MLB News & Views @ MLBRT 8/24


This week’s questions…

1) On Sunday, (8/20) Justin Verlander looked like vintage Justin Verlander as he threw 8 innings of 2-hit ball against the Dodgers while giving up 1 run (on a HR), striking out 9 and walking just 1.  And, he threw a no-hit ball into the 6th, when newly acquired Curtis Granderson smacked a HR for the Dodgers.

And… one more time he did this against the Dodgers, arguably the best team in baseball right now, not some bedraggled last place team. 

Remembering that Verlander as a 10 and 5 player has the right to refuse a trade (and if he were to go to a team destined for the playoffs he probably would not do that) AND a team needs to acquire a player before September 1st for him to be eligible for post-season play… what are the chances Verlander is traded and if you had to guess who would be the favorite to acquire him?  

Justin Verlander

Archie: First off this is not the ordinary trade for “1 year service type of trade.” I doubt seriously the Tigers will entertain any type of trade where they are liable for any of the money still owed Verlander.

And, this is the main sticking point. Verlander is owed $56 Million over the next two seasons with an option of $22 million the last year IF he finishes in the top 5 of the CY Young vote in 2020. That my friends is a bit much for an already  34 1/2 year old who is not coming close to his 26-30 year old stats.

There is a reason he has not made the ASG the past four seasons even though he did manage to finish 2nd in the AL CYA last year.  He had a really tough spring and early summer in 2016 but finished the second half nicely.  However, this season he has been on a roller coaster. It was mentioned he just threw a gem against the Dodgers but the game before that he gave up 5 ERs in 6 innings against the Rangers.

I can see where many of the contenders might like to have a veteran like Justin join their club to finish out the season, but I honestly can’t see any of them (unless it is the Yankees or Red Sox) that would be willing to suck up that big contract.

Dan: I don’t think Verlander will end up getting traded before the waiver deadline. I don’t think the Tigers will want to get rid of him just yet and I don’t see a team throwing that much at Detroit to acquire him this late in the season. He’s still signed through 2019, so this off-season and especially next trade deadline are key areas to watch for his movement. But for this season, it’s over. He’ll end 2017 in Detroit.

Joe: I just don’t see anyone trading for Verlander unless Detroit eats a significant portion of his salary…  and, I just don’t see Detroit eating enough salary to make someone jump at acquiring Verlander.  

The chances of  Verlander being traded are almost zilch; therefore there are no favorites to land him.

Steve: I think there are two teams that would benefit immensely from the services of Justin Verlander.

The Houston Astros, who are already running away with the division, and have all but wrapped up a playoff berth, but they still lack some dominant starting pitching to compliment Dallas Keuchel. A Verlander signing, could push them over the top in their quest to win the American League pennant.

Also, the Chicago Cubs, who have been struggling all year, but it looks like they will still limp there way into the playoffs based off a weak division. Acquiring Verlander, could do wonders for the Cubs quest to repeat as not only League Champs, but World Champs as well.

2) After Pittsburgh beat St. Louis in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the two big league clubs honored a Little League World Series tradition with the players going through a handshake line after the game. 

Would you like to see this established as a post-game protocol in MLB? Why or Why not?

Pirates and Cardinals celebrate Little League Classic with end-of-game handshake line

Archie: What did you just say; Little League tradition? Let’s keep it there.

The stands clear out now early. The players have aches and pains to immediately deal with. They are forced into post-game interviews. And, let’s not forget some of the “bad blood” between teams especially during highly contested rivalries.

No, let’ s keep the handshake line at the Little League level.

Dan: No, I don’t want to see this happen. Not only will there be an increased storyline and talked about subject after a lot of games, especially rivalries, the losing team shouldn’t have to shake hands with the opponents when they lose. If, they want to, that’s fine. If, they don’t, then they shouldn’t have to.

If, they don’t shake hands, you’ll see the huge topics and stories the next day and all the way up until the next game. It’s unnecessary. They all get paid a lot of money to play the game. Why create more problems and hassles?

Joe: I don’t think having the teams go through a handshake line after the game would work  for the same reason I think having a formal post game setting where the losing manager is required by MLB to sit in front of the press and answer questions is asinine.

The players and coaches of losing teams usually have one thing in mind when the game is over… get into the lockerroom, take a shower and get their butts out of there. Being required to stay around once the game is over to either to shake hands or answer sometimes some really dumbass questions is is not exactly something some one wants to do when they just lost a game. Nor should MLB require payers… or coaches… to do it, either. Especially, if feelings are tense after a hotly contested game.

Steve: It was fun to see, but no, I would not want to see this a part of the MLB.

There are 162 games in a season, and most of these team see each other more than they see their families. If, they want to go hang out after the game, then more power to them, but doing a lineup handshake is for the kids, lets leave it at that. We don’t even see this in the college ranks, no way they should even consider it in professional baseball. 

3) This past weekend the Yankee’s manager Joe Girardi announced that he was removing Aroldis Chapman as the team’s close as his recent performances have been slightly short of atrocious. He also said he would have no formal closer going forward at his time but would use whatever relief pitcher he felt was his best choice given the circumstances of the game being played. Girardi has said this is a most likely a temporary strategy and once Chapman is pitching with confidence again he will most likely reinsert him as the team’s closer. 

Disregarding Girardi’s comment about Chapman being the reinserted as the closer, once he returns to his old self… 

Should more teams, especially teams with deep bullpens, adopt this strategy… using the best pitchers for game situations instead of setup men or a closer… for using their relief pitchers? Or, is the accepted format of having setup guys and a closer the best way to use a team’s bullpen? Why?

Aroldis Chapman

Archie: No, absolutely not. While I am okay by using setup by committee, I am not okay with the closer situation given all MLB has done to establish the need.

With Mariano Rivera, the Yankees KNEW he they had a reliable guy sitting in wait at the back end of the game to come in and shut things down. AND, psychologically the other team KNEW they better get to the bullpen early because the 9th belonged to Big Mo. Same goes with all the great closers in the past and even now; the opposition psychologically is at a disadvantage when they are facing a shutdown type of pitcher.

IMO more/all teams should have a specific plan to develop someone in their organization or “trade scope” to fine tune for that role. Not every pitcher can do it. Not every pitcher has the mental toughness or makeup to “BE” that guy. But, every team needs that “guy”.

Dan: I think teams have a select player to be a closer because they are training and prepared to come in and close games. If, they aren’t getting the job done, then you need to switch players. But, I think initially, you need to set up a bullpen with a closer and set-up men. The season is long, and just like how the starting rotation is set to start the season, you need to establish roles at the start. Throughout the season, these roles will certainly change.

I believe that’s how teams need to operate.

Joe: Back when I first began seriously watching MLB games in the 1960s, relief pitchers were brought in depending on what the manager believed was needed for that specific situation and not because this pitcher is a setup man… or this one gets left-handed batters out… or this guy is the closer. I think that was a good way to utilize the bullpen… bring in a guy who can get the outs you need at the time you need the outs and smother any opposition uprisings… and, I think if I had my druthers I would like to see MLB return to that method of using the bullpen.

Having said that… I doubt it would be even possible to  return to that system of using a bullpen. The way of the closer and the setup men has been ingrained into MLB is essentially now set in stone and asking a pitcher… especially a closer… to change would really upset the old apple cart with the way players egos are and contracts are designed.

Steve: No, Girardi is absolutely right. Sometimes a little blow to a guys confidence is what is needed in order to get them back to form. I am certain that Chapman thought his job would always be safe no matter what. This is a big blow to him, but it needed to be done. Chapman has been awful as of late, and hitters are catching up to him.

4) Dodgers recently got Curtis Granderson from the Mets for a player to be named later or cash. 

Is this a smart move by the Dodgers? Or, is it over kill and not really that wise of a move?

Curtis Granderson returns to dugout after he hits his 2nd HR for Dodgers… a go-ahead grand slam vs Pirates

Archie: Granderson has not been that relevant of a player with “star” quality in many seasons. Is he “serviceable?” Yes. But that is about it.

He does carry veteran club house presence but that can only go so far when you already have a club house full of veterans and a stable of 10 OFs on your roster already. I for one am not seeing the need or the value of the trade.

Dan: I think so. With Granderson being on a hot team, I believe he can start to somewhat return to his previous self. If anything, he comes as a very nice speed threat on the bases late in games, can play in a nice back-up role and can supplement as a pinch hitter off the bench. Plus, a player to be named later or cash considerations is pretty much nothing. So, they got him for basically nothing. You can’t lose with that.

Joe: The Dodgers got Granderson for either a player to be named or cash.. essentially nothing. If, he adds to the team’s offense, gives some of the outfielders a chance to rest up as the long season draws to a close and maybe heal up some lingering aches and bruises, maybe even wins some games as a late inning replacement, the acquisition will have been worth it. If, he doesn’t help the team or add anything… so what. It cost them almost nothing to get Granderson and if he winds up being a bust they can either cut him or leave him off their postseason roster.

It ain’t overkill; it’s just common sense baseball.

Steve: It doesn’t hurt.

I mean, Granderson can still play, and would be a great guy to have to give other outfielders a rest on occasion, and would be great coming off the bench. This is not overkill at all, as he seems to be on the decline, but I think in the right situation, he could be a dangerous pinch hitter for the Dodgers, as well as a utility guy in the outfield.

5) As of Monday (8/21) morning, most teams have less than 40 games to play in the 2017 MLB season… handicap the AL and NL wild card races… in your opinion who is going to be in and who is going to be out when the season ends? 

Archie: I personally think the three AL Divisions are on lock down. Houston, Cleveland and Boston are pretty much on glide path to win their respectful divisions WITH one caveat that Boston might be the lone drop and the Yankees catch them. I doubt it though.

As far as the AL WC teams I see the “non-Division of the AL East” being the first in and then flip a damn coin. If, I were forced to bet I would put my money on the Angels as the second WC, but I sure as hell would not want to be my paycheck on them.

I think the NL is a little more predictable. Currently the East and West are locked down for Division Champs and the Cubbies are my pick to win the Central.

Either way, after the Central is chosen by either the Cubs, Brewers or Maybe the Cardinals, the two WCs will be the Rockies and Diamondbacks. The NL West has ruled this season and I see no reason for them to stop now.

Dan: For the National League, I have the three division winners being Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago. The two Wild Cards are Colorado and Milwaukee.

For the American League, I have the three division winners being Boston, Cleveland and Houston. The two Wild Cards are the Yankees and Angels.

Joe: In the AL, I still like the Yankees for the first wild card…  but I think I am changing who I like for the second wild card.. which was either the Rays or the Royals. I like the Angels now.

In the NL.. its still the D’backs and the Rockies for the wild cards.

Steve: In the NL despite recent struggles, I like the Diamondbacks and Rockies. I think they put themselves in great position to stay where they are, even though the lead has been down to three games.

As far as the AL? this one is too tough to really call. I will go with the Yankees as the top seed, and I predicted the Rays a month ago, and I will stay with that pick. I would have said the Royals, but the Perez injury may have cost them the spot.

Extra Innings…

Best catch of this season?

During the Junior League World Series Sunday, Kennett Square (Pa.) was taking on Chinese Taipei when the catch of the tournament occurred.

Center fielder Jack Regenye for Kennett Square flipped over the fence to rob a homer from Chinese Taipei.

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