err on the side of over cautiousness than hearing about some people getting shot because some yahoo got a little peeved off at some perceived slight by someone after he had a few.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: Okay, before I answer this question, I want to say that I am a strong proponent to the second amendment.gun safety night

So, while I have no problems with concealed carry, I would honestly error on the side of caution here and absolutely not allow weapons inside of the baseball field. Having this “promotion” during a baseball game is one thing, I don’t see any harm in this as it does raise awareness for gun safety. But, unless you have extra security, checking everyone who walks through the gate and does have a gun on them, they better have checked for their concealed carry permit. This just opens the door for anyone to just walk into the stadium with a large crowd and elevate the potential for something tragic to happen.

I also wonder about the rule if someone carrying is drinking they would have to leave immediately. How are you going to know? Do you have a bracelet that you are wearing that says I am carrying a weapon? Too many what if’s and too many questions I would have and there is too much crap going around all over the world for my liking to take any chances like this.

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