Miami Marlins playoff bound? MLBRT 8/18

MLBRT with SS.3

Miami Marlins in the conversation for a wild card?

how about Mookie as AL MVP?

The crew is at the roundtable talking about what they think and lots more as the baseball talk is just getting started… la

1) All year the questions and discussions have skirted around or touched upon the Miami Marlins… So, let’s ask: How good are they? How much of that is due to Don Mattingly and his coaching team? And, how do you see their 2016 season ending, especially in light of the fact they just lost Giancarlo Stanton?stanton

Archie1-300x277Archie: Some are saying they will reach out to A-Rod, but, let’s face it, A-Rod has not been putting up Stanton type numbers. Stanton is officially on the 15-Day DL but speculation says he is done for the season. The Marlins could not have picked a worse time to be mixing up the lineup or trying to find a replacement. They have lost 4 of their last 10 while the other WC teams are playing well.

IF, they plan of making post-season I think they will pray Stanton gets healthy and not rely on A-Rod or any call-up to bail them out.  

Dan 3Dan: Last year the Marlins have had issues with their offense. This year, their offense looks to be clicking on all cylinders with the addition of Barry Bonds as the new hitting coach. I personally believe that he played a major role in the offensive surge that they were blessed with this season.barry-bonds-don-mattingly-

I think they’re a very talented team but with the loss of Giancarlo Stanton for the rest of the season that will ruin their playoff chances. They’ll come close, but won’t be able to complete it this season.

I think there’s a ton of credit you have to give these coaches and players for their great improvement. Next year I think is the year they make the playoffs, again.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I think the Marlins are pretty good. Losing Stanton hurts, but, if, you look closely at his numbers, he wasn’t having a great season anyway. He was good in spurts, and ,pretty bad in others. He is the biggest name on this squad and losing him will hurt.

However, I still think they can overcome that and lead a decent chase at the wildcard due to manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds’ influence in the clubhouse. It also doesn’t hurt to have a consummate pro like Ichiro on the roster. The Marlins will be just fine.don & ichiro

Me (2)Joe: I think Don Mattingly has landed in a nice little spot after his much ballyhooed… good and bad… stint with the Dodgers. Now, he can just manage his team  without all the drama that goes along with being with a team in a major market who has spent big bucks and is expected to win and win big. And, it shows as he has the Marlins well positioned to contend for a wild card spot. Plus, Bonds, in my opinion, has surprised with his relatively drama free and under the radar job (at least here in the NY Metro area press) as the team’s hitting instructor.

With a bunch of players who seem to have come together well as a team with just enough hitting and just enough pitching, I think they sneak in as the second wild card team this year in the NL.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: The loss of Stanton, I don’t think is going to effect the Marlins at all. He has not had the best of seasons.Miami-Marlins

And besides at this point in time, if you are the Marlins organization, it seems you can only rely on him through August, and then he seems to get shut down for the season. It has happened the last two years. He simply cannot stay healthy. Guys like Christian Yelich, and Jose Fernandez are the ones that are leading this team.

Mattingly is doing a tremendous job in keeping this team in order and organized. I credit his leadership to much of the Marlins success, because on paper, there are a half a dozen teams that should be much better than Miami. Only time will tell how good the Marlins are, they are going to be competitive for at least one of the wild card spots, though, I still think in the end, the more experienced Cardinals and Dodgers will still take the two spots.

2) In light of the Red Sox’ Mookie Betts’ 2nd 3-HR game this year and the fact that he is among the AL leaders (as of 8/15) in hits (2nd), doubles (2nd), runs (3rd), triples (4th) RBIs (5th) HRs (9th), Batting Average (4th) and Slugging (4th)…  

Is he now at least in the conversation for MVP along with Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays), Manny Machado (Orioles), Jose Altuve (Astros) and, yes, even Mike Trout (Angels)?

Papi & Mookie (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Papi & Mookie (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Archie1-300x277Archie: I have a hard time putting Betts’ name in the MVP discussion when you have a 40 year old team mate that in MY Opinion STILL out shines Betts. Big Papi would definitely gain my vote over Betts. Ortiz has same amount of HRs (26), more RBI’s, fewer K’s, Higher OBP, SLG, and OPS. While Ortiz does have 110 fewer ABs, to me that does not diminish in the least what he has done for that team.

He is the real Leader and MVP of that team and the player that should be talked about.  

Dan 3Dan: I think that you can put him in the MVP conversation based on how he’s playing this season and being a huge contributing factor to Boston’s offense. I just don’t think he’s so much as the most valuable in the MLB this season more than say Donaldson, Machado or Altuve. And Trout is having a great season in Los Angeles, too. Betts is having a fantastic season and he’s definitely in this conversation, but probably a top-3 finish.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: Mookie has to be in the conversation. He’s putting up the numbers and the Red Sox are in the hunt for either the AL East or one of the Wildcard spots. If Mookie can keep up his strong season all the way through the end of the season, I would have to believe he will receive some votes.

Me (2)Joe: I think so.

Betts, 28 home runs & .315 average going into Wednesday's action. (AP photo)
Betts, 28 home runs & .315 average going into Wednesday’s action. (AP photo)

But, right now I think Altuve is the favorite to win the AL MVP. However, if Mookie can take his game up a notch he might surprise some people yet and just grab the attention of enough voters and steal that MVP award away from Altuve.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: Of course he should be, he is in the top 10 in nearly every offensive category, and, lets be realistic, the other candidates are not exactly blowing it out of the water with their stats.

I would be hard pressed to call Betts the favorite right now for the American League MVP. The only one that I could say is above him at this point is Jose Altuve because he is having a season for the ages right now.

3) Speaking of Mike Trout…

Despite the fact he is on the dreadful Los Angeles Angels he continues to put up offensive statistics that if not spectacular are yet impressive… still there is little to no mention of him in most media news. Why is that?

Archie1-300x277Archie: Winning. I have said it numerous times: If ,your team is not winning forget all the off-season hardware. When you place his numbers individually they do look good, however, playing on a team that has the worst record in your division it is hard to gain notice, especially, with today’s media sources.Mike

So, unless a player is doing something extraordinary like a BA over the .350 mark, or, has over 45+ dingers, they will not even be considered when the voting comes in.  

Dan 3Dan: I think one of the major reasons why Mike Trout isn’t in a lot of heavy media conversations is due to his team’s performance this season. The Angels aren’t making any noise or doing anything of significance, they’re completely out of the playoff race but he’s still doing big things.

The way the media works with regards to the MVP voting is that they put a lot of stock into a team’s performance. If, the Angels were in the playoff hunt instead of being 20 games under .500, Mike Trout would more than likely lead the MVP discussions.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: Trout is having a great season, and he’s a phenomenal player but the Angels are not very good. Playing in Los Angeles (or Anaheim, anyway) should be a benefit but the Angels are so bad that even playing in a major market isn’t helping him. The media, and some fans, pay attention to winners and when you do not win, it is easy to be forgotten.

Me (2)Joe: While I think Trout is having a very good year, I’m not sure he’s in the top three right now for the MVP award. Despite that, you would think he still would be getting some press, because, unlike some other players, every year his numbers are right up there among the league leaders.Mike-Trout-stats_w

I think with Trout and the media its kind of a situation of been there done that attitude as well as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim just  plain suck and not many reporters give a damn about writing about them or their players. Even if one of them is Mike Trout.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: Simply, because the Angels are a dreadful team. You can still hear about his offensive numbers on the MLB Network, but, the Angels are one of the worst teams in baseball right now and are not winning games. If, he was on a team like the Indians, Rangers, Cubs, or even the Dodgers, we would have a different discussion on this.

I cannot see the Angels keeping him after his contract is up, look for Trout to end up in greener pastures.

4) One week after jamming his right shoulder while diving into second base as a pinch runner, Boston Red Sox’ pitcher Steven Wright was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to August 8…which means he will be eligible to return to action by August 23rd.

Two questions… (1) In this day and age is it wise to use pitchers as pinch runners or hitters when they can often mean so much to a team’s drive to the playoffs, and, (2) if the Red Sox lose Wright for more than the 15 day DL is their season in dire straits territory?

Archie1-300x277Archie: WTF?

I understand that most teams today carry more pitchers than they do all the other positions combined. That does pose problems for managers in those situations they need someone with decent speed on the base pads. However, to use one of your prime starters in that role is just STUPID. Too many things can go wrong, Example: DL 15 days… I don’t get it.

I hear all the time that the AL still has the DH, so, we don’t have to watch pitchers struggle at the plate and/or get hurt running the bases and here they use one as a pinch runner.

Wright hurt diving back to 2nd base at Dodger Stadium in an 8-5 loss. 15-day DL
Wright hurt diving back to 2nd base at Dodger Stadium in an 8-5 loss. 15-day DL

Dan 3Dan: I don’t think the Red Sox season is going to be in dire straits territory, but, they will be hit hard with the loss of Wright for a longer period of time than 15 days.

As far as using pitchers for anything with pinch in the description, they have no business. There is already enough controversy about having a pitcher hit at all, now you’re going to pinch hit him? That’s a problem already, but pinch running is a whole nother thing. Is the bench that depleted?

This was just a poor managerial decision; a pitcher has no business being a pinch runner. Ever.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I’ll start with the 2nd part of the question and say no it will not be dire straits territory to lose Steven Wright. The Sox should still be competitive without him. Back to the first part of the question, if you got a pitcher that can hit, you get him in the lineup when the situation calls for it. Getting hurt sucks, but injuries are part of the game.

Me (2)Joe: I don’t think using a pitcher either in a pinch hitting role or a pinch runner role is the best idea available. Especially, a starter. Part of the problem is that teams are locked in on situational pitching and carrying as many role pitchers on their pitching staffs as possible.

For instance, back around  1970 a team might carry only 9 pitchers. Now they need 8 position , or starters,  so that’s a total of 17 players already accounted for. But now they can carry another 8 players on the bench. That’s a lot more flexibility than today when some teams carry 11 or 12 pitchers at some periods during the season.

Boston Red Sox offense bails out Clay Buchholz in 14-7 win over Oakland Athletics
Boston Red Sox offense bails out Clay Buchholz in 14-7 win over Oakland Athletics

Simply put, these large pitching staffs means that they have to cut down on the amount of bench players they can carry on a team.  Which also means in some tight games they will have to find ways to preserve their bench strength for later in a game and therefore look at a pitcher to use as say a pinch runner… still why a starter? And one of the better starters on the team?

The Red Sox have such a formidable hitting team I don’t think losing Wright for a short period of time will hurt their playoff chances that much.  If, he is out longer that could change things drastically.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: No, their season is not in a huge jeopardy because the Red Sox offense is still the best in baseball. If, Price can start coming into what he is capable of, then, I think, they can still reach the playoffs.

I can’t see them doing much in the playoffs with a lack luster pitching rotation, but getting there is still reasonable even without Steven Wright. Again, Price just needs to step it up a notch and return to his Cy Young caliber talent. 

5) The Washington Nationals finally dropped the other shoe and released on Saturday (8/13)… (1) Good move or bad by the Nationals, and, (2) how soon before another team picks him up, at the minimum for the rest of the year since the Nats are on the hook for the remaining $3 million he is still owed for 2016?

Archie1-300x277Archie: For whatever reason Papelbon has had the worst season of his career. He is reaching the end of his current contract this season and I guess the Nationals felt they could afford to cut ties now. The additional money owed him for the remainder of the season is no big deal unless he signs with a competitor in the playoffs and regains form. I am pretty certain that Reynaldo Lopez’s 5.74 ERA as a starter is NOT a good fill in his shoes; even if they do only use him as a temp starter.

Jonathan Papelbon cut by Nats
Jonathan Papelbon cut by Nats

As for Pap’s next job, I do not see any of the current Contenders jumping at the chance to sign him. Every team currently seems to have their closer in place and probably not looking to add on unless there is a late season injury or something that happens that opens up a spot for him.  

Dan 3Dan: This was a good move by Washington to release Papelbon. He had wanted to be released since he had only played two games since they had traded for Melancon. He wasn’t performing throughout the year either. He had 19 saves out of 22 opportunities this season with a 4.37 ERA and a 1.457 WHIP. He wasn’t any good in all reality.

The one positive he does have is he has a lot of great experience from his years in Boston and I do think that there’s a couple teams looking at him for the back of the bullpen help. One team in particular that was talking about adding him in their bullpen was Boston and I think he could re-unite his old form in his return.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: Great move. Papelbon was a bit of a cancer in that locker room and getting him out of there helps Dusty Baker and the Nationals. Will he be picked up? Yes. He’s a pain in the ass but he fits in certain club houses. I won’t be surprised if Boston brings him back to their organization. The Red Sox should be able to handle him because they know what he brings.

Me (2)Joe: For whatever reason the Nationals had made a decision to no longer use Papelbon in key relief roles. Therefore, in what appears to be a mutual agreement they gave him his release. Personally,  as good as Papelbon could be there were times where I think he simply would suck big time in key situations. In short, I think the Nats made the right move in giving him his release.

Papelbon exits game for last time in Nats' uniform
Papelbon exits game for last time in Nats’ uniform

As for some other team picking him up… there is already scuttlebutt of him picking a team to sign with in the next day or so. And, both the Red Sox and the Cubs appear to be in the conversation.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: Of course, he will be picked up. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone picks him up before this posts to our site. As I write this (8/15),  I think, Papelbon will be picked up before this posts on Thursday. He is still a solid talent, and can still be productive. Maybe not so much as a closer but a set up man? Absolutely.

Extra Innings…

Bryce Harper hit the longest home run of his career on Wednesday in Colorado, teeing off 481 feet to right-centerfield in a 12–10 loss to the Rockies according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker.








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