MLB News and Views @ MLBRT 8/17

 

This week’s questions…

1) The Red Sox just finished playing a 3-game series this weekend and took 2 out of 3 from the Yanks. Some people said this was a critical series for the Yankees that would prove whether they, and as a result the Baby Bombers, are ready for “prime time” and if they can compete for the AL East.

In your opinion, did this weekend series prove anything one way or the other? 

Archie: It proves what Bobby Cox used to say, “Major League hitters can time their swing to hit a jet if they see it enough.” Devers did just that; turned around a 103 mph fastball. That last game was entertaining to say the least.

The Baby Bombers can compete they just need the breaks to go their way. That is usually the difference in winning and losing between good teams.

Joe: No. Except right now the Red Sox are slightly better than the Yankees.

This weekend they go at it again. I think the series is more important to the Yanks than the Sox. If, they can take at least 2 of the 3 games it would make a statement  to the rest of the teams… “Hey we’re here and ready to play.”  It’s not crucial but it would make a statement and place that idea in everyone’s head.

Steve: It proved that Aroldis Chapman sucks! He cost me a win in my fantasy baseball on Sunday. Never the less, honestly it did not prove anything. The Red Sox won two of three on the road against their rivals. It told me that the Red Sox have a great offense, and it told me that Rafael Devers is the real deal. Other than that, as far as how good either team is, my thoughts have not changed at all. Stupid Chapman. I almost cut him from my team after that performance on Sunday. (sorry had to vent)

Andrew Benintendi (left) & Mookie Betts, two of the up and coming Red Sox stars… aka Baby BoSox.

2) On Monday morning (8/14) ESPN.com headlined an article with “Forget the Baby Bombers: Yankees-Red Sox belonged to the Baby BoSox.” Essentially suggesting that maybe the “Baby BoSox” might be ready to steal the spotlight, as well as the race for the AL East pennant, from the “Baby Bombers.” 

If you had a choice which young nucleus would you pick to establish your team for being a perennial playoff participant in the near future and beyond? 

Archie: That is a tough one.

Both teams have some real talent to build on. I think, however, I like the Bo-Sox just slightly better… just slightly

Aaron Judge (right) & Gary Sanchez two of the up and coming Yankees… aka the Baby Bombers

Joe: I’m not sure. This is a tough one to answer. I keep going back and  forth.

Both teams have young talent that can not only flat out hit but they can also play the field and they do it very well.

But, I think the Baby Bombers have the potential to be just that… Bombers. With Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, and possibly Clint Frazier on the horizon, they have the potential to restore the Yankees to their Bronx Bomber heritage. For that reason and that reason alone, I will go with the Baby Bombers over the Baby BoSox . For now, any way.

What scares me about the Baby Bombers… sometimes power can be a very fleeting thing.

Steve: That’s a tough one, but I’ll go with the Yankees talent over the Red Sox if we are talking long term. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, just to name a few are only going to get better, while the Red Sox have a great young core of players, it seems like the Yankees have more weapons as far as their young talent goes. They were not expected to even sniff the playoffs this year, and the Red Sox were picked by many to reach the World Series.

So, give me the “Baby Bombers” if we are talking long term.

3) The Los Angeles Angels, while mathematically within reach of a wild card spot were basically barely treading water in their attempt to be in this year’s playoffs. That is, until this weekend when they played and swept the Mariners. They are now in sole possession of the 2nd AL Wild card spot over the Twins and trail the Yankees for the 1st Wild Card by 1 ½ games.  There is still some ways to go (as of Monday morning, the Angels have 43 games left on their schedule) but… 

Can the Angels actually be a contender in 2017 and maybe get Mike Trout to the playoffs for the 2nd time in his career? Why or why not? 

The Los Angeles Angels hold onto the 2nd Wild Card spot in the AL with a 3-2 win over the Nationals on Wednesday.

Archie: Yes, no, maybe….. all about the finish. And, the Angels typically don’t finish well.

In the 2014 season when they won their Division they finished the second half really well winning over .655 % of their games.  Since then, they have barely been able to hit the .500 mark down the stretch. While they are off to a blazing August they will have to finish strong like in ’14 to make up for the poor May – July.

Joe: There are approximately 45 or less games to go… Angels have the least with 41 and the Twins the most with 45… in the season as of this morning (8/17). There are 7 teams within 3.5 games of the 2nd wild card spot, with the Angels leading the pack by a half game. So, sure why can’t they be a contender and get Mike Trout into the playoffs for the second time in his career?.

Would I bet on it? No. Would I bet on any other 6  teams? Nope. It is that wide open. They all got a shot. It is a veritable crapshoot.

Steve: I mean let’s look at the facts, the Angels are in the wild card hunt, and have set themselves in position to make the playoffs. Sure they can make the playoffs. They are young, they have a great manager, they have a decent bullpen, but they lack dominant starting pitching. There could be enough to get them there, but I don’t see them doing much damage in the playoffs if they do get there.

Plus, the Rays, Royals, and Mariners have been struggling, so it would appear it is there for the taking.

They add a good starter, they are in the playoffs.

4) On Sunday Giancarlo Stanton hit his 42nd home run and 21st in 33 games puttin g him on pace to hit 59 HRs for the season. He also tied Gary Sheffield for 1st all-time on the Marlins HR list with 250. That 21 for 33 pace? Would equal 103 HRs over a 162-game schedule.

It’s always been known that Stanton is a very good baseball player but has he now started to ascend into another category of MLB player? Or maybe the question should be: How good is Giancarlo Stanton…  and if he can even get better… and how good can he be?

“When you grow up watching all the old films of Babe Ruth and [Mickey] Mantle and those guys, 61 has always been that printed number” …. Stanton is on pace to finish with 61 HRs & he recently has said that number is a goal.

Archie: First off, it is Giancarlo Stanton.  (Editor’s note: When the questions were sent out to the panel, the editor.. namely me, Joe… asked about Mike Stanton. DOH!)

Stanton is about to turn 28 in November. That is typically prime years for hitters in MLB. And, while he is jacking the ball pretty steadily right now;  he typically strikes out over 140 times per season as well. This year is no exception to that rule he already has 114 K’s to go with his 42 dingers. As a manager I can accept the higher K to HR ratio since his OPS+ is 162. But, just think how many he would hit IF he reduced those K’s? He career numbers are 1 HR per every 4.23 K’s. He is currently 4th on the All-Time list for AB per HR averaging slightly over 13.63 ABs per HR. (Just a side note, two of the three ahead of him has been retired over 5 years and NOT in the HOF, McGwire is #1 and Bonds is #3… a guy named Ruth is #2)

Joe: This is what you need to know about Giancarlo Stanton. Just one stat. HR ratio per ABs.

For his career… every time he has had about 13 official ABs he hits a HR. Even in his injury filled years he still hit HRs at a very good rate. What he is doing this year is not an aberration.

In 2015 when he missed most of the season he was hitting HRs every 10.3 times he had an official AB. He was on pace to hit between 55 to 59-plus HRs that year before he got hurt and was out for the season. This year he is presently hitting HRs every 9.97 QBs. He is approaching territory that is inhabited by players such as Ruth, Bonds, McGwire.

Interestingly, as good as that ratio is… it is only the 22nd on the “Single-Season Leaders for AB per HR” list as recorded by Baseball-Reference.com.

As far as how good can he be? I think at age 27 he is entering his prime and he has at least another 5 to 7 years where he can put up some damn amazing numbers … maybe average 50-plus HRs… 60-plus? … a season… IF he stays injury free.  

Steve: Giancarlo Stanton is one of the best in baseball. He has been for the past several years, but injuries have detoured his success. He is showing what he can do with a healthy season, and I don’t think he can be stopped. I think offensively he is the best in baseball, but overall, I would think that Mike Trout has a slight edge because of his all around play.

However, Stanton can be a perennial MVP winner over the next ten years.

5) The scuttlebutt is that Derek Jeter’s group has won the Miami Marlins’ sweepstakes and are about… pending approval by the other MLB owners… to become the new owners/management team of the Marlins. Jeter (who put up about $20 million) is strongly rumored to be the man who will be calling the shots… run the business and the baseball sides of the Marlins…. for the controlling/majority owner/managing general partner… aka biggest investor of the 1 billion-plus price tag… New York venture capitalist Bruce Sherman. 

In your opinion, what does Jeter bring to the table as an owner? Will he be successful or fail in his attempt to navigate the shark filled waters of the baseball world in attempting to build the Marlins into a playoff team?

NY businessman Bruce Sherman and former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter have agreed to purchase the Miami Marlins from Jeffrey Loria.

Archie: I have 0% doubt about Jeter’s acumen when it comes to the “Game” aspect of baseball. I think that IF he leaves the business end to the business people he will be successful. But, given the fact that Marlins fans have Stanton to watch and they still can’t draw more than 20K per game; says a lot about location, location, location.   They have not breached the 25K attendance mark since 2012; their first year as the Miami Marlins. And even though the whole revenue sharing thingy brings them some do-rey-me into the coffers ,they still have to put asses in seats to be able to build a team around Stanton. In 1997 (won WS), the payroll for the Marlins was ranked #5 in all of MLB. In 2003 (beat Yankees in WS), they were ranked #26 in payroll. The point here is that even though a team CAN win with low payroll (i.e. 2003 vs. 1997) it is not likely. And, low attendance is directly related to low payroll.

Joe: The biggest thing Jeter has to realize and probably already knows… he can’t be like George Steinbrenner. He needs to hire the people he believes can be the best people to run the team and then step back let them do their jobs. Will he need to make personnel decisions… both on field and front office…  from time to time. Sure. But,  he is no the “Boss” and he needs to be somewhat of an observer and always aware of the big picture so he objectively manage the overall running of the franchise.

Michael Jordan is listed as one of the sixteen investors of the Sherman/Jeter group who have agreed to buy the Marlins. it is unknown what Michael Jordan’s stake in the team is.,

Will Jeter be a success at this ownership gig? Who knows. But, I would not bet against him being a success.  Everything else he has done has always seemed to work out well and this will probably be, too. I think… and he has made it no secret… he has always been pointed in this direction… being an owner with the decision making power. I doubt if that has been his life goal that he would not have done his homework for the time the opportunity became a reality.

Jeter knows baseball. He knows how things in the game works and he it seems to me that he has always had a keen business sense… look at his endorsements and how he has handled his life since he left the game as a player… everything with him is about discipline and done with one objective… winning rings and being successful in an economic sense.

Steve: He brings a vast baseball knowledge, and will be able to help scout talent. This is a good move for the Marlins to have a true baseball guy in the organization helping make decisions. He has five World Series Championships, and even more pennants under his belt.

Now, I am a realist and I know that it is a different ball game, but the Marlins are not that far off right now to be a playoff contender, and the addition of Jeter to the front office is only going to make them better. Yeah, they will be a playoff team in the next couple of years.

Extra innings…

From ESPN.com writer/contribute David Schoenfield…

Box score of the season. The Mets were down to two infielders due to injury (don’t get me going on roster construction), so catcher Travis d’Arnaud started at third base. Except Terry Collins was alternating him between third and second with Asdrubal Cabrera depending on whether a lefty or righty was at the plate. Which gave us this:

 

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