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Where will Matt Wieters ultimatley wind up?

First, the crew makes their best guesses… and… then…. we finally find out…

It’s all happening in today’s Roundtable…

1) Catcher Matt Wieters is one of a very select few catchers in MLB who is capable of hitting .260 with 20-plus homers while throwing out 35% of an opponents’ stolen-base attempts. Yet he is still a unsigned free agent. 

(1) Your best guess at why he remains unsigned, and, (2) your best guess at which team might ultimately sign him? 

Archie: Price… he made $15 million last season and he wants more. Well, he is NOT worth more than that.

The 35% Caught Stealing is about average for a catcher. His career BA is less than .260 (barely) and he only averages 14 dingers a season. He was damaged goods in ’14 and ’15. He only appeared in 124 games last season and the bottom line is his OPS+ is less than average and so is his overall offensive stats.Matt Wieters

So, I ask, where is his worth more than what he earned last year?

Dan: Based on talent, I would have expected Wieters to have already signed a contract and started spring training.

One reason, and pretty much the only reason, is the contract he’s asking for. I know he wants a longer-term contract which teams are shying away from especially at the catcher position. But, word has it that he’d be willing to accept a lower year contract and even lower money. He just wants to play.

The top team I have for Wieters signing with is Washington. Second team is Tampa. I ultimately think he’ll end up signing in Washington.

Steve: As for why he is still unsigned? Your guess is as good as mine. He is a great talent in baseball, as he can click on all cylinders. He has Molina type talent, my only guess is that teams fear that he may be getting older and a catchers life can be trending down in later years.

I think, if they can get a decent deal for him, the Braves would be a good fit for Wieters.

Editor update: 

Washington Nationals signed veteran backstop Matt Wieters to what is reportedly a 2-year/$21 million free agent deal.
Washington Nationals have signed veteran backstop Matt Wieters to what is reportedly a 2-year/$21 million free agent deal.

2) The Red Sox 90 million-dollar-man, Pablo Sandoval was overweight and simply not ready for prime time in last year’s spring training camp and found himself out of the Sox’ lineup. Since then he has lost a lot of weight and people are saying he looks ready to play again at his old position of 3rd base. His primary competitor for the 3rd-base job is former All-Star Brock Holt who frankly is quicker as well as faster than Sandoval.

In your opinion, (and barring any injuries) who is the Red Sox starting 3rd-sacker on opening day?

Archie: First off, I did not see where Holt earned an AS spot but that is not really the question here. The real question is which bat do you want in the line-up and that obviously HAS to be Panda IF HE IS healthy.

With the absence of Big Papi the Red Sox will have to manufacture more offense from the rest of the team and Pablo provides a  better option to that task over Holt.

Pablo Sandoval (left) & Brock Holt
Pablo Sandoval (left) & Brock Holt

Dan: I think they’re going to start Holt at 3B and give Sandoval some opportunities. The only way, in my opinion, that Sandoval will become the every day starter once again is if he has an excellent spring. I think Holt is the better player and a better option at third and I feel like the Red Sox agree with me.

Don’t be surprised to see Sandoval take over more of the DH role now that David Ortiz has retired.

Steve: I see Brock Holt being the starter at third, because he has better mobility at the corners. Sandoval will platoon at third base every now and then, but, I think he is going to be your regular DH since David Ortiz is gone now.

You cannot bench an All-Star for a player who did not play all year.

3) The Yankees and Dellin Betances were $2 million dollars apart in contract negotiations and therefore went to arbitration. From all reports Betances, while disappointed in the results of the arbitration hearing, was ready to accept his approximately $2.5 million raise and move on. However, Yanks VP Randy Levine had to publicly rub things in by telling media folks that Betances’ agents should have never asked for closer money because Betances simply was not a closer just like he was not an astronaut but a VP of the Yanks. levine

Betances was not happy at Levine’s’ sniping and at a presser told the world exactly that.

Your best guess at why Levine would even wish to aggravate a very arguable key to any remote chances that the Yanks might have of actually playing in the post season in 2017? Or, did Levine have a legitimate point? 

(FYI: While it is true Betances is not a closer and also true that in limited exposure in the closer’s role he has neither been spectacular nor has he been terrible, it is also a fact that  “Over the past three years, Betances has the highest WAR of any reliever at 8.5, and it isn’t even close. No major league reliever has thrown more innings than Betances in that three-year span, and it isn’t even close.” (source ESPN.com)

Archie: This is not the first time and will not be the last that Yankees’ front office and a player snipe each other. It is all posturing if you ask me.

Betances is not happy with the Yankees' VP Randy Levine
Dellin Betances is not happy with the Yankees’ VP Randy Levine

Dan: I really have no idea about his comments. They were unnecessary and didn’t need to be said. I think he said them, though, to try to level out relievers from trying to get a big head and testing free agency with wanting big money. He wants to keep the pay for relievers lower than what they should be paid. His point was invalid though. Betances has pitched better than a lot of closers and has pitched better than most players who are getting paid more than him in the pen. He’s been the best reliever (non-closer) in the game the past three seasons and he deserved to get paid. I felt his asking price was a little much, but there was no need for any comments regarding what happened in the arbitration process. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Betances leave out of New York at his first opportunity.

Steve: Betances is a great quality reliever, with closer type stuff. While Chapman is going to close obviously, Betances is a strong set up guy.

The Yankees over paid for Chapman and they don’t want to spend that much more on the bullpen, but its 2 million for a quality reliever. Pay the man!

4) mike1Detroit Tigers’ owner Mike Illitch died on February 10, 2017, at the age of 87. Since 1992 when he purchased the Tigers, he was never an owner who was afraid to spend money to try and win a championship. And, while the Tigers were greatly improved under Illitch’s ownership…  4 Central Division titles, 1 Wild card berth and 2 World Series’ appearances… they never did win a World Series ring. 

In your opinion, what do you think the future… let’s say the next 5 to 10 years… of the Tigers will be like without Illitch as the owner? 

 Archie: Dude, this could go either way.

A new owner less reluctant to spend the big bucks and the team drops in the cellar. Don’t believe me; look at the Braves.

 Ilitch celebrates after Red Wings win 2008 Stanley Cup. The team won four NHL titles under his ownership. His Detroit Tigers teams made it to two World Series but no titles.
Ilitch celebrates after Red Wings win 2008 Stanley Cup. The team won four NHL titles under his ownership. His Detroit Tigers teams made it to two World Series but no titles.

Next, a new owner willing to open the piggy bank MAY… not a guarantee… but MAY see results of big time spending. Look at the Cubbies: they finally found the winning dollar to talent formula. However, in my honest opinion it began with Epstein and Maddon.

Dan: Honestly, mostly the same as it was with him. I think they’ll be entering a rebuild soon so that’ll set them back a couple seasons. But, I do see a couple playoff appearances, a division title or two in there but no World Series rings. They might make an appearance at some point in the next ten seasons but they won’t win it.

Steve: I don’t see them slowing down over the next couple of years, but, I do think they will go into rebuild mode if they don’t win a championship in the next five years. Verlander by that time will be on the latter part of his career, and, if, they are always close but no cigar, they will rebuild.

5) There is growing concern at Washington Nationals’ camp that the 2016 NL CY Young winner, and their ace, Max Scherzer may not be ready for the start of the regular season due to a stress fracture in one of his knuckles. Is it time to start panicking in Nationals-land, or, this is just a bump in the road and he’ll be back eventually and the Nationals will be just fine? 

Archie: Let’s face it, the Nationals on paper have been perennial favorites since Strasberg and Harper arrived but have YET to garnish the results intended. So, for them and their fans to “start panicking” is kind of funny. Hell, they should be in panic mode every time any of their high paid talent gets a cold.

"Sometimes the only healer is time. We’d like to rush it, but like I said, you’d hate to have to rush it and have it lead to something else." Max Scherzer speaking about his injured ring finger.
“Sometimes the only healer is time. We’d like to rush it, but like I said, you’d hate to have to rush it and have it lead to something else.” Max Scherzer speaking about his injured ring finger.

Dan: No need for panic. it’s way too early for that. We’re just starting spring training. If, you’re panicking about your team now, I’m sorry to tell you but you’re delusional or your team is garbage.

Scherzer has a month-plus until the start of the season. Even if he misses the first month, you still have six-seven more months with him and an abundance of time to still regain whatever was lost without him. No need to panic. They’re fine and will be fine without him. If, he needs to miss an extended piece of time during the regular season for this injury or it lingers on, then you might want to start to panic a little bit about the starting rotation. But as the Nationals’ team whole? The Nationals’ team is set for a nice NL East title run and maybe even a National League title run and a possible World Series appearance as long as they can beat out Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago (Cubs are the biggest worry).

Steve: Yes, the Nationals will be just fine. This happened early and is not that serious of an injury, if you allow it to heal properly.

He needs to take some time off to recover, and, he will be fine. And, the Nationals will be right there in the mix of things at the end of the season. It will be a dog fight between them and the Mets.

 Extra Innings…

Casey Stengel, Manager - Brooklyn Dodgers 1934
Casey Stengel, Manager – Brooklyn Dodgers 1934

On this day in 1934… Brooklyn Dodgers coach Casey Stengel signs a two-year deal to manage the team, replacing skipper Max Carey, who guided the sixth-place club to a 65-88 record in 1933. During the Stengel’s ultimate three-year tenure with the team as the manager, the Brooklyn will finish 43 games under .500.

Of course, Stengel later went on to become the manger of the New York Yankees and became the only man to manage a team to five consecutive World series championships (1949–1953). The streak ended with the Yankees failing to win the American League pennant in 1954, but, Stengel’s Yankees resumed their dominance, going on to win five more American League pennants in the next six years (1955–1958, 1960) and two more World Championships (1956 and 1958) before Stengel was abruptly let go by the Yankees after the losing one of the more exciting World Series ever played in 1960… where the extremely underdog Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Yanks in 7 games winning it all on Bill Mazeroski’s Game 7, ninth-inning HR. Which is also the only time a winner-take-all World Series game has ended with a walk-off home run.

Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium. (l-r) Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Joe DiMaggio, and Casey Stengel
Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium. (l-r) Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Joe DiMaggio, and Casey Stengel

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