Interesting week in MLB… thinly veiled PED accusations… MadBum hurts arm… a call to just legalize the damn juice… miking the umps… and… Aaron Judge’s tape measure jobs…
This week’s questions…
1) Eric Thames in his limited MLB career with Toronto and Seattle (2011-2012) appeared in 181 games; never hit more than 12 HRs with a “career” .244 BA and around a .285 OBP and usually swung at pitches out of the strike zone… 36% of the time. This year, after spending time playing in Japan and then being picked up by Milwaukee, in 16 games and 64 ABs he has a .359 BA and a .461 OBP. He says it’s because he is more disciplined at the plate. The stats seem to bear him out as his swings at balls out of the zone is down to 20.8%.
Cubs’ pitcher Jon Lackey recently said with a wink and a smirk “… even the homer hit the other way, I mean, you don’t see that happen here very often. That’s kind of one of those things that makes you scratch your head.”
Then his pitching coach Chris Bosio appeared on a local radio show and was asked about Lackey’s comments about Thames, plus Pirate’s Outfielder Starling Marte suspension for steroids, and whether “PED use still exists in baseball.” And, he said, “Well, the bottom line is hitting the ball and we gotta figure out a way to get him out. All that other stuff, I’ll let other people worry about. But he’s doing stuff that I haven’t seen done for a long time.”
Many folks are saying the implication is that they are saying Thames is using PEDs.
In your opinion, without any concrete proof is this criticism… as veiled as it was… fair by either a player or a coach?
Dan: No, it’s not fair. He had already been drug tested two times so far this season when the accusations were made by the Chicago Cubs’ pitcher and coach. There was no reason to make these accusations since Thames has shown no sign of usage because he passed each test he’s taken, which is now three at the writing of this.
Because, Thames has came and changed his entire approach to playing baseball during his time overseas, he’s been nothing less than extremely impressive. He realized that he needs to forget every at-bat and take every pitch and every inning as a new opportunity. The criticism isn’t fair at all, but as long as he continues passing every test, there’s no need to even entertain those opinions.
Yes, he has come out of nowhere to have a great start, but if you watch the pitches that he is hitting, they are all well in the middle of the sweet zone. This may be a matter of pitchers giving him some fat pitches that he is crushing.
Thames will eventually fall back to Earth, because that is how things go, but it is unfair to make any accusations about his play so far.
Steve: We are in that era now that anyone who just comes out and starts destroying the ball, and hitting home runs, they are going to be looked at in a different light. While, it is not fair that players are guilty until proven innocent, it is just the way of the sport and what it has become.
2) The Giants’ Madison Bumgarner recently was injured in a dirt bike accident and will probably be on the DL from anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks.
2) Considering that the Giants start to the 2017 has been dismal… 6-10… as of Monday and it is only April and they are only 4 games out of 1st place… so… should they just hope for the best with MadBum, or is it time for the Giants to start worrying and consider overpaying for a pitcher like the White Sox’ Quintana?
Dan: With the news that Madison Bumgarner is going to be out two months, I think the Giants need to look for a replacement. He has pitched the most innings, outs, etc… since he’s entered the majors out of all active pitchers and the injury is a set back for the Giants. I would say this is a cause for worry and concern, but I wouldn’t go so far to overpay for a pitcher or anything like that. But, they will need pitching help, especially bullpen help. The positive is that it’s extremely early in the season with a lot of time left.
Earl: The Giants should consider it, but not because Bumgarner is out. No. The Giants should have bulked up their rotation before the season and stopped relying solely on the dynamic exploits of Bumgarner to pull them through.
Trading for Quintana would be a fair start but they do need pitching ASAP.
Steve: After all that Bumgarner has done for your team? You can afford to lose him for a month or so. He will bounce back and still win 15 plus games. He won you two World Series titles literally all by himself against the Tigers and the Royals.
He made a mistake, but he is drastically underpaid for his value. Deal with it.
3) In the aftermath of Starling Marte’s 80 game drug suspension for PEDs, CBSsports.com’s Jonah Keri recently wrote: “… the use of substances created in quality-controlled labs should be legalized, (however) players should only be able to take whatever they like while under proper medical supervision. Make it all legal, have trained medical professionals available to help and monitor and prescribe drugs that work and also don’t cause serious harm.”
In your opinion, is Keri’s opinion… just legalize it, although under a doctor’s/medical staffs’ supervision… the answer to the problem of PEDs use in MLB?
Dan: No, that’s not the answer. Keep it how it is. Everybody ends up breaking the law. The negative, harmful effects on the human body that PEDs causes is not a reason to legalize it. Keep it how it is.
People will still do it, and they will get caught and punished respectively. But, legalizing it is the farthest thing from the answer.
Earl: I’m in favor of legalizing it, if only it allows better control by team doctors and physicians. These players are trying to gain an edge and many of them run the risk of putting harmful things in their bodies that they have no real knowledge of. Legalizing the process, would at least weed out some of the unsuitable actors in the World of PED’s and it would look out for player safety.
It should not matter whether it is under doctors care or not, if baseball is going to ban the substance, they need to keep it banned.
4) Considering his tape measure HRs (at least 4 of his 5 HRs have surpassed 400 feet), has the Yankees’ rookie right fielder Aaron Judge become “Can’t miss TV” when he comes to the plate?
Judge is a great player and will be a star in this league, and if you have the ability to watch his at-bats, take full advantage of it, because he will deliver greatness and great entertainment.
Is he must see TV? For the Yankees and their fans, he might as well be. For the average fan he needs a few more seasons and some consistency at the plate but so far he is off to a great start.
Eventually, pitchers are going to start catching up to him, just like they did for Gary Sanchez.
5) The word is out that MLB is considering having the umpires make a microphoned explanation when they make the calls on video replays.
In your opinion is this a good idea or bad idea? Why?
I recently watched a game where the ball, including the marking, was clearly in foul territory but the umpires ruled it as a fair ball. Players argued and questioned the decision. Every fan watching the game had no idea why the call went fair instead of the appropriate foul call. The NFL has microphones on their referees, it’s time for MLB to match their level. We need an explanation of the call at the minimum. If they want to explain, which some calls do require explanation, then they have the microphones to do so.
It also will help speed the game along since the umpires don’t have to go to each dugout and explain the call to the managers. The managers can just listen to the explanation like all the fans/players will do.
The fans both at the stadium and watching on television should have some insight into what goes into the process.
Steve: I’m kind of indifferent to the idea of this. I really have no strong feelings one way or another. I think it is more important that umpires simply get calls correctly, especially balls and strikes.
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