Best way to improve MLB @ MLBRT 4/20

Using an idea from ESPN.com the RoundTable asked: What is the best way to improve Baseball… or should it just be left alone? An abbreviated crew chips in with their opinions and more… this week in the MLBRT.

1) Most of the online sports sites, periodically publish a “hot prospects” list… Do you pay much attention to these lists, and do you think these lists are very accurate?

Joe: I only pay attention to the lists as far as concerns my “home” teams that I root for. In my case that is the Yankees and the Mets. And, even then, I pay more attention to the Yankees than the Mets.

Especially now, that the Yanks are in a rebuild. I want to keep tabs on what’s down on the farm that might be coming through the ranks to eventually join and/or fortify the big club.

Steve: I pay some attention to it as I play fantasy baseball, and I try to build my roster.

For example, and I hope to god no one in my league is watching this, I have my eye on Ian Happ out of Chicago. He is tearing it up in the minors right now and should be a threat to do some MLB damage even this year. So, yeah, I pay attention, but I don’t read a lot into what the list says, I see on field production and run with that.

2) Stealing this next question from a very recent ESPN.com baseball poll… Pick an answer, or answers, and then say why. 

From ESPN.com poll

What would be the best way to improve MLB? 

a) Shorten the season to 154 games

b) Shorten the games to 7 innings

c) Limit pitching changes/add a clock

d) Penalize batters for delays

e) Put a runner on base during extra innings

f) More day games

g) All of the above

h) Other… (put in your own idea)

i) Baseball is fine as it is

Joe: My choice… “i” … baseball is fine as it is. Call me a traditionalist, an old timer, whatever, but I like baseball fine just the way it is.

However, I would like to see the season shortened back to back to the old (pre-expansion) 154 game schedule only because the damn season starts too early and runs too late for many northern teams where the weather can really have a deleterious effect on the games. By that I mean playing games in places like Chicago or NY or Boston, etc… where it is not unusual to have snow, sleet or freezing rain in April or early November when the damn World Series is now being played making the name “October Classic” a misnomer.

But, for god’s sake, please, do not implement choice “b”… this ain’t Little League… or choice “e”… nor is it the World Baseball Classic.

Steve: Baseball is fine the way it is.

But, if, I had to pick from this list… I have no problem with the schedule the way it stands,;no way do I go to 7 innings, this is not little league’ pitching changes are part of the game and part of strategy, though I would not object to a pitch clock. And, you cannot penalize batters for taking their time, and if they call time out, the umpire has the ability not to grant it, so that is fine.

Put a runner on 2nd? Nope complete joke if you ask me, too many problems with that starting with it is not fair to the pitcher starting the inning and it could effect his stats.

I like day games, but I work during the day, so night games suit me better.

Other than a pitch clock, that may be the only change I can see actually doing some good to speed up the game.

3) As of Friday (4/14) morning, the Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes has had a very hot bat… In fact, if he were to continue the pace he has been on for the first 10 games of the season (6 HRs, 10 RBIs, 9 Runs and 7 BB) he would end the season with about 97 HRs, 162 RBIs, 146 Runs and 113 BB.  This is probably not going to occur.

When, the regular season is over, what will be Cespedes’ 2017 legacy? MVP, near MVP, just his usual decent overall season or something else. And, why?

Joe: If, I had to guess I would say maybe (barring any injuries) 115-plus runs scored and 115-plus RBIs with 35-plus HRs and a BA anywhere from .290 to .310. Putting him smack dab in the middle of the NL MVP talk.

Steve: If he stays healthy, then sure he can.

We all know that he will not keep up this kind of pace, no one does, but I think he has the potential to hit 40 HR, and drive in over 100 with a .300 plus average. If, he can lead the Mets to the playoffs, and has that kind of season, then he will be an MVP candidate for sure.

4) This past Thursday the Seattle Mariners unveiled a statue honoring Ken Griffey, Jr. Griffey himself says “They pretty much nailed it.”

Since last year, Griffey became the first Mariners player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, saw the Mariners retire his number, and now erect a statue in his honor. Griffey’s 22-year… 630 HRs (6th), 1,836 RBIs (15th), 1662 run (34th), for example… certainly merit all of these honors, but…

 Where do you place Ken Griffey Jr. among the greatest players who ever played the game and why? 

Joe: In his prime… no one in baseball was his equal… twice he threatened to surpass 60-plus HRs in a season and was almost a sure bet to hit .300-plus with a minimum of 100 runs scored and 100 RBIs. And, he did it without PEDs.

In addition, he was one of the best I ever saw in centerfield… on level of the Mick and Willie. And, that’s saying something for an old timer like myself.

In the conversation for a Top Ten player all time.

Steve: I would rank him in at least the top 10 of the all time greats in baseball.

Griffey had the prettiest swing I have ever seen. He could do it all, hit, run, and play the outfield. He was an MVP, a Gold Glove winner, a multiple time All Star, and he was a media darling.

I loved watching him play and even had an opportunity to see him play in a game LIVE when I was a kid. I remember him playing, but couldn’t tell you much more about the game. He hit two homers that game against the White Sox, and I know that the Mariners won the game. Griffey was cheered even in Chicago even while playing for the Mariners.

5) You are the GM of a rebuilding team, what is your priority: Pitching? Defense? Offense? Other? Why?

Joe: Once upon a time, I would had said build pitching and defense first, but with the way starting pitching is being treated I wonder if that is the wisest choice any more.

Aw, hell… yeah.. I think  I still go with s good solid starting pitching and good solid defense BUT with a tad more attention on the back end (bullpen) of the pitching staff.

Steve: Offense and Bullpen.

We established last week that starting pitchers are becoming few and far between and are not eating up the innings that will win you baseball games. So, if you can get three or four quality starters not superstars, with a stellar bullpen, and a great offense, then you are going to win championships.

It has been proven before with the Kansas City Royals, and most recently the Cleveland Indians. While starting pitching is important, I think the role of your bullpen is key. And, obviously you have to have a good offense in order to score runs.

Extra Innings…

Boston’s Fenway Park opened for MLB on April 20, 1912…

Fenway Park – 1912 sketch
Box score of 1st Red Sox game at Fenway Park from the Boston Globe

 

After extensive construction in the early months of 1912, Fenway Park hosted its first game on April 9, an exhibition between the Red Sox and Harvard College.

Eleven days later, the Red Sox played their first official game at Fenway Park against the New York Highlanders. The club went on to win 105 regular season games, the American League Pennant and the World Series.

The Sox won the inaugural game by beating the NY Highlanders (aka Yankees) 7-6 in 11 innings.

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