Mike Trout & other MLB talk @ MLBRT 5/25

Talking about some early 2017 season surprises; some rumors… and…  then, there is Mike Trout… how good is he?

This week’s questions…

1) The Boston Red Sox were predicted by many of the “experts’ to run away with the AL East. Now as they hover around .500, there has been some noise on MLB.com that there are rumblings that the John Farrell, the Sox’ manager, may be in danger of losing his job.

What is your opinion regarding this rumor and the state of the Boston Red?

John Farrell

Joe: I doubt there is any way the Red Sox management fires John Farrell this early in the season. As I write this they are only 3 ½ games out of 1st and are expecting David Price to return to their rotation soon. If, he pitches to his capabilities that will fix many problems the Sox may be having simply by adding another “ace” arm to the rotation.

I do think, unless someone steps up in their lineup offensively that they will need to seriously explore trading for a power bat at some point. They mis Big Papi in their line-up

Having said all that… IF, somehow the Sox are still sitting around .500 after the All-Star break and start falling behind the AL East front runner, then I think Farrell’s job may be in a very tenuous situation. The Sox could decide to make a change in their managerial position at that point.

Steve: The Cubs are struggling too! Is Joe Maddon’s job in jeopardy? No. Stay calm Bostonians. The Red Sox will be fine.

Yeah, they came out of the gate slower than expected, but if I am correct, they did so last year as well, and ended up taking the division. I attribute this to the level of competition in the AL East. You don’t have an easy series victory out of any team in the East right now, and I include the Toronto Blue Jays in that mix despite their slow start. The Sox are going to be there in the end, competing for the division title with the Yankees and Orioles. Farrell’s job is safe.

2) The Houston Astros’ ace Dallas Keuchel (7-0, 1.845 ERA) has gone onto the DL with a pinched nerve in his neck. Manager A. J. Hinch is being cautiously optimistic that he will only miss one start but as he says he isn’t a doctor and the team can only wait the situation out and see what happens.

How devastating would the loss of Keuchel be to the excellent start the Astros have had to begin the 2017 season and/or their playoff chances?

Dallas Keuchel

Joe: As deep as the Astros are, losing Keuchel would hurt. Enough that I think the Astro’s would fall back to the pack in the AL West and a team like Texas could take advantage of that to make up some ground.

Regardless of that, I think the Astro’s would have been buyers for an extra arm at the trade deadline, so if Keuchel is hurt for any period of time, this would just speed up their time table for acquiring that arm. They might have to spend a little extra to get that arm since teams would know they are a little more desperate than they would have been if Keuchel were healthy.

Either way, the Astros are still the favorite to win the AL West.

Steve: It would hurt, sure. But let’s be realistic, the Astros are LOADED!! They are going to be fine even if Keuchel misses a couple of starts. He will be fine, and they have such a commanding lead already, they can afford to rest Keuchel and get him back to top form and not be forced to bring him back before he is ready.

If, I were the Astros, even if he is ready to go after missing a start. Rest him one more start, that would be a solid 10 games where he can just rest and get back to his best form.

3) ESPN.com’s Dave Scheonfield says Mike Trout “has raised his game to a new level.” 

This past Saturday weekend the Mets entered the 9th inning with a 7-2 lead. The LA Angels scored 2 runs to make it 7-4. The Angels then had the bases loaded and Trout coming to bat and Terry Collins, the NY Mets’ manager, said that he “absolutely” thought about intentionally walking Trout with the bases loaded… aka the Barry Bonds treatment.

In your opinion, is Trout, at 25-years of age and over 3,500 ABs, possibly becoming even better than his so far excellent MLB career, and, if so, how good do you think he can become? (Of course, all contingent upon Trout avoiding any injuries like the type that Mickey Mantle had during his very fine career.) 

Mike Trout

Joe: Barring any serious injuries that might derail Trout’s career… I see a 1st ballot Hall of Famer with maybe 600+ HRs, 1,700+ runs scored, 1,600+ RBIs, 400+ stolen bases and .300+ BA…  And I think that is being conservative in my estimates.

Yeah… he is that good in my opinion.

Steve: Trout could go down as one of the all time greats in baseball all around. He is one of the few players on the planet that excels at the plate, and in the field. He is going to be an MVP candidate every single year he is in the league assuming he is healthy. He is one of the league leaders in home runs, and even though he went on a slide where he missed a few games in a row. He is still putting up monster numbers.

4) The New York Yankees, the Minnesota Twins and the Milwaukee Brewers were all predicted by many sports media folks to finish either at the bottom of their divisions or near the bottom. So far (as of Monday morning), each of those teams has the lead, or is tied for the lead, in their divisions.

In your opinion, which team is he most capable of sustaining that level of competitiveness in 2017?  And, considering the team you pick, what do they need to do, if anything, to fix whatever weakness they may have so they can compete for the playoffs in 2107?

Brewers, Twins & Yanks are defying pre-season predictions so far in 2017.

Joe:  I expect both the Twins and the Brewers to fade. How much they fade I’m not sure, but I don’t think they are playoff level teams quite yet.

The Yankees on the other hand… I am not sure how long they can keep up their offensive output, but if they maintain their present offensive levels, then the only thing that could derail them is the fact their starting notation in a word… sucks.

They need to hope at least one of their MiLB arms, if not two, start showing signs of being MLB ready. I am not a fan of them using their MiLB prospects to try and get an established MLB arm.

If not, they will also fade from a playoff run. But… if, any of the three will be in the hunt at the end of the season for a playoff spot then my money would be on the Yankees rather than the Twins or the Brewers.

Steve: The Yankees are maybe a pitcher away from really separating themselves in the AL East. I could very easily see them winning the division by a few games.

I think the Brew Crew and the Twinkies are going to come back down to Earth much sooner than some people think.

5) Which player, this season, have you been most surprised by how their season up to this point has been? Why?

Judge makes diving catch, doubles up runner in Yanks’ 3-2 win over the Rays.

Joe: Truthfully? Aaron Judge. He has surprised me by how good he has been as an all-around player. I have already seen him make at least two highlight reel plays in right field that sacrificed his body that could be in the running for top 100 defensive plays of the year. And, I knew he had power but I didn’t think it would be so many HRs this early in the season and I did not think they would all be such tape measure jobs.

It’s a young season, but if he can keep this level of play up over a full season I see a Rookie of the Year Award waiting when they hand out the post season awards.

Steve: I have to say Kyle Schwarber. This kid was supposed to be in competition for league MVP. So far he is hitting around .200, and his defense is questionable as we thought it might. He is not hitting the ball out of the park like he was projected to, and if this doesn’t change, we could see Schwarber on the trade block come July.

Extra Innings…

On this day in 1919…

Brooklyn outfielder Casey Stengel, circa mid 1910s.

Casey Stengel, traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers in the off-season to the Pittsburgh Pirates, was being razzed by the Brooklyn fans as the Dodgers and Pirates played at Ebbets Field.  Stengel calls time, steps out of the batter’s box to give the Ebbets Field fans the ‘bird’. Stengel then takes of his baseball cap and a bird… a sparrow… flies out, much to the amazement and amusement of the fans.

Stengel would go on to be a Hall of Fame manager later in his career… as he managed the Brooklyn Dodges, Boston Braves, New York Yankees and the New York Mets. His HOF credentials were established during his tenure with the Yanks where Stengel 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. Stengel then managed the Yankees to five more American League pennants in the next six years (1955–1958, 1960) and two more World Championships (1956 and 1958) before he eventually was fired after the Yankees appearance in the 1960 Series where they were upset by the Pittsburgh Pirates on a walk off Bill Mazeroski HR in the 7th game of the Series…. which, by the by, was the only game 7 walk-off homer in World Series history.


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