Closers, lead off men & retired numbers @ MLBRT 5/18

Talking about closers, the changing face of the lead off batter in MLB, those damn hot Houston Astros plus Derek’s number retired…

This week’s questions…

1) With Francisco Rodriguez no longer closing games for the Tigers, Jeurys Familia probably going on the shelf due to a blood clot in his shoulder and the Washington Nationals bullpen, frankly, being crap, plus the Orioles questionable bullpen, has closer become a hot commodity suddenly and do you think someone like the White Sox’ David Robertson might be a hot commodity that one of these team might overpay for even before the trade deadline nears?

Closers like White Sox’ David Robertson about to become hot commodities as some top teams bullpens falter?


Archie: 
A closer is ALWAYS a hot item; when you don’t have one. We have seen instances where “closer by committee” has worked depending on match ups. And,of course, we have seen times it never works. Any team at this point without an effective closer will struggle to make the playoffs. It is just the way of the game these days.  So, a guy like David WILL be sought after, I’m just not so sure that the Sox will be willing to dangle him like a carrot.

Chicago is “hovering” around the .500 mark and not that far from the Central lead at 2.5 games. So, if I were a GM I would not put much hope in making that deal just yet. I would troll some bottom feeding team and maybe try to suck up talent there… like Jim Johnson from the Braves, IF I were desperate.

Steve: Robertson, and hell bring back Eric Gagne at this point. Closers have been less than impressive all year. I think guys like Robertson, Bud Norris out of Los Angeles Angles, who has 7 saves entering Monday are going to be hot topics at the trade deadline. But, I was not kidding about Gagne, give the man another chance to show what he can do.

Wait, how about John Rocker? Let’s bring back the 90’s!

2) This weekend the Houston Astros brought the Yankees back to earth by taking 3 games of a 4-game series from them. They did it with pitching in the first two games (3-2 and 5-1) and then showed they could also slug with the best of them when they dropped one game 11-6 but took the other game by a score of 10-7.  

Barring any catastrophic injuries, how good can the Astros be in 2017? 

Astros off to best start in their history as they beat Yanks 5-1 over weekend

Archie: I have been keeping an eye on them and I think they are Damn Good. I don’t think it is by luck they are sitting where they are and I don’t think they will fade late in the season; again, barring any bad injuries.

Steve: I had a chance to watch Houston for the first time this year on TV. Sure I’ve seen enough highlights to make an educated decision on this, but I think Houston is going to the World Series this year. The thing is, Houston can afford some injuries, at least to their lineup, and they would still be alright. They don’t have an easy out from 1 through 9. I think they are the favorites in the American League, and probably will win it all this year. 

3) According to ESPN.com… “On May 1, these players were leadoff hitters in MLB games: Kyle SchwarberMike MoustakasSeth SmithCarlos SantanaMichael Conforto and George Springer. Among this group are power hitters, two former catchers, three guys who would generously be described as slow, and one guy who is a slow, power-hitting former catcher coming off knee surgery.

The changing face of the leadoff hitter is a revolution that has long been called for by statistical analysts, stressing that getting on base is a more important factor in scoring runs than speed and the ability to steal bases. Some managers are finally willing to toss aside any notion of convention by putting these sluggers in the leadoff spot.”

a) Do you agree or disagree with the logic of the ESPN comments?

b) Whatever your feelings, is this a fad that will fade, or a change in MLB thinking that will last? 

Lead off Hitters are no longer speedsters… just look at Kyle Schwarber.

Archie: I think it is an experiment at best at this point. While I understand there are not too many managers out there that look at base stealing as an integral part of their offense any more, I am not ready to give up the notion they have abandoned it entirely. I think the bigger issue here is NOT that they don’t want speed at the top it is just that the commodity of talent where they have a player with the combination of speed and OBP is just not there.

Let’s take a look at Inciarte for the Braves. He has 7 stolen bases as their leadoff but with an .310 OBP with only 12 BB and 25 K’s there is NOT a lot of trust there. IF, you are only getting on less than 1/3 of your ABs the manager can’t risk sending you. Freeman has 12 home runs batting just a couple spots behind him but ONLY has 20 RBIs. THIS is the typical leadoff guy these days. No wonder managers have tossed their lineups to try and jump-start their offenses.

Steve: They are getting on base, and that is what a leadoff hitter should do.

Now, I questioned the Cubs putting Kyle Schwarber in the lead off spot because honestly he looks like Babe Ruth running the bases. It is almost comical, but, hey, I am not paid to make these kinds of decisions. I trust that these franchises have an idea in mind and think it will be successful. I challenge you to look and see where these teams are in the standings. For example, George Springer, sure he is a power hitter, but other than Altuve, who else are you going to put there? They are dominating their division. The Cubs are loaded from top to bottom, so they have to put Schwarber somewhere. I have no problem with this at all.

4) Speaking of Kyle Schwarber, although he usually plays an adequate defense in left field, there have been times when he has looked very inadequate out there. For instance, in a recent game this past weekend he dropped a foul fly near the wall… yes, it was near the wall but it was in his glove and he just dropped it… and he over threw the cutoff man by a lot on another play.

a) In a league that does not have a DH, can Schwarber’s offense eventually be enough to make up for the times he may cost the Cubs runs with his defensive play?

b) Or, is he too much of a defensive liability in the field that when the trade deadline comes near, will it be time for the Cubs to think about trading him to a contending AL team in need of offense for a boatload of prospects?

Schwarber makes play in left field

Archie: Pitchers should hit, Hitters should field…..hate the DH… so if the implication is to trade him to an AL team so be it. However, I think his offense is that good and some coach needs to coach him up.

How good is his work ethic? Does he stay for additional work? Is he out there early trying to improve? THAT would be the things that would decide that for me as a manager.

Steve: Let me sat this first. The Cubs are not going to trade Kyle Schwarber. They feel he, along side Rizzo and Bryant, is the face of the franchise right now. They are not going to trade him. Sure, he is in a sophomore slump right now, but he should bounce back and have a great year.

It is not just Schwarber that is struggling at this time for the Cubs, everyone with the exception of Kris Bryant is having a rough start to the year.

Yanks retire Derek Jeter’s number…

5) Now, that Derek Jeter’s number has been retired by the Yankees in a ceremony before their game Sunday night, are you relieved that maybe now MLB, the Yankees and all the major sports sites can finally put the constant “news” about Jeter to rest? 

Archie: Hell, Yes! Nuff said.

 

Steve: Jeter was the face of New York for almost 20 years, and honestly deserves everything that is being given to him. Maybe in New York it has been a constant, but in the Mid-West where I am from, I don’t hear too much about it, so it hasn’t bothered me, nor would it bother me if I heard any more. I am far and away NOT a Yankees fan, but I have the utmost respect for Derek Jeter.

Extra Innings…

At the age of 40, southpaw Randy Johnson becomes the oldest pitcher to ever throw a perfect game when the Diamondbacks beat the Braves, 2-0.

The ‘Big Unit’ joins Cy Young, Jim Bunning, Hideo Nomo, and Nolan Ryan as the only hurlers to throw no-hitters in both leagues.

And, goes the  longest time span between no-hitters, having first accomplished the feat against the Tigers in June of 1990.

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